Petts Wood 10k, 2014

Remember this time last year, when I ran my first race in a long, long time, splashed through mud and puddles and came home with a great big smile on my face? Well, I enjoyed it so much I went back for more. The weather had been pretty much the same as last year, with lots of rain in the week and a good soaking through the night but, travelling over to the race, I knew I would just have to contend with some good muddy bits and a few tree roots this time. Thankfully the trains were running as normal and my journey was quite straightforward. Now, these 10.30 starts are a bit of a funny one and I was wondering if this might be contributing to my poor race experiences recently. For parkrun, I am up at my usual time, eating breakfast as normal and ready to get going for the 9am start, but when things are shifted back a bit, I’m thinking that maybe I need to introduce an extra drink along the way…more of this later.

Getting off the train, I started chatting to another lycra-clad woman, who was running the Petts Wood 10k for the first time, and we sauntered towards the playing fields with further running types. I could hear music as we approached, and there was a general buzz in the Petts Wood air, how lovely then to find that the music was live and the field was filled with happy faces and a feeling of excitement. There’s a real local feel to this event, with lots of families turning out to cheer people on and residents coming out into their gardens to encourage you around the course. Once I was registered and had fixed my number in place, we were soon taking our positions in the starting pens. Based on recent runs, I put myself in the 45-50 minute section and bobbed up and down on the spot to keep warm. After a once round the field, we headed out onto the road and towards the woods with cheers all the way.

Musical encouragement

Musical encouragement

Last year I had embraced the rain and simply had some fun, leaping over and into puddles, but today, as it was dry, I felt a little pressure to push harder, but wasn’t really feeling the push. It’s quite a narrow course in places, and you could find yourself stuck behind a slower runner, but people were very polite about it all (and as I felt like the slow one at times, I was glad of this!). The lovely people of Petts Wood Runners had positioned marshals throughout and had very thoughtfully pointed out tree roots and obstacles using a sprinkling of flour to catch your eye. I found the KM markers were appearing quite quickly, but was really slowed down by a long muddy hill around the 7k mark. Head down, I slogged my way up but, on reaching the top, had to duck to the side and subject those around me to a moment of hideousness as I almost threw up (what is going on?!). A few deep breaths and I was back in action.

There had been rumblings at the start that the band might reappear in the woods, so what joy to hear their jolly tones as I struggled through the trees, and they were so well placed, just before a sharp turn and one last hill. Smiling supporters and encouraging marshals pushed us onwards: ‘Just 2k to go!’ and the road felt good and steady after the uneven ground we had trodden until now. I looked at my watch and clung to the hope that I might go sub-50, but it wasn’t to be, and I rolled in after 53 minutes of determined discomfort. Compared with recent 10k times, this was a little disappointing, but I will remind myself that it’s a tough course, I wasn’t feeling great and, on looking at last year’s results, I took around seven minutes off my previous time!

On crossing the line, I was handed a medal, water, a banana and had the option of a samosa, which looked lovely, but…I collected my bag from the perfectly organised baggage area and instead bought myself a cup of tea and a piece of walnut loaf. Perfect.



Heading home, I felt ok and met the boys – who had been swimming – when I reached Lewisham. Hector was starving so we went in search of beans (it had to be beans) and ended up in Lewisham Wimpy (!). Everything was so much better all round after a bit of food and we did some shopping and headed home. This was where I started to feel unwell (again). I felt exhausted and my stomach wasn’t right. I was nauseous and weak, as if I’d run a marathon, not a 10k. So, what’s going wrong here? I made sure I ate well on Saturday and had plenty to drink, I had porridge for breakfast and again, had plenty to drink ahead of the race. I ate and drank straight after finishing and had lunch not long after, but still I felt awful. I have a ten mile race on Sunday, and don’t feel super confident right now! Any thoughts on why this is happening and what I can do?


Fuel on the Move

I’m relatively new to this here cycling long-distance thing, and have yet to get my head round the difference between fuelling for running and fuelling for riding. Unless I’m training for a half-marathon or longer, my running fuel is pretty straight forward, and I only ever start to think about even carrying drink if I’m going over about eight or nine miles. The most I would eat on the run would be some jelly babies or maybe a gel, but fuelling-on-wheels is a very different matter. So far I have just about managed to get to grips with drinking on the move, with a weaving about, drink up the nose moment usually happening somewhere en route, and my solid fuel is usually something like this:

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

…not exactly cycle-specific is it?! As I start to train in a more focussed fashion for the London Duathlon in September, and even, maybe, possibly think about entering a sportive (yup), maybe I should look at something I could snaffle as I go, on rides where a stop at a quaint tea-shoppe is not on the cards. What could be more fit for purpose than the official performance bar of the Giro d’Italia? The new Multipower Fruit Power Bar is crammed with fruit – made with 65% real fruit – and packs an energy-boosting 138kc per 40g bar, with 29.2g being carbohydrate (figures based on the ‘original’ flavour). Those chaps in the Giro d’Italia can consume up to 7000 (yes, really) calories a day, so are constantly having to top-up their energy supplies. Bread pudding and a pot of tea is spot on, but you just don’t see them pulling up at a road-side cafe and partaking, do you?

