On (finally) joining a running club.

After moving life up north this year, and knowing almost no-one, I took the plunge and joined one of the local running clubs which my now good friends Daisy and Scott belong to. I’ve thought about doing this before, but with my stomach being the delicate flower that it is (I refer the reader(s) to https://katerobinsontri.net/race-report-alp-dhuez-triathlon-long-course/ and https://katerobinsontri.net/race-report-laguna-phuket-triathlon-1-8km-50km-12km/ ) and often being a bit overwhelmed with social situations, I have always talked myself out of it.

But I’m so glad that I went ahead and finally did it! The Macc Harriers ( https://macclesfield-harriers.co.uk/ ) are *SUCH* a good bunch. Me being me, I’ve tried my hand (well, feet) at a few different sessions: Tuesday track sessions, Thursday road running by torch, and weekend cross country racing. I haven’t managed any trail runs yet, simply due to clashes with the cyclocross season and/or Covid. But I fully intend to in 2022. I have new trail buddies I’m itching to get out with, not least for the banter!!!

Having missed out on Christmas this year due to finally hooking up with ‘Rona, several of my new running buddies checked in on me, dropped food parcels off, facetimed me or just simply said “hey” over WhatsApp. What could have been a really lonely and difficult 10 days has been very bearable with these guys and gals, and I am fully indebted to them!!

So I’ve established that the people are absolute diamonds. As for the sessions themselves. I get different things from the different disciplines and groups:

Track I am more comfortable in the “B” group, but the coaches have promoted me up to “A” to push me. I don’t necessarily complete the whole set as planned, but I certainly go harder than I otherwise would in the Bs. I’ve missed several weeks due to other committments or covid, but I intend to get back to this ASAP in 2022 as I think this is where my speed gains over longer distances are to be had.

Thursday road sessions I’ve deliberately gone out with the “C” group to have a more chilled, chatty run. I still get a good 10k in, and sometimes the faster of us do some out-and-back loops whilst others catch up, but I’m saving my legs for the harder sessions. And I get to chat with different people 😀 I just need to learn how to put one foot in front of the other without stacking it…! (just the 2 falls to date – bloody knee/ankle/elbow and sprained ankle).

Cross country is a whole different kettle of fish! Prior to joining the club, I hadn’t done any of this since school, probably pre-2000. But I bought some Mudclaws which my friend Daisy recommended, from the lovely ladies at Running Bear in Alderley Edge ( https://runningbear.co.uk/ ) and dove straight in. I also had a slight midlife crisis and bought some running knickers, and have since obtained the knickname “Knickers girl” from Baz…guess there are worse names 😀 Turns out I’m not too shabby! And somewhat ironically I’m better at staying upright in the slippery mud… Although I didn’t complete all races due to joining part-way through the season, I did help contribute to the ladies team winning North Staffs 2nd division, which was a lovely feeling to have.

Upcoming aims and events include Bowstones NYE fell race (might be more of a steady paced effort due to Rona), Cheshire XC champs on 8th Jan and hopefully my 2nd marathon attempt in October. Otherwise, keep training, trying out different Parkruns and just enjoying it.

So my message to anyone else who is hesitant about joining a local running club is…don’t be! Just get out there and join in. You’ll meet lovely friendly people (in the north, anyway!) and you might just enjoy it 😀

Two Bays Tough Ten

This weekend we traveled a bit further afield to race, to the seaside resort of Weston-Super-Mare. Hello retro! 🙂

For Ollie x

Paul and his best mate Simon did the race last year as part of their quest to do more interesting races, and they loved it so much they went back for round 2 and convinced me into it too. Not that I need that much convincing, I love a bit of mud me! I found out a few days before the race that their chosen charity is Muscular Dystrophy UK, a charity close to my heart following the death of my cousin Ollie age just 19 in 2012, so I shared my JustGiving page on Facebook and managed a few kind sponsors (see below for link).

The course is 10 miles of multi-terrain: starting on the sand of the first bay, progressing to tarmac, then a long stretch of beach along the second bay; after this comes a particularly boggy section before a challenging 13% muddy stony hill, before some respite along the top of the grassy headland; after the turn point comes a -13% descent down some steps before the flat return section along a back road and then a beach path; the final section involves a brutal switch-back climb which begins a mere 20% on tarmac and ends  in a 40% off-road section in the woods, before descending back to the first bay and a sandy sprint finish. Easy peasy 🙂

After a yummy and nutritious meal of chicken, bulgar wheat and broccoli with toasted almonds cooked by Simon’s wife Rosie, and a good sleep in the world’s highest bed (think the princess and the pea!), we had a nice leisurely get-up on Sunday and plenty of time to get breakfast of coco-pops and a slice of toast down. I’ve come to learn that the runner’s staple porridge is just too heavy for me pre-run. So child’s sugary cereal it is 🙂 Just as we got out the door, Simon’s daughter who had been out at the local kiddy Parkrun was rushed back with a migraine, so after some emergency sorting out we got on the road and 45 minutes later arrived at the venue.

Not sure what was so funny?!

A quick warm up (ha! bloody freezing!!) and before we knew it, we were off. I managed to control myself during the first kilometer for once, although it seems quite quick considering we’re on sand. The runners spread out pretty early on, so by the time we hit the tarmac there’s no element of argy-bargy going on! A much more civilized way to race 🙂 The second sandy bay came around in no time at all, and it was a long, hard drag up the beach, against the wind. I think it’s harder when you have little perspective of how far there is to go, mentally more than anything. I’m a bugger for losing concentration in those circumstances, something which I suffer with during long swims. I have been known to accidentally do 950m in an 800m swim set..!

