Breaking 1:40

Under the gaze of a seven hundred year old castle in the winter sun on a cold November morning I ran through the game plan in my head. Along with 200o other runners in the 4th year of this truly wonderful half marathon that would see us run past one of my favourite castles and then along the coastal path to the Victorian town of Llandudno passing the pier before starting the undulating climb of the Great Orme before rapidly descending back to the coastal path to the finish below the castle. This was the Conwy Half and a race I had run before and got a PB and today I was determined to race and race hard to go after another PB and a sub 1:40.

The game plan was simple. I just needed to run 7:37 splits the only trouble was the year before the congestion in the first few miles is horrific you really can’t get into your stride, and then there is the Orme itself. I like hills but I couldn’t run up that in 7:37 pace. The only saving grace was the down hill sections where I could catch up and as long as the down hill parts were in 6 minutes pace then I knew I was on for a winner. I also knew at 10K I would have to be clocking a time of 47 minutes to stand any chance of breaking 1:40.

The gun went off and as predicted it was a battle to pass those runners who thought they could run at the front, while many of them were giving it a good go and I knew that many would regret it down the line. I really do wish people would know their pace and position themselves accordingly at the start.  My pace was as expected all over the place but after the first mile it averaged 7:44, not bad just a few seconds behind my target pace. For the next 3 miles I hit 7:37 on the nose and then came the hill with 7:50, 8:10 and 7:45. I wasn’t worried as I knew I had two miles of down hill one of which was very steep and then 3 miles of flat road to take me back to where it all began. I was still on course when I crossed 10K in the 47 minutes which reassured me that a PB could well be in sight. My legs still felt strong and I had more energy gels if needed. Any fear of falling behind schedule was soon forgotten as the down hill sure me clock 6:44 and then the flat straight saw me slowly increase pace from the 1:40 as I picked off each runner one by one seeing me clock in at 7:17, 7:25, 7:11.

I looked at my watch and sure I was making good time, and when I saw the finish line and looked to see 1:35:34 beam back at me and dug deep and sprinted to the line to cross in 1:38:32.

All I need to do now is to get it under a sub 1:35 but that will have to wait for next year.

These are just a few of my favourite things.

If you ask any of my mates they would say running, we all know from this blog alone that I am more than passionate about growing activity whatever that word maybe. Along with running my friends would maybe list castles, Wales, bridges, piers, mountains, walking so when my last race of many was the Bangor 10K you can imagine my joy as all my favourite past times were placed in one day events.

My legs started to feel tired with all the running which did not make sense as I was doing fewer miles in my weeks running but was really going out for speed. After the Manchester run last week I really thought the Manchester marathon had finally caught up with me and weekly 10K races were not that good idea.  The truth was the 10K’s were suppose to be all about recovery runs and the game plan was to take it slow and steady with 9 minute milling, not my usual 7.30. What happened every time with the gun bang was my legs speeding at a very comfortable 6.50.

So come Bangor I was going to take it slow, plus the fact the temperature was a cool 26 degrees. The race was not the best organised event and was a small gathering of only 400 people. Roads remained open and the crowds were not exactly lining the streets. The course was down the high street, along the coast, out and back on the pier then a long steep climb with a long drop back to the coast to climb again until you turned off to club back to the finish. The essence here is that this was one hilly course, and I mean hilly, 2nd gear if you were in a car.

Anyway the race gun went and as usual with no wave’s, people who would slowly drop to the back of the pack were lined up in front of me soon to be over took. My steady game plan of a 50 minute race due to weather and gradients went straight out the window again and I shot off. trying not to stop to look at  Snowdonia mountain range or  Bridges over to Anglesey was hard work, but I managed to carry on running while taking in these wonderful sights. The race was feeling good and then the first hill hit, 2K worth of a climb and the pace slowed down but still quick enough to pass some runners. The down hill section started and I wanted to fly down but needed to keep my quads fresh so took it easy. one of the runners I over took came whizzing by and out of sight but I soon caught him on the next up hill section. this is how the race panned out, as we passed one another several times for him only to beat me at the end. Once over the line a friendly handshake and congratulations were exchanged with my competitor. Over all I came 26th in my category and 72nd over all. The best race I think I have done. I really enjoyed it and the result shows how much I have come in a year, if this course was flat and the breeze and temperature was right I really think I might have broken sub 40. Oh well maybe that will have to wait till the Mersey Tunnel 10K in a couple of weeks.

