Done a Runner

Champagne & Buns

Suzan and Carol the two founder members of the Surrey Housewives Set (SHS) have been relentlessly running the Bushy Park 5k time trial over the last 2.5 years and this Saturday they finally reached the 100 runs milestone.

500 kilometres ticked off (each) by the grim determination to get out of bed at the crack of dawn almost every Saturday. Pushing themselves through just about the worst running distance ever invented.

I think I’ve been equally relentless in my avoidance of these painful little runs recently but I dragged the non-runner out of bed this Saturday so we could celebrate the grand achievement from the side lines.

I don’t think I’ve won over a convert to the cause, the whole event was rather a strange spectacle, 450 runners turning up at 8:55 to run around the park and then shoot off again after about 30 minutes of painful sweating. You really could be forgiven for wondering why anyone would do it, from our vantage point at the 4k mark, no one appeared to be enjoying themselves and there were quite a few concerning retching noises from within the pack.

Of course runners, know why they do it and even though I was glad I didn’t pack my running shoes, part of me hankered after that smug post run satisfaction and now I’m half tempted to set the alarm early for the occasional Saturday to come.

After a quick congratulatory pat on the back I felt the swarm of the sweaty crowd and shot off out of the car park.

When the photos came out I wasn’t all that popular with the NR who discovered she’d been dragged from her sleep to attend the strange event and then yanked away just as the champagne and buns made an appearance.

While Not Running

RunSaturday Facebook

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t run an awful lot of late, in fact if you want to be reasonably precise, I have run only once in the last month, which also happens to equate to once this year. How neat.

If we want to be 100% precise it could be argued that I’ve run a few more times than I’ve let on, for example, I may have attempted the occassional dash to the bus away from work and I sprinted to the train station last night after my blood doning session but all in all the consequences were ugly and should remain hidden from public conciousness.

I feel like I’m taking confession and will have to start with the hail Mary’s soon but in my defence, I do have some excuses.

For one thing, as the last two months of my fairly sparse blog writing will attest, I am far too happy for running. Running appeals to the miserable side of me, it’s the perfect alternative to a pack of Benson and Hedges and bottle of JD. Mind you it also appeals to the exceptionally jolly side of me as well, so maybe that’s not such a good excuse after all.

Secondly, and this one has to be foolproof, I’m working on a ridiculous placement that means I have to travel between 4 and 5 hours every day.
Not a chance that I feel like running after all that nonsense.

Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have secured myself a proper job, midway between happiness and home and I forsee many exciting new routes ahead of me, incorporating the best of London’s seedy commons and the highly rated Wandle trail. Expect updates of the running variety in March.

In the mean time, what better way to spend one’s non-running time, than by analysing data from runs gone by?

RunSaturday is new website stacked full of new and intriguing ways to analyse data held across multiple sites and generated by multiple gadgets. I’ve been able to bring together runs from my Garmin Forerunner 405, Nike+, Nokia Sportstracker along with all my historical runs stored on SportsTracks. I can also bring in runs manually entered onto Fetcheveryone and analyse my stats from the Saturday morning 5k park runs.

All this makes RunSaturday the most comprehensive database of my running shame prowess, which is quite a lot of fun because the site provides loads of ways to share the data across social websites such as facebook and personal blogs.

Here’s a particularly ancient route showing the mammoth run/walk I did along the Capital Ring. If you click on the heart symbol you’ll see a colour coded route indicating the specific heart rate zones during the run. You can see similar images for speed but as I’m a one speed wonder you’ll have to upload your own interval workouts to see rainbows in this feature.

There seem to be loads of new features coming along, so I’d recommend checking it out for yourself. I’ll add more images from the site just as soon I manage another run but don’t hold your breath til March.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

Chrimble BPTT

Today was the annual showing of the Christmas Bushy Park Time Trial and I’ve been looking forward to this particular event for about 340 days, since my first introduction to the wonder of the time trial phenomonen back in February. It would have been easy to stay in bed this morning, it was dark and gloomy and of course presents awaited. Still, you can’t really resist that level of anticipation.

