Rachet’s Rundown

And just like that February’s done, how quickly did that happen?! When January lasted for at least 3 months you kind of expect longer than 3 blinks for February. I can’t say it hasn’t been eventful and with a few bumps and missed training sessions along the way I’d still say it’s ended pretty successfully.

  • Under 25min parkrun by the end of February 🏃🏻‍♀️

This was the goal 👆🏼 and I hit it at the end of January, which was just as well with missing one parkrun this month due to volunteering and another for some winter sun in Tenerife. It was the start of the parkrun tour which is now full steam ahead with these scheduled in over the coming months. So, this winter sun wasn’t quite as sunny as I’d hoped, however it did mean that I managed to swerve the snow fiasco back home 👍🏼 and I got a couple of 5k runs in whilst I was there. I enjoyed getting out in the sun (wind) and stretching my legs, it also gave me a chance to see some of the area which I would normally have missed. On my second venture out I came across an outside gym which is always good and it was nice to give this a go, continuing with some dips and planks I’m hoping I haven’t lost too much strength and fitness.

I was particularly happy with my 10 mile run at the Dunton Test Track 10, only being 20 seconds off a PB has really given me some confidence that I’m getting some speed (for me) back which is what I’m after. Plus, I must have enjoyed it – look at that smile!

Looking forward to March (please tell me Spring will be sprung soon), my target set:

  • Improved general fitness and gain muscle weight, begin noticing body shape changes by end of March 💪🏼

My next move is diet and it’s just as well I’m working through my sports and exercise nutrition module because this means I’ve got no excuses. Yes, I appreciate I’m sat on a plane as I type this with my hand in a packet of salted peanuts but I’m dairy free and the options are limited – I’m starting Monday 😂. There’s going to be a lot of pre planning going on but to be honest I’m half way there with this already, I just need to take a closer look at my portion sizes and timing of food and I believe I’m there.

If you don’t like food pics I suggest you move away from my instagram.

Lessons learnt:

1) I’m jinxed when it comes to holiday weather 🌧

2) Running is so much more than just a way to keep fit for me 🏃🏻‍♀️

3) I love food 🍚🥗🍝🥩🍞🍇🍎 all the food

4) I can’t be trusted with an open bag of crisps 🍿

5) I’m about to get really dedicated* with my meal prep, nutrition status & macros 📝

* I say dedicated, some may say boring – call it as you wish 🤷🏻‍♀️

Dunton Test Track 10

Having not been to a race for what feels like forever (I appreciate it hasn’t actually been that long), last Sunday I had signed up to the Dunton Test Track 10.  Signing up online was easy and numbers were sent out before the event so there was no hanging about for collection on the day, although as you can imagine the queue for the toilet was a joy as ever.

I knew this was a two lap course and being on a test track I thought it would be a nice flat road route – I was wrong.  Not only were there some nice hills thrown in but the road went up at the edges, it had IT band soreness written all over it.  I tried my best to remain on the flattest part of the road as possible, however this was then gravel which I am not a huge fan of running on.  I still think I am traumatised from the time I stacked it on gravel as a kid, ripped my shell suit and everything.

Anyway, it reminded me that 10 miles is a long way and although I felt some pain in my ab (perhaps from gym work – or the fact I was running on the wonk, who knows) and stopped for water twice (once successfully – damn cups) I only finished 20 seconds slower than my PB time.  I haven’t done any specific training for this race, I have been working hard at club and getting myself down the gym so this has obviously been having the effect I was hoping for.  With my goal of a 10 mile PB in May at the Baddow 10, I am feeling confident that with some extra training I can achieve this.

Lessons learnt:

1) Check out the route before entering the race 🙈

2) Running on the wonk is not great 🤦🏻‍♀️

3) I can’t drink out of a cup and run at the same time 😬

Burnham on Crouch parkrun – Volunteering

Last weekend I returned to Burnham parkrun, this time I was a volunteer – my first experience of scanning.  It was a cold start to the day but Burnham is a nice place to be first thing in the morning and after running it a few weeks earlier I knew I wanted to come back here again at some point as a runner.

