Monday, April 30, 2007

Naff all Monday

Had a long, hard but productive day at work - least I hope it was productive - the signs are that the programming worked but never say never until the fat lady sings.

Anyway, I was too knackered to go to the gym or out for a run. The cold is much improved but still not totally gone. I'm going to give the hard session a miss tomorrow and go for an easy one with the folks from the gym instead. Then I should be fully recharged for the Wednesday track session - yipee.

More from the guide ...
8) Put mosquito netting around your work area and play a tape of jungle sounds all day.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Achy breaky Sunday

My legs felt a bit achy from yesterdays run. It's surprising how quickly I lost some of my race recovery rate. Before my hols I wouldn't have had a problem at all after yesterdays race but with just two weeks off I've lost it - the recovery rate that is. It won't be long before it's back though.

It was my first time out with the Sunday crew for 2 months or more and it was nice to be back out there and with such a big group - there were eight of us. We ran for about 70 minutes and covered about nine miles. Maybe not the quickest but it was up and down a bit and through a few gates and stiles. I have to be pleased with my first week back in training though. I've run six times in seven days including two races, a cold and a partridge in a pear tree. So I guess it's not that surprising my legs are a bit achy really.

The Sunday run is going to be a training base for some of the boys - I say boys, more vets - for the Castles relay in June. We - I say we, but I'm just driving the wheels as backup support on account of my youth so don't need to bother - but we're all going to be building to half marathon distance or there abouts over the next few weeks. I shall consider myself to be their technical training specialist, motivator and all round top bloke.

After the run I shot over to Yate to do the scoring for the Junior League meeting. Everything went ok with no major cock-ups. The set up at Yate is great they have this new fangled race timing system like wot they have on the BBC with photo finish and everything - it was quality - until, that is, the starter shot it and broke it - but we won't mention that. Hopefully they'll have it fixed for next weeks young athletes match.

Tootle pip.

More from The Mad Runner's 12 point guide ...
7) Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don't rhyme (mine do).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A spoonfull of sugar ......

I enjoyed today's race up to the top of Sugar Loaf and back. I struggled a bit on the steeper climbs (there was about 1850ft of ascent in total) and had to stop a few more times than I would have liked but it was just too hard to breath deeply - besides I didn't drop too much time on those ahead of me when I did stop and walk.

I just managed to break the hour, 59:33, finishing in 11th place. I'm pleased with that because I wasn't sure I would manage it in light of this damn cold. All in all the Sugar Loaf was just what the doctor ordered and helped the medicine go down.

More from the Mad Runner's 12 point guide to keeping a healthy level of insanity ...
6) Sing along at the opera

And here, in record breaking time, is Episode 11: A Spoonfull Of Sugar

Friday, April 27, 2007

Lazy day

A day off was just what the doctor ordered. The cold is still troubling me but I can definitely breath a bit more freely today. I will be fine for tomorrow and I'm giving Mr Cap-cam another day out. Just hope it doesn't get too warm or it'll hinder my breathing and I might collapse on the mountain - only kidding - if I do I'll just roll down the side of it instead of running!

Anyway, I've just sent off my entry for the Big Black Mountain Challenge on the 19th May. I think I may have left my entry a bit late as it says the race gets full early. It sounds like a tough one though, 15 summits of 660m or above covering 43km - now that's what I call a challenge. The race details suggest that fit walkers (or runners) can take an average of 11 hours to complete - now that must be a rough race. I'll be sad to miss doing this one but I'm guessing my entry is too late - oh well, always next year.

More from my 12 point guide to keeping a healthy level of insanity ...

5) As often as possible, skip rather than walk - especially if chatting to colleagues at the time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fourth day in a row Thursday

I decided not to train too hard tonight. It's been my fourth day in a row after my two weeks of almost nothing so for once the mad runner has very nearly approached a level of sanity unheard of on this blog. I must not allow myself to get too used to all this sensible stuff - but I'm guessing you know it won't last.

