Not in

I, like many other hopeful runners, stepped over the Virgin London Marathon magazine that was on my doormat the other day as I came back from the park. I peered at it hopefully, but left it there after reading the word ‘commiserations’. I did go back later and pick it up to torture myself looking at photos of people running, and enjoying, the London Marathon. Oh well, I guess I knew I wouldn’t get in, it took me six attempts last time so I should think about another challenge for next year. I posted my sad news on Facebook and had a few interesting suggestions, including this wonderfully named event in Cumbria. I think this is the kind of thing I would like to do actually, it seems friendly, challenging and most of all scenic. I have spent some time in Kirkby Stephen before, when I did a residency there, so I know that the hardest part will be not stopping too much to enjoy the view. Other ideas were the Paris Marathon and the Rotterdam Marathon.

But as I have thought about it this week, I have realised that actually I might like to try a longer, more regular sort of challenge, something that could keep me on my toes for a whole year. How about running 26 miles every week, I don’t mean all in one go, but over the course of a week? I know many people cover this sort of mileage each week anyway, but this would be hard for me and would mean running about six days a week and would take a great deal of commitment. I like the idea of something that I could sustain over a year rather than cramming into a few months at the beginning to make it to the marathon. To start me off, I will have the boost of the icy new cousin/little brother of Juneathon, Janathon! As the winner of Juneathon 2010, I feel I have to pull out all the stops and grit my teeth over the frosty month of January to see if I can top my Juneathon mileage. We’ll see!

In the meantime I will be supporting/following/cheering on Warriorwoman, who did get a ballot place in the London Marathon, lucky thing.

This morning I was delighted to see the rain had stopped so I pulled on my gear and left the boys constructing complicated Lego vehicles with cogs and all sorts. I quickly realised my Garmin wasn’t going to last the whole run, with just an hour’s juice on the clock, so asked Edward if I could borrow his iPhone. I had it in the iPhone armband, which can feel a bit like you are having your blood pressure taken, but is certainly firmly kept in place by the wide velcro strip. I felt good on this run but my knees were feeling slightly creaky; I really could do with a new pair of shoes. I had aimed to run ten miles, but the iPhone kept saying ‘Low Battery’, so I knew this was going to die on me as well, which it did at around 7 miles. At a guess I would say the remainder of the run was about two and a half miles, so just short of ten. I had another of my Goodness Shakes powders, this time using the gigantic bottle that came with them instead of the smaller water bottle I used last week, this does make a difference and meant I didn’t have to filter out powdery lumps with my teeth.

Now we will make the most of this glorious sunshine and ride up to Hampstead Heath for some leaf-kicking and conker-picking.


Left or right?

I got lost. Well, not exactly lost, just over-shot my turning by a couple of miles and found myself having to run that little bit further to make it to my family meeting point. With the Cardiff Half Marathon just three weeks away now, I decided to run ten miles over the weekend and, in my attempt to fit this all in with family life, we agreed to meet at Coram’s Fields, which is near Russell Square. It was a gorgeous morning and a delight to run along the canal, with the sunlight sparkling on the water. Edward suggested running all the way along the canal to Victoria Park, then taking the Regent’s Canal towards King’s Cross.

The first bit is very familiar territory, being a well-trodden path of mine, and I saw the usual sights and encountered the usual handful of runners, then I ventured slightly further than I have been for a long time along the towpath, in fact it’s probably been over a year and a half since I ran down that way, so I wasn’t entirely sure what lay ahead. I remembered from my London Marathon training runs that you could hit a bit of a no-way-through point on arriving at the Olympic site, so was pleased to find my way through easily and to enjoy the view of a growing cluster of stadia and accompanying buildings through a high security fence (this is better than the secretive hoardings that used to be here). As you run along here, it is interesting to look both ways and observe the vast differences between the east side of the water and the west: one gleams with newness and is dripping with the money invested in it, while across the water you see graffiti-plastered industrial buildings lying empty or crumbling with decay. It turns out I should have been on that side of the canal. That says it all!

I felt myself beaming at other runners along this stretch, everyone seeming to glow with the excitement of being so close to the scene of future sporting achievement and glory, and I felt myself picking up the pace as I imagined the times being beaten behind those elaborate structures to my left. As I enjoyed this daydream I noticed the canal branching out west with no way of getting over to join it. ‘Oh well’, I thought ‘I can pick it up further along’. Of course, this didn’t happen and I found myself in a busy gyratory asking some workmen the way to Victoria Park, only to be greeted with them pointing and saying ‘Black tunnel, black tunnel’. I was heading more towards Greenwich Park than Victoria Park…via the Blackwall Tunnel. I know this spot only too well after we found ourselves stuck here on our way to a wedding, with the tunnel closed for repair. Not exactly the lovely canal-side run I had planned, but not the end of the world.

