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Keep up with what we get up to on our Sunday runs this winter. This is a regular blog from RunBrighton ambassador Brigitte Groves…

2-04-2017

Track, taper and the end!

Well Runbrightoneers…the journey is nearly at an end, just the very final destination to be reached next weekend, I hope everyone arrives  at the start of the final furlong full of petrol and ready for a steady well driven trip to Madeira Drive.

It was a huge disappointment that I was unable to join everyone on the last hour of the Runbrighton training runs but I had a date with an athletics track the night before.  A date which I didn’t really want to cancel despite many reservations and anxieties the week before.  So the plan was to finish in some sort of movable condition so I could shower and get down to the King Alfred to meet everyone and participate in the last breakfast of the season.

Last April I took part in my first track ultra, a 6 hour event round and round the athletics track at the K2 in Crawley.  Somewhere in the archives is a blog I wrote then ending with something like I would never want to attempt the 12 hr option!  True to form, the pain of the day is soon erased from the memory cells (remember this virgin marathoners!) and you find yourself entering into yet another torturous journey!  So yes, just before Christmas last year, as an early Santa pressie to myself, I entered the 12 hour option of the Freedom Leisure British Ultrafest! http://britishultrafest.com/

I then promptly put it to the back of my mind and immersed myself into helping others reach their marathon goal.  Occasionally I murmured something about that bloody track thing and loosely made plans with Ambassador Michele who as always scrapes me up and ferries me from one mad moment to the next!  Finally last week I had to admit that it was real so I filled my head with reasons why I should pull out even asking if it was possible to drop down to the 6 hour, no joy!   I think all this was made worst by the hanging around waiting for it to happen, probably much like many of you Runbrightoneers are feeling this week?   I hadn’t really given much thought to putting my preparation structure in place like I usually do.  Yes, I had booked in a massage with the lovely Helen, yes I had started the caffeine depletion and been randomly putting bits of kit out, but I wasn’t doing it mindfully. I had also downloaded some episodes of the BBC Listening Project although the one about death and bereavement was probably for another day. I had also been checking the weather obsessively…how many of you are doing that too? Even to the point of hourly! My concern was the overnight temperature and far it was going to drop…I had visions of icicles forming and me being frozen in time on the track…..time to pack another layer!

Finally it was 8pm on Saturday and I was standing on the start line…ready, steady go and we’re off, round and round we go. I was loosely working on my 6hr formula of running 25 minutes’ walk 5, the first three or four went quite smoothly. Michele left me for the comfort of her bed, Lisa popped in to wave on her way home from her own great adventure and I was left spinning in circles until my good friend Jan arrived direct from work. By the time Jan arrived I had started to spiral into a bit of a dark hole, I was fighting nausea and the chirping Chimp who kept reminding me how much longer I had to go. I dug out my personal radio to tune into.  I’m not a fan of running with music but it is amazing how uplifting it can be in times of need. It is also amazing what is on Radio 2 overnight, Disney songs, 1973 hits.

Having watched me for a few laps and chucked a few probing questions at me I felt myself being slowly pulled back from the brink. I knew I needed to get fuel in but the nausea was making every food thought disgusting.  I had managed to get a corner of a cheese sandwich down, after all I had made enough for the entire field, but nothing much else. So after having a bit of a hissy fit at 6hrs the force feeding began, some grapes came first then a gel to sip for a couple of laps, more grapes, half a cup of Lucozade then I was spoon fed macaroni cheese, one every spoonful per lap…ugh it made me shudder but eventually the nausea subsided. I also reduced the run/walk ratio to 12/3 then Jan’s plan of 5/1. Jan left about 3.am (I think) leaving me with a table of goodies, instructions on when to eat them and a new race structure of running the straights and walking the bends of the track…that worked an absolute treat. No clock watching and only a short distance to do each time, so Runbrightoneers, be prepared to have a fluid race plan, do whatever you need to do to get you to the finish. If your dream goal starts to slip away, refocus, maybe ditch the clock watching and focus on getting to a land mark. Another of my go to saviours is to count my steps, run for 30 steps, walk for 30, it doesn’t matter what the structure is…just have one and stick with it until you need to introduce another one.  Think on your feet!

So there I was chugging round the track doing as I was told, singing a few tunes, I am sure my fellow runners loved my vocals especially heigh ho, heigh ho it’s off to work we go!  Jan’s husband Jon swung by at 4.30 all ready to shout motivational abuse, but no need I was on top of it all, a bit of Barry White for a couple of laps.  Next to pop by was Ambassador Anne with carrot and lentil soup for breakfast, now that is a first, I usually have porridge but the soup went well with a bit of hallelujah on the radio and the dawn breaking in the sky!  Two more hours to go and my feet are a bit sore, a quick change of shoes and a sneaky 2 minute sit down before I am sent on my way with the last gel to digest to see me through to the end.  Claire Balding joins me (well she is on the radio) and quotes Winston Churchill ‘when you are going through hell, just keep going’ so I did!

Ambassador Michele arrived just as I finish my soupy breakfast and Anne departs for RunBrighton fun, daylight had well and truly arrived and brought a new energy which meant I could shed a layer, eat a few grapes and keep spinning round and round.

Finally the count down, I was handed a bean bag to place at the side of the track as a marker to measure any uncompleted lap.

I removed my ear phones to absorb everything around me and take in just what I had accomplished,  I even managed to pick the pace up, it felt like I was sprinting and actually my last lap was my fastest! Finally, finally the whistle to stop. I leapt in the air with a cheer, hurrah how brilliant was that! All the pain forgotten, all the doubts long gone, I set out to complete 12 hours and I had!

190 laps of the track, 47.4 miles and 4th lady, my first lap was 2.37 and my last 2.15, my longest when I had a hissy fit at 2.00am (9 minutes).

It just remained for me to have a quick hose down in the shower, jump (or rather crawl) in to Michele’s car and speed off to the King Alfred for breakfast with my favourite running group.

So Runbrightoneers, that is my challenge completed, it’s your turn now.  All those training miles we have completed together, all the chat and hopefully friendships that will last beyond next weekend.

Run strong, run upright and believe in your training and above all don’t think you have become Mo Farah overnight…stick to your planned race pace no matter what the world around you is doing..it is your race, not theirs!

I will leave you with this quote by A A Milne:

If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

Probably telling you to slow down!!

Over and out! x

***

26-03-2017

Aerobics, Anxiety and Ambassador Imposters!

Today is Mother’s Day, the 73rd birthday of Diana Ross, the day in 1934 that driving licences were introduced and Spock of Star Trek would have been 86.

But best of all today is ONLY two hours, hurrah! Who’d have thought anyone would be say ONLY two hours when you started on your marathon journey a few months ago.

It’s been quite a tough dark winter and we have had to dig deep into our reserves to get the training done…but here we are Runbrightoneers, nearly at the end, nearly time for the big day when you can unleash all that good work.

As is tradition on Mother’s Day, today I wore my pink Super Mum rosette given to me by my, now grown up, children some years ago.   To be honest this morning’s run was a bit touch and go having spent Saturday crawling around with back pain, but following Mr B’s advice to roll around on my spikey ball it felt much better today.  And it was ONLY two hours!

This week we were back on the prom di prom, meeting at the King Alfred for a leg stretcher towards Saltdean and back with the last 30 minutes at marathon pace.

This week was also the finale of Ambassador Michele’s disco queen warm ups, she excelled in her pink tutu today!  Take it away Runbrighton’s very own Jane Fonda!

It had felt quite chilly when we were huddling around the Runbrighton love wagon but once our dance routine was done and we were on our way it soon became apparent that it was actually quite a warm day!  It wasn’t long before layers were being peeled off as we started heading along the prom.  It seems that spring is well and truly in the air as a group of the 4.30s seem to believe they have morphed into the 3.30s and sped off into the distance.  I waved them farewell and wished them a happy run! They have obviously gone off the idea of keeping steady, not peaking too early and keeping to the planned pace,  I hope the memory returns before 9 April!

We continued on along the prom, the group varying depending on who was breaking away or who was chatting the most, the sun was attempting to come out and cooked breakfast aroma was filling the air.

Conversations obviously turned to marathon day and how everyone was feeling. Now we are at the sharp end of the training it’s normal to feel anxious and convinced you haven’t done enough training, just keep reminding yourselves of those long winter runs building strength into your legs.

Now is also a good time to reaffirm your goal, it’s always wise to have an A plan, followed by a B and C, example as follows:

A)    A sub 4.30

B)    A sub 4.45

C)    Get me round no matter what time!

Above all be realistic, look at your recent race times and translate them to your marathon prediction/wish/dream!  A very handy calculator here: https://www.mcmillanrunning.com/

While you are reaffirming your goal, start visualising the finish line and how you will feel when you cross it.

Think of a positive mantra to carry with you, write it on your hand if it helps.

If anyone tuned into Radio Sussex the other morning you might have heard Sally Gunnell talking about mental strength when racing and what strategies she used to keep herself focussed on her goal.  I like her strategy of ridding the negative thoughts by imagining they are on a piece of paper, screw up the paper and throw it away!  So when the Chimp is telling you that you can’t run another mile, you aren’t good enough, you’ve not done enough training, panic, panic visualise the words on paper, scrunch it up and chuck it, you can even go through the action of throwing if that helps!

On my second attempt at the South Downs Way 100 I had the mantra ‘let the lion roar’ (a friend gave it to me!), when I was struggling I actually let out a loud roar!  Anyone with in ear shot thought I was bonkers but it made me feel great!  At the 2012 Brighton marathon I kept saying,  “you’ve done the training, this is what you want, this is what you have been training for”   Every time a negative slipped in I batted it out with those words and remembered all those training runs, threshold sessions, cold dark mornings..all for this day.  And I did exactly what I wanted, I got that PB, actually it was five minutes faster than my goal so even better.  So get thinking Runbrightoneers.

Meanwhile back on the prom the pace was hotting up and getting quite competitive even when the leaders didn’t know where they were going.  The struggles of last week on the river long forgotten as the run picked up momentum!

Then oops, Ruth has had enough and throws herself to the floor again, banging her head for good measure.  Luckily Ambassador Lisa and the first aid kit was just behind us so I administered plasters/bandages and positive words whilst Ambassador Anne led the unruly 4.30s a bit further towards Saltdean.  Ruth and I caught them on the return and briefly I was in front before off they went again!   It was now getting very warm, very spring like and I was wishing I had worn shorts.

Back past the Marina and as we approach Steve Ovett it is time for our marathon pace 30 mins.  Ambassador Anne took the lead but before long those new found 3.30 runners had taken off for home so the rest of us enjoyed a leisurely run back admiring the sea  and picking up a few wounded soldiers.

Back at base it is time to decide the important factors of life like where to go for breakfast!

Well done everyone, do be careful over the next couple of weeks, don’t go mad, don’t think you have become a Kenyan overnight and above all have faith in your training.

Next week it is ONLY ONE HOUR and then it is taper big time!

***

19-03-2017

Chimps, Challenges and Community Love.

Well, or should I say wow, what a day!   Super-duper well done team RunBrighton.

How far has everyone come?  It is easy to forget just how far you have come from that first run in November last year, for some it was a challenge to do six miles and here we are today doing more in the region of 20 miles. Think of all that training;  all those weeks of milestones, hard work, rubbish runs, brilliant runs, new areas discovered and new friends made.  However, let’s not  get too carried away on a wave of taper madness we mustn’t forget we still have to do two hours next week…but it will ONLY be two hours, not quite the icing on the cake, more the marzipan layer, sealing in the goodness and keeping the main ingredients fresh.

