Monthly Archives: September 2008

A fast one

Well, following Friday’s can’t be arsed to blog wittering, I was sent out today with the double demand of a) running for myself and b) blogging properly. Words like “motivation” have been bandied about and I know when i’ve been told, so here goes.

The weekend was ace. Truly. It’ll take some beating. A jump on Saturday morning was a bit rushed despite taking 2 hours to get up. Well, the first lift was called upon the fog burning off and I was 5th on the list and thus ready for the second lift. But after 5 minutes in the air, London Air Traffic put a 30 minute hold on climbing above 3000ft so the plane came down to wait. So 20 minutes later, the first lift got kitted back up but one of them wasn’t ready so I got called. Just as everyone else was heading for the plane. Mmm, there’s nothing like 13 skydivers staring impatiently to ensure you get kitted up and checked in double quick time and it was thus I found myself taking off 20 minutes before I was mentally ready. Then I changed my mind in the plane about what exit to do and decided getting pushed out backwards would be fun. So I went for it. And it was. Fun, that is. Then the landing was good – waaaaayyyyy fast, skidding to a halt on the wet grass after another great dive.

And after packing, it was home, a spot of lunch, a ride on the motorbike for an hour and a half, load the car up and head to Cathy’s for a superb Chinese, a couple of pints, a bit of work on her house on Sunday, a quick spin on the mountain bikes around the marshes, a return home and all back to work today.

Bah.

So, I remembered my running kit and after realising how much i’d decided to pack into the evening, as well as it already being 5.15, changed my 4.6 mile hilly route to a 4.2 mile seafront sprint a la Juneathon. But with the Ashford 10k in 2 weeks, I decided to set off fast and then sprint for a bit then slow it down, just to shock myself. So I set off, after about 4 minutes pegged it for 30 seconds, then ran normal speed for 2 minutes to begin to recover (no runners world slow recovery for me, oh no!), sprinted again and so on until I turned around. When I just set off normally then decided to up the pace to a level where I thought i’d run out of puff just as I got back to site. But on the way, I got distracted counting drunks below the sea wall (there were 18…at just gone 5.30! Hastings – home of the brave!) and realised my breathing wasn’t too laboured so upped the pace and sprinted the stretch off the seafront just for good measure.

And got back in 28 minutes dead. That’s right, 4.2 miles in 28 minutes. That makes my 45 minute target for the 10k look reasonable (there is one slope on the race route and I won’t pretend i’ll replicate a run like that on a course I don’t know, but hey, it’s promising).

And now, after far too much activity having got home, i’m off to bed. Upper body bits tomorrow, a hilly 4.6 on Wednesday, 6.2 of hills on Friday, a 4.6 hill next Monday, a seafront 4 on Wednesday and then i’ll rest for the race and see how I feel, I think. Hopefully fit and ready. If not, Steve might get some company yet on his way around. Not that i’m saying he’s slow, of course. Perhaps.

89 cars. A trace of rain.

Smart.

Ho hum

Seems there’s something in the air at the moment.

I know some people can’t be arsed to run at the minute. Well, I can’t be arsed to blog tonight.

Did 6.2 miles, a woman was shouting at her kids and crying more than them, I was slow, work sucks more than is believable, i’ve 97 cars to go and hopefully a skydive will sort me out.

Balls. If anyone still reads this, sorry. Maybe i’ll feel more enthused after my next run. Maybe not.

Mad Monday,running out of time

Wow. The weekend was really good – possibly the nicest skydive ever, all the way down was great with the smoothest landing possible, a great Saturday evening watching some oddball freaks in Islington followed by a bit of DIYWIWBBIWACH (do it yourself well it would be but I was at Cathy’s house), a ride, a fry up, a shopping trip and a new sofa. Got home late but happy, wondering how to pack 5 days exercise into 4 having missed Sunday evening while driving and being out for a celebration on Wednesday.

Well, the intention is to run Monday and Friday, upper body bits Tuesday and Thursday and then pop in a bit of a run at the weekend maybe. Maybe not!

So, after a day at work, I was keen to get going and headed for the hills aiming for a 4.6 mile effort. My toe has been okay of late but my foot does seem to turn over easily at the moment, so the few tight corners on the way out were trepidatory affairs but all was good. I passed the goth/punk type bloke I haven’t seen for aeons (he now sports even bigger earrings, the same black hair and eyeliner but has now progressed to cherry red DM’s rather than big black boots), and felt hungry on the way up the long hill.

