Monday, January 31, 2011

Janathon #31 - Time, and a half (Pt 2)

So, last orders were called yesterday and I was happily queueing for the metaphorical bar, ready to get a short swift one in for the road. The numbers looked good: Yesterday's big effort, although less than I'd been hoping, stood me at 142.4 miles (or 229km, for those of us who think in metric) - a still long-ish but definitely manageable 12km to finish at 150 miles. I'd kind of dwelled on this point for a lot of the day at work, mulling the numbers in my head. I'd hoped to hit the 150mi yesterday, which would have left a 10km bimble for today to take my tally to 250km, which is more my kind of round number. I'd even jogged a couple of K to the Co-op and back at lunch time, to pull that 12 down to a 10, to make it easy on my legs. But...

241.40 is not a nice round number. And I like nice round numbers.

To make my 250 would entail me running my longest run of the month on the last day. But hell. I like a challenge. If I didn't, I wouldn't have been involved in this crazy shenanigans in the first place.

I got in from work, ignored the maps, chucked a couple of things in my pack and went out. To paraphrase Laurence Oates, I was planning to be some time. Trotting up the road feeling those familiar little creaks that showed that I'd been somewhat abusing myself for a month actually made me smile. After tonight, we can rest, tonight we run. More than once the Douglas Adams-isms about flight and inverse confidence came to mind*, and I trotted onwards towards Cookridge and Holt Park with a vague plan in mind.

The first part of that plan was actually a quick stop. Holt Park has one redeeming feature, to the post-work runner, and that is a clean and functional public toilet. I went about my business, and then trotted out again, much to the bemusement of the chavs and little old ladies who tend to frequent Holt Park Asda of an evening. From there, down the road once more and left across Cookridge golf course, round the edge of Breary Marsh and 'Paul's Pond' (Don't ask me, that's what the new, shiny-looking signpost said) and out onto the Otley Road by the Ramada hotel, scene of the commencement of an earlier run this month. The tracker said 7.72km, which raised a grin, because I knew from here via the MVT home was about 9km, a good starter for ten.

The trail went on, and I actually felt good. Really good. Those endorphins do wonders sometimes, don't they? Along the road from the edge of Golden Acre, up through a chunk of woodland on a footpath I'd seen on the map but never been on (Was very nice. Woody singletrack is fun, whether on foot or bike) and back down the road, blocking another few kms into the route. Up the road once more, to above the Adel jumps - thanks to the BMW driver who actually slowed to sit behind me as I jogged to the top of the small-crest-with-blind-corner and waited for me to wave him past, no thanks to the dozen-or-so idiots who seem to think that, despite the headlamp and hi-vis, it's still okay to leave your lights on full beam when driving towards a runner - and right into the woods once more.

Through the MVT, and down towards the cricket club, checking the Sat Tracker and feeling the urge to call home: "You know that 10km I was going to do? Well, I'm past 12 and I'm still miles from home. Oh well" and up and across the North Leeds Moors, dropping down to the top of Seven Arches, then along the 'outlap' trail, over the fallen tree and through Speeder Chase back to the ring road. Across and up and down the Horse Climb and check the tracker again and it says 16km. Hmmm...

I feel good. I've still got the legs. I've still got the lungs, the heart. I've still got the head. Home, quick pitstop, then we're going for it.

Up to the ring road once more, and up, the Pyro Plod in full force. Through the Hollies, up the hill, across Oxley and home. Pause the tracker at 18.9km. Change shirt for a clean, dry, merino top. change Buff for fleece beany, neck a glass of water, then out again, not far now. A half marathon finish is very much on. Back to Beckett's, for the nth time this month, around the edge of the courts and through the turnstil and past te monument and into the dark snickleways and back onto Kepstorn Road and we're HOME!

22.19km / 13.79 miles in 2:49:04. My first ever half-marathon run, and I still feel strangely good. Runners high? Perhaps. But certainly a night to remember.

I finish Janathon with:

  • A total mileage haul of 251.36 km / 156.19 miles
  • A total of 33 hours, 42 minutes of running time. 
  • An average pace of 7:55 mins/km, with a standard deviation (pace) of 01:19 - not bad, given the variability of run lengths, aims, speeds and terrains involved this month. 
  • 7 mileage targets beaten, at varying intervals. 
  • A weekly average of 50km per week for 5 weeks (even if I run no more this week!)
None of this would have been possible without al the support I've had from friends, family and complete strangers who've posted on my blog, encouraged me, abused me on Facebook and occasionally just gone "You're doing what? Are you nuts?" Tonight's run is dedicated especially to this latter category. Yes, there's a good chance I am nuts, but I've got a solid pair of legs and a decent heart and lungs, even if the brain's a bit shot. To everyone else, I hope you enjoyed the ride

Lastly, this would never have been possible without Cathy White organising the challenge, the guys from TalkTalk and Audiofuel for backing it, and the myriad of wonderful people who got involved and puttered, strolled, bimbled, sauntered and occasionally legged it through January themselves. Thank you so much, all of you.

And now, the fat bloke has finally sung. Goodnight all, and thanks.


*For those who are not avid fans of The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy the two quotes in question are:
1) There's a knack to flying. You have to be able to throw yourself at the ground, and miss.
2) It's not knowing you can do it. It's being ignorant of the fact you can't.. 

Janathon #31 - Time, and a half. (Pt 1)

Tonight's run: 22.19km, 2:49:04.
More chat and stats analysis once I've eaten my own bodyweight in pasta...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Janathon #30 - A madman on the moors

A last chance for a big run before the end of the month (and to stay ahead of a couple of close runners behind me, since Gary V pointed out that I might be in with a shout of a top ten finish. Thanks GV, nothing like a little pressure to focus the mind...) and a chance to bag some more trig pillars, just a couple, but a couple that I probably wouldn't get otherwise.

I'd been planning a ramble over Ilkley Moor since the start of the month. I don't know the area that well, only having been there for the Jack Bloor fell race, but it's always seemed to be a good place to head on a decent day, and the lure of the trigs was an added incentive. The original plan was to do it by train, head to Ilkley and loop up and over, picking up two trigs on the moor before dropping down to Baildon, grabbing the two pillars there, then down to get the train back from Saltaire. Sundays, unfortunately aren't the best time for regularly spaced trains, so I decided to drive to Ilkely, pick up the first two and then drop back down.

The Swastika on the Swastika stone
The day's been a little overcast, and very cold, but dry and fairly bright. I parked down near the Station in town, since that's where I should have been starting from, got the poles out and headed on up the hill. Last time I was here, for the Jack Bloor, my back had seized on me early on in the run and been agony for the entirety, so I was hoping to avoid a repeat of that. After the initial steep start, I headed around the 'edge' of the moor, via Heber's Ghyll and the Swastika Stone (pictured left), continuing along towards Nab End. A sight on the horizon caught my eyes, so I trotted along to find an awesome willow-sculpted wolf, howling out from the edge of the moor. I'm glad I took my SLR out with me now!

Howlin' Wolf

From the wolf, it was a quick potter along the edge, then turn south for a bit, then back up the wall edge towards the first trig pillar of the day at Long Ridge End. It wasn't long before I popped through a shooting gate in the wall and could see the little concrete truncated-pyramid-of-joy on the horizon, and number one was in the bag. I ratched around in my pack, pulling out the water bottle, the camera (for obligatory picture of pillar - the "I'm making this up as I go along" rules of Trig Bagging state that the pillar cannot be claimed unless you've verifiable photographic evidence), and the bag of snacks. A few quick munchies were nice, but it was getting very cold, so on with the Sportwool top, pack everything away, collapse the poles and strap them in, and move off again, following the edge of the wood.

I'd had my Minidisc on all day, and as I've said previously, music can lift me at a moments notice. At this point, any observers would have heard the "oh hell yes" and seen me start dancing along as "Call Me Al" came on. It's one of those songs that gets me going quite easily, and it came at a fantastic time, when I needed something to up the heart rate and warm me once more. Bouyed by a bit of Paul Simon I had a quick look at the map and realised I could bag 3 pillars, not just 2: The Rivock Edge trig wasn't far off, I had plenty of light, and it was an easy-ish track. I'd seen the Rivock trig when I was first planning the route, but it lay just a little too far off route for 'the big one'. Since I was on Plan B, why not add it in?

Through a short bit of pleasant wooded singletrack, then out into the middle of a whole chunk of felling operations. Joyous. Tilhill had kept the path clear of brash, which was nice of them, but the ground was still heavily cut up, so it wasn't the easiest of trails as I'd hoped, but I was soon out the other end and  heading round the wall again before popping across the clear to trig 2 - the unplanned second album! This was a nice bonus to the day, and added a few k's to the general mileage. It's a shame it was boggy dogleg to get to, but the light and the view from the point were well worth it. And I'd remembered the mini-tripod today so getting a shot of myself at the trig was a possibility. I did, but I look so bad I'm not publishing it...

