Monday, 2 June 2014

Ducklings, pace and no Colour Run

MONDAY 2nd June - 6.00pm
Distance: 5.44km
Time: 33:03
Average pace: 6.26 min/km
Route: Kings Cross to London Bridge
Music: Paramore

I've neglected to blog for a few runs, largely due to them being not all that exciting but also because I've been forgetful. I have still been running since my last update on the 17th May, I just haven't been talking much about it. I have in fact run a combined 23.5km across five runs since then so I've not been too bad. I'm starting to feel myself get into a groove with running and am doing runs bout 2-3 times a week!

The only thing of note on today's run, apart from listening to some good angsty Paramore, is I managed to shave about twenty seconds off my average page yay! I've been stuck since We Own The Night - it's like I've been getting SLOWER, so the last couple runs I've been trying really hard to up the ante. It's not all easy - partway between flying and dying at times - but I'm pretty pleased. My best pace today was 5min 55sec which is the best I've managed maybe ever. Progress!

In other news, my friend Catherine and I had intended on doing Colour Run yesterday, but found ourselves bailing out for various reasons - we both still ran somewhere, just not all the way in distant, far off Wembley. I was pretty irked that, having asked them via Twitter, they wouldn't have bag drop facilities on site; for £30 to sign up alone, I would have hoped for more than a ratty t-shirt and having to hold all my stuff while I run. Anyway, it looks like people who did it had a great time, but I much preferred running around my local lake.

On that note, my new favourite thing about running near to home is I have found a new 5km (ish) route that detours via South Norwood Lake. I am very inclined to keep going back because since three weeks ago almost ALL of the different water birds there have had BABIES! So running twice round the lake means I get to see a gosling, baby coots and moorhens and some new ducklings that I spotted on Sunday. They are all adorable and grow every week I visit. It adds a certain - something to my running adventures and I will definitely be going as many weekends as I can to watch to watch the little darlings get bigger. Whatever keeps me running, right?!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

A gentle run around South Norwood: 4.6km

SATURDAY 17th MAY - 4.00pm
Distance: 4.69km
Time: 33:03
Average pace: 7.03 min/km
Route: South Norwood/Selhurst
Music: A pop potion involving Beyonce, Lily Allen and Jessie J

It's finally starting to warm up in London. The weather is glorious - which means the sun has been shining for at least two days with no sign of rain. Of course, with sun comes heat and today was some of the more humid, hot conditions in which I've run recently.

I quit running more or less over the winter, because it was Far Too Cold, but since I started back up on a regular basis since February(ish), the weather has been quite pleasant. Running in mild weather, running in rain, running in cool breezes - all of these things are pretty perfect. Running in freezing cold clearly doesn't agree with me, although I expect this will change this year as I'm 100% more motivated about my running than I was in Winter 2013.

This leads me into the idea of running in warm and humid weather. This is basically a round about way of saying that today's run was a little tougher than I'd have liked it to be. It was my first run since my ah-may-zing 10k defeat of Victoria Park (thanks again, We Own the Night), and I've been suffering a bit of a backache since which I'm putting down to a pretty full on exercise session followed by no warm-down. Silly.

I decided to just do a relaxing 4-5km route today around my local area, and actually switched the order of the run I did a couple of weeks that involved a PAINFUL uphill stretch. It's actually a very simple run the other way around and the incline in the reverse direction is much subtler. So I had a great start to the run, smugly trotting downhill with ease, the dulcet tones of Lily Allen (I am enjoying her new album!) in my ears. Then I started to feel the temperature affecting me; the air is very warm and still and it doesn't suit me when running so it would seem.

So I'm not thrilled with my average pace, but I will put that down to heat and being a  little out of practice since last weekend. Also, I had eaten some brownies about an hour beforehand... so sue me. :)

This week I'll be planning to do about three runs, so there will be more updates on the blog, and hopefully I can start thinking about progressing and building up my speed a bit, too. My goal now is to work on improving my running, now that I'm more comfortable with long distances.

