Race the Cake

There’s Race the Train, Race the Horse and now Race the Cake. I knew I wanted to get out and run this morning while Edward and Hector headed off for a swim. Edward was mixing up a marble cake as I left and asked if I would be in to take it out of the oven…er, no! ‘It takes an hour’ he said ‘Ok, I’ll be back in an hour’ I replied.

I legged it off down the Waterlink Way. I wanted to go slightly further than my other runs this week, so had 10k in mind – just within the cake removal time-slot. The sun shone, the earth was frosty and I saw runners at every turn. First of all I was greeted by friendly ‘Hello’s from running club friends, then I stopped for a chat with a group of Parkrun friends who were having a sociable run together. After a brief ‘how should we keep our shoes clean after a muddy Hilly Fields run?’ pause, I went on my way. Yesterday I ran Hilly Fields for a change. It was tough. It was muddy (see new image at the top of this page). I pushed myself hard, I skidded around, trying not to fall, I struggled up the steep hill, my feet failing to get a grip, and I pushed myself and others on to the finish. According to my watch I had a (Hilly Fields) PB, but my official time shows a second slower 😦 I might just run again next week and see if I can crack it.

Even with this heavy run in my legs I still managed to fly this morning, I hadn’t expected much, just a slow run, but I felt good, strong and flew along the path with ease. It feels great when a run gives you that buzz. As I reached home, I expected to be greeted by the smell of baking, but found a note saying: ‘I didn’t want to leave the oven on, can you put the cake in?’ One of the many reasons I have to run:

Marble

Marble

So, this was my fifth run this week – one more than I ‘pledged’ to complete on the Jantastic website. I also managed two swims, but no ride. I think I need to get out and go, see how far I get, see if my legs like the sensation of spin, spin, spin…

Distance: 6.23 miles
Time: 56.18 minutes
Average Pace: 9.02 minute miles
Calories: 626

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Snowy four

I’m so glad I got out and ran this morning. School was – amazingly – open and I pulled Hector on his sledge to the gates, the best way to travel right now. On my return I knew I had to get that snowy run in before it all disappears, so wrapped up warm and headed out along the Waterlink Way. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

Golden glow

Golden glow

I ran along the river, hoping to spot the kingfisher, and was delighted to not only catch a glimpse of the blue flash, but to be treated to a perching/swooping show as he darted under the bridge I stood on then briefly settled on a branch until he decided to dart again. I crunched happily through the snow and spoke to pretty much everyone I saw along the way; it just felt right.

When I got back I didn’t want to stop, so decided to go to the gym as well.

Untouched

Untouched

I commented to the lad on the desk that it looked beautiful on the track, and he said people keep coming in and asking to build snowmen there, but they’re ‘not allowed’. Imagine a series of snowmen going around the track! I found myself stepping up and down in an attempt to warm back up and started to chatting to the man on the treadmill next to me. He was proudly telling me how he is running the London Marathon, his first marathon, at the age of sixty. I told him I have done three and said he could ask if he needs any guidance. We chatted happily about marathons and running in general for about half an hour, the stepper a mere distraction.

Yesterday I put on my running gear then weighed up my options (slightly in the wrong order). I made the decision that I can run any day, but it’s not often I get to go sledging and play in the snow with Hector, so off we went up the hill again. I’m glad I chose option number two, it’s such excellent fun whizzing down hill on a bit of plastic, screaming!

Off they go!

Off they go!

On our return home, we didn’t want to go inside, so spent some time building another snowman, well, snow alien (I think). The orange thing is ‘his eye popping out’.

Garden alien

Garden alien

Winter fun

Yes there was snow on them there Hilly Fields and yes we were going ahead with our Parkrun. Forty-five runners turned up for a frolic in the snow this morning, but I resisted the urge, being Run Director and marshal, then satisfied my snow-fun needs afterwards:

Oh, what fun!

Oh, what fun!

Hector and Edward kept themselves very busy building a snow monster/alien thingy:

Watch out!

Watch out!

