Monday, 28 February 2011

Nike+ Sportsband

When I was training for the half marathon in September I could do a certain amount of the training just with a watch and mapping my routes. However, it got to the point where I was interested in my pace as I was going, rather than guessing. I decided to invest in a Nike+ Sportsband, even though I had heard some mixed reports. It was a lot cheaper than a Garmin, which uses GPS to track your runs, and so if I didn't get on with it it wouldn't be the end of the world.

It has a chip which goes in your shoe (my Nikes have a special place for the chip, but you can get a pouch to attach it to any shoe), and a wristband, as pictured above. On the wristband you can scroll through distance, pace, time elapsed and calories burned. At the end of your run you plug it into your computer and it downloads the workouts to the Nike+ website. Then you get graphical representation of your runs, and can see your pace etc.

I've found it really useful, and it seems to be fairly accurate, particularly since I have callibrated it. Obviously you don't need one to run, but it is a useful tool. Adidas offer a similar product called MiCoach. Nike are also going into the GPS market this spring, in collaboration with TomTom, so it will be interesting to see what that is like.

Worst run 1: Track session. It wasn't just that it was a tough session, I wasn't really feeling it either. But I tried to push through.

Worst run 2: 18 miles in the wind and rain. Why does it always start raining 20 minutes after leaving the house? By then it's too late to go back, but I'm not wearing waterproofs. Luckily at my lowest point I bumped into Gemma, and we ran together for about a mile, by which time I was feeling better. On the plus side, that's definitely the furthest I've ever run.

This is karma for not having a bad run a couple of weeks ago!

Tip of the week: Don't wash your running tights with Haribo in the pocket - it's really sticky!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

A weekend in Ireland

Irish landscape

So, way back in August 2010 a group of us won a castle in Ireland for the weekend. Clearly this is awesome, but once we booked the date I also realised that it was going to be slap bang in the middle of marathon training. So yeah, I got up and ran 16 miles around the Irish countryside having hosted a party for 30 the night before. And then we hosted another party for 30 that night, with black tie and masks. I don't think I drank enough water.

So the moral of the story is, take your trainers with you and get on with it. It probably won't be as bad as you thought, and hopefully you will have someone there crazy enough to be running the marathon too (thank you Gemma). I also recommend, without whom we would never have found this route, which was very picturesque. It was also quite hilly.

Best run: the above mentioned 16 miles. I think that is the furthest I have ever run.

Worst run: the dreaded track session again. 600m at 10k pace, 400m at 5k pace, 200m at 3k pace. Repeat 4-5 times, with 2 min recovery. Killer (and the girls wimped out on the 5th repeat).

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Big Champage Prize

As I mentioned last week, Berry Bros. & Rudd were kind enough to give us a huge bottle of champagne. That is it there next to a normal size bottle, to show the scale. Rather than raffle it in the conventional way we have decided to run a competition. Everyone guesses how long it is going to take me to run the marathon, and the person closest to the actual time wins. £5 an entry, so let me know if you want to take part.

Best run: 15.5 miles running the second half of the marathon route (plus a bit extra). This was recommended by a friend, and I'm glad I did it. Canary Wharf looked terribly far away as I ran over Tower Bridge (which made me a little emotional - I'm a sap!). But then you can't see it for ages, and then it is right there.

Worst run: Is it bad to say I didn't have a bad run this week?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Fundraising Event No.2

We spent a happy afternoon in November trying to work out what to do to fundraise for the marathon. We wanted to hit some different groups of people, while giving everyone something for their money, rather than just asking for donations.

Me, my mother and Maria from Riverford

One of the ideas we came up with was a cookery demonstration. Luckily for us neighbours of my parents had fitted out the potting shed at the end of the garden with a kitchen at one end, and the space was perfect for the demo.

And so it was last Monday that we ended up with about thirty women to be shown a main course and accompaniments by my mother and puddings by me. I was completely terrified at the thought of talking to that many people, but in the end it was almost fun, and it went by very quickly.

The basis of what we cooked was seasonal fruit and vegetables. Both my mother and I are huge advocates of the organic vegetable box, which has forced us to be more creative with vegetables than we would be otherwise. My mother cooked marinated chicken with roast vegetables, butternut squash and parsnip gratin (swoon), and sauteed cabbage. I followed with an upside down rhubarb and ginger cake, and Nigella's Forgotten Pudding, with blood orange compote. We ran out of time to make the custard!

We then gave the room a quick change and everyone sat down to eat what we had cooked. It was a lot of work, more than I think we realised, but worth it in the end.

A huge thank you to:
  • Riverford, who supplied the beautiful ingredients
  • Berry Bros & Rudd, who did a deal on the wine (and supplied a fab prize - details to follow)
  • The Windsor-Aubreys, for their lovely Potting Shed
  • Felicity, for sterling work with a washing-up brush
  • my family, who helped set up on Sunday and clear away

and most of all to my mother, without whom nothing would have happened.

Best run: track session with Serpentine running club. A ladder type thing - 600m, 2 x 500m, 3 x 400m, 4 x 200m, at 3k pace with 90 sec recoveries. God it was hard, but it felt good when it was finished!

Worst run: long run, Hammersmith to Kew Bridge, then to Putney Bridge and back to Hammersmith - 13.5m. I had two glasses of red wine on Friday night and felt rough on Saturday morning (I have become a lightweight!). It took about 4 miles to get into a rhythm, but after that it was OK.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

VLM 'Meet the Experts'

One of the things the Marathon organisers put on is a 'Meet the Experts' day, for Gold Bond runners. Presumably a lot of Gold Bond runners are running a marathon for the first time, and so they need some help.

For some reason this year's event had a Harry Potter theme, including an appearance from Hedwig the owl.

There were a variety of speakers, covering nutrition, apparel, fundraising etc. There was also a really useful description of how the start and the finish operate, and the best way to get there, and what to expect.
The organiser, Dave Bedford, is know for being a bit of a character. I missed the beginning of his presentation, so I'm not sure why he was in drag, but he was very funny.
The best presentation was Liz and Martin Yelling, who spoke about training. It's pretty difficult to tailor a talk about training to so many different people, but they managed to make it interesting, with some funny moments.

Best run and worst run: track session with the Serpentine running club. This was really tough - 5 sets of 800m at 5k pace with two minute recoveries. It was killer as we did it, but felt good when we finished!

Do feel free to leave a comment, particularly if you have any questions, and I will do my best to answer them. It would be nice to know if anyone other than my mother is reading!