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Race Report: Rome Marathon

I started this blog in 2019 to record my running adventures of that year. I ran 12 half marathons that year – well, in the end it was eight half marathons, two 10 milers and two 16 milers! It was a lot of fun, and I was introduced to the joys of trails which was even more fun. So why enter a marathon? In a previous post I have tried to explain some of the crazy reasons. Somehow I found myself in Rome last Friday nervously awaiting the run itself on Sunday.

The weather forecast changed several times in the week – at one point it was going to be raining, then very sunny and quite hot. But the day dawned cloudy with a very light wind, and cool temperatures, around the 15 degree mark. Perfect running weather! I was particularly worried about the possibility of rain, as the cobbled streets are hazard enough, without the added danger of water. But no rain, hurray.

Ready! In front of the iconic Colosseum, where gladiators battled it out. Am as I tough as a gladiator? Yes! 🤣

There were lots of people in the hotel who were running, so breakfast was laid on especially early at 6am. The atmosphere was quiet in the dining room, as we ate our bananas and contemplated the hours ahead. Then off we went, just a short walk to the start. Thousands of people were amassing, and although I tried hard to meet up with Gurdeep it was impossible for us to find each other in the throng of runners.

Minutes before the start the Italian equivalent of the Red Arrows, the Frecce Tricolori, zoomed overhead not once but twice, to massive cheers from all the crowd. It was very exciting, and a great way to start the race.

And off we went – 13,500 runners and some wheelchair racers too. For the first few miles there was good support from the crowds, and several brass and wind bands playing jaunty tunes to keep us going. The cobbles were only a problem in the centre of the city, and on fresh feet they were quite easy to manage. A different story in the last few miles though! Once out of the centre the crowd support definitely dwindled, and there were places where there was not many people at all. Very different from the London marathon, and the New York marathon from what I have heard. They need to come along to Ealing for the half marathon and see what real crowd support is!

One of the bands entertaining us as we ran past

We ran through many neighbourhoods, to be honest I have no idea of most of the places we went through. I’m pretty sure we went through the Olympic Park; Rome held the Olympics in 1960. We also went past St Peter’s Basilica and the Circo Massimo – an ancient Roman race track. I’m sure there were lots of other famous landmarks but a) I was busy looking at the ground so I didn’t trip up and b) they didn’t have big signs on them saying what they were 😂.

I was a bit disconcerted when motorbikes decided to join in the race and suddenly we found ourselves moving out of the way for a bike that decided that the yellow cordons weren’t applicable to them. At one point a small car just burst through a piece of yellow tape – not actually on the path of the runners, but still. Nobody batted an eye! And when we got back into the centre of the city with just a few kilometres to go the pavements were lined with shoppers, who frankly seemed totally uninterested in the fact that thousands of footsore runners were slogging past them to the finish line. They ducked under the plastic tape and criss crossed the road with their shopping bags and dogs, bicycles and pushchairs. It was very surprising, and later chatting to fellow runners we contrasted this to London and US races where it would be unthinkable!

At the top of a hill at the 30km mark – fancy a kebab anyone?! There were some people who did actually eat a kebab at this point – I cannot imagine how!

I started the race nice and slow, focussing on keeping a slow pace, and was doing ok until about half way or so. But my legs, in particular my hips, got more and more painful. By about 30km I was in a lot of pain. I kept imagining all my friends shouting encouragement. I could hear the voices of my lovely friends Bindee, Michelle and Florence shouting “Come on! You can do it!” And once or twice I looked at messages on my phone from my fabulous friends known as The Lovely Chums, and got a lot of inspiration from them. And I thought of all my family – especially my number one supporter, my husband, who managed to see me four times at different points. And my wonderful sons and their families. I thought of my mum and my amazing sisters. I can’t mention everybody – but so many people have supported me, sponsored me, and been so positive in their belief that I could actually do it. Thank you to all of you – it really does make a difference. I never thought I wouldn’t finish. I just kept thinking how I really will NEVER do this again!!

So tired I can’t speak!

I did manage to meet Gurdeep at the finish. She seemed completely fine – and that was after walking 25,000 steps the day before! What is she made from?! Steel I think. She is doing the London marathon at the end of April! Go Gurdeep!

Me and Gurdeep at the end! Thank you Gurdeep for encouraging me to do this. I did enjoy it, even though it hurt a lot.

