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I’m a road runner baby

The trail or the road?  The path less travelled or the route much trammelled?  You don’t have to choose, you don’t have to be exclusive, you can play the field, but ultimately you will have a type.  I nailed my colours firmly to the mast recently when I wrote of a local trail race:  

“…In the great running dichotomy between hard grey tarmacadam or wet, brown mud, I lean decidedly towards the hard stuff.  Actually I more than lean, I lie firmly down upon it.  I am a road runner (baby). Cut me and I bleed blacktop.  Running for me is about the rhythm, the even pace, the zoning out and tuning in; the eyes on the horizon.  Whereas it seems to me that off-road is a never ending, series of millisecond micro-decisions weighing up every single step, eyes fixed permanently on the ground.  It’s stop start, up down, over stiles and under branches (6ft 2 is not a good height for trail runners). It’s an opportunity for the fleet-footed and nimble, the graceful and agile to remind me how heavy, clumsy and lumpen I am.  And okay, there’s all that pretty countryside to run through, but I never see the views, because there’s no opportunity to look up because every step is a potential death trap, what with rocks and roots and holes all vying for your attention and tempting your toes to tripping.  In a nutshell, it’s stressful, not relaxing and I want my running to reduce my stress not add to it.” (The full review can be read here).

A man’s got to know his limitations. Running on the road can liberate me from those limitations, those demons that plague me, that I can recite at the least provocation.  Running on the road gives me space to breathe, space to think and space to float away from life’s gravity for a moment.  But off road running fails me in this regard and never ceases to remind me of my weight, height and all round disagility (which I know is not a word, but it is what I am, dis-agile).  Some trails I like a lot (many of them in the Scottish Highlands), but I like them for training, not racing. Maybe that’s the real distinction here; it’s not about running, it’s about racing. I like to train the trails, even tame the trails, but I like to race the roads.

“Roadrunner, roadrunner, going faster miles an hour..”

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The Charge of the Dewsbury 10

One long league out
One long league back
Into the winter sun
Ran the ten hundred (and sixty three)

Runners to the right of them
Runners to the left of them
Runners in front of them
Race in the chill wind
Smile in blue skies surprise

Into the blinding sun
Runners to the right of them
Runners to the left of them
Runners behind them
Under the bridge and home
As Shoddy and Mungo
Herald the returning horde

Boldly they ran and well
Relish the race they ran
Relish the Dewsbury 10
Nimble ten hundred (and sixty three)

©lct 02/02/14

Photos here


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Bloodbuzz Ohio

Not Ohio actually.  Nowhere near.  Not even the same continent.  No it was Spofforth, Yorkshire, England, Europe.  And it wasn’t even bees, it was hornets.

Bees conjure up images of Pooh Bear and honey, warm woody words like bumble and pollen, or concern about their disappearance in the Medusa Cascade.  Not so hornets. Descriptions of them more often than not revolve around adjectival terror like predatory, vicious, nasty. Hornets are Daleks and bees are Ewoks.  Pooh Bear never met them in the 100 Acre Wood.

Well somewhere in the two and a half acre field I met them.  Somewhere between 5 and 6 kilometres on the Spofforth Gala Trail Race.  They came at me.  Surrounded me. Beat me up and then moved onto the next runner.  Suffice to say, we didn’t become friends. Bear with a sore head doesn’t even begin to describe it.

And it confirms my preference for roads over trails.  I’d more happily battle tarmac and bad-tempered BMW drivers than a drove of vespa crabro taking out their pent up aggression upon hapless and mostly harmless Bank Holiday runners.

It’s pretty unlikely that I will ever be “carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees” (and certainly not accompanied by Matt Berninger’s heartfelt croonery), but having been chased to Spofforth in a school of hornets, I can report it would not necessarily be my transport means of choice.  

 


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Beat The Clock

Race number? Check.  Safety pins? Check.  Shirt, shorts, shoes? Check.  Gels, jelly babies, jelly-legged jalopy? Check.  

Oh it’s all coming together like a Flaming Pie’d Beatle with a yen for Japan.  Or a Byrne’d out talking head on a road to nowhere.  Or a zimmer man with any number of roads he’s impelled to walk down.  Talking of which, I’m on the low road and she’s on the high road, and many will be in Scotland before wee me.  I start in London, she starts with a Regent, but we both end at Muscle Beach…or something like that.

I’m talking Edinburgh Marathon Blues. Numbers, pins and energy tablets arrived today, so barring limb loss we will be on our way in ten days to the Scottish capital to run 26.2 miles for no other cause than the mere fact we can. Which is enough. I think.

The long runs are behind us, the long run before us. We’re tapering hard (if that’s possible, because frankly tapering is easy, running less has never been a problem for me). Targets have been set, plans and splits discussed, fuel strategies practised.  I’m as prepared as a boy scout with a Prince 2 badge.  So like a moustachioed Mael and his kid brother all I have to do is beat the clock (you gotta beat the clock, you gotta beat the clock).

What can possibly go wrong?


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Tardy or what?

I blame the Easter bunny, that malevolent six foot rabbit with a chocolate fetish, sort of Donnie Darko meets Willy Wonka. Or perhaps it’s all the plodded miles.  Or the return of Dr Who.  Oh, I don’t know, it’s all excuses for not having posted for a while.

Marathon training continues, not quite apace, but definitely at a pace, more tortoise less hare, more Eeyore less Tigger,  more Long and Winding Road less Jet.  The training group has dwindled as others have had their day on the finish line (Paris has gone, London is imminent) or the finish line is fast approaching (Mancunians are tapering).  Meanwhile Edinburgh is still five weeks away.  That’s 2, maybe 3, long runs away.  About another 200 training miles to go, which coincidentally is the distance from here to there.  So I could set off now. Maybe not.

It’s all gone to plan, which if my past marathon experience is anything to go by, means not a thing.  My poorest training programme (longest run 17 miles, 6 weeks before the event) is my second best time.  My best programme (over 600 injury free miles) is my personal worst.   What will be, will be.

I hope to be better than tardy on the day, but at my age and with my reputation, I’ll settle for finishing.


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Martin & Lynn, that’s who!  We run and we run racebest.  We post here about running, not running, training, not training, and some (but not all) points in-between.  To stay up-to-date you can subscribe, email, and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, cake always helps!


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Coming out of hybernation

I know, I know, you should never talk about yourself in the third person, but The Bear is back!  Actually, I never went away.  I’ve been very, very busy in The Less Than Hundred Acre Woods, building a lifeboat.  Hmm, you’ve seen the flaw there straight away, I’ll wager.  What use is a lifeboat in the Woods?  Bad metaphor.  Maybe it’s more accurate to say I’ve been building a new den. Lifeboat, den, escape pod, call it what you will, but I’ve been building it.  That’s not really true either.  Me and Mrs Bear have been building it.  That’s being economical with the truth still.  Me, Mrs Bear and some more agile species than us have been plotting and building.  And the fruits (these metaphors are becoming very mixed) of our labour will be revealed soon.  And then I’ll stop talking in cryptic, third person code. Or perhaps he won’t…