With around 100 runners it was a good turnout and there were plenty of cute dogs to say hello to, before I knew it they were off and as it is a two lap course it gave us a chance to cheer the runners on as they past on their first lap.  The ground was firmer than when I had previously run it due to a frost, great for the runners not so great for the volunteers who were unable to feel their toes.

I enjoyed getting the chance to speak to the runners when they came over to me for scanning, it was a nice manageable number of people so it all went smoothly which was a relief!  Whilst being in Burnham I took the opportunity to do a run there myself, thinking it would be great to do a different route and not wanting to miss out on a run all together.  Tina and Phill were kind enough to wait after their parkrun and give me some company along the seawall.

After spending quite some time deciding which way along the seawall to travel and a discussion with a lady who’s husband had previously fallen in some sticky mud and broken his leg when turning right, the decision was made to go left!  I had in mind that I wanted just a nice easy paced 5miles so 2.5 out, turn round and then 2.5 back.  As we set off the wind was cold, very cold but I did enjoy looking out across the water and watching the boats – some needing more TLC than others.  We started off steady, pace was good and then we hit the Saltmarsh checkpoint and the flash backs began – it’s really not the same without the support and cheers though I have to admit!  When the seawall turned uneven and the wind became stronger we dipped down to the grass just off the seawall which gave us some shelter.  We even managed a little jump over a water container thingy (technical term) – that could have gone so horribly wrong but thankfully I cleared it! (Hurdles next?! 😂)

Then I felt the pace increasing, Phill became more encouraging and we were no longer doing an easy run. It was manageable but by no means easy, I was relieved to be able to stop at the turnaround point and get my breath back and then once again start our way back at an easy pace.  As you can imagine this did not stay this way – turns out Phill doesn’t do easy.  I really enjoyed it, was nice to get out and run somewhere new and it reminded me how much I like to see different places and scenery when I am out on a run.

I also got a renewed love for parkrun, I am buzzing to get my Essex tourism underway and with thanks to Michelle I not only have an Essex Parkrun tracker but I also have myself a Parkrun scorecard – I am fully aware this makes me even more of a geek than originally thought.

Rachet’s Rundown

And finally January has ended, the longest month of the year – it just dragged didn’t it?! I can’t say it was a bad month though, for a start I hit January’s target and have got myself into a routine of hitting the gym 3 times a week which I am enjoying very much!  This will be continuing for the rest of the year.

It’s been a good start for me, I have completed the leadership in running fitness course which I have kept to myself purely for the reason that I am not really ready to use this yet. I am still really keen to train for myself (#selfish) and although I will be assisting with another couch to 5k program shortly and will be happy to help out where I can, I don’t have too many other plans for this at the moment although I am not saying never so watch this space.

Looking forward to February’s goal of an under 25 minute parkrun, now we all know that this month is going to be a short one and is very likely to whizz past in a flash. Luckily enough I have already hit my target 🎉 However, this does not mean I will be putting my feet up and not pushing myself further.  I’ve got March’s goal to look towards and I am keen to increase my speed, a parkrun PB for April feels quite a way off yet so must keep working towards this!

I am also keeping myself busy with my Advanced Nutrition & Weight Management diploma, having now passed my assessment and completed the pre and post-natal nutrition module I am very keen to begin the Nutrition for Sports and Exercise module starting next week. Keep an eye on my website for further details on this, I am really looking forward to getting Rachetruns Nutrition up and running.

On another note, if anyone is after some running clothes or workout gear take a look at https://www.hashtag01.com/ – if you see anything you like you can get a further 20% off using code RACHET20 at the checkout.

Lessons Learnt:

1) I’m fed up of winter 🌧

2) Consistently working hard does equal progress 💪🏼

3) Setting targets helps keep me focused 🎯

4) Turns our I enjoy the gym 🏋🏻‍♀️

Run and Talk

At the weekend Saltmarsh Ben who runs the Maldon Soul Runners group put on two additional runs for the talk and run initiative from run together. This is in connection with the time to talk day and to highlight that mental health is more common than most people realise and encouraging people to talk more about the subject.

