Monday, July 04, 2011
Florence, Dylan and Brian sat at the foot of a tree, dejected. Dougal had been missing for a whole month, and they were worried that he’d gone for good.
“My old shaggy pal” moaned Brian “Run into the ground by the Juneathon”
“He’s, like, gone to a better place, maybe” said Dylan. “Like, Bristol”
“I think it’s time to talk to Zebedee” said Florence. “Maybe he can magic him back”
Right on cue, Zebedee boinged into the garden, right next to where the trio were busy lamenting. “You called?” he said.
“Zebedee!” said Florence “You have to help us!”
“Do I?” said Zebedee. “With what?”
“We’ve, like, lost a Dougal, man” said Dylan “And it’s, like, de-shaggied the garden.” To prove this point, he then fell asleep.
“That was careless of you” said Zebedee, somewhat mischievously. “How did you manage that?”
“We were doing a Juneathon” squeaked Brian “And we think the silly clot got the rules wrong.”
“We think he just kept running” said Florence. “He could be anywhere”
“Ah” said Zebedee “So. If you were a dog with very short legs, no idea of what day it is, and a taste for sugarlumps, where would you be?”
Brian and Florence racked their brains, while Dylan snored serenely, though he did mutter something that sounded like “Abergavenny”. Mr Rusty wandered past in the background, carrying a spare sprocket. He paused, hearing the conversation.
“Well” piped up Brian, after a while. “Somewhere where lots of people would feed him sugarlumps all day long”
“Good start” said Zebedee. “And where would they do that?”
“A zoo?” said Florence.
“He’s not dangerous enough to be in a zoo” said Zebedee
“You’ve not seen him first thing in the morning” tittered Brian
“Blackpool” said Mr Rusty, quietly.
“A sugarlump factory, by the ‘seconds’ bin?” said Brian
“You’re stretching” said Zebedee
“Blackpool” said Mr Rusty again, a little more loudly.
“A W.I. canteen?” said Florence, carefully
“Still very cold” said Zebedee
“BLACKPOOL!” shouted Mr Rusty, waking Dylan and startling Florence and Brian
“Why do you keep shouting ‘Blackpool’?” squeaked Brian, from inside his shell.
“Well, there’s donkeys at Blackpool, that take you for a ride on the beach, and people feed them sugarlumps all the time. Seems sensible that he’d be there” said Mr Rusty, then with a sniff he turned and wandered off back towards the roundabout.
“Right on the money!” said Zebedee, and with a twitch of his magic moustache, there stood Dougal... Except...
Dougal hadn’t quite been ready to be magic’d back to the Garden. There was a stick tied to his ears, with a carrot dangling off the end, his hair was all bunched up in ribbons, and a small, slightly confused, child sat on a rug on his back.
“Hey! What’s all this for?! I was living like a king!” Dougal shouted, looking round wildly.
“Dougal!” shouted Florence, running up to give her old friend a big hug
“Shaggy breeks!” shouted Brian, staring fixedly at the carrot “You brought me a present, you shouldn’t have!”
With that, the small child started to cry. And he continued to, until Zebedee magic’d him back to Blackpool and his mother.
“So” demanded Dougal “I got to Blackpool via Crewe, Otley and Carlisle. How far did everyone else get? What did I win?”
“You great wally!” laughed Brian “You were supposed to come back here every night!”
“But then how would I have got to Blackpool?” snapped Dougal
“Slowly, I reckon” giggled Zebedee.
“Yes, Dougal, you win” laughed Florence. “Here’s your prize: A cup of tea and a sugarlump”
“Ah well” sighed Dougal, slurping his tea “Better a king for a day...”
“It’s a dog’s life, eh?” giggled Brian “Or should I say a donkey’s?”
“Watch it, mollusc.” said Dougal.
Florence giggled, Dylan sighed in his sleep, and Zebedee boinged gently on his spring, laughing, until evening fell on the Garden.
“Right” said Zebedee. “Time for bed.”
( The author would like to give his thanks and apologies to Serge Danot and Eric Thompson for the use of their characters. )
So, wrapping-up Juneathon, as I did with Janathon:
Firstly, have some graphs. They look kinda pretty, in a "Ooh, squiggly lines. Wassat mean?" kind of way.
The first is a profile of daily run distances in km, contrasting Janathon this year with Juneathon.
It shows, rather nicely, that I spent much more time in the "10km-and-up" zone than I did in January:
Length January June
20km+ 1 3
15km+ 3 7
10km+ 6 14
Those 'long runs' in Jan were the preserve of weekends, pretty much, whereas in June it was easier to clock a long run of an evening without worrying about temperatures, ice, clothing etc. Oddly, however, I spent more time in June running on tarmac than trail, where January was all about off-road mileage predominantly, June consisted of many more 'all road' runs. I still managed to discover some new trails and get in some interesting trail routes and trigs, so perhaps that balances out.
Interestingly, both lines show a slump of sorts around days 19-24 - I think mentally this is where an 'athon is hardest. You've put in 3 weeks of solid effort but there's still a week plus to go, which weighs on the mind. I'm happy with the variation in distances - sometimes you have things to do of an evening, sometimes you want a long run, sometimes you just need a recovery run - but I'm also happy that very few of my 'short' runs dipped below 5km (only 3 in June against 6 in January). I think my perception has shifted since January, and 'short' tends to mean 5 miles rather than 5 kilometres these days.
The second graph is a cumulative of distances over the month, and the divergence of the lines is the interesting part. (well, interesting if you’re me...)
As the other graph shows, the longer average runs in June have pushed the distances quite nicely, and there's rarely a point (day 3 being the exception) where the variance between the two lines is negative - days 14 to 17 are almost paralleled, but in the main, the increase in divergence is steady.
Secondly, some numbers:
In January, I totalled 251.92km. In June, 322.44km (an extra 70.52km)
In January, I ran for 34hrs 35mins. In June, 44hrs 16mins (an extra 9hrs 41mins)
So I ran for longer and did more miles. That's no great surprise, really.
In January, my average run was 8.13km in 1:07, a pace of 08:14mins/km
In June, my average run was 10.75km in 01:28, a pace of 08:14mins/km
So, I'm not moving any faster on average, but I'm running further at the same pace. Good enough for me, for now.
And that's all for the statistics, you'll be glad to hear.
From a competitive point-of-view (for I am...): Counting running distances only (from the RunningFree pages) I finished 5th, only a handful of km behind Jenks in 4th.
That’s better than Janathon, in a much bigger field, with some very tough competition, and a whole bunch fighting hard for the top ten. If it weren't for a bunch of factors both external-competitive (Chooban, StevieG, Vinsta, Jenks, PPP, MumWhatRuns, PaintedRunner) and internal-personal-encouraging (having done Janathon, proper gait analysis, Grand Raid des Pyrenees, The German, Abradypus, Maggieee, K as in Cake, etc etc), I don't think I'd be anywhere near that. I'm resigned to saying I'm a runner, a slow one, but a runner all the same. So long as I keep it up...
From a more human, less analytical point-of-view, I've noticed a difference myself. I did suffer a whole bunch of aches and pains in June, but nothing consistent and nothing as bad as I'd feared. My last gait analysis, pre-Juneathon, showed that my running style has adapted an awful lot, and while it's still pretty odd, it's getting easier to clock the distances up without significant pain, blisters etc. I don't think you can run 30 days on the trot without some things changing to account for it. Stu and the team at Accelerate have looked after the gait analysis side for me brilliantly, and without their advice I definitely wouldn't be where I am, running-wise. I'd still be hobbling round getting mullered by blisters and wrecked calves on every run.
Physically, the other nice change is that I've lost about 8lbs over the month. Partially that's due to the running, partially it's due to a couple of modifications to my diet (mainly just cutting down my portion sizes!). At the last weigh-in (not something I do obsessively, I hasten to add) I was under the 13 stone mark for the first time in about 10 years. Not much under, but under all the same. Having less of me to haul about should pay some dividends, and while I reckon I've another half-stone to go, I'm not obsessing about it and I'm not trying to take any rush routes. There's no easy way to do it (I can't afford liposuction...) so it'll have to be the age old solution of working at it steadily. That's fine with me.
Mentally I guess there's a few changes too. The idea of heading out and pushing 20km+ in an evening doesn't faze me so much, the idea of a half marathon is very realistic (slow, but realistic!), and I'm feeling a lot more confident about the upcoming Grand Raid des Pyrenees, though I know I need to get some big hill days in, with a pack, between now and then, and I can't slack off the training. Speedwork and/or joining a running club probably wouldn't go amiss somewhere, but I'm wary of my old tendency to try and push too hard too fast and don't want to injure myself. We'll see how things pan out over the next 6-8 weeks and where we are when GRP comes around. After that... who knows?!
Oh, and to any readers wondering what's happened to Dougal... You'll find out. Soon.