Posts Tagged ‘Prague

31
Mar
09

reality czech

City Of A Thousand Spires And A Million Cobbles – PW Not PB – I’ll Be Back

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What started as a throw-away comment after last years Royal Parks Half had now become a reality. Initially, Hauling My Carcass had vowed to hang up his running shoes as soon as he crossed the finish line of the Royal Parks but, no more than 2 minutes after finishing that race, and with a big (sweaty) grin on his face, he’d asked me “What next then?”. “I fancy the Prague Half” I replied – Prague is one of my favourite cities and the Half Marathon was supposed to be a very good event…

6 months later… we arrive at Prague Airport at 4.30pm on Friday and decide to head straight to the Half Marathon Expo to collect our race packs containing our numbers, timing chips and a very nice Adidas Prague Half Marathon branded running shirt. Once the registration is complete, we’re off to the hotel to get settled before we head out to eat. Talk all night and into the early hours is of the race the next day, of personal bests, of planned finishing times.

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The day itself was very well organised, easy to navigate, quick to drop bags, plenty of toilets. We made our way to the start and after enduring Survivors “Eye Of The Tiger” at mind-shearing volume through the PA, we’re off – exactly on time. There are cheering crowds and a group of drummers and Czech TV cameras. The atmosphere is great and the first few kilometres are quick and effortless. I’d agreed to keep up with Hauling My Carcass for the first 10km and his timing strip and my Garmin had us exactly where we should be for the first part of the race – perhaps even a little ahead. All things being well, I’d planned to finish in 1h 58m. The route was mostly flat but the surface alternated between cobblestones, tramlines and uneven tarmac and was proving difficult to traverse – each foot strike took a little additional effort as you tried to correct yourself on the crooked surface. Around about 8km, Hauling My Carcass began to increase his pace a little and I decided to stick where I was – I was 140 metres ahead compared to my Virtual Partner on the Garmin so thought I’d conserve my energy for later in the race.

Just before 10km, I very quickly felt my legs tire and begin tingling with pins and needles. I was back on the cobblestones and had underestimated how much harder it is to run on an irregular surface, I tried to push through it but, although my torso felt fine, my legs had nothing extra to give. I looked at my Garmin and watched my 140m lead shrink to 90m, then 50m, then I was behind schedule. I’d completed the first 10k in 57.20 but now I was slowing, unable to push any harder and unsteady as the numbness in my feet and legs combined with the cobbles to make each step a calculated risk. I carried on but could see my plan of a sub 2 hr finish slowly dwindling.

I needed to make a decision quickly about how I wanted to continue. I could push on and try for a reasonable time but the legs were heavy and I did not want to fall on the cobbles or slip on a tramline and risk not finishing. By this point, the Garmin said I was almost 500 metres behind schedule so took the decision to switch off the virtual partner and just aim to finish. The next 8km were a combination of a couple of kms running, a couple of hundred metres walking to get some feeling back in the legs and then back to the running.

The last 5kms were just me grinding it out, I was struggling but mentally broke the distance down into 1km chunks, if I could just do one more, then another I would be OK. The last km was a left turn at the end of a bridge and then a long slow, cobbly incline to the finish. It was a killer but about 150 metres from the finish, I could see Hauling My Carcass, already finished and screaming at me, willing me on. I pushed hard and hurtled across the finish line, swearing loudly. Hauling My Carcass, grabbed me in our now customary post-race-hug which was sorely needed as he was all that was holding me up at that point.

I finished in 2:09:53 – a personal worst but strangely, did not feel unhappy about it. I’d underestimated how difficult the surface was and the 6 weeks of training that I had managed to grab since my injury had enabled me to go the distance but I was just not physically strong enough to deal with both the distance and the cobbles. I finished knowing that I’d done as well as I could.

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The next 2 days were spent eating, relaxing and walking around. There was fantastic architecture, great food, apple shisha, belly dancers… Prague really is an amazing place, both beautiful and bizarre. Whether I return to run the Half Marathon again, I don’t know but I will definitely return.

Soundtrack To This Post: Cabaret Voltaire – Sensoria

24
Mar
09

inconsistent forecasts and unusual incentives

Intermittent Internet – Information Overload – And Now The Weather

This post is a day or so later than I’d have liked due to the Internet Goblins tampering with the connectivity – one minute it’s there and I’m happily browsing, the next I’m swearing, turning off the modem, turning it back on again, trying the phone line to see if I can at least make calls… when suddenly it is back on! So, for now, we’re working so I’d better get this done…

Sunday’s run was the first with the new Garmin Forerunner 205 and it was very successful. I got a satellite signal in about 30 seconds and was off and running with no problems. It seems to have worked well throughout my run, even along a tree lined bridle path and (briefly) under a railway bridge. I set the distance to kilometres and have to admit I did find it a little strange. I run the same route frequently and know roughly where all the mile markers are, to suddenly do it in kms was odd but nothing I can’t get used to. The data that I have was interesting (?) too, I need to do the run a few more times but some of the splits are wildly different – some are obviously where I am running up / down hills but I need to investigate further on subsequent runs to see if I slow in the same places. I ran an average of 9.36 per mile but this seems to fluctuate by almost a minute in some cases… curious. So I should be able to get some good info from it to help my training – I haven’t tried the virtual partner yet but am sure that it will prove useful – and it tells me all sorts of things that have never even crossed my mind. Apparently, I burned 1375 calories during my 10 mile run!

And so we reach the final few days before setting of for Prague. I had planned to do a short run today with Hauling My Carcass but he has a nagging pain in his foot that he is trying to treat and I seem to be nurturing quite a sore throat. As the rest of my family have systematically come down with a cold over the last few weeks, it only seem right I too should catch it… I may try a little run tomorrow if things aren’t any worse but don’t want to train and aggravate it so for now, I’m staying indoors.

