Archive for February, 2012

27
Feb
12

bricked up

The last week or so has seen me nip out for a crafty 10-11k on a few occasions, squeezing my runs in around other commitments. I’ve tried to up the frequency a little as I have been feeling fairly sluggish and uninspired and this in turn has meant I run less which means I feel sluggish and unispired…
So, the weather getting milder and the impending Marlow Duathlon in a few weeks time have both given me a well needed kick up the behind.
Another thing that got me moving again was a response to one of my posts about my forthcoming Duathlon attempt. I got a good tip from the 5k runner who suggested I try “bricks”.
Bricks, for the uninitiated (such as I). is concentrating on 2 disciplines in the same workout in quick successiion. As I am training for a run/bike/run Duathlon, I decided to attempt a training session of run/bike/run/bike/run covering the same overall distance as my intended Duathlon (39kms) but in smaller chunks giving my body a chance to practice changing from one discipline to the other.
So, in my customary “Bull In A China Shop” style, I formulated a loose plan in my head on Saturday evening and then set off on Sunday morning to attempt my Brick Session.
First leg was a run of 5kms, a pleasant little run that felt easy. A quick change of footwear and onto the bike for 13.5kms. I’d drunk some water at the transition and during the ride guzzled some Lucozade sweets donated to me by the lovely Fit Artist. They seemed to do the trick as I felt rejuvenated for the bike ride with only the hill back home really making me work. Off the bike and back into the Vibrams for a 6k run. And this where I really started feeling it. The transition to the run after a cycle is a tough one – thighs that have been moving up and down for 13kms now have to learn to move back and forth again and this takes a little while for the body to understand. The first kilometre felt odd and then for a brief period everything was ok before a sudden onset of weariness. With a bike ride and another run to go, I was beginning to wonder why I had attempted this. Still, onwards and upwards we go so I returned home, jumped back on the bike, wolfed down some more energy sweets and I felt ok again. The bike ride was again quite enjoyable as I find it relatively easy but at the back of my mind, I began to dread the last run.
I arrived back, dropped the bike, swapped shoes and set off for my last 2k run. It was really hard. The transition was tough and I didn’t shake off the feeling of weariness. It was only a relatively short leg but I felt disorientated as I ran it, unsure of how long I’d been running and a bit detached from my self. I have had this feeling before towards the end of some of my more challenging runs… it’s not fun and is physicaly and mentally uncomfortable.
I was so relieved when I got back home. Glad that it was over but also glad that I had done what I intended. My time (2h 32mins) was about what I expected to complete the race in but this training session had 2 additional transitions and they involved unlocking the front door, carefully manouvering my bike through the hallway etc. which I obviously won’t have to concern myself with during the actual race.
As a footnote, I retrospectively researched “Bricks” and found that I’d gone about it completely the wrong way – advice on Beginner Triathlete.com says “If you have never done a brick before, you should get used to them before attempting these kind of workouts”. And also that the individual legs should be over shorter distances, ideally “5-6 miles bike + 1mile run”. I really need to learn that instructions and advice are what you seek before attempting something and not afterwards to check if you’ve done it right.

Soundtrack to this post:
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Starfighter

