Friday, 26 June 2009


just as things were going well i get hit with 'man flu'!
where the heck did that come from! i haven't had a cold or flu for 18months or so and its summer!
seeing as there a few people in the agency falling like flies i reckon the air con is the prime suspect. hopefully not out for too long. but at least i'm sleeping like a baby thamks to a little help from the 'green stuff'!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

the little things that make you smile :)

i was intent on running around 20miles yesterday. that didn't quite happen.
on saturday as planned, i did my 30minutes of kenyan hills in the field with the hill right behind where we live. i could have done a longer session but let's not get greedy eh.
charlie hasn't quite got the knack of this session yet, choosing to sprint each and every one of them leaving me for dead. in the end i guess boredom at my pace was setting in for him so he decided to keep running and jumping up at me just for laughs.

fast forward to sunday which as you may know is fathers day and i knew both hollie and will were excited by the whole thing. so having not managed to get out of bed early enough i decided to curtail my planned run so the kids wouldn't be waiting all day for my return (what it is to be wanted eh even if it is just once a year!).

the revised run was a lovely local 8 miler from hen cloud, over the roaches to hanging stone and back via a different track and finally a couple of miles of road to get the pace going. what started off feeling hard soon evolved into fluidity of movement with a good all round feeling. and i kept watching charlie charging about and thought how lucky i am to have him as my sidekick. he's top dog.

but what tickled me was the drive back. a group of teenage hikers making their way along the road were waving and cheering furiously at each car that passed them. our turn soon came and with roof down i sent out a resounding reply and salute. it was a great reminder of the freedom of youth, that anything goes no matter how daft or simple and it felt nothing but natural to wholeheartedly join in. it kinda made my morning.

then back home, the day got even better as hollie and will piled down the stairs with hugs and loves (and an absolute load of lovely cards (some daft) and little presents. they know me only too well so i've now got a great stock of ale, crisps and nuts. it would be rude not to open them all.

the rest of the day was so chilled. hollie baking her favourite raspberry topped biccies, will (with only 9 men) drubbing me on FIFA 09, and KD continuing her endless quest for the perfect eventer. happy times.

with a short run on Sunday i changed my plan for Monday and decided on a 7 miler early doors incorporating 5 miles at threshold effort. with a 5.30 start i wasn't expecting anything to shout about but surprise surprise i netted out at 7.47min/mile pace (vs 8.33 last week). maybe just maybe there are some signs that my running is just starting to take shape. or maybe they are famous last words!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

back to the track (last to leave)

why am i posting at such an ungodly hour of 0230! its because we have had a slug in the living room (gross) for the past two nights that only shows itself when we all totter off to bed. so i hatched a cunning plan of getting up in the middle of the night to sort the rascal out. needless to say there it was lazing around on the floorboards. it was despatched at once into a now disused carton of ben and gerrys (thanks guys, the ice cream was yummy!) and suitably 'seasoned'.

all this excitement having been sticking to my plan pretty well so far. did a quick 5 with charlie early doors yesterday then went to the track in leek at tea time.

the guys at the track on club night are mainly short distance runners and as i'm trying to do more volume in the speed sessions right now i'm not finding much appetite to do likewise from the others.

anyway it was pretty hot and i managed to knock out 7 x 800's in clockwork fashion with a deviation of only 2 seconds between any lap! i find it hard doing faster stuff at a higher volume but rewarding too. with a final 800 and warm down to go i was the only one left..and maybe psychologically that's no bad thing either :)

another 5 with charlie in 3 hours then a quick massage at lunch.

best get some shuteye.

damn that slug! (that was)

Monday, 15 June 2009

getting my act together (put politely)

my 'running year' is usually a year of two halves. the first, where i look after myself, achieve new PB's and feel generally pleased with myself. i then feel as though celebrations are called for but ultimately forget to stop the celebrations with a corresponding decline in results etc. and as a result i beat myself up.

unintentionally, it seems this year i'm doing things in reverse order! i can safely say that i have yet to get my act (put politely) together this year and as a result have endured a real mixed bag of running experiences and results. if i was at school the report would read 'could do better'.

so my friends, i guess with 3 weeks to go before osmotherley it's time to knuckle down, put down the pint pot and the crisps and put some real effort in not only in my running but my lifestyle also.

so here goes.


Sunday, 7 June 2009

the loneliness of the long distance runner

Today at Wharfedale i faced what was a big unexpected challenge that perhaps few people can really appreciate.

Both myself and Charlie raced here last year, really loved it and finished in a happy time of 4.29. But this year was so different. I took Charlie into registration with me in his newly shaved slick look only to be greeted with ' you're not taking the dog are you?' by several officials. Now i know this is an official FRA race and officially dogs aren't allowed at FRA races but with this being so low key and a long race i thought they'd just turn a Nelson's eye but no. Being so taken back by their stringent adherence to the letter of the law, my 'don't mess with me' stubborn side ventured out first saying that I WOULD be running with him even if it meant running unofficially but after consulting with Karen over the phone I thought the better of it for all concerned and the race in general. But very reluctantly I have to say. First blow of the day. And Charlie sensed something was amiss. Even a bone from Nurse Gladys (thank you!), another RW forumite, wasn't enough to cheer up the mood.

Fortunately, my friend Kate was running (more about her later) so her partner Gerraint kindly offered to take Charlie with him as he followed her by car to various points around the course. Cheers Gerraint, much appreciated.

So to the race itself. As forecast it rained and as forecast there were strongish winds to contend with high up, but overall nothing too taxing weatherwise. The route is fantastic, mostly very runnable with a few stiff climbs for good measure of officially 2500+ft but it felt like much more compared to lots of other races i've done.

Anyway i set out to see if 4.29 from last year was beatable and started off well enough putting in some decent minute mile times for me (9.20, 10.19, 9.46, 10.00, 9.24, 8.48, 9.47). It was all going OK until my first mistake of turning right at Arncliffe instead of left into the village and checkpoint. by this time the field was so spread out i was running alone with no one in front or behind by some distance. I continued the wrong way for a couple minutes then stopped thinking i couldn't remember this bit from last year, so out came the written route instructions and yep i was right. Back down the road the correct way i went rather despondently to the checkpoint. Second blow of the day.

A bit of cheer next as i climbed up to Clowder to be greeted by Gerraint and a very tail wagging Charlie. I think he was gagging to come with me (Charlie that is)! Geraint told me that Kate was in fourth place when she'd passed them at that point...amazing (but being the furthest she'd ever raced could she hold on for whole the distance i wondered?). I said goodbye to them and pottered on.

12 miles in at 02.08.55 and looking good for a course PB. The site of the Malham Tarn was a kind of signals to me the start of the push back to the finish. But within 5 or so minutes of passing through checkpoint 5 i was up to my old tricks of going the wrong way again! If it wasn't for a very kind chap informing me thus it would have been a lot worse. I probably lost about three minutes here in total. Third blow of the day.

This made the rest of the race tough. I'd lost about 8 minutes going wrong which to my mind meant a course PB was all but a pipedream. And along with all this I was really missing the companionship of my running buddy Charlie. I was feeling how pointless it felt and how unenjoyable it felt running a distance like this without him and these thoughts began to take their toll, breaking into walk more frequently that needed. I wasn't enjoying it. And this time there was no Great Escape in my head. Just me, some lonely moorland and a few miles still to go. The daft thing however was I still had it in me physically to achieve a PB as i discovered retrospectively at the finish (though i didn't actually do it)but I'd resigned myself to what felt like failure and hanging up my running shoes forever.