The next leg of the run was Bow Road. I found myself looking into the distance at the gherkin, thinking ‘If I head that way, I’ll be able to find my way to Coram’s Fields’, and speeding up at the same time, to make it go a bit quicker. I stopped once or twice to look at bus-stop maps and ask a girl if I was heading the right way (‘You could get on a train’ she said!) but realised I would get very cold if I didn’t keep on running. I was soon passing through Mile End then Whitechapel (oh, how I would love to have stopped to tuck into some delicious food at Tayyabs…), where some people were passing through the doors of the Whitechapel Gallery, which tempted me to pause…I didn’t. Now I started to wonder if I should head north, or just keep heading west in a straight line. The west won and I passed into the city.

Anyone who has ever run the Crisis Square Mile race will know that a GPS is useless in the city, and I was reminded of this here. My signal disappeared straight away, and came and went for the rest of this leg of the journey. I passed all the sights: the gherkin, the Royal Exchange, the Bank of England and all of the many tiny and ancient churches along the way. It was about here that my Garmin said I had run ten miles but, when I next looked down, it had jumped back to nine miles, I felt a bit disheartened by this. I did take a turn up towards Moorgate then passed by Smithfield Market. Not far now. Eventually, I was delighted to see Grays Inn Road, then remembered the last time I had walked along here recently when I had a wisdom tooth removed at the dental hospital: I was weaving around like a drunk apparently!

Next turning on the left was Guilford Street, where I gave it one last effort and rolled up at the gates to the playground where there was a family fun day with fire engines, police vans, drumming, face painting and the usual cheeky goats, rabbits and chickens. If you have children and are in central London, it’s a fantastic place to let them run around and play, we often end up spending a whole day there. Of course, I headed straight to the sandpit where I was bound to find Hector digging away. ‘Hello Mummy, did you have a good run?’.

Time: 1 hour 57 minutes 12 seconds

Distance: 11.03 miles (I am saying it was 12 though because the signal was caput)

Average Pace: 10.38

Best Pace: 7.13

Calories: 1141

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.


Come on England!

Really, they have to win, or the country will be in such a grump. So, I charged up my Garmin and tried it out to see if it still works, but it’s talking nonsense so I took my F50 and footpod with me instead. The F50 was saying ‘LoBatt’ so I didn’t hold up much hope for it lasting the run. One thing I noticed while it was still going was that, as my hand is at a funny angle when I’m running with the buggy, it kept switching off, so there was a whole stretch where it was off when I thought it was on. Hmmmm. The good thing about the brick that is a Garmin 201 is that it switches on and stays on until you press really, really hard. So, today’s run is carefully traced along the roads of Gmaps again, and I will try and get a new battery for the F50 for tomorrow.

I noticed some beautiful blossom on our run:

In support of the England players, Hector and I put the flags back on the running buggy, this made for some jolly comments. We had a couple of toot-toots from white vans and a few ‘Come on England’s interestingly from African people. Seeing those South African fans yesterday made me realise that the England fans really need to pull their socks up and give some encouragement!

Stats for Juneathon Day 23

Type of run: Pushing a running buggy

Time: Not known

Distance: 3.38 miles

Average Pace: Not known

Best Pace: Not known

Calories: Not known


Make yourself at home

Someone came to view our house during this Juneathon run and I got back to find the loo seat up (certainly wasn’t up when we left). Talk about making yourself at home, would have given the loo a bit of a clean if I’d known…

It’s funny, this June weather. I wasn’t sure what to take out clothes wise this morning, the clouds were looming overhead, so I dressed Hector as if it might rain but with potential for sun. It’s now scorchio out there and it’s a good job I took some shorts to change into (oh, the many, many things you have to think about when you are a mum). We went swimming this morning. It has occurred to me that I haven’t been counting all the peripheral activities I do each day, just my running. If I did include these other things it would take me all day to log and keep track of the stats, so it’s not really worth it. We walk miles in a day, often go swimming (my part is more of a squat in the pool with the odd stroke here and there to catch up), run around in the playground, climb up climbing frames, a bit of dance and a lot of gardening, all good active things, but I’ll stick to a running Juneathon.

The view from the top of a climbing thing at the playgroup we went to. Lots of trains pass by in many directions, a good spot for a little boy.

Some decoration alongside the canal.

Stats for Juneathon Day 16

Type of run: Pushing a running buggy

Time: 35 minutes 56 seconds

Distance: 3.34 miles

Average Pace: 10.46

Best Pace: 8.13

Calories: 364

So, I have been running every day for sixteen days now. Last night I hopped on the scales to see if the pounds are dropping away with all this added exercise. Not an ounce. Not a sausage…or is that it, too many sausages? I really need to lose some weight, and if this level of running isn’t going to do it, I need to address my diet. Any ideas anyone? Any inspiration?


