32 years old - Made in Britain - Exported to Singapore - Re-Exported to the Netherlands - and from thence back to Britain

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Back in training

After injuring my soleus muscle (the one that runs between the two heads of the big calf muscle) hill running in Canterbury, I am now cautiously starting training again. I have to admit that it was very tough not being able to run - psychologically I have changed my lifestyle to accomodate it, and I found myself at sixes and sevens without it, and physically I found myself restless and gaining weight.

In an effort to avoid over use injuries again I have slowed my training pace down to 5 min/km (was previously frequently training at 3min 50sec per km). This slowdown drops my heart rate down to 134 bpm (which is around 70% of target heart rate), as opposed to 160 (85% of target heart rate).

I still am going to take a while to get my mileage back up - I aim to do around 60-70km this week running, and 250km on the bike, and build back up to 120km running - following the 10% per week increase maxim. This will be switching between increasing mileage and increasing intensity - both of which are important. I will do my first speedwork at the track next week, starting on 8*880s once a week, with a target of 2min 50secs, and building gradually to twice weekly (tempo, fartlek, hills and intervals - alternating as needed), and easing back into 2m 30s per 880 yards (800 meters).

The main reason for writing all this on my blog? To remind me not to overdo it again and fark up my legs again!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Canterbury Half Marathon

What a race! This was an incredibly hilly course that challenged all runners (I think the final field was nearly 600). As always I didn't start to strongly - something I need to train myself out of - but after a mile I had settled into about 20th place, where I stayed for the next 4 miles, running behind a very fit looking guy who I swear I have run against in some of my London races. By mile 4 another racer who had been trying to overtake me for over a mile finally got his way, and held his lead for about 800 meters, putting me back in around 21st place. However, no-one can accuse me of not being competitive, and I tucked right up behind him so that he could hear my breathing and footfall, and slowly increased the pace; in doing this I gave him the choice of going faster, moving out of my way, or letting me crash into him. He chose to move faster - but found very quickly that thepace did not suit him, and so as he flagged I overtook him and found myself back in my original position, with the familiar runner about 200 meters in front of me. I turned up the pace and moved out of my aerobic pace into my anaerobic pace, weighing up the risk of building up surplus lactic acid early in the race against the risk of getting stuck in the position. Within a minute or two I had closed the gap, and remembered listening to the commentators of the London Marathin this year onthe BBC, who recalled their coaches saying that if you catch someone up just go straight past them, it takes advantage of the head of speed you have developed, and delivers a psychological blow to the other racer who finds they cannot match your pace. I did exactly that, and powered straight past the competitor; the next time I saw him was as he crossed the finishing line!

My new targets were two runners about 400 metres ahead of me, who were fairly well matched. I couldn't take either of these guys out until we were on a long flat - having reconnoitred the course the day before I knew a long 1 mile flat was about two miles ahead of us. Once we hit the hill leading to this flat I again slipped into anaerobic running, peeling off the metres on the hill whilst the other two guys slowed down. Whilst a dangerous tactic this was the best time to close the gap, and indeed it was so successful that I overtook one of the runners on the hill! This chap stayed close behind me for the next mile or so whilst I worked on the next runner; a competitor that almost broke me! No matter how hard I worked on closing the gap he seemed to anticipate my move, and maintained a healthy distance ahead of me. Worse, he was actually increasing the gap! As sign of desperation I started to road weave - taking the corners on the inside to try to cut off a few meters from my run. This tactic seemed to work, in conjunction with an energy boost (took a carb gel), and I finally took the guy out on mile 8. I was now getting very tired, and had built up lactic acid in my thighs and calfs, and to be honest was struggling. A crowd of supporters on th eroad side shouted "Go on Clapham!" which spurred me to run harder when really I should have pulled back a bit to recover. This spurt nearly cost me the race as I hit mile 10 - which was a very steep 1km hill. This hill proved to be a lesson in mental toughness as my body screamed for me to walk it, and the only thing keeping me going was sheer stubbornness. All through the climb I plodded up this hill - barely able to put one foot in front of the other, whilst all the time I knew that the runners I had already taken could be fresher and stronger than me, and take me on this hill. Luckily I was spared that fate and I breached the top of the hill without incident, and had a clear downward slope for the next miles, with another runner about 800 meters ahead of me.

It was at this point that I somehow got a mad idea; to catch the runner ahead of me! Tired as I was I took the most dangerous gamble of this race. I increased my pace to around 18km/ph - well into my anaerobic levels and started to close the gap. The runner kept looking over his shoulder as I closed into him, 700 meters, 600 and so on. As I closed to 20 meters I huge wave of energy hit me, and I upped the pace to 20kmph, breaking the runner and building a large distance advantage pretty quickly. How I kept that pace up for the last two miles I will never know, but I did, and finished about 1 minute ahead of this runner, who afterwards said that he just had nothing left to give, he tried to catch me again, but was spent!