Yesterday was a gymmy day, then I got hot running around in the park after school, avoiding being hit by snowballs.

In yer face!

In yer face!

And trying to persuade Hector it might be getting dark, and we should go home.

So angelic. Ahem.

So angelic. Ahem.

On Thursday I succumbed to the lure of an extra layer and wore a vest under my long-sleeve top, I even wore a hat. I normally reserve such excesses for when there is snow on the ground, but I seemed to require a little extra help in getting out. I woke with a few alien aches, a result of my hard work on the floor on Wednesday: that Pilates class is good, with the aches being in all the right places (abs, butt) so I will definitely be back for more next week. It seemed like the perfect time to try out a pair of tights I am testing, the new ACTV tights from Puma. I had a sneak preview of these leggings back in the summer at a Puma press day up in East London, with the backdrop of the Olympic Stadium to glance at wistfully. The thing that interested me about these tights was that they are like a compression garment, but instead of being worn post-exercise, they are designed to be worn during exercise. The inside of the fabric is lined with little rubber tracks that massage your muscles as you run (this is the inside-out view of the knee area):

Wiggly

Wiggly

They are interesting to get on, with the rubber bits sticking slightly – there was some stealth-like manoeuvring going on in the bedroom and, as my legs are seemingly shorter than the average leg, some interesting wrinkling occurring around the ankle. Oh, to be able to order a few extra inches of shin online… As I left the house, it was very tempting to rub my thighs, but that would mean looking like Vic Reeves and getting the neighbours talking, so I resisted (whilst in public anyway). Did I mention it was cold? Well, I wasn’t expecting one of the qualities of these tights to be extra warmth, but they did seem to keep my legs warm and there was something reassuring about the gentle hug they were giving my lower limbs. I have been experiencing some ankle and knee pain in the past few days, but amazingly there was no sign of this. Maybe this was coincidence, but it would be great to find a garment that can offer this much support during a run. I suppose if I was doing a more scientific sort of test I would have gone out for a run in a regular pair of tights to offer a comparison, but I really needed to jump straight in the shower and grab a cup of tea on my return. The Puma tights will be available exclusively from Sweatshop and will retail at £100.

It was a gorgeous day for a run along the river and I was treated to views like this:

Through Ladywell Fields

Through Ladywell Fields

And this (but no kingfisher today):

The River Ravensbourne

The River Ravensbourne

And, on my way back, this caught my eye:

One sided

One sided

Motivation

There’s nothing like a good hard run to make you feel better for the rest of the day. Last week I forgot this and, by Friday, had that ‘Will I ever run again?’ feeling. But I did, I ran, I ran hard up hill, I splashed through big sweeping puddles and I felt good again. Today I woke to a mist, a strange dampness hanging low over our house, and was in danger of curling up under the mist until I noticed what it had done to our garden: a tangle of intricate spiders’ webs could be seen hanging in every bush and spanning every space. I carefully weaved between them – in my pyjamas – to attempt to capture this moment on camera.

Weighted

After letting my running fall slightly by the way-side last week, I was determined to start the week as I mean to go on, and got out this morning, with music in my ears and a smile on my face. It wasn’t that I was feeling lazy last week, or especially busy, but my knee hurt and this gave me an excuse to give in to a brief lack of motivation. We all find different ways to motivate ourselves out of the house and on the road, for some it’s a fitness or weight-loss goal, for others it’s the need for head-space and for others it’s a competitive spirit. Some of us gather all of those things together and still need a little extra sometimes. For me, the motivation of being part of Parkrun has been a huge boost, knowing that I have a group of people behind me and a weekly gathering that fills my ‘this is why I do it’ tanks. Joining a running club is also a good motivator, and is known to be one of the best ways to ‘improve’ your running whatever level you are at. For some people the push of working with a coach or personal trainer is what’s needed, or even working towards a qualification themselves. So, with the running club, Parkrun and my own PB-seeking goal over the next eight weeks, I have no excuse.

