Head down, teeth gritted

I’m not used to running in the rain, we’re kind of lucky really in London, apart from that rubbishy ‘summer’, we tend to have quite dry weather, or maybe I’m just lucky when I run. This week has challenged that, but it hasn’t challenged me. I am so determined to get this PB and not to miss out on a run when I have the chance, I have been turning up to the school gates in full gear, and enduring ‘you’re mad’ looks from normal parents who are safely ensconced in weatherproof macs. Little do they know, that this run is a necessity – if I don’t do it, I won’t get that rush of endorphins that will see me through the rest of the day, on a high of achievement.

Wednesday’s run was one of these grit-your-teeth runs, the perfect opportunity to try out my gorgeous new trail shoes, sent to me by the generous people at Sportsshoes.com. I am always a bit reserved about lovely new running shoes: I simply don’t want them to get dirty, ever. Trail shoes can’t avoid getting dirty and, though still looking shiny and new, there is now a tell-tale clumpy line of grass clinging to the edges of these beauties:

Shiny and new

I did wear them last Saturday to give me some bounce in my role as Run Director at the Hilly Fields Parkrun, but that doesn’t really count because the only running I did was to retrieve an arrow that had fallen over. I did, however, get to have a geeky shoe chat with a fellow Parkrunner who was wearing the rather fetching purple version. My inner geek was blown away rather by the details on the fastening mechanism, not only do they have a nifty little draw-string whatnot, Salamon have even thought long and hard about where you put your neatly tied laces, arriving at a neat little pocket on the tongue, where you can tuck any loose ends away. Marvellous.

Clever stuff

So my first run was a wet one, up the hill, away from school and around Hilly Fields. I don’t know if it is because they are new, but I found the soles a little slippery on the pavement at first, a little like running in studded football boots (I’m guessing, I’ve never worn and am never likely to wear football boots!). I kept myself in check and took it easy on the wet paths but the shoes really come into their own on the wet grass and  mud. I was able to virtually sprint up the grassy hill (though onlookers might call it something other than sprinting) and the mud was no problem, the grooved soles offering excellent grip, enough to run confidently without fear of falling.

Groovy soles

After running light in my NBs recently, I find other shoes a bit heavy, but this extra weight felt reassuring for the trail, giving support and stability on a variable and challenging surface. You can find out more about this particular pair of shoes here, but the range of trail shoes on the website is extensive! These are going to be my lucky HF Parkrun shoes 🙂


Mile Day

I didn’t get out early, big mistake. I didn’t get out late, bigger mistake. I got out later, but still, I got out. Our kitchen floor was being fitted, Hector wasn’t feeling too well, every time I looked out of the window the rain was coming sideways at the house, I was given DRINK and then I was given curry and then I put Hector to bed and then I spoke with my very special friend on the phone and then I drank tea. It was hard, but I thought back to Janathon where I still got out and ran even though I had a nasty chest infection, it was dark and very cold.

Distance run: 1.02 miles

Time: 9 minutes 46 seconds

Average Pace: 9.33

Best Pace: 7.31

Calories: 124


Give Blood Tuesday

This morning I gave blood for the first time. I had intended to do so during Janathon, prompted by Cassie, who is a regular donor, but I couldn’t go due to the lurgy and then I couldn’t go in February because I was STILL full of lurgy so today it was: Give Blood Tuesday. I found myself in a big lorry on Lewisham Market, squished in with all the other eager blood-givers, answering questions in a cupboard then lying on a bed listening to golden oldies on the radio and pumping my hand in and out (and trying to remember to squeeze my thighs and buttocks – I must have looked like a very obvious first-timer!). I think it’s a good idea to make an appointment (they were seeing over 100 people today!) but I managed to get one within the hour and was then in and out within 45 minutes. And you get to drink squash and eat biscuits (or crisps) though I felt rude taking the biscuits without being offered, so just sipped my squash quietly. I’m booked in for July now and will try to give blood whenever I can. If you would like to know more visit the website here.

The school run is going well, though the runs are not that eventful, hence the lack of blog. I did do a sort of double last Friday: our neighbour happened to be taking her daughter by car and offered us a lift as we were stepping out of the house but, as they weren’t leaving for a while, Hector took off his coat. Of course, when we got to school in the nice warm car, I realised we’d left the coat at home. To avert a meltdown I promised to run to school with it as quickly as I could. So I got a lift home, grabbed the coat, ran to school with it under my arm and then ran home again at a more leisurely pace! This morning I felt good and offered a friendly smile and a jolly ‘Hi!’ to a woman I saw stretching in the park. I wasn’t expecting such a contemptuous look in return. I know other runners sometimes like to keep to themselves, but I do like to call out ‘Morning!’ to dog-walkers, runners and anyone I see regularly on my route, and I am often met with a blank expression or completely ignored, but this was downright rude! I always think of this greeting as being an offer of support, like saying ‘well done on getting out’ or ‘keep going’ to a fellow exerciser so I will continue to be a friendly runner and, if I see her again, I will make the smile even bigger. How annoying!

