Southampton Half Marathon

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Yesterday was the Southampton half marathon. 13 miles of undulations across the most porty City in south England. Apart from Portsmouth. That’s more Porty. Some 7,000 runners came down to run in both simultaneously running races (10 and 21km) and in sum it was largely a triumph.

Let me make this clear, I am not Southampton’s biggest fan. When they draw the plans up to tear the city apart and build one big ode to a toilet, I will be the first to sign my name to support. It’s not that I don’t like the city, quite the opposite. Like an advancing mould, it has crept it’s sullen way across my skin and these days I spend long hours basking in its musk. Rather, it is content to whither iteratively in its historical misery, an industrial hole of despair. In a country that seems to be picking itself up off its knees, Southampton is content to continue shitting on itself.

I digress. The route was challenging and scenic in equal measure. Encompassing the most beautiful parts of the city, it really made for a great landscape for this rejuvenated event. I almost felt proud at times. Dragging the course through the Saints’ stadium was another act of genius and if I could have, I would have rolled myself over and over in that beautiful turf like the dog I am. I didn’t though and perhaps this is something I can factor in in the future.

I had been aiming to better a time of 1:38, set at Brighton but this did not happen. Largely this is my fault and I will learn from this but this next section is a long spindly finger point at the 1:40 pacers.

Once again I should state my position, in that they both seemed like lovely people. Encouraging, instructional, giving details on water points etc, they fulfilled the stimulatory aspect of their jobs with finesse. Sadly, what they didn’t do was the other part. i.e pace. If I could take any of the points above and stress them as imperative in the job of a pacer, I would say pacing would be a decisive and clear winner.

I will stress this in the simplest way possible. Here is the first half of my splits with 1:40 chaps.

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The plan had been to sit with the 1:40 group for the first half of the race, which was largely flat and then jump off to attack the hills a bit in the second half with a bit left to sprint finish. A 1:40 finish would necessitate running 4:45min/km splits more or less pretty consistently. As evidenced above, there was one single example of this at the 4th split and this was in relation to the traversing of the concrete middle finger to Southampton water, also known as the Itchen Bridge. Where were the other 4:45 splits? WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE OTHER 45s? 31 is not 45. 30 is not 45. 34 is not 45. NONE OF THESE NUMBERS ARE 45.

Have a look at the elevation profile above. By the time I reached the foot of the hills I was more or less spent and barely had any energy to climb let alone hold a good pace. I soon dropped off the 1:40 pace group and decided to go it alone. Towards the end as we entered the common, I caught up with them once again (having been maintaining a pretty solid speed myself) suggesting that they had dropped their pace considerably.

What does this tell you about the 1:40 pacers? To me it suggests they were running the race strategically so to bank time for the hills were they could coast and bring it in for 1:40 on the clock. That is not the job of the pacer though. The pace is supposed to be metronomic and cyclical, a beacon for continuity throughout the race. This unfortunately, they were not. This might seem a little particular but for me, it ruined my race and it is worth saying. I don’t hold them responsible for that at all,  it should have been my responsibility to drop off and run my own race but it was an annoyance all the same.

All in all, I’m pleased with my result in what was a difficult course for me. I learned a lot once again as I always do in these circumstances and hopefully I’ll be able to put this into practice. I’m looking forward to a week of eating crap and easy running. Day 2 post race is coming up and for me, this translates into DOMS town. Laters.

 

 

A difficult, easy run. 10 miles.

Number of days till Brighton Half Marathon: 34 days

Number of hurting Achilles tendons: 1

Number of times I felt a headwind: More times than care to fucking explain.

Given the fact that I’m just coming out of a rest week, I should feel good. I don’t. Last week’s mileage still went north of 55km and I was left genuinely wondering where the ground had been made up. By the time Sunday’s LSR revealed itself, I was no worse off than any other week. My body felt tired and weary. Looking at the incoming 16km this morning, I could have felt further from enthused.

