Ode to the Blackbird.

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Dear blackbird that has been in my garden for the last seven days.

Why have you been in my garden for the last seven days?

What do you want?

Fuck off.

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Mile Repeats: Lammas Park

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My legs are still heavy and reluctant. Although the emphasis on improvement is very much present, I cannot seem to rest my legs enough. As such, every run at the moment is a battle. Just getting out of the door is a full on war. Today’s workout of five 1 mile repeats seemed straightforward enough but my gentle warm up down to Lammas Park was reminder enough that my legs would not deal with this well. The wind, which had been threatening an encore for several days, finally returned and with quite some venom. In West London a southerly current blew excitedly through the dimly lit streets in it’s search for equilibrium. I passed a bin man muttering to himself as he pooled rubbish bags in preparation for the oncoming rubbish truck. Further along a rubbish bag was splayed across the road, a single tear gaping its insides. Wrapping paper and polystyrene decorated the concrete in small manic eruptions, green and gold across the black of the road. Even the foxes were in their dens this morning.

I got to the park and began the first repetition. For a reminder, this is the loop of the park which totals a mile exactly, marked helpfully by 100m signposts. Screenshot 2015-12-30 10.05.34.png

The wind hit me at the first 200m or so at the northerly end of the park and my heart sank. It rallied against me repeatedly and without mercy till the very apex of park and the acute turn back up towards the start. I finished the first mile and gently jogged in a central bisector of the park and contemplated my options. I could not see myself completing another four of these. Here is the workout and the pace chart.

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As you can see, in the succeeding rests I walked and contrary to what I have said in the past or will say in the future, this was borne out of complete necessity – I simply could not see myself completing the workout without resting completely. Each mile was a gruelling endeavour. The first 800m (which were a supposed downhill) were accompanied by what can only be described as a wind tunnel, a constant and merciless battering against the elements which only really let up as you turned fully away for it and onto the uphill which in itself added another barrier.

The final mile splits came to 7:14, 7:09, 7:07, 7:13 and 7:15. A fair performance in the circumstances. I sat on a park bench afterwards and watched two men complete a series of circuits – running between trees, doing press-ups and displaying awkward and slightly comical poses, which I assumed were for my entertainment. I took the above picture just in front of the Lammas enclosure and decided to film a time lapse, just in case anything of significance happened. It didn’t. Disappointed, I picked myself up to drag myself back. For the first time that morning the wind placed a gentle hand on my back and guided me home.

Medium Long Run: 14km

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This is the view at the top of Cleveland Park in Ealing looking back across North and West London. In the hidden distance the A40 hurries to the City and away to Oxford. The houses are large and proud. The park represents a sincere incline away from the River Brent, a polluted and opaque affair, a sorry tributary to the pumping vein of the Thames. By this point I had completed some 13km of my run and paused to capture the scene. On my way up the hill a man slipped and fell and was picked up by some concerned dog walkers. Embarrassed, he picked himself up and continued. I watched him run out of the park and having caught my own breath, pulled out my phone and took the picture.

I was in no mood to run in the morning. The was no real sense in recovery from the previous days hiatus and it was everything I could do to get myself to the point of beginning the run. My legs felt weighted and I felt aware of them more than I have done in recent times. The ground was wet but the skies were clear. Two cars countered each other belligerently in the narrow recesses of the road, each refusing to move. I began.

Irritatingly, there is still no data to show you given the very notable absence of my ANT + stick and so you will have to take my word for this excursion. I completed 14.3km at a 4:55min/km pace and felt every footstep. There were countless times I wanted the run to be over and in many circumstances found myself willing my psyche to the end of the road, the next tree or the top of the hill. One more kilometre. One more kilometre. My average HR was 151bpm with an average cadence of 92spm. The kilometre splits (min/km), I have hand written below, so you better fucking read them

  1. 5:00
  2. 4:55
  3. 4:55
  4. 4:47
  5. 4:53
  6. 5:04 (big hill man, you had to be there)
  7. 4:44
  8. 4:49
  9. 4:52
  10. 4:55
  11. 4:56
  12. 4:56
  13. 5:13 (big hill man, you had to be there)
  14. 4:55
  15. Only 260m (in 1:15) Screenshot 2015-12-29 17.56.30.png

So given how tired I was, not a bad pace for me overall. I obviously joke about the hills but they clearly continue to hit me hard. On lap 13, I genuinely cannot convey how difficult it was to put foot in front of successive foot. I didn’t fall but I would have happily ended the run at the park’s summit, such was my exhaustion. To date, there are many many runs that I have not wanted to do. There are many many runs I would have happily ended prematurely and walked the remainder of the distance. There are many runs, like today, where every step almost required a conscious battle to progress from A to B. As it happens and despite all of this, there are no runs I have regretted on completion and as I sit here now, I am conscious that every run only makes me stronger now matter how weak I feel whilst in it’s oblivion.

*Addendum. The Garmin is now connected. Rejoice in the data that is the Strava application.

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I explained the rules at match point.

I explained the rules at match point. My father loves his mother. No one loves my father. What is the emotional equivalent of the discountenance lining the cloth of the tiring pallbearer, reluctantly holding you. (Nobody eats the mint from the mint leaf you old f**k)

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