Finishing was a mix of emotions – mainly relief and joy that it was over. I was so tired though, and my legs were done. But everything passes, and today I am just a bit stiff, walking a little slower, and taking it easy on the stairs!

Woo hoo! 🤩🥳
I am very proud of myself. If I can do this I can do most things, if I wanted to enough. So can you.

My fundraising page has raised £1581 so far which is absolutely beyond brilliant! Thank you! The next race in my calendar is the fabulous Ealing Half Marathon in September. If you’re looking for a friendly half with great support look no further.

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The Final Countdown to Rome 26.2

We arrived in Rome yesterday to beautiful blue skies and sunshine. it looks like the weather will be good tomorrow for the event itself. Our hotel is close to the start/finish line which is excellent news! I booked the the trip as part of a package with Destination Sport who booked the accommodation and organised entry (at a slightly reduced cost) to the marathon. At the hotel there are several people also running tomorrow, some of whom are pretty experienced! The rep Sarah is very helpful and friendly, and is running too.

The race starts and finishes very close to the Colosseum

Although I was tired after an early start and all the travelling we decided to visit the Expo to collect the race pack on Friday afternoon to get it done. So today we could relax a bit, and I could get to organise all my kit. I didn’t manage to meet up with my fellow runner Gurdeep at the Expo, although we did bump into each other at the baggage collection in the airport as our flights came in at almost the same time!

This morning we visited the Pantheon, which is a remarkable building, quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It amazing to think that it is almost 2000 years old, and yet still in daily use. The audio tour was very interesting – I learned that Corelli (the composer) was buried there, amongst other various kings. The oculus at the top of the dome is open to the elements, and it used to be said that the rain never fell through the roof – for mystical reasons. However it was actually because the rising heat of the candles created such warmth that the raindrops were vaporised. Just to be on the safe side the floor is also concave with some drainage holes!

The concrete dome of the Pantheon

Next we walked to the Trevi fountain, so bright in the sunshine, and the water sparkling into the pool. It was very busy round there but I still managed to squeeze in among the crowds and toss a coin in for luck.

Back in November very shortly after I had entered this event I was in an Oxfam shop crouching on the floor rifling through a collection of old postcards. Some of you may know that I am very fond of postcards, and have been sort of collecting them (in a very non collector-ish way) since I was a child. I still have postcards from many many years ago. Well, I found a postcard which for some reason caught my eye and I just had to have it. I am not a religious person at all but this postcard – a picture of baby Jesus – was somehow very striking. I felt that the person who had made it had modelled the baby on an actual baby that the sculptor knew. When I saw that that the statue can be found in the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli, not far from the hotel, I felt I had to see it for myself.

I like the way one foot is slightly higher than the other, as if about to step forward. See bottom left and right for all the ‘post’ the bambino gets…

It turns out that the Bambino of Ara coeli is famous – so famous that it was actually stolen in 1994, and has never been found. The present statue is a copy. I find this very sad. The original was said to be carved from olive wood from the garden of Gethsemane by a Franciscan friar in the 15th century. Far from basing the features on a real baby’s face, legend has it that the friar prayed for inspiration before painting the face, and in the morning it was already miraculously finished. The statue was stolen once before in the 18thC before returning, according to legend, by itself to the sound of the church bells.

The whole basilica was very beautiful, and not too busy, especially compared with the Pantheon.

A nice bit of wall graffiti seen through a window – very apt 😉

After a delicious lunch we came back to the hotel, where I have sorted all my stuff for tomorrow. My race number is pinned to my top, my sugary snacks are packed and ready to go! I have decided which pair of socks to wear, and which hat. My Garmin watch is on a final charge. I think I am ready.

Here’s the kit layout! Including snacks and my favourite socks made by Falke.

I can’t promise a race report tomorrow, but it will be done as soon as I can! Thank you everyone for all your good wishes, and support. As I have said before, it makes such a huge difference, especially in the last few miles. I am so happy to have exceeded my fundraising target. Every pound raised goes towards finding a cure for Type1 diabetes through research that JDRF funds. My fundraising page can be found by clicking here. See you on the other side!

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The very longest run – before the actual marathon

Today I ran 30km. That is 18.6 miles. The distance of a marathon is 42km or 26.2 miles. How I will manage that I am really not sure after today. When I say ‘ran’ I am using the word in the very loosest sense, as quite honestly a lot of the time I was walking. Today was very very hard work, and by the time I got home my whole body was hurting. I got straight into bed and slept for 1.5 hours, partly resting my bones, and partly getting warm, as it was cold today with a biting wind.

The river Thames at Teddington

After my rest I got up, showered, ate and drank a lot of tea. I actually feel ok now, which is a very good sign I think. My legs and back are no longer hurting, they just feel a bit tired. I think I am still getting over Covid and I can only hope that by 19th March I will be properly fully recovered.

I was sorry I felt quite so bad, as although it was cold it was actually a nice day with sunshine, and blue skies. The river looked lovely, and because it was a Monday the path wasn’t too busy. I listened to various podcasts including The Food Programme, The Runners World Podcast, The Zoe Podcast and Radio 3’s Classical Mixtape. It’s all a bit of a blur now!

Lichen and interestingly textured bark

The most annoying thing was that I pressed Pause on my watch at some point – probably to tie my shoelace or something – and then forgot to press Resume. SO annoying as now it looks like I did less than 29km on my Garmin/Strava accounts. I know I actually did 30 because I turned around at 15km and came home the same way! The lesson to learn from this is never press pause.

Some kind of pretty pink blossom

I am still a little way off my fundraising target but there is still time my friends! Click here to help fund research into a cure for Type1 diabetes.

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The LONG run!

I have meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks, but for reasons outlined in the previous post I have been unable to. Today, testing negative for Covid (yay!) and just a week after not being able to get out of bed, I realised that are just 4 weeks to go until the Big Day, when somehow I will be traversing 26.2 miles around Rome on my two feet. My longest run up until today has been 15 minutes shy of 3 hours, and 25 km. So today I thought I would see if I could possibly manage 3 hours. Slowly.

View downriver from Richmond Lock and Weir

Somehow I did keep moving (mostly) for 3 hours without collapsing before I got home, although I did lie down for a bit when I did finally finish. However it was very slow. I managed just 25km – the same as last time just 15 minutes slower! I went between feeling pleased that I had at least managed that much, and panicking that I am now way off schedule and how will I ever manage to get round 42km!

Turning point for me after 1.5 hours on my feet.

Considerations for a long, slow run in no particular order: fuel, entertainment, possible toilet stops, clothing and footwear.

Fuel: my go to on the run fuel at the moment is soft dates stuffed with a little almond butter – and – moment of inspiration- a tiny bit of dark chocolate! Yummy. Hydration – plain water.

Entertainment: I have the best headphones EVER – wireless bone conduction ones. I’ve had them almost a year. I bought them with some money I was generously given to mark my 60th birthday and semi retirement from work – and they are FANTASTIC! What makes them so great is that I can hear what’s going on around me as they don’t go in my ears, but I can still hear whatever I’m listening to. Today I listened to a BBC Sounds audiobook of Pride and Prejudice. Actually I listened to lots of chapters of it, but still haven’t finished it! I do love Jane Austen, she’s such a great observer of character, and some of it is so funny.

Possible toilet stops: this is quite important! On a really long run it’s good to know there are options. Routes far from civilisation are not the best for this kind of training run. Today I noted a possibility in a garden centre, good to know for another time! And then realised that the old toilet block in Richmond is partly open again! Oh joy!

Clothing: for me long sleeved tops are still my choice on a slow run, even though it was probably warm enough today for a t shirt. In fact I’m still in long leggings too. I found myself jogging along in amongst the runners of the Richmond Half marathon at one point today and nearly all of them were in shorts and t shirts. Soon! It’s definitely getting warmer.

Footwear: at the moment I’m running in fairly new Adidas Solarboost. They’re ok, quite cushioned and some support. I haven’t quite got the hang of tying the laces so they’re not too tight over the top of my foot. In the right shoe I’m using an X line running insole which seems to be helping keep my right foot more stable. Good news for my tibialis posterior tendon! I was sent these to try out ages ago, but only started using them a few weeks ago. I’m quite impressed so far..

Twickenham Bridge looking lovely in the sun

I am hoping that this week I can get back on track, or at least a bit closer to the plan. Next weekend should be a 3.5 hour run – that will probably have to happen on Monday rather than Sunday for social reasons. Watch out for the update!

Winter grasses along the canal towpath
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Marathon training: ups and downs!

It’s high time I posted another update on how my training is going for the marathon in Rome on 19th March. I wish I could say there have been no hitches and all is on track. Up until 10 days ago that actually was pretty much the picture. But as we all know life is a series of ups and downs, obstacles to overcome and victories to celebrate where we can.

Sunrise

I worked my way up to running 25km (15.5 miles), 2 hours and 45 minutes of running at a good easy pace on January 29th. The run itself was quite tough physically and mentally – the stretch of canal along the Paddington branch towards between Perivale and Kensal Green is in some places a bit grim, and the sky was very grey and overcast to add to the air of gloom. However it wasn’t all bad – there was some striking graffiti art, and of course lots of life on and around the river – cormorants, swans, ducks and – rats!

After this epic run the following week was lower intensity on The Plan, which was great. So due to weekend commitments I set off for my long (but not so long) 1.5 hour run on Monday 6th Feb. It was a beautiful morning, sunshine and blue sky, and all good with the world. I went off for an out and back along a canal route I often do. On the way back, still maybe 5km (3miles) from home I tripped on something on the path – tree root? Stone? Who knows. I went flying and landed on my right wrist and left face! I suppose the first thing is to see if you can actually move after doing something like that, and the second thing is to see if anyone saw as it is so embarrassing really. Well, I could move and nothing seemed broken, and nobody was about at that particular moment.

I sat on the edge of the path, and inspected my glasses which although bent totally out of shape did still go over my ears, kind of. I realised there was blood dripping off my chin, and managed to find a couple of tissues. Thus I sat, blood soaked tissue clutched to my chin, in the mud, attempting to gather myself. At this point a group of 6 middle aged cyclists slowly pedalled past with barely a glance. Well well! What did they think as they spied this not-so-young woman sat on a muddy path in February with a tissue pressed to her chin? Not, it seems, a woman who might need some help, or even a kindly word. No, perhaps they thought I was an eccentric person just having a little rest. Or perhaps they didn’t even notice my existence. All my life, at various points and situations in it, I have had a feeling of invisibility, and this was certainly one of them.

Taken just before the fateful fall!

Later I thought about it more. I do feel that this was something to do with being in a group. If one of them had been on their own I think they would maybe have felt more intrinsic pressure to stop. Or, if just one of them (maybe the leader of this particular group) had stopped it would have ‘given permission’ to the rest of the group to stop. This is actually a Thing called Bystander Effect. People are less willing to help someone if they think someone else may. And:

According to the principle of social influence, bystanders monitor the reactions of other people in an emergency situation to see if others think that it is necessary to intervene. If it is determined that others are not reacting to the situation, bystanders will interpret the situation as not an emergency and will not intervene. From the Wiki article linked to above.

As it happened I wasn’t seriously hurt, and managed to walk/ semi jog the rest of the way home – via a pharmacy to buy some steri strips and dressings! But, supposing I was having a heart attack?! Or I’d bashed my head and was concussed? In this day and age it is easy to be frightened of strangers, and sometimes it is right to be cautious. But please remember that someone may actually need your help! I could’ve done with a few more tissues to mop up the blood!

The next day my right wrist was black and blue, swollen and my fingers were going numb. So off I went to hospital. I was pretty certain it wasn’t broken, and just a bad sprain, but 111 advised me to get it checked out. Long story short – 5 hours in hospital – very comprehensive and thorough check out including X-ray of wrist and face (black eye developing nicely by now!) and then a CT scan of my face to make doubly sure I hadn’t fractured my eye socket – yikes! And given the all clear. Hurray!

Life went on, and I did actually manage to go for a short run a couple of days later. All fine.

Misty early morning run. The weather is a lot of fun at this time of year. You never know what it will be, but the visuals are often good!

Except not all fine, because a few days after that I got Covid! Now, I could’ve got it in any number of places but my best guess is the hospital. Apart from the staff, hardly anyone was wearing a mask. (I was.) Oh my days! I haven’t had Covid since January 2021. I have had all my vaccinations – thank goodness. But the first day I felt so ill I couldn’t get out of bed. it’s a few days on now, and I’m feeling a lot better – that’s why I can write this! But still nowhere near full strength.

What does this mean for my Plan?? I am really hoping that if I rest as much as possible then I can get back to where I should be – next long run 3 hours – quickly, and without too much loss of fitness. We will see next week!

What is my victory to celebrate? Well, today I decided that a solitary outing to Kew Gardens – avoiding anywhere indoors and anywhere with crowds of people – would be good for the soul. And it certainly was!

