Monday, 30 November 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

After yesterday's aborted effort it was great to get out and actually and enjoy a run. Yes it was a bit cold, but not as bitterly cold as I had half expected (I think that's for tomorrow).

Did a nice easy anti-clockwise loop down to Lambeth Bridge and back via London Bridge knocking out the 6.5 miles at around 7:30 to 7:45 pace.

The ulterior motive for doing the run was to boost my distance for November to 125 miles. That makes it one mile more than February (yes I know less days) and only five less than March, my top mileage month of the year. All very geeky and irrelevant I know but fun to track all the same.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Easy Sunday

Saturday evening was spent consuming lashings of London Pride and it was well into the early hours before I made it to bed. So the chances of making it to the start at 7 am for a 10 miler this morning was about zero. I was, however, vaguely awake at 7 am - I mean how anyone could sleep through the racket made by that torrential rain beats me.

Instead I headed out just after midday with the best intentions in the world to get a good length run in. But the moment the cold win hit my face a killer hangover headache kicked in. Pretty soon the rest of my body had joined in the rebellion - I was in pieces.

1,000 mile Kenny saw me at the top of Station Road and pulled over for a quick chat. Turns out this morning's 10 milers was actually a "Niall 10 miler" i.e. 15 miles. It sounded like it was a quite a slog - I look forward to reading the blogs.

Anyway I managed a 4 mile loop down to Rothamsted Park and Hatching Green before total system shutdown. One positive though - I must have been out as just about the only time during the day it wasn't raining - Fortuna audax iuvat!

Friday, 27 November 2009

First Hare and Hounds

So with Niall's much planned departure on the horizon it was time to step up to the mark and give the JPM Hare and Hounds five mile(ish) handicap a spin. Martin assigned me a start time 30 seconds ahead of Niall which I estimated would mean being overtaken in Green Park while Niall played down the idea of catching me at all.

After a morning relaxing listening to the sweet melodies of "The Best punk album in the world...ever" and drinking coffee I set off ready for action. On the start line (well crack in the pavement) waiting for the word to go I had three things going round my head:
- Don't go off too fast.
- Don't forget the route.
- Don't get run over.

The first section along The Embankment was into a strong headwind so mindful of the first point I took it steady. Followed the correct roads through to Whitehall (second point) and didn't get held up crossing the road. On Horse Guards Parade I glanced back to see 30 seconds Niall a lot closer than 30 seconds behind. He must have mullered the first mile. Pushed on regardless, not sure if he'd now catch and overtake or keep a watching brief.

Was overtaken by a hound (or is it a hare?) on Birdcage Walk and then by another in Green Park, but still no Niall. Three miles in, with the Green Park hill behind me, I was safely back on The Mall having not been delayed by tourists, traffic or marching bands. Not wanting to be too easy a target decided to keep to the centre of the pavement weaving in and out of tourists as required - out of sight out of mind maybe?

Back through Horse Guards Parade and again no delay - why can't all my runs be like this? Was overtaken for the final time on Whitehall Place - but not by you know who. Powered back along The Embankment with the wind behind me. Pushed as hard as I could but was only able to close slightly on a couple of runners in front.

Finished the 4.8 miles in 32:32 with absolutely no complaints or excuses. Race strategy was fine - first three miles steady 6:50 ish. Then upped by the pace by 10 seconds per mile for each of the last couple of miles. No interruptions or hold ups, I didn't get run over and I didn't finish last - hurrah!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Tuesday Effort

So many potential excuses, so little time. Not that they matter, the end result was the same.

Today's intervals were a real struggle. The session was eight repeats but I did just six. Shame on me but with the wind behind us on the way out and feeling some way off 100% I'm pretty sure I made the right decision.

I kind of kept up with Niall and Martin for the first three of the three minute efforts. But while they were cruising I was feeling it bad. Returning on my own allowed me to leave the canal tow path a couple of bridges earlier than normal and so at least I had some variety as I wound my way through Shoreditch and back to base.

No chocolate bar for me this afternoon but I'm hoping an early night and some extra sleep will help.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Sherrardspark Wood or Bust

Is 6:50 too early for a Sunday run? Apparently not.