Today was tough for some, not surprising really…we are at the tail end of the training, the second week of long, long training runs, the peak of the schedule. So don’t loose heart, come marathon day you will be rested and bursting with glycogen, the next three weeks is all about looking after yourself; eat good food, get yourself a couple of massages, reduce the miles and start to visualise yourselves bouncing across the finish line. For those who have a few niggles they should start to disappear but again treat yourself to a sports massage, consider it an investment for all that training you have done.

You want to be in the best shape possible when you stand on that start line. Now is not the time to try out that new circuits or pilates class, now is not the time to introduce intervals or catch up on your training.

Now is the time to take care, be kind to yourself and prepare.

Today was epic on one level and challenging on the other, the Chimp in my head was pretty active and I did have to draw on my strategies a couple of times….one thing I have learnt to manage is that the bad bits come and go, you just have to look a short step ahead, break the run or race down, remind yourself or that bloody Chimp that it is just a moment, draw on your resources.

So once again we found ourselves at the Adur rec, it felt a bit chilly as the wind cut across the river…Mr B was back and the toilets were open, all was well. We were treated to a delightful warm up by Ambassador Michele complete with her retro outfit and aerobic moves, nothing better than starting with a laugh to lift the spirits. No radio broadcaster today, but I am sure we will have plenty to talk about to keep us on track.

Mr B gave everyone a little pep talk about the long run and not over doing it…using me as an example! I am not sure I am the only example but I have banged on enough about training less and getting PBs so hopefully it has sunk in.

Talking of training less! Yesterday I chucked myself, with Ambassadors Lisa and Anne,  around the lovely New Forest half marathon trails, today my hips were feeling a bit old and worn…but a night of compression tights seemed to have worked well and I felt it fairly easy to put one foot in front of the other. I did try to persuade Helen into giving my legs a quick pummel but she didn’t seem up for it!

Our journey began with a shimmy over the Norfolk bridge and as  per usual just a mile into the run I was feeling a bit too warm, as were other Runbrightoneers, we never learn, we forget how quickly we warm up when it is a bit chilly at the start and soon end up with jackets, hats, gloves etc hanging from available bits of body! The first mile takes us on the detour that seems to have been in place al winter but rejoin the trail just before the toll bridge, only to be whipped up onto the river bank for a few steps..more detouring! Finally we are on the Downslink proper and get settled in for the long run ahead….Chimpy has a little nag…3 more hours Groves, how are your going to do that? Eh? Silly old woman, do you think you are invincible?  Calm down Chimp, we’ve done this before and if it all goes wrong there is always the RunBrighton love wagon.

Chimp calmed, I decided chat was the best distraction and caught up with the lovely Helen, forgiving her for not carrying her massage table with her, and hearing about her conquest of the Moyleman marathon.  Chris Moyle, a pretty damn good runner and brother of former Ambassador Camilla, sadly died from cancer a few years ago. The Moyleman pays tribute to his love of the South Downs and keeps his memory alive to all especially those who were close to him. It’s other attraction, it finishes in a brewery!

A little bit of an attempt at a breakaway from the usual suspects was soon reined back to the pack.

A bit more chat with Simon and others around me, before long we reach the bridge at Botolphs and Helen peels off to return to the Adur via the river…then on to a Sup class…brrrrrr, not sure I am attracted to water at the moment.  Over the bridge at Botolphs (or Botox to me) and wafts of the pig farm drift our way.  We head up towards Bramber, then on through the back of Steyning where we come across Mr B and Ambassador Michele cheering us on and taking some snaps. We reach the water treatment site where we turned last time, it’s a bit pongy today but luckily we are past it pretty quickly and follow the trail as it winds its way past a farm and out on to a windy exposed path that opens up some beautiful views across the Adur estuary towards Truleigh Hill.  We are so lucky to have all this on our doorstep so it seems an ideal moment to stop and have a quick regroup, take a breath and reward ourselves for getting thus far.  It’s also an ideal time to check in with Ambassador Lisa…has she read the email with instructions,  does she know at what point we turn?  We both look blankly at each other, opps Ambassador fail!  Lisa does eventually recall we turn at 1.42 so that is what we are going to aim for and it’s not too far away…yippee Runbrightoneers, we have this in the bag!

Once across the windy way, we are heading north towards Henfield, will we make it to the Cat and Canary pub for a fuel stop?  Memory plays a funny thing over time, in my head Henfield was just a hop skip and a jump away, in reality it was a good two miles.  We cross over the river (Adur) and leave behind the temptation to take the river path back to Bramber, dodge around the cyclists and other trail users…LEFT, RIGHT…our tightly packed group engrossed in plenty of chat weave about.  Finally we reach the Runbrighton love wagon with Mr B in his summer shorts and Michele dressed appropriately for the time of year, water, gels, photos, smiles, laughter and we are encouraged politely to get going again!

So that’s it, we are half way and we have covered nine miles, so just another nine to go and that will be the end of the long, long runs!  Is it time to start talking about food yet, I’m a bit hungry and the gels aren’t cutting it?  We chat about carbo loading, how some Runbrightoneers started back in December (that made me laugh!) and generally agreed it is good to simply eat healthily, avoid the processed stuff but do build in the occasional Cadburys Crème Egg!  We dip into a conversation about what to wear on race day, will everyone be having a dress rehearsal before the big day?

The bit back towards the windy way seems to go past quite quickly, some have nipped in a handy bush for a comfort break and feel full of zip and zap, some are just pleased to be heading back to base knowing with every step an afternoon of recovery is nearer.  We make it across windy way with some effort and take a minute to regroup and let the 4hr group, led by the lovely Butch, go by.

We gather our minds, check in on the miles and muster the energy for the last push.  I’ve had a couple of conversations with the Chimp but he seems to have settled knowing it’s not too far now, we can soon start counting bridges and breaking the journey up into bite size pieces.

As to be expected some are starting to feel weary, it’s been a long winter of training and now the challenge is to turn the dial up to marathon pace for the final hour.  Lisa agrees to start slowly turning the screw and I more than agree to swoop around at the back, catching the weary warriors as they fall off of the back.  I suggest a bit of a run walk to some, good that means I can sneak a little walk in too as we approach the bridge at Botolphs once again, embrace the pig smell, clickety clack over the bridge and head off towards the cement works.  Actually it is a derelict site nowadays but in my childhood and until 1991 it was a major employer in the area,  production simply stopped, the 45 tied cottages in Dacre Gardens once housing some 287 people, yes that is 6.4 average per household,  were sold off and time stood still.

I always find it a little creepy running past it, there are some random coaches and caravans parked on site which lends my brain to envisage an abandoned film set of Zombies the Revenge! I often fear a face will appear at the window of an empty caravan or a skeleton will be sitting in the driving seat of the coach!  Well it passes a few moments of running and I promise the Runbrightoneer with me that once past we can enjoy a small walk break..far away from the zombies!

A few more waifs and strays are caught, including Runbrightoneer Kev who was suffering with a twisted knee, it is here I realise Ambassador fail number two, I’ve forgotten my phone!!!  Don’t worry Kev, I have your number on my phone which I am sure is in my car, I’ll get back and phone you to see where you are then pick you up..we have formulated a plan! Except, Kev doesn’t have his phone!  We settle for a bit of a walk and I offer him my shiny foil blanket which he declines in the name of manlihoodness!  I keep moving forward and encourage the small group to keep doing the same, we are joined by a couple more.  If you cast your minds back to one of my first blogs you will remember mention of the very young lad, Harvey, who is raising money for Macmillan after the death of a close family member….well he is still training, still working hard and best of all still smiling!  As well as training he, with his Mum Karen, is off to Sainsburys tonight to stack the shelves ready for me to go shopping tomorrow.  Keep doing what you do Harvey and thank you for filling up the Crème Eggs!

The big bridge count down is on, the flyover bridge, the toll bridge, the rail bridge and finally the Norfolk bridge, at last we all manage to pull ourselves towards the Adur rec, Ambassador Anne goes off in search of the Kevster and I share around the hot cross buns to the weary warriors still left in the car park.

It’s done Runbrightoneers, that’s it..the last of the long long runs and I am left with just one question, where was New David this week?  He was missed!

To the rest of you; in the words of Chuck Berry, on the day he departed earth, Johnny Be-good!

See you next week for ONLY two hours!

***

12-03-2017

Today was the day when the Ambassadors could go wild.  Dazza is in charge….well at least we let him think he is!

My responsibility is to mind our Runbrighton visitor, radio broadcaster Neil Pringle. I have to admit that Neil wakes me up at 6am every week day morning, he shares my early morning run sessions, sometimes breakfast and usually the drive to work. Today however, I am to meet the voice for real…..in the flesh and with a large mike!

Today’s run was to be an adventure, a journey from A to B rather than out and back; A = Goring, B = Hove.

On this day in 1894 that great toilet cleaner Coca Cola was bottled for the first time and it’s Girl Scout Day in the USA!  I also have to add that I got it wrong about Dame Vera, or maybe the radio announced it prematurely!  Her birthday of a 100 years isn’t until Monday 20 March; so apologies to Vera for making her older than she actually is!

Saturday afternoon saw Ambassador Michele and me driving over to Goring to leave her car there so she could join us on the train journey.  So cruising along Worthing prom I start to notice big yellow signs, Caution Runner, 8k, 7k!!  Blimey was the Dazla that organised, had he put signs out for us?

Car installed at its overnight kerbside, tickets for the train purchased, Lidl visit done, birthday cake from M&S bought, text to Dazza to thank him for signage..done!

Of course, there was actually a race planned for Sunday so a quick bit of research and reroute we were all set for the day ahead.

Sunday morning arrived, I listened intently, no pitter patter of rain, I stuck my eye out of the window, no rain!  Could the forecast be wrong,  at one point it had looked dreadful. Fiff and faff, get in the car, collect Ambassador Michele on the way and swoop into the station car park at Hove. Take register using the Braille method or relying on Runbrightoneers to point to their name, you can tell a man designed the list!

Neil arrives so we do the welcoming bit as all polite hosts do; his request to chat to first timers like himself.  I can remember my first time, marathon that is!  It was London 2003 and I stood on the start line with Paula Radcliffe having watched her run over Tower Bridge towards her first London win in 2002.  I had been so nervous and spent the evening before the race shifting from crying to feeling sick to be excited to visualising the cheering crowds..a whole raft of emotions.  Marathon training had taken over my life and every little detail gone over with a fine tooth comb, I think I was carrying  half my house in a pink bum bag on the route! It matched my flo pink vest!   The whole experience was great and of course by now I have erased any pain I might have had, but it can’t have been that bad as  I’ve covered 26.2 miles some 35 times more, sometimes going beyond.

As in any race there are always low points, you just have to remind yourself that it will pass, remember all that training and remember how you feel each Sunday when you chip away at another milestone.  Now as the marathon approaches it is good to start visualising the course, sometimes I break it down into segments and concentrate on a bit at a time.  I might do this in the week leading up to the race, start with the ‘start’, how will you feel as you stand in your corral waiting for the starter gun, what will you do as you jog under the start gantry, how will you keep yourself steady in those first few miles when you are full of running?   Finally after covering all your segments you are left with the finish line, how will you feel running that finishing straight, imagine reaching the pier and feel the crowds lifting you those last few 100 yards, believe me the crowd is loud and suddenly you will feel like an Olympian, from nowhere you will find the strength to sprint (well you will be sprinting in your head!)

All that is for the last few weeks ahead, we must now pull ourselves back to the present and it’s all aboard the 8.35 to Goring where I catch up with the lovely Ambassador Marcus slowly returning after injury.

Goring station soon arrives and we alight and take over a forecourt nearby..goodness knows what the neighbourhood thought when we all congregated and proceeded to do our little dance routine AKA the warm up.