This is the first time I have entered a race overseas so have been busy preparing for the big day. Obviously, knowing what the weather will be like in Prague for the race is important so I checked a few weather forecasts for the Czech capital for 28th March. And the good news is it’s going to be 12 degrees and sunny.

Or 14 degrees and raining.

Or 8 degrees with a wind chill factor of minus 2 and the chance of some snow showers.

Depending on which forecast I believe, I shall either be running in buff, gloves, wooly hat and tights or vest, shorts and sunglasses. Looks like I’ll be taking every possible combination of running attire just in case… Still, the pre-race dinner the night before is sorted and booked ( pasta – and I wouldn’t normally book but as there is going to be a swarm of runners descending on Prague and 90% will want pasta the night before, I thought it may be a good idea). Post race relaxation is planned to be at one of my favourite places in Prague – the lovely Dahab – eating North African food, smoking shisha and playing backgammon. And hopefully, that’ll be the incentive that I need to get myself in under 2 hours for the first time this year.

Soundtrack to this post: Come To Daddy – Aphex Twin

19
Mar
09

we have the technology

70’s Cliches – No More 60 Times Tables – 2 Wheels Good, 4 Wheels Bad

The title of this post, for those of you not old enough to remember, is from the beginning of The Six Million Dollar Man. It was a bad American TV series from the late 70’s about an astronaut injured in a crash and who was subsequently rebuilt to make him better, faster and stronger than before. It really bears no resemblance to me as I do not think for a second that I will be better or stronger although I hope to get a little faster with the arrival of the technology fairy at my house…

I now have my replacement mp3 player which, ironically, arrived the day after the Fleet Half Marathon. Damn… surely I could have shaved a few vital seconds off of my time had I had the newer, smaller player with me. Oh well…

Secondly, today I received my Garmin 205. Thanks to everyone who offered me their opinion on the relative merits of the 205 / 305 / 405. In the end, I went for the 205 as I really don’t need a heart rate monitor or the ability to add a cadence monitor for when I am on the mountain bike – both would have been nice – but unnecessary. And would have encouraged me to start monitoring all manner of activities that should remain unmonitored. The 205 appears to do plenty enough for me at the moment and should signal the end of me having to do bad maths to work out my average running speed. In fact it’ll tell me my actual splits per mile. Or per kilometre…

Which brings me on to the Prague Half Marathon. The Czech Republic, being much more forward thinking than this little island, will be measuring their Half Marathon in kilometres. And rightly so. Now I have the Garmin, I shall be able to train in kilometres too, which may sound like an odd little revelation but bear with me…

Over the course of a regular Half Marathon, I would ordinarily have 13.1 indicators of my progress. If I am down by 30 seconds on one of my miles, I need to wait another mile until I can work out if I have corrected my pace. If I measure the same distance in kilometres, I have 21.1 indicators – which allows me to try to rectify pace issues earlier and also see if they have been rectified over a shorter distance. Which probably isn’t news to many people but is, like in a cartoon, a tiny, tiny lightbulb appearing above my head for me… Or I could just race against the Garmin’s little “virtual” training partner and I’d need neither miles nor kms…

My 6.54 miles yesterday was completed in 60mins 17secs – an average of 9:13 a mile which still leaves me outside of my goal for Prague of sub 2 hrs – arse!

So I have 2 more training runs before Prague. Sundays is planned to be approximately 10 miles (16.1kms) and then another on Tuesday with Hauling My Carcass of little over 6 miles (10kms). It has been almost 6 months since HMC and I were able to train together owing mostly to me

a) stopping travelling to London for work each day and

b) having my motorbike break down and be in the garage FOR 6 WHOLE MONTHS!!!

Fortunately, last Saturday, I received the call to tell me that the bike was fixed so now I am mobile again. Able to move around without relying on using the car (boo!) or public transport (boo!). So now, I can come and go as I please and get to beautiful South London to do some training along the banks of the Thames. And to quote another cheesy American TV series… “I love it when a plan comes together!”

Soundtrack to this post: Weapons of Mad Distortion – Crystal Method

18
Feb
09

eyes down, look in

Stop Moaning Start Training – Getting Competitive – You’re Nothing But A Couple Of Big Bullies

Having spent most of my initial post whining and making excuses about why I haven’t been training, this should really be considered my first proper post as it contains information about actual running, undertaken by me, which took place earlier today.

Over the past 2 months I have had various attempts at getting back in shape to complete the few races that I have planned for this year. Today, however, was the first time that it actually felt like I was getting somewhere. Today was a measured distance. Today was timed. And that might not be much but it gave me a sorely needed boost and also a good idea of where I am now and what needs to be done to get me to where I want to be.

So…
4.54 miles in 42 minutes. Which I’ve worked out (with a calculator and a scrap of paper – how I wish I had a Garmin!) to be around 9m 25s per mile. Which is not as bad as I thought it would be after almost 2 months of virtually zero training.

But still a long way from the 8m 30s per mile I was hoping for in Prague…

All I have to do is shave 55 secs per mile off my time…

Oh, and up my mileage to complete 13.1 miles…

And keep that pace for the full distance…

And not push too hard in my training in case I get injured again…

Piece of piss.

On a slightly different note, last night’s lurk round the West End (detailled so beautifully HERE by Hauling My Carcass) really makes it sound like our mutual friend was bullied into taking part in the BUPA London 10k like some sort of “Running Press Gang” plying the innocent with alcohol and then getting them to agree to something they would never even entertain were they sober. I see it differently, he wasn’t bullied. Oh no. He was inspired by our enthusiasm and dedication. Yes.

Inspired.

Soundtrack to this post: House Of Jealous Lovers – The Rapture.




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