Posts Tagged ‘run’

Speed Racer

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

I never sleep well before running events. It’s quite frustrating as my body could quite easily use that energy when running excessive numbers of kilometres. However, I arrived at the start line for the HBF Run for a Reason on William Street at about 6.10am and waited for my cousin Kate and her friend Karina to arrive. As they walked towards me bleary eyed and we all grunted at each other, it was relieving to see that I wasn’t the only one lacking sleep.

There were about 3500 people competing in the half marathon and another of 28,000 completed the 4km or 12km courses. It is always so nice to see so many people participating in events like these. The atmosphere is very positive and supportive and it is a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

The race started at 6.30am with a hill climb up Malcolm Street in the first kilometre. Big thanks to Kate and Karina who helped me up this hill. I hate hills and Kate took the lead and powered us up. She then told me to be on my way as I had a time to beat – Sir Pubert had clearly been in a good mood the day before and had promised me dinner (to the value of £20… wow…) if I completed the half marathon in 1 hour 56 minutes or less. I was quietly confident but Kate and Karina’s pace meant that I wouldn’t make that time so I wished them well on their journey and picked up speed. As many of you know, I’ll do anything for food and running slightly faster seemed achievable.

Mum, Dad and Cali were waiting to cheer me on in Kings Park which was fantastic – not many other competitors had street side cheer squads so I was very honoured. After I had passed them, a fellow runner commented on my Paris Marathon tshirt and we started chatting. He and I ran together for the majority of the course so more thanks go to my new running buddy, Courtney, for distracting me from the pain.

The course was very enjoyable with plenty of good views in Kings Park, along the river and through the city. The long stretch along the Graham Farmer freeway was a bit dull and tedious and seemed to go forever. However a chocolate flavoured Gü gel spurred me on and my legs continued to feel pretty good.

The final five kilometres were rather painful as I became aware that time was going against me and I needed to pick up speed. So I said farewell to Courtney and told my legs to move it. The final kilometre was just ow. My thighs are questioning my logic, however I am very, very, VERY happy to say that Sir Pubert is taking me out for dinner. With a final time of 1 hour and 55 minutes, than £20 meal is going to taste oh so good.

Another medal!

Another medal!

Daily Triathlon

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

After being back in Perth for a month, I am now feeling more ‘at home’ as I have found myself a morning routine. I like to say that I complete a triathlon every morning before work but that may be a slight exaggeration.

5.50am – My alarm goes off and I regret having set it the night before. It takes me 20 or so minutes to roll out of bed, wash my face and get changed before going for a run. Most mornings I will do a 7 kilometre run, trying to get back home just before 7am.

7am – I drive to the beach with Mum, Dad and Cali for a quick swim. The last few mornings have been absolutely glorious – the water has been calm and clear and you can spot fish swimming around your legs. After a quick paddle and splash about in the ocean, we get back in the car and head home.

north cottesloe beach

Mornings at the beach.

8.45am – Having showered, dressed and eaten breakfast I quickly throw together my things for work and jump on my bike. The final leg of the triathlon is a 3 kilometre ride on my 3-speed, dutch style bike, avoiding hills as much as possible. Unfortunately the route to work requires me to go uphill, and while my bike is super stylish, it is in no way designed to go up hills.

By 9am I am at my desk having completely a fairly pathetic triathlon. And then I fall asleep.

Yet Another Half Marathon

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Call me stupid, but I felt 2015 was lacking a physically painful experience and so this morning I signed up for a half-marathon. I really enjoy the idea of half-marathons – not too long that you die, but long enough that it hurts to sit down the next day. I saw an advertisement for the HBF Run for a Reason event in May and got a tad excited. An organised run with water stations, cheering onlookers and a real finish line? Yes, please!

I don’t normally attempt to raise money when I do these races as it adds extra pressure to me completing the race and who really wants to pay to watch me suffer? But this time I have decided that I may as well see if people would like to donate money for Arthritis WA. Many of my family members, particularly my Grandma, are riddled with this painful condition and I will inevitably be next. So, raising money so that smart people can find a cure seems like a good idea.

If you’re feeling generous or would just really like to pay money to see me turn into a beetroot with sore legs, please donate via my ‘Everyday Hero‘ page. I definitely don’t think running 21 kilometres is heroic but it’s better than doing nothing, I guess.