Distance: 3.96 miles

Time: 36 minutes 53 seconds

Average Pace: 9.19

Best Pace: 6.38

Calories: 488

(I kept an eye on the clock when nearing the 5k mark and it was 28.24, not too bad).

Achievement

I’m sitting here looking at the pouring rain and thinking I’m rather glad I got my run out of the way earlier! I am finding that my running has been slightly neglected lately, not in terms of frequency, I am still getting out at least four days a week, but in terms of distance. When I go to the gym, I tend to rush my run so I can get there and get stuck in, so I have been running around three miles at the most. Today I decided to give the gym a miss and run a bit further, just to make sure I still can! A quick run to school with speedy bike boy and up the hill I went, turning for a moment at the summit of Blythe Hill and admiring the gorgeous view (I must take my camera some time) then carrying on along the Waterlink Way, taking a breath at the far reaches, while a passing walking lady said: ‘You’re not running back?!’ then reaching home at the five-mile point.

I found it interesting that this walker was surprised that I was turning and ‘running back’, since she had no clue as to how far I had already run. Maybe she was taking her clues from my panting and my dripping brow, but to her this appeared to be an achievement in itself that she felt she should comment on. I have recently been talking to a fellow school-gate mum who also runs, the difference is though that she has three children, one of whom is just ten weeks old! She has far more in her life to juggle in an attempt to fit a run in, so I wasn’t surprised to see her passing our house this morning as we ate our breakfast. Last week I saw her in the park and we ran part of the way together. She was telling me how she had measured herself and found that her waist was now 27 1/2 inches, I dream of such neat girthage! So, she sees me and admires the fact that I run a little further than she is managing right now, I see her and admire the fact that she is a master juggler who is back in her skinny jeans just weeks after giving birth and other parents at the gate admire us both for getting out at all!

Soon we will be enjoying the spectacle of the Olympic Games, admiring those who are achieving international greatness in their chosen field then, further into the summer, we will admire those athletes who have overcome disability to compete in the Paralympic Games. I’m beginning to tire of the negativity being shown towards the Olympic Games, when I see many positive outcomes such as celebrations at school where the children are given the opportunity to try new activities, enthusiastic sports days at the running track (I heard loud cheers this morning, even though the rain clouds were coming in) and a little group of pre-school children in the park earlier with Olympic flames made out of tin foil and cardboard. If the presence of the games in London increases participation in sports at all levels and encourages otherwise inactive people to get out and try something new, it has to be a good thing.

Distance: 5.07 miles

Time: 50 minutes 51 seconds

Average Pace: 10.02

Best Pace: 5.23

Calories: 267

Lists

I was awake at 2.30 this  morning, wide awake. As soon as I stirred my mind went into overdrive and I ended up getting out of bed and writing some lists in an attempt to clear my head. This all took about two hours. Needless to say I was a bit low on energy this morning, but there was so much to do! My morning was spent sewing up beanbags for our Jubilympics tomorrow, trying to find stuff in the spare room (never an easy task since it’s a pile of boxes randomly labelled with the wrong information), and then I decided I should run while the going was good. In my search of ‘the box room’ I found my tripod, something Hector used to enjoy playing with when he was little(r), but now he really put it to its intended use and set off to the adventure playground where he took some great photos including these:

A running me, pausing

An action shot of Edward

While they entertained themselves, I ran a few miles with my list still ever-present in my mind: in my Fleetfoot ll bag were some carefully placed scissors and a plastic bag and, when I had run enough, I stopped at one of the many heavily laden elderflower bushes and snipped away busily, I had promised local elderflower cordial for our Big Lunch after all.

Cordial in the making

On my return the post was delivered and I was delighted to receive an unexpected present and card from Edward: the card featured a lovely picture of a medal, and the message was wishing me well in my fitness endeavours at the gym and ‘See attached for recovery aid’…

I am going to share it you know, honest.

He knows me well.

Distance run: 3.41 miles

Time: 32 minutes 01 seconds

Average Pace: 9.24

Best Pace: 6.10

Calories: 413

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