parkrun 26.11.16

fullsizerender-39So that was parkrun #6 for me – and a slightly different one, too.

Due to the bitterly cold weather over the last few days it was touch and go whether or not it’d even be on but, following an 8am Facebook post, it was confirmed to be going ahead.

I had my doubts. It was so foggy outside, white underfoot and just generally a freezing morning …. but off I set.

To be fair, as I walked towards and through the town centre, it didn’t seem too bad. However, once I turned down Suffolk Street which takes me directly to the Ecos Centre, it got quite slippy. It was impossible to walk on the footpath so I took to the road and even then I had to be careful.

I didn’t see how this could go ahead and, if it did, I’d be liable to go over on my ankle or something.

Thankfully, the Run Director and his assistants were on the case. They had scouted the course and had decided to change the route so that we did two loops of the second part.

img_4515That meant bypassing the slippery parts that I had walked through which, as you can see, would have been quite treacherous to run on.

As it turned out, the amended course was perfectly fine. I quite enjoyed it, especially since it was so misty. The problem with that is that I couldn’t see who was ahead of me, or how close to the end I was. I didn’t see a tailrunner, though, so it’s all good!

Performance wise, I was reasonably happy with how I got on. My legs didn’t feel as bad as they did on Thursday, and that was after walking 40 minutes to get there!

I ran and chatted with a lady all the way round which was nice and helped pass the time. It’s always pleasant getting to know someone else, especially someone of a similar pace.

At the time of writing I’m not entirely sure of my time because the course was 5% shorter than usual due to the necessary changes but an adjusted time will be posted on the event site at some point.

However, based on my Garmin, it was my fastest pace for the past two weeks so I’ve got to be pleased with that.

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The curse of the midday sun

fullsizerender-38I haven’t had a run I’ve not been pleased with for quite some time now. In fact, looking at my log, it seems the last one was 25 runs ago back at the start of October.

So here we are at the end of November and I’ve had another one. Surely that’s not a bad ‘hit’ rate, is it?

And my run today wasn’t anywhere near as awful as that aforementioned one at the beginning of last month, I’m just not happy with it in comparison to what I’ve been doing lately.

But that happens, and when it does I tend to find that it heralds better things to come.

All the signs were there. It was cold and frosty but walking to my normal starting point I could barely see where I was going because the bright sun was so very low in the sky, right in my line of vision.

I turned to run with the sun at my back and it suddenly felt lovely and warm ….. until I went around a corner and the blasted thing might as well have blinded me in one eye! I was running on a very frosty uneven footpath and having limited vision meant my gaze kept switching between looking where I was going and glancing down at my footing.

This, as a result, broke my concentration and it meant I lost the battle between my brain and my legs. My ankles hurt, my legs hurt. They always do at the start but I usually have the mental strength to ignore it, just not today. I kept going, however, without stopping and tried to make up a route on the hoof that kept the sun out of my way as much as possible.

Then I had to stop for traffic. One car was ok ….. but two, three, four, five in a row? In a quiet residential estate? Give me a break!

That was it. I was gone. It really is easier to keep going but once you give in it’s very difficult to pick up the momentum again, especially when you’ve already been irritated.

I pushed on to do a couple of miles to make it at least worthwhile. Pace wise it wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible either, just not as good as I’ve been managing recently.

However, as I said, when this happens it usually means better things to come and, being philosophical about it, I reckon I need this every so often to reset my determination and focus.

I’ll go again.

Breaking my stride?

fullsizerender-37Tonight was my second run as an official, fully paid up member of Ballymena Runners.

After collecting my membership card and making arrangements to get myself a club running shirt I set off, as per last week, in the 30 minute group.

I was briefly tempted to try the 45 minute group but seeing as the step up week is on December 5th I decided to stay where I was for another wee while yet and then give it a go.

Given the freezing temperatures, it was a very enjoyable, relaxed run and even though we had to be mindful of the conditions underfoot – which necessitated tiptoeing around some ice patches – we covered the route at quite a reasonable pace.

I was amused that, after walking 20-minutes or so to the Leisure Centre to meet up with everyone, we started running straight back the same way and came within 50 yards of my front door! At least I was running on familiar footpaths so was able to concentrate more on my performance rather than keeping on eye on what I was running on.

And it was during this section around my house that I suddenly found myself changing my stride, completely by accident. Usually I take short steps but, for some reason, I started extending my legs, albeit without stretching them as far as to cause injury.

It instantly felt easier and more relaxed, any pain or tiredness in my legs lifted straightaway and whilst I felt I was going slower I actually started to close in on the people in front of me.

It was quite a revelation, to be honest, and although I kept slipping back into my normal stride everytime I made the effort to return to this new one I could detect a marked difference to my energy levels and performance.

It’s something I’ll have to try hard to develop because, if I can, it could prove to be a significant breakthrough. Watch this space!