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.
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.
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
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?
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!
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)
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.
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.