Archive for October, 2009


few and far between

The Lull – How Do I Stop This Thing? – The “Yes” Man

…pretty much sums up the frequency of my runs recently. And my blogs, for that matter. Although, I have a far more balanced exercise regime now. After struggling to fit in the training for the Royal Parks Half Marathon and the subsequent 13.1 miles, I was left with some unusual aches, pains and chafing – the result of altering my running style so I could actually feel my left leg below the knee during the race. In fact I’ve only managed 2 runs since – both of which were my “Sunday Morning Special” of about 6 and a half miles. I still have an ache in my right thigh which is noticeable when I start to run but soon disappears after a mile or so, so I don’t think it is too much to worry about.
But, I have been able to get some free weights sessions done – a happy by product of not wanting to run too much and also getting back home at a reasonable time at night for 1 week.

This week will be low not only on running but free-weights too -although there will be cycling as I am house-sitting and freelancing (conveniently) about 2 and half miles away from where I am staying. So Sunday evening, I packed up a weeks worth of stuff into my bag and cycled to the train station for the first part of my journey. I wanted to try out the fixed gear bike that I have cobbled together from bits out of a neighbours skip and various bargains on e-bay, so what better way than to use it for a week of commuting through the streets of London. Riding a fixie is a very different experience from riding a normal mountain or road bike. As the rear cog is fixed to the hub (i.e it does not rotate independently) it means that if the wheel is rotating, the pedals have to, too.
It takes a bit of concentration as the temptation to free-wheel up to a junction or traffic lights is a hard habit to break, but once you get used to pre-empting the stopping and using the pedals to help slow you down, it is a fun way of riding. The transmission is almost silent and the response from pushing on the pedal to the back wheel turning is instant. I never realised how much delay there is with a derailleur until I rode a bike without one!
Then, a 7 mile cycle from Kings Cross to my “home” for next 7 days, in the dark, with a weeks worth of clothing, a washbag, books, mp3 player etc strapped to my back was a bit of a trial by fire for the bike and I but it was fun… even if you do need to get up out of the saddle to get the thing moving from a standing start!
So, I am looking forward to catching up on a number of things that have been neglected over the past few weeks and months as I now have an extra 2 and a half hours in my day that is saved by my commute only being 15-20 mins each way. Unfortunately, freelancing means that I constantly have to say yes to everything. Not knowing where or when the next job is going to spring from, every offer is pounced upon.
“Do you want to spend over 3 hours commuting every day?” – Yes!!
“Do you want to do a job that you could do with your eyes closed for 8 hours every day” – Yes!!!! Yes!!!!
“Do you want to to accept a much lower wage than was agreed because Mr Weasel, the boss, thinks he can pay you less than was offered because you’re freelance and he thinks you must be desperate”… er, no, actually. Which is why I left a 2 week contract after 3 days. And I didn’t get paid for the 3 days I did work. And those are the downsides.
The upsides are that you get to work places that you wouldn’t normally, doing different parts of the same job, picking up different skills and meeting some fine people along the way. I swear I’ve learnt more in the past 3 months than I have in the previous 3 years so things could be a lot, lot worse.
So I’ve another week and a bit of this (back home at the weekend to see the familly for a big Halloween Night Out, my Sunday Morning Special and some time to chill out before coming back next Sunday evening for a couple of days). And then it’s back to the 3 hour round trip commute and trying to get a few quality training sessions in before the Willow 10k towards the end of November.

Sorry there’s not been much about running, but there’s not been a lot of running to blog about. C’est La Vie.

Soundtrack to this post: Radioactivity – Kraftwerk


royal parks half race report

Parklife – You Can’t, You Won’t And You Don’t Stop – The Nicest Pizza In The World

