Thursday, February 25, 2010

Like swimming but wetter

Like swimming but wetter.... That is how I've heard crewing on a Starboat described before. Its a boat I have had 2 off and one of the ultimate racing craft. But it is very very wet, especially for the crew up front. Tonight's run was like that. Somehow I had managed a lucky day, leaving Comrie at 5:30am to drive to St Fergus [north of Peterhead] and while the rest of Scotland seemed to be gridlocked in the snow, I managed to get a reasonable run up, even if Crieff was just passable. Once as far north as Aberdeen, it was just rain and at St Fergus it was horizontal and not the best day for having a site visit and looking at some ancient piping.
But tonight I thought I could leave work and run out for 6miles or so to Cults, and back again to the work car park.
I was prepared for the rain, but right at the 6mile mark, the pavement narrowed suddenly and for some reason I decided I had to go just another lampost before turning round. Bad mistake. as I squeezed past the narrow bit a car crashed through the large puddle beside me and absolutely bl**dy soaked me. Not a happy bunny at all and suddenly very concerned. Here I was on a rotten night, 6 miles from my car, soaked through and only 2 quid on me. Very aware of how hypothermia can strike even in town and decided there and then to turn round and run hard for bit to generate a bit of heat in my legs to dry me out. Didn't really work, but I didn't get cold and battled on into the driving rain and gale force winds back to the work car park. At the car grabbed by site overalls out the boot and put them on over my running gear to high-tail it home.
Fine and warm in the car, but really really cold the moment I stepped out the car at Stonehaven. Not good, but a quick shower sorted it all.
In all glad I went out and a reasonable 12miles, but disappointed I wasn't more prepared for the weather. I'll take my snorkel and flippers next time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not brilliant but worthwhile all the same

This week was looking like a hard week to achieve any real distance. Too much going on at work, lots of frozen ice and snow in Aberdeen and we are off to Hartlepool at the weekend to see an old friend of Jo's. But last night when I came out of work at 5ish after finishing what we were doing much earlier than planned [could have been there till as late as 8] , it was bright, sunny and still and thoughts turned rapidly to heading out for a run. At first I though I could do a dozen miles or so, but as I ran north from Stoney towards Aberdeen I started to think, well why not do 15, or 18, or 20. I had some food with me so why not. In the end I ran as far north as the where my normal run home route leaves the side of the main road and goes onto the back roads. I decided that was unnecessarily dodgy in the dark and snow, so turned to head back home at the 9mile mark.
The run home has not so good. started getting a bit of stomach cramp, either from the Muller rice I had momemts before heading out or from the frozen belly that was being exposed to the sub zero temperatures between my top and my running tights. Ended up walking up the hill at Muchalls which relived it greatly. At the top of the hill I went to get my headtorch out and found it dead! This was serious as the last 3 miles are unlit on rough track. I could get the torch to work for 1-2 seconds and then it failed. ended up running when the path was illuminated by cars and walking when it was not. Took ages to get home needless to say.
Regardless of all this, it was a worthwhile outing. Now at 23-24miles for the week. If I get another 10-12 in on thursday and squeeze another 5+ in at the weekend I will be happy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Easy week

This week is planned as an easy week. Target is 23ish miles, but not too bothered if it goes either way a bit. This works in nicely with last week's high mileage of 21/42 and the fact I'm offshore Tuesday through Thursday doing an Audit on defined life piping repairs on a couple of assets [I'm actually writing this sat at the heliport as my chopper is delayed by 2 hrs - what exciting stuff I do].
Last night though was back out to Dunottar and the outer loop of Stonehaven, although before I went out I couldn't really be ars*d as it was raining and cold. Went out anyway for what turned out to be a mixed run really, with my right ankle giving me a bit of light jip as it seems to be rolling inwards a bit at times. Perhaps it was the older shoes [~400+miles on them] or just a bit of weakness in it after the high mileage week. Anyway, the run up the Bervie braes to the summit of the path was good and strong as was the coastal path itself. First time I have done sea level to the castle gate without a pause and I think that speaks volume about my strength and aerobic gains. The last sections of the path at the castle end as it tuns inland was on very slippy grass though. From there an easy run back into Stonehaven until the 4.5mile mark when my 2nd wind came through and I cranked the pace up a bit for a couple of miles, before slowing down for the last downhill to home. Overall a nice 7.6miles and it certainly proved the old adage that you never regret the runs you do, only the runs you don't.
So if my chopper ever arrives, I'll have tonight and Wednesday night off and if I'm back on the beach reasonable on Thursday I'll probably do 3-5miles easy, which just leaves 10ish miles for the weekend. Next week however I need to get a single 25miler in on Wednesday. Strange thing is I'm almost looking forward to it and the idea of doing 25 miles now doesn't seem too outlandish!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cracking week Gromit!

