Archive for James

Long time, no see…

Congrats Andy on passing 500 miles and on his 150th day of running today… stellar effort and I thought you’d never keep it up!

So what have I been doing in the meantime? Well… looking after the twins and trying to work a couple of days a week from Chester mainly, which is why I’ve also missed the Tuesday runs… though I’m hoping to persuade everyone to change that to Wednesdays, in which case I can come back out to play.

Other than that, I’ve been trying, rather unsuccessfully to train for my other challenge, Brighton Marathon, Brighton to London run on one day (52 miles) and London Marathon the following Sunday.

I’d started off okay, got some new trainers, the new version of Brooks Adrenalins which I’ll get round to reviewing this week and had started upping the mileage again.

I’d got up to two runs in a weekend, one of 15 and one of ten when after one Sunday about three weeks ago on the former, I came home to find Laura needing some help, so without cooling down or stretching, I jumped straight into baby duties.

The next day, I was a little sore but thought I could run it off in a few days, so the following Friday, I went out and did 19 miles… oh yes James, well done, bloody great idea. By that afternoon, I couldn’t walk and couldn’t for the next five days… I mean seriously limping around here dragging my foot behind me when I wanted to go anywhere couldn’t walk.

The services of Lillian, my sports masseuse from last year, were called back into action and after some serious drawing of air over teeth, she concluded the tendon fascia that joins the muscle to the bone was being pulled away and advised… yes, the dreaded rest.

The week after, I gingerly tried to go out and got a mile from home before giving up in pain… I was hobbling so much I would only have managed to do more damage to the other leg and took another week off with ice and lots of ibuprofen.

Sunday last, I went out and managed to do six miles with not too many problems, although I was going sloooooooooooow. Welcome back to the world of 11minute miles! And I went to see Lillian again this week who has given me the go-ahead to start building up again.

I was going to run into the Express where Im working today and back, it’s about 14 miles in total, but I’ve now got a stinking cold so have decided to bus it instead.

Hopefully, I’ll be back on the road tomorrow.

Garmin Forerunner 405

Ease of use
Value for money

When I first got the idea to do the 1095 Mile Challenge, I realised I needed a way to prove I’d actually done the runs every day – someone mentioned Garmin to me, sports watch manufacturers extraordinare, who make GPS watches. They suggested I buy the Forerunner 405, which was the latest model at the time.

When it first arrived, I was a little flabbergasted with all the various settings but soon found it was pretty easy to just press start and stop and then download the day’s ‘run’ to Garmin Connect… the downloads soon formed the basis of my daily blog.

Through the year, I managed to get more clever in using it, programming training schedules into the watch so I could train for the Brighton Marathon and other races…

Just before the end of the year, it finally conked out on me, after around 400 runs or so in total – and only then because I dropped it and the LED screen went.

What did I do? Got Garmin to send me the updated model, the 405 CX… which I will review elsewhere.

If you need a great watch to record your runs, this is it.

Costs around £260 with heart monitor strap. Buy it by clicking the link below

A new challenge and strange things on New Year’s Day

So I know I managed to come back briefly last month, then I did a run of about four miles around Streatham, left my kit on for a while when I got home and came down with a cold that turned into a full-blown bout of tonsilitis…

This week, I’ve finally got back on the bike, so to speak, and have done a few runs around Streatham and have ran to the gym and back a couple of times…. it’s a key time for me to start training again as I’ve accepted a really dumb challenge from some friends: to run the Brighton Marathon one Sunday and the London Marathon the next… with a run between Brighton and London during the intervening week. It means we’ll be doing some 112 miles in a week, two marathons and an ultra!! One of the lads who I’m running with has a daughter Holly who suffers from hemiplegia, so we are running to raise cash for the HemiHelp charity, who kindly helped us out with a couple of pages…

If you would like to donate, please click here

As such, today I thought I would go out for my first long run in…. well ages, not the best decision, given I hardly slept last night (thanks to our newborn twins, nothing to do with partying). Eight miles sounded like a great distance and off I set at around 8.15 am after the morning feed.