I’m always hungry at the moment, a result of having no chocolate for a couple of weeks, I fear. Still, the turnaround point was welcome, I rolled down the hill with no spring in my step at all until I passed the punk/goth man at the bottom of the park, realised I was nearly home so legged it up the last hill and sweated my way out of the office, through Sainsburys all the way to the phone.

Ah, yes. I got in to a bill from British Gas. Wankers. I’ve got £260 credit from being cut off for 9 days. The last bill was 20 quid, they’ve stated i’m still £239 in credit and then send me a final demand for this or a supply termination. Cretins. Still, the man on the complaints line was very patient, even understanding my desire to wedge a meter somewhere dark and brown about his body if I wasn’t obliged with at least a merry apology. Ah, well.

So. 4.6 miles. 104 cars. No rain, but it’s pelting down at Geoff’s. And time for bed. Again.

Oh, and Annette’s been made redundant. Not good news. Especially when her last day is the 9th and her birthday’s on the 2nd. Good luck to her in finding something soon.

Bad day, good run.

Work. Pah, i’ll leave it there, shall I? Yep. It sucked.

Still, having run out of time this afternoon, it was with some frustration that I set out at half five with the intention of doing a slow 6.2 miles on the hills. My foot has started to feel good then bad in turns at the moment and today it was like a switch between the two, but I set off steadily and kept slow around the downhill left corner that tends to hurt it early on in the runs and all felt fine.

But I had no real energy, so slogged up to the roundabout then pushed on up the hill to Sainsburys. Not another runner was encountered. Just masses of dogshit. Well, it is Hastings. The last place that residents are encouraged to let their dogs go on the path, presumably to save the lawnmowers from a laundry bill. A man with a wildly flailing leg and special boot cheered me up – not in a nasty sense, just in the thought that as bad as the run felt, at least I am able to decide to run and even if I don’t enjoy it, at least I can choose to stop instead of having no option to start. But I still felt slow at the halfway point, so as I turned for home, I began to sing. Unfortunately, Donna Summer isn’t the best song to get into your head, even if it is the Rollo remix, but stuck it got. And I think that’s possibly how I completed the run.

So. The run was good but unfulfilling (6.2 miles, 51.30). My choice of run song was shocking. My blog is as dull as ditchwater. I still have 108 cars to count.

But tomorrow I shall concentrate mainly on throwing myself from planes and landing in the correct field in an orderly fashion. Followed by visiting Cathy for an evening of magnificence. And then i’ll be happy.

Oh, and I need a haircut.

Bring me a new one, Carruthers, this one’s split!

Well, another run, this time on schedule and in preparation for a 10k race in 3 weeks.

But on arriving home after the run and eating and watering the greenhouse and washing up, I went to the washing machine to empty it and now my mind is full of annoyance at the fact the machine decided to eat my quilt cover. Balls. Buying a new one wasn’t even close to the list of things to do and I hate decisions like what to get, so i’ll probably gripe until the weekend and a purchase, now. But where? When? What style? I wasn’t designed for interiors decision making, i’m a builder! Still, I ran…

Set off at 5.15, my preferred time for a run. Not too early I feel I might have missed something at work, not too late that i’m either a) weary or b) going to get home toooooo late to do the chores, relax and prepare for another slog the following day. So, with a merry jaunt away from the office (may I just interrupt myself to say the Tidy Boys really are excelling themselves in the new Tidy Inspirations album. First Metallica are back on track, now Tidy…what a great musical year it’s turning out to be…interruption over.), I headed for the hills aiming for a reasonably gentle, hilly 4.6 miler.

And that’s exactly what I got. Unlike Monday, there wasn’t another runner to be seen, but I looked at the time accurately when I left, which always annoys me when I set off with “reasonably gentle” as my goal, since I struggle to keep myself slowish when I know i’ll hate myself if I set a really slow time. And tonight, that’s precisely what happened. Well, it’s really less than what happened, since the 4.6, on hills, with very little recent running, turned into what felt a reasonable run but was in fact a surprisingly rapid 35.20, which i’ll take at this stage of my preparation as a pointer to a reasonable race time.

Unless I decide to run with Steve, who’s decided to do the race after 6 years without running and 3 weeks, 4 days preparation. Yep, he might be slow!

So, a good run. But I still need a new quilt cover. 112 cars, no rain, still no chocolate. Ah.

