Toughing it out

Yesterday I managed to over-commit slightly in the running department: a friend has decided to start an informal running group for beginners on a Tuesday morning and I offered to help by joining in. When I thought about this it occurred to me that Tuesday in my new world is also Running Club Night. Oh dear. So, being a committed sort of person, I found myself in the park first thing and last thing, pounding the paths. It was nice to run with Helen, who has been out with an injury for months, so needed the motivation to test her body and see if things really are ready to go again. The sun was shining and the park looked gorgeous with its golden autumnal glow. For some reason I was out in the cold in capri tights, my lower legs all cold and goosebumpy, when really I should be thinking about wrapping myself up in something like this (and maybe even wearing these under my jeans on Parkrun duty – all that standing around cheering people on is limb-numbing on a frosty morning!).

I had tried to take it easy on my first run, knowing I would need some miles in my legs for the evening session, there were moments where I wished I hadn’t ventured out in lycra that morning, this club run was possibly the toughest session I have ever done. Now I like a hill, it’s in my Welsh blood, I am a mountain goat, but this was a Proper Hill Session, none of that thing I do by myself, where I run up a hill and jog back down, repeat, then saunter along on the flat. Did I mention it was tough? We started with a mile around the track to warm up, then we ran up to Hilly Fields, where we gathered at the bottom of a hill (the one by the phone box, for anyone who knows the area) where we were informed of our fate. We were to run up this hill, take a left and run down the hill on the other side, that’s run down the hill, no holding back, heel to toe. We would wait at the far corner for three minutes and come back the other way. This was to be repeated four times on each side. Yes really. Then off everyone went, fast. On the first one I wondered if this was going to be the session that would make me vomit (it didn’t), and wondered if my legs would have felt this bad if I had missed the morning run (probably), I also found that running fast down hill in the dark whilst avoiding other runners, potholes and the odd wandering dog out for its evening pee is scary. As the session went on I wondered if I really had it in me to complete the task in hand, my legs felt like lead, my chest hurt and I momentarily hated running, but things kind of warmed up a bit. The thing I like about repeating a lap is the moment where you are not sure how many you’ve done and (hopefully) you’ve under-counted, so the last two seemed to come round fairly fast. Not wishing to be overtaken at the end by the woman who had overtaken me without fail at the same point each lap, I legged it, arms pumping, face tense and it felt good. Just look at these stats!

 

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Running the Hilly Fields Parkrun

For real!

Another gorgeous morning for meeting up with lycra-clad people and sweating your butts off on the hills of South East London. Edward and his small assistant were on marshal duty again, so it was up the hill bright and early for the Prince-Hill family and time for a quick play in the playground before the action started. It felt nice to be in running gear this time and giving it a go myself though, after my solo attempt on Monday, I was slightly apprehensive about potentially chucking-up in front of everyone at the end! The crowd soon built up at the top of the hill, not quite as many as last week’s first run, but a respectable collection of brightly coloured tops were milling around.

Heading startwards

I quickly set my Garmin to find a signal and it seemed slightly perplexed when it told me: ‘Multiple heart rate monitors detected’! I looked around, yup, they look like HRM types.

Thumbs up

I’m glad I ran the course this week because I was able to work out where I need to put the arrows, cones and marshalls when I am Run Director next week. It was also great to run it with the support of fellow runners and the encouragement of marshalls, especially this little fella, blowing his whistle, high-fiving and even giving me a hug mid-run (not so great for time, but marvellous for your morale).

Whistle-blower in action

Having run the course on Monday, I had a better sense of pacing and managed to avoid feeling nauseous as I got to the top of the hill of the final lap, I was even greeted by Hector on his bike, who prompted the people gathered at the finish line to chuckle and cheer as he raced me to the end, giving me the boost I needed to attempt a sprint finish! I was telling everyone I had knocked a minute off Monday’s time, but I think it’s more like 45 seconds, still not bad 🙂 I then had to fess up. Having spent my week telling people: ‘You must remember your barcode…blah, blah…’ I didn’t have mine! It wasn’t my fault, honest, it was all Edward’s doing, or rather not-doing: he left it on the printer at work. Afterwards I realised I pushed in front of loads of people queuing nicely to get their barcodes scanned, in my rush to get the embarrassment over with, sorry about that folks. To make sure I don’t do this again, I have ordered a rather splendid little tag that I can attach to my keys or wherever, and not worry about sweaty bits of paper, or indeed any bits of paper.

