Autumn – Let’s be Having Ya!

New Look for A/W 2013!  Waddya think? Don’t I look the professional blogger type? So shiny!

So with that, I am very pleased to announce I am back in training. New shoes, new look, new races in the diary – and the weather is near perfect for it. Cold, windy and a bit wet. As they say, if its not raining, its not training. This is also my excuse for not updating the blog, I have been outside, RUNNING! Yes you heard right, I’m back doing decent mileage too. It’s been bloody brilliant.

Monday’s finds me training with RDCWest, clocking up about 5 pretty steady miles with the crew. I’m not pushing myself too hard as I am incredibly paranoid I am going to injure myself for a 3rd time in less than a year – which would just be plain stupidity and I don’t think BUPA would be terribly sympathetic. I’m reminding myself that speed is not the priority right now, time is irrelevant, its just about getting out there and getting my endurance and fitness back up to scratch.

Thursday’s I’ve joined RDCWest’s very own track mafia. Last night I survived my very first taste of track and did not puke, pass out or cry. I’m taking that as a massive win. I do have a slightly niggly knee, but the physio assures me that’s not the end of the world, and a bit of ibuprofen and MORE FOAM ROLLING will do the trick.

Brand Spanking New Trainers (they even squeak)

CREW! Hitting Little Venice

Happy Endorphin Running Face = Mash Up

If all that wasn’t enough, I’ve started sampling the free weight section at my local gym. The wonderful Jim Murphy  has designed both a lower body and upper body work out developed to support my running, and get my upper body stronger. Its pretty killer. I couldn’t walk for about 3 days afterwards and discovered what DOMS stands for on fitness blogs. Yes those. I had them. D.O.M.S.

Serious Buns of Steel. OUCH

I am hoping the additional time in the weights room will pay off when I am hauling myself over massive walls and running through London Mud (ew) in the Survival of the Fittest event I am competing in on Nov 16th. This deserves its very own blog piece, but involves me and five other  kick ass ladies kitting up and showing the boys how its done. Or at the very least getting covered in mud and having a really good laugh making total asses of ourselves. New hobby it would seem.

So with Survival of the Fittest and Movember 10K taking me into the festive season, and the Brighton and Berlin Half to prepare for in the Spring, I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied, and hopefully, injury free!

Huge thanks to Michelle Allan for the awesome new header – she’s a super talented design lady and all round bad ass running hero who is also raising money for Tommy’s – check out her site, great offers on designs for a limited time, for a fantastic charity.

Blink and You’ll Miss It

Photography as always been something I have had a very avid (but amateur!) interest in, from disposable cameras in my teens, point and click compacts through my twenties and now the more obsessional cataloguing of daily life on my iPhone.

I suspect it’s in my genes, something I picked up from my Mom. Ever the historian, she documented our lives from toddlers to teens, just like she does her beloved WW2 heroines on whom she is writing her doctorate. Perhaps with less of an academic flair, I’m hoping to capture more of my life in London, building up the bones of a history in the making.

Spending a few moments going through old snaps from school (short skirts, bad hair, too much make up) or that once in a lifetime holiday to Cuba (smoking cigars, waterfall jumping, huge lizards!) brings it all back and fills in the gaps where memory fails. I love the idea of having a great collection to sift through when I’m 90 and I can barely remember what I had for breakfast.

Plus, with social media becoming more visual (pics or it didn’t happen!) and being able to slap filters on everything, arrange, collage, highlight and caption – I wanted to up my game and make sure the pictures I did take were more quality over quantity – in the midst of retro cups of coffee. So this starts with a proper camera and actually learn some of the science behind it. Cue R buying me a beautiful Canon for my birthday and my journey into becoming a junior paparazzi lookalike begins.

Coincidently, my first tentative steps testing out my new camera kit coincided with a running injury which meant I had to give up my space in the Colour Run. And what better way to make the most of a shit situation then to go and support the RDC runners and get all snap happy – and there was powder paint to boot.

Here are a few of the best bits:

Rose Tinted Chippy and Danielle 

Jason and Danielle 
Lizzy and Cory Smash Up the British 10K
Laura goes for he Group Hug

War Paint

Start Line of the Colour Run 
CREW!

These are obviously baby steps, nothing to grand, arty or special from a skill set perspective. But at the very least they capture a brilliant summer’s day in London, supporting a group of people who literally keep me up and running.

As I’ll be expanding on the photography vibes, I’ve started a new blog, Blink and You’ll Miss it  here. Do check it out – would love to hear your thoughts but please note is still very much a work in progress. No whizzy html skills here yet! There will be less running and probably more random pics of the sky looking all pretty. And me being obscure and hispterish. Laughs come free.

Twinge and Whinge – With Added Biscuits

I am sitting on my sofa, eating a Viennese Swirl on a Wednesday. I should be eating poached salmon and green veg and egg whites. I should be mixing whey protein and peanut butter shakes for supplements and probably stretching. Yes I should be stretching and focusing on my core, and stretching some more.

I should be doing all of this, but I am sitting on the sofa eating chocolate covered Viennese Swirls. And catching up on Hannibal, Luther and 90210. I have eclectic taste like that, serial killers and rich spoiled teens, a very good mix. I am doing everything I shouldn’t be doing in some very childish bid to rebel against the fact that I can’t do what I want to do. Which is run. GAH

After managing to remain totally injury free for 6 whole glorious months,  I got a bit cocky. Which is very easy to do when you’re getting all over excited running with Run Dem Crew West, pushing up the mileage  and slowly, getting faster. Hooray, I hear you say! Amazing! What a result!

