Monday, 21 July 2014

Home Town Showdown - Running (and Walking) The Swansea Half

Today, I feel like I'm experiencing the runners' equivalent of one of those rare occasions where you go out for a wine or twelve and miraculously have no hang over the next day.  I ran Swansea's first ever half marathon yesterday, and my legs don't appear to have noticed.  Yet.

They're fine.  No aches.  Nothing.  It's freaking me out.  Maybe my legs are still drunk and they're shortly due to wake up, recall what they've done and kick my arse into next week for putting them through two half marathons in two weeks?

"Yeah, it's weird, I feel great!  Let's go for a walk, or a skip, or.... OH MY GOD, THE PAIN!!!"

Been well over 24hrs though, so... If it does kick in soon, it will be the most literal case of delayed onset muscle soreness I've ever had. Or maybe I've put them through so much "ouch" during those few CrossFit sessions that they've finally given up and just let me have this one as a freebie?  Hmm.  We'll see.

Yes.  Swansea Half marathon.  An event I very, very nearly skipped in favour of a night on the lash. Caught up with some friends I'd not seen in a while on Saturday evening during one of their number's birthday night out.  Combining the fact that I really wanted to celebrate  with them with the bloody beautiful sunshine, which always drives me to cider (fizzy apple juice for grown-ups), it was a tough decision.  But I feel I've made the right one.  Because now I have a medal.  

Obligatory "Honest guv, I was there!" post-race selfie:

I walked some of it again.  There.  I said it.  I'm refusing to feel bad about it, though, for reasons thusly:

  • I did two half marathons in two weeks.  Two!  If you take out the six days in between, I ran a whole marathon this month.  Technically.
  • Medal.
  • I did it in pretty much exactly the same time as March's Llanelli half (2hrs35) - throughout which I had no walk breaks.  Which means that I must have gotten at least a bit faster during the bits that I ran in Swansea.  
  • I ran at a decent (for me) speed all the way up to mile 9 before my resolve began to crumble.  Not shabby going, considering I usually start to feel "the rage" at about mile 6 or 7. 
  • My legs have never felt better during or after a half before, so I must be getting stronger.  I just need a bit of a kick up the jacksie with my mental stamina.  It's aaaaall in my head.
  • It was H-A-W-T out! The weather went from beig a bit cloudy and muggy as fuck to no shade, you-can't-hide-from-me-bwahahahaha sunshine, which was decidedly muggy-as-fuckier.  You heard me.  Fuckier. 
  • Medal.
Despite the last 4 tapdancing-through-hellfire miles, it was the most fun I've had at a half marathon (and I'm an expert now, with my four, 'kay?), and I was chuffed to be a part of it.  Here's a few of my favourite flashbacks from yesterday's shennanigans:

1.  Because it was local, loads of people I knew were among the grinning crowd of supporters.  Not least Run 4 All, who hijacked most of the race by sneakily posing as marshals.  One of the coaches even put in the effort to wear our flag as a skirt and spent the whole event shouting our names and deafening us with a rave whistle.  This prompted a few "Do you know those people?"s from other runner around me.  Yes, sweaty comrade!  Yes I do!
2. Swansea is a chuffing BEAUTIFUL place.  The majority of the race followed the curve of the bay's coastline.  Swooping seagulls, paddling dogs, lapping waves... all especially lovely when you're tripping balls on sunshine and mild dehydration.

3. Apart from one little, humpy hill, the course was blissfully flat.  

4. A gang (gaggle, herd, flock?) of firemen were on hand towards the end to hose runners down.  Fire engine hose obviously set to "sprinkle", otherwise would have been blasted to the finish line in record time.  Wouldn't have complained. Maybe should have requested "WHOOSH!" setting for self?

5. The sense of cameraderie between supporters, volunteers and runners was awesome.  There was talk of one qualified first aider helping out lots of runners whom the heat had got the better of, and he'd only come down to watch.  Hero!

There were only a miniscule number of things that could have improved the day:

  •   I nearly cried when they ran out of energy gels on the sixth mile - really could have used the boost in that weather.  
  • The only t-shirts they had left at the end by the time I came shuffling on through were either size L or XL.  But, hey ho, I now have a new snazzy dress/nightie to prance about in, so not a total loss.
  • The last few miles were around an (admittedly pretty) estate mostly made up of office blocks - one of which I used to work in (woo!), that looped and twisted around itself.  I found that part quite disheartening because I knew the finish line was nearby, but I had to keep looping back away from the bugger!  Would have preferred it if they'd just let us bimble a little further up the coast before turning to head back to the finish instead.

