Petts Wood 10k, 2014

Remember this time last year, when I ran my first race in a long, long time, splashed through mud and puddles and came home with a great big smile on my face? Well, I enjoyed it so much I went back for more. The weather had been pretty much the same as last year, with lots of rain in the week and a good soaking through the night but, travelling over to the race, I knew I would just have to contend with some good muddy bits and a few tree roots this time. Thankfully the trains were running as normal and my journey was quite straightforward. Now, these 10.30 starts are a bit of a funny one and I was wondering if this might be contributing to my poor race experiences recently. For parkrun, I am up at my usual time, eating breakfast as normal and ready to get going for the 9am start, but when things are shifted back a bit, I’m thinking that maybe I need to introduce an extra drink along the way…more of this later.

Getting off the train, I started chatting to another lycra-clad woman, who was running the Petts Wood 10k for the first time, and we sauntered towards the playing fields with further running types. I could hear music as we approached, and there was a general buzz in the Petts Wood air, how lovely then to find that the music was live and the field was filled with happy faces and a feeling of excitement. There’s a real local feel to this event, with lots of families turning out to cheer people on and residents coming out into their gardens to encourage you around the course. Once I was registered and had fixed my number in place, we were soon taking our positions in the starting pens. Based on recent runs, I put myself in the 45-50 minute section and bobbed up and down on the spot to keep warm. After a once round the field, we headed out onto the road and towards the woods with cheers all the way.

Musical encouragement

Musical encouragement

Last year I had embraced the rain and simply had some fun, leaping over and into puddles, but today, as it was dry, I felt a little pressure to push harder, but wasn’t really feeling the push. It’s quite a narrow course in places, and you could find yourself stuck behind a slower runner, but people were very polite about it all (and as I felt like the slow one at times, I was glad of this!). The lovely people of Petts Wood Runners had positioned marshals throughout and had very thoughtfully pointed out tree roots and obstacles using a sprinkling of flour to catch your eye. I found the KM markers were appearing quite quickly, but was really slowed down by a long muddy hill around the 7k mark. Head down, I slogged my way up but, on reaching the top, had to duck to the side and subject those around me to a moment of hideousness as I almost threw up (what is going on?!). A few deep breaths and I was back in action.

There had been rumblings at the start that the band might reappear in the woods, so what joy to hear their jolly tones as I struggled through the trees, and they were so well placed, just before a sharp turn and one last hill. Smiling supporters and encouraging marshals pushed us onwards: ‘Just 2k to go!’ and the road felt good and steady after the uneven ground we had trodden until now. I looked at my watch and clung to the hope that I might go sub-50, but it wasn’t to be, and I rolled in after 53 minutes of determined discomfort. Compared with recent 10k times, this was a little disappointing, but I will remind myself that it’s a tough course, I wasn’t feeling great and, on looking at last year’s results, I took around seven minutes off my previous time!

On crossing the line, I was handed a medal, water, a banana and had the option of a samosa, which looked lovely, but…I collected my bag from the perfectly organised baggage area and instead bought myself a cup of tea and a piece of walnut loaf. Perfect.

Refuel

Refuel

Heading home, I felt ok and met the boys – who had been swimming – when I reached Lewisham. Hector was starving so we went in search of beans (it had to be beans) and ended up in Lewisham Wimpy (!). Everything was so much better all round after a bit of food and we did some shopping and headed home. This was where I started to feel unwell (again). I felt exhausted and my stomach wasn’t right. I was nauseous and weak, as if I’d run a marathon, not a 10k. So, what’s going wrong here? I made sure I ate well on Saturday and had plenty to drink, I had porridge for breakfast and again, had plenty to drink ahead of the race. I ate and drank straight after finishing and had lunch not long after, but still I felt awful. I have a ten mile race on Sunday, and don’t feel super confident right now! Any thoughts on why this is happening and what I can do?

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Welsh Running

Our weekend was spent visiting my parents in North Wales. I did, of course, have a quick look at the Parkrun map before we left, to see if there are any Parkruns around there, but there are none (small parks, plenty of great runs through fields…though there are many friendly runners who would no doubt enjoy the social benefits of being part of Parkrun…). So I packed my brightest running top (last time I ran there I felt a bit invisible on the fast roads) and shoes and set my mind on my own Saturday morning run. One great thing about staying with my parents is that we get to have a lie-in while Hector is entertained by his grandparents, bliss! If I had been heading out for a 9am start, I would have missed it. Ahem.

