Breakfast with Champions

Well, I am one very lucky lady! I simply clicked ‘Like’ on the Holiday Inn Facebook page and won the chance to run with Paula Radcliffe and Shelly Woods. The strangest thing about all of this for me, other than running alongside my heroine, was peeling myself quietly away from the boys as they slept and venturing out into the commuter world in the early hours. I watched as a steady stream of regulars took up their everyday spot on the platform and headed to the doors as the train sneaked up silently in the dark. I was amazed to see that the train was full, at 6am! Emerging from Charing Cross I noticed sleepers huddled in doorways, something I don’t usually see in my sheltered south London world, and I wondered if these commuters still notice them as they pass the same shop doorways every day.

As I arrived at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury I was greeted by other eager-looking runners who were milling about expectantly, awaiting the arrival of our Olympic stars. I was slightly disappointed that Shanaze wasn’t riding her BMX around the foyer…then Paula strolled in. She’s tiny, really, you could blow her over, and so elegant, oh how I wish I could roll up at the end of a marathon looking as fresh as she does!

We were walked over to Russell Square where we tried our best to keep warm while Paula was interviewed by ITV Daybreak (I have had a scan through on the Player, but can’t see anything, maybe it’s going to be on tomorrow’s show) while we did some ‘stretching’ and jumping up and down in the background.

Paula being prepared for interview. And yes, that's her body guard!

The event was all very well organised, with security people and even St John’s Ambulance on bikes!

Thankfully, his services were not needed!

Before we set off we did some – much-needed – warming-up with Paula and Shelly.

Warming up

We then set off around Russell Square for a mile run. Here I was, next to the woman who has been my heroine for such a very long time, and actually keeping up!

Race ya Paula!

Suddenly I found myself next to Paula and simply didn’t know what to say, but she really is as lovely as she seems and we chatted easily for a while. I was interested in what happens next and she told me she is off to the Pyrenees to train with the other athletes. I asked her when she gets to see her family in this busy schedule and she said they will be with her. I told her about how I used to run with Hector in the running buggy and we chatted about how odd it is to run with a buggy. Just like talking to any other running mum really! On our last lap of the square we took a turn down a tree-lined path and broke the tape of the finish line, arms in the air, cheers all round.

Back at the hotel we were warmed up with hot drinks and a lovely breakfast (not porridge!) and Paula and Shelly very kindly signed things for us and posed for photos (in which I look a right gormless duh) then held a quick Q&A session. I talked to other runners, all with different goals and experiences, some running London this weekend, some with 100 marathons in their sight.

Paula and me

Shelly and me!

Shelly is competing in this Sunday’s London Marathon (which she has previously won) and seemed calm and relaxed in the run up to the Olympic Games. When asked who inspired her, she said ‘This lady here’ and pointed at Paula Radcliffe.

Right now I am buzzing from this experience. I got to run alongside a world record holder, and two London Marathon winners both heading towards London 2012. What a start to a drizzly Thursday morning!

Best wishes

Distance run: 1.01 miles

Time: 9 minutes 39 seconds

Average Pace: 9.34

Best Pace: 7.22

Calories: 69

(and Shelly and Paula didn’t even break a sweat!)



In good company

I had a very rare treat on my run this morning, a running buddy! I can’t remember the last time I ran with Edward, or when Edward ran for that matter, so it was a delight to have someone to chat to and look out for kingfishers with.

(that’s a cheeky side-step thing he’s doing there, something he does to allow me to catch up. Well, really!).

For someone who doesn’t run, he’s a very good runner. He does cycle to work and back every weekday and did, of course, cycle from London to Paris earlier this year, so he’s a fit chap, and he had no trouble just going out there and running on the spur of the moment. We worked out that the last time we ran together was at the Finsbury Park Parkrun, where he pushed Hector in the running buggy (and still beat me), maybe we should try out the Crystal Palace Parkrun and get back into the habit. As we reached the end of our road, Edward challenged me to a race, so we sprinted to our house, reaching the gate neck and neck.

Distance: 3.14 miles

Time: 30 minutes 26 seconds

Average Pace: 9.41

Best Pace: 6.01

Calories: 309

Janathon Day 31: First Day/Last Day

Today was the first day in three-and-a-half years that I left Hector in the care of someone other than Edward. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I took him to nursery this morning and started to feel sad when I saw the other little ones looking longingly at their parents as they left, some even having a sob. I quickly ushered Hector past all this upset and to some paint, to busy him with creative play. After a while he ventured into a small side room where there were some stickle bricks and he happily played with some other children and one of his teachers. For quite a while. I saw this as my chance to leave, but had really wanted to say goodbye instead of sneaking away so, instead, I was told I could make myself a cup of tea in the staff room (and pull myself together presumably!). As I sat there, I thought if I were to go in and say goodbye, he would become too upset, so I made the decision to just go. I spoke to Edward on the phone as I walked home crying and he told me to look in the bedroom because there was a card there for me. So I sat on the bedroom floor laughing and crying at the same time. I do have the most wonderful husband in the world, who knows exactly what makes me happy:

I’ve always wanted a utility belt, and now I have one for my ‘new job’ as gardener and decorator.

