In the pink

This morning’s run was the first in over a month where I have felt fit, strong and healthy. My breathing was good and I felt able to push myself up hill and still have enough breath in my lungs to turn and go up another hill. It felt good. I was out running again last week, fulfilling my school run duties, but each run was accompanied by a soundtrack of coughing and spluttering, so much so that it prompted a man with a very strong Sarf Lahndon accent to comment: ‘Come on love, cough it up, it sounds like you need another fag!’ That’s not the impression I aim to give whilst running!

Once I’d got home and had a shower, I was off out on my bike, running errands. On my ride I noticed two women running on the pavement and also noticed they were wearing ‘barefoot shoes’, one was in Vibrams and one in what looked like some really rather fetching green NBs (I think they must have been these). I was struck by how comfortably they both ran, chatting and moving smoothly along. I am guessing they have been barefoot running for a while because they seemed to be running along the Waterlink Way and not just a quick ‘test run’. I found it inspiring to see how easily they ran and thought about my own Vibram Five Fingers, gathering dust in my wardrobe (I won the Vibrams when I ‘won’ Juneathon a few years ago). I do like the idea of running ‘barefoot’, but have never committed myself to really going for it, unlike Eating Trees, who has even run races in his. I have been running in a lighter shoe and have found it really comfortable and far less cumbersome than my usual Asics. I was sent these lovely pink Puma Faas shoes months ago now, and have had so many comments about how lovely they look, they have become a favourite footwear of choice.

When they were bright and new!

Mine are the Faas 500 shoes, lightweight and good for shorter runs and races of around 5k. The Faas range does have a lighter racing shoe, the Faas 200 and at the other end of the scale, for longer distances, is the Faas 800. I’ve never really thought about the weight of my shoe much, I just go to a running shop and take advice from the assistant there. I am usually training for fairly long distances, so I end up with quite a hefty shoe with lots of cushioning, but I am beginning to wonder if this is what I really need. My runs in the lovely pink Faas 500s have been nippier and I feel far more sprightly and springy of heel. Maybe I should keep going with these for a while then try some short runs in the Vibrams…we’ll see!

Distance: 3.05 miles

Time: 30 minutes 14 seconds

Average Pace: 9.55

Best Pace: 4.44

Calories: 339


Juneathon Day 1: Dawn Chorus and a 10k Race

I’ve been awake since five o’clock, lying very still so as not to disturb the family who were sleeping sweetly next to me, and thinking in a slightly panicky way about Sunday’s Big Lunch that I – crazily – decided to organise for our road. The birds were singing happily outside while I thought hard about how to manage the moving of about fifty cars to allow my neighbours to party all afternoon long. And bunting. And road closure signs. And food. And craft materials. And. And. And. And then I eased myself carefully out of bed and went for a run. The immediate difference I noticed and enjoyed between Janathon and Juneathon is that I can run through the park at six o’clock in the morning. I saw a man ahead but was reassured when I saw his dog leaping out of the river, and even more reassured when I saw that it was a Spaniel – a Spaniel owner wouldn’t cause me any harm. I did a few laps of the newly opened South section of the park, enjoying all the lovely new paths and open access to the river, after all the rain we’ve had in the past few days, things were looking wonderfully lush. The air was good and fresh after yesterday’s storm but my asthma still troubled me, I think a trip to the nurse is called for and maybe I should have a go with the brown inhaler again (I’ve never really got on with them).

Juneathon Day 1:

Time: 29 minutes 16 seconds

Distance: 3.02 miles

Average Pace: 9.42

Best Pace: 8.03

Calories: 323

Pretty chuffed that I had run, eaten and showered by seven o’clock, especially as I have been feeling a bit stressed about managing Juneathon this year. June is becoming the new December – with Hector’s birthday at the end of the month, we are suddenly filling every spare moment with family get-togethers, some of which will be in remote – yet beautiful – places…with the chance of a shaky internet connection. Arrrghghg! Watch this space!

Which brings me to Monday’s race, the BUPA London 10k. I entered the race ages ago, in a flurry of excitement prompted by the Janathon get-together, and it came around all too quickly, as these things do. It being a Bank Holiday Monday, we set off as a family for a day out, with Edward and Hector all set to spend some time over at the sandpit in St James’ Park:

An unexpected treat was bumping into HelsBels:

And we then headed over to see Hauling my Carcass and EatingTrees:

After a quick catch-up, I joined the ridiculously long queue for the loos then jogged over to the start. I was soon joined by HMC and ET and we chatted excitedly about the race, with ET wearing his Vibrams for the first time in a race. I liked the way the start was done, with each wave moving forward and having its own countdown, it felt as if you were the front-runners, for a bit. We wished each other luck and off we went. I had hoped to get a similar or slightly faster time than at the Peckham 10k the other week (57 minutes), so legged it off, running my first mile in eight minutes (as Edward kindly pointed out, this is where I went wrong), and kept up the pace a bit for the second mile, but was soon feeling super thirsty and down-trodden by the heat (I find a slightly later race start – 11am – a tricky one to fuel for) and it wasn’t long before my asthma kicked in. This was a complete surprise to me as I am never normally concerned about it, so of course I wasn’t carrying an inhaler. I just didn’t have any kick in me, and really struggled the whole way round. It’s a nice course and was being tested as part of the build up to the Olympic Games, with various events happening around the 10k race itself. I enjoyed the run up towards the finish line facing Buckingham Palace, far better than the other direction as with the London Marathon, but there was no way I could go for a sprint finish! I hobbled over the finish line with an  odd clicky knee, I think brought on by some cycling over the weekend, and made my way over to the sandpit 🙂

All concerns about a crappy show were wiped away by a lovely Mexican lunch with HMC and his family and ET at Wahaca in Covent Garden. Yum!

Time: 1 hour 1 minute 59 seconds

Distance: 6.16 miles

Average Pace: 10.04

Best Pace: 5.06

Calories: 557

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!