Exbury 10k – 18 March 2012

10k map

10km route and speed/elevation chart

It was one of my New Year’s resolutions, and today I ticked it off the list – run, and finish, a 10k race.

In hindsight, picking a race that was consistently uphill for the second half was a terribly bright choice, but I can hold my head up high with some personal stats:

  • completion in 59’53” – not bad for a hilly course
  • first three miles in 27″15 – well, it was downhill
  • race position #260 out of 363 finishers (and approximately 450 registered starters – so 87 no-shows or gave up)
  • the last race I did was in 1995 – 10k in 57″30′ and that was totally flat – so I’m not too concerned about being two minutes slower

I’ve also learned a few things which I’ll put into play next time (yes, I think there will be a next time!):

  • I would have been better off with a protein bar ahead of the race than a protein shake – six miles of sloshing around wasn’t the best
  • I really must try to go at a consistent speed – the first half of the run was too fast and hampered me on the way back
  • I should carry something to drink – I’m pretty sure I needed a slurp around the 7km mark and had to wait until I’d finished

But, all things considered, I had a good run and I clocked a time I’m happy with – and one I can improve.

Any suggestions, running hints, or race tactics always welcome.

Pride comes before a fall

I can’t help wondering whether some of the aphorisms we learned as children are self-fulfilling prophesies, some are borne from experience, some simply to scare children, and finally some which are utter nonsense.  Of course, the trick is telling which ones are which – remember the story, and pick your own category:

  • Carrots don’t help us see in the dark – but too many will turn you orange.
  • Easting the crusts of the bread won’t make my hair curly nor put it on my chest.
  • So far, going out in the rain hasn’t made me catch the death of a cold – although I do believe that the Italians could suffer from a hit of air (see an earlier blog).
  • And if it made us go blind then there would be a lot of blind people in the world!

But what made me think of this today was “pride comes before a fall”.  I felt pretty good after my training 10k on Monday, and then interval training on Tuesday, and so I expected today’s gentle 4 miler to be reasonably straightforward. And because of that complacency I didn’t everything wrong – a heavy lunch, heavy legs (although that sounds like a French complaint), and overall tiredness.  Lesson learned and I won’t be doing that again – but at least I made the mistake now rather than on the day of the race!

Anyone else done something similar?

Reality check II

As I have blogged before, in a few weeks time I’m running in a 10k race and so I went for a run outside today and achieved my objective: completion in less than an hour. Provided that I keep up the training regime from Amy, I now have a positive mental belief that I can complete the course and in a time with which I’ll be happy.

The first mile was hard going while my legs warmed up, and when I got to the four mile mark I knew I was going to finish. Having run the distance I know that I can run the distance – it will just be down to preparation, timing, and how the day goes.

But why do I mention this again so soon? Early this afternoon I was feeling pretty good – and then I had a telephone call. Continue reading

The common cold – and happy thoughts #6

Sandpaper, nails, a jackhammer, and a tidal wave.  The ingredients of the common cold which has beset me this week, afflicting my throat, eyes, neck/head, and nose.  Although, of course, as at least half of the people likely to read this will understand, it was really manflu and consequently a potentially lethal biohazard.

But if the last few days have been plague-ridden, what better moment to think positive and look for the happy thoughts? This week I’ve been introduced to biomechanics and how to improve my posture and gait – ideally becoming rather more flexible than an oak tree.  I’m looking forward to progressing and heartily recommend it.

Some years ago, in the dark days before the Blackberry or the iPhone, when we were ‘off sick’ we were physically separated from work and had the chance to peacefully recuperate – although often all that happened was that the work piled up and we just had more to do when we got back.  Whilst at home for a couple of days this week I had my Blackberry and could keep the plates spinning with a instant meesage here and an email there – this is probably better for the business, and it meant less of a backlog for my return, but did it help my work/life balance?

Likewise, when we are on our holidays, is there a fine line between relaxation and separation anxiety? We want to be thought of as invaluable, but is ‘workaholic’ any better an epithet?

Happy thoughts #4 (and a bit of philosophy)

Two weeks into the new year and Christmas seems so long ago.  Do we wish our lives away, lurching from weekend to weekend, from one public holiday to the next, and ultimately from vacation to vacation?  Is there merit in saving for a rainy day, or should we live for the moment?  Is it better to regret what we did, or rue the opportunities that we missed?

This moment will only come once, this day will never be repeated, so should we be more concerned with what we can do and achieve today than being the donkey chasing the elusive carrot?  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t lay the foundations for something bigger and better, or strive to complete today’s part of a much bigger task, but is yearning for the next day off enriching our lives?

Rudyard Kipling’s “If” encapsulates this concept in the last few lines (and maybe you’ll be inspired to read the rest of the poem):

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

And it is partly in this context that I like to think of my happy thoughts – what has made this week special, and not simply the filler between Sunday and Saturday?  A couple of good runs – one of five miles over particularly hilly terrain, and another of four where I pushed a friend to do it in a personal best time (of recent years anyway).

Still on the same theme, I’m going to fill the unforgiving minute – and with Amy’s help and encouragement I’m going to register for a 10k.  I might post details when it’s complete,

New Year’s Resolutions

As 2011 passes wearily away, and Auld Lang Syne fades into the chimes from Big Ben, my thoughts turn to what I will endeavour to do differently in 2012.

  1. Use technology smartly: I collect far too much paper in my study, hoarding statements and documents that I might need one day.  I can scan the documents and store them online, available from anywhere, and get rid of the dead trees making my workspace look untidy.
  2. Use my mind and provoke thought: I will try to blog two or three times a week.  I don’t know whether I’ll write about current events, my latest peeves, or something altogether more highbrow.
  3. Continue my search for the fitter me: I think it will be a lifetime of search, but I will aim to
    1. enter (and finish) a 10k race
    2. improve my cardiovascular fitness by running or playing racquet sports three times a week
    3. improve my musculoskeletal fitness by training with Amy
    4. lose weight

Should this list be longer, mention something inspiring (like solving world peace and famine), or set outrageous expectations (such as climbing Everest)? Nope, lets stick to what I want to do to make a change.

So, what are your resolutions?

Exercise

Even my mother would never have described me as sporty or athletic or svelte. But despite the fact that gym lessons at school were a tacit agreement that I probably had an excuse note (the teacher decided never to ask me to produce it, and I reciprocated by never offering), I now enjoy my exercise … which is a good thing as I also enjoy my food!

I’m never going to win any prizes, break any records, or set the world on fire, but I am sure that I am fitter than the average couch potato.  I play squash and badminton (probably very badly), run along country roads or treadmills, and try to improve my times or distances (despite the occasional setbacks).

Is there a secret to this change of heart? Self-motivation, achievable goals, having fun doing it with friends, and expert coaching.

And despite the fact that I might well be at the back of the field, maybe I’ll enter for a 10k next Spring.