The long lost Monday run

It’s Monday, it seems forever since I managed it, but just for once i’ve staved off injury, tiredness and other commitments for long enough to get out and set the week up as it should be.

So, last night I went for a thrash on the bike (36 miles in 39 minutes, including a set of lights and doing 30 and 40mph in their respective limits – yep, bloody quick in the unlimited bits. Eh? We’re not in the Isle of Man and the white circle with a black line means 60mph? What idiot decided that?), ate later than normal and then ironed before an early(ish) night without upper body exercise. All to ensure I was fresh for the run. The plan is run Monday, Wednesday and Friday, upper body Tuesday and Thursday then collapse on Saturday in exhaustion. I usually do the Sunday, Tuesday and have Thursday off to recover in the winter, with a mountain bike ride on the Saturday, but since it’s a) not winter yet and b) life changed so much for the better this summer, i’m allowed a few rule changes. As long as I don’t get fat or feel old.

So, with a hectic day over, I got changed into my shorts a little later than I ought and, knowing I needed to shop, eat, wash up, do the bin, empty the washing machine, water the greenhouse, turn the compost and talk to Cathy, I decided a hack up the hills was required for a 30 minute route. So I left with a toe injury on my mind (the ball of my left foot is still sore to walk on but isn’t getting any worse and it’s certainly a joint issue since pressure makes the next joint in my big toe jab with pain, not the tissue around the ball, so I reckon i’ll just have to put up with it one way or another) and an empty stomach (no amount of food can make up for not eating chocolate for a month!) but at least I left.

So, the route took me down a hill then back up twice the size of the descent but since I wasn’t doing a full route, I mixed it up with a few sharp inclines on the way to the slog past Alexandra park and kept half an eye on my watch. Hastings seems to have grown runners over the summer – time was last year when the seafront was busy but the hills were only frequented by me but tonight loads were out, some looked fast (luckily they were in the opposite direction!) but it was nice to see for a change. Still, I was happy for the halfway mark to arrive and some downhill action to be on the cards. Unfortunately the toe doesn’t like downhills so the pace was no faster, the gait was rubbish but at least I enjoyed the run. It was surprising to take my socks off, though, and feel my toe was a) numb, b) tingling in a nearly pins and needles but not quite way and c) hot to the touch. Maybe I should get it checked soon! But since it’s still a bit numb now, maybe it could come in handy as the one part of my body that doesn’t hurt for a change.

Oh, and I stretched when I got back, too. See? Proper athlete…

So, a half hour run, 118 cars and i’m late for bed. Ah, well.

Eh? What did you say? A run? Nah…surely not

Well, September 11 may be remembered for many things (who can be daft enough to forget the late, great Barry Steven Frank Sheene was born on this great date) but this one will be remembered by me for being my first run in absolutelyfuckingages.

I’ve been taking the running kit to work since Friday when, while running down the stairs in the afternoon, I felt one click, heard a crack in my left foot, dropped another two steps and heard another crack, then stopped in pain with my left big toe unable to be put on the floor. So I hobbled to the office, struggled through Saturday, felt little improvement but was sure things were in the right direction as the pain lowered into an ache and I could walk reasonably. So Tuesday, I considered it was nearly there but pain was a bit close on occasion so I put it off for tonight (curry last night…priorities!) hoping i’d be able to start pushing straight on ready for the Ashford 10k in all of, ooh, 4 weeks!

So, without further ado, I set off after work on the 4.2 mile seafront run. Starting slowly, that went out the window as a cyclist joined the route just a fraction quicker than me, so I used her as a pacemaker (it was into the wind), overtook 2 other cyclists on the first leg, then realised it wasn’t the best easy first run in over two weeks i’d promised myself. So I stopped at halfway, stretched a calf and felt my toe (it hurt, but was reassurringly only a nagging hurt so it was all good) then started off just behind another runner. Now, I couldn’t work out for a couple of hundred yards how he was taking such short paces so quickly, but with the wind behind me, did realise he was about 50 yards a mile slower than I wanted to go so was deciding whether to carry on as I wished, or stop for 20 seconds so I wouldn’t overtake him (didn’t really want a race). But then I started coughing for England and thought sod it, get home, so picked up the pace, increased the breathing and eased past him, only to break into a proper race pace for the final mile to home, hoping he wouldn’t come past if I flagged. He didn’t.