As I cycled through Richmond Park in the light drizzle, I puzzled a little over the knowing looks I received from the exhausted reindeer. They obviously knew what was in store for me – that’ll teach me not to leave any carrots out on Christmas Eve. When I mentioned yesterday that a downpour was required to wrap up a thorough test of the Salomon pack, it really wasn’t meant as a Dear Santa letter. I could have waited.

The rain held off for most of the run and I was able to “enjoy” the 5k amongst good company. I was adopted at the midway point by a first-timer and her motivational cousin and was able to experience a vicarious boost that carried me over the finish line relatively unscathed.

I even remembered the new phone this morning so I got to try out the Sports Tracker Beta application. It required a little bit of juggling to switch on both the garmin and the N82 without dropping the phone into the path of a couple of hundred runners but then it is a bit overkill to use two different devices. Sports Tracker has been around for a while and I remember Jogblog took it for a whirl a while ago, but the new version is quite impressive. The phone application links flawlessly to the website offering a live update of your progress, with your route appearing online as you run. Pretty nifty stuff.

sportstracker The website is particularly attractive and displays some respectable charts. You can view the page for the BPTT workout to get an idea of the detail available.

I can imagine this service being quite addictive and the stats will only get better as you add more workouts. I’m going to be using this again and have already downloaded the application to my N95, I’ll be interested to try it out on my next commute where I tend to have more trouble picking up a GPS signal. I’ll have the two phones going head to head against the garmin to see how reliable the reception is.

So, back to this morning, did I mention that it was raining? I finished up at the time trial and set off on the bike for 7 mile ride home. I was dreaming of roast potatoes and yorkshire puds when the sky starting lobbing buckets of gritty, grimey rain water at me. When I finally got home I was just staggered by the amount of water I’d managed to absorb and peeled the Salomon Raid Revo off directly over the bath expecting at least half a bucket of gulley water to come rushing out of the mini plug holes. As it happens the inside of the pack was still dry which is quite impressive given that no other part of me remained “dry” even my goretex jacket had failed under the onslaught.

Salomon Raid Revo 20

Just made it back from todays running commute, it felt like a tough one but it was improved by the queues of festive travellers, I get a buzz from overtaking cars.

We were released from work a couple of hours early so I got to run on the scenic side of the river and cross the bridge all before it got dark and spooky. Of course today I was due to take my trial package on a test run, the package is the Nokia N82 Limited Edition Adventure pack which contains the phone, bundled with the Nokia Sports Tracker beta and the Salomon Raid Revo 20. A great set for the runner but not the forgetful runner – I now have two phones on the go and managed to forget both of them! I did remember the Salomon pack though.

Salomon Raid Revo 20

This is a super lightweight package but unfolds to handy size. I got my trousers, shirt, coat and assorted “stuff” inside the pack with quite a bit spare and no need to use the compression webbing for attaching my undies. Good job the extra space wasn’t required as I somehow managed to break the webbing attachment within minutes of removing it from the box, it sort of unwound into a bundle of fluff right before my eyes.

The pack is made of very thin material and I’m not sure how it would stand up to rain, the pack has a couple of plug holes at the bottom for water to drain away, which makes me think it isn’t going to make much of an effort to keep the rain out. The zips look pretty snazzy though, they appear to seal up as you close them so maybe it is more water resistant than I think. Will update next time I get caught in a downpour.

It’s a pretty snug fit on the back, it drapes over your shoulders like a soft cuddly bear (yuk) and the chest and waist strap holds it secure. The chest strap is a great design as it slips up and down the pack to ensure a damn near perfect fit. All in all though I think the fit is just a bit to snug, the pack sits flat against your spine. By the end of the run my back was feeling hot and sticky and this is on a bleak mid winter day, run with this in the middle of summer and I think you’ll pass out before 10 k is up. In contrast my Asics Barrios has a layer of bumps that hold the pack well off your back and is relatively cool to wear.

So the pack is a good size, has really neat waist band pockets big enough to hold phone, keys and iPod securely but its held too close to your back, meaning that the padding will absorb loads of sweat and is bound to stink within a few months. I hope the Inov 8 proves to be a better solution, when it finally turns up.

