Bristol 10K 2012

Today I ran the Bristol 10K, mostly with my friend (and erstwhile boss) Mike. Mike had originally planned to partner up with a friend who’s a fair bit faster than me, but she got a hip injury at the last minute, unfortunately. So, I rebelliously brought my green-numbered self into the red lane with Mike and ran with him instead.

Bristol 10K Start

This turned out to be a good move, as running the beginning of the race with Mike helped keep my speed up. We comfortably matched each other from the start line, all the way down the Portway, right around the turning point, and back into town.

On Cumberland Road, though, between 7 and 8km, our different paces started to show up. I’d clearly been going a bit too fast, and was overheating some, despite the perfect, overcast running weather, whereas Mike was ready to surge on ahead. We agreed to split up. I lowered my pace for a while as Mike headed off into the distance.

Luckily, my overheating was temporary. A lighter pace, some water, and a Torq Rhubarb and Custard energy gel (those things really do taste like rhubarb and custard. It’s good stuff!) later, I was ready to pick back up some speed.

I was going quite nicely again by the time I crossed Prince Street Bridge and waved at my friends Martin from Bristol Culture on my left, and Emma and José on the Clic Sargent open-top bus on my right. I kept on around the Centre, and I was pretty sure I could get a personal best time if I just kept going.

I decided to make sure of it by sprinting to the finish line — trying to look determined for the cameras, too — and crossed the line at a fair clip, feeling pretty damn cheery.

In the end, it turned out to be a great time for me, of 01:05:44, which is almost four minutes faster than my previous best 10K race time (1:09:28, for the 2010 10K.)

Then I found Mike again — it turned out he’d only come in a couple of minutes ahead of me, at 01:03:38, so with a bit more practice I should be able to keep up with him! Mike’s wife Jess took this photo of us on College Green with our medals 😀

Mike (left) and Me (right)

I had RunKeeper going during the race, but started it a bit before the start line, so the time is slightly off, but my RunKeeper log gives an idea of the route and pace and so on, if you’re into details 🙂

And that, in a nutshell, was my Bristol 10K. I’m taking a week or so off to recover now, so I’ll catch you on the other side.


New Year’s Resolutions: Journeys, not Destinations


I’m ill. Which is fine. I’d specifically planned to do bugger-all during the period between Christmas and New Year, and if you’re going to loaf about unshaven for a few days, you might as well fit a cold in while you do it.

It helps that — so far — it’s just a regular winter lurgy of a sore throat and a run-down feeling, not hideous full-blown flu. Hopefully it won’t get too much worse, or last more than a few days. And the enforced slowing down gives me a chance to reflect on my running, my general fitness, and my plans for the year ahead.

Like many, I think about resolutions at this time of year. Last week, I was at Avebury for the Winter Solstice, there for the dawn, to see in the turning point toward longer days. It seems a good time for looking forward as well as back.

But you have to be careful about resolutions. As Merlin Mann observed in the latest Back to Work podcast, people tend to be a little binary about new year’s resolutions. And it’s possible that that’s especially true of programmers, like myself. “I’ll run three times a week”, I think to myself, “Just like I used to.”

But how realistic is that? To go from — given my last few weeks’ record — no runs a week, straight to three? And how much of a fall am I setting myself up for if I don’t do three runs a week in the first week of January? If I haven’t done three runs a week, then my resolution’s “failed”, and there’s always that tendency to think, “well, I might as well give up, then.” Failed or succeeded, true or false: binary thinking.

Also, how realistic am I being about my past performance? Well, luckily, I have RunKeeper’s “FitnessReports” feature, so I can easily check. In 2010, a good year for running for me, I actually only averaged 1.3 runs per week. And that was a good year. So my initial “I used to do three runs a week” was, in fact, utter rubbish. Sure, there were some weeks where I did three runs, but not many. I think nostalgia has me mentally inflating how “good” I used to be.

So, what to do instead? 

The question seems to be answering itself. I resolve to run every week in January. At least once. Just to get myself started again. That’ll be more runs in a month than I’ve managed for ages, but still sounds very achievable. And if I don’t manage that, I won’t count myself a failure, either. I’ll just look into why I didn’t manage it, forgive myself, and figure out a way to keep trying.

And I’m not going to worry about the weight, yet. You can easily cram too many resolutions into a new year, spreading yourself too thinly across all of them. I’ll have a think about the weight and my eating patterns when we get to February. For now, I’m just going to run.

How about you? Got any resolutions? How realistic are they? Do you have any hard evidence that you’ve ever been as “good” as you’re planning to be? (Looking back at my own records surprised me!) And are you setting yourself up for that “oh, I didn’t manage this exact goal, so there’s no point in carrying on trying” moment?

Or are you prepared to forgive yourself and make adjustments as you go along?

