Monday, 26 July 2010

Center Parcs 2010

Well, it seems like a wee while ago now, but we had another holiday at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest, near Penrith.

As usual, it was good fun - the weather was somewhat changeable; generally warm but with a rain shower never far away. The boys had a lot of fun, with swimming, tree-trekking, canoeing, bowling, and messing around on pedalos. I also tried to teach them to play pool but even the short cue was too long for Calum and it didn't help that the table was too close to a wall.

Calum had a nice morning fishing with his grandad - not as successful as last time but they caught a couple of tiddlers anyway.

Vikki and I went out for a couple of runs - the first was supposed to be a trip round Skiddaw, Great Calva, and Blencathra but we turned back before the summit of Skiddaw as it was so cold, wet, and generally horrible. For our next expedition, we drove to Caldbeck and followed the Cumbria Way South for 9 miles into the valley between Great Calva, and Blencathra before coming back the same way - All jolly good fun!

Thanks as ever to my lovely in-laws for a superb holiday and for their company and their babysitting skills.

Lots more pictures here:

2010-07 Center Parcs 2010

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Just Swimming In The Rain

(What a Glorious Feeling, I'm Happy Again)

My main target for the Stonehaven Half Marathon was to get round in a decent time, quicker than last year, hopefully quicker than my 2008 Clova time, and definitely ahead of any really old blokes. And I almost succeeded!

In fact, I felt like I had a really good run and paced it well. I ran quite a bit with Jonathan whose company helped eat up the miles. Like with Finlay from Livingstone on the club run on Thursday, it was good to be reminded by someone from further afield how nice the countryside around Stonehaven is to run in - even in the dismal weather.

Nice to see Fiona and Annie at the Fetchpoint and to be able to ditch hat and gloves (I want them back at some point, though).

We hit the 8 mile marker (just as the long downhill starts) at about 1h15 which meant roughly 9mm to the finish would do for a sub 2 hour. The previous mile had been 9:20 ish but that felt distinctly doable so we pushed on. The next couple of miles went well, but I felt I was slowing slightly so urged J to push on himself and gradually watched him pass other runners and disappear into the distance (great run by him, especially when he'd done 11 miles the day before). I felt that I was still going at a decent enough pace and passed a few groups of runners myself (not generally something I'm used to at the end of a race). I was raging at the wind a bit, worried that it was slowing me down so I was going to miss the 2 hour mark, and it sapped my strength a bit.

The last mile back through the town felt tough but it was good to see some familiar faces, marshalling or out spectating in the rain. As I swung into the park, someone confirmed that I was just about 2 hours so I gave it a last push to get over the line and into the welcome seats to get my chip sorted out. Just over 2 hours by my watch but I hadn't stopped it immediately so I wasn't sure but the timing screen was showing 2:00:18 against my name. Damn. Still, not a bad time and better than I'd dared hope so I was actually quite chuffed.

Regrouped with mrs s who'd smashed her PB, then spent a little time catching up with a few other runners - great PBs from Conor, Mike, Jo and Jonathan, club standard for Jane (who also won her age group), and probably others but my memory isn't great - before heading home through the increasingly heavy drizzle.

Later on we took L and C for a swim in the outdoor pool - we could hear thunder and the rain was stotting off the surface of the water but it was fun and not too cold as long as you kept moving.

The day ended with the traditional trip to the Marine for drinks and a blether. Good times were had by all, despite the spilling of drinks and mrs s almost coming to blows with our youngest drinking companion :)

I also found out that my chip time was 1:59:56, so I had sneaked under 2 hours :) although not quite good enough for a PB (not that I really care that much about such things). Sadly I think that I was again beaten by the oldest man in the race - I might be wrong but we think the oldest runner finished in 1:27:58 taking the 60+ prize and ahead of most of the field!

Stonehaven Half Marathon 2010

Sunday was the Stonehaven Half Marathon. It is our local race, run by our club and marshalled by lots of folk I know. I really look forward to it as I feel like I'm saying hya all the way through and waving all the time! I spent an hour the day before helping to make up the goody bags. My job was to put a banana in each bag - 400 odd in total.

