Archive for May, 2009

28
May
09

running away?

The Rough With The Smooth – Normal Service Will Be Resumed As Soon As Possible – A Pressing Matter

I do not expect much sympathy but I am undergoing a number of dilemmas. I am currently experiencing the slowest ever Internet connection. So slow, in fact, that I am not sure whether this will even reach you. Therefore, I shall keep it short. My other dilemma is that I am unsure how I will complete the first 2 days of Juneathon… maybe I should get creative and do a drawing or do a long swim. Because… and here is where your sympathy for me evaporates – The ropey internet connection and the Juneathon problem are because I am currently holed up on a very sunny, very beautiful Greek Island. I have my running gear with me but will have to do some investigating to find a suitable place to run… part of me hopes that I can only find a route about 2k so I can entitle my first Juneathon post “Grecian 2000”.

I flew here Tuesday morning after taking part in the BUPA 10000 on Monday. A full race report will follow (once I return home or find a better connection) but just a quick congratulations to Hauling My Carcass who, despite having a dodgy hip and having to cut back on his training, shaved almost 2 mins off his personal best.

Juneathon is looming on the horizon and what initially sounded like a piece of piss (run, cycle or exercise each day and blog about it) seems more and more daunting the closer it gets. I have also decided, stupidly, whilst still on post-race a buzz from the BUPA 10000, that I will complete the 100 Press Ups challenge at the same time. Since the stupid disc in my neck decided to begin playing up, I have been unable to exercise with free weights and think that Juneathon may be a good excuse to see if I can begin to get my upper body back in shape. Before the disc blew, I was able to do about 45 press ups in one go. I am down to about 25 now. So I pledge to be able to do 100 press ups in one go on or before the 30th June. And now I’ve told you all about, I have to do it…

Soundtrack to this post – Bim Sherman – Bewildered

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22
May
09

our little secret

Bowing To Peer Pressure – The 10k Playlist

It took some thought and a little bit of tweeking but this is the playlist that accompanied me last week on the Wheathampstead 10k and will accompany me on Monday when I tackle the BUPA 10k with Hauling My Carcass. Click on the songs to hear (and see – sorry about some of the videos!) them for yourselves.

THE EATINGTREES 10K PLAYLIST

The first 5 tracks are just tunes that put me in a good mood and bring a smile to my face whenever I hear them.

James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good) – What better way to start??

MSTRKRFT – Element Of Danger – And into the second kilometre with a bit of twisted disco. It even has cowbells on it. Nice!

Marc Bolan & T Rex – 20th Century Boy
– The sound of my childhood…

The Cramps – What’s Inside A Girl? – Always brings a smile to my face and is just the right tempo to run to.

The Specials – Gangsters – My mis-spent youth (sigh!)

From here, I’ve put in a few uptempo and harsher sounding tracks to stop me from getting complacent

Killing Joke – Tension

The Horrors – Sheena Is A Parasite – Like a shot of espresso (mmmmm!), at 1 minute 42 seconds, this may be small but packs a punch.

Crystal Method – Weapons Of Mad Distortion

This (all things being well) is my halfway point. The next 2 tracks are fairly quick in tempo. I know that if I can run to the beat, I will have picked up the pace slightly and this is where I need to be for the next few kms

Asian Dub Foundation – Flyover

Kosheen – Hide You

Once again, a few more aggressive sounding tunes to keep the adrenaline going and hopefully me on track

Rage Against The Machine – Pistol Grip Pump

Slayer – Threshold – the testosterone literally drips from this track and it always makes me chuckle and pick up the pace

The Prodigy – One Man Army

By now, the end of the race should be no more than 10 – 15 mins away so treat myself to a couple of guilty pleasures.

The Meters – Just Kissed My Baby – This is the funkiest track ever recorded. Ever. End of.

Reel 2 Real – I Like To Move It – I know, I know… Just don’t tell anyone about it, OK?

The finishers…

U2 – Elevation – My two sons (aged 3 and 7) have cultivated a strange fondness for the works of Bono and Co. This reminds me of my boys and is suitably uplifting.