Anyway, it was just another steady run through Ashton Court tonight, lasting just over 50 minutes. Then I put in another session on the weights before heading home for a night in with my feet up - ah, heavenly rest. The cold is much improved today - I can almost breath. I recon with a good days rest tomorrow it will be almost gone by Saturday and shouldn't effect me much in the race.

I aim to start back with the MD's sessions next week as I crank my training up a notch - only 22 weeks to the Berlin Marathon so the clock is ticking. I shall also be running my first long run for a while the following weekend. Next week also gives me the chance for a training session over the 400m hurdles ready for the first Midland League match with the B team. It ain't gonna' be pretty but you can bet your life I'll do it - there, I've said it now and the mad runner never backs out once he's committed himself to paper - or in this case the blog. I'm not sure where the meeting is, I think I heard Hereford mentioned so that isn't too bad to get to - either way I'm sure I'll get told before the day.

More from the Mad Runner's 12 point guide to keeping a healthy level of insanity ...

4) Finish all your sentences with the phrase 'in accordance with the prophecy'

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fighting for breath

Good to see Nick back but it was a case of bring out the zimmer frame for all of us tonight! Nick and Sean completed the full session of 4 x 400m followed by 6 x 300m but even they would admit it was not their fastest session ever. They've both been ill recently so it's forgivable - I forgive them anyway, even if Rick doesn't. I'm sure they'll be back running strong in next to no time - well, shall we say, in the four days they have until the Junior league track meeting at Yate on Sunday.

I could only manage the 400's followed by 2 of the 300's tonight. I just could not breath. Half way round the lap I went into bad oxygen debt and struggled to finish before gasping for breath until we started the next one. With each lap I ended up being further and further in oxygen debt until I couldn't go on. Even so I was impressed with my 400's; 72, 70, 70 and 71. That's close to being as fast as I go. Even the first 300 in 50 was surprising but the final one in 53 really finished my off - it was all I could do to move off the running line before collapsing in a pathetic heap by the side of the track.

Although I didn't finish the session I've come away feeling positive because I know that if I can run 70's without being able to breath then I'm going to go much faster once I can - well a second or two anyway.

I was thinking of running the TACH multi-terrain race tomorrow in Cleeve but I'm going to give it a miss so I can be fit (or slightly less clogged up at least) for Sugar Loaf on Saturday.

More from the Mad Runner's 12 point guide to keeping a healthy level of insanity ...

3) Put your office rubbish bin on your desk and label it 'in tray'

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Racing time

Things went pretty well tonight. Better, in fact, than I had expected in light of this damn cold. I have been producing copious amounts of 'pure green' at the moment but unfortunately the bottom has dropped out of the market and it's virtually worthless.

Anyway, I decided to go off steady and try and increase through the race. I wanted to avoid going off too fast because I knew I would really suffer come the finish. To that end, I thought I was playing the game plan out pretty well. A big group of ten or so runners were just drifting out the front door. My perception of the game plan and reality were, sadly, out of alignment with the planets as Uranus got in the way of Venus, blocking the running line. I was through that first km in 3:31 - which is pretty much top speed for me and much too fast tonight. The funny thing was though, the legs felt great. So I just kept going.

I started to move up through the field and before too long I'd picked off most of that group of ten. By the half way point I was on target for about 17:45 and really flying. Once I hit the hill things took a dramatic change for the worse. I just couldn't breath deeply enough. The legs were ok but I couldn't get the oxygen in. From then on, with about 2k to go, it was just a case of survival. No one came past me from that point but I started to lose ground on those in front whom only a few short minutes before I had been eating up the distance. I was gasping for air with every step and eventually finished in 18:32, which I'm still pleased with and it's certainly quicker than I thought I would go tonight. More importantly though, the legs felt good so I'm sure I'll be knocking out some quick times once I get shot of this damn lurgy.

Well done to Gareth for his PB tonight - nice one. And well done to Sian and Lisa on Sunday, both breaking the magic 3 hour barrier - a feat I'm hoping to emulate one day. Well done to any one else who ran the marathon and was pleased with their time. And if you're not happy, well done anyway for trying. Better to have tried and failed than blah blah blah... you know the drill, Nepalese guru and all...

