Archive | November, 2020

So Many Times It Happens Too Fast / You Trade Your Passion For Glory

29 Nov

Well, ok, maybe the blogpost title isn’t quite spot on this week, because if anything my complaint is that things haven’t been happening fast, and it doesn’t look like they will, but it was close enough for jazz! Moving on…

Monday was a very short, ploddy recovery run: 4 miles, with a running rucksack full of empty cat food sachets. It turns out that a local cat rehoming charity, The Moggery, has a Terracycle point which takes the sachets for recycling, and so in an effort to improve the carbon footprint of our lovely two moggies, I did an eco-friendly round trip to drop the empties off. That evening, keen to keep up my good work on strength and conditioning, I did a session at home.

Tuesday was a rest day, as I had a bit of work I hadn’t finished off on Monday to sort out ahead of my hearing that day.

On Wednesday I had time for a steady 7 miles in the morning, and another strength and conditioning session in the evening.

By Thursday morning the weather had turned a bit, and it was only just above freezing, with a pretty decent covering of frost on the ground. It made running downhill a bit exciting, as it was hard to judge whether the pavements were icy (I don’t think they were, as I stayed upright!) and my hands were very cold as I ran into a headwind for a few miles, but it was a crisp, clear day, and lovely to be out for a steady 10 miles.

Friday morning was both frosty and foggy, which meant slippery pavements (no doubt about it this time). I planned to do 7 miles, and did, but had a bit of a wibble (literally – damn those trees having roots which aren’t totally flat when your foot lands on them!) and then jarred my right leg quite badly as I overbalanced, which lead to my right hamstring, hip and glute tightening up nicely. Once I was home I spent quite a lot of time using my massage ball on the glute and hamstring around my hearing, but late afternoon discovered that what really needed a gentle release was the ITB (iliotibial band: it kind of goes from your hip to your knee).

By Saturday morning the hamstring was feeling fairly ok, but slightly tight, so I abandoned my plan to do some shorter, faster efforts, and repeated the marathon pace split tempo from the previous week. I could definitely feel the hamstring pulling ever so slightly when I upped the pace, and so although I felt aerobically strong, I couldn’t quite get into my stride, and so the times were a few seconds per kilometre slower than last week. Nothing awful, but mildly frustrating.

Today I ran a steady 18 miles out-and-back on the Bristol-Bath bike path. It’s been pointed out by others that after Tuesday we’ll all need to be careful to turn around at an appropriate point, as Bristol will move into Tier 3, whereas Bath and North East Somerset is in Tier 2. Funny times we live in. On a personal note, funny but ever so slightly higher mileage times. 58 for the week and – as things stand, and assuming I stick to my plan to rest tomorrow – 233 for the month, my third highest of the year. Partly helped by having 5 Sundays, and so 5 long runs, rather than 4, but also helped by running over 50 miles each week.


Halfway There?

22 Nov

This week started with another strength & conditioning session over Zoom with some team-mates. It was my turn to lead the session, which is always slightly nerve-wracking, but it was lovely to see some familiar faces, even if only virtually, and it’s a nice way to start the week. I also had a session with my sports masseuse over Zoom later on, to focus on proprioception and trying to reduce the likelihood of future ankle sprains. Lots of jumping on and off a Bosu ball!

By Tuesday it was time for some running again, and with my court hearing unable to proceed for Covid-related reasons, I took the opportunity to get 10 miles done in daylight. The rest of the working week saw me back to shorter runs, with 6 miles on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I did another strength & conditioning session on Wednesday evening, so hopefully Lockdown 2 has been good for getting me back into more regular strength work again, at least!

On Saturday, after a longer than intended lie-in, I finally managed a ‘quality’ session: 12 miles with a split tempo run of 3 x 4km at about marathon pace. (Sorry for the mixed units, but there’s a 4km stretch measured and marked out on the Portway in Bristol, and it’s great for doing tempo repeats!) I’m still a little bit outside 3 hour marathon shape, as that means doing 4km in 17 minutes flat, but I was pleased to improve on my cautious start (17.46), with 2 efforts a bit closer to 3 hour pace: 17.27 and 17.25. I’ve still got another 10.5 months to get these blocks down to 17 minutes, and hopefully below, so need to panic just yet!

I rounded the week off with 16 miles on a slightly undulating route. With slightly tired legs, a tougher route, and no speedy company to drag me round it was steadier than last week, but after a fair few grey and rainy days it was lovely to be out in the sunshine, even if there was a decent amount of mist in the Avon Gorge itself. It actually looked pretty spectacular, with clear blue skies above it, but a fairly thick block of mist between the water and the sky. A nice end to a solid week: 56 miles.

