And I know it’s gonna be a lovely daaaaay!

(that’s me being all positive again, see?)

This morning Hector managed to run into the handrail at the bottom of the stairs and has a real shiner brewing on his cheekbone. Oh my.

I had daydreamed about doing a longer run today, getting past the three or four mile barrier I am hovering behind at the moment, but it wasn’t to be. I put on some music to see me though, a weekend treat. Susan has been talking this week about what she listens to whilst running, and really shouldn’t feel ashamed of her disco playlist, whatever it takes, I say! My iPod Shuffle was offering up my limited collection of run-boosting tunes this morning, starting with ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by The Cure (oh how ironic!), followed by some Florence and the Machine then a bit of Morrissey before we moved over to anthem corner with ‘Empire State of Mind’ and Amerie’s ‘One Thing’, yes, there you go, I can veer from tasteful to cheesy in one short run. I need to update my shuffle and any suggestions would be very welcome.

Distance: 3.09 miles

Time: 30 minutes 14 seconds

Average Pace: 9.47

Best Pace: 3.32

Calories: 319


Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon

I’m not sure I should write this blog post right now because I can feel myself descending into the gloomiest post-race blueness ever – you train for ages and focus on something so closely that you feel a bit lost once it’s over. The fact that it didn’t go swimmingly doesn’t help either.

But enough of that! I was woken a bit earlier than I had hoped (6am) by Junior Coach and tried hard to keep him contained for another hour by hugging him really tightly and hoping he might go back to sleep, but was kept awake by the incessant chattering until we all just gave in and had our breakfast. It was grey out there, pouring with rain in fact and I felt a sense of foreboding at the thought of having to run 13.1 miles in the rain, my least favourite running conditions. I had been very organised and laid everything out on Saturday night, so simply had to put on my kit and go, but not before I had sat with Hector for a bit and listened to the Jacqueline Wilson ‘The Mummy Cat’ audio CD that was free in Saturday’s Guardian (Edward and Hector listened to the rest of it when I had gone and it was apparently very, very sad). As I walked briskly under an unloved cheap umbrella to the train station, I did a mental check of all my body parts to make sure they were in working order, things felt good apart from the still achy Zumba hip.

The journey was straightforward and I started to see runners once I got to London Bridge, always reassuring. The rain had stopped once I got to Hyde Park, so I dangled the umbrella on a railing for a spectator to make use of and headed to the loo queues. I stood there for ages, not moving at all and eventually gave up as the start time drew closer and joined another queue and then gave up and walked to the blue start. I chatted briefly with a friendly fellow runner and she said it was her first half-marathon and she was aiming for 2 hours 30 minutes, I had a time of 2 hours 10 in my head, having run a similar time at Cardiff last year. Eventually we were off, shuffling forward in our waves and being released onto the streets of London. I did forget to set my Garmin to search for satellites so ended up starting my clock a few metres past the start – oops, my first race with the new Garmin, I used to switch the old one on when I reached the race, knowing it took an age to get a signal!

It is a lovely route and I had a great feeling running with all these other people through the sights of London with a big smile on my face. My race high point was as we ran towards the Houses of Parliament. I watched the hands on the clock turn slowly and felt a rush of excitement as Big Ben struck ten, there was a collective ‘ahhhh’ around me as we all enjoyed this uplifting moment, what great timing! Everything felt good running along the Embankment, looking up and waving at spectators on the bridges, and feeling a little like a London Marathoner again. Here we started to see faster runners who had already turned around, but I was soon one of them heading back towards Hyde Park. I pondered for a moment on the mounted guards who sat, motionless as thousands of colourful runners rushed past them in a wave of excitement, how do they do it? After an enjoyable run up the Mall, we were soon weaving our way around Hyde Park on a route that, at times became slightly irritating, especially when I started to struggle. I can see why the road sections are at the beginning, so that roads can be re-opened quickly and normality resume, but it would be so much better to run the park first and have the sights of London to get you through the second half of the race.

This part of the race takes you through a beautiful autumnal scene with colourful leaves falling at your feet and huge crowds of supporters cheering everyone on. It does feel slightly disheartening to see faster runners looping back towards the finish line though and I had a moment of bewilderment when I saw JogBlog on the other side of the barrier and I couldn’t remember if I had already run that way or not. It was unfortunate that she saw me at that point, the point where things started to go downhill for me. I was guzzling water and attempting to suck a gel whilst walking for the first time in the race. It wasn’t a hot day really, not like last Sunday, but I felt hot and thirsty and found myself repeating my experience at London Marathon 2009, where I drank so much that I ended up collapsing in a heap with cramp. I managed not to collapse this time but, at one point I had such a painful stitch that was radiating over my chest, that I thought I was having a heart attack. I didn’t want to say anything though, because I didn’t want to get carted off in an ambulance! It’s interesting that I saw so many people being attended to by medics during this race, far more than at Brighton Marathon earlier this year, I wonder if it’s because some people take the training less seriously for a half rather than full marathon.

