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.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

An enforced running break

When I woke up Monday it was going to be a normal week with all my regular runs; by lunchtime everything had changed.  Ofsted had called and my school had two days to prepare for the visit. Needless to say, when you are in school from 7.30am to 9pm there isn't much time for running.   Not if you want to keep your sanity anyway.

Running buddy Su had been trying to encourage me to have a week off as she had found it really beneficial, I told her I just couldn't - if I didn't keep to my routine it would all fall apart (yes, I am slightly autistic like that).  Had Su given Ofsted the wink?  It was literally the only thing, apart from injury, that would stop me running.

So, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday no running - no running on Saturday either as I barely got out of bed.  Today I knew I needed to get back into the swing of things...a long run was needed.

The furthest I had run thus far was 10 miles, if it was possible I wanted to add a small amount to this and go even further.

I sat at my computer with Facebook's running application open and had a look at the area, plotting where I could run ten miles or so.  Then I remembered the old mile stone which still sits beside the Great North Road in Barnet, it says 'London X' (distances to London generally mean Charing Cross - the old one actually in Trafalgar Square, not the tube station).  This made me play with the map and I plotted a route down the GNR, over the North Circular and onto the A1.  Ultimately Saint Paul's Cathedral in the city was 11.5 miles, with Highgate (of the cemetary fame) about half way at 5.5 miles.

At 11am today I set off, through Whetstone and all the Finchleys, into Highgate village which had all the beauty of a Cornish sea village and I tore down the hill at speed. It wasn't so pretty going through Holloway and most of Islington (which seems to go on forever), but eventually I could see the Gherkin.  Three hours and sixteen minutes after I set off I was in front of St Paul's and I called my mum to proudly share my achievement.  She told me the winner of the Great South Run (today in Portsmouth) ran the 10 mile race in 25 minutes.  *sigh*

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Healthy eating

I am not the biggest fan of 'healthy eating' and often take the easy route in the evenings (I'm too busy is the, often legitimate, excuse).  Also, our school staff room is a Mecca of doughnuts, biscuits, chocolates and other calorific nibbles.  So, although school has not singlehandedly slathered my body with the extra fat that cushions it - it has been a contributing factor.  And honestly, if a child has just thrown something across the room or you've broken up a fight there is nothing like an instant sugar hit to calm you down.

But!  Enough!  This must end!  I gave myself 'time trials' a few weeks ago and I cannot get my speed down, my body is presently incapable of going any faster than 13 1/2 minutes per mile.  To improve my speed I need to shed those pounds that are refusing to shift.

Now, those of you who have been with me since the start may be aware I have shifted 12-14lbs just through running three times a week.  For a good month or so my weight has stayed the same and I now need to do more to shift this.  Hence the current ambition to eat more healthily.

Now, I am a wrimo and we start again on November the 1st and on the London forum we were chatting about snacks to eat whilst writing.  One wrimo mentioned something called a graze box and I was intrigued so I clicked on the link (as you can do if you click on the 'graze box' above) and was taken to the Graze website.  Graze post you a healthy and delicious snack box as often as you want (UK only) and the best thing is your first box can be FREE!  Simply use the code H99VZLH3.  You will even get your second half price should you choose to continue grazing.

This is my idea of healthy eating!  My first box arrived today and I was a little dubious (see above comments re: healthy eating).  Inside my lovely box were four sections and an information leaflet which informed me of the calories and nutritional value of each section.  As one section was kalamata olives, a bamboo stick and a paper napkin were also included.  I tucked into the lovely olives immediately (I had already told graze on line that these were a favourite of mine, just as I had 'binned' anything with garlic in so I will never receive what I am allergic to) and then had a look at the other three sections; gojis, jumbo raisins and green raisins; brazils, pecans and almonds; vanilla pumpkin and sunflower seeds.  I have now sampled each section and am converted!  The vanilla and goji section are sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and pecans are a new favourite - why have I never tried them before?  Brazil nuts I have never liked, but there are only a few in there and they are meant to be good for you, so I can suffer them!

One warning - the box contains about 800 calories in total so that still needs to be considered.  However, I'd like to think that my hand dipping into a 800 box of nutritional goodies will be better than dipping into pringles, biscuits or chocolates.  Each box should last a couple of days so as long as you remember these calories I don't see why this can't be a really healthy choice to make.  At least these foods provide nutrition unlike said pringles, biscuits, chocolates.

