Juneathon 2015

Errr.

You remember Juneathon? I used to throw myself wholeheartedly into this (and its colder sister, Janathon), but in recent years I have decided I need to focus on my training and not knacker myself up by trying to run every day for a month. This June I’m sticking to that plan but still participating in Juneathon. ‘How so?’ you may ask, well I normally do something active every day anyway, so why not share it with everyone else and encourage others along the way? I will be doing my usual run/swim/ride combination, but making sure I log it (mostly via Twitter, but with a weekly round-up on here) and maybe pushing myself out of the door/into the water on days where I might normally have opted for the pyjamas/sofa combo.

If you’re a regular reader, you will know that I have been trying to overcome my slight fear of the open-water and this has become especially pressing as I have now gone and entered an open-water triathlon in July. Eeek! Action stations! Juneathon will be about me getting my head and body around this challenge so, to really get myself closer to that goal, I have signed up for a couple of coached sessions in the Serpentine in Hyde Park (yup, where you watched those elites showing off their nerve at the weekend). If you’re one of those people who happily leaps off a tree branch into a river, cheering as you go, you might wonder what I’m so afraid of. It’s certainly not the swimming, remember I took on a 5k swim (and all the training leading up to it) in April? I’m now a strong swimmer, I can carve up and down the fast lane with my head held high (though not too high. You know). I guess I’m afraid of the unknown, the darkness of open-water, the creatures, the weeds that might curl around my ankles, the cold, not being able to breath and – in competition – the other swimmers thrashing around me. But I am going to overcome this.

I do need to get myself kitted out with a wetsuit though. My lovely friend Siggy has lent me her wetsuit, but I am yet to actually get it wet! I have taken it on tour, but it has stayed very neatly packed in its nifty bag…

Wetsuit on tour

Wetsuit on tour

If anyone has any tips on (budget) wetsuits, that would be great. I have been looking at the Wiggle DHB wetsuit, and if anyone has tried it and can recommend it, I’d love to know (though they are out of my size at the moment!).

Something else I am going to use Juneathon to focus on is my diet. I do eat healthily, I don’t drink alcohol and rarely succumb to the take-away leaflet, but my default lunch or snack seems to have become toast, which can’t be a good thing can it? I am a typical Mum: my child is well-hydrated and full of fruit and I’m parched and probably only reaching my one-a-day. I keep reading fellow bloggers experiences of the Whole30, so decided I’d try and stick to that for the month (and beyond?). It’s not about losing weight or going hungry, it’s a kind of re-boot towards a healthier diet. Since it means no bread for a month, I can see the toast-for-lunch thing getting smashed to crumbs (though this will be hard!). My book arrived today, so yesterday I just did a combination of guess-work and gleaning ideas from blogs. Now I’ve got the literature, I can try out some recipes and be a bit more informed. I shall update you on this when I write my round-up at the weekend…this will be way trickier than being active…mmmmm…toast.

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New Goals

Happy New Year! Usually about this time, I am fighting a continual battle with myself to get out of the door and work off some of that holiday indulgence bulge in the name of Janathon. This time I didn’t really think about it, I just didn’t fancy making myself feel guilty if I didn’t get out, and to just enjoy my running (and other activities) for the sake of it. I do enjoy following everyone’s progress though and was prompted to write a blog post after reading this from Running Matters… This morning, as I gathered up some very muddy cones from the Hilly Fields Parkrun course, I had a quick conversation with regular runner Jez about Janathon. He mentioned how hard it is to keep up with the blogging and I proudly informed him that I was one of the early Juneathoners…and even ‘won’ it one year! It’s hard to imagine that now, with hundreds taking part, and some hard-core types clocking more miles in a day than I could run in a week. Good luck to everyone taking part, and enjoy!

During 2013 I ran simply for the fun of it, leaving bigger goals aside for a while and just making the most of the buzz and encouragement I feel from volunteering as Run Director at Hilly Fields. Almost every week I cheer people on to achieve their own goals and sometimes push myself around the course and see if I can beat my PB. In the past few months I have entered a couple of local 10k races and loved every second. First was the Petts Wood 10k, which was more of a mud-slide than a run and then I enjoyed the company of the Run Dem Crew at the Greenwich Movember 10k. The pace I found myself running at has prompted me to enter a few more races and see if I can crack the 10k PB I set about ten years ago, of 52 minutes. My other goal for 2014 is to branch out a bit and try a tri. Yup, I’m going for it! I think a good one to aim for is the local Crystal Palace Triathlon, which usually takes place in May – enough time to get my head, and my body, around it…and the swim bit is in a pool. I know, I know, I’m wussying out, but I think I need to ease into that crazy ‘pile in all together, arms flailing and get your head kicked as you aim for a distant buoy’ thing. So this will be a year of three disciplines, and seeing how well I can divide my time to find enough proficiency in all three to do a triathlon justice.

