Manchester 10k, feel the love

‘Well that was brutal,’ said the voice behind me as we poured over the Deansgate finishing line, dripping with sweat and never so grateful to accept bottled water.

The Great Manchester 10k was great indeed. Not because it expertly marshalled an astonishing 40,000 runners through the city’s roads with friendly but firm organisation. Not because there’s an opportunity to grab PBs (if there is you’ve got tougher legs than mine) but because of the people who are running and the people who line the streets.

Me at Manchester 10k

Milling around, waiting for my group to be called

At the starting holding area I’m surrounded by hundreds in my zone, green, and we’re warming up with some bloke on a gantry, waving our arms in the air, doing our squats, wiggling about getting all those muscles engaged. At this point I already have cramp in my toe but apparently there isn’t a warm up exercise for that.

Manchester 10k 2012

More people milling – lots of milling

I can see Scoobydoo and Spiderman and I’m feeling nervous but calm. Then the flaming opera singer comes on and starts belting out Wind Beneath My Wings. And that’s me – flamin crying. of course I’m mostly looking at the back of a girl in front of me who’s ‘running for’ sign says she is running in memory of her mother and has a picture of them together, decorated with flowers and bows and glitter. And there’s something charmingly childlike about it, even though she’s clearly in her 20s, like she’s been whisked back in time in the making of it…

And then we’re off. Funnelled down gates to give us room to run and I’m like a whippet out the traps and I look at my garmin and realise I’m running at nine-minute mile pace and I need to slow down, because it’s hot. Really hot. I don’t run well in hot.

The sun breaks through the clouds and the crowds thin and we make our way towards Old Trafford. Special highlights of the journey round:
* The man who cheered me on just past the ground, like he thought I was doing something amazing
* The women running in relay, pushing a man in a wheelchair
* The bands, all great and utterly cheering and an excellent way to dull the sound of 40,000 wheezing runners
* Spotting Cain Dingle DJing, playing All Around the World by Daft Punk as I passed
* The charities who turned out to cheer on their fundraisers
* The singing police woman belting out Disco Inferno (I think, she was great, i was zoning out a bit here).

The downsides:
* Having to go to the loo which never happens usually (turned the garmin off, I am not having my loo break count against my time – end of!)
* The waves of nausea – had to slow down occasionally for fear of vomiting on people
* Having to walk occasionally (again, this never happens either)
* Being too hot – for a 5am runner 12noon is the Gobi Desert
* Thinking a couple of jelly babies would be a good idea. All moisture sucked out of mouth, more nausea
*  Being overtaken by two smurfs. Though I did hear a woman in the crowd turn to her mate and say ‘No I am not cheering smurfs’ Why do smurfs annoy people?

Excellent goodie bag. Limited edition T-shirt (yeah, me and 40,000 others) designed by Peter Saville (designer at Factory records and all-round Manchester feted person), medal with purple ribbon, bottle of blue sports drink (oddly pleasant), two energy bars (yum) and some pistachios.

This is a brilliant run if you’re running with your mates but OMG it’s massive and emotional. There are hundreds of people out there celebrating the memory of loved ones, it’s an incredible celebration of love. I saw people running for every charity imaginable – from street children to hospices to cancer research to building facilities for nurseries.

My time, with loo break taken out: 1:10:04

I thought it was a tough course – not so much steep hills as rises that go on forever and the Old Trafford section is desolate without the lovely people who came out to cheer. Would I do it again – oh yes.

And even though I’m home and about to go out for a curry with MrM you can still sponsor me if you want to. I’m raising money for student scholarships at the university where I work, to help people who struggle to pay for education.


Home and in my race T-shirt and waving medal


Last tempo run before Manchester 10k

If being dedicated to the cause could make you faster I’ll be whipping round that course next Sunday like a rocket.

Text from Adam yesterday:
‘Hi Deana, are we still ok for our very early start tomorrow? I’ll have to be in Bolton for 7 so it would mean starting at 6.15. That’s no problem for me, i just wanted to check with you.’

