Fast track

I just had to share this morning’s track run with you. I wasn’t even going to go – I couldn’t find my gym membership card and was looking for ways to wuss out, but I went for it and the kind gym man let me in anyway since he knows me now. I had on my lovely NB Union Jack shoes again and my ears were plugged-in to some Audiofuel and off I went. It felt hard at first, and I wondered if I had it in me, but I soon warmed up and lengthened my stride. Each time I came to the long, straight edge of the track, I went a bit faster and picked up the pace again as the music increased in bpm. I was only going to run for as long as the track took me, but I glanced down at my wrist and saw how close I was to 5k and that I could possibly get a good time, so picked it up again.

Distance: 3.11 miles

Time: 26 minutes 51 seconds

Average Pace: 8.38

Best Pace: 5.50

Calories: 377

Yaaaaaayyy! My best ever 5k time is 26 minutes and I was not so far out there, I had even done the cool-down element of the run, so could possibly have kept the pace up a bit to get a better time! As you can probably tell, I’m a bit excited by this. My goal is to run 26 minutes or faster by my birthday on December 30th, so I think I’m going the right way about it 🙂 It’s interesting to see how much slower I am at the Hilly Fields Parkrun, so this confirms that my PB run is not likely to happen there!

Talking of Parkrun, here’s a nice little video filmed in Australia. Of course, we don’t always have the sunshine (though our three runs have so far been beautifully sunny) and we haven’t set up a BBQ yet, but we have coffee and cake at the cafe and we have friendly faces all round, so give the Hilly Fields Parkrun a go 🙂

(I tried to embed this, but it wasn’t working for some reason, so just click)

I also want to announce the winner of my Adidas MiCoach game competition. The winner is…Pete Howard, otherwise known as Follystone to his Janathon/Juneathon friends. Enjoy the game Pete!


This Gym Lark

After the past couple of evenings spent traipsing around in the (bloody) rain, I decided I must get my run done early today and then I could relax and enjoy my evening. Edward and Hector were all set to have some proper manly fun going to the rubbish dump in a hire car to dump the remaining bits of our old kitchen that have been clogging up our side return for months. I took this as my cue to head over to the gym. I was all full of good intention, and started to line up my Audiofuel music to run around the track to, but found that, although I had charged up my iPod Shuffle, I had also left it switched on and it hard run back down again. No matter how much I tried to convince myself it would be ok, there was no way I was running around the track with no music and nobody shouting at me, so I went into the gym thinking ‘I will have to go running later’. So there I was on the stepper thingy and lo and behold, there, right next to me was a treadmill! A treadmill! I hadn’t thought of running on a treadmill! The thing is, I go to what seems to be a pensioners’ gym and, with  me and another younger chap, the average age was brought down to about 65 and this means the treadmill is usually being walked on in slow motion, so my running had to happen after my weights, so things were a bit of a muddle. Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve run on a treadmill, so I need to get the hang of the programming bit again and take control, as it was, the treadmill was bossing me about and I ended up walking towards the end because it wouldn’t let me run.

Distance: 4.96 km

Time: 35 mins (?!)

Calories: 381


This afternoon a chap came to level our kitchen floor ahead of fitting our lovely new flooring tomorrow, but this meant we couldn’t go in there and had to make ourselves scarce. It was pouring with rain, so we decided to go bowling! Oh, how chavtastic the Lewisham bowling place is. Once we’d got over that, we had a jolly good time. Hector won of course (we weren’t letting him, he just has an ability to win at everything, though he wasn’t happy that he didn’t get a strike EVERY time.

About to strike!

I was pretty lame really, and had to use a light, girly ball and I’m sure I will ache tomorrow.

The scores on the doors

We then decided the floor still wouldn’t be dry enough to walk on so, oh well, went to the pub for dinner 🙂 I know I’m a lightweight, but I’m sure I was seeing birds in my pint…

Waiter, waiter, there’s a swan in my drink!


