As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Packed Weekend

Last Friday I left the city on a familiar journey that ended at Keswick. Well just outside of Keswick actually at a campsite in Thornthwaite. The site was located quite high up the fellside just short of the lower tree line of Whinlatter Forest. The views on Friday were magnificent. It was a warm, sunny, clear day which provided a panorama  starting at the extreme left with the open  mountain-less gap to the Solway, then the bulk of Skiddaw and Carlside, and just a hint of the edge of Lonscale. Further round right was the gap of the A66 then Clough Head, The Dodds and down to Helvellyn. The site itself was merely a field in a farm allocated for caravans and tents with a wc and sink. The place was all but deserted as there was a more conventional site with showers and a shop only 100yds further down the hillside. An ideal location for a weekend of activities with a group of my best mates.

Friday evening we sat drinking tea and catching up until the sun stopped warming our old bodies, then we decamped to the famous Swinside Inn where a hearty feast and couple of pints of the black stuff was enjoyed.

Saturdays breakfast was a right faff as I had omitted to bring any pans to cook the bacon, eggs and sausages in. Everything had to be done under the grill which took ages. Beans were cooked in their can directly on the gas burner. It was all very tasty and enjoyable though, especially for Scotty who had been out for a very early run and returned to find the food all ready for him to tuck in. Plucky arrived at 0830 and Scotty went home at 0845 as he didn't have enough wife-permission-vouchers to stay any longer.

We cycled slowly up Whinlatter Pass to meet everyone else at the Go Ape high wire site. Go Ape was great fun. I was terrible at balancing on the obstacles. After a cafe stop in the Visitor centre we left Whinlatter behind as we cycled over into the Buttermere Valley. A bit of rain around but we were soon out of it again as we crossed Newlands Valley top and dropped  towards Keswick. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the ride and it hadn't taken very long so I suggested an additional loop under Catbells to Grange then back along the main Borrowdale road into Keswick. After more tea and delicious homemade cakes at the camp we ventured into Keswick for a pub meal. Getting up at 6am and being busy all day was enough to have me zonked out by 9oclcock. By just after 10 we were back at the site and in bed!!!

Sunday had been arranged to do a fell run over leg one of the BGR route. After a pleasant breakfast in Keswick we met the others, Penrith and Appleby Stu's and Penrith Stu's pal Steve (and me and Plucky). We walked our breakfast off with a stroll along the railway line path to Threlkeld.

Upon reaching Threlkeld the two  Stu's and Steve went up Blencathra like their pants were on fire and they needed to reach the big puddle on top ASAP. Me and Plucky took it much steadier. As we ascended ever higher it became clear that Plucky was not enjoying the day. (see his miserable face on photo). To be fair he was less than a week from completing his Ironman event which in itself was the culmination of many months of tough training. At the summit he realised he had dropped his favourite gilet and decided to look around for it before descending back the way we had already come.

The rest of us continued over Mungrisedale Common, through the Caldew and up Gt Calva. Down to the Cumbrian way and over Hare Crag to Skiddaw. As we descended Skiddaw I made some quick calculations and realised that we had taken little more than 3 hours for the leg. Considering the several stops we took and the short retrace I did with Plucky this was a damn quick time. No wonder Plucky wasn't enjoying it as the rest of us were just as fit as he is, more used to fells and also much more rested.

Back in Keswick we chatted a while at the cars and tried to help Appleby Stu push start his motor. To be honest I'm not sure he's ever done a push start before.

After a quick pint I nipped across for chips. Next door to the chippy was the New Balance shop where they were having a half price sale. So I returned to the van with chips and TWO pairs of my favourite 1064s for the price of one (and the usual price is about half the RRP anyway 'cos they are  seconds (but you can never tell why they have been rejected as firsts)). I checked my email before driving off and was also delighted to find I had won an item on Ebay for only half the price I had bid.

A great weekend from start to finish. Cheers Lads

Thursday, July 22, 2010

winning ways

On Monday I realised that there was a good race coming up on Wednesday so instead of the planned  easy jog I had to do my interval session. This allowed Tuesday to be an easy 8 miles, race Wed then easy 10 tonight. 

