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

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Middle class soup

Today’s effort was a sort of triathlon. First I went out and ran, not the best run in the world: it involved my knees hurting really badly (I think I have ‘housemaid’s knee’ from kneeling down and playing with Lego so much, does anyone have any experience of this?), running past so many runners that I lost count, I think they equalled the dog-walkers today and standing on a bridge and crying, partly due to the music I was listening to but mostly due to my fragile emotional state at the moment.

Things picked up when I got home when, after a restorative hot shower, we all jumped on our bikes and rode over to the Dulwich Leisure Centre for a swim. I still find it a bit odd living in South East London again and visiting the old places I used to frequent as an eighteen year old dance student at Laban. When I first came to London I lived in East Dulwich and sometimes used to go for a swim at the pool on Goose Green, my how it’s changed! It’s all very swish with a cafe and everything and, when we dipped ourselves in the warm pool, teeming with parents and small children, Edward commented that it was ‘like swimming in middle class soup’!

We then embarked on the most middle class of Sunday afternoon pursuits and rode over to Fired Earth to look at tiles for our new kitchen. I know. There was much chin-stroking and head-tilting and we ended up leaving with a selection of tiles to try at home (more chin-stroking…). The two legs of our bike ride are regular routes for Edward, the first being the beginning of his daily commute and the second being the homeward journey he takes after footie on a Tuesday night, though I can’t imagine how he does it, those hills!

Our exertions were to be rewarded with a team pizza: I made the dough, we took down the Christmas tree, then Edward and Hector rolled it out and put on the topping. I say Edward and Hector but apparently H wanted to do everything himself:

The smells wafting through from the kitchen were just delicious, though I did wonder if Hector was ensuring immediate exclusion from school tomorrow for eating too much garlic!

The result was really tasty.

Distance: 3.19 miles

Time: 31 minutes

Average Pace: 9.44

Best Pace: 3.58

Calories: 321

And we think we must have cycled about 8 miles in total. Now I must plank.

Visibility: poor

What a funny old morning. The mist that was visible from my bed usually lifts in time for a run but today it hung firmly in place, just above my head. The boys were heading off for a swim with some friends so I took advantage of the time to myself and ran towards Greenwich. It was cold and I had tried to find some gloves before setting off, but was unsuccessful (and Edward kept repeating ‘They won’t last two seconds’). I wish I had found them because I looked down at one point and my poor hands were red raw. Looking down seemed the best option today because the pavement ahead was about all I could see in the fog. I passed a few runners who nodded happily and cut through a quiet Greenwich, just waking up for a day of pre-Christmas shopping and coffee drinking. As is usual at this point, I looked excitedly at the Cutty Sark, who keeps emerging ever so slightly more each time I pass, I can’t wait to take Hector to see her properly next year.

Now I reached the Thames, at least this is where the Thames usually is, but all I could see was a few metres of sloshy brown water then a wall of fog. This made for interesting smiley exchanges with anyone I passed, all bemused by the ‘view’. I stopped at my usual three-mile turning point and took it all in whilst enjoying the dampness that rested on my cheek each time I blinked my dewy eyes. I was thinking, on my return, how much I am enjoying running again at the moment and I think it might be down to not training for any races – I am running for the sake of it and feeling a real buzz, no pressure to run so many times a week or cover a certain distance each run. This is what it’s all about.

Distance: 6.02 miles

Time: 58 minutes 39 seconds

Average Pace: 9.45

Best Pace: 5.28

Calories: 670

Knit yourself fit

I thought I should drop by and say hello, I realise I haven’t blogged for a few weeks now and imagine you think me quite rude. As is usual in our house right now, we have been variously under a layer of dust, covered in paint or admiring our new kitchen. Last Tuesday marked one year in our south London house, and we were able to look back and see just how much we have achieved in that time, not just all the DIY mayhem, but making new friends, getting to know our new area and Hector starting nursery. What a busy year!

I have been running, but just not finding time to share this. The weather has been lovely and I was determined to make the most of it at the weekend, and even did a short-sleeved run on Sunday morning – apparently this is one of the mildest Novembers for many years. I don’t know if it was the sunshine, the beautiful trees or the big bowl of steaming porridge I had for breakfast, but something gave me a spring in my step as I ran faster than I have in a long time. It wasn’t a long run – I’m not training for anything in particular right now, just ticking over – but it was very enjoyable.

Distance: 4.03 miles

Time: 37 minutes 20 seconds

Average Pace: 9.15

Best Pace: 1.06 (obviously a blip!)

Calories: 429 (I seem to have sorted out the odd calorie readings by resetting the watch to factory settings).

