Janathon Day 26: Hams

I have resigned myself to the fact that these last few Janathon runs might be a bit dull. I’m sorry readers, but they will be dark, damp and dreary and lacking the sparkle expected of this last push towards the 31st. Tonight’s run was a post-dinner, post-bedtime run again, but I did leave about half an hour between eating and running, which made a world of difference to how I felt. It was cold and dark out there, and most of the people I encountered seemed to be ‘popping out’. What is it about men (some men, that is) popping to the shop and thinking it’s ok to simply pull on some pumps or sandals – over their white, up to mid-calf, sports socks – and schlepping along the pavement like it’s normal to be out in public in your pyjamas?! Yuk, I say. I did encounter one delightful gentleman along the way, Mr Fox. Now, I seem to meet him at the same spot every time, even if my run is at 6.30, 7, 8 or 8.30. I have decided that he hangs around until I appear then graces the pavement with his sandy presence.

Today Hector and I went on a bit of a trek to a group we used to enjoy up in North London; I realised that, once he starts nursery on Friday, we probably won’t be able to make it up there again. Our journey involved two buses and the marvellous East London Line. It was worth it though, as Hector was really pleased to see some old friends and enjoy some messy play and lots of jumping around. We also took a detour to see the ‘rubbish diggers’ and got a friendly ‘hello’ from the chap who directs the traffic and hoses the road.

(that red thing in the painting is a hoover, he likes painting hoovers).

While we were there I was talking to one of the other mums, who is a medic and knows a lot about knees and, of course I did that really annoying thing for any medic and said: ‘My knee hurts’. She humoured me, and gave me some jolly good advice about how to help ease this knee pain: stretch my hamstrings. Simple as that, stretch my hamstrings. Of course, I hardly ever stretch my hamstrings, so this is a good incentive to start doing so!

Janathon day 26:

Time: 31 minutes 30 seconds

Distance: 3.13 miles

Average Pace: 10.04

Best Pace: 8.19

Calories: 336



Indian summer

I’m so happy that the sun is out after all that rain in the past weeks, it feels almost like summer again, although I pull on a cardie and some socks in the evening… So, in the spirit of summer, we headed out to Finsbury Park this morning. I think Hector was glad to be back out in the running buggy, he does enjoy it whizzing along, telling me where to go and what to do. I can’t imagine where this bossiness comes from. We went via a different entrance today because I wanted to show him the outdoor gym they’ve installed. I was going to take a photo, but thought the people on board the machines might not be so happy about that. Every time I have been past this gym, there have been people using almost every machine, even before it was officially open. It’s a great idea because, before the outdoor gym was installed, people would use the nearby play area to do pull ups and so on, a bit intimidating for a small child! For anyone who hasn’t seen one of these gyms, they are a collection of heavy duty, brightly coloured machines to exercise various parts of the body. I imagine they use your own body weight to assist in the workout. One day I will have a go and report back (and take a photo).

We carried on up the hill, which I found far more difficult than on Sunday, with the running buggy ahead of me. We did pause at the sandpit and bumped into some friends, so it was a rather lovely morning/afternoon out.

Time: 46 minutes 28 seconds

Distance: 4.16 miles

Average Pace: 11.10

Best Pace: 8.27

Calories: 457

Last night I forced myself to go out for a run after dinner and after Hector had gone to bed, this meant leaving the house at about 8.30. It was dark. I am not a fan of evening runs around here, I had to stick to busy roads and loop around to make up the mileage. I also went on a bit of a detour to avoid a rowdy group of men on the main road. I think I should buy some reflective strips to make myself a bit more visible if I am to make a habit of going out in the evening – head to toe black is not a good idea.

Time: 32 minutes 31 seconds

Distance: 3.22 miles

Average Pace: 10.05

Calories: 318

Cardiff in sight

Oh hello! Yes, my running has taken a sideline recently. I got into a good groove before we went away, running in the evening, doing sit-ups, stretching, that kind of thing, then we went to Cornwall for a week and I lost my mojo again. I eagerly packed my running kit before anything else, then promptly left it in the boot of the car for the rest of the week. I was having far too much fun playing in the sand, catching my breath in the sea and eating lots and lots of delicious cream teas. Drool. Oh, and quenching my thirst with this stuff:

I became rather adept at my new obsession, stone balancing, excellent fun and ever so satisfying when you manage a tricky one:

Anyway, that was almost a month ago, so I thought I needed to get back on course and took advantage of this Bank Holiday weekend and went for a couple of runs and three bike rides. The first run was a little tester to see if I was actually still alive. I was. It was windy and grey and felt more like October than August, but I managed about three miles and a bit (dodgy Garmin stats again). On Sunday I couldn’t find my Garmin anywhere (it turned up under the bed, as things do) so Edward said I could use his iPhone. I did comment that I find it irritating that you can’t just look down at your wrist to see how far you’ve gone, but this particular app tells you out loud when you’ve completed another mile. I did six. In October I am running the Cardiff Half Marathon, so that’s about six weeks away. I figure I could add a mile a week to the long run and things should be just fine, slow and steady.