The weather while we were there was wet and blustery but, when the rain eased the sun came out and all was glorious. I headed out of my parents’ road and towards Tremeirchion. I soon saw dog walkers, cyclists and another runner, totalling an impressive twelve friendly ‘hello’s or ‘morning!’s! My favourite encounter though was with a cool young farmer, astride his quad bike, commanding the road, mobile to ear and two lively sheep dogs hanging off the back of the bike, barking. There were hills, there was mud and it was friendly, so pretty much like Hilly Fields Parkrun, but with sheep and quad bikes.

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Hector really enjoyed his weekend away, and Nana had got him some smart new wellies to wear to explore the castle, watch fireworks from the beach in Llandudno, and to wander around the fields picking balckberries. Perfect.

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!

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

Blurry running

Will it ever stop? I legged it behind Hector on his bike ride to school and couldn’t see a thing by the time we got there: a combination of letterbox glasses, sweat, rain and condensation. Nice. So this was the pattern of my run: head down, run a bit, look up, realise I can’t see, pause, wipe glasses, put them back on, realise they’re all smeary, wipe them again, carry on and so on. I headed into Ladywell and Brockley Cemeteries, always an interesting detour but not one I am familiar enough with not to get lost amongst the headstones and undergrowth. I must have looked a funny sight going up paths, realising I couldn’t get out, coming back, pausing to do the glasses thing, changing direction…When I eventually made my way out at the other side, I went up towards Hilly Fields, wanting to do a mini-recce ahead of tomorrow’s Parkrun meeting there. I must say, I am feeling a whole lot better today, far less achy and more energised than I have felt all week, even the nasty hill didn’t defeat me.

After my run I popped home to collect a drink/towel etc and headed over to the gym. Some time was spent stepping up an imaginary hill, lifting weights and suppressing that lip-curling thing that happens when you try and do something taxing to your body. I took my camera to capture just what the rain is doing to our river right now.

River Ravensbourne rushing by

We normally do stone-throwing from in front of this platform!

Distance: 3.29 miles

Time: 36 minutes 22 seconds

Average Pace: 11.03

Best Pace: 5.43

Calories: 399

20 minutes on the stepper and about an hour of weights.

Paint your own blue sky!

Oh, how wet it is out there today. My school run run was a drizzly one which I decided to prolong for my own benefit: I could have run straight home, had a shower, jumped on my bike and got wet again cycling to the paint shop but, instead, I decided to run home via the paint shop and complete my run with tin of paint in tow. I wouldn’t recommend it, I had it nestling under my arm – which I had to keep swapping – and was slightly worried that I might drop it and have a blue stream trailing behind me. As it was, the paint got a little extra shake which I figured could only be a good thing.

'Brighton' blue for our kitchen wall

There has been is always a lot of talk over on Twitter, between Travelling Hopefully and myself mainly, about the baking god that is Dan Lepard. Now Cassie is on some sort of baking mission and working her way through his marvellous new ‘Short and Sweet’, whereas I sat and leafed through  my copy last night with a cup of tea and couldn’t even begin to decide where to start (I did have some bread baking in the oven as I did this, so I’m not entirely bake-averse). This morning I did brave the rain once more to go out and buy today’s Guardian which features some lovely ‘comfort food’ recipes by the lovely Dan himself:

Comfort and joy

There’s no question on where to start there: Marmalade Chelsea Buns anyone?

Distance: 3.82 miles

Time: 37 minutes 47 seconds

Average Pace: 9.53

Best Pace: 6.33

Calories: 412

Looping the loop

I’m sorry about yesterday, what an old grumpy pants I was! Today is just as grey and even wetter, but my morning start was far more positive than yesterday due to a compromise between me and the little fella: I have offered to take him on public transport then I run home. The situation at school is unique at the moment – due to a rebuild of the original school, the children are being bussed out to a temporary site until after the Easter holidays and it is this bus part of the day that is really upsetting Hector. I decided that, if I remove that factor, then he will be more positive about school, and he was. Just a few big tight hugs, kisses all over my face ‘Mummy, I forgot to kiss your left cheek!’ and off he went, no tears. Phew.

The run back home was wet, but followed my usual route anyway, I was slightly disappointed though that the journey is not quite three miles and I ended up doing some looping around the park to make  up the distance. It didn’t matter, there was hardly anyone about to see my loopy behaviour, it was just me and the ducks!

Distance: 3.09 miles

Time: 30 minutes 41 seconds

Average Pace: 9.57

Best Pace: 3.13

Calories: 345