*UPDATE* I got my wish for a downpour, and I have to say that the backpack held up very well. Check out the details here.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

RPTT Update for 8th Dec 07

Here’s a quick post for completeness.

I may still be slacking on the posting front but I am at least back out there and running! I think this week marks the first time since the Great North Run that I have actually persuaded myself to go out of the door on a non-event related excuse. Yes, that means an actual training run, how novel.

Hyde Park route

I was away at a conference for most of last week, living it up in a central London hotel (ludicrous I know but then I wasn’t paying) and arranged to meet a colleague at 7am for a quick blast around Hyde Park. After much liquid networking the day/night before I wasn’t really on top form at the crack of dawn. I had been waking up every hour on the hour just to knock back a bottle of water but still had to de-fuzz my tongue when the alarm went off.

It was raining thankfully and I was able to run along with my mouth open and slowly rehydrate. I think we went a bit over 5k, I did have the garmin on but we got lost in the subway system at Marble Arch for quite some time and the GPS had long since given up the ghost by the time we resurfaced.

After that, me and my new found running legs made our way to the start of RPTT on Saturday morning. The Richmond Park Time Trial is quite different to the Bushy Park version, at BPTT you have runners mingling, stretching, jumping and generally warming up from about 8:30 onwards. At RPTT I’m always left wondering if they’ve switched the start line without telling me. With 5 mins to go the place is deserted until all of a sudden a bunch of lanky runners start swarming in from all directions.

Soaking RPTT Volunteers

I started at the rear (with the sweeper for company) and finished at the rear, recording my slowest time for the event so far – a clear sign that all that exam time slothfulness is still hanging around my hips, not for much longer though – I feel a flab assault brewing.

Most of the runners managed to finish up and clear off before the worst of the rain hit but I came round the final straight in a slow enough time to ensure that all the volunteers got a good soaking, that includes the first placed runner cum event photographer, Nigel Rothwell.

Just in case I wasn’t wet enough my bike decided to present me with a flat tyre so I had to walk home in the downpour.

Super fun.

Hypochondria and GNR Week 4/10

Here’s a quick update on the GNR training status. Quite a low mileage week but at least the runs were taken at race pace. Race reports to follow.

A scary article in Running Fitness suggests I should be up to 45 miles per week in my build up to a half – holy moley! I’ve no intention of racking up those miles too quickly though, I’ve been plagued with assorted right leg ITB niggles and right knee pain since I started and lately right ankle dodginess and if I’m going to get carried away with my hypochondria there’s a slight DVT type pain in my right calf! Need to keep these in check so I don’t have to bail before the big day.

Mon: nowt
Tue: 42 km bike
Wed: 8 km run
Thur: 42 km bike
Fri: 42 km bike
Sat: 27 km bike & 5 km race (BPTT)
Sun: 10 km race (SheRunsHeRuns)

BPTT Update For 11th August

ogb-bptt-11-aug-07.jpg

Before I start, I have to get something off my chest – why on earth would someone choose to enter the search string “grotty old women” and double why on earth would google decide to direct them to my site?

No grotty old women to see here – walk away from the computer, freaky google searcher!

ogb-bptt-11-aug-07.jpg

So back to today…. The GNR press gang otherwise known as OGB joined me for his first attempt at the running treasure that is BPTT. He’s an east end boy so took some persuading to venture so far west, the sort of persuading that omitted all discussion of the 9 mile cycle ride to the start and focussed instead on the smashing quality of the pubs in the Mortlake vicinity. He was won over but started moaning quite a bit when I woke him up bright and early and handed him my spare bike.

East end boy is a bit of a bike virgin. Twas an interesting ride, made more thrilling by the strange choice to leave his glasses at home. Having rendered himself virtually blind, OGB performed some hair raising junction maneovres that even the red arrows would be impressed by.

On the start line he does his usual trick of leaving me to fight my way through the sand storm he kicks up in his wake. I didn’t see him again til the end where I found him slumped against a tree in an exhausted and beetroot state. Good run then, 25:26.

