Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Recap: My First Marathon - Honolulu 2016

Everyone always says that your first is never what you expect. The nerves, the apprehension, the too fast out of the gate. I told myself I have heard enough of those things to know I should not be doing them. Yet. Somehow.... here we are.

4 hours 55 minutes 10 seconds.

I am of course chuffed to bits I finished. I was even more chuffed about the free malasadas (donuts) at the end. I was not too pleased with my performance. Who is ever 100% with any of their first marathons? Anyways, lets kick it off.

Training? What Training?
I had some injury which limited me on my running pre-trip. When given the choice of not running to try and rest up the hip or running through the pain, I chose the former. This meant I never got in the training that I should have done. I was able to run a LSR of 20 miles before, so I knew it was doable but would be a slog.

Two Week Taper
Shrimp from Giovanni's
We did this a bit backward. Rather than vacation after the big event, we holiday'd before. In my defense, I did a few runs in that 2 week period and we also did some hiking and diving. However, I was not going to skimp out on the plate lunches, poke, and loco moco whilst there. So if I wanted it, I ordered it. Mai Tai? Yes please. That did NOT help.

The Prelude
My alarm went off at 3am. I felt very smug as I prepared my Quaker instant oatmeal and nibbled on a banana for breakfast. That was soon replaced by annoyance as I had no spoon with which to eat the oatmeal. I used my fingers. I used the banana. We got through it.

After asking Google Maps, we decided to walk the 2 miles to the start rather than wait for the buses at the zoo to take us to the start line. It was interesting as the nightclubs had let out so there was a colourful combination of runners and revelers. We arrived on site near the Ala Moana Park at 0400.

I jogged over to wait in the loo queue. That took about 45 minutes. I would pay money to have a dedicated loo for me at the start of races. I also get annoyed that people do not understand the rules of the loo queue. Barely made it into the corral to wait around an additional 10 minutes to get moving. Me and about 30,000 other people were slowly but surely underway.

The Start
Off I went. I was trying to keep a slow and steady pace. I knew this would be important given the humidity. However I speeded up quite a few times to get out of the way of other runners. I also found it interesting that there were runners STOPPING to get their photos taken at Christmas lights. What? I know its not a competition per se but just full on stopping seems weird. I also enjoyed the Japanese tour groups of runners. Each group had a different hat on to identify themselves. One group had a hat with Mt. Fujisan on it. Another had a stuffed pineapple. This pleased me.

I skipped the first 3 hydration stations. Too crowded.

This is NOT the Marathon Route.
We just hiked this for funsies
25% of the way Completed (pace 10:27min/mile)
I realise that 65% of the course is a giant switchback. I hate switchbacks. I find them depressing seeing people blaze by me when I have an additional 10 miles to go to get back to that point. Sadness.

50% of the way Completed (pace 10:41min/mile)
I started taking Bloks a little earlier than halfway. Ripping the Bloks packaging is hard when sweating. It's humid. I am not very chuffed. I make sure I am stopping at all water stops now. I take sponges where I can and use my Buff to keep it on top my head. Win.

75% of the way Completed (pace 10:53min/mile)
The sun has come out. Oh god. Its now humid AND hot. England has not prepared me for any of these scenarios.

Between 75-100% (pace 11:18min/mile)
I may have started to walk a bit. It was just draining and OF COURSE we are going uphill. I felt like walking was faster than my plod (it wasnt). I was keeping a runner in my sights to make sure I didn't slow down too much. I decided to run 7/10 of a mile and walk the remaining 3/10 of a mile.

Mile 25: FREE Dog Hugs!
I had some friends and Mr.Moose waiting at Mile 25. The thought of seeing them kept me going. They were giving out free hugs to anyone who wanted one. I wanted the whole thing to be over, but I accepted a hug instead. The nice thing was it was literally downhill from there.

Maybe about 400 meters it was almost a straight shot to the finish. You know that thing when you can see the finish but it seems like no matter how much longer you run it still seems really far away? That was happening. However I know I was making progress and even passed a few people. I was trying to encourage those who stopped moving to dig in and finish strong. Too close to the finish to stop now!

Post Race
Down the funnel... I get my giant medal and a shell lei (yay Hawaii!). I make a bee-line for the mist showers and just kinda stand there for about a minute or two. It felt soooo nice. By now the sun was really starting to beat down so I was very happy I managed to finish before full sun. It was a bit confusing finding my finishers shirt, but after asking a few folk I found the tent. They also had a video of the finish line delayed by about 20 minutes or so, allowing runners to come up and watch themselves cross the line.

I found Mr. Moose who had my change of clothes. I queued up AGAIN for the bathrooms. On a side note, I wonder how terrified the Japanese were of the Hawaii public restrooms... Japanese toilets are always so clean. Anyways, new clothes and a quick baby wipe down. I was ready to head to Teddy's for a celebratory burger and then a massage.

 Of course the day of the marathon it's pretty much the nicest day we had on our holiday. Typical.

Looking at my pacing I was actually a bit more consistent than I thought. It was the last 10k that I really lost ground. This makes me even more angry I could not motivate myself enough to keep plodding. That being said, I am still proud of overcoming the heat and humidity. When I heard the start time I thought they were nuts, now I think it was a godsend.

I was also fine with my food/water intake during the course. I waited until about halfway to start nutrition but I started having water well before that point. I never really felt dehydrated or a lack of power due to poor nutrition. It was more the heat sucking my energy.

You Should Do This Race If...

  • You love early start times
  • You love heat & humidity (although I have been told it was due to the lack of trade winds that day)
  • You love a tropical paradise
  • You love carbs (Hawaiian food is 99% carb)
A hui ho!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Trail Running + You : Winning Combo

Would you believe this is an hour outside of London? (near Denbies Winery to boot!)

Everyone says variety is the spice of life. This applies to running as well. I am normally a road runner (meep meep!) but every once in a while I like to mix things up a bit and do a bit of trail. I feel like the photos I have interspersed in this posting would be reason enough (all were taken on a trail run or a hike), but still if you must ask why...
Typical view along the Cotswold Way.. NBD

1) Workout! Posh Spice did not lie- spice up your life! Its good to vary your routine. Trail running forces you to work your core as you are obviously not as stable as you would be on a nice flat road. 

