Archive for November, 2010

29
Nov
10

eleven point three at minus one

Good grief, it was cold. A quick glance out of the window confirmed that so I wrapped up. 1 pair of running shoes, long socks, tights, shorts, long sleeve top, short sleeve top, flourescent gilet, Garmin, gloves, Buff and hat all in place, I set off for the run wearing more than some people take on holiday. My recent runs had all been sub-10k and with Saturday’s Grim weighing in at over 8 miles, I felt compelled to get out and prepare at least a little bit for the imminent mud and ice fest. Last year at Grim, I remember choosing a pace that was half run / half yomp. A steady pace that I’ve seen military types use to tackle tough terrain in films like Full Metal Jacket. On this freezing cold Sunday morning, I even toyed with (then quickly disregarded) the idea of making up a chant to recite in my head to keep me chugging along at a consistent pace. And it was BLOODY cold out. I mean really, bloody cold. So if ever there was an incentive for getting the run done and out of the way, I now had one in the shape of a nice warm house to return to.
After the initial shock of how bloody cold it was (I did mention that it was cold, didn’t I?), it took a little while to warm up and then I found a nice slow and steady pace that I felt comfortable keeping up. And keep it up I did, completing 11.3 kms before arriving back at my LOVELY WARM HOUSE. One of the nice things about Grim is that it is very hard to take it seriously and get competitive about timings or placings so you just end up enjoying it for what it is – a chance for you to run around a bit with a bunch of like minded weirdos getting cold and wet. In this case, the like-minded weirdos currently consist of Fit Artist, Hauling My Carcass, iliketocount & JogBlog with a few more on the cards but not confirmed. I, for one, am really looking forward to it. Although with current weather forecasts for Saturday predicting tempratures between 3 degrees and minus 2 with a chance of snow, ask me at 9am on Saturday morning and I’m sure I’ll just be looking forward to it being over.
Soundtrack to this post – Maceo & All The Kings Men – Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself

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18
Nov
10

funny old man

I think it is very strange that the less free time I have, the more I feel the need to run. Maybe it’s the frustration of work, or the endless sitting in cars / on trains or the desire to just get away from it but as a rule, the busier I am, the more I want to cram in some running too. This week is a case in point… I’ve had more to do and travelled more miles than in an average week but still felt the urge to get out and run 3 times in 5 days. Admittedly, those runs haven’t been very long and since the temporary closure of my favourite 10k route, I’ve had to get creative with route planning. Yesterday morning, with a long day ahead of me, I thought I could get a quick run in the VFF’s before tackling the drive to Peterborough for some store visits. I haven’t run in the Vibrams for a while so was surprised to find myself feeling spritely (and blister free) enough to complete 7.85kms. Admittedly, I was spurred on by the thought of attempting a 10k in the VFF’s very soon. I was toying with the idea of entering the Old Deer Park 10k in Richmond this Sunday but logistically it is a bit tricky so will instead have to find something closer to home that takes place soon-ish.
The Vibrams always get strange looks from people as I run past – admittedly they do look odd – and yesterday was no exception. Although I did pull off a bit of a coup as I managed to garner strange looks from commuters in the morning for running in the VFF’s and also get strange looks in the evening when I went to see Klaxons in Cambridge and was, for about half an hour, the oldest person in the room by a country mile. You could see the bemused look on The Hip Young Things faces… “Who’s brought their Dad??” Fortunately some people even more decrepit than me then arrived and I could get on with enjoying the evening and the very fine din that Klaxons made.

Soundtrack to this post: Horace Andy – Do You Love My Music

14
Nov
10

two days, two runs

Unheard of outside of Juneathon. But that’s how the dice of fate fell and who can argue with the dice.

Friday was a magnificent day which saw me getting up early to perform my duties as “Ring Bearer” at the marriage of two of of my favourite people. It was a excellent service with only close friends and family in attendance so felt very privileged to be there to witness it all. As with all weddings, food played a part so it was fortunate that I had arranged to go out for a run with my brother-in-law the following day or else I would have been wracked with guilt about the enormous amount I ate at the wedding. Ordinarilly, I would have been reticent about a run with the bro-in-law… he has been running far longer than I have and is the veteran of two New York City Marathons. Fortunately for me, he is recovering from a series of cortisone injections for an ankle injury so I stood at least a fighting chance of keeping up with him. He has moved to the town I grew up in so wanted me to show him where he could run in the local woodland. It was a good chance for me to not only run in different surroundings and with someone but also across terrain more similar to what I will experience at Grim in 3 weeks time. We took it slowly (he still has pain if he runs too far too fast) but completed 7.5 kilometres cross country and it felt good to be running and chatting. We will definitely do it again.
Sunday mornings run was another short one coming in at 8.75kms… this one cut necessarily short by road closures due to Memorial Services so my route was decided on the fly depending on which pathways were still free for me to run down. It was faster than Saturdays run and less than a kilometre longer but felt much harder. Maybe my perceived effort is less when I have the distraction of someone to run with. So it has now been 3 runs in a row where timing has been ignored… I know I am not particularly fast and appear to run at almost the same pace regardless of how I push so for now I’m happy just sticking to concentrating on my running form and having fun.

