Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Race

Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Run – Race Recap

The best thing about racing a new distance is, of course, the automatic PB. And so it was with the race I just ran on Saturday, the so-called Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Run.

Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Race - running path

Path running through Greenwich Park

I have to say that I wasn’t exactly feeling at the top of my game when I woke up on Saturday. My glutes and thigh muscles were feeling a little sore and strained as I’ve had a bit of an active week, supplementing my treadmill runs with a painful krav maga session on Tuesday and a squash game (my first in quite a number of months) on Wednesday.

As this race clearly wasn’t something that I had trained specifically for, and I was only looking at this event as another training run, I wasn’t too worried about feeling a little tired and was keen to get out and get in a longer than usual run.

Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Race

Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Race start line. Didn’t feel entirely ready for this but somehow found myself at the start of the pack!

The route went through Greenwich Park, which meant that it was really rather hilly. One lap around the park was 5KM, so the 15KM distance meant 3 laps up and down the park. Thankfully, it was nowhere near as cold as the 10KM race round Regent’s Park two weeks ago. It was windy in parts, but again, much more bearable than my previous race. Really, it was the short and steep uphill section at around the 3.5KM mark and the longer downhill followed by the immediate uphill section in the last kilometre or so that were the real killers.

So I used to be someone with a real phobia of hills (which nearly killed me at the Connemara Marathon). I resolved to try to overcome this fear this year and have been incorporating a bit of hill work in my running routine. It’s nowhere near as structured or intense as it needs to be, but it seems to be a good start, as I found that I didn’t rue those mini-hills as much as I normally would have. Though I hated them in my first lap, I actually found myself doing the majority of my overtaking over these sections in my 2nd and 3rd laps which gave me some pleasure in my pain. :)

Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Race

Flat open space before heading up the hill

The race itself was a small affair, casual and well-organised. Registration opened over an hour before the race start time of 9.30am. There were an adequate number of porta-loos available for the number of runners (which were surprisingly clean) which is always a good sign. There was even a cheerful commentator pushing everyone on, with a good number of volunteers dotted around the route, providing friendly support and direction to the runners.

Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Race

Lining up for the porta-loos

There was one event that didn’t go according to plan however. A pretty bad accident occurred in one of the longer downhill sections, where (I think) a cyclist collided with a runner, resulting in the cyclist falling unconscious in a large pool of blood stemming from a head wound (she wasn’t wearing a helmet). This horrendous accident didn’t interrupt the race, though the accident was clearly visible for all to see. We saw a medical helicopter and police cars enter the scene when I finished the race about 15 minutes later, so I really really hope that both parties involved are now on the road to recovery without any permanent damage.

Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Race - finish line

Waiting by the finish line

Greenwich Park Tough 15KM Race

Water stand near the finishing area

In terms of my performance, my final time was 01:16:46. This comes out to an average speed of 11.72 km/h or an average pace of 5:07 min/km. I’m pretty happy with these results, especially when I think about the elevation profile of the route and am feeling really encouraged with my performance. My 5KM lap times were as follows:

  • Lap 1: 00:26:42;
  • Lap 2: 00:23:56; and
  • Lap 3: 00:26:08.

It’s pretty clear that I need to even out my pacing a little, but that will come with practice. In terms of my position compared to the other runners, I managed to achieve the following (which I’m ecstatic over):

  • Overall position: 36 of 110; and
  • Female position: 6 of 40.

Awesome! I’m feeling pretty chuffed with this race and am now trying to find a suitable marathon to start training towards. I really feel that I’ve now got the base fitness to commence a 4 month (or so) training cycle and I’m really looking forward to pressing ahead with it. Onward!

Stopping The Binge When Working From Home

My working patterns have changed considerably now that I’m working on my own business. For one thing, it now means that I have a lot more flexibility on where I work, and I tend to work at least 1 day a week from home.

This is mostly awesome because:

  • I save time by not having to commute to the office
  • I can concentrate better without the distractions of a social environment
  • I have more flexibility in terms of time – I wake up and work whenever it’s optimal and efficient for me to do so

The problem with working from home for me however, is that I haven’t got a dedicated work space. This means that I work from my dining table…which is right next to my kitchen. This is a dangerous dangerous thing for someone like me, who has to walk around every once in a while to think before settling down to refocus on the task at hand.

I operate on auto-pilot, walking a few steps into the kitchen, looking for something easy and quick to nibble on, effectively acting as a distraction. Being aware that I am doing this helps to curb it a little, but it’s not always easy to continuously have to use willpower to fight against habit and urges.

What I therefore try to do is to only have healthy snacks available. My first snack of choice will always be some type of fruit, so I always have my fruit bowl filled with apples, oranges and bananas. If I’m looking for something less sweet, I have jars of almonds, cashews and pecan nuts on hand. I also generally tend to have “proper” food portions sitting in the fridge or freezer (as I tend to do all my cooking in bulk), so if I feel like I need something savoury, I’ll heat up a small portion of whatever leftovers I have and have that as a filling snack.

