Monday, 10 November 2014

Trying Different Things. Need to Decide

Since September I've been in a sort of limbo; retired yet still living in my former place of work. It's quite confusing. I'm privileged now to be able to take as much rest as I like; but the downside of that is the feeling of being idle most of the time after having every day almost filled with stuff to do.The only constant thing has been keeping on running. But even in that I'm unsettled. Road or trail? Or a mix of both? Short distances or long distances? Speed or endurance? Day or night?

My interest in doing a run at night was sparked when I found the Petzl Night Runner Series on the internet. So I signed up for the Delamere Forest run on the 13th December. That meant I needed a head torch and the family bought me one as a retirement present. But then I needed to try out the head torch under race conditions. I'd seen The Endurance Store a sponsor of the Petzl Night Runner series on the internet before and it so happens it's only about 4 miles away from my home. During the winter months they hold a Tuesday night 'Bat Run' series of trail runs starting and finishing at the shop. This surely was an opportunity.

I looked up results of the previous runs and comparing my times on local routes with those of runners on previous runs, I could see that if I took part I'd probably be dead last. I grabbed my courage in both hands and decided to have a go. I was dead last! But not embarrassingly so. I'd done some of that night's route in the past, the bit up to Ashurst Beacon. I'd forgotten how long and steep the road was in that part of the course and used up most of my energy there. But it was fun. Here's the route:

The runs are held on a time trial basis and are run every Tuesday night. So I can have a go at any time. I guess I'll always be last as I seem to be much older than the rest of the bunch for one thing. If I can come to terms with the ignominy of always being last then it really will be fun. But there's a problem.

The problem is that I really do want to run a half marathon. And so I've signed up for a new training plan on Endomondo. For four of the first five weeks there's a 9 mile long run to help get used to running more weekly miles. I can't do those if I punish myself on a Tuesday night in the Bat Run league. So what do I do?

I think I'll stick to the training plan and when I've finished with the regular 9 mile runs I'll do the Bat Run a couple more times. We'll see. Whatever. I need to make the decision and then stick to it. I don't like running on the roads, with traffic flying past me belching out choking fumes. I much prefer the trails. But trails take much more out of me and I like to run longer rather than shorter. So it's all a bit of a dilemma. That I turn out at all is the main thing though. I just need to decide firmly to have the half marathon as a longer term goal with the odd diversion into the Bat Run.

Although all hadn't returned by the time I took this photo, I took the longest at 55;57. Proud though!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Lancaster Castle.......10K!

Well, I've been struggling since June. I think the Hawkeshead 10k did for me, because I haven't been the same since. That and my training for the Lancaster Castle Half Marathon. I think I overdid it in the racing and the training and it really knocked me back; so much so that I haven't repeated the mileage I was doing before June 18th. So to cut a long story short, a couple of weeks ago, when I finished work for retirement, I decided to transfer my Half Marathon Entry to the 10k. Sounds like a bit of a defeat but it isn't really. It's about knowing and understanding where you are and what you can achieve and making the most of that. A half marathon isn't out of the question at some time in the future and I'll gradually work towards some longer distances, maybe an extra mile a month over the winter and see what's on offer next year.

So back to today. It was a lovely morning, blue sky, sunny and warm out of the shade. There wasn't a huge number of people running which made it far less crowded at the start and on the route. I kept up a 10.30 pace on average and finished in the time I'd hoped; 1 hour 5 minutes. If it hadn't been for the killer hill at the end, into the castle I'm sure my time would have been a minute or two faster. But that doesn't matter at all. So here's the route and some photos.

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Ready for the Off
At the Starting Line
At the Top of the Hill coming into the Castle
Almost there!
And a Finishers Medal to prove it

Thursday, 19 June 2014

What a Week

Last Saturday, as I was beginning Level 11 of my training plan, day 1 I decided to do the Key Stage first i.e. 55 minute run. But I was eager to try 10 miles as I'd had an easy recovery week. So, my 55 minute run turned into a 2 hour run.