Last year's race was run in extreme heat, probably the hottest day of the year and I wilted. Ran it in 1:58. So this year my targets were to beat that time and enjoy the race. And get some points in the club championship. The weather had been hot leading up to the day but as Sunday dawned we had a storm brewing. It was raining, muggy, and very windy. Not good conditions for spectating. Or for meeting up with Fetchies unfortunately. Sorry glypta, RedSquirrel, and sheri3004. Everyone was queuing for their numbers then sheltering in the pavillion. We did see Ultracat before the race and Bousn Tony in the distance.

This year Neil Easton from our club did the pre-race chat and was very good at it. I lined up with Jo, Nicola, and Nina from my club. Iain, Jonathan, and Richard were behind us. The first 4 miles of the race have some brutal hills and the first climb is up Belmont Brae, just round the corner from the start. George was there with words of encouragement, which was great. On Evan Street the hill is known as Beefy Brae and I was already feeling puffed out and hot so I followed Nicola's example and stripped off my helly hansen layer and flashed my bra at everyone. Ran with it tied round my waist for the rest of the race. Pretty soon Jo and Nicola left me behind but I stayed with Nina. I expected to be beaten by all three of them so I wasn't concerned.

Here are my splits:

8.14 7.47 8.28 9.49 7.41 7.39 8.43 8.09 7.37 7.45 8.25 7.30 7.45 1.22

I was very pleased with my pace for the first three miles despite the braes I was going quite fast for me! The 4th mile you will notice is a lot slower but that involves the steepest hill which I had already decided to walk up. So Nina overtook me as I walked up the hill. In the club championship that meant I was looking at 17 points which is one more that I got last year for this race so :-)

Got to the top of the Swanley Hill and heard the piper. Great feeling at that point as I knew that was the worst of it over and it was mostly downhill for the next 9 miles. I speeded up and overtook Nina on the downhill. I was feeling really good now with the wind helping me on. 5th mile was 7.41! Shocker! I was looking forward to seeing Annie's Fetchpoint by now at mile 7. She had promised jelly babies and balloons with Laurie's face on them. Big cheer from Annie and a couple of jelly babies, but the Laurie balloons had all burst :-(
Another good moment was turning on to the Slug Road for the last few miles back in to town. I always get a boost when we turn and head for home and it's also downhill which suits me. Mile 9 came and I saw Jo in the distance. I must admit I was spurred on with the thought of perhaps overtaking Jo. I managed to catch up with her just before the last big hill. So of course I walked again and she ran past me! We had a wee chat and both said we were knackered. At the top of the hill I picked up the pace and managed to catch Jo up again and ran for a bit using her as a wind-break. I felt I had a bit left in me and at the next downhill I decided to go for it and put on a burst of speed to overtake Jo and try and go for the finish. Of course I felt totally sick and had to keep saying to myself "just keep the legs moving". The wind was very strong in my face and at times I felt like it was going to blow me over. I managed to keep it up and did the last two miles in 7.30 and 7.45 which is totally unheard of for me! I thought I might get a PB which was so unexpected. Was great to be shouted over the line by George and Annie among others and I didn't even collapse at the end or throw up. Finish time was 1:46:58 a PB by 3 minutes!!! The chairs were a nice touch and I sat down to take my chip off. My parents had come to see me finish which is unusual for them. I congratulated Nicola on an excellent time of 1:44:06. Next cheered Jo over the line in 1:48:34 which was a PB too. Many folk from our club PBd including Conor and Mike who took quarter of an hour off or something! I was looking out for Iain and watching the clock. He really wanted to beat the 2 hour mark, and the clock went past it :-(. But then I saw him come storming in, no octogenarians in sight and he finished strongly. Later on we found out his chip time was 1:59:56 so he beat the 2 hours! Saw Jonathan and Jane too, both ran great races. It turned out that Jane had won the prize for her age cat but left before the presentation. Also Nicola won first local female prize (I think I was 2nd local female) and Iain Steel from our club won his age catagory and came 21st overall.

We walked home in the torrential rain to relieve Iain's Auntie from babysitting duties. Then we dropped the youngest off at my folks so we could take the older two swimming in the outdoor pool as we got free entry with our race numbers. There was a thunderstorm while we were in the pool and the wind was a bit cold but still good fun.

Lovely take-away pizza for tea then we were off out to the Marine for a few drinkies. Met up with lots of club folk and drank far too much gin and wine. Made it home by 11:20pm as ordered by the babysitters. All in all a very good day.

Thanks to all the organisers and marshals and I can't wait til next year! And Dave, Maz, and Laurie book your hols for a different time next year!

Click here for photos: