Tuesday, 28 July 2015

My journey into running my first half marathon now in jeopardy

Having started running in December everything was going well, I was enjoying getting fitter, faster and doing further distances than ever.

I had joined the local Newquay Road Runners group as well as regularly attending Park Run as well as doing a few runs on my own during the week. Everything was going well I was entering races and really thriving and enjoying my running.

I had managed to go from couch potato to regularly running up to 5 miles 3 times a week and even managed a top distance of 8 miles. I might have been a bit slow but I was loving it and so decided to enter my first ever half marathon. Maybe I was a little optimistic to go from complete beginner to a half marathon in less than 12 months but I really wanted to do it, and especially as I was doing it to raise money for the WWF. 

However, things took a turn for the worse whilst running and I found myself in a lot of pain in my calf. However this was during a Park Run event and I didn't want to stop and I kept running through the pain and didn't think much of it. My calf was stiff the next day and the day after but then it felt ok, so I went running again. This time everything felt fine whilst running but for the following two days walking was painful and my calf was incredibly tight. Getting out of bed the morning after my runs was becoming excruciating but as the day went on everything eased and the same process was gone through.

I continued to run and suffer the next few days and decided that with my half marathon looming in October I decided that I should probably get my injury looked at rather than continue to push on with an injury.

Attending a local physio in Newquay I was told that there was a lot of knotting in my calf and this was worked on and although it made the pain flare up I was hopeful that with my armour of exercises and stretches I would be soon back running. But as the weeks have passed the injury is still lingering. I've left the physiotherapist scratching his head as to what is causing the pain and gone through a process of stretches, massages and exercises and still the calf is niggling.

I'm now wearing compression socks full time, even through the night and have started yoga as well as seen a chiropractor and had acupuncture and although there is less pain and things are feeling much better the niggle is still in there and my calf still tight and tender especially after a walk. (No major hiking expeditions but a noticeable twinge after a walk through the local town and I'm still yet to attempt running)

I'm now starting to worry that this injury isn't going to clear in time to start training and attend my first ever half marathon and now need to make the decision whether I will need to defer my place or not.

I'm feeling deflated and pretty gutted that things aren't going as I want them to and that there's even now mentions of scans and x-rays on my calf to find out what's going on. I'm trying to keep optimistic and keeping my fingers and toes crossed that after 6 weeks with absolutely no running and hundreds of pounds spent on private treatment that I will not only be back running but also be able to complete my half marathon and raise money for WWF.

Fingers toes and panda paws crossed that I will be back running soon..... but for now it's compression socks and slippers time!!!

Running a half marathon for wwf

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Park Run number 19 for me, getting slower, walking and struggling on through.

This weekend saw me attend my 19th Park Run at Lanhydrock National Trust Estate near Bodmin in Cornwall and It wasn't one of my best. It wasn't horrendous and I wasn't the slowest but for myself I am annoyed.
Lanhydrock Park Run Cornwall
Having started Park Run back in December and this really was my first introduction back into running for many years. I plodded, jogged and walked around the course in a respectable time of 35 minutes and 48 seconds and for a very gruelling 5km run with a large amount of up hill sections I was really pleased.

Move forwards 6 months and I've joined the local Newquay Road Runners group and I run with them most Tuesdays, I've entered two races now both 5 miles in distance. The first being the Wadebridge to Padstow 5 mile event for the lobster hatchery and the second being the much more serious Cubert 5 mile event. I have then decided to enter my first ever half marathon in October this year! From a complete couch potato to 10 months into my running, I'm going to attempt to run 13.1 miles!

My weekly visits to the road runners group and the weekly visits to Park Run help to push me to gain faster times, better fitness and push and compete a little against the other runners whereas my one other run per week is a slightly longer distance and this feels good each week. But the week just gone I failed to run at all since the last weekends Park Run event. The whole week I had been feeling knackered and although I had got out on my bike and accomplished a little 6 mile bike ride I hadn't managed anything in my runner shoes.

Waking up on Saturday morning for Park Run I felt tired, even though I hadn't done anything the night before and had had a reasonably early night. I walked to the start line yawning my head off. Usually I will jog to the start line but this week a walk was all I could manage. Not wanting to give up before I had even started I said to myself 'at least i was here' I think I would have been even more grumpy had I have missed that weekly run along side all the others that week.
Umbrellas at Park Run Cornwall
Umbrellas at Lanhydrock drying out after the previous day's severe weather warning
The race director got things underway giving an introduction to newbies and tourists and the 117 runners were on the start line and ready to go. I put some music on, LOUD in my headphones and zoned into my pace of running and tried not to get carried away with the pace of the faster runners.

I picked off a few runners at the start and overtook a few more on the fast downhill section but as soon as the terrain turned and I had to work I had nothing in me. With a stitch on my right hand side and pretty breathless I was wondering why I had run quite so fast on the downhill section? and why didn't I warm up at all?

As I approached the first of the uphill sections I began to really struggle, mainly with the stitch and the breathlessness. I didn't want to give up just yet and managed to make it up the first two up hill sections but the third which is the biggest of the three I just had to walk. I tried power walking up the hill but even that was a struggle. People started to over take me, and I was struggling to even push on and walk up this horrible hill. A few regular Park Runners cheered me on and said well done to encourage me but I was already annoyed with myself. I had nothing in me at all, no amount of encouragement would get me through, I felt like I was running on empty.

At the top of the steep hill I turned onto the field which although Is still uphill it is very much more gradual and feels a lot less gruelling and managed to run across this but as the field reaches the woods and the steepness of the hill increased, yet again I was walking.

As I reached the gate I was getting over taken by even more people and I knew that this was the last section, it was a little bit more uphill before the downhill to the finish. I started to jog again and tried to keep up with the ladies that were in front of me. To little avail I couldn't keep up at all, I managed to maintain a steady ish (slow) jog up the hill and as the two ladies in front of me took off down the hill to the finish I was doing well to manage to keep my legs going one in front of the other and not collapse.

As I reached the finish line, I struggled for breath to muster the words to thank the volunteer for my finishing token. After a few minutes I had recovered enough to get my bar code scanned in and start the walk back up the hill I had just come down back to the car park.

I was utterly and thoroughly shattered and now I had to get my bum over to the Electric Beach Festival and dance my socks of for the rest of the day!!!
Hot weather for running park run
A very warm morning for a run
Already I'm thinking about the next one and hoping for a better time.... Park Run is addictive but I guess there are a lot worse things to be addicted to in life than exercise!
Feeling knackered and exhausted after Park Run Cornwall

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Cat Empire at Electric Beach Festival - Fistral beach - Cornwall

When Electric Beach first made a name for itself I have been in attendance and this weekends festival was to be no different. Starting in 2013 at Watergate Bay with the likes of The Next Men and Del La Soul playing this one day festival was an interesting night.

When the festival first began it had teething problems from running out of beer and many unpaid guests watching the festival for free from the beach and the cliff top. 
Electric Beach in the Rain
The following year things improved at Watergate with Electric Beach 2014 with the stage swinging it's direction around to face out to sea and the alcohol flowing a lot more freely all evening and they certainly did not run out.

Move on three years from their humble beginnings and we welcome the 2015 Electric Beach festival and what can I say. They have learnt so much from the early days and made sure that the intimate festival is a success. Not only has the festival moved from Watergate Bay to Fistral Beach the whole event seemed a lot more successful. For example you didn't have to leave the festival walk back across the beach and up into the car park to use the porta loo's like you did at Watergate.

This year they also had the alcohol choices bang on. With local beer Korev, and local cider Rattler on offer and this year they didn't run out! Although the queues for the beer tent by the end of the evening were a bit of a nightmare and we chose not to bother with getting a drink as the queues folded out threefold and reached the coffee camper van!! For anyone at the festival will know how long the queue was! Now I don't want to be negative about the festival at all but it did feel smaller than when held at Watergate or maybe it was just more successful and their were more people there?

I had weekend tickets but sadly with the severe weather warnings and an afternoon of torrential rain on Friday I decided to not venture out of the house and go over to the festival even though I had tickets. I wonder how many others gave the Friday night a miss due to the weather and I really do hope that the event organisers didn't loose out too much.

