Stance European Street Art Tour – London

As I work in The Running Works (http://run-fast-retail.net/) I was lucky enough to be invited to the first part of the Stance European Street Art Tour in London a couple of months ago. Stance is an American sock and underwear brand. They produce all kinds of socks, ranging from casual everyday socks to technical socks for professional athletes competing in the NBA and MLB to name just a few.

Over the last few months we have been selling the technical running socks in store. I have to admit before the tech rep/s came in to the store to let us know about the product I hadn’t heard of Stance. My manager and the reps let me know that they are massive in the states especially as they are the official sock of the NBA and MLB. As members of staff we were given a pair to try out. Initially I was thinking “Oh it’s just another sock, it’ll just be pretty comfortable as they all are”. Prior to wearing Stance I wore lots of different running socks. I would make a day to day decision based on what trainers I was going to wear and what the weather was like, I’d alternate between Balega, X-socks, Hilly and Adidas. Now I generally always opt for Stance. The reason being they are super comfortable due to the 200 needle count and they have a reinforced heel and toe so they hold their shape really well. This was demonstrated to me by one of the reps, if you put the sock into a foot shape it will stay in that position. There aren’t many socks that will do that. They also come in a variety of heights (tab, crew, OTC) so you can choose which you prefer depending on what run your about to head out on, for instance if I’m going to do some trail running I’ll put on the OTC to save my legs from being scratched and to provide some compression.

Another big selling point for Stance is that they look good. There is a wide variety of Fusion Run socks available (https://www.stance.com/shop/men/performance/run) so depending on what trainers you wear there will always be a pair to match them up with. Having a large (read massive) collection of running trainers it has been fun in recent months to play around with different sock/trainer combos.  

James, Claudia (Advent Running founders and Adidas Runners captains) and I coined the phrase #STANCEOFF a while back and have been sharing our favourite sock and trainer combos on Twitter & Instagram, just search the hashtag and get involved. It has been funny to see the likes of Anton Krupicka & Rickey Gates sharing their Stance sock pics with the hashtag too.

Right where was I, oh yeh the Stance European Street Art Tour. When I received the invite I was excited because I knew that they would organise a cool, fun event. It was definitely that. I arrived at the venue, which was a basement in East London, after work around 6pm. I’d sprinted up from the office to make it in time as it was a pretty early start.  

On arrival there were displays showcasing some of the Stance collection and there were a lot of blank rectangular cardboard boxes stacked on the back wall. I had a look around the venue, checked out what socks and goodies I’d been given in a tote bag and dropped off my bag so that I was ready to run. Having been on a street art tour (organised by Freestak/Like the Wind mag) before I was looking forward to it. It was a really nice evening to be exploring East London.  

 We convened outside for a group photo and then we were led off by our tour guide.  

    
There was a pretty big group of us running, it was good to catch up with Claudia and James, Mollie (PT Mollie) and have a good chat with Kieran Alger (ManVMiles).   
The tour took in a lot of street art including works by Banksy, Eine, ROA and Stik etc. 
   When we arrived back to base we realised that the blank rectangular boxes were actually a canvas for a graffiti artist to create a work of art on.  

We watched him working his magic for a bit but then pizza arrived, pizza is always a big priority. Another cool thing Stance put on was you could have a photo taken and it could be printed onto the side of a bottle of beer, clever! Most people stuck around for a while to enjoy the DJ set, eat food, drink beer and chat about running basically. 

As the event was coming to a close Simon, Julie, Lenka and Alex (all of Freestak/Like the Wind) dismantled the wall of cardboard boxes and handed one out to each of us. 

We were all given a piece of art to take away with us which was a nice touch. Overall it was a great event! Here is a link to a video of the evening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oeeKPKurVg

If you want to find out more about Stance follow them @Stance & @StanceRun #theuncommonthread

See a lot of you soon

Steve

P.s. Stance even do socks with cactus with sunglasses on  

 P.p.s. Excuse the pasty white legs!

