Hotting up

The sun’s out! It’s amazing the difference a bit of sunshine will make to a run, and the dryer, grippier ground at Hilly Fields on Saturday made all the difference, with a total of 25 runners getting a new Hilly Fields Parkrun PB! I set out with a few seconds improvement in mind, but – according to my Garmin time, the official time was slower – I knocked almost a minute off my best time so far 🙂 I was well chuffed. I wasn’t sure how my lack of running during the Easter holidays (just one run last week) would affect my ability to tackle those hills, but I needn’t have worried. I do worry though about how I will manage to maintain any kind of fitness over the summer holidays, if I can’t get out over the shorter Easter break. I will need a plan of action.

One option I suppose is the gym in the evenings, but it doesn’t come close to a nice sunny run. I do have a couple of cool new tops to try out in the gym though, sent to me recently by QTag, who sell running and leisure clothing online at really great prices. I’ve been feeling very bright in my ‘Girly Cool T-shirt’ in hot pink (yes, I know, I feel very obvious in it!), and I will be bravely getting my arms out in the gym to show off my ‘Girly Cool Vest’ in Kelly green, which is a really nice, eye-catching colour to run in. Both tops have wicking properties and are very cool for the gym or outdoors when we do eventually (please!) get some warmer weather. I think QTag would be a good point of contact for running clubs and groups, with the option to buy good quality clothing in bulk and with a wide range of colours to choose from.

Hot Pink and Kelly Green

Hot Pink and Kelly Green

In the meantime, I will try and get Hector out on his bike to accompany me on a run, and attempt to motivate myself away from the comfort of the sofa and my growing crochet project, to push and pull a bit in the gym of an evening, we’ll see.


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.



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

Catching up

It’s been a hectic week: a birthday, a New Year, a visit to Wales, a visit to Manchester, a PB and back-to-school. Phew. I have got good and muddy in that time, squeezing in the runs between family gatherings and drinking such delights as damson gin (the night before the PB, might I add!). I was updating my blog via Edward’s iPhone and was getting frustrated, so the thought of trying to add photos would have finished me off completely. Here are some catch-up snaps from the away days up north…

Enjoying the Welsh waves

Enjoying the Welsh waves

Welsh sticks are as good as English it seems

Welsh sticks are as good as English it seems

South Manchester Parkrun is wet!

South Manchester Parkrun is wet!

Today was the start of the school run runs for 2013. This time last year Hector was just starting school, a difficult time for all of us and an emotional few months while he settled in. Today I dropped him off in my running gear, he barely looked back and off I went for a brisk run along the river. I also reintroduced myself to the gym after a Christmas/NY break and felt good after a hard workout. Hello 2013, you’re looking big and strong!

Let her eat cake. And bread. And buns.

It’s been a good week for running. Odd really, when I spent over an hour waiting at the doctor’s on Monday (I had an appointment!) to have my knee checked out. It has been ‘giving me gyp’ for months and months now, mostly when I go up and downstairs but not – thankfully – when I am running. Last week this changed and it all started to feel a bit unstable as I ran and my knee looked a bit swollen, enough to prompt me to see the doctor. It seems I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is apparently common amongst runners (I hadn’t told him I was a runner, he must have clocked my athletic physique as I hobbled into the room). He is referring me to a physio which he admitted might take sixteen weeks to happen. In the meantime I am doing various exercises after running to strengthen my quads and hips and waiting patiently to consult an expert. I had thought the problem arose from my constant kneeling when I play with Hector and also moving to a house with stairs having lived on the ground floor for years and, as it hadn’t given me any trouble whilst running, I had been quite dismissive. Anyway, things have improved and I am going to just carry on as normal for now.

I have been continuing my lovely school run but had the sad realisation this week that it will soon be over: the Easter holidays begin in a week and a half and, after the holidays, the children will move into a lovely new building just a short walk from our house and our routine will change again. It does mean Hector will be able to cycle to and from school, which he will no doubt enjoy, but I might have to give myself a bit more motivation to get a run in after dropping him off. I think I might have found a motivation on my run the other morning. I decided to pop over the ‘spirally footbridge’ into the other section of park and noticed a ‘Run England’ sign on the notice board, I stopped to have a nosey and saw that there is a free course taking place in a couple of weeks. The deadline for applications was Wednesday so I quickly got on the case. It seems I have got a place on the ‘Leadership in Running Fitness‘ course at the end of the month, and this will allow me to start my own running group. In return for the council/mayor-funded place, I will commit to 20 hours of voluntary work, which I am really looking forward to. I have wanted to do something like this for a while so I’m glad I added that extra mile to my run last week and spotted the sign!

