Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Runner's Highs

I've had two moments this week where I've thought 'hey, this running thing is awesome'.
1) On Saturday my boyfriend and I dragged ourselves out of bed into a dark and cloudy morning, fully expecting the weather for our parkrun to be a bit miserable. But we were going anyway, because we're runners. It seemed the weather gods rewarded our running faithfulness, because on the tube/train to Hampton Court, the clouds parted, the sun came out, and a glorious morning was born. By the time we started running it was a perfect autumn morning.

I was just planning to run solidly well. At 4km I thought a PB was out of reach - I'd have to run a really solid last 1km. But rounding towards the last long straight I felt good. I overtook the woman I'd used as my pacer. I kept going until a lady in front turned around and said "I can hear you catching me. I'm going to run faster, see if you can keep up!" and so I tried. She dragged me around the final corner and onto the final straight. There I lost her, but realised that this 11th hour sprint might bring me the PB after all. I finished in 26:46, knocking 14secs off my best. All I wanted to do was thank this wonderful woman, but I lost her in the crowds. For the rest of the day the combination of the unexpected sunshine, unexpected kindness and unexpected new PB kept me bouncing along with a smile on my face.

2) I decided I might as well start training for this half marathon - first goal being to start running 3x a week. So today I ran home from uni (11km from central London along the Thames Path). A few km in when I was still enjoying the novelty of it all I turned and saw something that instantly cheered me. Made me feel glad that I was right there at that moment with the time to enjoy what was around me. I love how running puts you back in touch with your surroundings. This was the view that made me feel alive and privileged and glad to live in such an awesome city;

I'd love to hear about any running moments that have lifted your mood this week :)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

British Heart Foundation Hyde Park Run

So, on Saturday I took part in my first ever race. It was the BHF Hyde Park Run - and I ran all 10km of it.
I'd entered it because it was the right distance in the right location, and not really because I have any personal ties to the charity. I thought I'd try and raise some money though and put my target as £100. It was mostly family and close friends that sponsored me, but a few unexpected donations really made me feel that actually I was doing something worthwhile. My sister knew I was aiming for under an hour, and challenged me; £20 if I was under, £10 if I was over. This was a great motivator, especially since I'd only managed 1:06 in training. (Top tip 1, do it for charity).

On the day I stressed about being late, about what to do when I got there, about attaching the timing chip to my shoes...pretty much everything. Having my boyfriend there to say reassuring things was wonderful. (Top tip 2, take someone with you for emotional/physical/logistical support).

Once we got started though, I enjoyed it. Yes I really enjoyed running hard and getting sweaty and being stared at by all the bemused tourists, because I was part of this massive group of runners and we were racing for a good cause. I could read peoples dedications to loved ones attached to their T-shirts and it was clear people were doing who didn't run very often. A lot of people walked a lot of it. But there were also a lot of people like me, slogging it out. It made me feel good, it made me feel like a proper runner, and because I was set to hit my target time it made me feel like a winner. (Top tip 3, train well and set yourself a challenging but realistic target). My official time? 59:09.

In summary, I ran my first 10km. I raised a load of money for a good cause, I hit my target, I enjoyed it.

So now I've booked a place on my first half marathon. Obviously.

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Innocent Big Knit

Every year innocent smoothies have a charity campaign in the winter months to help keep elderly people warm, when all their little smoothies start wearing knitted hats. It took me a while to realise that the hats were knitted by actual people and that everyone could join in. But each year the little hats would appear and I'd find I'd forgotten to take part again. But not this year! They had an advert on the telly! The deadline is the end of the month so I should be able to contribute at least a couple. Here are the two I made the other evening:
I'm still debating whether I can be bothered to give them bobbles... Get knitting! It's for a good cause and I love the idea of maybe seeing a hat I recognise (ok, so the chances are ridiculously tiny, but I still like the idea).

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


On Saturday I finished my 7th Parkrun. For people familiar with Parkrun this probably doesn't sound very exciting - after all there's the 250 club for those who have completed over 250 parkruns! For those not so familiar I'll give a brief summary. Parkruns are timed 5km runs that take place in parks around the UK and is spreading around the world, managed by volunteers and free for everyone to take part. All you need is to register for your free account where you can see all your results and print your barcode, and then take that barcode
with you when you run.
I started going along because my boyfriend has been going for a few years. He earned his 50 shirt earlier this year and now wears it with great pride each week. We run at Bushy Park by Hampton Court Palace in west London, which aside from being a glorious place to run, happens to be where Parkrun all started. As such it's hugely popular - over 960 runners this week. I find this brilliant; there are the really serious athletes (they get a few international level runners) all the way down to families running with their dog. Running in such a large group does slightly magical things to your times...they're much much faster! Before my first Parkrun (when I was really aiming for 30mins) the best I could manage was just over 32 minutes. On the day I ran 28:38 and finished with a huge smile. I was on such a high for the rest of the day. And I was hooked.
This week, after sitting admiring the view, I was pretty determined to set a new PB. I went armed with my Nike + running app, and my wrist stopwatch. But here's the downside to running with all the lovely people; it takes a while to get across the start line, and there's a bit of weaving along the way. Result being, the watch starts before you actually start running and you end up running a bit further. I was happy because according to my GPS data I ran at the pace I was aiming for and my Nike app thought I'd run my quickest 5km, but my watch showed that I'd missed out by about 10 seconds. But the best thing about Parkrun? There's always next week...
And the coming Saturday (5th October) is Parkrun's 9th anniversary. If you've never been I'd really recommend finding your local one and turning out on what's sure to be a bumper week. Unfortunately I have other plans for the morning (involving running) that I'll chat about later...