Tag Archives: London

MINDful training

Thank you to all who have commented on my last post. It is definitely great to be back. Look at me 2 posts in one week!

At the weekend I did something that I am slightly embarrassed to admit. I went to London….on….my….own. I know that it sounds mad but it is true. I got dropped off at the station. Got on a train and sat down to crochet with everything…..quiet. Yep, no chattering children but a VERY noisy old train. Oh well everything couldn’t be perfect could it?

My reason for going was for a get together for everyone running the London or Brighton Marathon for MIND.  Amazing!

This was where we met… the London Marathon Shop.                                         Source

This is the entrance. The TV’s showed the race. I had no idea that there was such a place. Right by Liverpool street should you be wondering. The best bit was that MIND runners get 20% off all the goodies in the shop. How tempting is that?

Inside there are a lot of lovely things. Some really nice tops and lots of shoes…….

This was one of my favourite bits….examples of the medals for each of the races.             Source

Downstairs was amazing. There is a ‘locker room’ with showers. The doors were amazing as they were really well hidden.

When they were shut that is!                      Source

All this showers bit was very important because we were going on a training run before lunch and talks. Don’t want to be all smelly for the rest of the day! The run was a 10k which was great because I knew that I could do it. The worst bit was the worry that I may just get lost. There was someone at the front and someone at the back but I was unlikely to be at either of these points so needed to ensure that I kept a close eye on those in front. This was harder than it might appear because London is full of people. (I know, shocking concept!)

This is a picture of the route.

This is a picture of the route.

Reading the blogs of people lucky enough to run in London regularly (Lottie of London) this was a really big thing for me as I read their posts and wish. We went past the London Eye, Big Ben and the houses of Westminster as well as some lesser known parts.

One thing that I had not appreciated before Saturday was the problem that people cause. I run on my own more often than not, in quiet streets. The only time people are a real problem is when I run in organised events. Even then the people are generally moving in the same direction but in London there is no order whatsoever. I now have a great deal of respect of people running in cities. Dodging takes on a whole new meaning! I am also convinced that I ran a bit further than the 10.2 they said I did.

On an entirely different note, my Garmin took some adjusting to working in London and being surrounded by tall buildings so it didn’t record the full 10K as it took a while to find a reliable signal (at one point the pace was 03.00 minute miles!!) I do think that I did run quite fast – probably all that dodging about!

As far as my husband was concerned I actually came away without spending any money despite being very tempted!









Run To The Beat 2012

Last Sunday I took part in Run To The Beat, a half marathon held in London. With an expected 18,500 runners this was the largest race that I had ever taken part in but, with the 14 stages around the course, one that I was really looking forward to.

A Cold and Early Start

The race start was 9.45am which felt to be very early considering we had to get there first. This was underlined even more when I was told that I would be picked up at 6.30am by the person who had very kindly offered to drive. This was in no way helped by the supposed extra hours sleep we would get as the clocks went back an hour. (Does anyone ever sleep well before a race – or before having to get up earlier than usual?)

The other issue was the weather. In the UK the weather has this habit of luring me into a false sense of security during October when it seems as if I will be able to enjoy the fireworks on Nov.5th without freezing. Then, during the last weekend in October it suddenly turns cold. This year was no exception with the first frost (and even snow in the North) being forecast for the night of the 27th! The trouble with this was that all the training had been done in relatively warm weather and we were, therefore relatively unprepared for cold. What would I wear?

We were given these lovely yellow t-shirts with our running number on. These are the proper running tops but were not really made for the cold weather. Therefore the Saturday before saw me rushing into the shops to buy a long sleeved skin to wear underneath.


The journey there was quick and easy. We parked right next to the start. So far so good! From there on however it got a bit harder. We had at least an hour to kill and it was COLD. Very, very cold out. Having done the obligatory toilet stop we decided to head for the O2 in a vain attempt to keep warm. It worked a bit and we killed a fair bit of time wandering around. As the start time approached we decided that we should think about getting rid of our bags and head towards the start. As we had parked so close we decided to leave our things in the car to save queuing at the bag drop off. Unfortunately the route to the pens took us through the bag drop off anyway. This was all incredibly slow as the shear amount of people meant congestion at the entrances and exits.

In order to get to the timing pens we had a very long, slow walk, followed by a long period of time standing around as we waited for the start. It was during this time that we quite simply froze. Those of us who hadn’t opted for under garments were positively freezing although how they could have been any colder than us with gloves, hats etc I am not entirely sure!

The Start?

As with all races it took us a fair amount of time to cross the start line. There was some confusion as to when the race actually started as there were two lots of cheering, either one of which could have signaled the start. We were later told that the race had started promptly. According to my Garmin we didn’t cross the start line until 10.03.

The Race

Route map

The route was easy to follow with well organised water stations scattered around the course. There were also a couple of Powerade stations. Most of the route was wide enough to cope with the numbers of people – some weaving is inevitable. There was one point where the race came to a complete standstill at a gate and several points with a 360′ turn that also slowed everyone down.
During the race there were also a number of sections where you were running with the racers ahead of you running the opposite way. I don’t know about you but I really am not a fan of this. It is a bit demoralizing to see all those ahead of you. I also feel a bit sorry for those behind me.


