25th challenge completed – Football

Having not being well this week, I was really looking forward to my busy weekend of sport.

The plan was as follows. Get up early on Saturday morning to volunteer at the Gunnersbury Parkrun, head over to Chiswick for my latest rowing lesson, speed down to Hampton for my first 11-aside football match since the start of the challenge, rest up for the evening before an early start on Sunday for the latest Sunday league cross country race.

Even by my standards this was going to be a challenge.

The weekend started well, I headed down to Gunnersbury Park for my first go at Parkrun volunteering. I always said that once I had run 10 Parkruns that it was only fair to give something back. I was assigned to the half-way point of the race, with the main responsibility to give runners an update on their time so they know whether they are ahead or behind schedule. It was really good fun, especially knowing so many people that were running and cheering them on to the finish. I was also able to get a very different perspective of the different types of experiences that people have during a Parkrun race, from the super quick runners upfront (winner finished under 16 minutes), those that run a similar pace to me, families running together, those running with buggies and pets and others that are just happy to run around socialising with each other.

Volunteering done, I headed to Team Keane rowing club for my latest ‘learn to row’ session. We were split into 2 groups and sent out in 4s. Claire who I had my initial private lesson with was our instructor for the day. We focused a lot on technique and timing and once we started to get this together we began to put more power in and up the stoke rate to see how fast we could move the boat. At times it worked really well, but it was easy for the whole thing to go wrong. My position in the boat meant that I was in charge of the stroke rate. Whilst this gave me licence to focus on my own technique and rhythm I had to try and make it as easy as possible for the guys behind me. As a group we showed real progress, so I’m looking forward to where we end up in a few weeks.

Rowing done, I drove down to Hampton School for a match with the Old Hamptonians 3rd XI. This would be my first 11-aside match for 2 years. One of the new rules for amateur football, which I hadn’t experience before was the introduction of rolling subs. We had 12 players so I started on the bench, with the promise that I would get on after 20 minutes and would play the rest of the game. The game didn’t start great for us and we conceded a goal in the first 15 minutes. Despite this set back we were dominating the match and had some good chances to equalise. I came on just after 20 minutes at left wing and soon got into the game. I knew I had the beating of the right back, which is always a good position for an attacking player to be in. As a team, we continued to dominate the match but couldn’t quite add the finishing touches to our attack. So half time we were 1-0 down, what could we do in the second half? It was more of the same; we continued to push but couldn’t find a way through. About 15 minutes into the second half, we had a blatant penalty shout turned down. One of their defenders put his hands out to block the ball on a corner. We couldn’t quite believe it and to make matters worse, they went up the other end and scored a second. Despite further chances for us, we couldn’t find a way through and the match finished 2-0. We were robbed!

Unfortunately, mid-way through the second half I tweaked my hamstring. I played on hoping that it would loosen up. It didn’t really get worse throughout the match, but since then it has stiffened up and as a result I was unable to race this morning, cutting my sporting weekend short. The consolation is that I can relax at home and watch the finale to the F1.

Hoping to play again and maybe try and complete a weekend of rowing, football and running.

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Ealing Eagles

It’s been a busy weekend, starting with supporting Rhian in running the Grasshoppers Netball tournament on Saturday followed by Battersea park summer league, 5-aside football and a BBQ with the Ealing Eagles.

One of the running goals I set myself following the Manchester Marathon was to run a 10k in sub-45. I had 2 attempts earlier in the summer and managed a 47.03 and a 46.07. I was actually really happy with these at the time as my previous 10k PB was 53.14. Sunday’s summer league was my last chance for a while as I don’t have any other 10k in the diary until next year. As part of trying to achieve a sub-45 10k, I worked out I needed to get my 5k time down to around 21.30. Unfortunately, despite running a 22.33 a few months ago, the next two 5k’s failed to improve on this time. I did however achieve a 22.02 in a handicap race last Wednesday and this gave me the confidence to at least try and run sub-45.

My preparation for yesterday’s race was perfect. I’d had a couple of days off, I felt good, the weather was cool and the course was flat. No excuses. So I set off with sub-45 as my goal. The first mile was spot on, running at around 7.10min/mile, but I lost a bit of concentration in the second mile and my pace dropped off a bit. I picked it up for the 3rd mile but at the half way stage I was 15 seconds behind target – I would have to run close to my 5k PB during the second half of the race. I picked up the pace slightly for mile 4 and still felt really good. Mile 5 was slightly faster again and I decided to go for it over the last mile and a bit. I was running at below 7min/miles. It was tough but I kept on going. A couple of fellow Eagles were going for sub-45 as well and I knew if I could catch them I would be ok. I felt awful coming into the last half a mile but I kept on going and maintained the quicker pace and came home in 44.46. The 2nd 5k was 22.01 (a new PB). I clearly haven’ been pushing myself during my 5k’s.

I was over the moon. This was a real stretch target for the year and I’m confident now of achieving the my last running goal of the year – a sub 1.40 half marathon. My first attempt will be at the Maidenhead half on 7th September – watch this space.

And we won the Eagles 5-aside football tournament.

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This sport is pretty much covered as I play 5-aside football every Thursday evening in Chiswick. I have played football since I was 5 and have represented my University.

My challenge will be to play in a competitive 11-aside match between now and Rio 2016.

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