Another day another playground another run

Word is the new playground at Springfield Park is open! We passed by the other week on our bikes but there were still railings around the play area and Hector was most put out, so I thought it would be good to run down there and have a look today. This means a lovely run along the canal, and all the interesting sights that brings. We like to play a game of ‘spot the cormorant’ – they duck under the water and don’t pop up again for ages, usually miles away from where they went down. What fun! I just managed to catch this one before it disappeared again:

The playground was indeed open and it has a lovely sand area, with a fantastic wooden boat to climb on and in and some springy thingies to bob up and down on…

It is super hot out there today (they said it would be 27 degrees on the weather report this morning) so running is hard-going. I am finding it hard to keep on top of all the extra washing, so have ended up wearing odd race t-shirts that are normally reserved for decorating, they are surprisingly ok and I enjoy the extra length but they are certainly clingy in this sweaty weather! I also need to invest in some new running bras as I ended up putting on a clean but still damp one this morning and, while I’m at it, some new running shoes wouldn’t go amiss! Who said running is a cheap sport?

On our way out of the park we had to pause a while and watch this man at work. He was preparing the cricket pitch for the weekend.

Stats for Juneathon Day 4

Type of run: Pushing buggy

Time: 51 minutes 23 seconds

Distance: 5.01 miles

Average Pace: 10.16

Best Pace: 6.53

Calories: 557

This morning I entered the UF Dance Half Marathon again – I did it last year in scorching hot weather, but really enjoyed how friendly it was, so decided to give it another go. I’m a bit disappointed that the Finsbury Parkrun is cancelled tomorrow, something to do with a concert set-up, I’ll just have to do my own 5k instead.


Challenges of running every day

It’s hard! Octoberthon is going well in many ways, but it’s such a challenge getting out every day. On Tuesday I didn’t manage it. It rained and rained and rained all day and Hector and I were all ready to go at one point and it started chucking it down again. We spent some time at the library and I decided I would head out when Edward got home…only he didn’t get back until just before nine and I didn’t fancy the streets at that time, mingling with the ladies of the night and their associates. Oh well.

On Wednesday the weather really picked up, it was one of those autumn days that makes me smile: crisp, fresh and sunny, so we headed down to the canal.

Time: 33 minutes 13 seconds

Distance: 3.17 miles

Average Pace: 10.29

Best Pace: 8.21

Calories: 358

Thursday was just as lovely, if a little bit windy, so we did the run-to-swimming-lesson-and-run-back-home run. I do enjoy this, it’s so much more enjoyable than the bus, but it’s hard putting on slightly damp running clothes after emerging from a deliciously warm swimming pool!

Time: 50 minutes 45 seconds

Distance: 4.74 miles

Average Pace: 10.42

Best Pace: 7.40

Calories: 453

Friday was another gorgeous autumnal delight, but I waited until the evening to run and really regretted it as the skies opened up just at the point where I said: ‘Ok, I’ll go running now’. I stared at it for a bit, procrastinated some then realised it wasn’t going to stop and I should just go for it. The rain did something great to my speed motivators as I kept up quite some pace for the whole three miles. It made me realise I might just crack that 25 minute 5k I would love to achieve. My enthusiasm was knocked somewhat as I neared home and heard some lads shout out: ‘Come on big arse!’. Hmmmm, thanks for that.

Time: 25 minutes 29 seconds

Distance: 3.02 miles

Average Pace: 8.26

Best Pace: 6.04

Calories: 298

Yesterday we all set out early on our bikes to Hampstead Heath where we enjoyed a flask of tea and our lunch near the lovely Pergola and then wandered through the trees and had a play in the playground. I saw Ricky Gervaise at one point running through the heath, looking like it was hard work. Glad it’s not just me that finds the heath a challenge! Talking of challenges, the outward trip to the heath is full on hills, hills, hills and I realise how useless I am at cycling; I might be running fit, but cycling makes my legs scream. As a result I decided not to run yesterday, I was simply worn out.

Since I did my big walk a couple of weeks ago I have been experiencing a new pain in my left knee, on the inside, some sort of patella thing I guess, probably just caused by all that walking and stair climbing. The funny thing is that it only hurts when I walk, it’s absolutely fine when I run and was ok when I cycled yesterday. This morning I set off to Finsbury Park as I fancied running along the path that we rode on yesterday. My knee was hurting though. I ran as far as the park, stopped and stretched and decided to run back home. As well as the knee, my right shin was aching too, so I didn’t want to push it too far and cause long-term problems. Damn it. I don’t know if it was because I had decided to run back home or if it was because I had warmed up, but the pain and the ache both eased a bit on the return journey…

Time: 33 minutes 30 seconds

Distance: 3.19 miles

Average Pace: 10.29

Best Pace: 8.03

Calories: 337