Sweatshop London Marathon Store

As a sponsor of parkrun, Sweatshop award a runner from each event a voucher to buy new shoes each month. These runners are nominated by the event team for their attendance, effort, achievement, enthusiasm, whatever the team considers makes them stand out and deserving of the title of ‘Runner of the Month’. In March I managed to bag myself four PBs (with a cheeky one at the end of February making it five), and the Hilly Fields team plotted quietly behind my back to put me forward. Last week I took some time out to travel up to the London Marathon Store to get my shiny new shoes 🙂

London Marathon Store

London Marathon Store

It was great having the opportunity to have my gait analysed as my shoes are very worn out and I have been suffering from knee pain which, even though I have been seeing the physio for a while now, just isn’t going away. First of all I had my feet scanned and it was clear that I have a pretty neutral gait, so we tested this by putting on some neutral shoes and filming me running on a treadmill. I could see straight away on the video that my left foot falls out very slightly and my right foot falls in. It’s a tiny amount, so Jason and I worked our way through the various shoes he suggested and it was interesting to see just how different the different brands feel, with some feeling tighter around the toes, some feeling wide and one pair feeling downright clip-cloppy! Of course, after getting Jason to go in and out to the stock room numerous times, I plumped for the pair of shoes I tried on originally, some Mizuno Wave Riders…the shoe I have run in for ages. Typical. Once I’d sorted out my shoes, I also wanted to take the opportunity to try on a sports bra and was pleased to find out that the staff offer a bra-fitting service.

Shiny and new

Shiny and new

After I finished shopping (I needed elasticated laces for my new shoes for the triathlon of course), Jason showed me around the basement of the store. I was surprised to find a fantastic facility with lockers, showers and lot of room for eager runners to get ready for their adidas 26RS running groups. These are regular runs of varying distances and paces, and would be ideal for someone who works in the area: just pop out for a lunch time or post-work run, shower and get straight back to work/home.

Changing facilities

Changing facilities

The runs are at these times:

Mon: 1pm (5km), Mon: 6.30pm (5km), Wed: 1pm (Beginners 5km), Wed: 6.30pm (Beginners 5km), Thur: 6.30pm (10km), Fri: 1pm (5km) and Sunday at 9.30 (distance confirmed by email).

On Saturday, Steve from the London Marathon Store came along to Hilly Fields to try out our course and share some vouchers with our runners. He loved it (of course!), saying it had a cross-country feel and he enjoyed the challenge of the hills. I like an enthusiastic visitor 🙂




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.

My tenth Parkrun and a Juneathon win

I had a big smile on my face as I cycled over to Finsbury Park this morning, I had had a quick look at Twitter before I left and found out I had ‘won’ Juneathon. My wrist felt a bit airy as I pedalled along and I realised I’d left my Garmin at home, for a second I considered turning back then thought ‘Nah’ and carried on, all carefree and happy. I was even there early enough to stretch a bit, chat and saunter over to the start line feeling fresh rather than frantic, as I normally do. The heat was a challenge on this race, and I enjoyed the downhill stretch, not just for it’s downward properties, but also for the shade it offered. I chatted with someone called Roz on the way round, we found we ran at the same pace and used this to push ourselves and each other along a bit. I don’t normally do this, but it seemed to work and, on the second hill I thought I had left her behind, but she had walked a bit to gain some strength and sped through towards the finish line ahead of me! I think we’ve started something.

I will post my result for this race later when I get the Parkrun email, but I think Roz managed a PB, which is great!

So, to Juneathon. I am delighted to be the winner, but also shocked when you consider all the people who took part this year and the effort that was made to reach personal goals and pass markers from previous years that left some defeated. Everyone has a Juneathon story and it’s fantastic to be a part of this, to share in the ups and downs of a month of jolly hard work. There were so many people blogging this year that I found it hard to keep up at times, goodness knows how Cathy and Shaun managed it! I could sit here all day listing the various blogs I have enjoyed and the many achievements followed, but one person I really enjoyed following was Deepa. I saw her mention running on the first of June on Twitter, and asked her to join us in Juneathon, so she set up a blog for herself and dedicated some time each day to a different activity, managing to run on 22 of the 30 days, amazing when you consider that she’s pretty new to running. That’s what it’s all about.

