Midyear Review

goalsAs we approach the midyear point – and I’m not going to say it.  Oh alright, I will – where did that go!  I thought it would be a sensible idea to “review” the goals I’d set myself back in January.  This would then potentially shame me into giving myself a metaphorical kick up the backside!

So here goes, starting with the successes and going downhill after that!

Tick

Attend Leadership in Running Fitness Course – attended back in February and licence held since the end of April.  My grand plan to start up my own “post school run” running club disappeared as all my mornings are now booked up with clients and my priority has to be paying the bills!

Join a running club – actually this is one of my goals from 2014 and wasn’t even on the list for 2015 but I’ve done it and am now a proud member of So Let’s Go Running (well, for about a week!).

Take off trainers properly – achieved, definitely a case of once you’ve been doing something for 21 days, it becomes a habit.  Although last weekend someone told me about elastic laces where you intentionally don’t untie the laces and just slip your trainers on and off!  Bloody typical, I start doing something constructive and then find out someone’s invented something to make it unnecessary!

On Track

Run 1400k during 2015 – yup, generally on track to achieve this barring illness, injury and idleness.

To perform 2 sets of 15 full body press ups – up to 2 sets of 9 (followed by the remaining 6 as half press ups).  Assuming I keep to my “increase it by one a month” strategy, this should be achievable.  Either that or I will literally fall flat on my face!

Improve my flexibility – my regular attendance at Samadhi Yoga classes seems to be helping here.  Although it’s not particularly quantifiable, I’m pretty sure I’m more flexible than I was back in September 2014 when I started attended classes.  There are certainly some postures which I’m getting better at anyway.  I’m also putting my improved upper body strength (see above) down to all those downward dogs!

 

Please don't criticize my technique!

Please don’t criticize my technique!

Then we come to the shaming, “must do better” category

Daily dry body brushing – lasted about a week!

Reduce weight/body fat/dress size – all seem to be going in the opposite direction latterly but I have six months to put it back in reverse.

Reduce my Run Britain handicap to below 15 – another one going in the opposite direction, currently 17.7 (was 16.7 at the end of 2014) 😦

Sub 25’ parkrun and sub 2 hours 3’ 33” half marathon – enjoying running for running sake far too much at the moment to achieve the first and I’m blaming my current failure on the second on my age related slow down!  But again, still time to change this.

So I consider myself given the proverbial kick and here’s to a more successful second half of 2015!  How are you doing with your goals?

Advertisements

Amba Hotels City of London Mile

So today I had both Network Rail and TfL trying to sabotage my travel plans with their engineering works/line closures but luckily I managed to get to London town with plenty of time for my second outing at the Amba Hotels City of London Mile.

Last year I’d headed off with a certain amount of scepticism about how it was all going to unfold considering it was the inaugural run and my dreams are still haunted by the disaster that was the inaugural Run to the Beat half marathon in 2008.  My scepticism was entirely misplaced in 2014 and it would have been today if I’d had any doubts – which I didn’t!  The organisers have it down to a tee – it all worked perfectly last year and it all worked perfectly this year.  The only thing they couldn’t quite manage to pull off was the weather but even so, the cooler temperatures and natural “misting stations” probably worked in our favour.

This year!

This year!

Last year!

Last year!

I’d departed Ebbsfleet in sunshine, pulled into St Pancras to grey skies and emerged from the underground at Bank to rain!  I should say that when traversing the tangle of tunnels and escalators/stairs that is Bank station, it was rather disconcerting to hear the station announcements about delays on the Central line down to a person on the line.  It wasn’t quite so much the incident itself but more the jolly tone of voice with which we were kept informed about the situation.  I know it wasn’t a “human” announcer but still, her tone made it sound like some “jolly jape”.  I do hope that poor person was okay.

I emerged from the tube and made my way up Poultry and Cheapside to the shelter of the One New Change Shopping Centre.  I know this shopping centre quite well and more importantly, I know where the toilets are!  So having made myself comfortable, I then proceeded to the number collection point which all went very smoothly.  Fortunately I remembered my number so didn’t have to join the queue (although even that was short).

Having completed the safety details and attached the run number to the front of my top, I then began my warm up, which basically consisted of running around One New Change trying to find a bin to dispose of the envelope which had contained my number.  Bins are sadly lacking in this part of London so I went back to the only place I knew there definitely would be a bin – the toilets!  Oh well, while I’m here 😉

WP_20150614_003

(My race number is not an indication of my “expertise”, more a reflection of my eagerness to enter!)

When I emerged from the centre, I realised the first wave would be crossing the finish line so made my way over in time to see the last “stragglers” come in.  I then stayed to watch the second wave coming home before making my way over to the wave holding/congregation area.  I had plenty of time so I sauntered over to Cannon Street to watch the next wave start off.

Coming home!

Coming home!

On the way out

On the way out

Now I know I’ve been acting a bit too “casual” recently but one runner went passed eating a sandwich – I kid you not!  It was only a mile, you don’t need to refuel after a few hundred metres!  But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt – perhaps he’d missed breakfast.  I hope he didn’t get indigestion on the way around!

Ten minutes before our start time, we were herded towards the start line and then came the jumping up and down to keep warmed up part.  By this time the rain had more or less stopped and the clock on St Paul’s kept us informed of the rapidly approaching start.  Even so the start gun went off without any pre-warning, well not if you were near the back of the pack anyway, and we were off!

Count down

Count down

Because of the accumulation of runners at the start, it was necessary to keep an eye on potholes/protruding manhole covers at the very start but once the field spread out, it was a case of head down and run hell for leather, consoling myself with the fact it would be over in 10 minutes – hopefully.  I was also being a bit cautious because of the wet roads and consequent slipping potential and I decided en route this would be my excuse for being slower than last year!

