Travelling and learning to pass the time

In preparing to settle down and write this post, I thought I’d look up how long it is since the last time I posted. I was surprised to learn it was only just over two weeks ago, which means the Poppy Half was only three weeks ago tomorrow.

The Poppy run feels like ages ago now so much so that I’ve been able to get a week into my next training programme building towards next year’s Fleet Half Marathon.

After the Poppy, I felt a bit sore from my back in the days afterwards so aside from a single run up to basketball the following Tuesday, it was about ten days before I ran again. I do feel I really benefitted from the rest though.

One thing I have been doing a lot of in the intervening time is traveling, obviously back from Eastbourne but I’ve had a couple of journeys between Reading and Jersey as well. I’ve changed how I travel a fair bit. I enjoy the experience of flying with BA and the lounge and all that, but sadly BA just aren’t very punctual flying into London which means a very late train journey and arriving into Reading around midnight.

So going forward generally I expect to be going via Southampton and when all goes well (which it has every time I’ve done this so far) I get into Reading not long after 8. Not a hard decision really.

The other change about my travelling is my choice of entertainment. I’ve tried magazines in the past but find them actually to be fairly inconvenient on cramped planes and trains and it’s meant I’ve got two copies of Runner’s World which have been backwards and forwards to Reading several times in the past couple of months.

I’ve tried watching recorded TV and find it a difficult thing to relax with. One of the first things I watched was Jack Whitehall’s Travels With My Father and I enjoyed the show but felt a bit “special” when laughing out loud at it so it’s just less relaxing so that didn’t last either.

One day a few weeks ago I stumbled across a motor racing podcast, focusing on sportscar racing and really enjoyed it and it’s a thing that’s grown on me and expanded. So I’ve now got a little selection of these, on various topics and rather than blathering on about my new training schedule for the next 18 weeks, I thought I’d share what podcasts are interesting me at the moment.

  • The Week In Sportscars – an engaging show for sportscar racing fans largely based around listener Q&A
  • Midweek Motorsport – a bit more journalistic and news based but also with a fairly silly tone at times which is obviously a good thing.
  • No Such Thing As A Fish – presented by the QI Elves, and in fact featuring Stephen Fry himself last week, this is odd-fact based silliness and discussion
  • The Week In Indycar – similar to the Sportscar version above with the same lead presenter, Marshall Pruett, but with less banter and more guests, not necessarily making it better
  • Running Commentary – two comedians recording a podcast during a training run as they prepare for the London Marathon (at the moment anyway as they’ve been doing this a while now).
  • Lineker & Baker: Behind Closed Doors – not sure about this one. Plainly focused on football and Gary and Danny are always good for some honest opinions. They think the ongoing Nations Cup is nonsense so that’s a positive for this.
  • The Adam Buxton Podcast – I really enjoy most things AB does and I enjoyed this listen but it was a special I think based around a largely serious interview with a guy that had been kidnapped by pirates. Going to stick with it for now though.
  • Track Side with Kevin Lee and Curt Cavin – another Indycar focused talk show, but this time actually an internet radio show. As a result it fluctuates between slick and irritating, and is a bit snotty about non-US racing. Again, going to stick with it.

So that’s what I’m listening to at the moment. I’ll post more about running another time, but if it doesn’t come before Tuesday, wish me luck for a fun run/race on Tuesday up and down a familiar location, being the airport runway. Should be fun.

Poppy Half Marathon 2018

Looking back a few days after the Poppy Half Marathon it is easy to see both the positives and the negatives.

Yes I ran what is now my 19th half marathon. Yes I completed the half marathon distance in what were absolutely horrible conditions. Yes I’ve done something that frankly a relatively small percentage of the population do.

It just wasn’t as well as I could do it. I did my best on the day but it just wasn’t to be. The conditions were just too tough for the level of training and conditioning I had got myself into.

The trip down from Reading to firstly Eastbourne was slow but enjoyable. We spent a bit more time discovering Eastbourne than we had in the previous two years we’d been there and enjoyed it. The only downside was the wet weather we encountered on Saturday. Well, that and possibly the restaurant we chose on Saturday evening being full.

More importantly though, let’s talk about the race itself.

The routine for the morning was very similar to when we ran the same event in 2015. And like the 2015 event the weather did not look great. All week it had been windy and on the day it looked like it would be wet as well. However, the rain did seem to hold off for the vast majority of the event.

The wind however was another matter entirely. The course of the half marathon was one running east and west along the Bexhill-on-Sea seafront. The wind was blowing easterly, except of course when we were running with the wind when some of the course was sheltered so we really couldn’t benefit from it to the same extent.

This year I decided to try and run with the pacer groups. At start line I found the 2:05 pacer and tried to take up a position further forward on the start line from him, with the aim of finding the 2 hour pacer. After the normal 2 minutes silence, the race got underway however it started really really slowly with a lot of congestion around the start line.

But when we joined the promenade, space seemed to open up quite quickly and therefore it wasn’t long before I was able to run my own pace. For the first 4 kilometres or so I decided to run with a group. They seemed to be 5 or 6 people from one running club and they didn’t seem to mind me joining them.

The first 2 laps of the course were 8 kilometres each, and towards the end of the first lap I found I was unable to keep up with that group any longer. At this time, I had still not seen the 2 hour pacer and only later discovered he was 2 or 3 minutes up the road.

I’ve talked about it previously where pacers seem nowhere near the pace that they are meant to run. It just annoys me. If you were meant to be running a particular pace then run it. If it’s a really meaningful time like 2 hours then by all means run under that by a fraction but these pacers seemed significantly off.

A bit later in the event I joined the 2:05 pacer. For whatever, reason nobody else was with him at the time but from chatting to him I discovered he was actually planning to run 2:02 or 2:03. He was doing his best but I just don’t understand it if you’re meant to be running 2:05 then run 2:05.

I spent a few minutes with the 2:05 pacer and realised that his pace wasn’t for me either and I dropped back further. There wasn’t a 2 hour 10 pacer so after I let go of the 2:05 man I just went at my own pace and enjoyed myself.

It was a tough event and the wind was horrible. I didn’t enjoy that element of it at all. During the last kilometre or so I found some speed and overtook a few people but still I came in at a little over 2 hours 12 minutes. Not something I’m happy with but it was the best I had on the day.

So now our minds turn to the next challenge already. We will be running a 10k event in Chichester / Goodwood in February next year which is now only 12 weeks away. I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then but I’m confident I can do it.

Some days are good, some days are bad

The above is a pretty good analysis of where my running is at the moment. In 3 days time I will have completed another half marathon, my twentieth as I recall.

For whatever reason it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. Rather than feeling on the cusp of another excellent achievement I feel like I am on the cusp of a disappointment.

That may be unfair, but it just doesn’t feel like it. Over the past few months it just feels like my running has just plateaued. At best.

I have enjoyed taking part in Prospect parkruns over the last couple of months. They have been hard runs, particularly with the wet boggy section on each lap, but they have been quite good fun too.

However, it is quite hard to translate the effort from those wet boggy runs to a tarmac half marathon like that I will be undertaking on Saturday. On Monday I undertook an old-fashioned Fartlek run, during which I enjoyed my running but I don’t feel it was particularly exciting either.

At the end of the day, I just don’t know. Last year, I went into a half marathon in Reading with very few miles of training behind me however up until about 12 miles in that run I did well and I don’t think that the lack of distance was actually that significant.

On Saturday, I plan to run with a 2-hour pacer group and hopefully I can hang with that group with the end result being well under 2 hours. I can’t promise whether it will work out that way because at the moment I just don’t know. I am going to try though and that’s all I can ask right now.

Speak to me here on Monday and I very well may come out with a different answer.