Three videos that will make you want to run

I am very lucky to a have met lots of brilliant individuals through running and the people featured in or involved in the making of the videos below are no exception.

I dare you to watch any of these and not want to immediately hit the road…

Running saved my life

Simon Lamb is a sports massage therapist, and I visited him regularly throughout my training for the Paris marathon. I credit not only his hands, but also his calm and wise advice with going some way to helping me have such a fantastic race day back in April. In this video on the BBC Sport website, he talks honestly and passionately about how running has helped him deal with mental illness.

Thirteen Point One

Ellie Wood has set up Bring The Change, whose mission is “to guide and support young people to find their purpose in life through truth and authenticity.” Their first video, made by a group of young people, including Ash and Elizabeth (who I know through running with Run Dem Crew) shares Elizabeth’s story in the run up to her first half marathon at Run Hackney.

Still Waters Run Deep MCR Anniversary Alleycat 2014 Recap

A few weekends ago I travelled to Manchester to take part in a weekend of running festivities to celebrate the first anniversary of Still Waters Run Deep – an awesome crew of frankly lovely people based in the city. They hosted us perfectly and the main event of the Saturday night was an ‘alley cat’ – I’m going to post a few more photos soon, but for now he’s the video recap (and Charlie did a great recap too). Who knew hanging out in a gym til 1am could be so much fun…

Race report: Bacchus half marathon

Things I didn’t like about Bacchus half marathon:

The hills

As the train pulled into Dorking, I laughed about the massive hill we could see behind the vineyard, saying something along the lines of “ahahaha, wouldn’t it be funny if the course went up that.” It did. It was steep. I didn’t like it. (But the view was alright, s’pose.)

The trail

See! So uneven I couldn’t even take an unshakey photo

Also on the train, I came to the sudden and odd realisation that this was quite a rural race (odd because running this race was my idea). It hadn’t really crossed my mind until this point (I was too focussed on the wine). I do not like trail running, and consequently spent a lot of the race listing the reasons I didn’t like trail running. At least now I’ve learnt to say no to any non-road race.

Things I did like about Bacchus half marathon:

I was running with my housemates Sam and Gosia for the first time
Me and Gosia ran the whole thing together

There were seven ‘aid stations’, and I sampled the wine at every single one
Every ‘aid station’ was also like a mini picnic. This one was my favourite – it had a steel band, the BEST marshalls and an incredible spread of snacks

Unlike at the British 10k, I made a very good fancy dress choice (NO FLEECE!!)

Hula girl costume FTW! A crop top and shorts is always an infinitely better idea that a tiger onesie. Lesson sweatily learnt.

The runner’s discount in the Denbies wine shop which I had a little peruse around after the race
The post run hog roast and full glass of wine

(I didn’t take a photo… neither were around long enough!)

Lots of lovely people were there

And I ran a lot of the second half of the race with Leah and Aleisha too.

Something tells me I’m not supposed to post this here…?!

…including the incredible Stephanie the Magpie

Despite all of the other glorious things, my absolute favourite part of the day was crossing the finish line and finding out Steph had ABSOLUTELY SMASHED THE HELL OUT OF THE MARATHON. She completed two laps of a frankly brutal course for actual running, taking only 22 minutes longer that I took to do one lap. Seriously, who does that?! Oh yeh, Steph does! *proud face*

Proof that I really was taking my time at those pit stops…

Hilly Fields parkrun’s second birthday

This year I’ve run seven parkruns, which takes my overall total to eight. Three of those seven parkruns have been at Hilly Fields, which although not my closest, is one of several that are relatively easy for me to get to on the Overground.

The Overground was not playing ball this weekend though, so to reach the second birthday Hilly Fields parkrun, I decided to do a wrong-way-round duathlon to get there and back.