Falling Ice Balls

Saturday, January 17th, 2015

It has become a regular occurrence that on my morning runs to Media City in Salford Quays, as I make my loop back towards the city I will notice a large black cloud looming overhead. In these moments, the sky towards Manchester is surprisingly clear but rapidly approaching is an ominous mass of impending rain.

No matter how fast I make my little legs go, there is no hope of beating the natural speed of approaching weather. And so I await the sensation of sharp bullets of water hitting the back of my legs and quickly accept that I’m about to get drenched. The good thing about this reoccurring phenomenon is that the wind is behind me, pushing me towards home.

This morning the rain came in the form of hail – small micro-balls of ice bouncing off my jacket, head and the ground beneath my feet. I had the canal towpath to myself as no other runners were stupid enough to head out this early on a freezing Friday morning. So it was just me and the swans enjoying the calm canal water being attacked by icy rocks. As I turned a corner and ran under a street lamp, the light bounced off their shiny surfaces as they managed to stab their way into my eyes.

And despite this discomfort, I smiled, enjoying the freedom of not caring and it not mattering. It was one of those moments where I realised how small I am in this world and how no matter what decisions I make or what routes I take in life, the world continues to evolve and hail will continue to fall.

So Long, Christmas!

Monday, December 29th, 2014

My inner Scrooge is pleased to see the end of all that tinsel, mulled wine and festive cheer, although I am willing to admit that Christmas Day turned out to be a lot better than expected. Some forward planning based on the knowledge that I would be spending the day on my own meant I could fill it with all things “Jess”.

1. Get up early and run a half marathon.

I don’t know many other people who would set their alarm for 7am on Christmas morning in order to get out of bed, eat breakfast and digest before heading off for an extended run. I figured if I had all day I may as well make it a decent jog so I set myself the goal of a Christmas Half Marathon. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

My running route.

My running route.

It was a beautiful, crisp, blue-skied morning and by the time I left home the sun was attempting to show itself. Perfect running conditions as I headed off, getting slightly lost along the way and having to re-route due to muddy conditions. My final distance was a comfortable 24 kilometres, the last seven of which were slightly less comfortable. I fed myself chocolate flavoured energy gels and recovery shakes as reward for my long slog. Holy moly, those things are good. I would run excessive distances every day if it meant I could eat chocolate-flavoured protein bars.

Run, rabbit, run.

Run, rabbit, run.

2. A little bit of stollen.

After de-stinking myself, it was time for morning coffee and a slice of Aldi Rich Fruit Marzipan Stollen. While it wasn’t bad for a budget supermarket cake, it certainly couldn’t compete with my brother’s version and there definitely wasn’t enough marzipan. But then again, is there ever enough marzipan? Ooh, deep.

More marzipan, please.

More marzipan, please.

3. Christmas lunch for one

A week or so before Christmas I saw a recipe on the Sweet Paul Magazine website for a beetroot salad that instantly screamed “EAT ME FOR CHRISTMAS LUNCH!”. Unable to find half of the ingredients (Dear British Supermarkets, please sell fennel. Thanks. Jess.), I adapted the recipe to include roasted beetroot, kale, blue cheese and an amazing mixed nuts selection that I had found at Aldi. Served with a glass of elderflower champagne made by my friend, Garden Boy (aka Jon), it was potentially the BEST CHRISTMAS LUNCH EVER.

beetroot salad

Wow. Just wow.

I Skyped my family back home while munching on my lunch and it was lovely to be able to sit and chat with the folks and the bro. Thank you for existing, Skype.

4. Christmas bake-off.

Thinking I would have all of the time in the world on Christmas day, I had decided to bake biscotti as a Christmas gift for Sir Pubert’s mum and her partner. I suddenly became aware of the rapidly decreasing amount of time I had to achieve this, so I bid adieu to my family and then raced around the kitchen creating what ended up being the best biscotti in my baking career. Boom.


Crunchy nutty chocolatey goodness.

5. Father Christmas really does love me.

Sir Pubert collected me and my hundreds of bags and we headed to his house for Christmas dinner with his mum, Katy, and her partner, Ken. Over a glass of champagne I was overwhelmed to discover that Father Christmas hadn’t forgotten me and had left a plethora of presents in a PaperChase stocking just for me. Plus additional gifts from Katy, Ken and Pubert – spoilt, I was.

