Post Party Halloween – The Parks Run

The clocks have gone back and winter is upon us. But with a balmy 18 degree high forecast and an extra hour in the day to play with, a good run through London was on the cards. R had come up with the idea to run from  Westminster Bridge back to Notting Hill via the three royal parks and we were scheduled to get laced up and on the tube for 10am.

Provided I could get myself out of bed. I had spent the night before dancing the night away at a Halloween party in a warehouse in Shoreditch, with enough make up to make Gaga gag and gallons of hairspray, fake blood and redbull to keep it all up and running. 
Needless to say my 3am cab ride home, combined with at least another hour scraping off white face paint, fake zombie skin and congealed red ick, meant I was not in the mood to be leaping out of bed fresh faced and foot loose at 9am. In fact I still resembled the zombie of the night before, in mind at least! 
Having raised myself out of bed, mainly due to R’s over excited insistence that this was the best route ever, in the whole word, hands down, I cleared what was left of the cobwebs in my head and we made our way to Westminster. With just about every tourist in London. I guess we had forgotten about half term!
Thankfully by the time we had managed to negotiate our way through the hoards and out onto Birdcage Walk, the autumn breeze cleared most of the fair weather royal spotters away and we had most of the park lanes just about to ourselves. 
Heading through Green Park and up to Hyde park, we were surrounded by amazing autumnal scenes, countless squirrels (Stella would have gone mental) purple vines, hazy tree tops and a particular treat of looking back to the Houses of Parliament while crossing over the Serpentine, shrouded in cloud. Nice reminder too, how far we had run. 
With the sun setting around 5pm, we were home and ensconced on the sofa in hoodies, with a warm dog piled on top and a apple crumble in the oven. Well deserved treat and all round perfect Sunday. Winter may not be so bad after all…

Happy 1st Running Birthday to Me!

Credit: Artisan Cake Company here

Half way through my training run this evening, I realised its been almost exactly a year since I dragged my myself off the sofa and tried out the C25K app. I had quit smoking exactly a year before and I needed to find something new to obsesses about.

Looking back, my fitness was dire, although spinning had started to make some difference, the extra stone or thereabouts that I had gained while quitting fags (they say it doesn’t happen, I have size 14 jeans to prove it does!) wasn’t shifting. Work commitments meant I was missing more and more classes, drinking more coffee and eating, well, crap. Sugar is an ex-smoker’s best friend and, invariably their worst enemy. It got me through the horrid nicotine cravings, but left me with a rather substantial spare tyre and a ratty temper. 
So I hit the streets, armed with the app, the dog and some dodgy old addidas trainers.  I remember gritting my teeth through my first 5 minute run (agony), pushing past the pain in my first ten minute stretch (wheezing)  and almost collapsing after managing the full 20 minutes non stop (trying not to be sick). But what a feeling. I quickly invested in some decent trainers (to date the most expensive kit required so far) and got excited about completing each week on the C25K plan. I was beginning to see what all the fuss was about. And I bought a pair of size 10 jeans for the first time in 5 years. 
I have since discovered, that running has given me so much more than a leaner waistline. That was the first visible benefit, a very seductive one at that (no more guilt about cheesecake – hooray!), but I also began to notice I had more energy, I was sleeping better and my diet was improving, almost by default. 
But it’s the psychological benefits that really have me hooked. I can have the worst meeting, be in the most foul mood or feel utterly defeated by whatever life is throwing at me that day, and I can step out the door and literally run away from it all. And in those 45, 60, 90 minutes I’m letting it all go. Endorphins are magic. And by the time I’m pulling off my kit and logging up the miles, I’m already feeling like a new person. Without the baggage, the stress, the worry. 
A year on and I’m excited about what else could be next. I’ve managed roughly 500kms since the beginning of the year and I’m only just beginning to see what I might be capable of completely (albeit slowly! I am not a speed runner…yet). London 2013, may actually be a realistic goal, although I’ll stick to the half marathons for now. I’m secretly dreaming of New York…

Dead on your feet?

R and I have just finished 6km and I am completely wasted. Needless to say I am totally embarrassed at my complete lack of stamina and general wimpishness. R is literally running circles around me. I may cry if he gets a better PB than me in the Richmond 10K. How mean am I?

My fitness has clearly suffered the 5 week ‘break’ I took post half marathon/ holiday in South Africa. And the additional 8 pounds (ahem, or thereabouts) clearly isn’t helping. I can feel every bump in the road, every ache up my calves, joints – the works!

We are now watching the new season of Walking Dead. Honestly, there’s a bit too much undead beheading going on for a Monday Night and a lot of really bad actors playing at hero, but it helps take my mind off the complaining ligaments and exhausted hamstrings. There is a lot of running. And heroics. Just like our training sessions then, with the added dramatics – watching R freak out because he thought his iPhone was broken, was pretty horrific. Never a dull moment.

But the show has given me a few ideas for Halloween in a week’s time.

I’ve got the limping shuffle, horrid make up and fake blood, all I need now is new running shoes. Clearly its all about the shoes.

Snap, cackle and stop!

