Monthly Archives: December 2008

New Year’s Eve

Ok, only time for a quick thrashing blog since time seems to have run away from me faster than i’ve been able to control things.

I knew yesterday that today would be a struggle, but getting up at 7 should have sorted things. Oh, if only. Having eaten, done some chores and sorted some washing, I set off from the house at 8.45 on an amalgamated route comprising a 2.1 miler, a 3.5 miler and a bit of my 2.5 miler which, Gmap insisted, should run in at about 5 miles. So my virtual partner was aiming me for 8.30 miles (and yes, I am resisting giving it a name, unlike proper bloggers!) and I was keen to keep to it and not kill my legs, having at least a bit of respect for 5 miles, but it seemed out of the window when I switched to my virtual screen after seeing my first Austin Maestro for about 25 million years only to find I was already 26 seconds ahead. And I was convinced I was getting the hang of this slower stuff.

Still, I seemed to correct things for the rest of an uneventful run (excepting the old man blowing his nose for England, while his dog looked on in disgust), the three middle miles being 8.19, 8.23 and 8.19. So all’s good.

Upon returning, it was time to load the car for a mountainbike ride in Folkestone, a hasty return, clean the bike, shower, pack and get to London for the evening. Which is where I currently am. On a knackered old keyboard with the letters written on just for me.


Oh, and a mince pie enjoyed on the M20 at 65 mph, just to keep the tally alive.

Can I have some more calories now, please?


So, another day at work arrived with a drive to get there through the lowest temperature my car thermometer has recorded. Leaving home to minus 7 degrees, it was no surprise that as I went through Frittenden (neighbouring village and always a degree cooler), the thermometer dropped to minus 9 degrees. Minus 9! Fuck. I know the car won’t have the most accurate reading in the world, but in the relative scheme of things, that’s cold.

So I gingerly plodded around the lanes hoping to avoid a meeting with ditches, telegraph poles and the like and arrived in Hastings, the temperature rising to minus 5 through Hawkhurst, but otherwise staying rooted to the 6’s and 7’s below. Cold. Even the usually balmy Hastings still showed minus 1 in the car park.

Still, the working day was cut short when the boys went home early, so I bought some new socks, did the “crikey, the old ones really are grey” comparison as is, I believe, the law, introduced my Garmin to some new satellite coordinates, and got into more clothes than seems right for a run.

Still, my calves were joined in a chorus of pain by my shins yesterday, so last night I treated them to a liberal coating of Pernaton Gel (a deep heat type thing given as a sample by a friendly chemist supplier and good for joint pains and stuff), which had the effect of making them feel like new. Yep, totally like new. Amazing. I’ll be using it again. Lots. And the upshot of the pain is me trying to keep things warm so I don’t stiffen, cramp and sprain anything. So, my tights were covered by my mountain trousers, off I set with the little virtual partner aiming for 8.30’s and the seafront arrived to a hoard of shoppers.

It was packed. All very well, apart from me trying to run amongst them, and at what turned out to be a horribly slow pace for a short 3 miles. It was a battle to stay somewhere near the little man and on completion I was 1.03 ahead, meaning 8.03 miles according to the summary, which I still can’t get to copy onto here, so you’ll have to believe me. I’d have thought it should be 8.09, but there you go – I always was shit at maths.

I really am going to try to slow myself a bit, but if I can’t I really don’t know how the proper long weeks are going to pan out. Sunday seemed and was ok, so maybe I just need to get my head around being out for a long time. It’ll work, i’m sure, but there really is no way i’m going to train for a sub 3.30 marathon time, so I need to forget it. Soon.

And my mince pie for the day was very nice, thank you.

Tomorrow will be a rush with an early 5 miler, a mountain bike ride with the blokes i’ve been to the Alps with a few times, a trip to London and possibly no time to blog. Still, there’ll always be New Years’ Day to catch up.



Well, maybe the L is an exaggeration, today having been only 8 miles, but the S is certainly true.