The remnants of last night’s shenanigans were all over – a dozens of spent fireworks, piles of sick being picked at by pigeons, stragglers going home or doing the walk of shame from the homes of people they’d pulled and, in Tooting, one distinctly ugly and unsavoury pool of fresh blood!

I’d not really planned out my route and so ended up doing more than nine miles with the sights on the way giving me plenty of food for thought… while I thought I’d suffer, I now feel pretty good I managed upping the mileage again and don’t, thus far, seem to be suffering too much from the after effects of it… Now I just have to get up to 50 miles in training!


Don’t use it, you lose it!

So I know it’s been a long, long time… but I do have two super little excuses in the way of our two daughters, Martha and Gracie who were born at 3.53 and 3.52am in the morning on October 21.
Given they decided to make an appearance nine weeks early, the first six weeks of their lives have not been without their stresses: both girls were just over three pounds (1.5kg) when they were born and there was not an ounce of fat on them.
Their premature arrival meant the first four weeks of their lives were spent in hospital at St Thomas’s, where the staff are the Ellis family’s new heroes and heroines… absolutely amazing in their care and dedication to our new daughters and their kid glove handling of myself and Laura who were, naturally, crapping ourselves that something might untoward might happen.
Over the month they were in, I tried to make a fist of getting back to the gym and back to running but it was pretty half-hearted… trying to run to the local Virgin Active, doing a quick set of weights and coming back with a run again. I think I managed to do it twice or maybe three times in about five weeks. Until today, my last serious run had been on the Skins A400 run that Andy and I did and he posted the video up here. Four hours after leaving him that night, Laura was going into labour!
On top of the tiredness of sleepless nights and stresses in keeping them alive – I cannot say how many times our hearts were in our mouths as machines monitoring their breathing would trip off while in hospital – trying to eat healthily was a nightmare. As we were spending some 12-15 hours a day in hospital, it was all crap to be honest. The result is that, despite them being home now for two weeks, I’ve put on half a stone and so this week I have made a resolution to get back in the fitness kick properly.
Sunday, I drove up in the snow to the local Virgin Active and jumped on a treadmill for 30 minutes before doing some weights… I’d not been for so long I had no charge on my Garmin and so couldn’t record my times.
Today I remembered to charge it and took off on one of my old three mile route haunts, down Green Lane in Streatham and back.
The ice on the floor reminded me of the lonely miles I put in last year on the snow days, running like Bambi on ice … but it felt good to be back and good to get some air back onto my lungs.
I’m going to make a concerted effort now to stay back on track of things, I’ve missed the blog and I’ve shamefully left Andy with no support over the last two months – sorry mate.

Royal Parks Half marathon – run details and pic

Didn’t think it appropriate to include these with yesterday’s post…

Coming up The Mall from Trafalgar Square

One day I was proud of my run, the next morning I was screaming

I know it’s been a while since I posted, but it’s been quite a week…

There’s a quote by a member of one of my favourite bands that has always stuck in my mind since I was in my teens. When Joy Division singer Ian Curtis committed suicide, drummer Stephen Morris said: “In the evening I was turning up my trousers, the next morning I was screaming.”

It seems like a perfect example of how your life can go from mundane to tragic in the blink of an eye…

What brought this up? Well I’ve got to go back a week to explain.

Regular readers will know that Laura, my wife, is currently seven months pregnant with twins and last Saturday morning we had a bit of a scare.

At 5am, Laura got up, went to the toilet and saw she had some blood, by 5.30, we were at the hospital and heart monitors were on checking both babies, who, thankfully, were okay. Nonetheless, we were told to expect that an emergency C-section might have been needed and we spent the next five hours with Laura connected to a heap of machinery waiting with baited breath.

Luckily, the bleeding stopped, things settled down but they kept her in for observation overnight.

Laura was insistent that I didn’t miss out on running the Royal Parks Half Marathon, so after a night on my own that was pretty sleepless, I phoned her in the morning to check she was still okay and set off for the race.

