Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Saturday, 27 October 2007
This has got absolutely nothing to do with running but I thought I'd post it anyway.
I was browsing Google Video yesterday and stumbled across this little gem, a rendition of "Where my guitar gently weeps" by George Harrison. No doubt done to death by any number of different artists but this was the first time I'd heard it done on this particular instrument.
Beautifully & movingly played. Go on, have a look.
If you search by the artist's name you'll find plenty more.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
My run today, lovely though it was crunching over fallen leaves and bounding up the River Ayr at Auchincruive, was harder work than it should have been. I've come to look forward to my weekly tempo run up the river but today my legs would only go grudgingly.
My own fault of course, running intervals on Monday & Tuesday followed by another slow 6 miles on Wendesday just wasn't enough recovery time for my legs. Although I've thought about it many times, this is bringing me closer to cutting my number of weekly runs than I think I've ever been before. The trouble is, once you get up to 5 or 6 runs a week, running becomes so darned addictive. Like an addiction, it's moved my running beyond a healthy passtime into something that is actually counterproductive.
Of course compared to real athletes, my mileage and sessions wouldn't amount to much but for me, running like I am at present isn't bringing about the benefits that I'd like to see. I've read of marathon schedules that only call for three runs a week. I don't think I could cut back to that level but I'm pretty sure that cutting back to four or five quality sessions would mean that I'd be getting more of my training.
With nothing major in the offing, this is probably the best time of year to try a change in my training. If I take the plunge, I'll keep you posted. ;-)
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Gotta post something just to move that awful picture down the page if for no other reason! ;-)
I was advising another runner on a USENET group to vary his running a bit more as he only had two training distances that he repeated regularly, a sure recipe for boredom and possibly injury. Looking back on my log for the last two weeks shows that over that period at least I've not been guilty of the same sin. (Always a worry when offering advice is that you find you're guilty of "Do as I say, not as I do").
Since the Loch Ness marathon apart from two XC races over the same course, I've been mountain biking in Glentress and Kirroughtree, done a 5 mile short hill rep session, a 10 mile run over the Carrick hills, a 7 mile tempo trail run along the river Ayr, done an easy 13 miler, a 5 mile fartlek session and a 7 mile reps session with 40 second reps and 80 second recoveries.
It might not look much like a training plan but at least it has a bit of variety! I would like to be able to say hand on heart that my training is always so varied but the mountain biking which I enjoy probably won't happen that regularly if only because it's such a long way to the great 7Stanes tracks. For anyone who has a mountain bike and has ever wondered "What is this thing really for?", visit one of these great Forestry Commission tracks. Some have more forest road than others (which is boring) but many have some great "single track" which is a one-way track specially constructed for maximum fun. Not without its dangers of course but the adrenaline buzz is quite addictive.
Sunday, 21 October 2007
Yesterday was the Ayrshire XC races at Irvine, the same 4K course as last week and the same disconcertainly pleasant weather. Kenneth Phillips was there again taking photos and snapped me. I suppose we all have preconceptions of how we look when we're running but this is way different from how I imgine myself! I'm not sure if it's the manboobs, the windswept grey hair or the fishmouthed gasping but it's not a pretty picture!
Ghastly picture aside, it was a harder race than last week as this time I ran around with no one to chase which make it far harder to maintain the impetus on some of he lonelier stretches. Despite this I ran 14 seconds faster than last week so I shouldn't complain. I also own an apology to last week's first man who I accused of jogging round. According to his time he was a lot faster than me! Just shows how different our running looks from a different perspective.
Being the Ayshires XC it was a much smaller affair than last week but there was a great atmosphere with much mutual interclub support. Kerry Wilson from Girvan ran in one of our teams giving, for possibly the first time in history, the Troon Tortoises a lead into the second leg. ;-) It couldn't last of course but it made for a fun day.
Not thinking too mch about WHW training at present, just enjoying a bit of relative rest & recreation after Loch Ness. First training run on the WHW is scheduled for the 10th of November which, truth be told, is really a bit early but it'll be great to meet old friends again. More a social gathering than a training run.
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
On Wednesday we said goodbye to Fergie at a packed (to overflowing) service at the crematorium. It was an emotional service lightened by the choice of "Simply the best" as the closing music for the service which raised a smile all around. Hard though is was, it was good to be there and meet the family.
Saturday was the West District XC relay races at Irvine beach park. The weather was all wrong for XC, sunny & warm which was a bit distracting but we coped manfully. ;-)
I drew the 3rd leg of our 4 man relay team and thanks to a slowing lap by own first man, had the pleasure of chasing down three men on my lap. Despite my recent marathon, the short hills felt much easier this year than in previous years, I suspect due to my hilly tempo runs which have been a good match in distance & elevation wise for this sort of racing.
