This week’s running – 2nd to 8th of November 2015

Gale force wind

OK, a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea…

A little less mileage and a little less intensity this week.

5k from work

On Monday, running home from the office was a little more problematic than usual due to the fog. With the headtorch on, I was able to see maybe 5 – 10m directly ahead before the fog particles began reflecting light back at me; in the end, I aimed the light upwards where the fog actually acted as one big softbox to give a nice wide spread.

Pace-wise, I kept things incredibly easy with my limited vision in mind. I’m not one of these folks that believes everybody’s out to get me on dark and foggy nights, but I can’t deny that my heart was beating a little faster than normal given the spooky surroundings.

Incredibly, I did see one runner braving the unlit and unpaved section of towpath on the other side that’s now particularly hazardous with plenty of fallen leaves to obscure the path even further.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Hagley Road 10k

Another easy paced run, though navigating Hagley Road was anything but easy!

I’ve come to the conclusion that motorists just don’t see things that aren’t car sized or larger, given how frequently I was cut up on this run by vehicles (mostly taxis) leaving or entering various driveways along Hagley Road. And it’s not even down to what I wear anymore (high vis colours, additional reflective strips, headtorch and rear red light) because I’m cut up just as often in the summer with perfect visibility.

I think I’m just going to call the canal my home all year long!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

5k from work

Yet another easy plod from the office to keep the body ticking over during the lighter week of training.

Once again, another cyclist without lights decided to tell me my headtorch was “too bright, mate”. One, I’m not your “mate”. Two, don’t look directly into the beam. And three, if you decided to be sensible and actually had your own lighting, your eyes wouldn’t be going straight from the dark and then not adjusting in time to the light.

The rant about cyclists continues, where Ed Barlow shared that he had to fish a cyclist out of the canal. The cyclist failed to alert another runner when attempting to overtake, ploughing straight into the runner before the cyclist went head first into the canal.

The canal towpath is shared by all of us. Let’s be sensible and not be dicks whilst we’re on there.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Canal 10k

Thursday was wet, cold and windy, which meant the canal was quiet – hooray!

Not so good was I seemed to lose all my mojo – boo!

Since September, my Thursday mid-week long-ish runs have all felt pretty tremendous, so it was only a matter of time before I knew I would come a cropper with one. I’ve said before that running in the dark, even with lighting, disrupts the way I perceive effort; throw in some rain to further obscure my vision, along with some headwind to contend with, and even 8:20 minute miles felt tough.

The original intention behind this was to cover 8 miles but given how arduous the task was, I chopped it down to 10k before calling it a night.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Perry Hall Parkrun

I fancied a change of scenery and with heavy rain and wind forecasted for Saturday morning, I set my sights on a visit to Perry Hall Parkrun just to make things as tough as possible!

Reaching the park, rain was being blown sideways by the gale-force wind – there’s most definitely a positive correlation between me running at Perry Hall and less than ideal weather conditions… I completed an entire 1.5 mile lap of the route as my warm-up, along with a short sprint at sub-20 pace; I knew I was in for a torrid time when I was almost stopped entirely in my tracks by the raging headwind.

I caught up with former Cannon Hill regular, Andy Wadsworth, not having seen him since sometime in May; a few other faces also looked familiar from Parkruns past, in and amongst the crowd. In all, I estimated there were roughly 50 to 60 people in attendance for a stark contrast to Cannon Hill’s 500+ regular field. I spotted a few younger Birchfield Harrier runners that looked capable of swift times, and would stop the sharper end of the field being so strung out.

Once given the command to start, the next generation of Birchfield Harriers all took off as anticipated. I took chase along with the lead girl, with both of us at the upper end of the top 10. After only a km, all but one of the Birchfield Harriers drifted behind us having burnt themselves out so quickly in the challenging conditions.

The lead girl and I battled it out for fourth and fifth place; her strength was evident on the flat gravel and tarmac sections of the course whilst I, surprisingly, made the biggest counterattacks on the grass where she lost a lot of speed. I was wearing trail shoes whereas she wore racing flats, which went some way to explain our respective biases.

We entered the second lap and she managed to creep away, utilising the longer stretches of gravel and tarmac to her advantage, and leaving me with too much distance to recover on the shorter grass section. I estimated her lead to have been in the region of 20 seconds at its largest.

With just a km left to cover, I could hear somebody on my tail; an older gent confidently strode past me as we moved towards the most elevated portion of the course. I managed to keep the distance between us steady for a minute or so, allowing me to reach the conclusion that he would have put in a bigger surge to break clear of me if he could. With 500m or so remaining, I ramped up the pace as we inconveniently began to turn towards the headwind. He responded initially, but decided to let me go as I hurtled down the short but slippery descent at sub-20 pace. As I turned for the penultimate corner, a cheeky glance to my left confirmed I had only a few seconds’ lead on him – not enough to become complacent until I was over the line.

I was able to maintain my fifth place position all the way to the end for a 20:44 finish. Worryingly, my sole three finish times at Perry Hall have all subsequently gotten slower on each occasion for a trend I hope does not continue. I’ll have to try another time to go sub-20 on the course!

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

10 canal miles

Lis and I went out for a meal with my brother to celebrate his 30th birthday, and were introduced to his girlfriend’s brother and father; with 5k PBs of 15:20 and 15:50 respectively, I did the mental arithmetic and worked out they’d both have crossed the finish line by the time I’d reach 4k!

Due to the late finish the previous night, a 10 mile run on Sunday morning was not at the top of my agenda; somebody persuasive could have very easily convinced me to sack the run off, that’s how weak-willed I was! Guilt is a powerful motivator and being free of it was enough to convince me to head out there in spite of the weariness.

There was some hangover from the previous day’s windy conditions; thankfully it was more of a cross-wind that I was largely sheltered from whilst on the canal towpaths. Once past Gas Street Basin, I could see two runners up ahead. I caught up to the one closest to me in a matter of only a minute or two, but the one furthest away proved more elusive and took a mile or so to reel in. Once I reached her, it was none other than Alex from Cannon Hill Parkrun! I very rarely train with others, but it made for a really nice novelty to complete a long run with her; the time really flew by whilst we both put the world to rights on hard hitting topics such as marathon training.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Time for this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

A cap with a bill can be your best friend

From a running-gear-and-apparel perspective, it’s hard to imagine a smarter or more versatile investment than a billed cap. Whether it’s cotton or synthetic or whatever, a billed cap can keep the sun off your face, or snow or driving rain out of your eyes. Wake up late for a group run (or, heck, a dentist appointment), and it can disguise bed head. More than once, I’ve stashed energy gels under my hat, during races and long runs. Works like a charm.

If you happen to be an urban runner, you can even use a cap to flag down a taxi.

Buy several, preferably with the Runner’s World logo.

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