Octoberthon. It’s like Oktoberfest but without the beer.

Well, maybe the odd glass on a Friday evening.

I am feeling a bit sluggish and porky around the middle at the moment and, after my BIG walk last week (which I will write about when I get a chance, really I will), I feel encouraged and inspired to push myself a little bit further than I have been doing of late. So I have decided to take decisive action and commit to a daily activity. Remember Juneathon? Well, this is just like that but it’s in October and doesn’t necessarily involve daily blogging, which I found more challenging than the daily running (look, I’m making all this up, so I can make up my own rules and do what the heck I like). I will attempt to run every day, with a limit of no fewer than three miles and, as I will be perusing the Venice Biennale for a few days towards the end of the month, I will make up for those lost days at the beginning of November (as I said, I make up the rules ok?).

To start you off, I ran to Hector’s swimming lesson and back yesterday and boy did I look like some sort of lardy, asthmatic (yes, I am) beginner! I gasped up Hornsey Rise like a steam train, pausing at the top pretending to look at a digger and roller combo. Coming home was a little easier, but I still felt totally out of condition. Here are the stats:

Time: 52 minutes 59 seconds

Distance: 4.92 miles

Average Pace: 10.46

Best Pace: 8.53

Calories: 512

This afternoon I popped Hector in the running buggy in a desperate attempt to get him to have a sleep. Of course he slipped into gentle slumber within minutes of setting off and I enjoyed a saunter along the canal. There is a lovely new cafe near the playground at Markfield Park, so my longer runs will be full of temptation as the delicious-looking carrot cakes call me from the path of righteousness.

Time: 35 minutes 58 seconds

Distance: 3.47 miles

Average Pace: 10.21

Best Pace: 7.55

Calories: 377

So, does anyone want to join me? I found Juneathon a great motivator and this could be just what we need to get back on track for the dark months ahead. Has anyone heard about a place in the VLM and needs a bit of a kick start? Go on, you know you want to!


Hot Hackney Half

My preparation for this race was very poor. I didn’t exactly train towards a half-marathon and certainly didn’t get enough long runs in, so I was ever so slightly aprehensive about this one when I woke up yesterday morning! I didn’t even take it easy on Saturday, instead opting to cycle up lots of hills to Highgate Wood to have some active fun climbing on fallen trees and picking up acorns and leaves for Hector’s new nature table. I am a bad, bad runner.

I had read lots of good reports about this half on the Runner’s World website and had the feeling it would be quite laid back and have a good atmosphere, so that eased my tension a bit…and so did the bike ride there. The race was due to start over at Hackney Marshes at 11am, with the registration closing at 10.30 and the best and most direct way for me to get there was to cycle the four or five (or more?) miles along the canal.


It was such a gorgeous morning and quite a rarity for me to be cycling along by myself. I could sense already that it was going to be a real scorcher, so I took it easy, not wanting to completely knacker myself out before I even got there.

There were a few people (this is a small race with only around 400 runners) milling about, some in the shade of the trees, reading the Sunday papers and chatting with friends. All very civilised. I locked up my bike and registered with the very friendly volunteers then put my bag in the tent. As I was registering I got chatting to the man behind me. We were joking about our race numbers – I was 4 and he was 1 – saying it made us seem like elites. It turned out this was his first race and he had reached this point via an extreme feat of losing around four stone. Aaron was aiming to run in around two and a half hours, so I wished him luck and admired his sheer dedication at getting to the start line in the first place. I made what felt like my one hundredth trip to the loo (they allow you to use the facilities at the club house to get changed and showered) then settled down under a tree. Eventually we were asked to make our way over to the start where a lovely man who turned out to be the first ever winner of The Gladiators (!) did a ‘warm-up’. It was ace! It certainly calmed any nerves and made us acknowledge the other runners as we did a sort of Usain Bolt dedication dance, complete with the arm movement and posturing.

And we were off.

One thing that made me waiver about entering this race was the fact that it consists of six laps of the marshes, and I feared it might be sheer hell, but I soon realised I love laps, they rock! By now the sun was blazing down (maybe an earlier start might be a good idea) so it was a welcome relief to find ourselves running alongside the river under the dappled shade of the trees. This was my favourite part of each lap, but was soon followed by the very exposed and rubbly area nearer the Walthamstow end of the marshes. Here you had to watch your footing and wipe away the sweat dripping from your slowly burning brow. As this is a lap race, you pass the marshals a few times, getting to feel a familiarity which is emphasised as they consult their list of names and call out a personalised encouragement (being number 4 I was easy to find, so got a shout-out nearly every time!). As you approach the start/finish area each time, you bear left, taking in the drinks station and a group of drummers, enduring their own challenge as they beat out an encouraging rhythm on a selection of bongos and the like.