Went out for a nice 10 miler over the Carrick hills on Sunday, not just for the uphills but for the great downhill running workout that it gives. I was flying down the seaward side of the hill dodging cows at every turn of the road. At this time of year the road seems to be their favorite spot. Fortunately none of them seemed capable of doing the maths and realising that they had me outnumbered. ;-)
Yesterday was spent mud-plugging on my mountain bike down at Kirroughtree. Slippery conditions and a new bike meant that I wasn't overly adventurous on the tricky bits. Perhaps just a sign of getting older. Got another day out planned today at Glentress on my bike. Here's hoping all this cross-training does me some good.
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
I must admit to feeling a bit depressed the other day after my poor showing at Loch Ness. It rather took the shine off of what should have been a great weekend. However, it's no good dwelling on "what ifs" when what I should be doing is working out what went wrong.
In essence, the old adage "If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail" pretty well sums it up. Racing a marathon is never easy and I was probably guilty of approaching this one a little too casually. I only entered 5 weeks before the race and although I had a few long runs under my belt, the training in terms of quality and quantity wasn't there.
I think also if I had spent more time studying the course profile (which I didn't map until after the race) I might have been better prepared. I had always assumed that the course leveled out after about 4 miles when in actual fact it doesn't level out until 8 miles, the point at which I felt I was struggling. With hindsight I probably mentally "threw in the towel" when I felt the running becoming harder which wasn't just due to tiredness but also down to the fact that the course levels out at that point.
Such was my mood yesterday I almost considered not going along to the club last night. In the end I did go and ended up being so glad that I did. No one could quite summon up the enthusiasm for running last week's cancelled 5K so we did our usual "hills" session (which consists of a series of short sprints over all the short hills & bridges in Troon). I rather suspect that speed work two days after a marathon isn't to be recommended and I went out full of good intentions just to jog round with the back-markers. That resolve lasted all the way to the top of the first of ten hills. ;-) After that, I was sprinting up all the rest and absolutely loving it. I almost feel sorry for non-runners who can't know the sheer joy of getting up on to your toes and hoofing it to the top of a hill whilst racing your club-mates. One of the greatest feelings in the world.
Of course all this competitiveness is probably why I keep injuring myself but last nights session was great therapy and I feel good about my running again. Last night was also my first run in a long time without my orthotics that I had made for my plantar fasciitis. The PF has given me no trouble whatsoever for several weeks now and my foot was absolutely fine during (and after) the marathon so , touch wood, I'm fully recovered. Of course I probably should carry on using the orthotics for a few months yet but I didn't like the way that they forcibly reminded me every time I put my shoes on that I was an "injured runner". I'll take extra care to watch for any signs of recurrence but the psychological benefits of casting them off outweigh the physical risks for me at the moment.
Monday, 8 October 2007
I came, I saw, I c*cked up. ;-)
Conditions couldn't have been better for the marathon yesterday, sunny but deliciously cool to start with, then overcast and then sunny again but never even slightly uncomfortably warm and no wind to speak of.
The first few miles felt ever so easy despite the hills that I forget about every time. Where I went wrong was in not sticking to my stated goal (3:30) and instead chasing a fantasy gaol of 3:20-3:25 based on nothing more than "feeling pretty good at the start". The lack of decently paced long runs and pre-marathon race experience really began to show around the 8 mile mark when I started to struggle way earlier than expected. I think I hit the halfway mark around 1:42 but I was going backwards fast and when I eventually hit the big hills after Dores, I pretty much lost the will to live, or to run at least. From then on it was a case of walking the hills and jogging the rest to the finish line which I crawled over in 3:41:56. Of course, despite my lousy race, I couldn't resist out-sprinting a fellow runner for the finish and flew over the line, and then threw up!
So, all in all, not one of my better performances. Still, as ever, the organisation was great (although I think runner numbers have been allowed to creep up faster than portaloo provision) and whilst yesterday I was thinking "never again", I'm already thinking "Next time I'll do it properly!".
Time for a rant though.
Most races ban the use of MP3 players for safety reasons. How serious these risks are I wouldn't like to say but I lost count of the number of times yesterday when I was about to offer a word of support, encouragement, comisseration etc. only to find that the runner was shut off from the outside world behind a pair of headphones. It really annoys me that people come to a mass participation event like the marathon and then deliberately choose to be antisocial. What people do when they're training is entirely up to them but I really dislike the way that folk seem to feel it's okay to opt out of interacting with their fellow runners in an event like this.
