Shine Night Walk 2016, I did it!

Last weekend was pretty epic. On Saturday morning I was up bright and early (and it was bright, an absolutely beautiful day) to Swim Serpentine (I’ll post about this later in the week, it needs a space all of its own!) then, once I’d refuelled, recovered and fuelled up again, I was off out to take part in the Shine Night Walk. As I wrote about previously, I had initially signed up to walk the full marathon, but realised I would be unlikely to make a volunteering commitment the next morning, so went for the half-marathon option instead. I popped on my official Shine t-shirt, along with some quite, erm, eye-catching tights a friend gave me and headed off to Southwark Park.

Clown pants

Clown pants

The train was crammed full with people heading off out for the evening but, when I hit Surrey Quays, I discovered where the party really was! I was greeted by brightly-coloured marshals, pointing everyone in the right direction and found a park full of groups of friends and family, helping each other pin on numbers, adding fairy lights to rucksacks, fitting hairbands with LEDs and adding a splash of colour to faces with neon paint. There was a lovely buzz of excitement and anticipation as people got ready to walk.

Welcome!

Welcome!

I collected my rather cool flashing, lit-up wristband, prompted by seeing everyone else waving their arms in the air and headed over to meet #TeamSole in the backstage area. It very quickly went dark and the air became cooler (though conditions at this point were perfect) and crowds gathered to warm up and watch some short films, reminding us why we were doing this. The park looked so pretty, with lights twinkling and sparkling and a Mexican wave swept the first group out towards the start area and off out onto the streets of London.

Wave!

Wave!

A quick catch-up with my team, some final adjustments to my outfit, a last-minute sugar-boost with an orange Club biscuit and it was time to join in ourselves.

Is it Christmas?

Is it Christmas?

Now, I have run very many races (some with a bit of swimming and cycling added in for good measure), of varying distances, but I can’t recall having a done a walking ‘race’ since school, so I was unsure of what to expect and how to pace it. A very practical and motivating goal was to be able to catch the last train home (I know), so I estimated I would need to pace myself to finish in three hours. I take just under two hours to run a half-marathon, so this would take quite some brisk walking! There was a bubble of excitement as we headed out of the park, lots of chatter and a lot of strolling. The race is walked on open roads (apart from a short stretch outside the park), so you have to use your common sense and negotiate other pedestrians and obstacles. This is easier in some places than others of course and, it being Saturday night in London, became more challenging in the centre of town, where there was a fair bit of encouraging banter going on!

All that marching kept me lovely and warm and I found I really did need a bottle of water when I came to a fuel station (and the chocolate-covered biscuits were welcome too!). One of the things I enjoyed most about walking through London at night was seeing everything lit up (not just us walkers), with the London Eye being a rather warming shade of red.

Red eye!

Red eye!

With a few bridges traversed, we got to enjoy sweeping views of the Thames to boost our energy when we might be flagging.

River view

River view

My photos turned out to be quite blurry, due to the blistering pace I was going at, though I wasn’t at all bothered by blisters, wearing my Sole double layer socks (they’re lovely and toasty too, perfect for long walks). I found myself walking largely by myself, tagging on the tails of speedy walkers, who paved the way through the crowds, but never felt alone, dipping in and out of overheard conversations. The miles ticked down steadily, marked clearly by big signs and it wasn’t long before we made our way through the slightly maze-like Victoria (what is going on there?!) and took a turn towards the finish. Of course, there were still a few more miles to cover, but psychologically, this was a lovely turning point.

Landmarks caught my eye, Big Ben struck eleven (I had passed by earlier, when he was striking ten!) and I kept on keeping on. A walk across Westminster Bridge, the Saturday evening strollers along the Southbank to negotiate and the end really was in sight! By now, I had a feeling I wouldn’t make that last train, but this didn’t slow me down at all! I skipped along, eager to cross London Bridge and, when I did, I smiled as I saw a row of balloons bobbing at the edge of the river. Another friendly marshal (they were all so super and encouraging around the course) told me ‘Not long now! You’re so close!’ and I swept along, boosted by this touch of friendliness.

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

Turning a corner, I saw Monument ahead of me and leapt down a short hill to this sign:

13!

13!

Outside the Old Billingsgate Fish Market were crowds of supporters, a red carpet, a tunnel of twinkling lights and lots of music. I thought I had finished, so stopped to take some photos, then realised the finish line was actually inside! I passed through, hands in the air, looking around the vast space to see many walkers, now warming themselves back up with hot drinks, taking group photos and hugging family and friends. Such a friendly and supportive atmosphere! I was presented with my medal and soon heard a voice I recognised…

Bling!

