Fast track

I just had to share this morning’s track run with you. I wasn’t even going to go – I couldn’t find my gym membership card and was looking for ways to wuss out, but I went for it and the kind gym man let me in anyway since he knows me now. I had on my lovely NB Union Jack shoes again and my ears were plugged-in to some Audiofuel and off I went. It felt hard at first, and I wondered if I had it in me, but I soon warmed up and lengthened my stride. Each time I came to the long, straight edge of the track, I went a bit faster and picked up the pace again as the music increased in bpm. I was only going to run for as long as the track took me, but I glanced down at my wrist and saw how close I was to 5k and that I could possibly get a good time, so picked it up again.

Distance: 3.11 miles

Time: 26 minutes 51 seconds

Average Pace: 8.38

Best Pace: 5.50

Calories: 377

Yaaaaaayyy! My best ever 5k time is 26 minutes and I was not so far out there, I had even done the cool-down element of the run, so could possibly have kept the pace up a bit to get a better time! As you can probably tell, I’m a bit excited by this. My goal is to run 26 minutes or faster by my birthday on December 30th, so I think I’m going the right way about it 🙂 It’s interesting to see how much slower I am at the Hilly Fields Parkrun, so this confirms that my PB run is not likely to happen there!

Talking of Parkrun, here’s a nice little video filmed in Australia. Of course, we don’t always have the sunshine (though our three runs have so far been beautifully sunny) and we haven’t set up a BBQ yet, but we have coffee and cake at the cafe and we have friendly faces all round, so give the Hilly Fields Parkrun a go 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82LBLUK9sDg

(I tried to embed this, but it wasn’t working for some reason, so just click)

I also want to announce the winner of my Adidas MiCoach game competition. The winner is…Pete Howard, otherwise known as Follystone to his Janathon/Juneathon friends. Enjoy the game Pete!

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

The Three Fields

The fog continues to hover ominously above our house, and I love it! Over the past year I have got myself into a slight running route rut, so this morning I decided to combine a few of the favourites in a three park hilly attack. The beautiful weather even prompted me to take my camera with me and capture ‘the view’. Here is the first of the three fields, Ladywell Fields:

I headed happily through the mist, up the hill to the second field, Blythe Hill:

It was quite gut-bustingly hard running up those hills in the cold, but I was delightfully toasty in my lovely new top from Go Outdoors, who have kindly offered to keep me warm this winter. I had a good look through the thermal and base layer section of their website, and settled on a new Ron Hill top. I was thinking that I should try a new brand, but I know that the Ron Hill tops are a lovely fit, with a nice long body and long enough sleeves to pull down over your hands when it gets nippy. This top certainly does the trick, I actually said ‘Mmmmm’ out loud when I put it on, it’s so soft and I love to be able to pull a top down low to reduce the view of my rear end. So, now I sped up a bit and ran swiftly along Brockley Road towards my next field, Hilly Fields:

(normally this has one of the best panoramic views of London)

I had found the hills on this run pretty tough at first, but I really settled into it and was starting to enjoy myself now. Just a downhill stretch and a flat pick-up-the-pace section to home, where my next-door neighbour was shocked to see a human being actually steaming.

Distance: 3.46 miles

Time: 35 minutes 33 seconds

Average Pace: 10.17

Best Pace: 6.24

Calories: 412

I do have some splendid tights to try out too, but today didn’t seem quite cold enough – I do like to hold tight on the tights until it’s really cold – so I will see what the next few days bring on the weather front.

Birthday running

Just a little one to make sure everything is still working as I turn 38. I was woken after a – brief – lie-in by two excited boys with a pile of presents (lovely books to assist in my raised bed adventures and bird-spotting obsession) and a gorgeous homemade card featuring a tractor and a running shoe. Am I the only woman who receives birthday cards with tractors on? After being allowed a very quick look at my presents, I was swiftly ushered out of the house for a birthday run, so Edward and Hector could ‘do something secret’ in the kitchen (Hector now has flour all over his pyjamas, I can’t imagine what it is).

It’s been a while since I ran – we have been visiting family around the country for the past week, travelling on a total of ten trains, with a humongous amount of luggage (mainly Hector’s Christmas presents), long gone are the days of travelling light. I was just about allowed to sneak some knitting into the bag, so I knew I couldn’t get away with my running kit as well. Needless to say, this run was hard work. I had decided to put on a long-sleeved top with a short-sleeved top on top, which was totally unnecessary as it’s scorchio out there. So I sweated my way around a very muddy park – good practice for the upcoming Grim – and smiled a lot at the fact that I had made it out on my birthday again. Of course, my thoughts wandered throughout the run to Janathon, which is now only two days away. I am looking forward to having all that support to get me out there, and later we will go and buy some new running shoes and maybe a warm top or two to assist in my endeavours to keep going for a month.

