10 miles in Murder Common

My mood is stinky lately. Reeeeall smelly. Like a foot.

I hate that I’m so affected by bad weather, but I can’t get rid of this feeling that I just want to go home and enjoy a normal life where I can go outside. Everything about my life in London is great and I’m really happy … but so unhappy at the same time.

Saturday morning was kind of good, weather wise. I ran 10 miles in Wimbledon Common, but I started to get upset toward the end of my run because it was getting cloudy and rainy, and stayed that way for the rest of the day – including for my party!

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I was loving Wimbledon Common because I had no idea there were so many trails and private places. I started thinking it would be a place where I could easily be killed. Later when I told one of my friends about how amazing Wimbledon Common was, the first thing he said was that a woman was murdered there a few years back. Great!

I don’t think I need any more details. It’s a great place, and if you haven’t been you definitely need to check it out!

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I didn’t have a running partner this time, but 10 miles (mostly) wasn’t as hard as I thought. It’s amazing how quickly you get in shape. Up until the fourth mile I still felt great and wasn’t tired at all.

Then I came across some soccer fields that had a track spray painted on the grass. For some reason I don’t really mind running around a track. I wouldn’t want to do it for 10 miles, but 2-3 is fine. I kind of just space out and don’t even think about running.

Plus, running around the track enabled me to set down my fanny pack and water. Yeah, that’s right. I wore a fanny pack. Even though I’m a pretty big supporter of fanny packs and can’t wait until the day they come back into fashion, any time I wear one I still pray I don’t run into anyone I know.

I own two fanny packs.

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The last mile was so tough. My legs felt dead, and even though I’d brought energy bars for the occasion, I was too tired. I still managed to run, but at the slowest of paces. My knees were also hurting, which has been worrying me.

I half-ran, half-hobbled past the fair in Wimbledon Village, where there were lots of food tents, activities and tons of horses.

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By that evening my legs were really feeling the run. Even though at the time I felt like I had a good run, I was doubting my ability to run this marathon. I felt really badly, but that was partially due to the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day. I was too busy cooking and serving to actually eat, so by bedtime I felt awful. All I could think was: if I feel this terrible after 10 miles, how am I ever going to complete the longer runs to finish 26 miles??

I have a few shorter distances before it picks back up in a couple weeks, so I’m hoping these will be better! And of course I’ll be sure to focus on proper nutrition and eating – that was a bad one-off.

It also helps that my blogging friend Jill has decided to get a bit crazy and sign up for a marathon herself, so she says she’ll be running the distances with me – except in Italy 🙂

She has signed up for a marathon in Budapest, which I think is SO cool. I kind of wish I’d signed up for a European race, and turned it into a racing holiday. Perhaps next year – depending on how my first marathon works out!

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Summer nights

Tonight’s five mile run was surprisingly not hard.

Despite jamming my face off to some new Tim McGraw I downloaded, running through the cool air under the trees made me feel calm.

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It was such a nice night in England, but I definitely was not mentally in England. Between the country music and smell of nature I felt like I was back home running on my favorite trail in Ohio.

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I made sure to take stretching breaks, although when I sat down by the lake I really didn’t want to leave. One of those times I forget I’m in a city.

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At this point my running app decided to rudely interrupt my music to tell me my pace was now zero. Thanks for that!

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If England can hold out and have maybe just a few more days like today it might not be such a sad summer!

Jill wrote a great post about her run that coincided with my 9 mile run Saturday. Check it out! She’s also going to do 10 miles with me this weekend, except this time she’ll be back in Italy, where she claims she has to get up and run at 7 am because it gets too hot. I called her a show off! 🙂 Give us poor folk up in England some of that heat!

Nine miles through central London

Yesterday was my longest run in my month of marathon training.

I had to take a week off because I over did it last week, and I’ve never before moved my body nine miles in one direction without the aid of a vehicle, so I was nervous.

Luckily I had two people to run “with” yesterday. One actually with me, and one international running buddy. Jill, from The Cinquecento Project, is a fellow Mid-Westerner but lives in Italy, so she e-mailed me saying she’d coordinate to run nine miles at the same time. Really fun idea and I hope we can keep doing it! If anyone else wants to join in, let me know!

Although you’re not actually running together it’s cool to imagine you’re not alone and it also gives you more accountability because you know another person is going to be running.

My other running buddy was a friend from work. Normally I joke around and ask people if they want to run however many miles with me on the weekend and I usually get a head shake a laugh, but Hugh was crazy enough to agree to run with me. I didn’t believe it at first. I was like, “Ummm, what? Really?!?”