Nothing of enough significance to ruin what turned out to be a bloody brilliant morning, though.  Can't wait til next year!  Now, I'm going to go back to sitting very still so as not to disturb the dormant pain receptors in my legs.... Gently does it....

"Hey, guys, wait for me!!"

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Wales Half Marathon (aka What Was I THINKING?!)

Welp.  Just completed the Wales Half Marathon in Tenby.  It's a race that can be quantified as 20% downhill slopes and beautiful scenery, and 80% pure, burning NOPE!  

It is the single most horrifying thing I have ever put myself though, and for that reason, in my screwy, special brand of logic, I loved it.  Sort of. Afterwards.

I've pleased and surprised myself by actually finishing the damned thing.  There was a lot more walking on my part than I'd intended, but I've justified it to myself as being the only method that would have got me around the course today.  At mile two (no typo, mile two), I was already texting A to inform him that the race was a massive (insert unsavory expletive referring to lady parts here), and I didn't think I was going to be able to do it.  He responded with a "That's okay, just do what you can."

Which is a trap.  A knows full well that if he told me that he knew I could do it, I would instantly go on the defensive, tell him to piss off, hijack a cow from one of the nearby fields and haul ass back to the start.  Probably pouting at onlookers and flicking them the V sign.  By giving me permission to give up and ruin my own day/goal/self confidence, it made me get my sorry act together and shuffle grumpily on.  The hills were like nothing I've ever seen.  The inclines were numerous, and I'm pretty sure the top of my head was grazed by the actual moon at one point. We were that high up.  Honest.

Moaning aside, here were the highlights:
  • Around halfway, the hills temporarily (important word here, chaps) disappear and this fantastic view of horses, beach, landscape and one pretty cool castle opens up, like the race giving you a little treat for getting that far.  This was also a trick.  The hills are around the corner, hiding.  But at least it was nice while it lasted.
  • Little bystander girl informs me firmly that her best friend is also called Rebecca and that, obviously, I am going to win the whole race because of this.  For a second, I actually believe her.
  • The coolest couple I have ever met overtook me.  They were doing the full marathon (how?!! How can it be done??) as a "nice finisher" to their whole weekend at Tenby that involved a plethora of events that involved swimming, running, cycling and a number of other terrifying feats of physical activity.  Did I mention that they were holding hands the whole time I saw them?  Assume they just did this at the marathon.  Can imagine hand holding would hinder swimming ability.
  •  Everyone in Tenby coming out of their homes to give us all their sweets and say nice things.  
  • Hosepipe lady, spraying us all down outside a pub.  I told her I loved her.  I meant it.
  • The mile or so of "weeeeee!!" inducing downhill (verbal, not actual wee) after about mile 10 or 11.
  • The red carpet at the end, where they called out everyone's names on a microphone, making everyone cheer for us individually.  Felt like a rock star.  Albeit one whose fringe is plastered to her head with sweat.
  • My lovely, patient(ish - I successfully narked everyone off this morning by directing us to the wrong place, creating a 20 mile round-trip detour thingy during  I blamed everyone/thing except for myself.  Obviously.) sisters and gentleman companion grinning and waving at me as I sprinted(...ish) towards the end, hoping to convince them that I'd been sprinting all along - despite the fact that my "long sprint" had taken me nearly 3 hours (2hrs50 if interested) to complete.  I love 'em and other soppy stuff. What? Shut up.
  1. The hills.
  2. The hills.
To be fair, a lady acquaintance by the name of Laura from Run 4 All bloody nailed them - ran over every single one like a magical robot trooper.  One day, I will do the same.  Today, I was just overjoyed to be toeing the finish line without giving up/dying/puking.  That was a victory in itself.

Obligatory YAY, SHINY, SHINY MEDAL!!! photo.  Also me sporting invisible handbag & shocked/manic face at finish line.

Quick CrossFit update before I go:

Second of the two on-ramp sessions completed on Friday.  "Arm stuff" worked its magic on me to the point that I needed assistance putting my bra on this morning because I have lost my ability to grip things to DOMS - aka delayed onset muscle soreness. Or "Dying! Oh, my stars!" 

Also, when I got home from that session, my arms had taken on a mind of their own.  In the shower, whilst aiming with my pouffy loofah thing at my armpits, I ended up giving my chin a good scrubbing.  Turns out I have the upper body strength of soggy spaghetti.  Have decided that this is a good thing, as any future progression I make will seem all the more impressive compared with how unforgivably crap I currently am at picking things up. That's rational, right? 