We’re off, a large group of 4.30s most chatting to Neil as he collects conversations ready for his Monday breakfast show and some apprehension about the task ahead.  We head towards Ferring before taking a left down Sea Lane. A peaceful lane with spatterings of daffodils, not exactly William Wordsworth but a delight to see none the less.  We are currently on part of the old Worthing 20 route, a now defunct 20 mile road race that took place three or four weeks before London marathon and latterly before Brighton.  It was a great race fondly remembered as Boring Goring because of the four laps of five miles around Goring but good for runner camaraderie.  The first year I did it back in 2003 I remember running each lap with a different person, it took my mind off of what was my longest run ever ever and broke the race into segments quite nicely.   The only downside for me was that every year I did Worthing I then had a miserable marathon, so for me less is training is more!  My best memory is of Brighton 2012, when despite having to miss the last proper long run before the taper started I went on to get a PB and felt good almost all of the way round.  The best bit was feeling strong on the last three mile stretch along the prom, I had the energy to pick the pace up and a smile for my Mum rather than the usual scowl!

So Worthing 20 reminisced it is on the start of the East Worthing 10k that we narrowly and unwittingly ended up competing in!  Luckily emergency planning from Ambassador ‘he who thinks he is in charge’ and myself meant we avoided such mishaps and kept to the road side of the race start.  Onwards along Worthing prom, watching the pier slowly approach, checking that we are all in one piece still and bracing ourselves for the next section to Shoreham.  It is about here that we recall how many ‘towns’ we will pass through on our way to Hove!  Ferring, Goring, Worthing, Lancing, Shoreham, Southwick, Fishersgate, Portslade then finally Hove actually!  I feel like the 9.30 stopper from Charing Cross!

I can hear New David chatting to Neil..I think it is rugby talk, or maybe football?  Others around me are talking about the marathon, long runs, food, where the next loo is and all manner of stuff that makes the miles tick away.  We pass the whiffs of breakfast on Lancing prom, past Widewater once again and make a very short loop of Shoreham Beach, taking a left at Ferry Road.  We could have taken a short cut across the Adur Ferry Bridge a footbridge constructed  three years ago replacing the rickety rackety crossing that was there for many years previous.

But today  Ambassador Michele is our destination and she is parked up near the airport roundabout with water/gels and words of encouragement.

We make a pit stop here, bandage up Runbrightoneer Ruth who took an earlier tumble and is bleeding in free flow and regroup both physically and mentally.

Fuelled and watered we are off, over the Norfolk Bridge, through Shoreham High Street before we start the less scenic section of the route all along the delightful A259 taking in the harbour and Shoreham light house (built in 1842)  as we go.

Through Southwick and I feel the pull of home to my left, I could just leave Ambassador Lisa in charge but that wouldn’t be too charitable.  We are tempted to go off piste across lock gates but then remember that actually Basin Road isn’t that inspiring either!

We have to start digging a bit deeper now, some Runbrightoneers are reaching new milestones which is great for confidence!  Finally we are off the glorious A259 and head towards the Lagoon via a sneaky slip road (AKA Basin Road North) where we can view many iconic land marks such as Magnets and Portslade MOT Centre.  Neil captures the group’s thoughts at this moment, most seem positive apart from the occasional mention of blister.  Runbrightoneers relate to Neil what keeps them going every Sunday, for Julius it seems to be  his desire for black pudding!

Finally we are on the prom and the new buzz word…just a Parkrun to go ripples through the group, Runbrightoneer Tess films Neil interviewing her, interviewing him as we start to eat up the final few miles.

Eventually we are back at Hove Station, a few having sprinted the last 800 metres in a mini race to reach the finish first…I look forward to seeing this repeated on marathon day!

We are done!  The journey is complete, confidence renewed and blisters tended. Neil has his recording ready for the BBC Sussex breakfast show on Monday…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04tljsj (1:26:40 & 2:54:50)

… and we have the Watchmakers to visit to bask in our achievement.

For those who are concerned that they will have to run another 10 miles on the day, fear not.  You will have tapered, be rested,  bursting with milage in those legs and fully restored glycogen,  it won’t come on the after a tough week of training plus there will be the addition of the crowds to lift you on your way!

Keep going Runbrightoneers we are nearly there!

See you next week for that final long push!

***

5-03-2017

All Things Bright ‘on’ Beautiful, Armageddon and Anxieties.

6am…Sunday, hymn time….All Things Bright and Beautiful….hahaha! I listen, hummm no wind blowing, brilliant, the weather man was wrong! The hymn is appropriate!

6.20am…tea number one time, hummm, sounds a bit blustery now….perhaps the hymn was a bit optimistic.

6.45am….tea number two and porridge time…..bliddy hell, it’s blowing a flipping hooley and bucketing with rain…it might pass.

7.10am….gather gear, faff,wash,gather more gear..can’t decide what jacket so grab four! Build an arc, man the life boat, it’s looking grim out there…that hymn was having a laugh!

7.45am…..laugh in the face of the storm and apply factor 30 anti wrinkle cream!  It did cause me to snigger, up yours rain!

7.55am…jump in car and away.

7.57am….jump out car and collect forgotten drink!

At last, I’m on my way, amphibious wings attached and safety parachute secure I blow and slosh my way along the seafront. Only one or two foolish runners out today, anyone with any sense is safe indoors, all except Runbrightoneers and Steyning Stinger heros. Today is not for the faint hearted, we could all be blown to Oz….in fact I nearly was chugging along by Roedean at times my little car was almost whipped away in a frenzy of gusty  Gustroids.

On this glorious temperamental day, it is the first Sunday in Lent (for those who have not given in to temptation yet) and  Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday, how great is that!  Not sure about any bluebirds over the cliffs today though, there might well be some Runbrightoneers!

Earlier in the week, St Davids Day, it would have been my Dad’s 86th birthday, so sad he never made old bones. As a keen cyclist I like to think he would have be proud of my attempts at athletisim…in my earlier years I actually made it to the Sussex Schools inter county 400 metres at  Withdean, I came 4th..out of 4..bit of a number theme there.  Apart from having to wear navy knickers and running my backside off to keep with the other three  I remember my Dad sitting in the stands cheering my attempt…oh how I wish he had been here to cheer my more recent attempts.  Happy birthday Dad and Vera!

After battling my way through to Saltdean, I was surprised by the number of Runbrightoneers in the car park, well done everyone, a point for mental toughness just getting here today!  Last time we did this route it was cold, frosty and bright;  experience tells us nothing is ever as good the second time around so perhaps we should have been left with the first joyous memory.

Anyhow, car parked, jacket selected and out to listen to Mr B’s instructions…unfortunately they were carried off in the wind and surrounding chatter!  So a quick recap on a one to one basis worked much better, the brief:  owing to adverse conditions we would cut the run short so as not to be stuck out on the downs with no easy access to a rescue party.  Depending on the strength of the wind and tide we would still do our 40 mins at marathon effort on the prom.   We also converged a couple of groups so I along with Ambassadors Anne and Amanda (A is a good letter) ended up with the 4.15 and 4.30ers…we were off, straight in to a full on head wind and up a hill! Chatter soon turned to manic laughter which in turn erupted into gasps as we fought the wind and the incline.

The keener, who were on a head, seem to want to continue to Newhaven until reminded we needed to do a left!  Once up on the Tye the wind seemed to be behind us and the faster ones galloped off like frisky ponies at the Grand National.  Keeping a range of abilities together was going to be a challenge especially when Ambassador less at the front  there was a tendency to create a new route!  But we made it to the top of Telscombe Village, before enjoying the downhill to take us into the village.  It is named as a conservation area and it’s tightly packed houses lay hope that it is also a tight community, it is certainly secluded with only one access road.  As I said in an earlier blog, there used to be a YHA in the village, local planning documents confirm Bank Cottages is no longer to be used in this way but converted into two dwellings and a holiday home.  Maybe we can hire the holiday home for a Runbrighton weekend!

The last time we were up here the views were amazing, today it all felt a bit grey and tired, probably like quite a few runners having astounded themselves at the half last weekend.   No Llamas to greet us, but a few sheep graced the hillside as we took the correct RB turning down the slippery slope picking up Cricketing Bottom towards the muddy South Farm.  I love the names of some of the valleys, over towards Eastbourne is Crapham Bottom and behind Falmer is Faulkner’s Bottom!  Having run on the Downs in all weathers for a number of years, mud holds no fear to me, but I fully appreciate it can be difficult to negotiate and energy sapping when you have to concentrate on staying upright all of the time.  The farm today was a muddy, wet affair, even the cows, calves and lambs were under cover, actually even the farmer was sitting in his Land Rover smiling menacingly at us!

So we found ourselves at the foot of the mountain that leads up to Dame Kiri’s house, for most it was a plod and a crawl to the submit before a brief joggette along the alley…hurrah it’s time to turn, regroup for a selfie, gel and mini rest…we have strangers in the camp this week, you can tell they are used to a strict routine, none of this stopping lark us 4.30s know and love, our excuses for a breather and view admiration!

Anyway, they are forced to hang about whilst I faff with my phone before we roll back down the hill to Muddy tree farm, Ambassador Anne rescues a lamb..poor thing was probably escaping for a reason.  It is now that the birthday boy and Runbrightoneer Julius can put his choir voice into good use as I send him off ahead to command a regroup at the gate.  The group is stringing out as we negotiate a steady and uneven climb, grassy descent then a slippery climb before we can free fall Julie Andrews styleee back through Telscombe.  One last climb; Julius now enjoying the vocals ploughs on ahead to net regroup as Mr B and his bambi legs go floating by which reminds me I must fall back in love with hills and stop opting for the easy flat another.

The decent back to the coast road seems to go on a bit and we all feel like we are in the Grand National now, lets hope no one falls at the last jump!

Back to Saltdean where we nearly lose a few at a couple of road crossings…remember the Tufty Club, look listen and look again…or perhaps the Green Cross code…just don’t be sheep!   We survived long enough to attempt the 2 x 20 mins at marathon effort on the prom, the tide is safely out and the wind has dropped somewhat.  To accommodate everyone we opt for a free style run, run at effort if you want or just let your legs make the decision.

After the first 20 mins we turn and the wind is behind us, the sun comes out and earlier seems a distance memory as we look forward to the last few weeks of training.

Don’t worry Runbrightoneers, you are doing fantastical, today was all about the effort and your body will remember that…it never knows how many miles you have run anyway, it’s just your inner chimp in your brain telling you that you need to do more, he loves paranoia.  Engage your human brain, the voice of reason… reassure  the chimp, tell him you will both be fine, remind how strong you felt last week in the half as you stormed over the line.  Remind him, there is still two more weeks of long runs before taper time, remind him of all the previous weeks of training layered in your legs and stored in your computer brain.

And if you are still not convinced, just ask me and I will bore you with my numerous attempts at various training plans and what worked best for me.

Next week we are off on a Sunday School outing on the chuffer to Goring, no out and back stuff..just a lovely journey along the coast with a bit of a deviation to take in Shoreham beach.  Mr B is on his holibobs, oh what fun we will have and he will never ever know and to top it all we finish at a beer drinking establishment!

***

26-02-2017

Brighton Half, Blustery Wind and the Bannister Birthday

Well what a day!  Another example of just how much running has given me since I first crawled round the block in 1999!

Reeling back a few weeks to when I was offered the chance to pace the half marathon by Mr B, I jumped at the chance;  I’ve always wanted to but time and other commitments have always prevented me taking up earlier offers.  As the day approached I became slightly nervous, would I run too fast, too slow, get blown off the cliff top, fly up into the sky with my sail..a bit like Wendy Won’t Eat..a book from my childhood!

A loooonnnggg email from Mr B had me making notes about what tent number I needed to go on the prom to collect the Pace flag,  where to drop it and what to do in case of a nuclear war!

