Friday, 30 August 2013

Round 1 - Hexham 800m

Last night was round one in the super vet medley-mash-up combining track racing, road racing and fell running. Round one was last night's 800m at the track in Hexham, the other events being the Teesside 10k next week and Simonside Fell Race later in September. My calves don't know what the hell's going on. If you don't tell them, then I won't either. When I last checked, the last 800m I ran was in 2007 when I delivered an anonymous 2min:20secs. This time around I was in the C race, and got round the two lapper in surprise, surprise.. 2:20secs.  Given that it was as fast as I could manage, I should be quite happy really.  Finished mid-table.
Anyway, good news on next weeks Teesside extravaganza....the cyclo-cross that potentially clashed with the 10k is only 5 miles away, so might be able to do both.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


I've got my work cut out for me in the next fortnight.
During a trip down town I made a trip to the bank and then moseyed around, shuffling aimlessly from shop window to shop window; Its cheaper that way. Occasionally I catch my reflection in the window and smile back.....Sometimes I wave.

My shopping partner.... Margaret; lets call her 'M' for now... decided to pick up a few things in the bakers and when we met up, her arms were full of paper bags.
'I got you a Cornish pasty' she said.
I thanked her for this, taking it from her and, as we sauntered back to the car in the late afternoon sunshine, I began to sample the contents of this tasty parcel of pastry. I remember seeing a green pea in the brown mix, but not much else I could recognise. Before I knew it, it was gone.

The sun was still out when we got back home.
Aunt Aggie was outside in the garden already, being busy with something.
I said hello and sat on the warm slabs that make up our wee patio in front of my new arrivals, some lush fern plants in pots that I was given. 
As I dozed, I imagined I heard the kettle go on and before I knew it,  I was presented with a mug of tea and an iced cream finger (cake, in other words). You won't find this in any of your fancy training manuals, I can tell you.

The accumulated combined carbohydrate and sugar rush must have taken effect rapidly and before it was five to five and you had time to shout 'crackerjack', I had found the laptop and entered the Tynedale Harriers 800m on Thursday night. The last time I did one of these in earnest was maybe 5 years ago.  The way I look at it, it's a 400m race, but double the length and double the lactic, but not necessarily double the speed.

As if this wasn't enough, I found I had also signed up on-line for the TeesPride 10k on the 8th. It's in Teesside strangely enough. That's why its called the TeesPride. The local cyclo-cross league starts that day and I was intending to make a go of it this year, but the 'British Bakeoff' effect clearly has put these early season plans in doubt.  This is the second clash I've come across. The Simonside Fell Race is on later in September on the same weekend as the Dumfries Half. What to do? 

As the sugar levels dissipated, my sugar goggles began to fall away and I began to feel anxious. I couldn't stop myself confessing and spilled the beans to Aunt Aggie as she sat reading to one of the new Ferns in the back, speaking in prosaic, hushed and loving tones to it while listening to Franz Ferdinand in her over-sized Sennheisers.  When I'd finished telling her of my impetuosity, she just gave me a quizzical look, shrugged but continued with her reading.  Anyway, I presume the volume was too high and she didn't hear a word I said.
I think she was reading Coleridge. His reported forays into the psychedelic seems to have piqued her interest.  Despite her periodic wavering in support of the Indie rockers, she has been a stalwart of the garden, so I came away with no help from the worlds oldest proponent of evaporated milk with everything.  

So not much time to prepare for this poorly conceived onslaught of racing.

Refusing to be put off, I made an early start, tagging on two laps of the local track at the end of my 5 mile run with Mick in the early evening. Let's call him 'M' also. My illusions of getting near to sixty seconds for 400m looked well adrift and unconvincing as I struggled to crack seventy seconds for both laps. However, the Achilles stayed intact so there was some good news. 
Will Ally manage to better his PB on Thursday?.....Will he get a good lane draw and will Aunt Aggie  remember to pre-order the new FF album and what did Kubla Khan decree in his pleasure dome? Only time will tell......

