Archive for November, 2011

24
Nov
11

go outdoors – even when it’s cold

I’d been toying with the idea of getting a warm running top for the colder months for some while but as November had, until now, been very mild, I’d been putting it off. When I could no longer deny that the nights were drawing in and the temperature was dropping, I meandered onto the Go Outdoors site to see what I could find. First stop was their “Thermals” section which had thermal base layers for skiing and walking but nothing for running. Changing tack I looked at their Base Layers range which seemed to be just the ticket. I was pretty picky discerning with the features that I was looking for (must be long sleeve, must have a zip that comes at least to mid chest level, good technical fibre, preferably black). The Helly Hansen Warm Freeze Half Zip Men’s Baselayer Top seemed to have everything that I was looking for so ordered it. The first surprise was that I ordered it on Friday afternoon and on Sunday (yes, Sunday, day of rest and all that) a delivery driver knocked on my door to hand the parcel to me. Hurrah!
The second surprise was when I took it out of the pack – I had always been wary of buying a technical top made of Merino Wool. I know everyone says it is a very good technical fabric but I was worried that it would look / feel a bit “jumper-y”. So I was delighted when I pulled it out of the pack to see it was not in the least wooly and was very soft, light and technical looking.
So, having delighted me twice already, the acid test would be to take it out in the cold and see how it performed and, right on cue, nature dropped the temperature a few degrees -enough for a heavy fog to descend and for ice to form on the cars parked in the street, so I heaved myself out of bed, pulled on the top and my shorts and set off into the mist.
Oddly, I like running in the fog… but I also like running in the dark… perhaps it’s the sense of isolation or being able to “tune out” of the surroundings but I was really enjoying being out and planned an 11k round trip. The top was performing admirably and I was pleased to note that the cuffs were long enough to pull down over my hands to keep them warm at the start of the run. Also, the back of the shirt is long so that it doesn’t ride up and keeps the warmth in between top & shorts – both positives. In fact, I found that around 6km it was keeping me warm enough to be able to open the zip at the collar to let some cooler air in. I noticed people waiting for buses wrapped up in big coats with scarves and hats and me running past, dressed in black, collar up and top open to the mid chest level. I must have looked a bit like this

Or maybe not. Anyway, I returned home 11kms later very pleased with how the top had performed. The temperature was about 4 degrees and although this is supposed to be a “base layer” I had used it without any outer layers and was kept warm and comfortable. So now I’ve really got no excuses to not get out and run – even when it’s below freezing. Bugger!

Soundtrack to this post: Butch Cassidy Sound System – The Putney

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20
Nov
11

catching up

Ah, where to start? Blogging has taken a bit of a back-seat recently as work and gigs have filled my time. Work has been both busy and disorganised and has meant that things that should be a cinch become a painfully slow process of chasing and re-chasing to very little avail. Fortunately, the gigs (Red Hot Chili Peppers at the O2 and an impromptu Sisters Of Mercy at the Roundhouse) have punctuated this agonising grind with little pockets of joy. And with seeing The Beat this Thursday and The Selecter scheduled just prior to Xmas, there should be enough live music to keep me smiling into the New Year.
Unfortunately, Survival Of The Fittest did not materialise as I had a press invite that then evaporated at the last minute, leaving me without a race in November.
Still, I do have a place for Grim on 3rd December and that will be wet and muddy and will make up for November. And it’s not like I haven’t been running. In fact, I’ve been doing around 30-35kms a week, almost exclusively in the Vibrams and really enjoying it. Today’s little excursion was a foggy affair along the canal towpath with very limited visibility for the best part of 12kms. I arrived home cold and covered with a sheen of moisture, some of which was sweat although I am sure the bulk of it was mist.
And talking of Grim and poor visibility, I am planning to enter the Grim Night Terror which takes place in February and, unsurprisingly, at night. From the website, it looks like a fantastic event as it takes place over the same course as the Grim Original that I enjoy so much but obviously in the dark. As I am a fan of Grim and inexplicably fond of running in the dark I am very much looking forward to it.
Finally, a little thank you for the many nice comments that met with my intentions to run The Berlin Marathon – I think I am maybe still a little bit in denial that I am going to attempt 42kms and I am deliberately waiting until well into late Jan / early Feb before contemplating any “training” but the support from everyone so far has been gratefully received.

Soundtrack to this post: Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchindananda

11
Nov
11

houmous and hugs

Last weekend saw me venture North Of The Border and visit Edinburgh. My sister was getting married there and I had the dubious honour of giving her away. I flew up after work on Friday night with a suitcase containing one suit, one shirt, one pair of shoes, one tie and a optimistically packed pair of running shorts, a top and the Vibrams. I’d never been to Edinburgh and had booked the whole trip blind – not really knowing the area – so chose a hotel seemingly at random and hoped that with a bit of luck and some good karma, things would be OK. And they were – firstly because a few days before I left, I found out that my Sister’s Best Friend (and her witness for the wedding ceremony) was to be staying in the same hotel as me. As it turned out, this was a real blessing as I now had a companion with whom to breakfast, wander the streets of Edinburgh and sit up with into the early hours of the mornings chatting about everything and nothing.
The wedding itself was great… but very, a very unusual experience as I arrived in the car with my Sister at Edinburgh Castle (where she was getting married) to find the car immediately surrounded by tourists taking photos of us. I find it very odd that people would take pictures of the wedding of someone that they did not know…
I had vowed to get out and run early on Sunday morning and, true to my word, at a whisker after 7.30am, I was standing outside the hotel impatiently waiting for the Garmin to get a signal. Eventually, the Scottish satellites found me and I set off, not really knowing where I was going and not really caring… I’d left the headphones at home deliberately so I could get all the sights and sounds of a Scottish Sunday Morning. Edinburgh is a beautiful city made even more impressive by the early morning sunshine illuminating the buildings. I set off in one direction, away from the City Centre before looping back towards the Castle and through the gardens surrounding it, past monuments and plaques and zigzagging back and forth across The Royal Mile. I managed 10k before I finally arrived back outside the hotel.
Later in the day, everyone else had left and I was alone in Edinburgh and I took the chance to properly investigate. I found so many interesting little shops including some fabulous record shops – proper record shops that sold CD’s and Records and T-Shirts and had album sleeves plastering the walls and surly dis-interested staff glowering at you from behind the counter. It felt like home.
And I found a fantastic Turkish cafe where I sat and ate Houmous and falafel and used their Wi-Fi.
And then I wandered the Royal Mile and got a free hug from The Lady With The “Free Hugs” Sign Around Her Neck.
I had a ball. Everyone I met was lovely. The run was magnificent and I can confirm that there are both cobbles AND hills in Edinburgh. And I will definitely go back.

Soundtrack to this post: Mudhoney – You Got It (Keep It Out Of My Face)

04
Nov
11

twigs and bathtubs

Not much running accomplished this week as not only has the work front been unexpectedly busy, but I have also been trying to get as much stuff as possible organised for my impending trip to Edinburgh this weekend. My little sister, I say “little” but she is 40 years old, is getting married there so I’ve been busy getting my suit cleaned and rummaging around for a bag of specific dimensions that I can take on as hand luggage that will contain everything I need for 3 days away and a wedding. Once the bag was packed, there was the smallest of spaces left – just big enough for some shorts, a top and my Vibrams. Come Sunday morning, Edingbronians(?) will have the dubious pleasure of seeing me running around a bit in their city.
Before I set off North Of The Border, I shall leave you with this little gem. For the impatient amongst you, the technique is on the 5th page but it’s well worth reading all the way through.

Soundtrack to this post: Mix Up – The Gladiators




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