In other news, London has been successful in bidding for the 2017 World Athletics Championships, which will forge a stronger legacy for next year’s Olympic Games and, to celebrate, knitters around the world will be click-clicking at top speed to create little homages to their Olympic heroes. I’m not sure my knitting skills will cut it, but I know some of my running knitting friends have what it takes.

Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon

I’m not sure I should write this blog post right now because I can feel myself descending into the gloomiest post-race blueness ever – you train for ages and focus on something so closely that you feel a bit lost once it’s over. The fact that it didn’t go swimmingly doesn’t help either.

But enough of that! I was woken a bit earlier than I had hoped (6am) by Junior Coach and tried hard to keep him contained for another hour by hugging him really tightly and hoping he might go back to sleep, but was kept awake by the incessant chattering until we all just gave in and had our breakfast. It was grey out there, pouring with rain in fact and I felt a sense of foreboding at the thought of having to run 13.1 miles in the rain, my least favourite running conditions. I had been very organised and laid everything out on Saturday night, so simply had to put on my kit and go, but not before I had sat with Hector for a bit and listened to the Jacqueline Wilson ‘The Mummy Cat’ audio CD that was free in Saturday’s Guardian (Edward and Hector listened to the rest of it when I had gone and it was apparently very, very sad). As I walked briskly under an unloved cheap umbrella to the train station, I did a mental check of all my body parts to make sure they were in working order, things felt good apart from the still achy Zumba hip.

The journey was straightforward and I started to see runners once I got to London Bridge, always reassuring. The rain had stopped once I got to Hyde Park, so I dangled the umbrella on a railing for a spectator to make use of and headed to the loo queues. I stood there for ages, not moving at all and eventually gave up as the start time drew closer and joined another queue and then gave up and walked to the blue start. I chatted briefly with a friendly fellow runner and she said it was her first half-marathon and she was aiming for 2 hours 30 minutes, I had a time of 2 hours 10 in my head, having run a similar time at Cardiff last year. Eventually we were off, shuffling forward in our waves and being released onto the streets of London. I did forget to set my Garmin to search for satellites so ended up starting my clock a few metres past the start – oops, my first race with the new Garmin, I used to switch the old one on when I reached the race, knowing it took an age to get a signal!

It is a lovely route and I had a great feeling running with all these other people through the sights of London with a big smile on my face. My race high point was as we ran towards the Houses of Parliament. I watched the hands on the clock turn slowly and felt a rush of excitement as Big Ben struck ten, there was a collective ‘ahhhh’ around me as we all enjoyed this uplifting moment, what great timing! Everything felt good running along the Embankment, looking up and waving at spectators on the bridges, and feeling a little like a London Marathoner again. Here we started to see faster runners who had already turned around, but I was soon one of them heading back towards Hyde Park. I pondered for a moment on the mounted guards who sat, motionless as thousands of colourful runners rushed past them in a wave of excitement, how do they do it? After an enjoyable run up the Mall, we were soon weaving our way around Hyde Park on a route that, at times became slightly irritating, especially when I started to struggle. I can see why the road sections are at the beginning, so that roads can be re-opened quickly and normality resume, but it would be so much better to run the park first and have the sights of London to get you through the second half of the race.

This part of the race takes you through a beautiful autumnal scene with colourful leaves falling at your feet and huge crowds of supporters cheering everyone on. It does feel slightly disheartening to see faster runners looping back towards the finish line though and I had a moment of bewilderment when I saw JogBlog on the other side of the barrier and I couldn’t remember if I had already run that way or not. It was unfortunate that she saw me at that point, the point where things started to go downhill for me. I was guzzling water and attempting to suck a gel whilst walking for the first time in the race. It wasn’t a hot day really, not like last Sunday, but I felt hot and thirsty and found myself repeating my experience at London Marathon 2009, where I drank so much that I ended up collapsing in a heap with cramp. I managed not to collapse this time but, at one point I had such a painful stitch that was radiating over my chest, that I thought I was having a heart attack. I didn’t want to say anything though, because I didn’t want to get carted off in an ambulance! It’s interesting that I saw so many people being attended to by medics during this race, far more than at Brighton Marathon earlier this year, I wonder if it’s because some people take the training less seriously for a half rather than full marathon.