Things were going really well and I have realised that I am much more suited to this type of race: small field, rural (sort of) setting, laps, but I was finding it tiring constantly overtaking then being overtaken by the same group of people, as we were obviously running at a similar pace and playing catch-up throughout. The race organisers were very trusting and asked us to keep track of our own laps, and I was doing alright until I hit a point where I wasn’t sure if I was in the fifth or final lap – I started running faster then took a look at my Garmin and realised I had a bit further to go than I thought. Damn. It was ever so tempting to veer right on the fifth lap and take a glory finish up with the whippets, but I thought better of it and took on my last two miles or so.

I hadn’t really had a plan about how I would do it all, just knew I might find it hard through lack of focussed training (and the heat), but I hadn’t imagined I would walk. A woman ahead of me (one of the ones I kept playing catch-up with) started walking and I thought ‘I’m not going to walk. I’m not going to walk. Oh, damn it, I’m walking!’. So the last lap was a bit trying, doing the ‘only to that tree, then I’ll run’ thing. This final saunter round gave me a chance to thank all the lovely marshals for their encouragement and support, it can’t have been much fun sitting in direct sunlight for a few hours for them either!  So towards the finish line I headed, surrounded by the amazing cheers of the group of women at the end, they were just fantastic! I hadn’t had much to drink on my way round, just a few sips from my bottle of Lucozade Sport and some water in the last lap – I didn’t want a repeat of the dreadful cramp at London Marathon, so now I was ready to glug down as much water as I could get my hands on and the women at the water station were only too happy to keep on filling up my bottle.

I’ve done lots of races where you get a goody bag filled with odd bits of useless toiletry items, like mini deodorants and so on, but this was probably the most useful goody bag I have ever received: a giant bagel, a knife, some margerine, jam and cheese, two bananas, an orange and a muesli bar. Perfect, just what you need after running a half-marathon! I sat near the drummers and scoffed it down. As I sat there I saw the winners collecting their cups, fast types they were too, finishing in 1.09 and 1.30. But the real winner hobbled towards me a little later, beaming from ear to ear. Number 1, Aaron had finished in 2.29, just under his target time. Excellent!

I shall be entering the UFDance Half-Marathon again next year.

Time: 2 hours 15 minutes 10 seconds

Distance: 13.07 miles

Average Pace: 10.22

Best Pace: 7.18

Calories: 1367

And some stats from a run around Finsbury Park last week:

Time: 40 minutes 19 seconds

Distance: 3.69 miles

Average Pace: 10.56

Best Pace: 8.53

Calories: 408

Clicking into place

After a touch of the gloomies this week, I have swept away all negativity with possibly one of my best runs ever. I had my usual moments of uncertainty and pessimism as I left the house, but I soon found my pace and didn’t look back once. I had been fretting all week about getting some energy gels for this run, but I settled for the bag of jelly babies Edward had picked up for me in M&S after being unable to find them in our local shop. These jelly babies played a big part in my initial mindset: ‘At three miles I will pause and have a slurp of Lucozade Sport, then at six miles I will chomp on some jelly babies, then at ten miles I can have another…’ that sort of thing. But when I reached my three miles canal cross-over point, there was man standing right in my spot…so I decided to let him have it and carried on running. I did take on my fuel throughout the run, but it was nowhere near an issue as I had anticipated, I just felt so damn good about everything that I simply refuelled as and when I felt the need. I must say, M&S jelly babies are now my fuel of choice, soft enough to suck and with a nice flavour; I will place another order with Edward for next Sunday.


