Only three more sleeps

Until the Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon! Right now I have that silly pre-big-race thing going on, where you don’t feel like a runner, imagine that you will forget how to put one foot in front of the other and over-react to any little niggle or sniffle as if you might be incubating the plague. I am just fine, and I know I can run 13.1 miles on Sunday and I will aim to simply enjoy the route through the Royal Parks, enjoy the views, the atmosphere and that lovely feeling afterwards as I set off home to a delicious lunch prepared by Edward.

On Sunday I had intended running a 10k, but I was torn as Edward and Hector set off to the swimming pool, so decided to run alongside them and join them in the pool, then I ran home afterwards. Hector is really storming ahead with his swimming, ducking his head in the water, jumping off any available surface and even swimming a metre or two by himself, these are moments not to be missed. As I wrestled to put on my slightly sweaty running gear in the cubicle, I marvelled at triathletes who manage to morph themselves into three different sporting personas over the course of a race, taking in their stride the transitions between various sets of clothing. With my twisting and grunting and need to smooth out any wrinkles for fear of rubbing, I don’t think I’m cut out to do a triathlon!

Time: 42 minutes 3 seconds (with a swim break in the middle)

Distance: 4.31 miles

Average Pace: 9.45

Best Pace: 6.34

Calories: 84

This postponement of my longer run meant I had to fit it in on Monday morning after dropping Hector off at nursery. I headed towards Greenwich, enjoying the last drops of sunshine that October was squeezing out of the sky and a lovely view of the Cutty Sark, slowly emerging from the scaffolding and reaching out triumphantly towards the Thames.

Time: 58 minutes 16 seconds

Distance: 6.01 miles

Average Pace: 9.42

Best Pace: 2.10 (a blip, surely?!)

Calories: 113

On my return, I was greeted by a delivery man with a big box I wasn’t expecting, it turned out to be a bumper pack of Lucozade Sport products for me to try out. It’s a shame it didn’t come a few weeks ago, because it would have been great during my half-marathon training, but I will use some of the products on Sunday and in future runs. In the meantime, I grabbed a bottle of Lucozade Sport Lite on my way out to Zumba on Monday evening, feeling that I really needed the extra help at 7pm (I normally just take a bottle of water). When we got there I took a gulp, but the lemon and lime flavour was a bit sharp after just brushing my teeth! I’m not sure if the Lucozade can take any credit, but I really went for it, jiggling around and waving my arms like I just don’t care! I did overdo it on one move though, and have had an achy butt cheek and hip since then, I’m hoping it rights itself by Sunday. So, I’m not sure how much running I will fit in between now and Sunday, maybe just a couple of really short ones to test the butt and keep everything alert.


Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon Workshop

I think I might ache tomorrow. And the day after.

Thanks to the lovely Jogblog putting in a good word for me, I am now the proud owner of a media place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October (pizza and beer will come your way Cathy, don’t you worry). I was recently sent a very bright pre-race race top to try out and show off and last night seemed like a good time to give it a South East London debut. I am a big fan of green, and this is definitely green, a lovely shade of green that allowed me to be seen from all areas of the park, a good thing during an evening run I say. There is a great image on the back, showing a running tree and this seemed to suit my leafy Ladywell Fields jaunt perfectly. As I am embarking on a month of running – more on that later – I had earlier done a bit of a running-shelf-sort-out, putting things in piles called ‘bottoms’, ‘summer tops’, winter tops’, ‘feeling brave’ and ‘only for decorating’ and two race shirts went straight in the ‘only for decorating pile’. This Royal Parks t-shirt will definitely be worn on a regular basis: it’s good quality, a really nice fit and even has a lower back than front which is ever so flattering.

I seem to have fixed my poorly Garmin by letting it run down completely, then charging it up completely, but it’s struggling to pick up a signal so some of this run was a bit lacking in data.

Time: 31 minutes 9 seconds

Distance: 3.03 miles

Average Pace: 10.16

Best Pace: 7.14

Calories: 263

As part of my fabulous Royal Parks package, I was invited to take part in a workshop today, to help me pick up the pace for the race. I got up bright and early (as usual, that’s life with a four-year-old) and headed up to Mayfair and the swish Matt Roberts Personal Training. Gradually lots of women – mostly – in various shades of pink – mostly – trickled in and we were soon put into our groups to start the ‘Improve your time’ workshop. I was in the group that first of all went with a personal trainer and discussed strength training, something I always imagine will be a good idea but never actually get round to doing. We were shown a few important moves and told that it’s best to look at ‘functional’ moves, things that will help your running specifically, and to try to fit this sort of session in twice a week. We did a few squats and were shown how to add weights to intensify the moves.