So, 4.2 miles. Faster than I intended, now with a properly nagging toe/ball of the foot ache, but with very fresh legs and happiness that a 10k race may still be doable in a reasonably quick time, if not quite the 45 minutes i’d planned. But i’m still targetting that as the pace. It is flat, after all.

My only question is, after carrying an injury for a mere 5 days, why have my legs gone back to being as bandy as they were 10 years ago before I did something about exercising them straight? Weird. Oh, well, i’m sure I can bring my knees in again if i’m lucky.

So, 4.2 miles. A trace of rain. 128 cars. And Cathy. Smart.

3 Peaks, part 3

Mmm, the Welsh hotel. Walking into reception proved to be a horrible disappointment, but I guess after Hermons Hill, most places would. Still, despite a 3 mile walk to our room in a seperate annexe, it actually turned out to be ok.

Llanberis seemed quiet really, proving to be much the same all the time we were there, but it’s an ok place. Eating in the Indian restaurant turned out to be fine (lucky really – we were back on Monday night to a cheery “hello again” welcome from the waiter), the walk up the mountain something of an oddity.

Reading through the notes, it looked run-able. Having been frustrated on the previous two mountains on the way down, I was seriously considering a jog challenge. The legs were fine, if needing a stretch, and it later transpired Danny (the American on the event) was also considering the option, but both of us decided to ascend with our ladies and enjoy the stroll. Which was the right thing to do all ways around, despite the mountain really being akin to a theme park, our route following the railway, not really getting beyond a steepish slope, finishing with a set of properly constructed steps at the top, accompanied by the sounds of construction and builders right at the summit. The wind and cloud from just over half way up were a bit special (Cathy got blown over at one point), the temperature at the top prohibited a long stay (just long enough for a photo), but the trip back down was the best of the lot. Being easier than the others, luck brought a nice slot in the weather and Cathy got some fantastic photos (with a bit of help on the ones involving standing near the edge of the steeper bits!) and the trip back belied the 9 miles the route turned out to be.

Oh, and the sheep aren’t as pretty as those on Scafell, are definitely more camera shy but also certinly more vocal.

A proper enjoyable mountain to finish? Yep, it seems odd that someone died off a steep bit on the other path on the same day we were there – how? springs to mind, but apparently the other side is a bit wilder, so maybe that’s the route for next time. Ah, no – next time i’ll be running it.

And to finish the weekend, a round off meal in the local cafe seemed perfect. Congratulations and thanks to Pete and Alan for their organisational idea and effort were warmly given by all, the photos on Facebook say the rest, really. Bits of it seemed frustrating at the time – like all good holidays, with hindsight it was ace. Smart, even.

Still, while we were away, August ended. With no significant rain over the last weekend, rainfall for the month ended at 69mm (but with rain on 14 days, it’s no surprise it felt rubbish) – compare 56mm last year and 101mm in 2006 (over 21 days…who can remember it being that wet, everyone just talks about the record breaking heat that year!). And the cars keep coming down – just 138 left. Still to decide what to do at the end.

Who knows, if my foot repairs (pass as to what went wrong on Friday, hopefully it’ll heal by tomorrow) I may be able to blog a run before too long (with the Ashford 10k in less than 5 weeks, I need to if i’m to get under 45 minutes…).

3 peaks, part 2

So, having arrived at Gosforth, it was with some worry that the owners of the B&B answered the phone, only to deny it was them! An undeterred traveller wasn’t to be outsmarted, though, so I shouted down a man on a Cannondale Prophet (well, he was cycling on the path!) for directions and as he rode alongside us, inch perfect info. found us at Hermons Hill B&B, all ready for a shower and bed. But what a place the accomodation was. Like a dream house. The owner turned out to be amazing, the room was gorgeous – all low beams, character and charm with an adjacent bathroom as nice as you like (if only they’d out the bidet and move the pan to avoid head banging on the beams, it’d be perfect!). So with Cathy happy for the free wine and chocolate (I promise not to mention the bottle going in half an hour, honest!), we decided it was time to move! But not before a good night  asleep, an early morning (for a Sunday) and at least one more mountain.

So, breakfast being done, we set off for Wasdale Head, through the cloud, thinking it was really low when all of a sudden, a slight lift in the level revealed a dirty great mountain emerging from the lake. Spectacular it certainly was. Unfortunately, for the rest of the day, this was about as good as the views got.

