Saturday, 18 January 2014

Taking things seriously, cheating, Drs waiting rooms and being laid up.

Ok it has been nearly a week since my last post on all things running and that has been because I have hardly ran at all this week owing to work constraints. I ran a lot last weekend (18k in 2 days, I thank you) but this week has gotten away from me. I still have a fair bit to talk about so will break it down as I go in to little bitty chunks that my students would be able to follow!

I shall begin...

Taking things too seriously

So last Friday I finally got myself a much vaunted pair of trail shoes (Addidas Kanadia 5's) in a size 13.5 from the Sweatshop in Bluewater, finally!

Before I talk about my trainers (just for Sarah who loved the blog on my shoe hunt) I have to share the greatest contrast I saw that night. There was a gentleman who was of a larger build buying some running shoes. He was trotting up and down the store fairly awkwardly like a man who had not run since he was a child but now was keen to loose some weight. His son sat on the bench looking bored, as young children are want to do. His wife however was amazing. She explained to the sales guy that the husband had asked for running stuff for Christmas in order to take it up and loose weight and that the trainers were the last piece of kit he needed. She was a typical small mousey wife type but she had an amazing combination of pride and support for her husband. It was lovely to see and you could tell the husbands determination was feeding directly off his wife's support. By contrast there was another couple where the wife this time was buying trainers. She seemed happy with a pair but the husband was not. He was barking orders, demanding the woman get back on the treadmill to run in them for a while and was quite stern and surely. The wife was doing as she was told but you could tell she wasn't really buying the trainers for her anymore. It was all a bit gutting to be honest.

Anyway onto my new trainers! They were reduced in the sale, fit lovingly and are, most importantly, nice and grippy on the slick trails around Bluebell Hill.

I know this because on Saturday morning Sharry and I did a quick 3k trot around Bluebell hill as a warm up. This was loads of fun, we took Nick the Meerkat with us, there was awesome scenery and we got nice and muddy. So far brilliant stuff, it was a little crisp in the air but mostly brilliant winter sunshine and views down over the valley of the river Medway.

We then rocked up at the Maidstone Parkrun. My first surprise was at the sheer number of people there - over 200 - and a very nice chilled out atmosphere. So far so good. Plus its all free, which is excellent!

The idea of the Parkrun, as far as I can tell is to have a free 5k event every Saturday in a regular location that allows people to get together for a communal run but also be timed to help training or fitness programs etc. Yet it is so much more, I saw parents running with their children (who were bloody quick) and older people, younger people a proper mix of runners. Now I appreciate this is the only one I have been too and only the Maidstone one but the impression I got/get is that this is the kind of crowd these attract. Its awesome.

The route itself is good too, a very quick 5k along the river banks around a small parkland and then back to start and finish at the Museum of Kent Life.

Now in order to run a Parkrun you have to register online and then download and print your personalised barcode. This is scanned along with your finishing barcode at the end of the event. That is how they give you a time (times are recorded with positions which correspond to the barcode).

I had registered two runners for the day, myself and Nick. Now with trail events people are fairly welcoming of Nick and as with the Grim run have been accepting of the fact that if he has a number he is a runner. However, and this is not a criticism probably just me getting carried away, but the friendly atmosphere, being able to chat with a few guys I was running with - although once again a lot of my jokes fell on deaf ears. However that festival type atmosphere seemed absent from the guy at the end when I tried getting a finishing time for Nick.

Now I appreciate that he is a stuffed toy, I really do.

He is also the subject of a blog and it would have been a nice touch for his blog for him to have had his own finishing time. Especially as he had been registered for the event.

I do appreciate fully the man handing out the finishing barcodes position, but seriously its a free event and a bit of fun. Or am I just being a dick here?

I have always 'fun run' basically because when I was younger it was the only way I could win any distance events - proper runners never dressed up in fancy dress! Yet it doesn't bother me to wear a costume or to run with a stuffed toy. Why? Because its a bit of fun.

I am not a professional athlete. I am not a serious writer. I am a man who enjoys running as a hobby. Yes there is a serious side to this all, I have rebuilt how I run and I am training to step up to ultra events (deep breath). Yet as soon as its not fun anymore what is the point?

So yes I fully understand and appreciate not giving the meerkat a finishers time, but having had such a great time running the Maidstone Parkrun and having 'sprint finished' with a couple of guys and seen all the families taking part and children loving running it left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth that right at the end someone was taking it a bit too seriously (in my opinion anyway).


Talking of taking things too seriously this brings me on to Sundays event in Bromley. The Bromley 10k. This was a last minute event that I ran with Nick the Human and Nick the Meerkat. It was one that I saw in the middle of the week and ended up running it, registering on the day, on the weekend. Other people were due to run but couldn't make, most likely because of the speed at which it all came about.

Once again it sounds like I am griping but I'm not, much, just calling it how I saw it - the very cornerstone of an opinion piece!

I really don't like road races as a rule. I have nothing against road runners - all brothers together type of mentality -  but it just isn't my thing. I am much more at home on trails, in woods and loosing myself in nature.

This run was advertised as 'a 4 lap course along paths through very attractive park land with water stations at various points on the course' which sounded spot on to me.

What it was, in reality, was a 3 lap run around an athletics track followed by 4 laps around a park - with football matches on the go in the centre of the park (aren't Sunday footballers incredible aggressive towards each other?!) the route mostly being on concrete/tarmac paths. The water station was at the end of every park loop.

Again I am not dissing the event, it was well run and there was great support and a very mixed field, plus it was cheap to enter so it wins for that. It was more that I was expecting hills and much more off-road and cross country than what we ended up running. I ran a fairly quick race and nearly beat my p.b. for 10k (was off it by 30 seconds), now regular readers know I don't chase p.b.s or anything like that but just use timings as a way of gauging my progress. However I include it to show that I was not slouching on this run and that my pace was consistent and fairly quick - not record breaking quick - but quick enough!

However a very curious thing happened at the beginning of the race. I am not calling anyone out but see if you can follow with me.

Nick, Nick and I started towards the front of the pack. We allowed the people aiming for sub 40 minutes (nutters) to go ahead of us. I then allowed Nick the Human to go at his own pace and race off (he is quicker than me) and settled into a gentle but quick enough pace. A few people surged ahead of me and this was fine and I continued to go about my own speed.

I don't recall the front runners passing me but they must have at some point and I also don't recall people in droves lapping me.

However, when I reached the mid-point of the second lap around the athletics track (still 1 more to do) I spotted people breaking off to go to the park run part of the course. I check my Garmin and I had not run an extra lap by mistake and my split times were still pretty good.

I was also at this time just starting to lap some of the back markers.

I began to get a bit concerned that either I had made a mistake or people had made a mistake or people were cheating.

Now again this is just how I feel and my opinion but I can't believe people would cheat on an event, after all we are not professional athletes just people who are running so I could only assume that the people who left the course early (assuming they did and that I did not make a mistake) had miscalculated and made a mistake (assuming I was not at error).

This feeling began to be compounded when I reached the park part of the course and easily passed those ahead of me.

It was not until the latter stages of the run that the front runners (those pesky sub 40 minuters) sprinted past me, almost as if there were deliberately trying to prove that they were running faster!

It does bring me to a point, and I know that people may not have cheated or made a mistake I may have actually been that slow around the athletics track and not realised I was being lapped or anything like that. However I have not long gone through and deleted a load of old records and routes off my Strava from the times when it was declaring that I had ran twice the distance I actually had and for some reason had me leaping across roads back and forth whilst moving forwards.

When asked why I got rid of all my records my answer was simple, how can I improve if I am measuring myself against something wrong?

In science education we end up teaching about drugs cheats as part of the GCSE course. I am sure that a similar topic is covered at length in GCSE PE. I seriously can't understand why people would claim to have run more, run faster or actively put stuff in their bodies in order to cheat. I guess it is easy for me to say that because it is not a career for me it is a hobby but I feel bad if a GPS has me running a faster mile than I know I am capable of because of a computing glitch. I don't know how I would feel if I was a champion or won a race yet did it on lies and deceit. I think this comes back to what I mentioned earlier, running and sport in general for me is about enjoyment, not outcome. Maybe that is why I will never be a sub 40 minute 10k runner, but if that is the case I will take that. Cheating and taking yourself too seriously is just not what I am interested in.

Drs waiting rooms and being laid up

So as I mentioned earlier this week has been pretty busy and quite stressful in places. We got through the HMI inspection fine but then the day after had parents evening. During Thursday I started coughing, having pains in my back, and feeling run down. Thursday evening I went to bed early but didn't sleep well and by Friday morning was well and truly ill. Fearing a chest infection I took myself to the Drs.

Good lord Dr waiting rooms are depressing. Every poster claimed that simple ailments could be a symptom of cancer. Got a cough? Cancer, Got indigestion? Cancer, Acid reflux? Cancer. I was mortified.  I know the English have a habit of not going to the Drs until things are too late but seriously I felt this was borderline scaremongering!

I don't have anything major, and fortunately I don't have a chest infection (whoot). I do however have a viral infection which is causing my discomfort and worn down feeling. The Dr has ordered me to take complete rest over the weekend and into next week if needed otherwise I won't shake the infection in a hurry.

This sucks massively. I had plans to take my dad mountain biking this weekend and to clock up some miles on the Cannock Chase trails near where they live. All that now has been shelved.

I am great at procrastination but useless at not doing anything. I know that is a juxtaposition but its true, add into that I have very little energy and I am tired and frustrated.

I have essentially regressed to being a baby.

No jokes please!

I can't wait to be back out and running.

Especially as these are staring me in the face everyday.

My trailers!

Also last thing before I go, I have bought a box to keep my medals in! This is because the Bunsen Burner which I keep them on is starting to get full!

Medal box!
Anyway spoke enough. Until laters.


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