We then moved on to the Mizuno area and were told all about the importance of correctly fitting shoes and how this can help prevent injury; the woman was incredibly knowledgable and really helpful, though not particularly pushing her own brand, which was refreshing. This session was supported by the next stage with a physio from Matt Roberts Personal Training who talked about gait analysis. She had various tools for looking at how we land and so on and used volunteers to demonstrate how she breaks down the activity of walking to work out where improvements can be made and to locate any problems when dealing with injury. We then went over to a Matt Roberts look-a-likie called Gareth who talked about intervals and tempo running and how we should think about following a schedule to get the best out of our training. I owned up to always printing out a schedule, but never actually sticking to it and Gareth suggested prioritising the intervals and adding to a session to maximise speed work, since it’s speed that I want to gain.

Following this session, we were given a talk by a chap from Lucozade, a sports nutritionist who works with elite athletes on their diets for training and competition. He had some great advice about race day strategies and the importance of starting a race already hydrated. I asked him about cramping, something that I have had problems with in past races, and he said I should stick to the sports drinks over gels in a race to replenish electrolytes and said I might like to try Nuun, which you can just pop in a bottle of water. We were also allowed to help ourselves to some Lucozade Sport, gels and jelly beans to try out in training, as this will be the drink around the course on race day.

The Lucozade Sport proved a necessity in the next section of the day, British Military Fitness.

We piled our bags into the British Military Fitness van and walked as a group over to Hyde Park Corner. It was super busy in Hyde Park, with a concert about to start and loads of young drunk people, just waiting to stare at us and shout abuse. Great. I have looked on these British Military Fitness nutters in the past and thought ‘fools’ as I plod around the park, and here I was subjecting myself to goodness knows what in broad daylight, for all to see. There were three instructors who, after giving us a thorough warming up, divided us into smaller groups and asked us if we were tired yet. Yes. There was a lot of squatting. I like a good squat and thought I had done pretty much every kind of squat going, but these guys are the kings of squat. We even did one in a circle, holding hands, on one leg – you stuck your leg out straight in front and lowered yourself right down, leg off the ground. You then lifted yourself back up again, keeping the leg straight. In theory. I did get the going down bit eventually, but I don’t think I looked pretty.

The thing I liked about the BritMilFit session was just how pleasant these chaps were about making us hurt. I had preconceived ideas about being shouted at and having mud kicked in my face, but they were smiley, encouraging and ever so polite: what they were making us do was tough, but they were not tough with us. One thing I found very useful was the interval session: we sprinted in a line to the first tree in a row then jogged back, sprinted to the second tree and jogged back and so on for five trees. This was hard, but I really pushed myself and got back with one other woman ahead of the others and I could easily replicate this in the park on my own. If I could afford it, I would definitely be signing up for BritMilFit because I loved it, but I will try to do some of the exercises on my own, though I doubt I could ever achieve the same level of effort I got from the group session.

I really enjoyed the workshop, and think it will give me a good boost for the start of my half marathon training. Things I will take away with me and try my hardest – really, I will – to implement in my weekly schedule are strength training and intervals. I think, if I am to run my dream of a two-hour half marathon, then I need to kick my own arse into gear and these chaps might just have helped me on my way. There are other workshops coming up and also training runs, and I would recommend them highly.

On my return journey I bumped into one of the other participants, who it turns out lives not very far from here. We talked about running clubs and how having children slows you down then went our separate ways to be with our families. I caught the tail end of the school summer fair with a happy Hector and Edward, and decided to run alongside them on the bike as we made our weary way home.

Time: 21 minutes 48 seconds

Distance: 2.12 miles

Average Pace: 10.18

Best Pace: 7.02

Calories: 222

Now to this running for a month lark. I totally missed out on Juneathon this year, I tried, but June was such a silly month for me that there was no chance I could keep up. July, however, is a different month entirely and I have decided to do my own little Julyathon. I will attempt to run and blog as with Juneathon/Janathon and, if anyone else wants to join in, then please do! One person who is definitely on board is Highway Kind, who is not only dedicating himself to another month, but the rest of the year, go HK!

