A round-up and look forward

I know, I know, it’s the middle of January and I’m only now rounding up my year, tsk! It’s been a busy time, but in a good way, with numerous volunteering opportunities, coaching and leading runs. I guess another delay to writing this post is the sheer scale of what I have to round up from 2016! It was a fantastic year, with big changes and big challenges.

Family volunteers

Family volunteers

I started my year by qualifying as a UK Athletics Coach in Running Fitness and starting my role as trainer for GoodGym Lewisham, running to do good in our community, making a difference and growing our friendships and fitness at the same time. With my birthday present at the end of 2015 being a place in the Outlaw Holkham Half-Ironman, my goal for the year was pretty clear, leading to many sessions on the turbo, hours of laps at the pool and a continuation of the consistent running that happens anyway. My ongoing goal to improve my swim speed and to overcome my open-water and race panic saw me proudly swimming my 5k Swimathon at the Aquatics Centre, my favourite pool.

Medal moment

Medal moment

In September I dived straight in (or rather schlumphed heavily into the Serpentine with hundreds of other people) and went for it with the first ever Swim Serpentine. I can’t say I’ve particularly progressed much with the open water swimming, having pootled, heads-up all the way round, chatting to each and every marshal en route! There’s a lot of work to be done, so I’ll be back this year and swimming it with my head down and with determination (my favourite bits were the hot tub and sauna at the end. Ahem).

Mega medal

Mega medal

As always, my favourite sporting moments have been those shared with others and, in June, we took Hilly Fields parkrun on tour to Paris, enjoying the beautiful course, cheering on friends to super finish times and, best of all, encouraging and cajoling Hector around his first ever full 5k! What a wonderful weekend, running, eating, socialising and sightseeing!

On tour

On tour

Other highlights have been supporting and facilitating others to push themselves and reach their goals. Our wonderful parkrun and junior parkrun are growing all the time and, with the introduction of a tail-walker, we welcome runners, joggers and walkers every week, with nobody finishing last. Once again, we put together a massive team, to take charge of the baggage trucks in Greenwich Park, taking care of the belongings of the many nervous runners, about to embark on the Virgin London Marathon. One of my favourite days of the year (more on that later…).

Top team

Top team

In July I gritted my teeth and tackled my first half-ironman in the beautiful surrounds of Holkham Hall. We had an incredible family and friends weekend, enjoying camping in the grounds, playing on the beach, fuelling up with fish and chips (yup, I’m such a pro) and slipping in a couple of little sporting events for good measure.

Knackered

Knackered

The summer was an active one, with coastal runs and sea swims in beautiful Cornwall and a real family treat, a trip to Club La Santa in Lanzarote. What a dream! Massive swimming pools (often all to myself), classes on tap and group runs and rides to keep us happy…I think we’ll be going back (Hector hasn’t stopped talking about it!).

Representing

Representing

In September I returned to the excellent London Duathlon, where I had my best experience in my three years of this race (though not a PB, so close, next time!). My race report was featured in 220 Triathlon magazine, which caused my Mum to squeal in W.H.Smith 😉

Spread

Spread

My last post was all about getting out, whatever the weather and volunteering certainly encourages that! As a family, we always try to embrace whatever the weather throws our way and our Christmas holiday involved getting out, being active and making the most of what’s on our doorstep, with a brilliant day in the Olympic Park.

Family fun

Family fun

To round off what was a great year, I realised that, if ran as much as I could at Hilly Fields parkrun in the run up to Christmas, I could reach my 100th run on New Year’s Day. With some incredible support and juggling from my fellow run directors and a few slow-paced, flu-ridden strolls, I made it – Peckham Rye parkrun AND Hilly Fields on New Year’s Day, making it to 100!

The double

The double

An epic start to 2017! In the run up to Christmas, I was in bed, totally knocked out by ‘proper’ flu, none of this ‘man’ flu, proper, can’t move a muscle flu. As I lay there, I scanned twitter to see that the London Marathon were running a competition to win a place in the 2017 race. Typing in the answer to the question, along with probably hundreds of others, I thought ‘That would be nice, but I doubt it will happen’. Weeeeeellll, I won! There’s nothing like a marathon on the horizon to focus your training! It will be my fourth marathon, but it’s been a while. When I ran previously, I wasn’t part of a running club, or part of an amazing running community, so this time will be very different. Not sure I’ll be able to work on the baggage trucks this year, but hey!

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A mile in my, er, cossie

I have been thinking I need to swim in a 50m pool ahead of my triathlon in just over a week (!!). I could have jumped on my bike – or the bus – and headed over to the actual pool I will be swimming in at Crystal Palace, but I decided to take the chance to try out the London 2012 Olympic Aquatics Centre. Once I’d made the decision I was ridiculously excited and twitched as the DLR snaked slowly towards Stratford, and there it was, Zaha Hadid’s ‘pringle’ in all it’s watery glory.