We set off down Cannon Street and Victoria Street towards the Bank of England and a couple of glances at my watch showed me I was doing a cracking pace.  It also told me I’d probably gone off too fast and wouldn’t keep it up.

The route

The route

We then continued up Princes Street, turned left into Gresham Street and took another left in front of the Guildhall before turning right on to Cheapside and the long stretch uphill towards home!  At the halfway point my Garmin told me I was on 3’ 44” so I knew I should be able to achieve a similar time to last year but I also knew the last few hundred metres were uphill.

Guildhall in the distance

Guildhall in the distance

The Royal Exchange and a contrast of old and new

The Royal Exchange and a contrast of old and new

According to RunFast I crossed the line in 7’ 28.23”, a second and a half slower than last year but I’m just glad I managed to prove last year’s time wasn’t a fluke!  Although I will admit it did hurt more this year, legs and lungs!

I really believe the organisers of this event (The Running Works) and their sponsors deserve many congratulations.  They’ve put on an efficiently run and fun event.  There’s plenty of pre-run communication via email and social media; the number collection and disposal of baggage seems to run smoothly and the organisation of the waves works magnificently, giving runners the opportunity to see other participants at both the start and finish of the run.

I know a mile might seem inconsequential to some runners but it is a distance where you can really push yourself knowing that the pain is short-lived.  And afterwards, you can play the numbers game and dream of your 5k, 10k, half and marathon times if you just managed to keep up that pace!  Or is that just me 😉

Oh, and the other thing, it’s FREE!!!

The best sort of bling!

The best sort of bling!

The Harvel 5

I’ve known about The Harvel 5 for the past three or four years but have always been put off.  Not by the distance (5 miles) but by the start time and the fact it’s held on the first Saturday in June –potential to be hot, even with a British summer!

Well my reluctance has been a big mistake!  I’m putting this run in my top five – although I’ll have to think about what the other four are!  It might be the all time favourite once I’ve given the subject serious consideration.

Communal warm up!

Communal warm up!

The event is organised by the Harvel Hash House Harriers who bill themselves as “the drinking club with a running problem” which might explain why the water stations were supplemented with beer!  The run’s 800 places were sold out three weeks before the day which doesn’t really surprise me because a lot of people I spoke to in the week leading up to Saturday appeared to be taking part and the majority were first timers.  Hello’s/alrights/other words of acknowledgement were replaced by “doing Harvel?”  But I suppose that’s what you get with a local event and when you start mixing with runners!

I am beginning to think my “grand plan”* may be causing me to take just a little bit too much of a casual approach to my runs.  Not only did I leave it until a couple of hours before the run to get “my bits” together, I also tail ran at parkrun in the morning.  Normally, I wouldn’t consider running the day before a run, let alone five hours before – saving my legs, you know 😉  Quite a few volunteers at the morning’s parkrun were saving themselves for that afternoon’s shenanigans.  But then quite a few of the regulars were running and not saving themselves – they ran both.  I think I opted for the compromise.

Another sign of this casual approach is the fact I didn’t study the route in any great detail beforehand.  I’d been encouraged to enter by another runner’s reassurance that only the first and last part of the route were out in the open, the remainder was in the shade of the woods.  Somebody else told me this wasn’t strictly true and that actually there was slightly more road running than trail running.  My sports massage therapist told me the course was undulating and warned me about a “hill”.  She said I might not consider it a hill but it was in any event only about 100m long.  During the run another participant told me this hill was only about 20m in length.  I beg to differ!  I think Stacey was closer at 100m and boy, was it steep, but I put my head down and just mentally acknowledged that once I got to the top, the trail would flatten out.

But my mistake in not looking at the route map in depth meant that I was under the misapprehension that the gentle declines on the way out would have to be run back up on the way back.  Luckily once we got to the top of the hill, not only did the route flatten out, it was downhill almost all the way to the finish.  First time I’ve ever managed a “sprint finish” even if it was induced mainly by gravity!

WP_20150606_003

WP_20150606_002

The run itself starts off in country lanes barely wide enough for two cars to pass and then meanders its way through Vigo Village before entering Trosley Country Park.  A video had appeared on Facebook in the morning warning us of puddles and mud still in abeyance on the Friday evening.  Once we entered the park I was reminded very much of the Beginners2Runners woodland trail run in Barming at the beginning of May.  And there was one very brief section where I really wanted to stop to take a photo.  The trees parted to present us with a glorious scene across the Downs, but I resisted and ploughed on.

An unnecessary distraction!

An unnecessary distraction!

Oh, and the weather?  It was indeed warm but not unbearably so and there were enough clouds and a breeze to give us some respite.  The weather helped the post run gathering too.  There was a very relaxed picnic atmosphere as runners checked results on the notice board and/or refuelled/rewarded themselves with ice cream, cakes, burgers and of course more beer!  I believe there was also an acoustic open mic event at the HHHH’s club HQ (The Amazon & Tiger) later on that afternoon.

Like at a lot of events, there were photographers on hand to capture grimaces and grins depending upon how you were feeling.  But unlike other events these photos were free to download thanks to Fast2foto.  Not only did I not have to pay an astronomical price for a picture of me looking like a trainwreck, they even managed to get a couple of shots of me looking halfway human!  That has to be a first.

Almost human!?

Almost human!?

All in all, a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon in June and one which I hope to repeat next year 🙂

* for the uninformed, my grand plan is to try to do one 10k event each month to enable me to get my pacing right so I don’t go to pieces in any longer events, ie, the Great North Run.  And I know 5 miles is not 10k but when I add on the 1 mile run I’m doing next weekend, that’s almost 10k!

WP_20150607_001