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

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

I take it back, running isn’t fun

I mentioned to my friend Nadine that I run for fun and she said she would rather put her legs behind her head any day, well she is a yoga teacher after all. During today’s run there were many points where I would much rather have got down and put my legs behind my head (I fear I would still be there in the middle of Upper Street though, with some concerned shopper trying to untangle me).

This was my last long run before the taper, hmmmm, having said that I do have a 17 miler scheduled for next Sunday, so I’ll hardly be taking it easy. I thought I needed to run in a different direction to make this one doable, so decided on a run through Finsbury Park, along Blackstock Road to Highbury Fields, along Upper Street, down St John’s Street, through Smithfield, across Fleet Street and down to the Thames at Blackfriars, I would then run along the Thames for a few miles then turn round at ten miles and run back home. Simple as that. I found this really, really hard. Not just towards the end, when you expect to feel like shit, but pretty much the whole way through. I did feel a lift when I reached the Thames – this was a route I used to run when we lived in Islington and I worked at Jerwood Space: I would sometimes do a running commute and hit the water at this spot – it felt so nice to run alongside the water on such a gorgeous day and I realised I would actually be running along here on Marathon Day. 

There were lots of runners along the Victoria Embankment and what a grumpy lot they were too! I would like to say ‘urgh’ to the man wearing a Camelpack who I was just gearing up to say ‘morning!’ to, who promptly turned towards me and did one of those disgusting blowing-your-nose-without-a-tissue things, gross. Most of the people I saw were running with drinks belts and the like, so were probably doing a very long run too, but it doesn’t hurt to nod or smile at fellow runners does it? When I reached the Houses of Parliament, I decided to go across the bridge and run on the south side for a bit. This was quite lovely and was going really well, with a turn in the river offering the magnificent view of the Battersea Power Station: ‘Ah, look, there’s the Battersea Power Station!’ I thought to myself. I got a bit irritated when the path came to a complete stop due to some riverside development causing it to be blocked off, I didn’t fancy finding  my way round for the sake of half a mile, so ran back to Vauxhall Bridge and crossed back to the north side to run towards home. Here I did meet some smiley runners, a fairly big group of them all running together. I saw some more further along, then a chap with a little drinks station at the side of the road near Tate Britain. I figured maybe Nike Town are doing some marathon training runs, because there were a few Nike tops amongst them.

Quite quickly I found myself at Blackfriars, but it felt too soon to turn off, so I decided to keep going to London Bridge and turn off there as I know my way from there too. Unfortunately the path along this part of the river is really rubbish: it stops at numerous points where you end up running along the road then trying to find a way back down. In this confusion I suddenly found myself at Tower Bridge! I felt a combination of dispair and amusement here: in three weeks I will welcome the sight of Tower Bridge, but right now it was a pain in the arse. So, here I was, not exactly lost, but not where I wanted to be, running around in a circle around the City, with no Garmin signal due to the tall buildings and the Lucozade Sport running out very quickly. I usually have 50p in my bag for these runs, not sure why because you can’t get a lot for 50p these days, but I didn’t have anything at all, just my depleted LS supplies and some jelly babies, which were quickly becoming too sweet and cloying to give me any satisfaction. I remembered how I felt this in the Edinburgh Marathon and just wanted cold water to quench my thirst, but I didn’t have any and felt pretty dreadful. 

After a few turns around the City I found myself at Bank so knew my way up City Road back to Islington. By now my ankles and knees were beginning to hurt and each stretch was a real effort, I promised myself the last bit of LS if I could make it to Upper Street. I don’t carry my Oyster Card on these runs and it’s a good job, because I think I would have been tempted today. When I got to Angel I decided to be really cheeky and went into Starbucks to ask the nice man if he would put some water in my bottle, which he did, thank you lovely man. I gulped loads of it down, so definitely needed it…it’s pretty hot today. Weaving in and out of the Upper Street Tourists, as we used to call them when we lived there, I noticed I only had about three more miles to go, so decided to break it down into one mile sections. On hitting Highbury I really thought I was going to throw up, this was when I felt like crying, things were not going well, everything hurt and to throw up would finish me off. I didn’t, I kept going.

