Walk this Way!

So, my love of being outside is not just limited to running 4 or 5 times a week, I also love to do a fair bit of walking with a group of friends.
Once a week we will meet up and have a good old catch up whilst walking out and about for a couple of hours.  We are really lucky to have a great variety of places to walk on our doorstep; ranging from walking down to the sea, to up a fair few hills, to wandering along the shore line discovering fairy trees (yes, really) to getting lost in the woods and appearing at the 8th hole of a local golf club!
Walking, power walking if you want to call it that is a real team thing. I love how we fall into step with each other without really thinking about it and we are all evenly matched in terms of pace and ability. Together we have completed several long distance walks, my favourite being Walk the Wight. This takes place on the Isle of Wight and is for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice. They offer a variety of walks across the island on the day with the longest being 27miles from Bembridge to the Needles.  We have done this walk twice now and both times we have gone across the solent on the Saturday afternoon, had a great meal in a pub and crashed out in a flat in East Cowes.  The Sunday morning sees us leaving at about 5:45 to head across to the park and ride and catch the bus to the start. This is brilliant, you get every man and his dog, literally on the bus.  Some walkers have huge backpacks and carry walking poles, others appear to be popping out for the papers and are wearing plimsolls and jeans (ouch)! The dogs are always a little nervous on the bus, I am not a dog owner so, not sure how you prepare your dog for the bus journey, or the walk! 
The start at Bembridge, involves a little registration and you are off.  It is a staggered start, giving you something like two hours during which to get going.  This is a really nice way to start the walk.  The route takes you up and across the island.  The views are spectacular and the scenery ever changing.  At first you are walking on a bit of track and then you are into the woods which are full of bluebells and trees bursting into life. People are in a long line here, chatting and avoiding the mud! The walk is extremely well marshalled and there are check in points along the way.  Each check point has water and fuel as well as the opportunity to buy coffee and tea and use the toilet.  We traipse along the edge of farmers fields and along paths that would be hard to spot in the car.  
Halfway point is a natural stop for refuelling and there is usually cake sale, hot food and a band. There is also the opportunity to buy sunflowers in aid of the hospice.  It is usually about midday when we get there and has been really hot, so a bit more sun lotion is required before heading off around the edge of Carisbrooke Castle.
The second half of the walk is the toughest by far, but the views are amazing, especially along by Freshwater Bay.  You walk through woods, more fields and along the edge of a golf club. As well as going up pretty much all the time and walking around herds of cows!  The sea is always a sort of navy blue and this set against the green hills and little coves is pretty impressive, it’s not called the Tennyson Way for nothing!
What keeps me going is the scenery and sharing it with my friends.  It is a tough challenge, with the wind and rain making it hardwork at times.  But, being in a team you always have someone who is upbeat at a different time and is happy to take the lead.  The hills are huge and relentless but, such an achievement as you round the coast at Allum Bay and cross the line. Head sorted and body worked out!
So, walk this way for more info!
http://www.walkthewight.com/

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Interval Training

Intervals, the club session I love to hate!