Distance: 3.01 miles

Time: 30 minutes 25 seconds

Average Pace: 10.06

Best Pace: 5.59

Calories: 312


Woof woof!

That’s me, barking like a seal. If someone asks my advice about running with a cold, I always say: ‘If it’s above the neck go for it, run it off! If it’s below the neck then rest’. Of course, I ignore my own advice and just keep going, it is Janathon after all. Actually, this was another one of those runs I really wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t for Janathon. I’ve been running through this cold all week but today I’ve felt rotten, another day spent caring for a small – slightly more robust and healthy – boy, and going out in the cold wasn’t what I had in mind for my Friday evening. I did it though, a bit better than last night: two miles which felt easier than last night’s one!

I will now retire with my tissues, a mug of tea and some Friday night comedy to cheer me up.

Distance: 2.02 miles

Time: 20 minutes 19 seconds

Average Pace: 10.05

Best Pace: 7.50

Calories: 212

The one that almost didn’t happen

And on Day 25 as well!

When I collected Hector from the school bus yesterday afternoon, I could see straight away that he wasn’t well: his face was all red and puffy and he took ages to get off (he is normally first off, no matter where on the bus he is sitting!). I took him slowly home, had a cuddle then took his temperature – it was very close to 40 degrees – and he slept all evening on the sofa. So today was spent on the sofa, with his duvet, reading a mountain of books and attempting to get him to eat something. This did mean that my school run didn’t happen and today’s Janathon would have to wait until Edward got home.

I’m not Scottish, I’m Welsh, but I do like joining in the Burn’s Night celebrations by indulging in some haggis, tatties and (pars)neeps. My plan was that Edward would arrive home mid-cooking time, I would go for my run, eat dinner then put Hector to bed. In reality Edward was late home, Hector became hotter and hotter (39.7) and I was worried he was really ill. We quietly ate our dinner, Hector nibbling on some parsnips but refusing to touch the haggis (I told Edward it was a daft idea showing him what it looks like when you cut the skin!) and my run was pushed further and further back.

I stood in the hall, saying it would be such a shame not to complete the month and Edward said – with a cheeky smile – ‘It must be hard sometimes, they can’t all be easy runs, it wouldn’t be a challenge if they were’. Well, at least he doesn’t employ the use of a water pistol to get me out of the house.

Distance: 3.02 miles

Time: 30 minutes 10 seconds

Average Pace: 10.00

Best Pace: 7.31

Calories: 310


That’s me, trying to be upbeat after a shit day. Well, it wasn’t the worst day ever, not life-changingly crap, just crappy in a ‘I was looking forward to the weekend and now my Saturday has been spoilt by lots of small things and it’s almost dinner time and I have to salvage what’s  left of it’ kind of way. My run was alright, just a Waterlink Way run to Deptford to take Hector to his swimming lesson (irritation number 1, he freaked out and wouldn’t get in with a new teacher and we had an audience as we dealt with this parental challenge). I noticed at least five shopping trolleys in the river – but no camera handy – and figured it must be due to proximity to Tesco and the high concrete sides that limit access to retrieve them. So, it was just over four miles, in the rain, with a break – not a relaxing one – in the middle and a full-on cold to boot.

A hearty a re-energising lunch of baked beans and poached egg on toast was had and a plan was made to go to the library and find a DVD to watch tonight and sit and have a read. Here irritation number 2 took place: Hector became a mischief-causing whirlwind and I ended up storming out with him under my arm. Ahem. He promptly had a really long and messy nose-bleed and we all calmed down while we dealt with it (not really an irritation, just a challenge). A kind lady came over to offer advice: ‘If you want his nose to stop bleeding, you need to tip his head back and apply ice’. The ice was a great idea (there is a cafe at the library), but tipping his head back is wrong, we’ve dealt with these nosebleeds many times now, and know the score, so we had to not make eye-contact with the lady as we ignored her advice. We returned to the children’s section once the flood had subsided and enjoyed a cosy read and all was well again.

To redeem himself, Hector is doing his special pizzas with Daddy and I can smell red pepper roasting and hear that goat’s cheese is also on the menu…mmmmmm! And breathe.

Distance: 4.21 miles

Time: 40 minutes 34 seconds

Average Pace: 9.38

Best Pace: 3.38

Calories: 435

Looping the loop

I’m sorry about yesterday, what an old grumpy pants I was! Today is just as grey and even wetter, but my morning start was far more positive than yesterday due to a compromise between me and the little fella: I have offered to take him on public transport then I run home. The situation at school is unique at the moment – due to a rebuild of the original school, the children are being bussed out to a temporary site until after the Easter holidays and it is this bus part of the day that is really upsetting Hector. I decided that, if I remove that factor, then he will be more positive about school, and he was. Just a few big tight hugs, kisses all over my face ‘Mummy, I forgot to kiss your left cheek!’ and off he went, no tears. Phew.

