Archive for April, 2011

25
Apr
11

nature abhors a vacuum

Ah, a long Bank Holiday weekend. No work for 4 days and, as idyllic as this sounds, it strikes a small speck of fear into a tiny part of my psyche. Not the “not working” bit (that usually lifts my spirits immeasurably) but the lack of structure, the absence of a framework , the emptiness of it all. Usually, I like to have a number of things planned over the Bank Holiday, and this one was no exception… picnics, days out, a pre-L2B bike ride (more of which later), but somewhere in my subconcious is a little obsessive compulsive demon who constantly nags that I’m not making the most of my free time, not cramming enough stuff in.
There have been a number of unblogged runs in the Vibram Five Fingers and the eve of the bank holiday weekend was the scene of the most recent. I have been steadily upping the distance (and the ruination of the soles of my feet) and fancied a cheeky “barefoot” 10k to kick off Thursday evening, so an out-and-back along the riverside was accomplished. It is a variety of surfaces and each felt markedly different beneath the thin soles of the VFF’s. Tarmac lead to grass, grass to gravel, gravel to tarmac addled with tree roots – all of which providing a variation of sensations for the soles of my feet. The 10k was completed, surprisingly, in 53:50 meaning that I can run 10k in the Vibrams as least as fast as in regular running shoes and boosting my confidence for a 10k race in them in the not too distant future.
Friday was punctuated by back and forth text messages planning the pre-L2B bike ride that myself and Hauling My Carcass had been working on for a while. We were to do a little ride around Surrey on the newly-converted-to-single-speed bikes. We were all set (route planned, start time confirmed, supplies required along the way agreed) but a 4am text from HMC apologetically informing me that he had been unwell all night meant that we had to cancel. So, having everything already prepared, I took the chance to get out anyway and set off a little after 8am on Saturday on what turned out to be a 53km cycle ride around a good chunk of Hertfordshire.
Sunday morning and, once again, I inexplicably wake early and decide that it’d be a shame to waste the opportunity and steal out of the house whilst the rest of the family was still asleep to tackle my 14.7km route through the morning mist on legs still ruined from yesterday’s 53k on the bike. Arrived home to find the family just finishing breakfast.
So, almost 75kms over 4 days with Easter Monday as a rest day spent sitting in a park eating and drinking with friends. And a long weekend filled. Now, what shall I do for next weekend…
Soundtrack to this post: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Make You Feel Better

20
Apr
11

trion:z dual loop review

I’d been curious about Trion:Z products for a while. After reading testimonials from sports professionals in the press I was intrigued to know if they worked. So when I was contacted and asked if I’d like to test their Dual Loop Bracelet, I jumped at the chance.

Trion:Z Dual Loop Bracelet


“Designed to balance the body’s magnetic and electrical fields, Trion:Z combines the therapeutic properties of magnets and negative ions, bringing you the most powerful complementary health product on the market today”.

Unsure if my body’s magnetic and electrical fields were out of balance, I decided to just wear the Dual Loop Bracelet and see what happened. There are many different colour combinations available on their website, but I went for the plain black version reasoning that it would be the least obtrusive and go nicely with my black running top and black shorts.

The Trion:Z website doesn’t make any claims to improve performance and a search of the internet fails to provide any hard and fast evidence of positive effects of magnetism on the body so I was unsure exactly what to expect. I didn’t feel any different when it was on but then was I supposed to? I got a few compliments about it (“that’s a nice bracelet”) and a few curious questions from those who were familiar with Trion:Z (“ooh is that one of those magnetic ones? So… do they work?”)

So, having now worn it for almost 2 weeks, I can confirm… actually, I still don’t really know what can be attributed to the bracelet and what is just a product of circumstance/luck/training/nice weather. In the past two weeks that I have been wearing it, I have run the Hertford 10k where I got a new pb and I have also shaved another 32 seconds off my 14.7km regular route. Maybe there is an element of “placebo effect” coming into play… who knows? Certainly, the Trion:Z Dual Loop has not had any adverse effect on my performance… it’s just difficult to prove it has any positive effect. Maybe if you’re curious, you should get over to their website, order one and see for yourself.

18
Apr
11

run home to mummy…

I thought I’d take it easy this weekend. This was to be the first weekend in a very long time indeed that I would be childless as SonNumberOne was staying with a friend for the weekend and SonNumberTwo was staying with my Mum. And as any parent of young children will tell you, lie-ins become just a pleasant memory once you have kids. So, I intended to take full advantage of the situation.
With that in mind, I set off on Friday evening for my, now customary, 14.7kms route which would normally be run first thing on Sunday morning, thinking that if I ran it Friday, I could not only enjoy a Sunday morning lie-in, but I could justify it too as I would still have covered the distance, just 2 days prior.
And Friday’s run was a good one as I managed to shave another 32 seconds off my time finishing the distance in 1:21:32 which both pleased and surprised me. I know that I will come back to Earth with a thump very soon as I cannot go on improving my time but for now, I shall just bask in the warm glow of inexplicably getting faster each subsequent run.
Anyway, Sunday morning came and I woke about 8.30 but decadently languished in bed until about 9.30 when hunger got the better of me and the thought of capuccino and toast became to much to resist. Both were demolished whilst watching the start of the coverage of the Virgin London Marathon. I knew a couple of people who were running it (congratulations here to everyone who took part, and a big shout to my friend Dianne for finishing her first marathon in a very respectable time) and I always enjoy the coverage… I think I may try and attend next year – as a spectator, not a participant – as the atmosphere must be amazing. But I found that the more I watched, the more I felt like getting out and running.
Bits and pieces were done around the house, the local DIY was store was cycled to and odd jobs were accomplished but still I had the nagging desire to run. So, a plan was hatched. SonNumberTwo required collecting from my Mum’s house about 6 miles away… a bag was packed containing clothes and a washbag and thrown in the back of the car. Mrs. EatingTrees would set off after me and would drive to my Mum’s and I would run there and shower and change once I arrived.
Running from point to point is an odd sensation. Most of my usual runs are a big loop, starting and ending at the same point so there is always a “return leg”. My run on Sunday took me ever further from my start point which made it feel longer than the 9 and a bit kilometres that it was. But it served it’s purpose… I arrived at my Mum’s, showered, changed and retrieved SonNumberTwo. It was then a drive to my friends to collect SonNumberOne, before returning home, the family reunited and my need for a run satiated in one go.