2) Hills! Yes the countryside typically has more of these than your roads. In fact, they seem to be bloody everywhere. If you are not used to these bad boys take your time and don't be afraid to stop and walk. Endurance is built over time, not in a day. 

3) Views! The best part of trails are that they are typically in the countryside, which means-- epic vistas. I defy you to not start singing "Land of Hope and Glory" when you hit a sweeping panorama or an idyllic country scene. It makes you realise that maybe these non-city slickers are onto something....

4) Trails everywhere! So I know this goes against #3 but to be fair London does a pretty good shout of having trails within the M25. Epping Forest and Richmond Park are two of the big areas where you can go off-piste, but there are so many parks and woods around we are actually spoilt for choice. I am sure most cities have the same, you just gotta do some Google-foo, or ask at your local running store... those cats certainly know their stuff!

5) No new equipment! I say this with a bit of a caveat, because not all trails are created equal and of course weather can play a role. However, on a normal day and on a normal trail (nothing technical) you can wear your normal running shoes. Of course if you begin to make it a habit or you want to do more technical running, or maybe don't want to twist an ankle if very muddy, trail shoes would not go amiss. However I have done all trail runs this year in either my Brooks Ravenna's or my Asics Kayanos-- and I did pretty OK. I have also done less than 10 trail runs this year... which now that I think of it, is quite sad!

So the next time you are feeling a bit blah about your running regime-- throw in a trail run. I guarantee you that it will reinvigorate you in your training. If not, you can at least have a pint after in an awesome country pub ^_^.
Seven Sisters and Liz (not my sister)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My Trip to Profeet...

So-- I am a wonky runner.

http://manhattanrunningco.com/fitting-process/The gait analysis proves it. My right leg is all over the place on the treadmill. It almost looks like my left leg will hit it (it goes WAYYY into the left side).  I have been ridiculed when I was younger for waddling like a penguin. It is now coming back to haunt me. My overpronation has (IMHO) gotten worse since post RTB. In the video, you can almost see my right big toe from the camera (which is behind me). Thats bad. The coupled with the fact that I lean my top half back naturally when doing any movement has resulted in hip pain which manifested itself in my feet and then finally in my hips themselves.

That right Shakira, the hips don't lie.

To just see how bad this all is, I went to ProFeet in Fulham to get Run Sports Fit. This means I get the classic gait video analysis and also some pressure analysis which is done by running on a sensor pad a few times. This shows where you have more pressure as your foot moves through the movement.  Steve walked (ran?) me through the motions and explained everything as we moved along.

The results were.. interesting.

To the left we have the pressure points for each of my feet during the run. I am assuming the angle is my natural angle (almost 45 degrees).. more maybe that's how ProFeet puts them.So you see the purple line and the black line? They should be in somewhat of alignment. They are not. Especially on the right hand side. I am spending a lot more time on the left side of my right foot then I should be, this has to do with me sweeping my right leg well into the left hand 'side' of the treadmill/area. The left side is a bit more fluid.

My knees also roll inward (knee valgus) when I run, so combined with all my other issues... it's just madness.

Good news? I am a fore foot striker. Which is apparently a good thing (silver lining?)

I knew I was not too flexible, but like many people, one side is a bit more stiff than the other. It was no surprise that my left side is less flexible in the toe/ankle area.

How to Fix? Anyone got duct tape?

I am not THIS bad.. but close!

  • Stiffness -> yoga/pilates
  • Knee valgus -> I need to get my core and legs in sync, meaning core workouts, squats, and the like. There are quite a few classes at the gym to help out. 
  • Pronation -> new shoes with more support. I was really sad to leave my Brooks Ravennas, considering I used them for 3 or 4 iterations. However, I was kitted out with some Asics Kayanos (known to be good for overpronators) and Adidas Sequence running shoes. They provide a bit more support in all the right places to try and help keep my feet in line(ish) when I am running
  • Ministry of Silly Walks -> My physio told me this is important. Currently when I run/walk, my backward lean basically forces my front muscles in near my hips to activate in order to stabilise, and there is no letting up. Running of course aggravates this. My back/butt muscles are just along for the ride. So-- standing near a mirror, my physio basically moved my chest a bit forward (which I felt as leaning over). Then I looked in the mirror. I was straight. I also noted how the slant of my neck seemed pretty bad (the result of sitting on an office chair-- holding you head up is hard). Rolling my shoulders back fixed that. So now I need to be paranoid when I am running and walking to try and check my posture. In doing this-- I will be 'firing on all cylinders'.
So-- in slow slow steps, I am going to try and do these things. I am still going to sub the cross-trainers/spin bike for 1 or 2 of my runs during the week. I don't want to injure myself any more than I already have!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Two Year Running Anniversary: Recap

The Run that Started it All...
As I slogged through my LSR (maybe not so L at the moment, which is a good thing) I was listening to MarathonTalk, as I normally do on these jaunts. Martin Yelling, who is a presenter on the show, helps to coordinate the Bournemouth Marathon, and he was talking about the logistics and setup of the event. I recalled fondly how that was my first official half marathon and what I would call, "the gateway drug" into more serious running. The crowds, the backdrop, the delicious post-meal chili Mr.Mooses mother made for me and my friends...

Suddenly I stopped, and looked down at my watch, October 2nd. I thought two things:

  1. "It's dad's birthday I need to call him" 
  2. "Oh wow it's been two years since my first half marathon."
Yes folks, two years of race entries, loo queues, goody bags, and technical tees. Granted I did some races before that. I can recall quite fondly doing a Nike Women's 10k with Ciara in Viccy Park and going to the Palm Pub nestled in Mile End Park; which I always thought was closed, but no-- it only looked like that from the outside. 

Osterley 10k has mince pies. WIN.
But Bournemouth really started me out on this crazy path. That and Ciara, who I really should thank for getting me into this mess in the first place. We have done many races together, and even though we would cajole and harass friends, it would typically just be us two at the starting line. She also ran two of #RunTheBoroughs, including one very early Sunday morning run in Lambeth, only to find out about 5 minutes before I rocked up that Burgess Park was closed at 6am so had to impromptu find a route then and there. Skills this woman has. A very awesome, special set of skills. 

