Archive for March, 2011

31
Mar
11

familiarity breeds…?

This post is long overdue to the large amount of stuff that has decided to take up residence in the space formerly referred to as my life. It is a combination of the “work” and the “personal” that have conspired together to steal time from me. Actually, the personal was planned a long time in advance and is enjoyable, work on the other hand, currently seems to be haphazard, poorly planned (if at all), mostly urgent and subsequently not very enjoyable at all. The personal bits fill my heart with joy, then the work bits come along and steal it all away again.

After my triumphant last post in which I had done a few runs and squeezed in a cycle too, so it came to pass that I spent all of last Friday and last Friday night working, and a good portion of Saturday too. Knowing that this week was already packed to the rafters with more “stuff”, it made my Sunday Long Run all the more important. Over the past few weeks, I have been running the same route which I have cobbled together from bits of my other routes and have found it to be a) a nice distance for a regular run (a shade under 15kms), b) contain a mixture of hills and flat and c) be varied enough to run it regularly without getting bored. It has also allowed me to compare like for like my performance over a period of time.

In 3 weeks, I have completed the route in 1:24:45, then 1:24:00 and then on Sunday 1:23:15… an improvement on each of the previous runs of 45 secs each. Which, firstly has a nice bit of synchonicity about it for those who like that sort of thing and secondly, seems to be a big improvement run on run. I’m not normally a big fan of statistics and figures but this did impress me – a minute and half faster over 3 runs with no discernible difference in conditions or fitness. So, I think it must be familiarity. 15k is not a long distance but it is an hour and twentyish minutes (for me) and I wonder if the first few times I ran it, I held back so I could finish feeling ok. Perhaps the next time, I was a little more confident and pushed it a bit more, perhaps the third time, I knew well enough which bits I could push on and for how long. With the remainder of the week already full and no running done so far this week, I shall be left with no choice but to tackle the same route again on Sunday morning. Wonder if I can trim off another 45 secs and do it in 1:22:30?

Soundtrack to this post: Baby I Love You So – Jacob Miller

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23
Mar
11

guilt free

With City-Pier-City just a very pleasant memory, I thought I’d be feeling a little flat and suffering from post race blues. However, I think that because it was so very enjoyable, it seems to have given me added inspiration. Earlier this week, I found out that I had a place in the London to Brighton Bike again this year. Hauling My Carcass and I will be tackling the ride on our recently built bikes, although we will both be converting them to single speed rather than fixed gear. Last years L2B on my fixie, although enjoyable, was hampered by not being able to freewheel down hill… this year that will not be a problem. Also new this year is our third team member – Hauling My Carcass’s mother who will be joining us on the ride after expressing an interest last year – she was responsible for registration for this year whilst we were in Den Haag running 21.1kms so it is thanks to her that we are in at all.
So, with a renewed vigour I knocked out an 11km run on Wednesday evening after work, a 30ish km bicycle ride on Thursday a 15km run Sunday morning and another 15km this evening. All of this was obviously “The Hague Effect” and nothing to do with me making amends knowing that last weekend was going to be an exercise in indulgence that included, amongst other things, enormous quantities of birthday cake, catching up with old friends and very little sleep.
Although the above frenzy of activity is nothing in comparison to the many, many miles currently being put in by those in Marathon Training. Reading blogs and facebook updates about 20+mile training runs makes me feel like a lightweight and I have great admiration for those who have decided to run a marathon, the commitment, time and physical effort that it takes frightens me just a little.

Soundtrack to this post: Tony Allen – Black Voices

16
Mar
11

hup, hup – the hague city-pier-city half marathon

It’s a bit of a misnomer calling this a “race report” as it is impossible for me to separate the race from the entire trip that myself and Mr & Mrs Hauling My Carcass undertook (incidentally, you can read his version of events here). We’d planned this as a road trip, and the whole weekend, from arriving at Hauling My Carcass’s house on Friday night to arriving back at mine on Monday night, was flawless.
We set off early on Saturday, driving to the Eurotunnel and then arriving in Calais. European countries were subsequently ticked off. UK – done, France – done, Belgium – done, before arriving late afternoon in The Netherlands at our hotel in The Hague. A quick swim, a sauna and then off out to Casa Caroni, a great little Italian restaurant where we loaded up on very fine pasta. Our waiter was amazing and seemed to have learned his waiting technique from Derren Brown – all showmanship and misdirection. Mrs Hauling My Carcass ordered only 1 glass of wine, but whenever plates were removed from the table, miraculously her glass was full again. Likewise, the Tiramisu which we all shared, magically reappeared as an additional much smaller portion just for Mrs Hauling My Carcass. Astounding!