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LBH No bridges relay, Fast Friday & Harry Hawkes 10

On Wednesday the 22nd of June I took part in the LBH relays. Normally the route is along the river near Westminster bridge but due to roadworks and the referendum the race had to be moved to near the O2. I ran in the LBH Bridges Relay last year and really enjoyed it. It was a 2.3 mile lap including having to cross a couple of bridges and go round a few sharp corners. Our team, including the super quick duo of Pete Huck and Kip, managed to win by a pretty big margin. 
This year we sorted a team in short notice. In my team was Ben Johnson, Luca Guarnieri and Pete Huck. As we were walking to the start area you could tell we weren’t exactly pumped up for it. We had all taken part in the track session on Tuesday night and because Luca didn’t know we were running until the afternoon he had already ran 20k that day. Not ideal race prep. However it was good to turn up and represent Run-Fast, we supply the race bibs for the event. 

I ran the first leg for our team. Similarly to last year I was about a minute off the lead when I handed over to Luca. Due to running the City of London Mile a few days before and the track session I was happy with posting a time of 12:07 for 2.3 miles. Considering having 20k in his legs Luca ran a solid leg and then Ben and Pete sped round the course. Pete clocked the quicker slap of the evening in eleven minutes. We had managed to finish top 10 which was a good effort, some of the teams there were pretty quick.  

 Wanting to take part in Night of the 10,000 PBs next year I decided it would be good to get a track race under my belt. My colleague Mary let me know about Fast Friday that Orion Harriers put on so I decided to sign up. I opted to take part in the 10,000m race as I wanted to see what 25 laps of a track felt like. As my 10k PB on road was 34:58 I put down 35 minutes as my goal time knowing my legs wouldn’t be fresh post City of London Mile etc. 

After work I headed to Walthamstow track and arrived approximately an hour before the 8:15 start. I picked up my race number and caught up with Mary whilst watching the first couple of races. 

 Martin and Lydia who I know through the Running Works were racing so it was good to watch and cheer them on. I ran a couple of laps of the track to warm up but before I knew it the race was starting. My legs were feeling a bit tired from track and the LBH relays in the week but I was hoping they’d loosen up after a couple of laps.

Luckily for me they had to combine two of the 10k races due to the floodlights not working. I thought it would be better to be in a race with more people around. Another good thing was that there was a pacer on 35min pace for the first 9 laps. I went out a bit quicker than this but after a couple laps settled in behind the pacer. I held 3:30min/km for the majority of the race and the laps soon went. There were a couple of other runners around me and we took it in turns going in front. 

With a few laps to go my legs were still feeling good so I upped my pace to make sure I’d go sub 35 minutes. I finished in 34:50, I really enjoyed my first track race and can’t wait to do another one. Hopefully I can taper for my next track race and maybe post a time in the low 34 minutes if not quicker. After my race I watched the 5,000m A race. Adam Kirk-Smith who used to live with Mary and runs at track smashed it running sub 15 minutes. It’s great doing events like this and watching and running with people quicker than you. It makes me want to train harder and get to that level.

To finish my week of racing I took part in the Harry Hawkes 10 miler on the Sunday. Having ran the race with my girlfriend Lorna in 2015 I knew it was a good fun event to do. Lorna was running it again but was using it as more of a training run having done a long run the day before. I had rested post Fast Friday and so was hoping for a 10 mile PB (having not raced many 10 milers before).

My primary aim was to run sub 60 minutes. Having run half marathons at quicker than that pace I thought it would be doable but I didn’t know how tired my legs would be. Off the start I was close to my half marathon pace but after a couple of miles I realised my legs were pretty tired.  

I had to ease off but managed to finish in a time of 59 minutes. I really enjoy the Harry Hawkes 10 route along the river. As long as it fits in the race calendar I’ll always be back. 

Lorna ran really well finishing only a couple of minutes slower than last year. This was good considering we ran 71 minutes last year together, she had done a long run the day before and had to stop to tie her shoelaces.  

