Saturday, 29 August 2009

my great north run

some things in life can unexpectedly surprise you. i had one of those experiences today with my trip that would reacquaint me with part of my past.

after an early morning cuppa and toast i did the short drive to the start of my little memory lane adventure.

the sun shone. the sea glistened. the beaches were golden. could this be the same english northern coast that i frequented in my youth ? yes it was. and i was so happy to be part of it once more.

what was so inspiring was that the whole coastline had taken on a totally new being. gone were the hostile dark and murky waters and the coal emblazened dirty 'beaches', replaced over time through obvious hard conservation efforts and a vision to nurture a better place for all. and you know what? it's worked! you could have been forgiven for thinking you were elsewhere.

my route, covering in total four lighthouses (roker, one in seaburn whose name i dont know, souter and south shields), started from roker pier
, making its way along the promenade through to seaburn, then whitburn and souter lighthouse

from there it was on to marsden grotto

and down to south shields , then back again.

the run to south shields was a mix of coastal path and road, into a fresh headwind to add a little bit of resistence training into the mix. after marsden grotto i purposely picked up the road to run the last two miles of the GNR..a nice gently descending finish it is as well. i've never run that race and never plan to, but i imagined the euphoria people year in year out would be feeling as then descended down to the carnival like atmosphere at the finish.

for the return leg i stuck solidly to the coastal path, now with a tailwind, and came across little pockets of beaches and coves that i never knew existed. its amazing what discoveries running can afford you. by the time i arrived back to my starting point the lifeguards were getting ready to keep their watchful eyes on the activities that were to unfurl that day in the great north sea. that in itself was a real symbol that things had changed drastically for the better.

back in the car, roof down, i explored a few old haunts before going back to my sisters for a great breakfast feast and finally heading back home with Hollie.

today i felt the north east allow one of its now dissident sons to run in all the glory it could ever offer. and the distance? it could only have been 13.1miles.

Friday, 28 August 2009

taking the positives (however small)

the key run in my marathon training programme that i'm using to map my progress is the 9m race pace run. i run it over a route that gives a very similar profile and ascent proportional to snowdon.

currently i'm running it at race pace effort as i'm hoping my actual race pace will improve over the coming weeks.

anyway, today for the same perceived effort i was 2 mins quicker than a week ago. not earth shattering but progress all the same.

later today im off to the north east to take the kids cousins back who've been staying with us. the trip takes me back to some of my old stomping ground as a teenager and so i thought it'd be nice to do my long run from sunderland along the coastline to south shields and back. some great views along the way and the north east coast's salty air.

Monday, 24 August 2009

work in progress

the end of week one (of ten).

here's what i did
w/c 17aug
m - 4.5m
t - 4 m incl 26mins kh's
w - rest
t- 4 x 800's (3)
f - 4m am, 4m pm
s - 9 m pace
s - 12m

here's how it felt
- great but tough going. having done mainly ultras now the last two years or so, my running economy is great but a lack of any real consistent speed training has a penalty to pay when it comes to trying to run more quickly.
due to various things i ended up bunching together 4 toughish days with no rest. the 9m race pace session felt easier the longer it went on. i seemed to be getting into a good rhythm. the route, straight out of my door over to swythamley is all road ( :o ) and mimicks snowdon perfectly re ups and downs. but thats the longest i've consistently run (without any walking) since snowdon last year.

next day, the following 12m road/trail hilly session went fairly well too, though i struggled a while through mile ten but then got going for the last two.

here's what i've been reminded of
- marathon training is tough but rewarding
- in fact, i find it a lot harder and more demanding than my ultra bimbling
- i have to concentrate on maintaining pace rather than on where i'm going

and here's where improvements can be made
- my weight (work in progress)
- better nutrition and hydration (linked to weight)
- giving the beer/wine and salty snacks a wide berth for a while
- missing out the daily bacon bagel that kick starts many days (the sacrifices we make!)

so, that's it. a good start with hopefully lots of improvements to come.

in the meantime, back to dreaming of ultra running :)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

breaking habits

my current plan is taking me back a couple of years to a time when i ran every step of every run. yes, that's right! i actually ran the whole damn lot. there was none of this 'ah, that's a biggish hill so i'm good to walk'. oh no. and that's a challenge right now. particularly as round every corner here you accidentally bump into a hill!

but its more of a mental challenge than physical i think.

running and training for ultras in 08/09 has 'trained' me to run the flat and the downs but walk the ups. nice work if you can get it. now try breaking that habit!
as every time i come to a significant hill my automatic reaction is to stop and walk. it's a habit i must break!

and another thing. 'pushing it'. whats that all about! i've been used to leisurely paced runs based on the premis of energy conservation and enjoying the scenery. that too is taking some re-engineering.

