Primrose Hill

6 Jun

My Juneathon tour of London continued on Sunday, taking me to Primrose Hill.

There was no point trying to celeb spot – apparently Kate, Sadie, Sienna and Jude are all long gone – and besides it was pouring down with rain and very unglam on a Sunday night.

My boyfriend was insistent we did our Juneathon duty and wouldn’t be persuaded that a few sit ups in the living room would be sufficient, so off we went.

Primrose Hill is, as the name suggests, a hill so he ran up it and I huffed and puffed along behind. I’d spent the afternoon in the pub and wasn’t sure I should be running after polishing off a gin and tonic and a couple of glasses of wine. Don’t drink and run kids.

Anyway, what with the hill, the rain and the booze it was all a bit of slog, with the only highlight boyfriend’s attempt to kiss me while on the run. No tongues, obviously.

Distance: 2 miles
Time: 0:20:00
Pace: 10:00


The world’s most expensive gym

6 Jun

My best friend lives in Chelsea and is a member of the Fullham Road branch of Virgin Active – the most expensive gym in the world*.

She claims to have got an introductory deal bargain and says she’s only doing it for three months in the run up to a holiday, but nonetheless regular membership costs an eye-watering, heart palpitating £1,200 a year. Maybe part of the work out is the increased heart rate as you part with that kind of cash?

On Saturday she signed me in as a guest, giving me a glimpse of the rarefied world of the Chelsea set as they work up a sweat.

“You won’t believe the number of YSL gym bags you see in the locker room,” she told me as we walked there.

At that moment a man with a large, live blue parrot on his arm (not stuffed this time – that was last week) passed us before turning into a smart town house.

“That man’s got a big blue parrot,” I stated.

She looked at me, clearly wondering if I could still be drunk from the night before.

To prove the point I insisted on breaking into a run so she could get a better view. This achieved, she had to admit that he did indeed have a big blue parrot on his arm and that I was sober.

Dazzled by the knowledge I was now in a part of town where distinguished looking 60-something gentlemen own exotic pets, I began to imagine what extravagances the world’s most expensive gym would indulge in.

On arrival I was disappointed to note a distinct lack of diamond encrusted trainers and gold-plated water bottles.

That said it didn’t take me long to realise that this gym was different.

If I were a single female looking for a rich hubbie to fund my ladies that lunch lifestyle I’d sign up immediately. It’s a would-be banker’s wife’s paradise.

The main gym is full of men, without doubt they all work in the city. I think you can probably taste the testosterone in there.

As we aren’t in the market for a Gordon Gekko we opted for the ladies only gym, and were greeted by the sight as a statuesque blonde model holding an arabesque pose standing on one leg and admiring herself in the mirror.

There’s clearly an under size 14 rule in operation as everyone in there was toned, tanned and owned thighs that didn’t touch when they put their feet together.

We had a good bash at 20 minutes of interval training to get the heart rate up, a bit of boring cross training and then we went to play on all of the exciting expensive equipment my gym doesn’t have.

The powerplate had me in fits of giggles, I felt like a turkey wobble personified. How on earth is that supposed to help you get fit? Perhaps the mortifying sensation of feeling your excess pounds wibbling for all to see reinforces the desire to lose them?

When I got off a Swedish goddess got on and did a complicated medicine ball twist sit-ups routine while balancing on the powerplate. It was impressive, but it did cross my mind that it must have taken weeks to master, and perhaps there are more important things in life. Then it crossed my mind I was just jealous.

Of course I’m being completely unfair – I’m sure there are lots of pretty toyboys and inspiring women of independent means who work out there too – not least my wonderful BFF – but it’s still the best people-watching work out I’ve ever had, even if no-one spritzed my face with mineral water or mopped my brow with a cashmere towel while I was on the rower.

*This may not be true.

A brief intermission

3 Jun

Alarm buzzes, swear at alarm, realise I still need to pack for weekend away. Remember trainers for weekend of Juneathon activities.

Arrive at desk in semi-human state requiring immediate caffeine administration.

Find out a man has been beaten up and shot in his own home over night. Regret wearing ladylike dress and heels given prospect of heading off to Huyton like this. Another reporter is sent.

News editor threatens to hold weekend suitcase hostage until I file copy. He looks like he means it.

Shift is supposed to end. I am on the phone trying to reason with a member of the public.

I am on train to London despite palaver over buying wrong ticket from the not-so-fast ticket machine.

Arrive in London, pick up keys and hit pub at 6.30pm for drinks with friends I haven’t seen for more than a year and who are engaged.

It is impossible to squeeze in Juneathon unlesss I attempt a tipsy jog at midnight. Inadvisable.

To make up for this the weekend ahead will consist of tennis, gym and run.

Distance: Zero
Time: Insufficient
Pace: Frantic
Excuses: Many and varied

Don’t stew on it

2 Jun

The full taxidermy story is explained here

It’s not everyday that I write a news story which involves taxidermy, but today was one of those rare days.

It’s tomorrow’s front page so I can’t say any more, except that my working day which should have finished at 3pm spiraled into a 12 hour marathon ending not when I left the office, but an hour later once a contact had given me the go-ahead to send a photographer to get pictures.

So when my thoughts turned to Juneathon day two it was 8.30pm and I still hadn’t had dinner and tomorrow’s 5.30am alarm call was already looming on the horizon.

