Sophisticated Ladies Run for Bolly

Back in 2007, at my first Bushy Park Run I was introduced to two women who exposed me to the joys of sophisticated running. I’ve never been a stranger to the pleasure of a post run Stella but these two raised the bar with their post run champagne and canapes.

Surrey Housewives run for Bolly

When you get invited to a Surrey Housewife (SHS) event, I strongly recommend you make an effort to attend – even if it involves a disturbingly early start and a gruelling run.

SHS 250Today’s event was the Bushy parkrun. A quick scan through my running logs reveals that I have attended the sum total of 19 parkruns over the last 6 years.

Today’s event was not about my 19th run but Suzan and Carol’s 250th parkrun.

Thats 250 5k’s each and 250 missed lie ins.

An amazing 1006 other runners joined them for the run and were rewarded at the end with a celebratory glass of fizz and a cream bun. I was a teeny bit slow for the cream bun stall but I’ll settle for champagne any day.

Congratulations Carol and Suzan – and don’t think I didn’t notice the pre-race cocktail, I reckon I could be persuaded to add that to my usual run routine.

Done a Runner

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.

Study Avoidance Run

OGB and Pint

After any major event, of Great North proportions, me and OGB have a tendency to gather around a pint and discuss our potential prowess for next year.

So this year, as with last year incidentally, we planned to maintain our new found half marathon fitness by running at least 10 miles every week, thereby avoiding that tiresome fitness building phase before the next one. I also remember him suggesting we lose some weight, and while he couldn’t lose a stone without panicking his mother, I could easily afford to shed 5 of em, nevertheless I just nodded at him and ordered the next couple of pints.

Two weeks on from the beery bravado, I haven’t heard any hint of OGB sticking to the long distance running plan, he has however sent me begging requests to run another half in a foreign land. And he calls me expensive!

Although I’d planned a day of sheer indulgence, pouring over one of my accountancy text books, I was eventually shamed into heading out for my promised 10-miler. In fairness, I had also run out of other study avoidance techniques, there were literally no more clothes left to wash and iron and there really is a limit to the number of times you can scrub a bathroom sink.

I received a bit of stick from SHS1 in my last post, regarding my choice of running playlists. I think she may have hit the nail on the head really.

In retrospect, I feel some what betrayed by my body and the internal slob for last weeks failure to complete. Despite allowing both of them to convince me that I was facing imminent internal melt down, the predicted muscle damage failed to rear it’s head last week at all. I didn’t wince even slightly as I bounded down the stairs the next morning. That strikes me as a major cop out and I feel like the pair of them (body and slob) ganged up on me in a fairly outrageous fashion. Had they had a little private conflab, then come back to me with the view that the legs couldn’t be arsed to carry me any further and the slob was no longer having fun and just wanted to go home and play with the new computer, then I think I would have been quite reasonable about it.

In the absence of anyone else to blame then I have no alternative but to pick on the playlist. I started the Royal Parks Half with some fairly upbeat tunes but despite sticking somewhere near 60 songs on my list, they had run out by 10 miles. Then I had to scavenge through my iPod in desperation. There were no unplayed episodes of the Archers so I had to head to the audiobook section and the only unheard remnant in there was “Pontoon” by Garrison Keillor. I rest my case. That guy can induce a coma within 3 minutes, it’s a miracle I managed to push another mile out of those mutinous legs.

So today I refreshed my running inspiration and trogged up to Richmond Bridge and back.

    Hip’s Don’t Lie – Shakira
    Pon De replay – Rihanna
    Jesus, Take the Wheel – Carrie Underwood
    Jump – Madonna
    Push the Button – Sugababes
    Never Give Up – Melissa Ferrick
    Ready to Run – Dixie Chicks
    I Run For life – Melissa Etheridge
    I’m not Dead – Pink
    Run – Amy MacDonald
    Breathe – Melissa Etheridge
    Runaway – Pink
    Get This Party Started – Pink

Of course 13 songs didn’t keep me going for 10 miles – I had to listen to that lot at least 4 times, so if I try that for another long run I’ll probably be chucking my iPod in the Thames.

Surrey Housewives organise the British London 5k

Where's Dan?

This time last year I came face to face with the world renowned shambles that is the British London 10k.

Fortunately, this time round I was invited to join the Surrey Housewives Set in their annual attempt to show Michael O’Reilly how mass participation events should be organised.

