Going the Distance

So where has this come from…

Well the other week my mate and I embarked on a 100 mile ride, one of only two for me and for both of us the first for a considerable time out of the saddle. Around the 70-80 mile mark as our legs were on fire and our hearts were about to give up on the final hill a little thought popped into my head.

“If our fitness levels were that of Olympic or professional athletes then what discipline do you think you would do?”

What I meant by this is that if our fitness and ability were the top notch and were good enough to be representing Great Britain, as in it takes me and my mate 6 hours to do 100 miles, or riding on the flat at an average speed of 21 mph then in this scenario those times and speeds would be considered the doings of athletes, not just your average 30 somethings dressing in lycra putting the worlds to rights on a Sunday jolly. So basically if our times and speeds were the benchmark then what areas would we compete in. My mate is all about speed and trying like so many to get the KOM (King of the Mountain) on Strava for his segments on the ride home, for me its about distance. I love a quick 5K, but I prefer a nice long hours run.

Now by no means are my mate and I ever going to be considered professional athletes, I have dreamt of beating Mo Faharh in a race, but in this world I have created then the World Record for the 10,000 would be 39:56 something very close to my own PB. But in this world our times and ability are that of elites and we’re about to be called up to represent Team GB.

So what did we decided? Well for me its all about the distance, at 80 miles even tho I wanted to throw in the towel and just phone a taxi my body still had enough petrol in the tank to get me home, all I had to do was switch of my brain… Your body can do fantastic achievements and can survive and power through, your brain however wants to protect you and prevent damage or injury so starts to lecture you until you stop. through my three marathons and training for them, even my 10K’s where I went out way to fast in 25 degree heat I have learnt to push through and complete my goal.

So for me it would be endurance, long distance. I’m quick, but I’m talking quick for like 300-400 meters on the bike, and even with my running I prefer the longer routes, the longer races. I love the Half Marathon, its long enough to feel I have done something but yet I can run it quick enough to push myself. I love my long runs, 8, 10, 12 miles just running where my feet take me.

So if we did live in my world where slightly beer gutted men who ate pizza before and after a race were representing us in the Brazilian Olympics, then I’d be lining up for the Marathon start line hoping to take the WR of 3:22:34 while my mate will be in the team time trail on the bike.

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Being Rooted

A while ago I did a play where the over all theme was how young people deal with a death of a friend. One of the characters had moved on after a year where the others were still coming to terms with the loss. The director gave the note that the character was grounded. He was rooted like an oak tree. He knew who he was and the direction of his life.

Turn the focus to me and a number of text messages between my best mate and myself with the subject New Zealand and I slowly reveal why New Zealand is on the cards. You all know I have a strong dislike for my job which is getting stronger by the week. But after so many years I still feel lost. My life is not what I want it to be. I have not found myself. Sure I know I like running, hills and Wales. I know what I would like to do… But as all my friends are settling down and buying houses or getting married I still find myself alone and spinning in circles.

New Zealand is an extension to the running. Running has helped me to keep far enough away from the black dog biting and taking hold, it has helped me become happier and more confident but yet my life is still missing pieces to make it whole.

So New Zealand is in some ways a way to escape, and rediscover who I am and what I want to be. Spending time away to think about me. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but NZ is hopefully going to be a life changing event. Maybe if I come back I will know who I am and may even begin to settle down. Maybe move to Wales and walk the hills. Maybe I will be just like the character out of the play. Some one who is strong and knows who they are.

Several people have commented and made similar statements to the one below that was made by a work colleague and friend.

“No offence… But you’re not happy in here, NZ will do you good. It’s good to get away from people and places that don’t make you happy”

Change of Plan

It’s always good to have a plan B. Lets face it what kind of General would you be if you didn’t have a ‘Plan B’ even shouting the orders to ‘retreat’ is a kind of Plan B.

I once read a book. I have since read several others, but none of the others offer the information to explain the subject of this blog. Sure I could try to use the plot of Jurassic Park except they were not clever enough to have a Plan B as they thought everything would be okay and that was like me on my first Marathon. Hang on, wait a minute… I have just referenced another book to explain my point.

The point is, that in the book I was reading all about Marathons the runner talked about some advice he got from a coach. That tiny bit of advice as seen the way I train and think about races completely change. Within the advice the coach offered, she said always have three times in your head.

Simple really. It explains where I have gone wrong. My first Marathon was like many other people’s. I dreamed of getting around the course within the golden four hours. I didn’t even think about any other times and so when my Garmin read 3:30 at 18 miles I knew I had blown it and with it my sense of caring. I was now just going to finish. At the Manchester 10K when I wanted to break my PB, and saw with a Kilometre to go that this was not going to happen I just slowed down to my Sunday run pace. Time only mattered if it was better than the last.

However when I ran my latest half. I had three times. Sub 1:30, Sub 1:35 and 1:40. The latter I knew I could achieve. When I saw I was not going to do a Sub 1:30 my determination and energy went in to obtaining the 1:35, which as we know paid off. Without these three times in my head I think I may have just slowed and crossed in rather disappointing but still respectful 1:45.

So what has this got to do with my ‘Plan B’ well my marathon , which I have coming up has three times. To break the four-hour time, followed by 3:45 or really trying my luck 3:30. However my training has been a little lax, and my long runs have only been lengthy in terms of the time between me getting my trainers on and running. Not to beat my self up, I would like to say I have done two long runs of 20 miles, and one of 16. But that is not enough and with todays run of a little sneaky speedy 10K and speed session I decided that I should concentrate my efforts on chasing a new 10K PB of sub 40 or a sub 35 and just be happy to complete the marathon course. As long as I come in within 4:15 it will be a new PB and I should be happy with that.

I said to my friend after Snowdon that I would never doing the distance again, but with me going to New Zealand and Manchester being my first, I just had to race it again and while I enjoying running long, I must admit that I think my distance wis the half. I enjoy the way it is long but also fast. 26.2 miles just seems nothing more that a long time on your feet which you have to pace correctly.

So with only five weeks to go, I think I will start on my 10K training and sneak in some long runs just so I can complete the last Marathon I will possibly run in the UK.

Never Easy

Well just as I was going to put my hand into my wallet and allow all the moths to escape my eye gets drawn to a job advertisement that is right up my street.

I was already to take the plunge and buy the air fare to New Zealand but then I see the job. Now I’m in two minds. I need to get to NZ before the end of July as that is when my Visa will run out but this job is so ideal for me I don’t want to miss out. I have found cheap flights but now am wondering if I should book them or wait to hear back from the job. I know that I will regret not going to NZ (my best mate informs me of that) but what happens if I turn down the job of a lifetime that could see me escape the world of theatre and start my dream career of working in the out doors and eventually Snowdon.

Why is it that my life is never easy. This always happens. I spend an age planning or thinking about a job or holiday and the day I make my mind up then like a bus another job or plan comes along.

Darn it. Thats what I say.

Two Weeks

Twitter is filled with posts about the Brighton Marathon and London is next week. Manchester is in two weeks and after a final long run yesterday I am in some kind of strange zone. I feel quietly confident, but at the same time I am concerned for the last six miles after all they do say the race starts on mile 20.

To say I am looking forward to that Sunday evening would be a little bit of an understatement. I am looking forward to the end of the marathon and showing my medal off with pride being the only person amongst my friends who would have achieved this feat of human endurance. But while a lot of my fellow runners will be glad it’s all over and be happy to put their trainers at the back of the cupboard or in the bin I will be happy as I get to drink and a little sad as I won’t get to run while I rest.

Now I have not entire given up the source. Even tho I said after Christmas I would. What can I say I like a bottle of wine as much as the next man if the next man happens to be Keith Floyd. However for April I have been T-Total. I, like my fellow runners might have hung my trainers up if it wasn’t for the month of 10K’s I have in May, clever thinking on my part to book my next races to train for.

I like running, the bug as truly hit me so being happy that I have crossed the line (hopefully in a sub 4) would be very nice, however the real reason why I will be so happy is that I get to drink wine again.  Not any old wine you understand, oh no wine that my best mate got me for my 30th. I have been saving it for this very occasion and to be honest it should make it taste even better. The bottle in question is a 1981 vintage. My mate knows me so well. The wine was bottled the year I was born and came with a posh cork screw, thermometer, cork stopper, basically the works all concealed in a wooden box. I think it is truly the best gift I have got, and if it wasn’t for the fact it had to be drank (shame I know) then I would be keeping it to gather cobwebs.

So as I reach the wall on mile 20 and try to scramble over to get to the finish, the freshly opened bottle that I would have left to decanter will be pulling me across the finish line, and hey after burning 4000 calories I think I will be entitled to a glass or two of the red stuff, after all the antioxidants helps the healing and recovery process.

Being Like Everyone Else

I’m sat on my bed. Shorts on, Running top on. Bottle of water at the ready. Running gloves on standby. I look out of the window and see a cold blowy wet day. Drizzle. Fine wet drizzle. The drizzle that ‘Northerns’ and ‘Brits’ comment on how it gets you wet, it’s the fine drizzle that soak you to the bone. I’m waiting to go for a run, not any run but one with a friend who has not had cardio since Christmas. I like running with him as he helps me with my pace, but also pushes himself hard to keep up with me if I speed up. It’s a challenge for both of us, and will be the last time as he is moving away.

The trouble is today I’m not feeling it. I’m half way through my training and still enjoy running once I get out on to the streets but today I wish I could be like other people and claim ‘I can’t run’ ‘I’m no good at it’ As today my legs are like lead and I still have another 40 miles to cover this week and really do not have the energy. Why can’t I be like other people and just spend my mornings slumped on the sofa watching the ‘Wright Stuff’ or ‘This Morning’ Why can’t I stay up late without thinking that I should go to the land of nod as I have a ten miler to beat out of my legs in the morning.

I suppose the only notion that is keeping me going is that not everyone does a Marathon and come May I should be able (I hope) to say I’ve done one and I’ve done it on my own back garden. Besides I still enjoy running, it’s just getting out there and telling my legs they enjoy it.

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.