In the meantime, I must eat a big breakfast and probably some *cake*, happy birthday to me 🙂

Time: 37 minutes 4 seconds

Distance: 3.31 miles

Average Pace: 11.11

Best Pace: 8.37

Calories: 332

How many Juneathoners does it take to…

…drink a bottle of champagne?

This many (and me, taking the photo, and Edward, running around with Hector)!

On Saturday, a few of us got together in Hyde Park for a post-Juneathon get-together and celebration. Some of us decided it might be fun to go for a little run:

Then we shared a picnic and drank champagne:

And I was presented with my delightfully pink Vibram Five Fingers by Adam from Fitness Footwear, my prize for winning Juneathon 2010:

The run was led by Angela, who runs with the Serpentine Running Club, so knows Hyde Park very well. It was to be a 5k run, but I think it was a little closer to 4 miles, but can’t say for sure because my temperamental Garmin lost its signal part way round. It was lovely to run with some fellow Juneathoners, there was no way I could keep up with Angela as she is a six-minute miler, so I ran and chatted with Sean from Audiofuel who very kindly stayed back with me. I was impressed with Adam, Grant and William for keeping up with speedy Angela, but happily tagged along at my usual pace, though I do find it hard to chat and run, sorry Sean if I was a bit, well, gaspy! Meanwhile, Edward played with Hector, Cathy and Susan set up our picnic area and Shaun had fun on Grant’s fixie.

Time: 36 minutes 16 seconds

Distance: 3.22 miles

Average pace: 11.17

Calories: 308

(yup, weird stats when we were running around 9.30 minute miles!)

Since I found out I had won Juneathon, and would be the proud recipient of a pair of Vibrams, I have been thinking about the way I run, my gait and about barefoot running in general. My friends Nick and Nadine both wear Vibrams as everyday, out-and-about shoes, so they were singing their praises, and Nick even lent my his copy of  ‘Born to Run’ to really try to win me round. I have been conscious of my footfall as I run around the house and garden after Hector, noticing that I do tend to land towards the front of my foot when barefoot, and I wonder if this anything to do with being trained as a contemporary dancer, where the emphasis is always on lifting your weight up and forwards, keeping your feet underneath you and running with a lightness that allows you to seemingly float forwards (a-ha-ha-ha, I so wish I still had that kind of grace when I run!).

When I came to put on the Vibrams, I found it a bit tricky, but Adam suggested putting my foot into them on the ground, slipping my toes into the little individual sections and then pulling the back over my heel.

They are the daftest looking shoes I think I have ever seen, but they certainly are comfy. I’m not sure I would have the nerve to wear them out-and-about like N&N do, but Cathy said they looked ok in the park. I quickly had the urge to run in them, even with an audience, and Sean soon had me running around with a camera, filming my feet. After all the thoughts and concerns about needing to alter my running style, and the need to re-train myself to run ‘barefoot’, I realised that actually I have about the right sort of gait for this style of running, landing around midfoot and with a low centre of gravity. They felt right. I did venture over to the path to see if they felt as good there, but Hector seemed concerned: ‘No Mummy, don’t run on the path, those are soft shoes!’ I think I will try a short run in the park with them, on grass, and write about how I feel, I’m not sure what the people of Tottenham will make of them…

For now I am carrying on my training for the Hackney Marshes half marathon in August, 13 miles seems a very long way right now. I have done a few runs this week and logged the times on Fetch, but I need to knuckle down and increase my mileage if I am to have fun on race day. Talking of fun on race day, a few of us, in the heat of the Juneathon party, relaxed after quaffing champagne, agreed to sign up to Grim in December. Eight miles of mud and water?! Are we mad?! Probably. Bring it on!

Fame

Juneathon does weird things to your head. I know I went running yesterday, but it was early in the morning and today I decided to wait until we got back to London to do my run and it felt like ages. I kept having a mini-panic, thinking I hadn’t run yesterday. I even wake in the night and look forward to the next day’s run. I know, weird!