I busied myself with tidying and such like then was cheered up when our neighbour rang the bell to say she had seen Hector playing happily on the see-saw when she dropped her daughter off…and would I like to go round for a coffee. How very grown up!

The time came to collect Hector from nursery and I walked quickly, trying not to run and look like Mad Mum. It was a bit odd really, I expected him to want to hug me, but he was quiet and subdued. Apparently he had had a good time and hadn’t cried (phew), so I didn’t push him for information, and we just walked in the sunshine and chatted. I thought it fitting on this last Janathon day for us to go for a running buggy run and, as it was a special day, and so wonderfully sunny, we took a picnic to the park:

(the cheese muffins we made when Hector got home 🙂 )

So, Janathon is complete. I ran every day and blogged every day, as I did in June. This was different though. Most of my Juneathon runs were with Hector in the passenger seat, long meandering explorations with blackberry picking and sandpit stops. Most of my Janathon runs were run in the dark, either at the crack of dawn (eek!) or in the gloomy depths of commuter time. But I loved it all, really I did! There is something very special about this experience: there is no way I would have done some of those runs if it wasn’t for the support of my virtual (and some now real) friends, and that feeling of not wanting let them or myself down. I wish I could replicate that feeling at other times! In total I ran 130.7 miles, about 22 miles further than Juneathon 2010. I hadn’t set myself a goal other than to run a minimum of three miles each time, so I am pretty pleased with that. I know there are people out there who ran these kinds of distances in the first week, and I take my Nike ear-warming hat off to them, but there are also people out there who have started from scratch and have stuck at it in possibly the darkest, coldest month of the year – a bloody well done to them! I would also like to say a HUGE thank you to Cathy for keeping on top of it all, amazing, and all for the love of it.

So what next? I have a marathon to train for, so I will be easing back on this running every day lark and sticking to the plan. That’ll be sixteen miles this weekend then. Check back and see how I’m getting on, I look forward to keeping up with and in touch with the rest of you Janathoners in the future, and meeting some of you at the get-together in a few weeks. Pats on the back all round.

Janathon day 31:

Time: 32 minutes 47 seconds

Distance: 3.01 miles

Average Pace: 10.53

Best Pace: 8.35

Calories: 350

Total for January 2011: 130.7 miles

**Update!** If anyone fancies sponsoring my marathon effort, you can donate to the Guidedogs charity here. Thank you! xxx

Janathon Day 20: Power Pushing

I had, once again, intended leaping out of bed and bedecking myself with Lycra to endure enjoy an early morning run, but of course that didn’t happen (I’m soooo tired at the moment). Instead, I persuaded Hector to go for another running buggy run, with the promise of some remote control car fun at the end. So, into the under-stair cupboard I ventured once more, we really need to sort that arrangement out. I hadn’t realised quite how cold it was and, as he was feeling stubborn – ‘I am the boss!’ – Hector said he didn’t need his big woolly blanket, just the thin, smaller one. We soon paid the price when he started complaining of feeling cold after about five minutes. Bad mother. I kept it short and local, with a few laps around the park but, before we could enjoy the flat surface alongside the running track, we had to go over the ‘spirally footbridge’ that crosses the railway line. Oh my, it’s steep and I must have looked like I was going in slow motion on the way up, then like Laurel and Hardy on the way down!

I like running at this time of day, you see lots of women and older people plodding around happily and everyone is just getting on with their own thing. I did feel bad every time Hector said he was cold, and I did offer him my Grim T-shirt to keep him warm, but he took one look and said no. ‘Just once more up here, round here and back over the spirally footbridge and we will be home!’ I then promised to take him to the cafe for a hot chocolate to warm him up after I had changed. We both enjoyed that part of my run.

Janathon day 20:

Time: 32 minutes 32 seconds

Distance: 3.06 miles

Average Pace: 10.38

Best Pace: 6.51

Calories: 347


Janathon Day 19: Everybody Loves the Sunshine!

