Don’t Call it a Comeback! Nike’s We Own The Night: May 18th

Saturday. Night. Owned. So much has happened over the past 8 weeks in the world of Lycra. Training began in earnest having signed up for my first race since the ill-fated Royal Parks last year, I discovered the power of social media in getting (and staying) motivated with Team Pretty Fit (thanks Sophie!) and FINALLY joined a running crew (RDCWest). 
(From L-R) Jade, Cara (me!) and Charlie clocking 8km in Notting Hill 
Come May 18th, I had  found a whole host of new running mates, which made the longer training sessions in the lead up to the race that much easier, and added to the the massive buzz pre-race.
This whole experience was completely different to my previous medal hunting expeditions. As most of my mates are not massively into running, the races themselves and the training, were generally fairly solitary experiences. Wake up, race, take a few pics, and go home with a few very kind words of encouragement from close family and a few friends (always appreciated from your nearest and dearest don’t get me wrong!). But this was next level stuff. 

From Friday night to Saturday afternoon, my timelines were jammed with words of encouragement, meet up plans and ideas for various after party madness. By 3pm I could barely sit still, never mind, RELAX pre-race as we all know we’re supposed to do.  Needless to say I have everything set up and organised hours before I needed to head off to Victoria Park. Such a control freak running geek. Not going to fight it any more!

Neon-tastic race shirt and spangly lyca

Getting to the race was easy enough,but  finding everyone was a different matter. As everyone was wearing the orange shirts it was very hard to see who was who ion the sea of neon tangerine. The bag drop queues were very long and no spectators were allowed in the runner’s village (massive oversight, and lots of complaints). The running ‘pens’ weren’t very clear and there was a fair amount of confusion about what the orange/pink band actually meant!

But the atmosphere was almost as electric as those neon shirts, with over 3,000 women all getting ready to smash out 10km BUZZING.

Runner’s Village. Cushions – Comfy

This buzz reached fever-pitch  pre-race when guest star Paula Radcliffe came on stage and announced she’d be running the 10km too. How often do you get the chance to say you shared the tarmac with an Olympic legend and all round heroic individual?! Spectacular.

However, I was very disappointed with the questions Nike/Elle asked Paula on stage. From what outfits/ kit she liked best (does new kit motivate you?) to what make up she liked to wear while running (she doesn’t bother, funnily enough). Personally I thought these were really lazy questions at best, and bearing in mind we were here to RUN, not pose in kit and try on lipgloss, it would have been much more useful to have heard more about motivation and  training techniques from such a huge role model. Not whether or not waterproof mascara features in her pre-race kit. FFS.


But a little bit of rage isn’t a bad thing pre-race, something to add to the adrenalin to get my pace on! The first few km were very congested as ‘orange’ was hugely oversubscribed and turning around some of the tighter turns had some of us coming to a complete stop. That and the fact my lycra was not staying put, meant I didn’t get out ahead as quickly as I would have liked. But by 4km, I had turned up the waistband to add a bit more grip, and found my rhythm.

That and Cheer Dem Crew (boys from East and West!) were out in full force and gave us all the lift we needed – you guys were AH- MAZE- ING.

By 6km I realised my dreams of getting a sub 60 min time were a tad unrealistic. I was averaging 6 mins 10 seconds per km and I was not getting any faster. Certainly not fast enough to make up the time required. So I settled into that pace and gunned for sub 1:05 which would still bring me a new PB. One hour Two Minutes and Thirteen Seconds after I started, I sprinted over the finish line (and nearly tripped up… but lets hop they didn’t get that on camera)

Post race atmosphere was hectic to say the least. There was no race medal which was disappointing (a very flimsy woven bracelet? say what?) and a lot of congestion at the finish line. After queueing again, no-one could find my bag for 20 minutes as the bag drop was absolute chaos. Thankfully I waited so long, it was nearly clear by the time I threw a strop and they allowed me into the area to find it myself (!).

But other than the admin/ logistical pit falls (always to be taken into consideration with a new race) it was brilliant to meet the RDC ladies from East as well as catch up with the ones from West I hadn’t seen along the way. Loads of PBs, first timers and amazing race stories across the board. Whoop!