I had left the boys to go swimming and had arranged to meet them at the Clissold Leisure Centre so Edward could have a proper swim while I played with Hector in the toddler pool, so I had this end point in the back of my mind as I ran. It was nice to think of a hot shower then a dip and some tasty food along Church Street. I’m not sure what it was about this run that made everything fall into place, but I do hope I feel like this on Marathon day because, when I reached the six mile point I didn’t think ‘Oh no, another ten miles to go!’ but ‘In a few weeks I will have another twenty miles to go. Can I do it? Yes!’ Saturday night’s dinner was a big pile of curry and rice with bits and bobs at Indian Veg on Chapel Market in Islington, to celebrate Ellie’s 30th birthday. Breakfast was my usual porridge with honey and a cup of tea, and two glasses of water between getting up and going out. I am perfectly happy to repeat the curry dinner each week if that’s what did it…


One thing that definitely lifted my spirits was the glorious sunshine. I know there are people who really do suffer with SAD at this time of year but I think we all do to an extent, and a bit of sunshine does wonders for your mood. The canal looked lovely, with the light sparkling on the surface and frisky geese flying overhead…and careless rowers crashing into each other. Oops! I felt a bit sorry for the lone young lad who crashed into the four ladies, he looked rather sheepish as they stared him out.

I ran as far as the Olympic Village again, but this time I turned left before hitting the duel carriageway, and found myself running through a nice wooded area with soft muddy paths. The miles ticked by and I passed the riding school, enjoying the view over the marshes and biting the heads off some more jelly babies. The latter part of my run was to get me to the leisure centre and I wasn’t entirely sure how far it was, so I did another loop along the canal and headed up into Springfield Park. Now, that’s a hill and a half! At twelve and a bit miles, it’s not what you need. I put my head down and gritted my teeth though and briefly turned round at the top to enjoy the amazing view and catch my breath. I sort of know my way around this bit of East London, but really needed my wits about me as I entered people-carrier/Volvo zone and didn’t know which way to look: cars were coming at me in all directions at one point, and no indicators were indicating where they were going. Eventually I found myself on Stamford Hill and headed happily down towards my destination. I had hoped to just roll up at the swimming pool as I hit the sixteen mile mark, but it wasn’t to be and I found myself plodding around Clissold Park with what seemed like hundreds of other runners, all of whom looked like they’d just stepped out of the house, all fresh and bouncy. I couldn’t take much of this, so decided to run down the leisure centre road and back up again to make my sixteen. Oh, what a big smile I had on face as I pressed the start/stop button and guzzled the last of my Lucozade. 

Edward had very kindly lugged all of my clothes/coat/shoes etc along with all the swimming gear, so I had to locate him and get hold of my kit before I could go in, so checked out the cafe to see if they had any milkshake type drinks. Alas, all I could find was an Innocent Smoothie, so I made do with that and a flapjack. I really should think ahead next time because I was crouched in the toddler pool with cramp taking hold in all sorts of odd places! It was lovely to have a swim session with the boys and it just topped off what had been a fantastic morning: Hector was being ultra confident in the pool and just jumping in from standing on his own, fearless. So, now I am just weeks away from the London Marathon and I feel ready to give it my best. Bring it on!

Time: 2 hours 37 minutes 3 seconds

Distance: 16 miles

Average Pace: 9.49

Best Pace: 7.46

Calories: 1813

I also went for a family run on Saturday morning, just a quickie to pick up a parcel from the sorting office and a once round the Bruce Castle Park.

Time: 35 minutes 58 seconds

Distance: 3.67 miles

Average Pace: 9.48

Calories: 398


Past halfway

This morning I ran 14 miles, that’s more than halfway through a marathon. Did I feel like I could do the same again? Nah. I am also halfway through my training for the marathon, only two months, three days and fifteen hours to go. There are some things that I seem to have ironed out since last Sunday’s long run. After a few weeks of dodgy stomach troubles, I felt fine this morning. I am wondering if it’s because last night’s dinner was eaten much earlier than usual…it was a fine marathon training dish of fish, chips and mushy peas, eaten on the beach in Southend 🙂 It was a gorgeous day yesterday so we decided to get on the train and go for a day-trip to the seaside. We walked along the ‘longest pleasure pier in the world’ (it’s a mile and a third), played in the sand, looked at shells and ate the greasy treat whilst watching the sky turn to a beautiful golden pinky glow.


This morning the boys ventured over to the swimming pool in Stoke Newington, the one that opened then closed, then opened again years later. It is rather lovely. Edward had admitted that he felt a little nervous about taking Hector on the bus as he’s never done it on his own before. Distraction, that’s the key, and tangerines. While they wallowed and splashed and kicked and scooped, I ran along the canal and enjoyed the view as lots of rowers pulled themselves through the water. I thought there might be some sort of competition at first, but it was just very busy. Not so many runners today though, so less of the ‘being overtaken’ stresses of last week 😉 To deal with the task of completing a 14 miler, I thought it might be a good idea to reverse my run, so turned right and headed out towards Hackney Marshes for a change.

