I was never good at Maths

Now I am not sure if I have written about this before. Please be my guest and trawl through the archives. No? Didn’t think so! Obviously if it sounds familiar then you can stop reading but it will be interesting to see how many runners out there, and yes I know it’s yet another blog entry about running and not the usual moaning and complaining posts that started the blog a year ago but lets be honest I love running and it’s becoming my life even to the point where I am in my freelance career turning jobs down so I can run in certain races, but like I said it will be interesting to see how many other runners feel the same.

So what is this post all about? Well I need new trainers according to my Garmin I have run over 400 miles since September, and being that I have had my current pair of trainers since May and they recommend you change them every 500 miles I thought now was the time to do so. I don’t have any races I’m training for… Hence why I am getting a new pair now and not a month ago. (All runners know you need to run your shoes in if you excuse the pun… Is that a pun? Or is it just a saying?)

Anyway running away from the point, I went to Sweat Shop in Manchester, I normally use Up and Running but the last sales assistant was not very helpful and the more I shop with Sweatshop the more I enjoy my experience. I often go in and browse and end up having a chat. Anyway I went in to buy a new pair and because it was late in the evening they were quiet so two assistants served me. Now before I go on I should point out the title.

I got a C in Maths, and that was by luck. I am very poor at it, even with the basics of adding up and subtracting but why am I telling you about my very sub standard knowledge of a number system? Well the answer is that in the hour I spent trying on various trainers and running on the treadmill and around the shop (Yes around the shop, they told me it was the best way to feel the cushioning, I could bare to look up just in case they were laughing), we spoke about running, training and races. I think mainly because I was wearing my Conwy Half Marathon T-Shirt from the weekend (washed) and some people from the shop had taken part and they wanted to know what I had thought. They then asked me my time. The following sixty minutes was filled with talk and a lot of numbers and this is the point of the post. I am miserable with numbers and I’m not that much better at the English language judging by some of the blog posts but I have picked a sport that is all about numbers. The distance, the time, your pace and while running with your Garmin set to miles you try to work out how my K’s you have done, what time you will finish the race if you have a 8min/mile pace. Runners are all about numbers. The speed, time finished, sub this, sub that, pace, number of races, distances, miles covered a week, time spent running, time spent warming up. It all comes down to numbers.

I just found it hard that for some one who found Maths difficult I am now using it everyday, working out my target time, keeping my pace and converting distances. Its now I wish I had paid more attention in those lessons then maybe when I’m on the road and see I’m averaging 7min/miles it wouldn’t take me the five minutes to work out the distance I will run in 30 minutes.

New Car

I’m writing this as I took my little prize procession of a car in for its free winter check. While waiting for the wonderful staff to check my tyres, oil, windscreen washer, wiper blades etc all the stuff really needed for winter driving I was asked to take a seat.

The location of the seating area was positioned behind a new Polo and new Golf. This got me wanting a new car. I love VW’s and really want a new one. Don’t get me wrong I do like my 05 Polo but the news ones look so sexy and I’ve always wanted to have a Golf.

That’s it really. That’s all I wanted to say in this post.

The Race I Did On Sunday

Well I knew it would be good race even if I hobbled over the finish line or didn’t even get to finish it. For those wondering I did cross the line and in a new PB, which considering the chances of getting a PB is below 50% and it was only my second half marathon, I would say I am very pleased with the result. To be honest I didn’t go out there to win, I just wanted to run another half marathon and test my self, and oh boy did this course test me.

I suppose I should also mention the amount of training I did. Well it didn’t amount to much. After the Great North Run I carried on running 8 or 10 miles and then did the 10K in Sheffield. I think had a week off from hitting the pavements. From October to the race day I had done speed work, and a lot of 10K’s but nowhere near the mileage I should have. I think I ran 10 miles once after Sheffield and that was a couple of weeks before this race. That did concern me slightly as to weather I would be fit enough but for some reason I was telling myself that I could run another half…. I did one a couple of months ago.

