Are these my thighs?

I think my thighs ache more than they did after the Brighton Marathon back in April, damn those British Military Fitness squat-pushers! The soreness hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for my knuckling down to half-marathon training promise, and I have been out and about being Ms Active for the past few days. Sunday was a non-running day. We had a children’s party up in Finsbury Park, so my activity was made up of a bike-East London Line-bike-party-bike-East London Line-bikeathon. The East London Line is great – you can take your bike on during off-peak times (check ahead of travel though, don’t take my word for it!) and we can get from near our house all the way up to Highbury and Islington before a small boy has given up and caused travel mayhem. The Islington side of the journey involved quite a hill, and I really did think my thighs might pop, but they held out long enough for me to test them again on Monday.

During the BritMilFit doo-dah on Saturday I was shown some mean new squats and a nifty little tree interval session, so decided to add this in to my morning run and see if it is possible to replicate such determined effort whilst on my own. It is. I ran at a fairly gentle pace as it was super hot then, dripping with sweat, I spotted my evenly spaced trees and went for it. Now, I am a focussed kind of person, but I am easily distracted by things that might interest a certain small boy. This meant that my first sprint was momentarily halted by a lovely bright green feather to present to Hector for his collection, a parakeet, something that we have an abundance of here in South East London! It felt good to test this new way of training, and I can definitely see how it’s going to help me reduce my times, if I stick at it.

Time: 33 minutes 10 seconds

Distance: 3.06 miles

Average Pace: 10.51

Best Pace: 6.25

Calories: 326

(this sort of run makes for an interesting range in pace!)

Today I wanted to go a bit further, just to ease out of that three mile rut I often find myself in, so it was a simple out and back along the Waterlink Way.

Time: 39 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 4.05 miles

Average Pace: 9.44

Best Pace: 8.24

Calories: 401

I’ve not decided what tomorrow will bring, but maybe it’s time to hit the track.


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

To be expected

This always seems to happen ahead of a big/long/long-awaited or much-anticipated race: I have a shitty run that makes me doubt whether or not I can do it. I should expect this by now. On Friday evening, Edward phoned to say he was going to be late. Having already prepared dinner for Hector and sat with him as he ate, and chatted, and chatted some more, I really didn’t feel like making yet another meal (and I’m sick of pasta, please someone remove the stuff from our cupboards!) so I said ‘Can you bring something home?’ and he did. In front of me was the biggest mountain of fish, chips and mushy peas ever, and I ate it all.


On Saturday morning I needed to fit in a run before my parents-in-law landed in London for the weekend, so I set off with a six-miler in mind. Straight away I knew it wasn’t going to happen: my sides ached and I felt heavy and sluggish, the fish and chip stitch had well and truly found its groove under my left ribs. I almost gave up straight away, but something kept me heading towards Finsbury Park, then I took in another lap of the local park, not wanting to go further in case I couldn’t manage it. I stopped by a tree, which felt odd because I have been running so well recently, and did a half-hearted and pointless stretch and dig in the ribs thing, then continued around the curve towards home. I’d had enough and simply knew it wouldn’t get any better. It was good that I returned home when I did and got showered and dressed because I could then enjoy tea and a chat with my lovely friend who popped by unexpectedly.

Another niggle that  has been challenging me this week has been achy knees. I haven’t suffered from knee problems for such a long time now (since having Hector actually, but that’s another thing to explore another time), so this was pretty disheartening. This morning though, I think I might have worked out why this has happened. As the weather has changed slightly, I have slowly made the transition from my summer Birkenstocks to my winter Birkenstocks and I really think this has made my feet and knees feel a bit out of sorts. Today I wore some walking shoes instead and the knees felt fine. I think I will stick to these for the rest of the week and try to be best prepared for the Cardiff Half Marathon. I’m a bit excited now!

Time: 20 minutes 1 second

Distance: 2.02 miles

Average Pace: 9.53

Best Pace: 8.26

Calories: 211

Indian summer

I’m so happy that the sun is out after all that rain in the past weeks, it feels almost like summer again, although I pull on a cardie and some socks in the evening… So, in the spirit of summer, we headed out to Finsbury Park this morning. I think Hector was glad to be back out in the running buggy, he does enjoy it whizzing along, telling me where to go and what to do. I can’t imagine where this bossiness comes from. We went via a different entrance today because I wanted to show him the outdoor gym they’ve installed. I was going to take a photo, but thought the people on board the machines might not be so happy about that. Every time I have been past this gym, there have been people using almost every machine, even before it was officially open. It’s a great idea because, before the outdoor gym was installed, people would use the nearby play area to do pull ups and so on, a bit intimidating for a small child! For anyone who hasn’t seen one of these gyms, they are a collection of heavy duty, brightly coloured machines to exercise various parts of the body. I imagine they use your own body weight to assist in the workout. One day I will have a go and report back (and take a photo).

We carried on up the hill, which I found far more difficult than on Sunday, with the running buggy ahead of me. We did pause at the sandpit and bumped into some friends, so it was a rather lovely morning/afternoon out.

Time: 46 minutes 28 seconds

Distance: 4.16 miles

Average Pace: 11.10

Best Pace: 8.27

Calories: 457

Last night I forced myself to go out for a run after dinner and after Hector had gone to bed, this meant leaving the house at about 8.30. It was dark. I am not a fan of evening runs around here, I had to stick to busy roads and loop around to make up the mileage. I also went on a bit of a detour to avoid a rowdy group of men on the main road. I think I should buy some reflective strips to make myself a bit more visible if I am to make a habit of going out in the evening – head to toe black is not a good idea.

Time: 32 minutes 31 seconds

Distance: 3.22 miles

Average Pace: 10.05

Calories: 318

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