So this blog is a look back at my 2 years of running. Smashrun is absolutely brilliant for this. I also enjoy how it tells me what I can eat (healthy or unhealthy) based the calorie burn. Always good to know when I can eat a 5kg watermelon.

Basic (/dev/rand) Stats

First half marathon: Bournemouth 2014 -> 1:50:44
Fastest half marathon: Surrey 2016 -> 1:48:10
I find it a bit disheartening that my PB has only improved by 2 minute 34 seconds. To be honest though, I have never really trained specifically to run faster times. I always assumed if I ran more, I would get faster, which is true up to a point. With my marathon training I do hope to quicken my pace, as long as my body doesn't fall apart first... which reminds me I need to book my physio appointment. 
Day I Run The Least: Thursday
I have no problems with Thursdays honestly, I just like random statistics. 
Average Run Length: 5.8 miles
I basically ran 32 5k's in August over a weekend, that may have skewed my numbers slightly. However, better than the total overall mileage of the day skewing the other way. Still, surprised this number was not higher.
56% of my run are morning runs 
Hard to say I am not a morning person based on those numbers. I guess it means I have a 50/50 shot of actually paying attention to my alarm clock. 
Number of Weeks I Put in 50+ Miles:
This was in preparation for my first half (when I was young and foolish) and then the lead up to Run the Boroughs, which makes perfect sense.

Goals and Aspirations

Besides just hoping to feel 'normal' running again I of course have some desires leading into my next two years of running. Achievable? Who knows, but I want to give them a shot!

Run Sub 4 hr Marathon
How sub-4 is up for debate, please talk to my body about it. I feel if it is not too humind it should be doable in Hawaii, but we shall see. I bascially need to run a 9:09min/mile for 26 miles... or better. 
Run an Ultra
I am not sure which one, I have been looking at the Isle of Wight, the Cotswold Way, Hadrians Wall, Race to the Stones, Race to the King Just so many races out there... this requires much more research. 
More Volunteering
The amazing thing about running are the number of people who wake up at god-awful early hours to stand in ridiculous weather, and point a bunch of people running in the right direction or give them a smile and a cup of water. I want to do more of that to help give back.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Doh! Oh dear... A female deer! (Richmond Running Festival Half Review)

Richmond Running Festival - Half Marathon Review

Very hard to photograph when in motion...
Location: This is the ONLY running race which takes place in Kew Gardens. This automatically makes it freaking great. You go by a giant pagoda, you see amazing greenhouses that you wish you could have (if you even had a garden that would be a great start). Well OK, maybe not a greenhouse of that size, but come on London, a little patch of garden would be wonderful. The route is not limited to Kew, it also takes in the Thames path, turning around in a bit of a loopy fashion around Teddington Lock (the 10k turned around at Richmond Lock, and the marathon goes all the way towards Bushy Park before coming back) around Ham House.

Stuff to look at is at an all time high. Again, you don't really miss headphones. By the way, headphones are allowed, but like all races, they are strongly discouraged.

Bib Pick Up/Bag Drop: I did not have to utilise either of these on this race, as Mr. Moose acted as my bag drop and as I was in the UK they mailed me my race pack. Heartrunnergirl picked up her bib no issues. She also found another Dutch runner simply by looking at her shoes... that's what I call situational awareness! The end of the race is in Old Deer Park, but they bring your bags over so there is no trundling back to the start to get your stuff.

Loos: Well I knew there was going to be a wait at the beginning and for port-a-loos I cannot complain. This means A) there were no nasty surprises on the toilet seat AND B) there was toilet paper

I was told though that the loos at the end had crazy long queues. I cannot speak as to the validity of this as I did not utilise them.

'Will Run For Beer' takes on new meaning...
Atmosphere: More like your typical race vibe. As with any tow path and any given point in London, the constant battle between runner and cyclist was quite high. I just wish people would get along sometimes. I also wish people would not run with headphones during races, because they have no chance of hearing other runners or cyclists using the path. I know I know there is technically no difference between a runner just out for a jog and a runner with a bib on. I feel as though you are representing runners when you put a bib on-- so it behooves all runners to put your best foot (pun intended?) forward. Cyclists should feel the same way... I don't know I feel like I am talking in circles. It's a widely contested debate....and the battle rages on!

There was a man dressed as a Fuller's Beer-- he won the race in my eyes.

Drink Stops/Marshalls: I did grab a water at some point along the way and kept it with me for a few miles just to have a few sips until it was empty. They also had Lucozade, but personally I cannot handle the stuff when running-- too sugary and since I am clumsy I typically spill more on me than I drink, resulting in sticky hands. Lovely volunteers and little kids I said thank you to were picking up discarded bottles along the path.

I felt very sorry for the lovely marshall at the very end. She had the tough job of telling the half/full marathon runners to go left (a final, painful loop in a field where you could see/hear the finish) rather than go right (a nice straight sprint to the finish for the 10k). I tried to smile at her as I begrudgingly went left, but it probably looked like a grimace.

Check out my bling...
Post Race: I think I got the last bag from the finishing crew as people after me seemed to just be carrying as much as they could in their arms. I am happy to report they had plenty of fluorescent yellow (I am talking VERY yellow) racing shirts, so there was no worry of getting stuck with a circus tent or a body conscious size.  I contained my desire to hoard all teh coconut water and gleefully accepted my Fuller's ale. I also scored some sports 'jelly beans', a High 5 gel and a couple of High 5 Protein bars. Not going to lie, the protein bars look pretty horrendous, but don't worry they taste just fine.

Oh and the medal is also a bottle opener. I felt like they missed a trick giving us cans of beer rather than bottles, but I am pretty sure that was a smart move from a health & safety perspective.

The band at the end was pretty great, and we spent an hour or so sitting on the grass, stretching, drinking and just enjoying the vibe before heading back via Richmond station.

