Running, Swimming, Cycling.

Not long ago, someone referred to FitArtist as a ‘swimming blog’. I thought this was interesting, since it started out ten years ago (yes, it’s our tenth birthday this year!!) as a way of logging my training for the Edinburgh Marathon, my first. It certainly helped keep me motivated, knowing I would be posting my training and also because I quickly built up so much support from fellow runners and bloggers. I shouldn’t be surprised that people might think it’s a swimming blog, having swum very many miles over those ten years (including throughout my pregnancy, right into ‘extra time’). Since I started logging my runs, I have run two more marathons, numerous half-marathons, 10ks, 5ks, parkruns (and I’m also Run Director at my local, Hilly Fields parkrun and junior parkrun) and now triathlons and duathlons. That’s a lot of running, swimming and cycling!

Just recently, my running has been plodding along slowly. A few months ago I signed up to the Hackney Half Marathon and have been training towards pacing 2 hours, in my role as trainer at GoodGym. A few weeks ago though, I developed a cough which wouldn’t go away, which resolutely ignored the two rounds of antibiotics I was given and sent me to my local hospital for a chest x-ray. I kept telling myself I would be fine, it would go away and I would be there, pacing hopeful runners to their 2-hour PB. Last week though, I saw sense and took my own advice for once and withdrew from the race. Did you see the weather yesterday?! I made the right decision.

Being a runner is hard work, being an asthmatic runner is sometimes even harder work. What starts as a cold develops into a cough, which lingers, putting pressure on you to slow down but, if like me you keep on at it, you end up feeling rougher for longer and regretting not taking a break in the first place! I learnt a lesson.

I’m so impressed with anyone who got out there yesterday in that heat, after a few very cold weeks of final training and taper, the temperatures soared and saw people postponing ideas of a PB and taking it easy, to just get around the best they could. It looks like the atmosphere was incredible, with a whole weekend of activity, including a 5k on Saturday, spectators lining the route, offering water/spray/orange segments to fading runners and an event village with plenty to keep family and friends entertained. Pacers paced beautifully, hitting targets, even under such challenging conditions and finishers went home smiling, sporting a rather cool ‘sheriff’ type medal – so do they have the freedom of the streets of Hackney now? 😉

You can pre-register for next year (and hope it’s a little cooller on the day!) here.

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Juneathon, Week 1, A Round-up

Yay! Seven days done, it wasn’t that hard was it?!

My Juneathon week was a good old mix of activities:

Monday: A back-to-school run and a little swim
Tuesday: Tough track session with my running club
Wednesday: A late one! A quick swim before the pool closed…nice and quiet
Thursday: (my favourite) a swim in a pond then Assembly League race with my club
Friday: Seeing how far I could swim with one eye on Hector’s lesson (54 lengths, it turns out)
Saturday: A wheezy Hilly Fields parkrun
Sunday: Warming-up the little legs at junior parkrun then a 16km family bike ride

It’s been a wheezy sort of week. I have had asthma for years and it’s never really been a problem when I run, but recently it’s been stopping me in my tracks. After three visits to the GP, I have a pretty new purple/pink inhaler, but still find myself slowing down and sensing the heavy-legged feeling that comes with a lack of air. This spoilt all of my runs during the week and it’s getting me down. I’m hoping it’s down to this stuff, that is currently floating in the air where I live, a cotton-woolly substance scattered by the trees in the nearby park…

Fluff stuff

Fluff stuff

A highlight of my week was the swim on Thursday, a dip in the amazing King’s Cross Pond Club, a naturally filtered swimming pond just a short walk from the train stations. I also had a wonderful time yesterday with Edward and Hector when we set off on our bikes with the Thames Barrier as our goal. We weaved and pedalled our way along the Thames Path, pausing to enjoy the sights along the way and to eat our picnic at the Ecology Park, then we took a well-earned rest when we reached the Thames Barrier. This was Hector’s longest ride ever (16km) and he felt quite proud of himself after a slightly reluctant (and possibly intimidated?) start (all this after achieving a PB at the Hilly Fields junior parkrun in the morning 😉 ).

Thank you to Heather for the jparkrun photo.

Thank you to Heather for the jparkrun photo.

Totals for Week 1

Running: 22.1km
Swimming: 4km 650m
Cycling: 16km (I do actually cycle every day, but don’t keep track of all the little to-and-fro rides, so this is the only ‘timed’ ride I did).

