Still at it, sort of

Rubbish. My Octoberthon that is. I have run this week, but gingerly, fearing the dreaded shin splints. Arrrghghghg! I’ve also done something weird to my neck/head. Sometimes I wake up, having slept in a funny position and can only look to one side, but normally it clears up as the day progresses. Well, this happened to me on Monday and has got worse as the week has gone on. I can’t look right or left or upwards, yes, I am a danger to myself and everyone else, especially when I try to cross the road. Now things are taking a turn for the worse as I fend off a killer sore throat and ‘the sniffles’. There’s lots of it about.

I am off to Venice this week for the Bienalle, so my running will be interrupted anyway, but I should take this opportunity to think about what I really want to do with my running. I caught sight of myself in the mirror last night as I put on my pyjamas and thought ‘Oh shit, how did that happen?!’ something needs to be done, and sharpish!

On a positive note, the wonderful Parkruns have moved up north London way, with a new run starting in Finsbury Park on October 31st, so a weekly, timed 5k run…for free! What a great incentive to get 5k fit and beat that PB to the ground.


Challenges of running every day

It’s hard! Octoberthon is going well in many ways, but it’s such a challenge getting out every day. On Tuesday I didn’t manage it. It rained and rained and rained all day and Hector and I were all ready to go at one point and it started chucking it down again. We spent some time at the library and I decided I would head out when Edward got home…only he didn’t get back until just before nine and I didn’t fancy the streets at that time, mingling with the ladies of the night and their associates. Oh well.

On Wednesday the weather really picked up, it was one of those autumn days that makes me smile: crisp, fresh and sunny, so we headed down to the canal.

Time: 33 minutes 13 seconds

Distance: 3.17 miles

Average Pace: 10.29

Best Pace: 8.21

Calories: 358

Thursday was just as lovely, if a little bit windy, so we did the run-to-swimming-lesson-and-run-back-home run. I do enjoy this, it’s so much more enjoyable than the bus, but it’s hard putting on slightly damp running clothes after emerging from a deliciously warm swimming pool!

Time: 50 minutes 45 seconds

Distance: 4.74 miles

Average Pace: 10.42

Best Pace: 7.40

Calories: 453

Friday was another gorgeous autumnal delight, but I waited until the evening to run and really regretted it as the skies opened up just at the point where I said: ‘Ok, I’ll go running now’. I stared at it for a bit, procrastinated some then realised it wasn’t going to stop and I should just go for it. The rain did something great to my speed motivators as I kept up quite some pace for the whole three miles. It made me realise I might just crack that 25 minute 5k I would love to achieve. My enthusiasm was knocked somewhat as I neared home and heard some lads shout out: ‘Come on big arse!’. Hmmmm, thanks for that.

Time: 25 minutes 29 seconds

Distance: 3.02 miles

Average Pace: 8.26

Best Pace: 6.04

Calories: 298

Yesterday we all set out early on our bikes to Hampstead Heath where we enjoyed a flask of tea and our lunch near the lovely Pergola and then wandered through the trees and had a play in the playground. I saw Ricky Gervaise at one point running through the heath, looking like it was hard work. Glad it’s not just me that finds the heath a challenge! Talking of challenges, the outward trip to the heath is full on hills, hills, hills and I realise how useless I am at cycling; I might be running fit, but cycling makes my legs scream. As a result I decided not to run yesterday, I was simply worn out.

Since I did my big walk a couple of weeks ago I have been experiencing a new pain in my left knee, on the inside, some sort of patella thing I guess, probably just caused by all that walking and stair climbing. The funny thing is that it only hurts when I walk, it’s absolutely fine when I run and was ok when I cycled yesterday. This morning I set off to Finsbury Park as I fancied running along the path that we rode on yesterday. My knee was hurting though. I ran as far as the park, stopped and stretched and decided to run back home. As well as the knee, my right shin was aching too, so I didn’t want to push it too far and cause long-term problems. Damn it. I don’t know if it was because I had decided to run back home or if it was because I had warmed up, but the pain and the ache both eased a bit on the return journey…

Time: 33 minutes 30 seconds

Distance: 3.19 miles

Average Pace: 10.29

Best Pace: 8.03

Calories: 337

Mornington Chasers Winter 10k Series Number 1

Rushing around the house trying to find a lost receipt is not the best way to spend your time when you should have left five minutes earlier for your 9am race. I had woken up at 5.45am, but still managed to find myself in a fluster trying to get out of the door, not a good start. It didn’t help that the race starts at The Hub in Regent’s Park and is not a quick spot to reach from any tube stop, so I knew I would have a bit of a walk at the other end. Eventually, we got on the tube and I tackled the timing tag I had been sent, a sort of strip of plastic with a metal bit that you loop through your laces and then get funny looks as people notice the big red thing sticking out of your shoe.

When we reached the park, Hector and Edward set off to the playground and to find good bike riding spots (steep hills for Hector to go ‘weeeeeeee!’ down) and I made my way over to the The Hub. As I neared the playing fields I saw a couple of marshalls so asked them what time it was ‘Nine o’clock’ said the man ‘so you’d better hurry!’. Damn it, I was going to miss the start. I started to run. I could see lots of runners milling around, so realised it hadn’t yet started, but I still wanted to get there on time. It turns out the marshall was being ‘funny’ and it was only five to nine when I got to the start. Oh, how I laughed. Fortunately the start was delayed further for me to get my breath back due to the postal strike – lots of runners hadn’t received their number or tag, so it all had to be sorted out there and then.