Saturday afternoon spent with my Mum and a cross grand child who didn’t appreciate my need to wander around M&S!  Followed by a relaxing evening (no grand child) catching up on the Halcyon before an early night with the BBC iPlayer..what made me think listening to a BBC 4 dramatisation of the terrible Herald of Free Enterprise disaster would relax me heaven knows!  http://www.ship-disasters.com/passenger-ship-disasters/herald-of-free-enterprise/  Some of you are probably too young to remember the tragedy on 6 March 1987, so almost 30 years ago now.  It stays in my memory, not least because a couple of boys who lived in the same road as me were killed, but also because of the number of  significant tragedies that occurred in mid to late 80s that are also seared into my mind;  Lockerbie, Hillsborough and the Eisel Stadium, all hopefully never to be repeated.  Anyway, back to Radio 4 and I eventually it got to the bit where the last three survivors (three lorry drivers in their bunks) were rescued and I decided I probably hadn’t lured my mind into a restful sleep and paused the programme for another day.  So with crashing waves  in my head and a howling gale outside my window I drifted off into a swirly sleep, which actually wasn’t any worse than usual for me!

Before long it was the 6am hymn awakening as are most Sundays throughout the winter..one eye open, off to the kettle, make tea..back to bed…check Garmin, ARRRRRGGGHHH, school girl error, I have forgotten to charge it, panic panic! Plug it in ,text Mr B, text Ambassador Chris, text myself, make porridge, panic some more, write down pace times on paper, drip water on paper, smudge writing, panic some more! Check Garmin, come on charge! Panic my way to the shower, spend too long in there faffing about thinking about pacing, look at Garmin, test the temperature outside, ponder about the fog and panic some more about the Garmin.  Completely ignoring that Ambassador Chris will be pacing with me and will have his timing instrument.  Dress, be kind to my feet with Reindeer’s stuff, double check kit bag and then the Garmin again…Hurrah it has charged but I don’t believe the pesky thing so pack my portable charger.  It’s windy and my hair drives me mad blowing about so I proceed to faff about with my buff for another five minutes, I’m not convinced with the look but realise I am fast running out of time..buffed, packed and garmined it’s out of the door, into the car to collect Ambassador Michele who is officiating at the half and Teo an Arena 80 marshal…eject Teo at the Peace Statue and park in a secret corner of Brighton to avoid any cost.  Stroll to the pier exchange words with Arena coach and a running mate before I start hunting down the Pacers tent, error number two, I forgot my notes and just remember it is after the Volunteer tent.  Furnished with this knowledge I try to break into the VIP tent with no joy so carry on strolling along the prom.

Find them, laugh about the Garmin, proudly produce my portable charger only to have forgotten the lead…well that was a load of good!  Put the flag on and proceed to knock everyone out with it, jiggle about to make sure it fits, pose for photos.

Off with the ladies to find the secret VIP loo I’d spied earlier…I kept my pacer flag on for VIPness!  In the queue I find others posing as VIPs, a couple of Runbrightoneers and 52 marathon man!  Play knock out with the flag again and then wander back via a quick chat with Norman Cook who informs me he won’t be joining me for the race (I’m a 2.30, he wants a sub 2).  Wander back looking for Ambassador Chris…no sign, get in the pen, get anxious as I can’t see him, panic…then he appears as if by magic!  I first met Chris back in 2011 during the first Runbrighton season, I was the 11 min mile pacer (we did miles back then) and he along with a small group that became good friends used to train with me.  Some have since stopped running marathons but Chris and other Runbrightoneer, the lovely Kev, Ambassador Lisa, and always smiling Catherine have gone from strength to strength.  I knew today would be fun and I knew Chris was the ideal pacing partner….I knew today would be a good day!

The pens are filling up fast and the count down begins, the atmosphere is brilliant..finally the race starts and ….we stand still!  Progression to the line is a steady walk for almost 10 mins, but we eventually launch ourselves over the line with a smoke bomb thing fired our way…arrggh nuclear war and I have forgotten the notes!  We survive and quickly get into our pace, a little too quick at first but we soon settle, some familiar runners around us and a bit of chat as we get used to the task ahead.

It’s years since I have done the Brighton half, (2009) the course has changed a number of times. One year it was like a mud feast as we used to run back along the coastal path on the cliff tops….no road closures in those days, it was all path and prom.  My half PB is still hanging around from one of those previous races, from 2007 to be precise. Back on that  day when it was called the Sussex Beacon half,  James Baker won in a time of 1.08.33 with a field of just 3188 finishers compared to 8049 today.  After winning again in 2009 and 2010 James is still competing strongly and although he didn’t win today he did come in the top ten with a brilliant 1.11.35, not bad considering 10 years has since passed.

We completed a mini loop of the level and then headed east towards Roedean. It was great to hear shouts from friends and acquaintances along the way, bump into runners of times ago, we’re all still out there churning out the miles, learning from experiences, creating memories to relive in another 100 years. I remember why I love local races and today I don’t have to race, just keep steady and soak it all up…of course whilst supporting those out to achieve a goal.

We seem to be gliding along which is probably because the wind is behind us, the leaders are coming back from the turn at Roedean, we cheer as we see familiar faces, clap the First Lady and wave gleeful  at other pacing groups. The lovely co pacer Chris dives into the water station and appears with supplies for us both. Smooth operators!  All turn at the turn…well where else would we turn? Whoosh, into the wind, that was why we were gliding along before. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined, more a cross wind which Chris took the brunt of although the flag was swaying a bit.

By now runners were coming and going with our group, some heading off slightly faster, we might swoop them up again. We play ping pong with a lady lovely gold turban until she told us to stop catching her! Heading back down the centre, it felt like we had been in the wilderness out at Roedean, windswept we rolled into the aquarium roundabout calm of wind but noisy with support…chatting with a runner aiming for her first Brighton marathon in a few weeks, thankfully today we are only doing half!

The support was lifting for the runners and the speedier ones were heading to the finish in droves on the opposite side of the road, that expression of determination and pain set fast on their faces.  For us, we are off toward the lagoon, waves and shouts to Mr Hull and the lovely Helen (Rhomboids) taking a break from massaging all those weary legs. Talking of weary, the wind is getting a bit tiring now as we approach the lagoon, Chris start chatting to a lad who had been glued to us all the way…it was his first half…he was not a runner he said! He looked pretty much like he was running to me. Into the last water station went Chris and out again, opps he nearly missed me!

On to the prom and what a lift, a band, no wind and only a Parkrun to go fellow athletes, we’re nearly there. Swooping up a couple more, passing some struggling the final miles. I feel joyful, it’s great not having to fight against the wind, just relax and enjoy, check in on the runners and head towards the finish. I engage with he who is not a runner, a personal trainer with asthmatic clients,  he thought he felt fit so decided to give it a go…his training?  A 2.5 mile run on  Tuesday!! Hilarious! I left him to his music but both Chris and I checked in with him periodically encouraging him to push on…but no, he stayed.  Up round the Peace Statue, past our running club (Arena 80) marshal point to loud cheers…it’s homeward bound. I’ve ticked this last couple of miles off in my head so many times in previous races. Make it to Alfrescos, the Metropole/Hilton, past the hotel then the road drops slightly downhill towards the pier, only a mile to go I encourage…then the 12 mile marker appears half a mile later, humm, that’s confusing. We’re nearly at the pier, a few are hanging on, but Mr Not Run Before (Mr NRB) looks like he is cruising;  past the pier and the cheers get loud, finally we get Mr NRB to push for the line and off he sprints!!! Chris and I saunter in at just under 2.30 having enjoyed every minute.

we have a group hug with Mr NRB, collect water, goodies and chat to those who have achieved a fab finish. Chatting so much I miss the Pacer tent and have to double back to find the others, share a few experiences, change a few clothes and end off to the birthday lunch of the year.

That was absolutely epic, topped by news that my Tuesday night chickens scored a few PBs.

Well done all of you half marathon Runbrightoneers, some truly brilliant running today, proof that the training works and more so that your own hard work is reaping rewards.

To those whose goal was the half, I hope you don’t become strangers, were pleased with your race and feel like me..you want to do it all again!

To those of you training for the marathon…see you next Sunday when we head for the hills!

TTFN

***

19-02-2017

Lancing, loops and lubricant!

I’m back!

Last weekend was a joy on many levels! It was great experiencing the delights of the Barcelona half marathon as well as the rather appealing Spanish pacers….I was almost tempted to throw caution to the wind and join the 1.30hr pace group! Sadly I think I may have only kept with them for about 3 miles!

Anyway, the half is to be recommended especially if you want to build it into a long weekend in a lovely city.   Once again moi and a small perfectly formed group of Runbrightoneers brought a weekend package through Running Crazy so everything was taken care of from landing at Barcelona airport on Friday to leaving early Monday morning.  Much Rioja, Cava and tapas was consumed, a few sights explored and a lot of laughter had.  Despite the illusion of our yellow all-weather capes (Spanish version of the foil blanket) the weather was ideal for running, overcast, mild and dry (and the course has PB potential).

Having recently sampled Benidorm and Barcelona the plan is to continue with the letter B for this year, next up could be Budapest..or maybe Bognor!

Back in Blighty; it’s time to knuckle down to Ambassador duties and embrace Lancing as the number one spot for the weekend.  Oscar Wilde was known to have visited Lancing whilst staying along the coast in Worthing and he used the working title Lady Lancing when writing The Importance of Being Ernest. So quite a cultured place to start our run!

It was a bit of a task to extract myself from my bed this morning, a heavy week of training, accomplishing my heaviest trap-bar deadlift and complete manic madness at work had left me feeling a bit weary.  I’d also taken my legs for a gentle spin around Tilgate Park Parkrun on Saturday with 559 other runners. Quick question to the men…why do you have to spit when you are running? I was in near direct firing line to one not very accurate spitter and the many blobs of spit on the paths confirmed that Tilgate is a spitters paradise!

Thankfully Runbrightoneers are made of finer stuff so no need to duck and dive the spittle!  Sunday, a mildish type of morning and Ambassador Lisa was on taxi duty so I didn’t need to engage my driving brain cell, I could relax in the back seat just like the Queen giving an occasional wave to Runbrightoneers as we swished into the car park.

Mr B seemed to be full of beans today, obviously excited about his 1500 metre track debut later in the day.  The boy Ambassadors were limbering up ready for to demonstrate their aerobic routine while the rest of us just mooched about waiting for the fun to begin.

An intro from Mr B explaining once again the need to keep in the comfortable running pace group, no heavy panting required and remember it is all about the chat!  We’ve all done it, turned up on a start line feeling full of beans after a taper, gone off way too fast thinking that we are obviously fitter than we thought…then boom: somewhere between 16 and 20 miles the wheels come off, you ground to a slow plod.  All that precious time you have banked with your Mo Farah head on is wasted and you are resigned to a 6 mile crawl of tears, cursing, nausea and pain.  Don’t be that runner, be Captain Sensible and carry Mr B and his pacing words in your head, or maybe carry me, I’m lighter and better looking!

Another fantastic retro warm up from Ambassador Michele with the boys backing again before we start the first loop of today’s double circuit run.  This week is final long run week for the half marathoners so they are joining us for a leisurely hour out to Shoreham Beach and back, those who are focussed on the marathon have another 1.5 hours of running to do out to Worthing.   This week I am back with the 4.30s and seem to have acquired a couple from the 4.45s.  We set off in a whirl of anticipation heading east past Widewater the only known location of the almost extinct Ivell’s sea anemone.   Admiring the lovely houses that back on to the water, it’s a shame they front onto a busy road but what a glorious view to look at every morning. I do some of my speed work along this stretch and always take time to imagine living there. (During the recoveries of course!)

Being a fine morning it is a bit of a dodge to avoid the cyclists out and the occasional dog walker, it’s easy when running and chatting to forget those around us but I think we avoided most if we did skim a bit close at times: made easier when I worked out my left from right.  Those who know me well are used to MY right and left…it’s the opposite of most!  We reach Shoreham beach safely, home to yet more fine houses, this time backing on to the beach. Shoreham Beach was once known as Bungalow Town and the first houses were built from disused railway carriages, a few still remain on the opposite side of the beach road.