Another victory to celebrate – raising £215 for JDRF so far. Visit my fund raising page by clicking here. I’m hoping to post more regular updates from now. I have a bit more time due to some stuff that was going on in my other life as a normal person having finished!

And for no particular reason except it’s really beautiful, here is a quilt you can see at this exhibition at the Fashion Textile Museum. Kaffe Fassett: the Power of Pattern. It was an inspiring exhibition- I might have to dig through the stash! (After 19th March 😂)
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Marathon training update

It’s been four weeks since I started my marathon training plan, and so far so good. I have managed four runs every week except one, which was for logistical reasons involving Christmas Day.

Interval session round Perivale Park

There are four runs every week. At the moment they go something like this: 1) an easy shortish run, which gradually gets longer but is always at an easy pace; 2) two interval sessions – one with short intervals and one with longer intervals; 3) a long run – getting longer and longer! but usually at an easy pace. That’s the basics. Some weeks there is only one interval session, and some weeks the long run has some faster bits in the middle.

I have managed to set up the interval sessions on my watch. This is actually quite easy but it is so long since I did it that it took me a little while to remember how to add in repeats! It’s great though, because now my watch beeps to tell me when to start going faster, and when the recovery time starts. It also beeps frantically if I am not in my time range!

Christmas Eve run

So far I have managed to time most of my runs to coincide with reasonable weather. Today there was a little shower while I was out, which was nice because then I saw a rainbow. But about half an hour after getting home there was a hailstorm! I felt quite smug.

Rainbow over Elthorne Park today

This afternoon I went shopping for an essential piece of kit for women. While out running today I almost had a disastrous wardrobe malfunction when the zip on my sports bra became disconnected. Luckily I managed to fix it, but the rest of the run I was in nervous anticipation of another technical failure! Good old Marks and Spencer to the rescue, and I now have two new bras, and the old one can be relegated to the recycling 😂. (Sorry if that’s too much information for some people 😉.)

Longest run so far this morning. I managed to keep to the pace too!

The big announcement of this post is that my fundraising page is now LIVE! I am hoping to raise at least £1000 for JDRF – the charity that is dedicated to finding a cure for Type1 diabetes. Please do visit their website by clicking here to find out about all the fantastic work they do.

My fundraising site can be visited by clicking on this link. I appreciate that there are many demands on limited resources. Thank you for every penny and pound you can spare for this great cause.

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Not so much cake and more running!

In 2016, long before I was even thinking of writing a blog, I ran the London marathon. It was an amazing day, very emotional and exciting. It was the beginning of my fundraising journey for JDRF, raising over £2000 that year. It was also incredibly hard work, not just on the day but in the weeks leading up to the actual day. I can remember the last few weeks being totally dominated by long runs, short runs, getting up very early to eat breakfast before a run, organising my social life to fit round runs… So I said NEVER AGAIN!

Mile 20. I was absolutely shattered.

But the years have passed, and the memories of the pain and exhaustion have dimmed, blurred and softened. Yes I can still remember the pain in my knee, the feeling that I couldn’t take one more step, the loss of my toenail (!) but hey! I’m still here aren’t I?!

4 hours. 58 minutes. 12 seconds.

Let’s also add in an inspirational woman called Gurdeep who started working in our admin office at work over a year ago. Gurdeep is a serial marathoner, the sort of person who goes on holiday specifically to run a marathon. She’s run marathons all over the place, the most recent was in Stockholm. Ever since Gurdeep found out out that I like running she has been trying to persuade me to run a marathon.

So – I hereby announce that on 19th March 2023 I will be in Rome (with Gurdeep!) to run a marathon! I think I am somewhat crazy, but logically these are the arguments why it’s not so mad: 1) I’ve done one before, albeit a while ago; 2) in 2019 I did 12 half marathons, and that’s not so long ago; 3) since April 2021 I’ve been doing a strengthening and stability programme that is absolutely brilliant and now I’m much stronger than I was in 2016 (and I still try and get to the wonderful outdoor gym class Quit the Gym); 4) it’s time for a new challenge and 5) it’s time to raise money for JDRF again.

It’s been cold this week, but also very pretty in the sunshine.

I’ve downloaded a plan from the London marathon site. It’s a 16 week plan, but I’m starting with only 14 weeks to go, so that’s two weeks already crossed off. Only 14 weeks – if doesn’t sound like long that’s because it ISN’T long!

