The Scribbler

24 October 2009

Lagging behind

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 16:42
Tags: , , ,

I’d been threatening with a cold, but ‘just wasn’t having it’. To prove it, I ran a nifty 5k on Tuesday, another on Wednesday lunchtime and went on to sweat it out at a tough boxercise session.

Thursday morning saw me up bright and early as usual ready for the best bit of my week – a tough kettlebell and total body work out on the beach with Ian. Any fogginess in my head cleared in the early morning sunshine.

But after a day in an overheated office I felt a little differently. The promise of a hot bath and an early night kept me going through a long afternoon.

I dosed myself with paracetamol and kept the cold at bay until Friday afternoon, but I was flagging. My head felt heavy and I was struggling to piece my thoughts together. I had a brief nap when I got home and considered my options for Saturday’s run.

My Nike Human Race T-shirt had arrived, the date was set. I knew I wasn’t in the best form, but chose to ignore it and put myself through the regular wake up and run routine. Gear on, porridge in and off.

Positive thinking and common sense told me to take it easy. Steady, steady, steady was my mantra. I didn’t look at my watch, just clocked the welcome beep as I clocked up another kilometre.

Kill or cure. The sweat burnt from my face, my legs over-toasty in new winter tights. Not so bad, not so bad I told myself as I took the easiest options, the flatter routes. It doesn’t matter if it’s slow.

A stalling headwind on the return leg had me gasping tear-blind, trotting out tiny steps, searching desperately for shelter where there was none. I considered walking to get through the buffetting menace, but pride wouldn’t let me. This was about endurance, sheer bloody-mindedness in the face of the elements and my own body.

Focus on what’s right – the breathing mostly. Roll out my feet, lengthen my stride. writing the story in my head before I reach the finish line. Distracting myself with tales of an heroic run.

I see myself, red T-shirt blazing out through the greyness. But I don’t feel like I’m putting on a good show. I’m lost and anonymous. A solitary runner with no smiles to share today.

Taking the easy option, I run the Nike distance, knowing I’ll come up short on the Garmin. A voice counts down the metres and I bumble to a stop. It’s an achievement of sorts.

Even Paula Radcliffe agrees as she congratulates me in my headphones on a new PB for 10k. It feels disengenious. My Nike+ flatters to deceive, measuring those tiny wind-stalled steps as if I was really stretching out. But today I’ll take anything I can get.

Bam! As the adrenaline fades out, the pain rushes in. A sharp pinching headache and the bridge of my nose feels like it’s being attacked by a jack hammer. Sinus pain ringing as dizzily I reach to remove my headphones, then realise I’m not wearing them anyymore. I stumble a little on the, thankfully short, walk home.

A hot shower brings relief to my cold swollen face, but for the rest of the day I’m capable of nothing more than reaching for another tissue and pressing play on the remote control. I toast my heroic run with a hot chocolate.

Advertisements

19 October 2009

Catching up

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 22:06
Tags: , ,

So my early morning fretfulness disappeared after a good sleep and deciding not to put so much pressure on myself. And I return to my routine of running and training and enjoying the adrenaline buzz. It’s definitely a sanity saviour as well as a physical boost.

Wednesday boxercise is always a good marker. Half way through the week and a time to sweat it out, punch it out. I always come out smiling.

Thursday training
Thursday morning is damp and grey. A fine wet early morning mizzle delays the daylight as the sea retreats far from the shore.

Ian puts me through my paces. Double kettle bells, deadlifts, swings and clean to press. Then the long walk with them lifted high. Soon I can’t tell whether I’m just wet or sweaty. My glasses join the discarded hoodie on the sand.

It’s tough and challenging. There’s one point where I stop then try again. Push ups, burpees and the plank. But I’m in more control this week. Core braced tight and feeling strong.

It’s a race to get back in time for work. My hair stays slicked back and damp for the rest of the day.

The intervals I would like to fit in on Thursday or Friday have to wait. I have a friend to wish goodbye to and want everything to be right for this parting.

Saturday intervals
By Saturday I’m itching to run – even though it’s intervals and I haven’t chosen the best Friday night supper. You can just hear the excuses already, can’t you?

It’s chilly as I venture out. I wonder how many more days I can manage short sleeves and capri tights. But after a quick stretch I’m on the move. Struggle to settle on the warm up. Realise I’ve forgotten my heart rate monitor, but get going anyway.

