I have recently been re-reading Haruki Murakami’s classic running memoir as an inspiration to keep running in a very busy time of year, and with no major running goals looming in the horizon. I am not going to review the book here, but suffice it to say that it is a must if you are in a running rut and you also happen to like Murakami’s writing. Continue reading “The Murakami Challenge”
It was difficult to select what to write on my blog about the recent 3-day trip to Berlin to run the marathon. So many things happened in three days (including a race!). But, also, the history of me coming to Berlin and how I ran my first marathon here together with my friend Angelike back in 2001, as she was filming bits and pieces for our documentary ‘Run Natasha run’, and how the city affected me back then, meant that coming back here was definitely going to be emotionally charged.
There is something special about running a race in your home town. Oxford has been my hometown for the past 6 years now. And I still love its quaint streets, historic buildings and green parks as much as the first day I arrived here.
No wonder I loved running the Vitality Oxford Half marathon on Sunday. With so familiar faces around, friends, family and runners from Oxford Brookes Uni and Headington RoadRunners, the support along my neighborhood’s streets (the new course passes through Old Marston and right in front of Oxsrad, my running club’s headquarters) was incredible.
This year I was lucky to be a pacer for the 2.15 group, so about half an hour slower than my current half-marathon time (much easier to control the pacing when you are running at about half an hour slower than capacity!). I did it in 2:14:52, eight seconds faster to help everyone get a PB!
During my recent trip to Greece, time was more precious than ever. I wanted to see my family and catch up with as many friends as possible, as well as introduce my home town to the children and put a few good runs in. How to do it all?
Well, running with friends was a good way to see a good few of them! And the good thing is we got to catch up with our news as we were running and after.
Once in a while, we go to Edlesborough, a small, quiet, tidy village in Buckinghamshire, where my husband spent part of his childhood. Nothing much seems to happen in Edlesborough, which doesn’t take away from the perfection of the countryside that surrounds it. The Chilterns are not too far away and I have done some lovely runs over there.
Cardiff was the place I felt in love with racing again. I had never felt out of love with running. After training more or less consistently for more than 20 years it is a vital part of my well-being by now.
However, after my back injury which led to a long-term hamstring injury last year (through bad mechanics all around) it just felt painful to run at faster speeds for at least a year. I just couldn’t lift my left knee high enough to push forward.
Back in September of 2015, with my amazing coach Dimitris Theodorides, we talked about how I would start running again very slowly and training gradually and see where it takes us… And slowly did we start…
An XC race at last! And so, I managed to run in two fixtures this year. What painful bliss.
I think I did a little bit better than the first race and even though it was not as muddy, it was significantly more hilly, with four hills to tackle, this time, albeit fairly short.
I don’t often carry my mobile phone with me when running (perhaps only for long runs).
But that day (must have been a couple of weeks ago now) I did. It was right after one of our lunchtime running groups at Oxford Brookes and I decided to do one more lap around South Park before heading home.
It was the right thing to do, as I was compensated by those wonderfully serene views on a cold but sunny day.
The mud was so overwhelming that later that night I thought I might be having nightmares about what I had just done. This was my first cross-country race in five years and let’s just say, it all (re)started with a bang.
It has been raining a lot in Oxford over the past few days, so I knew there would be mud, but the extent of it left me shellshocked throughout the 6.6km run through Shotover park on a chilly January morning.