Category Archives: Ponderings

Imposter, charlatan, pretender

And so onto my second run of the morning. As I’d said in my Antrim parkrun blog Iverene and I had planned to keep on running afterwards to get some more miles in our legs as part of our half marathon training.

Because we were already in Antrim I’d suggested following the same route as the 10k last Saturday, albeit leaving out the Castle Gardens portion at the start/finish as we’d already done it earlier.

I also wanted to experiment running in heart rate zones, which would have meant running slower and with a fast parkrun already in our legs this seemed the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

So, after a short walk just to loosen up, we went out onto the Randalstown Road and set off. As we walked to the start we noticed these directional arrows had been placed all around for what appeared to be a race taking place later in the morning.

Most of the arrows seem to be pointing towards the gardens so we assumed that we would avoid the race and not get caught up in someone else’s event. After all, we were running away from the gardens, along a busy road and towards Shane’s Castle.

Convincing ourselves we were fine we started running … really slowly. It was a tad difficult trying to keep it right down and not have my Garmin constantly buzz me that I was outside my preset range but, by and large, we managed it.

As we were running along we noticed a few more arrows for something called ‘The School Run’, and they all pointed in the same direction we were going. It seems this was an event organised by a local primary school.

Oh bugger. We were only following exactly the same course as the race! Oops.

Because we had set off around 15/20 minutes ahead of the race we joked that we were ‘winning’ and quite enjoyed the novelty of that for a while! It was also funny to see the bemused looks of the marshals dotted along the course. They cheered and encouraged us as we approached and then looked slightly puzzled that we weren’t sporting any numbers on our shirts!

We wondered how long it’d be before the front runners caught us which, as it turned out, wasn’t for quite a while, almost until we reached the castle.

By that stage I think we had long since abandoned our plans to run within a specific heart rate. We were having a laugh, and whilst we thought we were running slower the stats later proved otherwise. But it felt good, and it felt comfortable, even after parkrun.

Getting to Shane’s Castle I stopped to take the pictures I didn’t pause to take last week because I knew a PB was a possibility, and at this point a few more of those in the race went past … again we received a few bewildered glances and, again, it was amusing.

We were imposters. We shouldn’t have been ‘in’ this race but, yet, we were.

This continued for the remainder of the run back, and we started to play along a little bit – encouraging other runners, thanking the marshals for volunteering etc. … slightly naughty, I know, but entertaining.

As we got back to the Castle Gardens – where the race also concluded – we decided to follow part of the exact route to the end, before turning off for a slight detour so as to avoid the finish and risk causing untold confusion, although this also led to a bit of concern for the volunteers so we stopped with a couple of them to explain that we weren’t competitors looking to cut corners … it was all good natured though.

In the end we did five miles and, looking over the splits later, I noticed that we were getting progressively faster than longer we ran. So much for slowing it down.

It was huge positive, though. We had done this after parkrun and had run eight miles in total whilst feeling quite comfortable, which was simply fantastic.

All told, a highly successful morning and another indicator that I’m continuing to improve and get fitter. Indeed, apart from the deliberately slow opening to the run I was actually quicker than my 10k run last week! I find that amazing.

Relive my run


Stone cold

Another Wednesday night and another Saints & Slimmers run.

I’ll admit to not really feeling like it tonight. I’m still riddled with the lurgy, still feeling quite weak and, on top of that, I’d already been out and about at 6:30am for a step class.

I felt I had depleted my energy reserves.

However, this is weigh-in night so I knew I had to go out. I had toyed with the idea of walking to be weighed and then just walking back home again, not taking part in the scheduled run.

But, for whatever reason, I decided to throw on my running gear to see if I could squeeze a few more kilometres out of my increasingly tired legs. I thought I’d at least run to the start of tonight’s organised outing and see how I felt then.

Much to my surprise my legs felt pretty good and body (albeit from the neck down), even if my head was pounding from this blasted cold. As a result I decided to join the run with the rest of the group.

With hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t the wisest idea. I was doing ok, and felt well within my comfort zone pace wise until about 25 minutes in. However, I started to get a bit of shooting sensation down both arms. Not unbearable, but enough to be of concern. I pulled up, and told the rest of the group I’d catch them later.

I took a minute or so to shake the pain out of my arms before resuming, catching up and rejoining the group. But, no sooner had I done so, the pain returned. I’d never experienced this before so I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I didn’t want to take any chances so I aborted my run and broke off from everyone else, telling them I’d just make my own way to the weigh-in.

