Saturday, 29 January 2011

NEW PB: Half Marathon - 2:00:49

The groove is working...New Half Marathon PB today of 2:00:49, but oh to have gone 50-seconds quicker!

So chuffed with that run, was a very crisp Brighton morning with not that many people out and about, but a really good run with my mate Ollie down the back half of Brighton's marathon route. Generally a great morning to be running.

Previous half marathon best was around 2hrs 13 and Ollie's only a smidgeon quicker, so we set off just planning to finish at an average pace of somewhere just inside 10-minute mile. Little did we expect that we'd get through it knocking a whopping 13-minutes off the previous best time.  With the sudden realisation of a quicker than expected time, we even managed to bang out the last mile at just short of 8:30 pace.

All of a sudden that landmark sub-2hr half marathon is tantalising close... a great day.  Then agreed to take my 4-year old daughter swimming (does that make me a duathlete) and she did 2-lengths of the pool without armbands, and now I'm sat a home with a cold beer watching my beloved Manchester United come from 1 down to win 2:1.

All-in-all a bloody good day.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Back in the groove...

Its been an ungainly past couple of months on the running front. As you may have read before, I'm 6'4" and just over 85kg so there's a fair bit of meat to shift right, left, right, left at any pace.  Combine this with too many elbows and knees and you can get the impression, don't you...we're seldom talking grace here.

December was a swine weather wise, just as my debut-marathon training plan was starting the snow and ice rolled in coating Brighton in slick layer of compacted snow and black-ice very quickly. But, you know what I kind of enjoyed it. Kept up with the mileage from the training plan and got bloody cold, but the lonely seafront running and sense of achievement was great.  Only draw back was pulling back from the slowly increasing pace improvement (managed 10km PB of 51:11 at end of November) as discretion took the better part of valour and I slowed things back to a 10/10:30 pace to avoid the embarrassing sight of nearly 2metres of ginger lump crashing to the ground. Let's face it there'd be no fun in that - or at least not for me.

Maintained this through December and even across Christmas (first as runner) managing nearly 30 miles in the 10-days up to New Year, then with the weather warming up I pushed it on a speed session, and for want of a better phrase fucked my calf. Undoubtedly a case of not enough stretching and pushing too fast, but god did it hurt.  Did a bunch of short sub-10km runs at a slower pace, when probably should have just rested, and couldn't manage it without finishing in pain. Doh!

Then last Saturday with the Brighton Half and Brighton Marathon getting closer I went out planning on a slow as possible half-marathon training run with my mate Ollie, and we ended up doing 17.2 miles - a record for both of us, as was the bang on 3hrs it took it to run.  Not sure what made us happier, running 17-miles or knowing that we'd stayed on our feet running for 3-hours, knackered, but could have still dug out a few more.  Amazing thing was/is/has been that since that run there's been no tightness or pain in the calf for first time in 3-weeks.  Amazement again probably fuelled by inexperience, but that's the whole point of this isn't it...

Did a cheeky little run Tuesday which again felt fine and then Thursday thought "sod it, calf's alright" and garnered with this refound confidence in my running, opened up the stride and had a cracking run.  Dumped the short shuffling stride of the last few months and for the first time in weeks felt like my form was back in synch, I was comfy in the run, going at "speed" and having a great time.  Ended up running 6.7 miles in just over 59mins during the hour between dumping and collecting my son at karate class at a pace just under 9-mins per mile.


Back in the groove!  Perhaps not a very finely tuned fast RPM groove, but a groove none the less and all of a sudden the "over"-confidence of pushing for that sub-2hr Brighton Half-Marathon in Feb is back and with 17-miles now under the belt the Marathon seems that little bit closer.

So, until the next time I don't stretch properly or make another inexperienced cock-up with my running, the groove is refound, I feel like I'm going fast and I'm dreaming of times, not distance.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

why do i do it...

...oh, all the clever slick answers you could write to a question like that.

But, lets face it, you know and I know they're all bollocks!  I started running in an attempt to get a bit fitter and lose, or at least mitigate, the effect of a few too many beers. When I say started running meant a couple of miles infrequently weeks or even months apart.  No don't judge me, you know where I'm coming from don't you!

Initially, too many beers and general laziness coupled with a desire to not not want to shirk trips to the park with the kids and being their all-active-dad was the driving force.  But, there's always been this nagging desire to run a marathon...

...and lets face it that's a big uplift from a couple of miles between pints, but it's always been something I've wanted to do.  Perhaps unspokenly to the greater group for fear of sniggering, but a desire/ambition/dream none the less. Why did I never do it?  Other than often just talking a good game, its an awfully long way!

And yes the distance is never going to get any shorter, but watching my first Brighton Marathon, in what is now my home city, from the sidelines gave me that strange boost and desire to actually do something rather than just blah blah blah..., now I'm up to a 17-miler and we're only 9 weeks away from my marathon debut and I'm sitting in the dark with a beer (notice the old unforgotten theme) blogging about running to nobody, but with the hope that someone out there knows what I'm talking about and cares (actually I just added those last few words for effect, or is it affect? I'm never sure).

Back to the story then, watching the marathon I was struck my how much fun it seemed (yes, you can remind me of that comment on 11th April) and the terribly condescending and patronising thought of "if you can do it so can I", except I'm not doing it am I.  Instead I'm 37 not in great shape and not doing a great deal.  One could say it was just the kick up the arse that I needed.  I've been plugging away solidly, not at a pace that anyone should fear, and am hungry for that first marathon scalp, but I am going to do it, and perhaps most importantly I believe I can do it.

I have no delusions of grandeur, a steady 10min mile and a finish time within 4hrs 30mins would have me very happy indeed, but now even with my lack of pace I'm in a place where I hunger to go for a run, I want, no need, to go out and run, it helps banish the fears and stress of normal life, I don't think, I just run.  I know that might seem trite and probably has far to many commas to be grammatically correct, but I don't think about much at all most of the time, I just run, not very fast I grant you, but run just the same and spend most of my time thinking about nothing and just enjoying the sense of running.

I want to run.

I know some of you will hate me for writing this, but it makes me feel free.

I've unlocked something within me that I like and enjoy, and a feeling that no matter how slow I might be over 10km, half-marathon or full marathon at 37, if I keep running I can only get faster. Perhaps only in small increments, but it will still be faster. I will push myself and ultimately succeed.

It's not about winning or how far and fast you go, it's about pushing yourself and desiring to be better.  As Erin Leonard said, "People ask why I run. I say, "If you have to ask, you will never understand". It is something only those select few know. Those who put themselves through pain, but know, deep down, how good it really feels".

Why does it feel good, because you know.  You know it was all worth it, you are pushing yourself, getting better and loving every high and low in-between.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I am not a runner...

How true is this for those of us coming to running late in life...particularly after too many beers, curries and a general lack of care attention to the one we love the most...

...but you're bitten by the bug now aren't you.  You've dodged the dog poo and stopped sounding like a walrus, you're starting to post times you're proud of (although a "true" runner may still snear) and you know deep down you're a runner now, and the journey has started...

...and one day in the not so far off future, you might not speak French or be quite this cute, but you'll now that same feeling of addiction...