Looking Back, Looking Forward

It was a lovely day for a jog in Bristol. I was a bit delayed getting started. I normally walk across the top of a lock gate on my walk to the start of the towpath, but this morning the lock gate was open to let a little batch of ships and rowing boats out onto the river. So, I watched that for a while, then snapped this picture from the other side once I’d crossed.

20110821 DSC01896

Then, after a 7K jog down the towpath and around Leigh Woods, I crossed over that lovely suspension bridge, and took a photo looking back on the lock.

This next picture is a scrollable panorama — if you scroll to the middle of it, you’ll just about see the lock gates to the side of the little island-like bit poking out in front of the three large red-brick warehouse buildings.

(The below picture is a scrollable panorama)

20110821 DSC01923

I like these backwards-and-forwards pictures. They really give an impression of how far I’ve jogged, and, in this case, how high I climbed.

Talking about this jog with Jose — who passed me going the other way on his much longer long run — prompted me to check my headline RunKeeper stats, which led me to two interesting discoveries.

First, while I moan about having put weight on recently, imagine how much lardier I’d be if I hadn’t burned off 106,953 calories since I started recording my running, in September 2009. 106,953 calories. That’s a lot of latte and cake.

Second, in the last two years, I’ve run 974km. Nine hundred and seventy four kilometres. Which means that, all being well, as long as I get in just 5K more practice between now and the Bristol Half Marathon, completing the race will take me through the 1,000km mark. One million metres of running.

So, while I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself recently, I’ve got a lot of jogging done since I started, and that’s something I can be proud of. And there’s still milestones to come. Well, what with me being all European, I guess there are still kilometrestones to come, technically, but you know what I mean…

I’ll try to get out for 5K this week. Then I’ve a week of holiday, where I’ll probably be hill-walking rather than jogging, but I should be back to the normal routine after that. See you soon!

Run-Up to the 2011 Bristol 10K

It has not been a brilliant run-up to the Bristol 10K. I feel pretty good, mind you, and I’m sure there’ll be no problem doing it. But I’d had hopes of losing more weight (I’ve plateaued since I was ill a few weeks ago. I’m well now, just not back on the wagon.) And I should have run a bit more, recently.

I would say that things keep on getting in the way, but let’s face it, a quick practice run takes about 40 minutes, and I’m sure I’ve had more than 40 minutes of extra spare time in the last few weeks. I need to work on that, and figure out what’s going on. And practice getting back on the diet wagon when I fall off, too. Bah.

Anyway. The Bristol 10K. It’s this Sunday! I’ve just kicked off my donations page at Just Giving, which you can find here if you’d like to help the lovely people at St. Peter’s Hospice. And my day-job employers have very kindly agreed to match the money I raise, up to a maximum total of £250, so at the moment, anything you give counts double 🙂

My aims for this year? Well, I’d like to beat last year’s time. I’m not sure how realistic that is, as I don’t seem to have got much faster over the last year, but it’s good to have an aim, isn’t it? Last year’s time was 1 hour, 9 minutes and 28 seconds, so anything faster than that will probably make me happy.

I’ll almost certainly be running with RunKeeper, so you can track me as I go around, if you’re interested. I’ll be starting some time between 9:45 and 10am, and you should be able to see a red dot moving around a map of Bristol on my RunKeeper profile page between then and whenever I finally stagger over the finish line.

I’m sure I’ll post an update here after the event, so — more to follow on Sunday!


Like I said in my last update, I fancied getting out for a nice long run this weekend, and this morning I made good on that.

I ran from home, out along the towpath under the Suspension Bridge, all the way to the far entrance to Leigh Woods, then up into the forest. I did a fairly big loop of the forest, then came out to head back across the Suspension Bridge into Clifton, then all the way around Clifton Down and Durdham Down, and back to Clifton Village.

All told, it was just over 15km, although I lost GPS signal for the last kilometre and a bit, so I can’t be certain. I manually fixed the route in RunKeeper, and it came out at 15.59km, which can’t be far out.

I also took out two new things: First, The Indelicates’ new album, Songs for Swinging Lovers, available right now for download — for the price of your choice, including “free” — from the Corporate Records website.

Second, my shiny new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3 camera. So, I took a load of photos, too 🙂 They’re all here in this set on Flickr, but there were two I particularly wanted to post here, because they say quite a lot about my route. They’re both photos of the same place, the “Sea Wall” railings at the top of the Avon Gorge, at the edge of Clifton Down.

Here’s the first one, taken on my way out, about 2.5km into the jog. The railings are just about invisible on the skyline, at the top of the cliff:

Sea Wall I

And here’s one taken of the same railings, at the 10.5km mark, up close and personal:

Sea Wall II

So, yeah, think that gives some idea of the vertical height involved in my jog today, as well as the overall distance!

I reckon I can declare myself ready for the Bristol 10K. And it’s nice to have done roughly three quarters of a half-marathon, too 🙂 I don’t, on the whole, feel too bad, although I’m not entirely convinced I’ll be able to move tomorrow! I might give myself a few days off and not do a mid-week run until Thursday, this week. I think I deserve it!

Bring me Sunshine…

IMG_0701 2.jpgYup, as you can see by the scene behind the scary, wonky-sunglassed weirdo in the picture, it was a really nice day today. And I went on a route through Leigh Woods, which was gorgeous.

Not content with doing the 8K through the woods like I did last time, going out along the towpath, up the steep climb into the woods, and back across to Clifton Village over the Suspension Bridge, I also added in a little loop of the Downs.

And therefore set a new personal distance record, with a 12K route. I decided to stop running at bang on 12K, mostly because that was the upper limit I’d set myself — I didn’t want to go beyond 20% of my previous max — and partly because that gave me a nice five-minute cool-down walk to the little viewing platform by the Suspension Bridge, where I stretched for a while with some nice scenery to look at.

My hip felt fine. Everything, in fact, still feels pretty good. And it’s very good to know that I can do 12K including about 200m of total vertical climb, because that should make running 10K on the flat a doddle in May.

About the only thing I did differently from normal today was to use a rehydrating additive thingy in my water — I guess it adds a few things that you lose in sweat that normal water doesn’t have — and I ate a pack of some kind of carbohydrate gel goo, which said “three berries” on the side and tasted mainly of chemicals, from what I remember, on the way across the Suspension Bridge.

I think these probably helped to some degree, but I think I could still have managed 12K without them. I figure I should start experimenting with these things, as if I find something that really gives me a noticeable energy boost when I’m flagging a bit, then it’ll help a lot for race day…

Faster, faster!

No personal best for the 5K this evening — that still remains at the just-under-31 minutes I managed back in November, running as fast as I sustainably could all the way.

But tonight, I think, was the fastest since then, at 32:26. And considering I did a normal jog on the way out, then just did some speedwork on the way back, I think that’s pretty encouraging. I reckon a 30-minute 5K is not far away. I may make that my goal for February.

The way back definitely seemed a lot quicker than the way out, even though there probably was only a minute or so in it. The RunKeeper stats seem to be showing a gradual increase in average pace on these 5K runs as time goes by.

Anyway. That’s enough for now. I might just do a perfectly normal 5K on Friday, just to give myself a bit of a rest 🙂


Okay, back on the road again tonight after my birthday break. Tonight I tried a bit of speedwork, doing some fartlek training where I sprinted a bit and then recovered for a while at normal pace, sprinted again, and so on.

I travelled out down the Portway as normal, because everyone seems to say that warming up properly is crucial before you start pushing the speed, and then did the sprinty bits on the way back. I used the nice, regular lamp posts along the Portway as markers, sprinting between a couple of them, then jogging for the next few, then sprinting.

Seemed to work out fine, and the way back seemed a lot quicker than the way out. I guess that was mostly because I was doing something different and interesting, as I wasn’t actually that much faster.

Still, did my 5K in about 34 minutes, and that’ll do me for starters. Next time I’ll maybe mix it up a bit, sprinting for further if I can, and see what it feels like.

Anyway. My other plan for this week is to be in bed by eleven every night, and it’s 10:45 now, so I’d best go!

Another 10K

Durdham Down Trees
Definite rule of running: once you’ve done a distance once, it’s a lot easier, psychologically, to do it again. Today I was feeling pretty good, and I’d had a decent night’s sleep, and the weather looked okay, so I decided to do 10K again.

And here it is on It was actually 10.42km, about the same as my previous long run, and in about the same time. In fact, due to a nice bit of synchronicity, the last every-5-minute reminder I heard from RunKeeper was “Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes. Distance: Ten point zero zero kilometres”. So now know I can do 10K in exactly an hour and a quarter, even starting with a big hill. Yay!

Also, that time includes a few seconds stopping to take a picture. Today’s pic is the rather lovely collection of trees in the middle of Durdham Down, it looks to me as if it’s three separate trees, and also one single tree, all at the same time. A kind of distributed tree 🙂

Deep Six

Looking Up...…well, deep puddles, anyway. I want to push my weekday runs out a bit further, so I figured I’d do 6K this evening. It varied between drizzle and outright rain, but it was still good. I felt fine, and kept up a nice pace. About the only thing that wasn’t great were my calves/ankles, and I think that’s probably because I forgot to stretch after Sunday’s run. D’oh.

So, a nice, simple 6K, in just a smidge under 40 minutes, at an average pace that’s faster than I was doing 5Ks in the dry a month ago. Cool.

Didn’t take any photos tonight — my camera lens would’ve been covered in rain in seconds — so here’s one from Friday, where similar, if slightly less rainy conditions prevailed 🙂 As usual, click through it for Flickry goodness.