I understand that Electric Beach is a new venture and the first year it was simply a one day festival and the second year it moved to a weekend two day festival which was great. However this year although they kept things to a two day festival this year the event was held over the Friday and Saturday and being at work on a Friday until 5pm meant that I had missed most of the day whilst working so the choice to miss the few evening acts wasn't so bad especially as I have seen most of them before.
Electric Beach Fistral 2015
When Saturday arrived I was excited as the weather felt warm and the sun was breaking through the clouds. It wasn't even 10am and the temperature in my car was reading a balmy seventeen degrees. However this wasn't going to last and was certainly a totally different story by the afternoon at Fistral Beach.
Saturday morning heat wave
We arrived at the beach to really strong, cold winds and typical Cornish drizzly. The first band we saw were the Big Sets who as always were amazing playing their funky soul and blues music.

The music just kept on coming with bands like the Renegade Brass Band, Backbeat Soundsystem and even the mighty Dreadzone. The wet weather was made bareable by the amazing people from Korev beer supplying us with knitted hats and ponchos to keep warm and dry before the highlight of the evening with the wonderful Cat Empire.
Raining at Electric beach Festival Cornwall
The festival was amazing this year, much much better booze on offer and some really great bands I'm just not sure whether the Friday/Saturday combo worked as well as the previous years Saturday/Sunday festival but only time will tell and fingers are well and truly crossed that the organisers had a successful festival and will be putting on something bigger and better for next year.
Electric Beach Festival 2015
Electric Beach Festival Newquay 2015
 The Cat Empire Newquay 2015 
The Cat Empire Electric Beach Festival Newquay 2015
Thank you for a great weekend Electric Beach.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Park Run, My 18th Run at Lanhydrock House - Bodmin Cornwall.

After last weekends trip up to Essex and completing my fastest Park Run yet and gaining a time of 27:32 at Chelmsford Park Run I was full of confidence that returning to my regular Park Run at Lanhydrock In Cornwall that I was sure to gain a new PB.

Arriving to the Park it was a bright and sunny morning, there was a chilly wind but I was feeling strong and full of confidence that today was the day to get a faster time.

Park Run number 18 - Amanda Brooks
As the crowds arrived at the start line the sun was shining and the sky was blue and I couldn't wait to get going. I started off very strong on the downhill section as to be honest I normally do, I felt strong on the flat and then had the usual struggles up the hilly sections.
Lanhydrock park run CornwallPark Run Cornwall
 I was really pleased when I finished, still feeling strong and had achieved a sub 30 minute time which is now always my goal if not to gain a new PB. When the official results came through later on in that day I had recieved a time of 29:14, I was pleased with that but it was still 34 seconds off that PB that I had somehow set 3 months ago!!!

The Finish Line At Lanhydrock Park Run Cornwall
It just keeps fueling the need to keep going week after week to compete against myself and try and achieve a faster time each week. Maybe the next one I will finally beat that pesky PB!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Running in the Cubert 5

At the six month mark of starting running it was time to enter my second proper race, The Cubert 5.

 I have recently been attending an "intro2running" group held by the Newquay Road Runners and since joining them my confidence and stamina has increased so much. The run itself was put on by the Newquay Road Runners so I had no excuse not to take part. 

On Tuesday night I entered the Cubert 5 mile road race alongside some of my fellow intro to running friends. I had recently completed the Wadebridge to Padstow fun run which was also a 5 mile run but the emphasis on this previous run was that it was a fun run and it was for charity. 

However Tuesday night was a much more serious affair. Putting on my crisp new Newquay vest, this would be my first event also associated with a club. 
Newquay Road Runner friends
Lining up at the start of the race the streets were filled with proffessional looking runners from clubs all across cornwall. There were runners from clubs including Bodmin, Hayle, St Austall and even Saltash. This was shaping up to be a serious event, people warming up, stretching and preparing to run a very fast 5 mile race. 