This one is for Nick, hope you're over your lurgy and feeling stronger. I'm looking for good things from you tomorrow.

More from The Mad Runner's 12 point guide to keeping a healthy level of insanity ...

2) Page yourself over the office intercom but don't disguise your voice.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Haven't seen gym in a while

I managed a full day at work but decided to go straight home and skip the gym - yeh, like that was ever going to work. I was half way home when, drifting through the afternoon smog, came the intoxicating song of the Sirens (that's the gym in case you were wondering). I was unable to resist it's charm and beauty.

Suffice to say, when I parked up at the gym I thought, what the heck and threw in a 35 minute run through Ashton Court by way of an appetiser. I followed that by a good hour long session on the weights. I think we can safely declare the cease fire on training well and truly over.

It felt grrrreeeat to be out there again. Wind rushing - well, at least moving faster than walking pace - through my hair and I actually felt pretty good. Maybe not fast but definately good. I struggled with my breathing a bit and sounded a lot like Darth Vader on a bad day! How do you get a flippin' cold when the temperature's are in the mid-twenties anyway? Nevermind. Moving on.

I eagerly await tomorrow's race to see how slow - I mean quick - I'll be (think positive, must think positive).

By way of a change from the thought for the day, here is my Mad Runner's 12 point guide to keeping a healthy level of insanity. Yes, you too, can be as half shot away as me if you follow this easy to read guide ......

1) At lunch time, sit in your parked car by the side of the road with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm back......

your holiday, from the madness, is over - and mine is too as I post this entry from the M4 as we pass Swindon. And what better way to get back into it than with the Bridge Inn 5k on Tuesday!

I've managed to pick up a stinking cold and the 9 hour flight has left me totally wiped out - I think I need a holiday to recover from the holiday but the hol was great. I'll have a pic of me swimming with dolphins later - no one else would - swim with me that is :( - only kidding.

Oh well all this typing as we drive is making me feel sick - the ol' travel sickness is kicking in so I have to stop or Huey Lewis and the News might be paying a personal visit to the inside of the car!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mini golf champion

I've only managed one further run of just 25 minutes - now that's just plain poor effort. The temperatures have been wicked though and I am running low on sun block - but I did win the mini golf by four shots today - result.

I'm itching to get back to some proper running. I feel so lardy and I'm desperately trying to find some healthy eating options. I am fast approaching half a stone over weight!!! Heaven knows how slow I'm going to be in the Sugar Loaf fell race in a week and a bit's time. It will be interesting to see how much form I've actually lost and how much is just worry that I've lost it - well, you all know I've lost it (and a long time ago) - but you know what I mean.

Thought for the day: Playing mini golf with your nephew and niece, brothers and sister-in-law often leads to a bad case of competitive uncle syndrome - it certainly did today!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Off topic......

Six days in and I've managed to eat far toooo much and run way too little - just about an hour in total before today. I feel the fitness draining away and my weight increasing by the second!!! Obviously I've managed to find a wifi hotspot for my phone - else how could I blog this? And of course it was a free one. When I say free what I mean is $4.99 all you can eat breakfast buffet - dammit that's another pound or two going on - pancakes with maple syrup, waffles, sausage, bacon, egg, beans, fruit, cereal, ice cream, chocolate brownies!

We've done three parks so far. Disney's Animal Kingdom, MGM Studios and Busch Gardens. They have all been ace and overall we've been well lucky with the queues - managing to get on the top attractions with minimal queuing. Top tip; go to the furthest rides first and then work back to the entrance, also plan the use of the fast-track to maximum effect.

The best ride so far - and four or five have been really top notch - has to be Busch Gardens' SheiKra - it's a verticle drop job, one of only three in the world and the one with the largest drop plus a second smaller drop. I've been on one of the other two as well - being Alton Towers' Oblivion.

Finally, I managed a longer run today - wait for it, wait for it - 40 minutes - now pick yourselfs up off the floor. This one is for the lads at the track - I hope you haven't been slacking. Hate to think you were letting youselves slip just because I am! I await the reports with eager anticipation upon my return.

Off now to have a soak in the pool......

Thought for the day: Always wear sun block.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Couldn't think of a good title Friday

Well it won't be long now until I'm mixing it with Micky. Not sure how much training I'm going to be fitting in during the next two weeks but I shall try to get out and run a few times. Also not sure how much blogging I'll get done either. As a member of the secret society of the sacred gadget I shall be taking my Wi-Fi PDA just in case I find a hotspot where I can connect to the net and therefore post a blog or two.

This is to the Wednesday track lads - no slacking. I don't want to hear any reports of you taking things easy while I'm not there - you have been warned.

This ones for all the Bristol men and women running the London Marathon -

The miles are run,
the hard work is done,
your tapers begun,
two weeks give it some.

And don't go over doing it in these last days - there's nothing more to gain but everything to loose.

Thought for the day: When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holding on in Horfield

I've never trained on the patch of grass we trained on tonight in Horfield. The sun was shining and it almost felt like summer as our little band of merry men - and women - ran round the course, robbing the rich to give to the poor - no, hang on, that was a film. No, we just ran, yep, that's right, we just ran.

The session consisted of eight reps then six reps then four. Each rep was 300m (gps) uphill with 70s recovery and then three minutes between sets.

I think I put it the most effort of any training session I've ever run. If not the most it was certainly right up there. That's not to say I didn't have doubts creeping in. I started out slow on the first two reps but towards the end of the first set, the eight, I was up to speed but also on the verge of calling it a day. It was such hard effort and really hurting but after my pathetic showing yesterday I just couldn't give in - defeat was not on the menu tonight.

I drew on my reserves, dug in and kept going. Heidi and I really battled each other up that hill which helped me stay the session. I have to thank her for pushing me because that really forced me to run on the limit. Without that push I would have almost certainly slowed. All the reps, bar two, ended up being in the range 60-62s. It was a great session on which to finish before my hols - I finish on a high - pick that one out the back of the net.

Thought for the day: A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Woeful Wednesday

Oh it was hard tonight. I felt good all day but once on the track it was a different story. It was a full house but even that couldn't lift me. Rob, Matthew (new last week) and Harry ran 300's and from what I could see they looked to be on good form. Nick, Sean and myself ran a pyramid session of 400, 600, 800, 1000, 800, 600 & 400. Nick and Sean have been ill for a week and were a little out of sorts. They were coughing, wheezing and spluttering around the track, clearly under the weather. I suggested home made chicken soup - just the job, yum - made from real chicken bones, even yummier - but it didn't go down too well - I told them they should have taken the bones out first! The fact that they turned up tonight showed great strength of character and spirit. They'll be back on song next week I'm sure.

As for me I don't have many excuses and won't make any either. I was pitiful. But that's life - you can sit down and cry or put it behind you and get the heck on with it. I managed the full set except for the first 800 of which I could only manage 400. Other than that I made it round - but slowly. My splits were, 73s, 1:56, 78s, 3:29, 2:41, 1:57 and 74s. Not the quickest by a long shot but at least I stuck it out.

Hopefully I will be less pathetic at training tomorrow in Horfield with the MD.

Thought for the day: If life seems jolly rotten, there's something you've forgotten and that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.

PS. I'm currently laughing, smiling with a bit of dancing and singing to boot.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Warm turkey......

It's no good. I can't resist. I have to have a race on the calendar. I've picked out the Sugar Loaf Fell Race on Saturday the 28th April. Obviously I'll be running the Bridge Inn 5k on Tuesday the 24th but that's a permanent fixture in my diary these days so it doesn't really count as a race.

On to training at the zoo tonight. I hadn't done tonight's variation before - which I shall simple call, 'The two big and a half then two big then two shorter ones' variation - catchy, hey? I covered the first two reps, lap distance 1.95km (according to the gps), in 7:04 and 7:02 with 2:30 recovery. Then came the two big laps, 1.1km, both run in exactly 3:57 with 2:00 recovery.