Mondays reps were my 5 by 3 minute over a 3 mile course. A good enough result of 15:51 is only 1 second slower than my best this year.

Wednesdays race was a hilly 10 and a bit KM. My scheduled session was to run 6 miles inside 36 minutes. To manage that in training is a seriously tough session, but being a race helps enormously. Despite the hilly course my time at the six mile marker was 35:20. I got 6th place in the event and first Vet, the prize for which is a very handy voucher for a shop in Keswick (where I am going tomorrow).  I don't suppose I will ever win another race outright but it's quite heartening to pick up these vet prizes. I think I've had about six or seven firsts since turning 40 last year. Penrith Stu also running. I would say also racing but as he took about 3 minutes longer than me to finish the route he can't have been trying very hard.

Tonights 10 miler was fairly easy pace but on tired legs it felt a very long way. At 9.5 miles I saw some people in the park I knew so I had no hesitation to stop to chat a while. Tomorrow I'm hoping to find the time to run another 10miles at a decent pace. Busy weekend ahead - Go Ape high wire adventure in Whinlatter Forest Saturday morning, cycling over some Lakeland passes Saturday afternoon, fellrun on Sunday.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Beware brain eating ants

On Wednesday I ran in the rain with Scamp - very refreshing, although we did shelter under a tree when the rain was at it's heaviest.

Earlier on Wednesday I had disturbed some ants during the course of my work. A few crawled on my arms and clothes which I brushed off. I was suddenly then aware of a serious pain in my right eye. I think an ant must have crawled onto my eyeball. I don't think it bit me as it wasnt a sharp pain - more like when you get soap in your eye only about 20 times worse, perhaps a reaction to the chemica's on the ants feet? Anyhowser, the pain soon went off and I was left with a bit of irritation in my eye from all the screwing up of my face and poking my eye in attempts to remove whatever was in it.

The next morning all seemed normal until about 5 minutes after getting out of bed when I was aware of a strange whooshing sound in my right ear accompanied by a constant feeling of aeroplane earpopping in both ears which wouldn't clear whatever I did and also the whole day long I had a strange woolly feeling like I wasn't really in my own body but possibly watching myself go about my daily business from just behind myself. I convinced myself that the ant must be alive inside my head and was busily eating its way through my brain. I kept closing one eye to check if I had gone yet gone blind in the other. That afternoon I constantly stumbled as I walked Scamp along the unevenly sloped river bank path.

By evening I was sure I was gonna be properly ill so I went to bed very early without doing any training. On Friday morning I awoke with the symptoms at about 5% of the level they were previously and during the day they went away completely. Panic over.

I'd hoped to get finished work sharp on Friday so I could go running in lieu of Thursday but I was late finishing and couldnt be bothered - also, it would have forced a plan change for the weekends training if I had done a reps session on Friday.

So to Saturday (today). Very wet weather and a blowy wind. Schedule said 12 miles at 6:10 pace. Without a means of measuring how far I am running unless I stick to known length routes I was going to have to either backtrack a lot on a short circuit or do the 10miler plus 2 one mile loops. Instead though I decided I may as well run my 13mile loop. It was always going to be a headwind home but for some reason I still don't really know I set off the opposite way round to usual. This meant that the final few miles were quite flat and very open to the wind, wheras if I had run my usual way round the final 4 miles would have featured a decent downhill and been in the town which is obviously much more sheltered by buildings and also has some direction changes to break up the persistent headwind. These are probably just lame excuses to justify why I took too long to complete the distance. 6:10 pace for 13 miles is 1:20:10. I ran 1:22:21 or about 6:20 pace.

Plucky and a few others are in Germany this weekend for their Ironman. Apparently it is red hot  - not ideal for a 10-15 hour event. My mate Popsy got a lift with his pal Brian. Brians car broke down enroute. Cost for taxi to get there? 550 euros! Makes the breakdown service membership seem cheap.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Geranium experiment

Saturday - Gelt Woods - 2 laps. Lap one very easy pace chatting to Plucky and Gill who I hadn't seen in a while. Lap 2 I thought I would blast off as hard as I could manage. I gave the others a head start as I knew I would catch them by the end of the lap. Darren also started with me but I was immediately aware of him being a few paces behind. I eased back a fraction in case he was able to get back on terms but by about 2 miles I was really going for it full on.