Oh and- in two weekends - it's the Colour Run! Woohoo! 5km and lots of paint... I'm excited.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

We Own the Night 2014 - 10km

SATURDAY 10th MAY - 8.00pm
Distance: 10k
Time: 01:08:27
Average pace: 6.51 min/km
Route: Victoria Park (double loop)
Music: various Beyonce, Watch the Throne - Jay-Z & Kanye, Magna Carta Holy Grail - Jay-Z

Last night I completed my first official 10k run! I participated in the awesome We Own the Night at Victoria Park, with two of my lovely friends, Catherine and Mia, who both talked me into doing it. Signing up to this race has really pushed me to work harder than ever at my running; I don't think I would have ever tried to do a 10k without that motivation, so am very grateful to both of the girls for getting me to do it.

I had a pretty restful week before the run and so was really in the mood to stretch my legs by Saturday. I also had a weird sore muscle in my back which I was pretty sure running would work out so I was RACE READY! 

Mia and I met up to travel to Victoria Park together and were both a little nervy beforehand. A very strange feeling but I guess the anticipation of running with all those people in a 'formal' way gets to you a little. We wandered over to Victoria Park with Catherine and two of her friends, all in our matching teal blue Nike shirts, which were really cool. It felt like going to a really weird festival, and the whole park was kitted out with free water, 'stretch zones' and a really awesome wall with everybody's name on it. It was all so well organised and there wasn't anything to think about but being focused on the run.

 The whole 'owning the night' gang (I'm second from right)

Then we were off to our pens! Mia and I had both picked the lower rankings as we were first time 10k-ers. It was exciting running through the start line - and three of my best friends came to cheer us on which was very supportive of them (I think they are just surprised I am mad enough to enjoy running after many years avoiding exercise of all forms)) and also helped just knowing they were there.

So, the run. The whole build up definitely helped give me adrenaline to get through the run and I would say it's one of the best, most consistent runs I've ever done. It was kind of weird at first starting off with so many runners, I did have to dodge around a couple who were going slower than I was. But largely I stuck my headphones in, focused, told Mia that I would see her at the other end, and got going. I felt like I found a rhythmn pretty early on and had a good control over when to slow down and pace myself, when to speed up and when to stop for water. It was great having huge lit up distance markers, and there were some fun arches to run through, lit up with glowing bulbs, flashing lights etc. Which is good, because actually running through a park is kind of boring for an hour; there are only so many trees you can look at. Although I did remark afterwards that the flashing lights might bother an epileptic who'd already been running for three kilometers - a little warning maybe next time.

I'm really happy with my time - sub 1hr 10min which is exactly what I wanted. The only thing that's confused me looking at my splits is my 3rd kilometer took THIRTEEN minutes. What was I doing?! Did I just stop running or something? I don't even remember. Every other one was between six and seven minutes, so I have no idea why that one took double the time. It's occured to me if I'd have kept my pace on that km I could have done it in 1hr 2min, but that's a goal for next time. :) 

I'm mostly so pleased that I didn't stop running the whole 10km; I didn't take a single break from moving, I didn't walk at all and I just kept up. It was exciting - I felt pretty good about myself! I knew once I got to 7km I could probably do the rest, and as ever I kept telling myself that I just needed to get to the next milestone (km-stone??) and the next and the next. The best part of the run was that around 8.5km Mia and I found each other and did the last stretch together - it felt so nice to start and finish with her.

Mia and I, race ready! 

So, we did it! Even better we got an awesome goodie bag and an Alex Monroe necklace which I love, and I am now a big fan of coconut water as the nice people at Vita Coco were giving out free cartons. 

All the medals

It was such a great experience and I will definitely be doing another 10km race. So starts the beginning of a new running chapter!Today though, it's all about my sofa - and pizza.

Thank you Nike, for helping me Own The Night! 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Kings Cross to London Bridge, via Waterloo - 7k (ish)

MONDAY 6th MAY - 5.45pm
Distance: 7.5k (approx)
Time: 55:31
Average pace: n/a
Route: Kings Cross, Holborn, Aldwych, Waterloo Bridge, Southwark, London Bridge
MusicBright Lights - Ellie Goulding

MapMyRun went a bit nuts this evening so my distance is a bit of a logical guess. It's logged the run as 9.1km, but it's also logged that I somehow flew over the top of one of the Kings College London buildings during my journey, so I'm making a leap that something was affecting my GPS. I read that tall buildings can confuse it, and undoubtedly there are a few of those in the city. Never mind.