So, I had by now consumed both gels, guzzled a load of Lucozade Sport and topped that up with water but I was still struggling, time to plug my headphones in. Once again, Florence and the Machine came up with the goods and made me smile with these words from ‘Hurricane’:

‘I brace myself
Cause I know it’s going to hurt
But I like to think at least things can’t get any worse’

It worked for a while anyway. By this point I was walking regularly because the cramp was so bad that my toes were curling and making it hard to keep going. It was so frustrating, knowing how well my training had gone. Even though it all felt like agony, the miles did pass quickly and I was soon in front of the Albert Memorial, stretching my calf muscles (‘Are you alright ma’am? said a friendly marshal) ahead of the run to the finish. Here I passed the woman I had spoken to at the start and watched as she was cheered on by her family and how this support gave her enough of a boost to sprint towards the finish (I could have done with some of that myself) and I crossed the finish shortly after with a sense of relief and also happiness when I saw the beautiful medal, the nicest medal I have ever received.

There were quite a few of my fellow bloggers running the race as well (JogBlog, Helsbels, Fairweatherrunner, Fortnightflo, Abradypus and Plustenner – I hope I haven’t missed anybody out there!), and they had arranged a post-race pizza/beer/cake meet-up, but I had to rush/hobble home to a delicious roast dinner and friends, who had arrived before me -oops! I would say, it’s good to take you time recovering, I would like to have had a look around the food festival and refuelled straight away, but instead I jumped on the tube and felt slightly nauseous. Edward pointed out yesterday that things always go wrong for me in races, not in training (apart from Brighton Marathon, where I had a splendid time). I can see what happens now: during training I carry a small bottle of water or sports drink or nothing at all, and I sip this slowly throughout the run, but during a race there is water/sports drink everywhere and I feel the need to drink as much as I can, thus depleting all the salt in my body and becoming a wobbly mess. So I either stop going to races, or I put on water-station blinkers. Watch this space!

Here are the stats from my Garmin: http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/120260558

 

 

 

 

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.

Not Quite Half

On Sunday I was supposed to be joining my running-blogging buddies down in Folkestone, a mere hour or so away from where I live. I enjoyed the Twitter build-up and the general sense of camaraderie and looked forward (mostly) to the after-race social bit, so was rather pissed off peeved when I realised I simply couldn’t get there. The training had gone ok, and I had managed to avoid injury, unlike some of the other runners, so not making it to the start line due to crappy travel challenges was very frustrating. However, I got over my sulking last week by taking myself off to the running track and gasping my way round a four mile circular run.

I was ridiculously excited by viewing this run on a map!

Time: 42 minutes

Distance: 4.35 miles

Average Pace: 9.40

Best Pace: 6.50

Calories: 63 (Garmin got back to me and suggested taking the battery out of the HRM then putting it back in to re-set, it doesn’t seem to have helped, any ideas?)

My average HR was 186 and my maximum HR was 200!

When Sunday arrived, I decided to try for a ten miler that would get me home in time to follow the Twitter excitement, beamed live from Folkestone by @richeginger. I set off down the Waterlink Way, planning to run down to Beckenham Place Park, fancying a change from the usual diverted Greenwich route. Early on in the run I was passed by two tall, athletic types who eased past me as if I were invisible, though I don’t know how they missed me in my bright green Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon t-shirt! Sometimes this sort of (lack of) encounter gives me a boost to run harder, try to catch them up (ha!), but today it just made me feel fat and slow and made me drag my feet. As I ran, my stomach started to play up again, something I am slightly concerned about ahead of the Royal Parks Half in just over a week. I lifted up my torso, breathed deeply and tried to ignore it, but I soon realised I wasn’t going to make it as far as Beckenham Place, so decided to turn at the two-mile point, head home and take it from there.

It was getting hot out there, even though it was still only about nine o’clock, so it was a relief to pop home, take a moment to think about whether I could carry on, wipe my face and head back out of the door, refreshed. From here it seemed logical to head Greenwich way – if I ran to the seven mile point then turned for home , it would make ten miles. I felt much better now, and pleased with myself for not ducking out. As I neared Greenwich I saw signs for the Run to the Beat half-marathon, which was taking place later that morning, and picked up on the buzz around the area as runners started to make their way over to the start. I reached the water and, just behind me, the clock on the old hospital struck ten. I thought about my fellow runners who would now be crossing the start line, and wished them luck as I took a sip of my juice/water/salt combo and looked at the sparkling Thames in front of me.

On my return, I eagerly checked the computer to see how things were going in Kent. I am proud to say that all of the Fearsome Folkestone Four made it up The Hill and struggled through the heat to cross the line with smiles on their faces. You can read about Cassie’s half-marathon debut here, how Helen overcame a painful foot and a heat aversion here, Shaun’s speedy PB chaser here and Cathy has some exciting news about her next big race here.

Time: 1 hour 42 minutes 6 seconds

Distance: 10 miles

Average Pace: 10.12

Best Pace: 5.31

Calories: 177