Monthly Archives: October 2009

A new route

For the start of “winter” training, I though i’d head the other way. That means street lights, not dark narrow country lanes where i’ll get run over. It meant heading towards Maidstone to seek a new heading, not back towards Loose (which is also illuminated, but has been done).

And at first glance, it’s disappointing.

I lived in Maidstone for 2 and a half years back in ’95 and used to occasionally run around my end of the town. I was more mountainbike and motorbike focused then and, despite being fresh from loads of cross country, hadn’t experienced the happiness of running on lanes. Maybe I knew no better or was just less critical. But tonight, I hated it. Noisy, busy and dirty. Despite cars supposedly being cleaner than 13 years ago, I could feel the dirty air. Hastings seafront also spoiled me. Plenty of traffic there, too, but little noise, the distraction of the sea (or the park when I headed uphill) and cleaner air.

Maidstone looks like it’ll be a chore as the mileage increases during marathon training so i’m going to have to find another few links, routes and directions to head in. I’m sure they exist, it is a large town after all, or maybe i’ll get accustomed to the place. Or maybe i’ll investigate the BMF that used to be (i’ll check if it still is) in Mote Park as an alternative indulgence.

I’ve a while to find something, anyway. But tonight was a disappointment i’ll be looking to put behind me. I guess the one positive is if I don’t like the runs, i’ll get them over with quicker and my pace will improve a bit.

So a negative post, but hopefully a marker to move from. If all else fails, there’s always the Loose direction. But it might become boring after 18 weeks of 3 runs a week…unless I throw marathon schedules to the wind and mix things up, Royal Parks training style.

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13 Days

My theory was that i’d have 13 days without running; 1 day to celebrate each race mile.

Now it felt good to start with but odd aches, pains and toe fatigue made the last 4 days more of a trial than the race, I think! I was enjoying the time that not running gave me back but feeling guilty and eager (not keen…no, no, no, no, no. Definitely eager.) for a run.

So yesterday, after letting lunch go well and truly down, I set off for the trusty old 3.5 mile route, dodging the showers as I went.

It felt good to be out without a training goal. Just running for the sake of it. Even if my right calf was feeling tight. Even though I developed a stitch immediately upon leaving the house which took a mile to clear. Especially after a call from my solicitor indicated I might well be moved before the end of November – the thought that all my favourite routes are going to be 15 miles from home isn’t filling me with excitement. It’s time to enjoy every weekend, I think – run all the best bits to keep the memory fresh for as long as posible. Hopefully i’ll find some new favourite routes, but having been here 9 years, the ones here really do feel like home.

So, the run was nice. A diseased rabbit made me jump about 2.5 miles in, a group of ramblers looked overdressed (I was in shorts and light t-shirt, they fully got-up in rustling waterproof coats and trousers and rucksacks and everything – the leader even had a map.) as I eased past, then I was home. No nervous checking of my pace as I went around, no excitement to see the Garmin read-out once downloaded; just a nice run around the countryside to keep me fit before marathon training starts again in December.

And i’m going to savour every non-pressured, no reason but to be out but for the sake of it, mile.

Smart.

Mission accomplished

Today was the day i’d discover whether or not a loosely laid out training plan works for me. Having cobbled something together based around fast runs mid-week and longer, slightly slower (but rarely slow) runs at the weekends, I was intrigued to fing out how it’d work.

After last week’s 6 miles at superbly easy, fast pace, I wasn’t hoping for too much, fearing i’d become a short, short distance runner and wouldn’t last the full route at such a pace.

The stats speak for themselves though, really.

1 hour, 37 minutes and 29 seconds.

The Garmin played up and showed 1.14 miles at the 1 mile mark and I panicked i’d not have a virtual partner to drag me around, indicated by mile 2 being whipped out in 7.09 pace. Then, at mile 2, I read exactly 2 miles so maybe the marker wasn’t spot on in location. Or maybe something adjusted itself. Whatever it was, every mile after was within 0.1 on the Garmin and I finished with it showing 13.12 and I don’t think it comes fairer than that.

The race was very good indeed. Getting the 6.53 train wasn’t much fun on a Sunday and it was busy (a game of spot the chip on the trainer was enjoyably conducted. Everyone was. Simple). Spotting Mark, an old bricklayer from 2001, with his wife exactly a year after bumping into him at the Ashford 10k was good, the drizzle as I got off the tube was a faff but then things picked up. I felt odd at the start, neither sprightly or low, just very nervous, but good baggage drops and enough toilets (at least for blokes) made for a smooth trip to the start. The start itself was ok – I got in the right pace area for a change, taking 1 minute to cross the line, then settling immediately into target race pace without too much jostling. In fact, very little overtaking or being overtaken went on. The only pinch point was the hairpin on Westminster bridge, after this things thinned out and a good run started to unfold. I settled in with a semi-pro footballer, a woman who was effortlessly gliding along and a bloke called James. Least, I hope he was since everyone kept yelling to him to carry on! The footballer dropped back at the 8 mile mark, the woman came past at 12 miles, I follwed and passed and lead and followed, then fell alongside James pretty much from mile 3 to the finish – he disappeared over the last 400m or so when I couldn’t be arsed to sprint!