Thursday night. In my last post I did wonder whether I was going to manage the week ahead. OK, so my week runs Mon-Sun and I still have the weekend to trip up on but the weekdays have been more than expected. Monday night was the [now usual] run out along the cliff path to Dunottar followed by an outer loop round Stonehaven. 7.6miles. The big run was planned for wednesday and even up till lunchtime I wasn't sure what the route would be. Could have been Stonehaven and back, or out the Deeside way, or a few miles in Aberdeen, then onto Stonehaven and a few more miles there. In the end what I decided on worked really well.
The route saw me leave Altens in Aberdeen [I work on top of the hill at Altens on the south side of Aberdeen], run downhill for about 1.5 miles [really!] to the riverside, across the Dee and back along the riverside to Anderson Drive. It is only when you get out the car and run that you notice just how hilly Aberdeen is! Anyway the route carried on up Anderson Drive to Great Western Road, before cutting along Holburn Rd to Anderson drive again, back along the river to cross again at Great Southern road and back up the very very long hill to Altens again. That gave me just under 8 miles, before the 12miles back along the A90 to Stonehaven. Once there a quick [actually slow] circuit of Cowie gave me 20.8 miles in just under 4 hours. Another new distance achievement.
In keeping with the lessons learned last week, I purposely ate more this week, consuming 2 gels, 2 small bananas, 1 gel pack sized custard [OK, but not too tasty], 1 small ambrosia custard pot [absolutely brilliant!], some jelly babies and the high-5 sports drink mix in my backpack's drinks bladder. All the way I felt warm enough, mentally strong and happy 90% of the time and generally OK. Definitely the proof of the pudding was in the eating!
Tonight's 3+ mile recovery run around the beach at Stonehaven was so much better than expected. Last week's was a bit stiff and uncomfortable in the beginning and end, but tonight's was pretty good. Just a bit of a struggle into the strong breeze at times.
So all in all, an excellent 4 days. Just short of 32miles in three runs, so just need to fit in 10-11 miles at the weekend to do my target mileage for the week.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Learning lessons and the week ahead

Last week was a pretty significant one for me with a total mileage of 39 miles against a target of 38.5. This week the plan calls for 42.5 miles and requires me to go beyond the 20mile mark for the first time ever. I've no worries in whether I can do that distance or not, the only doubt now is that because I've published it as a target something will step in and make me miss it. What could go wrong? Well lets see-
  • the weather, with more snow being forecast could make things trick again although it is looking ok so far.
  • Injury - I'm well aware I have ramped up very very quickly this year and am probably just under the injury line. so far I have only had the usual stuff round the lower leg calves and ankles. I think as long as I keep the pace comfortable I'll be ok, but I know on paper it could all go wrong very easily
  • Stuff - you know stuff - there is always something crops when you don't want it.
But on the plus side I learned a whole lot last week.
  • Fueling on the run. I'm big. Even at my reduced 112kg [this morning] I'm much bigger than most runners and since energy expended, either kinetic or potential is proportional to mass I must use more than the average runner. So....assuming most advice, like take 1 gel per 40mins is aimed at the average 75kg runner I probably need to take 1.5 x that, or 2 gels every 50mins. Last weeks long run proved that. Every time I took food in I felt warmer and mentally brighter never mind stronger or faster. I probably need to eat way more than I am at the moments on the long runs. According to Garmin, I used ~3500cals on the 17mile run, so that takes a bit of replacement!
  • Given fuel, I can run for ages and ages!
  • Keep off the hills when I'm planning a long run that week. I had done a lot of hill running in the last few weeks and last weeks my calves were just stiff as anything going up the climbs.
  • All this training is working wonders with my cold induced exercise asthma. Running much easier, no need for the Psolar mask and because I'm pushing it a bit, my heart rates are dropping rapidly. For ages I ran with little improvement. Putting the miles in over the last few weeks has brought a huge increase in aerobic ability. Great!
  • Keep worrying about getting injured. As long as the niggles are there and the threat of it hangs over me I'm more likely to run defensively. The more defensive I run, the longer I can run, in both distance and time [as in I can run next week].
So I'm looking forward to this coming week. This is my peak week of the cycle, as I'm offshore next week and have planned a step back week, before climbing again to the mid-40s the week after. Anyway, as the mileage climbs I'm getting more and more confident I can make the first goal I've set myself in some sort of comfortable shape and beginning to think maybe, just maybe I could do more and longer. Could I do the Fling or the WHW? not sure and definitely not this year, but next..... Well lets see what pans out over the next few months.
Yesterday I finished a great week off by running 5miles with the dogs and Jo cycling alongside. That was really nice, running along chatting away to her. MUST do that more often - much more satisfying than any mileage ran.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

1st week in Feb

Pretty good week so far. 26 miles or so and it's only Thursday! Monday I headed off up the Bervie Braes to Dunottar. It had snowed here on the Sunday night so [luckily] I had decided to take some extra gear with me in the backpack. Stroke or luck or what..The Braes were covered in 2inches of snow. So I changed from the road shoes into the hill shoes. What a difference. So much grip on the show and ice and once onto the main dirt coastal path with the head torch or, the grip and sense of propulsion was terrific. A couple of tricky sections before I got the the castle but otherwise good. From the head of the castle causeway it was up to the road, but I didn't make the mistake of last week and headed back into town on the old coast road and back down the Bervie Braes. Once back on cleanish tarmac, changed back into the road shoes and headed off round the town. Carrying the spare shoes was probably a bit excessive, but to be honest the run was much more enjoyable for being able to put the right shoes on for the two different surfaces. 6.1 mile in total.
Wednesday night was long run to Stoney from Aberdeen. The choice was either run on Wednesday in the remains of the snow, but in light winds or wait until Thursday and run home in warmer weather, but in wind and fog. I decided the fog was probably more dangerous, so home in the snow it was. One thing though - the BBC forecast was rubbish and it was blowing 15-20knts into the face all the way home. Original plan was to do 2-3miles in Aberdeen, the the 11-12 miles to Stoney and finish off with 2-3 miles in Stonehaven to get to 17miles and over 3hrs running. since there was more snow in Aberdeen I decided it was best to head straight to Stoney and then play it by ear there. Fairly tough run home into the breeze and with mixed snowy patches until south of Newtonhill. Learnt a few things:- having a walk break after a long climb can leave you very cold - better to cool down first a bit after reaching the top; when finding myself a big negative, or cold taking a gel or banana works amazing well not only to boost the energy levels, but also the mental state and the core temperature; it's one thing to sing along to music when out on your own, but don't song out loud while slogging into the breeze on a dark mixed surface and rutted track.
Once down into Stonehaven I headed up and around my 'standard' loop of the town. It's funny that after 12 miles or so the long climb from beach level to the 'upper' part of Stoney seemed pretty easy [and it was not that long ago that the climb was really hard]. Anyway round the loop, down to the harbour and back to the flat. New PB for distance and duration - 17miles and 3hrs+! Could I have run back to Aberdeen? Maybe, but definitely not probably. Was it 'no big deal'? Not quite, but neither was it a big deal for that matter. Then again progress is looking good at the moment and as long as I can keep on the right side of injury I think that is feasible in the near future. Priority now it is not to lose weight but to stay fueled, and training. Hopefully I will drop weight/fat through the shear mileage I'm putting in.
Well this morning my legs felt good actually and the walk up to the train was probably good for them. Same story all day at work with no stiffness or twinges. so tonight it was time for a recovery run. Oh I was stiff to start with, but after a mile everything freed up and then started to stiffen again after 2 and a bit miles. Anyway -not a brilliant, but probably a worthwhile 3.5miles.
So things are going well, and still trucking along to the training plan. Will I get to the target I've set? Not sure, but no problems there as I'm not publishing my goals [every time I do 'stuff' happens to get in the road of them - much better to keep them relatively private].
This weeks plan is to do 38-39miles, so only 12-ish miles to go over the weekend. Hopefully I can fit them in without disturbing the family weekend too much, or getting up too early!