The plan is several sets of 1 min run, 30 secs recovery with a warm up and cool down to take me to 30 mins. On the second sprint I come to an awful choking stop. Scratchy panicked panting for air, tears in my eyes and all hope abandoned.

I jog through the next interval set as my Garmin beeps like an excited puppy. I pick up the ball and try again. Better this time as I find my rhythm. But it’s still hard.

I let myself off another sprint around half way through, trying to control my breathing, then push on for another few sets before the relief of a cool down run.

Patchy and not glorious. But I’m pleased I didn’t let that first panic stall me. I stretch and head home for a shower.

Sunday run
Sunday is a glorious day for a run. Well rested and well fed I’m eager to be out again. This time it’s a 10k target and how much closer can I get to that magic 50 mins?

I’m off and the pace is good, smiling at the runners who are out in force today. Running my old familiar route, not shirking the inclines.

I’m a bit flat footed. I keep trying to roll my feet and stretch out the pace, rather than faster, shorter strides, but again it’s a bit patchy.

I run along the nice flat promenade on the way back and have to do some serious talking to myself not to stop. It’s all in my head. Nothing hurts, I can breathe. Just that evil little voice has filled my head with black doubts. I push on, knowing I’ve beaten this before.

Somewhere later it starts to feel good again. Not brilliant. Not quite that wonderful euphoric sense of everything working perfectly in time. But better, more positive. The evil little voice defeated once more.

I know I’ve slowed, but still feel like I’m putting the effort in. My Nike+ counts down the metres to go and I try to ignore it, clinging on until the Garmin lets me know I’ve really finished with a welcome beedily boop. 10k in 54.41 – faster than last week, but still quite a way short of where I want to be. Putting the miles in is the only way I’ll get there.

13 October 2009

3am blog

Filed under: words — The Scribbler @ 03:18

I’m wound tighter than a twister. Dancing on my toes, guard up, ready to explode.

A fried blue metallic sizzle. Circuits in overdrive, neurons pinballing. Magnesium fizzes, burns sharp bright white and leaves a round black hole.

Forgetting and remembering too late. Frustrated thoughts stranded like cracked spaghetti.

Bile creeps to my breastbone, binding me in impatience. To do, to please, to act my part. Conscious that one wrong move could send me spiralling. My gut a burning cauldron.

I close my eyes and see the calmness of a sea breeze. The smoothness of a gliding movement through the air. The easy rhythm of breath and feet. The emptiness of mind.

But this too must wait.

6 October 2009

Tuesday's run

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 18:42
Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday was busy. A flit from meeting to meeting, discussing new projects, whipping up energy at the thought of starting something new. And in the middle of it all, a good, ‘feel like I’m alive’ run.

A good run because the weather held. The bouncing rain that earlier threatened a wash out shrank back to grey skies and damp air, slick and cool.

A good run because I had company. My favourite running companion.
A good run because I kept pace with him without too much coaching.

Good because we kept up the chat, talking training and triathlon, races, holidays and future plans.

Good because when I felt I was flagging, I largely ignored it and pushed on up the hill onto the final straight where I got my groove back.

Good because I emerged red-faced and wet through, then slept soundly that night after stretches.

Today I sit at my desk, sun blazing at my back and the outdoors calling. But I must serve my time and await my escape. I settle for writing, not running to raise a smile.

Tuesday’s run

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 18:42
Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday was busy. A flit from meeting to meeting, discussing new projects, whipping up energy at the thought of starting something new. And in the middle of it all, a good, ‘feel like I’m alive’ run.

A good run because the weather held. The bouncing rain that earlier threatened a wash out shrank back to grey skies and damp air, slick and cool.

A good run because I had company. My favourite running companion.
A good run because I kept pace with him without too much coaching.

Good because we kept up the chat, talking training and triathlon, races, holidays and future plans.

Good because when I felt I was flagging, I largely ignored it and pushed on up the hill onto the final straight where I got my groove back.

Good because I emerged red-faced and wet through, then slept soundly that night after stretches.

Today I sit at my desk, sun blazing at my back and the outdoors calling. But I must serve my time and await my escape. I settle for writing, not running to raise a smile.

4 October 2009

So what's next?

My great big challenge, the Great North Run, is over (for this year at least). I’ve had a great week’s holiday full of sunshine, good food and relaxation. And now it’s time to think about the next thing.

