Make a Difference Month

I’ve been doing this Juneathon (and now Janathon) thing a while now. I gave 2007 a miss as I was about to give birth on June 29th, so running every day just seemed daft, but I watched from the sidelines. In 2008 I was slightly distracted by a small boy, but managed a bit of running (with the running buggy) but not a full quota of blogs. In 2009 I was back in action, feeling strong after my first post-baby marathon and enjoying the challenge once more. 2010 was my winning year, though I find it odd to think that I ‘won’ Juneathon when we now have people who regularly run in a week what I did in a month! Last year I made the difficult decision not to join in Juneathon – our June is now like an additional December, with lots of family gatherings and celebrations around Hector’s birthday and I just couldn’t see how I could fit it all in. This June is just as busy, with our Big Lunch street party this Sunday, our best friends’ wedding in a few weeks then the biggest and best dinosaur party Ladywell has ever seen at the end of the month but I am not letting this stop me fulfilling my running/blogging commitments this time, JogBlog wouldn’t like that.

When you’ve been ticking off the June miles this long, it’s hard to make it fresh, give it new meaning, so some runners set themselves additional challenges (as if running and blogging every day wasn’t enough!). We have Fairweather Runner who includes a lovely little Lego scene in each post, there’s Cake of Good Hope, who delights us with chocolate bar charts and cake graphs and, this year, Cassie over at Travelling Hopefully is embarking on a treasure hunt. I can’t promise anything as entertaining and exciting as that, but I will promise to do my best (once a Brownie, always a Brownie). What I’ve decided to do this month is make a difference. This could be something as simple as helping a neighbour, lending a hand/skill, or something a little more challenging such as the street party, something that brings people together. I will do my best at home too: being a bit more patient with the 5-going-on-fifteen-year-old and stepping back when I get wound up by this particular challenge. As for my running, this is going to be bigger and better too. The other evening I joined the local leisure centre. I am lucky enough to have a running track and gym right at the end of my road and now I can go there as much as I like 🙂 Today I am taking some measurements, I thought about putting them on here, but that’s way too public for my liking, so they’re going in my diary and any changes at the end of the month will be revealed here.

About this time of year, I like to make miles and miles of bunting

This morning I did the school run: I ran hard up Blythe Hill and paused briefly at the top to turn and look at the incredible view of London. I then did a few circuits of Ladywell Fields, popped home to grab a towel and a drink and did a session at the gym: stepper for 20 minutes then 40 minutes or so of weights/abs. Feeling good!

Distance run: 3.01 miles

Time: 29 minutes 39 seconds

Average Pace: 9.51

Best Pace: 6.50

Calories: 365


Breakfast with Champions

Well, I am one very lucky lady! I simply clicked ‘Like’ on the Holiday Inn Facebook page and won the chance to run with Paula Radcliffe and Shelly Woods. The strangest thing about all of this for me, other than running alongside my heroine, was peeling myself quietly away from the boys as they slept and venturing out into the commuter world in the early hours. I watched as a steady stream of regulars took up their everyday spot on the platform and headed to the doors as the train sneaked up silently in the dark. I was amazed to see that the train was full, at 6am! Emerging from Charing Cross I noticed sleepers huddled in doorways, something I don’t usually see in my sheltered south London world, and I wondered if these commuters still notice them as they pass the same shop doorways every day.

As I arrived at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury I was greeted by other eager-looking runners who were milling about expectantly, awaiting the arrival of our Olympic stars. I was slightly disappointed that Shanaze wasn’t riding her BMX around the foyer…then Paula strolled in. She’s tiny, really, you could blow her over, and so elegant, oh how I wish I could roll up at the end of a marathon looking as fresh as she does!

We were walked over to Russell Square where we tried our best to keep warm while Paula was interviewed by ITV Daybreak (I have had a scan through on the Player, but can’t see anything, maybe it’s going to be on tomorrow’s show) while we did some ‘stretching’ and jumping up and down in the background.

Paula being prepared for interview. And yes, that's her body guard!

The event was all very well organised, with security people and even St John’s Ambulance on bikes!

Thankfully, his services were not needed!

Before we set off we did some – much-needed – warming-up with Paula and Shelly.

Warming up

We then set off around Russell Square for a mile run. Here I was, next to the woman who has been my heroine for such a very long time, and actually keeping up!

Race ya Paula!

Suddenly I found myself next to Paula and simply didn’t know what to say, but she really is as lovely as she seems and we chatted easily for a while. I was interested in what happens next and she told me she is off to the Pyrenees to train with the other athletes. I asked her when she gets to see her family in this busy schedule and she said they will be with her. I told her about how I used to run with Hector in the running buggy and we chatted about how odd it is to run with a buggy. Just like talking to any other running mum really! On our last lap of the square we took a turn down a tree-lined path and broke the tape of the finish line, arms in the air, cheers all round.