I’m not really sure what caused it, although I’m guessing it was probably just a consequence of a pretty hectic 24 hours that included two runs, a tough circuits class and a challenging step class all on the back of a lingering, persistent cold.

As for the weigh-in, I’m absolutely delighted to have lost another 5 3/4lbs, bringing my total loss in 17 days to a fraction short of a stone. This is hard work, but I’m determined to get as much out of this opportunity as I possibly can.

But, for tomorrow, a day off to give my body a proper chance to recover.

Relive my run

Virtual Runner 100km January Challenge (66.71km)
1st January – 8.28km
3rd January – 5.01km
5th January – 9.02km
7th January – 5.01km
9th January – 5km
10th January – 5.1km
15th January – 13.02km
17th January – 3.39km
23rd January – 5.81km
24th January – 7.07km

National Running Show – Day Two

I said at the end of my last post that, on day two of the National Running Show, I’d be giving the Saucony Treadmill Challenge a go and partaking in a couple of free exercise sessions on offer at the run clinic.

Unfortunately that didn’t quite go to plan. I could feel a cold working on me all weekend but, come Sunday morning, it had developed into the fully blown lurgy. I felt spaced out, my hearing was muffled, everything hurt.

How I felt wasn’t helped by a restless, sleepless night caused by the noise levels from outside my hotel.

Seriously, people of Birmingham, why do you insist on honking your horns continuously at 4am? Boy racers in the carpark below, why? What are you compensating for? Women, why did you have to shriek at the top of your voices? Hell, you couldn’t even walk quietly! Bear in mind I was on the seventh floor too … dear help those poor sods lower down.

Anyway, we still got to the show just after 9am. Thankfully the crowds weren’t at the levels they were on Saturday although that’s not to say the event still wasn’t well attended.

I still went to the Saucony stand to contemplate the Treadmill Challenge but knew in my heart and head that I couldn’t do it. I feared that after ten seconds or so the contents of my stomach could very easily be introduced to their lovely and expensive looking treadmill and, let’s face it, no-one wanted that!

Instead we took another tour of the stands, going down my list of items and kit I had wanted to buy whilst Dawn had a demonstration of some massage mitts from Soma Therapies on her left calf which impressed her enough to make a purchase.

The folks manning the stand were lovely, and didn’t indulge in the hard sell at all. In fact, they encouraged her to take a walk around the show to have a think before deciding to buy or not. A quite refreshing approach I thought.

After that we went for a look at the exercise sessions again but, having seen the shapes we would have to twist ourselves into, we decided to pass. Again, my stomach most definitely wouldn’t have been too keen!

The business of the day done we decided to stay on for what was for me one of the highlights of the entire weekend, listening to Lisa Jackson’s talk.

Lisa is the author of ‘Your Pace Or Mine’, a book which the blurb describes as “What Running Taught Me About Life, Laughter and Coming Last”.

I had bought this book upon its release a couple of years ago just before completing my first London marathon because I knew I’d find it highly relatable. Lisa has come last in 25 (or 24!) of her 100+ marathons but has an amazing attitude towards her running, coming last and her speed (or lack thereof).

I found her speech quite inspirational and littered with loads of ‘me too’ moments. As you might know I finished last (for the first time) in my most recent race and, still to my surprise, I haven’t beaten myself up over it … perhaps that’s in part because of this book and the little fragments of stories that stuck in my head.

Lisa also spoke about the running community, about the amazing characters she has met and the friends made. I know exactly what she means.

After her talk I knew I had to speak to her. To her credit, she took the time to have a decent chat with everyone in the queue. I was conscious I was the only man waiting to see her but I didn’t really care. Perhaps that speaks volumes about the impact her story has had on me, perhaps it says a lot about my own inner strength. Who knows? She was lovely and really took the time to listen and to exchange experiences. A definite highlight for me.

So that was the first ever National Running Show.

I’m proud to have been an ambassador for the show. I really enjoyed myself. I was impressed by the numbers attending, especially on the Saturday.

I had heard some grumbles about the size of the hall and the lack of a lot of the big names in the running world not being there.

To be fair, no-one knew quite what to expect, but I think the organisers got it pretty much spot on. I fully expect it to be in a bigger hall next year and for the major brands to come running looking for their spot in the show. It’s their own loss for missing out this time.