Run Home Jack


In which I get confused, at least twice

Is Run Home Jack from ‘Hook’?

Anyway, it’s been 11 days since my last run, 11 days since the half marathon that was the Great North Run. Since then I’ve not run a step, and put on 8lbs in weight.

I rediscovered the joys of junk food and beer in the past week and a half, but have a 10k trail run in little over three weeks so decided so attempt the dreaded ‘run home from work’ once again.

The first time I tried, I called for rescue and got a lift home. The second time, I ran the 1.8 mile, uphill all the way, at an average pace of 11:26 a mile. The time the third, I ran a pace of 11:24, two seconds faster than attempt two. Today, I had no other target than getting home. I’d not run in almost two weeks, and the last run was more than double my previous furthest distance, so really had no target.

I ran it in an average mile of 10:51. That’s 30 seconds quicker per mile, averaged.

How…?

It seems that I perform better on a run with no training, lots of beer + junk food. If you want my secret, there’s only one, and that’s to utterly confuse your body.

Also, further to that, when I was running I was enjoying myself. I actually thought that this was fun. Yes, I enjoyed both the 10k runs and the half marathon, but only because of the people I was with and the experience, I didn’t really enjoy the running bit, and haven’t enjoyed running yet, but today I thought, whilst running, ‘this is fun.’ I thought it a few times while making my way home. Maybe I’ve over done the beer?

On a different subject, last night I had a dream that I punched a bear, climbed a ladder, then threw a wolf. Yesterday, I would’ve believed I’d do all that before enjoying a run. Turns out I was wrong.

Also, need a new blog header pic. Slightly outdated now, I guess.

Great North Run – 16/09/12


In which I run further than I ever have before, and almost run faster than a train

The day before the run I had an early night. By which I mean I went to bed early, couldn’t sleep, and lay awake thinking about the run the next day. Finally, I must’ve dropped off, because I woke up the next morning and to wake up, you have to fall asleep. Or be in a coma.

My alarm was set for 04:30am (UGH!) but I woke up by myself at 04:25. I thought it was about 02:00am and so was gutted to see the time on the clock. I’d packed my bag the night before and checked it three times so that I wouldn’t have to check it again in the morning, to save time. I got dressed into my running gear and checked my bag. Sarah was up and ready, and so were Susan (Sarah’s mum) Ironman Tony (Sarah’s dad) and after a fair bit of persuading, Hannah (Sarah’s sister.) Norman (Sarah’s grandad) arrived around 04:50 and we were all ready for the mini bus taxi to turn up at 05:10 to take us to Leeds train station.

We looked out of the door into the dark of the morning, and there was a taxi, just not the taxi we’d asked for. We booked a mini bus so that there would be room for all six of us, so they sent a normal sized car. Ironman Tony went and had a word with the driver who informed us that the minibus guy had called in sick and we would need two cars. Also, it would be twice the price as using two cars instead of one. Not the best of starts, but luckily a neighbour was up and setting off to work (in Leeds) so took Susan and Tony in his car. The taxi driver we had tried to make conversation, but it was obvious he didn’t care about what we were saying.

Driver: Where are you going today?
Me: Newcastle, train from Leeds.
Driver: Awwwwww.
Sarah: We were supposed to all be going in the same taxi to the station.
Driver: Awwwwww.
Sarah: We booked it last night.
Driver: Awwwwww.

Got to Leeds station quick enough and got to McDonalds for coffee and a porridge. We met up with Karen, Rob, Riley, Jeff and Marion (Sarahs Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and Grandparents, in that exact order.) The closer we got to Newcastle, the more the train filled up with people in running gear. Most looking nervous, and most with energy drinks and bananas and stuff. A couple in front of us had a baby with them and were trying to force feed it banana, but I don’t think it enjoyed it.