Next the boggy section, and it was pretty damn muddy! I managed not to lose my shoes or resort to walking, so I count that as a win. The stony incline starts with some steps – nothing like the 120 steps of Cliveden, but thigh-burning nonetheless. Several runners around me gave up and walked, I don’t like to do this unless I really really have to as I find it disrupts my rhythm, but I do make an effort to go steady to control my heart rate (which often has a mind of it’s own). I’m all about the pacing these days! We reached the half way point at the headland and I finally felt like I’ve got into a nice flow… until the downhill steps! I have a weird phobia of going down “foreign” steps (even stairs in people’s homes), so this is my idea of hell – they’re steep, muddy, made of concrete and there are only a few hundred people breathing down my neck… Somehow I hold my nerve and reach the bottom without incident.

Kate 1 – Climacophobia 0.

On the tail of bum appreciation man on the killer hill

The route back is fairly flat for the most part, and there was a nice little bit of tail-wind to give our tired legs a well-received bit of encouragement. Just as we started the switch-back climb, I was running alongside a man who has been behind me for most of the run. He told me he had raced Tough Ten before and went on to describe the impending killer hill. Just as I thank him and he starts to accelerate away from me, he makes a cheeky comment about enjoying the view I had provided to him! I laugh and apologise for not being able to go faster. I do like a bit of short-shorts appreciation :p Once again I managed to run the entire hill, weaving past the walkers whilst trying to keep my heart rate below 180. Down the other side, and unfortunately I got stuck behind another lady who is taking a fairly controlled descent. If there’s one thing I’m good at in running, it’s letting my legs go on descents. Why fight gravity and free speed?! It was only wide enough for a single runner for the most part, so I had to choose my overtake carefully and disappointingly it came a bit late. Never mind.

We wound our way down to the promenade, and I managed to pick the pace up to 4:20/km for almost the last mile. As bum-appreciation man accelerates away from me once again, I don’t have much left in the tank for a sprint finish on the sand, but I do manage to hold my pace. I cross the line a happy bunny in 1:22:37 – two and a half minutes quicker than my goal time, and a quicker overall pace than Cliveden at 5:08/km, finishing 18th in a field of 212 ladies. Paul ran a commendable PB finishing 20th in a field of 426 men, and Simon smashed out a massive PB to finish 34th.  We rewarded ourselves with a big plate of fish and chips (my only request) and a Bass shandy for old times sake. Happy days 🙂



Cliveden 10k

It’s that time of year again, where we get up at 6:45am on a Sunday, don ourselves in skimpy lycra and brave the fog and rain to run 10k around the muddy grounds of Cliveden House. Voluntarily. For fun. 🙂

Last year we had just come back from a 20 hour training holiday in Lanzarote, and so whilst I was fit, my legs were certainly not fresh! I did it in 53:41, placing 36th lady and 20th in AG.

This year I have had a bit of an enforced rest over the last few weeks due to illness. Paul had given me a goal time of 50 minutes; do-able at full fitness, but on a cocktail of inhalers, antibiotics and steroids for my chest/sinuses, I wasn’t holding out too much hope. I resigned myself to walking up the infamous steps (120, done at the end of both laps) and merely aiming to finish.

The first 1k I take a little fast considering, in 4:38/km pace. But it’s always nice to run clear of the masses, especially in a race like this where some sections are almost down to single-file. Nothing more frustrating than getting stuck behind a plodder (I should know, being one!). For the rest of the first lap I surprise myself by keeping up a decent pace, although I can see that my HR is consistently around 180, which is usually non-sustainable for >5km for me. Still, the legs are turning (average 176spm) and the lungs aren’t feeling too tight, and I don’t yet have “tingly tongue” – a sign my body makes when I’m pushing myself too hard (usually happens at HR >183). So I carry on. I bail out and walk the second half of round 1 of the steps, saving my legs for round 2 and allowing my HR to come down from the dizzying heights of 193!

The second (longer, hillier) lap continues to feel OK, although my pace has dropped off a little – 4:42/km to 5:46/km corrected for gradient. It’s a much harder lap IMHO, but it does mean more downhill sections and I seem to be quite good at letting my legs go on those 🙂 Eventually, after a bit of slipping and sliding about, I get to the bottom of the steps again, knowing it’s almost over. I still only manage to run half way again, but right near the top I go into full on racing mode: I start to run the last 10 steps, overtaking a lady I have followed the whole way around, as one of the spectators comments “that’s a face of focus and determination”! Less than 500m to go and I manage to override the lactic acid and pull of a sprint finish. It’s done for another year!

Paul has done very well, finishing in 42:34 (a PB) – 27th overall and 12th in AG. Several of our club-mates from BTS have also competed and done well – The incredible “Baylii” both finishing top 10, Chris D getting a decent first run, newlyweds Carl and Clara as dedicated as always to their passion for running and Heather and Vicki pulling an impressive 1:01 out of the bag considering they almost overslept!!

My official time is 50:56, so I have shaved 2:45 off my PB and come 21st lady and 13th in AG. Success in my books 🙂