Update: Now it’s a few days later. And now it’s only 13 weeks to go, because I have completed Week One of The Plan! Four runs done – it was very do-able, and hopefully I continue to report good progress.

Today’s easy run along the towpath next to the river Thames from Kew to Richmond.

I will be fund raising again for JDRF – a charity dedicated to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Over the next few weeks I will write a bit more about this amazing charity and the research that they fund. I’ll be setting up a fundraising page and when I do I’ll definitely be posting it here!

Oh, and there will be less cake, as I was recently told that I have pre-diabetes – which was a bit shocking if I’m honest. But I’m sure there will be some cake, and I can’t get through Christmas without these Best Ever Mince Pies!

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Race Report: Osterley Winter 10k

Saturday 3rd December – a very cold morning, grey skies and a chilly breeze. I wasn’t feeling 100% either, having a croaky voice and sinus problems. Okay I probably should have just stayed in bed, but of course I didn’t.

Osterley 10k is always quite a busy race as it is flat, and is scheduled right after the Parkrun. In previous years I have done both, but I felt that really would be too much yesterday! I managed to find a parking spot, and went off to find my friends. We stood around waiting until the very last minute to take off the layers and hand in our bags.

Chris, Cate, Darren and me. We didn’t really want to take off our jackets, and I don’t know how Chris and Darren coped with shorts! But then they did run quite fast!

The warm up by the steps to the house was fun, and certainly got the blood flowing – why is it that you always feel exhausted after the warm up?! Then you have to run 10k!

Warm up routine by some people from GoodGym

It’s a friendly race, people chat to each other very readily, and while we waited for everyone to get into place for the start there was lots of conversation about times, mud, the cold.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas 🎄

And then we set off! The course is basically two laps, or a lap and half, but each lap is different. The route goes through the garden, and all round the grounds. There a few bits that are easier to run than others – the wide paths round the grounds are good, but the narrow pavement outside the walled part is annoying! And you have to do it twice! It wasn’t as muddy as I thought it would be, and although there were some puddles they were easy to negotiate round.

I was glad of my Santa hat to keep my head warm, although the dangling bobble was never going to be a good idea, so I tucked it in my collar. I also thought it would be fun to wear Christmas tree earrings – the jangling was quite annoying!

Lining up at the start

Even though I wasn’t feeling at my best I felt ok running. I had decided that if I felt unwell or out of breath I would slow down, walk or even stop if I really didn’t feel good. But in the end I did it in 1 hour and 28 seconds. And I really did feel all right.

However then we had to queue to collect our bags. Now I know that races rely on volunteers, and I am very grateful to all those who came to help out by marshalling, handing out water, setting up signs and organising the bag drop and all the other myriad jobs that have to be done. But. It was really cold, and we had all just got quite warm and sweaty running. This is not a good combination for standing around in a line. I think it took the best part of 30 minutes to get my bag and by the time I did I was frozen. I got in the car, put the heated seat on and the heated steering wheel but was still frozen when I got home. Then I had some hot food and got into bed. Three hours later I was just about thawed.

In the queue at the end. But before I was so cold I could barely talk! I don’t know these two women but they were very friendly and chatty. I screen grabbed this shot from the Ealing Half Marathon Instagram page.

The actual run was really great, but getting so cold did rather put a dampener on the experience I must say. At least in the queue I had a good chat with various people, including a man who only took up running a few years ago and now does ultras! (More than marathon distance.)

Osterley Park is a lovely place to visit. I wrote a little bit more about it in this post from 2019 – the year I ran the equivalent of a half marathon every month! And in that post is a photo of me in a Christmas pudding costume – and that was in 2018! So I’m sure I will be back next year. I just might find a way of keeping my bag more accessible at the end!

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Race Report- Ealing Half Marathon 2022

Happy 10th Birthday to the fabulous Ealing Half Marathon! Number one was set up to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics and has run every year since. Every year apart from one – in 2020 no race took place in real life, but there was a virtual run which I undertook on a very cold and wet day in Suffolk. I just re read that post, and oh my it was a very different experience from the one today! For a start it never seems to rain on the last Sunday in September in Ealing! The weather today was perfect for running – sunny, blue skies and not too hot.

