Archive for February, 2011

27
Feb
11

just me and michael palin

A lunchtime ten miler on Thursday left me feeling a bit deflated. It seemed like a looooong run, my thighs were tight and towards the end, I began to get bored.

There have been a few things posted recently about running with podcasts and audiobooks and the idea had been rattling around inside my empty head for some time but it wasn’t until a chance, texted comment about audiobooks from Hauling My Carcass on Saturday morning that I seriously considered it. There then followed a to-ing and fro-ing of texts (a “textversation”???) about potential titles. Jo Nesbo’s The Leopard? No… requires too much concentration and is probably too harrowing. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy? Mmmm… not convinced. Then Hauling My Carcass suggested something by Michael Palin. It was a Goldilocks moment – not too hot, not too cold but just right.
Not such a long time ago, I would’ve jumped on the motorbike and headed off to the nearest bookshop in search of the audiobook but, thanks to the magic of the internet and a broadband connection, Around The World In 80 Days was downloaded whilst I watched The Killing on BBC4 and dropped onto my mp3 player late last night. A quick check confirmed that quality was OK and that the chapters ran in the correct order and so to bed.

This morning I headed out accompanied not by the driving madness of The Prodigy or the intensity of Killing Joke but by Michael Palin’s reassuring Oxbridge tones. We started our journey in Pall Mall and by the time he had reached Venice, I had settled into a comfortable pace and was enjoying zoning out to tales of far flung places. For me, this book is the perfect running accompaniment: It is easy on the ear, enjoyable to listen to and, if you don’t quite hear the odd word or phrase, you do not have to rewind to check if you have missed an important intricacy in the plot. I knew roughly how far I had run at any given point as the route is fairly familiar but did not need to check the Garmin. I was happy just to continue running whilst Mr Palin regaled me with his travelogue.

I got to the end of my run still feeling fresh. It was a touch ( and we are talking mere seconds) slower than last weeks run around almost exactly the same route but I felt envigorated not weary. Mr Palin had made it almost as far as India but the Garmin reported that I had accomplished just 17.02kms.

Soundtrack to this post: Twist & Crawl – The Beat

21
Feb
11

a kick in the rear

The more I had time to reflect on the personal performance debacle that was the Wokingham Half Marathon, the more unhappy I became. How could I have been so stupid as to forget to eat enough prior to the race, couldn’t I have just kept pushing instead of admitting defeat etcetera, etcetera…
By midweek, I could take no more of my constant internal nagging, so pulled on my running shoes and headed out of the door for a quick 10k. I was angry and I had something to prove to myself. I followed my familiar riverside 10k route. I wanted it to be fast enough to erase my doubts that still lurked from the weekend. I tried not to look at my watch too much. At around 5k, I did glance at the time and the imaginary deadline that I had secretly set myself seemed acheivable, so with a new lease of life pushed on. It turned out to be one of the fastest 10k training runs I have done in a long time. Faster than my pb from the BUPA 10,000 2 years ago.
So it was with these thoughts in my head that I set off for 16kms on Sunday morning… this wasn’t planned to be fast, simply steady and about the same distance as I managed to run before spectacularly hitting the wall the previous weekend. It was steady and I finished still feeling relatively fresh.
Both of which were exactly what I needed both physically and psychologically. I have a bit of my drive back so have signed up for this years BUPA 10k… if I got a pb there 2 years ago, I think it’s about time I got another.