After the race, I spent the day in Wales looking at castles, mountains and all my other favourite things before finally coming to the thought that I would have to leave and head back along the A55 to England and leave the place where I am happiest behind for another day.

Your Passion

Off the usual road that this blog normally follows it has been inspired by a friend who asked on that topical highly viewed and respected for its truth and honesty, well read and admired for its educational and informative angles webpage that is Facebook. Yes as part of her status she asked if people if they had a passion and if so what it was. The reason for asking such a question was not just a mere interest into the psyche of her friends but because she had just watched a film where a passion was involved and was so inspired it made her want to find one.

Now all regular readers could shout out what I would list as passions. Running, Bridges, History, Steam Trains, Heritage, Canals, Castles, Wales. And you’d be right. I quickly added a comment containing ‘Running, Castles, Heritage’

So far this seems like a pointless blog entry, but hey why change tradition. But seriously what is a passion, could any of those listed above really be a passion. I love to run and get very kiddy when I see a castle, I can make my voice go as high as Aled Jones singing ‘The Snowman’ when ever I see a nice bridge or a good mill. But are these passions? I decided to consult the good old English Dictionary.

The meaning (s) are described as thus

noun

  • 1 [mass noun] strong and barely controllable emotion:a man of impetuous passion
  • [in singular] a state or outburst of strong emotion:oratory in which he gradually works himself up into a passion
  • intense sexual love:their all-consuming passion for each other[in singular]:she nurses a passion for Thomas
  • [in singular] an intense desire or enthusiasm for something:the English have a passion for gardens
  • [count noun] a thing arousing great enthusiasm:modern furniture is a particular passion of Bill

So maybe the ones I listed are passions. I do get very excited, and love my running and history. This blog is evidence of that. I’m very enthusiastic on all the subjects I speak about and maybe friends would say I’m passionate about them. However at the end of the day this status made me think. I was all to quick to list the subjects and hobbies that I love or interest me but it was only after when I thought about the true way in which they make me feel. Do I feel passionate about them. Yes I love running and if I can’t run I’m miserable, I love a good castle and would like to be transported back in time to see them in their full glory but does this count as a passion or just admiration and love of a subject. I’m sure they are passions but find my self still questioning myself.

Do any of you lovely people have a passion and if so what is it? Is it important to have a passion?


Starting Again

It’s no secret that I want out of my current job the trouble is it’s not just a job or a career but a way of life. Describing the theatre biz to people who are not connected to it is a hard task. Even partners who have their better halfs working in the industry can’t really explain this magical hidden world.

As well as a job with unsociable hours comes the joys of a very busy hectic social life always drinking and partying as you say goodbye to one cast and hello to a whole bunch of new actors. I’ve been luckily enough to work with some very generous people and my phone book and facebook page is filled with one time affairs of people I’ve worked with knowing that years down the line our paths will once again cross.

However my career has taken the wrong path and has come to a dead end. I can’t trace my steps back as I’ve come too far, instead a career change is needed. Now let’s be honest people who read this blog or know me just a little will know my love of history, Wales and castles and that my dream job would be to work in a Snowdonia National Park or for the National Trust the trouble is how do you start?

The theatre biz has seen me with several transferable skills but how do I lay these out on application forms? I am a production manager which in simple terms is some one who managers budgets, all staff involved on a production and schedules to make that show be built and open on time. But for some reason people scoff as its nots a business or shop manager a role they can relate or understand having knowledge off that position.

So again where do I start, how do you start again? I’m applying for jobs that I meet the criteria for but don’t seem to get beyond ‘thank you for your application we’ll be in touch if you get through to the interview stage’

I sometimes wish it would be easier to stay in the theatre game but while the social life is great the settling down side is absent. You can forget buying a house or starting a family as it really does not pay enough or give you the time needed away from work. I often joke that theatre is my life but the tragic truth is that my life is theatre. I sleep, talk, walk, drink, eat this art form and like a seductive mistress she has a spell and a grasp on me so strong that I forget there is more important things in life.

