30 May 2011

Blue

A long weekend with no runs - too wet, too windy, too tired, too busy, or just completely lacking motivation. Finally the weather looked not too bad, and I could feel a now or never sort of sensation - the vague fear that if I didn't get out of the door and do my mandatory 10K I would never be able to call myself a runner again. There must come a point in one's life when it's clear that an activity, perhaps a very enjoyable, even an essential, one, is never going to happen again. Of course: there are activities that have gone that way for me already. I can't allow running to go that way too. Can't risk that it might happen.

It was still raining, a little, but it stopped within half a mile. I got off my heels and onto the midfoot for a while: it always feels very awkward at first, when I am doing it with an effort of will, but then I get into the groove and it becomes more natural - still awkward, but a lot better. However, I am not going to risk wrecking my Achilles or calf muscles again, so a short distance is enough. Downhill to Rowstock I pick up speed, let it keep building, though without getting up on my toes and sprinting: the Watch registers 4:51 pace before I slow again, coasting the rest of the way to the roundabout. Marathon-winning pace. I kept it up for perhaps 26 yards.

Turn round at the telegraph pole and back home, a slight negative split - to my great surprise, especially since the return leg is uphill. But when I reach home the Watch has just beeped to tell me of the sixth mile - and at teh doorstep it's 6.02, not 6.25. Near enough though.

The end of this blue period - I hope.

Wouldn't you miss me?

A long weekend with no runs - too wet, too windy, too tired, too busy, or just completely lacking motivation. Finally the weather looked not too bad, and I could feel a now or never sort of sensation - the vague fear that if I didn't get out of the door and do my mandatory 10K I would never be able to call myself a runner again. There must come a point in one's life when it's clear that an activity, perhaps a very enjoyable, and essential, one, is never going to happen again. Of course: there are activities that have gone that way for me already. I can't allow running to go that way too. Can't risk that it might happen.

It was still raining, a little, but it stopped within half a mile. I got off my heels and onto the midfoot for a while: it always feels very awkward at first, when I am doing it with an effort of will, but then I get into the groove and it becomes more natural - still awkward, but a lot better. However, I am not going to risk wrecking my Achilles or calf muscles again, so a short distance is enough. Downhill to Rowstock I pick up speed, let it keep building, though without getting up on my toes and sprinting: the Watch registers 4:51 pace before I slow again, coasting the rest of the way to the roundabout. Marathon-winning pace. I kept it up for perhaps 26 yards.

24 May 2011

Forever Young

The Guardian editorial has a tribute to Bob Dylan on the occasion of his 70th birthday, including the observation - pretty obvious when you think about it but worth saying in case you haven't thought about it - that while Paul McCartney has become an establishment figure (did so, I think, in the mid-seventies) and Mick Jagger is trying to convince us all that it still is the mid-seventies (though he is amazingly well-preserved), Dylan has continued to develop his art and remains relevant - perhaps by virtue of his growing old at the same rate as his fans.

John Harris in the Grauniad wrote - as others have done before him - of how he nearly met Dyaln. I have never come close to meeting him, but I can understand the comments in the article about how it feels to be in the presence of greatness - though the great people in whose presence I have found myself have typically been politicians. It's good to find that someone you admire is actually, in real life, exactly as you'd wish them to be, and perhaps not quite what their public persona would lead you to expect.

The Guardian chose Forever Young as the apposite Dylan song, and who can argue with that? It has been one of my greatest favourites ever since I bought a copy of Planet Waves - reinforced by hearing it on Budokan, too, a superb arrangement. Of course the man himself has been removed from YouTube, but Joan Baez will do - given that we don't seem to have Robyn Hitchcok performing it ...

London Calling

To run twice in two days, that's a really big step forward. My commute to the office yesterday wasn't fast (the data are all mixed up because I forgot to restart my watch after stopping to read an incoming email) but it was immensely satisfying. And I could be achieving my target mileage this week - though that might be further than I should run at this stage.

A lovely day for a run, though there was rather more wind than I would have liked. Along the Embankment I fell in with a guy visiting from Baltimore and enjoyed a short networking exercise as we ran - not enough to discover his line of work though. I imagine he would be a lawyer - aren't most Americans lawyers by now?

I spent the evening at a networking event, organised by that well-known Rhubarb Thrasher Mike Southon. Held in a vaulted cellar that was too small for the number of people in it, as a networking event it lacked one essential ingredient - the ability to converse, not just comfortably but at all. Having met a few new people and collected some business cards, I decided to leave, but encountered another refugee who'd opted for the peace and quiet of the bar - as it happened, one of the attendees that I had most hoped to meet.

A great run and a great evening's networking: all in all, a very satisfying day.


22 May 2011

The Wind

"You're mad!" exclaimed one of a group of a dozen or so hikers this morning as I passed her on the Ridgeway. "In this wind, perhaps so" I conceded. It was blowing from nearly exactly the direction I was trying to run in, and as the splits show miles 4 and 5 were pretty slow. So were all the others, with the exception of the sixth: once I turned off the Ridgeway, so I had the wind almost at my back and the path heading downhill, the pace improved. A bit.

Who cares? I was running again. I had little discomfort from my left foot, no asthma, no problems with Achilles. I was heel-striking, but maybe a little less than my habit has been so perhaps my technique is improving. The sun was shining, the summer stretches ahead with the prospect of extending my runs in the coming weeks - perhaps for the Ridgeway Challenge, certainly with the Keilder marathon in mind. After the moment of inspiration that I mentioned yesterday I was in the perfect state of mind to embark on a training programme. A small step, but every journey begins with one.

I covered my seven miles this morning at about Marathon pace, which shows that I have a lot of improving to do. Neither intense nor long, I guess: not a genuine Italian espresso, but not an insipid grande latte either. More like a Caffe Nero cappuccino - tasty, satisfying and a major boost to the system. I have been walking taller, moving more fluently, feeling better all round, ever since. I think this coffee-related approach to rating experiences has a lot to be said for it!


21 May 2011

Had we but world enough, and time

Not the title, but the first line of Andrew marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" - the theme for the excellent Harry Eyres's "Slow Lane" column in today's Financial Times. Always thought-provoking, this one is a delightful reflection on length, of time. And perhaps a little paradoxical, for it seems in some ways to argue against the leisurely pace usually advocated in the column.

From musing about coffee - genuine Italian espresso compared with Starbucks latte - he draws wider lessons:
Length as opposed to intensity, volume rather than flavour: here we have not just two ways of making coffee but two philosophies of life. Is it better to draw something out as long as possible, or, as the poet Andrew Marvell put it in another, erotic, context, to “roll all [its] strength and all [its] sweetness up into one ball” so that we can “tear our pleasures ... thorough the iron gates of life”?
Fortunately, intensity and length, volume and flavour, can be combined in a long run - which I am now itching to have in the morning ... well, as long as I can manage after my irregular running over the past few months.