Week 3 has not got off to a good start. This has nothing to do with R, who after my last blog has tightened up the routine and got his act together getting out the house (the mighty blog strikes again!) 
Having taken the decision to bring Stella the Dog on our first hill training route around and through Holland park, I had the hound for the duration, which means a bit of stopping and starting initially – so I had to catch R up. 
Note to self: sprinting up Ladbroke Grove when not properly warmed up is not a good idea. Not matter how much fun Stella thinks it is. 
I spend the rest of the run worrying about my calf. Then, at 3km, my hair clips fall out. Disaster. Growing out fringe is now flapping around my face and getting in my eyes. I almost run straight into a spider web and veer left, freaking out R and dog. I’m not having a repeat of the ‘Attack of the Fake Widow’ on the canal…  
Thankfully R doesn’t get easily fazed. One of the benefits that I have started to appreciate more and more! And there are a few  
1) Feeling safer
 Meaning we can try out some slightly more out of the way back streets, and that way we are discovering new routes
2) Being able to hand the dog over
A great option when she’s in chasing squirrel mode, eating god-knows-what mode or generally being a pain in the arse when trying to get the pacing right!
3) New motivation when taking on killer hills
 Particularly when you’re eating their dust, or they’re giving you a push while passing you by
4) Sharing the views
 Yes, even in darkest West London around the streets, the full moon over Portobello is pretty breathtaking. And the people watching while cruising by is priceless. 
Stella was still embarrassed by her human

6) Or when your sports bra snaps. On Holland Park Avenue. With a fair amount of traffic around. He didn’t laugh too much.

So I limped home, with an aching calf, mussed up hair, and a serious wardrobe malfunction – he kept me company and didn’t point and laugh. Too much.

Now I sit wrapped up in my ‘try again next time’ London marathon fleece (which you get when you DONT get in the ballot! I am rather relieved…) and my calf wrapped up in a tea towel with frozen peas – hunting the web for industrial strength sports, erm, gear!

Snap proof please!

Running for Trouble

Week two and we haven’t killed each other yet. Result. Although its all to play for if we’re still speaking after another 18 weeks!

So far we have argued about:

1) Getting out the door on time
When you run on your own, you just leave. You don’t have to wait for anyone or anything, its part of the reason why I love it. Running with R now means I have to take into account his sense of timing (not related to actual reality) and my irrational need to be a complete control freak (again a recurring theme). The silver lining is, he gets me out the door. Even when I’ve used every excuse I can think of. The fact he’s lacing up his trainers means I can’t not!

2) Clothing
 ‘Are you going to wear that?’ Note – this is not a good line to use when a woman is getting ready to leave the house. No matter what the occasion, running included. Cue irrational rage and usually a change of top. ‘I only say that ‘cos I think you might get too hot’. He’s probably right.

3) Crossing the road in the right place
R is currently is under the illusion that he is a) immortal and b) made of high vis material and can therefore run across he road in traffic with no real forethought. Cue irrational rage (part 2) and some shouting about safety and considering my feelings half way up Holland Park avenue. Much to the amusement of some tourists, and my embarrassment. Hot, sweaty and shouting. Not a good look. I was just cross he was running faster than me…

4) Pace
I like to think I understand the whole pacing issue. Slow and steady, recover as you go, etc etc. Honestly its a bit hit and miss. But watching the other half fly past you and then near collapse at the traffic lights is a bit disconcerting. Really its just an extension on point 3 – I was just cross he was running faster than me. Ahem.

5) Route
With R studying the Knowledge I can’t argue his organic sense of the streets of our neighbourhood and the rest of London ‘6 mile radius from Charing Cross’… yes I have heard this many times! But I like my routes, R has other ideas. This will be good in the long run. I just want to show off my self taught ‘knowledge’ of the fastest traffic lights, least pedestrian filled streets and widest pavements. Today we did this:  Sunday Run

Once we’ve hit 3km and I’ve let go of my overbearing irrational control freak nature, I’m really enjoying it. We’ve kept to a great schedule, clocking 16km this week and 15km the week before. R is running 5km comfortably and we’ve even signed up for the Richmond 10km in Nov which is great mini goal to work towards.

Week 3, bring on the next 17kms….

If you can’t beat ’em…

R has finally given up trying to resist the running bug that has me totally obsessed and I’ve persuaded him to register for the Brighton Half Marathon in February 2012. That gives us 5 months to get both ourselves back into shape and up to speed (13.1 miles worth).

This could be more of a challenge than I thought. But having braved Runner’s Need to get R kitted out with the right shoes and mapped a few decent 5K runs to start off with – we should be ok! That is if R ever recovers from having his running gait analysed.  Quote of the day ‘oh my god – is that how I run? Will these shoes help me run in a straight line?’ They’re bright enough you can probably see them from space. That has to count for something

And I need to start up slowly again.  Having taken nearly a whole month off the streets after the Great Scottish Run I’m finding it tough to get back into the swing of things. Two weeks in SA and general unhealthy eating (biltong, braais and cake galore!) also means I’m struggling to fit into my lycra! Mmmm indeed.

So I’ve looked up a few training schedules and we’re off. Should be an interesting 5 months!