We made it!

We made it!

And the Whole30 challenge? Well, for lunch today I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and watercress with cherry tomatoes…so let’s just say that’s going really well!

Baguettes for legs

In case you were wondering, I’m still hard at it for the Viceathon cause, well the eating baked goods bit anyway. I had visions of running every day while Edward had a week off work, but bugger me, didn’t we just go out and do fun things every day instead?! I have managed a handful of runs this week, one of which took place on a running track on Good Friday at 8am. You read right. I was delighted to see that our local leisure centre have started a series of outdoor classes for the summer: bootcamp, Nordic walking and – woohoo! – running club. So, I ran over on Friday morning to find it was just me and the instructor. This could have been slightly awkward, but I sort of know him a bit anyway because his family live across the road from us, and he was very kind and gave me my very own tailored one-to-one session. It was superb. I pushed myself running the five 400m repeats and managed to maintain my pace throughout, with only one moment where I very nearly threw up. This session actually made my legs ache, which is always a good measure of how hard I’ve worked (this doesn’t happen very often!).

On Easter Monday I kept on looking out of the window and saying ‘urgh!’ until I eventually decided it wasn’t going to stop raining, and took myself out anyway. It was quite lovely actually – there was hardly anyone around, apart from a few grumpy runners and two scallies who I was delighted to see were carrying a large potted plant through the park: ‘Ah’ I thought ‘how nice that they are taking an interest in horticulture’ and I smiled appreciatively at them. As I ran on it dawned on me that the big bushy plant was in fact marijuana and they were taking advantage of the deserted park to take it for a walk.

Today’s run was rubbish. I made the mistake earlier of saying on Twitter that I had ‘run a crappy six miles’ which, when I read it back, seemed very dismissive and wrongly worded. What I meant was that the experience itself was awful, I was pleased to have run over six miles, but hadn’t particularly enjoyed it. I really wanted to get my Viceathon debt down, so aimed to run a bit further than usual, but as soon as I set out I could tell things weren’t right. I felt heavy, tired and wheezy and ended up resorting to popping into McDonald’s to use their loo (this is a place I only ever venture into in running gear, head down, eyes on the little lady sign). I enjoyed taking  in the madness of Greenwich as film set, seeing the ‘Les Miserables’ scenery, complete with gigantic elephant. I then crossed over into the park where preparations are underway for the Olympic equestrian events. All this distraction didn’t help get me up The Hill, and I had to pause halfway and pretend to admire the view as I found enough breath to make it up to the top.

Greenwich, France

So, the Vice part of Viceathon has taken over somewhat this week, with home-made bread picnics and Easter Panatone given by visiting friends and Edward’s lovely little simnel cakes…and not much running. I did, however do a bit of cycling, and up hill at that, so will take advantage of this to shave off some miles (using a version of JogBlog’s 1 unit=2 cycled miles).

Edward's Simnel Cupcakes

I’ve done some workings out in my diary and have arrived at a figure of 10.94 miles in debt. I can get out tomorrow morning and work that down a bit further, but Edward is back to work on Monday and Hector is not back at school until Thursday…excuses, excuses.

Beach-comber

A year ago today we were in Brighton, stuffing ourselves with pasta and getting all excited about the Brighton Marathon. On Tuesday we went for a day trip there, and it all came happily back to me. Good luck to all those running tomorrow, it’s a fantastic place and a fantastic race.

In the pink

This morning’s run was the first in over a month where I have felt fit, strong and healthy. My breathing was good and I felt able to push myself up hill and still have enough breath in my lungs to turn and go up another hill. It felt good. I was out running again last week, fulfilling my school run duties, but each run was accompanied by a soundtrack of coughing and spluttering, so much so that it prompted a man with a very strong Sarf Lahndon accent to comment: ‘Come on love, cough it up, it sounds like you need another fag!’ That’s not the impression I aim to give whilst running!

Once I’d got home and had a shower, I was off out on my bike, running errands. On my ride I noticed two women running on the pavement and also noticed they were wearing ‘barefoot shoes’, one was in Vibrams and one in what looked like some really rather fetching green NBs (I think they must have been these). I was struck by how comfortably they both ran, chatting and moving smoothly along. I am guessing they have been barefoot running for a while because they seemed to be running along the Waterlink Way and not just a quick ‘test run’. I found it inspiring to see how easily they ran and thought about my own Vibram Five Fingers, gathering dust in my wardrobe (I won the Vibrams when I ‘won’ Juneathon a few years ago). I do like the idea of running ‘barefoot’, but have never committed myself to really going for it, unlike Eating Trees, who has even run races in his. I have been running in a lighter shoe and have found it really comfortable and far less cumbersome than my usual Asics. I was sent these lovely pink Puma Faas shoes months ago now, and have had so many comments about how lovely they look, they have become a favourite footwear of choice.