Text from me:
‘That’s fine with me, see you then. Appreciate the early start commitment.’

Text from Adam:
‘ No probs, I think it’s work a good-paced run before you taper off a little through the week in prep for Sunday.’

So, there I was, at 5am, mixing protein shake. At 5.45am I was out the door and by 6.15am we were warming up. Pretty gorgeous out there this morning.

wood path to Whythenshawe Park

Check out that early morning light

Trees at whythenshawe park

Look up, so beautiful

We did a 4.2 mile circuit at a fair lick, just enough to make me wheeze, just on the edge of uncomfortable, but not full-pelt sprint. We did this loop a few months ago and I’d had to walk some of it and i felt much stronger so much more pleased, though i had the strangest feeling someone else had been running with us that day, which can’t be right.

Anyway – round in 43 mins, 40 secs which means I’m running at 10.30 pace which is pretty good.

Quite pleased, frankly. I know I want to do an hour, but you know, it’s the taking part that counts and goodness knows I’ve put the miles in. And the weight training in. And the Grid sessions in.

So this afternoon. An hour’s yoga and some more hip rolling. And then a couple of paced, but nothing sprinty runs during the week. 🙂

Nervous, but prepped – and that’s all you can do.

Feather in the dewy grass

Delicate little feather in the dewy grass – I’m being all metaphoric here! 😉


Countdown to the Manchester 10k and I’m out on the town!

You would think having one social occasion in the week before your first UK 10k would be harmless, wouldn’t you?

And if I said it was my book club’s monthly meeting, why you’d imagine a sober group of like-minded individuals debating the finer points of a novel – it’s pluses, it’s less-than perfectly realised plotting, it’s characterisation…

Anyone nodding clearly isn’t in a book club. The word ‘sober’ certainly needs editing from the paragraph above. People in my book club have lost mobile phones, laptops while out with book club.

They’re not exactly wild bacchanal orgies of indecency, but they do involve a fair amount of wine and food and wine. And sometimes the odd gin and tonic. And some wine. Did I mention wine?

This month we met at Jamie’s, a new restaurant in town owned by Jamie Oliver. it used to be a bank and the private dining room is in the vault. It’s called the vault. It looks like a vault. It does have that 80s industrial, polished steel vibe and I loved the memphis-style chandelier but the rest. Hmmm. The constantly flushing of loos outside, not so much. The whirr of hand dryers, not so much. People constantly coming in for a nosy – ok, but wearisome after the fifth interruption.

In the Vault at Jamie's

In the Vault at Jamie’s – me front, right

So the food. Pretty, tasty, quality – expensive. We ordered a selection of starters – cracking olives. I had the turkey Milanese with a side order of broccoli that turned into cabbage because they’d run out of broccoli. Nutritionally it hit the button, but you know, it’s not broccoli. They ran out of a lot of stuff. £40 a head including tip.

The Vault at Jame's

More wine with your book debate?

cool chandelier

Memphis-style chandelier – pretty

Oh the book – Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes. My advice; don’t. But lots of people like it and if mawkish floats your boat then go for it. I just found the characterisation lazy in that they were all archetypes, parts of the plot seemed wholly unbelievable to me and while I wanted to take the book seriously – the central plot revolves around a city boy adventurer who gets hit by a motorbike and ends up paralysed from the neck down – the irking elements made the whole just annoying.

But hey – that’s just me.

This month – The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. What kind of bloke survives childhood being named Amor? A talented one, it seems. I’m enjoying this book greatly. 1930s New York with the Wall Street crash looming, it’s a trip around the clubs and lifestyles of the haves and have-nots of Manhattan. Great writing, great pace, struggling to leave it alone for five minutes. I think I’m going to love this one.

And did this whole episode add to my running technique? Well, I have enough garlic in my system to ward off colds and vampires for the rest of the month but no running Friday due to ‘tiredness’ but I did get out on Sunday morning. Quick update coming next.

It’s here!

My running number, Manchester 10k

My running number, Manchester 10k

The big envelope arrived this morning.

I get a magazine, my chip and this. How cool, I get my name on it too.