Hettie our new puppy had been home alone for an hour and was going crazy when I arrived back, giving me the sad puppy eyes treatment when she saw my trainers. To make matters worse I could smell stew was wafting from the kitchen.

But as the taxidermy saga had been stressful with everyone in the newsroom wanting an update every five minutes I was surprisingly up for a run to draw a line under the madness of it all.

The idea of concentrating on something – anything – else was suddenly very appealing.

Because of the whimpering puppy (she’s only eight weeks old) I kept it short, but the sun was still out and George Michael and I had a little singalong to Faith as I chugged up the hill towards stew and dumplings. Lovely.

Distance: 1.3 miles
Time: 0:10:00
Pace: 07:41

Things I learnt on Day 1 of Juneathon

1 Jun

Had it not been day one of Juneathon and the shame of quitting therefore too great it is altogether possible that I would not have gone out for a run today.

I had to be in work by 7am and was filled with a murderous rage-like sensation when my alarm buzzed at 5.30am this morning.

After a day spent at the coal face of local news uncovering the kind of public interest news stories that the world needs to know about I had to have a little nap before I could contemplate running anywhere, and a piece of cake.

I was starting to weigh up the possibility of a cup of tea when twitter Juneathoner @stephenamp complained “About to go run day one of Juneathon. Unlike January I’m far from bounding out the door… whole body just says no!”

When I offered  moral support / hinted at the possibility that giving up wouldn’t be so terrible eagle-eyed Juneathon mistress @jogblog swooped and effectively kicked me out the door with “Slackers! I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s run already!”

Sulking a bit I set off, up the hill, onto the main road, past a pub – resisting urge for pint – and on and on.

The first two miles felt more like six and seemed to take forever, the last mile was fun and zipped by, but by this point I could practically smell dinner.

On the way, when I wasn’t thinking about how thoroughly unpleasant running is, I learnt that:

1. I need a PA if I’m going to complete Juneathon. Already I have a day where exercise is physically impossible due to work at 7am, followed by a train journey, followed by pre-arranged drinks. I wondered if walking from one end of Virgin trains pendolino service to the other can masquerade as a work out? I’ve decided the key to success is in the scheduling.

2. Running is all the mind. Actually, I knew this already but I forget and then am always amazed by the discovery I can keep going if I just don’t stop.

3. Coffee cake 10 mins before a run will make you feel sick, even if it is a very small piece.

Distance: 3 miles
Time: 0:29:00
Pace: Respectable


30 May

2011  got off to an ambitious start thanks to Janathon – a month-long pledge to run every day – but has since stuttered to a near halt.

The obvious solution? Sign up to Juneathon.

Now that I’m a veteran I know what I’m in for and I have a score to settle with myself after letting Janathon fizzle to an undignified end a week shy of the finish line.

Aside from prior knowledge and a sense of wounded pride other developments during the past four months make me hopeful of success.

Firstly I now own a bike, thus doubling my exercise options on an uninspiring day.

Secondly my boyfriend has suddenly discovered his running legs – which are annoyingly far better than mine – and is threatening to do Juneathon, which will inevitably make me jealous when he starts eating enormous portions of pasta without ever putting on weight.

Thirdly I’ve just run the Chatsworth House 10k for the second time in two years – and managed to take an extra three minutes to finish. That’s right I’m now SLOWER than a year ago. I am now signed up to Juneathon.

There is no beach holiday / bikini incentive as I have agreed to spend my summer holiday in Scotland.

Two days to go…

Southport Mad Dog 10k

7 Feb

Southport’s “Mad Dog” run earned it’s name on Sunday.

You had to be mad to take on the howling wind, and given the gale force gusts battering Southport I did wonder whether I might be quicker if I completed the course on all fours.

Nevertheless, it was a momentous occasion as training buddies Janine and Lyndsay were running their first ever organised 10k event.

At the beginning of January Janine had never run that far in her life, and although Lyndsay takes part in the insanity of roller derby on a regular basis, neither had she.

I have run 10k before and a half marathon, so couldn’t lay claim to quite the same level of achievement, so instead basked in their reflected glory afterwards when we celebrated a successful outing with coffee in MacDonalds.

I still don’t know what my exact time was, as the organisers have had technical problems with getting the info out – weirdly some people like @carlatutte got their times straight away, while Janine and I are still waiting.

Anyway, according to my watch I crossed the finish at 11am exactly, but I don’t know what time we set off, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t 10am on the dot. Also Lyndsay who was some way behind me got her time at 1:02, so I’m fairly confident I sneaked in somewhere between 55mins and an hour.

My aim was to do it in less than an hour, and without the wind I’d have zipped around faster still, so I’m viewing it as a triumph.

My abs aren’t so sure though, subconsciously I clenched them as I tried to force through the wind, and as a result I feel like I’ve done 500 sit-ups.

Running straight into the wind along the promenade made it a slow first 5k, but when we finally turned off the front towards the water stand the pace did pick up nicely.

Wiggling away from the front and across the bridges 5k became 6k without me even noticing it, which was pleasing.

Over the finish line I dived into the goody bag straight away, which to my delight contained Eat Natural bars. I am obsessed by them at the moment – I have no idea how many calories they contain (lots I imagine as they have scrummy whole almonds and macademia nuts in them) but I really don’t care.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning.

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