One reason I waited until this afternoon was that I was introduced to the joys of Just Dance on the Wii (by a seven-year old). Oh, it’s such amazing fun! Of course, Eloise was incredibly good at it and I lost during the first dance but, as I chose the next song myself, I won. It was, of course, Fame by Irene Cara. I went on to compete against Edward, who proved to be a hot mover, hips and everything. I had imagined I would ache after all that jigging about, but I was fine, it was nice to have a relaxed morning though and leave the running until much later.

I found the run hard this afternoon, it was a bit windy and it felt like the wind was whistling right into my lungs, wheeze, wheeze. I gritted my teeth and decided that a run up a very steep hill would help. It sort of did. The local park was busy, lots of men playing football, and a few runners, one of whom was so determined not to make eye contact he ended up looking like some kind of fast moving robot.

The rest of evening was spent enjoying yet more delicious food to celebrate Father’s Day. Hector and I made Lemon Posset and little shortbread hearts for pudding, but he could barely contain himself and kept whispering: ‘It’s a secret! Shhhhhh! Two things! Biscuits!’

Ahh.

Stats for Juneathon Day 20

Type of run: solo run

Time: 28 minutes 32 seconds

Distance: 3.12 miles

Average Pace: 9.08

Best Pace: 7.49

Calories: 303

Another day another playground another run

Word is the new playground at Springfield Park is open! We passed by the other week on our bikes but there were still railings around the play area and Hector was most put out, so I thought it would be good to run down there and have a look today. This means a lovely run along the canal, and all the interesting sights that brings. We like to play a game of ‘spot the cormorant’ – they duck under the water and don’t pop up again for ages, usually miles away from where they went down. What fun! I just managed to catch this one before it disappeared again:

The playground was indeed open and it has a lovely sand area, with a fantastic wooden boat to climb on and in and some springy thingies to bob up and down on…

It is super hot out there today (they said it would be 27 degrees on the weather report this morning) so running is hard-going. I am finding it hard to keep on top of all the extra washing, so have ended up wearing odd race t-shirts that are normally reserved for decorating, they are surprisingly ok and I enjoy the extra length but they are certainly clingy in this sweaty weather! I also need to invest in some new running bras as I ended up putting on a clean but still damp one this morning and, while I’m at it, some new running shoes wouldn’t go amiss! Who said running is a cheap sport?

On our way out of the park we had to pause a while and watch this man at work. He was preparing the cricket pitch for the weekend.

Stats for Juneathon Day 4

Type of run: Pushing buggy

Time: 51 minutes 23 seconds

Distance: 5.01 miles

Average Pace: 10.16

Best Pace: 6.53

Calories: 557

This morning I entered the UF Dance Half Marathon again – I did it last year in scorching hot weather, but really enjoyed how friendly it was, so decided to give it another go. I’m a bit disappointed that the Finsbury Parkrun is cancelled tomorrow, something to do with a concert set-up, I’ll just have to do my own 5k instead.

Everybody loves the sunshine

Well, I do anyway. This weather is a real joy and I am, at last, getting out and running again after a period of extreme sluggishness. I have been disheartened recently by my feeling of being unfit and overweight, so am now on a mission to do something about it. Over the weekend we all went out for a lovely family run, Edward and I taking it in turns to push Hector in his running buggy, and the little fella shouting out: ‘Faster! Faster!’ before starting his usual chant of: ‘Playground! Playground!’

This accompanied run allowed me to test an IPhone accessory I was sent a while ago. It has been sitting on my desk while I waited for Edward to locate some headphones for his IPhone and to upload some music for me to listen to. Oh, and of course, I needed to be running! I don’t often run with music, feeling slightly vulnerable and also being accompanied by my head coach in the running buggy, so it was quite nice to have a distraction for a change. Thankfully, only the music was a distraction, with the armband staying firmly in place, the wide velcro strap fitting snuggly around my upper arm and not shifting one bit. The armband is made of neoprene, which means that your precious IPhone won’t drown in sweat and should be protected in a rain shower. There is a clear plastic window to access the screen and shift between tracks if necessary, but I didn’t need to do this on my short test run. If you are fortunate enough to have an IPhone and don’t have to beg your husband for a moment’s audience with the device of the moment, then get yourself over to the Mobile Fun website to bag yourself a cool new running accessory.