It was a beautiful morning with golden sunshine and still, crisp air. Perfect running weather. I was glad the wind had eased, didn’t fancy struggling into that. And we were off. It is a three lap race and I enjoyed this aspect, I think I’m deciding all races should include laps, such fun. As I tackled the first lap I realised we were heading towards the playground and was delighted to hear big cheers of ‘Go Mummy!’ and little squeals from Hector – the boys don’t normally come to races, so this was a new, and rather lovely, experience for me. I was feeling good, running strong. One particularly interesting part of the race was where we ran alongside the zoo, I saw sheep mainly but could hear all the animals starting their day with various strange noises and grunts. At one point I was puzzled by a grunting noise, trying to place the animal, but I soon realised as it came closer that it was in fact a fellow runner who must have been on his final lap and definitely inΒ  it to win it. Those fast types really do push themselves and the resulting sounds are quite something!


My own final lap felt more challenging, I started to flag a bit, but was boosted again by Hector sitting in a dry fountain, shouting ‘I’m having a bath!’ As I approached the finish, I picked up the pace down the last little incline and decided I would run past the woman ahead of me. I laughed as she realised what I was doing and decided to put up a fight ‘You sneaked up on me!’ she said.


Time: 56 minutes 53 seconds

Distance: 6.28 miles

Average Pace: 9.04

Best Pace: 6.46

Calories: 684

After the race I collected my banana and went to find the boys at The Hub. I was really pleased when I bumped into Paddy, our old trainer who used to motivate us to get moving a few years ago. He had over-taken me during the race and I had wondered for a moment if it was him. It seems he does the series every year; he’s hardcore.

And here are the stats for my run around the park on Saturday. Boy was it windy?! I really struggled and it seemed to make my asthma rear it’s head, not nice.

Time: 29 minutes 11 seconds

Distance: 3.02 miles

Average Pace: 9.39

Best Pace: 6.35

Calories: 343

So, that’s four Octoberthon days completed. Still no takers in the challenge though…

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!Β  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

Bike Boy Fartlek Session

It’s official, I can no longer keep up with Hector on his bike. This morning I decided to try something new: run along in my running gear while Hector does his thing on the bike. When I mentioned this to him he said: ‘That sounds like a good idea’ – he’s coming out with some lovely phrases at the moment πŸ™‚

So, we did a two-parks run/ride. In park number one a man sitting on a bench called out: ‘That’s a nice idea, but it’s not going to work’. Hmmmm, thanks for the vote of confidence, bench man! Could he not see that this was about something else? We were both whizzing along at our own pace, huge grins on our faces, me stopping every so often, turning around and running back towards Hector, who found this hillarious, then racing each other to the next tree and so on. No Garmin, no stats, just pure running fun. It’s not as if I was taking it easy either: I was sweating pretty much constantly and would take every opportunity I had to sprint to the next bench or up and down a hill while H stopped to look at a twig or whatever took his fancy.

I always think about doing fartlek sessions, and this is simply the best sort of fartlek I can get. As we neared the end of our session, H was getting tired, so I had the added ‘benefit’ of carrying him and his bike, and had the bonus treat of a sit on a bench to eat the blackberries we had picked along the way. Happy day.

No stats, just fun.

Bone ache

I’m feeling ill again 😦 Got that all over aching bones thing you get at the beginning of flu. Just a minute, I’ve already had that recently! Just a quick one to Finsbury Park, where it was really windy and I felt soooo cold. I even got in a hot bath on returning home.

Juneathon Day 17


Time: 37 minutes 28 seconds

Distance: 3.12 miles

Average Pace: 12.00

Best Pace: 7.44

Calories: 338

Severe weather warning!

That has to be the longest, most dramatic storm I have ever experienced! It just went on and on and one and all the time Hector and I sat there saying ‘Poor Daddy!’, imagining Edward on his bike on his way home, but somehow he managed to avoid getting wet, just good timing.

My run hadn’t happened today: Musical Mondays this morning and hot, hot weather this afternoon with a big, grey brooding cloud threatening to open up any minute. This did mean that I have had to muster up a bit of energy just now and take the storm head on. Edward very kindly lent me his running jacket, well he calls it a running jacket but he only really uses it for five-a-side. It did the trick but I was totally swamped! I was doing pretty well avoiding getting wet until I did that thing where you place all your weight on a seemingly stable slab only to find it is floating on a pool of water. I ended up with a gush of icy cold muddy water up my legs.

As it had just stopped (paused) raining the park I ran around was deserted so I decided to give our nearby park a miss and settled for a quick two miles. As I neared our house a bloke said: ‘Keep it up, marathon next year!’ I do wish I could think more quickly in these situations: ‘Already done it mate’ would have given him something to think about.

Juneathon Day 15

Sit-ups: 5×20, 100 in total – bear in mind that I had Hector sitting on top of me for most of these, shouting ‘Do ‘it-ups Mummy!’

Press-ups: 20


Time: 19 minutes 58 seconds

Distance: 2 miles

Average Pace: 9.58

Best Pace: 6.15

Calories: 242