Arrived in Newcastle and then caught the Metro to Haymarket which was the nearest station to the start of the run. Plenty of people walked out of the station instead of going to the Metro, so must have walked a fair way. The fools. Two stops later we arrived, walked about 20minutes to where the action was, and I went to the toilet. In the queue there was a bloke saying that he was dressing as Jedward for the run (for non-english people, they’re twins who release songs without letting the fact that they can’t sing getting in their way.) Someone asked where the other one was, and he said: ‘the other who?’ ‘The other one who’s dressing as Jedward with you.’ Awkward silence. ‘There’s just me dressing as Jedward.’ Just him. Dressing as Jedward. Who are twins. Ideally, two people would be needed to make the costume work, seeing as though there are two people in a set of twins, but this bloke was obviously a renegade, perhaps a ne’er do well! Probably just didn’t have any friends who thought Jedward worthy as dressing up as.

Me and Sarah went and found the kiosk to sort out my timing chip fiasco (see Birchwood 10k blog) and I was ready to go. Rang Martyn to see where he was, and got him to come and meet us. We then made our way up to meet Joe (Sarah’s cousin) and his mate Gaz. Joe and Gaz were starting further ahead of us, so we wished each other luck and me and Martyn made our way to our starting point, the rest of the family made their way to the start line. The Red Arrows were doing an impressive display for a lot of the time of the run and they flew over us quite a few times.

Red Arrows

The group start began at 10:40, we crossed the start line at 11:25. 45minutes wait to get going, by which time our warm up had cooled down and it began to rain, heavily. It dampened the ground, but not our spirits. (Didn’t even plan that sentance, just happened!) As we started we passed our supporters and heard Sarah shouting ‘MO! MO! OVER THERE! MO!’ I thought it a strange way of saying ‘Good Luck’ until we looked across the road and saw (2 time Olympic Gold Medalist, Deserving Of These Capitals) Mo Farrah, shaking runners hands! Me and Martyn ran across in front of everyone to get a hand shake each. Then, we were off.

Started nice and slow, not wanting to overdo it at the get go. The rain eased off a bit and we got into a steady rhythm. The backs of my ankles felt strained as we ran, probably due to the warm up being a waste of time, but I ignored it and carried on. We ran across Tyne Bridge, where most photos of the Great North Run are taken and got in to the spirit of the day. I saw quite a few people running for the guide dogs too and everytime either they did, or I did, one of us said good luck to the other. The crowds line the route the entire way, everyone cheering and clapping and high fiving all the time, it was brilliant. We mostly ran the flat and downhills, but took it steady on the inclines. Plenty of water stations along the way, and unless it was stupid hot you don’t have enough time to finish your water before there’s the chance to get another bottle. Members of the public are there handing out ice cubes, oranges and at one point a Rocket Ice Lolly.

At the 10k marker I looked at our time (we stayed together the whole way, I’m expecting a film offer any day now) and we’d done it in around 1hr 10mins. When we got to the marker, I thought to myself that it’s the furthest I’ve ever run, and I had to run more than that distance again before finishing. Didn’t bother me in the slightest though, because I was (suprisingly) still having fun! The pain in my ankles had subsided and the crowds were still amazingly vocal. Unfortunately, there was an Elvis tribute act at the side of the road who was also vocal, and the word ‘crap’ doesn’t do him justice.

We were nowhere near running the entire distance, but we put in a good showing when we ran. Probably stopped for a short walk every ten minutes or so, towards the end was probably every 5-6minutes, but we over took a lot of people. I couldn’t believe how many were in fancy dress and running this distance! There was a bloke dressed as Jesus (carrying a Cross, which looked heavy) plenty of superheroes, a group of lads who had made a bobsleigh and were blacked up, dressed as the guys from Cool Runnings (not sure how P.C. it is, blacking your face, though no one seemed to care.) Quite a few chickens, donkeys and dogs, and plenty more. Also, at least two Jack Sparrows.

The race flew by for me, didn’t seem that long before we passed the 15k sign, then the 11mile sign, and before too long the ‘One Mile To Go’ sign. (My favourite sign of the day.) Just before we got to that sign, we approached a hill (from the good side) and the sea came into view over past South Shields. We made it past the 400m sign, crowds lined the whole way cheering and clapping, and guys in army gear lined up saluting as we passed, then the 200m sign, and then it was done with. 13.1miles smashed. Finished in a time of 02:38:27. 8 1/2 minutes longer than I hoped, but still (technically) a PB.

Collected our finishers packs and went to meet the family. Sarah and Tony were just after the finish, and then we (eventually) met everyone else. They didn’t have much of a day and saw none of the run apart from the start, they only got to South Shields on the Metro train about 15minutes before we got there by running! Once we’d all met up, me, Sarah and Riley went to get some free food and Powerade and to see the Guide Dogs.

Me and a Guide Dog. (I’m on the right, looking knackered)

It was a good 20minute walk from the finish back to the Metro (just what you need after a half marathon) and then we waited a good ONE AND A HALF HOURS in the queue to get on the Metro. Sarah told me that on the way to the finish, they were packed on the Metro like sardines because of the amount of supporters. Didn’t sound like they had a good day at all. Eventually we got to Newcastle station with an hour before the train home left, and so had to, with a lot of persuading, had a couple of lovely beers in the station bar. Also, bought beer for the train ride home. Plenty of it too.

I now have 3 medals. Technically, that’s a collection.

Highlights of the way home:
Beer.
We were facing the toilets and saw someone open the door when Rob was inside.
Beer.
The ‘out of order light’ was on the toilet when I went to it, so said to the conductor ‘Have you got another toilet further down?’ ‘Have you got a ticket?’ ‘Have you got a toilet that works?’ ‘…Yes?’ ‘My ticket’s on the table up there.’
Beer.

The day after the Half Marathon

Even though they didn’t get to see any of the finish of the run, I was so happy that everyone had made the effort to come up to Newcastle for what turned out to be (for them) a day of train rides. I was chuffed. So then, what now? I started this blog to talk about the build up to, and then the running of, the Great North Run. Where do I go from here? Turns out I sign up to a 10k run in October, a 10k run in March and the Leeds Half Marathon in May, and hope my blisters go down by then.

What a div.

Great North Run Eve


About 15 weeks ago I couldn’t run, at all. If I were attacked by a zombie or a lion I’d’ve had no chance of escape. Tomorrow morning, I’m running 13.1 miles in the biggest half marathon in the world, the Great North Run.

Since I started running I’ve gone for a run two or three times a week, and have entered and finished three 10k races but this is the first time I’ll have done anything further than 6.2 miles.

We’re getting on the train at 6am from Leeds and arrive in Newcastle about 8:15. The race starts, for us newbies, at around 10:40 and full coverage is on BBC1 til 1:30. Hopefully I’ll be done by then. Anything under 2.30hrs I’ll be more than happy with.

Meeting Martyn in Newcastle before the race, and then meeting up with three people that I’ve spoken to on twitter for a month or so, who are all starting in the same wave as us. (@blistersforheroes, @cherylpoulter & @michelleharps)
They seem nice and hopefully none turn out to be axe murderers, as that’d put a bit of a damper on the day. (Hope I don’t turn out to be an axe murderer, I don’t have an axe!)

Also looking forward to seeing the Guidedogs and puppies at the end of the race. My target was to raise £300 and have so far raised £360. Any sponsors are still welcome, even if it’s just one pound! Sponsor Me Here

Been carbing up on pasta and potatoes so will be well fuelled, but just incase have bought some Jelly Belly Sports Beans. Went to the White Rose Centre with Sarah today for a jacket potato and beans. Both got annoyed with how busy it was and how people claim a table before buying their food, sending their partners to the queue. We didn’t think this was fair, so when we finished eating we didn’t move til we saw a family with a tray of food looking for a table.

Did my last run on Thursday, so if I’m not ready now then it’s too late. Sure I’ll be fine! Plan for tonight is a few more carbs, watching Doctor Who, then an early night.

Good luck to everyone running the Great North Run tomorrow, and hopefully see you at the finish!

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Train, not Training


In which I get annoyed, and am forced to run

Today I was working in our new shop in the Lowry Centre, in Salford Quays, just outside Manchester. I normally work in Bradford so it was like a little holiday for me.

I got up early, got the train (an hour) followed by a tram, then another tram, then a quick ten minute walk and arrived with minutes to spare.

So far, so good.

After I finished work I did the same journey, but in reverse. A quick ten minute walk followed by a tram, then another tram, then… Hang on… I can’t see my train on the board! It was 18:15 and my train left at 18:21!

I approached a station guard and asked where the train left from.
“Bradford?” I said.
“Bradford?” he said.
“Bradford” I said.
“platform six” he said.
“platform six?” I said
“platform six” he said.

The other side of the station.

I jogged over, plenty of time, and reached platform six. I looked at the board and it didn’t say Bradford, or any town that i could locate on a map. I approached another guard.

“Is this where I get the Bradford train?” I said.
“Bradford train?” he said.
“Bradford train!” I said.
“platform five.” he said
“platform five?!” I said
“platform five.” he said.

18:19. I ran to platform five, no train. I went up to a bloke and said:
“Is this the right platform for the Bradford train?”
“No”
“Oh.”

18:20. Legged it back to the barriers and saw two more platforms. I approached yet another guard and said “is this where the Bradford train goes from?”
“Yes.” he said! “You just missed it.”

Gutted. “What time’s the next one?” I asked. He told me they were once every hour after six. I asked if there was one at ten to, I was sure there was, and he said “No, after six they’re once an hour, at twenty past.”

Only one thing for it. Station pub. Bought a beer. Sat down and started messing on my phone to make it look like I had friends. The last app I’d been on came up, the National Rail train finder. Decided to double check the times and it came up with 18:48. Even though the guard said 19:20.

I’d like to say the app was wrong and he knew what he was on about, but obviously didn’t because I’m currently sat on the train that left for Bradford at 18:48.

Asked three members of staff a question, all three got it wrong. After posting this, I’m going to copy and paste into an email and send them it. Not this bit though, because I want to put their reply up too. Probably reply to the wrong person.

Great Yorkshire Run 10k – 02/09/12


I wasn’t looking forward to this one very much.

It’d been two weeks since I’d last run (Birchwood 10k) and had had problems with my left foot ever since. (See last blog.) I got plenty of good advice on here from kind hearted people, but didn’t listen to any of them and didn’t do anything about it.

Also, the night before the run I ignored every article/website I’d read and had a Curry (lovely!) and two beers. Then I had another beer. And stayed up late watching The Office (U.S. Version) on Netflix. So all in all, I could’ve prepared slightly better, which is why I was (and still am) surprised at how well the run went!

Three of us taking part in the Great Yorkshire Run (not counting the 5000 or so people I didn’t know.) There was myself, Joe (Sarah’s cousin) and Nigel (Sarah’s uncle.) Ironman Tony came along for support and to take the pictures, but wasn’t running due to a bad dog bite on his leg; (He’s a Postman.) (Tony, not the dog.)

Nigel drove us all to the Park & Ride at Meadowhall in Sheffield and then we Parked & Rode the tram to the city centre. By the time we’d gone from the Carpark to the Tram (10mins) Nigel had gone to the toilet three times. Probably some kind of record there.

The tram stopped very near the start/finish line so we didn’t have to go very far to line up. (After another toilet stop.) I’d been tweeting with Aly Dixon (A proper runner) in the car on the way here and she said to watch for the end of the run. 1km all uphill, and it didn’t look nice at all. I’d just finished my water and the day was getting very warm, so slightly nervous about keeping hydrated. Being a Bupa sponsored run, however, there were a dozen people or so handing out bottled water to everyone getting ready to run so made sure I grabbed one.

This Picture Took Me Hours To Make.

Joe was in the wave of runners before us (as he’s a lot fitter and faster) and so as I was still a bit worried about not running for two weeks and trying not to injure my foot again, and Nigel was wanting to take it a bit steady, we Nigel decided to run the course together. Plenty of people were in fancy dress, saw a Superman, Batman and a Spider-Man in a group, then a Supergirl and a Batgirl. There was also a Kick-Ass and a Snow White.

Before long we were off and ready to put in a good showing. As the end of the run was uphill, that meant the start was downhill (I once did physics) and turning the first corner after starting the run, we all came to a stand still. Turns out that the road narrowed a bit where the traffic lights were, and so everyone had to slow down and make space to get past it. Not a major problem, but there were still plenty of people muttering and complaining about the set up. Me and Nigel laughed.

The first few kilometres flew by, and my foot wasn’t giving me any trouble at all. I might try beer and a take-away before the Great North Run too! We did a mixture of running and walking, but when we walked it was only for ten-twenty seconds at a time. The winner passed us on his way back when we were just getting going. He finished in under 30mins. There were a few bands and singers lined up along the route, and LOTS of supporters which was brilliant. The route they use is pretty much a there-and-back route, run down one side of the road and back up the other.

At about the 3-4km point I said to Nigel that we should just hop over the grass verge and run to the finish. Quite a few people around us laughed (never had an audience!) and said it was a good idea. A minute or so later we had caught up to some people and one of them said ‘It would be better to go over the road and run back.’ That didn’t bother me, it was an obvious joke. What DID bother me was that a woman that had been keeping pace with us, that laughed at my joke, said ‘I just said that a minute ago.’ Which she didn’t! She heard me say it, then someone else say something similar, and tried to take credit herself when none was for her! She annoyed me a bit, so we moved away from her.

The wave of runners that began before us were now coming back up the opposite side of the road so I said to Nigel that Joe would be there somewhere, and then seconds later I saw him.

“Joe!” I shouted, what with it being his name. I waved, he waved, but for some reason Nigel shouted “Joe” and looked up to the sky. Dunno why.

At the turn around point, Nigel stopped at the toilets (again) and so I walked for about a minute whilst I waited for him. The sun was pounding down at this point and so the water station was bloody lovely to see. He caught up, and in the distance we could see the walk-through shower so that spurred us on quite a bit. Oh-my-life it felt good!

By this point we were walking for a bit longer in our walking breaks, but still putting in some good running. During one of our walks, a woman and her daughter at the side of the road read our names and told us to start running and that we should be doing better! I don’t know about anyone else, but when you’ve been running only 12 weeks and are in your 2nd 10k race in two weeks, in the last 3k, having a walking break, hearing ‘You should be running’ is in no way a motivational tool. Still, we should’ve been running so we ran.

Reaching the 9km point, a woman asked Nigel if she could have a piggy back to the end.

“I might collapse!” He said, then realised what he had said, and followed it up with “Not that you’re heavy or anything. Because you aren’t. But… Er… I’ll stop now.” She didn’t look happy, so we tried to motivate her to run up the hill. We also tried to motivate ourselves to run up the hill.

Aly Dixon on Twitter wasn’t wrong about the hill finish, which she said ‘killed her’. This from someone who ran the Middlesborough 10k at the same time as we were doing this,  finished in 33.32, came 1st in females and set a new course record!)

We didn’t sprint to the end, but we did speed up and over took a few people. Both finished in a time of 01:06:52. PB for Nigel and my second best 10k! (Out of….three. So second worst too… No! Second best!)

Myself and Nigel, matching tops. Me: Happy. Nigel: Ballerina.

Met up with Ironman Tony and Joe at the finish. Joe ran the 10k in a PB of 00:51:37, which was brilliant. Even better though (I thought) was how he finished. Near the end, he felt sick (due to drinking too much water) and so threw up a bit into Sheffield’s City Centre flower display without breaking stride. Passing the finish line, he then threw up properly near the official photographers and the supporters that had pushed to the front. Paramedics ran towards him and gave him a bag to be sick into, and then one of them asked if he was OK and where his Dad was. Joe looked at him and said “Mate, I’m 25. I’ll be fine!” Brilliant.

Myself, Joe and Nigel.

So now less than two weeks til the Great North Run, and I’m feeling better about it. Still need a bit of sponsorship though, so if you feel like helping (even a pound will help!) it’s This Link Here

Thanks!

EDIT:

Oh my God, how did I forget to include this?! About 3/4 of the way round the 10k, we kept getting over taken by a Chinese man, who seemed like he just wanted to have a conversation with another Chinese man and so decided to join in the run about halfway. I know he wasn’t a proper runner because he was running holding his backpack. And wearing a shirt. Tucked into trousers. And shoes. He was very sweaty.