Saturday, 21 September 2013

The Golfing Season, stats & @HowdidIdo

It's just about drawing to a close, this year's golfing season.  It's just too short, my first qualifying comp was halfway through April, and here we are in September already.  It's been a good year for the sun though, so at least the majority of games haven't been played in torrential rain unlike last year which was an almost complete washout.

There's some interesting stats available for my club competitions from HowdidIdo a very useful tool for golfers which is akin to the powerof10 which handles data from most UK races.

What's most noticeable is the few green dots on a sea of blue.  Green is what we're aiming for here, that's a par on that hole, there's that one red dot, a birdie, but mostly blue: bogies or dark blue: double bogies (one or more over par).  It is improving ever so slightly.

Last year's average for a round was 110, but since July it's been under 100, so it's definitely heading in the right direction.  The only downside to the site is that it's only including comps from my home club.  I played in a county competition in July too, and won it with a net 69, but it's not included in the stats, other than that, it's a great tool.

Started the year with a playing handicap of 30, which was a big improvement on the year before (last September I was still playing off 34) and now I'm down to 24.  The goal this year was 21, It's not there yet, but it's well on the way, but as the season is almost finished and I've only got 2 more qualifying comps to play, it's looking unlikely.

The other thing it doesn't handle is mixed comps.  To be honest I think it's prolly a step too far for clubs to include them in their official results which is a bit of a shame, but quite a few clubs aren't that swept up with getting these things computerised, so to ask for data on mixed comps too is a big ask.

Andy (Mr T) and I have played in quite a few mixed open comps this year, and a few of the home competitions too, it's a great way to play another course for not a great deal of money, and be in with a chance of winning something.  We did win one this year at Seaton Carew, though to be fair to Mr T he did the majority of the work on that one, as I'd been bitten by a horsefly the day before and after a trip to the hospital for an allergic reaction I was full of antibiotics, antihistamines and anti-inflammatory pills and I was no use to anyone.  He soldiered on manfully and played a super game, I think I came in on two or three holes.

Aside from the win at Seaton, we did win one together at Tyneside, and in another comp, me and Tony (one of Mr T's mates who stepped up when he was off playing for a week with the lads from Bristol) won the same competition we'd won the year before: defending our title as it were ;)

There's still a lot of improvement to be had though, and even though I'll be concentrating on the cross country  running season from the end of the month, I'll hopefully keep the golf going right through the winter.  It's a good time of year to concentrate on chipping and pitching, the putting will be like crazy golf no doubt as the greens become a bit rougher, but there's plenty of elements of the game to be practicing in the meantime.

So it'll be goodbye to the golfing season for 2013, it's been a good one, despite all the blue dots!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Where did all that time go...

It's been aaaagggggeeess since I came on and updated my blog.  It's not because I don't enjoy it.  I'm just so busy with other stuff I haven't had the time.  That sounds pretty ridiculous given that it only takes 10 mins here and there but it's true.

What have I been up to?  Well, mostly work, golf, and a bit of running thrown in for good measure.  Add in admin work for the North East Harrier League, and the Vets Association, and my spare time has evaporated.

Work:  It's an on going problem that I've yet to solve.  I'd like to retire, but I haven't won the lottery, or stumbled across any get-rich-quick schemes, so that day is a long, long way off in the far distant future.

Running:  It's taken a bit of a back seat to be quite honest.  I am still running, but I'm so slow it's beyond a joke.  This year I haven't managed to crack 23 mins for 5k, never mind 21 which was always the ultimate goal.  It's a bit depressing in a way, but it's down to a lack of effort in, and some re-occurring injuries earlier in the year.  It's safe to say that 2013 isn't going to be a year for running for me.

I've still got out there and competed for the team though which is something.  If I hadn't of I might have fell off track completely, but I've done quite a few relays which is great for moral.

I haven't really had a running goal this year either which is part of the problem.  When you have something to aim towards it's much easier to maintain a training schedule.  Because of all the time I had off with plantar-fasciitis I decided not to target any races this year, and just try to manage my fitness which hasn't really worked.

I'm going to have to give myself some sort of goal for next year, sign up for a race or something.  Whatever it is it'll have to be good enough to get me off my behind and into training again.

Despite the training not really coming together I have managed to get out there a bit and I finally got my Parkrun 50 t-shirt.  One small glimmer of brilliance in the gloom ;)

Seen here at Riverside Parkrun yesterday, in a sprint finish with Kirstin for 23:41, a time that was pretty easy last year.

Golf:  Where the running has taken a back seat, the golf is really improving!

I started the year with a handicap of 30, having come down 6 at the end of the previous season.  So this is really my second season playing competitions.

After a poor year last year with all the rain, this year has been fantastic.  The sun has actually been out, a rarity in these parts, and we've been able to play without all the waterproof gear on.