I met David, my pal, near the start and we handed in our bags and made our way to the pen where our green numbers deemed we were aiming for times less than 1 hour 45minutes.

I’d been thinking about saving myself and not going all out for a PB despite the course flatness – with the Athens Marathon coming up in a few weeks, I’d decided to take it more as a training race.

But given Laura’s condition means Athens now looks like a dream (I WILL run it one day), I decided to push on at a comfortable pace and see where I was at the half way and make a timing decision then.

David was going all out for a PB, he’s a bloody good runner anyway and was aiming for a 1hour 25mins, so when the gun went, he shouted ‘good luck’ and was off.

The Royal Parks route is a gorgeous one, around many of the best sights in London. It starts at Hyde Park, goes past Green Park and Buckingham Palace, down to Westminster, over Westminster Bridge and back before heading back to Hyde Park where it does a huge sweep around before coming back to the start.

I was feeling pretty decent once I got past a couple of miles where it was tough to fight my way through the crowds and I knew I was doing okay when I saw my first couple of mile times, around 7.30 a mile, so I decided to push on at the same pace, knowing it would take me near my PB of 1hr 46mins.

At around seven miles and back in Hyde Park on one of the double backs, I saw David, looking really strong, coming back the other way, and also passed a girl Holly who I know from The Daily Express who was a good mile and a half behind me.

At 10 miles, I was looking good for a 1hr 40mins but began to tire of the pace, dropping off to about 8mins a mile before picking up again for the last mile and a half.

I ended up coming in at I hour 40 minutes and 40 seconds… not bad at all, 999th out of 12,000 people. I then caught up with David who came – gulp – 46th with a time of 1hour 25 minutes, had a quick wash in portaloo and headed to the hospital to see Laura.

Everything was fine, she was okay and I spent most of the day with her and we were told to expect her to come home the next morning.

For most of the evening, I basked in knocking a good six minutes off my PB and got up the next morning, did some work and then, when the text came in from Laura, set off in the car to pick her up.

Around 20 minutes later, I was heading through Vauxhall when my mobile rang. It was my youngest stepsister, Carey, I thought she was calling to ask about Laura and thought I’d call her back when I got to hospital.

But the more it rang, the more something nagged… and when I picked it up, I knew why. Carey was screaming and within minutes, so was I. Carey’s mum, my stepmother of 32 years, Josie, had died.

Carey had just walked in on her mother and found her dead in bed. With the tears welling, I picked Laura up and headed straight down there to find ambulance crews and the police talking to Carey and Nicola, my other stepsister. Josie’s body was lying cold on the bed. I went in and stroked her hair, tears falling fast. She was 63.

We lost my dad four years ago and since then, he had pretty much started to give up. She had one lung, suffered from pneumonia and emphesima and still smoked 40 a day. The oxygen machine she used was still attached to her face; when Carey had arrived it was still on.

Until Saturday she had been in Yorkshire with my other stepsister Sam who had brought her back to London on Saturday afternoon. The other girls took their kids round to see her, they’d not seen their gran for six weeks and they left her, seemingly okay in the early hours of Saturday evening.

Sometime between then and me running around Hyde Park, it seems her lungs finally gave up on her and she drifted off with the levels of carbon monoxide in her blood slowly poisoning her but putting her mercifully, slowly and without pain, to sleep. At last, she’s back with dad…

Over the past week, I’ve not been for a run, it’s all been too much and at times, I’ve felt overwhelmed with it all… I may go out tomorrow or Tuesday…

The next one is dedicated to her…

Guest post – The Melbourne 10k

Good friend of Alex Kyprianou ran the Melbourne 10k this weekend in one of our t-shirts – a stirling effort. Here’s his account of the day. We heartily recommend his excellent blog

There’s a new kid in town: or the king is dead (dying) – long live the king!

My tenure as fastest person in my household is about as stable as the Australian and British governments combined. No preference votes here only cold hard facts (or times)

Melbourne Marathon day today and I ran the 10k and my 8-year-old son ran his first ever race – 2.5k.

