Sunday, February 13, 2011

All in a day's work

I guess Janathon's had a few positive effects, on both my running and on life in general. In terms of running, it has meant I wasn't worried about the prospect of covering 20km-plus over a day, and in terms of life it's meant I've met some new, friendly, like-minded people. Well, 'met' is a contentious term, but at least commented on blogs and had them comment on mine...

Yesterday was a combination of both of the above. I headed out relatively early in the morning to get down to the Leeds parkrun, a nice steady 25 minute jog from home down to Hyde Park as a warm up, then a steady 28 minute 5km, taking it a little bit easy as I knew I had more mileage to come over the day and I didn't want to wreck myself early on.  A cuppa and a bottle of water at the Union and a lovely couple of hours just relaxing, stretching out gently, enjoying the sun, the Redlands Palomino Company and a good book, and then back over to Hyde Park for the 'Northern Post-Janathon 5km and Lunch'

To explain that to any non-Janathoners reading, Cahy andthe Southern contingent of Janathon were having a meet up, prize presentation, 5km jog and meal down in Hyde Park, London, to celebrate the end of the month and let people meet each other 'properly'. Unfortunately for me, London's a bit far to travel just for a jog and a meal, so a couple of us had discussed a 'Northern' extension, in Hyde Park, Leeds. There were three of us lined up to be there, myself, Rich (Fitographer) and Duncan (UnshodNortherner). None of us had met before, but we'd arranged to meet at the parkrun start line, then do a 5km  lopp around and about (route map below), then head over to Opposite for a cuppa and a sarnie.

I was early, as usual, Duncan arrive about five-to, and we chatted and waited around until 25-past but unfortunately Rich never arrived, so we headed off on the run without him. A nice steady pace down the park and over the Otley Road, then up through a series of small alleys and snickleways into the woods on Meanwood Ridge, trying to avoid the muddier patches as Duncan runs in Vibram FiveFingers toe-shoes (hence the 'Unshod Northener' tag) which are a wee bit lacking in grip on the slippy stuff. U-turn at the gate and back along the low trail back through the woods, out onto Meanwood Road and back up the hill towards the park. We took it steady and chatted along the way, although Duncan admitted it was probably the hilliest run he'd done since he started running. Pretty soon we were back in the park, and just waiting for the bleep from his Garmin to tell us we'd covered the distance - and we had. Bang on 5km start to finish, a friendly passer-by did us the obligatory finish picture, a quick call to Gary V to link up with the Southern contingent and say hi, and headed over to the cafe for tea and medals and for me to be very curious about the experience of barefoot running in the FiveFingers. Oh and who'da thought, Roast Beef and Roast Parsnip sandwiches are actually rather good..

It was cracking to meet another Janathoner in person, to get a different perspective and share a few stories, and when Duncan headed off into town it was also nice to head to the Union bar and watch England hammer Italy in the rugby, before a brief walk and a slow, steady jog back home through Meandwood park and the Hollies, with the Sat tracker showing a total of 22km for the day - a nice Half Marathon, spread over a day. Excellent fun!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

On and up.

So, one challenge ends, another arises. As the song says, that's the way (ah-hah, ah-hah) I like it...

I placed top ten in Janathon, 6th place I think, which was a heck of a shock. I never entered for any sense of competition, just for something to give me the motivation to train early in the season and to give me a kick up the jacksy to do some work. I'm happy with my mileage and the effort I put in, I know the areas where I could have done more and the reasons why I didn't, I've shifted my view of my own limitations, I've run further in a month than I probably ever have in a year, and I've managed all of the above without injury. All good stuff. Really good stuff, in fact.

And now, with the lessons learnt from Janathon, we carry forward to the next challenge. It's a way off yet, but it's a reason to continue jogging, logging and blogging. And to express it the same way as the big piece of paper on my wall does (target visualisation, don'tcherknow):

On August 28th 2011, in the afternoon, I will be sitting in a cafe in Vielle Aure, drinking coffee and munching croissants, chatting to friends, having completed the Grand Raid des Pyrenees.

I'd said elsewhere that a road marathon held no appeal to me as a target, while a trail Ultra did. Well, through a friend, in recognition of the Janathon kick-in-the-bum, I've been offered a place at the GRP, an ultra-marathon which is generating a lot of attention as it develops from fairly humble beginnings 4 years ago. 1500 competitors this year, and the race entry is now sold out, which gives you some idea of how big it's becoming.

It took me a little while to decide. I'd said many times before that in Adventure Racing terms, running and trekking were my weakest disciplines. Excitable, incorrigible me saw the invite and whooped and hollered and danced; Sensible, logical me wondered about training mileage, asked a couple of good friends about their Ultra experiences, and picked brains. The former thought things like "how cool would that be! Big hills in the sun!"; The latter knew that 'big hills' equates to 'hard work', and 'the sun' to 'crispy-fried Pyro'. Neither of me could actually come up with a reason not to try, though, so I agreed with myself that it seemed only right to accept. Our formal entry was submitted yesterday, so we're on system green from here.

The race, though I use the word advisedly in my case, is the 'Grand' course: 80km (50 miles) with 5000m of ascent and a maximum finishing time of 25 hours. Both of me unanimously decided that the Ultra course, 100 miles in 50 hrs, was maybe more than we could chew for a first ultramarathon. Starting from Vielle Aure, the route ascends to the Pic du Midi, which looks stunning in last year's race pics, and around the areas of the Col de Tourmalet and the Hautacam, names synonymous with hard climbing, at least for cyclists. In 6 months time I will be ready for it, mentally, physically and technically, and in 6-and-a-half, I will be heading out onto the hills for the longest long hike of my life. And both of me are looking forward to it.

So, here's to the next challenge, whatever yours is. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


My resolve is broken.

I swore I wouldn't. I swore I'd stop.

I have to confess...

...I went for a run. Whoops.

Airienteers Headingley streets 45min Score-O: 7.95km, 50:50 (damn me trying to push for those couple of extra controls...)

Just as well. Big plans ahead. Febathlon, anyone?