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

 

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Janathon Day 9: Twitching

This morning’s run was a darn sight more lovely than yesterday’s, partly due to the bright, crisp weather and partly due to waiting until I had eaten my mountain of porridge before setting off. I decided I wanted to run seven miles this morning, so headed down the Waterlink Way again (or ‘up’ as Edward pointed out, heading south, but upstream, hmmm). The massive puddles have trickled away slightly, so my nice white shoes didn’t get too muddy, and I picked up the pace as I crossed Wickes car park and back onto the route. There has been lots of talk about when it is safer to run, how we feel more vulnerable in the dark and so on, and I found myself fixating on a man who I passed at this point. He was walking on his own and was bundled up against the weather, wearing shiny black leather gloves. It was these gloves that I became obsessed with, imagining them to be ‘strangler gloves’. Anyway, I soon put him to the back of my mind when I encountered a few more people, walking dogs, riding bikes and generally enjoying the path and the glorious sunshine.

I used to run around the Tottenham and Walthamstow Marshes, and always felt pretty safe here, having crossed the expanse of overgrown grasses many times over the course of a few years and I think that, as you get to know a route, you begin to sort of ‘trust’ it to take care of you. You get to know the sort of person you may encounter, the terrain, the nooks and crannies and the alternative exit points if you do feel at all vulnerable. This is what is missing on the new routes I am exploring, I don’t really know where I am going, how long it will take me to reach such a point, and I don’t know how well used the paths are. This will change over time. I know see why Jogblog misses the marshes so much and finds country running such a challenge.

I ran past the gigantic Sainsburys that Hector and I spotted earlier in the week, and followed the signs for Beckenham Palace Park, which took me through an estate and up towards a busy road, where I crossed and followed the sign into another estate, not really what I had in mind! I continued around and past a huge new school (Sedgehill) which looked rather like an out-of-town business park, slap bang in the middle of an estate, then found myself at the train station. Here, I didn’t know which way to go, so turned and ran back towards home. I think I need to look at the map again and work out the correct route because I think the park will be worth it. On my return leg, I was happily saying cheery ‘hello’s to fellow walkers/runners/cyclists etc and enjoying the scenery when I saw a flash of blue out of the corner of my eye, the kingfisher! I say ‘the kingfisher’ because Edward and I have seen a kingfisher a couple of times now, along the stretch of river near our house, and I imagine there is just one pair in the area. So far I have only ever witnessed a blur of turquoise, but today I was treated to a full view of him perching on a branch, not once, not twice, but three times! What an incredible sight!

And this is what the ‘tyaps’, as Hector says it, got up to while I ran:

As you can see, there’s quite a lot of decorating to be done, but with a helper like this, with his own ‘work clothes’, it will be all the more fun.

Janathon day 9:

Time: 1 hour 12 minutes 5 seconds

Distance: 7.03 miles

Average Pace: 10.15

Best Pace: 7.51

Calories: 751

 

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.

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

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