Bling!

I turned around and saw a friend who lives nearby, a big hug and she introduced me to her team (they all work in an intensive care unit), telling me they have done this for years now, having also tackled the full marathon, check out all these medals!

Medal-tastic!

Medal-tastic!

It really does seem like people come back to this event year after year, loving the organisation, the support, the route, the atmosphere and the opportunity to raise money for a good cause, remember those who have been lost and, best of all, celebrate those who have overcome cancer and are maybe even taking part themselves. Entries are already open for next year, why not get a team together and start training now?!

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Shine Night Walk 2016

I quite often get asked by running friends to join them on 24-hour night-time challenges. I always politely decline, saying how much I need my sleep. I’m not quite sure then, why I’m going anywhere near this upcoming night-time event! I had initially signed up to the full marathon Shine Night Walk, but realised I would need to step back to the half-marathon option if I was to make a volunteering commitment on the Sunday morning – oops! So why did I agree to take part? The Shine Night Walk is Cancer Research UK‘s night-time marathon, to bring people together and to raise much-needed money to fund research into cancers that affect people around us every day. There will be people raising thousands of pounds and also walking to raise awareness, to remember loved ones and to celebrate those who are living with cancer.

I consider myself to be pretty fit, having taken part in a few endurance events in the past few months and having covered the half-marathon (and marathon) distance numerous times now. I do realise though, that I shouldn’t be complacent and imagine that this will be a walk in the park (or city, to be precise – see the course map here), so will be doing a bit more walking in the next couple of weeks, to gear myself up for the challenge. I have been given some very nice Sole dual-layer socks to wear and some footbeds to help me float on air around central London. I have no idea how long it will take me to complete the half-marathon distance, but I will look forward to cooling my feet and letting them breathe the next day, in my lovely, comfy flip-flops.

I think the course is well-stocked with aid stations, with loos and fuel, so I shouldn’t have to carry too much, but I do need to get myself fully lit-up, with face paint, glow-sticks and LED lights, well I do want to shine for the occasion!

Adventures in Geocaching

This three-week Easter holiday lark is proving challenging in the think-of-something-to-get-you-out-of-the-house-for-free department. I was in danger if being lured under yet another pile of Lego this morning, but was enthused and rescued by the idea – out of the blue – to try geocaching. I registered on the geocaching website and discovered that there are lots of caches in our local area so, not being in possession of the right kind of Garmin or an iPhone, I went all old-school and wrote down the details and clues and off we went. The idea (in my head at least) was that I would run and Hector would cycle, but he soon started to get distracted and I was pulling his bike along within the first mile while he hunted for sticks to poke around in the locations where the caches were hidden. Thankfully we found our very first cache quite close to home and quite quickly, so our enthusiasm was maintained and not dampened at the first spot.

Happy Geocacher

The next one involved us rummaging around at the wrong tree whilst avoiding nasty piles of dog poo for while before I suggested another tree. When I had described it all to Hector, with my limited knowledge, I had said that the caches might be like a sandwich box and could contain treasure, so we were surprised at just how small some of them were, but not disappointed, there is a real sense of delight when you eventually find your little capsule.

Tiny cache

For some reason, my normally bike-loving boy decided he would now spend the rest of the outward journey on foot, so I gradually acquired a bike, a jacket, a helmet, a rucksack and a particularly ‘important’ stick. This meant my idea of sneaking in a run was now in danger of being dashed completely. A few of our searches were unsuccessful, though we will go back because one was just off-putting due to being the favourite haunt of the local winos and therefore strewn with discarded beer cans (and worse) and not especially child-friendly. We made a team decision to head towards the last one on our list then take a refreshment break at the Big Sainsburys cafe.

In terms of increasing my Viceathon mileage stash, this outing only brought me even (I ran the return journey). The half a bread roll and a scone I consumed in Big Sainsburys didn’t really help the cause, but I did find myself walking away from a particularly lovely-looking hot cross bun (baked by Edward’s Mum and brought all the way from Manchester) this afternoon, in favour of an avocado, how very odd.