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I'd wanted to get into double figures. I felt that if I can do 10 miles now, then 13 in September is more than just a possibility.
It was a beautiful morning and the views as I got up towards Standish were excellent. I tried out my new water bottle belt, carrying some diluted orange and 4 Asda fig rolls as an energy top-up. I'd remembered that I used to eat fig rolls in my younger hill walking days and that they were excellent for giving me an energy boost. I don't really fancy buying and eating gels, which are expensive anyway. Fig rolls might be a bit dry but they are easily washed down with a mineral replacement drink. I could feel the benefit of both.
So that was one personal best this week - furthest distance, longest time, most calories. And my average pace was pretty good too, slightly less than 12 minute miles.
Yesterday was my second big event of the week. I entered the Hawkeshead 10k. It was my first race in 9 years. I'd thought of doing it a little while ago but dismissed the idea. As the time drew near I gave it more thought, so with Linda's encouragement we decided to do an overnight so I didn't have to drive back.
All day long I was feeling nervous. It was a very hot day - 25 degrees. Because of the nerves I had a jippy stomach. I tried to convince myself that position at the end of the race didn't matter, but I certainly didn't want to come last. Within the last 6 would be ok and a possibility in light of the results of previous years and having finished training 10k's in an hour and 2 or 4 minutes. Race pace is always quicker. I read that the course would be 'undulating' so I allowed for that. I needed to stoke up so had Cumberland sausage and mash at the Red Lion in Hawkeshead at 5.30 and 2 pints of orange and soda for hydration. I still felt a bit rough by the time the start came round and had had to go on the toilet twice.
The race started. It was still a very warm evening. I'd put myself at the back because I didn't want to get in the way. I was a few places in from the back. After half a mile the hills started and they were relentless, one after the other with hardly a flat section of any decent length to get your breath back. I was passed by one young woman and then that was it. I let a woman a few yards in front of me pace me as I could see that she might have been marginally stronger than me.
At 2 miles the stomach pains began and were with me all the way round. Not bad enough to stop me but not good. I managed to keep up. The woman stopped for a drink and I passed her but then let her by again because I didn't want to be in front. It's easier trying to keep up with someone else than trying to stay in front of them. Half way came and a drink station which was very welcome. The woman stopped again and then I let her past again. About a mile or more from the finish she stopped for a drink again and this time I couldn't hear her behind me so I pressed on in front of her to the finish.
The scenery all the way round was lovely but on the return leg there were stunning views of the Langdale Pikes. As I approached about 9k I could hear the cheers of people on the finishing line. I was on my own when I came to the finishing chute with Linda waiting for me. I'd done it. It was hard but I'd done it and felt very proud of myself. 1 hour 7 minutes. A very good time in view of  the hills and the heat. I wasn't last. I was in the last half dozen which I'd predicted. I'm still waiting to see the results. It's whet my appetite for more.
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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Recovery Week?

I decided to take this week as a recovery week but also to try out my new Altra The One running shoes. Excellent service from Accelerate means I had the shoes in 4 days even returning the first pair, too small. I've done two runs in them this week just over 3 miles. Yes, they are zero drop but with some added cushioning which makes them distinct from my Vivobarefoots. I bought them thinking that they will be better for me on longer runs.

 New shoes of any kind mean different characteristics and I've been surprised at how just a small difference in shoe style, shape etc. can make a big difference in the feel of a run. The added cushioning seems to be reminding me of my old running shoes in which I used a heel strike style of running. So I've had to concentrate on my form and be more deliberate in forefoot, midfoot striking. With this in mind, it will take a bit of time to get used to them and for them to get used to me. So, I'll spend my training weeks in my Neos, and my recovery weeks in my Altras.

 On the plus side, my average running pace is a bit quicker now after three stages of my Run The Edge Level Up 13.1 training plan, nearer to 10 minutes than 11 minutes miles, which is good. If I can keep that pace up for a 10k then I've got every chance of doing a half marathon in 2:15. We shall see!!!

Today's run:

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Stage 9 Completed

Out at 6.30 and a lovely morning contrary to the forecast. I think it was just a window in the weather. My final day on Stage 9 and the long run - 45 minutes to run. I followed the route I took last Bank Holiday Monday at the beginning of the month. On that occasion it was at the beginning of the week after a couple of days rest. This time it was at the end of the week and weighing 4 pounds heavier than I was three weeks ago, due to being away on holiday; and my decision to finish with 'dieting'. Towards the end of the run I could see that I was just ahead of my previous time so kept it going as best I could. Eventually I finished a few seconds ahead. All in all it was an improvement because last time I abandoned the stage but this week I've completed it. The stages aren't easy so I've decided to think more about how I tackle them, what order to take the days in for example and to have a 'recovery week' in between each stage with shorter, slower pace runs and a distance run. But all in all I'm pleased with the three stages I've completed now. There's 9 more to go before the event. I'm looking forward to getting fitter and maybe a bit faster at the same time. If I can complete the half marathon in 2.15 I'll be very happy indeed. And that means an average pace of 10.20. Well, we'll see. Here's today's run

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Stage 9 Day 3

Today was a simple run 20 minutes. I topped and tailed it with a 5 minute or so jog. But I also ran up Beech Hill Avenue, the most challenging hill around here. Altogether my pace was very good for the challenge. So I'm definitely getting fitter. And I wasn't wiped afterwards too. Rest again tomorrow and then the long run on Saturday. Then we'll see if the revised plan worked any better.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Holiday Running