And so to race day. Into the city before the buses stopped running and in time to see the Childrens 1k in full swing. Each child had to run with a parent/guardian and there were literally hundreds of joyful kids running, ruddy cheeked, around the perimeter of the park, each wearing a little race number. The adults running with them each had what looked like a race number pinned to them – although upon closer inspection, they turned out to be little signs that said “Coach”. There then followed a 2.5k, a 5k and a 10k before the start of the Half Marathon at 2.30. The fact that there were so many races and for so many abilities, means that the day becomes an event. People turn out to watch the races and soak up the atmosphere, of which there is plenty.
Detremined to not make the same mistake I did at Wokingham, the couple of hours we had before the start of the race was taken up with the serious business of eating. As this was an afternoon race, it took us some deliberation to work out how and when to eat. Too little and we’d run out of energy part of the way through the race, too much and we would suffer from what Mrs Hauling My Carcass referred to as “Food Coma” – that delightful, lethargic sleepy feeling you have after a heavy meal. So it was a sandwich, capuccino, a croissant, a banana and wine gums at a steady pace before ditching the bags and heading to the start. The atmosphere at the start was good natured and the Dutch lady next to me laughed at the yellowy/orange energy drink I had in my running bottle implying it looked like a urine sample (“You taking thishz to de Hoshzpital on de way round, ya!”).
We were off bang on 2.30 and immediately you notice the support from the crowd – I’d decided to run with a playlist of Michael Palin for the first hour and then switch to music for the second hour, which meant I missed none of the noise that the crowd was making. Vuvuzelas, cow bells, inflatable sticks banging together, iPods and docking stations brought out into the street and Brass Bands were all present as were words of encouragement chalked on to the roads, people calling out and waving from their balconies and children waiting excitedly for “high fives” at the side of the roads. The first 5-6kms are fairly densely populated with runners and the field does not seem to thin out so you just run with the pack. The kilometres passed easily and the support was unwavering. The course heads out from the city centre and through leafy residential roads before nearing the coast around 12kms then looping back. I know that kms 11-17 were run with a big grin on my face and it was only at about 17.5kms did I begin to feel like it was getting harder by which point it’s only 3.5kms to the finish and hardly worth worrying about. I knew that the road headed towards the city and then took a left turn for the last 500 metres towards the finish. As I took the final corner, the last track on my playlist stopped, leaving just the sound of the crowd at the finish. I was being cautious after Wokingham so aimed for about 2:05… I crossed the line in 2:04:23 wearing a big, silly grin.
The rest of the weekend was spent refuelling and celebrating my birthday. A magnificent Kenyan meal was had at 3 Stones, there was shisha in the hotel room and the drive back the following day was punctuated by lunch and birthday presents in Ghent. It was a truly excellent weekend during which everything went to plan – A big thank you must go to my 2 companions, Mr & Mrs Hauling My Carcass. The race is excellent – well organised and well supported. Den Haag is a beautiful, clean city and it’s inhabitants couldn’t have been more helpful and friendly. I think this race is probably one of my top 2 half marathons and it is a tough call whether Royal Parks Half (first ever race, personal best) or this occupies the number one slot. I think I may like to come back and do this one again.

Soundtrack to this post: The Young Gods – Lucidogen

06
Mar
11

never mind the ballots

Ah, what a week! Firstly, I received an e-mail from a friend of mine who is training for his first half marathon and was going to be in the area so would I like to go out for a run on Tuesday evening. And as much as I enjoy running on my own (or with Mr Palin – more of which later), I jumped at the chance to have a run and a catch up chat. We gossipped and ran and still covered over 7 miles at an average of about 9 min miles although I reckon we could improve on that if I could actually stop talking for long enough on the uphills to draw breath.
Also, plans are being finalised for this years Great Eatingtrees / Hauling My Carcass Road Trip: he has sorted routes there and approximate timings as well as supplying us with a race route complete with elevations (total elevation approx 18metres… over 21.1kms -so pretty flat!), Mrs Hauling My Carcass is in charge of finding us sights to see and places to visit in the few hours that we will not be running, sleeping or eating and I am in charge of post race meal and My Birthday Lunch en route on the journey back. It’s all looking fairly splendid and the fact that we are driving there turns this into a bit more of an adventure which I think we are all looking forward to. Prague in 2009 had cobbles, shisha and belly dancing into the early hours. Lisbon had a beautiful but ill-fated race for us both, bad transvestites and fish being sold from car tyres outside our hotel. I can only imagine what The Hague will hold…
The tail end of the week brought 2 e-mails in quick succession: The first informing me that I had been unsuccessful in my application for this years Royal Parks Half – the first time I will not run it since the first one in 2008. The second was a lovely reply from the Kenyan restaurant in The Hague that I’d tried to book for our post race meal, confirming our reservation. A quick text informing HMC of these two facts elicited a pragmatic reply that basically said that the £45 we’d saved by not being able to enter RPH could now be spent at the Kenyan restaurant post City Pier City. Then I posted a comment on Facebook about my RPH no-go and was met with many replies and suggestions for alternatives I could enter (thanks Adele, Shaun, Susan and Paul). So it now looks like the Maidstone Half Marathon could be the new RPH, falling as it does, dangerously close to my friends 40th birthday… and what better way to celebrate his impending Mid Life Crisis?
And so to todays run, run as last week, under the influence of Palin. We’re now in and around Hong Kong and Shanghai and, once again, I got to the end of my run feeling as fresh as if I’d covered half the distance and not the 19.4kms that I had actually covered.
This time next week, City Pier City will be in the bag and I will be “refueling” Kenyan style.

Soundtrack to this post: Paradise Circus – Massive Attack




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