Sam & Dave – Soul Man – If, by this point, I haven’t already finished, this should give me the necessary push to get me over the line.

17
May
09

and now for something completely different

Selective Memory – Here Comes The Rain – Dirty Boots

I swear that when I entered the Wheathampstead 10k, there was no mention of it being “off-road” and “challenging” but when I looked back at the blurb on the website, there it was. Clearly, I had found these descriptions too traumatic so had blocked them out. So, when I looked at the race pack that had arrived in the post and came across the above descriptions, it sent me into a dilemma… Challenging – How challenging? It’s only a 10k, surely I must be able to complete a 10k. How challenging can it be? (gulp!). I had a look at the website – the organisers had not posted a route so I was running blind. I looked at the Runners World reviews – they ranged from “beautiful, scenic” through to “something to challenge everyone”. Hmmm… suppose I was just going to have to find out for myself.

The weather first thing on Sunday was near perfect – light cloud cover, gentle breeze, a bit of rain the previous day so the ground wouldn’t be too hard or too soft. “Hope it stays like this” I thought.

It didn’t.

SonNumberOne was running the 2k and I was going to run with him as a warm up to the 10k. Half an hour before the 2k started, the heavens opened and everyone rushed into the race HQ to stay dry. Fortunately, just before the start of the 2k, the rain eased and became just a very sparse drizzle. The 2k passed in a flash and SonNumberOne seemed to enjoy it. There were a couple of bottle necks where we had to form an orderly queue to cross a bridge or file down a length of muddy single track with brambles on each side but 14minutes and 54 seconds later, we crossed the finish line and he picked up his medal. At that moment, he was the happiest 7 year old on the face of the planet.

Moments later, the heavens opened again. So, back into the race HQ for 20 minutes or so and then I was off to the start of the 10k. It was hammering down as we walked to the start and the it was a sea of kagouls and baseball caps as we made our way along the now very muddy track to the start.

At 11 o’clock, we were off and straight into a gentle uphill leading to a bridle path. The start was quite narrow, so everybody stayed in approximately the same order until about 1k, where the bridleway widened and it became possible to pass. I was feeling pretty good so craftilly nipped around a few other runners until I could hit my pace and had a bit of space to move. From the bridleway, we moved down a short, sharp slope and onto a mud track. I began to feel comfortable and hit my stride. Then at 4km there is a hill. About 1km long. Along the edge of a farmers field so the going is muddy and uneven. A gravelled path was next and then, in no particular order, a muddy downhill, some muddy steps (queue up, single file) another longish climb at 7km, a kissing gate (single file again) and a very muddy and slippery bit which meant that a few people literally had to hang on to the person next to them to steady themselves. After that, because of the twisty-turny nature of the course, the race HQ and finish line is visible with about 1 and a half km still to go.

170520091040
My official time for the race was 59:37 although, oddly, there was no timing mat at the start of the race, so that time also includes the time it takes to get to the start line. My Garmin says I did it in 58:14.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable race. All of the races I have run up ’til now have been road races, all Half Marathons, all fairly large events. To run a 10k, off road, in a relatively small, local race made a pleasant change. The area at around the race HQ had the air of a village fete with a barbecue and a bouncy castle and everyone seemed to be smiling despite the rain. There were all ages there, from pushchairs to wheelchairs, an absence of in-your-face corporate sponsorship and a friendliness between competitors and from all the marshalls, giving the impression that the day was organised, first and foremost, to be a genuinely enjoyable run.

If you want a personal best, this is not the race for you as there is too much waiting to navigate obstacles and the hit and miss timing could be improved. But, if you want something enjoyable and inclusive and a little different, then next years race is on 23rd May 2010.

