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Look back – look forward – here comes 2021!

It’s come around again – the end of the year, and a time to reflect.

This time last year I was celebrating having achieved 12 half marathons (or the equivalent averaged out..) one per month. This year I am amazed that I have in fact done 2 actual real life, real time races! The first was in January, and I was hoping to do it again in 2021 to start the new year as I mean to go on, but it ain’t happening.

I have done quite a lot of running in 2020 even though I haven’t been able to take part in events with other runners as planned. I’m especially disappointed that two trail runs were cancelled, but hey, we all know why that was don’t we?

According to my Garmin stats I’ve run 1,171 km (727.6 miles). I think it’s a bit more than that as there were a few times when either I couldn’t locate my watch or it wasn’t charged! On Strava it’s 1,228 km but that includes a couple of bike rides. Whatever it is it’s quite a lot and I’m happy!

These 2 medals were the only ones for actual races. Both half marathons, one in January and one in August.
Two virtual runs. The first completed in January – 26.2 miles (42km) in January in aid of refugees. And another in June – running 50km in 7 days. That was tough.
Two more virtual runs, organised by the fabulous Phoenix Running. I did a half marathon on the day that would have been the London Marathon in April. And the other one was running every day for 7 days in July, which is not something I would usually do!
Three virtual runs with the truly wonderful Ealing Half marathon crew. I really loved all of these runs especially the parks one (Queen of the Suburbs) when I got to visit new places and wave at fellow participants!
And finally – a virtual Christmas Day run.

So what next for 2021? The two cancelled trail runs with Maverick have been postponed until spring, and we’ll see what happens. But next on the horizon – in fact starting tomorrow – is a whole month of Running Every Day (RED)!! Yes I decided that a week of running every day in the height of summer was not enough, and I must do it for 31 days straight. And for extra punishment 😉 I must do it in the coldest, darkest month. Hahaha, I hear you laughing!

I will be documenting this as an incentive to actually do it. I may not (almost certainly won’t) write a post every day but I will of course take lots of photos and let you know how it’s all going.

In the meantime – Happy New Year to all my lovely readers around the world. May 2021 bring us all peace and health. I shall continue to run and bake, and maybe occasionally post about some of the other things I like doing in my spare time.

The Longest Week Days Six and Seven

The challenge is DONE! Apologies for not quite making it 7 blog posts in 7 days! But this has been achieved – seven runs in 7 days, of at least 7km. The distance bit of the challenge was my own making, and luckily I am not as hung up on perfect pattern matching as some of my fellow runners out there. Or maybe I just can’t be bothered to work out how to run exactly 77.7km, when one run was 8.3, and another 9.1…Over the 7 days I ran 34.5 miles / 55.5km. That’s the most I’ve run in a week for a long time, so I am very happy with that.

This is a flower meadow area in Perivale Park. The poppies were especially pretty.

Yesterday (Saturday) I ran 7km on another trusty 6km route with an extra bit added. Afterwards I went to my outdoor gym class as usual. I have to admit that when the lovely trainer Lauren sent us round the park on a 100m sprint – 100m jog on repeat I couldn’t quite muster the energy for the sprint bit! However we did some great stretching at the end of the class which was exactly what I needed. Later on though I found myself kneeling on the floor helping put together a flat pack table and chairs and did wonder how I would get myself back up to standing.

Early morning view over the golf course.

Today I decided that as my legs weren’t feeling so bad after all, I would finish the week in style (!) and run 7 miles. Down the Grand Union Canal to Brentford and back is almost exactly 7 miles so I didn’t have to make any adjustments to a very straightforward route. It was very peaceful running along the canal, watching a boat slowly chugging along, and then negotiating a lock on the way back. It reminded me of a canal holiday I went on a few years ago in north Wales. It was fun, but I ended up with a repetitive strain injury in my wrist from operating all the locks, and also went a bit crazy at the slow speed of it all! Honestly you can walk faster than those boats! But I must admit the scenery was beautiful in many places, and maybe that slow pace is what everyone needs now and again.

Seven years ago on the Llangollen canal. We rented The Owl from Pea Green Boats.
Sunday run along the canal, under the bridge that the Piccadilly line runs along.

So the crazy running week is done, and now I will have a bit of a rest. I’m on leave this week which is very welcome. We are not going anywhere – plans to visit the Greater Manchester area to see our first grand child have had to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions 😦 but at least we can see the second baby who is close to home. Thank goodness for FaceTime and Zoom etc.

Look at that brilliant chunky medal!

I’m not sure what the next challenge will be – I am sure something will pop up and I’ll be tempted before long to sign up for another bonkers run thing!

I love the fact that you get a running bib number and such a fab medal! And lots of support from the online running community too.

The Longest Week Day Five

It’s starting to feel like the longest week now, and today was one of the longest days! That’s why this post is so late, and so short!

Early morning sun shining through the leaves.

It was a run before work today, as the temperatures were set to hit 30 degrees by lunchtime. The last couple of weeks I have been doing a hill run session on a Friday evening (I know, bonkers right?) but today even the most hardened runner – yes you David 😀 decided it was just TOO hot.

I did basically the same run as yesterday so nothing much new to report. It is noticeable that there are more people out doing personal training sessions, even that early in the morning, than there used to be. I think that’s great, although I wonder if they’ll still be there when it’s raining and cold!

More weird fungus on a different dead tree.

Only two more days of this challenge left, and then I intend to have a rest. By that time I will actually have done 8 days on the trot, as I did run last Sunday as well. The medal is already here, but I have resisted opening the package – not til Sunday!

These miniature sunflowers in my window box have taken weeks and weeks to get to this stage. To be honest they’re a bit underwhelming and next year I’ll do something different!