It was about now that Runbrightoneer Claire decided to throw herself to the ground, with just three minutes before the first turn I sent the others on for a quick circuit of the roundabout whilst Claire fixed herself back together and started a wobbly soon to be run westwards back to base.

We resumed the journey and now the half marathoners could smell the finish.  Some of the marathoners seemed to have caught a whiff too and starting a bit of a gallop, New David and Lucille heading up the charge obviously missing Mr Hull’s command this week.  We manage a rough re-formation and once again dodge the bikes, dogs and other pavement hazards before taking a quick swerve into base to wave at Mr B, collect a gel, chuck any unwanted clothing and say goodbye to the half team….oh the temptation!

We are now Worthing bound, guesstimating how many miles we will cover and looking skyward for the sunny haze that is appearing.  The tide is out displaying a wide expanse of sand along the coast to Worthing pier as we chatter our way along, more bikes some in families, the first sign of Spring is obviously drawing the crowds.  This becomes more evident as we pass the pier and spread across the prom towards Goring, pointing out the route of Worthing parkrun as we go.   In ideal weather conditions this parkrun is a great PB course with only one turn to negotiate and at the moment slightly lower numbers than some.  It’s also the start of the Beat the Tide 10k in the summer.

A few of us Runbrightoneers sampled it last year!

The turn time is approaching, counting down as we near the end of Worthing Prom to sample the path heading off to Goring.  Here we are joined by Ambassador Tom on his bike who joins in the chat and frolics.   Time to turn and as luck will have it we find a convenient lay by to gather in, collect ourselves and adminster fuel!

Heading back to base it is the usual excitement of the end being in sight, gentle (and some not so) reminders to keep it steady, the usual stuff.  It’s getting quite warm now too and the constant pounding of the flat paths seems to be taking its toll on some weary souls. Now is the time to dig deep and support each other, on some days it is just a case of getting the job done.  Talk turns to blisters, types of socks, I favour Hilly Twin Skins, but it is all trial and error.  <Touch wood> the only time I have suffered from blisters is on the very long distance events I have done and then really late on.  For me, foot care is one of my key priorities during training and on race morning.  As well as wearing my go to socks I use Xenofit Tallow Second-Sports Cream . Other brands such as Bodyglide are available or simply use Vaseline.  In fact anywhere prone to chaffing is worth a smattering of vaso, you might well notice the chaps having a quick fumble in their shorts on race day…now you know why!

So vaso chat over, we round the bend onto Lancing Green, eyes drawn to the Runbrighton love wagon and the finish.  We’ve made it, slightly warm and tired but mostly in one piece.

Well done Runbrightoneers and well done to the Bannister for a storming race later in the day, just shows you age has no barrier! 🙂

Good luck at the Brighton Half to those who are taking part, run strong, stay steady and focussed.  I with Ambassador Chris will be leading the 2hr 30min train out, come join us if that time is your goal.

Otherwise just keep this little mantra in your head, stay steady, stay strong, stay focussed! 

Happy running!

***

5-02-2017

Bangers Beans and the Backstreet Boys.

Wow, something must have hit a nerve as this week….the Backstreet Boys are back! Assisted by Ambassador Amanda the boys have almost perfected the routine, I think a bit more work on the grande plié for next week and then we can leave the warm ups in your safe hands.


An amusing start to a pretty grey kind of day and nothing compared to the glories of a couple of weeks ago when we strode off across the Tye. This week we are back at the Uni and thanks to the wonders of Facebook I am reminded that on this day in 2012 Runbrightoneers also gathered at Sussex Uni for our weekly run, Then it was ankle deep in snow, where has all the snow gone and more importantly where have those years gone!


This week I was trusted to support the 5hr plus groups with the lovely Ambassador Michelle, new people, new chat and a completely different route to what I had in my head! Thanks Ambassador Lisa for sharing the correct information and another reminder that I must pay attention to Commander Bannister.

Off we went upwards and downwards towards Stanmer Park, discussing the approaching hills and the delights of grandchildren. A bit of car dodging through the park added to the excitement for both runner and driver before we once again journeyed through the village. This time we headed up the chalky path towards the pylon, a shorter but slightly steeper climb than the previous route we had taken, most opted for a brisk walk and to be honest ended up in better condition than those who had slogged out a sort of run pace!

An attempt of a regroup at the top before we slid down a slightly muddy path under a canopy of trees where at the bottom we came across an fallen Ambassador being tended to by another slightly squeamish one! Once assurances had been made what was now a fairly small group of Runbrightoneers tackled the next short hill getting closer to the South Downs Way with just one final long climb to accomplish. We did this with a bit of a walk/run/chat routine finally reaching a rather drafty trail to head east with our backs facing Ditchling Beacon.


The views across to the Norths Downs Way weren’t quite as clear previous days but still magnificent and for some the realisation of where we actually were in relation to local geography was reassuring. For us we made it just past the top of Streat Hill, I remember being here almost at the end of the 100k London to Brighton in 2012. After tackling Streat Hill it was around 10.30pm and pitch black accept for my head torch, despite having been up there tons of times I was completely disorientated and was only assured I was in the right place by the pink route marking tape! No worries today though, its broad daylight and many runners to follow.

Once again its seamless turn and we head back barely noticing the undulations as we chatter about this and that. A Sound of Music moment as we descend from the top of the trail singing the hills are alive safe in the knowledge that we have run more than we have left to do!

It only remains to chuff up the last hill back to the pylon where we meet a gathering of the 4.30s and ease our way down the chalky path. We are overtaken by Mr Hull and his partner in crime who sneak a rest at the gate, all in the name of being polite! Earlier I had spotted New David in the crowd looking a shadow of his former self in his slinky new running gear, a true athlete is born!

The world is started to wake up now and business at the café in Stanmer village is picking up, cars are circling the park and some Runbrightoneers attempt to lunge themselves on a bonnet or two!

We make it safely back to the car park at the University pleased to have achieved to finish a tough run. Bit of abuse from the Backstreet Boys until I remember I have made flapjacks for all then it is off for breakfast (reference to the bangers and beans in the title) and a mull over of world events…and other such trivia.

You thought this week’s warm up was scary Stephen…next week we’re doing the Rumba!

That’s it from me this week Runbrightoneers, short and sweet I am afraid…time and work wait for no man.

Only time to thank the lovely Claire Giles for a share of her photos. 🙂

I’m off to Barcelona for the half marathon at the weekend so I shall miss the exciting laps of Hove Park and a revisit of King George, be strong, dig deep and remember…you can do it!

***

29-01-2017

Marathon Pace, Marathon Route and Marathon Motivation.

Here it is again, Sunday…doesn’t it come round quickly?  Especially when you realise on Saturday evening that you still haven’t washed your kit from last Sunday!!!! Slovenly?  Or perhaps I simply have so many items of running clothing that I don’t need to think about the white wishy washy machine in my kitchen!  Actually I probably have too many clothes…full stop!

Anyway a hasty wishy washy in between cooking food and catching up with Sugar Free Farm and how to lose weight by eating your placenta, luckily it comes in tablet form. Not that I am ever going to deliver a placenta again or want to lose weight come to that but it made for some amusing watching and easy on the brain for a pre long run evening.

Kit ready and Sunday morning back to normal with hymns rather than Trumpton/money talk to wake me up, fed, watered and ready for the short hop along the seafront to the King Alfred…and best of all the rain that has been threatening all week hasn’t yet arrived.  If it had been this day in 1947 we could have woken up to temperatures similar to those in Essex where it dropped to -20.6C overnight and England was experiencing the worst snowfall in 150 years.

I found this 1947 training run photo of Mr B to prove it!

Holy moly, Ambassador Amanda and I are landed with the warm up!  No time to prepare we decided we would wing it and concentrate on getting everyone mobile…so apologies if it felt more like a skipping lesson but at least everyone joined in….apart from the boy Ambassadors that is, they seem to only need to waggle their jaws and talk about whatever boys talk about!

So with the skipping done it is time to start the run, this week it is a cut back week…I do love one of those occasionally and it’s just as essential as all those longer plods we have done. It gives the body time to  adapt and recover from the recent block of training, ready and refreshed to start the next. Think of it as a chance to seal all those earlier miles in your legs, all safely secure.  Next week will be time to start building your second storey as we move towards the half marathon.  For some that is their goal,  for others it will be a bench mark to see how well the training is going and maybe re-evaluate the marathon time.  All that is for another day, let’s stick with Sunday and the joy of 1hr 15 mins of flat, flatness, a snifter of marathon pace and more marathon route recce. An easier route but no glorious sunshine or lush green views.

We head eastward in order to pick up the marathon route in Grand Avenue as it makes its way west along Church Road both new and old!   Today I have Ambassador Tim with me holding the reins but the horses at the front are a wee bit keen and take off along the prom with click of their heels!  A bit of a holler from me, Tim is way too polite for shouting, we ease our way to the road crossing and start the route proper.  Past the shops on Church Road, some starting to wake up for Sunday trading wondering what on earth is going on as upwards of a 100 runners thunder pass!   We soon cross Sackville Road to carry on along New Church Road,(NCR)  younger brother of old Church.  Mainly residential the road comes alive on marathon day when it is closed to traffic and lined with supporters all cheering the runners on.  Yes, you Runbrightoneers, you who have put in all this hard work over the winter and are executing your goal, over half way to completing!

Inevitably  conversation turns to the marathon, those who have done it before sharing experiences, how they felt this point along NCR.   How to stick to a planned pace, how to not go off too fast, how to motivate ourselves to get out and do the training, are we running far enough, fast enough, or just generally enough!  All questions that we have all asked ourselves at times during training, this year and the million before.  My children recently said that I must love running because I am always doing it!!  I don’t actually always love it, sometimes it’s tough getting out of the door, sometimes I hate it when my legs feel like lead and it’s dark and cold. But I am driven by my goals and wanting to succeed, I want to feel reasonable completing my goal not dead on my feet as I have done on occasions. For me, committing to Runbrighton as an Ambassador is motivation for me, it keeps me focussed on my training along with my goal.  I know I have to get out of bed on a Sunday because I have committed but it is also great to run with Runbrightoneer company, meeting new people, hearing new bits of life, sharing our beautiful surroundings such as the South Downs and my ‘love’ of running.  Without fail, Sunday mornings give me a rush of endorphins that lasts me the whole week!  Sunday love and my group of athletes who turn up on a Tuesday evening week after week to challenge themselves, it all helps with a that feel good factor.

So that was us chatted out, we had made it along NCR and it’s time to turn, in the main we have kept together, although a couple of stray horses managed a break away.  No time for a selfie this week, Tim has us on a tight schedule and we are hurtling back the way we have come in readiness for the last 30 minutes at marathon pace once back at the King Alfred.  We merge left, right and centre with the other pace groups as we hit the prom, a sea of fluorescent colours all chomping at the bit to unleash the half and full marathon pace!

A quick re-group for us to avoid any 4.30ers getting dragging along in the 3 hour group, a reminder that our pace will be 10.18, and we are off at 9 minute miling!! Well not quite but it takes us a tiny while to steady the pace and keep to it, at least now we have the sea to admire and views to Worthing until we hit Basin Road.  Immediately off the prom marathoners are transported back to mile 20 which comes here on the course, how they coped with the road and strategies to use to get it done.  Tim liked that it is now only 10k until the finish, I liked that it gave me a break from the crowds, time to gather my thoughts imagine the finish line, how I am going to feel when I step back on the prom after the Basin Road loop with only a Parkrun to go!  You’ve come this far Runbrightoneers, don’t give up now!