The other three were already ready waiting for me when I rolled up at 6:49:59. The overnight rain (hard enough to wake me up) had subsided but everywhere was wet, wet, wet.

Niall had forewarned us by text that we wouldn't be turning back until the A1M had been crossed and with that in mind, and the fact it was still dark, we took the direct route to the Ayott Greenway via the Lower Luton Road. Kenny was wearing his 'lets have a rave' yellow gloves and those strange running socks only those with no shame would dream of wearing in public.

It was about five an a half miles to the bridge over the motorway and the start of Sherrardspark Wood. Once in, the path soon started to descend and that's when the skipping started. Niall started it and being easily led I was quick to join in on the downhill sections. The technique didn't work too well when the path tuned into a bog: Kenny ran into a bush and David turned the air blue thanking Niall for his great route choice. It was quite a relief when we picked up Rectory Road which brought us back nicely to the bridge over the A1M.

Return trip took us across the delightful Brocket Hall golf course and along the Upper Lea Valley Through Walk to Wheathampstead. The pace throughout was quite slow which meant it took us over two hours to cover the 14 odd miles - the longest time I've spent on my feet on a single run since 2005!

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Spanish Inquisition

Plan: Five miles very easy.
Actual: Nine miles mid tempo.

There's a trend developing here:
Weekend prior to run - plan runs for the week ahead.
Evening prior to run - gather kit appropriate for following days run.
Morning of run - receive e-mail, complete change of plan.

So for the second day running I abandoned my painstakingly crafted training schedule for the greater good (or more to the point for the chance of a good chat). Niall wanted to do the full Limehouse Basin - Regents Canal loop and had to be back for a 1:30 meeting. I was happy to tag along but had to be back for a 1pm call.

Martin was also up for the run and thinking we would head straight east to St Katherine Docks I suggested they meet me at the Honour God arch on London Wall. Both duly turned up on time, however, Martin was keen to lead and took us west towards Bank and then down to the Thames, joining the riverside footpath by Cannons gym . Now I'm not one to knock other peoples choice of route but lets just say I'll be sticking to my tried and trusted direct east route.

Conversation quickly turned to Wednesday's cross-country race where my absence had been noted and then why I hadn't been at Rockets yesterday. Hey guys I came out for a run I wasn't expecting The Spanish Inquisition Having survived my interrogation we were able to move onto the main business of the day and full clarification of the difference between a B and a B minus Rocket (if you have to ask then you're probably B minus).

In no time at all we were joining the Regents Canal tow path by the time we got to Victoria Park it felt like we were nearly home. I was given the honour of leading for a while which allowed me to drop the pace by 10 seconds per mile. Niall noticed immediately and moved up to my shoulder to make sure I didn't take any more liberties.

The pace stayed healthy all the way back to London Wall where I said my goodbyes and headed for the gym. A quick shower and a brisk walk back to the office got me to my desk at 13:04 - just the call was about to start. Phew - that was close!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Intervals with Chris

Plan had been for a tempo run today. However, a late morning email from Chris changed all that and after a bit of discussion we ended up agreeing on short duration intervals.

The arrangement was to leave the gym at 12:20. However, as I was waiting for him in the foyer at the appointed hour he came rushing through the entrance in distinctly none racing gear with some excuses about being busy/late/useless. Rather than hang round for another five minutes I headed out and took the scenic route down to the traditional intervals starting point at the bottom of the steps on Spirit Quay. The session we finally decided on was two minutes effort with a luxurious full minute recovery. I wasn't too fussed about killing myself so we only did eight reps which still took us half-way along Narrow Street.

When in form Chris he easily drops me, however, he clearly isn't and so didn't. In fact I think I finished ahead on most reps and only got left behind on the final rep which he had obviously been saving himself for.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Tuesday Reps

Niall might have finished Sundays run as "fresh as a daisy", however, I was somewhat more tired. At 34 miles, last week was a relatively high mileage week for me (21 and 24 miles the previous couple of weeks) and despite doing nowt yesterday my legs were feeling somewhat drained this morning.

However, I still headed out for lunchtime intervals with the Rockets knowing I could always duck out after the first rep if I really wasn't up to it. As it happens, with a big cross-country race tomorrow, there were only 10 out and no C runners at that. Which worked out OK as I was able to run at my own pace without feeling the need to push to keep up with a group.