Christabel Rose and myself: NIGHT OWNED
So, a new PB, new running mates, new goals and even a neon T-shirt to show for it? Not bad for my first race in 6 months! And screaming quads aside, I’m looking forward to RDCWest tomorrow and getting another 10K in the diary ASAP. 
*and this time a sub 1hr 10K (please!)

Run Britannia!

In a bid to transform myself into an early morning workout obsessive, (which I’ll need to be to clock up the miles needed to actually get a decent time in the Royal Parks) I made to commitment to meet my running BFFs,  Emily and Laura at 7am on Sunday morning. That’s a 6am wake up call on my usual Day of Rest (i.e. 11am lie in!).

Needless to say, it was a struggle turning off the snooze button and lacing up my trainers. Even Stella didn’t budge in her basket as I left this morning.

I did feel very smug to have arrived at High Street Kensington before any of the morning trains had even kicked in for the day.  Less smug seeing hoards of Olympic volunteers merrily striding down the streets looking polished and ready for action, while I was still yawning and checking if I had my t-shirt on the right way round!

We had decided to trial Sweaty Betty’s Run Britannia, a program of sightseeing runs (5k or 10k) through London running over the Olympic period.  Although we were slightly apprehensive at first thinking we may just be running alongside very fast, very experienced Sweaty Betty Staff and uber runners, we were greeted with huge smiles from the team and set off at a manageable but challenging pace. Note: I am slow, clocking 11 minute miles, so needed a push!

We chose the Royal Park run, which seemed fitting for our training, and with beautiful weather and early enough to be a bit cooler – we meandered through Kensington Park Gardens, via the Royal Albert Hall clocking up 10kms, with a few tips on form and pace along the way from coach Hannah.

Those tips clearly paid off immediately as I clocked up my fastest training 10km! Shaving nearly 4 minutes off my last race time

Back at the Hight Street Ken branch, we were presented with fantastic goody bags (the coconut water went down a treat!) including water bottle, bag and flash neon laces. Nice reward for the weekly long run indeed, thank you Sweaty Betty!

Planning on a few more sessions, taking in up Soho and a bit of window shopping around Harrods – fitness, fashion and soaking up the Olympic atmosphere? Perfect.


Whoop! Just achieved my fastest mile to date, 9:03 – not bad for a soggy and cold Tuesday evening en route home (5.5 miles in all).

Slowly, I’m getting a bit faster. Rather pleased and my splits look pretty even, so it wasn’t just a fluke while running down hill, or arenalin from escaping a rabid mutt in Acton.

Plus its worth noting there’s a fair amount of interruption, distraction and stalling on my route home from work. Here are the main offenders

Kids on Scooters (all ages)
From toddlers who can barely walk, to the older kids who careen from one side of the pavement to the other while yacking on their mobiles, none of them have any sense of how fast they are going or have any regard their immediate surroundings.

No one is safe, from elderly people innocently waiting for the bus to runners like myself (in high vis no less!) we’ve all had to veer out the way or risk being smashed into by two vicious small wheels and being sworn at by either the parents or the snotty preteen. Ban them.

People who don’t look where they are walking
Ok, we’ve all done it. We’ve been busy updating statuses, too involved in the ipod or distracted by some delinquent child smashing into a poor women at the bus stop on a scooter. Nevertheless, every single time I head out on a run I have to use some fancy footwork to avoid colliding with offenders who just step into the street without looking. Its the typical blinkered London commuter state of being. Shouting ‘excuse me’ or ‘careful’ only seems to illicit shocked glares and the occasional 118 joke. I am tempted to get a bell. Or a taser.