Conclusion: From a race perspective I highly enjoyed it. The course was flat but interesting, the crowds supportive, and the goody bag quite fabulous. Again the fact the race starts in Kew makes this a unique one to add to your race calendar. Good transport links to both the start and finish, although some would argue the District Line should never be classified as 'good' (I swear it gets slower every time I take it... but darn it the old girl she still gets you there).

Personally-- I had two goals in this race. The first was to run it in its entirety, something which after Bacchus I was not sure I was ready to do. Second was to keep my pace under a certain time. Save for the first mile I was well under that. So even though this was my slowest half marathon that I can recall, I feel proud that I accomplished what I wanted to do. It gives me that little boost of confidence, and a glimmer of hope that maybe not all is lost and maybe I can achieve my marathon goal if I just keep the faith and stay true to my training.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quit Your Wine-ing: Surrey Bacchus is Here!

On Top of Ranmore Common
I walked into this race with a ton of apprehension. I did not feel ready at all to run 13.1 miles on the hills of Surrey. Legs still did not feel ready. "Trial by fire" was the phrase that came to mind as I boarded the train at Waterloo. At least the trains were working, unlike last year.

I was hoping by this time I would have had an answer about my foot. In a amazing feat (feet) of almost Monty Python proportions, Bupa gave me a doctor for hand injuries, not feet. Imagine my surprise after telling the nice Doctor all about my condition, only for him to say "I wish I could help, but I am a hand specialist."

Oh well, it was a nice office. 

Anyways, onto the race!

Not a Bad Venue....
Location: First off, Denbies Winery is crazy close to the Dorking train station. Heck, if you wanted to you could get there with 20 minutes to spare and you could roll up to the start as long as you did not have a bag drop off or bib pick-up. Probably. Don't quote me on that. 

However getting there does require an epic roundabout navigation. And it can get quite busy-- so hone your Frogger instincts!

Bib Pick Up: Queue manic queues #1. It got a bit confusing as we were not aware the lines were split into alphabetical ordering. We realised this quickly though as we got towards the front, told the people behind us, and quickly truffle shuffled to the correct lanes. I wish they would move people along who were just loitering in that room, made it a bit more chaotic.  

Loos: I can only speak for the ones in the Winery, as I did not use any port-a-loos (my loss). Of course there was a line, but it moved quickly enough and there was plenty of toilet paper. There was a woman in there tidying up and checking the stalls so good kudos for that!

Bag Drop: Easy and quick. Same for pick-up which is a Godsend when all you want is to change out of your trainers and into flip flops. 

Much Super Glue was Used to Make This...
Atmosphere: Wheee! Such a fun vibe on and off the course. As you can gather, most people are in fancy dress (especially the half) so it's a very friendly race. Cheering each other on ("Go Batman! Come on Robin, don't let Batman show you up!") and typical banter is very common. It makes me doubly glad that headphones are not allowed. A running buddy (@_jen_mo) put together a video of our group and the race in general which you can watch here.

Drink Stops: Well this is really what we all come here for. The wine... err.. water stops. Whatever. There were 7 stops this year, with 1 (near Ranmore Common) being dry, I assume thats because it's on National Trust land. Who knows, maybe they didn't have any more wine choices. 

Either way, all the stops have amazing volunteers distributing wine, water, and various treats. It was a cornucopia of culinary delights: swiss rolls, brownies, bananas, oranges, jelly babies. Pretty much anything a runner could want. The wine samples were a bit small, but I think they have no issues with you going up for seconds. 

Stop 4 and 7 we definitely my favourites. The former was served by two older gentlemen in waiter uniforms. I wanted to take them home with me and adopt them as my grandfathers. They had an amazing band playing. Whatever group that runs that drinks stop should get medals. It was brilliant.

Stop 7 was at the top of the hill overlooking the Winery, so the end was in sight. This was the only stop that I saw that had red wine, but what got me was the food serving was: cheese and crackers. Oh. My. Goodness. I could have stood there and ate it all, but with finish line looming-- I managed to tear myself away. 
One negative was some of the stops were overrun (literally) with people, so the queues were getting a bit unwieldy. 

Hog Roast/Finish: Yes there were even more treats after we crossed the finish line. Tea (I love this country), coffee, water, and again more snacks, including pineapple and melon. However, no point in filling up when you have a hog roast to look forward to! The portions were pretty great with some good sides and the ever important applesauce. They also had a vegetarian option, but I cannot comment on that.
My Personal Notes: I did this in a run/walk fashion, this worked out well as although I was part of a larger herd of unicorns  (actually it's a blessing), the two friends I was running with were also fine to do a walk/run so there was never the "I am slowing people down" feeling. I also kept telling myself to manage my expectations, I was not going to finish in the time I did last year. It was also quite warm (about 18° C) and no clouds in sight. Is it an excuse? Maybe but I am going to take it. I had a great time, and even partook in a sprint finish. 

Conclusion: This is a pretty brilliant race, with epic views of the Surrey hills. There are also cows (real and people in costume) on the course, which is always a win for me. Great volunteers, marshals, and a venue with ample parking and close to rail. I have not run this course in the rain, but I feel everyone is having such a good time it would be taken in stride.     

Saturday, September 3, 2016

One Month Without Running Makes One....

When running is "your thing", when it has become pretty much what you do most waking moments, it is quite difficult to suddenly NOT do it. You feel bad, you envy every runner you see, and abstain from that slice of cake because you are not running crazy miles anymore. Nothing seems to compare to running.

What is even worse when you cheat and go for a run, and it hurts. When you realise your legs are still tired and something is still not right.  Then you wonder if you will ever run again and panic at all the races you already signed up for.

That's me right now.

I had a wonderful time back in Buffalo, and if you ever around the area you should definitely go. It's
changed so much since I was a kid, the waterfront is so vibrant and people are actually coming downtown for the afternoon/evening with no sporting events. Restaurants are popping up everywhere, and the food is (of course) phenomenal. I did some kayaking along the Buffalo River-- with the backdrop of the old silos, the once powerhouses of industry that made the city one of the largest in the United States. Brilliant.

Still I missed running.