Back to running with my little chap. We headed out early this morning and ran around the parks, with Hector looking out for dogs all the way – he has made lots of doggie friends recently and we ended up walking with a group of dog-walkers last week because he was so taken with the ten or so bags of energy bounding around at our feet. After our run, we got ourselves ready and went on my bike – with child seat – for a ride along the canal and marshes. I think this is the first time I have taken Hector out on my bike without Edward, so it felt like an adventure. We have had the seat for about two years, but I feel so wobbly with the extra weight at the back and a bit nervous about the aggressive London drivers, that I usually avoid riding at all. After today’s ride I have changed my mind, it was a joy and we both got so much out of it that we will be going out again very soon.

Happy+New

Happy New Year!

It’s been a while since I updated, and that’s because there really hasn’t been much to report: I was knocked for six throughout December by a nasty cough then wasn’t going to risk breaking my neck by running on ice. But this is 2010, it’s a new year, a new decade and a healthier new me. I got off to a good start, getting out nice and early on new year’s day for the Serpentine 10k in Hyde Park. Oh my, it was ffffffreezing out there! I put on my new Helly Hansen base layer, my new hat and my new gloves (and everything in between of course) and joined the rest of the nutters at the start. I found myself walking round in circles and rubbing my thighs like Vic Reeves to keep warm, but we were soon off.

I didn’t have high hopes for this race, not having run for a few weeks and being heavily laden down by Christmas stodge, and I didn’t surprise myself, coming in at an all-time personal worst. Things were ok to start with, then both of my knees started really, really hurting – the left one below the knee cap and the right one in an ITBS kind of way – so I was struggling around with a grimace on my face. The cold air also triggered my chest to tighten up so I felt all-round crap. I kept on going though.

It was a beautiful day, so bright and crisp, and it’s a good race, laid back, friendly and in a nice setting. Edward and Hector were making their way over to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground (it’s fantastic), and paused to wave at me over a bridge part way along, always uplifting to see their smiling faces. The course does a loop at one point, and I was suddenly being lapped by the short-shorts brigade and getting all muddled by the KM markers, but things picked up when I really had done 7k and my knees seemed to ease up a bit. I kept on, plod, plod, plod and made it to the finish line where I picked up my bag and quickly put on my big puffa jacket. Brrrrr. I could have done with a banana or something at this point, but there was just some icy cold water on offer…a hot chocolate at the playground warmed me up a bit 🙂

Time: 1 hour 2 minutes 13 seconds

Distance: 10.11 km

Average Pace: 6.09

Best Pace: 3.56

Calories: 681

I just had a look at Fetch, and it seems I ran 599 miles last year. Damn it, I wish I’d read that last week so I could have made it up and over 600! I have taken advantage of our local leisure centre’s New Year offer of three months for the price of two, or something like that, and invested my Christmas and birthday money in some gym and swim membership for the next few months. I am feeling well and truly lumpy-tumpy right now, so I need to get burning those calories and pumping those muscles. I went to my first Spinning class in about three years on Sunday and felt like I hadn’t been away. The instructor was French though, and I couldn’t really hear him, so all I heard every so often was ‘rrrresistaaahnce’, felt like I was watching ‘Allo, Allo’!

Hung-over-husband

Hmmmm. I have been really enjoying my weekly 5k challenge at the Finsbury Parkrun, but it wasn’t to be this weekend as the big fella had had a little too much to drink on Friday night and was certainly not up to entertaining a lively toddler while I pootled around the park. Grrrrr. I did go out though, and did a 5k around my local park, cheerfully shouting a jolly ‘hello’ to all the bundled up runners I passed along the way, but did any of them reply? No, not a sausage, grumpy lot. I pushed myself, imagining I might be able to manage a little PB, with it not including that big hill and all. I did manage to improve on last week’s time a little.

Time: 27 minutes 22 seconds

Distance: 5 km

Average Pace: 5.28

Calories: 308

On Sunday I wanted to do five miles to bring me up to my week’s target of 20 miles, but the rain kept saying: ‘No, stay there! It’s nice and warm…and dry’. I did get over myself though, and headed out into the winter wonderland. I’m so glad I did. I ran down to the canal and the sun was glorious, with rain cutting through it. All along the path I had to leap from side to side, avoiding the huge muddy puddles as I watched determined rowers ease through the water.

Time: 49 minutes

Distance: 8.10 km

Average Pace: 6.03

Calories: 500

When I got home Edward said he wanted to go out for a run too. I was a bit shocked because it must be about a year since he last ran – he cycles to work and back every weekday and plays football once a week, but never runs. Of course, he went out and beat my 5k time to a pulp. Damn it.