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 🙂

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.

Wrong head

There was some more stalling going on today, I’ve been feeling a bit weird: aching all over, headache, sort of flu-like but without the cough/nose/throat bit, so it took a lot of effort to get out there this morning. Again. I think I have to accept that I will succumb to illness during each of the Athons, it’s the way. So I got into my gear and remembered that my HRM strap seems to have a flat battery (discovered during yesterday’s heart-attack moment), our washing machine is still in the living room after the new floor being laid, so the clothes were a bit wrong and, when I went to put my contact lenses in, I found that one of them was torn. I wasn’t keen on running in my nice new glasses, so rooted out my old ones only to discover that they were covered in paint, scrape, scrape, scrape. It all felt a bit wrong. I relayed all this crap to Edward, who simply said: ‘Wrong head’ and I felt right again, or at least more willing to snap out of it and make an effort.

It was funny because, once I got out there are started running (and got used to the ‘looking through a letter box’ effect of my old glasses) I felt much, much better. The aching eased and I had a good run. It just goes to show that a run can really do you good if you can get past that initial ambivalence.

This afternoon we went with our neighbour up to the Horniman Museum to see some World Music in the gardens. We dug our heels into the mud and ignored the odd shower and heard some really interesting stuff. One of the bands is a favourite of Hector’s and he showed off his top moves near the stage:

Bustin’ some moves

Distance run: 3.31 miles

Time: 34 minutes

Average Pace: 10.17

Best Pace: 8.09

Calories: 409

Baguettes for legs

In case you were wondering, I’m still hard at it for the Viceathon cause, well the eating baked goods bit anyway. I had visions of running every day while Edward had a week off work, but bugger me, didn’t we just go out and do fun things every day instead?! I have managed a handful of runs this week, one of which took place on a running track on Good Friday at 8am. You read right. I was delighted to see that our local leisure centre have started a series of outdoor classes for the summer: bootcamp, Nordic walking and – woohoo! – running club. So, I ran over on Friday morning to find it was just me and the instructor. This could have been slightly awkward, but I sort of know him a bit anyway because his family live across the road from us, and he was very kind and gave me my very own tailored one-to-one session. It was superb. I pushed myself running the five 400m repeats and managed to maintain my pace throughout, with only one moment where I very nearly threw up. This session actually made my legs ache, which is always a good measure of how hard I’ve worked (this doesn’t happen very often!).

On Easter Monday I kept on looking out of the window and saying ‘urgh!’ until I eventually decided it wasn’t going to stop raining, and took myself out anyway. It was quite lovely actually – there was hardly anyone around, apart from a few grumpy runners and two scallies who I was delighted to see were carrying a large potted plant through the park: ‘Ah’ I thought ‘how nice that they are taking an interest in horticulture’ and I smiled appreciatively at them. As I ran on it dawned on me that the big bushy plant was in fact marijuana and they were taking advantage of the deserted park to take it for a walk.

Today’s run was rubbish. I made the mistake earlier of saying on Twitter that I had ‘run a crappy six miles’ which, when I read it back, seemed very dismissive and wrongly worded. What I meant was that the experience itself was awful, I was pleased to have run over six miles, but hadn’t particularly enjoyed it. I really wanted to get my Viceathon debt down, so aimed to run a bit further than usual, but as soon as I set out I could tell things weren’t right. I felt heavy, tired and wheezy and ended up resorting to popping into McDonald’s to use their loo (this is a place I only ever venture into in running gear, head down, eyes on the little lady sign). I enjoyed taking  in the madness of Greenwich as film set, seeing the ‘Les Miserables’ scenery, complete with gigantic elephant. I then crossed over into the park where preparations are underway for the Olympic equestrian events. All this distraction didn’t help get me up The Hill, and I had to pause halfway and pretend to admire the view as I found enough breath to make it up to the top.

Greenwich, France

So, the Vice part of Viceathon has taken over somewhat this week, with home-made bread picnics and Easter Panatone given by visiting friends and Edward’s lovely little simnel cakes…and not much running. I did, however do a bit of cycling, and up hill at that, so will take advantage of this to shave off some miles (using a version of JogBlog’s 1 unit=2 cycled miles).