So I decided to go for some runs. I couldn't help it. The weather, although high sun at times swelteringly humid, was too lovely to pass up. A run in the 'burbs, a little trail run, and run along Lake Erie. All under 5k. The last one was very hard for me, but I blame humidity and my Uncle running at too fast a pace for me to keep up for long. Still after running the distance I did, it was heartbreaking to feel so winded and so tired.

As soon as I got back to London I called the doctor for my X-Ray results. I didn't know what worried me more; finding something or finding nothing.

The result was the latter, with my GP recommending me to an orthopedic surgeon. That sounds... terrifying.

I am meant to start marathon training next week, which is of course interesting given my weird limbo running situation. Never minding that, I have Surrey Bacchus coming up as well. I have not run more than 10 miles IN A MONTH. No pressure here! Currently my hope is to ensure I run a 10k this week in prep for the half... gosh really cutting it fine aren't I? This should be interesting to say the least.

So everyone happy and healthy in running, don't think less of me if I slightly scowl if you pass me by. I am insanely jealous of you. We take for granted running, it's always when you take it away that you realise it really has become a part of your life. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

When A Runner Can't Run

It's every runner's worst nightmare. The last thing they ever want to hear. No running. It sounds so easy! There are plenty of other activities!

I thought I would be looking forward to a break after #RTB. And to be fair I was fine for the first few days. It was glorious sleeping in (until 0730) during the week and *gasp* 0900 on the weekend. Not worrying about how I was going to it my social life into my running schedule. Let me check my cal... oh wait! I know I am free! 

Then the pain started to happen. 

It was small it first, but now it's become more prevalent. A pain in my right foot, just below the ankle. I think this pain causes my arch pain as well, which occurs when I am stationary for more than a hour. My tennis ball has become my best friend. My roller is starting to get jealous.

All this is making me try and keep pressure of my foot, which means a whole load of NOT running. 

Maybe this is a good thing. I am doing more core and arm work, while continuing to do my runner's strength training. I am doing more yoga. I worked up a great sweat on the spin bike. I have plans to swim and SUP (stand up paddle) when I go home next week. 

Still-- my running shoes are calling me. Is that dust I see on them?! Surely not-- it has not even been two weeks!

This morning I went and got an X-Ray. The results will take a week (A WEEK O_O ). She did give me some cheering news: "Its not broken." This was my face.

So in the meantime, I must wait it out. I am really hoping to get some idea of what is wrong and what (if anything) I can do as come September I want to start training for my marathon in. I also have a few races coming up...

Trying not to think about it. Take one day at a time. Continue my torrid affair with the tennis ball. Use smelly deep heat. Continue to keep my physical activity up. Eventually the day will come where I can dust off the running shoes and head out into the great big world for a run. 

I just hope it comes sooner rather than later. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Finished. It's incredible to finally say that. I know many people can relate. You have spent months planning something, checking and rechecking in the hopes everything goes right... then the day finally comes. And then-- over!

Celebratory Prosecco Shower :D

I cannot give you all the stats just yet, as I found out the hard way Garmin Vivoactive's only record 10 activities, wiping out most of my first day runs! Who actually RTFM? Luckily I have been able to get 7 of the 17 boroughs for that day from people, so all is not lost. I DO however have some awesome maps from the total of both days, including transport.

Day One

So I started out in Havering and then worked my way back west and then eventually south. I saw ponies on my way out to Elm Park, a bit of change from what you would expect. It was cool as I went from countryside to urban and back all in one day :D

High Point Day One
I really remember in Redbridge being in this amazing open field and in the distance seeing the buildings in Canary Wharf and the City. The heart of London was never far away, yet in looking around it felt like you could have been anywhere in the English countryside.  People may find that depressing, but I found it reassuring-- this symbiotic relationship the urban area shares with the rural. It doesn't always jive but when it does, sheer brilliance.

Low Point Day One
Bromley. Not because of the route. I just had a mental breakdown. I just finished a solo run on Bexley  (I actually did a mini audio recording on my run you can listen to here) where my husband met me because it was getting quite dark and I was running (pun quasi intended) very behind. I was tired. I was hungry but I wasn't eating. I shut down. I had a bit of a tantrum near the station. I refused to move anymore. Unbeknownst to myself, my husband was desperately trying to get me to the station as we would miss the last direct train back into Waterloo East. We walked along the platform to try to get as close to 5km as possible. I felt horrible. After taking my shoes off, giving them a bit of a massage with my trusty tennis ball (godsend) and being forced to eat food, I felt much better. The last borough of the night (Southwark) was tough but I was in familiar territory and who can feel poorly seeing St. Paul's and Tower Bridge?

Day Two (aka excited bat map)

I was a bit worried on Sunday morning. I ended day one not so well, and was feeling tentative about the whole thing. I had a full day ahead, having someone to run with me every step of the way. I also got more encouraging words from my logistics team. There was no turning back now!

High Point Day Two
I really enjoyed Hillingdon. We got out at West Drayton and took the canal up to Uxbridge. We were so close to the M25, which is the defacto 'boundary' of London, yet it could barely be heard on the towpath. It was also blissfully quiet, something one can barely experience anymore along the more eastern bits that form Regent's Canal (go to Kings Cross/Camden on any given Sunday for proof of this). And not just this-- almost every crossing had a pub nearby! I am not talking weird pop-up we serve drinks in sardine tin pubs, I mean like proper looking country pubs! Amazing what a few miles can do to change up the scenery!

Low Point Day Two
I am happy to report I really didn't have a low point on day two. Nothing nearly as bad as day one. Maybe it's because I was taking paracetamol and eating properly. Sure there were points my brain was asking to stop, but my feet just kept shuffling along! 

Wrap Up

It has been one crazy roller coaster over the past few days. I had some pretty amazing moments and a few not so amazing moments, but all I will remember as it's all part of the overarching story. Victory always tastes better when you have endured a defeat. Camaraderie always is better when you have felt the coldness of being all alone.