All this motivational chat has passed the time very quickly before we know it we are heading back, prom, sea, beach huts, the View and for us today, the King Alfred finish.  Void of our selfie moment my star pupil and I took the opportunity to capture the moment …….

whilst everyone else scattered for Mike and his water maidens……

So that was cut back week done, all that remains is for us to retire to the View where I manage to spend longer over breakfast and planning than the actual run!  Finally after a one year old’s birthday tea I find myself typing this whilst sipping a glass of red arguing in my head if I shall get out early for my run on Monday? Or do I wait for the evening when I have more time to go slightly longer but the weather might be grim, or do I do earlier and longer, all those little arguments occupying my head space, let’s see what the latest endorphin release does for the start of a new week!

Keep running Runbrightoneers and keep motivated.

***

22-01-2017

Hills, frost and a heart singing morning.

On this day in  1929 a new “Dry Bill” (Alcohol Prohibition) was being Introduced to the US Congress, it would also have been Lord Byron’s 229th birthday and the day in 1964 when the world’s largest cheese was manufactured.

So fast forward to 2017 and I find myself woken to ‘wake up to money’ and more Trumpton talk…this is not my usual Sunday alarm call, what is happening, is it Monday, have I missed a day? Where is my hymn singing serenading, I lay there a tad confused until the radio presenter cuts in to confirm a change to the usual Sunday offerings.  In avoidance of the Trump I swing out of bed and put the kettle on ready for the two tea regime, whisk up the porridge/honey/banana combo and think about the run ahead of us.  Tea drank, kit on and porridge consumed it is off for an extremely mood lifting drive along the seafront, what an absolutely blast of a morning, a spectacular frost, how lucky am I.  This is why I love Brighton, this is why I have never moved away…yes, I am one of those rare local locals, born and bred. I can’t even claim to have been to University in a far flung place…Uni was for the grammar school scholars, not the Secondary Modern/local comprehensive kids.  Don’t worry I wasn’t sent up the chimneys at 15, but I did leave School at 16 to work in Savory and Moore chemist as a Pharmacist assistant for the grand sum of £12 a week, mind you 10 Number 6 cigarettes were only about 10p…so it is all relative.

Reminiscing done, we fast forward to the car park at Saltdean, apprehension about the hills, the cold and anything else that leaps into the worrying cells. Warm up with Ambassador Michele with some impressive squats, thank you M for leading us in a fun routine, it takes guts to stand in front of a 100+ Runbrightoneers and dance!

Warmed and flexed it’s off to the hills we go!  Last time we did this run we started at the Marina and it was blowing an absolute gale…so bad we were nearly swept out to sea…well probably an exaggeration but it was windy, today was calm, cold but calm and sunshine.  Today is going to be about toughness, pacing is secondary, enjoying the views is foremost.

We trundle over the cliff tops and sneak a bit of pavement to avoid the biggest climb before being guided safely across the road by Mr B and hitting the Tye.  A slow gradual climb away from the cliff tops heading into the South Downs that lovely line of undulations that protect us from anything north. We are aiming for a small tree on top of the Tye, a good place for a quick regroup to give any droppers a chance to catch up but we seem to have kept together so no hanging about. We head up to the top of the road that drops down into the village of Telscombe, a nod to the finger post that directs you to follow the Meridian Line…all the way to East Yorkshire should you feel the need. One Sunday a few years ago whilst running in the exact same spot I met a retired couple who were way marking the route… https://www.ldwa.org.uk/ldp/members/show_path.php?path_name=Greenwich+Meridian+Trail

Today we are out for just 2hrs 10 mins so take the road down into the village, pass the YHA building that seems to have closed or is being refurbished and up the first of the bigger climbs, another quick regroup by the Llamas and we are on our way to be met with wonderful far reaching views. So engrossed were we that I missed the que to swig left!

And carried on leading the pack onwards up the road, giving us a bonus .5 of a mile and much confusion!  Back on track we follow the path as it glides through the farm at the base of the biggest climb to the top of the mountain overlooking Rodmell.  I’ve covered all of the South Downs Way (SDW) and most of the local surroundings but never have I followed the RB marked path to the foot of the hill, it’s nice to discover something new.  Most of us opted to walk purposefully to the top and recover for a quick regroupage outside Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s house, but no soprano tones emerging so we continue following the SDW as it goes east to pick up the Yellow Brick Road.  The Yellow Brick Road, Big W and North Face all form part of the Jog Shop 20 http://www.jogshoponline.co.uk/thejogshopjog.html a great local low key event that has been on the race calendar for many a year.

We manage to make it half way up the Yellow Brick Road having passed the track to Breaky Bottom, a glorious vine yard hidden in the valley, we attempt the usual selfie but with my rubbish eyesight and the sun glaring I failed and got a lovely photo of my hand!!  Fortunately Tess was at the ready to capture us or rather capture Jane capturing us! What a wonderful display of colour!

So it is back the way we came, suddenly we have that return spring in our step as we pass the cows having a scratch on the fence, pass old Dame Kiri and descend the steep hill back to the farm.  It is here we are joined by Ambassador Tom with encouraging shouts of well done as he ran with us in his Sunday best jeans.  A nod to Mr Hull as he holds the gates for us, sneaking a little rest whilst being polite.

As with all things what comes down must go up and this continued back to the top of the Tye where we regrouped for the last time.  I know it can be frustrating if you have to stop for a minute, but so much kinder to wait for fellow Runbrightoneers who might be struggling a bit..one day it may be you.  So my advice is learn to love the regroupage, see it as a bonus, a chance for a quick relax, embrace a view, chat or eat a Percy Pig.

We are now off at a gallop towards the cliff tops, slowed by the road crossing and talk of cake, yes cake and a Runbrighton Bake Off.  I definitely encourage this kind of behaviour, eating after a run is good, in fact important.  Probably something more substantial than cake but hey it’s a start other examples like eggs, beans on toast, natural yogurt based smoothie, chicken sandwich, the list goes on but do include some protein and do eat within about 30 minutes of exercising so your body can start the growth and repair process.  Don’t worry about calories as the body continues to burn them long after the run has finished and more so in the first couple of hours, so get eating, get recovering and be ready to take on another week of training.

Cake chat over, the welcome sight of Saltdean Lido beckons us back to the car park where we swap much admiration of the route and how for most it has been the best.

This is why my heart sings!

It only remains for me and other Runbrightoneers to retreat to the Whitecliffs café for breakfast, coffee and yet more chat!

That’s it for this week, long may the sun keep shining on a Sunday and don’t forget the cake!

***

15-01-2017

Rain, river and running faster (well marathon pace)

The usual hymns on the radio broke through my rubbish sleep as I promptly turned over to contemplate the day ahead and the pain in my heel that mysteriously appeared the other week during the days of plague. Eventually I decided it was time to start the two tea regime, although it has become lemon and ginger 1.5 regime, another hang over from the plague. I popped an eye between the slats of the blind in my boudoir and decided it looked ok out, damp but not raining….haha, so much for that eye!

Eventually filled with marmite on toast and legs cosy in my new Brooks tights I was ready for collection by Ambassador Michele, her of Dirty Dancing/Fame warm ups and listener of my ramblings.  We rocked up into the car park and snuck into a little spot next to the Runbrighton love wagon which meant we could remain there nice and dry until it was ready for the off.  A humorous 10 minutes watching various Runbrightoneers try the locked loos, I know it was mean but it did amuse me.

Grimly the rain was coming down and it didn’t look like going away so it was time to bite the bullet and join the circle of warm up…joining in the Brian Russell backing group we followed a routine that John Travolta would have been proud of…thank you Michele.

Today we were heading up river…think of that in a Yorkshire accent!  Two hours of running with 3×10 minutes of marathon pace (MP), 63 minutes out ready for the slightly faster return, although I build in a one minute selfie regroup time. The tide was low, sky grey, rain falling and the trail a bit damp…but hey we were out there ticking off another week of training with a group of runners who are fast becoming friends.

We are following the Downslink, a disused railway line that ends in Guildford if you keep going. https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/leisure-recreation-and-community/walking-horse-riding-and-cycling-routes/downs-link/.  We’ve been up here before and as before I share some lovely routes with the Runbrightoneers, links to the South Downs Way, the Coombe Road back to Lancing College, stinky pig farm spreading across the horizon and on drier days the river bank each side. In my head I reflected back to 2012, the year I blasted my marathon PB at Brighton and specifically my last training run when my legs were bursting to run and having to restrain myself from speeding beyond my MP session. It’s been a while since I have felt such a spring in my step, but for that marathon it all came together.

Back to today and the challenge of restraining the friskies in my group, I think they like to challenge me and see if they can nudge ahead without me seeing.  At one point we laughed at those around me looking like body guards.

In amongst the chat and rain we dodged the puddles and cyclists, challenged passers-by to say good morning, in the main they do but some just ignore us probably cursing our jovial manner and intrusion on their peace and quiet.

We approach Bramber, admire the remains of the castle and then negotiate the narrow lane that’s links us to the next bit of Trail but not before Lucille shares a story about a friend who lives in the area. See, little by little Runbrightoneers we get to know each other, share small bits of our lives and what makes us tick. And yes, Lucille…I’ve had a chequered past too…I’ve not always been a running geek.

We nearing our turnaround time and I predict we will make it to the water treatment works (that’s sewage don’t you know!) In 2010, year of the first Brighton marathon I was supporting a training group doing a similar route, the winter had been sodden and the river was at bursting..so much that it did burst in parts as did the water treatment place!!!! On our return we were met with knee high floods…I was ok I was injured and on my bike so I simply free wheeled through with my legs on the cross bar….poor runners had to wade through..at least it was clean but flipping freezing apparently! I still chuckle when I pass this bit, it was one of those runs not to be forgotten. No floods thankfully and a handy little lay by for our selfie, I think we are getting better at them!

It’s also an opportunity to take on gels/sweets or whatever takes your fancy.  Now is the time to practice your fuelling, no leaving it to chance on race day and suffering stomach problems with a gel or product you have never tried before.  If you have eaten well the evening before and had a decent breakfast you should have enough glycogen for about 90/120 mins of running in muscles, after which you start running out and probably slowing down. The trick is to start getting the energy in before you run out completely, so again think of yourself as a car, keeping your petrol topped up, if you wait until you are knackered you are beyond saving!!

My personal choice during a road marathon is to take a gel every 5 miles, it gives me a goal to focus on and usually coincides with a water station (crucial).  The trick is to start getting the energy in before you run out completely, so again think of yourself as a car, keeping your petrol topped up, if you wait until you are knackered you are beyond saving!!   Many go on about ‘real’ food and yes, I am known to enjoy a cheese sandwich whilst chugging round a 50 miler but when ‘racing’ I want something quick and easy.  Actually my all-time favourite at races with buffet style aid stations is a Jelly Baby between two crisps, salt and sugar combo, brilliant!    Reality for me is that chewing on a sandwich whilst running at pace is never going to end well.

Apart from gels there is still an array of choices blocks, beans, chews, bars, sports drinks or better still make your own drink (far less additives and cheaper) with a combination of fruit juice/water and a pinch of salt (100ml juice to 400ml water).  Some might even feel the need to make their own gels http://www.active.com/cycling/articles/make-your-own-homemade-energy-gel-871738?page=2

If you want to try a selection of gels/blocks etc. to see what suits you best I can recommend the Bike Store in Worthing,http://www.thebikestore.co.uk/index.asp  they have a vast range sold singularly and if you ask for Andy and mention me you might even get a bit of discount!