Bright and sparky and ready to run!
Waiting at the start we found ourselves a bit too close to the 2 hour pacer for comfort so hung back a bit! All the Xempo pacers were women. Apparently the 2:05 pacer ran a half last week in 1:25 😳

As usual I knew quite a few people taking part, and also lots of the volunteers and supporters along the route. It’s always fun looking out for friends. It’s a while since I ran alongside another person (I mean apart from the crowd) but today my son Jack decided at the very last minute to take part. Later he told me that this was the only the 5th actual run he’s done in two years! So he was basically running on no specific training at all. Crazy. But it was very nice to have the company, and the encouragement. He set his fancy watch with a target of 2 hours and 5 minutes – ambitious. The first half we were on track and I managed the fastest 10km I’ve done for years! But after that the second half began to take its toll on our legs. There’s a point where the route goes quite close to our house – and his – and it is hard to run past that point when your legs are screaming STOP!

Race village atmosphere

But the fantastic support from the crowd, offering jelly babies, water and general cheering really does give you a boost. There is also plenty of music and drums along the way, with the Hanwell Ukelele Group smashing out tunes, and a fab dhol player outside the Sikh temple on Drayton Bridge Road. Click here if you don’t know what a dhol is! There were also some great drummers on the Uxbridge Road which was a great energising sound to hear at mile 12.

Happy – but knackered. We did it though!

As always superb organisation and a huge army of volunteers of all ages from Beavers to seniors made this a fantastic event, enjoyed by everyone.

Jack and I finished in 2 hours and 7 minutes. Hurray! He wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t done it, and I certainly wouldn’t have done it that quick without him, and his ambitious target! At the end my feet, legs and back were killing me, I’m not going to lie. However, after a long soak in a hot bath and an extremely good Sunday lunch at The Green W7 in Hanwell I am feeling ok, if a little tired.

Shout out to Race Directors Sandra Courtney and Christina O’Hare. As usual you have done an amazing job. And thanks of course to the founder of Ealing Half Marathon Kelvin Walker, without whom this wonderful race would have never existed. If you have never thought about doing a half marathon then start thinking about doing this one next year!

Lovely anniversary medal – and made from wood too for extra save the planet points.
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Let’s run in Rye

I’ve been away for a long weekend in Rye, East Sussex. I haven’t done a lot of running because I’m only here for a short time, and also it is the middle of a heatwave, and far too hot at most times of day to do much of anything, let along running.

But this morning I was awake at 5-ish, so I made the most of the cool(er) temperatures and went out for a 10km (6 miles) run.

My favourite photo from my run today.
First outing for my new running shoes! Adidas Supernova. Love them!

There was almost nobody about. I saw a couple of other runners, a couple of touring cyclists who stopped at a bird hide on the nature reserve, and a couple of dog walkers. Oh and a man delivering today’s newspapers to a shop.

Rye used to be next to the sea. I spent about half an hour looking on the internet for a picture of Rye in mediaeval times, and found one on another blog called LoveTravelEngland. Then I spent another half an hour reading the blog, which is great by the way!

I don’t know where this picture originally came from so can’t credit it any further than the blog it came from. You can see how Rye was once on the sea, and surrounded by navigable rivers: the Brede, the Rother and the Tillingham.

Then longshore drift created a spit of pebbles, and storms in the 13thC hastened the silting of the harbours and rivers. Now the town is 2 miles from the sea, and ship building, which was a major industry for hundreds of years, is dead.

Nowadays tourism plays a big part in the town’s economy, and it is easy to see why. The very picturesque buildings and cobbled streets are full of art galleries and shops full of nice things. (I bought a nice red hat…and a handy water bottle…)

Looking down Mermaid St, home of the very ancient Mermaid Inn (on the left) whose cellars date from 1156!

There are lots of literary connections too. Lamb House was once the home of Henry James and later EF Benson (of Mapp and Lucia fame).

We visited the house which is very interesting and has a lovely peaceful garden.

Back to the run. We’re staying right in the centre of the town, so the first part involved a few steep cobbled streets – careful! Then a long stretch of road to the village of Rye Harbour, passing many industrial buildings and factories. And finally to the Nature Reserve, which was looking beautiful in the early morning light.

This place recycles solvents. I thought it looked rather magnificent in a shiny metallic way.
A relic from WWII, a look out for enemy invasion
View at the turnaround point

It was a lovely run, not at all too hot. And I was back at around 7am! All done!