Nah. My right leg says otherwise. In fact my right knee *screams* otherwise. Not all that surprised to be honest, the left leg got all the attention last year, so its only right and fair that this one now starts throwing a tantrum.

So I’ve booked physio, I’m taking it easy. I am trying not to whinge. I am burying my fury at myself for not adding in enough cross straining and stretching with chocolate and screwed up coppers. Standard. I’ll wallow in self pity and complex carbs tonight and hit the spinning classes tomorrow.

On the positive side. It will get better. I am getting faster. And I’m having a blast. Now just to get my knee in check

Run Dem Crew West (photo credit to Cory Wharton-Malcom)

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.

PAULA!! 

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. 
ONWARD!*
*and this time a sub 1hr 10K (please!)

Style it Out

Counting down to my first comeback race We Own the Night!

Picked up my race pack yesterday from Nike Town (clever bods, ended up spending £50 because I am addicted to lycra). The race t-shirt is compulsory which I always find a tad annoying (no t-shirt no entry) but thankfully this one isn’t terrible. I love orange, and its trademark Dri-Fit so it least it wont get heavy.

DAY GLO BABY!
New Clobber – tried and tested 5K smashed

Its been a great few weeks of training. Loving the new running bods I’ve met at Run Dem Crew West, Mondays are all the better for them. Managed some killer hill reps taking on the monster that is Primrose Hill last week, and a decent pace on OysterMonday down to South Kensington on the bank holiday. Yes I spend my holidays getting sweaty, it rocks, especially with this lot

RDCWest OysterMonday
So with ten days until the race, I’m feeling in pretty good shape, amazing new running crew, teamprettyfit training motivation and some serious new lycra to style out the miles. 
And the ITB is not complaining. This is all good. 

London Gets its Spring On

Its been a good week in my parallel life of Lycra! And about time too, its been a long time coming, the training has been progressing, but its been baby steps and frustrating at the best of times. But in the last few weeks I’ve finally started clocking some decent mileage both on the treadmill and out of the road.

This great week also coincided with the weather finally improving (not a coincidence), meaning everyone it out and about and there are so many less excuses to not get laced up and out the door. Plus, it’s lovely to be outside at this time of year. Lighter evenings, magnolia in full splendour all over Notting Hill and spectacular gardens in bloom in Holland Park. And no need for cumbersome layers weighing you down when you run. So I have been swapping a few treadmill sessions for the great wilds of West London, reacquainting myself with some of my old routes from the summer last year.
London, showing off and looking glorious in the sunshine, for the Marathon
Its has also happened to coincide with the London Marathon, on the warmest day of the year so far and bolstered by the huge wave of support in the wake of the horrific events at Boston just a week before. Half a million Londoners came to support the 35,000 runners and we were there at Mile 25 cheering for our friend Frani Heyns and everyone else who sped past us. I was hoarse in about 45 minutes. It was fantastic. 
Danni congratulates the Fantastic Frani – first marathon in 3:18!
It was amazing to see the social element of the sport really coming into play to motivate and support friends and family through the last mile and a bit. Powerful stuff and I admit to getting a bit overwhelmed more than once (*sob*). 
The most social I’ve been in my running  has involved a few sessions on the weekend with my mate Emily, which came to an abrupt end when I was injured, and we haven’t yet managed to pick them up again (Em, we need a few Ealing routes soon though!). While I was returning to form I wanted to run on my own, to build up my confidence again, and get to grips with having to go really slowly. I didn’t want to hold anyone else back (or show up my frustration, there were tears and tantrums)
Then, last Monday, I joined up with Run Dem Crew West. I have been following a few of their members on Twitter, having seen a few articles in the running press and a few of them out in force at races, so they’ve been on the periphery of my radar for awhile, but I’ve not had the time (or nerve) to check them out myself. Then, having signed up for We Own The Night, running with Team Pretty Fit led by a RDC member, Sophie Levett and needing to inject a kick into my training, it was another stroke of genius timing and the last push I needed to try something new. 
So I turned up at Paddington Rec (far too early, like the eager bod I am..such a nerd) on my own, in my running kit and it  was a more than a little nerve racking. But I got over it. 5.5 miles later I felt like I had met a whole crew of fellow running nutters, happy to talk pace, race,  Lycra, training and getting smash up on endorphins. Cannot wait until next Monday to do it all again!
In the meantime, I’ve clocked in a few more runs, a pretty hardcore up tempo 5K run as part of the training plan and a spinning class. I have also survived Week 1 of the new, no dairy, added whey protein eating plan regime designed to help me lose the last four stubborn pounds, and highlight muscle definition. I am already seeing the difference in my arms. Amazing what a difference nutrition makes, but that’s for another post.

Post 5km up tempo run., Stella not impressed
Stella contemplates the new lycra with disdain 
And lastly, to round off my seven day running extravaganza, on Sunday, I’m off to finally meet the rest of Team Pretty Fit to rack up some mileage around Victoria Park. All in all a pretty fan-fucking-tastic week indeed!