I really would like race organiser to take a stand on this blight before it gets any worse or at least make their position clear so that I can choose not to run their event if they're going to allow them.
I think that's enough from the grumpy old man. ;-)
Friday, 5 October 2007
First of all, to anyone who stumbled into here looking for a running blog, I apologise. Events have rather overtaken me and I know I'm running away off at a tangent.
Today, I found myself thinking about what I wanted to say to Fergie (assuming he could hear me). I'm still trying to come to terms with his premature demise and putting my thoughts down on paper (or blog at least) seemed to crystalise some of the thoughts running round in my head at the moment. I think it's been a therapeutic exercise for me. If you knew Fergie, maybe it'll help you too.
I don't know if they have the internet where you are, but working on the assumption that you can have whatever you like where you've gone, I'm going to guess that you've got a decent broadband connection. If you've only got dial-up or worse still, AOL, I fear you may have gone to the "other place" (and I don't mean Parkhead) .
You're probably wondering why I'm writing to you when we didn't really know each other that well, what with me living in Ayr, you in Troon and me not being a football fan. Well, after all the messages that have been left for you, I wish I had known you a lot better so this is a kind of "better late than never" letter.
You left us in a bit of a rush, no doubt as big a surprise to you as it was to us. I know you're thinking "But I'm not ready!" but then, neither were we. You gave us a hell of a shock going off like that and we're all struggling to come to terms with the fact that you're not here. When you do it like that it's hard to find any comforting thoughts to cheer ourselves with but having got over the initial shock, I'm beginning to think that there are worse things than leaving us the way you did.
For a start, I don't think old age is all it's cracked up to be (although you have to smile at George Burns's famous riposte "It's better than the alternative"). You'll never have to suffer the indignity of cancer, heart disease or alzheimers. Never have to be helped with the most basic of human functions, never have to worry about losing that fine figure of yours.
Yes, you were certainly short-changed in terms of years but years are a poor measure of a life. It's not the years you put into your life that count, it's the life that you put into your years and I think you put in plenty. I sometimes think that the most important thing we can do between the cradle and the grave is to bring happiness to others and all these messages prove that you did this time after time after time.
So yes, we will grieve for you, we will miss you, but most of all, I hope we'll remember how much happiness you brought to so many.
Wherever you are, take care.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
It occured to me that I was being more than a bit unfair questioning the sincerity of spectators at big city marathons. Who am I to pass judgement on the motives of all those people who turn out to cheer on the runners? All I know is that I appreciate the folk who turn out for the Loch Ness marathon more than the ones who turn out for London. Perhaps it's a sign of my age but I find loud noise very wearing and the cheering in London is positively exhausting! Anyway, if you've ever been a spectator in London and felt slighted by my comment yesterday, my apologies!
Messages of condolence continue to come in thick and fast for Fergie (over 50 messages since I set it up late Monday night and read nearly 2000 times) and it brings me (and I'm sure others) some comfort to know how well regarded & loved he was by so many people. I'll take along a printout of all the messages of condolence to the club tonight for the members who don't have (or don't use) internet access.
It's now only 3 days to go until Loch Ness and I'm going to have a last easy run with the club tonight. After that, it's in the lap of the gods!
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
...and no sooner does it do so, it brings feelings of guilt. It seems that we either grieve or feel guilty about not grieving enough. I suppose it's inevitable that those of us who weren't close friends or family should move on with our lives but that doesn't stop me feeling that there's something wrong with moving on so soon.
I am pleased though that as the club's webmaster, I think I've helped other folk a little bit by setting up a specific message board for messages of condolence. (You can visit it here) It's clear that people want to talk about Fergie and the board has given people an outlet. There have been nearly thirty messages since I set it up late Monday night so clearly it's fulfilling a need.
Last night at the club we heard a little more about the accident and held a minute's silence in the gym hall where we meet. Our customary 5K time trial was also abandoned to allow folk the chance to just jog and talk, something we all needed to do. Apparently a minute's silence was also held in France before the start of the race that the club members had gone over to participate in. By all accounts, the French hosts couldn't have been more supportive and helpful.
Still, as I said, life goes on and I'm looking forward to my trip to Inverness this weekend for the Loch Ness marathon. It's a great event, superbly organised and so unlike big city marathons like London. Some runners seem to revel in the crowds and noise of big city events but I've never seen the attraction myself. I've only run London once and felt quite exhausted from the noise long before I got anywhere near the end. At Loch Ness supporters are few and far between but somehow their gesture in turning out to support runners seems so much more sincere.
Also going to Loch Ness are a number of WHW runners and with luck, I'll catch up with a few, socially if not in the race. ;-)