Adverse Camber

I started this blog to get me through the London Marathon 2011. It was quite a challenge as I only started running on the 3rd of May 2010. I finished the marathon with painful blisters and quite a lot of money for a great charity!

This blog is now taking me on a new journey - to a fitter lifestyle aided by running.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Still running

I feel a little bad.  I've neglected this blog for a long time now.  I suppose it always creeps into my mind at this time of year, as this week is the build up to the London Marathon.  Four years ago my friend Su and I were two of the starters at the VLM.  We started at the back with all the guys in the funny costumes.  

Su and I don't see each other very much any more - but we do what many busy people living in different parts of the country do and Facebook each other once in a while.  Despite our lack of regular contact Su is actually a very important person in  my life.  You see - she changed my life.

Back in 2010 I met up with her and we had a coffee in the little basement Starbucks off Covent Garden.  We got talking about the VLM and found we shared a dream to do it one day.  Then she made me shake on it.  Those of you who know Su will know she's a bit like a terrier - strong and tenacious.  Once you've shaken on something with Su that's it - you've as good as signed in blood and promised your first born if you fail to follow through.

Su didn't let me forget and when we didn't get a ballot place she began looking at charity places.  She pushed me to run although I had never run before in my adult life (does cross country in PE as an eleven year old even count?).  We signed up to run a 5k together and were supported by my friend Vikki who had turned her fitness around and become a super-fit running inspiration to me (and still is).

Su and Vikki believed in me when I didn't.  I had reasons not to believe in myself.  I was a stressed, busy teacher with little 'free' time and I was carrying five stone of additional weight.  Running was new to me and my speed and distance were less than impressive.  And yet Su kept encouraging and Vikki kept inspiring.

Four years ago, this fat and unfit would-be runner completed the VLM and, in all, I raised just short of £3k for my charity.

Since that day I go out running when I want and can (not as often as I would like with a one year old), keep fit with Ms Jillian Michaels and am four and a bit stones lighter.  This wouldn't have happened without the marathon.  It's safe to say that Su changed my life.  How can you thank someone for that?

When people ask if they can run a marathon I tell them they can, because I know it is possible.  Someone told me it was.  And so it came to be.

I may not be fast and I may not run often, but Goddammit - I'm a runner!

Now get your running shoes on and get out that door.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Running Makes You Stupid

Today was the Bupa London 10k and it was HOT!
The Mall looks amazing for the Jubilee weekend in a week's time, huge union flags from the crown-topped lamp posts and seating and scaffolding up for the special events.  I can't show you any photos as I left my iPhone at work on Friday and have been living with out it since. This also means I have been living without an alarm clock, sat nav and countless other applications I have taken forgranted.
It was hot early on, as I knew it would be as I volunteered at Park Run yesterday morning and it was hot by half eight.  I kept sipping water to try and prepare for the hot race.
I don't have many great top tips, but one I stand by is - when you get to an event go straight to the toilets whether you need to or not, later the queues will be immense and even if you do need to go again, you shouldn't be quite so desperate!
I was in the very last wave (again) so completely missed seeing Mo Farrah or any of the other elite runners. This did mean I had a chance to do lots of overtaking though which is always good for the morale.
Now - on to the stupidity of the title.  On my walk to the train station this morning I was rapidly calculating different mph and what time this would bring me in at.  I knew I wanted to try for a PB despite the heat and was formulating what would give me a five minute PB and what would give me just a few minutes PB in case the heat really got to me.  Now, as I went round I had to recalculate these as I slowed down due to the heat - do you think I could do the simplest arithmatic?  My brain was pure fudge and simple multiplication became impossible.  All my energy was in my legs and in trying to cool myself down - there was nothing left for the poor old brain.  So it's official - running makes you stupid (at least whilst you're doing it anyway).
And my PB? A respectable four and a half minutes thank you very much - no thanks to the mind fudge that forgot at 8km my Garmin measures in miles and the route was in kms!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Great South Run Sunday

Well, we did it!
It was a foggy and drizzly day in the south, perfect for staying cool on a long run.
My brother and I stayed at our parents' outside Portsmouth the night before and it was decided to get the park and ride as advertised in the paper and the radio. We parked up and waited. And waited. And waited. There was soon a small group of us and eventually I went on line on my phone and saw that it was pre booked through a travel company only. We set off again by car, the other people deciding to wait 'because it said there was a park and ride in the paper'. They're probably still there.
It took a while to get to Southsea, we then had a half hour walk from the car park to the start.
Dek dashed off with the white wave and I hung at the very back of the green wave - I was one of the very last people to cross the start line.
It was a very nice flat course and the people of Portsmouth were on the streets cheering us on.
It was damp with all the drizzle and the last two miles along the seafront were a little blustery.
In the last mile I got chatting to a runner called Jacqueline and we tried to stay ahead of Peppa Pig - the costumed cartoon character proved too speedy though and took off with 300yards to go, then Batman and Robin decided they weren't going to be beaten by a pig so raced to beat Peppa to the finish. They beat her and when they were safely out of my finishing photo range I sprinted over the line and then turned to cheer Jacqueline.
I found my parents easily but my brother who finished forty minutes earlier was no where to be seen - I eventually spotted him hanging out by the bins.
It was a lovely, friendly race - although it does not seem worth the £40 entrance fee compared to other races. Despite that I'm sure I'll run again next year and try to beat my time of 2 hours 23 minutes.
Next years race is already open for entries.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Great South Run

