Escape Gate

The route I took today. Unfortunately.

I got up feeling as if I had pulled something in my back so, when I set off on what was supposed to be a twenty-mile run, I had a sort of stitch pain in my ribcage every time I took a deep breath. This combined with a slightly dodgy tummy, an under-prepared plan and a negative mindset led to a really poor run. Actually, it wasn’t all bad, the first two miles were a delight because I had Edward and Hector next to me on the bike, with Hector shouting: ‘Come on!’ every few minutes. They headed off to the swimming pool in Deptford and left me to go on my merry way. I tried, I really did, but every time someone overtook me I felt more and more fed-up so, after I reached ten  miles – on the South Bank – I made a decision to get on the train and go home. Arrrghghg, I cringe typing that, and read over it in disbelief, I have never done anything like that before, never. And I won’t do it again. I can learn a lot from this run:

– be prepared, both physically and mentally before setting off

– look at these last few weeks before the marathon as ‘full-time’ running, not just rolling up before a long run and ‘winging it’

– get some proper running socks to prevent penny-sized blisters

– don’t try running westwards along the Thames at the weekend, it’s just daft

So there, I’ve told you all now and, as Edward has kindly pointed out more than once this afternoon, I am a quitter, but I am leaving it there and will prepare myself properly for next week’s long run.

In the meantime, can I tell you about a really quite bonkers place? Crystal Palace Park. Don’t trust the TFL website, they told me to catch five buses and then catch the train to Milton Keynes and walk from there, when actually there is a bus from the end of our road. During our visit this afternoon, we saw two men practicing whip-cracking. Yes, you read correctly, whip-cracking! They had these really long whips and were just cracking them and making an incredibly loud sound. Now, I have some odd interests, but this really is off the wall. In what situation would you require such a skill?! Anyway, Crystal Palace Park is also home to the fantastic running track, the wonderful swimming/diving pool (where we were allowed in to watch a bit of a gala), some dinosaurs, the lovely maze (pictured at the top of this post) and…wait for it…the London RC Club. As we walked past the swimming pool, we could hear this immense engine sound, which we thought must be motorbikes or something but, as we got closer, we could see that it was a miniature racing track with remote control racing cars whizzing round it! Really, if you are in the south London area, do pay the park a visit, it’s quite something.

And another thing, to distract you from my shitty run, this is what raised beds are really for:

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes 59 seconds

Distance: 10.02 miles

Average Pace: 10.17

Best Pace: 7.06

Calories: 1038


Another short long run

Other than injury, I can think of nothing more draining on your energy during marathon training than a stomach bug, so imagine my horror when I succumbed this week. After my fabulous track session on Tuesday morning, Hector really wanted to go out in the running buggy, even though it was raining, so we did. Just under three miles, and we had to make the return leg by train due to the now heavy rain and, during this run, I started to feel pretty awful and wondered if I had been a bit ambitious for the day’s activity. By Wednesday morning it was clear that I was just ill, and Edward even had to work from home so he could take Hector to nursery (incidentally, Hector was really excited about this and just rushed in and waved happily at Daddy!). During these few hours I just slept and ran to the bathroom. I remembered that, when Hector had a vomiting bug the other week, every time he ate, he just brought it back up again, so I decided to go without food for the day and see if that cleared the bug. Oh how feeble I felt, lying there sipping recovery drinks and clutching my aching stomach.

I was much better on Thursday, as if I had never been ill in fact, but my energy levels dipped through the day and I was reminded to slow down and stick to soup for a while. I would say that yesterday was the first day I was able to enjoy my food again. Bleurgh. So, when I looked at my schedule and saw that today was to be the eighteen mile day, I realised I would have to be realistic and just see how I felt during the run. Earlier in the week I was sent some samples of Orbana energy drinks, and had been keen to try these out after last week’s long run, where I had failed to equip myself properly with any kind of fuel, and wanted to see how much better I could run with the right fuel on board. Of course, today was just about getting out and seeing how far I could go on weak legs, but I did pack some fluid for the journey, keen to keep myself hydrated after such a challenging week. Funnily enough, I knew that the drinks were good because they were the only thing I could keep down during my illness, and really seemed to help as I sipped them gently throughout the day!