Edward's Simnel Cupcakes

I’ve done some workings out in my diary and have arrived at a figure of 10.94 miles in debt. I can get out tomorrow morning and work that down a bit further, but Edward is back to work on Monday and Hector is not back at school until Thursday…excuses, excuses.

Beach-comber

A year ago today we were in Brighton, stuffing ourselves with pasta and getting all excited about the Brighton Marathon. On Tuesday we went for a day trip there, and it all came happily back to me. Good luck to all those running tomorrow, it’s a fantastic place and a fantastic race.

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

Let her eat cake. And bread. And buns.

It’s been a good week for running. Odd really, when I spent over an hour waiting at the doctor’s on Monday (I had an appointment!) to have my knee checked out. It has been ‘giving me gyp’ for months and months now, mostly when I go up and downstairs but not – thankfully – when I am running. Last week this changed and it all started to feel a bit unstable as I ran and my knee looked a bit swollen, enough to prompt me to see the doctor. It seems I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which is apparently common amongst runners (I hadn’t told him I was a runner, he must have clocked my athletic physique as I hobbled into the room). He is referring me to a physio which he admitted might take sixteen weeks to happen. In the meantime I am doing various exercises after running to strengthen my quads and hips and waiting patiently to consult an expert. I had thought the problem arose from my constant kneeling when I play with Hector and also moving to a house with stairs having lived on the ground floor for years and, as it hadn’t given me any trouble whilst running, I had been quite dismissive. Anyway, things have improved and I am going to just carry on as normal for now.

I have been continuing my lovely school run but had the sad realisation this week that it will soon be over: the Easter holidays begin in a week and a half and, after the holidays, the children will move into a lovely new building just a short walk from our house and our routine will change again. It does mean Hector will be able to cycle to and from school, which he will no doubt enjoy, but I might have to give myself a bit more motivation to get a run in after dropping him off. I think I might have found a motivation on my run the other morning. I decided to pop over the ‘spirally footbridge’ into the other section of park and noticed a ‘Run England’ sign on the notice board, I stopped to have a nosey and saw that there is a free course taking place in a couple of weeks. The deadline for applications was Wednesday so I quickly got on the case. It seems I have got a place on the ‘Leadership in Running Fitness‘ course at the end of the month, and this will allow me to start my own running group. In return for the council/mayor-funded place, I will commit to 20 hours of voluntary work, which I am really looking forward to. I have wanted to do something like this for a while so I’m glad I added that extra mile to my run last week and spotted the sign!

In other news there has been some lively chatter over on Twitter. Cathy Jogblog was asking if people wanted a challenge for April, which involved running a mile for every alcoholic drink you consume. As I don’t really drink that much (actually, I do drink more than I used to, but not enough to warrant a challenge) it was decided that I could substitute drink for cake, but really, I know I like cake, but I don’t eat that much! I seem to have settled on baked goods – there’s a lot of bread being baked here at the moment and check out these little chaps I made yesterday:

Cathy suggested the name ‘Viceathon’ for this particular challenge, so participants can tailor it to their own particular over-undulgences. I am sure she will be writing up a blog post with lots of information soon, so check out Jogblog to find out what’s in store. If you haven’t joined in any of the ‘athons’ before, you should, its’ a great way to motivate yourself to run and you get lots and lots of support.

This morning I could have lounged around the house reading the paper and eating baked goods, but I decided to go for run number six while Edward and Hector went for a swim (H is swimming proper now: head under water, breast-stroke arms, no floats and everything, I’m ever so proud!). I popped in my headphones and did a warm-up circuit of Ladywell Fields then headed upwards towards Hilly Fields. It felt like hard work going up that hill but, for some reason, I took this as a signal to tackle it head on and ran up and down four times. As I plodded down, puffing and panting for the fourth time, I thought ‘Go for it, do another!’ so I did.

Distance: 4 miles

Time: 40 minutes 37 seconds

Average Pace: 10.09

Best Pace: 7.21

Calories: 489