The carrot and runner beans at 4 miles were surprising in their pace – took until 7 miles before I heard no more shouts of encouragement for them – if they’re that quick in fancy dress, god knows how quick they’ll be in shorts and that. Thankfully, they’ll not be proving it to me any time soon!

The other amazing thing of note, and not something i’ve had demonstrated to such startling effect before, was at mile 7. I couldn’t believe one of the race leaders (I hope! He was running behind the official car, but couldn’t have been the winner unless it was a slow racewinning time) had already sprinted through 10 miles, had a massive gap to the runner behind him, looked fresh as a daisy and was striding longer than I can long jump. Absolutely incredible.

The worst bit, for me, was the final straight. To see the finish clock from so far away, know there’s a good distance to go until you reach it, have a good margin of comfort on the Garmin for the target time and be knackered at the same time, discouraged any form of pace lift at all. I promised that i’d sprint if the time went to 1.38, but since it didn’t, I had no sprint. Good effort, though.

Made into an all round blinder of a day by meeting up with EatingTrees, Hauling My Carcass, JogBlog and Sophie (HMC’s girlfriend) for a couple of pints and a pizza. Super, splendid. I’ll link to a photo when Cathy uploads it.

Now, about that 7 minutes, 29 seconds to get me under 1.30…after the aching left knee and spirits have recovered, of course.

Not Slack

Resting.

I think.

The plan for the week was to cycle to work Monday and Tuesday, run Wednesday then drive the rest of the time for ultimate leg freshness.

It all went to cock when a) the weather played up and I couldn’t be bothered to get soaked every day, b) I bought a house and had to keep ferrying important paperwork to and from work and didn’t want it to get wet and c) wanted my legs to feel good for Saturday.

Wednesday remained run day despite not cycling, though, but with this I got absolutely drowned and proved the Garmin does indeed go wild when wet. The bezel functions went (literally) into a spin. The light came on, the screen I was in (virtual partner – 8 minute 10 second miles for a very easy pace to ease the legs around 3 miles) reset the pace up and down the scale like lightning and nothing would clear. I tried wiping it dry but everything had got soaked (it was only a heavy drizzle when I left) so I abandoned it until I got back to site, but even there it took 2 or so minutes to dry it enough to stop the timer, so all the information was pointless when I did make sense of it.

It’s all dried out and good now again, though, as am I. Tomorrow is my day for surveying the new house (a good, dispassionate look structurally to assess whether anything’s so dodgy I don’t fancy taking a gamble on it not collapsing before I can repair it – if it’s bad, i’ll get a professional opinion. I don’t know how bad it’d have to be, though. I’ll reserve judgement), on my own since Cathy’s at college, then an early night will be needed owing to the 6.53 train on Sunday being the only one that will get me to the start on time.

Eek. Not fair on a Sunday – I think next year, the Ashford 10k will be the race to do – i’ll walk to the start!

Oh, and some hasty communication with HMC and ET to arrange a sensible spot to meet for a post race pizza.

Hopefully Sunday will see a good run. At least I’m hoping to enjoy things and not suffer like the last half I ran.

Not Slacking

Not me. Oh, no.

Just not making time for blogging, that’s all.

Wednesday’s run was put off until Thursday owing to tired legs but the run on Thursday was a pleasant enough 3 mile circuit around Boughton Monchelsea and the hills that entails. Then, Saturday was a frenzy of house viewing following an accepted offer on mine on Thursday which put the run off until Sunday.

But then the buyer wanted to visit to measure up, so Cathy called shopping duties for Sunday morning, visitors visited in the early afternoon and I went out for 6 miles around 3.30 ish. And if only the race went that well.

A slow start averaged to a reasonable mile 2 and 3, then between 3 and 4 things just picked up. At 4.5 miles I put the brakes on, not wanting to cause injury the week before the race, but the the last half mile before I did felt fantastic and the Garmin shows 7.18 pace, which was still growing and feeling easy. Simply don’t know where it came from. The average was 7.33 and the run felt easy, good and fun. Maybe it was the release from housing tensions.

Of course, reality today saw the house I like having stubborn owners (a management company who’ve terminated use of the property) who want £6000 more than i’m willing to pay but since it’s odd enough and different enough for me to really want it quite a lot, i’ll probably stretch tomorrow and find another £5000 and see where that gets me. Hopefully a low ceilinged dump with half an acre. Possibly a liability that eats money and I can’t sell if I want to in the future. Who knows.

One more run, then Royal Parks Half. Hope it goes like Sunday.