The Scribbler

20 June 2010

Storm tossed seas and sunny skies

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 17:07
Tags: ,

Aching glutes and killer triceps are the leftovers from Thursday morning’s training session. But I welcome the strengthening strains of that tough kettlebell workout as they make it easier to quell the running twitch and enjoy a couple of more restful days.

Friday lunchtime pilates is a welcome release of tension from a couple of niggling work days and a chance to stretch out the aches. As always, as we finish, I wish I had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the pure, clean, relaxed feeling that dissipates quickly as I return to my desk.

Saturday’s a rest day. And for once, the weather agrees. The wind howls, the rain spatters the windows and the skies promise nothing but greyness. A good day for indoor jobs. I clean, I tidy, I wash. I walk into the village for supplies and check out the posh new chocolate shop that’s opened. A small haven of indulgence, as beautifully presented as its wares. But my mood doesn’t match my leisurely anderings. I’m restless and hungry, anticipating the adrenaline rush of breathlessness that will come from the promised long run.

Sunday morning and sunshine breaks through the blinds. It’s rare for me not to bounce out of bed once I’m awake, even on a weekend, but today I revel in its warmth a little longer and snooze the tension from my shoulders. Sluggishness satiated, I kit up and head out with 12km in mind.

I taunt myself with an inland start – a short loop that adds a couple of miles to my more usual route. There’s a welcome shade from the buildings and paying attention to crossings and slightly unfamiliar roads means I don’t pile off to quickly. But it feels like a slog when the scenery is grey roads and buildings.

I lift up my head as I turn towards the sea. A slight headwind, welcome for once for its coolness. For some reason, my Garmin’s measuring mile splits. At the third beep, I take my only glance and note disappointingly that it’s closer to 9 min mile pace than I’d imagined and try to push it up a gear.

The sea churns storm grey, foaming white. Yet above the blue skies burn hot patches onto my pink cheeks. As the stretch of Longsands peels into sight, the waves have commanded nearly all of the beach. An almost imperceptible mist hangs in the air. Its salty smeariness coats my glasses. Against the sunshine, cooling droplets sing out rainbows.

On and out along the water’s edge. Here I must dodge the dog walkers, the day trippers, the kids on scooters and the families that saunter five abreast along the narrow coastal footpaths. But I find my space, mental and physical and start to feel in tune with my run. Legs feel good, stretching out, pushing off the back foot, breathing natural, unfocused. I’m at ease with myself, moving forwards.

I won’t repeat my start loop on this out and back run, so I target 2 miles out and back along the coast. As I turn, the wind drops behind me and I feel the full glare of the sun. Shorts next time I think. But it’s just running home from here.

As I think that, my mental jukebox clicks over to the Lindisfarne track and I clock up another mile, enjoying the sensation of easy movement – running for home.

I’m in build up mode for the next few weeks, adding a kilometre each week to my long run to get used to the longer distances that will see me half marathon fit by September. It means my usual distance markers are no longer reliable totems and instead I begin to calculate how long I have left to run…20 minutes, 10 minutes?

Setting limits, starting to think about the finish means I lose my focus on the right here and now. I start pushing harder, stressing out the breathing and fracturing thoughts in my head. There’s no need for a kick-in sprint finish when you don’t know where the finish line is I tell myself. This is training, not racing. Calm down, balance. Run it to the end.

It seems to work, but odd sparks of fretfulness still threaten to catch me off guard and I have to consciously focus on the next few metres ahead. And I’d like to run a stronger second half, having convinced myself that I was slow in the first. My roughly estimated finish point passes without the Garmin’s valedictory beep, so I must continue.

Ahead there’s a hill, a reasonably sizeable one on this largely flat route. It seems a cruel test at the end of so much effort, but I’ve beaten this one many times before and will not wuss out now. I pile on, vowing to keep going to the summit no matter what the Garmin says. A runner coming the other way smiles wryly at my effort, but actually it’s not too bad a climb. And just as the ground begins to level out I hear the chimes that tell me I’ve reached my goal for today.12k in the bag. Week one of my Great North run training completed. Time to stretch.

Stats: 12k (7.4 miles) 64:43
Mile splits:
1. 08.38
2. 08.34
3. 08.53
4. 08.43
5. 08.35
6. 08.38
7. 08.26
8. 04.12 (0.4miles)

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