So it was with that I found my self in Wales with a 700-year-old castle standing tall at the start line. The race I was about to take part in was the Conwy Half. A small race, with 1600 people running and no road closures, instead there were people stopping the traffic as we ran past. All my other running events have been large organised races where they shut the roads and film it for telly. This however was small.

There was no mass warm up. You collected your number in the morning. There were no waves. Knowing that I didn’t want to be trying to push my way to the front of the pack, I got to the start line early and it was a good job. The race started on a hill, only about 100m and was quickly led out over the bridge to turn briskly onto a walking/cycling path. This was where overtaking became hard. We were like a herd of sheep jostling to get in front. I had some people from a running club who thought it was acceptable for all 3 of them to run together abreast preventing people behind from getting in front. That annoyed me. As members of a running club they should know the rules of running more than anyone. I eventually got past and found my self in a nice little housing estate running down a road, only to have to run round a traffic cone and head back and straight into an alley way.

Now at this point I was doing well, 8.30 a mile and we had already covered 2 miles. Out of the alley and we were now running along the coast. We could see the Great Orme peering at us. Inviting us to climb her. Along this path there were people walking their dogs who politely waited. In fact even the car drivers were polite and waited for the pack to pass. A good stretch of this mile to Llandudno was also covered in sand. It’s really quite strange running on this stuff after tarmac.

We had now arrived at Llandudno, and it was a small climb through the back streets to the roundabout on the sea front and onwards to the Great Orme. We were not going to run up the Orme but around it on the coastal road, and this was a steep climb. The Orme element would see the half waypoint, but would also be the majority of the run. I started the 5 mile trip climbing up slowing my pace. People had given up and started walking. I had started to feel it in my legs, my heart got faster but I refused to slow, I knew if I did I would carry on stopping till the finish line. I just had to go forward.

The breath taking size of the rock that stands over the road glistened in the sun as the different colours of this geological marvel kept you company on the climb. I should also add at this point that people out walking or cycling and rock climbing would encourage the pack with cheers and clapping. This was tuning out to be a good race.

Then I got to the top. It was now down hill for 2 miles. This hurt a lot more than the climb. I tried to go slow and steady, rather at full speed. I think I was doing about 7.10 mile on the way down, the pain in the legs were increasing with every stride and I just wanted to be on the flat. But as I approached the flat and final part of the course towards Conwy my legs had begun to turn to jelly.

The run back was painful, the pack in front of me had thinned out and I could see the castle standing erect guarding the town. By the time we reached the housing estate I was reading to throw in the towel, but seeing that there was only a mile left I carried on. By the time I had joined the road to cross the bridge and the sign that read ‘400 m to go’ I spurred myself on and sprinted to cross the finish line In a new PB taking 2 minutes of my Great North Run time, and coming 133rd in my category and 492nd in the race.

This was one of the best races I’ve done, one of the best runs even. The hill of the Great Orme is painful, and I’m glad that in my 10K training and normal running I included hills and hill sprints into my training, but nothing can compare you for the climb and slow steady incline as it got steeper. Like a snake it twists around and just when you think you can see the end the road bends inwards to reveal yet more climbing.

Despite that the race is now down as yearly activity in my running dairy. The atmosphere was better than the Great Run and views of the Irish Sea, castles, Snowdon in the far distance was stunning and the little breath I had left in my lungs was quickly snapped away by the wonderful welsh scenery.

A week Tomorrow

Well come a week tomorrow I will be lining up or in actually fact at this time of writing I should be half way round the Conwy Half Marathon. Starting on the bridge and heading out to the Great Orme and back to have a lap around the castle walls and the town to finish on the harbour. This will be my last half of 2011 and maybe my last race of the 2011 season as I need to turn my sights to the 2012 running calender with several halfs and a full Marathon.

