July 2013Eclectic Cake: July 2013

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A Race with a Difference: Zombie Evacuation

I always think that if you have someone chasing you in a race, you run faster. Why not put this theory to the test and see how you fare in a zombie apocalypse?

Throughout October Zombie Evacuation races will be taking place all over the UK, where 'evacuees' will take on a 5k obstacle course whilst being chased by zombies. The course has several routes that could lead you into danger as you negotiate the living dead made up by Hollywood SFX makeup artists and explosions! 

Each participant is issued with 'lives' (tags that hang from your waist). If you manage to cling onto these, you're a survivor! But worry not if you become 'infected' (i.e. lose all your tags) survivors and zombies celebrate side by side at the after party with your commemorative dog tags.

Brave enough?
Use the code 'ECLECTICZOMBIE' to get 10% off the race entry at www.zombieevacuation.com

Monday, 29 July 2013

Race Report: The National Lottery Anniversary Run

DESCRIPTION:  A 5 mile route around the Olympic park, finishing in the stadium
LOCATION:  Queen Elizabeth II Park, London
DATE:  21st July, 2013

Every time I hear Bowie declare "we could be heroes" I well up. It was the anthem for the 2012 Team GB and will always stir up emotions of pride, joy and a touch of sadness that it's all over. So having the chance to try and relive that amazing summer by running on the stadium track was a no-brainer!

The stadium last year

My husband also decided that, for one time only, he would take out his running shoes and join me. I love that he has tried to be part of my crazy active lifestyle even though he still doesn't quite get why I do it, so I decided that this race was all about him. I would set the pace and encourage him over the finish line so we could finish together. Our aim: 10 minute miles to finish in the stadium in around 50 minutes.

This is what he thought...

"It was good to see so many people in the spirit of the games. It was an opportunity not to be missed, a run that we wouldn't and shouldn't get a chance to do again. It definitely made the idea of running more appealing than usual. I also thought it was fun to be part of Jen's world, to take an interest in one of her hobbies and do something together.

"We were the first back to the stadium"

"I was excited when we got to the stadium but nervous as I'd never run that far before and I hadn't really trained. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make the finish. The first three miles were comfortable because I'd done it before but beyond that, I didn't know. The hardest part was just after the four mile mark. That's when I really started to fade. It was good to have someone pacing me otherwise I would've given up and walked the rest of the way.

Our cheer crew

"We entered the tunnel of the stadium where they played 'Chariots of Fire' but I didn't really take it in. It was the gap in the wall, seeing the crowd and the track that motivated me. When my feet hit the track, I knew I'd make it. The best moment was seeing that finish line!

The actual olympic track

"I thought it would take me over an hour so it felt like a small miracle that we finished in 50:01. I definitely feel proud but I'm annoyed about that one second!"

At the finish line!

I am so proud of him! He's never been a fan of running and admitted he still didn't quite understand why I do it, but he gave it his best shot. And for that, I think he's my hero!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Race Report: Henley Triathlon

RACE:  UK Tri Super-Sprint Triathlon
DESCRIPTION:  200m pool swim - 12.5k cycle - 2.5k run
LOCATION:  Henley-on-Thames
DATE:  23rd June

"Never again, never again. Just this once, never again..." This was my mantra through the cycle of my first, and seemingly last, triathlon. 

The swim had already felt horrendous and that was meant to be my strongest section! With only eight laps of the pool to do, I decided to shoot off but after just 50 metres it all seemed too hard. My technique had gone out the window and I was just splashing around. To make it worse I got lost! We had to swim up and down each of the four lanes, cross over and swim in the next. For speed I thought it would be good to swim directly under the lane divide but I didn't quite make it under and head butted it instead. I never thought I'd look forward to jumping on my bike so much!

Initially, the bike felt amazing! I was so grateful to be whizzing around on a road bike rather than my heavy mountain bike. But soon the 'flat' course turned pretty hilly and it dawned on me that there was a final hill to climb before having to run!!! Why on earth was I doing this?! That's when I decided that this would be my first and last triathlon.

Until I heard a bell. 