I however, with some of my intro2running buddies were huddling nearer the back of the pack. Not wishing to get in the way of any of the fast elite runners and not wanting to be continuously overtaken we started off to what we believed to be a nice steady pace. 

Cubert 5 mile start line

I usually run at around the 10 minute mile pace but with the excitement of the crowds of people I had started off a lot faster. The course went off in a square out of the village of Cubert out into the countryside and back to the village. It did this twice and the support around each loop was fantastic. As my first race for the Newquay Road Runners the support was just epic!! 

At every turn you would hear someone shouting and cheering you on and this really helped to get around the course. Arriving at the finish line I was really pleased to have gained a time just over 45 minutes and had completed the course with an average of 9:04 minutes a mile, quite possibly one of my quickest runs yet!

Finishing the Cubert 5 mile road run
I had an awesome time at Tuesdays race and it all helps to fuel my passion to run again after dropping out of the running scene for over fifteen years. 

If there is one slight negative of Tuesday nights experience, that is that I felt shattered plodding around the 5 mile course and the dread is really starting to sink in about having signed up to run a half marathon. At the moment I'm still running relatively for leisure, I attend the Tuesday night intro2running and attend a weekly ParkRun event but both of these evenings are between 3-5 miles of running and no where near the double figure distance that I will be running in October. 

I know that I will soon need to up the pace and increase the distance but until July hits and I reach the three months prior mark I think I will stick to running for leisure and then really start the training next month. 

If you would like to sponsor me to complete this epic mission of attending my first ever Half Marathon then you can using the Just Giving link at the top right on my blog. https://www.justgiving.com/Amanda-Panda/

Thank you and wish me luck!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Park Run number 17 at Central Park Chelmsford

For anyone that has joined Park Run they will understand what a tourist is and this week I was super excited to be a tourist for the first time. I was going to be leaving the comfort of my regular ParkRun in Cornwall and head up country to attend my first ParkRun in Essex.

Ready to run at Chelmsford Park Run
On Friday evening I jumped in the car and started the five hour journey to Essex to visit friends and family for the weekend and utilise the opitunity to attend a different ParkRun. Sadly over 7 hours in the car later and stuck in ridiculous amounts of traffic and being redirected all the way up to Oxford and back we were finally in Essex even if it was the very early hours of the morning!

With just a few hours sleep it was soon time to get up and head over to Central Park in Chelmsford for my first ParkRun as a tourist. Arriving at the event I was rather shocked at the scale and the size of the event. My regular ParkRun in deepest darkest Cornwall attracts between 100 - 150 regular runners. However this morning I was welcomed by twice that many runners and twice the usual amount of volunteers.
Crowds gather at Chelmsford Park RunCrowds gather at Chelmsford Park Run
The volunteers were fantastic and so well organised as well, splitting the runners into two groups and two different starts. With below 25 minutes to complete the 5km course and over 25minutes so that the faster runners could get off to a quicker start and join up the route further around the course. With a loud mega phone the run briefing was completed and the race was underway. To a resounding beeping of GPS watches and mobile phones on armbands, we were off. It felt absolutely fantastic to be running in such a big friendly group, in the city centre early on a Saturday morning. Even though I was exhausted I was excited to be involved.

Sadly after the first mile I started to realise just how tired I was feeling after the previous days long journey and the lack of sleep and began to really struggle around the course. Even though it was a chilly morning the sun was shining and the course was beautiful. We ran out of Central Park and under the road and into Admirals Park. The course was relatively flat, however there was a little hill up and around a field that took my breath away. Heading back into the second half I was breathing heavily and wishing the course to be over. It was nothing like the gruelling up hill section at Lanhydrock and I didn't need to walk any of it, it was however, a shock on the completely flat faster paced course.

As I pushed on around the course to the finish I was feeling absolutely shattered and really glad to see the finishing funnel in the distance. As I went through the gate and received my bar code I was impressed again with the organisation of the bar code scanners all lined up behind rows of cones to filter the runners through. 
After park run exhaustion

 Central Park Run Chelmsford
As quickly as everyone arrived in the park and ran the 5km course they had all finished and disappeared again. It is like a flash bomb of runners that all turn up in Lycra and run and disappear all within the hour. One minute you can be in the park full of hundreds of people, runners, volunteers and supporters and then just an hour later the park is empty. Blink and you'll miss ParkRun.