On New Year’s Eve, we were very sad to hear that a fellow Parkrunner and blogger, Zoe had passed away. We had the pleasure of meeting Zoe and her husband Stephen a couple of times in the past few months (both at Parkruns) and kept up with her determination to reach her 50th Parkrun whilst visiting many new runs as a ‘tourist’ along the way. I am sure that those who have been lucky enough to meet Zoe and Stephen were inspired by Zoe’s spirit of adventure (she and Stephen have also been on many Geocaching adventures in recent times), determination and the support and encouragement she has offered other runners over the years. I had intended to ‘dedicate’ my New Year’s Day Parkrun to Zoe but, as I found myself lost and wandering around unfamiliar streets in Manchester (in the rain), I put this on hold. I think it fitting that I dedicate today’s Hilly Fields Parkrun to Zoe: this time I was volunteering, cheering people on, surrounded by friends in the mud and the rain, something I know Zoe has found so enjoyable in the past year.

Snowy four

I’m so glad I got out and ran this morning. School was – amazingly – open and I pulled Hector on his sledge to the gates, the best way to travel right now. On my return I knew I had to get that snowy run in before it all disappears, so wrapped up warm and headed out along the Waterlink Way. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

Golden glow

Golden glow

I ran along the river, hoping to spot the kingfisher, and was delighted to not only catch a glimpse of the blue flash, but to be treated to a perching/swooping show as he darted under the bridge I stood on then briefly settled on a branch until he decided to dart again. I crunched happily through the snow and spoke to pretty much everyone I saw along the way; it just felt right.

When I got back I didn’t want to stop, so decided to go to the gym as well.

Untouched

Untouched

I commented to the lad on the desk that it looked beautiful on the track, and he said people keep coming in and asking to build snowmen there, but they’re ‘not allowed’. Imagine a series of snowmen going around the track! I found myself stepping up and down in an attempt to warm back up and started to chatting to the man on the treadmill next to me. He was proudly telling me how he is running the London Marathon, his first marathon, at the age of sixty. I told him I have done three and said he could ask if he needs any guidance. We chatted happily about marathons and running in general for about half an hour, the stepper a mere distraction.

Yesterday I put on my running gear then weighed up my options (slightly in the wrong order). I made the decision that I can run any day, but it’s not often I get to go sledging and play in the snow with Hector, so off we went up the hill again. I’m glad I chose option number two, it’s such excellent fun whizzing down hill on a bit of plastic, screaming!

Off they go!

Off they go!

On our return home, we didn’t want to go inside, so spent some time building another snowman, well, snow alien (I think). The orange thing is ‘his eye popping out’.

Garden alien

Garden alien

Core

I didn’t make it to the yoga class on Monday morning, so I decided to try and get to the pilates class today. One minute it was 9.10 and I was sitting reading blogs with a cup of tea in my hand and the next it was 9.30 and the class started in a quarter of an hour. Oops! Undeterred by such a challenge, I jumped on my bike and pegged it down the road. Things might have been a bit easier if I hadn’t got distracted by the bird-watching man and wondered nosily what he had spotted, thus carrying on along the path instead of going up the hill. This resulted in a detour around Catford (never a fun experience), finding I couldn’t take a right turn, annoying pedestrians by riding on the pavement for a bit (I know), and avoiding getting crushed by big lorries, buses and impatient van drivers. I got to the gym at 9.44, flustered, a bit sweaty and very snotty, perfect.

My previous experience of pilates has been as a dancer, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The room was full and there was already some deep breathing going on, so I sneaked in and found a mat and a bright yellow rubber band thing that everyone seemed to have, and got down and breathed. There were points early on in the class where I was slightly bored, being more of a go faster, get sweaty sort of person, but I soon found myself working hard and engaging previously neglected muscles in the midriff region. I felt strong on some of the harder exercises, so the run/gym thing seems to be paying off. It was a good class and the teacher was attentive and obviously experienced, so I think I might go back. I’m not convinced by the opera-pop mix, wailing lady whale music thing though and I tend to mis-read pilates as ‘pirates’, which I think would be a far more exciting sort of class.

