Janathon Day 23: Thank you Edward

Thank you Edward for encouraging me to go out and do a long run. I have been suffering from a touch of Janathon Fatigue in the past few days (or week?), that feeling you have when you have run every day for three weeks and have got stuck in a three-mile rut. I have even been thinking I might not manage to train for the Brighton Marathon, and wondered if I should pull out. Edward knows me very well, and knows what I am capable of, sometimes more than I know or believe myself, and he said I should go out and do my planned twelve-mile run, so I did.

First of all, I did a little loop of the park to get me going and saw about ten runners; it was Lycra central down there! I then continued on to the Waterlink Way, through the Wickes car park (not one of the highlights of the route, in particular the stinky passage way that cuts under the road near Catford Bridge station. Please Lewisham Council, or whoever owns this area, can you sort it out?! It stinks of wee and is always littered with discarded cider bottles). Here I passed a group of around eight runners, all chatting happily to each other and almost ignoring me completely until I gave a cheery: ‘Morning!’. I experienced this lack of friendliness a few times on my run, with a number of people completely ignoring my greeting. Oi, you grumpy lot, I might be running on my own, but we are all in this together!

I continued along the Waterlink Way, this time determined to make it to Beckenham Place Park. It turns out I was very close last time, and would have stumbled across it if I had kept going for about a minute! It seems like a nice park, with good trail paths, which were pretty muddy in places, but it’s a shame that a lot of the space is dominated by a golf course. There is a building called ‘The Mansion House’, which seems to be in poor repair and some lovely buildings next to this, which appeared to have either a walled or rose garden, also with boarded-up or broken windows. I wondered why the fees from the golf can’t pay for the upkeep of these buildings. Amway, it’s not a huge park for running, so I found myself doing loops and eventually coming out of the park at a different point, thinking I could pick up the Waterlink Way again. This is where I got a bit lost. I was following a combination of Green Chain and National Cycle Network signs, and ended up at New Beckenham station, heading along what was signposted as the Green Chain, but didn’t seem to go anywhere. A friendly cyclist suggested I go further up where I found a good path leading to Lower Sydenham station (after a trek through an industrial estate) and the Waterlink Way. Here I saw a flash of Kingfisher blue to cheer me up.

It was actually good that I got lost, as my planned run wouldn’t have been twelve miles. I am finding this new route thing difficult, I can no longer think: ‘If I go along the canal to such a point then turn around, that will be so many miles…’. I will work it out eventually. On my return, I found the boys had not moved from the spot where I left them, having built some incredible Lego vehicles, including a helicopter with cogs to turn the propeller and a fantastic fire engine, complete with hose. We were all hungry by now, so had quail’s eggs for lunch:

This is not something we normally have – they were a gift – so we really enjoyed the loveliness of the shells, with their crisp blue insides.

Janathon day 23:

Time: 2 hours 6 minutes 3 seconds

Distance: 12.03 miles

Average Pace: 10.28

Best Pace: 6.48

Calories: 1345

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Not in

I, like many other hopeful runners, stepped over the Virgin London Marathon magazine that was on my doormat the other day as I came back from the park. I peered at it hopefully, but left it there after reading the word ‘commiserations’. I did go back later and pick it up to torture myself looking at photos of people running, and enjoying, the London Marathon. Oh well, I guess I knew I wouldn’t get in, it took me six attempts last time so I should think about another challenge for next year. I posted my sad news on Facebook and had a few interesting suggestions, including this wonderfully named event in Cumbria. I think this is the kind of thing I would like to do actually, it seems friendly, challenging and most of all scenic. I have spent some time in Kirkby Stephen before, when I did a residency there, so I know that the hardest part will be not stopping too much to enjoy the view. Other ideas were the Paris Marathon and the Rotterdam Marathon.