The lake at Central Park Chelmsford
Just a few hours later I got my confirmation e-mail through from ParkRun with my time for the mornings 5km run. I was delighted when my time came through as it is now my fastest ParkRun result. I'm really pleased to have achieved my fastest ever 5km time of 27:32 however I need to be honest and point out that Chelmsford Park Run is VERY flat compared to the gruelling Lanhydrock ParkRun in Cornwall and i'm a long way off getting that time in Cornwall.
The lake at Central Park Chelmsford

Central Park Chelmsford
The Viaduct at Central Park Chelmsford

I'm now looking forward to getting back to my home course in Cornwall and trying to get a new PB there and maybe one day I'll be able to get close to my personal 5km record that I set this weekend at Chelmsford!

Chelmsford Park Run time for Amanda Brooks

Monday, 1 June 2015

Another 8 mile run completed!

After a week sunning myself in Portugal and doing a great deal of relaxing by the pool in the sun and drinking lots of local beer, getting back into my running seemed incredibly hard.

My first after work run of just 4 miles was a real challenge and for the first time since I started running I had to walk sections of a route that I've managed to run several times without walking before. The worry really started to hit me that day whilst struggling to get around a four mile route.

I had just entered my first half marathon and although I have 5 months to train I was struggling really badly to complete just 4 miles!

Trying to not get too deflated the following week after another Park Run session and another running club I went to attempt a 5 mile run. I didn't want to be beaten by that days 4 mile disaster so decided to increase the distance but chose a much flatter run that I felt more confident that I could achieve without getting down hearted. I chose to run in the city of Truro and ran a route along the river to Malpas and back. It was beautiful and I didn't struggle.

With the confidence of my run in Truro I decided that with a bank holiday Monday looming it would be the perfect day to attempt a longer run again. As I was beginning to feel fitter I decided to attempt another 8 mile run and again I chose a route that was relatively flat this time following the river Camel out towards Wadebridge. The great thing about Cornwall is that there are loads of options, flat river runs, beach runs and coastpaths or diserted country lanes.

I first ran 5 miles of this Camel trail route back in March as part of an organised run for the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow and it really is beautiful so increasing the distance to 8 miles was something that I really wanted to achieve.

The Camel trail was really busy with cyclists, dog walkers and other runners so I had plenty of people around me to keep me going and avoided any walking. I'm really pleased that I have now run the distance of 8 miles twice. Next challenge is to run those 8 miles on a more undulating course as well as increase the distance again.Hopefully the next time i'm on the Camel Trail I'll manage to run all the way to Padstow and back and get my running up into double figure distances.
Running on the Camel Trail Cornwall

Running on the Camel Trail Cornwall

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Running in Cornwall, getting over the eight mile mark.

In the aftermath of the London Marathon last month I guess there will be lots of people wanting to get into running and lots of people inspired by the television coverage of thousands and thousands of people all enjoying a run on the weekend and I am no different.

In December just 5 months ago I attended my first ever Park Run and attempted to complete the 5km course, and I struggled. I could barely breath around the course and had to walk large sections of it and the next day I could barely move as my legs had gone so stiff. But for some reason I enjoyed it and found myself there the following week running the 5km course again!

Since then I have knocked 7 minutes off that first attempt and even joined a local intro to running group to try and get fitter and better at running. With the encouragement that there were 38,000 people in London last month enduring over 26 grueling miles of running I would also push myself and attempt 8 miles of running. So far I had managed to run a maximum of 5.5 miles on a recent charity run from Wadebridge to Padstow along the camel trail but today I wanted to go further and set myself the target of running 8 miles.
Amanda Brooks Half Marathon Training

With a route planned I was off jogging through the Cornish countryside, the sun was shining and the winds were light and it was the perfect day to be out running. Although there was a slight downside to my plan, I got lost!!!
 Country lane in Cornwall

Running in Cornwall
I had a route planned out and I thought I knew where I was going but after a while I had to check the map on my phone and I was definately heading in the wrong direction. With a new route planned I continued to run and just took it slowly. As I plodded through the miles. I struggled the last section as it was up hill but just kept going slowly and surely and got to my finish line and reached my goal of running 8 miles. 

