New Goals

Happy New Year! Usually about this time, I am fighting a continual battle with myself to get out of the door and work off some of that holiday indulgence bulge in the name of Janathon. This time I didn’t really think about it, I just didn’t fancy making myself feel guilty if I didn’t get out, and to just enjoy my running (and other activities) for the sake of it. I do enjoy following everyone’s progress though and was prompted to write a blog post after reading this from Running Matters… This morning, as I gathered up some very muddy cones from the Hilly Fields Parkrun course, I had a quick conversation with regular runner Jez about Janathon. He mentioned how hard it is to keep up with the blogging and I proudly informed him that I was one of the early Juneathoners…and even ‘won’ it one year! It’s hard to imagine that now, with hundreds taking part, and some hard-core types clocking more miles in a day than I could run in a week. Good luck to everyone taking part, and enjoy!

During 2013 I ran simply for the fun of it, leaving bigger goals aside for a while and just making the most of the buzz and encouragement I feel from volunteering as Run Director at Hilly Fields. Almost every week I cheer people on to achieve their own goals and sometimes push myself around the course and see if I can beat my PB. In the past few months I have entered a couple of local 10k races and loved every second. First was the Petts Wood 10k, which was more of a mud-slide than a run and then I enjoyed the company of the Run Dem Crew at the Greenwich Movember 10k. The pace I found myself running at has prompted me to enter a few more races and see if I can crack the 10k PB I set about ten years ago, of 52 minutes. My other goal for 2014 is to branch out a bit and try a tri. Yup, I’m going for it! I think a good one to aim for is the local Crystal Palace Triathlon, which usually takes place in May – enough time to get my head, and my body, around it…and the swim bit is in a pool. I know, I know, I’m wussying out, but I think I need to ease into that crazy ‘pile in all together, arms flailing and get your head kicked as you aim for a distant buoy’ thing. So this will be a year of three disciplines, and seeing how well I can divide my time to find enough proficiency in all three to do a triathlon justice.

On New Year’s Eve, we were very sad to hear that a fellow Parkrunner and blogger, Zoe had passed away. We had the pleasure of meeting Zoe and her husband Stephen a couple of times in the past few months (both at Parkruns) and kept up with her determination to reach her 50th Parkrun whilst visiting many new runs as a ‘tourist’ along the way. I am sure that those who have been lucky enough to meet Zoe and Stephen were inspired by Zoe’s spirit of adventure (she and Stephen have also been on many Geocaching adventures in recent times), determination and the support and encouragement she has offered other runners over the years. I had intended to ‘dedicate’ my New Year’s Day Parkrun to Zoe but, as I found myself lost and wandering around unfamiliar streets in Manchester (in the rain), I put this on hold. I think it fitting that I dedicate today’s Hilly Fields Parkrun to Zoe: this time I was volunteering, cheering people on, surrounded by friends in the mud and the rain, something I know Zoe has found so enjoyable in the past year.

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Welly Weather and Running in Company

I got very wet last night. Me and a few other runners. After a very, very long time of wanting to join in, I went down the road to the local running track and ran with my local club. Hoorah! It’s not that I haven’t had the inclination or the motivation to join in, but I have simply been unable to leave the house and run – Tuesday night is football night and Tuesday night has been football night for quite a few years now. The other week Edward informed me that he’s taking a break from Tuesday night football for a while, and would I like to to go along to the running club. I’ve been getting excited ever since.

Now Tuesday came round and so did Hector’s new drumming lesson: a train journey after school, sitting around while he learns about notes and rhythm and types of drums, train journey home then dinner. Phew. But this Tuesday was different: pull on running kit on return from drumming, look at self in mirror and wonder if this is the ‘right sort of kit’ to go running with a club, look disapprovingly at bum in lycra and think: ‘Yes, you need to get out and run’, go to the loo nervously a few times, grab stuff and saunter down the road to join in. It was raining, not a little bit of drizzle, but that big, sweeping sideways sort of rain, accentuated by the flood-lights at the track. I hung about and wondered what to do next. Now, since I started helping out at Parkrun, I have got to know some other runners and my day-to-day travels are punctuated by the odd ‘hello’ and a nod and a smile, so I was soon able to catch someone’s eye and have a chat with a familiar face as more runners gathered around and asked what we were doing tonight. I was introduced to the coach and was informed that we would be doing a mile warm-up around the track then 1200, 800×2 and 4×400 all with a 200m recovery in between, something like that anyway – he told us a few times and I still had to ask someone. And off we went. I didn’t want to exhaust myself during the warm-up, so took it easy and generally tried to hold back a little all the way through the evening, I didn’t want to show myself up by throwing up on my first session!