SHS Baggage Drop

Under the auspices of SHS1 the humongous portaloo/baggage drop nightmare of last year was replaced by a rather well equipped room in the Royal Horseguards Hotel no less.

Here we were able to leave our bags and eye up the breakfast that we would devour as soon as we’d got the running thing out of the way. The bathrooms were worth admiring as well, in contrast to the usual race day alternative they were delightfully perfumed and had neat little piles of personal face towels.

Outside, chaos reigned supreme as the afore mentioned Michael O’Reilly forgot to organise the promised baggage buses and the hoi polloi wandered round looking for someone who knew what they were doing.

Race Starter

Luckily SHS1 stepped into the breach and established a start line and pronounced that the race would start in 5 mins, ready or not!

Of course Michael was not ready and so many runners had to set off with their backpacks and handbags slung over their shoulders – they should have joined the Surrey Housewives.

It amazes me that good ole Mikey can arrange for a Spitfire to be plonked in front of the Houses of Parliament each year and for the Dad’s Army band to come and play “There’ll always be an England” but he can’t sort out a functioning baggage drop.


As for the run, it was hot, sweaty, painful but also strangely uplifting – who can fail to attempt a little sprint finish when Chariots of Fire blares out at the end? If pressed on actual numbers I will just admit to having achieved a personal worst but on all other fronts this race has been pushed well into the ranks of personal bests.

Queen's Cavalry

At the end, we were congratulated by the Queen’s Cavalry before being ushered back to the hotel for a continental breakfast with champagne. Quality organising and my only complaint is that now every other race is going feel ever so slightly down market.

Racing with the Surrey Housewives – Loseley 10k

This post should be subtitled “Portaloo Anxiety”, if only to warn you that what follows will be somewhat focussed on bodily functions. However thats giving the game away before I’ve even started, so lets crack on.

Loseley Park 2007

Todays race involved me gate crashing the elite Surrey Housewives Set (SHS) for a trog around the muddy woods of Hawley Lake.

At some ridiculous hour in the morning, visibility was down to 10 yards or so, a little worrying for a back of the packer who has a tendency to lose sight of the back of the pack very quickly. Still, I had chance to build up the anxiety a little as I needed to pay a visit to the little ladies room.

When I first turned up the portaloos were empty but I thought I’d put it off as long as possible. Not sure what I was waiting for, did I really expect someone to pass by and spruce the cabin up, deodorising and leaving a selection of Moulton Brown toiletries? Nope, as any seasoned event attender knows all too well, these places only get worse the longer you leave them – much worse. I blame SHS member no 3 (names withheld to protect the innocent) who horrified me when she returned from her foray into the cabin, completely smeared in some strange slime.

In the end I decided to start the race with a full bladder, hoping that my body would just learn to reabsorb. I also thought it might make me run a bit faster, it always seems to work when I’m on my bike. I break all my records cycling home from the pub as the quicker I go the sooner I get to use the loo. For the record, it doesn’t translate so well for running, especially not hilly, uneven, cross country running – the first downhill section reminded me of the importance of pelvic floor exercises!

I do apologise for the banality of this post but I did warn you, I was preoccupied. My playlist selection for this event was last sundays omnibus edition of the Archers. Perfectly timed to last my predicted 1:13:00 time and the ideal accompaniment to keep my mind off more pressing matters. Well it would have been if I hadn’t somehow managed to load up an edition that I had already listened to. I like the Archers but I cannot listen to Eddy snogging his girlfriend for a second time in a week and they had the cows mooing so loud in the recording that I kept having to make sure I wasn’t about to be attacked from the undergrowth.

So I was left with my thoughts which oscillated between, “I need the loo”, “That’s a pretty mushroom, do you think I could just stop and pick it?”, “Christ I’m gonna wet myself!”, “Check out that flippin puddle – am I supposed to swim?”, “How come I’m always behind the walkers?” and “ooooh I NEED the loo!”.

You get the picture. It was lovely though. The marshalls were very pleasant and I got a great cheer from the SHS crew as I reached my final sprint for the portaloo.

Loseley Park 10k

Special mention goes to Suzan (SHS member no 1) who stormed home, breaking the 60 min barrier with 1 1/2 mins to spare! I think members 2 and 3 are still trying to fathom out their precise time (give or take 5 mins) as they were relying on a rather interesting timepiece, one lacking a second hand and minute markers.

Race t-shirt here.