We met at Green Park, by Buckingham Palace, at 3 pm and did a giant loop around Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’ Park, past Waterloo and back around to Embankment.
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Hello, Queen!

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I didn’t want to overdo it so we stopped after every mile and stretched and had water. And took pictures!

There was some kind of parade going on, and while we were taking pictures I stepped to the edge of the curb and noticed a bus pulling up.

Here’s the face of someone who thinks they’re going to get hit.

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We ran along the parade and into Kensington Gardens. I’d never been to this part before, but it was beautiful and full of dirt paths so we didn’t have to run on the hard pavement. I think this was a huge help for my shins as well.

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I’m such a tourist. With all the pictures we took you’d never guess we both live and work here.

All the sites we saw on this run made me think perhaps I should do a long run in every city I visit. See everything in a couple hours versus a couple days!

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We crossed the river at about mile seven, and had to walk most of the bridge because it was packed with actual tourists.

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We’d been in parks all day, but ended at Embankment so we had to stretch on a concrete slab.

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I went home, made a giant dinner that I ate as fast as I could and then iced my legs with broad beans (I’m a proud veggie lover, but broad beans = gross). I ain’t wastin’ no peas on shin icing. Peas are most definitely on my “get in muh belly” list.

Although I’m pretty sore today, I’m very happy to say I’m not having an ounce of shin pain! This makes me feel pretty confident and I’m already looking forward to next week’s 10 miles.

I’m finally ready for my high school reunion.

So, I got business cards for my blog.

When they came in the mail I immediately felt like Romy and Michele.

I told all my friends. I was handing them out willy nilly, but it turned out I was handing them to people who already read my blog. Or people who know about my blog but say, “Your blog … that you post on Facebook every single day? Why would I need your card?” F off. Take my card.

Getting business cards is super exciting, even if all your friends make fun of you for having them. It also means that on the rare occasion I meet a random person, I can tell them about my blog without having them write the URL on a nasty napkin or on the back of a piece of paper. I’m owning this.

I always thought going to my high school reunion would be torture, but now that I can go and hand out a biz card and pretend like I invented Post-its (or write about food), I’m totally going. And dressing like Romy and Michelle.

Two random thoughts:

1) I saw Prometheus this weekend. It was … not great. The beginning of the movie was so awesome that I was geared up for my face to be blown off. But then the acting was really bad, the main character’s face was annoying, and it Jesus-ed out at the end.

2) I have an obsession with this song. I don’t know. Maybe I’m 70 years old.

I did a much better job eating enough to stay full last week. I ran four miles Tuesday, rested Wednesday and Thursday and then ran five miles Friday.

Due to the fact that I’d worked two weeks straight, including the weekend, I was getting pretty stressed! I ran way too hard Friday and am still sore today, and I drank way too much after. I got a bit English.

Here’s the fish fried in polenta that I told you about last week. It’s so good! I used the same seasoning for the okra.

Mostly polenta with a little white flour + Old Bay + s&p + garlic powder

Of course there was a big pile of rocket on the side, drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil.

See my boyfriend in the background? Little iPhone <3, we’re still so in love. He eats at the table with me every night and sings country music to me so I don’t get lonely.

Okra, get in muh belly.

Until next time …

I sing about chewing tobacco.

God help me. How did I become the kind of person who listens to music in which the lyrics discuss buying wintergreen Skoal and main street gas? Is there anything nastier than people who chew tobacco??

One time at a speech during school this guy from my class was being really sneaky and spitting his chew into a Pepsi can while we were supposed to be listening and taking notes. Guess what happened? Toward the end of the speech his can tipped over and I got his tobacco-laced spit all down my nice pants. At the point I was like, I honestly would not care if this guy died right now. He could fall over dead and I wouldn’t blink an eye. GROSS. (Sure, this was in Terre Haute, Indiana, but still. Disgusting.)

I am ashamed to admit I bought Toby Keith’s whole album today because I’m so obsessed with his song “Beers Ago,” where he references spending his last few pennies on chew. I’m not even going to put a link to it. I hate him! But I love him.

Anyway. There’s no good segue from chew to watermelon, so I’m just going to get on with it.

I forgot how much I love watermelon. Eating watermelon makes me so happy I want to sing. It makes me forget I work in a basement, in a country that’s almost always covered in clouds.

Snack at work today:

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Work has been nothing but busy, busy, busy, so by 7:30 p.m. I was ready to clear my head. At that point the clouds had cleared as well, and it was perfect running temperature.

I ran a really good four miles from Blackfriars Bridge, along Victoria Embankment, back across the bridge at Westminster and then back along the South Bank.