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It was still dark as I left the house. I turned out onto the Northam Bridge and was hit instantly by a cruel headwind. Fucking great. I wanted today to at least feel like a recovery run but already, I found myself in channeled vortex. I reassured myself however that, within a kilometre or so, I would be turning away from the supposed wind direction and running up towards Southampton Common. I turned. The wind hit me again. Fucking great.

It wasn’t so bad for the most part. There were fleeting moments when I felt the wind behind me and it felt truly glorious, like a hug from a big fat person. At points it seemed to tuck behind me at just the right time and that couldn’t have been more welcome. The route itself was a climb for 50% and a descent for 50% more or less, as can be seen from the relief profile.

I am aware that I have most likely been running my long slow runs at a good 10-15s faster than perhaps what it necessary for me and perhaps this is what is contributing to my exhaustion. I have decided to take my ego hat off for some time and replace it with my “it’s fucking necessary” hat instead. It doesn’t look as cool but, well, it’s necessary. I can’t have every run feeling like a workout. I’m thinking of tomorrows 4x 2miles and already fatiguing.

Overall my pace settled at 5:13min/km. There was very little pace control and splits varied from 5:00 to 5:30 min/km. Ideally I should have been ever slower than this still (5:20 average) but when you’re running, it can be so very difficult to resist the temptation not to push a little harder.

Tomorrows workout should be a good one. In similar workouts that I’ve done over the last few weeks, I’ve run 2nd and 3rd best 10km times which is either a really good or bad thing. 2 miles. 4 times. Let’s do it.

 

Final Run of the Year: 10km

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The last run of the year took place in Poole Park. I woke up several times in the night in anticipation, quietly unrested and in the sonic assault of the lubricious south westerly wind. The windows rattled and rocked and I slept  a little more. I woke myself up at 5am to prepare myself for the run but didn’t actually head out into the world till 6am. I wish I could tell you of some more romantic interim that occupied me for that hour, but I simply lay in bed and as these things do, the hour passed by with a timely celerity.

The plan today was to end with a gentle paced 10km, perhaps laced with a series of 200m strides. I chose to keep things simple however with a gentler 5:00min/km run which quickly settled into 4:50min/km average pace overall. The workout is linked above and the splits and route are shown below.

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There was a momentary pause just after 3km where my left shoe lace wriggled itself free and I had to pause to do it up. This literally never happens to me and it’s rarity was rewarded with 500m of questioning why it had come undone in the first place. To ensure it remained done up, I added some tightness for added measure into the double knot and as a result, spent the rest of the run wondering if my foot was going to fall off.

Poole park reveals itself fairly clearly on the enclosed map. The greatest part of it’s composition is water, much like the people who use it for their pleasure. This water is enclosed exclusively in the large boating lake across the centre of the map. After dark, there are a choice selection of lights both in the park and around the lake which can make for a treacherous affair. Of them all, the westerly side is the most taxing with almost no light whatsoever owing to an imposing raised train track running briefly alongside it. At appropriate intervals a series of lights appear that quickly conform into the shape of a train which hurries past, seemingly as keen to distance itself from the park as you are to remain.

The run today was something of a solitary affair. Not uncommonly, as the run progresses another runner or at least the morning dog walkers arrive and do their best to hinder your progress throughout your run. Today they kept their notable absence perhaps mourning the loss of another year and their slow inevitable march into oblivion. Under the suggestion of the rising sun a cyclist passed by at the north end of the park as I sought to complete my final split around the cricket bowl. As I finally rested I sat on a bench and if by magic a young female runner appeared out of nowhere, doing a frighteningly good and uncompromising pace. She looked strong. I was glad I had finished.

I have spent some time reflecting on the year’s numbers and as a well seasoned statistician who only believes in quanta, these are my achievements. I should add that my running calendar only seriously began in August and hence my embarrassing numbers. There’s no easy way to sell mediocrity.

Total mileage: 1,620km (total runs 177)

The trailing 90 day km gives a good example of when my running really began. See. SEE?

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I have broken all but my HM and Marathon distance PBs. Screenshot 2015-12-31 12.35.14.png

The ones I really care about are 1 mile, 5km, 4mile, 10km, 10 miles and HM and FM. To be clear, I have not tried to run a mile or 8km to speed. I will come back to PB goals for the new year in a post, well, next year.

In any case, I am aware that my running career has been somewhat remiss and anergic. I can’t really explain why that might be the case but I suppose  to some extent, this reflects my parochial views on health and fitness. 2016 is only a date but that cannot mean that we cannot endure. The pain is a part of it but even that is not so bad. At some point the endurance will become tolerance and hopefully a galvanised inurity.

 

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Pucker Playlist: June 2014

A collection of songs I’ve found myself listening to. I don’t know if my cup has been half empty recently or whether I even have one anymore but regardless, these songs have been circulating. None are particularly new, all are particularly good.

1. Toro y Moi – Say That

Video above, I mean, that dance in the chorus right? Great glasses bro.

2. G-Easy – Far Alone (Feat. E-40 & Jay Ant)

So fucking ghetto innit.

3.  Chet Faker – Talk is Cheap (Ta-ku Remix)

You know when you call your girlfriend fat and you can just hear the last words tumble out of your mouth and everything slows down to almost nothing and it is everything you can do to hope that the world will open up and engulf you? That.

4. Funkineven & Fatima – Phone Line

Wassup girl.

5. Sylvan Esso – Hey Mami

I remember kissing a danish girl in my car so long ago who was so incredibly beautiful she made my stomach ache. We spoke for so long and I felt like I hand’t been closer to anyone for the longest time. All I wanted to do was kiss her and feel her against me. In the end I reached across and kissed her fully expecting my world to implode. It turned out to be one of the worst kisses I have ever been involved in.

6. The Slackers – Alone Again

Sometimes being alone isn’t so bad. For three blithe minutes, this song certainly thinks so.

7. The Notorious BIG – Ten Crack Commandments

I spoke to some guy about East coast and West Coast and he spoke at length as to why Biggie was inferior to Pac. I nodded and listened and let him be. What a fucking twat.

8. Jaw Jam – Tha One I See In My Fantasies When Im Dreaming (Mix II)

Old school garage that’s not old school garage. You know what I mean right? Can’t find the youtube link for this. Soundcloud it, you wankers.

9. How to Dress Well – Repeat Pleasure

I think this is a trilogy? I mean, what’s the fucking point. Why not just write another song? It’s not a fucking film. You cunts.

10. D’Angelo – Spanish Joint (Osage Remix)

Afrobeat is one of the best things to have happened to music. I guess I don’t know whether this is afrobeat but the statement still stands.

The Avenue

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We grew up in the greys of West London under the dull roar of the M4. You were two years older than me but numbers never meant anything back then. I suppose they mean everything to me now. In the urban Summer we grew up sweaty and dirty in second hand clothes, not in poverty but not completely without. The house became our playground until we out grew it and it became a prison and we looked longingly out onto the streets waiting for our lives to happen. I remember the day our computer picked itself up out of the 80’s and revealed a set of moving images in the form of what was it, an Idlewild cd? We were so deliriously happy. We played that cd over and over again, the computer shuddering under the strain of our excited demands. I never even really liked that song. Almost 20 years later I am still here but those days have passed. I wonder if I’ll ever really feel anything again, I certainly don’t feel happy. Every waking day is a painful reminder that I am still alive and alone, craven in my polemic stand off, looking at the world through a dirty eye piece of an empty gun. In these solipsisms I forgot that romance ceases to exist. At the end of Bukowski poem, you’re still alone, it doesn’t matter how many quotes you repost on your tumblr. In any case it seems my very existence is commensurate with my misery. I want her and she doesn’t want me. I want to be happy again but instead I have no affect at all. Those London summers seemed so blithe and free and maybe one day I’ll go back. In whatever form.