Soundtrack to this post: The Young Gods – Lucidogen

09
Nov
10

sod’s law

Not once, but twice. Twice I have been the victim of unfortunate circumstances and both times it was whilst out exercising.
A cheeky lunchtime run turned into some impromptu training for Grim when I got halfway along the towpath by the river on the return leg of my usual 10k route to find that it is blocked as there is some sort of “work” going on. I use the term “work” loosely as there was no sign of any sort of labour taking place, or indeed any labourers, just a gated off section of towpath, a laminated notice saying the path was closed for “work” and another laminated poster with a small map and a line in pink highlighter marking an alternative route. An alternative route that would take me back the way I had just come so I decided to ignore the map and duck into the field on my left and follow the river. What I hadn’t banked on was the muddy, marshy and rutted surface of the field, that and the smaller tributary streams that soon served to cut me off from my chosen path and began to lead me further from my intended direction. After a large amount of walking and jumping over boggy patches whilst avoiding cow-pats and trying to work out which direction would get me back on course, I clambered over a barbed wire fence scampered across a field full of cows and was finally back on track. A little over an hour and fifteen minutes after I left for a “quick 10k”, I was back home.
The second jinxed bit of recreational exercise was Sunday morning when, as pushed for time, I thought I’d skip my long run and instead kill two birds with one stone by taking a ride on my recently completed fixed gear project. I’d taken my time getting it stripped down, powder coated and reassembled with some carefully chosen components so was looking forward to getting out and giving it a proper try-out.

It wasn’t the first time I’d taken it out but it was to be the first ride of any real distance as I was planning about 10 miles.
Once out, I was enjoying nipping along when, about 4 miles from home, I got a puncture in the rear tyre. Annoying as I hadn’t bought a puncture repair kit, spare tube or anything with me. Doubly annoying as I had splashed out on some tyres with built in puncture protection and some self sealing inner tubes that were supposed to “seal a puncture before you knew you had one”. Pah! Still, the 4 mile walk home with the wounded bike must have burned some extra calories.

Soundtrack to this post: Wiseblood – Motorslug

03
Nov
10

that syncing feeling

I’ve lusted after the Apple iPod Touch for some time now but have always stayed well clear of it due to it’s reliance on iTunes which appears to run beautifully on a Mac, but whenever I’ve tried to work with it on a PC, I’ve had nothing but grief. Clunky. Prone to crashing. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say that the evil geniuses at Apple have deliberately made it run badly on a PC just to encourage people to go out and buy a Mac…
Over the past year or so, I have asked many people who own an iPod and a PC if they have any problems with iTunes and more often than not, the reply is that iTunes is great and runs perfectly on a PC. I heard this response so many times that, foolishly, I gave in, believed them and splashed out on a new 4G 64gb iPod Touch.

It is beautiful and very clever. It makes many things (e-mail on the move, mobile internet, timewasting playing strange little games) so easy and so accessible that it is hard not to keep my hands off it’s beautiful, touch sensitive screen for more than 5 minutes. Unfortunately, iTunes has managed to mangle my carefully tended virtual collection of music into a strange heirachy of performers and composers so that half of an album appears in one place with assorted track appearing scattered across any number of files and folders. And this is after allowing iTunes to “convert” my existing virtual music collection to an iPod compatible file type (AAC) only to find out that they then needed converting to another file type (MP3) if the files are to be read by anything else but an iPod. The original conversion to AAC took approximately 20 hours and then another 20 hours from AAC to MP3. And this was after a lengthy, angsty telephone call for help to Hauling My Carcass who has much more experience of the “joys” of iTunes than I. Then all the redundant AAC files needed to be taken from my system manually to ensure that all files had copied over and to rename MP3 files – about another 10 hours. Oh, and did I mention that whilst converting the files, iTunes keeps all the originals – this meant that half way through, my PC ran out of memory and old files had to be backed up onto an external hard drive before any more files could be converted. Oh, and it doesn’t recognise all the cover artwork already installed in Windows Media Player and now most of my collection has no cover image to go with the music file. And my music is still stored seemingly at random.
All this hassle is at odds with the simplicity and intuitive use of the iPod. I hate to say it, but for organisation and ease of use for music, Windows Media Player is miles better than iTunes. And the sneaky way in which iTunes automatically converts to an Apple only music file format leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
So, as Apple has stolen all my free time, there has been very little running since the introduction of iTunes into my life. 2 runs to be precise although one of these was a direct response to the frustrations of trying to work with iTunes… it was either go out for a run or let out some sort of primal howl before dissolving into heavy sobs. And it was a brilliant run… no Garmin, no planned route, just a cathartic run in my VFF’s to get rid of some of the tension. Every so often it is great to run just for the hell of it – no distance obligations, no set time to run for or trying to beat – just running until you don’t feel like running any more. So that’s what I did… maybe I have iTunes to thank for something after all.

Soundtrack to this post: None because I can’t find any of my music any more




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