Archive for April, 2010

26
Apr
10

unusually sprightly

Firstly congratulations to everyone who took part in the London Marathon yesterday. Watching runners cross the finishing line initiated a little pang of jealousy. Then, reading Iliketocounts traumatic experience, I was brought back to my senses. Thank heavens I didn’t get through the ballot… and good luck to Iliketocount. I hope his recuperation is speedy and painless.

The recent mild weather seems to have kickstarted a frenzy of activity within me… free weights, running, cycling…
I say it is the mild weather, it could just be good old fear as I have a number of events on the horizon that I need to feel prepared for. As some of you will be aware, Jogblog, Iliketocount, Hauling My Carcass and myself are signed up for the London To Brighton cycle ride. We are all attempting the distance on completely unsuitable bikes (Pashley, BMX, singlespeed and fixie respectively). This seemed like a good idea at the time. But the closer the event gets, the more unwise the decision appears. With this in mind, Hauling My Carcass and I will be attempting a little practice ride on Saturday. The route I have found is currently 27.17 miles with the ability to extend to 30 miles if feeling perky, or to cut short to 25 miles if feeling knackered. Assuming everything goes smoothly, it should be a confidence booster for a ride twice as long in little over 6 weeks time.
I shall also be doing the Crisis Square Mile Run on 10th June. It comes highly recommended by Jogblog (even if the distances have been a bit off in the past) so am looking forward to an evening run in Dirty Old London Town followed by large amounts of pizza with Cathy, Shaun and anyone else who is running with us.
I even went out for a short, fast(ish) run once I’d decided I’d be taking part. As I generally stick to my plodding pace and usually the same (approx) 10km route for my runs, I decided to go for 6kms and just run it as quick as I felt I could. And it was great. It wasn’t exceptionally fast (8:23 / 9:12 / 8:56 / 9:29 / 9:28 / 9:18) but it was the first time in a very long while that I have thought about the speed of my run rather than just covering the distance. So hurrah for finer weather. And hurrah for getting my running / cycling / exercising mojo back. A little bit of sunshine can make all the difference.

Soundtrack to this post: Finley Quaye – Sunday Shining

18
Apr
10

the incredible shrinking race – hertford charity run race review

Start, Stop, Reset, Start – Diminishing Distances – Nearly A Perfect 10

I shall get the whinge out of the way first. A race like this must surely take months of organising and coordination to put everything in place for the big day. So, on the day of the race, you would imagine that the organisers would walk the course to check that everything was as it should be and that the gate at the start of the course was unlocked so the runners could actually get through. Instead we were led to the start area and held there for 25 minutes before we were told that the gate was locked and the start would be delayed. Confusion ensued, people wandered off to answer the call of nature whilst the rest of us stood around trying to understand what was going on. And then we were off… running up a dusty track, the beep of Garmins audible all around as people hit “start” and then we slowed as we filed through / jumped over a narrow gate. And then we stopped. Because the start was being moved to past the offending locked gate. Once again the beep of Garmins as people sighed, hit “stop” and then “reset”. A quick wave of a flag from a local dignatory and then we were off again. But where was the start line? Who knows? Perhaps it’s just better to hit “start” on the Garmin and hope… so that is what I did.

Race HQ was a local school so there was a secure bag storage area, changing area, proper toilets (and no queues), plenty of car parking, somewhere to chain my pushbike… so far, the day was ticking all the right boxes. Added to this, the weather was lovely – clear blue sky, slight breeze – perfect.

The race is mostly run on the Cole Green Way – a bridle path which used to be part of an old railway line. It is relatively flat, mostly straight and has mature trees on either side keeping the path in shade. The route deviates from the bridle path and travels through a few picturesque villages before rejoining the Cole Green Way, looping back on itself around the 5km mark and returning back towards Race HQ. It is a very pleasant route with a few slight uphills compensated by a few slight downhills. Until the 9km mark where you leave the bridle path, pass the football club and turn sharp right before turning sharp left and up the sort of hill you wish wasn’t at the end of a race. It is steep and fairly long and caught a few people out as they turned the corner and slowed from a run to a walk as they ascended. Fortunately, I know the area very well and knew what to expect so mantained a steady pace, stared at the floor a few metres in front of me and slowly ran up it. Anyone who had put a final burst of speed at the 9km mark would have sorely regretted it turning the corner and realising that the last 400m was all uphill. Fortunately the finish line at County Hall is about 50 metres past the brow of the hill and there was a small but vocal crowd gathered that lifted the spirits in time for a quick dash at the end. A T-shirt, a shot glass, water, bananas and slices of orange were all available as we finished.

After my ill fated training run where I needed a quick lie down, I didn’t want a repeat performance. I had had another easy training run mid week and come in at just over 1 hour for a 10k distance. Today I wanted between 5.40 – 6 mins / km. I felt it was acheivable and had it been the full 10km distance, I worked out that I would have come in in 58:56 – slightly better than I had predicted. Unfortunately this wasn’t the full 10k distance. Although the race is generally referred to as the Hertford 10km, it’s proper title is the Hertford Charity Run and the websites small print says “approximately 10km”. The route posted at race HQ showed 9.6km and, because of the amended start line, my Garmin 9.35km.