Needless to say my nerves are now ramped up to about ‘arghhhh’ level. But excited nerves. Less than three weeks now. Eeek!

Training this week is one six-mile run and one set of intervals.

Six miles today in 1hr 10 mins 40 secs. Splits: 11.49, 11.25, 11.39, 11.50, 12.05, 11.51

Pretty windy and I ran off-road so pretty happy with that.

Time to get serious

This morning, in the bath, I had a word with myself.

‘Are we self-sabotaging here? Well are we?’

‘No, stroppy Alpha Me, we wouldn’t dare.’

Alpha me is wearing the running kit now and we are focused!

I have three weeks till the Manchester 10k and what did I do last week? Mostly gad about. Mostly work-related but gadding about nonetheless. While chatting at the launch of the Bolton Food and Drink Festival I enjoyed a couple of glasses of fizzy wine and nibbles. That was Wednesday night.

Thursday lunch time I enjoyed another glass of fizzy wine at lunch with two lovely people I used to work with and would be delighted to work with again and then Thursday evening I saw another former colleague, had dinner at Harvey Nichols, and got in about midnight. Friday evening, yup – more gadding.

The gadding needs to halt. The nutrition focus needs to come to the fore and the fizzy wine needs to stay in the bottle.

I want to do my best and that is not going to happen unless I train, get my sleep and eat properly.

Goodbye to this…

and hello to this…

healthy running food

Running salad: chicken, avocado, olives, feta... yum

Training for Great Manchester Run

So it’s training tomorrow. One hour of Adam half-killing me in the name of speed.

This is what I’m training for these days – The Manchester 10k run – check out the video. It looks cool. And big.

It’s called the Great Manchester Run which seems a little grandiosing to a self-depreciating amateur runner. And a little overwhelming. Yup, still nervous about it.

The plan is to get me running at six miles an hour by May. At the moment I run a 10k at five-and-a-half miles an hour and often more like at five mph. Nearly there. But not.

The good thing about having a trainer is he never lets you coast, it’s never easy. This is a cause of frustration. You feel like it’s never a stroll in the park, no matter how hard you try next time it’s But why would I pay him to give me an easy time. The point is it pushes me, because me? Left to my own devices? ‘Fa la la la la la la, hello birds, hello sky’. I need that push.

Round and round the gardens…

My heart is beating 20 to the dozen, the only sound I can hear is the noise of my own breathing, completely out of control, as I run faster and faster. Round and round and round and round. Got to catch him, got to catch him…

Is this a nightmare? Is it a horror-film scene? No, it’s a dazzlingly bright, freezing cold day and I’m at running training at 8am on Sunday morning!

My running trainer sessions with Adam are now all about getting me ready for the Manchester 10k in May.

My goal: to be running 10 minute miles. For 6 and a bit miles.

Yes I know some of you are super quick and can to 8s and 7s and that Paula Radcliffe does a 5-minute mile. Which frankly, I believe anyway, defies nature. She runs at that pace – twice as fast as my goal – and she’s asthmatic. Cow!! (Only kidding – love her! She’s on my Pinterest running inspiration board)

Before I run through my terror-flick training session, here’s a picture or two from the park where I train.

Whythenshawe Park

Whythenshawe Park

Whythenshawe Hall

Whythenshawe Hall

Lost jumper

Lost jumper, Whythenshawe Hall

Oliver Cromwell statue,Whythenshawe Park

Moody shot, Oliver Cromwell statue; controversial figure in English history, bad man in our house

Whythenshawe Park is a gem for running training. It has enough wooded pathways to keep you interested as well as all those children’s park areas to use. And although the Hall isn’t open to the public very often (city council spending cuts) it’s a beautiful building.

This week we did circuit-stylie training.

1. Basketball court tag. One of you jogs round the court while the other runs pretty fast, when you catch up the other person you swap roles. What you’r doing, i guess, is intervals but you’re having to lean in to corners and stuff so you need your wits. We did this x6. Much wheezing.