So since April I've come down another 6 shots, and I'm now playing off 24.  Managed a couple of wins in that time too!  2 competitions at my club (one trophy comp) and I actually won a county competition this year too when I finished with a net 69 at the Durham Journal Final!  Me and Andy haven't played too badly either - won one mixed at our club, and one mixed open at Seaton Carew, so it's all going great.

The golf has definitely picked up where the running has dropped off, but now we're almost at the end of the golf season I'm looking to cross country to buck up my ideas.

Hopefully a winter of running round boggy fields will inspire me to get moving again

Friday, 12 October 2012

Training @BirtleyAC

I've been finding it increasingly difficult to get down to do my regular track session after work on a Thursday. As it starts at six, this means a rush back home, then just enough time to get changed and head back out again.  So after chatting to Lee at the minors xc last Saturday, and with Birtley AC training just at the top of my street, I thought I'd see if I could give it a go.

I messaged Ed & Val on Facebook, and they were more than happy to let me tag along.

It's only about a 2-3 minute jog up the hill and along to Lord Lawson School, which served as a little bit of a warm up.  There was some kind of school information evening going on, which meant the place was heaving with kids & parents, but someone managed to spot me looking like a bit of a lost soul, and pointed me in the right direction.

The younger members of the club stayed at the school to do some kind of training demo for the prospective kids & parents, while the junior members & seniors headed out for a road session.  I was kind of hoping it was going to be something relatively flat, since I'd done one of Evil-Coach-Darth-Jim's hill session on the Tuesday at Jarrow, but that hope was quashed with the info that we were doing hills, and that it was the road up to Wrekenton.  This prompted some major discussion on the jog over (for which read decent paced run) as to which road it might be as there as several.  It turns out that it was the longest, steepest road so there was some thoughts of 'Oh my God, I hope we don't have to run all the way up that' and *holds hand up* 'Taxi for Thompson' which were floating round my head.

I was surprised to see so many people waiting (at the lane which leads to the Angel View Pub), we were pretty strung out on the trip over, but they all re-grouped, and waited for Tom (the coach) to set the session.

It was timed efforts (something I've not really done before - normally number of reps or distance).  So 30sec / 45 sec / 60 sec effort up the hill, jog or walk back down recovery x 4.  This meant that the fast lads & lasses could get a decent workout, without leaving the slower folks way behind.  The session worked really well, and with there being so many people there (about 30 or so), it had a smashing atmosphere.  I probably could have worked a bit harder than I did, but I could still feel Tuesday's hills in my legs, so I just tried to take it steady, and not embarrass myself by dropping out before the finish.

Once were done, it was a steady bimble back down Durham Road, and up the the school.

Some stats:
Warm up - 3.15k, 16:15
Session - 2.09k (this is just the uphill efforts, though this would be more for the faster folks)
Warm down - 3.88k, 20:57 (inc my bimble back home)

Gotta say it was really well organised, and I'd definitely recommend it to both established runners, and beginners alike - very friendly.

Many thanks to Birtley AC for having me along!

Check out Birtley AC here on the web on Facebook, and twitter: @BirtleyAC

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Cross Country & Poetry

It's that wonderful time of year again, when of all of the rain, wind, hail and snow we've had throughout the summer can be enjoyed in all of their glory in the wonder that is the Cross Country season.  As a wee bit of a XC taster I reworked (butchered) a christmas favourite to give you this poetic masterpiece:

Twas the night before XC-mas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The spikes were hung in the spike bag with care,
In hopes that rain and the mud would soon be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of races ran round in their heads.
And lasses in shorts, and lads in club vests,
Stocked up on Tiger Balm, Vaseline and Elastoplasts .

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed, stubbed my toe on a trainer.
Away to the window I ran like Mo Farah,
Tore open the curtains t’see what was the marra’.

The moon on the glimmer of the newly made mud
The rain was hoying it down, as hard as it could.
When, what to my wondering eyes appears,
But a bunch of officials, marshals & timekeepers.

With a smile and a wave they all looked up,
I knew in a moment it must be the Sherman Cup.
More races they said, "we’ve the Davison Shield too",
"Get ya spikes on, it’s race time, we’re talking to you!"

"Now Strollers! now, Striders! now, Birtley and Alnwick!
On, Tynebridge! On, Tynedale! on Jarrow and Elswick!
To the bottom of the dell! to the top of the hill!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

I'm the ladies secretary for the North East Harrier league.  This involves a lot of emailing back & forward to clubs, sorting out race numbers for seniors, vets and juniors, vast Excel spreadsheets, me cursing at the computer, various people, and a fair bit of hair pulling.  I was still sorting out race numbers & team sheets the night before the big day when all the wee xc runners were tucked up in bed, but not quite as late as the men's secretary Simon who apparently had a 3am finish :s  So all you folks out there who do any kind of race - please spare a thought for the officials, timekeepers, marshals and race-results fairies who make the day possible!