The first few miles were fun, as I was accompanied by the boys on Edward’s bike, and we paused briefly to enjoy the view of the Kingfisher resting on a branch before he disappeared in a flash of neon blue. As we reached a fork on the Waterlink Way, the boys went towards the swimming pool and I kept going towards Beckenham Place Park, so a repeat of the run I did a few weeks ago really, though this time I knew where I was going! After last week’s long run, I have realised that I should sip some fluid at intervals instead of waiting until I’m on my knees, so stopped at four miles for a gulp then carried on my way through the mud. The thing I like about the Orbana drinks is that they don’t taste that strong, my drink of choice outside of running is tea, and other than that I drink mainly water so, when I drink some of the other sports drinks, I find them far too sweet and really artificial-tasting, but Orbana tastes a bit like diluted juice, which I find more palatable.

It was nice running through that park, passing lots of muddy dogs and listening to the woodpeckers making the most delightful sound – I had carried my iPod Shuffle with me, but I’m glad I didn’t plug in because this was too good to miss. I did a random sort of lap, taking in a few dead-ends and odd loops, then came out to run towards South Beckenham station to step onto the Waterlink Way again. I had been stubbornly ignoring the fact that I was suffering from the most dreadful stitch and now stomach cramp, and determinedly plodding on as if everything was alright, but now I was beginning to think I should cut this run short and save the long, long run for next weekend. As I passed under the train track, it was ever so tempting to hop on the train home, but I didn’t.

Now I was passing some allotments, and I took a long sideways glance at the array of raised beds and compost heaps constructed mainly out of reclaimed wood. I am becoming slightly obsessed with acquiring wood, and wondered where they had found theirs. We started building a compost heap out of a palette we found at the end of our road, but realised it’s quite hard to dismantle them, and need another source of wood for the next level (it’s rapidly filling up with peelings and tea bags!). We also want to get our raised beds in ready for the planting season, so need a good supply of planks. I did ring round some scaffolders to see if they sell off old planks, but they are very reluctant to let you have them in case you do yourself an injury. ‘But I am going to saw them up and plant vegetables amongst them!’ I protested ‘Health and safety’ said the nice lady on the other end of the line.

Anyway, back to the run. By now my stomach was really hurting and I kept having to stop to sip fluid and bend over to clutch my stomach, but on I went (I didn’t have much choice really). I kept at it until I reached the park near home, and I was reduced to switching off the Garmin and walking the last mile home, looking out for discarded planks along the way.

Time: 1 hour 39 minutes 52 seconds

Distance: 9.33 miles

Average Pace: 10.42

Best Pace: 7.47

Calories: 1000

(I will review the Orbana drinks in more detail on next week’s long run, here’s hoping I don’t get any more bugs).

Janathon Day 31: First Day/Last Day

Today was the first day in three-and-a-half years that I left Hector in the care of someone other than Edward. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I took him to nursery this morning and started to feel sad when I saw the other little ones looking longingly at their parents as they left, some even having a sob. I quickly ushered Hector past all this upset and to some paint, to busy him with creative play. After a while he ventured into a small side room where there were some stickle bricks and he happily played with some other children and one of his teachers. For quite a while. I saw this as my chance to leave, but had really wanted to say goodbye instead of sneaking away so, instead, I was told I could make myself a cup of tea in the staff room (and pull myself together presumably!). As I sat there, I thought if I were to go in and say goodbye, he would become too upset, so I made the decision to just go. I spoke to Edward on the phone as I walked home crying and he told me to look in the bedroom because there was a card there for me. So I sat on the bedroom floor laughing and crying at the same time. I do have the most wonderful husband in the world, who knows exactly what makes me happy:

I’ve always wanted a utility belt, and now I have one for my ‘new job’ as gardener and decorator.

I busied myself with tidying and such like then was cheered up when our neighbour rang the bell to say she had seen Hector playing happily on the see-saw when she dropped her daughter off…and would I like to go round for a coffee. How very grown up!

