Juneathon Week 3, A Round-Up

Are we really into the last full week of Juneathon?! It’s flown by! I always find June flies and start to feel particularly pressured at this stage, as Hector’s birthday approaches. Looking back over last week, it was another varied and fun week of activities, with a good mix of run/ride and swim.

Some highlights of the week were the fun club session on Tuesday evening, where coach Adrian had us sprinting around the park, doing step-ups in the playground, running fast hill repeats over the spirally footbridge, doing *ten* planks in a row and some relays in pairs 🙂 On Thursday I ventured out with my wetsuit to see if I could get into the Serpentine without getting right back out again. I did – my coached session the week before had given me so much confidence – and found myself really enjoying it and pushing myself to swim 2k of the 100m lido (with the occasional flip over to bob around and enjoy the view).

Lido

Lido

As always I loved my ride around the road circuit at the Olympic Velopark, I pretty much smile all the way…Saturday saw me jumping on my bike and heading over to Burgess parkrun as Hilly Fields was cancelled because of the fayre. A whole load of HF runners were there, so a great atmosphere and lots of chatter at the start. It’s very different from Hilly Fields that’s for sure…flat as a pancake! As a result, I found myself pushing hard and running my fastest time this year (not a PB, but so lovely to see I’ve ‘still got it’).

Hilly Fields on tour

Hilly Fields on tour

The most fun of the week probably happened yesterday, with a trip up to the Olympic Park (again, I certainly make use of its ‘legacy’!) with our bikes for a Father’s Day present of a ride on the mountain bike circuit. Edward hired a mountain bike because his hybrid road wheels wouldn’t have withstood such a bashing and off we went.

Happy Father

Happy Father

I think Hector was pleased that it was less ‘mountain’ and more ‘bumps’ – he told me he hadn’t been sure about coming, good for him for going for it anyway! So, we bobbed up and down with lots of whoops and joyous sounds and found a nice little spot to enjoy our picnic in the sun. As we rode around, Hector kept looking over to the road circuit and asked if we could go on there. Of course, I was overjoyed to be able to share this with him, so we left Edward to enjoy the rough and tumble of the mountain course and headed onto the smooth road for a quick three miles. I did feel a bit odd on my mountain bike and wearing jeans, but so lovely to show Hector around.

Smooth

Smooth

We even decided to go there together over the summer holidays and do some road riding 🙂

Monday: A quick lunchtime swim, not a good idea (lane hoggers and ladies-bouncing-up-and-down class)
Tuesday: My favourite summer time club session, with planks, bridge repeats and relays, fun
Wednesday: Lovely evening run with a friend
Thursday: My first solo swim in the Serpentine 🙂
Friday: My weekly date with the Velopark
Saturday: parkrun tourism with friends
Sunday: Super family Father’s Day fun on bikes

All in all, a lovely active week 🙂

Running: 19.2km
Swimming: 3km
Cycling: 56.5km

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PB or not PB?

That is the question. I ran around the track this morning. I wanted to see how fast I could run 5k. My legs have been a bit heavy since Tuesday so I wasn’t expecting much. I set off and, at the end of the first lap I glanced at my Garmin, which wasn’t registering distance or pace, so I fiddled around for a moment and still nothing was happening so I just kept going. Part way round lap 2 it picked up a signal but the pace was something daft like 24 minute miles. On I went, gritting my teeth, slightly disheartened by the lack of cooperation from my wrist mate, but determined to stick to the pace I had reached. When I finished my 5k I was slightly disappointed with the time as it appeared on my watch, but boosted by the kind comments from the gym manager who was marvelling at how ‘strong’ I had looked all the way around 🙂

Now I’m back home I’ve uploaded the run and this is what it says:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/241568849

So, any ideas? Did I run under 26 minutes? I’m hoping the 25.45 ‘moving time’ is the one. If so, I’m getting there, if not, must work harder.

Welly Weather and Running in Company

I got very wet last night. Me and a few other runners. After a very, very long time of wanting to join in, I went down the road to the local running track and ran with my local club. Hoorah! It’s not that I haven’t had the inclination or the motivation to join in, but I have simply been unable to leave the house and run – Tuesday night is football night and Tuesday night has been football night for quite a few years now. The other week Edward informed me that he’s taking a break from Tuesday night football for a while, and would I like to to go along to the running club. I’ve been getting excited ever since.