It’s not just me. Lots of other people have been asking me “What’s next?” too. And I’m weighing up my options. I think the right thing will come along at the right time, and I’ll just go for it. Like I did that January day driving along the Central Motorway, when I thought, very clearly, ‘Is this the year to do the Great North Run?’ and as soon as I thought it, I knew it was right.

So much has changed for me in the past year. If this was a reality TV show, this is the segment where they’d show ‘my journey’ – no doubt with inspirational music by Westlife or Take That – ‘Today this could be the greatest day of your life…’.

Running’s been a big part of that change. It’s helped me physically and mentally. But there have been other things too, all connected. Like making new friends through this common interest, and astonishing old ones. Reinventing myself a little I guess.

Because this feels like something I’ve always done. And yet I know it’s not. I have only been running for just over a year, and only seriously building up the mileage since January 2009. I didn’t go to the gym so often, or lift weights, or do resistance training with kettlebells and medballs or go to a weekly boxercise class. And now those are all things I do, and miss when I don’t do them. So I hope to continue all that.

But I’m also a writer, a copywriter by trade, and I’ve made my living from writing in one form or another for a long time. So I’d like to reflect some of that on this blog too.

Right now, I’m not completely without plans. I’ll be running 10k as part of the Nike Human Race on 24 October and I’ve signed up for the Heaton Harriers 10k in November. And I’ll no doubt pick a couple of other events to keep me focused and give me an incentive to keep training as the days get shorter and colder through the winter months, but I plan to bring the distance down to 10k.

I’d also like to improve my swimming technique. I’m strong and confident in the water, but my breathing is pretty useless, and I don’t really like putting my face in. So that’s a challenge to overcome.

I’ve loved writing about running and about my journey. On good days, it’s been a reminder that it doesn’t always come easy, and on bad ones, it’s kept me going, remembering those moments of joy, when everything just clicks into place; the freedom of the road and that precious liminal space in my head.

The nicest compliments I’ve had about my running posts have been when other runners have said they were reminded of their experience. That gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling as a writer, and I guess as a runner too. Both can be pretty solitary pursuits, but you always hope for that special moment of connection.

So what’s next?

My great big challenge, the Great North Run, is over (for this year at least). I’ve had a great week’s holiday full of sunshine, good food and relaxation. And now it’s time to think about the next thing.

It’s not just me. Lots of other people have been asking me “What’s next?” too. And I’m weighing up my options. I think the right thing will come along at the right time, and I’ll just go for it. Like I did that January day driving along the Central Motorway, when I thought, very clearly, ‘Is this the year to do the Great North Run?’ and as soon as I thought it, I knew it was right.

So much has changed for me in the past year. If this was a reality TV show, this is the segment where they’d show ‘my journey’ – no doubt with inspirational music by Westlife or Take That – ‘Today this could be the greatest day of your life…’.

Running’s been a big part of that change. It’s helped me physically and mentally. But there have been other things too, all connected. Like making new friends through this common interest, and astonishing old ones. Reinventing myself a little I guess.

Because this feels like something I’ve always done. And yet I know it’s not. I have only been running for just over a year, and only seriously building up the mileage since January 2009. I didn’t go to the gym so often, or lift weights, or do resistance training with kettlebells and medballs or go to a weekly boxercise class. And now those are all things I do, and miss when I don’t do them. So I hope to continue all that.

But I’m also a writer, a copywriter by trade, and I’ve made my living from writing in one form or another for a long time. So I’d like to reflect some of that on this blog too.

Right now, I’m not completely without plans. I’ll be running 10k as part of the Nike Human Race on 24 October and I’ve signed up for the Heaton Harriers 10k in November. And I’ll no doubt pick a couple of other events to keep me focused and give me an incentive to keep training as the days get shorter and colder through the winter months, but I plan to bring the distance down to 10k.

I’d also like to improve my swimming technique. I’m strong and confident in the water, but my breathing is pretty useless, and I don’t really like putting my face in. So that’s a challenge to overcome.

I’ve loved writing about running and about my journey. On good days, it’s been a reminder that it doesn’t always come easy, and on bad ones, it’s kept me going, remembering those moments of joy, when everything just clicks into place; the freedom of the road and that precious liminal space in my head.

The nicest compliments I’ve had about my running posts have been when other runners have said they were reminded of their experience. That gives me a nice warm fuzzy feeling as a writer, and I guess as a runner too. Both can be pretty solitary pursuits, but you always hope for that special moment of connection.

Blog at WordPress.com.