Nike Grid Crazy!

The whole of London (well, London’s running community at least) has gone Nike Grid crazy. London has been divided up into postcode areas and within these postcodes are four selected phone boxes. You run to your first phone box, dial the number, give your (pre-registered) details and start your run to the next box and so on. It doesn’t stop there of course, people can compete for various badges for frequency, speed and so on. I am beginning to think there should be a ‘nutter’ badge and an ‘obsessed’ badge.

I am running for Team Audiofuel, who are proving to be quite the running obsessives. I feel like the slower hanger-onner bringing up the rear, but being part of such a dedicated team is a real motivator, you wouldn’t catch me legging it up Green Lanes at nine o’clock on a Friday night after putting Hector to bed normally! My nearest postcode area is N4 and this means me running for about ten minutes before I even reach the first box. Now, I haven’t been in a phone box for years and, in this hi-tech age it seems a bit odd to be doing such a thing for a challenge organised by Nike, but go in a phone box I did. The first phone box was giving me jip and wouldn’t dial up, so I thought my race was over before I had begun, but things soon got going and off I went, dodging the crowds pouring out of restaurants and shops and leaping across roads to beat the green man.

It’s definitely a good interval session, and people make it into endurance, speed and hill sessions by mixing up the postcodes and trying to run every route possible in their area, something I plan to try at the weekend. I would love to have more time to try out the different areas, the Archway route looks like a doddle for instance, with three of the phone boxes being almost next to each other. Tomorrow, if the weather looks good, I might attempt a running buggy Nike Grid run, Hector has expressed and interest, as long as it includes a playground stop.


Time: 40 minutes 36 seconds

Distance: 4.15 miles

Average Pace: 9.48

Best Pace: 7.09

Calories: 432


Time: 42 minutes 44 seconds

Distance: 4.48 miles

Average Pace: 9.32

Calories: 413


Cardiff Half-Marathon 2010

Where were the mile markers?! I saw one marking four miles and I think another at seven, but no others, a bit odd for such a big race and a bit frustrating if you like to pick up the pace when you see a mile marker in sight. A minor niggle in an overall lovely race.

We set off on Friday on the Mega Bus. We used to catch the Mega Bus years ago and decided we could just about cope with the ordeal for the sake of a tight budget, but forgot to check where to catch the bus from…things have changed since we last caught it, so there we were, with a small child, our heavy bags and a massive car seat, legging it through Victoria with two minutes to spare until our bus was due to leave. Thank goodness Mega Bus is crap and the coach was delayed. So, three and a bit hours later we were over the ‘minty bridge’ and sipping refreshing drinks in Chapter with Jackie. I felt ever so grown up drinking cherry Timmerman’s on a Friday evening and chatting about art while Hector happily doodled and played and asked why the lady in the room was giving people hugs.

On Saturday, we headed over to Swansea where we played on a sunny and sandy beach, not at all what I expected.

We also went to see Jackie’s work at the Waterfront Museum, really worth a visit. The work was originally looking out to sea, but still works beautifully here in a slightly different setting. It was nice to watch people interacting with it, and children delighting in its playfulness.

When I booked my place in the Cardiff Half-Marathon, part of me was thinking mostly about the lovely weekend we would have with Ben and Jackie, and I didn’t really think through the practicalities of race-day morning. Fortunately, we have such amazing friends that they were happy(?) to get up at 6.30am to get us all safely and on time to the city centre, and to traipse around the city, hot on my trail to whoop and cheer for the few seconds that I spent passing them. I’m a lucky, lucky lady.

Brrrrr, it was cold on Sunday morning but, as I found my place in the crowds, we were so snuggly huddled together, that we kept each other warm. It’s a big race and I found myself standing very far away from the start line, but asked the tall man behind me if we had started yet. Eventually we did start moving, and were soon passing through the enthusiastic supporters and on our way towards the city centre. Shortly after I crossed the start line I thought my race was over: for no apparent reason, I went over on my ankle, twisting it painfully. ‘Shit, shit, shit!’ I said (I like to get it all out when I’m not with Hector), and I decided to just keep on running, hoping the next thirteen miles wouldn’t result in a huge, swollen ankle.

We had agreed that my support team would be around the three-four mile point, so I was surprised and delighted to spot them within the first mile, pausing before picking up some coffee and pastries to keep them going. The next section of the run headed into the beautiful Bute Park. It was here that I wondered what I had paid my entry fee for – I hadn’t seen a single mile marker yet and the crowd of runners just seemed to instinctively head in the right direction, with no apparent guidance from marshalls, in fact I only recall two marshalls during the whole race! Thank goodness it was crowded anyway.

I was glad that I had run through Cardiff previously, this gave me a sense of distance, and a feeling of enjoyment knowing when and where I would reach certain points in the race. My next big cheer came at about mile six where I saw a contented little boy persisting in trying to eat a chocolate muffin with woolly gloves on ๐Ÿ™‚ Now we headed towards Penarth and a slightly less scenic section, improved by the jolly crowd of Ikea staff cheering from the roundabout in their yellow and blue uniforms. I was also distracted by the amazing new watersports centre with a group of young people screaming and shouting as they tried their hand at white water rafting.