6. Turkey.

A whole turkey for three adults and a vegetarian is a little excessive. Plus parsnips, potatoes, peas, bread sauce, stuffing and red cabbage. Followed up with homemade and hand-fed Christmas pudding with custard makes for many a stuffed belly. There was plenty of moaning and regret following that meal but a content bunch of over-stuffed humans we were.

christmas dinner

Mmm… too much food…

So while I may whinge about Christmas and its ability to make human beings act like piggish idiots, it was the simplicities of the day that made my Christmas very enjoyable. Great weather, wonderful family and friends, delicious food, and a bloody long run.

Une Petite Course à Paris

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

It had been over a year since I was last in Paris. Despite insisting that I would return regularly to see my friends, the ability to travel between Manchester and Paris has turned out to not be as simple as first thought. While the two cities are reasonably close, the cost and travel time between them is surprisingly substantial. Plus life has gotten in the way and my grand return to my favourite city just never eventuated. Until last weekend.

A few months ago, I received a desperate text message from my running buddy, Becky, asking me to come to Paris to participate in a group run. It was a long way to go for a 5 kilometre race, however I was willing to accept any excuse to get me back there. Unfortunately one of our other team members had to pull out and so we never signed up for the group run. Instead, the week after completing the Manchester Marathon, while still feeling the high of running 42 kilometres, I googled “Run Paris 18 19 May” et voila! There was going to be a half marathon starting from the Bois de Bologne and heading out through the banlieue to St Germaine-en-Laye that weekend. I told Becky, we signed up and suddenly a month after completing a marathon we were doing a half. Mon dieu.

Go Number 2931!

Go Number 2931!

The race started at 8am, an hour earlier than both Becky and I thought. We then discovered it would take us 50 minutes to get to the start line. So working backwards, we realised we would need to get up at 5.45am to eat breakfast, get ready and arrive at the race on time. Yay.

Bon matin, Paris.

Bon matin, Paris.

We played ‘spot the runners’ on the metro out to the Bois de Bologne, as more and more people wearing lycra, race numbers and carrying the plastic bags we had been provided to transport our belongings got on the train. The weather was beautiful – clear skies and a nice light breeze. Perfect conditions for the run.

The race was fantastic – described as being 50 per cent urban, 50 per cent vegetation, the route started in one of Paris’s wooded areas before heading towards the suburbs. We passed through small villages, dodging cars, jumping over curbs and turning sharp corners on footpaths. We then headed along the river Seine, running along a sandy path with the water on one side and huge mansions with amazing manicured gardens on the other. It was very beautiful and peaceful. The two hill climbs were less peaceful and my poor legs, which haven’t seen a decent hill in over a year due to Manchester’s ultra flat terrain, were a little bit shocked. However Team Blonde managed to encourage each other up both hills and we made it to the top without stopping. GO TEAM.

There were two issues with the race:

  1. There were no toilets along the route. This is fine for the french men who are able and willing to go to the toilet against any tree, fence, pole or open space they can find. Not so easy for the ladies who either had to drop their dacks in front of hundreds of people or simply hold on.
  2. The water stations served water in paper cups. Have you ever tried running with a cup of water in your hand? Have you then attempted to drink from it? I dare you to try it and if you manage to get more than half of the water into your mouth and not up your nose, all over your hand or on the ground then I will kiss your feet. Perhaps it was therefore a good thing that they were filling the cups with a high pressure water hose so most of the water jumped straight out and you were served a cup that was only a quarter full. Not great. Water is quite important when you’re running 20 kilometres.

The race finished at the Chateau in St Germain-en-Laye which has views over Paris and the surrounding suburbs. It was extremely pleasant to stretch our legs with such an amazing view. Plus we both managed to finish in under two hours (my time was 1 hour 57 minutes) – very pleasing results considering the warm temperatures, the painful hill climbs and the lack of water and toilets. Definitely one of the prettiest races I have ever completed. And I have discovered that a half marathon is less than half as difficult as a marathon. The painful bit of a marathon hits after you have reached the 30 kilometre mark. Becky and I both agreed that 20 kilometres is the optimum race length – not too short and not too long. Now I just need to find another race so that I can add to my ugly medal collection.

Nice view.

Nice view.