I left my house at 7:45 and cycled the 5.5 miles over Tower Bridge, right past the start of my ‘local’ parkrun – Southwark – through Deptford and into THE HILLIEST PART OF LONDON. The final mile was a proper slog, and whoever gave Friendly Street it’s name was clearly having a giggle. That road was anything but.

When I arrived I was secretly hoping that they would be short of a volunteer or two, but unluckily for me, my friend Glenn (also one of the run directors) informed me they had plenty of people who had been kind enough to come and help out. So I was going to have to run it.

I belted off for the first half a loop (of three) before remembering this was supposed to be a shakeout run for Bacchus the next day. I needn’t have worried though as after the first five minutes it was really tough going. I had to walk a couple of times, and on my last lap I had to walk pretty much all of the first hill which is on a camber diagonally across a patch of grass.

All in all, it was a terrible run, but as usual the friendly and supportive atmosphere at Hilly Fields more than made up for it. I was cheered emphatically on the finishing straight, and was greeted at the end with an impressive cake selection. I popped over to the cafe for a coffee to go with my brownie and watched the birthday prize giving ceremony. It’s such a lovely way to kick off the weekend.

On the way home, I decided the slightly longer, all along the river route, which was lovely as it meant slightly less of the scary main roads and a lot more gorgeous views. And now I know how to get back to mine from Greenwich on my bike!

Almost 12 miles on the bike, with a 5k plod in the middle. Not bad and all before 11am on a Saturday morning!

Keeping it interesting: June and July

It’s been a long time since I wrote a post like this (November, in fact), which just goes to show how little cross training and how much running I’ve done this year.

But as it’s a time where I’m not really in full on training plan mode, plus I’ve got a tight hip niggle that won’t go away, I’m enjoying much more than just running at the moment. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Cycling

I bought a bike in April last year. I then rode it twice, folded it up under a desk for 8 months, moved house and then kept it in the garage for another 5 months. But last weekend I took the bold move and wheeled it – with pancake flat tyres – over to Evans Cycles at Fenchurch Street and asked for it to be made roadworthy again. Turns out, all that meant was pumping up the tyres and oiling the chain. Embarrassed at my incompetence, I rode off into the rain and off on an adventure.

Down by Regent’s Canal at Mile End Park

That weekend, I rode a few miles around Limehouse and Mile End, 6 miles up to North London, then all the way along the canal the next day from Angel to Wapping.

Since then, I’ve sorted out bike parking at work and rode to work most of last week. It’s ace! It’s less than 25 minutes from my front door to my desk and for where I am in East London, cycling is always the quickest way to get to where I need to go. I am LOVING cycling at the moment.

Limehouse Basin

Bootcamp Pilates

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to try out HIIP (high intensity interval Pilates) by Bootcamp Pilates at their City studio, which is nestled right behind Old Street station, only a 20 minute walk over from my office. It was a really humid evening and the mix of floor based cardio and strength exercises, interspersed with body conditioning sections on the reformer got me really quite sweaty in their basement studio.

I’ve really enjoyed the couple of reformer classes I’ve done in the past, but this class I found that little bit more engaging. We did exercises like squats, burpees, push ups and lunges, as well as some moves using dumbbells, on a mat placed to the side of the reformer. These were typically sets of two exercises done three times, before switching to work on the reformer, which was more stretching focussed, along with moves like planks and bridges.

I liked that we switched between on and off the reformer regularly, it meant I wasn’t hating being worked up into a sweat doing endless burpees, but also wasn’t getting too bored just lying on the reformer for an hour.

As you can see from the photos, I had the pink, shiny face of concentration on throughout the class! It was challenging but moves were adapted up or down based on ability. I know that this kind of workout would do wonders for my running, so I’ll definitely be back.

Classes are £19 off peak, £27 peak – so pricy! But Bootcamp Pilates do an intro offer of 2 for £12 on off peak classes (which only excludes weekday evening classes).