I of course could have not done those without my logistics crew. One of those individuals is Marijke, a Dutch woman I met on UKRunChat by chance when she was in London and became friends with. It was her who ultimately pushed me to choose this challenge over the London 100 cycle ride. She actually completed her own challenge earlier this year, going up the Alpe d'Huez three time in one day to raise money for cancer research. She flew over for the weekend to sit in a my London flat and stare at Twitter, and for that I am grateful.

I also have to thank my husband, who I am not sure I pressed into logistics service, but he took on the challenge with unabated enthusiasm. He was my voice of reasoning and reality check ("But Melissa, WHAT ABOUT BATHROOM BREAKS"). It was his methodical planning which ensured I had everything charged and ready to go. He also held my hand as I walked along the station platform in Bromley crying. Thank you very much Mr. Moose.

Of course I have to also thank everyone who supported me on social media, cheering me on with happy and encouraging tweets. When I had breaks I would check my Twitter feed myself, and it was very cheering to see people actually caring.

Also to my friends who had to put up with me talking about this for months leading up to it. Don't worry I have no major challenges planned yet, so you can all rest! Thank you for listening and being supportive.

I also need to thank everyone who donated to CrisisUK, whom I was raising funds for in this challenge. I know homelessness is a major issue everywhere, and I appreciate you all for helping to support those less fortunate. It was (and still is) amazing to see the amount go up and up!

And last but not least, to all my running volunteers. I could not have completed this without you. I know that for a fact. Some people I have known for years, others I met for the first time at station entrances. Either way you all greeted me with such warmth and enthusiasm, how could I not want to spend time talking with you all? Thank you thank you thank you.

I have a video talking about my wrap up of #RunTheBoroughs, you can watch it below. I do not know what the next challenge will be or when it will be, but I hope this has inspired you to get out there and discover what the world has to offer you! Sometimes you don't even need to stray far :)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Do Runners Dream Electric Podiums?

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London August 6 & 7, please go here! Interested in RUNNING a borough with me?  Check this outI am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here

This was meant to be an audio blog. I recorded it when I was running today. It was a masterpiece, certain to reach the echelons of audio blog greatness, standing shoulder to shoulder with the greats such as Tony Audenshaw.

Of course, this was not meant to be, as I accidentally deleted it when trying to edit out the bit at the end.


So here it is without the witty banter. What do I think about on those long runs to help the miles tick off?

  • Marshmallow World: One recurring theme I have is wondering what life would be like if we lived in a world of marshmallow. Would car accidents be a thing of the past? Would people be falling asleep everywhere? How firm are these marshmallows and what happens in the sun? Important questions. 
  • Counting to 50 and back: Sounds simple enough right? Well twenty or so miles in this thoughtless exercise becomes a bit trying, especially backwards. Shit... did I say 38 already? No idea. For added funsies I also do this in German and Spanish. I do this audibly, so others can learn as well (of course).
  • Dog Will Hunt: You know you always want what you can't have? Thats me and dogs. I love their carefree, joyful nature. I am also jealous of their seemingly boundless energy. I say hello to dogs typically before I acknowledge their human counterpart. If it's an English Bulldog... oh my I go a bit nuts. I always remember where I encounter a bulldog. I think thats a gift. 
  • Okie Dokie Doctor Jones: I am a bit of an Indiana Jones fanatic. I love the films (there have ONLY been THREE, don't tell me otherwise) and have them almost memorised. So what better way to while the hours recounting lovely lines from one of the best trilogies ever ("What happens at 11 o'clock?!"). Or I hum the theme tune... how can that NOT pump you up?
Do any of you have some weird things you think about to while away the hours on your runs? Or do you listen to podcasts/music and zone out?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

When I am Not Running...

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London August 6 & 7, please go here! Interested in RUNNING a borough with me?  Check this outI am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here

Although I feel like all I am doing is running, I take at least one day off a week so my body does not go on strike against me. I also do one day of cross training (Body Combat,Body Pump, or Spin) as I know it's good to mix things up.

I thought I would share my workout that I do to help with my running muscles. This is from Runner's World. I like it because it requires no extra equipment.

  1. Squat + Calf Raise
  2. Push Up + Plank Hold
  3. Lunge with Left Leg
  4. Lunge with Right Leg
  5. Plank
  6. Side plank (30 seconds each side)
  7. Single Leg T-Raise <- great for my hamstring so I do this one all the time
  8. Bridge (very hard not to think of the Eric Prydz 'Call on Me' video here)
  9. Jack Knife Crunches
  10. Fire Hydrants (30 seconds each side, hold for 2 seconds)
  11. Superman
  12. BONUS: Again for my hamstring I do "The Glider" (or L-3 on this video)
  13. GYM BONUS: For the hammy I use a stability ball and do this snazzy move. I never look this coordinated though, and am usually spending more time chasing the ball down.

Planks... on concrete. No thank you. Picture c/o RunnersWorld

I do these for 60 seconds each with a 15 second rest in between. I typically go through this twice (although I know it should be three), and typically some yoga as well.

There are so many routines out there specifically for runners, it's just finding the one that works for you and sticking with it. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How To Make it Fit

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London August 6 & 7, please go here! Interested in RUNNING a borough with me?  Check this outI am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here

The thing with long distance challenges is that you really should put some miles in (aka training) before the big day. This can be easier said than done. Why? Reality.

There are just some days you can't drag yourself out of bed at 0545 for a run. No problem, I will run during lunch. Well too bad work has other plans and you can barely scarf down your food let alone a workout session. Thats fine! I can run after work!  Nope not gonna happen, you have plans. Granted, you can cancel plans, but after a few times your friends will stop asking you and you also ultimately feel horrible bailing... again.

This doesn't even include weekends, the holy days of LSR. The issue is I try to do TWO LSR's in a weekend. When in a relationship, that makes things difficult. Spouses make plans you forgot about, or (again) YOU make plans YOU forget about. So it's up at 0545 (or earlier) to again squeeze a run in.

It all starts to wear you down.

Most days now I am in bed by 10:30. I can barely stay awake, my teenage ghost of myself is very disappointed and has locked herself in her room. I went out with friends the other weekend and I left before my pregnant friend. Not too much before I was assured, but still a bit sad on my part. At a party on Sunday I was talking to friends who were out till 4 in the morning. Sometimes I wake up about 30 minutes or so later to go run. I lament my lost evenings.