We went to the island of Mykonos, Greece last week for a holiday. I got 2 longer and 2 shorter runs in. The landscape is very hilly but beautiful and of course it was sunny and warm even between 7 and 8 in the morning. I didn't take my TomTom watch but had Endomondo on my BlackBerry so used that to record the runs and take to take some photos and publish them on the app too. Here's a couple of the runs and photos:

Stage 9 Rethink

After trying to do the long and short run first I felt really wiped out so decided to abandon stage 9 until after my holiday and then to rethink it. It's obvious that a rest day either side of the long run is sensible with perhaps the short run between the long run and the tempo/ladder etc. runs. So, having got back from holiday last Saturday, on Sunday, still being off work I did Run 10 jog 2 Run 15 walk 3 Run 10 jog 2. It was hard mainly because I didn't get much sleep on holiday and certainly didn't sleep at all well on Saturday night. So I started tired. Here's the run:
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This morning I did the second Run/Jog - Run 20 jog 2 Run 10 jog 2 Run 5 jog 2. Again it was hard even though I'd had a day off in between. When I started out I felt stiff and wooden but eventually got going. Here's the run:

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So, these runs are really pushing me. I'll see how I get on with the rest of the stage and then I'll have a proper rest week next week before Stage 10. My hips are a bit painful today after this morning's run, my right one especially. It's not bad but it's an effect I've not experienced before. So let's look, listen and learn.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Stage 9 Day 1 - Run 45

May Bank Holiday Monday and the third week of my half marathon training plan. A lovely morning so off I go. I decided to do the key stage in stage 9 of my plan today for 7 points and work down from that during the week instead of up to that. So it's a 45 minute run today, which means piling it on for 45 mins after I spend 5 minutes warming up jog and then slowing down for any remaining time after the 45 mins. I ran my best pace for distance. 6 miles in slightly over 60 minutes. Still not the 55 minutes I achieved for 10k in the Great Manchester Run in 2005 but then I'm a bit older aren't I? Also, my run this morning included trail as well as road which usually means a slower pace for me and a pretty long uphill stretch from Crooke to Shevington, longer than I did in my last two runs. On my way up to Shevington suddenly I found myself imagining a pacer just in front of me, which was me as I was in that GMR years ago. Weird but effective! Over all, quite an achievement. Stiff legs will be the penalty I think.

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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Half Marathon in View

I've come quite a way since February, trying to lose some weight and keep running despite my arthritic left foot and a stiff neck troubling me most of the time. The weight loss isn't going to plan but I'm a stone and a half lighter than I was this time last year so that's progress at least. I've kept running, 2, 3 or 4 times a week. A couple of weeks ago I surprised myself and ran 9 miles. It was a beautiful morning and what I thought was probably not much more than 6 miles turned out to be just over 9. Here it is:

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So that got me thinking that maybe I could do a half marathon some time in the future. I was about a week thinking about it and the idea gathered momentum in my head and heart. A search began for one that wasn't too far away and to cut a long story short I decided on the Lancaster Castle Half Marathon on Sunday 21st September. This will be two weeks after I finish work for retirement. A celebration of a new found freedom if you like. For from the 7th September it will be for me to decide what I do on a Sunday. As most races are on a Sunday, those of quality and popularity anyway I will more than cherish the opportunities my retirement will give me.

I needed a training plan and found Run The Edge Premium 13.1. I'm 2 weeks into it now and really enjoying it. Already I can feel the benefit. I'll soon be able to run again at the pace I ran the Great Manchester Run 8 years ago. And I hope it'll help me get the weight off too.

More to come on my training.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

No Fear

This is a photograph of a poster I bought about 30 years ago when I was a rock-climber myself. I've never climbed in Yosemite where the photograph is taken, but I've known a bit of exposure in my time, like the climber in the picture, both on a rock face and in life situations. 

The poster has been hidden between a filing cabinet and a cupboard for about 10 years. I retrieved it last Sunday after asking people in church to think about how their lives would have been different if they'd had - No Fear (the caption at the top left hand corner of the poster) We can all ask ourselves that question. 

Whether we are aware of it or not, fear colours almost every step we take in life especially a step into the unknown. Interestingly, fear is the opposite of faith. We usually think of doubt being the opposite of faith, but it's not, it's fear. The climber in the picture, has to have faith that he can climb the rock face. Doubt colludes with fear to stop us in our tracks. Faith helps us step out from beyond the fear zone, although fear might keep snapping at our heels like a mad dog. Faith keeps us one step ahead of all that would do us down.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

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