Monday, 8 October 2012

The dictator, the cake model and the geek

Hello there!

Apologies that I am a few days late with this week’s post, the amazing thing is that some of you actually noticed! Could it be that there are real readers out there??? Google says there are some of you around the globe – from Russia to the US no less – but can that actually be true?

One of the most distinguished members of the readership is El Presidente himself! No, not Hugo, the newly re-elected president of Venezuela, but the president of the Huncote Harriers, who rules his club with an iron fist reminiscent of the good old fashioned South American dictators!

El Presidente even deigned to offer some constructive feedback to my blog “it’s boring!” he proclaimed gruffly. “It should have more mentions of the Harriers. And videos. And pictures of naked women!” (As I said – an old fashioned dictator interested mostly in propaganda and totty!)

Wanting to be on good terms with authority, I immediately set about conducting my research of, erm..., potential internet sources of shapely female runners, until my girlfriend kindly explained to me that it would be quite impossible for me to run a marathon in Rome with two broken legs and a punctured lung, and that the single easiest way to avoid these particular injuries would be to desist looking at naked girls on the internet... And as I said, it always pays to be on good terms with Authority!

So sorry Harriers, but the only leg you are going to see on this blog is this (and more's the pity!):

Sticking with the Harriers theme for a bit longer though, we held our 30-year anniversary dance at the end of the week (and no, the festivities had nothing to do with my lateness in composing a new post!) and apart from the obvious good time had by all (it was funny seeing so many legs trained for years for repetitive, steady forward motion to try to add flourishes in their dance!) the two most noteworthy things were the delicious cake prepared by Harrier Donna Berry (photos below) and the interest in the Athens marathon!

Starting with the cake, I had read many enthusiastic comments about Donna's baking, but this was the first time I tasted it for myself... And believe me, it tasted even better than it looked!

Cake: Donna Berry; photo: Paul Nealon
Cake & model: Donna Berry; photo: Paul Nealon.

As for Athens, while not strictly speaking the subject of this blog, it is a marathon obviously very close to my heart as I have many fond memories of Marathon and, let's face it, it was my first!

Emma is attempting it this year with a group of friends (so to all my Greek friends: remember to cheer any fluorescent yellow running tops you see!) and Trudi and Chris, flush from their success in the Loch Ness marathon suggested they would like to do Athens sometime in the next few years... But we need to get Rome out of the way first... 

So, how is that going? If you remember I've split my programme in two, working on pace over 10-12 km from now till Xmas (what I've identified as my weakest point), then focusing primarily on increasing the distance after that... Well, I'm in that strange point that exists in the implementation of any plan, where on the one hand I feel I'm struggling, I'm hopeless and I will never make it, but a more careful analysis of the numbers (yes, I am a geek, get over it) can even be interpreted as stating otherwise... I won't bore you with all the details, but essentially comparing my pace in 2011 / 2012 (over a range of distances) and looking at what I can do now (when e.g. a workout says "run this interval at your 1km race pace" or "this tempo should be run at your 10k pace"), I am roughly 40% of the way to bridge the gap between my 2011 / 2012 actual and my 2012 / 2013 target... This in itself doesn't say much, so I thought I'd try to introduce some 'benchmark' runs in my programme... say the same mile or 5k once a month, just to see if there is any real progress...

So we thought we'd start going to the Braunstone Parkrun again with Demi - it was good fun when she did it (once you get over the early morning) and as they are on every Saturday, there is no reason why we couldn't make one every month...

The only other noteworthy point of the last week really was that the pace of the workouts was beginning to take its toll on my legs... I was feeling them much stiffer than when I was running longer distances (but slower) and more prone to develop little pains and aches... I tried stretching a bit better before and after each workout, but in itself it didn't really make a difference. So I decided to also cram a yoga session in my weekly programme, a good, deep, whole-body stretch after Sunday's run (which is my hardest day). It seemed to do the trick this week, I certainly feel better allover, the stiffness seems to have gone and it was another way to engage my core rather than just gym-work...

So there you go! And all that while keeping up with all my running, starting on a new account (or three!) at work and dealing with all the other little distractions daily life brings us... The one casualty of this week was the gym though, so I need to make sure I go in the week that dawns...

As ever,

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