So it is wooosshhhh…we start the journey home, quick bit of chit chit with Ambassador Lisa while we wing the marathon pace sections, the lazy arse in me says let’s not bother..but the Ambassador in me says…don’t let the troops down,  get your act together and nominate Lisa to take the lead.  We jogged happily along for the next twisty bit waiting for the trail to open up and give an opportunity to lift the pace.  Once south of Bramber we are off, although it took a while for me to filter the information back to the group.  Most kept in a nice tight pack as the pace slightly increased and those that struggled it didn’t matter, it was more about being out running.   First 10 minutes neatly in the bag we grouped at the bridge at Botolphs ready for a recovery pace until the path widened more.  The next 10 minute block seemed to go on for at least an hour although my watch didn’t agree with my mind!  As some of the group slipped away from the hub I opted to support them and do a bit of marathon pace chat rather than run, so much more fun!  The rest of the group pushed on for that third 10 minute block, machines!

Before long we are counting the bridges back to the Adur car park soaked to the skin once more but pleased to have banked a few more miles. Definitely wise to take a change of clothes even if you need to do a few acrobats in the car to prise yourself into them, it’s definitely more comfortable after.  Our immune system takes a bit of a nose dive after a long run so it is good to keep the line of defences strong, dry clothes, good food and hydrate.   I opted for a quick superwoman twirl in the ladies loo, emerging in some dry clothes ready for breakfast number two in one of Shoreham’s finest eating establishments.  Coffee, sweetcorn fritters, avocado, poached eggs and bacon..delicious!  This set me up well for a little trip to see the delightful Kurt at RUN for my new shoes.

Have a good week Runbrightoneers, keep warm, keep well and keep running!

Brigitte

***

08-01-2017

Riptide, Mount KG and Glorious Views!

Today was the first real Sunday after the Christmas break and as predicted the turn out was BIG!

Today would also have been Elvis Presley‘s 82nd birthday, David Bowie‘s 70th and is Shirley Bassey‘s 80th.  Three stars who featured highly in my teenage years although I was really only a fan of Bowie,  the other two just floated in the back ground of my youth!

So come Runbrightoneers;  let us be heroes for MORE than one day.

Having been ill since Tuesday with a wretched gastric flu thing I was a bit worried about leading the 4.30s on a trip up Mount KG (aka King George VI Avenue or Snaky Hill)  and did the obligatory whiney thing to Mr B when I saw him on Saturday.  Being the hero that I am I knew I had  to ‘woman up’  and headed round the park for a quick try out of legs and wheezy lungs.  I survived but not before sharing my woes with the lovely Helen…and anyone else that would listen in fact!

This week we met in the extremely welcoming  Riptide gym, home of some impressive weights and the delightful Matt.  I love lifting weights and had to restrain myself from flinging a few dumbells around some of which were way beyond what I could ever lift…but I gave them a little stroke none the less. And I have to add that I am quite proud of my 2016 bench press PB considering I struggled to push 20kg 12 months earlier.

Dumbbell admiration over it was out onto the grass for a great warm up led by Matt with some good tips on core strength.  Once warm it was time for a bit of groupage… and wow what a big group the 4.30s were, so big I don’t think I got to speak to half of the runners which is a great shame, I love a good chat.

We were off, a gentle jogette through Hove Park while my watch declined any effort to find a signal, eventually as we left the park bound for Mount KG  it pinged into action. Many of us were feeling the post Christmas/illnesses sluggishness and on my mind was the hill of doom. Will I keep going to the top or will I disgrace myself and fall in a crying sweaty heap before cresting the summit?  A quick regroup at the bottom and promise of another at the top we dug in, gritted teeth and proceeded to chomp our way upwards, ever upwards!  Small steps, work the arms, aim for the tree, then the next, we’re getting there.  In days gone by I remember the elation of making it to the top of mount KG for the first time, the smugness I felt after getting up there when one or two of my old crock cars have failed!  Today some of the group felt that elation and sheer bloody relief that we have peaked, survived and now only have the roundabout death challenge to negotiate!

Luckily thanks to the Tufty club skills of Mr B and Ambassador Tom, my hollering and a bit of swift footwork we made it safely up on to the trail heading for the Devils Dyke.  Worst of the hills behind us didn’t mean it was going to be easy as it is a gentle climb all the way to the Devil’s Dyke hotel and the South Downs Way.  It’s been a while since I have been up here in daylight, more often than not it is 6.30am, dark and I’m bobbing about with ahead torch on.   I am I might add out for an early morning run, nothing more sinister, although it is surprising the number of folk you do see at that time of day and they rarely look ready to run!   Thank you to the lovely Helen and star pupil Mr Hull for keeping the front under control as I had fallen back a bit to socialise and  sneak a wee walk in when no was looking!   Once at summit number two we managed another regroup before we started out across the South Downs Way, what glorious views to behold, a low mist lurking in the distance before the North Downs stood magnificently far beyond. I opted to support those admiring the view and sent the keen ones on telling them I would catch them on the rebound…which I did seamlessly.

Hurrah, we were Hove Park bound and immediately everyone’s bounce returned as we retraced our footsteps DOWN where we had shuffled up.

It wasn’t long before conversation turned to food and more specifically what to have pre run.  It’s not always easy trying to shovel food down you before a run especially if it’s early and possibly nervous.  I tend to eat about an hour before I do my long run and stick to fairly fast absorbed carbs like porridge, bread (not granary), banana, Weetabix, bagels, honey.  Whilst there is a lot of information out there and much points towards slow release carbs the rate of glucose supply to the bloodstream is generally not fast enough for exercise early morning.  It will of course linger in your limbs from a decent meal, the night before, hence the pasta loading scenario!   If you have eaten a good healthy balanced meal (no need for pasta overload)  the night before simply  think of breakfast as a top up.  One of my favourites is to soak oats overnight so they are nice and mushy.  I often train early morning either intervals or strength and conditioning work before breakfast but take my soggy oats with some blueberries, banana, honey, pumpkin or Chia seeds (amongst many other options) to eat at my desk.  Also try grated apple, pecans, Greek yogurt, dates, maple syrup…the list is endless and the great thing is you can eat cold or whack it in the microwave!   Eat your heart out Nigella!  Of course if chewing is a challenge there is always a smoothie;  any of the above including the oats can be whizzed into a easy to slide down splodge.

Anyway that is it from Gourmet Groves and that is the Runbrightoneers back to the top of KG having safely played roundabout roulette.

So, it’s down, down we go, relax the shoulders, lean slightly forward, shake out the arms, let the hill take you, don’t be tempted to apply the brakes…let’s fly!  Bump, we land at the bottom completely forgetting we still have to make it along Goldstone whatever and round the base of the park.  But drive on we do, digging deep and thanking the lord we don’t have to do laps of the ruddy park.  Finally, just finally,  Riptide is upon us and rest..watches stopped, miles checked, relief felt…wasn’t that a great run, hill what hill?  That’s the difficult run out of the way, for most the first one back since the Christmas break, the plunge is taken and the focus is on, time to knuckle down Runbrightoneers, we’re athletes!

Be proud, recover and come out fighting again next week, until then if there really is life on mars I hope there is a whole lot of shaking going on, happy birthday lads and Shirl.

Brigitte

***

01-01-2017

Christmas capers and New Year deluge.

New Year’s Day, a time for resolutions, celebrations and possibly hang overs!  It was also on this day in 1651 that Charles II was crowned King of Scotland, Johann Christian Bach died (1782) and today Rocky Graziano would have been 98 years old!

Talking of age, it seems a while since the last non seasonal Runbrighton jogathon but a super well done to those who have kept their legs turning over the festive season, even if it was in between half a pound of Quality Street and a mince pie.

Christmas Day saw a very select little group embracing the drizzle and my warm up for a 40 minute jolly on the prom, Mr B in his woolly Christmas jumper, me crawling from my bed with the lady flu…. that’s worse than man flu you know and the two David’s in fine Christmas fettle.

New Year’s Day, saw a larger group but a tad more than drizzle falling from the sky. You lied Mr BBC, you said rain at 11 am, good job Noah wasn’t reliant on your forecast, half the poor animals would have been swept off to kingdom come!

Having parked my car next to the Bannister love wagon, I managed to stay put until the last possible minute and surface just as Ambassador Michele started her ‘Fame’ warm up….next week it’s Saturday Night Fever so wear your leg warmers.

Nicely warm and ready to roll we grouped up and off were off….oops I still have my pace card so dash back to the love wagon to chuck it at Mr B….it’s then a threshold run to catch the group who are sprinting off down the prom nearly merging with the 4.15s…come on team, have you not learnt anything from all my nagging!

Talking of threshold and following a query I pulled this from my coaching file:  lactate threshold running is about 15 seconds a mile faster than your 5k pace or around about 10K pace. If using a heart-rate (HR) monitor, the pace is about 75 to 80 percent max HR, the pace should feel “comfortably hard”.   I usually suggest runners should be able to manage one or two words…if you can’t gasp an uttering you are working too hard, if you can chat about the weather…work harder!

Back to the run; after gathering the chicks back into the fold we started our journey with a discussion about how far we would get before turning and waving/cheering to the Parkrun team out helping Brighton and Hove get off to a great start for 2017. 2017!? When did that happen, last time I looked it was the millennium and we were being convinced the world would end. Well it didn’t and today we had the pleasure of kicking off another year in a more invigorating way although some we met on the prom seem not to have quite finished with 2016…. Oh to be young!

On our journey east bound the rain didn’t seem too bad and conversations centred around who went to bed the earliest, porn, gardening programmes and Naked Attraction on channel 4…google it!  We passed Steve Ovett, gave him a pat and reminisced about the previous Steve who resided in Preston Park before he was sawn off at the ankles, his feet are still possibly there…those of you crossing the start line on marathon day might give him a thought.

Quick reprieve from the rain as we tunnel under the road before hitting the cliff tops and the last 15 mins until we turn, it’s still a bit of a challenge keeping everyone together…a bit of keenness from some but a gentle reminder pulls them back. The minutes tick away and with a goal of a blue cycle sign, we stop and take the obligatory selfie. We definitely need a tall long armed person to take the photo, it’s getting a challenge be to squashed in and I definitely need a face lift or wear my glasses!

Turning for home is usually a good positive motivator, however today it was straight into the wind and rain, at times it was like stair rods piercing your face and the King Alfred felt a whole long way away.  But the group knuckled down and kept each other going, we started making little goals to reach, get to Steve Ovett, then the pier, and take the low road for a change of scenery and to get away from the traffic.  Head for the iSore360, then the meeting place cafe…mmmmm bacon smells waft our way. The sky teasing us with a bit of whiter cloud before chucking another bucket of water at us!   As noted by Lucinda, everyone was now more restrained and not so keen to run ahead!  Mr Hull keeps a loving eye on new David as we set ourselves new targets, Prom Parkrun cafe, end of beach huts and last push for home.

Take over water duty from a shivering Mr B, whip out the Ferrara Roche, as you do at the end of a run.

Then wait patiently for Mr B and the wagon to leave so I can peel off my wet clothes, struggle into dry ones and head to Sainsburys for a well-deserved bacon sarnie and a steaming cup of coffee.

Well done Runbrightoneers; that is the year started, the sun can only get brighter and the days longer….but remember the half and full marathons are only getting nearer so don’t chicken out if it rains again.

See you all next week for some new challenges, chat and laughter.

Brigitte

PS: credit to Fitbits blogger Tess for the warm up photo. http://www.thefitbits.com

***

18-12-2016

Week 4,

Woods, Warm Ups and Weary Wonkiness!

The 4th Sunday in Advent, the fourth candle is supposed to symbolise peace…it’s never peaceful in my group though!

It would also have been Betty Grable’s 90th birthday, so many happy returns to the woman with the million dollar legs.