The Longest Week Day Four

This morning I was up very early – even before the alarm went off at 5.30. There was a reason for that which I’ll explain in a minute. Once again it was a beautiful morning in west London! I went off on another tried and tested 6km route, with a little extra loop round Pitshanger Park to get the distance up to 7km. I remembered that you can put in a target distance on the Garmin watch, so I put in 7km – and then you can see it count down the metres! It also tells you what your estimated finish time is, which is a good incentive for speeding up a bit to knock those seconds off :-D.

It was early

It’s funny how different the parks are, even though they are all within 2km of my house. Pitshanger is much more busy than the Bunny Park earlier in the morning. Today there were quite a few runners, cyclists and walkers. It also feels more like a suburban park, for local people. The tennis courts and bowling green are in central positions. The multiuse games area (MUGA) is well used.

The run felt good and it was nice to be out before it got too hot.

Weird fungus

Now this post is going to be short – it’s now almost 10.30pm and I’m exhausted. The reason I was up quite so early was sheer excitement – today both my lovely, gorgeous sons became Dads! And I became a grandmother twice over! Yes that’s right – both their wonderful, beautiful girlfriends had baby boys On The Same Day! SO EXCITING!

I love that oak tree

So that’s it from me for today! Have fun everyone!

The Longest Week Day Three

So this morning, barely 12 hours after the last run, I was out again! It was such a beautiful morning that I really didn’t mind my creaking ankles or aching feet. They loosened up quick enough anyway. I did a variation on Monday’s run, and got the timing just about right – 7km done 50m short of the front door.

Across the field at Warren Farm. The clouds were interesting – like a shelf across the sky.

There were only a few people out, mainly dog walkers. This is a change from just a few weeks ago when there were more people out very early walking and running. I’m guessing that some of those people have gone back to work. Or maybe people are feeling more confident about going out later in the day. Or perhaps they are just bored of running now! Whatever the reason it feels very peaceful at 6.15 am. And it was lovely and cool at that time too. Now it is much warmer, and temperatures are set to rise over the next few days I think.

View from the lock gate on the Hanwell Flight

Some may ask “what’s the point of running everyday?” And that is a good question. Generally speaking I don’t think it’s necessarily a great thing to do as a long term project because rest is important to restore muscle and bone. Overuse injuries are the most common reason for having to take time out from sport. Even athletes don’t train day after day – or at least not doing the same activity everyday, to give different muscle groups a break.

However I think short periods of daily running are ok, as long as the intensity isn’t too different from what you are used to. That is the main reason I have picked a fairly short target distance for each day. Over the week I am planning on a total not too far removed from what I have done recently.

I love the colour and structural shape of agapanthus.

Another reason to run every day for a week is that it’s something different to do! The last months have been a bit same-y in terms of running. Same routes, same distances, same old same old… That sounds a bit more woe is me than it should! Really it has been good, both mentally and physically, to have opportunities to get outside and exercise, run, walk, whatever, in green spaces right on the doorstep. But it is fun to mix it up a bit sometimes and do new things.

The viaduct in the background with a freight train going over – it went on forever!

Highlights this morning were: birdsong; cool temperatures; spotting the blackberry bushes that I will visit at the weekend to collect fruit; seeing another beautiful agapanthus in the Bunny Park!

Thank you for reading, and visit tomorrow for another update!

The Longest Week Day Two

Today the 7km thing went out of the window, because Tuesday is interval training day with Quit the Gym in Lammas Park, in Ealing. Because it’s intervals it’s a shorter distance. So I decided to make it a bit longer by running there and back.

Beautiful evening in Lammas Park, Ealing

The run there was a nice easy 2.89km, and then we did ten times 400m (fast) in the park, with a minute between each 400. Tough! And then I had to run home again!

The evidence! Garmin is back!

Usually I prefer to run in the morning but actually today it was good to run after a busy day at work. And the evening was beautiful, so lovely to be out in the park.

Lovely agapanthus in a street flowerbed

It’s a short and sweet post today because I have to get a good night’s sleep in before tomorrow’s run!

The Longest Week begins!

Today I began another virtual running challenge – this time with the wonderful Phoenix Running. This one is called The Longest Week or P7in7 (i.e. 7 runs in 7 days…). I like this one because it’s in real time. That’s to say everyone taking part is taking part this week, and sharing their stories and pictures on the Facebook group. It makes it feel like more of a real thing. It also helps me to feel that I’m part of a community of other runners, which is what I have been missing by not being able to take part in real runs! The great thing about this one is that it is flexible, so it suits everyone. Some participants have been very creative with their plans – basing each run round the number 7.

Here’s my race number – I have stuck it to the fridge!

There are runners planning 7.77 miles every day starting at 7am or 7pm. Runners planning alternate 7km with 7 miles each day. Runners planning totals of 77 miles/77km over the week. You get the picture!

Hydrangea highlights from this morning’s run

Other runners are planning even more complicated programmes based on the Fibonacci sequence, or perhaps huge mileage – half marathons every day – even marathons every day! As for me – well I am not that ambitious.

My plan is 7km a day. I never usually run every day, so just getting out there for a daily run will be quite challenging enough for my head and my legs. Recently I completed 5 x 10km runs in a week, so this is similar in terms of total mileage, but having no rest days. (I might even have to do 8km on one day to make it up to 50 overall!)

Today I was up early to run before work. I went out along a tried and tested 6km route, and then added bits of extra loopage in to make it up to 7km. I managed to judge that quite well, and completed 7km only a short walk away from my front door.

Rain on the canal

It was raining but not hard, and there were few people around at just after 6am. I got back just in time to see Rik Vercoe, course organiser, give his live pre-race talk on Facebook. I don’t think I was the only person who had already started!

Garmin was hacked! Panic! But I think it’s ok now…