Oh well time for yet another application form. Wish me luck!

What do Dreams Mean?

I’m only writing this in order to postpone my run and in truth maybe I should not be going out for a run today as my legs feel a little strange, but they have a rest day tomorrow before the long run on Saturday.

Anyway back to yet another thrilling entry to what has become a blog about running. While I have been sleeping a hobby I find very hard, I have been having some nice dreams. Now if you as a reader had to make a list about what makes me tick then running would be top, the subjects that followed would be walking/hiking, Snowdonia, Wales, Castles, history, heritage, bridges, canals, steam trains and dogs.

So does it mean something that I have been having dreams about finding a girl of my dreams, who works for the National Park, I then get one of my dream jobs in this dream and also end up working for the National Park and Castles. Now at the moment you may be thinking that’s a lovely dream, but it gets better. The National park this dream girl lives in is… You’ve guessed it Snowdonia and a wonderful little cottage under the gaze of the mountain with a wood fire where our two dogs sit.

Now I know this is a dream and it makes me happy, but I have been having this dream on and off for several nights and last night I invited all my close mates round to our cottage to announce our engagement. Now do dreams ever come true? Is this telling me something. I do wish to leave the world of theatre and work for the National Trust or a National Park and I do want to live in the shadow of Snowdon with some dogs.

Oh well let’s get this day out-of-the-way, so I can go back to dreaming about this rather nice secret life in the land of sleep. (could of done a pun there and used the word sheep being that I was talking about Wales, but I have been told I should give my bad puns up)

Repeating Myself!

This is not just a simple copy and past of another blog entry but thinking about it I could so easily do that and save myself time. No this is a new entry but the subject matter or matters are topics I have discussed on more than one occasion.

Now on Friday I think it was, it may even have been Thursday I wrote about a small injury I picked up fearing that it was going to be major. Well my fears of being injured just as the Marathon training kicks off have come to life. I have ripped, or torn or done some horrible damage to my left quad, making walking even quite painful. So I am now out of action for a while and learning from my foot injury last year then rest is the key.

The trouble is when I don’t run I become miserable, sad, I turn in on myself and with the prospect of the work I want to do still not in reaching distance and one of my friends ignoring me, and the other about to go through a rather large life changing experience (Baby) my brain is looking back and thinking maybe I should have packed it in and gone to New Zealand, maybe I still could. Or maybe a cold start is what I need, move to Wales or Scotland and just find a completely new job. Maybe if I could write better then I would submit articles to magazines and live as a freelance writer. After all I have nothing holding me back. My friends are moving on in there lives and the friends that aren’t seem to be moving on from me. The other night in the pub when I met with some people whom I hadn’t seen for a long time were banging on at me about not phoning them. The cheek of it, they have my number and never phoned. the fact that several time I texted them, and they never got back or said they were busy, only to find though Facebook or days later from some one else that they had been out or were out.

I know it’s me feeling sorry for myself, but when I have friends who say that they will be bored having two days off and their better half is away and how lonely and boring it will be, I want to scream out “Try it for two months where your supposed mates don’t get in contact or reply to any messages and you’re stuck in a house counting the pennies as your next bit of well paid work isn’t till April and you have rent and Christmas and god knows what else to pay for in-between”.  I try to keep busy  and am actively looking for some one, after all I have joined that once taboo subject ‘Internet Dating’ however the more I think, the more I come to the conclusion that maybe after twelve years the spell of Manchester is weakening on me and it’s time I leave this great city and find pastures new and a job which will make me happy. The job doesn’t even have to be well paid as long as it is in the hills of Snowdonia or looking after a castle I will be happy and for some one who thinks that money is the greatest treasure on earth then that statement really says something.

Oh well I’m hoping come tomorrow morning my leg will be better, and I will try a nice short run before I go into the theatre and create the finishing touches to the show.

 

P.S Just so I don’t seem like a complete dick, I will be there for my baby mate, and give me all the support and help he needs. He is after all my best mate and properly the only person who really knows me.

Keeping a Record

Now I’m good at keeping records, I am after all self-employed and do my own tax and the job contains a lot of paper work and plans that need to be organised as you never know when a show may rear its head again to go on tour, or you need to reference or use a piece of furniture, costume or prop from another show. Yes sorry to break it to you but theatre is cheap we often re-use costumes, props and sets from past shows or other productions, and with Cameron it is going to get cheaper. But this is not what this blog is about.

You may be aware by now that I like running. I don’t think I have said it enough even with the fact that a very good friend and another friend have stopped following me on twitter because ever other tweet is about #running followed by the rather evil tweets that were impersonating my tweets on their account. Well fool to them as I no longer tweet (I was going to stop in the New Year). But no seriously I know I bore people and go on far too much about my hobby but if I have to put up with people constantly talking, tweeting and Facebooking about their kids or their new girlfriend, wife, walking, train driving, hating their job; then I feel I should be able to do the same with my passion.

So a number of you who have signed up to follow this blog (and thank you for thinking i’m interesting enough to follow) you will know I am doing the Manchester Marathon. Now for Christmas I asked and Santa delivered a book to record my runs, and other data like HR, Speed, Length and weather conditions. While with my Garmin and before with Endumondo I would often track or record my runs now I can along with my Garmin see patterns or set targets to help me train. Even with the 10K and the Halfs I have done, I never really followed a plan, I would run and then would run a long distance . But now I have a record keeper called a running diary.

To help me in this time of need, my best mate is taking holiday from work because of a cold night 9 months ago, and I am stepping in to cover while he is away. This is good for several reasons as it will give me 8 weeks of continuity to my running plan, but also the money is very good and I will be able to pay my car insurance with ease, buy a new Mac, and go on holiday and walk in Wales and visit all my castles again in mid March and you never know I might even do some hill sprints up Cader Idris

Oh well off now to give my calves another stretch and then to buy some foods.

See you on the next post.

My End of Year Review

Yes it’s not only Charlie Brooker who can do one, except I would imagine, in fact I know that his is funnier but then he’s looking back at events where this blog is looking back at me.

If truth be known I got up to March waiting a little synopsis of my life month by month when I realised that I have not done anything and certainly nothing to entertain readers. I was writing about my year and even I got bored writing it. However being that Word-press keep all posts you are more than welcome to trawl through the archives and read about my exciting life, but if like me you get bored doing that then you could just read this re-cap in bullet form.

  • Attended a theatre wedding, there a hoot, really nice in the hills of Buxton, small wedding.
  • Went on my first holiday for ten years and turned off all communication to the outside world. Loved every minute of it
  • Found out two of best mates are getting married
  • Attended a weekend wedding of two of my best mates, good weekend
  • Found out my bestest best mate is going to have a baby.
  • had my 30th
  • Got injured and acted like a berk cause I thought I would miss the Manchester 10K
  • Ran the Manchester 10K, and got addicted to running. Ran the Conwy Half, The Great North and the Great Yorkshire, also entered the Manchester Marathon for 2010
  • Lost a shite load of weight
  • Did the 3 peaks
  • Had another holiday just time in Brecon Beacons
  • Had to call out the Breakdown/Recovery people, a day after the policy became active due to friend who locked keys in-car
  • Walked a lot
  • Ran even more
  • Cycled a lot to work with working on MIF
  • bought a suit
  • Visited Barrow
  • Worked in Newcastle
  • Lived/Stayed in London
  • Celebrated my Ma and Pa’s wedding anniversary. It was a big one, can’t remember how long
  • Tired and stressed my self out doing 7 shows over five weeks
  • Had my 30th (Have I said that)
  • Stared building Concord
  • Visited a castles
  • To this date I have burnt 110828 Calories and have walked, cycled, ran 1449km when I have remembered to turn my app on
  • I have gained 7 more followers on here. Welcome
  • I have tweeted over 3ooo tweets
  • I have met 2 special people in my left and said goodbye to them.
  • I got a tax rebate
  • I spent a day in cinema on my own
  • I have moaned about lots of stuff

So there you have it, my year in a nut shell. Don’t forget if you do wish to read the past entries of blogs then please do so. Some are interesting. But I got bored looking back at 2011 and seeing that apart from running nothing really happened. Oh well on to 2012.

Have a good New Year.

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.

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.