Having had a nice evening and a good sleep, I was apprehensive about today’s run, after yesterday going a bit faster than planned and thus feeling a bit stiff today. Well, a bit stiff is possibly an understatement. My calves were all over the place and despite stretching them throughout yesterday, they still had complaints about stairs and all sorts. But a short walk and some pasta for lunch convinced me that a true slow pace would be ok, so having failed miserably to convince Cathy she could go home a bit later and encourage me around on the bike, I took her to the train station to escape back to the smoky, dirty, horrible city she calls home while I returned to get ready.

Now, today I was really stuck for clothes, so opted for a tee shirt and fleece top (warm for the start but with the option to unzip later) together with my mountain walking trousers. And after yesterday’s  quick run, I set my virtual partner to pace me at 8.45 miles and promised to stick with it. And decided that my 8 mile route would be done backwards, just in case I had leg problems. The reverse option gives the opportunity to bail out with the furthest bit from home being 3.4 miles, but at that distance. Everywhere else gives about 2 miles from home at a maximum, a distance i’d like to think I can crawl without too much problem.

So off I set, going about 20 seconds too quick for the first 0.5 miles, then settled into a perfect 8.40 pace for the rest of the 8 miles. It felt pretty pedestrian at times, but as the miles ticked on, I could feel a succession of twinges in odd parts of my legs reminding me that I haven’t run 5 times in a week before, much less 24 miles in 7 days for years and years and years, so I was happy to keep the pace down. And for my target 8.15 race pace, it’s still at the lowest end of my LSR pace, so i’m not about to re-write any pacing logic. I’m sure the experts who calculate these things know far more than I, after all.

But if I carry on feeling this good, i’ll revise my target times up a notch and see how it goes. But all in good time. I’ve 17 weeks to go, after all.

Right, I guess it’s time for tea, ironing, exercise (can’t allow myself to become a stick man just yet – despite today’s run claiming 886 calories after yesterday’s 557) and bed ready for work tomorrow.

Ah, yes. The delights of 2 days at work. I hope I can book the days in lieu to coincide with fair jumping weather to make it all seem worthwhile.

Ok. It’s time for mince pies!

Still on programme. Just.

Saturday dawned, I saw it, and had everything done, chores-wise, ready to be invaded by the gas man to change my meter. So imagine how excited I was when, at 8.17, the phone goes to let me know i’ve been cancelled again owing to the engineer phoning in sick. Yeah, right. And i’m the Pope.

So once again I find myself re-booking for the morning of the 10th January. Maybe it’ll be 5th time lucky, but I doubt it somehow.

Anyhow, it gave me some time to play with my Garmin and set the virtual partner to race me at 8.15 minute miles, this being my hope for the marathon race pace. Which I did. And I admired my mirror casing spraying handywork from last night (the woodburner made a fantastic low-bake oven simulator, almost convincing the lacquer that it was going to be gloss, not orange peel in texture – it’s just a shame a couple of bits of dust escaped and landed on the casing, but they’ll cut out next week when the coatings have fully hardened). And decided that i’d have to wear long trousers but since my tights are at work still, I opted for my mountain walking trousers, since they’re roomy, light, breathable and comfortable. I was a bit worried they’d rub, but this was unfounded. They were ace. And no-one took the piss, despite seeing another runner twice (a first to find someone else on my backroad route), two horse riders twice (I hate overtaking horses, not knowing whether to shout and startle them or run past them and startle them the same but with added danger of injury to me) as well as Greg slowing to say hello on his way back from checjking site while it’s unattended. Shame it was at 4.5 miles that he saw me, looking rough!

Anyway, I set off at 10.19 apparently, having started the Garmin once it’d taken all of 2 seconds to locate itself, set off a touch quickly and settled into a fair pace in an effort to get warm. Now, the watch wasn’t a problem at all, but my obsession with looking at it could have been, but when I accidentally touched the bezel and switched to the virtual partner screen, I was elated. How easy is that to see how quickly I am or not going? It’s great. And finding I was 26 seconds ahead, found it very useful to not have to rely on maths. Want to keep going fast? Just keep the advantage growing. Want to drop back? Why, just let the little man catch up a bit. Marvellous. And very smart indeed. The oddest part, as I look at the graphs, is how the data is arrived at. Clearly the tree cover disrupts the signal, but the pace drops right off in the process, recording 15 minute miles at one point, and mid tens quite a lot of the other times, when my pace remained constant. Why, if the signal is disrupted, doesn’t it average the times from good signal to good signal? I know it doesn’t change the overall timing, but it seems strange.