Now Tuesday came round and so did Hector’s new drumming lesson: a train journey after school, sitting around while he learns about notes and rhythm and types of drums, train journey home then dinner. Phew. But this Tuesday was different: pull on running kit on return from drumming, look at self in mirror and wonder if this is the ‘right sort of kit’ to go running with a club, look disapprovingly at bum in lycra and think: ‘Yes, you need to get out and run’, go to the loo nervously a few times, grab stuff and saunter down the road to join in. It was raining, not a little bit of drizzle, but that big, sweeping sideways sort of rain, accentuated by the flood-lights at the track. I hung about and wondered what to do next. Now, since I started helping out at Parkrun, I have got to know some other runners and my day-to-day travels are punctuated by the odd ‘hello’ and a nod and a smile, so I was soon able to catch someone’s eye and have a chat with a familiar face as more runners gathered around and asked what we were doing tonight. I was introduced to the coach and was informed that we would be doing a mile warm-up around the track then 1200, 800×2 and 4×400 all with a 200m recovery in between, something like that anyway – he told us a few times and I still had to ask someone. And off we went. I didn’t want to exhaust myself during the warm-up, so took it easy and generally tried to hold back a little all the way through the evening, I didn’t want to show myself up by throwing up on my first session!

At first we were pretty much together, then some people pulled away and others trailed behind, there was a real cross-section of abilities, which was great. I was surprised to see just how well-used the track is on a Tuesday night. At one point I looked around as I ran, taking in the various groups going in different directions. I was plodding along in the inside lane as some faster runners from another group sped past on the outside, shorts shorter, limbs longer and leaner and ponytails flickier (always the flicky ponytails). In the centre of the track was a group of youngsters running diagonally across the football pitch, and outside the perimeter fence was a group of very serious-looking chaps being led by a man on a bike, and all of this was with heads down into the driving rain. I was surprised at how chatty it all was, with people catching up and talking about all sorts of things during the recovery sections, all so friendly and welcoming. Before I knew it we were on our last lap and gathering to set off on a warm-down around the park, avoiding being mowed down in the dark by the steam engines in shorts. Everybody said their goodbyes and I jogged home to a delicious noodly dinner cooked by a still slightly disgruntled at not playing football Edward.

This wet weather seems to have come out of the blue, though really, you’d think I’d have the hang of Autumn by now, but I do like to cling to the last remaining drops of summer, determined as I am to wear my Birkenstocks until my toes turn blue. I am a bit more responsible in my roll as a parent though, and swiftly got Hector off to the shops in search of some new wellies to splash about in Muddy Puddles.

Splash!

I’ve been buying wellies for Hector for a few years now, and have mostly gone for the cheaper ones at Sainsburys or Tesco, but last time I was fed-up of them cracking around the ankles after just a few months’ wear, so spent a bit more at Clarks. A few months later and they cracked in exactly the same place! A friend mentioned Crocs wellies, which seem thicker and a better shape for crouching down in rivers and retrieving conkers from under trees, but I can’t seem to find them anywhere. If anyone knows of a decent but inexpensive welly that doesn’t crack then please let me know!

Fast track

I just had to share this morning’s track run with you. I wasn’t even going to go – I couldn’t find my gym membership card and was looking for ways to wuss out, but I went for it and the kind gym man let me in anyway since he knows me now. I had on my lovely NB Union Jack shoes again and my ears were plugged-in to some Audiofuel and off I went. It felt hard at first, and I wondered if I had it in me, but I soon warmed up and lengthened my stride. Each time I came to the long, straight edge of the track, I went a bit faster and picked up the pace again as the music increased in bpm. I was only going to run for as long as the track took me, but I glanced down at my wrist and saw how close I was to 5k and that I could possibly get a good time, so picked it up again.

Distance: 3.11 miles

Time: 26 minutes 51 seconds

Average Pace: 8.38

Best Pace: 5.50

Calories: 377

Yaaaaaayyy! My best ever 5k time is 26 minutes and I was not so far out there, I had even done the cool-down element of the run, so could possibly have kept the pace up a bit to get a better time! As you can probably tell, I’m a bit excited by this. My goal is to run 26 minutes or faster by my birthday on December 30th, so I think I’m going the right way about it 🙂 It’s interesting to see how much slower I am at the Hilly Fields Parkrun, so this confirms that my PB run is not likely to happen there!