A Girl, a Man and a Dog

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Tuesday 18 March 2014 – 7am

I am running along the River Irwell, wiping away watery tears as my eyes react to the cool morning breeze. Some music is pumping into my ears; it’s Underworld, I think, but I’m not sure. It takes me a while to wake up and become aware of my surroundings. Not that long ago I was comfortably dreaming in my bed. Then my alarm screamed at me to get up and get jogging.

I pass under the bridge next to the Campanile Hotel. Most mornings the cars of business people and budget-travellers are parked out the back, but today the car park is almost empty. Under the bridge arch a man is pacing slowly. He is wearing Adidas sneakers with very white soles. He stops and pretends to tie his shoe laces to let me pass. He’s here every morning with his hood up, avoiding my eye contact. I have never seen his face. I keep running.

As I round the next corner I spot a familiar face pounding towards me and my spirits lift. I have met this dalmatian and his owner before on the corner of Liverpool Road and Deansgate. His spotted fur is tired but his face shows he has lived the good life; sparkling eyes and a slobbery smile, he lifts his head and sneezes a ‘Good morning’ to me as we cross paths. “Would you like a dog?” says the man, a cheeky grin on his face as he recites the line he uses on every lady he passes. Like owner, like dog, he has a generous face and laughing eyes. “He’s lovely,” I say, “but I’m allergic to dogs.”

His eyes widen in dismay as he contemplates life without his friend, but then he smiles and says, “Well, he’s allergic to humans. He has come out in spots.” He laughs to himself as he walks on.

18 Miles is a Long Way

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Last weekend I discovered that 18 miles equates to 28.9 kilometres which concurrently equates to a really long way. I also discovered that 30 kilometres is even further and that your thigh muscles really, really hurt if you run that far. Prepare yourselves for a bit of bragging, my friends, because I am about to get on my pedestal of “Look at me” and declare that I RAN 30 KILOMETRES LAST WEEKEND!

I joined a group of 20 or so runners who are all planning on completing the Manchester marathon in four weeks’ time. We met at the sports store Up&Running and after signing up, doing some nervous stretching and asking each other what on earth we were doing this for, we headed off. The planned route had been split into two parts – a 10 miler which returned to the store where we could refuel before completing another 8 miles. At the start this seemed like a great idea as it would split the run into two manageable parts. It was two short runs instead of one stupidly long one. But then we started running.

It was a remarkably beautiful day in Manchester – the sun was shining, the birds were singing and it was weirdly hot. When it has been below seven degrees for the past six months and it suddenly reaches temperatures around 12, it’s as if you have just walked into desert and forgot to wear a hat. It’s remarkable how 12 degrees can feel like 35. And this sudden heat wave made it significantly more difficult to run long distances. We were sweating.

I managed to complete the first 10 mile run fairly easily, sticking close to a group of three guys who were setting a steady pace. It was good for the ego to be one of the runners in the front third of the pack. And I wasn’t dead yet. Excellent.

Stopping at the store was both good and bad. They had a toilet; that was good. We stopped running; that was bad. We had lost momentum and starting off again felt similar to stabbing multiple forks into my legs. Luckily my new running buddies were very supportive and stuck with me. I really needed it when we were two kilometres into the run and discovered that the first half of the run was predominantly up a hill. The second half was then back down aforementioned hill. Having already run 10 miles, when faced with an endless upwards slog, your legs are not happy chappies.

It hurt and at one point I felt all of the sugar rush out of my body and I resulted to walking. But thoughts of eventually being able to go back down hill and the support and encouragement of my fellow runners, I made it to the turn around point and could head back for home. Unfortunately the homewards journey wasn’t a walk in the park as running downhill really hurts tired muscles. And basically I just wanted to stop running. But I continued on and made it back to the store with a miraculous time of under three hours. I amazed myself with my time and am now quite pumped to see what time I can get for the marathon. But I just need my thighs to stop hurting. It didn’t help that I moved apartment the following day.

Birds in the Mists of Time

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Manchester has been clouded in thick fog for the past two days making my morning runs quite interesting. Yesterday I ran along the Manchester Ship Canal to Salford Quays and couldn’t see beyond 50 metres ahead of me. It was fantastic – the heavy fog muffled the sound of distant traffic and as I stopped to stretch out my very sore leg muscles, it was just me and tiny sparrows who were darting about busily preparing for spring.