My final mile splits were 10.52, 9.50, 9.12, 8.00 and a finish time of 4.32.34, feeling comfortable.
If i look on the upside..take of the 8mins going wrong and it would be a PB. If i hadn't have faffed around walking so much as i spat my dummy out it would have been a PB. And it wasn't the disaster that at one point I thought it was going to be.

I'm coming to realise as I've mentioned before that whilst I'm no gazelle I am very self-competitive and place high demands and expectations on myself. Last year was a journey of enjoying new adventures,this year, involuntarily, seems to be about revisiting those places for a better time.

But there is a very happy ending ladies and gentlemen. Kate and Gerrait were there at the finish line with Charlie, still furiously wagging his tail (does it ever stop wagging!) to cheer me in. I was really hoping Kate had held on in the latter half and was delighted for her to hear she'd finished 5th overall in a time of 3.12, beating the course record by a massive 24minutes!!!! Now that's going some. An awesome achievement. She has such amazing natural talent but is so modest with it, so i was really pleased to be back in time to able to celebrate the achievement with her and Gerraint as she collected her first prize (apparently it was me she said that gave her the idea of running it just a week beforehand). Bloody well done Kate!

And that's not all folks. I see also by spooky coincidence that RunningBear smashed the half record by 12minutes. Well done RB...another fantastic achievement.

After prizegiving I caught up with Nick and exchange post race banter. Good luck at the Western States Nick and see you at Osmotherley.

Arriving back home the sight of Hollie and Will charging out of the house to greet their returning 'hero' was enough to dispel any negative thoughts about my running future!

As for Charlie, at least he got some good walking with Gerraint and he'll be out with avengence for a course PB along with his sidekick at the Osmotherley Phoenix in four weeks time. Lets hope for a distinct lack of navigational blunders by my good self.


Monday, 1 June 2009

new light through old windows

one of the great things in life can be the rediscovery of something you know well, seeing it in a different light, a different way, or maybe from a different perspective. this happened to me during our holiday to the lakes and even more surprisingly on returning home.

the change was simple enough. stay at the other end of the lake to where we have been for many years. it may sound obvious but the change that made was amazing. we've always loved going up to derwentwater but this time it felt even more special, more relaxed and more invigorating. everything about our break this time was great - the cottage, the views, the time we spent together and i even managed to sleep for a whole 8hrs most nights, which is unheard of!

when it came to running, me and charlie were out most days but kept them short due to my lazy lie ins and not wanting to eat too much into the day and keeping everybody hanging round for us to return. i also have an eye to this weeks wharfedale marathon and am probably still recovering from the fling a few weeks ago.

we only made one proper mountain run, up to high spy, which ended in such a steep vertical and at times a tad more dangerous than i would have liked descent that from then on in i opted for quicker lower lying fells, such as blease and lonscale fells, where we could maitain some real momentum.

the weather played its part too. i saw the lakes on some days like id rarely seen before - bathed in absolute sunshine without a cloud in sight. the downside being that the lack of clouds brought out hoards of people. so i welcomed the return of the rain and low cloud that would deter all but the real fell hardy types and give us the solitary time i longed for.

our runs were often folowed by a ramble with karen and the kids and gave charlie the chance to brush up on his triatholon training too!

all in all a great time was had by all and i felt a degree of sadness in having to leave it all behind.

to my surprise though when we returned home i had massive good vibe feelings to be back home and probably for the first time in a while i was able to see just what a great place it is we live in day to day and how lucky we are. ive always tried to remind myself of this but have always thought of the lakes of being some superior place. in some respects it is but for some strange reason i just feel right at home where i live now.

during our time up in the lakes charlie had been 'infested' by a tick which karen had done her best to sort out. just to be on the safe side our friends kate and gerraint, who also happen to be vets, popped in finish off karens handy work. they were en route for a 3am start to run/walk the high peak marathon route spurred on by the need to get back home for the grande finale of britain's got (nee) talent. charlie says thank you if you're reading.

so next up its wharfedale. best get some training done!