My new favourite socks

I’ve been busy. The weekend was spent sanding the floors at last, with my part being filling in the gaps with a gloopy porridge mixture of PVA and sawdust, a slightly back-breaking task, but necessary if Hector is ever to play with Lego in our living room! I had intended going for a run on both Saturday and Sunday, but it simply wasn’t possible, it was all hands on deck to get things done because we have been living upstairs for far too long now. I did, however, go for a fantastic track run at the end of last week, and took the opportunity to give my new socks another test. I have had the Run Breeze Running Socks for a while now, and have tested them on a few different runs, including the lovely North Wales run I did a few weeks ago.

I have been comparing them to some 1000 Mile socks I got recently, and can definitely say that these are my favourite. When I initially unpacked them I thought they might be too bulky, and I really prefer a much thinner sock, but once the are on they feel great. As they are an anti-blister sock, they have a thinner layer inside and it certainly does the trick, with no movement whatsoever. This has been challenged on a hilly, long run and on a speedy track session with a few average pace runs in between and there are no blisters to report.

Back to the track session. Following the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon workshop, I decided I should pay closer attention to interval training and strength, so gave myself a confidence-boosting talking to and got down to the running track whilst Hector was at nursery. I decided the best way to approach this would be to follow an Audiofuel track so there would be no slacking, and I plumped for the Martin Yelling Pyramid session. It’s a tough one! As with the shorter pyramid session, you build up gradually, peak, then work your way back down, but the challenge here is that each block of effort is three minutes long and I found myself struggling at each two-minute point. I think, if I hadn’t been at the track and feeling the pressure of my surroundings, the fact that I had paid good money to be there (it’s only £2.25, but still!) and the speedy chaps training alongside me, I might have doubled over and taken a breather, but I didn’t. I kept hard at it and felt fantastic for doing so. The two men who were quietly going about their business in the outer lanes looked quite serious. They ran in unison and had an incredibly relaxed, at ease stance as they covered the lanes with their long, comfortable strides. As I stretched, one of them stripped off his outer clothing to reveal short shorts and a vest, and put on his spikes as the other chap checked his clipboard and stopwatch, pros.

Time: 45 minutes 51 seconds

Distance: 4.76 miles

Average Pace: 9.38

Best Pace: 5.38

Calories: 472

Are these my thighs?

I think my thighs ache more than they did after the Brighton Marathon back in April, damn those British Military Fitness squat-pushers! The soreness hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for my knuckling down to half-marathon training promise, and I have been out and about being Ms Active for the past few days. Sunday was a non-running day. We had a children’s party up in Finsbury Park, so my activity was made up of a bike-East London Line-bike-party-bike-East London Line-bikeathon. The East London Line is great – you can take your bike on during off-peak times (check ahead of travel though, don’t take my word for it!) and we can get from near our house all the way up to Highbury and Islington before a small boy has given up and caused travel mayhem. The Islington side of the journey involved quite a hill, and I really did think my thighs might pop, but they held out long enough for me to test them again on Monday.

During the BritMilFit doo-dah on Saturday I was shown some mean new squats and a nifty little tree interval session, so decided to add this in to my morning run and see if it is possible to replicate such determined effort whilst on my own. It is. I ran at a fairly gentle pace as it was super hot then, dripping with sweat, I spotted my evenly spaced trees and went for it. Now, I am a focussed kind of person, but I am easily distracted by things that might interest a certain small boy. This meant that my first sprint was momentarily halted by a lovely bright green feather to present to Hector for his collection, a parakeet, something that we have an abundance of here in South East London! It felt good to test this new way of training, and I can definitely see how it’s going to help me reduce my times, if I stick at it.

Time: 33 minutes 10 seconds

Distance: 3.06 miles

Average Pace: 10.51

Best Pace: 6.25

Calories: 326

(this sort of run makes for an interesting range in pace!)

Today I wanted to go a bit further, just to ease out of that three mile rut I often find myself in, so it was a simple out and back along the Waterlink Way.

Time: 39 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 4.05 miles

Average Pace: 9.44

Best Pace: 8.24

Calories: 401

I’ve not decided what tomorrow will bring, but maybe it’s time to hit the track.

Feet to the beat!