My average minutes per k = 5:16
Harry’s = 5:21

Alex, Harry and the MCG. Harry's the fast one on the left

I can make all the excuses under the sun about my preparation or the fact I ran four times his distance, but the reality is, he’s only 5 seconds per k behind me – remind yourself – he’s still only 8!

This is my account of the day:

Got up at 5:30am – banana and a fenac (thigh still a little uncomfortable). Due to a poor preparation I was hoping to break an hour and would be over the moon with a sub 55 minute.

Andrew kindly offered to pick me up and take me into town for the race. Right on time – well 10 minutes early actually, but we are both stickler’s for punctuality, so no problem there.

Arrived at the start 45 minutes early but in time to watch the 42kers head off. We had a few stretches and small runs to get us warmed up. Andrew was hoping for a sub 50 and we agreed to run our own races.

It’s 7:30am and a perfect 19c – for running – although by midday it’s up around 25c – couldn’t ask for more.

The course starts next to Rod Laver arena on the right –the venue for the Australian Open Tennis – One of the Grand Slams and the Yarra River (Jim Courier used to dive in here after he won the AU Open Tennis – twice if I recall) on the left.

We then head up to the iconic Flinders Street Station and the famous “clocks” meeting place – although there’s no time to stop – we’re only a k in. We then head to the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) and then through the greenery that border the Botanical Gardens.

We then head North up St Kilda Road towards the MCG (Boxing Day Test match and AFL Grand Final Venue) – It’s a fairly long and steep incline before we hit the “G” and a ¾ lap of the boundary sees us home.

The start:
The gun goes off and it’s a crawl for about 300m and we have to weave in and out of the slower runners. By the time the first k had come Andrew was 50m in front of me and traveling well. I was settling into a nice rhythm also, but at a lesser speed.
By the 3k mark, Andrew was nowhere to be seen and I’d just completed it in 14:47, so he must have been motoring. At the 6k I had delusions of breaking 50 minutes for 10k as I’d just broken 30 minutes.

At the 7k my lack of preparation hit me and I slowed to 5:45 for the next 2k and life was decidedly uncomfortable. Had a couple of stoppages to take photo’s and soldiered on.

Two people commented on my T shirt as they overtook me ( the rear says: “3 miles every day for a year” – James Ellis sent me it to me from the UK) I think they thought it was me who did it – I didn’t alter their perception! Well-done James – (completed the year last month)

About the 9k mark I saw Andrew again, but he was travelling west on Brunton Avenue and I east -probably about 800m apart. Onto the MCG and I was spent, I usually pride myself with a bit of a kick in the home straight – but I had nothing. Crossed in 53:22 and am very happy with my time. Andrew’s was a magnificent sub 50 minute – well done mate – one day we’ll run side by side in that time or less.

At the finish:

We then had a couple of coffees with Cilla, one of Andrew’s friends who’d also completed the 10k – she’s a doctor and gave me the exact same synopsis for my thigh as my doctor and gave me some other advice, which I should heed – god bless her! Thanks Cilla, great to meet you.

Next cab off the rank was Harry, Michelle bought him in around 10:30am for his 2.5k at 11:30. Decked out in his new skins, he looked the picture and seemed to have a calmness that belied his years – this after all was his first race.

Gave him the Garmin and bolted off from the Tennis Centre to the MCG to meet him – that’s a fairly stiff walk. Couldn’t see him arrive on the G or at the finishing line, but caught him as he came up the steps of the Ponsford stand to collect his medal.

13:23 for 2.5k’s – WOW – I am so proud of him

1095 miles goes Down Under

Im running the Royal Parks half today with some trepidation, but more of that after the run…

In the meantime, brilliant news from Down Under where our favourite Aussie (yes, he even beats Dannii and he’s not really an Aussie, he’s an emigrated Brit but you get my drift) has just completed a 10k in Melbourne – wearing his tee shirt.