Temptingly close

Temptingly close

As I approached the building, I mingled with a group of school children, who were going there for their lesson – imagine that! The woman on the desk was friendly and directed me towards the ‘Competition Pool’, and my excitement levels rose a little bit more. The changing rooms were big, with lots of space to change and plenty of lockers (take a pound coin) and a row of hair-dryers for people who don’t have hair that goes into a frizz when meeting with direct heat. I quickly changed into my swimming gear and sauntered out to the pool, where I was told to put my towel in my locker, which filled me with slight horror because I like to minimise the time spent exposing flesh between the changing room and the water.

Competition Pool

Competition Pool

The (lovely) 50m pool was divided into slow, medium and fast lanes and swimmers quietly carved up and down, respectfully allowing faster swimmers to over-take and finding a nice space to do their own thing (none of that hanging about at the end, chatting lark here, thank goodness). I assessed the pace and opted for a ‘slow’ lane for my breast-stroke warm-up, then ducked under to the ‘medium’ lane for my faster lengths (I really should accept that I am a ‘fast’ lane swimmer and stand my watery ground there). I was worried about getting into the 50m pool at my triathlon and feeling overwhelmed by the size and depth of it all (no shallow end), but this felt great, no problem. I had to get my head round the counting lengths thing – two ‘normal’ lengths for each 50m length…it went quicker. Before I knew it, I had swum 60 ‘normal’ lengths, so did four more to make it a mile. I didn’t want to get out, it felt so good to be in such an amazing space, the pool where all those medals were won two years ago. I looked up at the diving boards as I swam, marvelling at how anyone could throw themselves off. I think I might just make this a regular trip – all that loveliness for just £3.50!

Splashy selfie

Splashy selfie

Getting involved

The past week has been all about the Paralympic Games. On Wednesday I got on my mountain bike and Hector got on his Isla Bike and off we headed to Deptford to track down the Paralympic Torch Relay. This journey is a new thing, Hector has usually ridden in the child seat on the back of Edward’s bike, but is now confident enough to cycle the four or so miles there and back, what a joy! Though my old mountain bike has been dependable, I do now yearn for something a bit more lady-like, something I can cruise around town on in a skirt and not have to get changed into hot jeans whenever I want to pop to the shops, something like this would do the trick. Thanks. So, we arrived in Deptford for a pre-torch swim, and while we were in the pool it started to rain, boo. Lunch was eaten at the wonderful ‘Train Cafe’, otherwise known as The Deptford Project, and we did our usual read-every-book-in-the-childrens’-section at the library. Gradually the library got busier and busier and the rain came down heavier and heavier and news came in that the torch was running two hours late. Oh my. Thank goodness for the numerous friends and neighbours we bumped into, who kept us entertained and gave us the energy to stick it out until the sun came out and around the bend came the Paralympic Torch.

The torch team arrives

Deptford Lounge looking golden and lovely

It was a challenge convincing Hector he should get on his – now wet – bike and cycle home when it was soon-to-be dinner time and the rain was coming down, but he did it. True grit.

And over to the incredible Olympic Park for some  more true grit on Friday. We were lucky enough to see both the Olympic Beach Volleyball and the Modern Pentathlon due to generous friends with spare tickets, but our family day out to the Olympic Stadium for the Paralympic athletics had been booked long ago. I don’t think I have smiled this  much in a very long time. The atmosphere was fantastic all the way there, with even the guard on the DLR taking our photo as we sat up front, Hector ‘being the driver’. Crowds poured out of Stratford Station with Gamesmakers high-fiving all the way and little glimpses of the stadia prompting ‘oohs’ and ‘aahhs’ all round.

We’re in!

It was a truly inspiring day, with a combination of track and field events and the general buzz of the stadium to entertain us. My highlight at this point was seeing Shelly Woods in action, especially after I had the opportunity to meet and run with her a few months ago, but we certainly weren’t the only ones backing Shelly – she even commented in an interview that the crowd was amazing, the best support she had ever received. In addition to this, I think one of Hector’s highlights was seeing Mandeville close up, the real Mandeville.

The Real Mandeville

It’s been great having the Olympic/Paralympic buzz back in London, and the excitement at the number of medals and amazing performances our Team GB athletes have been putting in is at an all time high, something I noticed on Friday was that you get more records and PBs for your money, every race or event seemed to offer up a Paralympic Record or World Record, so it’s not surprising that the crowd were jumping for joy.

In the stadium

On Sunday I think we will head out to see the wheelchair marathon and then enjoy the closing ceremony. Then it’s back to school 😦 ‘Inspire a generation, inspire a generation…’ I must keep this in my mind when the ticker tape flutters away.

