Friday, 25 November 2011

Random Friday Facts

Here we are. Seems like it's been a while though. Not much going on here...

1: My legs are the same length. Short.

2: I first met my wife when I was 15, and she was 22. I tell friends she was grooming me, the pervert.

3: I just had my hair cut. Grade 2 all over. Classy.

4: 1 inch = 2.54 cm.

5: There are plants which have no chorophyll in them. Amazing. Some of them still have leaves, which is just showing off.

6: I'm still abuzz from Wednesday's run.

7: I feel great. This no drinking thing is actually working for me. Who knew??

8: I have to leave shortly. There's a Mediveal Fayre held in the castle here every year, and we're selling my wife's gorgeous handbags and shoulder bags there. We're setting up today.

9: Tomorrow, at said Fayre, I will be wearing the knight-like outfit my lovely wife made for me. It's the kind of thing they'd wear under their armour. It has a cool fabric picture of our dog Millie on the back instead of a coat of arms.

10: I use Wikipedia a lot. More than a journalist should.

11: I'm delighted David Beckham and LA Galaxy won their Big Cup Final the other night. There is not a more honest, hard-working athlete out there.

12: He's still a knob for getting sent off in the 98 World Cup though.

13: We're planning meals for the weekend. Sunday night: takeaway. Saturday night: possibly also takeaway. This thing is exhausting, and energy will be hard to come by.

14: There is a very, very good chance I will be running two marathons in five weeks next spring. Bring it on.

I'd better go. Tons to do. More Fun Facts next week, and I promise I will make some of them interesting next time.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I am the mountain god. Except it wasn't a mountain.

Sp today didn't go quite as planned. My lovely wife couldn't come with us as she's a bit under the weather to say the least - hopefully she can come next week though.

But Neighbour turned up, we put the dogs in his car and hit the road. We parked at High Vinnals car park, let the dogs do their doggy things (in order: pooing, weeing, sniffing), then walked up to the fire road aka the forest road. From there, we did most of the course I enjoyed so much last week, but with only two stops on it, and those were very, very brief. We did what we know as the 'up downs', the main fire road that rings the hill, and is most undulant. There's one rise which is really disheartening, as you're nearing the top and it actually gets significantly steeper in the last hundred metres; at the top, I asked Neighbour to stop; turn around; and I said simply, "We just ran up that!". From there, we took a right up the hill, not the steepest path but not far off. It just goes on and on... I started to struggle toward the top of this, but didn't quit - mainly because Neighbour was in front of me, not in a competitive way, but it helped drive me on.

We made it. We kept going. We went past where we stopped last time, followed the trail (it is just possible for vehicles to access this, but they have to be fairly hardy 4x4s at this point, I would think), it undulated some more, and then curved up to the left. I knew this was coming, and we could have taken an earlier left which would have taken out the top of the hill, but hell, if you're going to do it, do it.

Neighbour made me laugh on this hill. It got steep, quickly, and he gasped "This is a hill too far!" Well, it seemed funny at the time.

It was fucking hard though. I changed my gait, using my Achilles tendon to bounce-and-return, saving some muscular effort. This works for me, but on a hill this hard, after what we had already climbed, it meant my steps were very short. But they did not stop, and that is key.

At the top of this, the track improves and becomes a more standard forest road, with an observation point at the top. From here, you can see most of the county. That's how it feels. There's not much anywhere near as high for miles around, the views are beautiful. And the feeling that we had just run up there? Unreal. It was another pause moment. I said to Neighbour, "Enjoy the view. We just ran up here." I then took a second to explain downhill technique, letting the quads absorb the impact, landing with the leg bent so the knee is not a shock absorber, and how his quads were going to be crying shortly, as we had a couple of downhill milles to cover in switchbacks.

And cover them we did. It was pure heaven for the first mile, as blood poured back into my hamstrings. Then it ached a bit in my quads and I wondered, if mine are aching now, how are Neighbour's? Mine are huge - he has very slim legs, not much quadricep. But he coped fine, and then the hard bit came and sorted us both out.

At the end of the switchbacks is a bit of a hill; Wife of Loveliness explained it was like a hill in town, "but stretched out - not so steep but longer". Well, it felt much, much harder, though again at first it was a relief as the opposing muscles took the lead. these hills just seemed to go on and on and on. In fact, they did - it wasn't that they seemed to at all. The hill would curve away around a bend, you'd make it to the bend and discover no respite, just more hill. Or five seconds of flat-ish, and then more hill.

And then, we were there. Back where we started. Exhilarated, hurting a little bit, but there and both completely over the moon.

I'm still on cloud nine, having run up and past clouds one to eight. Might aim for cloud ten next week, it's just up the next hill, after all.

