Sedate lady running 15-21 October 2018 #amrunning #running


This week I have to runfess that I have NOT gone to yoga and I have NOT done my Coach Paul circuits. We only got home on Monday and it’s been laundry, collecting the cat from the cattery, and lots of work (I did NO WORK on holiday, apart from answering a few emails – hooray!) including a very urgent booking that overlapped with Friday yoga. I will do better in coming weeks. I have also run the requisite number of miles, (feeling very much that lack of stretching!) and formulated the beginnings of an ultra plan. I haven’t run continuously during any of my runs, taking a “jeffing” approach, but that’s completely OK, as we all know. More importantly, as, having had a not-great run last Sunday, I was starting to worry I’d booked an ultra then immediately stopped running so much/ fallen out of love with it, I enjoyed my running week.

Monday – OK, hauling my (4-wheeled, runs along vertically SOOO easily, right) suitcase through Penzance made my biceps ache for a day or so. So I’m counting that as strength and cardio!

Tuesday – I was supposed to go to club run. It was the route some people had some hassle on the other week. None of the Sedate Ladies were going (or maybe one, who is faster than me). I was TIRED. And I wimped out, but usually when I don’t want to run there is good reason, so fine. And I got a nice early night in.

Wednesday – Jenny, who is working her way back into running after being unwell for quite a while, suggested a before-lunch run. It was nice not to have to don day-glo colours (I know some bloggers I follow like the bright colours and matching outfits; I quite like slipping along quietly in the daytime at least).

I started off a little late and had to dash up to our meeting point, scoring a 10:41 minute mile (way fast for me) and a couple of Strava segment PRs. Phew! Had to have a pause when we met (not late!) then we took a gentle run-walk around for around 4.5 miles before I nipped back home again. Lovely to catch up and put the world to rights. It was pretty sunny, too, and I was a little warm in my black top.

6 miles, 13:26 mins per mile

Thursday – Our running club runs a “5k and beyond” course twice a year, autumn and early in the year, to support new or returning runners through a couch to 5k type programme then progressing onwards to 4 miles (I know, mixing the units!) to enable them to run with our weekly Tuesday club run. It’s led by the excellent and supportive Lee, helped by three volunteers from the rest of club each week. I LOVE LOVE LOVE helping with this and have usually done a few sessions covering for people who can’t come for whatever reason, but today was my first run out with the current group.

New lights!

I tried out my new little lights, bought from Lidl a while ago for a small amount of money each. A flexible loop on the back clips to the clip you can see on the orange one, so they’re great for on your rucksack or belt and I hung them round the wide elastic bits joining the front and back of my hi-vis tabard. One is red, one white and they do continuous or two kinds of flashing, and they worked well.

I ran up late as ever so quite fast for me, then supported the lovely Chloe to do 8 mins run, 5 mins walk, 4 mins run, 2 mins walk, 2 mins run. She did very well and we covered 1.45 miles. I love it when people don’t think they can do it, then they can. Hooray! I then ran back home with fellow-volunteer Kate and did some local loops to make up the miles.

0.7/1.45/2 miles for a total of 4.1, 10:33/14:33/11:38 mins per mile

Saturday – Off to Wolverhampton with my clubmate Paul to officiate at the Cross-Country Relays. Good fun as ever, though a long day as we had junior races in the morning then seniors/masters in the afternoon. I was in the start/relay changeover team, so had variously over the races the roles of looking after the start, then sending off the B and C runners as I saw their A or B runner cross the finish line (with an experienced colleague: I’d never done this before and it’s a bit nerve-wracking to start off with; I will confess that I messed up the first start line we did and had to be told to get out of the way!); checking there was a runner in the start pen for each runner coming to the line; checking numbers and letters going into the holding pen; and then sending off B, C, and D runners for the seniors and masters again (so many of them!). It was lovely weather, amazingly, and another experience for my record to put towards achieving Level 2 Endurance Official certification. My lovely husband cooked us a great chili with brown rice for dinner.

Sunday – Long run day. I had some cheese to deliver to my friend Ali, who lives about 4 miles away, so based my route around this. I met Trudie and Ruth on my doorstep just after 9 and we had a brief encounter with Jenny on the way, who ran with us for about 10 minutes before veering off home.

Ruth, Trudie, Liz, autumn leaves. Thanks to Trudie for the photo.