So, I had by now consumed both gels, guzzled a load of Lucozade Sport and topped that up with water but I was still struggling, time to plug my headphones in. Once again, Florence and the Machine came up with the goods and made me smile with these words from ‘Hurricane’:

‘I brace myself
Cause I know it’s going to hurt
But I like to think at least things can’t get any worse’

It worked for a while anyway. By this point I was walking regularly because the cramp was so bad that my toes were curling and making it hard to keep going. It was so frustrating, knowing how well my training had gone. Even though it all felt like agony, the miles did pass quickly and I was soon in front of the Albert Memorial, stretching my calf muscles (‘Are you alright ma’am? said a friendly marshal) ahead of the run to the finish. Here I passed the woman I had spoken to at the start and watched as she was cheered on by her family and how this support gave her enough of a boost to sprint towards the finish (I could have done with some of that myself) and I crossed the finish shortly after with a sense of relief and also happiness when I saw the beautiful medal, the nicest medal I have ever received.

There were quite a few of my fellow bloggers running the race as well (JogBlog, Helsbels, Fairweatherrunner, Fortnightflo, Abradypus and Plustenner – I hope I haven’t missed anybody out there!), and they had arranged a post-race pizza/beer/cake meet-up, but I had to rush/hobble home to a delicious roast dinner and friends, who had arrived before me -oops! I would say, it’s good to take you time recovering, I would like to have had a look around the food festival and refuelled straight away, but instead I jumped on the tube and felt slightly nauseous. Edward pointed out yesterday that things always go wrong for me in races, not in training (apart from Brighton Marathon, where I had a splendid time). I can see what happens now: during training I carry a small bottle of water or sports drink or nothing at all, and I sip this slowly throughout the run, but during a race there is water/sports drink everywhere and I feel the need to drink as much as I can, thus depleting all the salt in my body and becoming a wobbly mess. So I either stop going to races, or I put on water-station blinkers. Watch this space!

Here are the stats from my Garmin:





Not Quite Half

On Sunday I was supposed to be joining my running-blogging buddies down in Folkestone, a mere hour or so away from where I live. I enjoyed the Twitter build-up and the general sense of camaraderie and looked forward (mostly) to the after-race social bit, so was rather pissed off peeved when I realised I simply couldn’t get there. The training had gone ok, and I had managed to avoid injury, unlike some of the other runners, so not making it to the start line due to crappy travel challenges was very frustrating. However, I got over my sulking last week by taking myself off to the running track and gasping my way round a four mile circular run.

I was ridiculously excited by viewing this run on a map!

Time: 42 minutes

Distance: 4.35 miles

Average Pace: 9.40

Best Pace: 6.50

Calories: 63 (Garmin got back to me and suggested taking the battery out of the HRM then putting it back in to re-set, it doesn’t seem to have helped, any ideas?)

My average HR was 186 and my maximum HR was 200!

When Sunday arrived, I decided to try for a ten miler that would get me home in time to follow the Twitter excitement, beamed live from Folkestone by @richeginger. I set off down the Waterlink Way, planning to run down to Beckenham Place Park, fancying a change from the usual diverted Greenwich route. Early on in the run I was passed by two tall, athletic types who eased past me as if I were invisible, though I don’t know how they missed me in my bright green Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon t-shirt! Sometimes this sort of (lack of) encounter gives me a boost to run harder, try to catch them up (ha!), but today it just made me feel fat and slow and made me drag my feet. As I ran, my stomach started to play up again, something I am slightly concerned about ahead of the Royal Parks Half in just over a week. I lifted up my torso, breathed deeply and tried to ignore it, but I soon realised I wasn’t going to make it as far as Beckenham Place, so decided to turn at the two-mile point, head home and take it from there.

