Counting down the miles

I’ve only gone and done it again – leaving all my valued readers without my garbled ramblings for a fortnight or so. I apologise, or of course you can thank me for not bringing this doom upon you.

If I remember rightly, when I left you last I was about to head off to the running club Christmas Special. ‘Fun’ and games included a magic mile, in which I stormed the finish line in a shocking 5:54, 25 seconds quicker than I’d run in the summer magic mile MarathonTalk competition. Next up, I sat out of the 400m race as I couldn’t face a further lap of the bright red track. I did the 200m though, and was pretty pleased with my time of 32 seconds, especially as our super fast guy who always wins local parkrun still can’t break 30 apparently. The final race of the night bought barrels of laughter and enjoyment as we all toed the start line, in two waves, for the 100m dash – backwards. The funniest sight was everyone (myself included) on the line, poised and ready to set off running backwards, with hands on the Garmin buttons ready to time how quick they achieved the distance. For the record, I managed 31seconds. Almost exactly the same as it took me to run twice as far, going the right way.

A quick dash to the Spectrum changing rooms, and I was on my way to Guildford center in search of a carpark. We had dinner at Shardana, a lovely pizza place where service was great and food, even better! It was great chatting about running with like-minded folks – even those that look at me funny when discussing next years goals – and the atmosphere was brilliant. There were even a few awards handed out – perhaps the highlight of which was ‘Gurn of the Year’.

On Wednesday I had had to pop into work for a smidge, and took this as the perfect opportunity for a long run home. In the drissmally yuck weather I actually rather enjoyed an easy 8.5 miles. I also enjoyed the revelation of working out how to adjust the hood on raincoat so it doesn’t make a racket as it rustles around my ears. On Thursday I just undertook a quick 5.5 miles trying to go at a good clip – having achieved just below 8min/mi.

I was back in work on Friday for some post-sorting, and immediately afterwards nipped round to see Laura Bartlett PT, who is currently undertaking a sports massage course, and on the look out for guinea pigs. I’ve had this rather annoying, though thankfully not debilitating (yet), issue with my knee, which I had asked Laura to have a look at. Sadly, she couldn’t find the root of the issue, but whatever she did worked wonders, and my legs have felt far better since then.

On Saturday I went out for my last proper long and muddy and hilly run, and covered just shy of 10 miles of boggy tracks and trails and threw in half a dozen reps of the stairs at work which really got the legs and lungs working. I spent most of my time in puddles that reached somewhere between ankle and knee. My feet were cold, but I had an absolute blast doing it, and despite slipping down one (rock free, thank god) slope, really enjoyed the run.

We traveled down to the coast to see Mum and Dad on Sunday, and alas there was no running, but Mum had already promised to take me for a cross country run in Eastbourne on Christmas Eve, so I was not too bothered about having missed out on Sunday. And so, on Monday morning we set out for Eastbourne to meet a bunch of people from local running clubs who all had some sort of tenuous connection to one another and set off for a lovely jaunt around the South Downs at Eastbourne. It was a lovely relaxed pace, although a little too relaxed for me as it dropped towards 11min/mi pace, and I set off alone on the front of the pack – not entirely sure where I was going. I completed too loops of the Watering Hole (or whatever it was that Mum called it) and then a little bit extra as we waited for the whole group to gather for The Ascent.

We attacked the hill hard, then it bit right back in the second half. Ouch
We attacked the hill hard, then it bit right back in the second half. Ouch
Mum, being very festive in her Santa Hat
Mum, being very festive in her Santa Hat

Once at the top of this hill it was a lovely downhill slope back towards the cars and aided ever so slightly by a nice breeze. Just at the top of the final slope we even got together for a group picture.

Say Cheese....
Say Cheese….

I hadn’t quite racked up enough miles in my pursuit of the 2012km challenge so I promptly set off back past the car and did two loops of the local park to bring my total for the morning up to 5.