What a lovely sunny day it was. Tracie joined us, she’d run down our route from home and stuck with us for her 4 miles of recovery run after the Royal Parks Half last weekend.

There was a more flattering one of me but this shows our friendship as a group. Thanks to Trudie for these two, too.

Ambitious shadow selfie!

Trudie left us to pop to her mom’s; lovely to run with her again after a bit of a gap. Tracie turned back when it was time, leaving me and Ruth jeffing along happily (we were doing a 1 min run / 30 sec walk ratio). We got to Ali’s and delivered her cheese, which had done well in my backpack with an icepack the other side of the cheese from my back.

Ali’s photo of the day!

Then we worked our way back, popped to my house to shed my rucksack and retrieve Ruth’s jacket, which we’d posted through my letterbox on the way out, then I did another 2.5 miles up to the park, round a couple of times (running into Louise doing a Pokemon event, somewhat surreally) and home to make up a decent and comfortable distance. I did run continuously for this last bit, just to get it done, I think, and because I hadn’t set up the intervals on my watch.

10.5 miles, 12:51 mins per mile

Ultra plans

I’m not going to go on about the ultra every week until I’m on the 24-week programme, but here’s my plan for the rest of the year:

October – keep at 20-25 miles per week for one more week.

November – December – build to 25-28 miles per week. Stretch 5 days out of 7. Do 1 building to 2 Paul circuits per week and at least one yoga session per week. Continue with head on pillow, lights out between 10 and 10.30 pm (this is working well for me and Matthew at the moment).

January – start the 24 week programme to allow for missed weeks as I go along.

Does that sound feasible to experienced ultra-runners? I will try to get some trail shoes and do some off-road stuff gently, too.

Miles this week: 20.6

Progress towards 1,000 miles in the year:  840 (target to reach by the end of this month: 833.33)

Weekly wrapI take part in the Weekly Wrap run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Kimberly’s (standing in for Wendy) weekly wrap is here and Holly’s is here.

Book review – Jackie Kay – “Red Dust Road” plus holiday book confessions #amreading #bookconfessions


I’m just back from a holiday in West Cornwall and on the Isles of Scilly – had a lovely time, with lots of walking, some running, a bit of horse-riding (once every two years is about my record on that one) and, of course, plenty of reading. I read all the books I took with me and left them in our two hotels, but of course acquired more while down there from some favourite shops and the great charity shops of Penzance. And then finished reading one of the acquisitions on the train home!

Jackie Kay – “Red Dust Road”

(12 October 2018 – Penzance charity shop)

My friends in the Very Small Book Group had read and raved about this a while ago (Ali will let me know when, I’m sure) and so when I spotted it in a charity shop I couldn’t resist. Ostensibly the story of her finding her Nigerian father and family, it’s also an autobiography and tribute to her adoptive parents.

It’s a lovely, warm, self-deprecating but strong read, and I did indeed love it. I giggled at times and I did have a tear in my eye at one point. I really loved the stories of her mum’s down-to-earth Scottish reactions to the more outlandish parts of her “journey” as well as the heartfelt descriptions of her meetings with her birth mum and dad and musings on what it is to be adopted and the howling wind-filled centre of your mind that is never truly still. As a poet and novelist, Kay is full of stories, of course, but she shares this with her mum and talks movingly of how the two of them wove together a story of what happened to her birth parents that sustained them and drew them closer: “It was a big bond, the story” (p. 44).

Kay is so honest, especially sharing how she’s an open and trusting person and so all the secrecy around her adoption really got to her. She’s thrilled to meet her Highlands of Scotland aunts and draws interesting comparisons between the Scottish and Nigerian villages she originates from. She’s generous in her thanks to the people who support her along the way, and while it’s not an easy read as such, the pages slip by. I will be looking for some of her poetry to read now.

Here‘s Ali’s review of the book, which brings out some quotations I loved, too.

We had a sort of “extra” day in Penzance on Friday, as our boat from the Isles of Scilly was moved forward because of storms coming in on Friday and Saturday. We didn’t do much (we had a trip out on Sunday, instead, which we thought would be our down day) but I scoured the charity shops and the wonderful Edge of the World Bookshop for lovelies. Eric Newby’s “A Small Place in Italy” is about restoring an Italian house and not one I had or had even read! The Jackie Kay we now know about. “Bird Watching Watching” by Alex Horne (who we know from the rather wonderful programme Taskmaster) is about a year birdwatching with his dad and was not to be resisted.