With 5 months until my first ever half marathon I know I've got a lot of training to go but I'm really pleased with reaching the eight mile mark as it's probably the furthest I've ever run! Who'd have thought that attending one Park Run event would get me signing up to do a half marathon!

Amanda Brooks Half Marathon Training

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Running Truro City Centre to Malpas and back

I'm currently training to take part in my first ever half marathon in October at the Cardiff Half and I'm starting to increase my training. 

I have regular running routes that I complete straight after work in Redruth Cornwall and regularly attend Park Run's at Lanhydrock Bodmin but every now and again it's nice to mix things up and try a completely new route and run somewhere new.

Last week I did exactly that and decided to run a route starting in the city of Truro out to the beautiful village of Malpas out along the river and back. It's a really nice run with such beautiful scenery, you hardly even notice your running. With gorgeous river views, sections off of the main road and lots of other runners out it is certainly a popular route for running. 

It's great to think that one minute you are in the city centre and then you can be alongside the creeks and open countryside along side the gorgeous river. Even if I did have to pay for city centre parking this route is definetely worth it for the scenery alone.

Running in Cornwall - Truro to Malpas

Running in Cornwall - Truro to Malpas
A perfect 5 mile run in Cornwall that's lovely and quiet, a flat route and one of the most stunning runs that I have been on.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Park Run Number 16

It's been a busy month of May for myself with Surf trips to Portugal and 30th birthday celebrations meaning that running has not been at the top of my priority of things to do. But with my body weight consumed in alcohol and 5 months until my first ever half marathon it's certainly time to put the trainers back on and start running again.

Last Saturday was to be my 16th Park Run at Lanhydrock and leaving the house it was a very gloomy grey start to the day with a thick heavy fog sitting over the whole of Cornwall. But as I arrived to the Lanhydrock National Park the sun was starting to break through the mist and cloud and you could feel the warmth of the sun coming through.
Lanhydrock Park Run

With this being the first run in nearly a month I was feeling a little bit nervous especially with the massive hill that I had not been missing whilst on holiday. As it was bank holiday weekend it was proving to be a popular morning for Park Run and with 177 runners on the start line I was feeling excited to get going.

I always go off too fast at the start of Park Run and get carried away with the crowds at the beginning and this week being the first one back after a few weeks off decided that I really did need to take it slightly easier and avoid going off too fast at the start and walking at the end.

As the crowds wound down the hill and up into the woods it felt good to be back running with a group of like minded people all up early on a Saturday morning. I plodded through the woods and down the massive steep section of hill and felt good, I felt like I was simply enjoying this run rather than pushing for a PB. As the second half of the course approached the hills got bigger and I started to feel the burn. Managing to get up the first two sections of up hill I upproached the main really steep hill and just had to walk up it but getting to the top proceeded to run.

My current Personal Best for Lanhydrock Park Run is 28:43 and after nearly a month off knew I wasn't going to be anywhere close to that but was hoping for around the 30 minute mark. As I pushed down hill to the finish line I was feeling very much out of breath and felt like I had nothing else to give.

Once home I recieved my time and was pleased that my first run in the new 30-34 age group came through at 30:20.

Tomorrow It's Park Run day again and this week I will be competing in my first ever Park Run as a tourist and will hopefully be plodding the tarmac of a much flatter Essec Park Run. I'm hoping to beat my current PB time of 28:43 and hope that a quicker Park Run time will encourage me that I can get around Park Run quicker and I've just got to do the same at my home turf when I return to Lanhydrock.

Amanda Brooks Lanhydrock Park Run

Fingers crossed for tomorrows Park Run and I'm looking forward to taking part in a much bigger event than what I'm used to in Cornwall. If you see me looking lost around the course in Chelmsford tomorrow give me a wave!