Soundtrack to this post: Rollins Band – Disconnect

10
Apr
11

hometown pb – hertford 10k race review

I’d been looking forward to this race for a while. I ran it for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. This year, I had persuaded Hauling My Carcass to join me (I shall, in return, be joining him for his local race, the Ashtead 10k, later in the year) and as he was bringing the family with him, it seemed the ideal opportunity for us all to get together and make a bit of an occasion out of it.

The event itself was organisationally very similar to last year, the Race HQ at the local school with real toilets (not portaloos) and very little queueing, and a hassle free bag check (name, race number, hand over your bag, thank you very much), there is lots of parking space and a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. I was also happy that one of my (tiny) criticisms from last year had been addressed, namely that the race was just under 10k. This year, it had had an extra little piece added on bringing it to (according to my Garmin) 10.11km. Perfect.

The start is a short walk from the school and there was very little hanging around… we were led to the start and minutes later we were off. The race follows the first part of the Cole Green Way before looping off and through some of the many small villages on the outskirts of the town…. Hertingfordbury, Staines Green and then rejoins the Cole Green Way further up and returns back to Hertford. It is a quiet, varied and rural route with none of those long stretches of road that head off into the distance that make you feel like you are not actually getting anywhere. The first 6-7km are mostly gently uphill and which turn into gentle downhills as you again join the Cole Green Way for the return stretch. Marshalling is frequent, good humoured (one marshall good naturedly admiring my tattoos as I ran past) and efficient.

The sting in the tail is the last 500 metres, a good portion of which is an uphill stretch toward the finish line which saps the energy. Fortunately, this is where the majority of the spectators gather and you can hear their shouts of encouragement from about half way up the steep hill. This alone is enough to make you grit your teeth, go for the finish line and banish those thoughts of walking. And it is an impressive finish on the doorstep of County Hall with its imposing facade and sculptures of Harts either side of the doors.
I wanted a personal best… It’s my local race and had felt that I had been getting quicker over my training runs so felt that a sub 55min finish was acheivable. I hardly looked at my watch for the last half of the race so was delighted when I crossed the line in 54:58… it might only be 2 seconds under 55mins but it was 37 seconds faster than my previous 10k pb so was very happy. I have the BUPA 10k in May (the scene of my previous 10k pb) and think that without the killer hill at the finish, there is at least another 30-45 seconds to be shaved off of that time come 30th May.

So all that remained was to collect the goodie bag (water, t-shirt, shot glass) grab a banana and then cycle home. Then to the serious business of eating, chatting and removing a seized seatpost from a frame for a bike build project for Mrs Hauling My Carcass.

It is a good race, organisation this year was spot on – everything just seemed to happen as and when it should, and it’s nice to have a race you can be proud of on your own doorstep.

Soundtrack to this post: Maceo & All The Kings Men – Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself

03
Apr
11

peril

This week has been non-stop. So much so that my Sunday run was to be the only run accomplished. With the Hertford 10k next Sunday, which I am very much looking forward to, I had a little dilemma before I set off this morning. Should I go for a quick 10k to see how my time looked in preparation for next week, or should I go for the now customary new “Sunday Favourite” of 14.7kms?
I had kind of made a rod for my own back with my last post and knew that the 14.7kms ideally needed to be at least 45 seconds quicker than the last time I ran it – or the synchronicity would be lost and this would put the whole of life as we know it in potential danger, probably.
In the end, I decided on a compromise… I would run the 14.7kms route but aim for a reasonable 10k time within that – after all, I had run it a number of times now and knew, to within about 100ms, where the 10k point was. I started off with out with the audiobook of Michael Palin’s Around the World In Eighty Days (still a favourite for my Sunday runs) but I realised very quickly when he arrived at Shaghai Station for the second time, that someting very odd was happening and the mp3 player seemed to be playing each track twice. A quick on-the-fly fumble got rid of the repeating Mr Palin but left me with a lot of noisy, upbeat tracks that were a little bit of a shock after MP’s measured enunciations.
But not to worry, the sun was shining and the air was cool and crisp and a week of no runs had allowed my body to recover a little bit and also given me an incentive to put in a good run today so I bounded onwards. I was feeling pleased as I passed the 10k point at 54:48 – 55mins is a psychological barrier for me and to go under on a run of more than 10k gave me a bit of a boost. I decided I’d push on and see how I fared over the whole 14.7.
Around about the 12.5k mark, I again glanced at my watch and was pleasantly surprised, I hadn’t lost any of the time from the first 10k and the rest of my route was the easiest part – either flat or slightly downhill so decided just to press on as quickly as I could. The end of my run drew ever nearer and I hit the “finish line” – the bus stop opposite the train station – in 1:22:04.
I was delighted with this time, firstly as it was 1:01 faster than last week (and 2:41 faster than the same route 3 weeks ago) and secondly, as I came in over 45 seconds faster than my previous run, the universe and existence as we know it was once again safe. Phew!

Soundtrack to this post: Jocelyn Pook – Masked Ball




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