But as I have thought about it this week, I have realised that actually I might like to try a longer, more regular sort of challenge, something that could keep me on my toes for a whole year. How about running 26 miles every week, I don’t mean all in one go, but over the course of a week? I know many people cover this sort of mileage each week anyway, but this would be hard for me and would mean running about six days a week and would take a great deal of commitment. I like the idea of something that I could sustain over a year rather than cramming into a few months at the beginning to make it to the marathon. To start me off, I will have the boost of the icy new cousin/little brother of Juneathon, Janathon! As the winner of Juneathon 2010, I feel I have to pull out all the stops and grit my teeth over the frosty month of January to see if I can top my Juneathon mileage. We’ll see!

In the meantime I will be supporting/following/cheering on Warriorwoman, who did get a ballot place in the London Marathon, lucky thing.

This morning I was delighted to see the rain had stopped so I pulled on my gear and left the boys constructing complicated Lego vehicles with cogs and all sorts. I quickly realised my Garmin wasn’t going to last the whole run, with just an hour’s juice on the clock, so asked Edward if I could borrow his iPhone. I had it in the iPhone armband, which can feel a bit like you are having your blood pressure taken, but is certainly firmly kept in place by the wide velcro strip. I felt good on this run but my knees were feeling slightly creaky; I really could do with a new pair of shoes. I had aimed to run ten miles, but the iPhone kept saying ‘Low Battery’, so I knew this was going to die on me as well, which it did at around 7 miles. At a guess I would say the remainder of the run was about two and a half miles, so just short of ten. I had another of my Goodness Shakes powders, this time using the gigantic bottle that came with them instead of the smaller water bottle I used last week, this does make a difference and meant I didn’t have to filter out powdery lumps with my teeth.

Now we will make the most of this glorious sunshine and ride up to Hampstead Heath for some leaf-kicking and conker-picking.

Left or right?

I got lost. Well, not exactly lost, just over-shot my turning by a couple of miles and found myself having to run that little bit further to make it to my family meeting point. With the Cardiff Half Marathon just three weeks away now, I decided to run ten miles over the weekend and, in my attempt to fit this all in with family life, we agreed to meet at Coram’s Fields, which is near Russell Square. It was a gorgeous morning and a delight to run along the canal, with the sunlight sparkling on the water. Edward suggested running all the way along the canal to Victoria Park, then taking the Regent’s Canal towards King’s Cross.

The first bit is very familiar territory, being a well-trodden path of mine, and I saw the usual sights and encountered the usual handful of runners, then I ventured slightly further than I have been for a long time along the towpath, in fact it’s probably been over a year and a half since I ran down that way, so I wasn’t entirely sure what lay ahead. I remembered from my London Marathon training runs that you could hit a bit of a no-way-through point on arriving at the Olympic site, so was pleased to find my way through easily and to enjoy the view of a growing cluster of stadia and accompanying buildings through a high security fence (this is better than the secretive hoardings that used to be here). As you run along here, it is interesting to look both ways and observe the vast differences between the east side of the water and the west: one gleams with newness and is dripping with the money invested in it, while across the water you see graffiti-plastered industrial buildings lying empty or crumbling with decay. It turns out I should have been on that side of the canal. That says it all!

I felt myself beaming at other runners along this stretch, everyone seeming to glow with the excitement of being so close to the scene of future sporting achievement and glory, and I felt myself picking up the pace as I imagined the times being beaten behind those elaborate structures to my left. As I enjoyed this daydream I noticed the canal branching out west with no way of getting over to join it. ‘Oh well’, I thought ‘I can pick it up further along’. Of course, this didn’t happen and I found myself in a busy gyratory asking some workmen the way to Victoria Park, only to be greeted with them pointing and saying ‘Black tunnel, black tunnel’. I was heading more towards Greenwich Park than Victoria Park…via the Blackwall Tunnel. I know this spot only too well after we found ourselves stuck here on our way to a wedding, with the tunnel closed for repair. Not exactly the lovely canal-side run I had planned, but not the end of the world.

