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.

 

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The Inaugural Hilly Fields Parkrun

What a morning! When we got together one evening last week to go over the last details of the Hilly Fields Parkrun and to learn all the ins and outs of the computer system, we envisaged at the most about fifty runners turning up on Saturday, so were slightly taken aback when they kept on coming! I was up and out early to get there and help Stephen (Event Director), Siggy and Sally to get the course ready for action. It was a beautiful day for it.

The view from the top of Hilly Fields

The finish funnel was constructed, arrows and cones were put out and we were gradually joined by the rest of the volunteers who were variously on tag-distribution duty, marshalling and whistle-blowing.

Tag distribution skills training

Top team

Before we knew it, it was coming up to the start time of 9am and we gathered up the runners – all 94 of them! – and made our way over to the start point. Stephen did a great welcome speech and thanked all of the people involved and I did a little count-down from five to get the run started 🙂 As the name suggests, it’s a hilly course, but there is enough variety in surface and gradient to make it interesting and enough downhill and flat sections to give you a chance to recover. It wasn’t long before we could see the front runners coming back up the hill to take on the second lap (it’s a three lap course) and we barely had time to pause and chat about such delights as Grim and marathon PBs and juggling family life and running before we saw ‘Parkrun Royalty’ Danny Norman storming towards us.

First across the line

The fact that even Danny was doubled over on the ground after finishing is testament to how challenging the course can be. At this point we had a steady stream of runners crossing the line and I realised I should concentrate on operating the stopwatch instead of taking pictures, so didn’t manage to capture everyone (though some might be pleased about that!). Our first run attracted runners of all levels, ages shapes and sizes and we also had a number of first-time Parkrunners who were keen to come again. After the last runners had come in, we gathered up the equipment, marshalls and stray arrows and made our way over to the cafe for a fuel stop – clicking a stopwatch is thirsty work! The overall feedback was positive and many people were keen to return next week – I think it was a success! You can read the race report here and a fellow blogger, who had travelled as a Parkrun Tourist, has written his report here.

Yesterday I decided to run the course myself, just to familiarise myself a bit more and I can tell you with great conviction that it’s a tough one! I like the course, I like the terrain changes and the laps – three is just enough not to get confused. I didn’t really like almost barfing when I got to the top though…

Distance: 3.11 miles

Time: 30 minutes 7 seconds

Average Pace: 9.41

Best Pace: 7.24

Calories: 381

So, this run confirmed to me that I have a lot of work to do in my quest for speed. I know I can do it though 🙂

Need for speed

In sixteen weeks I am going to be 40! I know, I know, I don’t look a day over – insert flattering number, please – but it’s true, and in celebration of this turning point in my life, I am going to attempt to get a 5k PB. My current 5k PB is around 26 minutes and was set many years ago when I was younger, slimmer and had more time to devote to such things but, having a quick glance over more recent 5k times on the Parkrun website, I can see that I ran a 27.30 race at Finsbury Park, so I can use this as a guide to what I might be able to achieve these days. This Saturday sees the inaugural Hilly Fields Parkrun, at which I will be playing the role of Race Director, so will be involved with something exciting and witnessing people improving their times as the weeks pass and they get used to the, erm, ‘undulating’ course – I might even get to run it myself occasionally.

So, how am I going to achieve this goal? Tomorrow is back-to-school day, so I will be able to get back into my school run/gym routine that has sadly fallen by the wayside during the holidays, and I will commit to running intervals on the track once a week – to run faster, you need to run faster, isn’t that right? I was secretly delighted last night when Edward informed me that he will be taking a short break from his weekly five-a-side football in four weeks’ time and won’t return until the new year. This means I will be able go to our local running club – I say this in a high-pitched, excited sort of voice because I’ve wanted to join a club for a very long time 🙂 – and do a track session led by a proper coach and everything! Whoop, whoop! I think, putting all of this together, I can see that PB in the distance and, on the day before my birthday (30th December), I will be tackling those hills at the Parkrun and crashing past that 26 minute mark. There, I’ve said it now, and you will hold me to it won’t you? I welcome any tips and ideas too.

Win, and train with Jessica Ennis!

I know, how exciting is that?! With Olympic fever now being swiftly followed by Paralympic fever, all you armchair athletes are hopefully being inspired to get up off your rear ends and give a new sport a go – I’ve certainly been seeing many more runners, cyclists and general fitness-seeking types about since London 2012 hit our screens. I was given the chance to up my activity levels by having a go at the brand new Adidas MiCoach Game but, since the game is accessed via Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move for PlayStation 3, and I have no such thing in my possession, I thought I would hand over this opportunity to you lovely people.

You may have gathered that I know absolutely nothing about computer gaming, so won’t even begin to try to explain how it all works, so you should watch the video here. Watching this made me wish I did have access to a games console and could get in some extra sessions in the comfort of my own home (with the curtains drawn I might add!). There are programmes featuring 18 of Adidas’ athletes across six different sports so there is something for everyone here – I imagine Edward would be elbowing me out of the way to try out the footie sessions. Watching Jessica Ennis in gold-medal-winning action at the Olympic Games made me want to get out there and train hard and, if this game can get your abs anywhere near as rippling as hers, then it has to be worth a go!

So, what do you have to do? Just send me an email (adele [at] adeleprince.com) with ‘Train with Jess’ in the subject line before September 16th and I will pick a winner at random after this date. The winner will be informed by email and then announced here so we can chase them up on their MiCoach training progress later on 😉

In the meantime, you can keep up-to-date with MiCoach on Facebook and with regular Tweets over on Twitter.