I bought Philip Marsden’s “Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place” because it centres around West Cornwall, where we were. This seemed the ideal book to buy there. I love this shop so much – website here – it’s so friendly and has a marvellous stock, and has just moved a few doors up the road into larger premises. If you’re ever in West Cornwall, do pop to Penzance to pay them a visit.

There are a couple of other lovely bookshops in Penzance. Barton Books does art and design and children’s books and lovely notebooks, and Newlyn Books has a wonderful selection of second-hand books and art books, including a wonderful local collection.

Amusingly, I bought a copy of Colin Duriez’ “The Oxford Inklings” there – I say amusingly because of course Tolkien was a son of Birmingham, and last time I went to Newlyn Books I bought a Francis Brett Young book (another local). This has very good reviews by a number of scholars and looks like another good addition to my shelf.

The final addition to my TBR came when we got home. A running and reading friend had asked if I could help the publisher out by taking on a review copy of Mark Atkinson’s “Run Like Duck: A Guide for the Unathletic” and as we know, I’m always up for a running book (plus this one mentions ultras) so I was very happy to find it on the doormat when we returned (along with the Iris Murdoch Review, which includes a lovely review of my book “Iris Murdoch and the Common Reader”, and Saga Book from the North Atlantic Research Society, so I’m going to be a busy Lizzie for a while!

What have you been up to while I’ve been away? I’ve tried to keep up with blogs though had to catch up first!

Sedate lady running 08-14 October 2018 #amrunning #running


A holiday week this week in which I did – shock, horror – very little running! But I’ve been pretty active, so I think it’s all OK. In fact we walked an average of over 5 miles per day, and a lot of those miles were pretty hilly or uneven, requiring walking boots, concentration and hard work.

I do have some runfessions, too, apart from that one. I runfess that I forgot my running belt and had to buy a new one. How many belts do I have now? Four belts. But the new one is quite good, so that’s all OK (right?). I also runfess that I do run on sugar and caffeine and if I’ve had cereal without sugar and then a non-caffeine gel, it’s not such a fun run. Oh.

Last Sunday – I already shared last week’s run details with you, however I didn’t post where I went and pics as I was still away. Wanted to share these quickly. I ran round to St Michael’s Mount, which is joined to the mainland by a causeway. I do love a causeway, so I picked my way across it and back – hooray! Now, a rather nasty comment on my last week’s blog post (I didn’t let it through) took me to task for taking too many selfies, but I like all my running blog buddies’ pics so please excuse mine.

St Michael’s Mount across the sand

Me by the Mount entrance

The causeway I’d just run across

Tuesday – I had a giggle on a book blog I follow when I’d commented that I’d spent time on an island, as the US blogger mentioned that I lived on an island anyway! But we went to the Isles of Scilly (off the tip of Cornwall) and I went riding! I go riding about once every 2 years and I was pleased my running muscles helped me stay on firmly and do rising trot. We had a lovely trek for an hour as well as walking 8.5 miles that day so I’m treating that as my normal run.

Me and Kieran

Kieran was a small Shire horse and adorable!

Sunday – I didn’t have all the time in the world and ended up having a not-great run, although actually I got a couple of PRs in the first part of the run so might still have gone out a bit fast even if it didn’t feel like it. I did get to run past three harbours: Mousehole

Mousehole harbour

… then Newlyn and Penzance, and also Penlee Park. I wanted to get in 10 or even 13 miles but had to settle for 9 increasingly slow ones. Oh well. It got done and I did enjoy the sea views (not the seaweed on the path or the flies coming out of it!).

9 miles, 12:21 minute miles

Miles this week: 9 

Progress towards 1,000 miles in the year:  819 (on target)

Weekly wrapI take part in the Weekly Wrap run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Wendy’s weekly wrap is here and Holly’s is here.

Book review – Tracy Corbett – “The Summer Theatre by the Sea” #amreading

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Another easy win, read on holiday in Cornwall as it was set there (you can see it on the back shelf in the TBR picture). There are a lot of these “Little x by the sea” novels in The Works et al. at the moment; it must be the new trendy theme after book groups. But it was a decent read.