I hope your weekend was enjoyable and that if you required one, you were able to put on a bra all by yourselves!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Brave New WOD


I mean...hello!

So I went to my first of two on ramp CrossFit sessions with Outcast CrossFit Swansea on Tuesday.  Absolutely loved it!  The coaches were a lovely, approachable bunch and far from the scary, serious terminator types I was secretly bricking myself about.  Instead of reducing our apprehensive group of ten to sweating, weeping puddles of our former selves, they focused on teaching us how to move safely (for now - still warily awaiting the session where they suddenly turn on us and morph into scary drill sergeants from Hell).  On Tuesday, this mostly meant squats and kettle bell swings.  Lots of squats and kettle bell swings.

Learned two new things about myself that night.  Apparently I'm a quite-good squatter.  Not quite sure how to process that information.  Spose if I want to wee in the woods any time soon, I can be confident to get away with dry shoes?  Could be useful come Reading Festival next month.

Also learned that I'm a bit floppy for kettle bell swings at the moment.  Couple of the coaches had to teach me how to not stick my bum out and swing my arms about like some sort of slutty disco monkey, which is a movement seemingly natural to me.  Did start to twig after a few goes, so just goes to show I'll be in good hands at this particular gym.  Eventually, I will be reformed of my slutty disco monkey ways and be able to swing the heavy thing around without paralysing myself in the process.  Hurrah!  Here is some irrefutable evidence that I actually went for your viewing pleasure. I'm the cockney pirate in the blue top:

It's been nearly 48hrs since my first proper CrossFit adventure, and I seem to have lost the ability to walk.  My thighs are aching so much that I can't even pass my limp off as excess swag.  I'm chuffed to be doing something that uses enough different muscles than usual to actually cripple me, but it does make me more than a bit nervous about the infernally stupid idea that is Sunday's Tenby half marathon.  Mr Coach Man of Outcast CrossFit, however, has promised my the use of my own legs following Friday's session as there's going to be more "arm stuff" involved.  I hope to sweet baby Jesus that he's right.  I don't much care for my arms, but I'll be needing my legs on the day!

If anyone sees a vertically challenged blonde running through Tenby on Sunday with arms locked rigidly in the air, it's not a new running fad, or zombies.  It's just me.  You can wave if you like, but please understand that I probably won't be able to return the gesture.  Eep!

Monday, 7 July 2014

I'll Be Hurtin' Come August!

Just popping in here today, for I start my CrossFit regime tomorrow at Outcast CrossFit Swansea and fear I shan't make it out alive.  If I survive, and if I still have use of my fingers, I'll report back.  Experience could be worth a couple of giggles at my expense.

I'm also here because I've found myself home from work four hours earlier than anticipated.  Bogs flooded.  For the surprise half day, I'd like to shake the hand of whoever's bowel evacuation went wrong enough for a whole building to be evacuated in turn.  After they've washed their hands, that is. 

I've already mentioned that I've got the Tenby Half Marathon to run this weekend.  Not sure how/if that's going to pan out after two on-ramp sessions at CrossFit.  The second of the two 1.5hr introductory sessions I'm taking this is only a day and a bit before the actual race.  It took me three whole days to be able to look left and right without wincing after the bloody taster session the other week!

And because I've obviously not made July difficult enough for myself, I've also taken up my Uncle's offer of his place in the Swansea Half the following week as he's had to drop out... That is, if I get away with running it with the name "Crispin" plastered to my race number. To be honest, I fancy my chances - what with my boyish good looks and total lack of breastices.  I might have finally found a golden opportunity to let my beard grow in and all.

Weird thing is, though I'm still feeling distinctly "hahahahanope!"  re: Tenby, the idea of completing two half marathons is as many weeks gets my juices going.  Makes little sense that doing 13.1 miles twice over within two weeks, (considering I didn't think I could do one lot of that distance in one year twelve months ago) makes me feel less wary than just doing the one half marathon does. The more difficult the challenge, the more I want to get that shit done! Silly brain.

Actually, i think I just really like medals and bragging rights.  Probably doesn't get a lot more complex than that. Shiny shiny shinies!

Anyhoo - busy July. Two halves to attempt, followed by my favourite annual mass gathering of pink stuff and hysteria - Race For Life.  Bring it on!

Peace out,