The next leg of the run was Bow Road. I found myself looking into the distance at the gherkin, thinking ‘If I head that way, I’ll be able to find my way to Coram’s Fields’, and speeding up at the same time, to make it go a bit quicker. I stopped once or twice to look at bus-stop maps and ask a girl if I was heading the right way (‘You could get on a train’ she said!) but realised I would get very cold if I didn’t keep on running. I was soon passing through Mile End then Whitechapel (oh, how I would love to have stopped to tuck into some delicious food at Tayyabs…), where some people were passing through the doors of the Whitechapel Gallery, which tempted me to pause…I didn’t. Now I started to wonder if I should head north, or just keep heading west in a straight line. The west won and I passed into the city.

Anyone who has ever run the Crisis Square Mile race will know that a GPS is useless in the city, and I was reminded of this here. My signal disappeared straight away, and came and went for the rest of this leg of the journey. I passed all the sights: the gherkin, the Royal Exchange, the Bank of England and all of the many tiny and ancient churches along the way. It was about here that my Garmin said I had run ten miles but, when I next looked down, it had jumped back to nine miles, I felt a bit disheartened by this. I did take a turn up towards Moorgate then passed by Smithfield Market. Not far now. Eventually, I was delighted to see Grays Inn Road, then remembered the last time I had walked along here recently when I had a wisdom tooth removed at the dental hospital: I was weaving around like a drunk apparently!

Next turning on the left was Guilford Street, where I gave it one last effort and rolled up at the gates to the playground where there was a family fun day with fire engines, police vans, drumming, face painting and the usual cheeky goats, rabbits and chickens. If you have children and are in central London, it’s a fantastic place to let them run around and play, we often end up spending a whole day there. Of course, I headed straight to the sandpit where I was bound to find Hector digging away. ‘Hello Mummy, did you have a good run?’.

Time: 1 hour 57 minutes 12 seconds

Distance: 11.03 miles (I am saying it was 12 though because the signal was caput)

Average Pace: 10.38

Best Pace: 7.13

Calories: 1141

I *heart* London

Oh dear, I have a bit of a backlog to report here, yesterday I attempted to sit down and blog, but got distracted and the next thing I knew it was way past my bedtime. I wonder how on earth I managed Juneathon, blogging EVERY DAY! I have been keeping up with the running but not so the blogging.

On Sunday I needed to run eight miles as part of my quest to have an enjoyable Cardiff Half Marathon, but we had family plans that involved playing at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. So I ran there. I had woken from an annoying dream that morning, where I was running the London Marathon but had arrived late and without my Garmin, and kept getting lost along the way; this run blew away the remains of that frustrating nighttime run. I really enjoy this kind of run, a leap away from my regular loopy runs, where I tread the same old ground over and over, here I could go from A to B and see all sorts of things along the way.

First I ran over to Finsbury Park, nothing new there, then carried on out at the far end to meet a stream of traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian along Seven Sisters Road, how odd for there to be so many people about on a Sunday morning. As I ran along here I started to feel a little bit rough and needed the loo, I looked around for somewhere to duck in and out of, and ended up doing something I only do in absolute desperation, and went into MacDonalds. I was so obviously not a customer, sneaking in all sweaty and breathless, I certainly wasn’t going to be sampling the menu and downing a bucket of Coke. I soon found that I would have to ask to be let into the loos, as some nice elderly people, who I imagine sit in the same spot every day and see the same thing happening all the time, kindly told me I had to go and ask at the till. Of course, this wasn’t straightforward and involved me going back and forth a few times to let the staff know the door still wasn’t open. I wish I’d left the Garmin running as I must have clocked a few hundred meters.