Also! I got a new running app for my iPhone and boy is it exciting. It tells me how far I’ve gone, maps my run, tells me my pace, etc. It’s like … magic.

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With the help of Dierks Bentley my run went by in a flash. It was such a nice evening. I almost considered doing the loop again, but my shuffle was out of battery and I’m not to the point where I can zone out as easily without music.

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I’m always concerned about running along roads because of fumes from cars, but for some reason when I run along the embankment I can only smell the Thames (which some people might argue is worse than car fumes!). Anyway, works for me!

I realized when I was running through tourists that I’m finally one of those people. Whenever I’d travel to cities like New York I’d see people jogging and think, “I wonder what it must be like to do daily activities here, like running through the park. Totally normal to that person!”

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After work and running it was too late to cook (up at 5 tomorrow!) so I got a veggie pizza from Sainsbury’s only to discover those sneaky Brits put corn on it. I don’t get the English and their corn fetish. It’s in everything!

My nightstand works double time as a dinner table. Single life, huh?

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Training along the Thames

Two thoughts about my first two weeks of marathon training.

1) I am so hungry.

2) I’ve never slept better!

I did each three mile run this week along the Thames after work.

I know just yesterday I was complaining about the weather in England, but actually, if you’re running there couldn’t be better weather. It’s been in the 60s and cloudy with a breeze – perfect.

Even though I’ve seen these sites hundreds of times and work by them every day, I still have to stop and take pictures.

There are no tourists in this picture, and any place in central London in which there are no tourists means it probably smells like pee. This corner totally smelled like pee.

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The first day I ran along the river toward Lambeth Bridge because I’ve always wanted to get a picture of Parliament from this angle rather than the typical Waterloo angle.

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I accidentally left my necklace on. No one likes a sweaty necklace.

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After that run I went to the only place I know that serves good iced tea – the Young Vic Theatre (where I saw Patrick Stewart!)

Perfectly unsweetened with a raspberry on top.

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Yesterday I ran by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I hear you can get standing room tickets for £5, and I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never been!

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The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is this weekend so they’ve put up this giant picture of the Royal Family. I’m sad I have to work from home this weekend because I’d love to see all the celebrations in the city.

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Hungerford Bridge by Embankment is maybe my favorite bridge to walk across – especially at night! If you’re ever in London I’d say walking across this bridge when it’s dark is a must. The whole city and river is lit up around you. You can see St. Paul’s Cathedral (where Princess Diana got married), the lights from the South Bank, the London Eye, and Big Ben.

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I absolutely love the South Bank and feel so lucky to work here.

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As I said, I’ve been ridiculously hungry. I had to start eating some meat, because I’m clearly not good enough/creative enough yet to do otherwise and not go to bed with a hunger headache.

So, I got responsibly sourced fish and fried it up with some polenta, old bay, salt + pepper and paired it with a big pile of rocket, spinach, and potato gnocchi that I fried in a pan with a tiny amount of oil and spices so it would get nice and crispy.

I have better pictures that I took with my Nikon, so I’ll post those, along with a semi recipe, this weekend!

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Up next is a seven mile run planned for Saturday!

Marathon training begins!

My first two days of marathon training are complete. Two words: hot. sore.

I can’t say it’s in any way been easy. I took a month off from running because I was so busy before my mom came to visit, and then I had no time for even a single work out while she was here. It’s amazing how much of a difference a month will make in fitness. Before, I could run three miles and wouldn’t really feel tired afterward. After running three yesterday and two today, I am sore and so tired!

The month + of rain we’ve had in England finally left and we’ve been enjoying temperatures between 75 and 80, which is great!

It’s not too hard to stay motivated on my runs because I’m really lucky and have a lovely running route.

My favorite blue house:

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And other cute English homes:

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I live close to a large park, and it’s great because it’s not in the city center so there are no tourists! It’s well maintained and spacious, and every time I’m here I forget I live in a big, dirty city.

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Anyone who thinks South West London is anything but the best part of the city is crazy.

SW-4-Life, yo.

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As you can tell from all the pictures, I took a few walking breaks 🙂

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Another reason I love this park is because there is a good mix of pavement and dirt paths so you’re not always on concrete.

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I think I might be 75 years old. Every time I see a lawn bowling club, I really, really want to join. Doesn’t this look great?

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I can’t wait for retirement.

I signed up for a marathon (!) / Leaving university crisis

Today’s post is a dual theme! Part exciting, part crisis!

On a whim last week I decided to sign up for my first marathon. The United States Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio, to be exact. I’m so excited!!

I ran the 10K last year and thought the race was so much fun, but I never thought I’d be able to run a marathon. I really enjoy racing and have been thinking I want to go for it and do longer distances, but I never found a marathon in London that I really wanted to do.