Lifting

My brilliantly fit and constantly active friend Charlie makes a great gym buddy. Over the last few weeks, we have managed to fit in four trips to my gym (Virgin Active Barbican) together. I really hate running before work, but I love going to the gym. She comes up with the workouts, shouts at me when my weights aren’t heavy enough and I just go along with it and feel great afterwards.

I only have the rest of July left on my membership, but then I am probably just going to pay as I go at other gyms and take advantage of the fact you can train for free on Fridays at Fitness First if you’re running Royal Parks (which I think is a fantastic link up!)

This week, it was an upper body session for me, and a legs session for Charlie. One day I will feel confident enough to step up to the squat rack alone…

Race report: British 10k 2014

There are few races I’ve enjoyed less than the British 10k 2013. I was lucky to have my place paid for by my employer at the time, and I ran for my industry charity, GroceryAid. However, the race itself was pretty terrible – it started off badly by taking over 45 minutes to get across the start line on one of the hottest days of last summer, and didn’t get much better from there.

I then went onto run the Color Run in the same afternoon, which is probably the only race I’ve ever enjoyed less than the British 10k. Now that really was AWFUL. So hot, so much waiting around, so boring, so crappy to run around Wembley. I haven’t been back to North West London since. Just eurgh.

So after all of that, you’d probably wonder why on earth I would even bother showing up to this year’s British 10k? Well firstly, I was lucky (again) to win a place with Tiger Balm to run as part of their #BorntoRun team. I’ll get the race fee thing out of the way straight away. No 10k should cost £50. It’s just ludicrous. I would not have run this race either last year or this if I had to pay for it.

And despite getting the race place for free, I still found myself no more impressed with the race this year than I did in 2013.

Tiger Balm were excellent. I got the place only a few days prior to race day, their communication was spot on and the pre race meet up – despite being early – was friendly, organised and really good fun. They asked us to wear onesies for the photocall, with the option of wearing them for the race. We were given a tshirt too, but I thought it would be fun to go with the onesie.

IMG_9894

This obviously made me really, really hot. But this wasn’t what I disliked about this race – I still wasn’t as hot as I was running it last year. I disliked the long walk to the start from the bag drop, the long wait before we got started (although admittedly not anywhere near as long as last year) and the fact that there wasn’t start pens by finishing time – which meant a painful mixture of weaving around walkers and being elbowed by faster runners. That was the worst. I’ve never felt so jostled, nudged and just generally harassed as I have in this race. It really started to stress me out by the second half and I ran the final 3k with panic rising in my chest.

The long walk to the start…

After the horrible bit right near the end where you reach Parliament Square, but then get shot off towards Victoria for an out and back loop along Victoria Street (my least favourite part of the whole route – and you run through the Blackfriars underpass – twice), I was really glad to have finished.

The we all got held from entering Whitehall Place, the location of the bag drop. The crowds mounted up quickly as more and more people crossed the finish line. It all got a bit ridiculous.

It then transpired that everyone was queing for the Help for Heroes tent, regardless of whether they had run for them or not and it was blocking the whole road. It took almost half an hour for someone to come and sort this out. By the time I made it to my bag and to Charlie, Harry, Jonny and Seb, I was so on the edge of panic from being hot, tired and packed in a crowd for the past hour and a half, that I did a little cry. I thought I was past the point of crying at 10k’s… so thanks for that British 10k. Oh, and one more thing – I still have no idea what my time was because when I put my race number into the website, someone else’s result comes up. Not that it matters, but you’re supposed to be able to find it out.

Thankfully, my day drastically improved post race thanks to my awesome ambush of tigers, as the five of us headed to Le Pain at the Southbank Centre for fizz, granola, coffee and a whole load of bread. Love Le Pain.

Then me and Charlie shared a peanut buttery cake of amazingness from Outsider Tart‘s stall at the food market, accompanied by a coffee whilst soaking up the sun.

I gave the British 10k a second chance, but I don’t think I’ll be giving it a third…