Of course, my Juneathon wouldn’t be possible without the support of my two-strong team of coaches, Edward and Hector. Thank you to Edward for encouraging me and making time for me to fit in a run on some very busy family days (June is a crazy birthday month in our house) and a BIG HUGE thank you to my little fella Hector for accompanying me so enthusiastically and shouting: ‘Faster Mummy!’ on those hard bits, you little super star!

Ingerlund, Ingerlund, Ingerlund!

I think we deserve some sort of extra special Juneathon loving for getting to the Parkrun this morning. Hector slept until 8am (!) so we had to throw our clothes on and just go, without breakfast. My cold of recent days had escalated into a nasty cough, complete with Mariella Frostrup vocal tones and I felt a bit like this trolley:

We got there though, just as the runners started to head over to the start. Today Edward was being Dad runner and pushing Hector around. He said to Hector: ‘Maybe we will try and catch up with Mummy’ but, of course, he is just as fast even when pushing Hector and they were soon well ahead. It was hard today: no breakfast and a chesty whatnot equals a tough race, I even walked for a bit on THE HILL both times. Team Prince Hill was waiting for me at the finish line to give a little cheer and we headed over to the sandpit for a quick play before grabbing some breakfast.

Hector and I have a fun new game we play on our trips out and about: spot the flag on a vehicle. This round trip resulted in 63 England flags, 1 Italian flag and 2 Cameroonian flags. Then, at Sainsburys we gave in and pimped Hector’s running buggy, entering a whole new chavvy world.

He did get a ‘Roll on England!’ from a chap passing in his car!

Stats for Juneathon Day 12

Type of run: Race

Time: 29 minutes 56 seconds

Distance: 3.08 miles

Average Pace: 9.43

Best Pace: 4.40

Calories: 339

Another day another playground another run

Word is the new playground at Springfield Park is open! We passed by the other week on our bikes but there were still railings around the play area and Hector was most put out, so I thought it would be good to run down there and have a look today. This means a lovely run along the canal, and all the interesting sights that brings. We like to play a game of ‘spot the cormorant’ – they duck under the water and don’t pop up again for ages, usually miles away from where they went down. What fun! I just managed to catch this one before it disappeared again:

The playground was indeed open and it has a lovely sand area, with a fantastic wooden boat to climb on and in and some springy thingies to bob up and down on…

It is super hot out there today (they said it would be 27 degrees on the weather report this morning) so running is hard-going. I am finding it hard to keep on top of all the extra washing, so have ended up wearing odd race t-shirts that are normally reserved for decorating, they are surprisingly ok and I enjoy the extra length but they are certainly clingy in this sweaty weather! I also need to invest in some new running bras as I ended up putting on a clean but still damp one this morning and, while I’m at it, some new running shoes wouldn’t go amiss! Who said running is a cheap sport?

On our way out of the park we had to pause a while and watch this man at work. He was preparing the cricket pitch for the weekend.

Stats for Juneathon Day 4

Type of run: Pushing buggy

Time: 51 minutes 23 seconds

Distance: 5.01 miles

Average Pace: 10.16

Best Pace: 6.53

Calories: 557

This morning I entered the UF Dance Half Marathon again – I did it last year in scorching hot weather, but really enjoyed how friendly it was, so decided to give it another go. I’m a bit disappointed that the Finsbury Parkrun is cancelled tomorrow, something to do with a concert set-up, I’ll just have to do my own 5k instead.

Run Free, Finsbury Parkrun

I managed to enlist a couple of eager running buddies for today’s Finsbury Parkrun. It was a special ‘Run Free’ event to try and encourage runners to bring first-timers and family and friends, with a picnic in the park afterwards. We got off to a dodgy start, with our ‘alarm clock’ oversleeping until 8am (this is unheard of, Hector always wakes early!). This meant a mad rush around, trying to get breakfast, get dressed and get out by 8.30 to get to Finsbury Park on time with the running buggy (it’s way too big to get on the bus). We did it and met up with all the other runners outside the cafe, just on time.