Today’s Viceathon totals

Baked goods eaten:

1/2 a bread roll

1 scone

Fruit eaten:

1 avocado

1 apple

Distance run: 2.54 miles

Time: 26 minutes 30 seconds

Average Pace: 10.26

Best Pace: 6.39

Calories: 268

Baked goods total for April 2:

2 slices of bread

Fruit eaten:

1 avocado

1 apple

1 orange

some dried apricots

Miles left in the Viceathon bank:

0

Janathon Day 7: Yesterday in reverse

As requested by Helsbels, here is a photo of my lovely new – if a bit tight around the calf region – wellies:

And here, you can see just why I need them in our local park:

It was absolutely tipping it down today, to the point where I started to get cabin fever. Fortunately, we were lucky enough to pick just the right moment to go out and managed about three hours exploring the park, splashing in and wading through puddles, squelching through mud and watching diggers (about 45 minutes were spent doing the latter). It was actually quite warm today and the sun came out to cheer us up a bit. The rain did mean my run was put back until this evening, and then pushed back even further when Edward sent a text saying he was running half an hour late. This running in the evening lark does put pressure on some valuable family time and makes dinner a rather rushed and frazzled affair. So as not to have to think too hard about it, I just decided to run the same route as last night, but in reverse.It was interesting doing it the other way, and I hadn’t realised that a big chunk would be spent running steadily up hill, but this seemed to make no difference as I ran the route a whole minute faster!

Something I have noticed about the residential side streets is the challenge of seeing what you’re stepping in or on: the lights are so much lower and mostly blocked out by parked cars, making tree roots, dog poo and puddles very hard to see. It’s amazing I stayed on my feet, but I did manage to soak my lovely new running shoes; they no longer have that bright and white ‘New Year’ look about them.

Janathon day 7:

Time: 31 minutes 54 seconds

Distance: 3.16 miles

Average Pace: 10.06

Best Pace: 8.00

Calories: 351

Wild swimming

Oh, to be back in Wales with all that fresh air, the coal fire and the fresh, fresh river. Hector actually said, as we were leaving: ‘Can we bring our house here?’ We had a lovely long anniversary weekend in Dolanog with friends in a very special house, full of interesting bits and bobs and the  most wonderful fire to snuggle up to whilst playing cards after a delicious roast lamb dinner. On Friday it was our fifth wedding anniversary and we celebrated by going for a ride on the Welshpool-Llanfair steam train. The train was just like Ivor the Engine, poop-poop! At one point a stag ran across the track and we looked to the side and saw wild strawberries growing amongst the hedgerow. On our return to the house, everyone else was raring to go out for a walk to the river. It was pretty cold, almost autumnal, in Wales but Edward sneaked his shorts on under his jeans before we left.

We have the Wild Swim book and Edward in particular likes to try out the recommendations…and anywhere else he finds along the way. We also had fun skimming stones, and Hector got quite into it after a bit of instruction.

In the morning, I had gone out for a run. Edouard recommended a run up a hill, which he reckoned was about five miles, but I didn’t have enough time due to the steam train ride, so just stuck to the winding roads. For the first mile or so I didn’t see a soul, then the two cars and a tractor that did pass had friendly drivers who waved at me! This run was the hilliest I have done in a long time, I was gasping and wheezing like the pistons on the train, but it was well worth it for the incredible views.

And the breakfast to refuel…

Time: 30 minutes 35 seconds

Distance: 3 miles

Average Pace: 10.12

Calories: 322

I had hoped to get out and do the big hill run on the Saturday, but Hector was struck down with a stomach bug, so I was on cuddle and comfort duties.

I did a Crouch End run this morning, which broke the three mile barrier I have been stuck behind recently. Thank goodness because I have a half-marathon in just a few weeks!

Time: 49 minutes 42 seconds

Distance: 4.68 miles

Average Pace: 10.37

Best Pace: 8.21

Calories: 544

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?

Team colours

So, this Friday the World Cup will begin, the football world cup that is, the Walking World Cup is alive and well in my local park. Yesterday Highway Kind commented on the groups of international walkers I encounter on my runs, suggesting that this might be an interesting alternative to the upcoming competition. Today I decided to try to capture some of these walkers to add to the excitement. World Cup football fever whips us up into a frenzy that finds us focussing on what the players eat, what their W(ives)A(nd)G(irlfriend)S are wearing, how Wayne Rooney takes his own pillow on the bus with him and the finer details of Ronaldo’s fancy footwear, but down at the park it was all about team colours today.

The Chinese Walkers get extra points for their selection colourful hats and also for some of their team members breaking into a run, incidentally it is often the much older members that do this.

The Turkish Walkers however have really got the team strip sorted, with a subtle array of grey, brown and black velour tracksuits for those early morning training sessions.

And here you can get a sense of the strong camaraderie amongst Team China and understand how the Walking World Cup is as much about socialising and community spirit as it is about physical prowess (and you get a look at the hill training area these athletes cover every day).

Stats for Juneathon Day 6

Type of run: solo run

Time: 28 minutes 15 seconds

Distance: 3.02 miles

Average Pace: 9.21

Best Pace: 6.20

Calories: 317