How many Juneathoners does it take to…

…drink a bottle of champagne?

This many (and me, taking the photo, and Edward, running around with Hector)!

On Saturday, a few of us got together in Hyde Park for a post-Juneathon get-together and celebration. Some of us decided it might be fun to go for a little run:

Then we shared a picnic and drank champagne:

And I was presented with my delightfully pink Vibram Five Fingers by Adam from Fitness Footwear, my prize for winning Juneathon 2010:

The run was led by Angela, who runs with the Serpentine Running Club, so knows Hyde Park very well. It was to be a 5k run, but I think it was a little closer to 4 miles, but can’t say for sure because my temperamental Garmin lost its signal part way round. It was lovely to run with some fellow Juneathoners, there was no way I could keep up with Angela as she is a six-minute miler, so I ran and chatted with Sean from Audiofuel who very kindly stayed back with me. I was impressed with Adam, Grant and William for keeping up with speedy Angela, but happily tagged along at my usual pace, though I do find it hard to chat and run, sorry Sean if I was a bit, well, gaspy! Meanwhile, Edward played with Hector, Cathy and Susan set up our picnic area and Shaun had fun on Grant’s fixie.

Time: 36 minutes 16 seconds

Distance: 3.22 miles

Average pace: 11.17

Calories: 308

(yup, weird stats when we were running around 9.30 minute miles!)

Since I found out I had won Juneathon, and would be the proud recipient of a pair of Vibrams, I have been thinking about the way I run, my gait and about barefoot running in general. My friends Nick and Nadine both wear Vibrams as everyday, out-and-about shoes, so they were singing their praises, and Nick even lent my his copy of  ‘Born to Run’ to really try to win me round. I have been conscious of my footfall as I run around the house and garden after Hector, noticing that I do tend to land towards the front of my foot when barefoot, and I wonder if this anything to do with being trained as a contemporary dancer, where the emphasis is always on lifting your weight up and forwards, keeping your feet underneath you and running with a lightness that allows you to seemingly float forwards (a-ha-ha-ha, I so wish I still had that kind of grace when I run!).

When I came to put on the Vibrams, I found it a bit tricky, but Adam suggested putting my foot into them on the ground, slipping my toes into the little individual sections and then pulling the back over my heel.

They are the daftest looking shoes I think I have ever seen, but they certainly are comfy. I’m not sure I would have the nerve to wear them out-and-about like N&N do, but Cathy said they looked ok in the park. I quickly had the urge to run in them, even with an audience, and Sean soon had me running around with a camera, filming my feet. After all the thoughts and concerns about needing to alter my running style, and the need to re-train myself to run ‘barefoot’, I realised that actually I have about the right sort of gait for this style of running, landing around midfoot and with a low centre of gravity. They felt right. I did venture over to the path to see if they felt as good there, but Hector seemed concerned: ‘No Mummy, don’t run on the path, those are soft shoes!’ I think I will try a short run in the park with them, on grass, and write about how I feel, I’m not sure what the people of Tottenham will make of them…

For now I am carrying on my training for the Hackney Marshes half marathon in August, 13 miles seems a very long way right now. I have done a few runs this week and logged the times on Fetch, but I need to knuckle down and increase my mileage if I am to have fun on race day. Talking of fun on race day, a few of us, in the heat of the Juneathon party, relaxed after quaffing champagne, agreed to sign up to Grim in December. Eight miles of mud and water?! Are we mad?! Probably. Bring it on!

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30/30, do I get a gold star?

I did it, I ran every day of Juneathon 2010 and loved it. I just know I am going to feel very lost without the loveliness of knowing you have a team of supporters out there, cheering you on from the comfort of their desks. I commented on Twitter that I wanted to find a way of making it interesting for the last day, Lawrence suggested running backwards, how unfortunate that I only read this on my return (though I think I could get arrested for trying to do so with Hector in the running buggy)! So, I just did a regular Wednesday run to our lovely canal-side group, with a bit tagged on to take in a trip to the sorting office to collect a birthday card that didn’t have the correct postage on it. How sad is that, you have to pay £1.10 to pick up your own card?! Silly Royal Mail.

The other day I was wondering if I would carry on into July, but today’s run answered my question, my shins were really aching, something that has waited until the last day thankfully. I know this is down to all the extra mileage, but is also due to my shoes being on their last legs – both pairs have started squeaking in the last week: ‘squeak, squeak, we are really old and squashy!’ So it’s a little rest for the shins and I will resume the running in a few days with a half-marathon schedule to try to crack two hours in August.

Hector picked up this hockey stick at the group and, without being told how, hit a ball really skilfully. I got excited about this new game, but it wasn’t long before he changed it into a strimmer and started cutting the grass.

Stats for Juneathon Day 30

Type of run: Pushing a running buggy

Time: 39 minutes 22 seconds

Distance: 3.73 miles

Average Pace: 10.33

Best Pace: 5.42

Calories: 361

Stats for Week 4+

Runs: 9

(6 pushing a running buggy, 3 without)

Total miles: 24.27

So Juneathon TOTALS:

Runs: 30

(18 pushing a running buggy, 12 without)

Total miles: 108.41

And, to finish Juneathon, an unlikely road name:

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.