I think I enjoyed my run, I had some company at the back of the pack so tried to stick in with a crowd. I was managing til the half way point when they either picked up the pace or I dropped off. In the final straight I tried out the technique of a Bushy Park pro – Suzan who kindly pointed out the evenly spaced trees were ideal fartlek markers. Two tree gaps semi-sprint followed by two tree gaps of my usual sluggish crawl. Nearly killed me by the midpoint but I finally fell over the line in 34:58.

OGB will get his own back tomorrow as I head across to the barren wasteland of East London to join him in a local race. We’ve signed up for the SheRunsHeRuns 10k held in a shopping precinct of the M25 – grief! I give him the beautiful landscape of Richmond and Bushy Parks, dotted with ducks, deer, parakeets and views of St Pauls Cathedral, he gives me a motorway, diesel fumes and a carpark!

And we have to be there at 7am.

A Twitching Post

I headed back to Richmond Park this evening for a quick(ish) run around the park with the novelty of daylight in my favour.

Heron

It felt pretty tough and my accompanying bike buddy was moaning rather a lot about the distance so I cut the route short by heading up a unfamiliar track near Ham gate. Ended up spotting some great tracks for future runs and I managed to sneak up on a rather fetching Heron in one of the many ponds.

Total distance was 8km. Doesn’t look like I will get a proper long run in this week as I am booked in for BPTT on Saturday and the crack of dawn 10k showdown in the shopping precinct (Bluewater) on Sunday. This means a brand new t-shirt is expected for my page any day now – its been hyped big time so I’m pretty hopeful for a page topping star.

The Road to GNR Week 2/10

Breastsrokes Serpentine 2007

My GNR training plan includes the dreaded interval session which is gradually turning ino the dreaded and therefore avoided interval session. I was hoping that a regularish visit to BPTT would suffice as my speed training component but that does rather require me to get there. This Saturday was missed as I was volunteering at a bizarre little charity event – Breaststrokes. I was by the Serpentine in Hyde Park by 5.30 am directing swimmers in to the path of rather bemused swans.

Thankfully the long run component of the schedule is working pretty well. Today I did my first circumnavigation of Richmond Park. Shakti cycled alongside me after I discovered a system for restraining her speed – I ran with my hand hooked in the cycle lock around her waist. Quite a relaxing system and she carried my water bottle for me.

Chuffed to bits with the distance but it was pitifully slow. At this rate its going to take me more than 3 hours to finish the half, quite a bit more than 3 hours actually. I clearly need to make room those dreaded intervals.

Weekly summary:

Mon: 42 km bike
Tue: 11.55 km run
Wed: 42 km bike
Thur: 42 km bike
Fri: zilch, zippo, nada (seems to be the Friday theme)
Sat: 20 km bike
Sun: 12.17 km run & 5 km walk

The Road to GNR – Week 1/10

07072007034

Something bad happened this week.

I got rather too drunk (it was my birthday) and OGB took the advantage to turn the tables and bully me into a running event. I don’t know what came over him, that’s supposed to be my job. I wake up on Tuesday with a hangover fitting my extended age and a charity entry into the Great North run – thats a half marathon! Way out of my league.

It seems he’s been getting a bit stressed about all the running commutes I’ve been writing about and taken himself off to the gym to run a punishing 10 miles on the treadmill. Now he can take on the world he wants to rub my nose in it. Shame he didn’t read my posts to the end where he would have discovered that most of my recent commutes have been pitiful 5 k events with a bus ride at the half way point. He’s going to finish me off.

Bear has come to the rescue with an emergency 10 week half-marathon training plan and he wasn’t keen to let me off easily this week just because it was a short one. Here’s my limp lettuce training for week 1/10 on the road to GNR.

Mon: 5.3 km run
Tue: Drinkathon – does that count?
Wed: 20 km bike
Thur: 42 km bike
Fri: zilch, zippo, nada
Sat: 5 km BPTT (I’m back!)
Sun: 9.3 km run & 6.6 km walk