It was getting hot out there, even though it was still only about nine o’clock, so it was a relief to pop home, take a moment to think about whether I could carry on, wipe my face and head back out of the door, refreshed. From here it seemed logical to head Greenwich way – if I ran to the seven mile point then turned for home , it would make ten miles. I felt much better now, and pleased with myself for not ducking out. As I neared Greenwich I saw signs for the Run to the Beat half-marathon, which was taking place later that morning, and picked up on the buzz around the area as runners started to make their way over to the start. I reached the water and, just behind me, the clock on the old hospital struck ten. I thought about my fellow runners who would now be crossing the start line, and wished them luck as I took a sip of my juice/water/salt combo and looked at the sparkling Thames in front of me.

On my return, I eagerly checked the computer to see how things were going in Kent. I am proud to say that all of the Fearsome Folkestone Four made it up The Hill and struggled through the heat to cross the line with smiles on their faces. You can read about Cassie’s half-marathon debut here, how Helen overcame a painful foot and a heat aversion here, Shaun’s speedy PB chaser here and Cathy has some exciting news about her next big race here.

Time: 1 hour 42 minutes 6 seconds

Distance: 10 miles

Average Pace: 10.12

Best Pace: 5.31

Calories: 177






In three days I will be taking on the Brighton Marathon in aid of Guide Dogs. You can sponsor my effort here.

It’s hot, hot, hot in London today. I love the sunshine, as Roy Ayres says ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’, but when you have 26.2 miles to run, you want a bit of air circulating around your limbs and a touch of freshness to fend off over-heating. I just checked the weather forecast for Brighton on Sunday and it says 13 degrees and a rain shower, good temperature, but I’m not wild about the rain.

Lists. I feel I should make a list of things I mustn’t forget to take with me.

Running shoes

capri tights


Guide Dogs vest

race number and safety pins (don’t forget the safety pins!)

socks without holes in

timing chip


sun cream

marathon belt



iPod Shuffle

Body Glide – how could I forget that one?!

I’ve got a sore throat and runny nose today 😦 Chances are I have caught Hector’s cold, or maybe a it’s a touch of hayfever. Whatever it is, I’d like it to go away before Sunday please. Sniff.



In four days I will be taking on the Brighton Marathon in aid of Guide Dogs. You can sponsor my effort here.

Marathon week is a funny old time. All this training, months of it, feel like nothing. This morning I went out and ran just over two miles and it felt like hard work! This is the week where you become obsessed about small details like which socks you should wear on the big day, whether you are eating enough pasta and whether you can actually remember how to put one foot in front of the other. I haven’t been sleeping very well, partly because Hector has a cough (which I am trying to avoid by running to other side of the room when he starts one of his coughing fits and protecting my face whenever he sneezes at me, and partly because I lie awake thinking about the marathon. I did have a dream the other night where I ran it in 4 hours 47 minutes, which would be a PB by two minutes, I hope this is a prophecy.

I am being constantly stunned by the generosity of friends, family and ‘virtual’ friends I haven’t even met, who have been sponsoring me, I know that some of these people really have to count every penny, so feel quite humbled by this kindness. I am also amazed by some funny ideas people have about running and marathon training. Edward’s Mum was genuinely surprised (and disappointed?) that I wasn’t training every day, not realising that this is the lowest, slowest week of them all. I was reminded this morning at the nursery gates that people still don’t think of any other marathon than the London Marathon as being a ‘proper’ marathon. One of my Mum friends said: ‘So how far is it?’ and when I told her it’s 26.2 miles she was really taken aback. I suppose the benefit of this is that people are even more impressed by my effort when they hear it’s a ‘full marathon’ that I’m running. Even Edward, who you would think might have got the whole marathon thing by now, said last night, as we tucked into our noodle soup: ‘Shouldn’t you be eating lots of steak and protein?’ I think this just means that he’d like to eat lots of steak.

When I read the Brighton Marathon website and the details sent to me in the post, I am reminded that runners are asked not to listen to headphones whilst running. Normally I wouldn’t do this, I enjoy hearing people around me, chatting to other runners, soaking up the atmosphere and being aware of my surroundings. I do think this time I might just clip my iPod Shuffle on though, in case I hit a really dark spot, just one little track might be enough to see me through, like slurping a gel for a little energy boost. I am thinking a bit of Florence, some Morrissey, a Pixies or two and some Bjork might do it. Maybe not to other peoples’ taste, but just the trick for me.

Time: 22 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 2.20 miles

Average Pace: 10.11

Best Pace: 8.00

Calories: 199



Taper time!

