One Year Ago Today

Sea Wall III

Today’s jog took me out along the Portway, mostly because the weather has been so utterly crazy in Bristol today that I figured I’d stick to a route where there were likely no puddles and I was fairly unlikely to be struck by lightning. We had the most enormous thunderclap I’ve heard in my life earlier on in the day, which broke windows in some of the buildings on Victoria Street. And it stood alone, like a concentrated dose of thunderstorm. Odd.

The picture above, taken on today’s jog, is some of the later fallout from the heavy weather, clouds so low they’re striking the cliffs of the Avon Gorge at Sea Wall and bouncing up into the air. I’ve been jogging along this route for a year and never seen anything like this.

Which brings me to my other point today: it’s exactly a year I’ve been jogging down the Avon Gorge, because I first took up jogging on July 22nd, 2009.

So, this is my… joggerversary? Runnerversary? Hmm. Think I’d best stick with “anniversary”, hadn’t I? Yes, this is the first anniversary of my being a jogger!

I think I should find some way of celebrating this over the next couple of days. It may well involve cake…

Getting Out There

I’m going to try to get out twice on weekdays this week, because it’s been ages since I’ve done that. I seem to have degenerated into a one-midweek, once-at-the-weekend pattern, mostly since the Bristol 10K. I think I need to start building the average miles up a bit again, and get out when I can.

Today’s jog was very much the same as the last, just 5K out along the towpath and back. It wasn’t a brilliant experience. It was muggy and I was tired, and I just got out there, did it and came back, stopping only to play with my new camera a bit.

New camera? Yes! To mark my first stone of weight loss since I took up jogging, I bought myself a better pocketable camera, this time going for the Sony Cybershot DSC-TX1, which is a nifty little thing, and may turn out to be better than my late, lamented Panasonic Lumix FP8. Only time and a few pictures in better light and better weather than we had tonight will tell.

It’s certainly better than the Lumix FP3 that I used as an intermediate replacement. I quickly learned to dislike the FP3, with its annoyingly useless touchscreen and rubbish, noisy image quality. What’s the point of 14 million pixels if six million of them are displaying sensor noise? Grr.

So, I think this is a good purchase, and a nice reward for losing 16lbs so far. Maybe if I lose another stone, I’ll get myself an iPad…

Sore Feet

My feet seem to be a bit achey after running recently. It suddenly occurred to me that, even though it only seems like a few weeks ago that I bought a new pair of shoes, it might actually have been rather longer.

And that’s where a blog comes in handy. I first bought proper running shoes on 29 August last year. They seemed to do me okay until I started getting an achey hip and some other aches and pains in February this year. So, that’d be about five months.

It took me a while to figure out it was the shoes that were the problem, so I didn’t buy a new pair of Mizunos until the beginning of March. Which would have been, erm, about five months ago.

So, I’m thinking that maybe these are early warning signs that I’ve nearly worn out another pair of shoes. Especially as I’ve probably run more in the last five months than I did in the five months before, because I wasn’t doing that much long-distance stuff back then.

Hmm. Five months doesn’t seem long for a pair of shoes to last, but I’ve heard people say they replace their running shoes every six months. And I am heavier than your average runner. It may be time to treat myself again…

Skipping A Beat

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Well, I’ve been a bit rubbish this week. No mid-week run. Mostly that was because I was busy doing strange things like filming advice on how to take photos of lightning with a BBC weatherman. That, and the serious weather we have in fact had this week, albeit sadly lacking the lightning, meant I didn’t get out jogging when I should have done.

I made a bit of an effort today, at least — it’s lovely jogging weather out there at the moment, bright but not too hot — and did a simple 5K out along the towpath. My jogging seems to be getting slower and slower recently, but I think that’s mostly because there’s lots of nice scenery, so I keep getting distracted and stopping to take photos. I don’t actually think I’m running more slowly; I’m just stopping more…

Anyway. Hopefully next week I’ll get back into things properly. Looks like I can head out on a couple of evenings, weather permitting. See you then!

Woodland Jog

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It was, again, really very sunny and warm today. I didn’t get up early enough to avoid it, so instead of heading for the Downs like usual, I went for a little jog around Leigh Woods, which has a lot more shade, instead.

I didn’t take it too seriously, stopping off in a few different places to take photos. Just a nice gentle jog in the sunshine, really, about 7.5K, all told. It feels like enough, on a day like today 🙂

Back on the Road

Back to the A4 Portway for a nice simple 5K this evening. It was warm and close, and the wide open feel of the road felt like a better antidote than the pleasant, yet sometimes-claustrophobic towpath.

Just a token effort, really, my first since Thursday’s 21km epic, and I took it slowly. No problems, though.

In fact, looking back, I felt better after Thursday’s half-marathon distance than I did after the Bristol 10K, possibly because I took it slower and steadier. I was a bit of a wreck Thursday daytime, but I’d mostly shrugged off any aches and pains by Sunday, and even Saturday didn’t feel too bad.

So, I think all’s going well, generally. Might nip out for a perfectly normal weekend run this weekend, just 7K, or something. I’ll let you know 🙂

A Teensy Little Jog

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I had a day off work. It looked like a nice morning for a little jog.

So, I went out for a little jog. Which turned into a longer jog. Which turned into a bit of an epic.

I did set out with the idea of going for a longish run. I set off with plenty of water, because even though I started fairly early, it’s a pretty hot day. And I made my way down the towpath, and headed up into Leigh Woods.

I was feeling fine when I got up the big hill into the woods themselves. I figured that if I wanted to run a bit extra, I’d do it in the woods, rather than out of them, because the sun was pretty fierce and tree cover was nice. So I did a couple of loops of the “purple” path in the woods, which added about 5K to my planned journey.

I stopped at 10K to have an energy bar thing — and I can vastly recommend Mule Bars over those bloody gel energy pack things I tried before. Mule Bars actually taste like they’ve been made from actual food by a human, rather than cooked up in a lab my a crazed robot scientist.

While I was stopped, I asked Twitter to remind me how far a half marathon was. 21km, came the reply, give or take a decimal place here or there.

Okay. So I wasn’t even halfway. Nevertheless, I headed back into the woods to come out at the Beggar Bush Lane exit and head over the Clifton Suspension Bridge to the Downs, and started a long loop of Clifton Down and Durdham Down.

It was at this point — just after the nasty little hill that gets you onto the Downs at the junction with Bridge Valley Road — that I started having problems. It was hot. I was hot. I reined in my pace a bit, and enjoyed a bit of breeze by Sea Wall. But fundamentally, I was being pretty unlucky with the cloud cover; it was fairly direct blazing sunshine and there’s not a lot of shade on the Downs.

But I kept on going. And I kept on going. I stopped to change from podcasts to music, after I ran out of podcasts. I kept on going.

Eventually, I pretty much ran out of run, somewhere around 16km, though I was mildly perked up by the thought that I’d now run further than I’d ever run before, and kept up a slow jog for a while.

At 19km, I completely ran out of juice. Don’t know how much was the heat, how much was the hills, and how much was just because I’d run much further than I have in ages. But I ran out of running.

So, bloody-minded to the end, I walked a further 2 kilometres, pretty much exactly, to get myself to 21km. At which point I gave a little cheer, stopped RunKeeper, and realised that I had another half a kilometre to walk to get back to Clifton Village anyway. So I kept on walking.

It took me more than three-and-a-quarter hours, and I was walking for two kilometres of it, but I think I can fairly lay claim to having run a half-marathon in training.

And I’m not so scared of doing it on the day, now. Because, for starters, the Bristol half marathon is in September, and shouldn’t be quite so warm, and it’s also pretty much flat. It’s certainly a pancake compared to what I did today — RunKeeper reckons there was a total elevation of 372m over my undulating course, and I can believe it. There was a lot of up and down…

So, big pat on the back, I think. I don’t feel too bad, having had a nice lunch and a large latte in Boston Tea Party, followed by a Very Long Bath Indeed. I don’t think I’ll be running for a few days, but I don’t appear to have developed much in the way of aches, pains or problems.

So, to summarise: Win! Yay!