Blistering Height

I won’t be running this week, I think. Shame, as I’d hoped to start building up from my recent 10K practice run towards the Bristol Half Marathon, which is rushing towards me very quickly.

On the plus side, the reason is because I walked up Snowdon for the first time. My friend Chris loves the hills, so for his stag do there was lots of walking, wild camping, and all sorts of outdoor stuff. Because I’m a not-as-fit city boy, I only nipped along for one of the hills, and even then I got the train down from the top. However, Snowdon is the highest peak in England and Wales, second only to Ben Nevis in the UK, so I don’t feel too ashamed of copping out only once I’d walked from the bottom to the top. 1049 metres total climb, according to RunKeeper. I don’t normally do my kilometres upwards

One of the reasons I didn’t join the rest of the gang for the downhill trot was blisters. A post-mortem on my walking shoes shows that I should probably have replaced them six months ago; the insoles were worn through to the underlying rubber in the instep, which is where my blisters appeared. Ah well. Live and learn. Or limp and learn, perhaps.

So, I’ve had some very enjoyable exercise, but now I’m going to have to stick some blister plasters on (these Compeed things are bloody brilliant, by the way) and not do too much walking or running for a few days. Hopefully things will clear up soon…

Start Me Up

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been a teensy bit busy over the last little while. Not only did I nip off to the Islay Festival for a week, I also came straight back into a three-month nine-to-five contract that I’m doing on top of my usual work-from-home career.

I’m not quite sure what convinced me to nip out for a jog today, at long last. It might have had something to do with watching The Rolling Stones at Glastonbury yesterday evening.

I knew when they came on stage through Twitter, which seemed to be improbably full of people gobsmacked by the prospect of some old people looking old. (“But! But! They have wrinkles and everything! How can they be allowed to play music!?”)

Personally, I think it’s rather cool that the Stones were playing Glastonbury, entertaining people whose grandparents probably enjoyed them when they were young. There was only one thing that irritated me, and that was how clearly bloody fit Mick Jagger is. There he was, strutting around on stage with endless energy, bouncing up and down, albeit with lips wobbling independently of his body. This, from a man who looks like he was around when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain.

Mick Jagger is clearly both fitter and thinner at age 69 than I’ve ever been at any point in my life. So perhaps it’s that that shamed me into trying to get a little bit thinner, and a little bit fitter, by tromping up Bridge Valley Road to Clifton Village and around a very small bit of the Downs. If I can get back into doing it regularly, maybe I’ll at least make it to Mick Jagger’s age. Though I’ve never been that much of a dancer…

Anyway. I’ll leave you with something I’d probably not have seen without going for a jog, which is one of the new Gromit Unleashed sculptures, this one outside Bristol Zoo…

Gromit

Back On the Road Again

Good news: I got back out for a little run last night. Even better news: mentally, at least, it was good. It wasn’t the struggle of the last two runs, so I reckon they may have felt bad just because I was going down with flu. It was just 4K down the Portway and back, and it rained on me on the way home, but it was generally fine.

The only thing letting it down was an ache from my lower back, on the left hand side. I’m pretty sure that the last time I felt this happening a lot, a pair of new shoes did the trick. Looking back, it was actually more than a year ago that I last bought new shoes. That definitely means I’m due some new ones, so they’re on the shopping list for the next time I’m heading past moti.

The other thing that would certainly help my back is, of course, the perennial need for me to lose some weight. Hopefully I can get back on track now I’m over my illness. We’ll see…

No Go-Go Mojo

Ugh. After my last 5K up Bridge Valley Road, you’d have thought that a simple 5K on the flat would have been a dream. But tonight’s slow 5K down the Portway and back was annoying. My hip ached, I was slow, and I just wasn’t feeling it.

I think the only thing to do is to keep on trying and hope I start feeling better. It’s so odd that 5K can be such a struggle when I’ve happily done a half-marathon this month.

On the plus side, I did at least do something productive, cheering and jogging-related today: I published the shiny new version of the Get Running website. It’s all sexy and responsive (i.e. it scales down and rearranges itself as you make its window smaller, so the same base site works well on big desktops and small mobile screens) and I’m glad I finally managed to release it.

If only jogging was as painless as making websites about jogging…

Sunshine and Darkness

20111117 DSC02122Here’s a picture from last week’s jog, when I went out on Thursday, taking advantage of my new unemployed layabout freelance status by going for a 6K run around the Downs at lunchtime. It was a clear, fresh autumn-nearly-winter day, and I enjoyed the jog, mostly. Though I did drop back to a walk in a couple of places toward the end; just getting up Bridge Valley Road sapped a lot of my energy at the start of the run.

Tonight’s jog was chillier and darker, and was a simple 5K down the Portway. It was too dark for photography, which is a shame, because on my way back home I heard the flapping of large wings down by the water and looked across in time to see a heron come in to land on the bank of the Avon. I’ve seen them before on river trips up toward Avonmouth, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one as close to the city as I did tonight. Nice!

Neither run had many aches or pains, so I reckon getting out there a bit more frequently is definitely helping.

Anyway. Busy weekend coming up, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get out for a run much before Monday or Tuesday. Have a good weekend, whatever you’re doing. And take advantage of any sun that you can find!

Better

After the aches and pains of Thursday, yesterday’s jog through Leigh Woods was very pleasant. While it was hard work in places, it was the right kind of hard work, the kind of hard work that left me standing at the tops of hills panting until I’d recovered, rather than the kind of hard work that had me running along the flat frowning while wondering why my hip was aching so much.

Filtering

I also got out early enough to snap the sun just rising over the Suspension Bridge. There are limited vantage points with a good view of the bridge from the towpath, so I figured I’d try a different kind of shot, this one through some bare Autumn branches, to try to get something a bit less “same‑y”. I think it worked quite nicely.

Aches and Pains

I didn’t jog last weekend, but instead went for a nice walk in Leigh Woods with my friend Emmeline. I love running in the woods, but it made a pleasant change having some company and going slow enough to carry the big camera around.

Suspended

I did get out for a mid-week jog, a 5K down the Portway on Thursday. And it was pretty horrible, to be honest. I was achey and slow and really not up for it. Even though it was only 5K, I felt like I had to walk a couple of times on the way back. Body and mind were just not up for it.

Here’s some hope, though; a report from my friend Jose on his latest run:

Monday saw the only my fourth run of the last eight weeks, and boy, was I creaky. The first couple of miles hurt, no doubt about that, but then… then the muscles and bones and bits of cartilage and lungs and all other associated hanging together bits remembered how it all went and everything fell into place. Those following two and half miles were much, much better. I’m not there yet, I need to run and run and run, but that lovely feeling of being able to run 18 miles in one go will return. Eventually.

My hope, specifically, being that I’ve just not been running often enough nor far enough recently, and that if I get out and stretch my current limits a bit, maybe I’ll work through the aches and pains a bit — break through the creakiness barrier — and start feeling good for more of my running.

I’m going to try to get out for a long, slow run today or tomorrow; it looks like we’ve got pretty good weather lined up for most of the weekend, so I should take advantage of it…

Grump

Bluebells in Leigh Woods

I’ll start off with a nice happy picture, just to show that some of today’s run was quite pleasant. These are a few of the millions of bluebells currently carpeting Leigh Woods, which makes the woods even nicer than usual for jogging.

And it was also a nice sunny day, as you can probably tell. But those are about the only good things. And now I’m grumpy.

I started off running feeling okay-ish. It’d been a while, because of my recent bout of flu, but I mostly seem to be over that; even the residual cough is far less enthusiastic now. But I wasn’t feeling 100%.

I wasn’t helped by RunKeeper (or, perhaps more charitably to RunKeeper, maybe the GPS on my iPhone) having one of its occasional “funny five minutes”. I realised something was going a bit odd when I got the “you’ve run four kilometres” voice prompt really very soon after the 3km voice prompt. Then, thirty seconds or so later, RunKeeper told me I’d got to 5km, and that I was averaging 4 minutes per kilometre. That’s about 15kph, or, to put it another way, significantly faster than I’ve ever run.

So, my RunKeeper log of today’s run is pretty screwed.

Worse was to come. At somewhere around the real 5km mark, I realised my shiny new Mizuno Wave Inspire 7s were giving me a blister. One bit of the right shoe, in the instep, seemed to be rubbing a bit.

I carried on for another half a kilometre or so, then had to start walking. No sense in making things worse, I figured.

So, basically I gave up and limped back across the bridge to Clifton Village, and now I’ve got to see if I can send these shoes back. Annoyingly, this is the first pair of running shoes I bought from the internet, rather than in lovely local shop Moti. D’oh.

So, that’s my joy of running today. Better get out there again soon, and probably in my old, reliable — if slightly worn down — shoes. I don’t want to have running associated too much in my mind with pain and grumpiness. Bah.

Sad Santas

I was a Sad Santa on Sunday.

Sad Santas
As were these other people. We’d all made our way to the Lloyds Amphitheatre to take part in Santas on the Run, a 2K charity fun run for the South West Children’s Hospice. As you’ll have worked out, the idea is for everyone to dress as Santa for the run, and apparently more than 500 people had signed up for the event. Some kind people had already contributed on my Just Giving page, I’d collected some sponsorship at work, and I’d tipped off the local paparazzi. Well, I’d mentioned it on the Bristol Flickr group’s discussion board, anyway…

I did have some reservations on the walk down to the start, though. And yes, I did walk a mile down the Hotwell Road at 10am on a Sunday morning dressed in a Santa costume. There was hooting involved. And some occasional pointing. Not to mention half the police in the South West driving past on their way to their afternoon’s student demo (my pics of that here) crowd control duties. That was a bit odd.

But my reservations were mainly about traction. It had been a bloody cold night after quite a rainy Saturday, and the ground was icy everywhere. It was also so foggy you could barely see the other side of the harbour. “On way down to register for #santasontherun,” I tweeted. “Hope they’ve gritted the route, or it’ll be Santas on their backside instead.”

The lack of Santas when I got to the Amphitheatre was a clue, and my suspicions were confirmed by a couple of the organisers greeting me with disappointed faces and the news that the route was just too icy to be safe. The Amphitheatre itself had pretty much been a skating rink when they arrived to set up, and the rest of the route — especially Pero’s Bridge, often a curve of slippery metal in Winter — were still un-runnable.

So, I and the other Santas who’d not heard the cancellation announcements on local radio headed off across Millennium Square, pictured above, to the kind, warm interior of The Living Room, a fashionable and lovely bar who gave a free hot drink to anyone in a Santa suit that morning — thank you!

After a commiseration drink with my friend José, who’d come along to support me, I drifted back home, still be-Santa-suited, and still garnering the odd confused look and occasional cheery hoot.

There is some good news, though — I heard from Children’s Hospice yesterday, and they’re rearranging the run for January 23rd! So, odd though it will be to be dressed as a Santa nearly a month after Christmas, I’ll at least get the chance to do something surreal and, more to the point, give my various sponsors the run that I owe them 🙂

So, thank you, kind sponsors, for sponsoring me, and rest assured I still intend to run 2K as Santa, no matter what time of year it is when it’s finally safe to run!

Back On The Jog

Just back from a jog, for the first time since the Wednesday before last. Giving my hip a bit of a rest seems to have helped. Today I ran pretty much all the way around the entire green bit on the map — must make sure I include that last little triangle next time, just for completeness’ sake — for a total of 8.88km.

While bits of me still ache a little, I’m not feeling as bad as I felt last weekend. Cycling is clearly a good enough “rest” for when I’ve overdone the jogging or walking, which is good to know.

So, two weeks to go to the half marathon, and I can definitely run almost halfway 🙂 I think, assuming the weather is neither blazing hot sunshine or a complete downpour, that I should probably be able to get through 21K the Sunday after next, if I take it steady.

Which is a good opportunity to plug my JustGiving page again, where the donations to Cancer Research currently stand at £100, thanks to you, dear reader, and some of the lovely people on Twitter.

I think I can raid the generous pockets of people at work with an actual paper sponsor form as well, to help me get to my target of £250 (because my company will match donations up to £250, it seemed like a good target.)

I think I’ll go out for a couple of short runs in the next seven days, then give myself a complete week’s rest before the half marathon…