Just Finsbury Park, then the streets back home to contend with now. I started to feel like I was crawling now, plod, plod, plod. My mindset was truly negative, just convincing myself I simply won’t manage the extra six miles required to make it a marathon. As I got closer to home, I was trying really hard to think: ‘up and light, tall and strong’ which would help for a few steps then I would be grimacing again at the knee pain. Eventually, the clock ticked it’s way to 20 miles and I pressed the on/off button, I wasn’t running another step. I walked the last five minutes to our house and got myself into an arnica bath and had a delicious smoothie made with banana, blueberries, yoghurt and milk. Mmmmmm.

So I have this seventeen miler next Sunday, my last chance to get it right. I think some gels should be tested as I don’t think the jelly babies are cutting it, and additional fluid is needed, even if it means carrying another bottle with me. 

Time: 3 hours 27 minutes 34 seconds

Distance: 20 miles

Average Pace: 10.23

Best Pace: 7.44

Calories: 1902


My schedule said: ‘run a half-marathon, aiming to complete it in 2 hours’. So I set off with this in mind, but also had in mind the fact that this would mean knocking about seven minutes off the time I managed during last Sunday’s run, so not absolutely convinced I would do it (seven minutes might not sound a lot to a non-runner, but it takes yonks to gain that sort of increase in pace over this sort of distance…). I had been awake since five o’clock – grrrrr – as Hector was too excited to sleep, with our friend Steven and his little girl Eloise staying over. Eloise is five, and Hector is really happy playing with her, they were so sweet together, but he is just too giddy to sleep! So, I was a bit sluggish when I set off and didn’t want to set out too fast to be able to keep up a swift pace.

What an absolutely gorgeous day it is! I even set off without my hat and gloves, but soon realised I might need to wear a sweat band on my wrist on marathon day because the hat keeps the sweat out of my eyes, something I’d not really thought about before now. I’m glad it’s warming up because I have far more options for running wear in the spring/summer department than I do in my autumn/winter collection.

Things were going well, my pace was pretty hot and I was feeling good. I had, however, failed to purchase any M&S jelly babies, so was depending on just the Lucozade Sport to keep me going. We were in Covent Garden yesterday and popped in to the London Marathon shop to buy some Lucozade mix and some Body Glide (magic stuff). Outside the door there is a countdown timer and it said 42 days. Eek! Edward took a photo so I might add it when I download them from the camera later…Last Sunday I had a lovely time during my sixteen mile run, but this one felt like hard work: it might have been three miles shorter, but I was really pushing myself; it’s a different kind of pain. Instead of being overtaken, I was doing the overtaking today, and kicking my heels up as I dodged puddles and lept up kerbs. I am feeling like I should try a few five and ten km races after the marathon because I feel I have the stamina to push the pace more nowadays 🙂


At around the seven mile mark my stomach was feeling a bit dodgy, but I was nowhere near a loo, the nearest one was back along the canal near the lock, but this was a bit of a trek and not the direction I had anticipated going. I realised that I had no choice so legged it over there. Anyone who experiences ‘runner’s trots’ knows that it’s best to just slow down or stop, but I really had to go for it and it didn’t help me feel any better! Great pace though. Things felt a bit better on the return leg home, but I was determined to get there in the two hours, so was going pretty fast in the last couple of miles. Now, this is where things got a bit silly, and annoying. I decided to run to our road and, if I wasn’t quite at the finish point, I would either run up the next road or go to the end of our’s and back again. As I turned into our road, I saw Edward and the others coming back from swimming, but didn’t stop – I couldn’t, I was going too fast! I have mentioned previously that my Garmin behaves oddly on my road, it takes forever to get a signal and has ‘lost’ distance before, but this was not what I needed right now! I was going up the road and looked down, ‘12.95 miles’ it said, so I thought ‘I’ll go to that tree, run back to our house and then it will be 13.1’, so this is what I did. But the next time I looked down it said ‘12.90 miles’!! Arrrrghghghg! At the point where it should have said ‘13.1 miles’ I had run for two hours, so I am taking this to mean I did what I intended to do…and got myself a PB. Even if I go with what it says on my pesky Garmin, I still got a PB, so I shouldn’t feel to downhearted.

Damn technology, we are slaves to it!

Time: 2 hours 2 minutes 23 seconds (2 hours, thank you very much)

Distance: 12.98 miles (let’s settle at 13.1)

Average Pace: 9.26

Best Pace: 6.54

Calories: 1491

On Friday I did a quickie round the park with Hector, forgetting just how many groups of people go walking there in the morning, it was quite lively really!

Time: 31 minutes 7 seconds

Distance: 3.08 miles

Average Pace: 10.05

Calories: 378

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