The session was 6 repeats of 4 minutes with the standard 90 seconds recovery and with the wind behind us on the way out I was sure to keep something in reserve for the return journey. Was caught by the B's at the end of rep 5 and sneakily drafted in behind them for the final four minutes effort. I do hope the two elites that overtook on that final rep didn't think I'd run the whole session with the B's - that would be a terrible misrepresentation!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Sunny Sunday

Against all odds it wasn't raining at 7:00 this morning. However, Running Force were well under strength with Simon racing and David and Ken both no-shows.

Niall and I jogged over to 1,000 mile Ken's house in case he'd forgotten about the earlier start but there was no sign of life. I did consider setting his car alarm off, but given that he can now run quicker than me, I thought better of it.

The intention had been to head towards Brocket Hall and although we'd now gone half a mile in the wrong direction it was agreed to stick with the original plan. This meant traversing Topstreet Way and then heading out on Wheathampstead Road. Although initially wary of using footpaths due to the recent weather (did I mention we've had the odd spot of rain recently?) old habits die hard and we soon swapped the grey hard stuff for mud under foot.

Once in the grounds of Brocket Hall we were spoilt for choice with footpaths seemingly going off in all direction. We plotted an anti-clockwise loop that featured at one point a short, lung busting, crampon worthy, climb. However, it must be said the place is an absolute delight to run through. Kenny and David should be kicking themselves for missing such a treat.

Heading back along the Ayott Greenway we were basked in glorious sunshine - it must be a good while since I've been able to write that. I was irritatingly saying "Look there's Kenny!" every time we saw a runner in yellow when Niall promptly tripped on a rock. I had visions of having give him a piggyback home, however, much to my relief he was able to keep running although clearly in some discomfort. I did, however, surreptitiously check I had brought my emergency taxi money out with me just in case.

We got home over an hour fifty minutes after leaving having completed nearly fourteen miles at 8:15 pace. Never has a peanut butter bagel tasted better!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Still Raining

Yet another dreary wet day. Great for ducks. Rubbish for runners.

Niall wanted to go somewhere new so I decided west east was best. Met Niall and Andrew on London Wall and took them on the usual route down to Narrow Street via Tower Hill, St Katharine Docks, Wapping canals and Shadwell Basin. The guys were suitable impressed with the traffic free route although when Andrew turned back at the swing bridge on Narrow Street I was somewhat concerned if he'd find his way back on his own.

Not as concerned, of course, as when about ten minutes later Niall said his breathing wasn't feeling that good. No problem. Having been on a first aid course only last week I know in the event of an asthma attack all I need do is pass the casualty their reliever inhaler.
"So where is it Niall?"
"Hmm, back in the office."
"OK - have you got your mobile in case I need to call an ambulance?"
"Loose change in the unlikely event I find a phone box?"
"Last Will and Testimony?"

On the way back, despite taking the scenic route round the Thames side of The Tower hotel, we caught up with Andrew crossing Tower Hill. He should have taken the underpass but got a tad loss on his way through St Katharine Docks.

A mile later we were back on London Wall saying our goodbyes. At some point during the run it had stopped raining, however, we'd all been too wet to notice.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Easy Five

Popped out for an easy lunch time five mile anti-clockwise Westminster Bridge loop. I wasn't expecting rain but it rained anyway. Took the inland route along Stamford Street instead of the South Bank and in doing so had the privilege of running past the local nutter's house - I mean full on Christmas decorations in the second week of November - I don't think so.

Further excitement was to be had on Westminster Bridge where it looked like some other nutter (or maybe the same one) was threatening to jump into the Thames. Either that or the emergency services (two fire engines, one ambulance, one motorcycle paramedic, numerous police, two police boats and one fire service boat) just fancied getting together for a good old chin-wag.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A, B, Me

As usual the rocket's split into three groups for today's intervals: A, B and little old me (C). There were a few B minus runners dropping back during the three minute efforts only to rejoin the main body of B during the one minute recoveries.

On the first rep after the turn who did I meet running towards me but the main man: half-effort Woods. Martin was just crossing the bridge when we started our first rep and despite a tempo effort along the towpath was unable to catch up.