Win, and train with Jessica Ennis!

I know, how exciting is that?! With Olympic fever now being swiftly followed by Paralympic fever, all you armchair athletes are hopefully being inspired to get up off your rear ends and give a new sport a go – I’ve certainly been seeing many more runners, cyclists and general fitness-seeking types about since London 2012 hit our screens. I was given the chance to up my activity levels by having a go at the brand new Adidas MiCoach Game but, since the game is accessed via Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move for PlayStation 3, and I have no such thing in my possession, I thought I would hand over this opportunity to you lovely people.

You may have gathered that I know absolutely nothing about computer gaming, so won’t even begin to try to explain how it all works, so you should watch the video here. Watching this made me wish I did have access to a games console and could get in some extra sessions in the comfort of my own home (with the curtains drawn I might add!). There are programmes featuring 18 of Adidas’ athletes across six different sports so there is something for everyone here – I imagine Edward would be elbowing me out of the way to try out the footie sessions. Watching Jessica Ennis in gold-medal-winning action at the Olympic Games made me want to get out there and train hard and, if this game can get your abs anywhere near as rippling as hers, then it has to be worth a go!

So, what do you have to do? Just send me an email (adele [at] adeleprince.com) with ‘Train with Jess’ in the subject line before September 16th and I will pick a winner at random after this date. The winner will be informed by email and then announced here so we can chase them up on their MiCoach training progress later on 😉

In the meantime, you can keep up-to-date with MiCoach on Facebook and with regular Tweets over on Twitter.

Inspire a generation

I love this line I keep seeing around London as we visit the various Olympic events, and I see evidence of this legacy around me all the time. On Friday evening I dragged myself away from the Olympic coverage to the gym (where I was delighted to discover I could watch the women’s 5k final whilst stepping up and down on a machine), as I walked alongside the running track on my way in, I was delighted and slightly amused to see a family making use of the track, little future Mos or Usains. On Saturday I went out for a run (in my gorgeous new Mizunos – more to follow in the next blog post) and immediately felt a stronger running presence as I covered a hot and sticky four miles. During those four miles I counted a total of eighteen runners and a group of Nordic walkers, far more than I would normally encounter on this run, the Olympic effect in action. It’s a shame that I also noted that out of these eighteen, only three acknowledged me with a nod or a smile, so not entirely buzzing from the glow of the games. Someone who is buzzing is Hector – everything is a competition and results in awarding gold, silver or bronze to us for our effort in getting dressed, eating breakfast and other everyday activities. I decided to go with this enthusiasm the other day when he said that he really wanted to go running with me. We took it slowly, and I had to try and hold him back a bit as he tried to sprint the first few minutes. We jogged, walked, ‘stretched’ (I must film this, it’s very funny) and picked blackberries, always best to take it slowly at first 🙂

Last week were in Poland on holiday, where a walk up a hill rewarded us with this view:

Fresh air

Our descent was slightly less taxing, as we took the chair lift silently through the tree-tops:

Gliding

This was quite a challenge for me as I have an irritating fear of heights and had already decided I wasn’t going on the chair lift but, when I got there, and Hector was really keen, I decided to stop being such an idiot and went for it. It came round really quickly and the little Polish chap shoved it behind me – cue yelp – and I tentatively shuffled my way back in the seat and held on tight. I was suddenly confronted with a steep drop ahead of me and found myself taking deep breaths and looking at the tree tops. Eventually I acclimatised and overcame  my terrors slightly by tentatively turning my head and loosening my grip on the hand rail. It was quite lovely gliding silently through the trees, feeling like we were the only people in the world. I did feel like I was the only runner in Poland. I dutifully packed my running gear and, as we had spent time standing on our bathroom scales with our luggage in an attempt to avoid being charged for over-stuffing our bags, I felt I should at least pull on my kit once during our stay; I managed two runs. Each run was done before breakfast, while everyone else faffed around with bathrooms and the like, and I took myself up a steep hill in the heat. Not one runner crossed my path. In the park, no runners were to be seen on the nice new paths that had been recently laid, and no runners were seen gasping for breath as we took in the views ahead of the white-knuckle chair lift ride. On our last evening in Poland, we found ourselves in Krakow (that’s ‘krakoof’, by the way, not ‘krakoff’ or ‘krak-oww’ – I was repeatedly corrected each time I attempted to say a word in Polish, and this one I got right) and as we drove away from our parking spot near the city park, I could see some dark figures circling the edge of the grass in the cool evening air, runners! It seems, yes, there are runners in Poland, but they have the sense to stay inside when the weather is blisteringly hot, that’ll explain the look I got from a Babcia carrying her shopping up the hill.