Pep Talk

My pre-club run conversation with Edward went something like this:

Me: I don’t want to go.
Edward: Really?! You’re kidding me!
Me (flopping down on the stairs): I don’t feel like it, erm, my knee hurts.
Edward: Do you want me to make you go?
Me: No.
Edward: But you’ll feel better afterwards.
Me: Yes, I like that bit where I’ve had a shower and I’m in my pyjamas and I’m eating my dinner.
Edward: So you like the bit where you’ve run?
Me: Yes, I like running when I’ve done the running.

So, I made that slow journey between warm, over-sized woolly jumper and jeans (and a scarf, it’s cold) to lycra, and made my way down to the track. It was a Hilly Fields hill session tonight. It was tough, it hurt, I breathed hard and somehow, somehow I managed a sprint finish AND I WASN’T THE LAST PERSON!

There’s something about Parkrun

This weekend and last the various Parkruns around the country (and world) saw record numbers of people turning out in hi-viz gear and shiny lycra, bouncing around on the spot listening to instructions about course challenges such as mud, hills, water and dogs and promising themselves a coffee with fellow runners afterwards, before setting off on a free, timed 5k run. Every week more and more runners decide to print off their barcode and join in, some returning week after week, some managing a run every few weeks, some committing to try out as many different Parkruns as possible, but it’s about so much more than this slice of Saturday morning. Since I got involved with Hilly Fields Parkrun back in the summer, I have found a new kind of commitment to my running, I have run a 5k PB, I have joined a running club and I have made new friends: now when I run locally (or even just when I pop to the corner shop), I call out a few friendly ‘Hellos’ to fellow Parkrunners and often stop to have a chat.

Last night I met up with my fellow Run and Event Directors, Sally and Stephen and we chatted about how things have been going, and how we could improve our organisation of the event and so on. It was good to take a look back over the past few months and spend a bit more time talking about what we get out of it. But mostly we had that opportunity that all runners love: to talk in a slightly geeky way about times, distances, gear and mud. I came away enthused and looking up a future half-marathon. Last year I didn’t enter or run any races, this wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision, it just kind of happened, and I was pleased to find that I can run for the sheer enjoyment of it and don’t need a race-goal to get me out. I do feel ready to race again now though, and I think a half-marathon in a couple of months might be just the ticket. A weekend in Hastings anyone?!

I ought to catch up with the Janathon activity for the past few days. On Sunday we all went up to the recently renovated Forest Hill Pools, the boys swam/splashed/jumped in and I went to the gym. Oh how I love a shiny new gym. I ran for 25 minutes on the treadmill (not sure where that came from, I can normally only manage about 15 before dying of boredom) and then took my pick of all the lovely new equipment. The only trouble with using a gym you’re not so familiar with is the possibility of doing everything. I have slightly sore arms and shoulders today…Yesterday I ran. It was short and cold: for the first time in a long time I was defeated by the weather, I just couldn’t get warm! Whilst at the gym on Sunday I had picked up a class timetable and had every intention of going to a yoga class yesterday morning. This didn’t happen. Every year during Janathon and Juneathon I say ‘I am going to try something new!’ and I do think yoga would do me good, but I am yet to stick to that promise. We’ll see…

Not bothery

I’ve been feeling a bit not bothery. Not not bothery about running or gymming or cycling, but not bothery about blogging. I apologise for the dullness of my Janathon blog posts so far and can’t promise they will get any more interesting (oh man, shall I just stop now?!). I did gym it yesterday but didn’t run it (achy in that Janathon kind of way), and today’s effort involved taking photographs at our Hilly Fields Parkrun – can I count running vicariously as a Janathon effort? But, as I fear this counts for nothing (even though I got up a brisk jog going between points and putting out cones at the start), I also cycled along the Waterlink Way with the boys, but then this involved a stop at ‘Big Sainsburys’ and a scone in the cafe before we set off back towards home.

Congratulations to Jogblog for getting to the Whitstable Parkrun this morning – her first – and to Travelling Hopefully for getting to the Preston Parkrun. There’ll be no looking back, I tell ya!