I decided to take one more long run before We Own The Night this coming Saturday, and took an extended run to London Bridge from work, via Waterloo. I absolutely love the view of London from Waterloo Bridge; my bus used to go over it every day before I moved further South, and I truly think it is one of the best vantage points in London to see the city. It was a sunny evening and so running across it was no less lovely, although quite a few people got in my way.

I try to be very patient running through the midst of crowds during commuter hour - but always find myself blaming people left, right and centre for getting in the way of my very important running. I'm sure I'm very unreasonable but don't runners get right of way?! We are on a mission... to fitness... and er, to get our trains, etc!

Feeling fairly happy with this evening's run, all in all. I wish I had a proper log - if anyone can make sense of MapMyRun, you can see it here, but I am assuming it's just one I'm going to have to base on logic. In terms of the time, slower than usual, but the traffic lights were also hugely against me today. One thing I liked about using Strava was it would tell your 'moving time'; MMR just seems to tell you the overall time elapsed since you started the workout. NEVER MIND.

No run now until Thursday, which will be a simple one, and then it's the big 10k on Saturday. EEK!

Monday, 5 May 2014

South Norwood Hill: 5.24k

SUNDAY 5th MAY - 9.00am
Distance: 5.24k.
Time: 32:38
Average pace: 06:13 per km
Route: South Norwood Hill, Selhurst residential loop
MusicThe New Classic - Iggy Azalea; Little Mix - Little Mix

Living in a really hilly area has its challenges when out and about running. I'm not sure anyone is a fan of running uphill, and no matter what run route I plan from my flat in the surrounding areas, I seem to always encounter one.

Today was no exception. I planned out a simple 5k route to tide me over the Bank Holiday - and not feeling a desire to do anything too strenuous after the epic 11k on Friday - using MapMyRun, and it never looks hilly on the map of course, ugh. It was a really nice easy start to the run, down to Selhurst with lots of flats and slight declines - and it was nice to run for a change without loads of traffic lights and/or people stopping my flow, which is often the way when running through central London.

But when I got to the uphill areas, OUCH. One particular road was so steep and accounted for about 1km of my run, so was quite a struggle. I ended up switching my music to something poppy (hence the Little Mix) to keep me bouncing along. And then, after I'd done the hill, I surprised myself by breaking into the fast run I could possibly manage, 2.41 km/min according to MapMyRun. I don't know why - I just think I was relieved to have got through that hideous hill. It's amazing how you can find reserves in your energy just when you feel like you couldn't possibly do any more.

A nice run, and pleased I got myself out of bed earlier on a Bank Holiday than I might have to make sure I did it. I'm also pleased that my average pace is a little faster than usual. I spent the afternoon having a delicious Wahaca salad with my best friend, and going for a long slow walk around Hyde Park admiring the duckies.

Do any of you happen to love hill running? I understand it's good for you but... meh. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Kings Cross to Brixton: 10.98k

FRIDAY 2nd MAY - 5.30pm

Distance: 10.98k.
Time: 1 hour, 12 minutes
Average pace: 6 min 35 secs per km
Route: Kings Cross, Farringdon, Blackfriars, Elephant & Castle, Kennington, Brixton
Music: Watch The Throne - Jay-Z & Kanye West; Magna Carta Holy Grail - Jay-Z

This is the run that inspired me to start this blog, among other things. As I said in previous posts, I do wish I had started blogging from that first awful running experience, but managing to do 10k is a good enough milestone to start keeping a log of my progress.

This evening's run was fairly straight forward - I wanted to complete a 10k before doing We Own The Night, just to make sure I wasn't going to die in the middle of Victoria Park or some such. I'd already managed 8.6k so in actuality there were probably no real concerns, but you never know. 

