Unknitting at the running track

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Whoa! Enormous photo alert! But basically I spent the kids’ athletics session this morning knitting the same round twice. Not even that much. When you’ve got over 600 stitches on your needles in the first place, you expect progress to be slow. What I didn’t expect was to get halfway around the round (it’s a circular shawl, for those wondering) before I realised that I had made a mistake in the very first stitch. Instead of k1, I had managed to work k2 just that once, but it meant the whole of that round was offset by one stitch relative to the stitches below so, of course, the pattern won’t line up. Nothing for it but to unpick it stitch by stitch back to the start of the round and try again. Mutter mutter mutter. Knit ONE this time (not two), and surprise surprise when you actually follow the instructions correctly you get what you’re supposed to get! That’ll teach me to try to knit lace and watch my children doing the long jump at the same time. I’d just got back to where I realised my error by the time they finished. It was like some sort of bad homework question. “If Mummy knits 300 stitches, then unpicks them all and then knits them all again, how many stitches has she worked? Calculate the probability of her making this error again”.

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A run with my son

Ok, so it wasn’t technically my turn to do Parkrun this weekend, but because of various family and work commitments this week and next, it just worked out better if we all did Parkrun as a family today. I ran with our older son, as his pace pretty much matches mine. It was a nice run to share, as it was his tenth 5K Parkrun so he got a mention from the run director at the start. My husband ran with our younger son. We did Dartford, which is a Parkrun we’ve all done together before. I don’t mind it, but it’s not my favourite for various reasons. Firstly there are chunks of it run on grass, which my ankles find hard-going especially as I start to get tired. Secondly, it is two and a half laps. Two is usually my mental limit; after that I’m getting bored of seeing the same stuff go by again! Thirdly there’s a hill up a narrow path (single file) with tree roots underfoot, and running over muddy tripping hazards up hill is not my idea of having a good time.

Today was also humid with a high pollen count, so despite using my inhaler beforehand I was really short of breath and blowing my nose all the way round. Son and I both got course records, his time 28:27 and mine 28:31, but I was really quite disappointed with that time. I’ve run 5K faster than that. I ran 2 seconds faster (granted in better conditions) just last week, and I’ve run sub-27 minute parkruns twice as well as at least one 27:30 5K around the neighbourhood. Pluses were my 96th place, only my second time finishing in the first 100, and being 15th female, my best gender position, and third in my age category. I still want to get back down to around the 27-minute mark though.

The other great result was my younger son, who is only five and a half. This was his fifth 5K Parkrun and he finished today with an amazing PB of 31:39. And a sprint finish too, what a star! I’m proud of both my little runners today.

Six miles, sports day, and sprints

Two lots of running again today. After walking the children to school I did a short long-run, just six miles. It seems kind of crazy that I can consider six miles to be a short run, but my long runs are often closer to ten these days. I only had time for an hour’s run today though, as I had a birthday cake to bake! A certain young man living in my house turns 9 this weekend and I had a chocolate sponge to make.

That done I was back to the school for the juniors’ sports day. Over 200 children in four teams (red, yellow, blue and green) doing three different races (obstacle, hurdles, and sprint), all done as relays.

This evening, I went training with the athletics club again. After a mile’s warm-up run around the park, we divided into teams of three for 200m sprint relays for 20 minutes. I’m not one of life’s sprinters by any stretch of the imagination but I found the session easier than I thought, although more through luck than any kind of skill or pacing. The other two members of my relay team were both slower runners than me so I had chance to recover each time before it was my turn to run again!

Back to Bexley

My turn for Parkrun today and I decided it was about time I did my “home” one after three months of doing the tourist thing. The last time I ran Bexley Parkrun in Danson  Park was in mid-March and I wanted to know if I could beat my previous time. I have run two other courses faster, but one was completely flat and the other, well I don’t know if I was just having a good day or if the pacer helped or if it was the speed I picked up downhill!

My previous course PB at Danson is 29:19. I had been hoping to better that, but didn’t think I would realistically run another sub-27. It would be nice, but not today, not least because my legs are still tired from my 11-mile epic on Wednesday and then two days of standing all day on Thursday and Friday. I was at work! That might be no big deal for most, but having been made redundant back in April and taking the huge-for-me decision to become self-employed and go freelance, I actually had three days of work this week, was offered another but had already made family plans, and have two booked for next week already. But that’s by the by…

After a warmish sunny week, this morning started out overcast and cooler, about 16°C, which was quite pleasant for running. Bexley Parkrun is a big one, 500 or more runners are becoming commonplace now, and I do find that huge kind of crowd a bit intimidating. I was both surprised and relieved when  my children’s after-school childminder came over while we were all waiting to start to say hello. She is a serious runner, competes for a club, but has taken a generous interest in my fledgling running career such as it is. She’s also been out injured for several weeks, so we’ve never bumped into each other at Parkrun before. And then I spotted two of my son’s Beaver scout leaders there too. Again, I knew they ran but hadn’t met them in a running capacity before, and a quick chat until it was time to start really helped my nerves.