That same bell had been ringing as I set off on my bike - it signalled that I'd almost finished the cycle loop! Over two thirds of the race done. That sound dragged me up the hill, past those that were resigned to walking up it and past the woman making that glorious noise. After declaring my love to her, I jumped off my bike and intended to run it into the transition area. My legs buckled! I settled for stumbling towards my kit whilst leaning on my bike. I shook my legs out, gulped some water and forced myself onto the run course.

I ran through my Bambi legs and managed to set a fairly good pace, finally overtaking the person I'd been chasing! That gave me a boost and kept my tired legs moving. One lap down and I could hear that pesky inner voice suggesting I should walk. I stamped it out on the track and kept going. Even in view of the finish line, there was no fuel in the tank to sprint. But I'd made it, I WAS A TRIATHLETE!!!

Not only had I finished it but I'd smashed my two goals! I hoped to finish in the top 10 of the 23 in my race, I was 8th! And I aimed to complete the race in under an hour, my time was 56:46!

Now all that was left to do was cheer on my husband to the finish line in his race. He finally emerged from T2 with a brilliant pace which he kept up for the whole run. I dotted around the course cheering him on, running alongside him when I could. Until he spotted the finish line 200 metres ahead and he zoomed off for a sprint finish! He came in last place by a matter of seconds but as the only one in his wave with a slow mountain bike I think he did an amazing job and certainly earnt some rest!

I am now well and truely hooked! It took just three days before I started looking for my next triathlon! Never again, my arse!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

LuluLemon Outdoor Yoga Class

I haven't been to a yoga class for a very long time, so for my return I figured there would be safety in numbers.

This morning saw over a hundred people gather in Covent Garden piazza and take to their mats for a one hour flow class. It was taken by a tag team of three super instructors, Celest Periera, Emma Henry and Rachel Okimo, with assistance from extra instructors walking around the space.

The class was suitable for all levels, with advanced yogis adding extra levels of difficulty to the basic poses (the girl next to me was a pro and took every opportunity to balance on her hands). I'm not quite ready to try hand balances like crow pose on a cobbled floor in front of this many people but I felt pretty strong throughout the session. And I actually managed to control my, normally erratic or worse not existent, breathing.

The class was friendly and lighthearted - it even included a bit of booty shaking along to a track from the live DJ. I certainly feel nicely stretched and energised, and I'm pretty keen to get back into the yoga studio (or outdoor public space) again.


Friday, 19 July 2013

Sweaty Betty & Hiitgirl Two Week Challenge

Last Friday evening, I was just about to tuck into some profiteroles when I saw Sweaty Betty's challenge to its Twitter followers – complete a five minute high intensity workout every day for a fortnight. Not one to shy away from a challenge, they were on! Plus it was the perfect excuse to eat even more profiteroles if I did just five minutes of exercise before I cracked them open!

You'll need plenty of hydration during this sweaty workout!

The workout is provided by Susan Dyson, the founder of Hiitgirl which specialises in short but high-intensity workouts that get results quick. Be prepared to sweat – those five minutes are tough! There are five different exercises that last a minute each and add up to a full body workout. Numbers are the name of the game – count how many of each exercise you manage in the time to keep track of your progress.

So far I've seen an improvement every day – whether that's in the number of each exercise I can complete in the time or the speed at which I can recover. This five minute workout is perfect for squeezing into a busy schedule or when you're on the move – this baby is definitely going on holiday with me!

(in order of exercise: air squats, running heel touches, press-ups, burpees and plank jacks)

Day 1: I forgot to count! But I'm sure the numbers were low. I held back, not quite knowing how long I could last.

Day 2:   31; 113; 25; 18; 72

Day 3:   30; 123; 23; 16; 78

Day 4:   34; 121; 26; 18; 80

Day 5:   34; 134; 27; 19; 88

Day 6:   35; 130; 28; 20; 90

Day 7:   36; 145; 35; 26; 88 (I'm pretty sure I was delirious and counted my burpees wrong!)