He’s going to do a guest post for us about the race, but in the meantime, he’s a picture of him in kit before setting off … we’ll wait for him to post the medal shot!

Running from prettiest to shitiest London

Sunday saw my longest run ahead of the Athens Marathon on October 31, a pretty massive 21miler that took me from Streatham to Green Park via Balham, Clapham, Battersea, Victoria and Buckingham Palace. As with last week, I met up with the guys from my pal David’s work – we’re all running the Royal Parks half this Sunday – and went on a training run together.

This took us down Piccadilly, up Regent Street to Regent’s Park where we did a huge swooping circle that got us on the side of the Regent’s Canal that runs through London Zoo. It’s a route I used to walk many years ago when living in St Johns Wood and studying in Regent Street.

Running by the canal there is quite lovely – all huge mansion houses with acres of gardens that kiss the water’s edge – but once further over into Maida Vale, I was quite disappointed. For some reason, the houseboat communities there are have locked off their stretches of water as little gated communities, meaning you can no longer walk all the way down the canal bank from Camden to Little Venice which is, quite frankly, rubbish.

The diverted us to the A4 flyover in Edgware Road… from one of London’s prettiest areas to one of it’s shittiest in just a few clicks of the Garmin.

At the bottom of Edgeware Road we took on some of Hyde Park before I left the guys and took the same route home as I came. The whole run took me around three hours and 20 minutes and for the two days the outside of my ankles have been in agony – so much so, I may give the Royal Parks a miss if it doesnt get better, all very frustrating in my training for Athens.


Just a quick note on Tuesday night’s communal run that Andy couldn’t make… just a smattering of us this week as the day’s draw closer and the weather colder.

A little reminder: at least two of us from the site will be there every week, come rain or shine.

It’s a nice little communal run, not strenuous and above all, it’s safe. If you’re a lady who doesn’t like running at night on her own, having three of the ugliest guys in London in tow should help!


Back to running…

So after a week off, bar the handover run on Tuesday, it was time to get back on the bike, so to speak yesterday.

The Athens Marathon is approaching at the end of October, as is the Royal Parks half marathon in the middle of the month and it’s been a while since I’ve done a really long run.

One of the things about not doing the challenge any more is that I am able to take rest days and I hope this is going to improve my performance and so I set off yesterday morning at 7am with a spring in my step, despite the cold and drizzle.

My plan was to run the seven miles from home to Green Park, meet up with my pal Dave and a couple of other lads who are also training for the Royal Parks, do eight miles with them and then run as far home as I could.

According to my training program, yesterday should have been a 20 miler but with no real long for a few weeks, I’d decided to settle for 18.

Getting into town was relatively easy, I wasn’t bombing it, but neither was I taking it easy, the few days rest were obviously doing their job.

I hooked up with David and the boys at around eight, luckily, one of them was doing his first half marathon, had not done much training for a few weeks and wanted to take it easy, so we let him set the pace for the eight miles we had to cover.

We ended up doing a huge figure of eight around Hyde Park before rounding Buckingham Palace through Green Park, down the Mall to Trafalgar Square and down Whitehall, past Downing Street to Westminster Tube. It was all at a rather leisurely pace of around 10.5mins a mile.

We split up here and I headed back over Westminster Bridge to South London, we were at around the 15mile mark and I knew that every mile I could add on from now on was in the bank as training for Athens.

I decided to pick up the pace again for a mile or two but coming into where Oval starts to meet Brixton, I was getting less and less hopeful of being able to do any more than 18: my glutes and calves were on fire, though I was glad to feel mentally really strong.

In Brixton, just by the bus stop where busses come back to Streatham, I’d had enough. I’d slowed right down by now and decided to call it a day, jumping straight onto a bus – bugger it, I’ll stretch at home I thought. Bad idea.

By the time I was back in Streatham, I’d totally seized up and it was much too late to stretch out, so it was a hot bath for an hour and lots of neurofen through the day.

I’m aching like heck this morning and just glad to think I don’t have to do three miles – though poor Andy is probably about half way through his run at the moment!