There was no-one on this train last year… just me, hunched in my seat, hood up, pretending I wasn’t on a train at just after 7am on a Sunday morning and about to run 13.1 miles in a couple of hours. This year there are at least 4 of us ( the tell-tale chip on the laces of the trainers marks us all out as members of this peculiar club) who get on at my stop and our ranks grow with every station visited. By Finsbury Park, we are about 30 strong and we march down to the tube. The first tube to arrive is so packed with runners, I cannot get on, so wait for the next, which is less packed but still predominantly runners with a few bemused civillians.
Leaving the tube at Hyde Park, I am delighted to find it drizzling mildly, and make my way with the rest of the be-trainered towards Hyde Park. Meeting up with Hauling My Carcass, who looks decidedly unhappy about standing in a damp London park a little after 8am on Sunday. Niceties exchanged, portaloo visited and then throw our stuff into our bags, dump them at the bag check and then loiter around until about 9.10 am when we funnel into our starting positions. Last year, we tried to position ourselves so that we were in the shadow of a tall block of flats near the start – it was hot and sunny and we were trying to stay in the shade. Today by comparison, was damp and a bit overcast – good conditions for a Half Marathon but not for standing around beforehand.
We were underway quite quickly and the throng soon spread out allowing us all to settle into our respective paces. I wanted to cover the first few miles between 8.30 – 8.50 pace and came through the first mile maker at around 8.47 mins per mile. the Garmin telling me that the mile marker was 1.15 miles in so reckoned that I was about where I needed to be. Hauling My Carcass was within 10 feet of me at all times and I was feeling relaxed and confident. All was well until I reached the 4 mile marker when a warm tingle started to make itself known beneath my left knee. I knew the feeling immediately as I had had the same thing happen during my training for last years Royal Parks. Oddly, it had not reappeared in over a year but had decided to rear it’s ugly head again. I tried to ignore it but knew what was probably going to happen next. The warm numbness begins to spread from just below the knee, down the front of my shin and into my foot. The whole of the bottom of my leg then goes numb and it becomes difficult to run as I can’t gauge at what point my foot is striking the floor. Suddenly, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to walk to see if the feeling came back but knew that if I stopped, it would be hard to start again. So I delivered myself an ultimatum… I would continue to run. I would not stop… I could slow a little to see if that helped but stopping was out of the question. If I stopped all manner of bad stuff would happen to me – and I would not allow myself to meet up with iliketocount and Jogblog for pizza afterwards. So now, with my new found incentives, I pushed on to mile 6 where the numbness started to subside. I was beginning to feel confident about completing the race but knew that I had lost between 2 and 3 minutes over the preceeding few miles and sub 2hrs was going to be almost impossible to acheive. I was still feeling pretty good around seven and a half miles when I was passed by a man dressed as a dalmation. The mp3 player was brought in to play at this point and the last 6 miles was run to the sound of The Prodigy, Crystal Method and the Run Lola Run soundtrack.
The last 5 miles are hard as they snake through Hyde Park, switching back on themselves and the last three quarters of a mile are psychologically hard – you know you’re close but there is an incline up the first part of the finishing straight and as you reach the brow the finish is off in the distance. And you run… and run… and run and the finish line doesn’t seem to get any closer.
And then it is closer. And you’re nearly there. And you cross the line in 2:02:44 and come to a gradual stop. And then feel dizzy and go over to the railings and hang on. And the nice man from St Johns Ambulance comes over and asks if you’re alright and you lie and say yes.

Hauling My Carcass got a pb and I didn’t walk. Result.

Bags collected and warm dry clothes exchanged for cold, damp sweaty ones, hook up with HMC’s LG and it was off to meet Shaun and Cathy. Shaun, it turns out, ran a blinder and you can read about here. A couple of drinks in a little pub a few hundred yards from Knightsbridge and then we all went for pizza. It was a great way to celebrate and we chatted and ate and drank for a very enjoyable couple of hours.

The Royal Parks Half is a great race. Roughly a 50/50 split between the street and sights of London Town and through the Parks. It’s well organised, plenty of loos, efficient bag stash and a food festival too. I will almost definitely be back next year.

Soundtrack to this post: Dark Entries – Bauhaus


no rest for the knackered

Where Did The Night Go – Dog Tired – Stop Whining And Get On With It

Just like Sesame Street would be “brought to you today by the letter ‘w’ and the number 4”, todays post is written under the influence of tiredness and self-doubt.

7 miles in the dark last Wednesday tripped by like they were hardly there, in fact the only reason I stopped was that I was hungry and didn’t want to find myself sitting down to dinner at 22.30h. Sunday morning’s run, on the other hand, was a shocker!! I’d planned to do approximately 10 miles but upon waking on Sunday morning, I believed someone must have played a cruel joke by winding my clock forward about 5 hours whilst I slept and getting the sun to rise much, much earlier than scheduled. I felt like I had just dozed off, that I had been in bed no more than half an hour. It had actually been 7 hours but still I awoke with my head feeling like it was packed with cotton wool and my body like it had been wrapped in the duvet then repeatedly hit with a sock full of coins. Toast and coffee did nothing to improve my demeanour, so a couple of paracetemol for the aching and the misguided belief that a run would clear my fuzzy head and off I set, quickly before my subconcious could think of a reason not to. So to cut a long story short, 3 miles in I stopped to walk. And again at 7 miles. My legs were heavy, my heart wasn’t in it. As I walked, I scowled at my pathetic weakness. 9 and a half miles were covered but only 7 and a half were run, the rest were spent shuffling along, muttering to myself and frowning.
The thing is, the Royal Parks Half is on Sunday. Last years Royal Parks Half was my first race and I set my pb for the Half Marathon. I feel it is my duty to beat my pb this year, with an additional years training and experience on a course that I know I can easily do sub 2hrs.
But I feel unprepared.
Last year, I was looking forward to the start of the race, this year I am looking forward to the end. My plan is to get in as much sleep as I can over the next few days, a quick interval session mid week and a short (20 mins) run Friday night to put Sundays rubbish run out of my mind. I know that nothing that I do now is going to make me any faster on race day, so I’ll just prepare as best I can and enjoy it on the day.

Soundtrack to this post: Ghost Rider – Suicide

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