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Monday, 31 May 2010

We English

Today has felt like a proper bank holiday; the sunny-ice-lolly-laying-in-the-cool-green-grass kind of day. A fine and breezy morning run out to Bolton Abbey this morning included much dodging of backpackers, bank holiday picnickers and dogs with big sticks. All were out for a very English day out. M and I often pinch ourselves in case we forget how lucky we are to live with this gorgeous place on the doorstep. We can enjoy this summer playground whenever we want and it really is the perfect destination for a bank holiday day out.
Simon Roberts: Bolton Abbey, Skipton, North Yorkshire, 27th July 2008
 
Today I ran immersed in the holiday feeling; threading my way around pushchairs, walkers teetering under overstuffed packs and sometimes dodging rogue footballs. The path snaked alongside the riverside, winding along the banks of the glistening Wharfe,  its pebbly shores spotted with paddling dogs and toddling children.

Fine bank holiday scenes emerged around each twist in the path and transported me to the amazing stills of Simon Roberts (above). Fellow photography lovers may know his work well but one collection in particular (We English) leaves me inspired and transported. They're definitely worth a look here.

To top off a fine day I came across my favourite lolly variety this afternoon; the Nobbly Bobbly! Could things really be any more perfect...?

Friday, 28 May 2010

Back To It

As I near the end of the holidays, I can say I've truly enjoyed a real break from work, the universe and all things racing. I've had time enough to  feel refreshed and ready again for some proper training and the making of some firm racing plans.

The break from training and sensible eating has taking its toll; I'm now much more 'cuddly' than usual as access to the naughty cupboard at home all day long has brought back my old love handles. I'm now starting to crave broccoli and have nearly (but not quite) tired of cake. It seems impossible, I know.

Planning so far includes a bit of very short stuff building to a half marathon or two later in the year. For now a bit of fun with some track racing will bring a fresh approach to keep things interesting this summer and provide regular opportunities for extra speed work. The last time I raced on the track I was 14 years old.  The odd 3k race will be a nice gauge of my training progress and help the club out with the odd league event. Runningbear will soon be back on track.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Mammas & Pappas

A mad scamper about last week in preparation for a week off work left me feeling like a bit of an empty husk on Friday. But, with a birthday weekend filled with numerous treats and ample pampering I was soon recharged and ready to go. This little bit older Runningbear can still honestly describe herself as a thirty something...

Many treats have followed including too much food and lots of sunshine and with a week off ahead, complete with visits from M's ma and pa we have lots more good times planned. A tweak of regret at not being in Edinburgh running a marathon was soon wiped away after a run in the heat on Sunday. Impressively this didn't seem to affect the ladies too much with a star run from awesome super Vet Sarah Gee of Reading; a very inspiring run indeed. 

Anyway, lots of nice sunny running planned this week. A trip to the track today was my speed injection for the week;  14x400M at Carnegie track alongside M and local talent Becky L of Skipton. It was a real pleasure to have such hard working and positive company on the track and left me with a real training buzz, a feeling I've been missing of late. My Brooks track spikes were awesome again and my rather bulging calves are starting to acclimatise to the new footwear little by little. No more tough stuff planned except for a bit longer run on Thursday, I need to test how quickly the endurance is returning. Long runs are still a struggle and I've now promised an Old Man a trip to the Doc's to check it all out.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Back On Track

Back to the springy stuff this week to restart the regime, if not in the same volume then at least with a bit of quality work. An early finish from the office into glorious sunshine gave the session a proper holiday feel. I drove to Carnegie, sunnies on, windows down and summer tunes on the radio. Life felt good. 

This is the first hard session in a while; a real effort to ease off and recover has left me feeling ready to spring back into action and a session of 400m reps was a great start. I was met by the Coach Scobie, complete with notebook and stopwatch and not another soul in sight; there was nowhere to hide. A fine new pair of track spikes were with me, ready to break in so I pulled the beauties on. They feel great on and are so snug they feel specially tailored. 

I set out on the first rep, feeling frisky and light on my toes and managed a seemingly effortless lap, jogging 200 before setting out again. The times were a wee bit down on my pace before Xmas but not far off. By rep 6 I was ready for a change of shoes, keen to avoid too much mincing of the old calf muscles. Another six reps in racers all within 1 second brought the session to a fine total of 12 reps at a strong pace and  I was feeling in fair condition. Track work is mesmeric when you feel right and today was no exception. I'm left feeling mean and keen and ready for more, the bear's mojo is definitely back!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

BMAF Relays

After a very easy couple of weeks trying to get the mojo back it was all too soon time to travel to Sutton Park for the BMAF Road Relays this weekend. A Friday night drive, a truly huge pub meal and a bad night's sleep in a B&B somewhere near Keele weren't enough to put M off a fine run, running down one age category for our V35s team. Determined to get a run but with no team mates to join him, M ran a great first leg finishing in a fine time of 16.40 on this almost 5k course. Even if there was no man to take the baton, what a hero!