I ran on the track! Yay, I’m a proper runner! The other day I read/heard that there are plans to close our local running track and, when I mentioned it to Edward, he said: ‘Use it or lose it!’, so I thought I really should get down there and vote with my feet. I dropped Hector off at nursery – he went quietly but not before he gave me an insight into Toddler Time Management: ‘Mummy, I don’t want to waste this time at nursery, I want to use this time playing at home’. I quickly passed some of the other mums (who I feel slightly embarrassed running in front of as they don’t yet know about this ‘running persona’ like my ‘old’ mum friends do) and up and over the footbridge towards the track, and there I was, handing over my £2.25 and stepping onto its lovely springy red surface.

This track was being re-surfaced when we moved here in November, and is one of the Olympic training tracks, so this suggestion that it might close seems ludicrous. I asked the man at the office, and he said he thinks it unlikely, but the council want it to be run as a ‘community facility’, who they think will look after and maintain the track, I don’t know. With this in my head, I popped some Audiofuel in my ears and off I went. It was so much better doing the Pyramid 180 session on a track than in the muddy park, back and forth, back and forth, and I found the markings on the track useful in pushing me forward towards the end of a sprint: ‘I must get past that line before this sprint finishes!’ While I did my session, two other women were doing some sort of plyometric exercises at the side of the track and a man was putting out some hurdles so, for a Tuesday morning, that’s not a bad level of usage. The track is used by the Kent Athletic Club – who have Olympic hopefuls amongst their members – and the centre of the track is well-used as a football pitch, though I get the feeling the footballers use the metal track edge to scrape the mud off their boots, and they are not too careful about disposing of their drinks bottles. Ahem.

Time: 29 minutes 50 seconds

Distance: 3.03 miles

Average Pace: 9.50

Best Pace: 5.52

Calories: 358

A get-together, a long run and an unidentified celebrity runner

Yes, I know, I’m a bit slow with this one. On Saturday I was too busy getting-together, yesterday I was too busy running and today my internet connection was up the spout.

On Saturday, I ventured north of the river with the boys to meet this lot:

I think the correct term for a slightly anonymous group of running bloggers might be ‘a huddle’. So here they are, huddling. I had intending running, but it all seemed a bit of a mad rush in reality and we got there just as the runners headed off into the park, so we chatted, got to know new folk and waited for the fashionably late Cathy and Shaun. It was mild, and Hector was suitably entertained by Audiofuel Sean:

Once the running runners had returned and caught their collective breath, the now present Cathy awarded Gary with his prize for being the winner of Janathon 2011. This man ran 450 miles in one month. I thought we ought to donate our pizzas and pasta to him, he needed it more than us.

And what a pizza! I am not known for being a slow eater, it’s just not in my nature to take my time when there’s food in front of me, but I was well and truly defeated by this gargantuan feast. I tried, I really did. Maybe it was because I was still a bit moved by Cathy’s response to our thank you presents, I hadn’t expected real tears! The response to Travelling Hopefully’s call out for donations to a virtual yet real whip-round was tremendous, which just goes to show how much people enjoyed the experience and felt a sense of respect and gratefulness to a the lady who kept all the plates spinning.

I had imagined that a pizza of such enormity could keep me running for a week, but it wasn’t to be. My schedule said I should stretch my legs with a sixteen miler, so off I headed on Sunday morning with the intention of running to Greenwich, through the foot-tunnel and along the Thames on the Isle of Dogs. As I neared the foot-tunnel, I thought: ‘What if it’s shut?’ and, of course, it was. I just headed east and followed the river. Into the wind. I do feel a real thrill running along the Thames, and now it’s just a couple of miles away, but this run had its ups and downs, both in terms of my energy levels and the views on offer.

Quite quickly I was venturing out of tourist Greenwich and caught sight of my young student self through the window of the Cutty Sark Tavern, knocking back a few beers on a Friday night and eating a gigantic bag of chips on the night bus home. I was then quickly sent on a detour away from the river, due to yet more building work. Why build more apartments when nobody is living in the existing ones? Now the path took a rather grim turn, with high fences topped with barbed wire and gritty industrial scenes with rock-crushers and telescopic handlers (I so wish I could carry my camera on these runs, I know a small boy who would love to see this). I had decided to run with music, which is unusual on such a long run, but I wanted to see if it gave me a different/better experience. I did feel slightly vulnerable on these bleaker paths, but was lifted as the path opened up to the water and ‘Valerie’ came on: ‘Well Sometimes I Go Out, By Myself, And I Look Across The Water’ – just perfect! I was leaping along, yachts from the Greenwich Yacht Club sailing alongside me, and I smiled a huge smile.