Day 8:   39; 146; 31; 20; 91

Day 9:   43; 139; 38; 23; 95

Day 10: 41; 139; 34; 21; 97

Day 11:  44; 150; 38; 24; 92

Day 12:  45; 148; 37; 25; 96

Day 13:  40; 159; 37; 25; 98

Day 14:  44; 161; 39; 25; 98

Day 15:  46; 161; 40; 27; 100

The numbers prove that practice really does make perfect! 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Race Report: Color Run

RACE:  Color Run (American brand)
DESCRPTION:  A 5k route where 5 tonnes of powdered pigment is thrown at you in different zones.
LOCATION:  Wembly Park
DATE:  14th July

Billed as "the happiest 5k in the world" expectation was high for the UK's first Color Run. For weeks, pictures of toothy-grinned runners in colourful clouds appeared on Facebook and Twitter - this was going to be something completely different!

Whilst I was really looking forward to the run, I couldn't get too excited as my race pack didn't turn up! The automated reply to my emails said I could collect it on the day but without contact from a real person I was left feeling a bit unsure. Also, with no bag drop for the event, I would now have to carry an extra top around the course with me after changing into my race shirt.

Arriving early to queue up with the many others missing their race packs, the atmosphere was pretty excitable. White-shirted people swarmed Wembley ready to be covered in colour. Race pack finally in hand - I could now get excited!

The event was very casual - anyone could start between 2:30 and 4:00pm so there was no hurry to the start pen. But after gathering together my group, we decided to queue up and get going.

There was no going. We queued up in 30 degree heat for over an hour without moving more than four steps! I worked through my bottle of water intended for the run before we even crossed the start line! There was no one handing out water to the parched crowd and no one to tell us how long the wait would be. I almost forgot we were going to be running - the energy was sapped out of everyone. But finally, we got the the start. The hype guy had his work cut out to try and get us pumping and ready to run - the crowd politely whooped and cheered and gave a sigh of relief when we started to move.

I don't know Wembley very well. But when a place has 'park' in the name of the underground station I envisage grassy fields, not a concrete industrial estate. This was not a run for the scenery. It was also not a run to take seriously. I didn't bother starting a mile counter, there were no time chips - this was a run purely to have fun with friends. So I'm hoping the girl I saw running on her own with her GPS and headphones in got something from it!

We got to the first colour zone to realise that there was no powder left to be thrown at us. Instead, people were gathering it up from the ground and throwing it at each other. We decided to join in - after all, getting covered in pigment was the name of the game. And despite it not quite being what we expected, it was really fun.

There were four colour zones - pink, purple, yellow and orange - each 1k apart. After collecting each colour on our shirts, shorts, socks, legs and faces, we reached the finish line. Thankfully we were greeted with water (after the refreshment station on the course only provided a bucket of water to dunk a cup into) and a pouch of colour.

The area past the finish line seemed to have way more energy and atmosphere than any part of the whole run! A stage played music and encouraged people to throw their pouches of colour, creating that famous cloud of pigment.

This was certainly a run to remember and I had a blast but I think after the chaos and lack of organisation at the beginning, this will be my one and only Color Run.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Trouble With Cycling: Road Bike

Once again those heroes at Hillingdon Triathletes have saved me - I've been lent a proper road bike! No more sticky mountain bike tyres and no bulky frame for my triathlon. This bike is light as a feather with skinny mini tyres. I'm going to float up those hills like a cloud!

A cheeky little test ride at Minet Park closed-road cycle track confirmed that I was about a minute faster per lap than my mountain bike time! It felt amazing to be gliding along, building up speed as I travelled round the track.

The bike has that most useful of features - a speedo. I can track my speed and try and keep it consistent. I'm aiming to do the 12.5k cycle in my triathlon in around half an hour, so my magic speed is 24k/h. If the cycle route is indeed flat, I should be able to maintain that. 

A test of my target speed showed I could do that and faster. That is until my hips began to seize. They got so tight and painful, my 10 lap test ride was halved.

Just when I thought I'd finally got comfortable with cycling, a new issue arises. I'm hoping that a lot of stretching and the swim warm-up coupled with race adrenalin will help stop the pain.

...with less than a week to go til race day, it has to!