    
 Overall it was a busy 8 days but I’m happy with the results:

City of London Mile: 4:43 (PB)

LBH Bridges (No bridges) Relay: 12:07 (all important 2.3 mile PB)

Fast Friday: 34:50 (10,000m PB)

Harry Hawkes 10: 59:00 (10M PB)

See a lot of you soon

Steve

The City of London Mile 2016

On Sunday the 19th of June I ran in my third City of London Mile. In 2014 I ran the race after completing the Hackney Half Marathon; it was a really good idea to put on a wave which allowed runners to travel across from East London to take part. It was the first mile race I took part in; I really enjoyed it and although I was fatigued from running the half marathon in the morning in the heat it gave me a benchmark to know how fast I could probably run a mile. I ran 5:42 which I was happy with considering I ran a 1:21 half a few hours before (not far from my PB at the time). In the first year I was still working at the London Marathon Store and had heard about Run-Fast/The Running Works/City of London Mile via social media. In April 2015 I started working in The Running Works, I couldn’t wait for the City of London Mile to come around as I knew it would be a fun day to work, and run in one of the waves.
Last year I ran in wave 2. Having ran the Westminster Mile in 5:03 a couple of weeks before the COLM I knew I would get close to that elusive sub 5. Being in training for Race to the Stones 100k scuppered my plans a bit. I needed to be doing more mileage so had ran 19 miles on the Saturday before the race. Despite the long run I felt pretty good on the day and managed to run 5:02. I was happy with the result but ultimately I wanted a time with a 4 at the start. With a shortage of mile races around I knew it would be a fair while until I could give it another crack. I really enjoyed the event last year, the atmosphere was great again and it was awesome to see so many friends racing and beating their PBs. I found it really good fun to cheer on other runners, from elite athletes to parents and children in the family waves. The mile distance really is great as it is so inclusive. There was a similar atmosphere to parkrun, there’s a great sense of community.
This year in the build up to the City of London Mile, James, David, Nikki and I headed across the city to show our support for the Ealing Mile. It was a good team outing and another opportunity for me to attempt that sub 5 again. You can read about what happened here: 

https://steveskinner3.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/ealing-mile-sdw-hackney-half-marathon/

After going sub 5 at the Ealing Mile I wanted to try and scrape some more time off. Having been to track regularly over the last year and a bit I was quietly confident, however due to lots of running in the Black Forest and Endure 24 etc my legs were feeling a bit knackered. On the Saturday Lorna and I did a long run to Greenwich and back in preparation for the Zagori Marathon in Greece, it was a really nice day for it, it’s always good to do a long run along the river. On Sunday I woke up bright and early to head towards St. Pauls and the race village site. I couldn’t believe our luck with the weather, it was so nice and sunny. The first couple hours of the day went really quickly, helping to set up The Running Works retail space and putting out signs etc. At about 9:30am I had to run down to Monument station to let one of the vans into the race area, this doubled up as a warm up/shakeout ha. I got back to The Running Works tent to put on my racing singlet and split shorts and then jogged down to the start line outside St. Pauls for 10 o’clock.

In the lead up to the race a number of friends had signed up and were aiming for a time similar to mine, sub 5 again. In the store we had a board put in place for people to write down their predicted times, initially I had set mine at 4:57. This kept creeping down as Ken (massage therapist at work) was coming in to the store and putting down one second quicker than me. This resulted in the hashtags: #KenVSteve, #SteveWho, #KenWho etc. Andy Cohen-Wray had also been making predictions and was dishing out the trash talk pre-race on Twitter. In wave 1 was a couple hundred people, including: Ken, Andy, Robbie Smith, Adam Lennox, Fabio Rizzo, Alex Van Oostrum, Billy Rayner, Ed Price, Paul Martelletti and Gemma Hockett. I positioned myself a couple of rows back from the start line and then before we knew it we were off. Knowing that if I ran around 3 min/km pace I would finish sub 5 I glanced at my watch a couple of times in the first few hundred metres to check I was on the target pace. I felt good after the first 800m so started to up it. I was overtaking quite a few runners and as I took the few corners around Bank I could see Ken. I tracked him down and then on the last corner before the straight up Cheapside I passed him. My legs were still feeling good and I managed a decent kick up the home straight despite it being a little in to wind.  


 I ran straight through the finish line not looking at the clock but I knew I had gone sub 5 again. I love the adrenaline rush you get from racing, especially over the shorter distances. I’ve started really enjoying pushing the pace on shorter reps at track. Having not stopped my watch on the finish line I was wondering what time I’d done. 

In the finish area Ken, Andy and I congratulated each other on a great run, Ken beat his estimated time finishing in 4:48 and Andy ran 5:07. He’d raced the day before and has been racing a huge amount recently, or at least that’s his excuse ;).