A slight uphill challenge took us up and over towards the barrage (I wonder how many runners spotted this subtle artwork). It was a beautiful and bright day and my pace was lifted by the stunning view across the bay to the Millennium Centre, its copper roof sparkling in the distance. Here, of course, I was beginning to flag a little and it was not helped by a man who kept going: ‘argh, urgh’ in pain, I had to get away from his pain to deal with my own in peace! Having walked along this path before, I knew how long it would take to reach the home stretch, but what I hadn’t counted on was the nasty trawl towards a loop that took us to the finish line. We rounded the corner and could see the red finishing arch, but soon realised that we had to run a lot further than it seemed. I couldn’t see through the crowd where we would turn, but instead saw the runners on the other side of the road who were that bit further forward and were waving their hands in the air as they clocked their finishing times. Things slowed down a bit here. How cruel. I took the corner and picked up my feet, crossing the line in 2.12.

This is what the boys did when they weren’t cheering me on:

Time: 2 hours 12 minutes

Distance: 12.93 miles (my chip time is the same, and records 13.1)

Average Pace: 10.13

Best Pace: 7.24

Calories: 1408


To be expected

This always seems to happen ahead of a big/long/long-awaited or much-anticipated race: I have a shitty run that makes me doubt whether or not I can do it. I should expect this by now. On Friday evening, Edward phoned to say he was going to be late. Having already prepared dinner for Hector and sat with him as he ate, and chatted, and chatted some more, I really didn’t feel like making yet another meal (and I’m sick of pasta, please someone remove the stuff from our cupboards!) so I said ‘Can you bring something home?’ and he did. In front of me was the biggest mountain of fish, chips and mushy peas ever, and I ate it all.


On Saturday morning I needed to fit in a run before my parents-in-law landed in London for the weekend, so I set off with a six-miler in mind. Straight away I knew it wasn’t going to happen: my sides ached and I felt heavy and sluggish, the fish and chip stitch had well and truly found its groove under my left ribs. I almost gave up straight away, but something kept me heading towards Finsbury Park, then I took in another lap of the local park, not wanting to go further in case I couldn’t manage it. I stopped by a tree, which felt odd because I have been running so well recently, and did a half-hearted and pointless stretch and dig in the ribs thing, then continued around the curve towards home. I’d had enough and simply knew it wouldn’t get any better. It was good that I returned home when I did and got showered and dressed because I could then enjoy tea and a chat with my lovely friend who popped by unexpectedly.

Another niggle thatย  has been challenging me this week has been achy knees. I haven’t suffered from knee problems for such a long time now (since having Hector actually, but that’s another thing to explore another time), so this was pretty disheartening. This morning though, I think I might have worked out why this has happened. As the weather has changed slightly, I have slowly made the transition from my summer Birkenstocks to my winter Birkenstocks and I really think this has made my feet and knees feel a bit out of sorts. Today I wore some walking shoes instead and the knees felt fine. I think I will stick to these for the rest of the week and try to be best prepared for the Cardiff Half Marathon. I’m a bit excited now!

Time: 20 minutes 1 second

Distance: 2.02 miles

Average Pace: 9.53

Best Pace: 8.26

Calories: 211

Not in

I, like many other hopeful runners, stepped over the Virgin London Marathon magazine that was on my doormat the other day as I came back from the park. I peered at it hopefully, but left it there after reading the word ‘commiserations’. I did go back later and pick it up to torture myself looking at photos of people running, and enjoying, the London Marathon. Oh well, I guess I knew I wouldn’t get in, it took me six attempts last time so I should think about another challenge for next year. I posted my sad news on Facebook and had a few interesting suggestions, including this wonderfully named event in Cumbria. I think this is the kind of thing I would like to do actually, it seems friendly, challenging and most of all scenic. I have spent some time in Kirkby Stephen before, when I did a residency there, so I know that the hardest part will be not stopping too much to enjoy the view. Other ideas were the Paris Marathon and the Rotterdam Marathon.

But as I have thought about it this week, I have realised that actually I might like to try a longer, more regular sort of challenge, something that could keep me on my toes for a whole year. How about running 26 miles every week, I don’t mean all in one go, but over the course of a week? I know many people cover this sort of mileage each week anyway, but this would be hard for me and would mean running about six days a week and would take a great deal of commitment. I like the idea of something that I could sustain over a year rather than cramming into a few months at the beginning to make it to the marathon. To start me off, I will have the boost of the icy new cousin/little brother of Juneathon, Janathon! As the winner of Juneathon 2010, I feel I have to pull out all the stops and grit my teeth over the frosty month of January to see if I can top my Juneathon mileage. We’ll see!

In the meantime I will be supporting/following/cheering on Warriorwoman, who did get a ballot place in the London Marathon, lucky thing.

This morning I was delighted to see the rain had stopped so I pulled on my gear and left the boys constructing complicated Lego vehicles with cogs and all sorts. I quickly realised my Garmin wasn’t going to last the whole run, with just an hour’s juice on the clock, so asked Edward if I could borrow his iPhone. I had it in the iPhone armband, which can feel a bit like you are having your blood pressure taken, but is certainly firmly kept in place by the wide velcro strip. I felt good on this run but my knees were feeling slightly creaky; I really could do with a new pair of shoes. I had aimed to run ten miles, but the iPhone kept saying ‘Low Battery’, so I knew this was going to die on me as well, which it did at around 7 miles. At a guess I would say the remainder of the run was about two and a half miles, so just short of ten. I had another of my Goodness Shakes powders, this time using the gigantic bottle that came with them instead of the smaller water bottle I used last week, this does make a difference and meant I didn’t have to filter out powdery lumps with my teeth.

Now we will make the most of this glorious sunshine and ride up to Hampstead Heath for some leaf-kicking and conker-picking.