This morning was all about creating a ‘fantastic marble run’:

This afternoon was all about fitting in a run. I really didn’t want to have to run this evening again, so I persuaded Hector to climb into the running buggy and off we went. There is so much general faff involved in a running buggy run, far more than on a regular sort of run. First of all, I have to take pretty much everything out of the under-stair cupboard before performing a challenging and risky maneuver to dislodge the running buggy. Phew! Eventually, after discussion about gloves and sunglasses, we leave the house. It was a lovely day: bright, crisp, fresh, if slightly cold, and we just did an errand sort of run, picking some things up along the way. My ‘trainer’ was keen to get back and play, and I didn’t want to push it (and my knee is tender still. It’s a bit odd, sort of ok when I run, but painful when I go up and down the stairs, any ideas?).

Janathon day 19:

Time: 31 minutes 42 seconds

Distance: 3.27 miles

Average Pace: 09.52

Best Pace: 7.21

Calories: 284

Janathon Day 18: Mardy Arse Alert!

Ooh, I’m so grumpy today. I really should have jumped out of bed when the alarm clock went off this morning, and done my run then, but I was feeling so tired and my brother was staying, so it seemed a bit rude. Of course, I haven’t made it out with the running buggy today so my run was put back until Edward returned from his five-a-side football. This time of night is not good for me to run, I have put Hector to bed and always feel well and truly sleepy after that and also in need of some relaxation time, and it’s very dark, very cold and I really should be just watching some rubbish before falling asleep. It didn’t help that Edward said: ‘Be careful!’ before I left (he never says that), so of course I felt a bit paranoid throughout my run.

Did I say I was grumpy? Today is a Janathon test I suppose. A late run during Juneathon is not so bad, you might even manage to run around a park, with it still being light and all, but tonight’s run was yet another saunter around the ‘Brockley Loop’. I have noticed the lack of variety in my Janathon runs, and I apologise for this. Juneathon is all about getting out there with the buggy, exploring new places, spending the day on the go, but Janathon is just about getting it done. Of course, the exception was Saturday, which was a muddy, sloshy, Janathon special, which I am now feeling in my legs (another excuse for my bad mood?) – my left knee is hurting good and proper and I have  a weird sciatica type pain in my left hip.

I’m sorry, I promise to be a better behaved and upbeat blogger tomorrow! Maybe I need another scone/scone debate to cheer me up. Can anyone guess what we made today?

Janathon day 18:

Time: 31 minutes 11 seconds

Distance: 3.22 miles

Average Pace: 9.42

Best Pace: 6.16

Calories: 349

(it seems that running scared makes for a faster pace!).

Janathon Day 6: Running is for life, not just for January

I approached our house at the end of my run just as our neighbour was pulling up on his scooter. ”Have you been running?’ he enquired ‘That’s very New Year of you’. I put him straight on that one, dropping the Brighton Marathon casually into the conversation. Oh dear, I probably came across as a smug runner. He did say he had bought some running shoes for New Year, so I will look out for him as I avoid the mud in my own new shoes.

I started the day in my running gear, all set to go out for a running buggy run, but the rain just wasn’t stopping so we did a bit more of this:

Then spent lots of time building a fantastic railway line that travelled from our bedroom all the way to Hector’s room, encountering a step along the way. Then, having exhausted himself with all this building, Hector retired to his den:

We did have to leave the house this afternoon to go to Hector’s first swimming lesson at our new pool. He said: ‘Are we going to Crouch End?’. Ah, he can’t get his head round being south of the river! It was a great lesson, really well structured and challenging, and Hector seemed to like the teacher, who we had all to ourselves today. After getting wet again, but in the appropriate attire, we went outside to get wet in our inappropriate attire; I decided it was time I bought myself some wellies. I do have a problem with boots in general, having larger than average calf muscles, I simply can’t find a pair that fit (and don’t make me look like I also have huge ankles). Anyway, I found a pair that were cheap and cheerful (bright spots) and adjusted them to the furthest point on the buckle and made do with the tightness. I wore them home and we played the most exciting game of race each other to the next puddle and splash really hard. I recommend it.

My run was a dark, wet and quick one, while Edward and Hector made dinner 🙂 I kept to the roads, noting just how busy it is in the evening, compared with the morning. I really had to have my wits about me, with cars whizzing around at speed, their drivers angry and tired and not looking out for a darkly dressed figure passing briskly in front of them. I do feel the runs are easier after a few days, my lungs feel a bit more willing to join in and I actually enjoyed it, even if it was a bit grim out there.

Janathon day 6:

Time: 32 minutes 51 seconds

Distance: 3.16 miles

Average Pace: 10.24

Best Pace: 7.59

Calories: 352