I ran to Finsbury Park for this one. Again it was windy, but it felt nice to run around Finsbury Park outside the constrains of the Parkrun: there are hills, but I avoided anything as horrible as the one we run up twice during the 5k. On both of my runs this week I witnessed men peeing in parks, the first one I reprimanded, but this one just puzzled me. There was a fun fair in the park and he was one of the fair people who had obviously been spending the night amongst the lights and dizzying rides in his caravan. Now, I have very little experience of caravans, but I do know that they generally have a loo in them, don’t they? So why would you go outside and pee next to it? Dirty.

Time: 1 hour 4 minutes 45 seconds

Distance: 6.18 miles

Average Pace: 10.28

Calories: 932

How generous the iPod is with calories, I took advantage of this with an extra big bowl of my blackberry crumble.

Another reason for my lack of running is that I am slightly distracted by moving house. Our sale is going through now but we were having trouble finding anywhere to move to. We seem to have found ‘the one’ now and are looking forward to a smooth move. This has set me thinking about running routes. We picked our blackberries on Tottenham Marshes and I said I am going to miss them (as does Jogblog), this half marathon will be the last race where I will train on the marshes and canals, the routes that have seen me through two marathons and numerous other running challenges. I wonder if I will find anywhere as wonderful where we are moving to. One thing that does excite me is the possibility of being just minutes away from a running club, and running is the best way to explore a new area and find out where everything is.


Team colours

So, this Friday the World Cup will begin, the football world cup that is, the Walking World Cup is alive and well in my local park. Yesterday Highway Kind commented on the groups of international walkers I encounter on my runs, suggesting that this might be an interesting alternative to the upcoming competition. Today I decided to try to capture some of these walkers to add to the excitement. World Cup football fever whips us up into a frenzy that finds us focussing on what the players eat, what their W(ives)A(nd)G(irlfriend)S are wearing, how Wayne Rooney takes his own pillow on the bus with him and the finer details of Ronaldo’s fancy footwear, but down at the park it was all about team colours today.

The Chinese Walkers get extra points for their selection colourful hats and also for some of their team members breaking into a run, incidentally it is often the much older members that do this.

The Turkish Walkers however have really got the team strip sorted, with a subtle array of grey, brown and black velour tracksuits for those early morning training sessions.

And here you can get a sense of the strong camaraderie amongst Team China and understand how the Walking World Cup is as much about socialising and community spirit as it is about physical prowess (and you get a look at the hill training area these athletes cover every day).

Stats for Juneathon Day 6

Type of run: solo run

Time: 28 minutes 15 seconds

Distance: 3.02 miles

Average Pace: 9.21

Best Pace: 6.20

Calories: 317



Happy New Year!

It’s been a while since I updated, and that’s because there really hasn’t been much to report: I was knocked for six throughout December by a nasty cough then wasn’t going to risk breaking my neck by running on ice. But this is 2010, it’s a new year, a new decade and a healthier new me. I got off to a good start, getting out nice and early on new year’s day for the Serpentine 10k in Hyde Park. Oh my, it was ffffffreezing out there! I put on my new Helly Hansen base layer, my new hat and my new gloves (and everything in between of course) and joined the rest of the nutters at the start. I found myself walking round in circles and rubbing my thighs like Vic Reeves to keep warm, but we were soon off.

I didn’t have high hopes for this race, not having run for a few weeks and being heavily laden down by Christmas stodge, and I didn’t surprise myself, coming in at an all-time personal worst. Things were ok to start with, then both of my knees started really, really hurting – the left one below the knee cap and the right one in an ITBS kind of way – so I was struggling around with a grimace on my face. The cold air also triggered my chest to tighten up so I felt all-round crap. I kept on going though.