Firstly, the pavement is for pedestrians. End of. No negotiation. Secondly, if the light is red for you, but green for the pedestrians, at least slow down. But ideally, just stop. You have brakes and a helmet and runners are not protected by anything other than lycra. Be gracious

I’m hoping those of you who do cycle who read this would never commit these heinous crimes, and if you do, hang your head in shame and change your ways. Along with the bell/taser I may start carrying a small pin to let tyres down…

This coming from a woman who smoked for near on 15 years. Yes. I quit just over two and a half years ago and yes, every now and again I do really, really want a marlboro. But never when I am running. Running past crowds of people standing outside pubs or at bus stop practically billowing tar, ash and smoke past me, and sometimes for those extra special bastards, directed at me, makes me want to gag. Nasty habit. Aren’t I smug *reaches for nicorette*

So, I’m feeling pretty chuffed with my 9:03. Now I just need to find some decent anger management classes.

Richmond Deer Park 10K: Sunday Race

I’m not used to relying on other people when preparing for a race, so in true control freak style, I sorted out the race numbers, my kit and set the alarm in good time. Bearing in mind R only just manages to fall out of bed around midday on the weekend I was a bit worried we would over sleep, so I was aiming for a 6:30 start – with a view to get out the house by 7:45. Just in case!
Pre Race Tension!
R doing his best De Niro impression and pretending not to be nervous 

I neglected to check that the alarm was set to the correct schedule. Cue mass hysteria when I wake up and see not only has the alarm not got off, but its already 7:30. I have never seen R get out of bed so quickly, possibly spurred into action by the number of expletives I’m shrieking while knocking over a bed room chair, stubbing a toe and losing my hair brush. Somehow, amid the chaos we manage to pull on our kit, find our race numbers and get on the tube by 8am. Just.

So here we are, Sunday morning. First thing. Its absolutely freezing and really foggy. So much so that the tube driver, is on a literal ‘go slow’ from Turnham Green all the way to Richmond as the visibility is so bad. We make it to Richmond Deer Park in good time. I’ve not read the best reviews on this particular race so I’m prepared for the worst. Thankfully it appears to have improved on last year and the race starts on time at 9:15am.

The 10K running route

Due to the fog and the cold, it wasn’t easy going early on, but we managed to get to 5K without incident. Besides seeing some poor girl run straight into a pole while not paying attention to the road, and, well the mist didn’t help!

I was looking forward to the stretch along the Thames, however the fog didn’t allow for much sight seeing at all, and so we were left with crazy people watching – and trying to dodge poor dog walkers and cyclists who hadn’t adhered to the race warnings.

All in all a really good race, and a possible personal best! My GPS and the Timex times are in slight dispute but either way its looking like around the 1hr 5mins 49secs mark. Which will do nicely bearing in mind we were off to a pretty slow start initially!

Done and Dusted!

By 10:30am we were headed back to Notting Hill, rainbow medals (?!) in hand. R was suitably chuffed with his first race and we’re all on track with our training for the February Brighton Half marathon.

So all that was left to do on a chilly Sunday was hit the Portobello road in search for warming (and massive!) Sunday Roast. Bring it!

Portobello Organic Kitchen roast chicken dinner

DONE and DUSTED! 2 hrs 36mins 8s

Thrilled to have finished my very first half marathon! In agony having injured my calf again (yes, that hill right at the beginning of St Vincent street has a lot to answer for) but otherwise feeling fantastic.

It was possibly one of the hardest things I have ever done (up there with kick boxing gradings, customer strategy meetings and maybe even quitting fags!) but very pleased to say that I managed it without stopping once, walking or passing out. I did nearly cry at 11 miles, but I don’t think anyone noticed and scoffing another jelly baby made me feel better.

I made the mistake of stating with a 5K pace, of around 6:15 per km which did me no favours, but thankfully managed to catch myself and slowed the pace right down to around 6:45/7 per km which I think may have saved me in the long run. Although seeing loads of people in my colour group sail on past was slightly disheartening, but I got my own back when I ran past some of the speed freaks, who were now walking at about 10 miles. HA!

The last 3 miles were absolutely killer, with the calf playing up and my exhaustion making itself felt. Legs were like lead, but seeing family and friends at around the 11 mile point helped immensely and somehow managed to find the extra energy needed to get through the last couple of miles. Wing and a prayer at that point! You can see my route here

But made it! Without stopping or walking! Although doubt very much I’ll be running for a few weeks at least. The calf is complaining up a storm and I need to rest it. So celebrating with cake and tea. And then to bed – for a day or two.