The GSR is ten miles. This no longer seems like any kind of distance to me as I did so many ten miles and over runs when training for the VLM. However, I can't remember when I last did ten miles! I've done a few eights recently, but got too bored to carry on further.
Lots of people I know from various running communities are also running so it will be good to see them - it will also be good to see my brother wearing the stupid handlebar moustache he said he would fashion if his sponsorship hit £300; needless to say as a devoted sister I did all I could to make sure this happened :) . I'll take some photos Sunday and share them with you!
Wish me luck and see you Sunday!

Sunday, 9 October 2011


I was quite sad last week as I found out I had been rejected from the VLM ballot - it was only with that rejection I realised how much I wanted to be part of it again.  Of all the people I know who entered the ballot none of them got in.  In fact all the people I have met who ran the VLM got in on a charity place.  These golden bonds are great but it adds a whole new layer of pressure trying to fundraise a couple of grand as you also train most of your life away.  I would never be able to take a charity place again, people were so generous this year I just couldn't ask again.

Yesterday was slow, long run day as I'm building up for the GSR at the end of the month and it was cold!  The past few weekends were lovely with our late Indian Summer, but this week all of that changed.  I missed the rain but it was still cold and took me hours to warm up once I got in - and it's not even winter yet.  It was then I saw the plus side to not getting a VLM place - I wouldn't have to train in the winter and freeze!

Sunday, 4 September 2011


This Saturday morning I left my running shoes at home and dressed for warmth.  I wasn't running this time - I was doing my first stint as a volunteer at my local parkrun.

Parkrun is free and entirely organised by volunteers.  All you have to do is register on line and then you can turn up to any parkrun on Saturday morning at 9am (9.30am in Scotland) and run a 5k against the clock.  There are t-shirts to be won at your 50th and 100th run and some people are trying to do as many different parkruns as possible.

It was only the second week of the Oakhill Park parkrun so volunteers were thin on the ground, it was the three people who set it up and me.  In the first week there were 44 runners (you may remember I came in at number 44), in the second week there were 20 runners and 19 finishers (a nine year old girl running with her family decided one lap was enough thank you very much).  Part of me wished I had run the second one - I would have been guaranteed a top 20 finish!

My job was to scan barcodes at the finish.  As the runners came through the funnel they were timed by one volunteer, given a token by another and then I had to scan their athlete barcodes (downloaded from the website when they registered) and then their token barcode.

It was nice to have a different perspective on the parkrun experience, I cheered on the runners and got time to talk to them as well.  It was certainly easier than running!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Art of Endurance

I am not happy today.  Really, crushingly disappointed with myself in fact.  It is hard not being a winner and in fact being the complete and total opposite.  You see, most things I turn my hand to I am more than capable of - I can write, act, sing, teach, recite the alphabet backwards and in police speak.  I can recite a Wordsworth poem from memory, enthuse a class of children - even make my colleagues laugh on occasion.  I can imitate pretty much any accent you could ask me to 'do'.  I always did well academically (with the least effort it may be said) and I've always been employed and employable.  I have a job I enjoy.  I achieved a life-time ambition in April by completing the London Marathon.  And here we get to it - the root of my failure.  I am a crap runner.  Despite applying myself to running for the past 14 months I am still pretty rubbish.  Not in distance, oh no - I can run 26 miles thank you very much.  But even when I do one, two or three I cannot run any FASTER and I am fed up of being a failure.

Today was the launch of the first Barnet parkrun in my local, Oakhill Park.  Parkrun is the nicest weekly event hosted by the nicest bunch of volunteers.  And here is my problem.   I kept them waiting a whole 7 minutes and 20 seconds after the runner before me finished.  

A couple of women joked about being last at the start line and I told them, "Don't worry, I'm always last".  And it is true - I am!  I just cannot run any faster.  I was last in my half marathon, last in Barnet on the Move's 5k and now last again in the Parkrun.  I wouldn't mind but I finish red faced and panting - the effort has gone in! 

When running my laps (and being lapped) I even rehearsed excuses to excuse my lamentable running skills.  Here is a selection:
  • I've just had an operation (on my hand)
  • I haven't done many miles over the last month (3)
  • I haven't slept the last two nights
  • I still need to lose some weight, don't I!
  • I'm really a distance runner
Then I started telling myself my mindset was dooming me to failure, I needed to be more positive.  So I tried:
  • You couldn't run AT ALL 15 months ago
  • You ran the friggin marathon
  • You are trying
  • You keep going
  • Experts say spend your first year building up the distance and the next year working on the speed
But somehow, the negative thoughts became more powerful and overwhelmed me so I am left feeling like this awful failure because for once in my life something has not come easily to me and I will have to work very hard to make small steps of progress.  It's not easy being a failure - but I guess it's a lesson we all have to learn at some point in our lives, we can't all be perfect.

I will go to parkrun next week, I just might alternate between Oakhill and Grovelands so I keep different people waiting each week and spread the misery.