but it's all work in progress and i'm kinda liking it all right now. i can envisage myself as being a 'runner' again at the end of it all. just so long as i break these habits.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

making amends (vedere la luce)

most of us at some point in time have needed to right a wrong. you can get to a tipping point where either something major happens or you simply get that 'enough is enough' feeling.

right now im at the start of my journey to make amends with my physical self.
but im not doing all the catholic guilt and 40 lashes stuff, instead i'm totally focussed on where i want to be.

i love running but i guess i love as much, if not more, the feeling of brimming with vitality it affords you. its amazing just how much of a knock on effect that has to your whole self esteem and the rest of your life. without any of that, what would life be like?

as part of the rebuilding process, i have my marathon plan and today was a trot round the track doing 800's. it felt good as i flooded my mind with positive thoughts of where this chapter in my journey can end up.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

bless me father....

after all my big and mighty ideas in my last post i've had a change of mind.

i have to confess that 09 will not go down as one of my better running years (which only started a wee while ago). i've gone wrong with navigation several times, i've felt like a bag of sick, and to be bruttaly honest i'm struggling to find any real highlights!

BUT...i'm not down. NO! i'm even more determined to put in something memorable (just like jessica ennis is doing right now but perhaps not so grand or newsworthy).

SO...there's no point in diluting everything, whats needed is a single goal and a single focus. and i've chosen snowdon marathon to be just that. i'll be sticking even more closely to hal's schedule (adding in more hill sessions though and some cross training) and aiming to shed some pounds along the way.

i started with my renewed focus today. me and charlie out for a 'steady into tempo' paced run with a good hill finish. perfect.

i feel back in control and hopefully abolished of all my lack of focus.

two managers and a lion called stamford

this weekend took me and will to see chelsea for the start of the season

being early birds into the ground does have its rewards

can you name the culprits desperate to have their photos taken with will ;) ?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

from lesley crowther to hal higdon

sunday saw us trotting round the lesley crowther trail. it was great to catch up with hayfella before we set off over what was largely an interesting multi-terrain route with some great views and a fab river crossing. all that said, i had my moments of throwing the towel in forever with thoughts of 'why the **** am i doing this!'. it wasn't helped by having to have 'his nibs' constantly attached to me, which made getting into a good rhythm a tad problematic at times. but moreso, was the water point chaos that ensued when we, an autistic lady petrified of dogs, another dog, and a huge tractor and trailer all converged together. we did the gentlemanly thing and stepped aside to everyone's happiness.
all in all i guess a nice run out, with a rare appearance from mrs urc cheering us in, but way too short for my current slower pacing for longer distances.

so to what's next. i have a number of events but two key ones..the high peak 40 and snowdon marathon. now if i was advising anyone else i'd be saying you cant do both well. you just cant. you cant stick in a 40 miler in the middle of marathon training and then hope to run your best at a marathon a few weeks later (well most of us cant, there are though many super fit runners who can..but i'm not in that league).

to help my chances of doing both as well as i can i have resorted to a trusty programme from the legendary hal higdon himself. i have taken the final 11 weeks of one of his advanced marathon programmes, adapted it slightly to add in a few more longer runs (including the 40) and more hills. and bobs your uncle..

it'll be tough..combining high mileage with quality tempo/hill sessions for the next 6 weeks, ruuning the 40, then recovering quickly enough to put in some quality shorter and quicker sessions ahead of snowdon.

mind you, it'll be easier than last year when we did the 56mile bullock smithy
two weeks before the hp40 then went on to knock 15minutes off my previous time at snowdon a few weeks later.

with a wing and a prayer and hals programme by my side who knows what might happen!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

sunny side up

what a great holiday! probably best summed up by this picture..

it had everything..sun, relaxation, great food, fantastic villa, a spot or two of daily running but most importantly..time spent together without the usual distractions. bliss.
and a special bonus for will to meet FC Porto players in the airport on our way back.

running in the heat was lets say 'interesting'. mostly, i ran early on around 8am when the heat was just right but then i often subjected myself to another at 4pm when it was just something else altogether..but a good experience all the same.

aside from the break, upon reflection this has been a difficult year running-wise so far. i feel i've gradually let both my fitness and shape slip a little.
usually my first half is great then the second i let slip a little. so now's the chance to put this in reverse order and have a cracking 2nd half to the year.
i've already started the reconstruction and know i can come out a fitter, faster, leaner runner than ever before. my sidekick knows this too.
our adventures are starting again. first up the lowther trail run this sunday. instead of racing it i'm just going to enjoy the experience of simply running it with charlie.with a little refreshment, refuelling, and rest to be had here afterwards...well everybody needs a carrot yes?