Archive for March, 2013

How lucky are you? This is a two-for-one post, covering my long run and my first proper run of the year. Twice as much fun, twice as much running and at least 40% more tale-telling. 

First up, my long run – and it wasn’t amazing in itself – 16 miles, when I should have been running twenty, so something of an anti-climax. I was stopped from getting to my total by the simple act of my having purchased a house. Not in a I-was-running-past-and-inadvertantly-purchased-a-lovely-bungalow kind of way, more that the house purchase I’ve been waiting for finally went through, my phone went off as the solicitor called and I needed to head home and sort things out.

As I’ve been mid-move for the best part of a week, I’m currently dossing down in a lovely Quayside apartment. Tough, I know. On the plus side, I got to run from the Quayside to the Angel of the North, down to the Metro Centre and along Scotswood Road back to Newcastle. In fact, it was on the last leg along Scotswood Road that I got the call.

IMG_0594That’ll be me at the actual Angel. I’ve included this version, rather than the “squishing it’s head” version, as I’m not sure everyone has fond memories of watching Kids in the Hall.

Sixteen miles was pretty good, I could have done the full twenty I reckon, though we’ll never know. Saying which, next week is 22, so perhaps we will.

So, next the North Tyneside 10k – the first race I did last year, and therefore a bit of a significant milestone to be able to do it again. I ran it in 58 minutes last year.

Not quite so warm this year, but still pretty nice – no strong wind. There were a few folk from work doing it too – the Lunchtime Running Club: Craig, George and Neil, as well as some of the folk from Finance.

A good start, just made it out from the toilet queue as the crowds were lining up, and off went the horn. I spent the time through North Shields skipping through the other runners. I expected that would get me to a decent pocket with a group going at my speed, but I spent most of the race passing a few folk – only really stopped overtaking in the last half mile or so. Not that I was trying to run fast – I had no idea what time I might be on for, my fastest 10k is logged at about 55 minutes, I think, and I’d hopefully entered 50 minutes as my time on Marathon Talk’s Jantastic challenge.

I started the run with Craig and George, but skipped off through the crowd – I came up on Heather, the fantastic Whitley Bay Parkrun organiser at the bottom of Borough Road, now I’m not a Whitley Bay Parkrun resident it was nice to bump into her –  I found Neil along the prom at Tynemouth and thought he’d overtake me soon after I passed him – he didn’t, but I think he had a knackered hamstring, which would explain that.

Along the Links, and up to the finish – feeling surprisingly frosty – stopped my watch at 47:40, which was more than a little surprising. Also, not so good in terms of Jantastic, which penalises you for distance away from target time. However, very happy with a new PB.

Goody bag with a nice t-short and some frankly staggering Union Jack running socks.

Spent the afternoon stripping, but that would be a different story… 🙂

 

 

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So, 18 miles tonight, thank you. Fairly pleased with myself, although wondering if I’ll ever walk like a normal boy again.

However, this isn’t about me, it’s about The Running. The Irony Thereof in this instance.

When I run, I get muddy feet – not just because of mud, in fact more often due to a good dirty puddle. You can bet I’ll find one – if I ran inside on track, you could be sure the world would conspire that some hard working cleaning operative would spill their bucket of dirty water on the track just in front of me

Why is it, that the bit that most often gets muddy (the feet) is also the last part you want to be having to reach out and clean during a post run shower?

Is that irony? I’m not sure, but it does feel like it. Maybe it’s spite? Tonight I took off what looked like a relatively clean and dry pair of socks only to discover my feet had turned black. For a moment I thought they’d mutinied and done themselves in, but no, it was good old fashioned dirt. I only ran through one puddle, and that was only because it was actually blocking my way forward and there was no way around it.

I nearly broke in half bending over to scrub the blighters. Next time I’ll just leave ’em, see how they like that.

I knew I wanted to run today, as I’d stumbled upon a windfall flexi-day, and I knew I wanted to cover 17 miles, that being my current Jantastic target. But I really wasn’t sure where I might go.

Vague notions included:

  • The pedestrian Tyne Tunnel – love the place and it’s closing for a refurb at the end of the month
  • Into Newcastle – though it’s a little far for a there-and-return, being about 22 miles in total
  • Up to Blyth – this being a bit of a fall-back position
  • Around in circles – that old favourite, and a definite contender

On which happy, but slightly confused note I left the house this morning, into blustery but bright conditions. It was a bit chilly but thankfully most of the ice had departed. First choice is left to Blyth or right to Tynemouth, the tunnel and Newcastle. I chose right, so that was one option at least partially done away with (thought I could have done a bit of a circuit back, but that would be weird, right?).

Down to Tynemouth, drop down the hill to the north bank of the Tyne and inland. Past the Fish Quay, so named because it’s made of actual fish, and up Borough Road and through North Shields. Out past the Parks Leisure Centre and along the main road to the turn down to the various Tyne Tunnels. I was feeling pretty chipper at this point, though no better planned – a vague notion of crossing through the tunnel, out the other side to hit 8.5 miles then turn around and hoof it back to the safety of North Tyneside.

Down the lift, through the tunnel, which still feels like a little treat, and up the other side. Random conversation with the sweary biker who held the door for me – he’d been to the doctor’s in Tynemouth, though he lives in Gateshead. I didn’t ask why, he was too busy swearing his way through his half of the conversation, and I felt I ought to give him the lion’s share of time in order to fit them all in.

Out into the no-less-sunny South Tyneside, and I’m in new territory. I’ve run from the coast at South Shields up to the tunnel before, but never further upriver (and there’s a word you don’t get to say often enough). I had what I like to call a “vague idea”, but we can correctly refer to as no-idea-at-all where I was going, but that’s ok, remember, it’s a couple of miles out, turn around and head back. Any fool can do that, yes?

Except.

There’s a whole set of national cycleways, I’m led to believe. They certainly advertise themselves as such and it’s true that they do seem to pop up most of the places I’ve been, even if I’ve not been everywhere to check. Let’s assume there is, I suppose, for the benefit of this post. Now you could take the boring approach and actually cycle them. Or, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool non-conformist, like I’m currently pretending to be, then you could run along them instead. Cocking, as you go, a snook to the man who suggested they were for cycling on.

Turns out that route 14 heads into Gateshead and Newcastle along this side of the river. So it seems like a good way to go, but remember, I’ll be turning back around, right? We’re all agreed on that point.

Only.

After the usual through-the-industrial-estate part of going anywhere new, the path ends up down by the river, and I quite like being down by the river. It’s leafier, and greener than the route along the north bank, and it seems quite inviting.

So I could just follow this, end up in Newcastle and then run home, or maybe run part of the way home to get to my 17 miles and then perhaps catch a bus. Unlike so many other runs when I’ve wanted to buy something but come out penniless, I’ve actually had the foresight to bring along a tenner today. Clever me!

I’m told the north bank into town is abut 11 miles, so this must be about the same right? So off I plod, seven miles, eight miles, nine miles, etc. and I’m really enjoying it, this is a great path, honestly, you should come and visit and have a go. It’s ace.

It’s also a bit longer. Checking a map after, I think the north bank route cuts off a whole corner of river around Walker, while the south side can’t unless you’re Jesus, and so you have to run around it. Add a couple of miles by my reckoning. There must be more of the same – it took an age for Newcastle to slowly wallow into sight, around a languorous curve of the River Tyne. I saw a load of things I hadn’t seen before – brightly coloured yacht-related buildings, huge carousels of cable stacked on the other side of the river, presumably for some offshore endeavour.

Eventually, I suddenly popped out at the Baltic Contemporary Arts Centre – and not a moment too soon – the chilli from the night before had been working it’s evil magic for the last few miles, and to be blunt I needed to use the conveniences. You know how people who’ve been stranded in a desert for weeks say the first drop of water is the best water they’ve ever tasted? Well, these were the best toilets in the world, ever. Ever.

Suitably “recharged”, I almost shot over the Millennium Bridge onto the north bank, and along the quayside. Up the hill past the Theatre Royal – without dying either, which is pretty good going for running up that hill – and into Newcastle proper.

Hmm, still only on about 15 miles, I’ll have to go a little further. With thoughts of the Metro home, I headed towards Jesmond. Bingo, arrived there with some exciting subway action (the under-road-byway, not the sandwich shop) but with about a mile still to log. OK, West Jesmond it is then, and the possibility of a coffee in a cafe at the end, sounds mint.

Hoofed it to West Jesmond, and then a little bit further, and the Strava iPhone app tells me it’s 17 miles. Job done.

I stop, I upload the journey. My Soleus GPS watch says 17.33 miles, so I know I’m a bit over. Hang on.

Strava now says 16.8 miles – what’s that about?

Grr.

You know when you’ve done something, spent the time and effort to chalk it off, and then you find you just hadn’t quite done it? Well this was like that, only a lot more annoying, while being the same thing too. I knew I’d done 17 – my watch was over that, the same bloomin’ app had announced 17 miles to me, and now the heinous website was trying to underestimate the work. As I say, grr.