Halfway round the lap I caught up to Plucky who I understood to be taking it easy again. But he got right on my heels and stayed there for the remainder of the circuit. I did drop him by a few metres on one of the longer flat sections but he soon regained when we next went downhill. The end of the lap arrived after 30 minutes 15 seconds - my second fastest lap ever - beaten only by the time I 'raced' a lap with Plucky.

On Sunday I was well up for my first proper long run of this marathon campaign. 20 miles said the schedule so 20 miles it was to be. Well 19.5 actually, because that's how far 3 laps of the Talkin circuit happens to be. The weather was horrendous. Heavy rain and very strong winds. Lap times were clearly not going to be up to my usual standards. I set off pretty easy and only very gently ramped up the effort as the hours went by. Each of the laps was faster than the previous and my third was significantly faster. It was probably just outside 7 minute miling which is OK for my first long run on such a hilly route and in atrocious weather. My legs felt pretty rubbish during this run - clearly the 5 miles of effort round Gelt the day prior had had some lasting effect.

Monday I really enjoyed a very short, very easy run with Scamp (and Milly and Gareth).

Tuesday I was looking forward to a 10k race at Kendal. I felt pretty rubbish during the day and knew I would struggle to do my 6 miles sub 6 pace run if was just for training so the race would kind of give me that pace for free. Checking the website for the venue and start time I noticed the event was actually on Wednesday - Damn. I really couldn't be bothered to run hard so instead ran the 10 mile loop at a brisk pace.
I wasn't best pleased to see 33 minutes at halfway so upped the pace from 7 to 8 miles (ran in 12 minutes exactly) to record 64:30 for the 10.

Tonight (Wednesday) I jogged for an hour or so with Scamp.

Tomorrow the schedule says 5 miles of reps. Meeting Darren at 530pm. Probably do a couple of mile reps  steady then some 800s or 3minute reps.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Welcome back Sarah

Tuesday - Reps - 800m x 6 with 90 second recoveries

Warm up effort     2:45
proper effort  TW  2:31
proper effort HW  2:36
double recovery then another set of 3x800

real hard effort TW 2:26
real hard effort HW 2:34
warm down effort 2:37

I was intent on making 5:00 pace for these reps. Managed with my fourth and fifth - 5 minutes exactly.

Wednesday - very easy pace. Five or six miles probably

Thursday - six miles effort run. Felt absolutely great for this run. As usual my aim was to beat 6 minute miling. Gusty tailwind for the three outward miles required a faster target, -we decided 5:45 was suitable and made 5:43, 5:47 and 5:52 for each successive mile to reach the turning point in  17 minutes 22 seconds. The wind slowed progress on the way back but I still ducked inside 6min/miling to finish in 35:05 (5:51 pace).  Darren back to normal after his poor form t'other week. He was with me until the turn then only just 30 metres or so behind at 5 miles when he eased up to jog the final mile.

My idea behind this session is to run pretty hard but not flat out. I was certainly well within my abilities for the first 4 or 5 miles tonight and so am delighted to achieve this time. Based on tonight and also running so much better at Skiddaw last weekend, surely I can run 15 seconds per mile faster than this in a race situation and get my first 34 minute 10k for several years? Just need to find a not-to-hilly midweek 10k somewhere...

Tonight was my last day of 'messing about' training for a long time. This Sunday it is 12 weeks until Loch Ness Marathon and next Tuesday sees the beginning of my pre-planned schedule. The sessions should be manageable as they are very similar to what I have been doing since London - but they do get progressively tougher as each week passes. I suspect the Wednesdays may prove the toughest to force myself out the door for 8-10 miles easy pace (sub 7) as I have often ran just 4 or 5 miles in the park with Scamp (run with dog = lots of stopping for wees and to throw sticks).