Very naively I believed London to be flat. This race is proof that it is truly not . There were a couple of hills that seemed to go on for quite a long time. I am very proud to say that I didn’t stop and walk but it certainly took it out of me. It would have been great if they could have put one of their stages on these as the music stations really did help to spur me on and would therefore have been very helpful on these hills. On a more positive note, over the last three miles there was a long down hill section which was very welcome indeed. I even overtook a motorbike on this (a slow one obviously but still!) 🙂 I was a bit cautious as to whether there would be an uphill but luckily there wasn’t.

The End

As always with me, I started off really well but faded badly at the end! I blame the freezing weather zapping all the energy out of me before I even started.

The ending was very much like the beginning. Crossing the finish line was relatively easy. Once over this we were all funneled and thus started a very slow process. We had to actually undo our laces to release the chip – not easy having just run 13 miles! We were given water, Powerade and of course the medal:

My Silver Medal (according to my brother!! but I am still waiting to see his gold – yes he did beat me!)

This was a very slow process during which we got very, very cold all over again. I would have preferred to have had a warm blanket rather than cold drinks!

Overall I have to say that the organisation at the start and end was not that brilliant, although the race was not that bad. As I write this post I see that there are several photos of medics helping competitors – due to the cold or simply casualties of the race?


According to the official timings I ran the race in 2.06 with an average pace of 9.39. I am happy enough with this……. but,  the map that shows my pace over the whole race shows miles 6-9 as my slowest. As these are the ones with the hills in this may not be very surprising but  personally I would have thought the last three would have been my slowest seeing how I managed to walk most of the last mile!

According to my watch I did it 2.01hrs with an average pace of 9.16. I am not sure which is correct to be truthful. My watch did finish before the race officially did but could this be down to the weaving around that I did. How accurate do you believe your Garmins or running  APPS to be?


  • I enjoyed running with a lot of people – it really helps to keep you going.
  • I enjoyed the atmosphere of running in a large race.
  • I enjoyed the live music around the course.
  • I did not enjoy the cold at the beginning and end although I do realise that there is not that much you can do about this, particularly the beginning.
  • The beginning and end seemed to be quite chaotic and the end in particular could have been better organised.
  • I would like the chips to be able to be cut off rather than us having to bend down ourselves.

Those of you reading this may feel that I am being a bit picky but I would just like to say that overall I did enjoy it and would run it again.
Here’s to my next race – a 10k on New Years Eve!

Photos taken from the Run To The Beat Website – fancy joining me next year? Sign up for news on the official website.

Lessons From The Olymimpic Marathon


Out of Character

Before I go any further I want to make it very clear that I am usually a ‘bar humbug’ when it comes to going on days out to busy places and often tend to avoid things that everyone else is into to (usually because I cannot bear hype or expense!). The London Olympics however has been different. I have enjoyed every moment of it and wanted to have a taste of the action for myself, that and I felt I should make the effort for this once in a lifetime opportunity for my boys. So we decided to go down to the see the Women’s marathon – it was free and on a Sunday.

Lesson 1:

The minute we stepped off the train we noticed all these wonderful volunteers. There were all over London ensuring that we knew where we were going and checking to see if we needed any help. Being the busy place it is London does not always the reputation as being the friendliest place, but for the Olympics it would seem that this has changed. My husband noticed ” ..even the station staff are friendly.” During our day the children got free rock to eat and we were all offered ice – creams (yes for free, no catch!).

The Marathon

I have never been to watch a marathon live – indeed I thought that it would be a waste of time but I was wrong. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The course was set out so that in total we would see the athletes 6 times. Great. The first time around they were all bunched in fairly close together but as the race went on they became more strung out which reduced the waiting time between each ‘sighting’. (Very important if you are under 10!)

Lesson 2

They have some very bizarre vehicles involved in the marathon!

The first vehicle showing the time that the runners had been running.

The back of the timing lorry secretly holds all the press!

A ‘camera’ car!

The front of the ‘camera’ car.

Notice the Belgian plates? I am guessing that this may be because their aren’t that many of these around. Why Belgian? They are not that renowned for their cars ( or not to my knowledge anyway.)

Yes that is a helicopter.

It followed the runners around and was the first indication that they were on their way to us.

There were many more – cars with ‘official’ looking people in, a mini-bus which I think was for collecting up anyone who got injured, and a few motorbikes. So not just runners!

Lesson 3:

Now I am getting onto specifics of running. (I must point out that I am not an expert in any way at all so this is all my own amateur opinion.)


I don’t think I need to say anymore. The focus of all these athletes was amazing. They just kept on looking forward and concentrating on their job. There was one poor runner who was WAY behind everyone else right from the beginning but she just kept on going. (She did get loud cheers all the way along but I have no idea of that helped or not!) There were others that obviously had hit the wall and were really struggling to put one foot in front of the other (some looking incredibly unstable!) but they kept going and when they reappeared  later on had got over it and looked stronger. Likewise there were some who looked incredibly strong when they ran past us but their position would indicate that they had some trouble somewhere.

The weather was not that kind – not hot but very, very wet!

At the start it was raining so hard the drains could not cope with all the rain yet they continued as if it was not happening at all!

Lesson 4:

Not everyone has a perfect running style. In fact there were some participants whose running style looked as if it would cause them real problems. It would appear that even some ‘professional’ runners have far from perfect form so I can relax a bit!

So would I recommend that someone made the effort to go to the Men’s Marathon on Sunday? Absolutely – despite getting completely drenched we had a great time and my husband (who hasn’t any interest in running would like to go back to see it!). London has really responded to the challenge and if you are able to go and experience some of it and you haven’t yet then I would definitely recommend it.