Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Redemption On The Track

In troubled times you increasingly turn to your running to offer relief and encouragement. That had been in short supply recently, given the training missed due to illness and knee problems. Every now and again you have a workout planned that could potentially make or break you.

The workout that is either so depressing you feel the season starting to slip or encouraging enough that any fears over fitness are allayed. Being old and gnarled enough I now recognise these in advance and today's was such a workout.

The workout was simple enough: 4 * (2 * 400m) @ 1500m pace with a 100m jog between reps and 400 jog between sets. According to my pace schedule these should be done in 66 seconds in the month of March. The day wasn't particularly great with fairly strong winds and pretty hot (I don't breathe well in hot weather) but the adrenaline was certainly pumping. It was one of those days when the legs weren't that fresh, breathing was a bit congested but I'd got into a rhythm which proved to be enough. Averaging 66.8 per 400m was nothing special, but done in flats after the couple of prior weeks it was enough to convince me that I'm back - or had never really gone away.

The Watford Open meetings start next week and I will be competing in the 3k. Slowly but surely I'm approaching race distances at which I have a modicum of talent....but we're not quite there yet.

Monday, 29 March 2010


I've had food poisoning twice in my life. One resulting in an in-flight argument with a stewardess who insisted I vacate the toilet and the other this past weekend as a result of braised duck at PENANG'S RESTAURANT, BETHESDA. Both particularly unpleasant experiences involving a simultaneous pincer attack from both ends.

This bout was particularly distressing given I was resident on my living room floor in a cheap Target sleeping bag - alternately sweating and shivering my way through the weekend. All I could think of was the training I was missing and the painting that needed to be done (and plotting revenge on the motherfuckers who didn't cook the canard).

Upon regaining mobility I decided to take expert rehydration advice at the local CVS pharmacy. The language barrier (she being Korean) meant it took 5 minutes of bellowing in front of the whole shop (in true Brit style - shout louder if they don't understand) that I wasn't suffering from poison ivy. Desperate times called for desperate measures so I had to resort to a charades-like description of my symptoms - at which point comprehension was reached that I was suffering from a shaving rash. For fuck's sake.

At this point I'd started to experience flashbacks from my 18th birthday party with a furious Chinese waiter bellowing "one pint lager, one pint lager, one pint lager" into my face at point blank range and decided to go home. What a miserable trip.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

He's Only Human

It looks like my USA trip will have to be extended - as getting tenants has been trickier than hoped. There are plenty about but they appear distinctly more fussy which, at the very least, means I have to get rid of the ludicrous garden murals in the basement - a legacy of previous ownership.

Normally an extended stay in the US would be welcomed, but running is a sport of consistency and consistency is a by-product of routine. To be honest returning to the US has been a bit of a disappointment. Similar to meeting an ex-girlfriend after 10 years, all your nostalgic feelings come crashing down when you see her flabby arms, cigarette stained fingers and wizened face.

So, what do you get when you combine an unwanted stay resulting in missing the British Masters Indoor Champs, an inordinately long list of jobs to do at the house, appalling traffic, bad knee problems and a meeting with old friends in a pub called Molly Malone's?

After 166 days the no-drinking streak was broken. Bloody hell it was fun though....

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Charm City Run 5k

The charm city run was held in the Baltimore harbour area (or harbor for you 'septics' out there). Baltimore, like most US cities, has the charm of medusa. There are parts of it that are very beautiful and enticing but they are usually surrounded by a poverty stricken den of snakes.

Running, being an activity principally undertaken by white middle classes, was naturally held in the nice area of town. Nice of course, unless you suffer from bad knees. Suspicions were first raised when I learnt the course was of certified distance but not ratified for records. My fears were concerned when confronted with a very steep downhill for the first mile or so of the race. I don't dislike downhill running per se, but it makes my knees twat and is of questionable merit when setting PBs.

There are some races in which you have your mojo and others in which it just seems to desert you. This was one of the latter - I was never really going very well and was unable to run a good first mile as it felt as though someone had removed my shins. I struggled home in 16:21 which, while a PB, must remain asterisk adorned given the nature of the course.

Surprisingly my miserable performance was good for 2nd place in my age group which I couldn't collect because the band kept playing crappy covers and I had to show my house to prospective tenants. There was one post-race highlight however. The band, put on as part of the St. Patrick's Day celebrations were heard to announce - "here's a song for all you Irish out there....

....I'm gonna be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers". Someone buy the bloke a map.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

The Achilles Knee

I hear that an absence of posts is starting to cause an escalation of unrest amongst the Luddites, as opposed to withdrawal symptoms in readers, so it's time to correct matters.

I had my follow up appointment with the physio, where I got a house point for ankle flexibility, a decent grade for glute strength and a middling C- for foot strength. Turns out my overall grade was sufficient to progress from the spinning Jenny to the Spinning Mule. I now have a program of weight training (one legged squats while standing on tip toe anyone?), foot alignment drills, flexibility exercises and balance drills. Once again, a fairly time-intrusive prescription but it's a relief to focus on dynamic strength over isometric strength - as the latter always feels as though you are squeezing something out as opposed to achieving something.

Since then I have graduated / progressed / regressed (delete as appropriate) to a new sort of knee pain. Relocated (generally) is the knee pain below my knee cap, to the more upper class neighbourhood (with a view of my ball bag) underneath the knee cap. As it's pain I'm unfamiliar with I am adopting the cautious approach of ignoring it and trying to carry on as normal. Generally the (or is it my) view on patella tendonitis is you can carry on without doing any further damage. Hopefully true, otherwise I'm going to look like a de-cleated Oscar Pistorius in a few years.

Anyway, a bit of rare excitement in the offing next week. I fly to the USA on thursday and am having a crack at a road 5k. It seems quite a while since I ran on a course that didn't require a spade and wellies to navigate.