At first we were pretty much together, then some people pulled away and others trailed behind, there was a real cross-section of abilities, which was great. I was surprised to see just how well-used the track is on a Tuesday night. At one point I looked around as I ran, taking in the various groups going in different directions. I was plodding along in the inside lane as some faster runners from another group sped past on the outside, shorts shorter, limbs longer and leaner and ponytails flickier (always the flicky ponytails). In the centre of the track was a group of youngsters running diagonally across the football pitch, and outside the perimeter fence was a group of very serious-looking chaps being led by a man on a bike, and all of this was with heads down into the driving rain. I was surprised at how chatty it all was, with people catching up and talking about all sorts of things during the recovery sections, all so friendly and welcoming. Before I knew it we were on our last lap and gathering to set off on a warm-down around the park, avoiding being mowed down in the dark by the steam engines in shorts. Everybody said their goodbyes and I jogged home to a delicious noodly dinner cooked by a still slightly disgruntled at not playing football Edward.

This wet weather seems to have come out of the blue, though really, you’d think I’d have the hang of Autumn by now, but I do like to cling to the last remaining drops of summer, determined as I am to wear my Birkenstocks until my toes turn blue. I am a bit more responsible in my roll as a parent though, and swiftly got Hector off to the shops in search of some new wellies to splash about in Muddy Puddles.

Splash!

I’ve been buying wellies for Hector for a few years now, and have mostly gone for the cheaper ones at Sainsburys or Tesco, but last time I was fed-up of them cracking around the ankles after just a few months’ wear, so spent a bit more at Clarks. A few months later and they cracked in exactly the same place! A friend mentioned Crocs wellies, which seem thicker and a better shape for crouching down in rivers and retrieving conkers from under trees, but I can’t seem to find them anywhere. If anyone knows of a decent but inexpensive welly that doesn’t crack then please let me know!

Must.Run.Earlier.

The past two days of running have felt ever so Janathon, what with the inclement weather and the lateness of the scheduling, and tonight I even ran a regular Janathon route but was able to detour through the park due to the lightness of the sky. I say light, but it was more of a grubby shade of grey with curls of black as it decided to give me a pre-shower shower. I felt heavy, my legs were like lead and I couldn’t decide if this was down to the afternoon spent gardening or if I was just plain knackered with it being dinner time and almost pyjama time. Compared with yesterday’s excitement, today was pretty dull. We played some games, did some gardening and Project Washing Line was completed as the first load of washing was hoisted majestically into the air (before sagging slightly and causing brief panic).

While I ran the boys made jellyfish

Distance run: 3.08 miles

Time: 31 minutes 51 seconds

Average Pace: 10.21

Best Pace: 7.21

Calories: 387

Janathon Day 26: Hams

I have resigned myself to the fact that these last few Janathon runs might be a bit dull. I’m sorry readers, but they will be dark, damp and dreary and lacking the sparkle expected of this last push towards the 31st. Tonight’s run was a post-dinner, post-bedtime run again, but I did leave about half an hour between eating and running, which made a world of difference to how I felt. It was cold and dark out there, and most of the people I encountered seemed to be ‘popping out’. What is it about men (some men, that is) popping to the shop and thinking it’s ok to simply pull on some pumps or sandals – over their white, up to mid-calf, sports socks – and schlepping along the pavement like it’s normal to be out in public in your pyjamas?! Yuk, I say. I did encounter one delightful gentleman along the way, Mr Fox. Now, I seem to meet him at the same spot every time, even if my run is at 6.30, 7, 8 or 8.30. I have decided that he hangs around until I appear then graces the pavement with his sandy presence.

Today Hector and I went on a bit of a trek to a group we used to enjoy up in North London; I realised that, once he starts nursery on Friday, we probably won’t be able to make it up there again. Our journey involved two buses and the marvellous East London Line. It was worth it though, as Hector was really pleased to see some old friends and enjoy some messy play and lots of jumping around. We also took a detour to see the ‘rubbish diggers’ and got a friendly ‘hello’ from the chap who directs the traffic and hoses the road.

(that red thing in the painting is a hoover, he likes painting hoovers).