But at the pre-race seminars they had at the Shrewsbury half the other weekend, one of the speakers said it's important to remember your WHY. Why do you do whatever regime you are doing? When the going gets tough, you better have a good reason, else you will start to falter. A little wavering is normal, and yes sometimes rest is a very good thing (yay taper!). However, you need to always keep that passion burning else you will have a very hard time staying on the bandwagon.

So when your friends are going out for 'one more drink' or you think about hitting your snooze button 'one more time'- remember your WHY.

I am also thinking about how much sleep I am going to get when it's all over. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Getting Out There When You Don't Want To

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London in one weekend, please go here! I am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here

It was Wednesday evening and I was trying to psych myself up for the RunThrough Chase the Sun Race in Hyde Park. I do not know if it was just the tiredness of attending a conference and socialising or what. It was just one of those days I could not get motivated.

Happy Me: The weather is lovely! Not Happy Me: It's too hot.
Happy Me: You get a flapjack at the end! Not Happy Me: I don't deserve to eat a flapjack.
Happy Me: You hardly ever run in Hyde Park, what a treat! Not Happy Me: I hate loops.

This continued up until the start. I figured I should run the 5k at least and then run home, making it a normal 10k run day. The gun goes off and I start my plod.

About 1k in I am feeling better. I start to pick up my pace a bit. This is a short run so I may as well make the most of it. I was still feeling slow and meh.

1st loop done! Only one more loop! Whoo!

I notice I have a lurker behind me. You know, you start to notice the same footfall noise behind you for too long and realise you got someone 'following' you. Pacing along with you....

At 4k for some reason (I blame a duck) I slowed down, the footfall passes me in a blur of blue. A bloke! Amazing! I decide to give him a run for his money and I tried to shorten the distance between us. He beats me (barely) across the line. My name is called out-- finishing in just under 25 minutes. A 7:53 mile, which for me nowadays is quite speedy.

The man who paced to me turned around and said "You had a great pace for the last loop, I was just following you home... why did you slow down?!"

That gave me a glow inside, to know that even though I thought everything was going wrong on the run and I was not in a great mood, someone thought I was doing a great enough job that they got along for the ride. So those after-school specials are right, you never know who is looking up to you or following your lead, so it's best to just crack on.

"I blame the ducks", I said smiling.

Me in the light green right behind... 

Thank you runner man  #1570, you made my day.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

May Update

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London in one weekend, please go here! I am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here

I released my May Newsletter and you can find it online at Google Docs. I won't retype everything in there, but May was quite a month! I also wanted to provide some additional updates:


I am hoping to give a little token of my appreciation for people helping me on my challenge. I won't reveal it until I get them, but hopefully that will sweeten the pot and get people to take the plunge and run a 5k with me!

World Record? Guess Not!

So the Guinness Book of World Records got back to me and said my challenge was not going to be a qualifier to be placed in their hallowed record books. This kinda sucks and I may try to resubmit, but it's no big deal. 

Running Mojo

If you have been following me on Instagram or Twitter, you know I am on the South Coast at the moment. As much as I love London, it's wonderful to get out and explore new routes in new places. This morning was a bit grey, and it made a nice ambiance for a run around Christchurch Priory. However, as the day progressed, the clouds finally broke and I just -had- to get another run in along the coast.  How can you not go for a run when you have views like this? Thats the Isle of Wight in the distance. 


Friday, May 20, 2016

Steps are the Hills of London

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London in one weekend, please go here! I am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here

We encounter steps every day in our lives. I climb 5 flights every day heading into the office, mostly because our lifts are so darn slow. When trying to avoid a dreadmill session, I decided to try and find some steps to help recreate my hill session.

Luckily, Annie from Exerk did the hard work for me. She sought out a good portion of publically accessible stairs in London and posted for all to enjoy.

I did this workout in the morning, because, let's face it, More London during the day is rammed with people. I also added a tiny loop (a little less than half a kilometer) to help me shake out the steps after each set. At first I did just stepping up, then started to push off more with the balls of my feet to add an explosive mini launch. This was good as the steps were quite wide so a normal step required a quick shuffle closer, whereas the launch got me to the next step.

Do you incorporate steps/hills into your sessions? I know I have a few hills in my challenge, but I am hoping these trainings will prepare me for them as best as possible.

I made a video showing my session with some 'fun facts'. I also learned a fun fact about recording on a iPhone and importing into GoPro can lead to some funny angles that can't be fixed. Hence the jaunty angle for the first bit. I apologise.

I am really hoping to get in a 17 mile run this weekend-- we shall see how that goes! Until next time everyone, keep running and keep happy!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week Three: Back on Track (finally?!)

If you want to learn more about the challenge I am training for: Running a 5k in every borough in London in one weekend, please go here! I am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here. Interested to run a borough with me? Email me at moosenshoes[at]gmail[dot]com (slightly obfuscated to confuse the bots!)

Niggles are a weird thing. You incessantly worry about it and at the same time beat yourself up for not exercising enough. I got a lot.. and I mean a lot of TLC time with my foam roller. I spent more time with my foam roller than Mr. Moose. To be fair, I was so grumpy (or as Vassos Alexander calls it-- run-mpy), he probably did not want to spend time with me anyways.

I did learn the importance of positive thinking, even though I didn't feel quite positive most of the time. I was still keeping my steps count high and telling myself that a few days off will not set me back. In fact, when I developed my running schedule, I worked in a few weeks where I knew I would not be able to put in the miles I want. Maybe I was also thinking that it's good to have a few 'taper weeks'  to give the body a bit of a rest and let it recover before progression. I was quite tipsy on sake though, so I probably wasn't thinking about much of anything, but let's give myself the benefit of the doubt here.

Maybe a bit more important was the importance of cross training. I did a body pump session at my local Fitness First on Saturday morning, and it felt amazing. I was having quite a few 'muscle shakes' during it, which sucks at the time, but I know it results in a stronger body.