Fog seems to bring out cormorants. On my return journey, I spotted three – two perched up high on the tops of lamp posts, the third standing proudly by the side of the canal. They are such mysterious birds. If they were human, I think they would been tall, lanky men with moustaches, wearing grey trench coats and standing off to the side of the room before disappearing without anyone noticing. Cormorants have a way of looking at you that makes you aware you have been seen yet you feel like you are being purposefully ignored. They are not regular visitors to the canal – they just appear when it suits them and blend into their surroundings so it is often not until you are standing next to them that you become aware of their presence.

It was like a scene from Swan Lake on Ice that morning – the canal was flat and glossy with flocks of white swans gliding noiselessly through the water. Every now and then one would lean its head into the water to hunt for food, sticking its rear into the air to reach the delicious delights down below the surface.

However, the highlight of my morning’s birdwatching was the arrival of a flock of Canada Geese, flying through the air in a V-formation. This sight brought flashbacks of two great 90s films that were highly influential to my childhood. Obviously there was the ice hockey film phenomenon The Mighty Ducks with their game winning tactic of the Flying-V. And I will openly admit to seeing the geese, laughing to myself (and anyone who was listening behind the bushes) and saying “Fly away home!” Ahhh… so many fond memories of renting that heart-warming film from the video store during summer holidays and watch Anna Paquin show her adopted geese how to migrate. Cinematic brilliance.

Weekend Plans

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

It is Friday afternoon. I haven’t achieved anything of any economic worth since I walked into the office six hours ago. I have written a meandering, fruitless piece about ‘Home’ but it isn’t what I want it to be and it severely lacks a conclusion. I went for a walk in the sunshine; that was nice. And I found out a guy I share my office with worked (and danced) with Alison Goldfrapp. Very cool. But that’s about it really. Not the most productive day. Having said that, I don’t think Fridays at work are ever productive. When I worked at Curtin, my co-workers and I would bring out the wine and cheese at 4pm having had an extended lunch break and a lot of general chit-chat throughout the day. At the Co-Op, no one would call and ask for IT support after 2pm on a Friday. So really, I have achieved a lot today. I feel better now.

The weekend is almost upon us which should bring joy to my heart and a spring to my step but this weekend isn’t shaping up to be a great one. I have two main tasks to complete in those 48 hours, neither of which spark much excitement or happiness.

Task #1. Pack everything I own into boxes in preparation to move apartment. Woo. I am trying to lessen the pain by reminding myself that the last time I moved it was much worse. Last time it was from Paris to Manchester and I had to send everything by post plus cart two suitcases and a backpack to Gare du Nord, onto a train to London, then walk to Euston Station, then get onto another train to Manchester, before wedging everything onto the back seat of my cousin’s VW Beetle and carrying it all up a flight of stairs to her spare room. Now that was FUN. This time I am moving two blocks away and my cousin, Caroline, is providing me with the services of herself and her car. And there are lifts.

But who likes packing? I have put a few things in boxes but every evening this week I have returned home with good intentions of packing EVERYTHING but then convinced myself that I may need to use each and every item that I own sometime between now and Monday and if I pack then I will just need to get it back out of a box. So it has come down to this weekend where I will have to take a no-excuses attitude and just get it done. I am gaining some enjoyment from the fact that I am packing my things into boxes branded with Salt ‘n’ Vinegar, Char-Grill Steak, and Sweet Chilli flavoured crisp packets. I asked my local Sainsburys if I could have some boxes and the manager left a note for the unpackers to ‘leave 4-5 crisp boxes for a lady named Jess.’ I’m not sure why crisp boxes are the best for apartment relocations but they are working out well.

Task #2. Run 18 miles. The time has arrived for me to do my longest training run before the marathon and a sports store that is sponsoring the marathon (Up&Running) have organised an 18 mile practise run on Sunday. As running 18 miles on your own is really, really boring, I have decided it is a good opportunity to do the run and not fall asleep in the process. I am actively avoiding converting 18 miles into kilometres because then I will have a far better understanding of how far I will be running and then I might cry. Best to just whack on my shoes and follow the crowd.

So basically my weekend is going to involve a great deal of pain. However, in between all of this I am also going to watch my friend Nat play roller derby (which is probably even more painful than my two activities combined) and eat food. So I guess it isn’t all bad.

Happy weekend, everyone!