After heading back the way I came, and back onto the main whaleback of the moor, it was a relatively easy bimble, on some well worn trods over to Whetstone Gate, and the melodious sounds of "If I Had A Million Dollars" soon filled the air as I sang along. I'm sure the Barenaked Ladies didn't sound quite so out of breath as my rendition, but so be it, they weren't out running while it was recorded.From the transmitter masts at Whetstone, along the stone-slabbed trail to the Thimble Stones and we were nearly at number three, and with just a heartbeat stopped (to switch the disc for The Best of the Beach Boys) I was there in minutes. This time I will publish the self-portrait, not because it's good, but because it's appealingly cheesy.

From there I dropped pretty directly back to White Wells, down the footpath, singing my little socks off and slipping and sliding on the muddy trail. I have to say, today has been one of the best days I'd had out on the fell in ages, and bar a couple of the steeper, soggier bits, I'd pretty much been smiling the entire way. The few people I passed on the descent must have looked at me with a mix of admiration and fear, for I was descending like... well... like a fell runner. And that can sometimes be scary.

I got back to the car and stopped the tracker at 18.1km in a shade over 3 hours, including stops. That leaves me just over 12km to do tomorrow to make it 150 miles in the month. I can be happy with that.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Janathon #29 - Race pace, race face.

A slightly strange but ultimately very rewarding day today.

I'm an occasional attendee of the Leeds parkrun. For those who don't know what parkrun is, it's an organisation running weekly, free, fully timed 5km time trials. They're not a race as such, but with barcode timing, signage and marshalling, they're almost certainly the best free event a runner can go for. They're also a great way to benchmark performance. Like I say, I only attend occasionally, but since my first run last year I've stripped over 3 minutes off my PB.

Let's just say, with 200km already in the bank this month, I wasn't expecting miracles. I decided to head down early on a bright but damn cold (-5°C) morning, so I could get a bit more of a warm up, though as they say, the best laid plans etc, so I didn't head out quite as early as expected and didn't quite get as much warm up as I would have liked, but hey. Some warm up is better than none, and then we were lining up for the start of the run and then off. I started the tracker and braced myself for the pain!

The Leeds course does two-and-a-half laps of Hyde Park, a diagonal from the statue of the bloke with the wellies (no idea who he is, but his wellies get painted fairly regularly) across to the Hyde Park pub, then left around the park edge, to start the first full lap behind the Library pub. Two full laps and you're done. The hard part is the back side of the park, which you do on all three turns, as it's a fairly long gradual-but-continuous climb, petering out at the start area and then flat across to the finish area, before you set off downhill again.

I always set off slower than I finish - it takes me a while to settle into pace - and I knew that the orange-vested bloke paced 26 minutes would probably be out of my range, but I concentrated on one runner at a time, reeling them in. That went especially for the climb. I always feel like I can open it up a bit more uphill, and there'll always be some poor sod suffering more than me. Growing up in the Lakes does wonders for your power on the hills, evidently. The frontrunners lapped me, as they generally do, but only a handful, and these are the guys who are running sub-20. My only aim is to finish, and hopefully keep it sub-30. I made it through, with a good push up the last climb, and sighted on the person I wanted to pass before the finish, only to have her put a kick in, presumably with legs a little fresher than mine. While I got close, I never caught her, but she did laugh in the finish funnel when I told her I'd been sighting on her. She'd done the same with a guy in front of her, and he'd kicked too, so there were two of us who had just missed the target.

Anyway, time-wise I was very, very pleasantly surprised. Like I said, no miracles, but only 3 seconds down on my PB after 4 weeks of daily running seems pretty good to me. 26:51 for today, plus two 16min, 2.1 jogs as warm up and cool down either side. Not a bad day at all!

Janathon #28 - Take me out tonight

A very chilled one for number 28, and a lovely way to spend an evening.

It was payday, and I felt like celebrating, so what better way to do it than to have a leisurely jog into town, meet the other half there, have an excellent dinner for two at Wagamama, then walk back to Headingley for a quick drink in Arcadia (and a catch up with some friends who are trying to goad me into running a trail Ultra while also planning to steal my gear to run a mountain marathon) and them. a brisk walk back home. An easy way to rack up the mileage, and thoroughly delightful with it. 8.42km, time immaterial.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hundred Acre Janathon - Part three

After catching a Jagular and letting it go, and still looking for a Janathoner, Tigger and Pooh found themselves by the big oak tree by the little path in the furthest corner of the Hundred Acre Wood. And they stopped and looks at the ground in surprise. There were *hundreds* of footprints here, as though lots of Janathoners had been here, dancing. "If we could see a Janathoner dancing, that would be REALLY special" said Tigger.
"Oh yes" said Pooh. "I'd heard that Janathoners liked dancing. It helps them do something when they're not running"

So Tigger and Pooh decided this would be the perfect place to hang the internet and the clogs, and looked around for a branch to hang them from. Tigger looked up at a big, wide bough that would be perfect and had a little shiver. He'd had an uncomfortable moment up a tree that he didn't want to repeat. "Pooh" he said "Maybe we should get some help to hang the clogs up, because it's very high" and he bounced off to find help, leaving Pooh with the things to arrange.

Pooh looked at the internet, and the clogs, and thought a while. "Do we hang the clogs up and drop the net, or hang the net and drop the clogs, or hang both and drop ourselves, or put both on the floor and jump out? Oh bother..." and he shuffled this way and that, moving the clogs here and the net there to see what would look best to a Janathoner. He'd just come to the conclusion that he didn't know when Tigger appeared through the woods, with Piglet, Roo and Kanga in tow.

The five friends soon came up with a plan: They would put the clogs into the net, and fold it in half, and then hang it by the corners from the big wide bough. Then they would sit and wait for the Janathoner, which should be so impressed with the internet and the clogs that it might dance, and they could watch from behind the big oak tree. They were all too small to reach on their own, but with Kanga stood on Pooh's shoulders, and Roo stood on Kanga's, and Piglet stood on Roo's, Piglet could just reach up high enough to tie the ties that Tigger passed up to him.

Pooh, at the bottom of the tower, was feeling a little bit strained, and he tried to keep his mind on being strong and standing up, but with all the weight on him his mind soon wandered. And as his mind wandered, so did his legs, and just as Piglet finished the final tie, his legs wandered a little too far, and they all came down with a BUMP. All except Piglet, who was left hanging from the internet by one little paw. "Help! Help" he shouted, holding on tight to the net. "Climb up, Piglet!" shouted Pooh from the floor, but Piglet's little arms weren't strong enough to pull him up onto the rest of the net. All he could do was cry "Help!" as his hold started to give way.

Just as he thought he could hold on no longer, Piglet felt a paw grab him by the back of the neck and pull him up onto the branch. He sighed, in panicky relief, as a small black furry thing, with bright yellow eyes, rubbed against him and said "mreow?": It was the Jagular, who had mistaken his cry for help for another Jagular getting ready to jump on people (for everyone knows, Jagulars sit in trees, shouting "Help! Help!", and wait for people to walk underneath before they jump on them). Piglet hugged and thanked the Jagular, which looked a little confused, shouted "Help! Help!" and then jumped merrily off the branch onto the pile of Pooh, Kanga and Roo.

Once they had disentangled themselves from the pile, each other, and the happy, purring Jagular, they admired their net, and all went behind the big oak tree to hide and wait for the Janathoner they were sure would come by. And they waited, and they waited, and the sun started to set, and it started to get dark. Pooh hummed a nervous little hum, because he didn't really like the dark, but with all his friends around him he was sure they'd see a Janathoner very soon. And just when his hum was getting very nervous, they heard it...

Through the Hundred Acre Wood it came, a huffing, puffing, tromping noise getting louder as it got closer. There was a bright light, getting brighter and closer as the thing loomed out of the darkness, along the little path, towards the big oak tree. And there, by the big oak tree, puffing and panting, it stopped. And while they couldn't quite make out the shape of it, because of the darkness and the bright light, Pooh and his friends knew what they could see: A Janathoner!

The Janathoner stopped by the tree, and leaned on it, and Tigger gasped. It was dancing! They all peeked out from behing the big trunk as the Janathoner lunged forward on either leg, squatted down low, pulled each leg in turn up towards its bottom, and bent over, trying to touch its own toes. It looked like a very strange dance, and the friends whispered excitedly to each other.
"Why is it dancing, Pooh?" asked Roo.
"I don't know, Roo" said the bear.
"Maybe it's practicing for something." said Tigger
"Maybe it just likes dancing" said Piglet
They all thought this was very likely, and they watched carefully to see what other dances it would do, but the Janathoner stopped, shook each leg in turn, took a deep breath, then turned to set off once more along the path, right towards the bough to where the internet and the clogs were hanging.

There was a loud CLUNK as the tall Janathoner's head connected with the clogs, wrapped in the net, hanging from the bough, and it sat down very heavily on the little path. The friends behind the tree gasped as they saw it rub its forehead and say "Ow!". But Pooh Bear heard something in that "Ow!" that the others missed, and he padded out to the sitting Janathoner. The others followed him cautiously, and too late they realised that the shape with the light was someone they all knew very well!