Talking of Parkrun, here’s a nice little video filmed in Australia. Of course, we don’t always have the sunshine (though our three runs have so far been beautifully sunny) and we haven’t set up a BBQ yet, but we have coffee and cake at the cafe and we have friendly faces all round, so give the Hilly Fields Parkrun a go 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82LBLUK9sDg

(I tried to embed this, but it wasn’t working for some reason, so just click)

I also want to announce the winner of my Adidas MiCoach game competition. The winner is…Pete Howard, otherwise known as Follystone to his Janathon/Juneathon friends. Enjoy the game Pete!

Visiting the Mizuno Performance Centre

I am a bit behind with this post, having visited the Mizuno Performance Centre way back in the days when the Olympic Games were still the talk of the town. The Performance Centre was based at Centre Point in central London for the duration of the Olympic Games and I was lucky enough to be invited along to the launch of some new shoes called ‘Be’.

Performance Centre

As it was the summer holidays I had my assistant blogger in tow, so was armed with a bag full of pencils and paper and a little bag of chocolate buttons for any real moments of need (they were quite quickly whipped out of the bag when Hector announced loudly in a hushed room that it was boring and he wondered when the man might stop talking!). The man doing all the talking was the designer of the shoes, who told us that they were not designed for running, but for times in between training sessions, to aid running strength and ability. Here is some information about how these shoes came about:

‘The Be takes inspiration from the old Waraji sandals that were worn by the samurai class and foot soldiers during the feudal era of Japan. Fascinated         by why the Waraji were shorter than the feet of those wearing them, Mizuno conducted a series of biomechanical tests to determine the benefits of the toes protruding slightly over the front edge of the sandal’

We were told a lot about the biomechanics of the foot and how the Be has an inner sock which allows the toes to spread as if walking barefoot (these are not barefoot running shoes though). I had a look at some Be shoes and tried a pair on, they are lovely looking shoes, with the women’s design having a nice grey/pink colour-way and they are certainly comfortable. I’m not sure though how many recreational runners would want to spend money on an in-between-training shoe, but I imagine they might be good for someone who has an injury and wants to think carefully about how they look after their feet at all times.

Women’s model

Once ‘The Man’ had stopped talking, we went and had a look around the Performance Centre and had a go at the various activities on offer – you could test your footballing skills and there was also a mini running track to test how quickly you can come out of the blocks.

Checking out the track

You were given some rather nice spikes to try on and could race a friend or try your time against the clock. We just watched because they didn’t have children’s spikes – much to Hector’s annoyance – and were given a good view of the ‘race’ start from the top of the stairs:

Go!

I was also given a lovely pair of Mizuno Wave Rider shoes whilst at the centre, and have really enjoyed running in them since – I’ve had lots of comments about how lovely they are, they certainly stand out! I hadn’t run in Mizuno shoes before, and found them a little firm at first, but they have softened up after a few runs and I now find them just right for the road and a bit of trail – though I wouldn’t want any mud spoiling the lovely shiny toes! I found a page of nice colourful Mizuno shoes over on the Activinstinct website, and they now have the Be in stock as well.

Whilst at the Performance Centre, I was lucky enough to see some beautiful paintings by Hidekichi Shigemoto, and these have now been made into a moving image piece with brush-strokes capturing the movement of the Mizuno athletes in action.

Light-footed and patriotic

I miss the Olympic Games, I miss the Paralympic Games and I miss the uncharacteristically friendly London we encountered during the games. In an attempt to keep the spirit alive, I have been running around in these little lovelies:

Light as a feather

I received them in the post a few weeks ago and was, initially, slightly disappointed that they weren’t more Union Jackish, but have since forgiven their slight subtlety, and have embraced them wholeheartedly. I have always liked New Balance shoes, having had a pair of trail shoes when I first started running all those years ago. They were just lovely: light, bouncy, nicely designed and even waterproof; I was sad to have to replace them when they were no longer as bouncy. I was very pleased to be asked to try out this particular pair of shoes, having seen that they are a lightweight shoe, and they certainly are! You can see here that they have a blown rubber outsole that you can sense straight away, giving just enough cushioning and lots of flexibility.

Soleful

When I took them out of their box Hector took a great deal of interest in them, turning them round, looking at the sole and trying to take out the inner section. When I asked him what he was looking for, he said: ‘Is there a toy* in here?’. Shoe manufacturers, you are missing a trick, a little Mo Farrah would be just perfect as a little heel mascot 😉 There are some nice details such as the ‘British Miler’ logo on the tongue and the nicest – Union Jack – aglets I’ve ever seen.

