“It’ll not touch ye”

I don’t like dogs, and I’m pretty convinced dogs don’t like me.

It stems from my childhood.

As a young lad growing up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles strewn 70s my earliest memories include ‘owning’ a black dog that, apparently, protected me to the extent of growling at my mother should it have decided she was going to punish me for some misdemeanour or t’other. So I did like dogs up to a point.

It makes me smile now knowing that it had a distinctly un-PC name given today’s standards but was a perfectly acceptable moniker back then.

By the way, the irony of me having a black dog as a nipper isn’t lost on me given how things have turned out for me as an adult. You’ll either get that or you won’t.

When I was nine or ten years old I was attacked – without provocation – by two big dogs. One was an Alsatian, the other a Labrador – so not exactly wee tiny things. I was walking down an entry near my house, they jumped over a hedge, bit me twice on the back of each leg and ran off. That was me scarred for life when it came to dogs.

I try to avoid them at all costs. And when I’m out on a run I’m always scouring the road ahead in case I spot one so as to allow me ample time to change my course without neither the dog or it’s owner spotting me. It’s a real nuisance at times because it means that certain pleasant routes are ruled out because of the very real chance of some mutt sharing the space with me.

So what has this got to do with tonght’s run (finally, he’s getting to the point!)? As I said, I try to keep an eye out for them and avoid certain areas. However, tonight I didn’t spot any and was beside a field so thought to myself ‘why not?’, it was a nice night and I fancied a wee run on grass.

But, ohhhh no, that wouldn’t do, would it? I got halfway across the field and spotted one pooch – complete with owner, but off it’s leash – darting across the grass headed in my direction. The owner called it back, it heeded. However, I turned around and searched for the quickest exit to get me back on good old trusted, canine free tarmac.

Panic over, all was well again you’d think. Aye, right!

As I turned around there was this beast of a thing a few yards away from me. A bulldog type, only bigger, with it’s owner coming sauntering along some distance behind it obviously more concerned with his phone call than my immediate safety. I’m pretty sure this ‘thing’ was eyeing me up for some sort of early evening snack.

“It’ll not touch ye,” the human finally offered. My immediate thought was “I don’t f**king know that!” so I froze on the spot until the dog lost interest in me taking care, of course, to pause my Garmin!!!! There was no way I was running away from it!

Anyway, that aside, tonight’s run was fairly uneventful. It was deliberately very easy. I’ve decided to enter the Belfast Half Marathon in the middle of September so, using the schedule given to me by the MyAsics app, went out on my first training run – 3.1 miles.

The app suggested an easy run so I made a conscious effort to be comfortable, not really pushing myself, but somehow still managed to end up turning in a progressive run with the last mile being a good minute faster than the first. Go figure.

Relive my run

The heat is on

For the third week in a row I elected to go with the 30 minute group with the club. I had thought about the 45s but there were a number of reasons for sticking with the 30s.

A lot of my normal running companions – usually 45ers themselves – decided half-an-hour would be enough tonight given the heat (22°C/71.6°F) so I wanted to be surrounded by those I was most familiar with just in case I was going to have a bad night.

Second, it was bloody warm and I knew by looking at those going out with the 45s I would struggle to stay with some of them. On a colder night, yes, but not tonight.

Also, I wanted to do an hour tonight, so I figured that if I went with the 30s they could ‘pace’ me to the halfway point and then I’d have enough left in the tank to attack the second half of the run.

And that’s what happened. The first 30 minutes (ok, 35) was comfortable. Indeed, we tackled the Ballymoney Road up to the Circular Road which offered a gradual but steady climb, before dropping down the Old Ballymoney Road and then another incline up Thomas Street into the town centre. I coped with all these very well, actually holding something back too.

When we got to Hill Street we were offered the chance to stay with the group, or to open our legs and sprint onto the bandstand at Broadway and back again. I was feeling good so I decided to test myself and pushed onto the bandstand, opening up quite a gap on those coming behind me.

I know it’s not a race and these club sessions are all about running at your own pace, but for my confidence it was a huge booster because for the past few weeks I’ve neglected to take the chance to run on like this. It felt good to be able to do it again.

After the club session I ran on for home, improving my speed per km by over a minute which was pleasing to know I could do with half-an-hour already in my legs in that heat.

Hopefully the blip of recent weeks is over me, but I’m not getting too cocky just yet.

Relive my run

Two-tenths of a second!!!

Yep, that’s by how much I set my new 5k PB by ….. a far cry from the moaning, groaning and complaining out of me over the past couple of weeks.

A big part of this was my new Garmin Forerunner 235, this was my maiden run with it so I wanted to push myself as hard as possible to see what new stats it produces for me. I do love a good stat after all!

As it was an inaugural run I’m not really sure what they mean or how they compare to ‘normal’ me but they’re a good marker to lay down. I’ll educate myself on VO2 max, HR, aerobic activity and so on over the coming days and weeks.

For now I’m just pleased to get a decent run under my belt. Very possibly the rain helped, this was more my normal environment!

My sole intention for going out tonight was to go to Sainsbury’s, so I thought I’d take a somewhat scenic route there.

Starting off as usual at the Park & Ride, I did a lap of that before hurtling down the Ballee Way, around the entire estate, a lap of the playing fields, up the Wakehurst Road, then the Larne Road and onto the Larne Road Link before stopping just before the shop.

As you can see from the route profile it was a down and up route, which made my time all the more pleasing.

I knew I was on for a good time but was a little bit pissed off before the end because I thought I’d blown it. I had to stop at the side of the road to let traffic pass and noticed after a couple of seconds that I’d forgotten to pause my watch. I wondered if those couple of seconds would spoil it for me, but maybe it was because of trying to make up for it that pushed me on to run as fast as my little legs could carry me over that final kilometre!

Glancing down at my time just as 5k ticked over it said 33:05 but it seemed like an eternity before the watch actually buzzed, and when I saw 33:06 I was gutted. I thought I’d missed it.

But, then, I saved the run and eagerly checked the Garmin Connect app on my phone.

Sync, you bugger, sync.

It did. I fumbled to open my Personal Records page. Did I want to accept or decline a new record? Of course I did!!! I didn’t actually know how close it was until I got home and scrolled back to my previous PB ….. I improved from 33:06:4 to 33:06:2. Imagine how gutted I’d have been if it’d gone the other way!

Relive my run