So, as if I by magic, on the very next day, Christmas dawned. Thankfully no snow, so the bookies were safe there. But it was blowing a gale. I had to force myself out of bed, and in the end decided to set off on a fat burning run, as if I waited for my breakfast to settle I’d have probably talked myself out of it. The wind was so strong on the Bexhill seafront as it pushed me up and over Galley Hill towards Hastings. I was fearing the point at which I would have to turn around but, with a fraction over 3 miles under my belt, that is exactly what I did. The wind slammed straight into me, and on the way back home over the more exposed routes I was really having to push to resemble any kind of forward motion. Back up Galley Hill I felt like I was being stopped, and at one point I was sure I was at least running on the spot, if not being pushed backwards. I was suitably amazed then, that I had actually negative split the run. It’s bonkers what a desire for presents, and breakfast, can do!!

I was a very lucky boy on Christmas Day, as my running paraphernalia stores saw a considerable boost. Not only did I receive some super fast racing flats which weigh about a gram each,

Brooks T7 Racing flats
Brooks T7 Racing flats

but later in the day I also received some spikey cross country spikes.

Brooks Mach 14 Cross Country
Brooks Mach 14 Cross Country

Again, these are light as a feather. The only problem might be in that I don’t want to get them muddy!!

In addition to these wonderful running shoes, I also received a nice reflective Buff to keep me extra visible. And to keep my head/ears/neck warm. I received, and have already finished reading, Andy Mounceys book ‘Magic, Madness & Ultramarathon Running‘ which is a delightful collection of stories from his experiences of ultrarunning over the last decade. I also have the DVD of the film ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner‘ which I am rather looking forward to watching as inspiration for Tuesday.

Back to running, briefly, I rested on Boxing Day and the day after, most of which we spent in the car as we drove the 7 (usually 5) hour journey up North to see Lyndsey’s folks, and for a small spot of running on NYD. I did head out on Friday though, with the simple intention of covering as far as I could be bothered to do so. As it turned out I did a bit of a figure 8 loop of 7.5 miles. It was a nice day, safe for the horrendous winds again. Being two loops, obviously there were times when the wind helped and those when it didn’t. And when it didn’t, boy it tried hard to make life difficult. But I was out for an easy run, so I just enjoyed it, and tried to stay on the footpath.

In the afternoon we returned to the Crab & Lobster, where Lynds and I got hitched, for a delicious Christmas meal. It was yum, and I felt really rather full after three amazing courses, and a little truffle to finish :-)

On Saturday morning I was on my feet nice and early again as I set out for parkrun in Redcar. I didn’t know what to expect, other than that it would be pretty flat. It was flat except for two bridge crossings on each of the three loops. It was windy on the one longer and slightly more exposed stretches of the route (headwind, naturally) and it was drizzly. I also didn’t really know what to expect from myself, and I was going to pretty much toe the line and see what happened.

By the first bend I was in about 6th place, I guess I knew what was going to happen then. I pushed on, but was being dropped by the super speedy folks, and the guy who had been on my shoulder surged ahead whilst another came flying through from the back. At the end of the first loop another young lad came up alongside me, but it felt good as I dropped and subsequently pulled away from him about halfway through the second lap. As we entered the long straight of the third lap I could see one of the guys ahead slowing visibly. I made it my resolve to catch him by the end of the lap. As it turns out, I did catch him by the end of the lap. The problem was, that the finish is another couple of hundred yards away, and thanks to the twisty nature of the course, he was aware that I was there, and put in a wicked finishing kick that I couldn’t quite respond to. My finishing time, in 8th place overall, was 21:11. AMAZING!! 3 weeks ago, at Guildford parkrun, I had run a 22:05. I was desperately disappointed that I hadn’t gotten 21:xx. One week later at the Cranleigh Santa Dash I achieved a (watch confirmed) 21:40, and I was over the moon. To knock another 30 seconds off this time just a fortnight later is fantastic.

To ensure that I had as few miles as possible to go on the 2012km challenge I set off for a short cool down jog in Redcar and covered an extra two miles before stretching etc.

Today is a rest day. No movement for me other than an evening out seeing friends, and probably eating carbs. Tomorrow I intend to turn my legs over briefly, before the big day on Tuesday.

Bring it on!!!

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One thought on “Counting down the miles

  1. Can you believe how far you have come this year? a 5;54 mile, 21:11 5k, it just goes on and on, and in 2013 you will add ultra runner to that list – well done you!!

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