The time came to collect Hector from nursery and I walked quickly, trying not to run and look like Mad Mum. It was a bit odd really, I expected him to want to hug me, but he was quiet and subdued. Apparently he had had a good time and hadn’t cried (phew), so I didn’t push him for information, and we just walked in the sunshine and chatted. I thought it fitting on this last Janathon day for us to go for a running buggy run and, as it was a special day, and so wonderfully sunny, we took a picnic to the park:

(the cheese muffins we made when Hector got home 🙂 )

So, Janathon is complete. I ran every day and blogged every day, as I did in June. This was different though. Most of my Juneathon runs were with Hector in the passenger seat, long meandering explorations with blackberry picking and sandpit stops. Most of my Janathon runs were run in the dark, either at the crack of dawn (eek!) or in the gloomy depths of commuter time. But I loved it all, really I did! There is something very special about this experience: there is no way I would have done some of those runs if it wasn’t for the support of my virtual (and some now real) friends, and that feeling of not wanting let them or myself down. I wish I could replicate that feeling at other times! In total I ran 130.7 miles, about 22 miles further than Juneathon 2010. I hadn’t set myself a goal other than to run a minimum of three miles each time, so I am pretty pleased with that. I know there are people out there who ran these kinds of distances in the first week, and I take my Nike ear-warming hat off to them, but there are also people out there who have started from scratch and have stuck at it in possibly the darkest, coldest month of the year – a bloody well done to them! I would also like to say a HUGE thank you to Cathy for keeping on top of it all, amazing, and all for the love of it.

So what next? I have a marathon to train for, so I will be easing back on this running every day lark and sticking to the plan. That’ll be sixteen miles this weekend then. Check back and see how I’m getting on, I look forward to keeping up with and in touch with the rest of you Janathoners in the future, and meeting some of you at the get-together in a few weeks. Pats on the back all round.

Janathon day 31:

Time: 32 minutes 47 seconds

Distance: 3.01 miles

Average Pace: 10.53

Best Pace: 8.35

Calories: 350

Total for January 2011: 130.7 miles

**Update!** If anyone fancies sponsoring my marathon effort, you can donate to the Guidedogs charity here. Thank you! xxx

Janathon Day 30: What a view!

But I didn’t have my camera with me to capture it. Oh well. I was inspired by own photo the other day, and decided to take my long run to Greenwich. It wasn’t a great start, with my run getting pushed back to about 11am because Edward had to complete the dreaded tax return. A bit too much of a gap between breakfast and a long run for my liking. I was also really feeling yesterday’s run and walk in my lower legs, and began to wonder if I could even do three miles let alone 14! Anyway, I headed towards Greenwich and gently eased my mind and body into it. Ah, Greenwich. I was ever so tempted to stop and peruse the antique stalls, drink coffee and eat cake, but I stuck at it and entered the park along with all the tourists and other Sunday runners. Anyone who has ever walked up to the Observatory will know how steep it is, and up I went, tip-toeing past walkers and gasping for air at the top, but my goodness, it’s worth the effort for the view! It was such a bright and clear day as well, just perfect.

So, I did a circuit of the park, pausing to see if I could see the deer. I did (HighwayKind will be impressed 😉 ). As I had gone up, I got to go down but, with a load more miles to do, I had to go up again. Damn it. This time I decided to head out of the park at the top and onto Blackheath. It’s just a load of really busy roads with green bits in between, but so many impressive houses to nose at as you go. I did as wide a loop as I could, checking out the grand abodes and avoiding being squashed by speeding vehicles, then ran back into the park for another downhill bit. When I got into Greenwich again, I ducked in and out of meandering tourists and ran towards the Cutty Sark – hidden behind an ugly enclosure – and down towards the Thames. I had the idea of running along the Thames path, but was sent towards the road due to yet more apartments being built. Here I plodded towards Deptford, down the High Street and to St John’s. By now my stomach was beginning to rumble and I felt slightly sick with hunger, I’m not sure the gel I sucked at the crossing in Lewisham helped, but I thought it might get me through the next few miles.

It did, and so did my determination to do the fourteen miles I had said I would do. It did get a bit boring in places, just looping around to make up the miles, I think I prefer an out-and-back sort of run, where you don’t have to think too much about where you will end up. I might try that next weekend. On my return, the boys had been getting busy in the front garden again, using a pickaxe to get up some concrete and, after some much-needed lunch, we planted our native hedge.

I am impressed with the people we ordered the plants from. I placed the order last Sunday evening and they arrived on Tuesday! It felt great to be planting a hedge, like looking to the future and looking forward to seeing who comes to explore the berries and flowers as they grow.

Janathon day 30:

Time: 2 hours 32 minutes 50 seconds

Distance: 14.07 miles

Average Pace: 10.52

Best Pace: 7.09

Calories: 1688