Hot Hackney Half

My preparation for this race was very poor. I didn’t exactly train towards a half-marathon and certainly didn’t get enough long runs in, so I was ever so slightly aprehensive about this one when I woke up yesterday morning! I didn’t even take it easy on Saturday, instead opting to cycle up lots of hills to Highgate Wood to have some active fun climbing on fallen trees and picking up acorns and leaves for Hector’s new nature table. I am a bad, bad runner.

I had read lots of good reports about this half on the Runner’s World website and had the feeling it would be quite laid back and have a good atmosphere, so that eased my tension a bit…and so did the bike ride there. The race was due to start over at Hackney Marshes at 11am, with the registration closing at 10.30 and the best and most direct way for me to get there was to cycle the four or five (or more?) miles along the canal.

biker

It was such a gorgeous morning and quite a rarity for me to be cycling along by myself. I could sense already that it was going to be a real scorcher, so I took it easy, not wanting to completely knacker myself out before I even got there.

There were a few people (this is a small race with only around 400 runners) milling about, some in the shade of the trees, reading the Sunday papers and chatting with friends. All very civilised. I locked up my bike and registered with the very friendly volunteers then put my bag in the tent. As I was registering I got chatting to the man behind me. We were joking about our race numbers – I was 4 and he was 1 – saying it made us seem like elites. It turned out this was his first race and he had reached this point via an extreme feat of losing around four stone. Aaron was aiming to run in around two and a half hours, so I wished him luck and admired his sheer dedication at getting to the start line in the first place. I made what felt like my one hundredth trip to the loo (they allow you to use the facilities at the club house to get changed and showered) then settled down under a tree. Eventually we were asked to make our way over to the start where a lovely man who turned out to be the first ever winner of The Gladiators (!) did a ‘warm-up’. It was ace! It certainly calmed any nerves and made us acknowledge the other runners as we did a sort of Usain Bolt dedication dance, complete with the arm movement and posturing.

And we were off.

One thing that made me waiver about entering this race was the fact that it consists of six laps of the marshes, and I feared it might be sheer hell, but I soon realised I love laps, they rock! By now the sun was blazing down (maybe an earlier start might be a good idea) so it was a welcome relief to find ourselves running alongside the river under the dappled shade of the trees. This was my favourite part of each lap, but was soon followed by the very exposed and rubbly area nearer the Walthamstow end of the marshes. Here you had to watch your footing and wipe away the sweat dripping from your slowly burning brow. As this is a lap race, you pass the marshals a few times, getting to feel a familiarity which is emphasised as they consult their list of names and call out a personalised encouragement (being number 4 I was easy to find, so got a shout-out nearly every time!). As you approach the start/finish area each time, you bear left, taking in the drinks station and a group of drummers, enduring their own challenge as they beat out an encouraging rhythm on a selection of bongos and the like.

Things were going really well and I have realised that I am much more suited to this type of race: small field, rural (sort of) setting, laps, but I was finding it tiring constantly overtaking then being overtaken by the same group of people, as we were obviously running at a similar pace and playing catch-up throughout. The race organisers were very trusting and asked us to keep track of our own laps, and I was doing alright until I hit a point where I wasn’t sure if I was in the fifth or final lap – I started running faster then took a look at my Garmin and realised I had a bit further to go than I thought. Damn. It was ever so tempting to veer right on the fifth lap and take a glory finish up with the whippets, but I thought better of it and took on my last two miles or so.

I hadn’t really had a plan about how I would do it all, just knew I might find it hard through lack of focussed training (and the heat), but I hadn’t imagined I would walk. A woman ahead of me (one of the ones I kept playing catch-up with) started walking and I thought ‘I’m not going to walk. I’m not going to walk. Oh, damn it, I’m walking!’. So the last lap was a bit trying, doing the ‘only to that tree, then I’ll run’ thing. This final saunter round gave me a chance to thank all the lovely marshals for their encouragement and support, it can’t have been much fun sitting in direct sunlight for a few hours for them either!  So towards the finish line I headed, surrounded by the amazing cheers of the group of women at the end, they were just fantastic! I hadn’t had much to drink on my way round, just a few sips from my bottle of Lucozade Sport and some water in the last lap – I didn’t want a repeat of the dreadful cramp at London Marathon, so now I was ready to glug down as much water as I could get my hands on and the women at the water station were only too happy to keep on filling up my bottle.

I’ve done lots of races where you get a goody bag filled with odd bits of useless toiletry items, like mini deodorants and so on, but this was probably the most useful goody bag I have ever received: a giant bagel, a knife, some margerine, jam and cheese, two bananas, an orange and a muesli bar. Perfect, just what you need after running a half-marathon! I sat near the drummers and scoffed it down. As I sat there I saw the winners collecting their cups, fast types they were too, finishing in 1.09 and 1.30. But the real winner hobbled towards me a little later, beaming from ear to ear. Number 1, Aaron had finished in 2.29, just under his target time. Excellent!

I shall be entering the UFDance Half-Marathon again next year.

Time: 2 hours 15 minutes 10 seconds

Distance: 13.07 miles

Average Pace: 10.22

Best Pace: 7.18

Calories: 1367

And some stats from a run around Finsbury Park last week:

Time: 40 minutes 19 seconds

Distance: 3.69 miles

Average Pace: 10.56

Best Pace: 8.53

Calories: 408