The run back home was wet, but followed my usual route anyway, I was slightly disappointed though that the journey is not quite three miles and I ended up doing some looping around the park to make  up the distance. It didn’t matter, there was hardly anyone about to see my loopy behaviour, it was just me and the ducks!

Distance: 3.09 miles

Time: 30 minutes 41 seconds

Average Pace: 9.57

Best Pace: 3.13

Calories: 345

Dry run

No, of course I didn’t get up early and run in the dark, don’t be daft! I did, however, got to bed early but I was still lying there, wide awake, two hours later. I tossed and turned and listened to Hector coughing then, when I eventually did fall asleep, I was woken by a hideous dream about someone being in our house and Edward going at them with a little fork. Horrible. I then slept through the alarm.

Today was spent at the Science Museum – I am making the most of these last few days with Hector before he gets sucked into the school system (sob, sob). We had fun playing with water, learning about space, building bridges to walk across and making a ‘space station’ out of giant Lego bricks:

We then spent ages in the excellent Launchpad area playing with the ‘Big Machine’ and learning about magnets.

It was impossible to leave and we ended up travelling home during rush hour, where people with their heads in either the Metro or a Kindle would rather watch on as a small boy falls all over the place around their knees than offer up a seat. I was knackered by the time we got home! I got a message from Edward saying he would be home at 7pm, so this gave me time to gear myself up, work out a plan of action, put on my running kit and be ready to jump up and out of the door when he got back.

How lovely it was to run in dry – yet very windy – weather after last night’s soaking. For some reason I decided to run towards Greenwich through all the rush hour pavement traffic of Lewisham and spent most of my run avoiding scaring pedestrians. Really though, if you are going to weave all over the pavement in the dark with headphones on, you deserve to be given a little fright by a dark figure slinking up beside you 😉 Before I left the house I realised that I had only had two drinks today (I forget about my own hydration needs whilst out and about) so took the opportunity to try out some High5 Zero. This new zero calories electrolyte sports drink caught my eye a while ago and I was happy to receive a sample just before Christmas. I was drawn to the fact that it claims to help you burn ‘41% more fat with every training mile’, I don’t know how, but it’s worth a try!

I read the instructions and saw that you mix the tablet with 750ml of water, which seemed a lot, and it is. This does mean it’s great value for money, but I am not used to guzzling this much liquid pre-run, so wasn’t sure what would happen. Now, I don’t know if it was the fact that I was super-hydrated, the fact that I just wanted to get the run over with, or if this stuff really is magic, but I ran the three miles faster than I have all week by a few minutes, yay!

Distance: 3.02 miles

Time: 29 minutes 58 seconds

Average Pace: 9.56

Best Pace: 6.16

Calories: 322


The Good Man

Today is all about our good men. Over on There’s a Six Pack Under Here, Susan found herself the happy recipient of a freshly washed kit, laid out and ready to go. In our house my run was delayed until this evening when the weather had changed from the bright crispness of this morning to the stormy dampness of yesterday; I really didn’t want to. Edward came home after his first day back at work and said: ‘I will bath Hector and make the dinner, you go and run’, we are two very lucky ladies.

It was tough-going and I drifted on autopilot along a regular route of last year’s Janathon, which takes me on a loop around Ladywell, through Crofton Park, touches on Brockley and back to Ladywell. I got a supportive ‘Well done’ from a woman who was going into her nice warm house as I slogged, head down up a hill into the wind and sideways rain. My mind was distracted somewhat by my shadow at this point, squat as it was in the low glow of the yellowy street lights, more Rubenesque than athlete and quite disheartning. I am determined to do something about this, having gradually grown more, erm, cuddly lately, not the look I was going for.

During my run I thought about getting an early night so I can get tomorrow’s run out of the way first thing and avoid having to schlep it out with the commuters in the dark. We’ll see.

Distance: 3.18 miles

Time: 32 minutes 05 seconds

Average Pace: 10.05

Best Pace: 2.52 (ok, this is just silly!)

Calories: 345


Oh my. I think everyone in the UK knows what I’m talking about when I say the weather is grim today. I really had to grit my teeth and go out in the sideways rain and head-winds this morning, but I did it, all the time thinking about the bath I had left running at home (I know that sounds just plain daft, but Edward and Hector were home and our tap has something wrong with it so is just a trickle at the moment, no flood-risk there!). I did yearn for the lovely nod of a ginger cow, but instead I made do with the steely glance of a dog-walker and the calming view of not one, not two, but three herons along the river.

My wet feet.

In other news, we are filling up on soups and stews after over a week of rich, meaty dinners and chain-eating chocolate and salted nuts. It was odd having a game of #guessthesoup over on Twitter last night, but good to see fellow Janathoners are getting their five-a-day too.

Chopping the veg for tonight’s stew.

Distance: 3.09 miles

Time: 32 minutes 06 seconds

Average Pace: 10.23

Best Pace: 3.48 (weird blip again)

Calories: 325