Soundtrack to this post: Coil – Who By Fire

14
Feb
11

wokingham half marathon race report 2011 – only myself to blame

It was overcast, wet and windy and 10 minutes before the race was due to start I was still in the slow moving queue for the toilets whilst the the stern voice on the tannoy asked “runners to make their way to the start… NOW!”. Even as the race started, I was busy handing my hoodie over to Mrs Hauling My Carcass, whilst a cheer went up as the front runners set off behind us. Not the dream start to the race I had hoped for but, as Hauling My Carcass and I are never going to appear in the “Elite” section of the starting pen, we were at least able to loiter at the sidelines before merging into the steady stream of runners at what we felt was the appropriate point for a 2 hour expected finish.
I’d planned to run the race with music but ran alongside Hauling My Carcass for the first mile, albeit in my own little world complete with specially compliled soundtrack, and then let him drift ahead as we settled into our respective paces. I was completely focussed on the ground 3-4 metres in front of me, content to let my mind wander. I hardly noticed my surroundings as we zigzagged our way through the Berkshire countryside past fields and across bridges over motorways. The first few miles drifted past quite easily and I was pleased to note that I was a little under 56mins as I passed the 6 mile mark. I fell into step with a fellow runner at this point and we (subliminally) kept each other company for the next couple of miles, running in time, taking turns to pick our way past other competitors before settling back and again running alongside each other. Then at around 8 miles, I just began to flag. I felt it happen and knew exactly what it was. I had eaten breakfast at 7a.m…. a little espresso and some toast, knowing that I would eat again about an hour before the race. Except somewhere between arriving in Wokingham that morning and hurriedly ditching my clothes and bag and joining the already in progress race, I forgot. So with 5 miles to go and 4 and a half hours since I’d last eaten, I felt I’d used up what little sustenance I had and was going to have to complete the rest of the race, effectively on empty. Reluctantly, I decided to take it easy, taking on water at the water stations and to slow to a walk if I felt like I was fading. Marshalls, spectators and fellow runners were very supportive and willed me on with shouts of encouragement and pats on the back whenever I stopped to walk. The last couple of miles were a push and I was relieved when I crossed the line in 2:12:42. (Oddly, earlier today when checking my official time on the website, there is a 25 sec differential between my watch time and the chip time. I know my watch time is correct so I’m sticking with that even though it makes me appear even slower). I reckon with a little training, there’s 10 minutes to be had off that time. And I’ve got 4 weeks until City-Pier-City in The Hague… Hmmmm…
I met with a (very cold and wet) Hauling My Carcass and was grateful for the free coffee supplied by the race organisers. A few minutes later when Mrs HMC appeared, I devoured my banana, ate half of Mrs HMC’s carob and seed bar and suddenly began to feel human again.
The weather was rotten and my SNAFU with food took some of the shine off, but, timing strangeness aside, I cannot fault the organisation, marshalling and support.

Soundtrack to this post: Little Richard – Long Tall Sally

07
Feb
11

black sunday

Everyone has their off-days. Days where, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t happen. Sunday was mine. I was supposed to run approximately 10 miles as my final long training run for next week’s Wokingham Half Marathon. But didn’t.

I won’t bore you with the details of how I set off in a different direction to my usual routes and how, after about 4kms, I was a little bit lost so stopped to get my bearings. It wouldn’t be very interesting for you to hear how that one brief stop was the beginning of a lack of enthusiasm about the entire run and how the next few kilometres were begrudgingly ground out. You probably don’t want to hear of how, once I knew where I was again, I punished myself for not giving it my all by including into my route a short but very steep lung-busting hill and then reluctantly looped back round towards home to find that I had come up about 3kms short of my intended distance. No-one would be interested to know that I was so disillusioned (not to mention cold and wind-swept) by this point that I couldn’t summon the will to add on a final loop to bring it up to 16kms. So I won’t mention any of it.

Instead I’ll point you in the direction of this – Christopher McDougall, author of Born To Run, giving a great, inspiring talk

According to his blog, he will be speaking at the TEDGlobal in Edinburgh in July. I don’t think it matters whether you agree with the Barefoot Running movement, I hope that whilst he is over, he is able to schedule a few more dates around the UK as he seems a very eloquent and interesting speaker. I’m sure it would be great to get along and see him.

Soundtrack to this post: Horace Andy – Just Say Who

03
Feb
11

a dark scamper

On days of forced inactivity and little enjoyment, I become almost psychotic in my need to get rid of some energy. Perhaps it is some chemical imbalance… more likely is that I am like a small child who has a level of energy to burn off each day. Whatever the reason, yesterday was spent between car and meeting (4hrs of each) so by the time I returned home, I needed to get out and do something.

Sundays 13.1 miles had left me feeling weary on the day but had not ruined the legs too badly, so I decided on a quick 5k run in the dark before dinner. VFF’s are perfect for this sort of thing as they, for me, add to the childlike feeling of “just running around” so I slipped into my running gear, pulled on the VFF’s and left.

I turned the mp3 player up loud and, as soon as the Garmin had a signal, was off. I wanted to run it as quick as I could so just set off as fast as possible. VFF’s are not a shoe that enable you to land heavily so my run was an odd combination of going as fast as I could without heel striking or hitting the ground too hard. Within 500 metres my chest began to ache as my body suddenly went from inactivity to high intensity. Continuing to push, my breathing became easier and I was able to keep pushing. The darkness slowed me slightly as it was difficult to see exactly where my foot was landing (even more crucial in Vibrams) but I ended my little 5.01km loop in 26:28. It felt hard, especially towards the end as I tired and my foot strike became laboured and heavy, but it served it’s purpose of leaving me considerably calmer, comfortably tired and with a smile on my face.

Soundtrack to this post: Benjamin Lew – Comme tout embué, tout danse




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