This was to be Hector’s first ever race, and he was rather excited and enjoyed the buzz of it all. On the way to the park, Edward was complaining about his aching joints and was all set to run with us, even maybe pushing the buggy but, as soon as we gathered alongside the other runners, he got all competitive and said: ‘Have a good race’ and left us for dust! I’m glad he did, because he is such a natural runner, he needs to have a challenge. I must say, it was harder doing this hilly course with Hector in tow, though he was a delight all the way round, asking questions, pointing things out and generally being a little sweetie, but chatting during a race is not easy! That hill was a toughie, and I found myself virtually going backwards, but I did it (twice) and soon we were on our way to the finish line.

I heard a familiar whistle and saw Edward, who had stormed ahead, finishing in 22.04, and he popped along to encourage us to the finish. I knew this wouldn’t be a fast one and really just wanted to involve all the family in something I enjoy so much. It worked, and Edward is all set to join us in Juneathon next week and might even train a bit to get a faster time in the future.

(we look a bit like a Lucozade promotion here)

After the race some of the more organised runners had very kindly been busy baking and shared their delicious cakes, unfortunately it started to drizzle a bit and take a turn for the chilly, so we had to exit early to warm up the little fella, but I do think we’ll be back for more soon.

Time: 32 minutes 7 seconds

Distance: 3.10 miles

Average Pace: 10.22

Best Pace: 7.05

Calories: 395

I did a bit of a run yesterday with Hector too, to Crouch End and back to get his hair cut.

Time: 50 minutes 45 seconds

Distance: 4.49 miles

Average Pace: 11.19

Calories: 489

Runny mummy

It was a happy Mother’s Day, started a bit early for my liking (yes, we’re back to those dreaded pre-six o’clock starts again), but was made all the more sweeter by a fantastic card depicting Hector and me driving diggers, a big bunch of tulips and some delightful goodies from ‘I Knit, London’.

I love being Hector’s mummy.

On the running front, things have picked up a bit from the recent spate of once-a-week runs (!!), and now the sun is coming out again, we are able to do our daily wanders by running buggy, a far nicer way to get about than the bus (except, of course, if it’s a Routemaster like in the above photo). I did a race the other week, – jeez, it takes me a while to blog my runs at the moment – the Heathside 5 Miler in Finsbury Park. I know Finsbury Park well, so was fully aware that there would be hills, but four times up the same hill suddenly seemed a bit cheeky as I stood staring at it on the start line. It was a lovely morning, if a bit ‘fresh’, but I soon got warmed up and enjoyed every second, not something I normally say in a race report. I do think the Parkrun 5ks have helped me approach races with a more positive outlook, I seem to find it easier to focus on my own experience now rather than fretting about all the panting people around me. I didn’t hold out much hope for a PB, with it being hilly and with my woeful lack of training, but I somehow managed to finish in 47 minutes, only two minutes slower than  my five mile PB! Yay! I’m not sure why, but when I approach a hill, I suddenly feel a wave of determination wash over me and dig my heels in until the worst is over, I even found myself overtaking people on the hills! There was one poor woman who I ran with for the whole race, mostly just behind her (pros would call this ‘drafting’ but I just couldn’t catch her) then, on the last hill I left her for dust, I bet she really hated me at that moment. All in all, a good race and the t-shirt was great too – black with sparkly print and you got to choose your size, I shall wear this one for something other than decorating.

In addition to this little Sunday saunter, I have been doing quite a few buggy runs, over to Hornsey Rise, up to Finsbury Park and today we headed over to Markfield Park. These runs are a sort of interval training, with the ‘intervals’ being filled with play, digger-watching and pausing to ask Hector what he’s saying. It’s amazing what these runs do for my spirit though, I feel like this winter has gone on and on forever, as if someone has inserted an extra month without asking, so to see some sunlight is sheer bliss.

The knitting is going well too, here is my latest piece, a cosy to keep bananas protected in my bag: