Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Longest run ever, and Garmin mayhem

So, this week's schedule called for a 16 miler, which I approached rather trepidatiously (I don't think that's actually a word), as last week's 14 miles went all to pot in the last 3. My action plan was to reduce my slow pace to an even slower pace, aiming for 11 minute miles, in the hope that this would enable me to complete the distance without walking, or at least with as little walking as possible.

However my cunning plan immediately ran into difficulties as my Garmin 405 went doolally in the first couple of miles, registering 3 miles when I knew for a fact I'd done less than 2, including a completely imaginary second mile in 01:29 (impressive, I think you'll agree). Link here for anyone who fancies a laugh Link (roll over me to see where I go) - I really wasn't galloping all over the place at the beginning as indicated on the map, and it wasn't 17.5 miles either, it was 16, and it wasn't a 9:53 average pace, it was more like 10:49. Things settled down after that but I spent the entire rest of the time trying to figure out how far I'd actually run compared to how far Mr Garmin thought I'd run. This was actually good as it distracted me from the actual running.

On the plus side, the run itself went pretty well :) although I did feel like I was about to die in the last mile, but I thought it was pretty good going to have avoided feeling impending death until then. Continuing my policy of experimenting with various drugs, I mean "fuelling options", today's stimulant of choice was Shot Bloks and I decided to take one with some water every 20 minutes. This felt ridiculously frequent but actually seemed to work, as I managed to keep running for nearly 3 hours without stopping :) Well, I did have to stop for the odd traffic light, which was not unwelcome. But otherwise, kept on going, in stark contrast to last week when I was reduced to run-walking the last 3 miles of the 14.

Am also pleased to report that my Camelbak Delaney waist pack/water carrier thingy whatnot had a successful first outing, I found it very easy to use and hardly noticed it was there (except that the long end of the belt thing - the bit you pull to tighten it - kept coming loose, making me look as if I had a tail. This was probably my fault for not securing it properly though.).

All in all, reasonably pleased with today's effort, but not very pleased with Mr Garmin and his shenanigans in the first couple of miles.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Things I love about running

Last night (while sitting in the car at midnight waiting for my son to emerge from his job at Cineworld) I was mulling over some of the reasons I love running, and wondering why I didn’t take it up earlier…

A lot of people can't understand how there could be anything enjoyable about running. They assume it's something you have to reluctantly force yourself to do to keep fit, or to lose weight, citing as evidence the sometimes pained, not to mention anguished, expressions on the faces of runners they've seen (plodding up hills while they pass in the car, or on the television during the last few miles of the London Marathon). No doubt, this is accurate for some people. But I do actively love running, despite (or partly because) it is frequently hard work and despite the fact that I do at times have to reluctantly force myself to do it, and here are some of the reasons why.

I love the scope for improvement. Admittedly, from my starting point, improvement was basically the only way to go. But I love the fact that in not much over a year I’ve progressed from run-walking a mile (and thinking I would drop dead if I ran for more than 60 seconds at a time) to having run – even though not quickly - a half-marathon, several 10k’s, and am currently engaged in marathon training. I love the fact that when you put the effort in, improvements occur as if by magic. I love that I – hopefully – still have a good while yet of getting better until old age kicks in and I start to get worse again.

I love the fact that there’s always something to challenge me, that every goal met can immediately be replaced by a new one.

I love the way I look forward to my next run on the in-between days, even if it’s sometimes an effort to actually get out of the door when the time comes. I love the fact that I’m always, always glad I did make the effort to get out of the door, and the pleasurable tiredness after a hard effort. I love the shower after a long run and the putting on of fresh, non-sweaty clothes.

I love participating (I won’t say “competing”) in races, the camaraderie among other runners, the moment of crossing the finish line, and most especially the high of setting a new PB (even if I have yet to make it out of the last quarter of finishers in a timed race). I also particularly like getting medals and race t-shirts, especially ones which actually more or less fit and don’t look like they could double as a maternity dress for someone pregnant with octuplets.

I love the way my legs have changed shape, my resting heart rate has dropped, and I feel generally fitter and stronger and was the only person not to be out of breath at the end of the very short nursery sports day parents’ race despite probably being the oldest mum there.

I love the fact that so far I've been lucky enough to avoid injury, even though just saying that is probably tempting fate.

I love that it's time to be alone, where I am free from external demands (except for those of the marathon training schedule).

I love talking, reading and thinking about running. (When did I get this obsessed?)

Things I don’t love: big hills, the price of trainers, the cost of race entries, the taste of energy gels, the fact that I didn't know about all the wonderful things many years ago...