 

After completing my mile I spent the majority of the day in The Running Works tent selling our COLM tees and taking photos of people with the selfie frames. I feel that the event was even more enjoyable this year than last. One of the massive contributing factors to this was a lot of the lead volunteers were Advent Runners. James and Claudia did a great job in helping organise the start and baggage drop areas. The whole group of volunteers were so enthusiastic and energetic in helping make the day great fun for everyone. Another reason this year was better than last year was the Amba Hotels, Mizuno Running City of London Mile t-shirts. It was great to see so many people wearing and running in their bright yellow tees. The selfie frames were also great fun, since the event so many great pics have been posted on Instagram and Twitter using #RunCityMile and/or #CityMileSelfie. A fair few runners from The Running Works Run Club ran in the mile which was good. A lot of them were doing their first mile race, for some it was their first race full stop. Well done to Spencer Herbert, Kay Ma, Effy Bailey, Jo Osmond, Adam Turnbull, Yann Lancien, Rohan Chaffey and Martin White for running great times.
 A special mention has to go to Tony Lee. Tony started running with us in the couch to 5k group a couple of months ago, since then he has been doing parkrun regularly, he smashed one in 25 minutes a few weeks back. On the Monday before the mile we ran the distance on a route near Shadwell basin, he wanted to see how it would feel and what time he could run. We managed to clock a time of 7:31, this gave him a good gauge as to what he could do on race day. Straight after we’d finished the mile he wasn’t out of breath and he could easily ask me what time we’d done, at that point we knew he could run a mile much quicker than that. On race day Tony flew round the City of London Mile course finishing in 6:59! It’s been amazing to see how much he has improved over a short period of time and to go sub 7 is awesome, well done Tony! 

 I hope everyone that attended the event had a great time. I’m looking forward to next year already! Fingers crossed it doesn’t clash with many other races and more people can make it.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

Endure 24

A couple of weeks ago I took part in Endure 24. Initially I wasn’t planning on running but due to a couple of friends picking up injuries a space became available and I thought it would be good fun and a good way to get in decent mileage ahead of Zagori Marathon. I was in a team with Michalis, Forest Gump… I mean Dean, Heidi and Julia. Lorna was taking part too and she was in a team with Emily, Michele, Gif and Rebecca.  

There was a stark contrast between the two teams, they had been having logistical meetings whereas members of our team turned up with only the inside part of a tent, not naming names cough Heidi and Julia cough haha. However there were similarities too, we had both drawn up “Handover plans”, see below:  
Luckily the two teams were working together (I may say this now as they won their category! Ha). Lorna and Emily had travelled to the race village early on Friday to set up camp. Michalis gave me and Forest a lift there late on Friday night. When we turned up we got the barbeque going and had a feast to fuel us up for the challenge ahead. We all went on a tour of the race village to work out where the handover point was and what food etc was on offer. After this we headed to bed early as we knew we wouldn’t be getting much sleep after the race started at 12 o’clock on Saturday.

On the first lap for us was Dean Gump.  

Emily was first for the girls and Alan was doing the first leg for his team of three (Anna and Joel, nike pacers). Dean got us off to a flying start, despite being dressed as Forest Gump, clocking around a 36 minute 8k.  

Michalis was next and then it was my turn. Being competitive I wanted to set a couple of quick lap times whilst the legs were still relatively fresh (taking into account the big mileage in the Black Forest the previous week). I started with a lap of 29:56 that I was happy with considering the hilly trail route. I used Lornas gopro for a whole lap and I’m planning to post that at some point. 

 After a few laps the girl’s team were top of their category. They were all posting really great times consistently, that’s the most important thing at 24 team relay events. Having done the Adidas Thunder Run and Spitfire Scramble last year I had learnt that it was important to keep eating between laps and to keep moving. At Thunder Run I lied down too soon after a lap and seized up horribly.

The whole 24 hours is a bit of a blur, apart from your own laps you lose track of what everyones up to really. On my second lap I managed to keep close to my first time, I ran 29:57. The hills were taking their toll and on my third lap I had to settle for 30:30. After this my times dropped to closer to 38 minutes because I was tiring and because three of my last four laps were at night. My first night lap was at 1am after having about 30 minutes or so sleep. Lorna was due to run a double lap at about 3am and so we decided that it would be good if we could do a couple laps together. It helped having two headtorches however in hindsight I should have eaten some food after my 1am lap. Doing 24km at night with little food was a bad idea, I was knackered. Once the double lap was done though we had a bacon sarnie, it tasted so good! We then knew we didn’t have to run for a few hours so got some rest.