I started running from work in Kings Cross down to London Bridge not too long ago, which works out (according to MapMyRun) about 6k on average, and on a whim I decided it was probbaly the most sensible way to get close to 10k, by extending that run and try to get to around 9k or 9.5k. I figured out a fairly straighforward route (lots of boring straight lines, actually) and figured if I did it now then I could get it out of the way so I could enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday. Excellent motivation as means I can do more sitting around in between birthday lunches, getting my haircut and whatnot. 

Anyhoo, it wasn't the easiest run, especially around the 2-3k mark. I drank one too many glasses of wine last night and still felt a bit stodgy from an ilicit trip to McDonalds, so was feeling a bit 'heavy'. I don't think I enjoyed much of it, honestly, but as ever told myself if I could get to Elephant and Castle I could always jump on my bus early (nooooo), and then applied the same mentality to Kennington, and halfway down Brixton and so on and so on. The last 2k, ish, was far and away the most enjoyable, and seeing my final destination from a distance meant I pretty much stuck it out to the end. PHEW. 

The only slightly confusing moment was at Elephant & Castle roundabout, also known as the seventh layer of hell. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, it's just a big THING in the middle of South-ish London that you can't see beyond and all roads appear to lead to the same hideous place. I probably could have managed 10k running around in circles there, had I not checked my Google maps. Ugh.

Today's run was helped along by my inner gangster, and Jay Z. I always find hip hop/rap music quite relaxing when running - there's the exact right amount of low and high tempo, rarrr-ness (a technical term), and songs to make me smile a bit to keep me buzzing along. 

To conclude: 10k DONE. Woohooooo. I plan to do at least one more run over the long weekend, so watch this space.

An introduction: Starting from 10k

Full disclosure: I am not typically the girl who would take up any sport, let alone something as intensive as running.

I'm not really into - fitness. I like books, and nail varnish, and you know - FOOD. And wine. Exercise did not fit into my lifestyle.

So how did I come to be here, blogging about running? Well, I started running just over a year ago, in April 2013, when my then-housemate asked me if I wanted to go for a run with her in the park we lived nearby in London. I'd just been lamenting that I needed to do some form of exercise, and I couldn't think of a good enough on-the-spot reason not to go out with her, and so I found myself in a grey H&M hoodie, a David Bowie t-shirt, some leggings and my battered Converse (I know), 'running' around Brockwell Park.

After about a minute, I couldn't breathe. My lungs were useless. I was red in the face and probably everywhere else. I'd never sweated so much in my life. I told my housemate, about a third of the way round the circuit, that I hated her, in that particular moment, and just to make sure she knew it, I MEANT IT. Why was she subjecting me to such TORTURE?? Why did people do this for fun?!

After I'd survived that torturous 2.8k (if that), and recovered most of my sensibilities, I decided that, at 27 years old, I should be able to run the circumference of a park without feeling like I was going to die (I really felt like I might just die).

So I kept at it, slowly. I kept running. I stopped running, sometimes. I did a lot of walking, and a lot of huffing and puffing and sulking. I ignored advice from friends and family members who ran, and then I slowly started taking it on board. I experienced a lot of pleasure, happy surprise, determination that I could - and would -  manage another minute or two. I told myself if I could just get to the end of this song, the end of this street, to the next bench, I would let myself stop and walk for a bit. Or maybe I'd keep going. I did 1k, 2k, 3k. The first time I ran round Brockwell Park without stopping, with the same housemate a few weeks or months later, I've never felt so excited and ecstatic. It kept me going, and it felt good. I did 5k. I did 7k. And so on.

One year later, and thanks to some friends, I signed up for my first 10k - We Own The Night in Victoria Park, London. This evening as part of training for WOTN, for the first time I ever, I did a run that went into double digits - 10.98k from Kings Cross to Brixton.

I had considered, a year ago when I did that first hilariously bad run, starting a blog about my running journey from Day One, to see how I progressed and if I got better and if so, how. I never did and now I wish I had. And so this evening it occurred to me that maybe achieving 10k was as good a milestone as any to start documenting my running progress, to have something to look back on, and maybe talk to some other people who like running around. So, this is exactly what you'll find here. I'm going to blog every run I do, how far, how it felt, what I listened to, and everything in between.

Wish me luck!