Best. Run. Ever.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Running fucking rocks.

You know why? Tomorrow I'm going to run up a fucking enormous hill, my beautiful wife with me on her mountain bike, my lovely neighbour running alongside (realistically, he'll be more like in front), and my fabulous dog(s) trotting along making it look easy. Know what? I'll do it, all of that hill, and all of the other side of it that we didn't do last week. I might even grin while I do it. It'll hurt, it'll be hard, but it's like the idea that a sneeze is 1/16th or whatever of an orgasm. Those hard runs, it's kind of like seeing what love is really all about.

Fuck, I'm starting to sound like a hippie. I just read a superb post about running a marathon, and in it was this line:
"Lesson #4: This is something you do by yourself, but you are not doing it alone."

That is the marathon experience in a sentence. Tomorrow is no marathon, but even if I were out there by myself, I would not be running it alone.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Revelations, they just keep on rolling in.

It's been an interesting couple of weeks for me with running. I've kept my mileage really low, as we're not even really at the start of the marathon training cycle yet. It's working for me, though it really is low.

So what are the latest revelations? Simple things, as ever. Last week, for example, I spent the entire week without beer, right up to Sunday night. I felt great every day; the latest I went to bed was 9:45. I woke up feeling good, my running was pretty easy. Everything worked. My days were productive, my evenings full, my sleep superb. Sunday night, got pissed-up drunk and woke up Monday feeling like Satan had shat me out of his very own arse.

Coincidence? You decide.

This week, I have yet to have a beer also. I feel good...

Something that came to me on a run last week was a piece of visualisation. I wasn't having the greatest run, struggling a little bit but feeling mostly okay. I was running quicker than I used to, as is now the norm (I now train mostly at what I used to think of as 'race pace' or thereabouts, hence the lower mileage), and it doesn't always come easy.

So I started thinking about where I want to be. Running an ultra, coming to the top of a great big fuck-off hill, my lovely wife at the top looking shocked to see me but delighted too… And my focus was right there, like a laser sight. That's never happened before, I've always kind of... zoned out in running, but this was the opposite. It was fucking awesome. I felt strong, aware, alive. Good times. Probably never happen again, but then...

Yesterday, I had a completely wonderful run. I went with my neighbour and he drove us out to the woods - Forestry Commission land just outside town. We took Millie, aka SuperDog, and went on a fire roads run. I knew where we were going; we followed a fire road until we hit a crossroads, and from there I was going to give Neighbour a choice about direction. Anyway, before that we're chuntering along, and I'm thinking "I'm sure this is hillier than we're currently experiencing". As I thought that, my neighbour said "Oh fuck" as he'd seen around the corner what we were about to hit - and that wasn't even the hill I was thinking of… So we got up it easy enough, though I was being cautious with him as he's had a couple of hamstring issues. He was fine though, looked strong and loose.

Aaaaanyway, to cut a long story medium, we got to the crossroads, and I explained: "Straight on, and it's a long way round this hill to our right. Left takes us to Richard's Castle car park, we could go back the way we've come, or we can go up." Up is the way to Climbing Jack Common, the top of High Vinnals, and it's pretty fucking steep. And long. And high.

So we did. All the way to the top, both of us. And at the top, Neighbour said brilliantly, "Holy fuck! I know where we are! We're at the top!"

Brilliant moment. Okay, so we walked the next third of a mile, but I'm not fussed about that. We climbed, at a run, the highest hill in the area and we did it fairly easily. All that dreaming of ultras crystallised in that one moment, into a "I can do this" moment.

I can do this.

Great run.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Project: Run Faster

I have no idea why, but this week, instead of running on Sunday, I decided to rest and go out Monday, and run shorter. While I was out, I also decided to run faster. And even shorter. In the end I did a two-mile run, while being out of breath for most of the route. New experience for me, being out of breath after a mile. And I have to say, it was kind of empowering, in a weird way. Knowing this can still be really, really difficult by just changing things a little bit.

So the next day, I did three miles faster than usual. I'm not sure of times, as my neighbour has my stopwatch, so I'm going purely on effort. It was easier, because after Monday my glutes and hamstrings were firing perfectly and I felt stronger. Today, I still feel good, but was amazed that while walking the dogs last night my legs felt really, really tired!

So tomorrow, I'm aiming to do four miles easy. I'm still keeping the mileage down, I might do 15-18 miles this week total. But it's different, it's good quality, and I feel really rather good about the change! I'll be keeping a couple of shorter, faster runs in my routing going forward because the immediate change I feel in my muscles is most excellent. Bear in mind my legs are pretty huge, very muscular and built for endurance, the idea that I might get speed in them is an intriguing one.