When trying to get some sleep we realised we got a bit of a bum deal. Around 6/7am everyone starts to get louder again and the sunlight shines through your tent pretty strongly. It’s quite annoying, you are trying to sleep and then all you hear is “Roger!!! (and other names) Where are you!?” at the handover point. Despite not sleeping much it was good to lie down and rest. It was also good to know that our next lap would be our last.

Lorna and I headed out on the last lap around 11am. Despite having already covered 48k in the last 23 hours we kept a good pace, we were soon on the finishing stretch.  


 The rest of our teams joined us to run in through the finish line and that was it, job done! The girls had absolutely smashed it, they finished a good few laps in front of the next team, I’m claiming an important pacing role in their victory ha. 

   
Overall it was a great weekend of running; it was a really well organised event and lived up to the title of “Glastonbury for runners”.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

Trail running in the Black Forest

This post is a little overdue but I’ve wanted to write about my trip to the Black Forest for a while. Bart was chief organiser having done the trip for a few years with friends. Prior to Lorna, Emily and my arrival they took part in the champagne half marathon dressed as Bogans and had done a few big mileage days through the forest, it sounded like a great laugh and the pics are hilarious.
Lorna, Emily and I flew out on Wednesday the 1st of June. With trail marathons/ultras lined up we were all looking forward to some long days trail running. On the Thursday we ran from Vohrenbach to Titisee, it totalled 21km roughly and didn’t include much climbing so it was a nice steady first day.  

  

  

Once we arrived in Titisee Lorna, Emily and I had a bit of spare time so we grabbed a coffee and then decided to round the run up to 25km by running around the lake. 

In the evening we had a few beers and some great food, I had to have Black Forest Gateaux at the first opportunity! 
 The route we were following was the Westweg trail. Bart had given us maps and a description of the route broken up into sections. On the second day we ran from Titisee to Wiedener Eck via Feldsee and Feldberg (the highest point in the Black Forest at 1,493 metres).  

Unfortunately for us the weather was pretty rubbish so the views were very similar to staring at a white piece of paper. Luckily though Bart showed us pictures on his phone from the year before when the weather was perfect, it would’ve been amazing! Oh yeh I almost forgot, we stopped for lunch in a really cosy cabin on the Friday. Because it had been cold and wet on the top of Feldberg most of us had a hot chocolate with cream to warm up, it was the best thing ever. Actually maybe the sauna and pool at the hotel was the best thing ever! Ha I really enjoyed the second day despite the poor weather. We covered 35k and had done a fair amount of climbing and some of the views were awesome.  

  


 Also in the afternoon there was a lot of running downhill and there were times when Bart and I could speed on.

On Saturday we travelled another 35k. We went from Wiedener Eck to Kandern. The whole trip was really well organised and it’s so good that the German Tourist Board take your luggage from hotel to hotel so all you have to worry about is your running bag. There was a fair amount of uphill in the first half of the day and after covering a decent amount of mileage the previous two days it took us a fair while to get to 10k or so. 

It was good that the distances between hotels weren’t too big and we could take our time and not worry about it. If we had wanted to increase our mileage it would’ve been really easy to do. On our way to Kandern we passed through a start/finish gantry for a race. It was a race 11k in distance with 1,000m of elevation gain, sounded “fun”!

The food we had all week was amazing; for the most part it was locally sourced. It’s one of the main reasons I want to go back in the next couple of years and run a larger section if not the entire Westweg trail (285km). One of the standout meals was in a really nice restaurant in Kandern. I opted for the duck with an orange sauce; it was probably one of the best meals I’ve eaten (good suggestion Bart).

On our final day in the Black Forest Lorna, Emily, Bart and I opted for a 5k walk to a little village near Kandern. We thought it would be a good way to shake our legs out and we stopped off for a drink. The whole trip flew by, ideally we would’ve been there longer and spent more time out on the trails each day. There’s always next year I guess.

See a lot of you soon

Steve