I feel quite strongly about this and believe that keeping active, whether this be by running, walking, cycling or anyway you enjoy is a very positive way to help deal with mental health. Talking about the issue isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea but by knowing others are having similar feelings and are there to listen is sometimes all you need. I am very lucky to have met some great friends through running who I know will be there to offer a listening ear, a catch up over cake or even run alongside me from anything between 5k and 75miles.

So I wanted to support this initiative and I hoped it would be good to see others come along and give them a chance to talk and run, or just give them the confidence to take that step out the front door to meet likeminded people and get active whilst enjoying the fresh air. I attended the Saturday session after completed the Burnham-on-Crouch parkrun, we met at the coach park at 11am and having spoken to Ben about what to expect for this we would be doing around 3 miles at around 11 – 12 minute miles – perfect for a parkrun cool down.

A group of 6 of us set off on what was now decided to be a 5 mile run…… Everyone did a great job to maintain pace and get round the muddy route whilst enjoying some general chatter which ranged from veganism to achieving goals and we enjoyed some great Phill jokes which are always good to help us round. Well, just over 6 miles later 😲 we made it back to the prom, the route was lovely and I really enjoyed coming along with this group.

I am hoping to pop along to some more of the Maldon Soul Runner groups, if anyone is thinking about it I would say it’s definitely worth giving it a go. All abilities are welcome and you can book yourself on through the runtogether website or check out the FB group to get more information – https://www.facebook.com/MaldonSoulRunner/

Lessons learnt:

  • Never trust saltmarsh Ben’s mile measurements 🤦🏻‍♀️
  • Meeting new people isn’t as scary as you think it is 😬
  • Talking about mental health should never be a negative experience 🙂
  • I am very lucky to have many supportive people in my life 🤗

Burnham-on-Crouch Parkrun

As you have probably noticed my Essex parkrun tour hasn’t been progressing particularly well, this is mostly due to time issues and the dark mornings are not appealing to me! However, this Saturday myself and Phill took a trip over to Burnham-on-Crouch for the first time.  There was plenty of parking & some public toilets 🚽 for those that needed them available near the start (Riverside Park).

I am still not sure if the new starter briefings are for those who have never done a parkrun before, or for those who have never done this parkrun before – so I only half listened 🤷🏻‍♀️. I grasped that it was a 2 lap course but not knowing what to expect of the route is half the fun of going somewhere new.  Having not been to a parkrun for what felt like weeks, in reality we are talking a maximum of 3 for myself and 4 for Phill although in fairness we’d taken it steady since before Christmas, so we decided we would aim for under 26mins.  Walking to the start I changed this aim to 26ish mins, which I guess we should call under 27 mins – Phill seemed happy with this and set me straight that “even if it felt good there’d be no rushing off to try and grab an under 25” (my target for the end of Feb 🎯).

Being used to Maldon Parkrun with an average of between 200 and 300 runners it was quite a difference with just 98 which makes the start a lot easier and prevents any backlogging of people. I didn’t have to worry about catching the back of anyone’s ankles / feet like I would normally be keeping an eye on.

It was however a bit of a shock to be approaching a winding hill very early on into the run, this then lead to the seawall which was nice, if a little breezy. We came off the seawall along a gravel path which slightly zig zagged before looping back round on grass and coming back along the seawall, to turn left along a winding downhill gravel path back past the start and round for the second lap.

I didn’t look at my watch once, I often find I do this – it’s not something I tell myself to do, I just don’t have enough time to look at it over a 5k distance! With Phill being my pacer I just tried my hardest to keep up with him, I am not going to lie this was difficult – particularly approaching the seawall for the second time.  Knowing that he’d said “no rushing off even if it feels good”, I assumed I was just having a tough run & was struggling with the 26ish aim 🤦🏻‍♀️. We did take the opportunity to do some overtaking which always feels nice, but I was really starting to lag behind as we hit the seawall on the way back for the last time and even though I was trying to tell Phill to go on ahead I am pretty sure it just came out as “gah, jst gah” with a deep in breath and a flap of my arm 🙈.  I do however really appreciate that he didn’t run off ahead and instead encouraged me along that last stretch to the end, which I’m convinced I upped a gear for a sprint finish but it would appear that gear doesn’t work in my engine 😬.