13
Feb
12

miserable

Everyone gets their fair share of crappy runs. I had one of mine yesterday. After the mild euphoria of my unplanned long(ish) run a couple of Sundays back and then the absurdity of running in the dark and the snow at Grim I came back to Earth with a plop this week. This last week the snow has meant that there was very little I could do in the way of running… normally snow does not stop me from getting out but this was particularly nasty as after the first day it hardened into some kind of superslippery perma-frost which was almost impossible to run on. Then, a little later in the week, another flurry meant that there was a deceptively soft fluffy layer on top of the hard ice beneath. Not running weather.
Becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to get out and run, I vowed to myself that Sunday morning, come hell or high water, I would venture out. So I wrapped up (hat, buff, 2 x long sleeve tops, gloves, tights, shorts etc) and set off.
And I really wanted to enjoy my first run in a week but failed. Within minutes of me leaving the house, in addition to the black ice under foot, everything seemed to become grey as a misty, drizzley moistness hung in the air, dampening everything including my spirits. Hertfordshire Council seemed to have been caught out by the long predicted cold snap that the media had been threatening for weeks and neglected to grit or clear any of the pathways. The frequent slippery patches meant that some parts of my normal route would be impassable so I had to stick to a workmanlike “out and back” along the main road. Even so, the ice under foot did at points have me tottering like a tipsy lady in too high stilletoes.
So an uninspired and uninspirational 11.6kms and the best thing about it was getting home and getting in the shower. Pah! Things can only get better…

05
Feb
12

dark and cold – a grim night terror review

I set off in the car for this race with a little trepidation. For a week or so people had been warning of heavy snow and all reliable sources pointed to it arriving in Aldershot by 6pm. As I left the motorway at the Aldershot exit around 4.30pm, the first few tentative, tiny flakes began to fall. I met up with Hauling My Carcass and we agreed that this was, without a doubt, the most ridiculous thing we have agreed to do to date… and there have been a few ridiculous things. Some very ridiculous.
Once we had collected our timing chips from the happy and efficient people in charge of timing chip dispensing, we sat in the car with the heater going and sighed and shook our collective heads at the absurdity of it all. It was minus something or other on the thermometer and we were about to run around an Army Vehicle Testing Track in the dark. Ironically, on the drive through Aldershot to the event, I saw a lone soldier pounding the streets in boots, combats and a khaki t-shirt… “poor bastard”, I thought, “he’s probably annoyed a superior and this is his punishment”. And yet I was about to undertake something similar, for fun. What is wrong with me???
When we could not sit in the warm (and in denial) for any longer we ventured out and joined the other be-headtorched runners for the start. We were told that the route had been amended as the large puddles were covered in four inch thick ice that, even if it were broken with a sledgehammer would be impassable because it “would cut you to ribbons”. And on that cheery note we were sent running off into the night.
Anyone who has run the Grim Original would recognise parts of the course although it takes on a very different appearance in the dark and covered with a dusting of snow. Everyone seemed in good spirits as we picked our way round 2 laps of the course. Personally I had a couple of (self inflicted) issues – namely, the day before the race, my new superbright headtorch went “pop” whilst on a final pre-race charge. Never one to miss an opportunity to bastardise something when just buying a replacement would be far more sensible, I took a high power hand torch and gaffer taped it to the existing headtorch’s head band. Obviously, during the race it rattled around on top of my head, dimmed sporadically and gave intermittent light as the contacts inside made and broke the circuit in time with my feet pounding the icy surface. Secondly, I dug out an old pair of running shoes in which to tackle the frozen ground…Another schoolboy error as I have been doing almost all my running in VFF’s and, without wishing to sound like this, I now find it really hard work to run in regular running shoes both because of the additional weight and the way they contort my feet whilst running.
Those minor niggles aside, the event itself was great – plenty of parking, friendly and efficient staff looking after bags, timing chips etc. Plenty of good natured marshalls who stood in the freezing cold to make sure we were all safe and who offered well needed words of encouragement all evening. The route was just challenging enough and the organisers decision to shorten the route for safety reasons (it ended up as just over 10.6kms) was a sound one. The course is a good mixture of forest path, technical and rutted tracks and sandy climbs and descents. Add in the odd strobe light and loudspeakers around the course intermittently blasting out heavy breathing and blood curdling screams and you have a fun and challenging evenings running.
Apparently, there was an after race party, but the ever deepening snow meant that many, like myself, chose to forego post-race festivities and aim to get home before the roads became a slushy, icy mess.
I would definitely do it again… a Spring/Summer one would be great. It could start later, go the full distance and incorporate some of the mud an puddles we all love.




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