Benefits of grazing:
  • maintains energy all day with slow releasing foods
  • maintains blood sugar levels so that sugar gets burnt rather than turned into fat
  • Improves level of metabolism
  • Can boost immunity
  • Nutritional value of healthy snacks significantly better than unhealthy snacks containing 'empty' calories
  • A box on hand will stop you reaching for less healthy, nutritious snacks
There are also different types of boxes so after my energy box today I look forward to my wellbeing box Monday and my nibble box Wednesday!

Check out the website and see what you think! 

Doughnuts, biscuits, chocolate...

Sunday, 10 October 2010

My first 10k race

Every weather report promised a beautiful, Indian summer for Saturday 9th October.  What we got was a toneless sky and mist wrapped around every tree.

The side view of Hatfield House

I left early and drove to Hatfield House (about ten miles away) with my faithful bag carrier in tow.

Hatfield is most famous for being the home of Elizabeth I before she was queen.  In the grounds is the very oak tree (or it's descendent at least) that the young Lady Elizabeth was sat under when she was told she was now queen.  It passed to King James after her, who traded it with the Cecils for Theobalds.

This side view doesn't do the grandeur of the house justice.  from the front it is everything you would expect from a grand English country house and the inside does not disappoint.  It has extensive grounds, more than enough for a 10k race.

Not sunny!
I got a text from Su as soon as I got out of the car park and saw her almost as soon after that.  With her was her aunt and her granddad, her sister joined us shortly after.  I have to tell you, it really makes a difference having someone waiting for you at the end.

When our supporters had gone off to the house (we gave them an optimistic ETA of an hour and a half, and a more likely one of an hour and three quarters) Su and I exchanged secret confessions of how much we had spent on running gear since the last race.  And they say running is a cheap sport!

Before the race, unfortunately you can't tell that I coordinated my eyeshadow with the colour of the t-shirt, but I did.
Neither of us had been in the Mae West of health, but I think Su was worst off with bronchitis. I just had the school cold that wouldn't go away.  What annoyed us most was two squarking women on the stage who were from the local radio station.  Their mikes were set far too loud and they were rather irritating.  They even got the bloke who plays Max Branning in Eastenders up on stage and I felt sorry for him, he probably wanted a nice quiet run.  They asked him if he would pose for photos after and he said yes, then stressed he was here with his wife and kids (subtext, don't mistake him for his TV character and proposition him).

We set off with the joggers, swiftly overtaken by most of them.  Despite having used the portable loos twice, my bladder now insisted I visit again.  I tried to ignore it.

It was a good time to chat and catch up so we didn't push it at first.  I explained to Su what Marathon Man had told me about a steady marathon pace and overtaking people at Tower Bridge.  We had our first TB moment as we passed a man who did not look like a runner, who had tried to run and then given in to walking 500m into the race.  TB moments would become very important later on in the race.

I also spent some time looking at people's shoes.  You can tell if someone is a dedicated runner from their shoes and quite a few people were running in trainers rather than running shoes.  I was most amused when a man overtook us in a patterned, knitted vest over shirt and shorts.

Su and I discussed how perhaps after the marathon we might try running 5 and 10ks to get our speed down, as one marathon may be enough for one lifetime.

I kept my eyes out for dense undergrowth in which I might 'do a Paula' as the bladder was still whinging.  Damn autumn and fallen leaves!

I had laced my shoes too tightly and gradually my feet died until I could feel them no more, in the end I had to stop and loosen them to get the blood flowing again!

We took the first 4k easy and then Su, always faster and fitter than I, challenged me that we would overtake the people in white before the 5k.  They were about 120m ahead.  I couldn't manage it by 5k, but I would be damned if they would stay ahead of us by the 6k marker so I put on one of my rare sprints to overtake them.  We had a few more TB moments, easily going past the people now walking, but after 7k there was a woman (not in running shoes) kept running/walking.  Su wanted to overtake her by the end of lane, I said by 8k.  We managed to achieve both aims and were in a nice, smooth rhythm as we did so.  

With 1k to go I was flagging.  I don't know why as I've run further and faster before, but for that day the energy was gone.  Su was bouncing around and encouraging me to use energy I just didn't have left.  Where she gets her energy from I don't know, but I want some please!