Despite not even having started my Marathon schedule yet I am already looking forward to the final racing period of the year when we have the Derwent and Brampton 10 milers (November). I should be recovered from the Marathon and hopefully will still be enjoying this renewed fitness. That's not to say I 'm not looking forward to Loch Ness - I'm relishing the chance to run my second-fastest-ever 26.2 miler but a marathon is akin to a lot of eggs precariously placed in a fragile basket, whereas 10 milers and 10ks can be done every few weeks so afford a greater chance of a top performance.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Skiddaw Fell race

Travelling through to Keswick this morning the weather was so atrocious that running up one of Englands highest summits seemed a ludicrous notion.

Luckily about 140 folk thought it was a good idea so I wasn't on my own as I tackled the motorway ascent of  Jenkin Hill. There were hailstones and gale force winds to contend with as we neared the summit. Then suddenly a runner blasted back down the hill toward me - the leader. Either this lad was the fastest runner in the history of the event. Or I was running MUCH slower than last year. Or they were turning people round short of the summit. Not surprisingly it was the third option due to safety concerns. I would like to have gone to the top so I could compare my race time to 2009 but I can see why they did it. There were a few lads near me who also ran last year and I noted that on average they took 12 minutes less this year over the shorter course. Adding 12 minutes to my time would give me 1hr 19 mins which is 3 minutes quicker than I have ever ran. Progress indeed.

I still need to get better at descending steep rough ground though - one lad passed me going at least 50% faster than I was. Near the bottom of Latrigg I caught three people (including the first female) and was confident that with the safety of the less steep ground and then the short tarmac section I would be able to beat them all. I did, but it required a sprint finish to take my 14th place.

After a bite to eat in Keswick we returned to the van to find the lights on. That little monkey Scamp had obviously knocked the switch and flattened out battery for us. A push start got us going again and on the A66 at Threlkeld en route home I stopped to take a couple of pictures of my favourite fell. Remarkably the rain had stopped, roads dried and the summits cleared. Back home we sat in the garden enjoying the sunshine. Cumbria! I love it. (which is handy 'cos I live here)

Yesterday I ran my long run in the morning. I intended to go really early before it got too hot as I couldn't be bothered driving out to place drinks en route. I didnt get up soon enough really and so setting off in  considerable heat I kept it to just 13 miles. 1:28 was a decent time considering I was never trying hard - just a nice steady run - if a bit sweaty.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Le tit

Thurs - 4 x 1mile reps

I admit to being a little disappointed not to run 5:30 miling as an average for these 4 reps. I've looked back to try and find the previous occasion I did 4 by a mile but I can't find when. Perhaps this blog isn't the best way to record the specifics of distances and times. It IS a good outlet for prattling on about nowt important though so I shall continue for now.

Back with Darren for this session tonight. Dropped him on the last 3 efforts but he is pleased nevertheless
as his times are still faster than recent months/years.

Last night I was intent on running just 6 or 7 miles easy but then my pal Scotty phoned last minute to ask if I was running - we did 8 miles at 6:31 pace - not  exactly a jog! In fact only 18 months ago 6:30 was my goal pace for marathon effort runs. A target I often didn't manage.

Tuesday night I went to the track again (as if the council don't have enough of my cash already).
I was feeling rubbish following the effort of Sundays "race" so opted to do just a few reps but quite fast. The Harriers were doing 600m reps then 300s. I did the two 600s but as I have never done that distance before I couldn't  easily work out what my times equated to over one of regular distances and now I have forgotten what they were.  I then did just one 800m effort.  Running really hard I clocked  2:31. I never even considered doing any of the 300m efforts. 400m is the shortest I ever run and thats quite rare.

I think theres a week (or maybe 2) until I begin my 'proper' training schedule. It might break me - I'm not really looking forward to it very much. Lots of stuff I am looking forward to coming soon though,

Week or more off work
Trip round Britain
Uber long fellrun
Activity weekend in Keswick with a few pals
Some good races (Swinside and Moffat)

Race coming up this weekend too - Skiddaw fell race. Straight up Skiddaw from Keswick then straight back down again. It's a horrible race (the downhill bit). No idea why I do it every year really, but I know I am fitter than last year so I'm hoping to prove this with a quicker time.

Two dogs on top of Skiddaw