Come Out and Play

Finally back in training having secured a place in the British 10K and another in the Palma Mallorca half marathon in October and I’m determined to get sub 1hr on the 10K and sub 2:15 on the half. I need to hit the intervals and get faster, which ultimately means changing up the routine.

So I dressed the dog up in a very fetching American Apparel hoodie to get her ready for the new regime. She has since figured out how to take it off so there goes our co-ordinated running team look.

Today I managed a speedy 5K fuelled by my angry 15 year old self. I have since rediscovered the music of my misspent youth (maybe something to do with another birthday on the horizon and getting a little further into my 30s? That or I had amazing taste in music 16 years ago….). Cue anthems from Pearl Jam, The Offspring, Nirvana, Soundgarden and RATM.

Had you told me 16 years ago, (probably in detention though a haze of B&H special mild), that years from now I would be listening to the exact same soundtrack while pounding the pavements in London (in Lycra no less) I’d probably have given you the finger (perfectly manicured with black permanent marker of course) and told you to stop smoking your socks.

Ironic then, that in 2012 I’m picking up the pace to ‘Smash’ and sprinting down the last 1K to ‘Genocide’. I’m now pulling together an even more grunge worthy playlist to sort out my next long run. 10K of Temple of the Dog and I may revert to wearing my ripped jeans and bleach dyed vests.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I saw just the same get up in Urban Outfitters at the weekend (along with Nirvana T-shirts, Kurt spins in his grave), so provided I can master that look of youthful disdain I may just get away with it

The music itself may have to remain on the iPhone though, R is having none of it. While sorting out my playlist earlier today he said ‘I think I’ve heard enough of this, what is it exactly?’. Talking ’bout my generation….

The Bad Run

We’ve all had them. This was a particularly spectacular in its badness. It goes a little something like this:

Woke up late. Couldn’t find the right kit. But that happens often enough, so I wasn’t totally put out at that point. Got Stella out the door without incident.

Two hundred metres down the road and the the sports bra unhooks. Stop run. Sort out unwieldy hook (while trying not to expose myself to all of Ladbroke Grove!). Start run. Stop run as Stella find something unsavoury to hunt. Get dog back. Start run.

Phew! Finally get the right pace and it looks like it’s all turning around. Hit Hyde Park at 4 miles and have to divert from the usual route due to horses with small children. Stella looked far to interested in the equestrian activities so I moved us along to avoid a Fenton incident. Stella still manages to cause a ruckus when she almost slams into a fellow runner with a huge stick she’s just found, which is about 3 times her size. Stop run, apologise. Start run.

Around 7kms my headphones start playing up. Right earphone conks out completely at one point. Stop run, check the wiring. Fix this temporarily. Start run. But even with the fixed headphone, my playlist is working against me. Skipping tracks every other song because nothing is really doing it. Should have had this on the playlist.

Hit 6miles and I’m feeling knackered, three to go and I’m thinking I may have to  call it day. But manage to push through. I remember at this point that I haven’t actually had any water to drink since about 8pm the night before. Ah. There’s the mistake right there. Stop run. Catch breathe, stop Stella harassing a small puppy. Start run.

Finally, the end is in sight and I can see the final goal. Just another quarter mile, over the road and I’ll be home. I’m so busy focusing on the distance, I’m not paying much attention to my immediate surroundings. And I miss running straight into Spencer by half an inch. Yes, that posh boy from Made In Chelsea. I had to swerve to avoid him and nearly came tacky on a lamp post.

Of course, I gave him a dirty look like he should have been watching where HE was going. And legged it in the opposite direction. Got to 9 miles a little quicker than expected, red faced and more than a little embarrassed. Sorry Spence.

Trainers off, dog bathed (so very very muddy today, why I am not surprised), and I’m logging the miles. Although it was a pretty horrendous couple of hours, I made the target mileage after all. I’m constantly surprised by what I can do, or overcome. A year ago, I would have given up after the bra incident! And its always good to see this result on the old HRM. Think that effort deserves some spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Whoop!

(N)ice Sunday Session: 15km and Counting

Six weeks to go to the Brighton Half marathon and my training schedule is really kicking in. No more 5km short runs (short runs are now 9.5kms) or two day rest days. No more long warm up sessions. Just plain hardcore mileage, and in my case dreaming up new excuses not to get out the door, to avoid imagined pain, and possible death by running.

I knew it was coming, a week ahead I could see the 15km Run leering at me from my Nike+ training calendar. And it has hills, this route, hills and intervals and very few traffic lights (so no cheeky breaks) and generally was engineered to make me cry. I should know, I created it myself when feeling particularly fit and, in hindsight, was probably whacked out on endorphins and therefore, slightly crazed.