Hopefully the run on Sunday will give me yet more time to reflect and really think hard about doing a cold start. The idea that is still growing in the back of my brain even more after I got back from Ireland. I was over their staying with friends and doing a show and loved the slow relaxed way of life. It was like stepping back in time and being that I want to go to New Zealand, love North Wales and now Ireland I can only conclude that the fast pace living of city life is not for me. In fact the ultra modern way of life with gadgets is not for me. For only the second time in my life I was not happy to be back in Manchester. Even when I have been away for a while or even a day on work or pleasure I am always glad to return to the city and my flat but as the plane touched down in Manchester I wanted to stay on and return to Ireland. The only other time this happened was when I got back from Gent after working out there where when I returned to the gray skies of England I knew I wanted to move over to Belgium.

So here to the race in a week blowing away a few of those cobwebs and letting me think straight.


Day Dreaming

Day dreaming of better things, or just some how wishing this would be my life. It’s a hard one. Recovering from the hangover that is your 30’s this week has truly been depressing, nursing the hangover from hell that could only be compared to that of the one I endured after my 6th form leavers ball I decided that I would set up camp in my bed for the day and try to stay as still as I could. I think I finally crawled from the pit around seven O’Clock to venture to the shops to feed my empty and angry stomach.

While I was in bed I reflected on the night, and while I don’t want to dwell on the evening events and my comments on a certain social network, I felt the festivities turned sour. This was due to my drunken state and letting emotions get to me, but I don’t think I enjoyed the night as much as I should have and while I want to express my thoughts I don’t think this is the right platform to air my view on the matter.

Monday morning was off to work, a job I didn’t really want to partake in as I knew what the week had in store. It was in the time spent walking to the theatre that I started thinking about my life once again. Thinking did I make the “30th Birthday” in my mind something to be big, did I make the whole turning 30 into an issue. The answers to these questions I have still not reached but I do know I am not happy in my job, or career which is a strange paradox as I enjoy the work, or working. I think what it is, is that I have not yet reached the stable position where I can say I have made it and I look around to see those younger and straight out of uni lighting shows and working on productions that are over whelming larger than the work I am picking up along with the way I have very little pension and no prospect of owing a house on the wage I manage to earn.

All of this being said, I have known for some time that if it didn’t start to improve I wanted out and for some time I have been looking at what I could put my skills to. I love steam trains, running, walking, history, castles and Wales. I have applied for jobs with the National Trust and have looked at re-training. I have even thought about moving to New Zealand.

Maybe this was where the day-dream came from. Moving to Wales, and working on a steam railway and in a castle living right in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. It made me smile on the walk to work and has once again imbedded the idea of maybe moving. I have no ties to Manchester, friends can come and visit I can visit them. I have no house, no partner and no children to think off. Some people have said that doing a ‘Cold Move’ where you just up sticks and relocate with no plan in mind is one of the best things you can do. The question is where. I have money to see me through for several months with no work and the idea of picking a place on a map blindly and making that my new home scares the bejesus out of me, however the idea of picking a place I know and moving and trying to find a job and a life does some what appeal to me.

The true state of affairs is I will remain in Manchester running the same routes, working the same jobs. But at least I have work of sorts, except the horizon looks bleak but that comes with being self-employed in this industry of theatre. I have my running that is keeping me happy but I feel that I’m loosing motivation which is not good when I have planed on running the Manchester Marathon. I went for a run the other day I was pushing it when I got to 6 miles, I strived on to throw in the towel at the 10 mile mark. While I didn’t feel tired after the run, the whole journey was just hard work as my mind didn’t want to partake and my legs certainly didn’t want to travel anywhere. I’m hoping it was just a bad day as I managed to get my 5K PB down to just under 21 minutes the other day and my body does crave to run. As I sit and write now my brain wants a quick 5K, but after working all night and the torture I gave my legs yesterday I am resisting the urge and hoping I will have a more enjoyable and profitable jog tomorrow.

Oh well time to head off to work and grab some food.

Speak to you all soon.