To say I am happy with my time is a bit of an understatement, having hit my February target of getting under 25 mins 🎉 and coming in with a 24min 21second time and my very first (and possibly only) first lady (there was at least one other lady there so it counts! 😁), how could I not be happy with that! It has given me confidence to continue hitting my goals over the next 6 months and I have to admit it’s given me a bit of a boost for wanting to get cracking with the Essex parkrun tour.

Benfleet 15 2018

This Sunday I took a return visit to Benfleet 15, having done this last year (you can read about it here.) I knew what to expect. I remember really enjoying it last year and I must have blocked out the particularly challenging parts to it when writing that one up!

“A challenging 15 mile, multi-terrain course, incorporating sections of the Canvey Island sea wall, and the undulating Hadleigh Downs.”

The race started at 10:30am which allowed us plenty of time to arrive, get parked and pick up our numbers. Myself, John and Tina travelled together, with Gouldy being unwell and unable to run it meant today would not be a repeat of last year although it was great to see many of our club colours at the start line.

Wow, where to start – I wasn’t wrong when I thought this would be a test of my ‘fair weather’ running! It was a chilly morning, but I was really looking forward to this having remembered how much I enjoyed it last year.  I knew there was rain forecast so I dressed accordingly (debatable, I was still wearing shorts but I find this easier than carrying around wet longs) and did a little warm up jog to get the legs going before the off.

As the race began we just had some drizzle, this was fine and it was already wet underfoot and nice and muddy up the early hills – of which I decided to take the approach of jogging half way then walking to the top. The first few miles actually whizzed past in a flash, me and T were running together enjoying a chat at a nice pace but then the hill towards the first set of jelly beans arrived, this was where the struggle became real.  I saw some support in the shape of Pat from club which is always great and much needed especially when trying to climb up that gradient.

The temperature began to drop and the rain fell harder, unfortunately I lost T at about the 4 – 5 mile mark and I was alllllll by myyyyyyyself ( yes I was singing this in my head as I went 🎶). I had to find my pace and stick to it as best as I could, I got myself into the zone and somehow I managed to catch up with Morven, Lorraine and Stacy and we went on some of the sea wall stretch together.  This was a godsend as not only is this the worse stretch of the whole course but it is where the sleet / snow began along with the wind blowing it directly into your face.  The great part here (I say great – believe me it feels great when you are in that state of mind) is that you can see your team mates coming back towards you where they have done the turn around.  It gives you the opportunity to shout out / receive some encouragement before hitting the 10mile point where another water station was positioned; here you climb off the sea wall going back on yourself with the advantage of being off the sea wall and enjoying some shelter from the wind.

With 5 miles to go and feeling the cold from the weather and the squelching underfoot from the wet ground as well as in your trainers from the wet feet, I knew it was time to get the job done. Head down and crack on, I used my distraction techniques in my head – counting, singing song lyrics whatever gets you through.  My legs were feeling the ache from the uneven ground and my mind had quite honestly had enough of the pissing whether blowing into my face, it got to the point where you couldn’t see if that was wet snow creeping down my cheek or tears – it was snow alright.

With Gouldy unable to make this due to being unwell and having a ‘niggle’ I just had to do one thing for her and that was run up that last hill. I kept some back for it, it was slippery and there was a lot of others stacking it but I kept on my toes and managed a run (shuffle) to the top!  So pleased to have finished not only because it meant I could get warm but also because I did a time I was proud of in those conditions and I actually felt pretty great for it!!  Did I enjoy the run – absolutely!!

This was a very well organised run, even from the mashalls getting us into the car park safely to those who had to stand around in the horrendous weather to cheer us on, help us up hills and generally check we were all doing ok – they did such an amazing job.

Lessons learnt:

  • Marshmallows need to be put in a more accessible pocket 🙄
  • Some days you need to run your own race even if you’ve started with or would rather be running with others 👭
  • Snow is cold ❄️🌨
  • If you are going to go over song lyrics in your head as a distraction choose wisely, some tunes become very annoying over 15 miles 🤨
  • Always undo the zip on your top before trying to pull it over your head – otherwise it will get stuck 🤦🏻‍♀️
  • “This is proper doing it” – there’s probably better advice to give at mile 14 😂