Distance: 3.12 miles

Time: 29 minutes 18 seconds

Average Pace: 9.24

Best Pace: 6.46

Calories: 380

I noticed that I got slower each mile, so I need to work on keeping the pace consistent for the whole 5k. Still feeling confident.

 

Achievement

I’m sitting here looking at the pouring rain and thinking I’m rather glad I got my run out of the way earlier! I am finding that my running has been slightly neglected lately, not in terms of frequency, I am still getting out at least four days a week, but in terms of distance. When I go to the gym, I tend to rush my run so I can get there and get stuck in, so I have been running around three miles at the most. Today I decided to give the gym a miss and run a bit further, just to make sure I still can! A quick run to school with speedy bike boy and up the hill I went, turning for a moment at the summit of Blythe Hill and admiring the gorgeous view (I must take my camera some time) then carrying on along the Waterlink Way, taking a breath at the far reaches, while a passing walking lady said: ‘You’re not running back?!’ then reaching home at the five-mile point.

I found it interesting that this walker was surprised that I was turning and ‘running back’, since she had no clue as to how far I had already run. Maybe she was taking her clues from my panting and my dripping brow, but to her this appeared to be an achievement in itself that she felt she should comment on. I have recently been talking to a fellow school-gate mum who also runs, the difference is though that she has three children, one of whom is just ten weeks old! She has far more in her life to juggle in an attempt to fit a run in, so I wasn’t surprised to see her passing our house this morning as we ate our breakfast. Last week I saw her in the park and we ran part of the way together. She was telling me how she had measured herself and found that her waist was now 27 1/2 inches, I dream of such neat girthage! So, she sees me and admires the fact that I run a little further than she is managing right now, I see her and admire the fact that she is a master juggler who is back in her skinny jeans just weeks after giving birth and other parents at the gate admire us both for getting out at all!

Soon we will be enjoying the spectacle of the Olympic Games, admiring those who are achieving international greatness in their chosen field then, further into the summer, we will admire those athletes who have overcome disability to compete in the Paralympic Games. I’m beginning to tire of the negativity being shown towards the Olympic Games, when I see many positive outcomes such as celebrations at school where the children are given the opportunity to try new activities, enthusiastic sports days at the running track (I heard loud cheers this morning, even though the rain clouds were coming in) and a little group of pre-school children in the park earlier with Olympic flames made out of tin foil and cardboard. If the presence of the games in London increases participation in sports at all levels and encourages otherwise inactive people to get out and try something new, it has to be a good thing.

Distance: 5.07 miles

Time: 50 minutes 51 seconds

Average Pace: 10.02

Best Pace: 5.23

Calories: 267

Hot heads

What joy to have some sunshine again! I headed up, up, up to the top of Blythe Hill this morning though pushed on instead of my usual sneaky stop at the top to ‘enjoy the breathtaking view’. I was distracted by two men shouting at each other, it seemed one was a cyclist and one a dog-walker so I guess maybe the dog had gone in front of the bike, but really, I don’t think it warranted the kind of language that was being thrown across the grass! On I went into Ladywell Fields, looking briefly down river to see if I could spot the kingfisher. Feeling strong, I carried on to the gym, where I stepped hard uphill then pushed my muscles to their limits on the weights machines. One move I am particularly digging is a pulling action where you turn your upper body and really get deep into those lateral abdominal muscles, rock hard they are! Once more I was distracted by hot-headed men, posturing over some petty disagreement. These guys need to cool down, find some focus and remember why they are doing what they do.

Today’s inspiration for me has been looking at Olympic hopefuls in action. Next week at Hector’s school they are having a day to celebrate the London Olympics and he can go dressed as an athlete from past or present. As much as I would love to get him a bushy moustache, a little afro wig and a vest with ‘Daley’ across his chest, I think I will show him some videos of today’s athletes and see what he comes up with. Here is elite athlete Christian Malcolm getting ready for action:

 

Christian is supported by Mizuno, who will be opening the Mizuno Performance Centre in London during the Olympic games where, from July 24-August 12, you will be able to watch live sporting events, try out the Mizuno brand, compete against your friends and get yourself fitted out in the perfect running shoe for your style of running.