Christopher Robin sat on the path, rubbing his head, as his little friends approached. He was dressed in shorts, a vest and his plimsolls, and had towelling bands on his wrists and forehead, and he was puffing and panting. "Pooh? What are you doing here?" he said, as he saw them in the corner of his headlamp beam.
"We're trying to catch a Janathoner! Would you like to help us?" giggled Tigger, bouncing forward in the gloom. Christopher Robin looked at Pooh, and the bear nodded. "We are. We've got an internet and some clogs, and we want an Janathoner to come this way"

"You silly Pooh!" laughed Christopher Robin "I AM a Janathoner! I've run one lap of the Hundred Acre Wood every day since January the first, and I've written about every single one on my blog! I think I might win, I'm sure no-one's run further than me."

Pooh and his friends stared, and Christopher Robin giggled and stood up. "If I'm going to win, I've got to finish my Janathon run for tonight. If you all come along with me, you might even get a medal" So Christopher Robin and Pooh and Piglet and Kanga and Roo and Tigger all jogged off down the little path, and right around the edge of the Hundred Acre Wood, and then went home for a cup of tea, and some medals, and to write about their adventure on Christopher Robin's blog.

      THE END 

(The Author would like to thank and apologise to A.A. Milne for borrowing his characters temporarily. If anyone would care to illustrate this story in the original pencil-sketch style (not the Disney variant, please!), I'll happily republish this with pictures)

Janathon #27 - Are we nearly there yet?

A very quick blog about last night's run. It's not that it wasn't a good run, just that I need to get to work!

Headed out from home to kind of reverse Wednesday's route - Oxley, The Hollies, Meanwood - but instead of looping back up the Otley road, I dropped down to the Uni for the Thursday night canoe polo session.

8.42km, 1:06, then an hour and a half of polo. An excellent evening all round, and only 6km to do tonight to make it 200!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Janathon #26 - Rocking the hard place

If I had to list my religion, it would probably be 'music'. It's the one force in life that can bring me up, cool me down, hack me off and change my day around in a heartbeat. I haven't had enough of it recently.

As I said this morning, yesterday was a hard day, for a variety of unknown reasons. This morning felt a bit better, though the whole day I've been rottenly tired, yawning and generally feeling like I was about to fall asleep at my desk, which is surprising because I had an early night. Caffeine withdrawal, perhaps, having only about a quarter of the volume of industrial-strength coffee that I normally put away. Anyhow...

Home from work and eating, because I think 'not enough fuel in the tank' was probably another reason for my malaise of yesterday. Pasta bake, Cumberland sausage and a brew. A touch of CSI while it all settles and prep the Minidisc. Lots of rock (old and new) and hip-hop, and hang the maps for tonight, I'm going to run by feel. I'll set off thattaway and see where I end up, whether it's an out-and-back or a loop, who cares? Just me, my music and my sat tracker. Cans in, and off we go.


There couldn't have been more of a contrast. While I'm not saying I went from being a plodding hippo to Haile Gebrselassie, I felt so much better with something keeping my head in the right place (metaphorically. Physically it's still on top of my neck, more-or-less where it should be). I headed down to Headingley and over to Hyde Park before hanging a left, up onto the Meanwood Ridge and through the woods, following the Meanwood Valley Trail over Monk Bridge Road, through the park and along to the ring road, then up and back through the Hollies and Oxley Hall. There was the odd little walking section, and a few stops to stretch out tightness and shake down tension, and a couple of moments just to laugh and go "oh hell yes". Honestly. Ever tried running through a trendy student area with Bachman Turner Overdrive playing at full whack in your ears? You'd laugh too.

I got home and stopped the tracker, with the Cunninlynguists' 'Caved In' (feat Cee-Lo Green) bringing me back to level, and grinned at the readout. 11.42km in just under 1:20. That means, even with stops, sub-7 minute kilometres. I'm still grinning...

Tonight's soundtrack was as follows (in alphabetical order of artist):
* Death by diamonds and pearls  - Band of Skulls  * Love has a diameter - Biffy Clyro  * Ain't seen nothing yet - Bachman Turner Overdrive  * More than a feeling - Boston  * The Story - Brandi Carlile  * Radio Nowhere - Bruce Springsteen  * The South / Caved In - Cunninlynguists  * 3030 / Mastermind - Deltron 3030  * Good Show - Dive Dive  * Psycho System - Dubwar  * Non Stop Operation - Dust Junkys  * How Much Longer? - Eve 6  * Midlife Crisis - Faith No More  * Hounds of Love - The Futureheads  * Quietly - Guano Apes  * Last Man Alive - The Levellers  * Toast - Manakin  * Drain You - Nirvana  * The Magnificent - One World Orchestra  * Steam - Peter Gabriel  * Microsize Boy - Tweaker *

Janathon #25 - Peaks and troughs

Yesterday (for I am posting this the infamous morning after) was the hardest day of Janathon for me so far. Physically and mentally, I just felt flat, nothing left in the tank, no secret reserve of cheerfulness and strength to pull on. Just a very run-down, flat, Pyro.

I'm not sure what brought this feeling about: 24 days of consecutive running almost certainly played its part; perhaps too much activity and not enough fuel input over the weekend made for depleted reserves; maybe pushing for 40 miles last week was a bad idea; perhaps my immune system's a bit low and I'm coming down with something. I don't know the cause, only the symptom, and the symptom was that I felt like a deflated balloon.

I think we're into a second set of doldrums in the Janathon now. Days 1 and 2 were awesome, a runner's high, but from there we hit a dip as it sinks in what we're trying to do. We grit our collective teeth and keep pushing onwards, and it gets easier again as we settle into a rhythm and our bodies adjust accordingly. We celebrate the occasions, a week done, 100km, half way, 100 miles... and now we find ourselves with a week left to go and our bodies saying "Precisely how long do you think you're going to keep this up?" The world becomes still, the helper wind on our back drops, and all we have left to keep us running is our own grit.

Last night was one of those grit-only nights. It took effort to stand up from the chair. It took effort to open the front door. It took effort to put one foot in front of the other and just move forward. Tonight was not one of those wonderful, bright, easy nights where the world is running with you; it was one of those agonising grey ones where it seems to be spinning against you.

4.5km, 42mins-ish. Plus a brief stop to catch a haggis for supper, which was then eaten in grumpy silence while I had the mickey taken quietly by Hannah and her housemates. The world is a little brighter this morning, and the walk home was a little easier. We'll see what tonight brings.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Janathon #25 - Any which way but straight

Nice gentle bimble to the Give It A Go session organised by LUUCC last night. I decided against the direct route to the uni pool (which would have been about 4.5km) and went off on a wander through Beckett's Park and the back lanes, which meant a circuitous, inny-outy, multi-surfaced 7km in about 55 mins.

After that, a lovely night at the pool, a quick pint of Leeds brewery's Midnight Bell (fantastic dark ale) and a lift home. Joyous!

Tonight I'm going for a short one, hunting a haggis to have for supper. There's not enough hills to be able to chase one anti-clockwise, but I reckon I should be able to find one somewhere..

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hundred Acre Janathon - Part Two.

Having made their rissolution to find a Janathoner, with an internet and some clogs, Tigger and Pooh decided to split up to collect the things they needed. Tigger bounced off to Rabbit's house to see if he could borrow the clogs Rabbit had been making, while Pooh wandered over towards Eeyore's house toward the pond to find the internet, or at least a fishing net.

Pooh had found the net, and was carrying it back when he decided to stop by and see Eeyore. Eeyore was sitting in his house, chewing on a thistle and looking glum. "Oh, hello. I see you have a net. You've not come to catch me, I suppose?"
Pooh smiled at Eeyore. "No, Eeyore. This is my internet. Tigger and I are going to catch a Janathoner, they like internets and clogs, and they run a lot." "Oh." said Eeyore. "I couldn't be a Janathoner then, so there's no point catching me. Running too much makes your legs fall off, I suppose. I'd rather just stay here"
Pooh agreed that yes, running lots might make your legs fall off, but he'd never seen anyone without legs so maybe it took an awful lot of running before that happened. They both stood in silence a while, thinking about this, and then Pooh said that he must be going, this Janathoner could turn up any time and they needed to be ready.
"Oh well." said Eeyore "Thank you for stopping by, anyway."
"You're welcome" said Pooh, and pottered off back to find Tigger.

Tigger was talking to Rabbit, and bouncing lots. Rabbit was watching him bounce, and getting a slightly sore neck.
"Yes, I have some clogs" said Rabbit. "I made them for tap dancing in. What do you need them for?"
"We're going to catch a Janathoner!" said Tigger. "They like clogs, so we thought if we found some really nice clogs and an internet, we could get one to stop and we could see it or catch it. But they run lots, so we have to be really quick!"
Rabbit thought about this, but he was too busy to come and help them catch Janathoners, so he went to the cupboard and found his shiniest, best pair of clogs. "You can use these, Tigger. They're my best pair, so they should be very attractive to a Janathoner. Tigger bounced around him, hugging the clogs and Rabbit in turn "Oh thank you, thank you, thank you Rabbit. These are very fine! I'm sure we'll catch a brilliant Janathoner with these!" and then he bounced back off to find Pooh.

Tigger found Pooh stood by a small path in the wood, looking at the floor. "Look Tigger: prints." Tigger looks at the floor where Pooh was pointing and got very excited as he spotted a set of paw-like prints padding along the path. "They're very small prints, so maybe this is a very small Janathoner. It should be easier to catch to start with, so maybe we should put the clogs here and wait, then catch the Janathoner with the internet".
Tigger thought this was a good idea, so the set the clogs in a pretty position on the path, then hid behind a tree next to them with the internet, ready to jump out and catch the curious Janathoner as it admired the clogs. Pooh started to hum a happy hum, but Tigger stopped him in case the Janathoner heard him. Pooh did the same when Tigger started to bounce a little, but soon they heard a fast snuffling shuffling coming along the path, and they got themselves ready with the net. They heard the noise stop, and sniffing noise around the clogs, and with a "one, two, THREE!" they jumped out from behind the tree and dropped a net over their curious Janathoner!

The thing in the net was black and furry, with bright yellow eyes. It peeked back at them from the inside of the internet  with a slightly confused expression, and very quietly said "mreow?". Tigger peeked more closely, then looked at Pooh and addressed the problem. "Pooh, that's not a Janathoner. That's a very small Jagular."
Pooh was quite excited, because he'd never seen a Jagular for real before. But he knew that Jagulars could be fierce creatures, and very dangerous, so he peeked carefully at it from a little way away. The Jagular looked at Pooh, said "mreow!" then purred and smiled a little at him. "It seems friendly. I think we need to let it go, Tigger" Pooh said, and Tigger agreed, so they set about trying to free it from the confines of the internet. The Jagular waited and washed itself very patiently, purring quietly at the pair while they untangled it. Once they had freed it from the net it sniffed at them both, then gently licked Pooh's face, rubbing itself against him, before padded quietly off into the wood.

The two friends looked at each other, and had a bit of a think. "Maybe we thinked too low, Tigger" said Pooh. "Maybe if Janathoners are bigger, we need to think higher up.". Tigger bounced a little, thinking of another plan "Maybe if we hung them up from a tree, the Janathoner would see them, and stop, and we could see it then!". Pooh hummed a little hum, thinking in his wooly little brain about how nice it would be to see a Janathoner, and Tigger bounced more because this plan meant he could climb a tree again. He'd climbed a tree before, but it hadn't been very good last time. This time he would see a Janathoner!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Janathon #23 - Centurion!

Firstly, and perhaps more importantly than tonight's run, I've had a fantastic weekend. The Lakes was awesome, sharing the log cabin with 'Team DamX' (Mark, Dave, Martin and Laurent), cracking banter with the LUUCC mob, good food, good ale, and above all else, phenomenally fun boating.

We started off Saturday with a run of the Leven, from Newby Bridge down to Haverthwaite. Once portage for me, around Backbarrow falls due to a lack of confidence, and one roll on one of the drops below, but enough to start nudging my boating state of mind back into place, it having been AWOL for the best part of two years. The afternoon run on the Crake was pleasant enough, a beautifully cold, crisp day, but marred by the fallen trees and overhanging vegetation making it hard, cold, damp work for the unwary and the relative newcomers.

Sunday brought an ace run of the Kent, including leading a somewhat unsuspecting first timer over Force Falls, and the pride stayed firmly intact with a completely dry run. The afternoon was a jaunt down a very low Lune, a portage round the Constriction drop (it looked ugly) and a short spell of jumping / front-flipping / backflipping from a small crag into the river at the getout. All in all, a couple of brilliant days.

The runs this weekend have been squeezed in amongst all of the above. Both Friday and Saturday's runs were done after returning from the pub, so as you can imagine they were slowish and short. Tonight I could have cooked up all the excuses in the world - I'm tired, I've done a lot today already, I needed food, etc etc ad nauseum. But there was a mileage at stake and it had to be done. So, on with shoes and off and out towards Adel and round the back. 7.5km, 55mins. That puts me beyond 100miles - 100.89, to be precise, but who's counting the point-somethings? Okay, I admit it, I am. But every little helps...

Sometimes you need a 'trigger': Your motivation curve is on its way up, but you just need one more little nudge. One tune nudged me over today. The video is below. Enjoy it, I did.

Janathon #22 - Jack and Jill

... Went up a hill.

Well, it was Carrick and Mark, actually, and neither of us broke
anything, though Mark did fall down a few times.

As I said the other day, I'm up in the Lakes for a kayaking trip this
weekend, and trying to fit a couple of runs in around paddling and
socialising. Last night it was a 4.5km ramble up The Hoad, a wee hill
on the outskirts of Ulverston. Very pleasant on a cold, crisp, clear
night, and a pleasure to have company on a leg as well. A couple of
beers and some sleep later we're off to paddle the Kent and the Lune
today, and I'll fit a saunter in either between the two or tonight
once I'm back in Leeds. A rather pleasant way to spend a weekend...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Janathon #21 - Just enough

I'm in the Lakes, the place where I earned my name (thanks Closed Circle/Dai Jenkins). The only appropriate place to make my target. And I've done it, after 4 pints of Old Peculiar.
From Mark's place, the log cabin, to Booths, two laps of the roundabouts, and back = 3.2km, which takes me over my 150km target - 40 miles this week, average 50km a week for 3 weeks, and 150km total. 10 this weekend and I've hit 100 miles. More than I've ever pushed myself to before. I'm proud, and slightly drunk. Woo!

Goodnight all, and keep pushing.


Hundred Acre Janathon - Part One.

It was winter in the Hundred Acre Wood, and most of the inhabitants were spending their time huddled up in their houses, keeping warm. Sometimes they would pop out, to collect some wood, or for another jar of honey, or some thistles, or maybe even to say hello to a neighbour. But generally they all stayed at home...

...All except Tigger.

Tigger was, as usual, a bouncing ball of energy. Someone had told him, just before the New Year, about a creature that he might see if he was out of his house in January, called a Janathoner. Tigger was intrigued, he'd never heard of these Janathoners. Heffalumps and Woozles, yes: They were often heard of in the Hundred Acre Wood. But Janathoners? Never. And what a funny name!

Tigger had bounced around the woods many times this January, trying to find one of the elusive Janathoners. He hadn't seen a single thing! He'd been told that Janathoners were only visible for the first month of the year, and he knew it was getting close to the end of the month, so he was searching every day, but had only seen the odd shuffly-looking tracks that he knew must have been a Janathoners. He was very upset, so he decided to go and see his old friend Pooh, to see if he knew what to do.

Pooh was sitting in his favourite chair, with his head in a jar of honey. When Tigger knocked, he reluctantly put the jar down and shuffled to the front door. Pooh was tired, and not in a very good mood, and he opened the door slowly, just a crack, to see what the matter was...

...Pooh was knocked flat on his back by the door as his excitable friend bounded through.

"Pooh!" burbled Tigger "You have to help me find a Janathoner! They're out in the woods every day but only for a few more days and I haven't seen one yet and it'll be even more exciting than tracking a Woozle and we haven't got much time what do you think?". Pooh held his breath, counted to ten, then gently pushed his friend off him.

"What's a Janathoner, Tigger? And sit down and have a cup of tea" he muttered as he sat back on his chair.
"They run! They run every day, but only for a month. I don't know why. But we have to find one!"

Pooh considered this, but being a bear of very little brain, he didn't quite know what to do. He thought a while, and hummed a little Janathoner-thinking hum while he was doing it. Soon Tigger began bouncing in his chair, and Pooh got very distracted from his hum. Although he was a bear of very little brain, he knew they needed more information on these Janathoners, so he thought that they should ask the wisest person they knew. "We must go and see Owl. He will know what to do." And so they went.

Owl was at home, and he greeted the friends with bleary eyes. He had been trying out hibernating, after reading about it in a book, but he kept being woken up by loud thumpy noises and bright lights during the night, which he put down to being a new herd of Heffalumps passing through the Hundred Acre Wood. Every night he woke up, listened until they had gone, then went back to sleep. When Tigger and Pooh had explained their quest, he looked at them a moment, thinking, then wisely said "You need an internet. I've heard about these Janathoners too, and I heard that, when they're not running, they spend a lot of time in internets, wearing clogs. Maybe if you get an internet and some clogs, you might be able to lure one in."

Pooh and Tigger listened and decided this was very wise, so they left Owl's house with a rising sense of happiness. Pooh hummed a small, internet finding hum. Tigger bounced happily, singing along with Pooh's hum, before stopping suddenly in his tracks. "Pooh? What's an internet?"
Pooh thought quickly. "It's like a fishing net, Tigger. Maybe if we can't find an internet, a fishing net would do."
"I know where there's a fishing net, Pooh! Down by the pond!"
Pooh thought about this and decided it was a good idea. It saved a lot of time trying to find an internet, and the less time he spent on this, the sooner he could get back to his honey. "And Rabbit was making some clogs, we could borrow them, just for a day."

Tigger bounced even higher, he would soon see a Janathoner! Tiggers bounce more and more when they're excited, and Tigger was VERY excited now. He couldn't wait!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Janathon #20 - Persickologgy

It's all persickologgical. Or headological. Whichever you believe in. If it's a placebo, but it still seems to be working, is there any point telling anyone?

These are the thoughts that wander through my head as I potter around a 7km loop of Cookridge and Holt Park, specifically related to the compression calf guards I'm wearing. They seem to work for me, but would I run any worse without them, and if I did, would it be because the calf guards actually help, or just because I think they do?

Questions like this cannot be any worse than my earlier attempts at poetry. Maybe I should stick to hard facts for the next 11 runs. Starting now:

7.07km, 51:27, and now only 2.86km to go to make it 150km in 3 weeks. Reckon I can manage that tomorrow night...


To all the Janathoners (and anyone else following the adventures of the Janathon), Pyro’s Yard humbly presents:

(with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

'Twas darkness and my sodden toes,
Did slide and stumble as it rained.
All dribbly were my running clothes,
As the slurping paths I trailed.

"Beware the Janawock, my son:
The legs to ache, the words to post.
Beware the blogging urge, and shun
The dubulous hours lost"

I took my grightening torch in hand;
And long the noisome shoes I sought.
I founded myself at foot of stair,
And stood in hesitous thought.

But then, through furbled thought, I swear,
The Janawock, with miles to gain,
Came tinkling throught the frigid air,
And giggled as it came!

Left, right! Left right! And on and on,
My noisome shoes went ticker-tack.
I ran for miles, then turned: ‘twas gone!
So I went harrumphing back.

"And hast though escaped the Janawock?"
Just for today, but so it goes.
"Oh spanglish day! I'll sleep away!"
Tomorrow's route? Who knows…

'Twas darkness, and my sodden toes
Did slide and stumble as it rained.
All dribbly were my running clothes,
As the slurping paths I trailed...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Janathon #19 - Out on the town

I wouldn't normally class the walk to the pub as part of an exercise regime, but tonight I'll make an exception on the basis that a) I did jog some of it and b) the pub in question is 3.5 miles away, and I've jog-walked there and back.

In between these two jog-walks, I've had a very nice pint of mild and listened to some good music at an open mic night. Which was nice.

Oh, and interestingly, my horoscope in the Yorkshire Evening Post today said "Great strides forward can be made with a positive frame of mind." I know. I'm sure of it...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Janathon #18 - Monolithic

I'm very lucky, I think, to have good friends delivering good advice. Advice with knowledge and experience attached, rather than just "I read summat in the paper..." Advice like this, whether it's big stuff or little stuff, life-and-limb saving warnings or just "you might find it easier if..." type hints, can be invaluable. And hell, they could save me doing silly amounts of damage to myself while trying to set myself targets.

I have set myself the target to finish this week having run 40 miles. Well, actually I'm setting that at 40-and-a-half miles, for that will take me to another milestone (or should that be kilometer stone?) of 150km over 3 weeks. A couple of good friends, another Janathonite and a non-Janathonite fell- and ultra-runner (and both all-round nice chaps as well) have given friendly encouraging advice/warnings about not knackering bits of myself in the attempt. Advice which, to be honest, I'm very happy to follow.

To make my target I need to average about 7.5km a night, which is quite a big ask. But the bonus, and my ace in the hole, is that no-one's telling me how fast I have to do the distance. Yesterday it turned out to be a fast 8, because my legs felt good and I had the energy to go for it, which is okay. Tonight it was slow, but that's okay too.

Tonight the legs weren't feeling too good. Not "oh my god they're going to fall off" bad, just "Yep, I ran quite quickly yesterday". It's a good hurt, in a way, but a hurt that reminds me that not all nights are like last night, and that tonight has to be a night when I shake down, take it a bit easier and just have fun. So I did! I loaded the Minidisc with The Cat Empire (funky Aussie jazzy hip-hop-type-stuff) and The Grit (Geordie rockabilly punk-type stuff), put on baggies as opposed to my racing snake lycra, (the attire which once got me described as looking like "a bulldozer wrapped in cellophane"), picked up a pair of walking poles and headed out the door for a mix session.

The mix was good fun, alternating jogging (with poles held like a rifle), Nordic walking, and walking vaguely normally. I wasn't paying a lot of attention to where I was going, so my feet and my head lead me round in a big loop with some inetersting hills and fun downs, mainly off-road for the outlap. I did have a stop in Meanwood park when I noticed that part of the new play area looked like two large standing stones... except they had climbing holds bolted to them...This required further investigation and testing, which concluded they would be quite good fun if I came back one night with my rock boots. Wet trail shoes didn't hold too well on tiny slopers...

Mini climbing walls: Yey!

After that brief sojourn into alternate sports, I headed off along more of the Meanwood Valley Trail, up a few more muddy hilly bits,  then shambled slowly back up the Otley Road from Headingley, having stopped at Sainsbury's for meatballs and mozzarella to go with my pasta and sun-dried tomato sauce for tea. The clock stopped at about an hour and forty minutes, but I'm taking 20 off my actual movement time to cover the climbing and the shopping. Oh, and the distance was over my daily target at 8.45km. And the legs feel much better now...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Janathon #17 - The long and short of it.

First off, an explanation and an apology. After my blog about my run on Saturday, I received a couple of comments, which I haven't published, about a specific comment I made, which pointed out a couple of things that in my food-deprived and oddly-humoured state, I hadn't picked up on or thought about.

The comment in question was the offhand crack that "I've been reliably informed by an Osteomyologist that running on tarmac can cause cancer of the knees." 

First off, this is a joke. A long-standing joke between myself, a friend who happens to be an Osteomyologist, and a handful of other people involved in a certain series of Adventure Races. 'Cancer of the knees' is used as a slang term for the way your legs feel after two-and-a-half hours of running around the city streets chasing checkpoints. Running on tarmac does not induce actual cancer of the knees. I apologise to anyone who misunderstood this.

Secondly, I also apologise for the implication that this misinformation was passed to me by a practitioner of the healing arts. It has been pointed out to me that this might be perceived as a slight on members of the Association of Osteomyologists. That was not my intention in any way, shape or form, and I therefore apologise for any offense this might have caused to them. The practitioner in question has treated me a small number of times, and I've nothing but respect for his work and that of his colleagues.

With that, hopefully, dealt with and sorted, on to tonight's run and the forecast for the week.

I've got off to a pretty good start, with the long bimble on Saturday and a fairly decent 8km yesterday, and I reckon, after my 30+ miles last week, I should aim for 40 miles this week. I've a good head towards that target after the weekend, but I need to average 7.5km a day for 5 days. That means more long runs and less recovery, which might get hard to crack.

With all of that in mind, I headed out tonight to do at least 8km. I headed off gently up the Otley Road, as I often seem to, then turned off at the traffic lights after about 2.5km and onto a loop around Adel, from the sports club, past the church, around Sir George Martin Drive (anyone know why there's a street in Leeds named after him? Liverpool I could understand, but...) and back to the traffic lights, then try and push the pace back past Bodington (again) and down across the ring road and home. Simples!

It worked, as far as plans go. A bit tight in places, but a fairly respectable 8.3km in 52:56, so nicely under 7min/km. If I can keep runs like that up, I'll hit the 40 alright, and who knows what might come after that...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Janathon #16 - Sunday bloody Sunday.

I knew today was going to be short on time. I knew after yesterday's wombling about I was going to be tired. I also knew there was jack-all chance of me fitting in a daylight run, and that the evening would probably be out as well, for reasons I shall explain later. So, the only reasonable (and I use that word advisedly) thing to do was to run early in the morning. Hmm.

There's one problem with that: Mornings are normally something that happen only to other people. Given the choice I hibernate as long as possible until daylight and a nagging alarm with no more 'Snooze' presses available drag me from my slumbers. Today would have to be the exception.

The run itself was singularly unexceptional: Left house just after 6am decidedly woozy and not really sure what I was thinking; Trotted gently up the Otley road to the Ramada hotel, 4km and about 30mins away; turned round and trotted back, trying to push a bit harder on the long flat bit by Bodington Hall and down to the ring road roundabout, then sprinted the last bit from there to my house. 8km, 56:12. Miles in the bag and feeling more awake. A quick shower, coffee, packed lunch put up and back out in the car for a not-more-or-less-but-differently satisfying bit of the day.

The rest of the day has been spent helping teach a group of people from Garforth Town FC, and it's associated enterprises, on an Emergency First Aid at Work course. The 8 students, myself, and Dave from Extreme Care have had a cracking day at the club. And I hope, for their sake, we made it entertaining enough to not just be a dry, humourless going-through-the-motions type of course. I know I've had fun, met some nice people, and enjoyed myself immensely. I think some of them may have been worried about my coffee intake, though.

Oh and the reason an evening run wasn't going to be a goer: Post course roast dinner courtesy of Dave's mum. Fantastically good, and a large enough protion size to render me immobile for the rest of the evening. I'm not complaining, though...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Janathon #15 - Saturday Shakedown

I'd intended to get up onto the moors and put in a good, solid, long tab day with a racing partner, Steve, today, but a spell of miscommunication meant we never made it to the moors, and I was sat in Leeds, having missed my occasional Saturday 'fast 5km' at parkrun. At that point, about 10am and my second cup of coffee, the usual nagging doubts set in. The niggling little "Well, you could skip it and make the blog up - no-one would know", the occasional "You did loads last week, you could have a day off, maybe just walk round the block, that still count, right?", the ever-present "Face it, pal. You've run for 14 days consecutively. Your legs aren't really in the shape you'd like 'em to be. Knock it off, eh?" and the particularly seasonal "Look out of the window. It's pissing it down and blowing a hooly. Put the kettle on and sit back down.". This is, after all  'annual festival of activity and excuses', and so far I've been long on activity and short on valid excuses...

With all that in mind, I stuck my running gear on, conceded to the weather gods by wearing fleece tights and a Paclite jacket, and headed up to Harewood.

I've run a few loops around Harewood in the house, but it occurred to me that I'd always confined myself to one set of tracks. So the plan was to park jut off the main road, walk/jog across the estate, then walk/jog back, dependant on how I was feeling. A vague plan, a bit of food, and an OS map in hand, I sauntered off.

The route was a bit convoluted: Down the old driveway (it may not actually be the old driveway, but that's what I always think of it as), up through the woods towards the Emmerdale set  and past it, onto a track I'd not run before. A lovely sight as I pottered along, a pair of Red Kite hovering over me and following me along the path. I'd have a picture, but the sods buggered off as soon as I got the camera out. Typical....

I rambled out of the far side of the estate, and stopped to have a look at the map and realised two things:
1) I wasn't far from Lineham Farm, a place I'd had a number of dealings with in my former job but never actually been to, so maybe it was worth a quick ramble over thattaway.
2) There was a trig pillar not far from there, so it was definitely worth a quick ramble thattaway!

Pleasant if muddy filed-edge-type footpaths took me over to the wonderful facility that is Lineham Farm, an outdoors centre type place that is run by "A charity which provides free week-long activity holidays for local children in need of a break". I didn't go in, but the high ropes course looked awesome. And yes, I am just a big kid at heart. And then they took me back away from the prospect of Jacob's Ladders, aerial balance beams etc, and up another set of field edges to a slightly more grown up obsession, trig pillars. This on, at the Bowshaws, had evaded me so far as it doesn't sit easily on any of my regular routes. Well hell, if it wasn't the right day to go bimble about off a normal route, I should have gone home ages ago for a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

Should have kept my hat on! Bowshaws trig pillar

After finding it, and taking the obligatory photo (as demonstrated by me here and by Gary V on his latest blog) I toddled back down towards Eccup reservoir and homewards. Here again came a quick check of the map and a moment of "Hmm, north or south side of the reservoir?" North - Shorter and straighter, but mainly tarmac access road and boring. South, more wiggly and longer, footpath. South it is then, I've been reliably informed by an Osteomyologist that running on tarmac can cause cancer of the knees.

I rambled off, more field-edgy-type stuff, round slightly familiar trails, glad of the Gore-tex because it was still raining, and then onto the shoreline footpath which, as it's fenced off from the actual reservoir by quite a meaty fence, widened so they can drive Yorkshire Water vehicles down it, and hardpack surfaced, mean I might as well have run down the tarmac. I believe the internet vernacular is 'FFS'. Still, it was all mileage in the bag, and getting back onto actual tarmac then came as less of a shock and I trotted across the dam and up the bridleway.

I have to admit that a minor error on my part sprang up at this point. I'd set of a lot later than intended, and rambled a little further than I thought I was going to, a little slower than I thought I was going to. And it was kind getting dark. And I'd kinda neglected to take a headtorch with me. Which meant it was time for a more direct loop home. The problem is that the direct route was very muddy and potholed, and I couldn't really see where I was putting my feet.... Oops. The handful of people who saw me as I wandered, wet, muddy and grinning, back past the Emmerdale set (fully lit up and looking busy, they must have been filming) must have wondered what the hell I'd been up to. I didn't stop to explain, it'll be much more fun to let their imaginations play with that one.

Anyway, I made it back to the car intact, having had a thoroughly pleasant day out, a nice trot along some new places I'd never been, another trig pillar in the bag and a little night adventure to boot. SportTracker showed a final tally of 18.8km in a smidge over 3hrs.... Hang on...

Okay, I'm not going to be leading the mileage charts by quite a long chalk, but today's bimble has given me two new acheivements to celebrate in my own inimitable ouevre...
1) I've just done my first 10 miler of Janathon
2) I've now passed 100km in total! Woo!

Definitely beer and a bath time now, methinks.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Janathon #14 - A marathon and a sprint pt 2

Yesterday I talked mysteriously of second and third targets. Again, these are minor things in the grand scheme of things, but they've been my drivers to get out and run hard (well, hard for me) today. They've been something to aim at, something to be proud of, and something to go "Holy sh*t. I never thought I'd do that." at. And tonight, I've done 'em.

(Author's note: Apologies for the geeky stats-obsessiveness of all of this. I never said I was cool. And Steve and Katy did say they were expecting a maths puzzle after my alliterative efforts last week...)

As we left it yesterday, I'd cleared a marathon over the week - 26.2 miles, 42.16km. Because of the extra distance Hannah and I ran around Kirkstall park, I was actually just above that, sitting at 43.83km. Not a bad haul, for a fat boy who doesn't run. But rather than rest on my laurels of 'having run a marathon in a week',  I'd been sat looking over my stats in the spreadsheet. And a couple of thoughts occurred.

1) Take that 43.83km. Add to that the 2.51km I'll have jog/walked to get home in the morning before work - that gives us 46.34km. Add on the 35km I ran in Week One. That takes us to 81.34km over a fortnight, right? Right.Well, 81.34 isn't a million miles away from 84.32, is it? It's only, what, 2.98? Sounds about right. But what's so special about 84.32? Well.

If I got off my backside after work, and trawled out for a teensy-weensy 2.98km run, say 3km for rounding off purposes, I would have run the equivalent of 2 marathons in a fortnight. Again, yes, this is compound mileage and compound time, but I'm no runner, normally, so this is important for me m'kay? A nice personal acheivement to tick off Week Two of Janathon. But hang on, back to the maths a second, something else occurs...

2) So suppose I'm at my double-marathon-in-a-fortnight point of 84.32km. Take off the Week One tally, that 35. That puts us at 49.32km this week. Hell, if I'm out for a teensy-weensy 2.98km, why not throw in a wee bit more, say, ooh I dunno, 680 metres? That way, we can tick the little box that says for the first time, probably ever, I've run 50km in a week. After all, what's 680m between friends?

And hell, if I'm going out on one of those, why not try and do it fast?

Tonight's tally: 3.86km, 20:06 - giving an average pace of 5:12 min/km.
Added to this morning's 2.51km in 22:54 that's a day tariff of 6.37km at 6:45min/km.

For the rest of the weekly breakdown, see the image below. I'm off for a bath and a beer.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Janathon #13 - A marathon and a sprint.

So, should the 13th run be unlucky? Should everything be put on hold to avoid the jinxed date? Nope.

Not, especially, when there's a couple of targets that can be reached.

Okay, I said I wasn't competing with anyone, and that I was just running for myself, but the chance is there to make some personal battles up, and make some points that I'm proud of.

So, tonight was the first of those targets. I set off from home for the downhill sprint to Hannah's for stage 1 of the plan. A quick 2.5km (14:45) and I was at the door, sweating and panting. A quick stretch, and then I headed back out, accompanied for the first time on a Janathon run. Hannah and I logged out and across Kirkstall park, down through the Abbey grounds, then pushed back up the short, steep hill back to the house. A nice, steady 3.21km (22:49) to finish the day's session.

"So what..." I hear you cry "... is this target of which you speak?" Well, for the first time in my life, I have now run 26.2 miles. Okay, not continuously, I admit. But it's a nice number to be proud of. My compound time for this marathon would appear to be 5:16:40. That'll do me.

There's two more targets to go, which I *should* be able to tick off tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Janathon #12 - Justified and ancient

I feel, honestly, like something the cat has dragged in, mauled, eaten a bit of, and left the rest to fester in the shed. 12 days in - over a third done! - and I'm into a weird rhythm of good night - good night - bad night - recovery run night - dubious night - oh, maybe I'm okay night - ouch. 

Tonight was an 'ouch'. Not a particularly long or fast night, because of the 'ouch'. Calves and whatever-the-hell-you-call-it up the outside of my calves. Both trying to kill me, or at least make me stop running. Still, I've got another 7km-ish in the bag, new trails again, through the back of an old quarry and into Ireland Wood. I was intending it to be about 5-and-a-bit km, but one of the footpaths I was planning to take doesn't seem to exist any more (at least according to the house that's built where it used to be) and another footpath wasn't signed and I missed it in the dark, so I took a slightly longer route.

According to SportTracker, 7.12km, 53:06 for tonight. I'll be happy with that, once I've had tomorrow's recovery run and got out of the 'ouch' phase of my weekly cycle...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Janathon #11 - Two Trig Tuesday Take Two!

A lot of alliteration for a little bimble out onto the hills!

Relatively short but hilly Two Trigs run tonight, and very muddy. All the footpaths are just soggy brown streaks up a grassy field, and the only change in consistency is the crunchy five millimetre ice layer on the surface!

The clim wasn't too vicious, just enough to warm the legs, and the first trig gave a beautiful view to the south over some of the leafy suburbans and over into Bradford. The second trig, beautifully embedded into a wall, gave a lovely view of Leeds Bradford Airport. Honestly, I've seen prettier places...

All in all 4.9km, 41:45. A little slow because of the mud, and stopping to take pictures. But who's counting?

(Obligatory pics of two trigs below - sorry for slightly shaky crap phone camera pictures!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Janathon #10 - To and fro

Just a short run today - well, actually, three short runs, mainly resting up a touch from yesterday and in anticipating of a bigger run tomorrow night. I ran to work, at lunch time, and back from work. Seems a little odd, but it's a good way to get in a few short sessions (2x2km, before and after, each about 15mins, plus 1x3km at lunch, about 20mins)

Despite the long one yesterday, the legs are feeling much better - less tightness in the Achilles - and are now just dull and achy. Dull and achy I can cope with. Hot baths help. Talking of which, off for one now. Night night!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Janathon #9 - Listener Supported

Split session tonight, and I'm going with the SportTracker version of the distances, because I can't plot the trails through Meanwood accurately enough on MemoryMap to get a definitive figure. And hey, the Tracker reckons I ran further than the map plot does. That makes me happy, as did Michael Franti & Spearhead's "Stay Human" on the MP3 player on the run. Hence the title.

As I say, I split the session. Part 1 was a 4km, 40min walk from home to the Ramada Jarvis hotel by Golden Acre part. Walking to both warm up, to stretch the calves, and to enjoy a crisp, chilly but bright winter evening. The pastel-y sunset was quite pretty, and the traffic buzzing past was probably wondering what this lycra'd up loony was doing sauntering up the main road like he'd nothing better to do. It was nice to 1) be out in daylight and 2) shake the legs out with an enforced walk.

Part 2 was the run. From the hotel, the Meanwood Trail drops away from the road, round the nature reserve and continues back through the woods all the way back to Hyde Park. I wasn't quite going that far, but it was a good way to start.

The run seemed steady: A couple of short hard 'pushes' on hills where I knew I'd get a break over the summit, a couple of short sprints on flat fast sections, a couple of pauses to take a picture, to stretch, or just to admire the view. Running trails I ride regularly, I knew the best lines down most of the rough stuff, around the mud pools and through the dark bits. Back up the ring road, through The Hollies and across the Oxley sports pitches, then sprint down Otley Road to the bus stop to stop the clock at 9.24km in 1hr, 40seconds.

The longest run for me of Janathon so far, even without the extra 4km walk, so I'm happy. Counting it all together that's a 13km session in the bag, a cracking hip-hop album on the stereo and a cheery Pyro off for a bath, a Massaman curry and maybe, if I'm really good, a beer.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Janathon #8 - The Darkness

Night trail runs, although my bread and running butter at the moment, always feel weird to me. I enjoy them, generally. Often more in hindsight than during, but hey. There's a certain purity to bashing through the woods on a muddy path, living only in that little dribbly pool of visibility from your headlamp. The world is small, and close, and personal, and anything in the dark to the sides doesn't exist: It's just you and the Cone of Reality extending 10-20ft in front of you. Maybe it's a really short form of goal setting, or maybe it's like the donkey with the dangling carrot. "You want to see more? Come right this way..." 

Tonight, I kept pushing to try and run to the edge of my little enclosed, claustrophobic, vision-limited world, but I never got there. It was more than 20ft, I guess. The GPS reckoned 6km. All I know is I ran for 45mins and never reached it. Oh well. Maybe I'll get there tomorrow night.

Janathon #7 - On the mend

Still recovering from the first week of the Janathon (did you think I'd forgotten?!) so run #7 was another short loop just to eke some miles out and massage some life back into the legs. A short but a little faster loop than usual - 3.2km in 19:50 (so just under 10 minute miles, something I don't do too often)

It was just a short sprint (Map below), but it needed to be a fast lap just to shake the legs out. When I got back I could feel 'the burn', but it was a pretty good one. And it's the end of week one, so I celebrated with a very nice Thai green fish curry and a glass or two of very nice Sauvignon.

My week one stats probably aren't that impressive, but as I said after #6, I'm competing only with myself, and I'm a Data Analyst by profession so I like the geeky side of life. But they are, as follows:

Since this post just sneaks under the 24hr limit to blog, that's me up to date. and I'm also sat in my running kit
ready to get Week Two kicked off. Another 5km here we go...

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Janathon #6 - R&R

Just been reading a few of the other blogs from other Janathon... erm. I can't really call them 'competitors', can I? Isn't this just supposed to be an incentive to run? Hell. 'Janathoners' will have to do.

There's a couple of them out there who are seriously racking up the miles. 'Auswomble' and 'Local Adventures' - aka Kevin and Gary - seem to be watching each other and pushing hard. The collective atmosphere coming off other people's blogs, comments on Facebook etc, and the community feel is awesome. I'm glad I got involved.

Sometimes, though, the spirit is willing but the flesh is falling apart. Tonight was one of those nights - like I said after yesterday's run, I needed a recovery day. I'm still determined not to lapse though: My challenge isn't how many miles, or how many unique routes, or even total time or pace or averages or... anything. It's just to see if I can do it. The only way I can 'cheat' is to not run, and that's only of impact to myself. Tonight was a forced, slow, jog-walk-jog, a grand sum of 3.6km from the University into Leeds city centre, to the phone shop in specific, and back. A time of 'who cares', but it's another run in the bag and another day closer to the 31st.

Tomorrows will probably be another slow one, probably before work, since I'm off to the Lakes immediately after. But again, it'll be another day, another run, another post. I'm not competing with anyone but me.

Janathon #5 - Lily the Pink

Day 5 and I'm starting to feel the pinch of the Janathon. I'm not sure, even back when I used to orienteer regularly, that I've ever run for 5 days straight. normally 3, then a rest day, then another 3. Needless to say, things are starting to ache.

Fifth run of the year was down to be a general run, at least in my Rough Plan, which I composed yesterday morning to try and bring some order to the chaos, so I laced up my boots and pottered off towards the park. The effects of five consecutive days of abuse showed: My calves, thighs and lower back were all vying for my attention in their own special ways; unlike my fourth-day Two Trigs, I had ceased to be a singing, bouncing, lycra clad almost-superhero and had regressed to a lumbering, shambling lump. It became fairly obvious, halfway down the grassy path towards the corner of the woods, that I could do with a short recovery run some time soon. So, back to normal, then.

I ran this loop, or a variant of it, a few weeks ago, when there was a foot of fresh powdery snow on the ground. I stumble down across the grassy pathway, push for the short steep up to the fence at Beckett's Park sports pitches (wincing at the entirely predictable burst of pain from my calves), around the top of the embankment, through the old turnstile, then along through the dark woods to the old gateway/folly/thing, a memorial to a visit from a Queen. Every time I come here I try and remember which Queen and when. I never manage...

Here I've got to stop and stretch: My calves are tight as a really tight thing, and in the interests of not damaging myself it's probably worth it. A few awkward, unbalanced, wobbly stretches later, and I'm loosening a little, so onwards, through the Leeds Met campus and across the other bit of parkland. The surface is curious, wet underfoot but with a permafrost hardness beneath the inch of waterlogged grass. Where people have run or ridden more it's cut up and soggy, in other places it's pristine and hard. Seems like a fairly good analogy for the British winter, all-in-all.

I'm still shambling as I come to the edge of the allotments behind my old house, and follow more fence-edge singletrack through more wet woodland to drop out at the bottom of the hill below the cricket ground. I'm more cautious than last time I ran here: Then it was ankle-deep snow and hard frost, now it's wet leaves and clay; then I had my Mudclaws on, now I'm wearing my trail shoes and the grip level isn't quite the same. Onto the tarmac to clean the clinging mud out of the treads, feeling the pinch in the calves again as I trot up the short hill then limp back round to the middle of the figure-8. Turn the corner, feeling my shoes slip slightly and noting the subtle glossy sheen of ice on the road, then along the pavement on the side of the park. From this edge of campus, I dive into the network of ginnels and snickleways across the back of the park, the church and suburbia. There's a couple of paths that are new to me, that I'd seen on the map but never used, and they're a handy connector to keep me off the main Otley Road. They are also, in a burst of almost inadvertent good planning, relatively flat. I'd picked a route with not much in the way of climbing, which can only be a good thing for my legs. I'm soon back out onto the road for the short jog back to the house. I stop the Tracker and walk a couple of laps of the block, aiming to warm down a little more thoroughly. I stretch some more, then unlock the door and drop back into the warm comfortable fug of home.