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Inertia on the achilles front

Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its motion.  Its a fundamental principle of physics, apparently.  Our young physics teacher, Mr Burnett, made a brave, but doomed effort to convey this conceptual gobbledygook to me all those years ago. My grey matter was having its own little inertia soiree around that time, swanning around a cerebral drawing room in a paisley patterned smoking jacket, fat cigar in hand, having hung signs over both my eyes and ears saying ' out to lunch'.  

Boredom is one manifestation of inertia. Apathy another. Much as I'd like to expand in detail about this phenomenon, cleverly dovetailing physics principles with running philosophy, I cant be a*sed. That's a good example. So, to cut to the quick, I will summarise Ally's first law of inertia thus:
The inertia acting on a body or mass is proportional to the amount of anticipated spend at the shops.
As always there is an exception to the rule. 
The first law of inertia is void where expenditure is on bike or running stuff'.

I put in some decent but not exceptional mileage last week. The recurring injury, inflammation of my achilles tendons is my achilles heal. They respond better to cycling than running, but best respond to inertia.

I've sat them down and threatened torture....stretching them on the stretching table, using 'the wheel' or even hanging them over the kerb of a busy road, but they refuse to submit. I've stopped short of the bringing in the inquisition as no one expects them. The surprise might be too great. Yesterday was the first day they (the achilles) have reverted to their previous occupations as bit part players in my sporting life. I've told them often enough how very important they are to the cause, but they're not big talkers. With a seed of hope taking root, I was able to push on a bit in last nights 9 mile road session.  If they behave themselves we might get some progress and a race or two might be in order. I can't stand the anticipation.   

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Angel Sportive 2013

We were eating up the road as I sat behind man mountain. I introduced myself as I came up beside him and he said he was Rob. Rob from York. Having set off at the crack of nearly dawn in the Wiggle Angel Sportive, we were making up a bit of a dream team.  This substantial framed athlete in front of me was taking most of the wind, most of the time. He ate up the little and big groups we caught and duly spat them out. I took a breath at 12 miles and peered at my garmin. It announced 19.2 mph. Keeping this up was going to be a tall order.
There was a light shower just before the start of this 80 mile cycling sportive (other distances are available) and, after a moment of mild brain activity, I changed from the short sleeved top to my tracksuit. God knows why. Did I really think I was going to be cold or it was going to be that showery?
As we turned north from Scots Gap I was simmering nicely. I was certainly making inroads into my Robinsons mango flavoured squash.
It seemed like the pace was also taking its toll on Rob from York and he slowed slightly as the inclines became more regular and challenging.  Given my slight frame and knowing the terrain, I moved on into the side wind and made good progress to Rothbury.
I was beginning to wonder where the drink station was when I saw the banner and flag on the left in what looked like an old church yard in Thropton.   I filled up, took on some flapjack and saddled up. The road splits about 2 miles on and it looked like most of the field present were completing the longer 94 mile route. This left me on my own with no one in sight and no one to chase up Bilsmoor, one of the biggest climbs on the day. As it was, I ploughed on and enjoyed the little event signs along the road which implored 'don't give up now' and  'nearly there'...I thought in my sportive, I would have signs that said 'come on, pedal harder you loser' and ' this is what too much flap jack does for you'! Not PC, I'm sure.
As I came into the sleepy hollow of Elsdon, the route joins up with the shorter route (65 miles) and at last there were suddenly more riders on the road ahead. 
The pull out of Otterburn and up toward Bellingham was predictably tough but had to be done. Thankfully, with a blustery headwind I was feeling a little cooler. It was a relief to turn east at Donkleyhead, where a very respectable tailwind was waiting for us. However, I began to cook again under my stylish SC Gothic top. I took on another bottle of water at the drinks station in Bellingham and was pleased to make good progress up the climb out of the valley and then up to Redesdale.
With 15 miles to go, there was a reasonable chance that I could crack 17mph for the overall ride, and it was simply a case of grafting to the finish on my local roads. Pleased to finish in 4:43 for 81 miles. All I could think about was a cool pint of lager tops but settled for my free cup of coffee. Enjoyed the challenge. Could have been quicker if I'd found a group to work with.
Three cereal bars, 2 slices of flapjack and 3 litres of drink. Wonder how Rob from York got on....?