Once I got the idea in my head last week it wouldn’t go away. Why can’t I run a marathon? I changed my vacation plans to make it to Ohio two weeks earlier, and $90 later I was signed up for my first marathon.

I’m using Hal Higdon’s 18 week marathon training plan because I’ve seen him recommended on a few blogs, and the plan seems doable for me this summer considering I have only four months to train.

In other news: I might be having some sort of crisis. My friend Clay reminded me that we’ve officially been out of college as long as we were in it. WHAT?!

How has it been four years since graduation?? I remember it like it was yesterday. In our minute-long reminiscence of school we recalled the time we left the newsroom to go to Long John Silver’s and got in trouble for not bringing our cell phones or telling anyone where we were going, which undoubtedly lead to newsroom chaos. As news editors at the Indiana Statesman, we were highly important, you see. Stories about lack of attendance at SGA meetings won’t write themselves!

I want to go back to ISU. Maybe for like, a year. But I want my current lifestyle and amount of money I have now. Basically I want my current life, but minus all the work. I guess maybe I could go to some classes, but I have a feeling I wouldn’t attend any more now than I did back then.

Another thing I miss about school is cheap rent. I paid $280 a month for a room in a two-bed apartment just off campus. I pay about $1,100 a month for a room in a four-bed house in London. Granted, London is a tiny bit cooler than Terre Haute, Indiana, but thinking about those numbers makes my heart hurt.

Does anyone else after being out of school for 4+ years still want to leave the real world and go back to college??

The 10K sort-of training plan

I went ahead and signed up for the British 10K because I couldn’t resist.

I’ve been wanting to do another big race, and I feel like this will be a race I’ll always remember so it’ll be worth the money.

After feeling fine with a 5-mile run last week, I’ve started focusing more on speed. I probably should look at some sort of training plan, but I’ve kind of just made my own and it’s definitely been working. I feel about running plans the way I feel about following recipes. I try, but it doesn’t work out. I think if I get more serious about running and try to tackle a half-marathon I’ll stick to a plan, but for now I do what feels right.

As far as speed training, I cover 2-4 miles and alternate walking and running.

Walk 1/4 mile, run 1/4 mile until it’s done.

I start the run quarters about a minute-per-mile pace faster than I’m used to (5K pace is about 9:30/mile) and increase the speed as I get closer to the end. My last run went something like this:

By the end I was definitely beat, but I find that it quickly gets easier and easier and I’m able to kick up the pace after a few runs. This, combined with longer and slower runs, was how I knocked off seven minutes from my 5K time.

I don’t know if it’s common to talk about “fuel” for short runs like this, but I am one hungry person, so I have to think about eating around my runs. Yes, around. I have to eat before and after.

No matter what I do, I don’t have the energy or motivation for morning runs because I’m just so hungry, so I have to do them in the afternoon. This means I’ll need to eat a big breakfast, moderate lunch, and maybe a small snack plus water before I run.

After I run I usually drink a giant glass of coconut water and some kind of vegan snack bar. I really like Nakd bars because they have only 3-4 ingredients and are super tasty.

Just for the record, although my diet has drastically changed over the past couple years, it’s made no difference in my level of hunger. Ask anyone. You know angry drunks? Well, I’m an angry hungry person and I always have been. When the hunger starts, the anger starts.

Anyway.

My biggest problem right now will be trying to find the time to run while my mom is here until the 22nd!

I need a money tree.

Check this out. 10K road race through London. Sounds amazing, right?

I really, really want to run this race, but I’m having trouble signing up because it’s £50 ($75)! Normally I wouldn’t hesitate, but my mom is coming to visit next month and I’m taking her to Rome for a few days so I don’t want to compromise that level of fun. I keep having all these random expenses here and there so I’m trying to watch it.

Even though I’ve lived here for three years, I still think it would be so much fun to race on a course that has some of the most famous sites in the world.

I asked my co-workers what they thought about the race and if anyone would like to race with me, and here are some random samples:

“I’m not a runner. I can barely walk.”

“I sweat getting out of bed in the morning.”

“Why don’t you just walk past the sites?”

Haha!

After running a fairly easy five miles Saturday (as far as I’ve gone since my 10K during the Air Force Marathon) I started feeling like I could run this 10K with an actual time goal rather than a goal of simply running the whole thing as was my goal for my other 10K.

Decisions!

P.S.: Did you notice that’s not actually me in the London Eye picture? Like my sister, my friend Robin is also frequently mistaken for me (or I for her) so I feel fairly comfortable stealing her image. 🙂