Woken to ‘all come all ye faithful’ signalling that it was time to rally and start the two tea ritual once again but first I took a moment to check I still had a pulse.  With my Prosecco head on last night I was sure I had laid out my kit for the run, it turns out the only thing before me was my Ambassador t-shirt…could be a bit of an eye opener!  It took me a while to gather the rest, leggings on the radiator, long sleeve top in the ironing basket…I call it that but I rarely iron so in reality it’s the can’t be arsed to put it away basket!  Anyway, preparation was a slow process and I knew I was going to forget something, but at least I knew where we were meeting, how long we were running for and where we were running too!

Item of forgetfulness, my little pouchy thing that I keep my phone in! Luckily it fitted in my other pouchy thing that also doubled as my jacket!

I soon worked out I wasn’t the only weary Runbrightoneer as we filed into the car park at Sussex University, being the season to be jolly, many (including me) had been on a Christmas celebration delight the night before.

So firstly apologies to Mr B for being a bit of a prima donna and wimping until I got my own way! I feel I gave him added stress on a morning when he was already short of Ambassadors!  I was supposed to be heading up the 4hr group with Kev the wonderful pacer plus doing the warm up!  Time for plan B…volunteer Anne for the 4hr group.  Then look limp and useless so the lovely Marcus agrees to lead the warm up, he is nicer to look at anyway and actually with the pressure off I enjoyed dancing around the car park, it worked well. We could all see him and had space to jog, skip and generally feel warm!

Time to get into groups and I ended up with the delightful 4.30s again, both new and familiar faces this week.  New David promising to behave and Mr Hull producing an apple for the teacher, he is such a model pupil!

We’re off, straight up a short hill only to run back down towards Stanmer Park, we are so lucky to have this great estate on our doorstep, I was surprised to discover that it has only been open to the public since 1953 having been brought from the Pelham family in 1947 by the then Brighton Council.

As we swept up the carriageway on to Stanmer House, a grand 18th century Georgian manor house, now a bit of a ‘lost its way’ gastro pub I started to feel confident I might actually finish this run without needing a piggy back!

I nice tight little group, it was good to get to know a few newbies and share a bit of banter as we approached ‘the hill’!   The climb although not incredibly steep does go on a bit but we held on to the thought that on the way back it would all be downhill!  I was impressed with the group, we managed to stay together even picking up young Tess and welcoming her into the fold.  We worked the hill, used our arms and bounced upwards ever nearer the summit!  With a quick catch of breath at the top we then continued into the woods and to my mind the best bit of this run.  Chatting about our grandchildren, midlife crisis, training, not having time, fitting it all in to busy work lives and the benefits of a 30 minute quality speed session.  Out into the open, through a wee bit of mud thanks to the local cows and then back into the woods as we ran parallel to the Ditchling Road before descending in a loop that would have taken us back to the Uni had we not had to turn around and go back the way we came.

So, 45 minutes in it was time to turn, time for the selfie…if the group gets any bigger I’ll need a wide angle lens!  This time I was prepared with my phone so except for having to get someone to find the ‘selfie’ button (I refuse to take my reading glasses running!) we managed a respectful photo shot without a fumble this week!

Back we went retracing our footsteps, admiring the views as we swept into the open, most of us remarking on how lovely it was to be out running with a great group of people even if it was difficult to peel ourselves off of a bed this morning. A quick deviation meant we managed to avoid the worst of the mud before starting the descent back to Stanmer Village avoiding a cycling group coming up we had to resist the desire to start sprinting down the hill, best to save the knees for another week.

Glancing over my shoulder I thought we had lost Mr Hull he had been so quiet but no there he was and New David..although a couple of my Tuesday group tried to make a break for it aided and abetted by Lucille.

Now the benefits of working at the University is that I know a few short cuts and one that avoided that hill at the end seemed a good option, so waiting for Mr B to disappear on his bike we did a quick joggette round the Medical School car park, up a back alley and some steps before arriving all innocent like in the car park where we started.

Phew, that felt much better, endorphins released the earlier pain of last night’s fizz fest long forgotten!   Having been so difficult earlier I thought I had best make it up to Mr B and help him with the water distribution!  Well, all I can say is it’s a good job we don’t have a drought, think of all those poor people who have to walk for miles for a meagre ration…they would have been distraught at the amount that was being sloshed all over the car park and Magdalena’s shoes!    Eventually all Runbrightoneers were watered (literally) the car park awash and Christmas greetings were exchanged.

Another successful Sunday morning in the life of a Runbrightoneer.

For me it was a visit to the University café for beans on toast and coffee but not without remembering a quote from Ben Smith (401 marathons in 401 days)…”Running is my sanctuary”  I would add… best taken with friends.

Have a fantastic Christmas Runbrightoneers; I might see a few of you Christmas day, otherwise see you in the new year for some more exciting running trips, laughter and much chat.

***

11-12-2016

Week Three, Cliff Tops, Views and Conversation.

The 345th day of the year, just 20 days until the end of the year, the 11th has been on a Sunday 58 times in 400 years.

On this day in 1972 Apollo 17 landed on the moon, it is National tango day in Argentina and my brother’s birthday.

My advent calendar tells me to ‘be kind to yourself, go outside for a soothing stroll with nature…a run with some humans seemed a good compromise.

So no landing on the moon for me this morning, instead my lunar-car docked at the Asda space station having been scraped of ice and steered along the seafront galaxy of tarmac.

Today we were going to negotiate a hill, well, at least a little bit of it…although plans amongst the 4.30s to walk the first couple of miles so as not to reach the hill seemed an option not to be taken lightly!

We were informed by a newly landed martian from Asda that we needed to be out of the car park by 10am…not sure he actually had the authority to issue that warning but it seemed unfair to chance it…although I advise anyone ever getting a parking charge demand from a private company read the ton of information available on the Martin Lewis website.

Anyway a quick shrinkage of the run time was met with a cheer from the athletes and to waste no more time we ditched the warm up for a nice easy start up the zig zag path…avoiding poo on the way.

Off across the cliff tops we soared, any early morning chill being forgotten as the usual chat began, new faces and new conversations. One uplifting one with a young man (I am sure he is only about 12) about his reasons for wanting to do his first marathon. His aunt, with a poor prognosis for lung cancer was received onto a treatment trail that seems to be having great results for her. So this great Runbrightoneer is running to raise money for Macmillan and help fund expensive treatments for his aunt and other cancer patients. Such an uplifting story on a glorious Sunday and a reminder of what drives some of us to pull on our trainers week after week.  We have a tendancy to run in our own little boxes with our isolated thoughts, so it’s great to have conversations, get to know fellow Runbrightoneers and to be reminded that everyone has a story to share.

Back to the run, we headed under the road, tunnelling our way past St Dunstans, scooting past Ovingdean. Those familiar with this part of the marathon route recalled experiences and variations of the route. Past the farm and Mr B out doing whatever he does when we are running before we the hill jolly, all 4 minutes of it!

Time for the photo at the turn…after a squint at the screen of my phone and a fumble with the mission control we managed a respectable selfie before the return….it’s also a good opportunity to regroup before starting back.

The return bit can be a challenge, it’s motivating because you know you are nearly finished and it’s easy to throw caution to the wind, get swept along in the excitement and end up pushing too hard too soon…Oh errr!    As weaved our way back towards the cliff tops out of the corner of my eye I spotted Mr Hull deep in conversation with new David, both of them making a bid for freedom.  Easy there, it’s not a race…what I learnt on this run is that Mr Hull is obedient, new David is not! Whilst Mr Hull and I continued along the cliff tops putting the property market to rights, new David showed us a clean pair of heels and was gone. Note to self; bring restraining lead next week!

Whilst we enjoyed the glorious views and conversation I couldn’t help by notice some Runbrightoneers gasping like a 40 Woodbines a day smoker as they flung themselves past us…not much easy running going on there! Easy pace is meant to be exactly that, it should be at 70% of your maximum heart rate, well in the aerobic zone. For some it might feel like you are moving really slow and going nowhere, but if you can hear your breathing you are going too fast…..and I certainly heard a lot of heavy breathing Sunday.  Mo Farah runs around 120 miles a week and 80% of those miles are at an easy pace…so ditch your watch, run by feel and spend some time getting to know your fellow Runbrightoneers.

So, next Sunday..it’s all about the chat….see you there.

Happy nearly Christmas running.

Brigitte

***

4-12-2016

To the bridge we go!

Hey, it’s good to be back!

Having missed week one whilst sharing a Bentastic weekend with a small group of Runbrightoneers,  introducing them to my guilty pleasure…. the Benidorm half marathon!  It was good to get back to the old Sunday routine, alarmed Sundayhymns, two teas and some breakfast sandwiched in between.  On with the Ambassador gear, drive to instructed start point..hastily read last week’s email to see how far we are running…failing that, ask a Runbrightoneer! Thank you Helen!

I feel it is worth recollecting last weekend’ s little trip before I regale you all with my tales of the riverbank.

It was on a dark old Friday night that four Runbrightoneers and me, having bought up most of the Clarins products at Gatwick, necked a bottle or two of fizz and prepared to board our Sleazyeasy jet..Benidorm bound.

We’d booked through Running Crazy, a great well established and reasonably priced company who look after you literally every step of the way from collecting you at the airport by Malcom and his team, boarding the Benibus right through to the Benibeer after race party.  Benidorm in November is a surprisingly uplifting place to be,  lovely beaches, warm sunshine and plenty of cafes to sit outside of and watch the world go by.  It’s mostly full of older folk (Spanish and British) enjoying a milder winter.  When I get old I want to be a Benidormer, singing, dancing and exercising on the beach…happy smiley people.

Our hotel was only 10 minutes’ walk to the start and the actual half marathon is relatively flat, a sneaky Benihill about mid-way, more of those long slow affairs than a short sharp one!  Quite well supported, decent number of water stations, plenty of edible goodies at the finish and a big medal…all in all a great early winter get away.  We did discover that Sangria probably isn’t the best pre-race fuel, but you learn something new every time!

Anyway, back to the river and  in contrast to last week a very frosty start, I kept my jacket on until the very last minute before shuffling over the playing field for a quick but energetic warm up lead by the nearly birthday girl Michele.

Put at the helm of the 4.30 club once again it was nice to see some new faces in the group, even if some feel they should be running faster! 🙂

We set off at a nice steady pace, settling into conversations about our running experiences, marathon anxieties and the need to be disciplined about pace.  I think a few felt discipline was a naughty word and disappeared in pursuit of the 4.15 group.  The rest of us enjoyed the newly open views across the river up onto the South Downs.  I love running by the river and spend quite a bit of time on the trail, being flat it is great for tempo/interval stuff and also so varied with many paths and trails leading off of it.  If you are really keen you can run on the Downslink all the way to Guildford, personally I think the best bits are the Henfield/Bramber/Shoreham parts.

It’s surprising how quickly time passes when you are chatting and dare I say occasionally laughing!  Soon the bridge at Botolphs was in sight.

We tagged the bridge, took the obligatory selfie before refocussing on the return journey.

A change of conversations and more discipline required as the faster groups passed, put those ego’s to bed…it’s all about getting to April in the best condition possible feeling fit and ready to race.  Go off too hard and fast now, the risk is you are injured by January and spend the marathon or half  on the spectator rail cursing that calf strain or busted hamstring!  That didn’t stop a couple more heading off into the distance…but we did collect a stray from the group in front, it’s good to share the love.

Soon we arrived back in the car park at the Adur rec in front of the sorry sight of the now closed Adur Outdoor Activities centre, all pleased to have finished bang on the nail of one hour 10 minutes!  Even Mr Hull was impressed!

Time to catch up with everyone now we are feeling a little more toastier before driving home, showering, scrambled eggs on toast washed down with a steaming mug of coffee…this is what Sundays are made for!  That and visiting grandson, mum, son, daughter-in-law, Sainsburys and Nymans Gardens…oh and a couple of glasses of wine.

Roll on next Sunday when we can do it all again!

Happy running Runbrightoneers

Brigitte