All in all this was a tough race, made more difficult by warm weather, forgetting to wear my watch(!) and by the fact that I have a stinking cold! I wated to finish in 78 minutes, and come in the top 4, but I didn't. I did give my all, and ran a strategic race. Once the results are posted I will put them up - I suspect that I was most probaly in the top 15 in around 84 minutes - but that is just guess work!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Quis custodiet?

being an avid Watchmen fan, I have always liked the famous quote from Juvenal's Satire VI:

"Quis Custodiet, ipsos custodes?"

What tickles me pink is that this is often used to question our trust in military and police power. Juvenal was actually using it in a far cruder context, as per the below:

"audio quid ueteres olim moneatis amici, 'pone seram, cohibe.' sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes? cauta est et ab illis incipit uxor. iamque eadem summis pariter minimisque libido, nec melior silicem pedibus quae conterit atrum quam quae longorum uehitur ceruice Syrorum"

"I hear all this time the advice of my old friends--"Put on a lock and keep your wife indoors." Yes, but who will ward the warders? The wife arranges accordingly and begins with them. High or low their passions are all the same. She who wears out the black cobble-stones with her bare feet is no better then she who rides upon the necks of eight stalwart Syrians."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Tired, aching and very happy

What a wonderful experience the Greenbelt relay was! The Clapham Chasers submitted a team of 11 runners, 7 of whom arrived on Saturday morning for the event (two others drove themselves later that day, and the other two ran two legs each on Sunday). Before I get going with the race description i should acknowledge that the race photos I have linked to here are copyright material of the Bushy Park Time Trial group, bptt.net - and I have not had a chance yet to ask permission to reproduce them on my blog. I will send a mail today, but should the btpp.net guys want me to remove them then please let me know and I will take them off immediately. The same goes for the Box Hill photo - which is copyright material of the stragglers.org - the race organisers; the stragglers deserve a big thank you for all their hard work - thanks guys!

Stage: 1
Runner: Neil A
Distance: 12.8 miles (18.02km)
Difficulty: 5/10
Finish Time: 1hr 08m 39s
Finish Position: 5th

Stage 1 kicked off with Neil A (Team Captain) running Hampton Court to Staines, a 12.8 mile run along the thames. Neil was due to run two legs on Saturday, but still gave his all to this stage, coming in 5th (place to be confirmed once the results are posted online - all legs are out of 30). This was a great start to the race and set us up nicely for the rest of the day. Once I get some more details from Neil I will post these up as this race set the tone and pace for the rest of the day! A photo of Neil running through stage 1 is below:

Stage: 2
Runner: Will
Distance: 9.7 miles (15.6km)
Difficulty: 6/10
Finish Time: TBC
Finish Position: TBC

Whilst Neil A was running from Hampton Court, Mike, Myself, and Jeremy (guest runner for the club who had contacted the race organisers and asked if any teams had a spare place - and we did!) drove off to the beginning of Stage 2 - our first deviation from the plan (we were supposed to go straight to stage 3 which is where I was running from). This was to drop off our bags into the other car - which would be picking each of us up from our runs. Stage 2 was Staines to Boveney, and was being run by Will - another of the clubs speedier runners who, like Neil A, was due to complete two legs on the first day. Having duly found Will, Justina and Andrea (the Italian Stallion) we dropped bags, went for emergency dumps at MacDonald's, and sped off to the beginning of Stage 3. This meant that we didn't get to see Will start off, but I am sure that he was quick off the blocks! Will was also running a difficulty 6 (out of 10) stage, with the course presenting 9.7 miles (15.6 km) with the first 40% of the course being along the Thames towpath, and the last 60% along roads and paths. Again, actual results will be posted on here once I get them off the website (once they are published). Again, once Will sends a race log I will update this - but a picture of Will mid run is below:

Stage: 3
Runner: Neil B
Distance: 11.2 miles (20.5k)
Difficulty: 5/10
Finish Time: TBC
Finish Position: TBC
Speeding off from Staines, Mike headed off for Eton, where my first stage was due to kick off, starting at Boveney church and finishing at Little Marlow. Passenger navigation was slightly iffy, and we ended up taking a fairly circuituos route through Windsor (where a quick trip the wrong way up a one way street sharpened the mind and navigation skills!), but we still made good time to Boveney. This small village lies west of Eton, and is beautifully located on the Thames. The weather, which had been unsettled for the past three days, had left the Thames path fairly muddy, but gave the field of runners little cause of alarm as the sun was doing its level best to peek out every now and then. Before we started the run we were told that conditions were more like a autumnal cross country than a summer run, which proved in the end to be very true. Still, the marshal gave the off and we all started what was to prove to be a great and fun run along the thames. Although I started off relatively quickly in fifth place, I was quickly overtaken by a runner from the Stragglers (I think), then by another from the Stock Exchange, and then by one from Britsh Airways! Aargh- had I gone off too quickly? Feeling foolish for having gone off so quickly I dropped into a steady pace with a competitor from the Dulwich Runners; a strategy that allowed me to recover a bit, and also to replan my race. Unfortunately, after about a mile the Dulwich runner got a coughing fit and had to stop, so I was off again on my own, although not for long - as a racer in yellow and black livery came up from behind and overtook me! From fifth I was now back at ninth, and only about halfway round the course! Resolving not to drop back any further, I increased my stride to keep up with this new runner - no mean feat in four inches of mud! Still, over the next two miles I gamely paced behind this runner, and as he started to make progress on the BA and Stock Exchange (LSE) runners, so did I - the race was back on! As we broke the 7th mile, I put on a spurt and overtook the yellow and black clad runner (was he a Straggler.org runner?) and started to put some pressure on the runners from BA and the LSE. However I didn't get to overtake them until we took a turn away from the river at 7.3 miles - but I saw my chance and took it, and as we hit tarmac, I lengthened my stride. Within a mile I had widened the gap between myself and the other two runers to about 100 meters - and could now see three of the front four runners ahead of me. A quick change back onto the thames tow path at mile 8 - and I knew that I only had 3.2 miles to go - which is just over 5km (a distance that I am very familiar with!) and so i decided to open up my stride again. Of course, that last 5.14km was to prove very tough, but all the time I could see myself closing on the lead group, until a Marshal shouted "400 meters to go!" - I was nearly finished; both in terms of distance and energy! I kept up the pace of the next 250 meters, and saw the fourth place runner cross the line - and decided that I would aim for a sprint finish. As I opened up my stride to the fastest i could possibly go I remembered all the pictures that have been taken at 10k finish lines recently as I sprint, with a cross between a grimace and a gurn on my face, and so I tried to relax my facial muscles so that I didn't look quite so much of a fool this time. I also scanned the crowd at the finish line for my team mates and spotted Andrea, Neil A and Justina near the back just as I crossed the finish line! Knackered, elated and not really knowing quite what was going on, I had finished fifth, 11 seconds behind the fourth position runner, with a time of 1hr 8min 39secs. This meant that I had been running each mile with an average of 6mins 8secs per mile, or 3mins 49 secs per km. That works out at 1hour 20mins 26secs if you take that upto a half marathon - over cross country! We will see how that works on road next week in Canterbury... The obligatory shot is here:

That's it for now - stages 1-3 posted, with another 19 to go! I will post more later today, and hopefuly will have more information from the other CC runners, who each will have there own stories and battles. I also will post my personal battle on stage 19 - which was difficulty 9/10, and involved running down this:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Results are in

The results of the Clapham Common 10k are in - I came in 15th with a time of 36'45" (not 36'44" as I had thought). I am content for the moment.

On another front; I was run over today - my front wheel is fragged, but I am fine. Basically a complete tosser decided to overtake me, in the rain and make a sudden left turn, and so took out my front wheel. Luckily I was only going arond 15kmph, and he was at around 10kmph (when he was actually turning) so I had time to jump clear. London - not a cycle friendly city. Partly my fault for not taking my usual Cycle Network route, which is low traffic and so would not have these problems. Instead I was on Shaftesbury Ave, opposite forbidden planet, outside Pasta Cafe, so busy and full of idiots. C'est la vie, n'est pas?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Clapham Common 10k Results

Just finished the second installment of the Clapham 10k (first was in March, with a time of 41'11", and 50th out of around 320). Provisionally my time is 36'44" this time round, and my position was (I think) 18 out of around 300. It was a really tough run as my fainting and shin splints have kept me out of training for nearly 2 weeks - with only cycling to keep me fit. Plus I have put on 1.5 kg. But, to say I am really happy to have broken 37 minutes does not describe the feeling - I was aiming for 37'45" and finished a minute under. Elation!

Next I will try to break 36' - although I suspect that will be tough; the next race in this series is July, which will likely be hot, whereas today was cloudy and cool - perfect running weather.

So - for the rest of the month I have the London Greenbelt Relay (2 day cross country team event) and the Canterbury Half Marathon (target time 1hr 20m).

On an aside, I suspect that the acupuncture and praying for my shins to stop hurting (no kidding, praying the Lord's prayer as I was running - and it did stop hurting) both helped me today, so thanks to the Chinese dude who stuck pins in me, and thanks to God (Kanga - stop cringing!) for answering a very heartfelt prayer.

Yet another aside - congrats to Justina (from the Clapham Chasers - the club i run with) on finishing first female with around 37'56" (I think), and to Neil A who finished around 8th with 35'44" - a great day to be a Chaser!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Another Online Journal

Ok - so my fitness tracing is at www.coolrunning.com as previously posted; now my diet is here. Obsess, obsess, obsess....