Soundtrack to this post: Black Ships Ate The Sky – Current 93

13
May
09

cramming it in

Housewife Superstar – Do You Want Fries With That –  Earcandy

It has been almost a week since my last post and it has been a hectic one. Mrs eatingtrees flew to Italy at stupid o’clock on Saturday morning leaving me, SonNumberOne & SonNumberTwo to fend for ourselves for 3 and a half days. My first mistake was then to arrange a barbecue at mine on Sunday, which effectively took up my whole day meaning that I was then constantly trying to catch up with all the other things that should have been done. Between dropping children at activities, cooking, cleaning, bathing, homework, playing games etc. I found myself hitting the sofa each night and promptly dozing off, waking only to get up and go to bed. The few days alone with the kids has left me with a profund respect for any single parent who manages to raise two children and stay sane and also a pile of ironing so tall it has snow on the top.

Still, I managed to get in a 10km training run on Friday and another today. Neither of which were particularly good times although todays time (59mins 58secs) was skewed slightly by an emergency stop. Morrisey sang “Meat Is Murder” but does accidentally swallowing a fly whilst running qualify as…  Manslaughter? So, once the realisation of what had happened dawned on me, I tried to do the decent thing by trying to retreive said insect by hacking and generally making like John Lydon in his heyday. Once I had worked out that this was never going to work, I resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to settle for a swig of my drink to wash it down. Or I could have tried to find a spider to swallow…

I have a few days left before the Wheathampstead 10k on Sunday and will try and get a couple more runs in before then. I am finding it hard to stay motivated at the moment and 10k is about all I can bring myself to do. Hopefully, having been inspired by so much talk of running playlists recently, my newly created and tweaked 10k playlist should help me get back on track. Today was it’s first outing and after a few finishing touches earlier, I think it is just about there. I shall try it out again later in the week and also during the race on Sunday and then maybe, just maybe, share it with you.

The past week or so has been pretty crammed with music as, in addition to seeing Killing Joke last week, I also bought the new Horrors album Primary Colours and it is very, very good. I was also lucky enough to get a ticket to see The Specials so last night I took  my place with many other middle aged men at the Brixton Academy to witness their reunion tour. To be honest, I didn’t expect much but they were on top form. The band were tight and energetic (for a bunch of old fellas) and had the whole place completely in awe. I would be very surprised if anybody walked away from there last night failing to be impressed. Then, this morning, Mr Postman delivers my copy of the new Gallows album, Grey Britain. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it all yet but the first few tracks are very promising. If you think you may enjoy a bunch of horrible little oiks from Watford making an aggressive, punky racket, you could do a lot worse than this.

Soundtrack to this post: Uptown Top Ranking – Althea and Donna

07
May
09

not much running

I’m In The Wrong Business – Revenge Of The Luddite – Music Music Everywhere

Tuesday was my appointment with the specialist. It started sensibly enough with him getting me to describe the pain I’d had in my neck, shoulder and arms and then suggested that I get an x-ray – y’know… as a precaution. So I trundle off down the corridor and see a very nice lady who gets me to stand very still and then hurrys off into her little radiation proof box and then turns me round and hurrys off again into her bunker and then gives me a disc containing 2 x-rays and then I sit back in the waiting room and then the specialist calls me back in and looks at the x-ray for,oooh, maybe 15 seconds and then says there is a common abnormality at C5 and C6 and that I need an MRI scan and that my x-ray has just cost £135.00. So, £135 for an x-ray (only a precaution, mind) and the nice lady only got my neck and shoulders in otherwise I could have used it as a very cool but expensive Facebook profile picture. So on the way home, I call the MRI scan people and say I need an MRI scan on my cervical spine and am told it will be (worst case scenario) £735.00. And suddenly the pain in my neck doesn’t seem quite so bad but I have a terrible stabbing pain in my wallet…

So I ring my doctor and he says he can refer me for an MRI but it may take a few weeks. I then do a quick calculation and work out that even if I have to wait 2 months and eat ibuprofen and paracetamol morning, noon and night for the duration, I still don’t get near £700+ so decide that now I know I am not about to keel over and die, I’ll wait for my MRI.