The relay course is a toughie, 2 out of  3 miles being uphill to meet swirling winds before the final mile chasing team places and trying to keep the veteran legs turning over at a good pace. I ran leg 3 in the Bingley LV35s, defending the title we won last year. I set out taking over from leg 2 in 7th place and 2 mins behind the leaders but managed to chase down enough places to hand over just 2 seconds behind the leading lady. A bit too much pressure for our fourth and final runner who managed to bring us home to win bronze. I also got a hefty silver for second fastest ladies' leg of the day in a time of 16.57. A nice little sharpener and a relief to know there's still a bit of speed left in the old legs yet. Results here.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Blogging Blues

This is the longest holiday I've ever had from blogging. So much so that I've had several very sweet and thoughtful emails of concern. Thank you to those of you who wrote; I'm really rather touched. The truth is I couldn't bring myself to inflict on the virtual world my daily whining about running too slowly, putting on weight and the painful indecision about marathon racing. Anyway, I thought it was time to resurface. I can at least report that I'm alive and well, sort of.

I've been duly immersing myself in work these last couple of weeks, mostly to block out the ongoing saga that is my marathon decision. After witnessing another fine PB effort from M on May Day I resolved to stop being so soft and get stuck into training again last week. I've been easing down a fair bit on mileage to give myself a proper recovery from that tenacious cold virus and named Sunday as my decision day. I planned a longish run to provide the final measure I needed. A last opportunity to gauge fitness. Unfortunately, it didn't go terribly well.
M had planned a fine and picturesque route to do together. Starting from Threshfield, a river hugging route took us through to Kettlewell with a return route back via Grassington. The day was lovely and sunny; plenty of splendid views of fine rolling hills and flourishing greenery all around. I was feeling rather chipper as I clipped along at a good pace, wondering why I'd been making such a fuss. However mile 10 came and the wheels started to fall off.

It's strange but I seem currently unable to run beyond 10 miles without some kind of funny wobbly attack. It happened pretty much the same way the previous week and had been the main root of my marathon worries. This time it was my last long run before the official 'taper' and there still remains no clear reason for it. A visit to the doc is planned to rule out any obvious causes.

Anyways, I've come at last to the decision to pull out from the marathon. It's been a funny few days coming to terms with the decision, especially after so much effort and energy has been focused on me doing the flippin' thing this spring. I'm now 'taking stock', having a break and running when I feel like it. I need a bit of a break. On the bright side, I've got loads of work done these last two weeks and am on top of the game in my new job.

This marathon business is tough to prepare for, particularly if you have obsessive tendencies and tend to overdo anything you put your mind to. M laughs that I just can't seem to help doing too much of everything, too much work, too much training, too much cake. I'm really not one for half measures or moderation. I'm disappointed I won’t make it this time but am also keen to get it right when I do. A reschedule is planned with an eye on something else soon. For now, a bit of enforced running fun, a return to some low key racing and then I'll most definitely be back.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Rothwell Roundup

Not much change here for old Runningbear as yet but a week of resting up, perpetual  eating and plenty of navel gazing has given rise to a bit more of an appetite for running again, if only to make the most of the fresh spring sunshine and shaking the office out of my head. The May Day bank holiday brought its own excitement though, as M prepared for another 10k race effort and another PB prospect whilst the running is going so good.

Rothwell 10k has been regarded as a superfast 'assisted' course with its net downhill and crazy-fast first half where most entrants set a 5k PB en route.  A new course this year certainly put paid to that with a lollipop route taking in some moderate  but taxing undulations along the way.

There seemed to be fewer local faces out this year; the competition of a busy  May racing calendar perhaps but I still managed to spot a few stars, including Spen boys Anthony B and Kevin O, who were both looking pretty sharp coming into the finish.

The bank holiday started with brilliant blue skies and a fresh breeze making for near perfect conditions. I accompanied M acting as team support, cake/general fuel manager as well as photo snapper. (I'm not so great at the fuel management when left sole officer in charge of tasty treats).

The race led off after a few mins delay with a fast and furious first mile that some runners I'm sure came to regret. I spent the next 30 mins fumbling pointing the camera at  random things and a few fluffy clouds, distracting myself from the rather nippy breeze.

Sure enough 27 mins later the leading fella flies past at the 9k point with a 3 minute lead and not long after M appears. He was driving through strong and focused and looking like the winner. He was a lean and mean machine. The strength and fitness shone through as M ran a fantastic PB of 35.31, slicing a healthy 27 seconds off his recent Salford time and taking a V40 scalp or two before the finish. A really marvellous run in tough windy conditions and an inspiration to me to get my a** in gear sometime soon. Well done M, again.