All in all day 5 was not particularly quick and even less graceful, but I'm still in the game and I'll have a recovery run for day 6. Scores on the doors were 5.5km, 38:15 including time spent stretching. So far, so good, although nothing has yet explained why I had Lily the Pink stuck in my head for the majority of the run. Ho hum...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Janathon #4 -Two Trig Tuesday

It's amusing, how friends, when they perceive that you may be having a crisis of faith (running faith, in this case), come up with all sorts of motivational tools, from the encouraging (thank you AM, Nonie and Gary V), to the abusive (cheers Graham) via the downright blooming strange (merci, Ross).

For the record, my resolve may have flickered a little, but only in that I needed to eat and then let my food digest before I went for tonight's Janathon Two Trig Tuesday spectacular!

In the past, while poring over OS maps for the little blue triangle-and-dot symbols that make me so happy, I'd spotted a couple just across the Aire valley from the house - beyond Kirkstall and over into Bramley. I'd always planned that, as these two were both on or close to tarmac, I'd pick them up by road bike, but with a little kick in the jacksie needed for Janathon, and a suitably configured route, they looked like a viable foot option. About 7km, 120m-ish of climbing. I reckoned on sub an hour for both.

As I said, I'd got in from work in need of food. As part of this month's exercise regime, I MUST start eating a proper breakfast. I can cope through the morning 'til lunchtime on caffeine alone, but hunger starts getting the better of me mid afternoon. I've been good enough to avoid the plethora of biscuits that lurk in the office, but I would be better served by having breakfast and then being eat dinner later... Anyway, I digress...

HandyMap (TM)
I'd had a bowl of noodles, and an hour-or-so's break while I checked the route on Memory-Map. Not wanting to carry a full OS of the route with me, I decided to take a diddy map of my own. In marker pen. On the back of my hand. Not that it was a complicated route, just an area I'd never run in before, and a little bit of reassurance would probably be a good thing. I headed down to leave the car at Kirkstall to set off out and up. And I do mean up. The map (the proper one) and profile below shows you the route. Four kilometres of climb followed by three-and-a-bit kilometres of descent, more or less.

The Author at the first Bramley trig pillar
Bouyed by the encouragement/abuse/strangeness of pre-run conversation, and by the Best of the Beach Boys ringing in my headphones, I set off from the car and started the SportTracker. Steady jog along the canal, beautifully paced by Good Vibrations and California Girls. The climb starts, a long gradual drag and I up my pace to match the beat of I Get Around (Maybe I should worry about that, but anyway...) and Wouldn't It Be Nice (To stop? Not yet...) It all starts creeping up on the legs, swaddled as they are in 3/4 tights and Skins calf guards as  Surfin' Safari kicks in and I just have to smile. I'm not moving massively fast, but I'm honestly feeling pretty damn good. The night air is chilly, which suits a sweaty fatboy like me. Up the pace a little notch more to Fun Fun Fun, though I'm in no fit state to sing the high notes. A sad loss to the world, I feel, but at least the inhabitants of Bramley get to keep their windows and eardrums...

Behind Bars - Bramley Trig #2
A handful of tracks later I'm nearly at the first pillar, and searching desperately. The HandyMap (TM) has a junction missing, so I'm looking about 500 yards short. It turns out to be nearly in someone's front garden. Quick pic on the camera phone and onwards. Short lope along the flat then turn left up towards Bramley Baths and part rictus/part grin a lot as the road steepens and my Minidisc throws me Don't Worry Baby followed by Little Deuce Coupe. I don't have the fastest set of legs in town, but it kept me smiling as I jogged into the park and headed up the grass towards the transmitter mast where the marker pen marks tell me I should find the second pillar which turns out to be on the wrong side of a large fence. A pic has to happen all the same, but it's a distant one, unfortunately.

From now, it's pretty much all downhill, so time to up the pace. Little Honda and D'You Wanna Dance work well, but Little Surfer Girl and Oh Caroline No get skipped. Not in the mood for those, having too much fun.

In the ensuing confusion of skipping track I manage to slip the MD into Random mode. Normally I would regret this, but for the steepest, fastest section of the run it throws me an absolute diamond. I leg it down the hill, head down, parachute-wide grin probably retarding my speed more than my legs, all the while trying to keep enough air in my lungs for the low parts of Barbara Ann.... Just take a moment to picture that, please. I hope that image makes you smile.

Pushing on, I hit the bridge over the still icy canal and decide to sprint the last 750m-ish to the car. As I do, Do It Again comes on. I'm sure this is a run I'll repeat, or run a variant of, but for tonight I'm done. 7.4km, 54mins. Not bad at all. Janathon run #4 done, and still smiling.

Many thanks to all my friends for encouragement and abuse in equal measure, to Brian Wilson & co for company and fantastic running music, and to whoever first created SportWool tops, 'cause they're just damn great.



Monday, January 03, 2011

Janathon #3 - Mind doesn't matter

Still trotting on with the Janathon madness. I've not mustered any long runs yet, but it's been a case of fitting running time in between dashing back and forth around the Lakes, seeing people and getting sorted to go back to work tomorrow.

Gary V wrote a cracking piece on keeping motivated. He's dead right, and perhaps this Janathon is something that will be useful in establishing a routine of running. Whiloe I'm not dashing up and down the country as much as he is, the hardest battle will be getting out to run, either (gulp) before work, or after. The lure of the bed and the sofa are strong ones.

Today's run was a little 'shade-over-5km' round the block loop in Leeds, but the hardest part for me was that it was after a few hours of driving, a full day out-and-about, when all I wanted to do was sit down, have a cuppa, and put my feet up. Instead, I made sure my running kit was in the car and easily accessible before I set off back to Leeds, changed in the car outside my house, and ran straight away, before I'd opened my front door and the soft furniture could exert its magnetic tractor-beam on my backside.

The loop's just a street loop, but it's a regular easy jog. It will probably be used a lot through the month on the basis that it's well lit, not too taxing, and already an ingrained route for my feet, taking away from me the extra stress of having to decide where to go! I head down the Otley Road from the house, down into Studentsville (aka Headingley), and loop round past the takeaways,  bars etc. There's nothing like running past your favourite Chinese to motivate you to run.... Erm... I may be wrong on that point.

Anyway. It's also nice as a run in that the first half is downhill and the second half uphill. I know I suffer worst in the first 10 minutes of a run (Toxic Ten syndrome...), especially if that ten minutes is ascent. So this one's a nice steady drop down as described, and down to the cricket ground, then it gradually winds itself back up towards the Co-op at Butcher hill, then a flat jog along suburban backstreets to home. Not quick, in tonight's case (30-35mins-ish. I really should start wearing a watch) but steady away, and enough to fit in between arriving home and divesting the car of it's multivarious contents courtesy of a week-and-a-bit's holiday.

The first 'bigie' of Janathon is in the pipeline for this weekend, with the Nav4 crew heading up to the north Lakes for the Old Crown Round. I'll be there, dragging my sorry arse across the fells. I'll let you know more about it if I make it back... ;)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Janathon #2 - Not quit yet!

Not a bad start to the New Year! After feeling fairly ill for the majority of yesterday's run, today was fantastic.

I'd headed down to Ulverston to meet up with Dave, Mark and Lucy, and after a very enjoyable night of curry, beer and movies at the Hobbit Hole, a cracking night's sleep on the sofa bed, a lovely Cumberland sausage breakfast (god's sake, I need to run just to burn all of the Christmas excess off, don't I?!!) we went off for a quick wander up the Hoad, a wee hill just on the outskirts of town, to the John Barrow memorial. Lovely views over the estuary, the frozen canal basin and back up north into the mountains.

Headed back up home and stopped a couple of times, for tea and cake in Kendal and then for today's run in Keswick, the old alma mater. Parked in Stanger Street and had a lovely scenic bimble around the park, onto the old railway line, along to Friar's Crag, through Crow Park and then back up to the car. From the plot in the RunningFree site, looks like four-and-a-half miles or so, which is nice. Felt like less. Maybe that's a good sign, eh?!



Saturday, January 01, 2011

Janathon #1 - Sickly New Year.

So, avoiding all the festive gubbins and straight into the first run of the year, and the first of Janathon 2011.

I have been for my first run. I now feel a little sick.
This may be the result of a hilly couple of kilometres, the seven or eight pints I had last night, the excess of stodgy party buffet food, or a combination of all of the above. Welcome to 2011 anyway!

Either way, a lovely, if slightly ill feeling, short run around Torpenhow, onto Brown Moor and back down the old village sports fell race course. Nice to be out, even in the dull greyness of New Years Day. Long may the running continue, and I'm sure I'll have stopped feeling ill by the time I've done posting this!