Power in a bar

Power in a bar

As a small, easy to carry in your jersey pocket, packed with energy bar, the Multipower Fruit Power Bar fits the bill. Personally I prefer the ‘Original’ flavour to the ‘Tropical’ and, as it has a soft and chewy consistency, you’re not going to be dropping a trail of crumbs as you ride, so hopefully getting it right where it needs to be…if you’re a good on-the-move sort of eater (I’m yet to try this). You can read all about the bars here, and maybe stock up ready for those lovely summer rides you have planned…a stage of Le Tour de Yorkshire anyone?

The Primal Kitchen

I don’t really talk much about what I eat on here, it’s all action, action, action! But all that action needs fuel and I tend to keep it simple, with a bowl of muesli with dried fruit and a cuppa for breakfast, some bread based thing for lunch and veg/meat/rice/pasta type combination for dinner, it’s all good and healthy (no booze these days and not missing it!) and freshly thrown together and it seems to give me what I need to keep active and healthy. As I tend to do my running/swimming/riding in the earlier part of the day, my breakfast usually sees me through, but I do struggle on a Tuesday when I train with the running club in the evening, I just find it impossible to fuel these runs properly. The post-school-pre-run routine is a busy one, with Hector’s swimming lesson squeezed somewhere in between. I usually opt to have a swim myself and often forget to drink or eat anything before heading out at seven o’clock, bad move!

I was, therefore, pleased to receive some pre-packaged fuel in the post, in the form of these neat little paleo bars from The Primal Kitchen.

Tasty bars

Tasty bars

My limited knowledge of the Paleo Diet tells me that I should be eating less grain-based food, sugar, processed foods and oils, and focussing more on a cleaner, more simple diet, much like that of the cave-people of old (well, what we assume was eaten by our ancestors anyway). This makes sense, but the usual high-sugar energy bar or gel would be totally ruled out here. I tend not to get on so well with gels and things anyway – they just seem too sugary and all that sweetness produces far too big a spike for my little body to process. These bars are great though, small enough to give you a boost whilst not feeling too heavy to go out and run/jump/dive/fly. I must admit to having scoffed them rather quickly, they were delicious 😉 They are handmade in the UK and each bar contains no more than five ingredients, but this doesn’t mean taste is compromised. With such simple ingredients and a lack of additives, I would even give them to Hector (though I might just keep them to myself, shhhh!) AND they are gluten-free! The Primal Kitchen range launched in March and can be found in leading health-food stores and selected CrossFit Boxes and gyms at £1.49 each.

If you want to get a nice little overview of the paleo diet, there’s a great summary here.




Juneathon done. Sort of.

I know, I know, I haven’t blogged in over a week, but I have been up and at ’em. I knew that last weekend would be a tricky one, running/blogging-wise – we were off up to our very special friends’ wedding, which they were holding in their garden, decorating and catering themselves and would need some good, focussed hands-on friends to get them to the, erm, garden on time. I packed my running gear but, when it came to it, I realised it would be plain rude to saunter off into the surrounding fields and leave everyone else to it, so the gear stayed firmly in the bag. It was an amazing day, truly amazing, the whole place looked magical and our friends had really worked hard at making everything just perfect. One of my jobs on the morning of the wedding was to lovingly fill these beautiful cannoli that Jackie had made. I felt slightly nervous, not wanting to get it wrong, and certainly not wanting to break any (though that would have meant getting to sample them).

Beautiful cannoli, they remind me of Venice

In the meantime, Edward and Hector helped Ben set up the marquee, Edward hung bunting and lights and Hector set tables, laid out cushions and carried vases of flowers across the garden from the house. It all looked incredible.

The marquee taking shape

As the day went on, my role changed (and so did I, in the tent, how glamorous) and I read a poem under the trees then – nervously – gave a speech, which made people cry, but thankfully not me this time! We danced our socks off until the early hours then flopped, exhausted but happy into our leaking, soggy tent.

This week has been another busy one, with Hector’s birthday on Friday, which was also the Olympic World Sport Day at school. I frantically constructed a costume for Hector to wear on the day – a BMX racer outfit – whilst getting on with organising his dinosaur birthday party. This involved lots of hurried cycles to the shops to pick up odds and ends and I continued my school run/gym visits, no slacking from me on the activity front, just the blogging.