We may or may not be just over halfway through Lockdown 2. I’m being realistic about how Bristol might leave Lockdown 2, however, because the Covid rate is pretty high here at the moment, so it may well be more than 2 weeks before things are back to whatever passes for normal these days.

Two’s Company, Three’s a Breach of the Regulations

15 Nov

I started the week with a circuits session over Zoom with clubmates, bright and early on Monday morning (7am – that’s bright and early by my standards!). I also had a proprioception session with my sports masseuse over Zoom, so ended the day with plenty of strength work under my belt, even if I didn’t run.

I wasn’t in court on Tuesday, and took advantage of a rather nice morning to do a steady 10 miles. It was a bit more than I’d originally planned, but it seemed a shame to waste nice weather at a time of year when it can be so changeable.

On Wednesday and Thursday I had hearings first thing, so did easy 5 mile recovery runs on both days. On Wednesday evening I did another circuits session over Zoom: lockdown life really had returned to its own version of normal! Mind you, it is good for me to get back into the routine of doing circuits twice per week again. It had been a while.

I had intended to get up very early on Friday and do my faster running session before work, but felt ridiculously lethargic, and so ended up doing 6 miles steady instead. My decision was partly prompted by the boy-cat coming in soaking wet for his breakfast, and the sound of heavy rain. I couldn’t quite face a session in the heavy rain. Needless to say, by the time I headed out it was an absolutely glorious, sunny morning, and I rather regretted my choice.

I really regretted it on Saturday morning. It was windy, rainy and miserable. I decided that a session of mile reps in mid November probably wasn’t going to be make or break by the time I’m likely to next race a marathon again (October 2021) and settled for 6 miles including some strides to test out my new lightweight trainers. The trainers are lovely, and felt great from the off, the run was a bit grim.

The week ended on a more positive note, however: I’d arranged to meet a teammate so we could do most of our planned long runs together, and although the weather was a bit ominous early doors, with yet another heavy downpour resulting in soggy moggies, by the time we met it was a gorgeous day, and the 14 miles we covered together flew by. With a couple of miles tacked onto the beginning and end, I covered 18, to bring up 50 for the week.

Overture and Beginners, Please!

14 Nov

Before I was a runner, my hobbies were music and reading. I was a bookworm first, then started to learn musical instruments, ultimately falling in love with the violin. I’ve played in orchestras and ensembles since I was 10, and although there was a very short period of my life where (in a moment of all-or-nothing certainty) I thought that, having decided that a career playing professionally was not for me, I might stop playing altogether, I couldn’t. I may not play nearly as much as I used to (2-3 hours of practice a day would be hard around work and running), but music still holds a special place in my heart.

Before lockdown, I was still playing regularly in two local orchestras, and had been looking forward to getting back into chamber music, with a concert scheduled for July. The last concert I played in was in March, and I thought I’d made my peace with the fact I probably wasn’t going to be playing in concerts again anytime soon. And then this morning, just at the end of the Radio 3 breakfast slot, they played Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas Overture, and suddenly, that sense of everything that is missing came flooding back.

Maybe it’s because the overture sums up those early moments in and before a concert: backstage, putting on smart, dark clothes and warming up. A last look at *that* passage: the one that took the longest to nail when practising at home. Or maybe one that wasn’t hard to play at home, but somehow it took the orchestra a while to pull together when rehearsing. Queuing up in an approximation of the order you need to be in to go on stage. Walking out and sitting down, chatting to your desk partner, and glancing out at the audience, trying to get a feel for their mood. Tuning, with the background chatter of the audience humming in your ears. The first sputter of applause as the leader walks out, and then more as the conductor follows, and the orchestra rises to its feet. The house lights going down, settling back into your seat, and that moment of anticipatory nervous tension as the conductor’s baton is raised.

Maybe it’s because “Ruy Blas”, with its dark, dramatic opening chords in the winds and brass, captures the mood of a wet, windy, lockdown November day. The scurrying, swirling passages for the strings which follow are as if the storm continues, but then you have the upbeat arpeggio-based theme which feels like the sun has returned. When you nail “Ruy Blas”, it brings the house down. The nerves you felt backstage have gone. Today is one of those days: you are in the zone, at one with the music. The rest of the concert is going to be great. I miss it all so, so much.

The Four Seasons (Season 3) ft. Last Chance Saloon

8 Nov

Monday saw the week start with a Zoom strength and conditioning session bright and early (7.10am early). I’d let s&c slip over the last few weeks when I’d been feeling rubbish, and so it was a great suggestion by a clubmate to get them started again, especially with the new lockdown meaning we wouldn’t be seeing much of each other soon!

On Tuesday I had an early start to my virtual hearing (9.30), and as I had to do the hearing from chambers, I decided it would make more sense to run after work once I was back home. I’d planned to do an easy 5 miles on my ‘standard’ winter route, so one which uses well-lit roads. I guess I’d not run it for a while, and wasn’t paying enough attention, because I suddenly realised I’d gone off-course and didn’t recognise the road I was on. I did eventually find a road I recognised and found my way home – and even managed to stick to 5 miles! – but it was a bit too much excitement, really. My sense of direction is not the best, and I was meeting friends for dinner (ah, the days when we could do those things…), and was starting to regret not heading out earlier. Thankfully all was well that ended well, and it was a lovely dinner out.

On Wednesday I ran in the evening again, going to my running club’s Last Chance Saloon training session. It was 4 hilly loops of about 1.25km per loop, and although my legs grumbled a lot the next few days, because if there’s one thing I’ve neglected of late it’s running hills at maximum effort, it was great fun bombing around the quiet side streets of Sneyd Park chasing each other. It was also quite hard to understand how 5 people and 2 coaches meeting outdoors were such a Covid-19 risk that we wouldn’t be allowed to do this for another 4 weeks, but I guess the rules need to be simple, and it’s certainly simple to say you can only train with 1 person.

On Thursday morning I took my tired, grumbly legs for a very steady 7 miles, and I did a very steady 8 miles on Friday.

I was probably a bit overambitious on Saturday, and tried to do some marathon paced work, even though I could still feel the hard hills session in my legs a bit. It wasn’t the best, and the paces were about 5-10s/mile down on what I’d expect. A sign that my body just isn’t up to 2 tough sessions per week at the moment!

It was fairly similar today. I did 17 miles, and – perhaps foolishly – did a fairly tough route, with some off-road and hilly sections. The pace wasn’t great, especially when I had to tackle muddy uphill climbs, but somehow there’s something perversely enjoyable about a tough run in the rain on tired legs, and on my return I tucked into a lovely brunch (French toast and spaghetti hoops: comforting nursery food!). I’m currently incapussitated on the sofa, but at some point will have to attend to Sunday Homework Club duties. 55 miles for the week, which is good going, so I reckon my week was more Biden than Trump.

Here We Go For a Lockdown

1 Nov

The week started with an easy-paced 5 mile recovery run on Monday, and the same again on Tuesday. I wasn’t in court on Wednesday and intended to do 10 miles, but somehow the early morning slipped away from me, and so I thought I could still get it done in the evening. Unfortunately our chambers’ AGM was very lengthy (i.e. 2.5 hours), and so by the time it had finished I was hungry, thirsty and desperate for a pee. I was definitely in no mood for a run of any description. I squeezed 8 miles in on Thursday morning ahead of a day in (virtual) court, and intended to do the same again on Friday, but I think that I’d somehow got a bit dehydrated through the combined events of Wednesday evening and then being busy on Thursday, which tends to make my IBS-like symptoms surface, and so it proved to be. I felt lousy Thursday night and Friday morning, with no energy to run whatsoever. Heigh ho. Another cut-back week it was to be.

I felt better by Saturday, although the grotty weather meant I faffed, and faffed, and faffed, so that it was about 10am before I stuck my nose out of the door. Once I was finally running it was actually a really mild day, and the soft-shell top had to be ditched pretty early on. By and large it wasn’t as rainy as I feared, and the 40 mph winds which had been forecast seemed tamer than 40mph to me, and so bar one torrential downpour, and some inconsiderate drivers who presumably took the view that I was already a bit wet, so a drenching from a deep puddle wouldn’t matter, it was actually a refreshing 10 mile plod. I was ravenous by the end, mind you – the perils of leaving late enough that you should have had a proper breakfast early doors, but not having done so! Saturday’s 10 miles brought up 207 for October, so a bit short of the target I had in mind, but I’m still on track for 2,500 miles this calendar year. I’ve not managed that since 2017.

Today I started November with a steady 15 miles, taking in the towpath. A couple of weeks ago, when I’d run it with clubmates, it had been almost completely dry under foot. The rain we had seen over the last fortnight, and especially the last few days, meant it was a mud-bath today, but it was nice to be out on a sunny morning. Especially because things then clouded over and became grey and rainy later on!

I’ve also made our Christmas cake today. Let’s face it, any hope of Christmas being spent with either of our extended families has gone. Another lockdown beckons.