Avoiding running over sheep seemed to be the order of the morning – they just lay in the road and grudgingly looked over a shoulder as we went past, but unlike my ugly specimens in the field behind me, these are the prettiest sheep in the world. Honest. And i’ve got a girlfriend now, so i’m allowed to say such a sentence without feeling guilty!

It turned out we were amongst only 6 people to escape Scotland without getting stuck in traffic, so the start was a bit late, but with low cloud and wet trails, it didn’t seem to matter all that much. Getting a bit lost on the way up added to the fun, Cathy having second, third and fourth thoughts about the folly of the adventure added a touch of trepidation to the ascent, but having got over that, the climb was good. Proper steep, a bit challenging, it turned out to be the one mountain i’d not be confident I could run up and down without severe risk of injury.

We slowed right up near the top, as I say visibility was rubbish, but getting bored and jumping rock to rock isn’t, it turns out, the best way to relax nervous walking companions, so I tried to resist but didn’t have much joy. The stop at the summit was fine but the walk back down was hellish. My knee needed to be stretched by a smooth pace for a bit but some of the group were struggling and as much as it would have been nice to go on, I couldn’t let myself so got frustrated instead. Again. The relentless heavy rain didn’t help, but eventually we were at the car, changed on the back seat and without further ado headed for Wales.

Via a load more sheep in the road and a filthy car thanks to someone spinning mud all up the drivers side. Nice. Whereupon we encountered the only traffic jam of our weekend around Blackpool. Still, this passed and soon we headed into wet Wales (apart from one bit of low sun blocking the view of the one set of diversion road signs we could have done with being able to read…Grrr, Wales!) and again stumbled upon our hotel as soon as we entered the town. What luck. And what a disappointment!

3 peaks, part 1

Man, it seems an epic task to document even a tiny portion of the weekend’s mysteries, but i’ll try. Who knows how many parts it will take, but here goes. Oh, and hopefully i’ll gloss over the bits Cathy picks up on in her far more amusing, witty, entertaining style. She was the idea behind the trip, the reason for it and, it should be said, a massive part of the fun. So thanks to her for…well, everything, really!

So, Friday morning and with a car full of walking bits, far too much dodgy food for mountain energy and driving cravings, off we set for Fort William. Every mapping site in the world reckoned on 9.5 hours for the journey, so setting off at 8.45 seemed reasonable, hoping for a reasonably clear run and a bit of luck. Well, Cathy thought her luck had run out when, nearing Birmingham, a bit of avoidance was needed to dodge the two inner lanes of stationary traffic. It’s odd, but on my only other Scotland trip for a wedding (my brother…Gretna Green) a similar manoeuvre was required, outside lane to inside, on the M25, caused by excessive glove box fiddling when the traffic had stopped. Must be something in the route…or my devil may care driving style.

Anyhow, we missed everyone, cleared Manchester, stopped for a sandwich, got lost (ish) around Glasgow, had a nice run up the A82 and arrived, 9.75 hours later, finding our hotel right at the entrance to the town. By pure fluke, all our hotels were so handy it seemed unreal. It wasn’t bad. Certainly nothing special, but hey.

So at 8pm, we were in the allotted bar to meet the fellow trippers only to be alone until the phone went, telling us the meeting place had changed, we were late and were about to be struck by lightning or similar. So we found the others, settled for a briefing of the coming days, went to bed and slept. Until all of ooh, 5.30ish.

Nasty. So, we got to the mountain for 7 only for one of the guides to be late, which set the tone for a fun walk, really. Not taking it too seriously, we set off, stopped and atarted as the groups found their own pace, realised that mountains are in fact quite rocky (to be expected, odd how some thought they’d be quite friendly places!), sweated to death, cooled down, got annoyed at the wind, wondered how much further it would be, marvelled at the runner who looked so fresh considering he’d just run it, got embedded in cloud, took some photos at the top, annoyed people around me by telling fellow walkers still on the way up how crap it was at the top, got pissed off how long it was taking to come down, realised I may not really be patient enough for this walking malarky, threatened to go home since it was crap and I wasn’t up for two more days of this, got to the bottom, got fuel, bought a paper, found a restaurant, ate, drove, drove some more, didn’t get lost and arrived in Gosforth about 8.30pm.

Ben Nevis is, it must be said, quite pretty. I did enjoy it, the day was long, Scotland isn’t my favourite country (it’s too far away) even though I really liked Fort William but all in, I was ready for Scafell.