Next ‘point of interest’ was Holloway prison. It felt odd to be running so close to the perimeter wall of a prison that nestles between flats, shops, schools and playgrounds. I felt slightly melancholy as I considered the people in there and the mum sitting at the bus stop outside with her two small children. And on I went, up the hill towards Camden Town. These kinds of runs are interesting for the contrast between the areas you pass through: one minute I was quietly passing residential streets with neat hedges, then thundering along busy, grimy roads towards high-rise jungles, picking my way through the left-over revellers of the night before and out into the fresh air of Regent’s Park with its grand white houses inhabited by household names. I paused to cross the road into the park, and kept finding myself stopping and starting as yet another speedy cyclist on a skinny framed bike flashed past in a blur of lycra.

It felt good to run through Regent’s Park, weaving through tourists, Sunday walkers, families and a group who appeared to be undertaking a sponsored walk for charity. I ducked and dived to avoid spoiling photographs of fountains and beautifully tended flower beds, and stepped out into Marylebone. It was here that things got a bit muddled. When Edward worked over in Chelsea, he used to cycle this way every day, covering a crazy 20 odd miles there and back, so he had told me a good, direct route to follow but, for some reason, I decided to ignore his advice here and ended up going slightly off course. This wasn’t a bad thing as it meant I got to pass over the canal near Paddington and see some lovely houseboats taking a slow Sunday meander through Little Venice. I was soon hurdling giant wheeled suitcases outside Paddington station and following my original course towards my Hyde Park destination.

I knew I was there when I spotted the fences covered in bright blobby paintings of flowers and fruit, and I happily passed through the gates to join the many, many runners who contribute to the desire lines around the far reaches of the park. From here I could just make out the wooden walls of the playground cafe and the busy activity of lots of small people eagerly heading towards a centre of fun. I resisted the temptation to just cut across the grass, and instead followed a strict and angular path to my final stopping point. After a brief stretch I phoned Edward who came to let me in – you can’t go into the playground without a child and, for once, I fell into that category.

Time: 1 hour 27 minutes 14 seconds

Distance: 8.55 miles

Average Pace: 10.12

Best Pace: 6.39

Calories: 780

Coming soon: The Adidas Women’s 5k Challenge – runners with handbags! Success and delight at the Tottenham Flower Show – see the cakes, lick your lips!

Cardiff in sight

Oh hello! Yes, my running has taken a sideline recently. I got into a good groove before we went away, running in the evening, doing sit-ups, stretching, that kind of thing, then we went to Cornwall for a week and I lost my mojo again. I eagerly packed my running kit before anything else, then promptly left it in the boot of the car for the rest of the week. I was having far too much fun playing in the sand, catching my breath in the sea and eating lots and lots of delicious cream teas. Drool. Oh, and quenching my thirst with this stuff:

I became rather adept at my new obsession, stone balancing, excellent fun and ever so satisfying when you manage a tricky one:

Anyway, that was almost a month ago, so I thought I needed to get back on course and took advantage of this Bank Holiday weekend and went for a couple of runs and three bike rides. The first run was a little tester to see if I was actually still alive. I was. It was windy and grey and felt more like October than August, but I managed about three miles and a bit (dodgy Garmin stats again). On Sunday I couldn’t find my Garmin anywhere (it turned up under the bed, as things do) so Edward said I could use his iPhone. I did comment that I find it irritating that you can’t just look down at your wrist to see how far you’ve gone, but this particular app tells you out loud when you’ve completed another mile. I did six. In October I am running the Cardiff Half Marathon, so that’s about six weeks away. I figure I could add a mile a week to the long run and things should be just fine, slow and steady.

I ran to Finsbury Park for this one. Again it was windy, but it felt nice to run around Finsbury Park outside the constrains of the Parkrun: there are hills, but I avoided anything as horrible as the one we run up twice during the 5k. On both of my runs this week I witnessed men peeing in parks, the first one I reprimanded, but this one just puzzled me. There was a fun fair in the park and he was one of the fair people who had obviously been spending the night amongst the lights and dizzying rides in his caravan. Now, I have very little experience of caravans, but I do know that they generally have a loo in them, don’t they? So why would you go outside and pee next to it? Dirty.