When they were bright and new!

Mine are the Faas 500 shoes, lightweight and good for shorter runs and races of around 5k. The Faas range does have a lighter racing shoe, the Faas 200 and at the other end of the scale, for longer distances, is the Faas 800. I’ve never really thought about the weight of my shoe much, I just go to a running shop and take advice from the assistant there. I am usually training for fairly long distances, so I end up with quite a hefty shoe with lots of cushioning, but I am beginning to wonder if this is what I really need. My runs in the lovely pink Faas 500s have been nippier and I feel far more sprightly and springy of heel. Maybe I should keep going with these for a while then try some short runs in the Vibrams…we’ll see!

Distance: 3.05 miles

Time: 30 minutes 14 seconds

Average Pace: 9.55

Best Pace: 4.44

Calories: 339

Only a week late

It’s been a busy week, but not for running. It has been Hector’s half-term holiday, so mostly spent playing with Lego, being bossed about by someone very small and queueing up for an hour and a half at the South Bank Centre for a children’s super-hero workshop (really, they need to rethink how they run these events, you can’t make children queue up for ANY length of time!). I did go for a run last Sunday and have been mostly recovering from this bloody chest infection thingie that is just not going away – we have both been ill for weeks now but will hopefully be back to full health soon.

I have to cast my mind back a week now. It was cold, I even put on a hat for the first time this winter. It didn’t look snowy or icy but, as soon as I stepped out of our front door, I realised it was incredibly icy. The whole run was a sheet of black ice ahead of me, not great for speed, but I wasn’t looking for speed. I wanted to run further than the school run three miles I’ve been doing recently, but also wanted to spot trolleys and take photos (during Janathon, Travelling Hopefully featured a trolley photo in my honour, so I needed to return the photographic favour).

I was treading very carefully as I headed out towards Greenwich, taking in the Waterlink Way that snakes alongside the DLR line out of Lewisham, a prime Trolley Spotting stretch. Every so often my feet would slip from under me and I was reminded to take it easy and, as I turned around in Greenwich and ran alongside the water, I had to hold onto the railings to stop myself from falling! I thought I might struggle to extend my distance after sticking to short runs for so long (and with a chesty cough still restricting all attempts to breathe deeply), but I found it pleasantly easy and returned feeling refreshed and happy as I saw what the boys had been up to in my absence.

Check out the concentration

Distance: 6.17 miles

Time: 1 hour 3 minutes 39 seconds

Average Pace: 10.19

Best Pace: 8.03

Calories: 703

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Da-daaahhh!

So, Janathon is over for another year. Well done to everyone who took part, no matter what mode of ‘transport’ you took, it’s all about the support, the encouragement and the virtual group hug. Well, my own Janathon didn’t go quite to plan and I feel slightly disappointed about this: I was all set to hit 100 miles this week, but have been slowed down, knocked out and reduced to short one mile runs for the past few days. Word of advice for future Janathon/Juneathoners: don’t hang out with poorly young ‘uns, it’ll end in tears.

We have both been feeling slightly better today, with no fever and no day time sleeping going on, but I still wish I could take a breath lower than my chest. Today’s run was once again set to the darkness hour due to Edward’s weekly footie fun, so it was another mile in the freezing cold, followed by some very hard coughing in the hall.

So tomorrow is February, what’s next?

Distance: 1.01 miles

Time: 10 minutes 04 seconds

Average Pace: 9.55

Best Pace: 8.03

Calories: 29

Last year I ran 130 miles during Janathon, I just looked at my total mileage for this month and went ‘Grrrrr’: 88 miles run. So near to 100, but no chance of heading out for a 12 miler right now I’m afraid. That’ll do.

Not long now

I managed to run before it went dark, well it was just going dark. Another short mile, but there’s no way I could go further. That’s all I’ve got for you today folks, I’m knackered.

Distance: 1.05 miles

Time: 11 minutes 09 seconds

Average Pace: 10.09

Best Pace: 8.50

Calories: 65