On the basis of a simple majority, I convinced myself that it was fine, but it’s still a bit of an irritation. However, I will try to be big about it, and perhaps always run a little further in future in the hope that any underestimation is thereby taken care of.

Next week, 18 miles.

Yes, it’s Marchvellous, which means longer long runs. It’s also Wall-training season, which means …um… longer long runs. With that in mind, what else were Jon and I going to do on our long run this evening, but push back the boundaries of sanity. Not that they can’t be pushed back a good distance further yet, I reckon, I mean, the Wall is two 35 mile days back to back, so a single long run just isn’t getting towards the waiting room for approaching the boundaries of sanity.

Marathon Talk’s Marchvellous tells me that this week should be 16 miles. I say that like it’s received on tablets of stone from the great Scott Jurek in the sky. Clearly, however, I typed those very numbers in myself less than a week ago, so you could argue I’m getting exactly what I’m asking for. You’d be dead right too. Mind, that’s asking for as in a groovy Christmas present, so everyone’s cool with that, right?

The Wall looms large, June seems to be only around the temporal corner, and I’m reading tales of 20 mile runs, 100 mile weeks, and Lord-help-us-all interval training from some of the other stalwarts. So, it seems that upping the mileage, upping the frequency and upping the game are all good ideas. Jon met someone who’d done a fartlek – I can only hope they’d opened the windows afterwards.

So, in short order, what does 16 miles read like? Here we go…

Leave work -> that’s cold, maybe vest and shorty shorts were a bad idea -> we’re off! -> up along the Waggonways -> whoa, detour – you say this leads to the tip? -> claggy!* -> nice clouds -> what’s that rabbit hole in the middle of the path? -> so this is Seghill, eh? -> so this is us leaving Seghill, eh? -> bit of a back lane this, bet someone will drive their car along it too fast -> nope, well there’s a plot device wasted -> more claggy than the last bit! -> nice bit of muddy path this -> it goes on for a while -> hey, look, trees! A boulevard! -> whoa, climb over that one that’s come down, walk round that one that’s come down – this is fun, if not a bit dangerous with a half power headtorch -> no, it really does go on for a while -> you see them lights, that’s Blyth, that is -> past me Aunty’s back garden (honest) -> past the ice cream shop (shame) -> look, other runners! Wonder if that’s Blyth Harriers, then? -> this coast road goes on for blooming’ ever -> ah, Seaton Sluice then -> back into the Dene, or along the coast? -> I’m voting for headlands -> through Seaton Sluice -> round the headland -> down to the Links at Whitley y -> this is the last bit, but is sure takes a bit of work -> goodnight Jon -> still a mile to go -> feck, still half a mile to go -> round the lower prom -> done! -> can I collapse now please?

See what I mean, it was eventful. It was also a bit nippy – my hands and forearms were more than a bit cold, my elbows ached and my forearms tightened up. Why? Well it was cold, but no idea about the forearm thing – they’re still sore now. Somewhere in the middle of that, we crossed from friendly North Tyneside into the big unknown that is Northumberland. We got back OK, just thought it was worth mentioning.

Anyhow, got in the house, took a photo for Ashmei’s RunCommute competition (check it out if you haven’t seen it) and think I looked relatively OK all things considering that it’s the longest I’ve ever run other than the Kielder Marathon last year. Of course, all my long runs from here in will likely be the longest I’ve ever run other than the Kielder Marathon, until I reach my first 27 mile long run, at which point it’s be the longest ever, ever that I’ve run.

DA RunCommute

 

Even the cat was pleased to see me – though I think he just wanted feeding. I may still not be a lean-mean racing snake, but there’s a good deal less of me than when I started this back in the mists of November 2011. About three stone less to be honest. Which I don’t miss.

Right, stopped shivering now, eaten some truly disgusting vegetable sausages (like they were made out of vegetables – even for a vegetarian/trainee vegan that’s just not on, but they were sitting in the freezer waiting to be eaten or thrown, and I wasn’t about to throw food out) and now off to collapse in bed and dream of running in the warmer weather.

Incidentally, slightly worried about the possibility of nip trouble on the longer run, I went looking for my vaseline, purchased mid run to the Pedestrian Tunnel, Couldn’t find it and so went to get more, only to discover the handy little tins are actually lip balm. I’m not saying it would do your nips any harm to use it, but I am now the proud possessor of a small tub of some actual vaseline. Not sure raspberry flavour nips would ever help you in a race situation, and not sure I want to know if there is an example where they would.

Peace out.

*For those of you not from t’north or the UK, or perhaps Earth, that means muddy, just in a more down to earth way.