With about 70m to go I managed to dig down and do a sprint finish.  We saw our supporters at the finish line and this helped push us on.  I stopped my watch at 1hr 31mins.  Not bad for our first ever 10k.

Su gave me a big hug and just past the finish my colleague Lisa from school was waiting.  She is an experienced runner and came in at a very respectable 1hr 5.

Unluckily as I came through to get my medal I got caught by the squarking women from the local radio station who were sick of talking to each other and desperately trying to keep going after several hours of squarking.  I said a brief hello to James and tried to get away as soon as possible.

There was no goody bag, but we got a medal, a bottle of water, those Ricola sweets you always get (well, I like them!) and a cereal bar that I devoured instantly.

So, another race over.  And the bladder that had bugged me all the way round?  I forgot all about it after I crossed the finish and continued to forget about it for a couple of hours afterwards! Typical!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Sports massage

This is a new thing for me - sports massage.  A friend's husband is a triathlete and when she told him I was covered in ibuprofen gel he said a regular sports massage would be better for me.  With payday approaching I googled sports massages in Barnet, the one place I did not want to go for this was my local gym as the amount of testosterone in there (from men and women) is anything but relaxing.

So, I found a good website and read all about the masseuse.  Perhaps I didn't give it much thought; she was well qualified and local so I emailed to book an appointment.

Now, the furthest I had run thus far was 7 miles - but Saturday with the promise of a sports massage at 2pm I kept running until I had achieved 10 miles.  The last two were very slow and draining, but I thought if I can reach this goal it is significant enough to build upon.  After all, on the 21st of November I have 13 miles to run in the Gosport half marathon!

I was in the park forever!  At 9am I did three laps past children playing with their football coach, then they were gone and I had the park to myself before the dog walkers came out, then the other runners and finally parents with children.  Thank goodness it was a nice day!

Since I thought I might struggle to stand up in the shower I had a bath back at home and then went off to meet the masseuse.

I was met at the door by the masseuse who could have been Kirsten Dunst's sister.  She completed a health questionnaire with me and then checked my mobility.  It seems my shoulders are bending in (I need to stick my *ahem* chest out).

Ouch!  I had been told it might hurt and it did!  However, as the worked area was finished it felt fantastic and at the end I felt very, very relaxed.

The masseuse was also full of really useful advice and I am going to share this with you:
  • run with your bum, don't let the legs do all the work
  • keeping your middle tight will help prevent lower back pain
  • don't do static stretches before running, do some dynamic stretches or walk quickly
  • do ten minutes of static stretches after running
  • stick your chest out!
I highly recommend a sports massage if you are putting your body through new vigors and if I can afford it I shall make it a monthly event in my build up to the London marathon!

Friday, 1 October 2010


The aspiring runner!
This is just a quick one.

I am raising sponsorship for Aspire as they have given me my marathon place and they are a very worthy charity.  As a pauper I would never be able to do this on my own, thankfully I have the support of my lovely school.

We are not a rich school, but we do our bit proudly for charity and I am sure my children give more than their peers in richer areas.  We know the value of being charitable and many of the children know this clearly from their own personal beliefs (one of the five pillars of Islam is about giving money to those who need it).

We also like to have fun so my colleagues and I cooked up an idea.  We decided to have a non-uniform day and ask the children to come as what they aspired to be when they are older.  Adults were asked to come as something they aspired to or what they wanted to be when children. I came as an aspiring marathon runner as you can see from the charming picture above!

The children looked amazing!  We had:
  • a mad professor in a big wig and glasses
  • a Toyota car dealer
  • an economist (who if he flopped was going into politics)
  • nurses
  • vets
  • zookeepers
  • soldiers
  • two scientists in ripped labcoats because their experiment went wrong
  • an ensemble of professional musicians
  • lawyers
  • doctors
  • a 'maker'
Thanks to our Deputy Head I believe we even had a few fairies (would you tell a seven year old they can't become a fairy when older?). 

It was a brilliant day and we even made some money for Aspire!

What's that?  You'd like to help my fundraising?  How lovely, all you have to do is click on the blue justgiving box on the right.  Yep, that's it - there on the right. Thank you.  I will happily accept pounds, dollars and even gold pieces stolen from pirate treasure hauls to help Aspire and I will happily accept as much or as little as you are able to give.  Truly, it all makes a difference.

Sorry, I was wrong - this wasn't a quick one at all.  As the children would so eloquently say "my bad".