The frustrating thing is that the atmosphere, the route, even the weather made this a great race. If the organisers could find another 500m to make it the full 10km, get some chip timing and ensure that access to the route was unhindered, this would come as close to the perfect 10km as I could wish for.

Soundtrack to this post: Cabaret Voltaire – James Brown

11
Apr
10

optimism…pah!

Mercury Rising – Feeling Grim Up North – Bus Stop First Aid

I ended my last post with the words “I have booked myself a hotel… with a gym and a swimming pool and will use that for a little R&R… and might get out for a run before the week is out”.

I was obviously feeling pretty positive when I typed those words… I blame the antibiotics for giving me a false sense of well-being. The Manchester trip was scheduled for Wednesday, I was finishing the antibiotics on Tuesday so should be fighting fit by the following evening, right? Wrong!

I finished the antibiotics Tuesday lunchtime and by 8pm, my temperature had returned and I was feeling decidedly unspectacular. With a four hour drive to Manchester planned for the following morning, I took loads of paracetamol and skulked off to bed. Wednesday morning and, feeling much better, I set off for 2 days in The North at a little before 7am., arriving in Manchester at 11am to find people already packing the pubs as Manchester United were playing Bayern Munich that evening. Starting drinking at 11am for a football match that kicks off at 7.45 really must take some stamina and I struggle to understand both why and how people manage this!!

To cut a long (and not very interesting) story short, I checked into my hotel later that afternoon, temperature rising again, got myself something to eat, took more paracetamol and resigned myself to an early night – no gym, no treadmill. About 3a.m., I woke, drenched in sweat – I hoped it was the last of the illness leaving me – turned over and went back to sleep.

Feeling much better since, and presuming I was right and that I was cured, I decided to get out for a run today. Unwisely, I went for a familiar 11km route, felt OK to begin with but tired quickly and never reached the point where my lungs felt like they were “opening up” so subsequently found it quite a struggle. That coupled with me trying for a fast(ish) finish, picking up the pace for the last few hundred metres, reaching the bus stop where my route ends only to find that I had pushed myself too far. Everything went a bit dark and swirly and I found I quickly needed to lay flat on my back on the concrete, feet up on bus stop bench to stop me from passing out. WILL I EVER LEARN?? Clearly not…

So… I have learnt that after 3 weeks of no running and recovering from Tonsillitis, it is probably best if you don’t go straight out and try and run 11km.

I may try another shorter run mid-week and then I think I’ll stick to a leisurely pace for the Hertford 10km next Sunday.

Soundtrack to this post: Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy – Television (The Drug Of The Nation)

05
Apr
10

struck down

Doctor, Doctor – But I Had Them Out When I Was A Child – Grim Up North

I hadn’t been feeling right since returning from Lisbon. If the truth be known – since before I left for Lisbon – but I was in a state of denial because if I didn’t admit I wasn’t feeling well, then I must be OK, right?

So after returning to the UK and to work and feeling myself get progressively more sluggish each day, I woke last Sunday with a raging temperature, a headful of some horrific, sticky liquid and the sensation that someone was standing on my eyes. I spent the next 36 hours flitting between short periods of nightmare filled sleep and uncomfortable stretches of conciousness where I wanted desperately to be asleep again. Finally, I managed to get my temperature under control and packed myself off to the doctor to discover that I had Tonsillitis. Sent on my way with a sick note and handful of Penicillin, I spent the next 3 days in and out of bed feeling sorry for myself.

I hate being ill and am fortunate in that it doesn’t happen very often. Since I starting running, I have found that the Migraines that I used to get about once a month now occur only about twice a year and any coughs and colds usually only make it to the initial stages before being banished by my immune system. Also, I assume that the horrible post-illness-shuffling-around-catching-your-breath feeling is similar to the creeping symptons of age+poor lifestyle+inactivity that seems to be becoming more prevelant amongst anyone over the age of about 35. And I want to keep that at bay for as long as possible as I dislike not feeling strong enough to run, cycle, swim, climb etc. whenever the mood takes me.

I haven’t as yet been able to get out and run but did attempt some free-weights today which left me feeling shaky and a little bit sick. Once that wore off, I felt better than I have done for a couple of weeks so will try and get a few more sessions in over the week. I have to spend 1 night this week in the North Of England, which I dislike intensely (apologies to anyone from, or fond of, Manchester – but it is horrible), so have booked myself a hotel 20 miles out of town with a gym and a swimming pool and will use that for a little R&R once the days work is done. With any luck, I might even shake off the lingering cough and get out for a run before the week is out.

Soundtrack to this post: Elbow – Grounds For Divorce




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