Nice tongue

I couldn’t dirty these chaps up in the park, so went straight to the track. I was advised to go up half a size and, having had some NBs that stubbed my toes previously, I listened to this advice and ended up with a size six. As I walked to the track, I wasn’t sure if this was such a good idea, as there was a bit of heel slip but this stopped once I started running – I guess some clever lace-tying could rectify this potential problem (though I did find the laces a bit long, and had to do a double knot to stop them trailing and coming undone). These shoes are lovely. They felt comfortable straight away, they were light, so light in fact that I was totally unaware of them and could just focus on my running. I had a great session with some good paces hit and, when I went in to the gym, the manager said: ‘I saw you running on the track, you were fast! I was surprised!’ (I’m not entirely sure about that last bit, but let us imagine he was being nice)! Woo-hoo! Someone said I was fast! I have decided that these will now be reserved for track sessions, they are my special edition Union Jack lucky shoes and I don’t want them to lose any of their gloss.

*Hector has a pair of sport shoes that have a toy hidden in the heel.

Baguettes for legs

In case you were wondering, I’m still hard at it for the Viceathon cause, well the eating baked goods bit anyway. I had visions of running every day while Edward had a week off work, but bugger me, didn’t we just go out and do fun things every day instead?! I have managed a handful of runs this week, one of which took place on a running track on Good Friday at 8am. You read right. I was delighted to see that our local leisure centre have started a series of outdoor classes for the summer: bootcamp, Nordic walking and – woohoo! – running club. So, I ran over on Friday morning to find it was just me and the instructor. This could have been slightly awkward, but I sort of know him a bit anyway because his family live across the road from us, and he was very kind and gave me my very own tailored one-to-one session. It was superb. I pushed myself running the five 400m repeats and managed to maintain my pace throughout, with only one moment where I very nearly threw up. This session actually made my legs ache, which is always a good measure of how hard I’ve worked (this doesn’t happen very often!).

On Easter Monday I kept on looking out of the window and saying ‘urgh!’ until I eventually decided it wasn’t going to stop raining, and took myself out anyway. It was quite lovely actually – there was hardly anyone around, apart from a few grumpy runners and two scallies who I was delighted to see were carrying a large potted plant through the park: ‘Ah’ I thought ‘how nice that they are taking an interest in horticulture’ and I smiled appreciatively at them. As I ran on it dawned on me that the big bushy plant was in fact marijuana and they were taking advantage of the deserted park to take it for a walk.

Today’s run was rubbish. I made the mistake earlier of saying on Twitter that I had ‘run a crappy six miles’ which, when I read it back, seemed very dismissive and wrongly worded. What I meant was that the experience itself was awful, I was pleased to have run over six miles, but hadn’t particularly enjoyed it. I really wanted to get my Viceathon debt down, so aimed to run a bit further than usual, but as soon as I set out I could tell things weren’t right. I felt heavy, tired and wheezy and ended up resorting to popping into McDonald’s to use their loo (this is a place I only ever venture into in running gear, head down, eyes on the little lady sign). I enjoyed taking  in the madness of Greenwich as film set, seeing the ‘Les Miserables’ scenery, complete with gigantic elephant. I then crossed over into the park where preparations are underway for the Olympic equestrian events. All this distraction didn’t help get me up The Hill, and I had to pause halfway and pretend to admire the view as I found enough breath to make it up to the top.

Greenwich, France

So, the Vice part of Viceathon has taken over somewhat this week, with home-made bread picnics and Easter Panatone given by visiting friends and Edward’s lovely little simnel cakes…and not much running. I did, however do a bit of cycling, and up hill at that, so will take advantage of this to shave off some miles (using a version of JogBlog’s 1 unit=2 cycled miles).

Edward's Simnel Cupcakes

I’ve done some workings out in my diary and have arrived at a figure of 10.94 miles in debt. I can get out tomorrow morning and work that down a bit further, but Edward is back to work on Monday and Hector is not back at school until Thursday…excuses, excuses.

Beach-comber

A year ago today we were in Brighton, stuffing ourselves with pasta and getting all excited about the Brighton Marathon. On Tuesday we went for a day trip there, and it all came happily back to me. Good luck to all those running tomorrow, it’s a fantastic place and a fantastic race.