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Tuesday night is club night as far as running is concerned; the other club night is far less frequent these days!
I digress, sorry.  I belong to Fareham Crusaders Running Club (FCRC) and we meet on a Tuesday and Thursday at the Leisure Centre.  The club facebook page informed us that the session for the week was going to be intervals in groups according to pace.  The speed session is one that I dread but, absolutely love when it is over. So, the thought of it made my stomach lurch and I began looking at the weather reports to see if I could talk myself out of not going with imminent snow or something similar! Who was I kidding; I run whatever the weather, so I found myself at the leisure centre at 6.45.
The buzz in the meeting room was brilliant, catching up with runners who I hadn’t seen since we completed our first ultra-marathon together the week before Christmas.  I love being a part of this club.  There were lots of notices to be given at the beginning and then our options in terms of groups were announced; 7min mile, 8 min mile groups up to and including a beginners group.  We then all poured outside of the leisure centre, somewhere in the region of 120 people, all waiting to get a signal on their Garmin watches before heading off into the dark to complete the session!
Choice made after some deliberation about which group I was going to go with. The difference between and 8 min mile and a 9min mile for example is quite a lot. I chatted to my friend on the warm up about the festive period and how it had been ages since we had all been back at club together. Well, the chatting stopped there as soon as we saw the loop that our run leaders had chosen for us! We were to run the loop as fast as we could and they would time us, shouting the time out as we completed it.  The idea with the session that you complete the laps in the same amount of time, easier said than done.  We must have looked like a group of sulking school children waiting to do cross country, with far too much high viz stuff on.
It was freezing that night and it soon became obvious that we all had far too many layers on. After the first lap when were standing/leaning over recovering from the intensity, steam was rising around the group of 25 and, there was hardly any talking going on.  I love the challenge of these as I think to myself, right let’s see how fast I can go and charge off way too fast, then regret it as, it is hard to maintain for the loop.  Being amongst speedier runners is such an incentive to try that bit harder so that’s what I did. Gloves discarded, normal running eGloves of course, and before we knew it the session was over. 
Cool down run back to the centre and then we could all chat again. I had a great chat with a couple of the guys about trail marathons and we compared notes about which ones we were hoping to enter this year.  The cold then started setting in to I said my goodbyes and see you next weeks and headed home to get warm and, most importantly watch the second episode of Silent Witness. Now, I didn’t see that twist coming!!

Nikki x


Rain? What Rain?

Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed!

First Sunday of 2016 starts with yet another deluge of rain and wind, ideal conditions for a long steady run then! After a lot of timewasting – checking social media etc, I dug out the hat, the most rainproof coat I had (one that wouldn’t make me overheat too much) and my trusty eglove xTREME’s. Podcast downloaded, trainers on and a nice little sandwich bag fashioned around my armband to protect my phone even more and off I went.

This was my first solo long run for sometime so I chose to do a nice, easy no brainer and run to Royal Victoria Country Park in Netley. I wanted to see what the out and back distance would be with a view to incorporating the Netley Abbey Parkrun that is held there into a long run in the next few weeks. I like this route and whilst not necessarily a challenge, well apart from the massive hill, it leaves you free to immerse yourself into other things such as podcasts.

As the rain was hammering down and I approached the hill, the podcast I chose was Wittertainment a 5live film podcast with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode. I love the chatter and the bickering and of course the film reviews. I often realize that I have been laughing out loud or nodding in agreement when I am listening to their shows, something which causes some strange looks from people! Today though with the conditions being so, erm, wet and wild luckily there was just me on the pavements. I prefer to listen to a podcast, it is conversational pace and therefore sort of like running with friends, hello to Jason Issacs by the way.

On the approach to the country park and the shoreline, the rain was sideways and actually hurting my face. The Isle of Wight was non existent, all I could see was huge waves and the sea was a sort of brown colour. There were a few dog walkers in the park, we all nodded that sort of secret, “we must be mad” smile at each other. I made use of the facilities at the park, interesting with gloves on! Then it was an about turn and a quick refuel with a Nakd Gingerbread bar and some water. I love these bars, so easy to eat on the run.

The return leg of my run and it was noticeable just how much rain had already come down and, was still coming down. The puddles were pretty much little boating lakes that I ran through and that the cars on the road helpfully drove through giving an extra shower, thanks! I actually laughed at this bit of the run, I mean there is no choice but to run back home, you cant get much wetter and it is only rain. At least I had the nice downhill bit, before the other slightly smaller hill. It was here that it was like the tap had been turned again and there was a huge downpour. I considered sheltering in a bus stop, but decided to just get home, I was getting a bit cold and the podcast had finished.

The gloves that I chose today were the xTREME thermal running gloves, in pink of course . I have to say they were amazing, yes they got wet but I was able to squeeze the water out as I ran. My hands were not drenched and more importantly my hands were not cold. As a sufferer of Raynaulds Disease - circulation, hands go white, nails and lips go blue in cold and wet conditions – this is such a relief to have warm hands. The tighter cuff on the gloves keeps the elements away and you hands warm, and yes, the touchscreen bit still worked, again important for photos and strava on the run!

Back home after rounding the miles to a nice 15, the shoes were nice and clean and I was probably carrying a pint or so of water in my clothes.

Run done, Spring Marathon training begun. Is it still raining I hadn’t noticed!

Until next time,

Nikki x