Feeling sluggish

After declaring Sunday’s effort to be a bit of a disaster, I decided that I would learn from the mistakes that I made and this week make sure that I:

  1. Run more than four miles in total
  2. Don’t get led astray with lovely ale
  3. Eat properly before I go out
  4. Save my weights sessions for the days after long/fast/hilly runs

With the amount of walking that had crept into the last 3 miles of Sunday, I took up Ginge’s suggestion of considering that to be my 5 miler and do 8 miles tonight. Clean, sober and well snacked on half a bagel and a yoghurt, I’d done nothing more taxing than a big shop at Tesco yesterday and I set off with a spring in my step and Radio 4 in my ears*.

The spring  in my step lasted a couple of miles and then I felt hot, knackered and quite frankly disturbed at the sheer number of slugs that I was running around/across/next to. It was hideous. The warm and wet have made it a slug’s paradise out there (we came home from our holidays to find that the garden was mainly stalks and have had to raid the nursery for bargain end of season bedding plants to make it feel jolly again). Tonight it appeared that SlugFest 2012 (are we allowed to say 2012 or does it contravene some kind of LOCOG bylaw?) was being held in the surrounding fields and they were all en route to party – big, small, fat, thin, black, brown, orange, frilly, smooth – all oozing their slimy way across the pavement, only stopping off to gorge on organic matter of dubious matter as if they were calling into the motorway services on their way. Bleurgh.

I carried on (pondering on a good collective noun for slugs and settling on “a devastation”), debated turning back at 3 miles before carrying on and taking a couple of water/walk breaks every couple of miles. Annoyingly I know that a lot of this ‘need’ to keep stop-starting is in my head, so much so that there’s this little insistent part of my brain nagging me, going “you can do this, bloody try again on Thursday you slacker”. This part of my brain is clearly an idiot and so I am ignoring it. I have since taken some comfort in the fact that Ginge (who, professionally, is more inclined to know what is going on outdoors with weather and stuff) has informed me that (despite the rain that poured down before and since) the evening had been the warmest part of the day.

I am assuming that this would explain why I felt so hot, rather than it simply being a question of me being mardy. We shall see.

*Today’s Desert Islander of choice was Tim Minchin followed by a Play of the Week about a dying man who wants to be buried in his ex-wife’s garden, which wasn’t quite the laugh a minute that you might expect

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Biscuits, Black Sheep and bicyclists

My most recent Royal Parks Half newsletter was all about fuelling my training with good nutrition and hydration. The main point of this was to encourage us to buy lots of get used to drinking Lucozade Sport before the big day and I preferred today’s experiential learning entitled “what not to do”.

I warmed up by preparing to bake a batch of not-quite-ANZAC biscuits, which I suspect don’t have quite the nutritional value that I should be aiming for. It was probably a good thing that I couldn’t finish making these before I went out (a lack of dessiciated coconut in the baking cupboard) otherwise I might have replaced ‘running’ with ‘scoffing’ as my morning’s activity.

To clarify, occasionally I do bake something that isn’t make of butter, oats and syrup. Occasionally.

What today taught me is that a pre-hydration session on the Black Sheep whilst watching the rugby is ill-thought out preparation for a long run. To force myself out of the door today, I’d left my car at mum’s and planned an indirect route that I could round up to make 8 miles (rather than the 5.5 miles it usually measures). With hindsight, I should have stuck to the shorter version because I was flagging by mile 5 and run-walking half a mile later. With hindsight I probably shouldn’t have chosen the day before a long run to do my first weights session back at the gym and with hindsight my mileage this weekend has been pathetic so this was never going to be a roaring success.

Ah well, despite all this I quite enjoyed myself. Since the end of June, I’ve been running without music on my short runs, but can’t even contemplate a long run without something to distract me a little. Rather than tunes, I like using the longer runs to listen to the spoken word and am indulging in the wonderful Desert Island Discs archive (today was David Tennant and John Bishop) as well as trying to boost my IQ with the Infinite Monkey Cage and More or Less podcasts. As well as the pleasure of basking in the dulcet tones of Mr Tennant (no offence to John Bishop), I spied quite a lot of cyclists (including a team taking a break on their way from John O’Groats to Lands End) which put a smile on my face because next week the same route will be taken up by the awesome athleticism of Ironman UK competitors completing their 113 mile bike course. I must make it out to peer at them this year.

Bring me sunshine – Polaroid Blaze sunglasses review

One of the other good things about our holiday down South was that we saw some real, actual sunshine. Alright, so the wind broke our tent before we’d even got it up, but at least it wasn’t raining all the time. Whilst we’ve been lucky enough not to any floods (although some nearby villages have) it feels as if we’ve been living in constant drizzle/downpour for months. I even experienced actual joy at being able to put two loads of washing out to dry yesterday. This is not good.

Real actual Kent sunshine
(photo credits to Ginge)

Before our trip, I did manage one run wearing my new Polaroid sunglasses (it was during that all too brief two day heatwave back in May) but since then it’s been more flipper and snorkel weather round our way. Anyway, this seemed an ideal chance to give them more of a run out, so the sunglasses went into the bag (along with Miles and every single piece of kit that I could corral the night before we set off).

Polaroid Blaze

The first thing that I noticed about the sunglasses is how incredibly light they are. So much so that I keep having to rattle the case just to make sure that they’re in there. Lightness in the box translates into comfy on the face – most of the time I completely forgot that I was wearing them. There’s no movement or bounce when you run, they’re a nice snug fit and there’s no gap letting in sunlight at the bottom of the frame. I also like the blue tint that allows me to sit inside staring at the sky and maintaining blissful denial that it’s grey and miserable outside.

As a bit of an experiment, I gave them to Ginge to try on. The arms of the glasses have a bit of a springy stretch to them and even though they’re a good fit on me, they also accommodate the size of Ginge’s bonce (this is not to say that he has an abnormally large head, it’s just that I have quite a small one). Ginge declared them to be really comfy and better than his Oakley sunglasses in that they let in less daylight. Unfortunately he also declared them to be pink. The official description is “striking red hot flash mirror lenses” and they are in the women’s and the men’s sunglasses section of the Polaroid website, but he wasn’t convinced.

Technically they are excellent, looks-wise they’re maybe a little too dynamic for me. I feel that they should belong to someone who is lean and tanned and toned, powering their way along a rugged trail run whilst wearing the briefest of Lycra. To give you an idea of contrast, I am writing this with the sunglasses on my head whilst wearing an elasticated waistband, drinking a brew and wondering whether to eat half a red Bounty. I can dream can’t I?

Looking back on a treasuretastic Juneathon 2012

So, what have I learned from Juneathon 2012?

If you’re going to do a daft running challenge that is hard enough to complete at the best of times, it sometimes helps if you add in a further layer of madness just for the giggles.
If I’m completely honest, I was a bit apprehensive about my seventh Athon. It gets a bit tedious running every day, especially when morning runs force you to run the same routes, and if it’s tedious for me running then it must be a bit tedious for any poor soul who choses to read about it. Doing my treasure hunt made me see my runs differently, familiar routes became more interesting because I was on the lookout for things and I was seeing my surroundings through slightly fresh eyes. Even if those eyes were looking for roadkill and interestingly shaped sticks. Basically…

Treasure hunts are ace
That’s it. Everyone should do more treasure hunts. I don’t care how, make it happen.

It was lovely that other people joined in looking for treasure
Throughout the month, other people spotted things from my list and blogged about them. It was great, apart from when people spotted things that I was struggling to see – then I sulked a bit…

At times I can get a bit obsessive about things
Ginge will testify to this. I think I realised that things had peaked when I was trying to see a fire engine, but was failing miserably. When I was young, the fire brigade would turn up to school fairs with an appliance and Welephant in tow so I thought I’d try to find an appliance by having a look at their twitter feed. I didn’t find any suitable events, but there was a cat stuck in a cavity wall mid-month. I’d love to say that this was me at my worst. It wasn’t. That would have been when I checked their feed, saw that there had been an early morning incident in the next village and found myself ruing the fact that I hadn’t been out for a run at 2.30…

I still love taking photos during my runs
Even if I do end up taking photos of discarded underwear in the hedgerows.

If you do something every day for a month it becomes a habit
Alright, so google tells me that it’s actually two months, but after 30 days of looking for stuff, I can’t get out of the habit of crossing things off the list. Which is why, if you go running with me and we pass a cat, I will mutter ‘cat’ under my breath. See also ‘pink car’, ‘baby swan’ and ‘bloody fire engine’.

Southerners trust people to pay for eggs
When I was running close to home, I regularly spotted signs advertising eggs, but no one leaves the eggs out on a stall with an honesty box. I’m not sure what this says.

It always helps if you have a willing idiot volunteer to join you on these escapades
Thanks Ginge!

Sometimes you have to let the fates take matters into their own hands
If we hadn’t had tent issues on day 22, I would have carried on trying to run every day on holiday. I’ve done this before and it’s ok, but missing a day’s run and walking instead gave me permission to walk on other days as well, thus freeing me up to relax and enjoy myself.

Everyone needs to do a dressing gown dash
Preferably in Cathy and Shaun‘s back garden. In fact, I propose that during the next Athon we all conspire to do some kind of mass flashmob arrangement round  at their’s. In matching dressing gowns. That’d surprise them.

If you ask people to suggest ideas for a treasure hunt, they will range from the sublime to the ridiculous
In the thirty days, I spotted (albeit loosely in some cases) 76 out of 80 items of treasure. I didn’t locate:
A thunderstorm – I’ll admit that, while were camping, I was a bit relieved about this. Sorry Morning of Magicians.
Dr Who with an iguana – Nope. Even googling for all the Doctors with an iguana didn’t come up trumps (and I had high hopes for Peter Davison what with him being a vet and everything). Sorry Cathy.
A Manchester tart – I would have loved to have found one of these, I made one for Ginge’s birthday last year and they’re rather nice. I thought that I might be onto something in a Kentish butchers because they sold gypsy tarts and Eccles cakes, but there was no time to implement a selective breeding plan and create a custardy offspring from the two. Sorry Adele. And Ginge.
A giant rabbit (preferably wearing a bow tie and/or a top hat) – I did have the opportunity to clock one of these whilst watching the South Sydney Rabbitohs on telly on July 1st, however it was too late and a bit too terrifying. Sorry Karen.

So that’s what I’ve learned from Juneathon 2012. It’s been bloody lovely, thank you all (especially Cathy/JogBlog/Queen of the Athons without whom we wouldn’t get sucked into this ridiculousness).

What I have (not) done since Juneathon finished

There are some cast iron certainties in this world and just as night follows day, Juneathon is always followed by a short hiatus from blogging. And sometimes running. This year is no exception. After we got back up North (the memory of sunshine rapidly fading as we headed further up the M6) it was straight back into work, domestic stuff and of course another trip to the big city for the Juneathon picnic.

As always, it was lovely to see Jogblog Queen of the Athons (who would like a late credit for giving me both pub and rhino in my treasure hunt AND for letting us in on the best rhino spotting site in Kent), and picnic stalwarts Hels, Shaun, Jimmy and Rachel, as well finally saying hello to Praddles at Borough Market (luckily I had been swept clean of pastry crumbs after devouring a Ginger Pig sausage roll that was as big as my head) and meeting the legend that is Tom Roper (who claims that we plied him with wine and flapjack. This is absolutely true).

Whether or not I have run enough to offset the amount I consumed whilst occupying the Hyde Park bandstand is another matter. Basking in the Kent sunshine, I was full of enthusiasm for the half marathon training that I would face on my return home – I even went so far as to scribble some (gasp) goals and a vague training plan to see me through to October. I’ll admit that the plan looked like a far more appealing prospect from a week and several hundred miles away. I think I can claim to have gone for quality over quantity with a nice seven miler (it’s been a while since I’ve done more than six) and some more actual hill training (which was more enjoyable than I expected. I probably wasn’t working hard enough). The worrying thing is that I bought Runners World to read on the train down to London – maybe it’s my theorist tendencies, but as soon as I purchase a copy, I tend to stop running as if the mere presence of the magazine in the house will compensate for a lack of actual exercise.

Tomorrow then sees an early run (because after work it’s time for my guilt-free biscuitfest courtesy of the nice Blood people) and a chance to ponder and reflecct on what I have learned during Juneathon 2012.