Time: 1 hour 4 minutes 45 seconds

Distance: 6.18 miles

Average Pace: 10.28

Calories: 932

How generous the iPod is with calories, I took advantage of this with an extra big bowl of my blackberry crumble.

Another reason for my lack of running is that I am slightly distracted by moving house. Our sale is going through now but we were having trouble finding anywhere to move to. We seem to have found ‘the one’ now and are looking forward to a smooth move. This has set me thinking about running routes. We picked our blackberries on Tottenham Marshes and I said I am going to miss them (as does Jogblog), this half marathon will be the last race where I will train on the marshes and canals, the routes that have seen me through two marathons and numerous other running challenges. I wonder if I will find anywhere as wonderful where we are moving to. One thing that does excite me is the possibility of being just minutes away from a running club, and running is the best way to explore a new area and find out where everything is.

30/30, do I get a gold star?

I did it, I ran every day of Juneathon 2010 and loved it. I just know I am going to feel very lost without the loveliness of knowing you have a team of supporters out there, cheering you on from the comfort of their desks. I commented on Twitter that I wanted to find a way of making it interesting for the last day, Lawrence suggested running backwards, how unfortunate that I only read this on my return (though I think I could get arrested for trying to do so with Hector in the running buggy)! So, I just did a regular Wednesday run to our lovely canal-side group, with a bit tagged on to take in a trip to the sorting office to collect a birthday card that didn’t have the correct postage on it. How sad is that, you have to pay Ā£1.10 to pick up your own card?! Silly Royal Mail.

The other day I was wondering if I would carry on into July, but today’s run answered my question, my shins were really aching, something that has waited until the last day thankfully. I know this is down to all the extra mileage, but is also due to my shoes being on their last legs – both pairs have started squeaking in the last week: ‘squeak, squeak, we are really old and squashy!’ So it’s a little rest for the shins and I will resume the running in a few days with a half-marathon schedule to try to crack two hours in August.

Hector picked up this hockey stick at the group and, without being told how, hit a ball really skilfully. I got excited about this new game, but it wasn’t long before he changed it into a strimmer and started cutting the grass.

Stats for Juneathon Day 30

Type of run: Pushing a running buggy

Time: 39 minutes 22 seconds

Distance: 3.73 miles

Average Pace: 10.33

Best Pace: 5.42

Calories: 361

Stats for Week 4+

Runs: 9

(6 pushing a running buggy, 3 without)

Total miles: 24.27

So Juneathon TOTALS:

Runs: 30

(18 pushing a running buggy, 12 without)

Total miles: 108.41

And, to finish Juneathon, an unlikely road name:

Come on England!

Really, they have to win, or the country will be in such a grump. So, I charged up my Garmin and tried it out to see if it still works, but it’s talking nonsense so I took my F50 and footpod with me instead. The F50 was saying ‘LoBatt’ so I didn’t hold up much hope for it lasting the run. One thing I noticed while it was still going was that, as my hand is at a funny angle when I’m running with the buggy, it kept switching off, so there was a whole stretch where it was off when I thought it was on. Hmmmm. The good thing about the brick that is a Garmin 201 is that it switches on and stays on until you press really, really hard. So, today’s run is carefully traced along the roads of Gmaps again, and I will try and get a new battery for the F50 for tomorrow.

I noticed some beautiful blossom on our run:

In support of the England players, Hector and I put the flags back on the running buggy, this made for some jolly comments. We had a couple of toot-toots from white vans and a few ‘Come on England’s interestingly from African people. Seeing those South African fans yesterday made me realise that the England fans really need to pull their socks up and give some encouragement!

Stats for Juneathon Day 23

Type of run: Pushing a running buggy

Time: Not known

Distance: 3.38 miles

Average Pace: Not known

Best Pace: Not known

Calories: Not known