At this point I walked away. I felt tired and I'd pushed hard. The session was not complete, however, there was a medium, 0.8km, and a short, 0.6km, with a 90s recovery, to go but I just called it a day and started to walk to the car. Now I haven't raced twenty one races this year with that attitude and I'll be damned if I'll let it slip now - not even in training. If I want to run faster and be stronger then I have to be mentally strong - not just mental. I turned round and came back, called upon my reserves and completed the last two. Running them in 2:50 and 2:10 respectively. I'm glad I did.

And finally, I made the Evening Post for my 17th place in the Chedworth Roman Trail - they must be hard up for news is all I can think!!!!

Thought for the day: When you're chewing on life's gristle. Don't grumble, give a whistle and this'll help things turn out for the best.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Withdrawal symptoms

I'm beginning to get the shakes as I haven't raced in a while - well, 32 hours. The thought of three weeks without a race fills me with dread!!!

I've been down the gym tonight and had a burn up on the exercise bike. After such short races on the weekend - literally sprints (3M and 10M) - I'm looking for a good final training flourish before my hols. Tomorrow it's up to the zoo - whoo hoo.

I wonder if there are any races going on in Florida in the next couple of weeks......

Thought for the day: Why do people parking at the gym always try to get as close to the entrance as possible? They drive round and round trying to get that spot right by the door. They're going to the gym - for exercise - but can't walk 100 yards to the entrance - what's that all about?


 A walk on the serious side - this is scary not sure how to be serious! This is for Alun asking about filming races.

The kit I use for filming is an Oregon ATC 2000. Basically it's a small self contained unit designed for mounting on bike handle bars or helmets. I've bodged it onto a cap and that's it really. I'm no expect - very very far from it but I have improved my technic - oh er misses. It took several races before I had the vertical angle adjusted to capture the runners eye view. The first couple of films took in a lot of the ground, then I went over the top and filmed the sky. It only takes small adjustments but finally I have it adjusted about right. Secondly you will need to practice filming with it. It took a few attempts to be able to keep looking forward and not at the ground. You have to be quite focused especially when you feel tired at the end of a race where the natural tiredness tends to leave your head pointing towards the ground - well tiredness leaves me pointing at the ground anyway. You have to stay focused and keep looking ahead - hence the practice. Just make sure you do some test filming before the race you really want to film or you might be disappointed. Here is a link to an old blog post with a picture of my cap-cam -

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Roman around the countryside

After reaching my target yesterday I felt a bit empty today. So what does someone who's run twenty races this year do? - put their feet up and relax after a job well done. What does the Mad Runner do? Why, goes and runs his twenty first race of the year of course......

First off I managed to get to Chedworth in plenty of time this week - now that had to be a good omen. I'd looked over the results from the last few years before hand and decided that a time of 1:10 would be a good target. On last years entry I reckoned I could maybe touch the top ten.

Anyway, it was really blowing on top and it looked like the entire course was quite exposed but I still thought the 70 minute target was do-able. The race wasn't flat but at only 900ft of climb it wasn't too bad and didn't give me too many worries. I didn't bring the cap-cam today because I was going to be racing this one full on!

I couldn't be arsed with a warm up as it was chilly in the wind and I felt a bit namby pamby today - that's the attitude. So I sat in my car until five minutes to go and then walked to the start. I figured I could use the first mile on the road as my warm up.

On the dot of 10:30 the hooter sounded, breaking the silence of expectation that had been building. We were off. I was happy to let the first thirty or forty runners edge away from me while I tried to spy the 'amateurs' amongst them who would be my first targets to track and crack. I got into my rhythm after about ten minutes and started working my way through the field.

The river crossing was slightly deeper than I was expecting. I'd been told to expect it but I didn't think it would come up over the knees! The major climb soon followed, at about the seven mile point, and it was tough but I stuck to the task and picked up several places on the way up. By the top I was puffing a bit but with only two miles to go I just hung on in there until it was over.

I came home in 17th place out of a field of around 350 - I was number 342, and I'm chuffed with my time of 1:07:14. Can't believe I managed to be that quick in such windy conditions - he shoots, he scores......

Thought for the day: It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.

The Chedworth Roman Trail 10 Route