Back at the hotel we were warmed up with hot drinks and a lovely breakfast (not porridge!) and Paula and Shelly very kindly signed things for us and posed for photos (in which I look a right gormless duh) then held a quick Q&A session. I talked to other runners, all with different goals and experiences, some running London this weekend, some with 100 marathons in their sight.

Paula and me

Shelly and me!

Shelly is competing in this Sunday’s London Marathon (which she has previously won) and seemed calm and relaxed in the run up to the Olympic Games. When asked who inspired her, she said ‘This lady here’ and pointed at Paula Radcliffe.

Right now I am buzzing from this experience. I got to run alongside a world record holder, and two London Marathon winners both heading towards London 2012. What a start to a drizzly Thursday morning!

Best wishes

Distance run: 1.01 miles

Time: 9 minutes 39 seconds

Average Pace: 9.34

Best Pace: 7.22

Calories: 69

(and Shelly and Paula didn’t even break a sweat!)


Janathon Day 20: Power Pushing

I had, once again, intended leaping out of bed and bedecking myself with Lycra to endure enjoy an early morning run, but of course that didn’t happen (I’m soooo tired at the moment). Instead, I persuaded Hector to go for another running buggy run, with the promise of some remote control car fun at the end. So, into the under-stair cupboard I ventured once more, we really need to sort that arrangement out. I hadn’t realised quite how cold it was and, as he was feeling stubborn – ‘I am the boss!’ – Hector said he didn’t need his big woolly blanket, just the thin, smaller one. We soon paid the price when he started complaining of feeling cold after about five minutes. Bad mother. I kept it short and local, with a few laps around the park but, before we could enjoy the flat surface alongside the running track, we had to go over the ‘spirally footbridge’ that crosses the railway line. Oh my, it’s steep and I must have looked like I was going in slow motion on the way up, then like Laurel and Hardy on the way down!

I like running at this time of day, you see lots of women and older people plodding around happily and everyone is just getting on with their own thing. I did feel bad every time Hector said he was cold, and I did offer him my Grim T-shirt to keep him warm, but he took one look and said no. ‘Just once more up here, round here and back over the spirally footbridge and we will be home!’ I then promised to take him to the cafe for a hot chocolate to warm him up after I had changed. We both enjoyed that part of my run.

Janathon day 20:

Time: 32 minutes 32 seconds

Distance: 3.06 miles

Average Pace: 10.38

Best Pace: 6.51

Calories: 347


Janathon Day 19: Everybody Loves the Sunshine!

This morning was all about creating a ‘fantastic marble run’:

This afternoon was all about fitting in a run. I really didn’t want to have to run this evening again, so I persuaded Hector to climb into the running buggy and off we went. There is so much general faff involved in a running buggy run, far more than on a regular sort of run. First of all, I have to take pretty much everything out of the under-stair cupboard before performing a challenging and risky maneuver to dislodge the running buggy. Phew! Eventually, after discussion about gloves and sunglasses, we leave the house. It was a lovely day: bright, crisp, fresh, if slightly cold, and we just did an errand sort of run, picking some things up along the way. My ‘trainer’ was keen to get back and play, and I didn’t want to push it (and my knee is tender still. It’s a bit odd, sort of ok when I run, but painful when I go up and down the stairs, any ideas?).

Janathon day 19:

Time: 31 minutes 42 seconds

Distance: 3.27 miles

Average Pace: 09.52

Best Pace: 7.21

Calories: 284

Janathon Day 6: Running is for life, not just for January

I approached our house at the end of my run just as our neighbour was pulling up on his scooter. ”Have you been running?’ he enquired ‘That’s very New Year of you’. I put him straight on that one, dropping the Brighton Marathon casually into the conversation. Oh dear, I probably came across as a smug runner. He did say he had bought some running shoes for New Year, so I will look out for him as I avoid the mud in my own new shoes.

I started the day in my running gear, all set to go out for a running buggy run, but the rain just wasn’t stopping so we did a bit more of this:

Then spent lots of time building a fantastic railway line that travelled from our bedroom all the way to Hector’s room, encountering a step along the way. Then, having exhausted himself with all this building, Hector retired to his den:

We did have to leave the house this afternoon to go to Hector’s first swimming lesson at our new pool. He said: ‘Are we going to Crouch End?’. Ah, he can’t get his head round being south of the river! It was a great lesson, really well structured and challenging, and Hector seemed to like the teacher, who we had all to ourselves today. After getting wet again, but in the appropriate attire, we went outside to get wet in our inappropriate attire; I decided it was time I bought myself some wellies. I do have a problem with boots in general, having larger than average calf muscles, I simply can’t find a pair that fit (and don’t make me look like I also have huge ankles). Anyway, I found a pair that were cheap and cheerful (bright spots) and adjusted them to the furthest point on the buckle and made do with the tightness. I wore them home and we played the most exciting game of race each other to the next puddle and splash really hard. I recommend it.