BMX Racer birthday boy (you can’t really see the Union Jack detailing here…)

Hector really enjoyed his Olympic Day at school, trying out lots of activities (apparently with his bike helmet and elbow and knee pads still on!) and he was rather pleased to get a certificate for his ‘excellent costume’ 🙂 ‘Not everybody got a certificate Mum’. Saturday was full-on: entertaining a group of five-year-olds is quite a challenge, they are party pros and want everything laid out and MUST have things such as pass-the-parcel. I think Edward is still traumatised and never wants the responsibility of doing the music for pass-the-parcel again – he was questioned by an irate five-year-old who didn’t think he did it fairly!

Dino Hunter in the undergrowth

And, of course, Edward did us proud once again with this beautiful cake:

Edible dinosaur dig

So, although I didn’t manage to blog every day of Juneathon, I have certainly gone for it activity-wise. At the beginning of the month I weighed myself and took some ‘vital statistics’. I did the same today and found that, even though I have eaten my way through a Big Lunch Street Party, a wedding and a birthday party in June, I have still managed to work off about two pounds in weight and an inch all over! Woohoo! Slow but steady. Well done to all those who took part in Juneathon and in particular those who managed to go the distance and have gained confidence, fitness and friends along the way.

The one that almost didn’t happen

And on Day 25 as well!

When I collected Hector from the school bus yesterday afternoon, I could see straight away that he wasn’t well: his face was all red and puffy and he took ages to get off (he is normally first off, no matter where on the bus he is sitting!). I took him slowly home, had a cuddle then took his temperature – it was very close to 40 degrees – and he slept all evening on the sofa. So today was spent on the sofa, with his duvet, reading a mountain of books and attempting to get him to eat something. This did mean that my school run didn’t happen and today’s Janathon would have to wait until Edward got home.

I’m not Scottish, I’m Welsh, but I do like joining in the Burn’s Night celebrations by indulging in some haggis, tatties and (pars)neeps. My plan was that Edward would arrive home mid-cooking time, I would go for my run, eat dinner then put Hector to bed. In reality Edward was late home, Hector became hotter and hotter (39.7) and I was worried he was really ill. We quietly ate our dinner, Hector nibbling on some parsnips but refusing to touch the haggis (I told Edward it was a daft idea showing him what it looks like when you cut the skin!) and my run was pushed further and further back.

I stood in the hall, saying it would be such a shame not to complete the month and Edward said – with a cheeky smile – ‘It must be hard sometimes, they can’t all be easy runs, it wouldn’t be a challenge if they were’. Well, at least he doesn’t employ the use of a water pistol to get me out of the house.

Distance: 3.02 miles

Time: 30 minutes 10 seconds

Average Pace: 10.00

Best Pace: 7.31

Calories: 310

Go Outdoors!

Yes, I know it’s suddenly freezing and all I can really think about is putting on an extra layer and curling up next to something – or someone – warm, but I have been sent a lovely Bento Box by the people at Go Outdoors, so we will continue to picnic ’til we are blue in the face. This would have been really handy on our camping trip, because we do like to try to be self-sufficient and make most of our food on the stove, but it’s proving to be a really great addition to our recent lunchtime park visits.

In the morning, I drop Hector off at nursery, rush home to either catch up on some house-related dusty activity, do the shopping/washing/cleaning/gardening or, if I’m really lucky, listen to Woman’s Hour whilst reading other people’s blogs. I keep an eye on the clock and the three hours quickly pass and it’s time to think about what I will make for lunch. If I’m really pushed I just run out, collect a very hungry boy and we come straight home to eat but, if I’m in domestic goddess mode, I get busy chopping and simmering and we take our lunch to the park. In this cold weather, the Bento Box is just perfect for carrying enough soup to fill two rumbling tummies, and will keep it warm long enough for you to venture a bit further than the park at the end of the road.

It’s a lovely looking object, really sleek and neatly designed, with the two sections clicking easily into each other, with a curved handle on top so you can make like the leading lady in ‘In the Mood for Love’. I’m guessing her bento box carries something light and fluffy, with jasmine-scented steam billowing out on opening, mine usually contains something hearty and wholesome, like this minestrone soup:

As you can see, I have enough room to make a bowl of soup for myself and there’s a smaller, removable section for Hector’s soup and bread. I would say that the addition of a little ‘maximum’ line would be good, to avoid over-filling and the resulting hot spurting that occurred when I greedily filled mine to above capacity. I won’t do that again. Hector is disappointed when I don’t bring lunch – this park time between nursery and home is perfect to ease back from the intense morning and saunter with a full belly into an afternoon of relaxed play and creative fun.