Now it’s not enough of a check for me to just have healthy options available. As a self-confessed recovering junk food addict, I also need to actively ensure that I don’t have any poor food options available to me when I’m at my most vulnerable. Even with all the best will in the world, if I’m stressed out and looking for a munch, I’ll pick the Pringles over an apple every time. The solution for me therefore, is to not give myself the option of Pringles at all.

The other thing I always have on my desk is a glass of water and / or a mug of tea. Seeing the glass right next to me throughout the day reminds me to drink fluids continuously, keeping myself hydrated and less prone to feelings of hunger. I love tea and drink cups of it daily (I sometimes look at it as drinking fortified water ;) ). It also gives me an excuse to do something when I step into my kitchen, which is great, as I’d much rather be distracting myself by boiling water than to be stuffing something unnecessary down my throat.

Here’s a video of me as I talk through what I’ve just written above. I’m aware that I still have some way to go in terms of editing videos and speaking naturally in front of a camera(!) but I’ll try to persevere as I think it’s good practice for public speaking. :) The video ends with a quick tutorial on how I make my almond milk (the recipe of which I gave you guys a few blog posts ago).

First Workout After The Regents Park 10KM

Good morning! I thought I’d try my hand at another YouTube video so here you go. This one talks about my workout yesterday evening and what I ate (and how I made it) post-workout.

My Regents Park 10KM race was on Saturday, so I took Sunday off as a recovery day. It meant that I started the week feeling fairly good, with only the slight twinges of soreness, predominantly in my thighs. Anyway, watch on and let me know what you think.

I’m afraid that I haven’t really listed out the ingredients and method for how to make the two meals featured in a simple manner. If you want more detailed instructions, give me a shout! I’ll be sure to create better, more informative recipe videos next time round. :)

Regents Park 10KM Race Recap

So I ran my first race of 2015 on Saturday. It was one of the runs in the Regents Park 10KM series and I had signed up for it about a week ago.

I hadn’t been training for a 10KM race specifically, but I had been running consistently in the weeks leading up to it, in a general improve-my-fitness kinda way. So there were no formal training plans and no time targets for this race. I just wanted to use it as a gauge for where my fitness is currently at, compared to when I last felt at my fittest which was just before the Connemara Marathon (April 2013) when I ran a 00:47:16 10K.

Instead of writing a lengthy wordy blog post for the Regents Park 10KM run, I thought I’d try something different and create a video instead. Being pretty much a noob at creating videos, I’m afraid that the quality and editing isn’t great as I was trying to figure things out as I went along. I’m also not sure why I spoke so softly and slooowllly when I was filming indoors.

Have a look and see what you think…

The long and short of it however, is that it was a cold, windy and quick race. It was a pretty casual event that’s organised by the British Heart Foundation, so there’s nothing much to it. You pay your entrance fee (£13), collect your race number, get your free red shirt and then mill about until the race starts. There are no individual timing chips so no official times are provided post-race. There are also different race distances available, including one for kids and a 5KM run.

The 10KM run means 2 laps around the park. The concrete paths are pretty narrow, so there was a fair bit of over-crowding at times, especially at the start of the race. There were also some walkers taking part, so there was need to really take care during those initial couple of kilometres. The course was mostly flat, but there were some slight uphill sections (two if I remember correctly). Once you’re out running free, there are no tall buildings or trees surrounding you, so it got pretty cold and windy at times. So taking all of this into consideration, I don’t really think this is one for a PB.

When I passed the timer for the 1st lap and saw 00:24, I was in a bit of a shock. I didn’t really know what I was expecting from this race as I felt pretty slow whilst running and didn’t expect to finish under 50 minutes. Seeing 24 minutes gave me hope however, and I continued pushing for the last 5KM.

The kilometre markers went by slowly, and with 3KM to go, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. When I saw the finishing straight, I sped up, saw that I was going to come in under 50 minutes, and finally crossed the finish at 00:48. This meant a race time of about 00:47:55 (as I wasn’t at the start line when the timer started) which I was ridiculously happy about. An average speed of 12.5km/hr? I’ll take that! :)

First Race Of 2015 Coming Up

I say I’m going to blog more regularly and then don’t. Sorry about that – I seem to be finding it difficult to set aside time to blog regularly.

It doesn’t mean that things aren’t going well though! My resolution to eat whole and real foods has been going well, as has my regular and frequent workouts. There’s been some dips, sure, but generally speaking, I’m pretty happy with my fitness levels and my nutrition.