I continued the meander northwards and around the Dome, passing lots of runners along the way, the majority of them smiling and saying hello – for a change – and passed one runner amongst a group that I recognised, but can’t place him. I think he is maybe an actor, or maybe an MP, or maybe an actor who plays an MP, I don’t know. And, to my left, was the biggest shopping trolley graveyard I have ever seen, all the more reason to carry my camera sometime. I soon realised that my run would take me along to the Thames Barrier, which excited me, it always looks so splendid in films and on TV, with a speed boat crashing across the water, with some dramatic chase taking place. Erm, I will say it was mildly exciting as I approached with my head ducked to avoid getting my eyes whipped by my hair and the heavy grey sky hanging above. I will return on a brighter day. Here, I turned for home.

Looking back on this run I can see what went wrong: I left the house without water because I couldn’t find anything suitable to put it in (I didn’t think Hector’s frog bottle with straw was a good idea at the time) and didn’t drink anything until I returned through Greenwich and stopped to buy some water at Boots, wasting five minutes waiting in a queue. I didn’t have any gels with me, and after this stop, I felt really, really tired. I knew already that I wouldn’t make it to the full sixteen miles, but decided this was ok and I should just learn from the experience for next weekend. I don’t think my legs have ever felt so heavy on a training run, but I simply couldn’t do a loop of the park to make it up, so hauled myself up and over the footbridge and landed on the doorstep in a little heap.

Time: 2 hours 37 minutes 54 seconds

Distance: 14.70 miles

Average Pace: 10.44

Best Pace: 6.34

Calories: 1701

Turning a corner

I didn’t have the best running week last week, too much worry about nursery life, then Hector was ill with a vomiting bug at the weekend, so my long run was cancelled, in fact any running was cancelled. Nursery has been going well, but the morning departure has been tricky, with a small and very distressed boy being pulled off my person, I was consoled by the fact that he stopped crying once I was out of sight and had a jolly good time (I have seen photographic evidence!). Yesterday, however, was a different story. As I was about to leave, Hector looked a little sad, but took his teacher’s hand, waved happily and said: ‘bye-bye!’, I was able to leave with a smile on my face for the first time. It was as if he had made a decision and stuck to it. The same happened today, so I felt able to pull on my kit and go out for a bit of a leg shaker.

Yesterday, Audiofuel gave us Janathon participants a copy of the Pyramid 180 session. I do have a copy, but hadn’t yet ventured out with it on my new iPod Shuffle, so decided today was the day. I was a bit silly in my choice of direction, and found myself on the muddy side of Ladywell Fields, the side with the hills and all the potholes, not great for sprinting! As the first sprint came up, I aimed to get up to the top of the steepish bit, so I could go into my sprint on the downish bit. thankfully that plan worked and I picked up some pace. I decided to keep going in that direction, so I could get over the spirally footbridge and over to the flat and smooth side of the park. This plan was scuppered by the chap in my ears warning me that a bigger and better sprint was coming up. Oh bugger, so I turned on my heel and ran the other way again. This happened quite a few times, and I began to feel that the digger men, who are working on the new paths and the river access, were watching me and thinking I was truly mad, so I paused the track and made my way sheepishly over the spirally footbridge.

This was a good move and I was now able to really go for it around the perimeter of the running track and up the long paths towards the train station. It’s a really good session, you do get up to a good speed, find yourself really pushing on the sprints and get up a pretty good sweat – I had to remove my ear piece at one point to tap the sweat out because I couldn’t hear anything. Urgh. After I had completed the cool down, I put on a bit of Florence to make it up to three miles and so that I could cross the finish line with a big smile on my face. I was practically doing windmill arms on the descent of the footbridge, I was having such fun!

Oh yes, this is why we run.

Time: 29 minutes 50 seconds

Distance: 3.01 miles

Average Pace: 9.54

Best Pace: 6.11

Calories: 316