Distance: 3.04 miles

Time: 33 minutes 28 seconds

Average Pace: 11.01

Best Pace: 7.15

Calories: 328

Stepper: 20 minutes

Weights: 40 minutes

Blurry running

Will it ever stop? I legged it behind Hector on his bike ride to school and couldn’t see a thing by the time we got there: a combination of letterbox glasses, sweat, rain and condensation. Nice. So this was the pattern of my run: head down, run a bit, look up, realise I can’t see, pause, wipe glasses, put them back on, realise they’re all smeary, wipe them again, carry on and so on. I headed into Ladywell and Brockley Cemeteries, always an interesting detour but not one I am familiar enough with not to get lost amongst the headstones and undergrowth. I must have looked a funny sight going up paths, realising I couldn’t get out, coming back, pausing to do the glasses thing, changing direction…When I eventually made my way out at the other side, I went up towards Hilly Fields, wanting to do a mini-recce ahead of tomorrow’s Parkrun meeting there. I must say, I am feeling a whole lot better today, far less achy and more energised than I have felt all week, even the nasty hill didn’t defeat me.

After my run I popped home to collect a drink/towel etc and headed over to the gym. Some time was spent stepping up an imaginary hill, lifting weights and suppressing that lip-curling thing that happens when you try and do something taxing to your body. I took my camera to capture just what the rain is doing to our river right now.

River Ravensbourne rushing by

We normally do stone-throwing from in front of this platform!

Distance: 3.29 miles

Time: 36 minutes 22 seconds

Average Pace: 11.03

Best Pace: 5.43

Calories: 399

20 minutes on the stepper and about an hour of weights.

Lists

I was awake at 2.30 this  morning, wide awake. As soon as I stirred my mind went into overdrive and I ended up getting out of bed and writing some lists in an attempt to clear my head. This all took about two hours. Needless to say I was a bit low on energy this morning, but there was so much to do! My morning was spent sewing up beanbags for our Jubilympics tomorrow, trying to find stuff in the spare room (never an easy task since it’s a pile of boxes randomly labelled with the wrong information), and then I decided I should run while the going was good. In my search of ‘the box room’ I found my tripod, something Hector used to enjoy playing with when he was little(r), but now he really put it to its intended use and set off to the adventure playground where he took some great photos including these:

A running me, pausing

An action shot of Edward

While they entertained themselves, I ran a few miles with my list still ever-present in my mind: in my Fleetfoot ll bag were some carefully placed scissors and a plastic bag and, when I had run enough, I stopped at one of the many heavily laden elderflower bushes and snipped away busily, I had promised local elderflower cordial for our Big Lunch after all.

Cordial in the making

On my return the post was delivered and I was delighted to receive an unexpected present and card from Edward: the card featured a lovely picture of a medal, and the message was wishing me well in my fitness endeavours at the gym and ‘See attached for recovery aid’…

I am going to share it you know, honest.

He knows me well.

Distance run: 3.41 miles

Time: 32 minutes 01 seconds

Average Pace: 9.24

Best Pace: 6.10

Calories: 413

On the first day of Viceathon…

…my true love gave to me a lovely lemony loaf. It would be plain rude to turn down a slice. Wouldn’t it?

Before I indulged in such citrus delights I went for a run in the sun (I was very happy about this because the weather forecasters have been promising cold, cold, cold all week). As I ran I thought about what might pass my lips today and decided five miles should do it, hopefully leaving me with a bit of extra fuel in the Viceathon tank – I didn’t want to start panic buying too soon and end up with burnt fingers. Though, with this being the school holidays I have swiftly gone from being a six-days-a-week runner to just three this week, so I can’t sit back and let the miles take care of themselves as I have been recently on the school run.

My Viceathon vice, as I revealed in my last post is baked goods. I have decided that:

1 baked item=1 mile run

(a baked item could be a slice of bread, a piece of cake/a muffin, a hot cross bun – my vice of choice right now -, a biscuit or an oatcake.)

I am also going for a mega price-match and having a piece of fruit for every baked good eaten. In our house I compete with the miniature fruit monster and allow him to eat all the fruit, neglecting my own needs, imagining that ‘he needs it more than I do’. Given that Hector can consume his five-a-day in one sitting, I don’t get much of a look in.

Today’s Viceathon totals

Baked goods eaten:

1 slice of lemon cake

3 slices of bread

Fruit eaten:

2 bananas (0ne of which had gone past the stage of brownness I find acceptable)

1 pear

1 apple

Miles left in the Viceathon bank:

1

Distance: 5.15 miles

Time: 48 minutes 26 seconds

Average Pace: 9.24

Best Pace: 4.31

Calories: 548