Back on with the running:
Being that I was injured for pretty much the whole of last year's cross country season, I hadn't had my spikes or fell shoes out of the bag since this time in 2011.  They were of course still in the state I left them in after the Davison Shield last year, so after a quick dusting off (for which read bashing against the garage wall 'till the caked on mud cracked enough to pry it off) I was set to go.
The Jarrow & Hebburn team have somehow managed to triple in size from last year, but the senior lasses have an important race next weekend, so it was down to us veteran ladies to fly the yellow & blue colours.  So Elaine, Anne-Marie and I lined up at the start on the Temple Park course in South Shields, bedecked in our team vests, and I have to say Anne-Marie's trail shoes where a damn sight less manky than my fell shoes.
Elaine - 6th overall

me & Anne-Marie (many thanks to George Routledge for piccies
It was windy as hell, but the skies were blue.  There was a fair bit of mud in parts, after all the rain we had earlier in the week, but it was otherwise very passable.  After slogging it round the two lap course, me and Anne-Marie finished in a pretty respectable 61st & 63rd place, but Elaine managed a fantastic 6th!
This meant we finished 5th vets team out of 12 - pretty bloomin' good.
I'm hoping that I'll be able to complete all but one of this years races (I can't normally do the Prudhoe fixture because the results for the teams need to be worked out on the day), and after feeling okay all the way round yesterday it's looking pretty good.  
An enjoyable run, lugging myself up & down hills, who'da thought it.  Well done to everyone who turned out :D
Happy running folks!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Golfy update

I started playing golf at Tyneside Golf Club with a scheme they were running for ladies who had never played golf before called the "Tee-Timers".  The first session was carnage on the practice field, with 24 of us lined up, and balls flying everywhere, and not going anywhere at all.  After several months of lessons with Gary the pro, and the wonderful Lillian and Anne from the ladies section, they finally let us loose on the course (a terrifying day for the rest of the membership no doubt).

Of the initial Tee-timers around 16 joined up, so it was a great success, and this has been my first full season playing with a handicap. 

Andy, my hubby, who has played golf since before he served with Nelson in the Navy, is keen as mustard.  So he entered us into all manner of mixed competitions this year.  This could have been grounds for divorce with some couples, but fortunately he also has the patience of a saint when it comes to my 'lively' putting style, so we haven't come to blows as yet.

Yesterday saw us off on our travels after work again, this time up to Garesfield Golf Club, near Chopwell Woods.

View from the clubhouse
The weather really didn't know what it wanted to do, it was blazing sunshine on the 1st, and after a soaking in heavy rain on the 7th,  and an initially poor start we managed to recover to 17 points on the front nine.  The rain stopped on the 9th, but the wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and by the 10th it was bloody freezing.  We really did have four seasons in one day.

14th tee, facing the green
The views were stunning on the course, and you are so high up you can see the sea at South Shields!  I could probably just have walked around the course with my camera to take some great pics.

14th tee, looking back across the 13th toward Chopwell
It was getting late, and we were playing into a low sun on the 17th & 18th which was really difficult for judging were the ball was going, but we (mostly Andy) rallied round on the back nine, finishing with 39 points. I did myself proud though in my first mixed comp playing with my new 30 handicap, and the score was a team effort.

I was so cold I couldn't feel my fingers at the finish though - crazy after such a warm start to the round.  So the trip back home had the heaters in the van on gas mark 9 ;)

Back home to a lovely Birtley sunset
That's it for my season of mixed golf, the last competition 'till next year.  I've got two more ladies competitions, and then it's full on into the cross country season (with the first harrier league meeting in 10 days time)

Happy running / diving / /golfing folks!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Fantastic weekend of sport

It really doesn't get much better than this.

After the buzz of watching the elites competing at the Olympics & Paralympics it was my turn to get stuck into some sport over the weekend.  I was hoping for a decent time at the Great North 5k, but sadly the hills and wind put pay to it.  Nevermind.

After an initial promising start, the route took us along the south side of the river, which unlike the Newcastle side (totally flat), is more what hardened cross country folks like to call 'undualting' - though to anyone with half a brain would say a wee bit hilly.  It had more ups and downs than an Indiana Jones film.

I tried to stick it out with the fasters lasses, but my legs said 'sod off, you loon' and I just about pushed myself on with willpower alone to finish in a not-too-shabby (but ultimately poor) finishing time of 22:56

However, all was not lost with a super finishing position of 5th Lady! and 2nd over 40 which made the whole thing worth it.