As I was very good on my last run and came in under 1 hour for my 10km and didn’t stop, I rewarded myself with a trip to Heaven last night to see Killing Joke. They did not disappoint but the surprise of the night was a friend of mine arriving on a beautiful Specialized single speed bike which I instantly fell in love with. It is fantastically uncluttered as it has no gears, therefore no extra sprockets, no derailleur, no back brake cable as it has a fixed wheel and is about as simple a push bike as you can get. Obviously, only having one “gear” it does make it less practical for actually riding but it is very lovely. Which got me thinking… singlespeed pushbikes are considered very cool amongst a particular section of the cycling community despite (or perhaps because of) their slight impracticality. I wonder if someone were to invent the running clog (no unsightly laces, no flexible sole just 1 block of beautiful ergonomically carved wood), would the hipper members of the running community fall head over heels in love with it????

Hauling My Carcass has bitten the bullet and revealed most of the contents of his meticulously compiled running playlist (read about it here) and, a few weeks ago, Anna was daring people to come out and list their favourite running tunes. Both of which have prompted me to finally get round to creating a proper running playlist as opposed to a bunch of tracks on shuffle on my mp3 player. I have a good idea of what I consider to be my “ultimate” running playlist in my “minds I-Pod” but will experiment a bit and try it out on a few practice runs before deciding whether to pluck up courage and share it with you. I need to get busy though as I have a 10km in little over a week and think that the correct playlist for a relatively short distance could make all the difference.

Soundtrack to this post: Sea Within A Sea – The Horrors

03
May
09

happy days

Man And Boy – Pushy Parenting – Having Fun Again

Having been veeeeery slack recently for all manner of reasons, and with the Wheathampstead 2km & 10km looming large on the horizon quickly followed by the BUPA 10000 a week later, I vowed that this morning I would run. And because of Wheathampstead in 2 weeks time, I also thought that it would be nice to have a dry run (no pun intended) where I do a 2km run with SonNumberOne and then head out for a gentle 10km to see what effect (if any) a little 2km warm up would have on my normal 10km route.

So after a bit of breakfast, SonNumberOne and I set off… I’d chosen a route that I knew to be approximately 3km but thought that we would run 2km and then warm down with a 1km walk back home. Like some horrible, overbearing pushy parent, I told Son NumberOne that we had to try and run the entire 2km today instead of running a bit, walking a bit and he agreed. After a couple of minutes running, he had begun to worry about getting a stitch so I initiated the patented “eatingtrees-Hauling My Carcass-talking-whilst-running-training-strategy” which, whilst Hauling My Carcass and I were training together for the 2008 Royal Parks Half, worked a treat. It is basically chatting whilst you run but kept our minds off any discomfort and also the distance we were covering – and it worked a treat with my 7 year old son too. So… a 2km run, no stops, 14m 45s and a very proud 7 year old. A little 1km walk back home (which, at SonNumberOne’s insistence we partly ran), a hug and a hair ruffle, grab my water bottle and mp3 player and off I go on my 10km.

The first thing I notice is how much easier the first couple of kms are being already warmed up. I didn’t go through the “feeling a bit out of breath before relaxing into it” stage as, presumably, I’d already done that on the 2km with my son. I also realised that I no longer had my weird tippy toed stoop running style as the pain in my shoulder and pins and needles seemed much less pronounced than over the last few weeks. In fact, I didn’t really have too much discomfort in the neck / shoulder / hand until about 8kms into my run. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing as it’ll be great to be rid of the injury but, as I am supposed to be seeing a specialist on Tuesday, it would be nice if I still have something to diagnose… I wanted it sorted quickly and permanently and not for it to disappear now only to reappear a couple of weeks down the line and then have to go through the whole “getting a referral” thing again. Oh, the irony…

But, the 10km passed by comfortably enough. For the second time in a week I did the distance without stopping to walk at all. I actually really enjoyed being out and running, which is something I haven’t felt since Prague. And I completed the 10km in 59m 33s, which I’m quite happy with considering my recent (fairly poor) performance. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I might try and squeeze in another cheeky 10km tomorrow.

Soundtrack to this post: Kundalini – 23 Skidoo




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