I hadn’t managed to get any gels, so asked Edward to buy me some Lucozade Sport and jelly babies from the corner shop, but he was only able to find jelly beans. I had been rather ambitious in stuffing a little bag full of these neon-glowing sweeties in my belt because, when I got round to trying one, I found it really challenging chewing them enough to get them down without choking! They were then, of course, stuck in my teeth and driving me nuts, but I swished my mouth out with the bright orange sports drink and all was well. Ouch, my teeth ached after all that sugar. This is not the kind of ‘food’ I normally include in my diet, but it does seem to do the trick and my energy levels were pretty steady throughout. I will try and get hold of some gels for next week’s long run though.

Somehow, I then found myself at the fence of the Olympic site. I had run alongside the Hackney Marshes and instead of turning left when I should have, I kept going to see where it took me. It was all high security and no peeping, so I ended up running along the duel carriageway until I could get back to the marshes. This little diversion was good in distracting me from the  miles I was clocking up anyway. As I rejoined the football pitches I saw the Sunday morning men gathering, ready to chase a ball around…and eat pies: they have those fast food vans there to keep them going! The run along near the riding school is always lovely, so much to see from up there. When I met up with the canal again the rowers were still going strong.

My idea of reversing my usual Sunday run was good until I had to go up towards Ikea, this started to feel like hard work. I also became a bit disorientated when I was faced with all those paths in the opposite direction: I found myself pausing a few times, uncertain about which fork to take. Eventually, I neared home and casually looked down at my Garmin to see I had passed the 14 mile mark. Smiles all the way to the door.

Time: 2 hours 25 minutes 12 seconds

Distance: 14.11 miles

Average Pace: 10.17

Best Pace: 8.35

Calories: 1617

And here are the stats for a wheezing asthmatic plod I did the other day:

Time: 33 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 3.14 miles

Average Pace: 10.40

Calories: 390


Getting harder

The schedule said 12 miles, so it was twelve miles I did. I don’t know if it’s just nerves or all the fussing and extra double-checking I do prior to these long runs, but once again, I had a dodgy stomach for the first three miles. On Saturday I ran just three miles and my stomach was fine for every step, so is it just some psychological muddle up? I decided again on the marshes/canal/marshes run and factored in a loo stop at the lock. Once I got to about three and a half miles I decided my shoes were irritating me (I was wearing very old shoes for this one) so stopped to tighten the laces and then, of course, they felt too tight. Fuss, fuss, fuss. I need to get into the habit of just getting out there for these runs like I do with any other, instead of being such a nur-nur about it all.

I made the mistake of thinking ‘Oh bugger, I’ve got another 10 miles to go’ and thought it might be wise to break the run up in some other way. So my train of thought shifted this way: ‘along here to the bridge at Tottenham Hale is so many miles, then I just need to go to the rowing club, and then I will head over to the Hackney Marshes and once I turn around it’s simply back home’. This helped immensely.

There were absolutely LOADS of runners out there yesterday. I kept being overtaken, well a couple of times anyway, but it always feels like a big deal. There was one man who had completely blanked me when I passed him earlier, who overtook me and was then overtaken himself. He did a sideways glance at the man who passed him and I thought ‘Ha!’. Silly isn’t it? At one point one of those sprightly skinny girls who doesn’t seem to break a sweat overtook me. I thought ‘fuck you!’. So, you can see how I was feeling during yesterday’s run, not in the best mindset! It was all ‘I’m too fat, too slow, too this, too that’. It really doesn’t help when you are trying to do something challenging.

The last few miles were really tough. Last week I ran ten miles on the Sunday and really enjoyed it, even picking up the pace towards the end because I felt so good, but yesterday there simply didn’t seem to be enough fuel in the tank. I did pass a woman later on who was clutching a water bottle and a gel – it looked like she’d just taken a slurp because she had a really sour ‘Jeez that’s disgusting’ sort of look on her face! It made me realise I need to think about fuel though…

Time: 2 hours 2 minutes 26 seconds

Distance: 12 miles

Average Pace: 10.12

Best Pace: 7.28

Calories: 1377

Saturday’s run was a family run: Edward and me geared up and Hector in the running buggy. Lots of fun (singing and running at the same time, try it!)  and lots of playing at the end.

Time: 32 minutes 17 seconds

Distance: 3.33 miles

Average Pace: 9.41

Calories: 371