The run started, and it did not start comfortably for me. I ended up getting boxed in behind a lot of slower runners and people with pushchairs and had to run the first quarter of a mile on the grass beside the footpath which is never ideal for me. There’s also a bottleneck as the path goes around the end of the lake. Unless you want to swim with the ducks, you’re forced to wait your turn. The course looks flattish but there are a couple of hills, the first of which is deceptive as it’s a long slow one that doesn’t feel like a hill so much as “I didn’t think I was this unfit, what’s going on?” until it flattens out and you realise what the problem was! I picked up some speed on the second mile, running that in 8 minutes dead, but by the third mile I’d started to cough (I have asthma, although I had used my inhaler) and was struggling. Excuses, excuses, but the run felt really tough pretty much from start to finish. I did manage a sprint finish though, which was good because I like to finish strong, but disappointing because if I had the energy left for that, I could have run the rest of the course faster.

Result- 28:29. 1 minute 37 seconds slower than my Parkrun PB, but 50 seconds faster than my previous time on that course, and my third fastest Parkrun overall.

Earning a chocolate milk

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Long run day this week was back to trying to extend my running distance just a little further than I had run before. I’m still working towards my first half marathon and I’m trying to balance getting my legs used to the thought of what is likely to be a two-and-a-half hour run with minimising the chance of injuring myself and not being able to run it. My plan was to run further than my 10.5 mile previous longest run on either Wednesday or Thursday but couldn’t decide which. On Tuesday, the weather forecast for Wednesday was hot and for Thursday was rain. It’s never comfortable running in hot weather, but I hate running in the rain. (I know a lot of people enjoy it but I really don’t!) In the end I decided to go for Wednesday and get it over with.

I chose one of my favourite long run routes, to a local country park, around the park, and then a different route home. This route also has the advantage of being downhill all the way home – just a shame it has to be uphill all the way there to make that happen. The country park itself has some pretty fierce hills in it, but it also has some lovely views, the variety of running through woods and fields, welcome shade on a hot day, and horses to look at too.

I was OK for the first nine miles or so. After that I really started to feel the distance in my legs and wanted the run to be over but I was determined to at least run as far as my last long run. I got back to my front door to find I had run 10.91 miles. I couldn’t resist running down to the end of the road and back again to get over the 11-mile mark! I was hot, I was tired, but I had done it, my longest run yet. Definitely time to celebrate in the garden with a glass of chocolate milk!

Learning a new cast-on

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This week, I have learned a new knitting cast-on. I’m designing a new scarf pattern that really needs a stretchy cast-on edge. Usually I’d use a long-tail cast-on but, out of curiosity, I decided to search online for alternatives to see if any might suit the project better and my search came up with Jeny’s Stretchy Slipknot Cast-on. As the name suggests, it is basically a close-worked series of slipknots and it seems to lend itself equally well to ribbed, stocking stitch or other edgings.

The cast-on can be found on Jeny’s blog, Curious Knitter, where a video tutorial is available. I often struggle to learn new skills from videos, because pausing them is awkward, and not pausing means I miss the next stage because I’m still working the last. On the whole I prefer photos as they don’t move on without you but I found the video for this one really easy to follow. Once I’d got the knack, casting on over 300 stitches was a breeze, and they’re definitely forming a lovely stretchy edge. If you need a cast-on with a good amount of give in it, you could try that one.

 

3 miles becomes 4

Actually, thinking about it, that’s a 33% increase in the distance I intended to do today. I bought new running shorts this morning (Kalenji 2-in-1 shorts from Decathlon) and decided to take them out for a test run. It’s incredibly humid here at the moment, far too hot for capris. The weather forecast has been for thunder storms all week but apart from Tuesday, when it tipped it down nearly all day with thunder and lightning at lunchtime, the forecast storms have been elusive and we’ve just had humidity around the 80% mark and no storm to clear it.

So what does any sane person do at midday when it’s 22°C and humid enough to almost see the air? Yes, they put on a vest top and shorts and go running! (not!) I think my neighbour, who was pressure washing his front driveway when I went out, thought I was losing the plot! When he asked how far I was planning to run and I replied “ Oh, only three miles”, he just raised his eyebrows and said “Only?” and shook his head in the way that says “you crazy woman! Three miles is FAR!”.

To be fair to my neighbour, he was probably right. Today was not a comfortable day for running and it felt hard and it felt slow. I also changed my mind about the route partway through so my three mile easy jog became a four mile easy jog, but still I think 4 miles in 40 minutes on a hot day is not to be sneezed at. And I learned some stuff.

Today I learned that my new shorts are really comfy and don’t ride up at all, which is great news. I learned that running in heat and high humidity is harder than you think if you’re not used to it, and it’s OK to take it easy in those conditions. I learned that I have the confidence to run in public in a vest top and shorts. And I learned that you can sweat from the fronts of your knees!