2. Circuit station tag – a. One of you runs 25 metres and back at normal running pace while the other person does repetitions of an exercise at the finish line. When the runner gets back to the finish line you swap roles. We did one set of kettlebell squats, one set of kettlebell swings, one set of Medicine ball lunges. When the first person gets back the other person runs, so you do three runs, three lots of exercises.

3. Circuit station tag – b. One of you runs 15 metres and back at faster running pace while the other person does repetitions of the exercises described above. But faster.

4. Circuit station tag – c. One of you runs 10 metres and back at fastest running pace while the other person does repetitions of the exercises described above. But faster still.

At the end of that lot I am a sweating, scarlet-faced mess making a noise like a woman drowning in oxygen. I get a recovery walk to the car here to drop off the kettlebell and medicine ball because… then, yes THEN, we go for a two-mile run. (if i were a teenager there would be 6,000 exclamation marks here – truly, that sentence warrants them).

There was a point when we’re running out of the park and I think my legs are about to give weigh. They go wobbly, my left thigh appears to have developed a deep-tissue boulder in it and I can just about manage the words ‘My legs’. But we carry on, we’re still going and I feel like I’m running in slow motion as Adam explains about fatigue running. Apparently this is getting me used to running when tired. I am not a happy runner. I am a very grumpy runner trying to dispel the nagging thought that I can’t keep running.

We keep going, my breath gets completely out of control and i have to stop for a walk for 10 yards before I set off again. And miraculously my legs are back, we’re going downhill for once and I somehow manage to pull myself back. i completed just under two miles in 20 minutes at 11.30 pace, which is what i usually average on a four-mile run without an hour my muscle-ripping sprints and squats.

Walking to the car I say to Adam: ‘You know, I didn’t used to like circuit training, but I look forward to it now.’ ‘Ah, that’s because you’re stronger,’ he says.

Stating the obviously, I know. But sounded almost Zen-like to an exhausted woman giddy with endorphins.

Top running tips from Adam

It occurred to me Adam, my running trainer, tells me some pretty useful things while I’m training. Of course he’s a sports rehab lecturer, he’s trained professional footballers for a living and so he talks pretty technical sometimes.

Fortunately a lot of my job involves taking really techie, jargon-packed language and moulding it into words everyone can understand.

So I’m going to pass on some of his advice, telling it like I can get it.

Why you shouldn’t run every day

I was telling Adam today how I’d run four miles on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, to ‘toughen up’. I don’t normally run every day but I thought I should think about upping my sessions and that would mean running on consecutive days. I should try to get used to it.

Adam asked me how the second run had gone. I said I was slower, although only by 20s, but the effort felt greater. I had felt like I should have been faster, I was really trying hard, and I was disappointed to be slower. ‘Hmm,’ he said. ‘So your perceived effort was greater than your results?’ Then he explained to my why back to back running isn’t such a bright idea.

Controversial. I know. Lots of people do. But the things about running; it is repetitive movement, really repetitive. And that means you’re at a very real risk of injury as you repeat the same movements over and over again.

Now if you’re not bothered about getting injured fair enough. But I’m a wimp. I hate niggling injuries that stab at you when you’ve just about forgotten about them. I am sick of my ITB issue and the stiffness round my left hip irks me greatly. I want to be out running and having fun, not wincing when my body wants to remind me it’s not happy. This advice is good for me. Maybe you too.

The reason why you shouldn’t run every day is this: when you run, the activity creates tears in your muscles. Just a bit, but the fibres get torn with the effort and are therefore looking to rebuild. What your body needs is time to mend. Time without more activity. If you run the day after, instead of taking time to mend yourself, then your body will have mended the muscle a little, but not as much as it needs to to build stronger, larger muscle. Then it gets torn again and weakened again. Yes, it does rebuild, but not to where it should do.

Keep that up and you have a slow but steady decline in your muscle’s strength and its strength to do the work you are asking of it. Sooner or later – injury. Being out for a week or more is not going to help my training.

Maybe if you’re an elite or professional athlete it’s worth it, but I’ve got my sights set on the Manchester 10k and finishing in an hour – I am not Paula Radcliffe!