On Friday and Saturday I managed to cram in two runs, one with the lovely Helsbels, and one flying solo. On Friday morning I dropped Hector off at nursery and, not knowing what time it was, legged it up our road to meet Helen by the station for nine o’clock. I did a bit of stretching whilst she got caught at the dreaded crossing ‘system’ and we then headed out along the Waterlink Way. It was a gorgeous morning, but we did both share our concerns about it being hot when we run the Brighton Marathon in two weeks’ time (eek!), after my experience at the London Marathon in 2009, where I caved in under the strain of cramp (though I might add I did finish!), I would prefer a fresh sort of day, where I don’t feel the need to drink every drop of water that comes my way. Another challenge brought on by the heat is the clouds of gnats along the route, but this did give us the opportunity to engage in a new form of cross-training, ‘Gnat Boxercise’ (thanks Helen for the nifty title). I did catch a few in my throat and hadn’t put my sunglasses on, so managed to allow some to hitch a ride in my eyelashes. Yuk! We managed a brisker-than-planned six miles and went our seperate ways to rid ourselves of the pesky bugs.

Time: 1 hour 4 minutes

Distance: 6.11 miles

Average Pace: 10.29

Best Pace: 5.35

Calories: 634

On my return, the postlady rang our bell to give me my Guide Dogs vest for Brighton and a lovely long-sleeve top to test and write about. The top is made from bamboo, which is known for its wicking properties and is eco-friendly, and the material is so soft, I wanted to just stroke it! I decided to wear the top for my long run on Saturday, the last longer run before I go into the taper. You can buy a BAM – Bamboo Clothing Zip Neck Baselayer like mine here, but here is a picture of me sporting mine before the run:

The main thing that delighted me when I put it on was how long it is, so many running tops are cut too short and I find it hard not to get distracted by clothing gathering around my middle and the constant need to keep pulling it down and not expose my midriff; I was interested to see how long this top stayed in place. I hadn’t realised that the top also has lovely little thumb holes, and actually whooped at this discovery (I lead a simple life).

It was another warm day, but slightly fresh at the start of the run, so I kept the little thumb holes hooked in place and off I went. I have decided that I much prefer to head east along the Thames than west: I get most of it all to myself, don’t have to dodge tourists and can immerse myself in scenes of grime and industrial splendour. It being a Saturday, the diggers and stone crushers were hard at work again and the path was populated mainly by other runners, mostly in pairs and mostly ignoring me, and I had thought this route was a friendly one too! Every so often, I caught sight of my hands and felt all sporty, there’s nothing like a new top with cute thumb hole things to make you feel all Paula Radcliffe. Ahem. At this stage, the top was staying firmly in place, no movement whatsoever, and I felt warm, but not too hot even though the sweat was dripping down my face.

When you are training for a marathon, you are told to practice your routine before the big day, making sure you have tried out all the gear you are wearing to make sure it doesn’t rub (or work out where it rubs so you can take precautions), test the various fuels and gels and eat the food you plan to eat prior to the race. Well, after this run, I can definitely say I will not be eating a curry and drinking a beer the night before. If it wasn’t for the agonising stomach cramps and two unscheduled toilet-finding missions in a state of sheer panic, I would say this was the best run of my training so far! I was feeling good, my mind was positive, I was running fairly fast for a long slow run and I looked good in my new gear with a sunny smile on my face. So it’s pasta for me on April 9th.

As I said, this run was good, I was simply ticking off those miles and picking my knees up as I reached the Thames Barrier, enjoyed the view, then turned for home. I had carried my iPod Shuffle with me again, but decided I should have a ‘treat’ for the last two miles after reaching Greenwich, so kicked my heels to Morrissey until I rolled up at home, happy, cool yet warm and ready to enjoy the rest of the weekend. The bamboo had held out, not moving an inch but looking slightly soggy on my return. I normally go for a more shiny fabric because of this, but the benefits outweighed the view I offered my fellow pavement users, maybe it’s ok for a top to show up your sweat, but pants would be anther matter! I think I might consider getting a short-sleeve version of the top, maybe to go under my Guide Dogs vest for the marathon, I’m a convert!

Time: 2 hours 20 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 14.04 miles

Average Pace: 10.00

Best Pace: 7.18

Calories: 1563

It’s a funny old world…

…beyond the Thames Barrier. This weekend I decided my long run should be on Saturday, get it out of the way, look forward to relaxing for the rest of the weekend, spend Sunday enjoying family time and drinking coffee. A few weeks ago I ran over to Greenwich then eastwards along the Thames, reaching the Thames Barrier then turning for home. This weekend’s run required a bit more, so I was all set to run ten  miles and then turn for home. It was a gorgeous day, really bright and spring-like so deciding what to wear was a bit of a challenge, I ended up going out in capri leggings (my favourites, which now seem to be developing a hole in the nether regions, boo), a long-sleeve top, a t-shirt over this, gloves, sun cream and my fantastic Poloroid Polarized Sunglasses. Now, I was sent these months and months ago and have been waiting for the right kind of weather to give them a good test, so what better than a sunny spring morning over a twenty mile run?