I’m generally happy, though. But I did go a bit quick ending up averaging 7.38 minute miles for the 5 mile run, with a very tight pair of calves now i’ve rested into the bargain. Balls. Just what I wanted to avoid before tomorrow’s 8 miler. Still, i’ve set my VP to 8.45 for that one, and i’m going to stick to it. Honest.

I’m also averaging a mince pie per day, so that’s all good, I just need some more running tops to complete the winter apparel wardrobe. Shopping. Poo.

Right, off already. I’ve got bits to do.

3 more

Aha! A keyboard I can both see and use easily. Marvellous. Wonder if it will assist the blog content?

Well, the day started nicely with presents a plenty, and after 3 hours I was itching to get out for my “it’s in the training programme so i’m going to do it” 3 miles. 3 hours had the bonus effect of allowing my new Garmin 405 to charge and be played with and set up and worry about how long it’s going to take to get my computer prepared so everything’s easy and that. But it’s great, attractive, light and everything i’d wish for in a ruunning tool. And together with a new running top, I was so keen to talk Cathy into coming, she actually did. Despite having chocolate and champagne and stuff to eat and drink. Still, it’s nice to get out!

So, a comparison with a 305 was had, and i’ll be updating on the performance and stuff when I get a proper chance to work out how everything works. For now, my 405 appears to be fine on the wrist, doesn’t hint it might get in the way, works quickly and efficiently and has lots of bits to play with. I let the side down,however, in the fashion stakes with my dodgy shorts and desire to wear a tramp inspired old sweater over my spangly new top, with my too-new-but-they’ve-got-to-get-old-sometime “race” pair of trainers being used since my others are still at work. I looked a right state. Which i’m hoping went some way to explaining why of all the people we saw over the marshes, not one hinted at a morning comment, not one Merry Christmas, nothing. Silence.

Sociable bunch, these East Londoners.

So, no software inspired running logs, i’m afraid, just a report of 3 miles at 10.28 pace as an initiation into the wearing of Garmin logging power. I’ll set up the virtual partner if I can work it out for Saturday’s run and see how it goes. Failing that, i’ll just run against the screen and see if I can keep to about 8.15 minute miles that way. Yep, Saturday is supposed to be a pace run, which’ll be nice.

Oh, and after failing to manage the mince pie at Cathy’s in silence, I then failed to eat two more in silence at Mum and Dad’s, but I reckon 3 mince pies in two houses is fine by me.

Man, I feel fat!

Christmas Eve

I don’t really know where to start, possibly owing to the fact i’m writing this remotely from an odd machine, with a worn out keyboard that has no letters left on it and has oddly grooved keys where countless nail taps have worn them away. It feels like a weird funfair ride, but it’s definitely neither fun nor fair.

Still, i’m at least blogging, which must mean something went right just to make it this far.

A good night’s sleep developed into a good drive to work, a repaired door mirror, a last gasp present purchase, an early lock up and then to home. Whereupon I bumped into the neighbour on the doorstep, discussed plans and running and that, then went in to load the car for the next couple of days, but got disturbed by a welcome call from Andy which accelerated my running plan to immediate to enable a swift shower before Andy came around, with a bit of time before leaving for a cup of tea and a chat, thus missing none of my ideals.

Which was only tempered by realising i’d left all my running kit at work. Ah, the joy of being stupid. Still, i’ve got my race trainers (the ones that’ll have fewer miles on them just for the race) and loads of odd shorts and stuff, so digging out some tramp like get-up wasn’t too much of a chore, and off I set.

Intending a slowish 5 miler, I just set off comfortably, the run was eventless except for the pace which translated into an easy 8min 30ish speed, so now i’m 2 days into the training plan, no runs missed, the legs feeling fresh and the prospect of an easy 3 miles tomorrow morning.

I’m hoping to take Jogblog aroung the block and beat her pb for her three mile route in the process, so hopefully there’ll be something amusing to read from her as a result but I don’t want to know the consequences if it goes wrong…nothing like a bit of pressure, eh?