Inspire a generation

I love this line I keep seeing around London as we visit the various Olympic events, and I see evidence of this legacy around me all the time. On Friday evening I dragged myself away from the Olympic coverage to the gym (where I was delighted to discover I could watch the women’s 5k final whilst stepping up and down on a machine), as I walked alongside the running track on my way in, I was delighted and slightly amused to see a family making use of the track, little future Mos or Usains. On Saturday I went out for a run (in my gorgeous new Mizunos – more to follow in the next blog post) and immediately felt a stronger running presence as I covered a hot and sticky four miles. During those four miles I counted a total of eighteen runners and a group of Nordic walkers, far more than I would normally encounter on this run, the Olympic effect in action. It’s a shame that I also noted that out of these eighteen, only three acknowledged me with a nod or a smile, so not entirely buzzing from the glow of the games. Someone who is buzzing is Hector – everything is a competition and results in awarding gold, silver or bronze to us for our effort in getting dressed, eating breakfast and other everyday activities. I decided to go with this enthusiasm the other day when he said that he really wanted to go running with me. We took it slowly, and I had to try and hold him back a bit as he tried to sprint the first few minutes. We jogged, walked, ‘stretched’ (I must film this, it’s very funny) and picked blackberries, always best to take it slowly at first 🙂

Last week were in Poland on holiday, where a walk up a hill rewarded us with this view:

Fresh air

Our descent was slightly less taxing, as we took the chair lift silently through the tree-tops:

Gliding

This was quite a challenge for me as I have an irritating fear of heights and had already decided I wasn’t going on the chair lift but, when I got there, and Hector was really keen, I decided to stop being such an idiot and went for it. It came round really quickly and the little Polish chap shoved it behind me – cue yelp – and I tentatively shuffled my way back in the seat and held on tight. I was suddenly confronted with a steep drop ahead of me and found myself taking deep breaths and looking at the tree tops. Eventually I acclimatised and overcame  my terrors slightly by tentatively turning my head and loosening my grip on the hand rail. It was quite lovely gliding silently through the trees, feeling like we were the only people in the world. I did feel like I was the only runner in Poland. I dutifully packed my running gear and, as we had spent time standing on our bathroom scales with our luggage in an attempt to avoid being charged for over-stuffing our bags, I felt I should at least pull on my kit once during our stay; I managed two runs. Each run was done before breakfast, while everyone else faffed around with bathrooms and the like, and I took myself up a steep hill in the heat. Not one runner crossed my path. In the park, no runners were to be seen on the nice new paths that had been recently laid, and no runners were seen gasping for breath as we took in the views ahead of the white-knuckle chair lift ride. On our last evening in Poland, we found ourselves in Krakow (that’s ‘krakoof’, by the way, not ‘krakoff’ or ‘krak-oww’ – I was repeatedly corrected each time I attempted to say a word in Polish, and this one I got right) and as we drove away from our parking spot near the city park, I could see some dark figures circling the edge of the grass in the cool evening air, runners! It seems, yes, there are runners in Poland, but they have the sense to stay inside when the weather is blisteringly hot, that’ll explain the look I got from a Babcia carrying her shopping up the hill.

 

Popping out

It’s been an exciting sporting week in the Prince Hill household, with two viewings of the Olympic Torch as it made its way across London. First we went to our local relay, outside Lewisham Hospital, with a warm and welcoming crowd, bubbling with excitement. Then we went to support the Southwark leg as it passed close by Edward’s work on Thursday. It was interesting to observe the difference in support there, where office workers poured out of tall buildings, filmed the whole thing on their iPhones, then went back to work, all quite quiet and with very little excitement.

The Lewisham Torch

After the Southwark Torch

On Friday we became more and more excited as we watched the most incredible opening ceremony, trying hard to keep Hector awake long enough to see at least a bit of it. He did very well and got a second wind during the musical/dance section, dancing around the room and trying turn up the volume. Yesterday the real fun began when we trekked over to Kensington to witness the athletic might of the men’s road race. I had to step back from the road as they passed en masse and at speed, the feeling of power was immense.

Tour de Londres

This morning I remembered that I, too, have sporting goals of sorts, so pulled on my running shoes to tackle a short run then hard gym session. Imagine my crestfallen expression as I noticed the little toe of my right foot poking out of the side and the big toe of my left foot popping out to say hello. My faithful Asics Gel 1160s! I suppose I can’t complain, they have seen me through training for a marathon, a half marathon and numerous distances in between (yes, I know the shoe people say you should change them every so many miles, but I’m rebelling a bit here). Time to look around and see if I can find a bargain online.

Peepo!

I trawled around for a bit, trying to find the exact same shoes, but realised I actually yearn for something a bit more funky, yes, you read correctly, I am fancying a bit of colour, gasp! I’m very much a black tights and plain top kind of runner, with a practical-looking shoe to finish the look, but I found myself on the Northern Runner website staring at these lovelies. I know they are not a replacement for the Asics 1160s, but I just love the way they look, the sexy, earthy upper and the flash of colour underneath. Maybe it’s just something about trail running shoes, but these caught my eye too, look at their zig-zaggy bottoms! I think, if Asics want to keep my attention, they need to get creative with colour in their everyday running shoes.

My thirst for colour led me to have a little shufty at t-shirts – a quick look at my running pile shows a penchant for black, faded black and grey. I found some colourful options which also boast UV protection in the fabric, oh how happy I am that it is now sunny enough to be concerned about such things! Some also have anti-bacterial qualities and, having recently resorted to throwing all of my running tops in the wash on a very hot setting in an attempt to eradicate the wet dog smell, this definitely gets my attention. Ahem.

Distance: 1.85 miles (I said it was a short run!)

Time: 19 minutes 18 seconds

Average Pace: 10.25

Best Pace: 8.01

Calories: 228

Followed by some good hard weight pushing/pulling/lifting at the gym.

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