Tracy Corbett – “The Summer Theatre by the Sea”

(07 August 2018)

This light novel starts off with our heroine finding her world falling apart and deciding to move in with her sister down in Cornwall. I think this is a genre thing as I’ve read a few books that start like that, but it was believable and set the scene. After a wobbly moment where Bristol and Plymouth appeared to get mixed up, we were safely near the end of Cornwall in a town which appeared to be a nice mix of Penzance and Newlyn, with a few of the castly places thrown in – well done, though.

Of course there’s romance brewing with another escapee from London this time and there is depth in this book, with Barney’s career worries and local relationships – including an interesting loan shark sub-plot) very nicely portrayed. There’s plenty of agency for our central figure Charlotte and she’s certainly not waiting for someone to rescue her, and it was nice that she worked out her issues with the help of her GP and a sensible self-help book rather than just the love of a good man. The transvestite character was a nice touch and it was great to see the Minack Theatre portrayed, although you’d have to know it to know it’s a real theatre (there’s a picture of it on the front of the book, which is what I was drawn to).

A good read with some nice depth to it.

I found Jackie Kay’s “Red Dust Road” in a charity shop in Penzance (I will update on all my buys another day when I’ve sorted out my photos) and have started reading it: Heaven-Ali and two other local friends read it for their Very Small Book Group a while ago and told me how good it was so it seemed foolish not to pick it up. Good so far!

Book review – Robert Ferguson – “Scandinavians” #amreading


I couldn’t wait to pull this one off the shelf as a bit of a different non-fiction read, passed to me by my friend Sian. She usually likes harder or more experimental books than me but I think we basically agree on this one.

Robert Ferguson – “Scandinavians: In Search of the Soul of the North”

(24 March 2018, via BookCrossing)

This entertaining and long book starts off with an ill-planned trip to Copenhagen as a young man. We hear all about the various trials and tribulations but it doesn’t put him off and he moves to Norway, I think married to a Norwegian.

Ferguson’s plan for the book is:

… what isn’t, strictly speaking, a history so much as a journey, a discursive and digressive stroll through the last thousand years of Scandinavian culture in search of the soul of the north.

And from ill-fated explorers to a group of intellectuals who might have invented nordic gloom to a multiple killer, we meet the people who made Norway, Sweden and Denmark, with small excursions into Iceland, and also the people Ferguson has met (Sian is correct: he does have a remarkable facility for remembering conversations). He’s interested on the shifting fortunes of the three countries and the relationships between them, too.

It’s generally entertaining and informative: I liked the memoir parts more than some of the history and will admit to having skipped the play that pops up part way through and some of the detailed film discussions. But the parts on the wars, women’s roles in society, etc. were very interesting. I also realised that I’d never known what the 30 Years’ War was all about and now I (probably temporarily) understand that a bit better, so there we go!

I’m reading a very light novel set in an outdoor theatre not unlike the Minack in Cornwall, another easy win plucked from the shelves. Should have it finished tomorrow, although tomorrow is running post day, of course! And I’ve finished my Iris Murdoch for the month, so look out for that review soon …

Book review – Corinne Hofmann – “Reunion in Barsaloi” #amreading


I’m going to admit to having picked a couple of “easy wins” off the bookshelf to try to get the TBR down a bit. I’m also aware I haven’t done the competition winners for the Lethe Press books yet – please bear with, as they say. Things have been a bit hectic recently. At least I’m actually updating this blog: my work one has fallen behind, but as that’s due to having a full work roster, I’m kind of OK with that …

Corinne Hofmann – “Reunion in Barsaloi”

(21 January 2018, from Gill)

Gill had kindly gone through the more elderly parts of my book wish list and picked this one off and I’m so glad I found out what happened next.

18 years before the events in this book, German Corinne was on a ferry in Kenya when she turned and looked into the eyes of a Masai warrior. Her two previous books detailed her affair with, marriage to and flight from this enigmatic man, and dealt in depth with her life in his very rural village an interactions with her mother. This book explores what happens when she goes back, their daughter 14 (and not with her, to save her from possible early marriage and worse) to make contact with her old family again.

Essentially, it’s the story of two weeks in a whole book, so there’s some recapitulation and a lot of detailed emotions and visits. But it’s fascinating to see the two meet again and see their relationship now. I love a book about life in a new country, and those detailing inter-cultural relationships are so interesting. In Corinne’s case, she was – and still is – interwoven with the whole village community.

In addition to this personal homecoming, she visits the film set where the film of her first book is being made, and meets the people playing her and her husband. She seems deeply emotional about this, but almost ashamed of being so.

A fascinating book with sometimes infuriating main protagonists which I was nevertheless very interested and glad to read.

I’m currently finishing Robert Ferguson’s “Scandinavians” which was great until it went into a weird play which I have to admit I skipped. More on that later in the week.

Sedate lady running 01-07 October 2018 #amrunning #running


A kind of standard week with not much of interest to report. Oh, except I signed up for Race to the Stones (2nd day only, NO  CAMPING). I’ve bought a book (of course I’ve bought a book) which suggests developing a 25-mile-a-week running habit before starting the 24-week training plan, so I’m quite reassured that I only need to ramp it up a few miles a week till the end of the year. All ultra tips gladly received!

Tuesday – Our other four-mile club run, which takes an alternative route but still has an impressive hill, this time in the last mile. It’s properly dark from half way through now, so I got out the head torch and went dressed inadvertently as a character from a well loved film series. No one actually mentioned I looked like a Minion, thank goodness.

Accidental minion outfit!

I ran with Ruth, my lovely friend who’s doing a half every month in memory of her dad, and Ursula, who is a seasoned marathon and ultrarunner and gave me some good tips along the way. This route goes through a slightly sketchy junction and there were some kids around hurling insults and some throwing eggs from a car. I’m not entirely sure I’m happy doing this route again but I trust our club leadership to work out what should be done.

I’d had what I thought was a terrible dash up to club, after getting caught up talking to a neighbour, but actually dashed home more quickly, these giving me a higher pace per mile on average.

5.5 miles, 12:12 mins per mile

Wednesday – circuits. The only way I was going to get these done today was starting when we get up, before breakfast. Here I am demonstrating how dark it was, although of course I did it perfectly normally with the lights on in the sitting room!

Early circuits!

I’d had a chat with Paul the coach about my progress and what to do to change things up, so I took out the step-ups, which are just fiddly and are replicated by my warm-up up and down the stairs, and moved the one-legged-bridges to 45s each side (aiming for a minute). I should see it in my running soon, but I don’t do much that I measure. We’re going to have a running form session soon, too, to check I’m not wasting too much energy. We’re so lucky the chaps got trained up as coaches for the club; it’s such a good resource even if you only dip in and out, like I do.

I meant to do yoga mid-morning but I was wobbly of limb so didn’t! Oops! One day …

Thursday – I had a pre-breakfast solo run around the usual morning route and added a run down a side road to bring my mileage up. I slightly pushed it on this one as I wanted to keep under 12 minute miles, so I was pleased to see the GAP, which is your pace adjusted for the elevation change, went upwards through my miles even though my actual pace didn’t, once it was loaded into Strava:

I’d gone out a little later than usual so was feeling quite hungry by the time I got home – I can’t do a very long run before breakfast but it’s nice to sit down to your Shreddies having had a good push round. Oh, and here’s Highbury Hall, Joseph Chamberlain’s residence. You’ve seen Highbury Park, which is a public park made of the grounds of the house, in last week’s report.

Highbury Hall

4.7 miles, 11:40 mins per mile

Sunday – A lovely solo 10-miler today. It’s not often that I run that far on my own, but I had varied surfaces and a good number of dog walkers to keep my interest. For some reason I can’t get my photos up on here so I’ll add them to next week’s round-up.

10.1 miles, 12:11 mins per mile

Miles this week: 20.3

Progress towards 1,000 miles in the year:  811 miles (ahead of target. In fact, I’ve now run further than I’ve ever run in a year before! I’ve also apparently spent a full week of 24-hour days running this year!!)

The big question

Thank you for helping me decide to sign up for my first ultramarathon last week (eee! Yes, I’ve bought a book already, but tell me other ones – I’ve already read Jurek and Karnazes). It’s the 31-mile Race to the Stones Day 2, on chalky, stoney but not apparently horribly technical surfaces. So …

If you’ve run an ultra (or more than one!), what’s the one thing you wish someone had told you beforehand? What did you wish you’d done differently?

Thank you!

Weekly wrapI take part in the Weekly Wrap run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Wendy’s weekly wrap is here and Holly’s is here.

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