Rather excitingly, I’ve got my first race of the 2015 tomorrow! I’m equal parts excited and worried as this will be the first bib I’m donning in almost 6 months. Yikes! I’m going to be doing the Regents Park 10KM race tomorrow, so it isn’t going to be about endurance, but more about me testing my base fitness level. I’m using this race to figure out what my current 10KM race time is, in order to better plan what speeds I should be running my various training runs at. This will also give me a better idea of when I should run my next marathon i.e. is my fitness currently at a level such that I’ll be able to train for a marathon that will get me in under my 4 hour target.

Wheeee! Stay tuned for my first race recap of the year!

A Nutty Banana Chia Loaf

I was feeling a little out of sync today. The alarm clock rang and I found it very hard to get out of bed. The good news however, is that my cough seems to have subsided a little since last night and I think I’m on the path to recovery.

I tried to make up for my recent inactivity by walking everywhere today. This included a 45 minute walk to meet up with my co-founders at the “office” and another 35 minute walk back home from our last meeting in Farringdon. Not only was this a good idea, fitness-wise, but it also allowed me to by-pass the chaos due to the bus strike that was happening in London today.

I was hankering after a sweet treat today, but have been staying away from all forms of processed sugar and chocolate as part of my new resolution to eat whole and natural. To stop myself from jetting off to the Tesco’s nearby for a quick sugar fix, I decided to round up a quick banana loaf, filled with healthy, whole ingredients to satiate me. It was also a good use for the browning bunch of bananas lying in my fruit bowl.

Ingredients I threw in included bananas (obviously), almonds, pecans and chia seeds. Other fillers were 100% buckwheat flour and maple syrup to give it a nice caramel-y taste. A bit of grinding, mixing, mashing and baking for an hour and we were done – a nutty banana chia loaf.

banana loaf

banana loaf

Whilst my loaf was cooling, I popped down to the gym for a 50 minute easy run ending with a 10 minute uphill walk. The run went well, and I managed to end at a speed of 11.5km/h. 3 straight days of running and I can feel my leg muscles starting to tighten. I think I’d better do a spot of foam rolling after this (followed by more banana bread). :)

Homemade Almond Milk

I was working from home today. Sitting down all day, in the flow of work and not needing to stop to leave “the office” for home, it is incredibly easy to continue working well into the evening. It was therefore a little difficult to motivate myself to go for a run today, comfortable as I was in my PJs with my cups of tea.

I finally managed to prise myself from my laptop by luring myself to the kitchen. I had left 2 cups of almonds soaking as I wanted to make some fresh almond milk, so that’s what I did instead. I tend to take my breakfast oats with almond milk, rather than cow’s milk, and tend to go for the unsweetened Alpro almond milk brand.

There might not be any added sugars, but upon closer inspection of the ingredients, there are a lot of other additives in there. Check the listed ingredients out: “Water, Almond (2%), Calcium (Tri-Calcium Phosphate), Sea Salt, Stabilisers (Locust Bean Gum, Gellan Gum), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Vitamins (Riboflavin (B2), B12, E, D2)“. It’s not that bad I suppose, compared to some of the other commercially produced nut milk drinks out there, but I’d rather drink wholly natural almond milk, without the added calcium and vitamins if I can, especially since it’s so easy to make.

Blanched almonds

Almond Milk Recipe

  • 1 cup of blanched almonds
  • 2.5 – 3 cups of water
  • Dates / maple syrup / any other natural sweetener (optional)
  1. Soak the almonds overnight or for at least 9 hours in cold water.
  2. When ready, add almonds to a blender with fresh water. Add 3 cups of water for each cup of almonds. Feel free to add more or less water depending on how thick you like your almond milk.
  3. Blend for 3 minutes then filter the contents through some muslin cloth. If you don’t mind drinking slightly textured almond milk, feel free to skip this step!
  4. Add your natural sweetener to the filtered milk and reblend if desired.
  5. Store in a bottle in the fridge and enjoy!

Be sure to save the leftover ground almonds as they are filled with goodness and can be used for gluten-free baking recipes. To store it, I dried the ground almonds out for about 1 hour and 30 minutes at 130°C in my oven (stirring the almonds around a few times throughout), before stuffing it in the freezer. Easy.

Once I was away from my computer, the spell was broken and I quickly changed into my running kit. I ended up doing a great progressive run over 55 minutes (with 5 additional minutes of uphill walking), starting at a speed of 9.0km/h and ending at 12.0km/h. I’m coughing a little more now than I was, so I hope I didn’t push it too hard…but I did feel good as I was running.

Dinner was a vegetable stir-fry with buckwheat noodles in tamari and tahini sauce. It was filled to the brim with all sorts of vegetables, namely carrots, tender stem broccoli, peppers, mushrooms and spinach. Perfect for a cold night.

Vegetable stir-fry with buckwheat noodles