MOOSENSHOES TIP #1: Positive thinking will get you through the tough times. So does cake, but enjoy responsibly

Another class I probably NEVER would have done healthy but as I was looking for a low impact activity was 'acqua'. This class was done in the pool and was basically using the resistance of the water paired with dancing to burn calories. I felt a bit silly and was worried about being the youngest person there by a good 30 years. In actuality, it was about 10 of us of mixed age-- and the dance tracks were quite great! It was a mix of latin, swing, pop (Gangnam Style in the pool is hilarious), and dance.

MOOSENSHOES TIP #2: Cross Train. Try a spin class, hop in your local pool, do a body combat/body pump class. Mix it up and watch your body get fitter and stronger. 

Speaking of keeping my steps count up, Mr. Moose and I went to Whitstable to soak up some sun. It felt amazing walking along the beach promenade, watching all the dogs go crazy (pebbles! people! other dogs! birds! I AM LOSING MY SH*T!), and of course, having an ice cream. Even though I was silently wishing I had my running gear with me, I was also quite content sitting and watching the clouds go by.

MOOSENSHOES TIP #3: Sometimes what your body needs is to do nothing. Your body is an amazing machine, but all machines need to recharge at some point.   

I went for my first run yesterday with some hesitation-- was I ready? I was telling myself to take it slow and only go a 5k. After a proper good stretch I set off. Oh. My. It felt amazing. Even dodging tourists was enjoyable because I was running again! Hooray!

Dare I go farther? Oh I dared. 10km through my favourite city and I was in love with running all over again.

So here is hoping I am back solidly on the running wagon. I will still go to my physio appointment because I want to know why I got that niggle and how I can avoid it creeping up in the future.

Happy running/cross-training everyone!

Hard to hate a view like this...

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Week Two Recap: Niggles

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London in one weekend, please go here! I am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here. Interested to run a borough with me? Email me at moosenshoes[at]gmail[dot]com (slightly obfuscated to confuse the bots!)

Well week two was pretty good, although not so much weather wise! My stats look pretty good for distance and pace, although I do wish I went a bit faster pace wise. I am still under my 10 minute mile limit but I know it will get harder in my challenge was the distance racks up. May need to sneak in a speed/temp session into my weekly run.

Day Value (mi)
Mon 6.06
Wed 6.21
Fri 6.22
Sat 10.9
Sun 8
Total Distance 37.39
Date Column1 Pace
18/04/2016 8:41 min/mi
20/04/2016 8:55 min/mi
22/04/2016 9:45 min/mi
23/04/2016 9:47 min/mi
23/04/2016 9:52 min/mi
24/04/2016 9:26 min/mi

I also tried to do a GoodGym mission on Saturday, which unfortunately fell through, but still meet a lovely group of people and had a chat over a coffee. If you have never heard of GoodGym, highly recommend you look them up. They are all over the UK and basically combine volunteer work with exercise. Amazing concept! 

However, at the end of week two I got a niggle. This is always a dread in the running world, because you never know if it is something that will go away with a rest day or two or if it is the sign of something bigger. 

So after my yoga/stretch session on Monday I hit my hill training with a bit of trepidation.  The niggle was still there... disconcerting. I felt it behind my knee, and let me tell you, the foam roller got some usage that night! 

I am deciding to let it rest for a couple of days before I continue, skipping a 10k in the process. I feel it's important to realise missing one or two training days is OK if you really feel it would improve your health overall. That being said, it's also important to know when you need to seek professional help, so if it comes back I will be calling a physio. I do not want to have to pull out so early on in training, but at least I can fix it now where I have more maneuverability, rather than a week or two before the big day.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Domain up and running :D

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London in one weekend, please go here! I am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here

Quick update I now have some officialness! I purchased the domain moosenshoes[dot]co[dot]uk so feel free to bookmark it to keep up with my training. I also now have an email moosenshoes{at}gmail.com.

If you are interested in running one of the 5k's with me, just shoot me an email. If you have already expressed an interested-- no worries I will be contacting you shortly :)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week One Training: Running the Boroughs

If you want to learn more about my challenge: Running a 5k in every borough in London in one weekend, please go here! I am running for CrisisUK, and you can donate to the cause here

I came back from Japan on Monday and definitely wanted a snooze. However, I read the book "Don't Stop Me Now" by Vassos Alexander on my travels, and he swears by running to break the jetlag. Seeing as how I needed to start running, figured I would give it a try.

Classic View 
The weather did not look like it was going to cooperate, it was raining the entire way home (yay England!) but the running gods smiled on me and the rain stopped long enough for me to get out into the Big Smoke for a run.

I am happy to report that running did the trick! Not only did I feel very refreshed and broke the jetlag (or at least wounded it greatly) I got to soak in some killer views-one of the reasons why London is so brilliant.

Beauty & the Beigel 
I also got to do my Beigel Run on Friday, a 10k off which takes off every Friday morning from Beigel Bake on Brick Lane. This is the with group Advent Runners, a wonderfully fun running group who also does track sessions and long runs during the week. You gotta wake up quite early with a start time of 7am, but to be able to bite into a lovely, chewy, beigel after a run is such a great feeling.

I only had to do one run this weekend, which was good as I went to Brighton on Sunday to support my friend running her first marathon. It was fun to be on the other side of the coin-- cheering runners on rathers than being the runner. I hope people understood my sign of 'Worse Parade Ever' was a joke! The weather was gorgeous too-- and it really made me want to lace up my trainers as well. I was enviously looking at the trails I could see from the train, but managed to convince myself that rest days are just as important as workout days and made a note of the location (Three Bridges) for later on in training.

I didn't run as far as I was hoping to and I blame the treadmill. I did a hill session on Tuesday which really did a number on me, and I just couldn't put in the extra miles afterwards. Does that mean it was a good session? The weather was brutal on Thursday and I was running low on time so it was back on the dreadmill to squeeze in a 5k rather than the 10k I had planned along the canal.

Running Distance for Week One

Thanks to those sessions I told myself I will ALWAYS go running outside unless really forced otherwise. Also, I need to get accustomed to running in all sorts of weather.

Best of luck to everyone running the London Marathon-- insanely jealous of you and I will be out there to cheer you on!