A big well done to the ladies who finished ahead of me, and to Janette (first L60), Fred (second v70), John Iley, Tim (second v40), Steve (fourth v35) and Jason (fourth v40), who all ran too!

I met up with rkid, Pete, and Pixie for the Citygames on the quayside later on, which were great!  Good to see so many people out supporting the really fast lads & lasses.

Sunday, well, this is Great North Run day traditionally, and I must say I was really jealous of everyone I saw waiting for buses, and travelling to the start while I was heading west to play golf at my home club Tyneside.  I've had a great season of mixed golf, winning a few comps with Andy, and a win with one of his golfing buddies, Tony, last week (while Andy and the boys from Bristol came third in their comp at Alnmouth), but I've not had a great deal of success in our ladies medal competitions.

Well, today was a bit different.  I thought I'd rather be running the North Run when I finished the 1st with an 8, but the Red Arrows came flying past the course, on their way to do the traditional Tyne Bridge formation, and we saw the red white and blue trails, and I thought it was kind of inspiring.  So, I just got on with the rest of the round, trying not to drop too many shots on the rest of the round.

And...after months of trying..I managed to break 100, finishing with a net 65 whoohoo!

So here it is in black & white :D

Not bad since this is my first season playing with a handicap.

Actually...I'm over the moon

So...finished 5th lady, 2nd L40, broke 100, and won the comp.  I'd say that's a pretty bloody good weekend :)

Well done to the hundreds of friends who ran in the Great North Run today, especially to Pixie as it was his first, and he got the time he was hoping for, and to Peter from my running club group who knocked 5 minutes!!! off his pb to finish in 1:29:14, and Anne-Marie with her shiny new pb of 1:46:22

Well done to you all :D

Friday, 14 September 2012

5k delight

It's been 5k season for me over the last couple of months, a few 5k races, and the parkruns have seen me get some pretty decent times, but nothing close to my personal best.  So, sub 22 is the main goal for today's 5k effort at the Great North 5k, on the Newcastle & Gateshead quaysides.

I'm not sure that having my 'Sunday' name on it will help me run any quicker, but I'm quite looking forward to the fact that it's got chip timing, and that the course looks pretty fast, despite a couple of ups & downs.

According to the powerof10 I'm not doing too badly in the UK rankings for vet 40, but I'd like to just dip under the 22 minute mark for my own sanity, and the fact that I know I can do it, and haven't yet this year is a bit annoying.

 I've ran 22 5ks/5000m this year, so hopefully by the end of the year I should have cracked it!

Event Time Position L40
5KMT 22:15 31 1 Riverside parkrun 5K Event 3 28-Jul-12
5KMT 22:15 24   Riverside parkrun 5K Event 5 11-Aug-12
5K 22:21 183 3 Sunderland 5K 18-Jul-12
5KMT 22:30 25 1 Riverside parkrun 5K Event 8 01-Sep-12
5000 22:48.3 7   North East Veterans' Pentathlon Championships (inc NECAA Pentathlon) 08-Sep-12
5KMT 22:59 66   Riverside parkrun 5K Event 1 14-Jul-12
5KMT 23:02 66 4 Watergate 5K (Inc NE Veterans' Champs) 30-Aug-12
5K 23:03 125 2 Wallsend Harriers Terry O'Gara Memorial 5K 22-Apr-12
5KNAD 23:23 134   Newcastle parkrun 5K Event 107 04-Feb-12
5KNAD 23:23 30 1 Gateshead parkrun 5K Event 10 28-Apr-12
5KMT 23:24 29 1 Riverside parkrun 5K Event 6 18-Aug-12
5KNAD 23:28 16 1 Gateshead parkrun 5K Event 3 03-Mar-12
5KMT 23:29 70   Whitley Bay parkrun 5K Event 1 16-Jun-12
5KNAD 23:30 21 1 Gateshead parkrun 5K Event 20 07-Jul-12
5KNAD 23:55 129   Newcastle parkrun 5K Event 103 07-Jan-12
5KNAD 23:58 17 1 Gateshead parkrun 5K Event 14 26-May-12
5KNAD 24:01:00 16 1 Gateshead parkrun 5K Event 16 09-Jun-12
5KNAD 24:14:00 26 1 Gateshead parkrun 5K Event 4 10-Mar-12
5KNAD 24:39:00 19   Gateshead parkrun 5K Event 7 31-Mar-12
5KMT 25:03:00 76   Sedgefield parkrun 5K Event 1 17-Mar-12
5KNAD 27:51:00 54   Gateshead parkrun 5K Event 1 18-Feb-12

I know I didn't manage to get under 22 mins last year either, but I was injured for a good portion of it, so hopefully it'll happen today, with a favourable tailwind in the last mile please!

Best of luck to everyone running, and of course to everyone doing the North Run tomorrow :D