Rather disappointingly the main body of group B caught us two minutes into rep six, however, Martin and I managed to hold them behind. Repeat seven was a big effort as I managed to keep with the B's for the full three minutes. On the final rep was happy to run at my own pace while the others pulled away. Only a couple of elites got past me which was OK and it was pleasing to see I was still running at 5K pace through to the end.

Opted for Chocolate digestives today - not least because Mehram, who sits next to me in the office, was dishing them out for free - nice!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Muddy Six

With three fifths of Running Force entered into the Grand Union Canal Half-Marathon it was left to just Simon and me to venture out for an early morning drenching.

The plan was to follow the route Simon had run last Sunday with his Ultra/Allotment friend John. So all Star Trekked up with gpx file loaded into Simon's watch we ventured off into the rain. Clearly John is not a fan of tarmac as we spent a good 95% of the time on trails. However, with so much rain in the last week the footpaths seemed more suitable for bog snorkelling than running.

At some point during the run it must have stopped raining. Maybe it was around the time I realised I hadn't started my watch duh!

So we made it back, I guess after about 50 minutes, a bit wetter and muddier than when started but radiating smugness for venturing out and conquering everything that had been thrown at us. Priceless.

Hmm, I wonder how the boys did in their race?

Friday, 6 November 2009

Early Friday

It was still dark, very dark, at 6:30 this morning so full Blackpool Illuminations reflective gear was the order of the day. Decide on a safe on-road five mile tempo round the delights of northern Harpenden (Luton Road, Wood End, Roundwood Park).

Given the effort put in, was surprised to see my average pace was a mere 7:07 min/mile. I'll put this down mainly to the time of day - I never seen to be able to produce a fast paced run before breakfast. Also this was one of those routes where you seemed so spend 90% of the time going uphill. I'm sure it would be quicker in reverse direction!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Wet Tuesday

On the walk over to the gym it had only been spitting. However, by the time I emerged in running kit it was lashing it down. No time for second thoughts and I was off to the Rocket's meeting point on Chiswell Street. A large group of runners were already there by the time I arrived, although none of the usual C team.

Up at the canal we were joined by George (and not Garry as blogged last week - v sorry) and were just about to leave when Martin was spotted running over the bridge so we waited. Although out of breath from his warm-up sprint Martin was clearly disappointed that having gone to the special effort of wearing his orange racing flats Niall was nowhere to be seen.

As Martin later put it today's session was "rock hard" and I'm not one to disagree: five minutes on, 30 seconds recovery, one minute on, 90 seconds recovery. Phew that will be four repeats then wont it?

The usual puddles on the tow path had developed into lakes so any thoughts about keeping feet dry were quickly discarded. The Aqua Splash intervals weren't too bad. George switched to a tempo run at the turn point and I managed to keep close to Martin on the first three repeats. However, when Karen overtook two minutes into the final five minute effort and Martin tucked in behind I was toast. On the final one minute run Martin was on fire and disappeared so far into the distance I'm unable to say if he finished ahead or behind Karen (I suspect ahead).

The rain had stopped by the time we got back to the canal start point and with George not following through with his threat to push me into the canal I finished the day tired but relatively dry.

Back in the office, with no chocolate milk, I opted for a Kit Kat from the vending machine.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Wet Sunday

The weather forecast was right. The rain pelted down through the night and as the morning wore on it didn’t look like stopping anytime soon. A quick check on a random weather website and it didn’t look good – 100% chance of precipitation through to early afternoon. By 10:30 I had reached the now or never moment. Cup of tea and Sunday papers or, well there wouldn’t be a blog entry if I hadn’t taken the “or” option and got kitted up for a run.

The theory was any run would be better than no run – even if it was a quick 20 minutes dash through the deluge. However, as it happens, the rain had stopped by the time I got outside, although the wind was still howling.

With a bit of guess work and linking together sections from previous runs I put together a six mile anti-clockwise loop taking in the delights of the M60, the River Mersey and Stockport town centre (or is it a city?). Only one hill of note - I guess a road called Lancashire Hill was never likely to be flat.

Only downer was running past Halfords knowing I needed a replacement car fuse for the one I blew on Friday (my stupid) but not having any money with me - duh!