In other news there has been some lively chatter over on Twitter. Cathy Jogblog was asking if people wanted a challenge for April, which involved running a mile for every alcoholic drink you consume. As I don’t really drink that much (actually, I do drink more than I used to, but not enough to warrant a challenge) it was decided that I could substitute drink for cake, but really, I know I like cake, but I don’t eat that much! I seem to have settled on baked goods – there’s a lot of bread being baked here at the moment and check out these little chaps I made yesterday:

Cathy suggested the name ‘Viceathon’ for this particular challenge, so participants can tailor it to their own particular over-undulgences. I am sure she will be writing up a blog post with lots of information soon, so check out Jogblog to find out what’s in store. If you haven’t joined in any of the ‘athons’ before, you should, its’ a great way to motivate yourself to run and you get lots and lots of support.

This morning I could have lounged around the house reading the paper and eating baked goods, but I decided to go for run number six while Edward and Hector went for a swim (H is swimming proper now: head under water, breast-stroke arms, no floats and everything, I’m ever so proud!). I popped in my headphones and did a warm-up circuit of Ladywell Fields then headed upwards towards Hilly Fields. It felt like hard work going up that hill but, for some reason, I took this as a signal to tackle it head on and ran up and down four times. As I plodded down, puffing and panting for the fourth time, I thought ‘Go for it, do another!’ so I did.

Distance: 4 miles

Time: 40 minutes 37 seconds

Average Pace: 10.09

Best Pace: 7.21

Calories: 489


Give Blood Tuesday

This morning I gave blood for the first time. I had intended to do so during Janathon, prompted by Cassie, who is a regular donor, but I couldn’t go due to the lurgy and then I couldn’t go in February because I was STILL full of lurgy so today it was: Give Blood Tuesday. I found myself in a big lorry on Lewisham Market, squished in with all the other eager blood-givers, answering questions in a cupboard then lying on a bed listening to golden oldies on the radio and pumping my hand in and out (and trying to remember to squeeze my thighs and buttocks – I must have looked like a very obvious first-timer!). I think it’s a good idea to make an appointment (they were seeing over 100 people today!) but I managed to get one within the hour and was then in and out within 45 minutes. And you get to drink squash and eat biscuits (or crisps) though I felt rude taking the biscuits without being offered, so just sipped my squash quietly. I’m booked in for July now and will try to give blood whenever I can. If you would like to know more visit the website here.

The school run is going well, though the runs are not that eventful, hence the lack of blog. I did do a sort of double last Friday: our neighbour happened to be taking her daughter by car and offered us a lift as we were stepping out of the house but, as they weren’t leaving for a while, Hector took off his coat. Of course, when we got to school in the nice warm car, I realised we’d left the coat at home. To avert a meltdown I promised to run to school with it as quickly as I could. So I got a lift home, grabbed the coat, ran to school with it under my arm and then ran home again at a more leisurely pace! This morning I felt good and offered a friendly smile and a jolly ‘Hi!’ to a woman I saw stretching in the park. I wasn’t expecting such a contemptuous look in return. I know other runners sometimes like to keep to themselves, but I do like to call out ‘Morning!’ to dog-walkers, runners and anyone I see regularly on my route, and I am often met with a blank expression or completely ignored, but this was downright rude! I always think of this greeting as being an offer of support, like saying ‘well done on getting out’ or ‘keep going’ to a fellow exerciser so I will continue to be a friendly runner and, if I see her again, I will make the smile even bigger. How annoying!

Distance: 3.01 miles

Time: 30 minutes 25 seconds

Average Pace: 10.06

Best Pace: 5.59

Calories: 312


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

Only a week late

It’s been a busy week, but not for running. It has been Hector’s half-term holiday, so mostly spent playing with Lego, being bossed about by someone very small and queueing up for an hour and a half at the South Bank Centre for a children’s super-hero workshop (really, they need to rethink how they run these events, you can’t make children queue up for ANY length of time!). I did go for a run last Sunday and have been mostly recovering from this bloody chest infection thingie that is just not going away – we have both been ill for weeks now but will hopefully be back to full health soon.

I have to cast my mind back a week now. It was cold, I even put on a hat for the first time this winter. It didn’t look snowy or icy but, as soon as I stepped out of our front door, I realised it was incredibly icy. The whole run was a sheet of black ice ahead of me, not great for speed, but I wasn’t looking for speed. I wanted to run further than the school run three miles I’ve been doing recently, but also wanted to spot trolleys and take photos (during Janathon, Travelling Hopefully featured a trolley photo in my honour, so I needed to return the photographic favour).

I was treading very carefully as I headed out towards Greenwich, taking in the Waterlink Way that snakes alongside the DLR line out of Lewisham, a prime Trolley Spotting stretch. Every so often my feet would slip from under me and I was reminded to take it easy and, as I turned around in Greenwich and ran alongside the water, I had to hold onto the railings to stop myself from falling! I thought I might struggle to extend my distance after sticking to short runs for so long (and with a chesty cough still restricting all attempts to breathe deeply), but I found it pleasantly easy and returned feeling refreshed and happy as I saw what the boys had been up to in my absence.

Check out the concentration

Distance: 6.17 miles

Time: 1 hour 3 minutes 39 seconds

Average Pace: 10.19

Best Pace: 8.03

Calories: 703

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