Right, i’m off to drink Gary’s left over cider. An athlete needs fuel and I am about to run out of cakes, after all! And after just the one mince pie for morning tea, I don’t want to under fuel, now do I?


So the week up to Christmas has arrived and Sunday fed into Monday, spent with my fantastic girlfriend celebrating the fact she’s excellent, amusing, my girlfriend and another year older, all at the same time. And after Sunday’s run, my upper body is on temporary hold to deal with pressing issues like marathon training.

Now, I guess I shouldn’t be too worried about losing torso shape and size (not that there’s much of either to lose, it should be said) since a) it’ll come back after April when I can focus on it again and b) until 2 years ago, I used to have a rest over Christmas anyway so shouldn’t worry about not doing every scheduled exercise I want to. But I do. And Sunday was a day missed, as is today.

Now, i’m probably going to swap days anyway when I settle into a running routine, but tonight, I haven’t the energy to do anything, to be fair. After 3 hours sleep last night, not the best night on Sunday and a worried day at work with the air test, it was a feat of stubbornness over sense in going for a run at all. But run I did.

Straight onto the seafront, no shirt under my top and a pair of shorts was the order of the day, despite being resolute in my aim for a slow run. And I managed to keep my pace suitably low for a whopping 3 miles. But the most important 3 miles of my training plan, for it’s the first 3 ticked off.

Highlighted as done.

One full box in a schedule of 88 runs before the marathon.

Ok, so the 20 milers might be a bigger box to fill in, but hey. Everything starts somewhere, I know I won’t manage all the runs scheduled (far too many demands on my legs at work to allow them to recover fully in the middle of the plan, I know) and i’ve started in the right place at the right time.

And tomorrow, i’m going to squeeze in the time to do a 5 miler. Also as the plan outlines.

Exciting, innit?

Well, it would have been if i’d eaten the mince pie in my lunch box. Only just remembered it, ao am about to munch it now. Well, I can’t finish the year on anything but a roll, can I?

The time has come

It’s Sunday, just coming up to lunchtime, the car’s clean, i’m just packing for Jogblog‘s birthday visit (differentiated from other trips to see her by the items being taken are not all edible. I hope she’ll forgive me when the contents are discovered.) and i’ve run.

Yesterday at work, I was despairing of ever getting another skydive in, what with work and weather headaches, so as 12.30 arrived and the sun came out over Hastings, my brain calculated it was time to send everyone home (well, the 4 people who were left, anyway) and get to the club.  I had been contemplating a last run then, just to be fresh for marathon training that starts in earnest on Tuesday, but a jump seemed more fun. And I arrived to a lift going up, asked Pete what refresher training i’d need after a 10 week absence, pestered Clem into doing the honours and found myself on a lift 20 minutes later, heading for the clouds. It was windy. All my thoughts were on staying into wind, tracking that way, being stable and landing in the PLA. So I was a bit annoyed that line twists on deployment sent my good heading into a bad one, I got the twists out but was now level with the DZ and about 300 yards to the side of it. And going backwards. Balls. So I climbed my front risers for a thousand feet, still hoping I could make progress with altitude and thus wind loss, felt knackered at about 1500 ft, realised I needed to get out of the runway approach, carried on backwards as the wind fancied and selected a field that looked big, flat and comfy to land in. Then re-assessed as I drifted back past this one. Then cursed as I slowed my backwards progress and was heading for a line of trees and decided to put a swift turn in. Then another, just to be sure. Well, the field I selected was huge. It meant no harm. And my landing was perfect, so it was all good. Shame so many of the club seemed to think going backwards was somehow a result of me not jumping enough. Admittedly, the line twists are probably a result of not pulling cleanly, but the distance travelled is almost certainly due to 220square foot of canopy and strong wind. I’ll get down there a bit more hopefully and drop a canopy size. That’s the plan. Still, Pete was happy enough, he’s the important CCI, I had a ball and all’s well.

So, today was my last chance for a run. I was about to give up the idea when guilt got the better of me. So 2.5 miles around the village back lanes was outed, my calves feel crisp and nice, which is possibly the last time I’ll say that until May, but my toe is sore again and has started cracking around the joint once more, so that’s annoying. Ah, well. Annoying I can handle.