My run was a dark, wet and quick one, while Edward and Hector made dinner 🙂 I kept to the roads, noting just how busy it is in the evening, compared with the morning. I really had to have my wits about me, with cars whizzing around at speed, their drivers angry and tired and not looking out for a darkly dressed figure passing briskly in front of them. I do feel the runs are easier after a few days, my lungs feel a bit more willing to join in and I actually enjoyed it, even if it was a bit grim out there.

Janathon day 6:

Time: 32 minutes 51 seconds

Distance: 3.16 miles

Average Pace: 10.24

Best Pace: 7.59

Calories: 352

Janathon Day 5: Down and dirty

It seems I made Edward late for work yesterday by running before breakfast, so I was dissuaded this morning. Knowing I would find it a challenge to get out after 8pm, I decided to shoe-horn the running buggy from the under-stair cupboard and head out with my co-pilot. Thankfully, Hector was really excited: ‘I love going running with you!’. It was such a bright and beautiful morning too, a real treat to be out there together, enjoying the diggers and mud in our local park first of all. There is a river running through the park and the diggers are working hard creating new paths, platforms and bridges to allow easier access to the river, even to the point of offering a great paddling spot come the summer. In the meantime, we do have to do a bit of wading, but it will be worth it in the end:

It’s been a while since I have run with Hector in the buggy, what with the snow and ice and everything, so I really did feel it today, especially when I had to take a hilly detour to avoid some really big mud swamps, talk about huffing and puffing! Today was to be an exploration of the Waterlink Way, a walking/running/cycle route that follows the river from Deptford Creek right down to Beckenham, passing very close to our house. It turned out to be a lovely route, if you forgive the section cutting through Wickes car park in Catford Bridge. I did find some spots a little secluded, but you always seem to be fairly close to life, even passing by the biggest Sainsbury’s I’ve ever seen. When I look at the map, it seems to offer quite a long run but, in reality, it’s not that far (the full length would, of course, be a good run!), but you could always add bits and loop here and there to extend the distance.

We went as far as Lower Sydenham, then turned towards home, churning our way through the mud on the way. I’d also forgotten how chatty Hector is when we’re running, asking questions, pointing things out, asking more questions and turning around to see where my answer is. I had to tell him I couldn’t talk right now because I was out of breath – we  paused to ‘have a chat’, then everything was alright again.

Janathon day 5:

Time: 48 minutes 03 seconds

Distance: 4.44 miles

Average Pace: 10.49

Best Pace: 7.23

Calories: 530

Nike Grid Crazy!

The whole of London (well, London’s running community at least) has gone Nike Grid crazy. London has been divided up into postcode areas and within these postcodes are four selected phone boxes. You run to your first phone box, dial the number, give your (pre-registered) details and start your run to the next box and so on. It doesn’t stop there of course, people can compete for various badges for frequency, speed and so on. I am beginning to think there should be a ‘nutter’ badge and an ‘obsessed’ badge.

I am running for Team Audiofuel, who are proving to be quite the running obsessives. I feel like the slower hanger-onner bringing up the rear, but being part of such a dedicated team is a real motivator, you wouldn’t catch me legging it up Green Lanes at nine o’clock on a Friday night after putting Hector to bed normally! My nearest postcode area is N4 and this means me running for about ten minutes before I even reach the first box. Now, I haven’t been in a phone box for years and, in this hi-tech age it seems a bit odd to be doing such a thing for a challenge organised by Nike, but go in a phone box I did. The first phone box was giving me jip and wouldn’t dial up, so I thought my race was over before I had begun, but things soon got going and off I went, dodging the crowds pouring out of restaurants and shops and leaping across roads to beat the green man.

It’s definitely a good interval session, and people make it into endurance, speed and hill sessions by mixing up the postcodes and trying to run every route possible in their area, something I plan to try at the weekend. I would love to have more time to try out the different areas, the Archway route looks like a doddle for instance, with three of the phone boxes being almost next to each other. Tomorrow, if the weather looks good, I might attempt a running buggy Nike Grid run, Hector has expressed and interest, as long as it includes a playground stop.


Time: 40 minutes 36 seconds

Distance: 4.15 miles

Average Pace: 9.48

Best Pace: 7.09

Calories: 432


Time: 42 minutes 44 seconds

Distance: 4.48 miles

Average Pace: 9.32

Calories: 413