I've been waiting for them since I looked back through my notes and realised they appeared on January 18th last year. Yesterday, it rained and was cold all morning (we were marshalling at a cross country race in the forest, miserable but fun at the same time!), and then, in the afternoon, the sky cleared and the temperature began to climb.
It's now ten degrees outside and the sun has been shining intermittently, sending messages of spring, and look who's woken up in response......
The Honey Bees! Complete with full pollen baskets. There are lots of them on the Daphne, buzzing about, feeding. Gosh, I've missed that sound. It makes your heart glad just to hear it. I am so glad to see them. If that isn't a sign of spring I don't know what is. And here's another one, just to prove the point :o)
And two dog pictures, because they make me smile too....
In Running News it continues (cautiously) well. I'm back up to a steady three miles three times a week (although at the moment I've had to promise not to go off on any interesting trails and to stick to the roads and the flat- I sneaked a very small hill in yesterday in the rain and am none the worse for it today, so that's encouraging). I'm easing the mileage back up one mile a week at a time on my longer run as we've a couple of competitions coming up (yay! it's been far too long). One is a five miler and one is a six miler, both on the roads, so I need to be back up to those distances at least. I did close to 5 miles last week at a steady pace and that was fine so I'm not anticipating any major problems as long as I go slowly.
Marathon plans have been shelved until next year as I don't want to rush and risk upsetting my knee again. Getting marathon ready for the end of May constitutes rushing in my book, so I shall defer my entry till 2019 and pootle about building strength and enjoying parkrun and my longer runs instead. I've got a place in the Grizzly again this year. I was hoping to do the 20 mile version but will settle for the 9 mile (which you may remember was my first big competition last year and had huge excitement around it). That's in March so I'll see how that goes, and if all is well I'll get some more half marathons in from April onwards. If not, I'll happily stick to 5 and 10ks this year.
Instead of the marathon as my main focus for 2018, I am toying with picking up the parkrun PB theme again. I got it down to 23:09 last year and although I'm way off that at the moment (running around 27:37), I reckon in a few weeks' time I could pick up the pace and start to work towards chipping off the time. I have promised to help my friend Neil get his PB to under 25 mins before his 70th birthday (which is creeping up), so that would be a good initial target, then I'm thinking I can work towards sub 22 mins by the end of the year.
To give you some idea of pace, at the moment I'm running about 5:30 mins/km which takes me to 27.30 mins over 5k (which is 3 miles) and represents hardish work at the moment. To run a 25 min 5k time with Neil we'll need to be running 5 minute kms, and to get to a 22 minute parkrun I'll need to do 4.24 min/ kms. I realise if you're not a runner that all this talk of seconds must sound rather feeble, but believe me, it is not easy to knock seconds off your km times when you're running at your limit. To do it, I'll need to follow a training plan which incorporates three things:
1) endurance runs at a steady pace over longer distance (I'm quite comfy about these, they're my favourite kind of running)
2) Intervals, which involves repeated short runs at a very fast pace with short recovery times between (these are ok)
3) tempo runs, which involve running 10-30 minutes at a pace where you can say a three word sentence but no more ie it's quite tough (not so keen on these!).
The theory behind this is that if you train for endurance and speed your body learns how to sustain a faster pace over a shorter or target distance. I'm naturally not a fast runner, I can put on a good sprint and turn in a reasonably tidy time, but I much prefer a pootle along a half marathon distance, so training to run faster over shorter distances will be an interesting challenge, but if you've been reading for a while you'll know I relish a challenge so I'm up for it. It will also be good for my running and put me in a good place for when I start marathon training next spring.
I've managed to infect M's cousin with the running competition bug and persuaded him to sign up for a race with us in June, which should be great fun. It's part of the Cheltenham Challenge marathon weekend and I'm already looking forward to it.
Plenty to be getting on with, eh?
Hope all are well. Have you got bees out with you yet?