I do wear sunglasses to run, but my usual pair were bought for less than twenty pounds from Boots, so I was interested to see how they compare with a much more expensive and more whizzy sort of spec. As a glasses wearer, I am quite particular about what goes on my face, and I find many glasses really uncomfortable, mainly because I have such wonky ears. With the Poloroid glasses this is not a problem, as they have a neat little adjustable rubber stopper on the arm, so you can wiggle this about until you get everything just right. At first I hadn’t wiggled one side enough and the glasses kept touching my eyelashes, which was driving me nuts, so I made some more adjustments and was well on my way.

I was very daunted by the idea of running twenty miles after my poor show the other week, so was determined to shoo away any negative thoughts and simply break the run up into little bite-size chunks. I got to Greenwich, which was ridiculously busy, then enjoyed the grimy industrial bit that comes next. When I did this run last time it was a Sunday, so felt like a desolate waste land, but this run was alive with the sound of diggers, rock-crushers, telescopic handlers and all manner of other machinery even I don’t know the name of. So much to see (yes, I know most people would run the other way, but I happen to enjoy looking at muddy JCBs). By now, the sun was proving pretty hot, and I had to remember to stop at a shop I had spotted last time to buy some energy drink (I have run out of Orbana), quick stop, gulp, gulp, and on my way. Next stop, the barrier, which looked lovely in the sunshine, and now into unknown territory. It looked like I could go through the visitors centre and pick up the Thames Path again, but I soon found myself looking at a brick wall with two unfortunate men who thought I knew where I was going: ‘Don’t follow me!’ I said ‘I haven’t a clue!’. I asked a security man, who was also clueless, so found myself on a busy road in Woolwich, hoping to find my way back to some delightful scenery. I recognised a roundabout from the London Marathon, wended my way through an estate and joined the river again.

I was getting a bit hot and sticky now, so gloves off to wipe my brow. The sunglasses were staying firmly in place, in fact I had forgotten I was wearing them. My next entertainment spot was at the Woolwich Ferry, a little car ferry and subway, which was ever so busy. Of course, I got myself lost again and was directed by a nice man who seemed to know what he was talking about, and there I was, standing amongst lots of little Anthony Gormleys at the Woolwich Arsenal. So much contrast in one small stretch of water! Things were beginning to feel a bit achey and tired now, not least my mind. I really think I have lost my running nerve in the past few months, I don’t know why, but I just don’t have the same confidence as I used to have. Anyway, I kept going, up and down little paths that were blocked and diverted here and there, hit ten miles with relief, took a gulp of fuel and turned towards home.

This was where the major self-doubt set in and I had to really grit my teeth and get on with it. I did carry my iPod with me, but didn’t listen to it once, I am always a bit concerned it might spoil my thought processes on a really long run, feeling that I will only gain true mental grit by going it alone, no music. Maybe I should really have just put on some music and chilled out a bit! On my return leg through Greenwich I noticed how high the water was – people were leaping away from the edge of the Thames so as not to get splashed. I wanted to be splashed because the heat was beginning to get to me a bit by this point. I paused again to buy more water then took on the two or so miles towards home. This was hard. I even allowed myself to walk some of it, walk, run, walk, run, just get there. I was having my long-run/hot-day craving that I normally only have during the last few miles of a marathon: coke and then another. I was determined to make my run finish outside the shop so I could buy a bottle of coke (I NEVER normally drink coke) and, as I did so, I bumped into Edward and Hector, who had been for a lovely visit to the Horniman Museum and happily cheered me across my imaginary finish-line. Phew.

I popped my sunglasses on my head (I’d say leave them in place because they just got a bit tangled in my hair!), got my coke and strolled home happily to enjoy a lunch of bacon and egg sandwiches on the lawn.

Time: 3 hours 37 minutes 19 seconds

Distance: 20 miles

Average Pace: 10.52

Best Pace: 7.45

Calories: 2393

As for the Poloroid sunglasses, they really did the job, no constant readjustment needed, very light, and they even come with interchangeable lenses, so you can use them in different lights. I think I might let Edward use them for his London-Paris bike ride in April, as I think they would be great for cycling. I might try and persuade him to write a guest blog to let you know all about his upcoming adventure 🙂

And this is what we had for dinner on Saturday night: