04 July 2010

Climb Every Mountain

An excellent visit to the Cheltenham Festival, thanks to the charity of which I am a trustee - we are sponsoring a concert later this week, but received an invitation to the opening reception and evening concert. This was the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra playing music by Rodgers and Hammerstein, with a couple of very good singers (Kim Criswell and Brent Barrett), conducted by John Wilson. Not my favourite cup of tea but perfectly palatable, indeed a very enjoyable evening (the company certainly helped too). Learnt a lot about Rodgers and Hammerstein, including being struck by similarities between You'll Never Walk Alone and Climb Every Mountain - they probably serve similar purposes in the two shows, but they do have a lot of other similarities when heard almost back to back. Evening slightly marred by some people in the audience singing to themselves - we were encouraged to join in at one point, but not otherwise, and I hadn't gone to listen to the fat guy (a solicitor) in the row behind me ...

Returning home at about 0040, I found an email from Bob who'd completed the FT crossword and had a few queries - so I retired to bed with my copy, which I hadn't looked at before, and completed it in under 20 minutes. Probably not Cincinnus at his best, but I was rather satisfied with that outcome.

My Marathon training should have started on Monday, but my leg didn't co-operate - and if your legs won't co-operate with running, it's not going to happen at all. The sessions prescribed for the first week were all pretty untaxing, and by Friday I could certainly join in - it says "Rest". Saturday (5M easy) was dealt with by running to the field to feed the pony and water the vegetables, exercising the dog into the bargain (though at his age he does make the run last much longer than necessary). Today the schedule directed me to run 10M slow, adding "approx 90 minutes)", twice the time for yesterday - so "easy" is less demanding than "slow". I headed off, dogless, at about 10 o'clock, on a beautiful sunny morning with a gusty breeze.

For the first two-and-a-half miles I managed to land on (and take off from) my forefoot, with no adverse effects on my leg muscles or tendons. By that point my left calf was threatening to tie itself into a very painful knot, so I stopped the experiment - although I think I was still striking with more forefoot than my usual, habitual running style, the product of 18 years of indifference.

I wasn't setting the world on fire, with a pace just under 10 minutes per mile - but I was covering the miles. I even took a diversion to look for the Traffic Cottage, having caught a documentary about Steve Winwood on the TV a couple of weeks ago - but I think I had taken the wrong track, and needed to have travelled a bit further east, over the next hill. Another day ...

A business phone call at Bury down gave me a 40-minute break, so by the time I reached home I'd been out for about two-and-a-half hours: but with sunshine, the wind often behind me, birds singing (probably, I have to admit, in alarm at my presence) it was a great outing. Having just (before getting up to go running this morning) finished reading Roz Savage's Rowing the Atlantic, I was fired up with the notion of how facing up to a challenge can be beneficial - and other lessons that she learnt on the way. It struck me later that my Marathon training programme is about the same duration as her 103-day row - though I am under no illusions about how arduous it might be in comparison ...

A great inspiring read, whether you are interested in ocean rowing or not. Well, of course you need to have at least a passing interest in it, but if it falls short of imagining that you might row the Atlantic yourself, I don't think that matters. Craig McDougall might have got me thinking about ultra Marathons, but Roz hasn't whetted my appetite for ocean rowing ... But I could relate to a lot of her experiences, and the lessons she offers are certainly applicable outside her sport.

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