It was a beautiful day, so bright and crisp, and it’s a good race, laid back, friendly and in a nice setting. Edward and Hector were making their way over to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground (it’s fantastic), and paused to wave at me over a bridge part way along, always uplifting to see their smiling faces. The course does a loop at one point, and I was suddenly being lapped by the short-shorts brigade and getting all muddled by the KM markers, but things picked up when I really had done 7k and my knees seemed to ease up a bit. I kept on, plod, plod, plod and made it to the finish line where I picked up my bag and quickly put on my big puffa jacket. Brrrrr. I could have done with a banana or something at this point, but there was just some icy cold water on offer…a hot chocolate at the playground warmed me up a bit 🙂

Time: 1 hour 2 minutes 13 seconds

Distance: 10.11 km

Average Pace: 6.09

Best Pace: 3.56

Calories: 681

I just had a look at Fetch, and it seems I ran 599 miles last year. Damn it, I wish I’d read that last week so I could have made it up and over 600! I have taken advantage of our local leisure centre’s New Year offer of three months for the price of two, or something like that, and invested my Christmas and birthday money in some gym and swim membership for the next few months. I am feeling well and truly lumpy-tumpy right now, so I need to get burning those calories and pumping those muscles. I went to my first Spinning class in about three years on Sunday and felt like I hadn’t been away. The instructor was French though, and I couldn’t really hear him, so all I heard every so often was ‘rrrresistaaahnce’, felt like I was watching ‘Allo, Allo’!


Parkrun Park Run

I was determined to make it out for the first Finsbury Park Parkrun on Saturday, so we all downed our porridge and got ready to bike it over there. As we were putting on our helmets the rain came down in buckets. Edward was all set to stay behind, but Hector wasn’t (and never is) put off by a bit of rain. It was so bad we even had to shelter under a tree for a bit, but it eased as we made our way up the hill to the park. As we rounded the corner I saw a few runners huddling under the eaves of the cafe, all looking a bit bleary-eyed and with that sort of ‘what the hell am I doing here at this time on a saturday morning?’ look on their faces. Edward and Hector sauntered over to the playground and I did that runner’s loitering thing you do before a race, where you check everyone out whilst doing a daft token stretch and trying not to look to awkward.

Eventually we were directed over to the gate where the race will start each week, and were given a few pointers before the start was called. I was delighted to see that the first stretch was down hill so we could generate some speed, but soon found myself overtaken by pretty much everyone. Quite quickly I settled into a pace alongside another woman whom I plodded beside for the rest of the race. I had been very excited about this new race and have dreams of cracking my PB here in the future, but I soon realised this is not really a PB sort of race. About a third of the way round, the path takes a sharp turn up a steep hill. During the first lap I found some incredible grit from somewhere and glided up no problem, leaving my fellow runner behind, but during the second lap I thought I was going to throw up! I had to pause for a moment and lean over before resuming my trek to the top. How embarrassing. Shortly after the hill I was on the home straight, so picked up the pace, gasping and panting all the way. As you cross the line you are given a token with a number on it to hand to the computer-wielding volunteers at the end, who scan your personal barcode and add your finish time to the website later in the day; all very high-tech.

This was my Garmin’s reading of it all:

Time: 27 minutes 41 seconds

Distance: 3.16 miles

Average Pace: 8.46

Best Pace: 5.28

Calories: 329

Not a PB, in fact a little bit slower than  my last 5k race at Trent Park, but not so bad considering I stopped to avert a pukey disaster.

On Sunday I headed out for a ‘long’ run, but this was cut short by not being able to see where I was going due to the rain being horizontal and mostly directed at my eyes.

Time: 41 minutes 20 seconds

Distance: 4.37 miles

Average Pace: 9.27

Best Pace: 6.55

Calories: 445


Still at it, sort of

Rubbish. My Octoberthon that is. I have run this week, but gingerly, fearing the dreaded shin splints. Arrrghghghg! I’ve also done something weird to my neck/head. Sometimes I wake up, having slept in a funny position and can only look to one side, but normally it clears up as the day progresses. Well, this happened to me on Monday and has got worse as the week has gone on. I can’t look right or left or upwards, yes, I am a danger to myself and everyone else, especially when I try to cross the road. Now things are taking a turn for the worse as I fend off a killer sore throat and ‘the sniffles’. There’s lots of it about.

I am off to Venice this week for the Bienalle, so my running will be interrupted anyway, but I should take this opportunity to think about what I really want to do with my running. I caught sight of myself in the mirror last night as I put on my pyjamas and thought ‘Oh shit, how did that happen?!’ something needs to be done, and sharpish!

On a positive note, the wonderful Parkruns have moved up north London way, with a new run starting in Finsbury Park on October 31st, so a weekly, timed 5k run…for free! What a great incentive to get 5k fit and beat that PB to the ground.