Having already moved the session from Saturday to Sunday, I really couldn’t find any more excuses to put it off any longer. Having not run this far since the Great Scottish Run last Sept, its no wonder I was feeling more than nervous about heading out. But I did, thanks to the new running play list. Particularly a bit of Vitalic – Poison Lips, which was just what I needed to get out of the fear and into the zone.

An hour and forty five minutes later I got home feeling exhilarated but exhausted and my legs felt like lead, and with another long week of training ahead, I can’t afford to be feeling broken!  I’ve heard about the benefits of ice baths from various magazines, blogs and sites, but I have never had the guts to try one out. This seemed like the best time, which feels very odd with it being 6 degrees outside! But sometimes the crazy stuff works the best.

And yes, it was very cold (and I didn’t include ice, the water in the pipes was freezing enough!). But, not has bad as I thought, as my core was still very warm from the run.  Proof will come in the morning when I’ll be able to see if I can actually get out of bed without fits of bad language and many many nurofen!

Now, to fill up on pasta with R’s homemade pesto (it’s legendary) and copious amounts of Yazoo (best recovery chocolate milk ever!)


Going Nowhere Fast

First day back at work and we are greeted with howling winds and pouring rain. Not drizzle  or classic London ‘tiny’ rain that just gets you damp, but howling sheets of the wet stuff. Like I said, the Apocalypse is right on time!

It cleared up for about half an hour but I wasn’t hardcore enough to chance running home and being lashed by winds and icy rain (yes I am a wimp), but I also couldn’t miss a training session seeing as the half marathon is next month (!!).

So I made for the safe and dry haven that is Gymbox and I hit the treadmill. This is no mean feat. I hate the treadmill. With a passion. It makes me feel like a tubby hamster, that sweats more than any of the other hamsters. Not pretty.

This is the thing about running in the gym, you’re not alone. At any point. Particularly in January, when all in sundry are out in force starting out new year’s resolutions, they should all be out by March thankfully.

But in losing my precious alone time, I do get to avoid slow walkers, nasty dogs snapping at my ankles from doorways, stall workers chucking out old veg, or kids on bikes swerving on the pavement.

The monotonous treadmill drudge also means its all about the playlist. And while I’m not dodging nefarious stains on the pavement, I’m unearthing a couple of new gems to add to my A/W 2012 playlist. I say new gems, but really it’s just new tracks I’m discovering from recent downloads that help me beat the boredom, and forget about the twinge in my calf or the cramp in my foot!

So far I’ve discovered these two tracks, which significantly helped my pace, and made me forget about the very skinny blonde next to me smashing the treadmill at twice my speed (although I did feel very smug when she only managed it for 10 mins. Too much speed, not enough stamina. Shame)

So that’s another week committed to the run, or so my Nike+ tells me. I need the practice, I’ve got 16kms in my training schedule on Saturday and I am praying for some sun, even if its cold. I don’t think I can take 1.5 hours on the treadmill calorie watching on the screen and praying the super fit body builders aren’t laughing at my gait. You don’t get that on the street!

Dirty as you like, London streets are more interesting than the inside of a gym, and there is nothing that beats that knackered-off-the-street feeling when you walk through the door in from the cold. Sorry treadmill trainers, unless it’s armageddon outside, I’m avoiding the fake pavement. And in fact I may just invest in some proper rain gear to make sure it really is only once in a blue moon I’m forced to use them!

The Road Home: Uxbridge Road 10km

Hooray! The silly season is upon us! Christmas get togethers, work functions and late night shopping is in full swing and I’m finding it tough to keep up my training and have a social life. And I refuse to forgo the christmas sales, mince pies and late night catch up with the girls! I’d like to have my cake and train while eating it. So to speak.

There are only so many hours in the day, and although I have tried many many times to get up before 6am, I have failed miserably. I am not a morning person (yet!) and the snooze button is just too tempting. Lunch time running is invariably impractical and involves me looking sweaty and ridiculous in close proximity to my work colleagues (this should only happen when we’re looking at budgets). That just leaves the evenings, and these are booked up between now and January 18th. Yes really.

R has managed to injure himself a tad, after not heading my recommendations to rest after a long run. Quote: “I need to figure these things out for myself, just because YOU need to rest does’t mean I need to” Of course, turns out I’m right. Have your humble pie served HOT boyo!

HOT pink. Sort of. 

As a result I’m training on my own this week, and I have decided the only thing for it is to forsake my oyster card and use my legs to carry me home, 3 times a week. Problem solved!

I was rather excited by this prospect this morning while packing my bag with trainers and other running paraphernalia. No trudging up the high street, no rushing for the next train at rush hour, no falling asleep and missing my stop (or getting stuck in the doors when I remember too late!) This would be good. Me and the road. It’s only 9km after all. In a straight line. Easy.