But yesterday’s news about Sorelimbs and his missus doing the Reading Half is great. It means those two, Jogblog and myself, Leighsa from the mountains, Redbucket and Irunbecauseilovefood can all see how things pan out. I’ll be shamelessly aiming for steady 8.45 to 9 minute miles, the time will almost surely be a personal worst as a result, it being between two 20 mile runs as part of my marathon schedule, and most likely means i’m not going to do the Hastings half, which also falls on a 13 mile weekend but is a hard hard hard 13 miles when all I want is journeys under my trainers, not injuries above them. I’ll aim for the Hastings half next year. And i’ll target 1.35 as the time, to see if I can achieve it. I doubt it, but a man’s got to dream. This year is all about the marathon and trying to do under 4 hours so i’m not tempted to do it again. Well, ok, under 3.40, but i’m afraid that isn’t realistic first time out, so i’ll keep that to myself.

Right, lunch. Then London.

Can someone hurry up and invent the time machine? Please?

A gaseously wasted day

Anybody fancy a day off?

Well, anybody fancy a day off to enable the gas board to change a meter that reckons you’ve used £524 worth of gas over 93 days, thus remaining indoors to enable the door to be heard, not making big noises or starting anything that can’t be dropped? How about if that’s for a pre-arranged 4 hour slot, 3.5 hours into which you suspiciously call to find if the appointment’s still good and are told indeed it is. Only to call back an hour later and be told it’s been cancelled. And then raise a concerned fuss, so an emergency is declared, the networks division arrive, remove some water from the meter, but refuse to change it? How about if, then, a further 2 calls down the line, you were told the appointments in the morning had never, actually, been made. That you’d been lied to. 3 times. Blatantly. Only to be told a new meter is needed owing to info i’ve given leading to the discovery that the meter is showing a fault code. I know it’s faulty, it’s showing i’ve used £524 worth of gas! So I can look forward to the whole charade being repeated on the 27th. Yip fucking pee. And all the while, the jump plane was going up  just to mock me being stuck in, wasting the day. Wonder if i’ll ever get another jump in?

Still, at least i’ve agreed to a £78 bill instead. Unless the meter gives up the info they hope, when they’ll bill my actual amount. Rubbish.

So, after a wasted day, I decided to buy my last couple of gifts, then as I got home, I went for a run. Which was horribly dark, as well as being distresfully warm. I knew it was warm, but didn’t think my hi-vis vest would count as quite such a layer, so returned home thouroughly overheated, but 4 miles happier and un-murdered nor run over on the country lanes. Quite successful, then.

I remain satisfied with my mince pie consumption, running at a steady 1 per day. In silence, today, too. Well, I don’t think I was rambling on to myself, anyhow.

Busier than a bumble bee

Ok, work has officially gone mental, I don’t even have time to think any more and have now taken to turning off computers and stuff to allow me to get on with things. The phone will be next.

Still, i’ve entered the Reading Half marathon to spice up my routine of long, slow runs in the run up to London as well as to encourage Cathy into a pb, meet Red Bucket and his associates (with luck), bump into whichever of the three peakers Cathy manages to talk in to going and almost certainly post a personal worst time in my striving to keep my pace down to about 9 minute miles. Man, it’ll take a long time to get around. Still, better than injury, I guess.

So, tonight saw a 4 mile seafront run, complete with a strange pain in my right rear thigh area and still stinging calves. Still, it was ok, with added fun in the police pulling two random vehicles on the seafront to help take my mind off things.

And then to shopping, clothing washing sorting, cooking, eating, washing up, putting the bin out, making lunch for tomorrow and now blogging. I wasn’t going to, but Cathy insisted.

And I think next year, I will count my mince pie consumption. Two years ago, there were only 3 weeks when I couldn’t get any. Last year wasn’t quite so good. This year, I struggled in May and October, early November time. Next year, I guess i’ll be changing shops as my site location changes but still, mince pies are essential – i’ll be disappointed with fewer than 100, to be honest. There, the marker is set!

Oh, and the sheep look fat, i’m guessing pregnancy. Smart, might be more next year. And not just for a few weeks, either!