While we were there I was talking to one of the other mums, who is a medic and knows a lot about knees and, of course I did that really annoying thing for any medic and said: ‘My knee hurts’. She humoured me, and gave me some jolly good advice about how to help ease this knee pain: stretch my hamstrings. Simple as that, stretch my hamstrings. Of course, I hardly ever stretch my hamstrings, so this is a good incentive to start doing so!

Janathon day 26:

Time: 31 minutes 30 seconds

Distance: 3.13 miles

Average Pace: 10.04

Best Pace: 8.19

Calories: 336

 

Janathon Day 22: Pom-Pom-P-P-P-Pom-Pom!

Nonsense, I know. I’m tired. This afternoon, Hector and I went on a round trip of about six hours to go to his friend’s birthday party in North London, where we used to live. It just proves how very far away we have moved. It was lovely to see everyone again, and for Hector to jump around and have some fun with familiar faces, but boy, this party animal thing takes it out of you! This did mean a morning run again, but after breakfast, thank goodness. It was a very French sort of breakfast: coffee, croissant, pointy French bread and a selection of homemade jams. We are getting into practice for April, when Edward and Steven will be heading over to Paris on a little bike ride (I should encourage a blog…).

My run was another errand type run, this time without a running buggy to carry the stuff, but an annoying rucksack bouncing around on my back. Well, I say bouncing around, it was quite still, but made loads of noise, I felt paranoid when passing people and kept putting my hand behind my back to still the din. It was drizzly – or my new favourite word, as seen over on Running Matters, ‘mizzly’ – out there, so not the most lovely of runs, but I did it and got some parcel-collection errands done into the bargain. I apologise to anyone in the Lewisham sorting office this morning, I was a bit sweaty.

On another note, I knitted myself a hat this week and, when I put it on proudly, Edward said: ‘Ooh, I can’t quite place it’. He thought about it for a bit and then said: ‘Badly Drawn Boy!’. Thanks. To get rid of any Badly references, I made a great big pom-pom and sewed it on the top. I don’t think there are many things as pleasurable as making a pom-pom, try it, it’s simply delightful!

Janathon day 22:

Time: 31 minutes 39 seconds

Distance: 3.02 miles

Average Pace: 10.30

Best Pace: 7.47

Calories: 331

Tomorrow I am supposed to do a long run, what with marathon training and all. Hmmm, this three-mile minimum I set myself for Janathon (and Juneathon) means I find it hard to go beyond three miles at the moment, so it should be interesting!

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.

 

Abundance

…of blackberries. Following my run this morning we have changed our plans for this afternoon: we will be heading down to the marshes on our bikes with empty tubs and will fill them with juicy blackberries…if we manage to put them in the tub before Hector gets to them! Pie for tea then.

I almost didn’t make it out this morning, lots of umming and ahhing, lots of faffing about, but eventually I made the decision to go, pulled on my kit then headed out of the door. Initial challenge of the runner over. The weather is still playing tricks with me and I wished I’d put on my sunglasses, even though it had been drizzling and looked like it would pour as I stepped out of the house. I decided to run around the marshes and more or less had them to myself apart from the nice man I chatted with as he collected a big tub of blackberries whilst walking his dogs. His haul are destined for the wine bottle. There were a few cyclists about and some children having a kayaaking lesson near the lock. It was here that I also noticed the name of one of the house boats: ‘Essex Buoy’.

A few more people appeared as I progressed towards the rowing club, some rowing boats easing themselves through the gunk and junk – it seems to have come back since the major dredging a while back. One of the boats was blocking my path as I neared the rowing club so I decided to pause and stretch before turning towards home. Here is where the weather pulled tongues at me and said ‘you think you can just go outside in a t-shirt and leggings?!’ and I was promptly treated to a very heavy shower and whirl of wind gusting around my face. Nice. I saw Edward rushing out of the swimming pool with Hector in his arms, and quickly ducking under the eaves in an attempt to stay dry. I wasn’t stopping though!

Time: 1 hour 19 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 8.01 miles

Average Pace: 9.55

Best Pace: 7.00

Calories: 878

I ran yesterday as well, just a park run, but it felt good. I made sure I did few up-hill runs and running into the wind also gave me an extra challenge.

Time: 37 minutes 59 seconds

Distance: 4.04 miles

Average Pace: 9.24

Best Pace: 7.03

Calories: 422