Then the fear stepped in, which usually happens when I try a new route, what if I get lost? What if I pull a muscle and I get stuck in deepest darkest Acton? What if I just wimped out? I packed £20 cab fare, just in case.

But after the initial shock of leaving the office dressed in bright pink high vis subsided with a few raised eyebrows behind me, I got into the swing of things.

Uxbridge Road is not pretty. 9kms of it, filled with dodgy chicken shops, and very sad looking shopping centres with bargain shops. But the pavements were wide enough so I didn’t need to dodge cars and people. Best of all, Uxbridge Road happens to have a slight decline when running from west to east. So that helped cheer me up.

Got home in just over an hour, without that feeling of being harassed by TFL, and possibly exposed to everyone on the tube’s winter cold. Plus I got the listen to this album most of the way through; Result!

Baby its COLD outside!

I really need the motivation to get running at the moment  – gorging on black coffee and mince pies (already!) may have something to do with my very irritable and slightly sluggish demeanour of late and I have this overwhelming desire to hibernate on my sofa.

Yes, Winter has finally arrived; brittle, windy and frosting up the windows in full force. It has taken its merry time, with November being so balmy I didn’t need to dig out my thermal running gear once. This time last year Stella and I were avoiding black ice and sloshing through melted snow on the pavements.

So its been rather a shock in early December to suddenly remember how my chest sometimes hurts when I run in the cold because the air is near freezing. Or that my nose runs constantly from about 5kms and that my ears start to go ever so slightly numb. And its dark by 4:30pm so there’s not even the illusion of warmth from the setting sun. Cold, dark, windy and rainy, got to love December in London, veritable runner’s paradise. Ahem.

But as they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather only inappropriate clothing. So I’ve hit the online outlets and bought some thermal base layers, headband ear phone covering thingamingers and some new iphone arm band whatyoumacallits. Sorted. Any excuse to wear neon pink outside of an 80’s club night.

I only managed around 6kms this evening (coffee +  gross train food + dehydration = awkward run), but I got out there. In 3 degrees and middle of the night darkness. But I feel better, less irritable and a that good kind of tired. Not exhausted, but just tired enough to know I won’t have mental dreams about killer penguins in medieval England (I’m blaming George RR Martin. Obsessed)

Few things that got me through the run today:

1) This amazing lady finally releasing a few singles that I’ve added to my playlist, check her website Azealia Banks  *warning* VERY explicit lyrics, but seriously good tunes. 212 in particular. AND I’m totally envious of her legs. So that keeps me running a little longer (thinking denim shorts in summer 2012)

2) Seeing this quote on the interweb – I can debate for over an hour. May need to tattoo this on my  arm.

3) Reliving some of my misspent youth (without the hangovers or getting grounded)
I’m not usually a fan of compilation albums but this has some real gems, and is helping take my mind off the aching lungs and right back to 1996. Even the cheesy tunes, 15 years on, sound pretty good (but that could be the endorphins talking!) Ministry of Sound: Twenty Years

4) And of course, always worth remembering:

The Long One: 15kms – 1hr 56 mins

Sunday is usually when I do my long run, and with lunch plans already in the diary I had to sacrifice my precious Sunday midday lie in (yes I am that lazy) and drag myself out of bed before 10am which really is no mean feat. I am not a morning person.

Trainers on and a decent route planned I set off to try and crack 15kms (9.6 miles).  My route takes in most of Hyde Park and Holland Park with a few great hills to keep it interesting. The more I run the more I realise I need the off road, leafy green back drop to take my mind off the heat, sweat and general fatigue that hits me early on!

Totally lucked out today with near perfect conditions, cool wind, no tourists (!!) and a sharp rain shower at exactly the half way point which took the edge off the late morning sun as it was beginning to get a little too toasty in black lycra!

Other great highlights included watching a ridiculous hipster on his too cool for school bike, take a really comedy fall while talking on his iphone. Clearly you can’t text and be that cutting edge at the same time. Also running alongside some of the same route as the London Triathlon. Thanking my luck stars I didn’t have to swim in the Serpentine – rough!

Hips are taking a bit of strain so will be needing to work in some yoga into the schedule this week, but managed the route and pulled through! Mostly thanks to the new Chase & Status single Time

When its comes to running, my musical tastes are unashamedly teenage, keeps the legs moving and helps with the hills!

21kms is looking more achievable by the day, although 15km nearly finished me off. I am still regularly surprised by the fact that I can actually run, never mind this distance! Having not been a very sporty child and spending most my twenties avoiding sleep, its nothing short of astonishing that my muscles seem to respond to training. Fitness begins at 30 clearly!

Demolished an amazing pizza at the new Pizza East on Portobello Road which just about brought me back to feeling nearly human again as well as the scintillating conversation of Christina – check out these bad boy pizzas!

God bless Italian carbohydrates!