The apples fell quite close

Last Sunday we went on a 2Km run.

When I say we, I mean my two eldest boys and myself, aka #1 and #2. It was part of the Cardiff 10k run, and my eldest son has been talking about doing it, ever since I’ve done the Cardiff 10k and he saw kids participate in the 2km run.

And when I say 2km I really mean 1.4k. Unfortunately they’ve shortened the course to 1.4km due to some constraints.

It has not made much difference, though. The atmosphere was great, as always in such events. And this being a family event, made it even better. My eldest was actually training for this. Running around the square in front of our house in the past weeks.

But somehow, I am still not sure why, #2 said he’d run with us just the night before.

So, there I was on the starting line, with 9 and 7 year old boys. Going for a run.

10 minutes later it was over. ‘Pipsqueek’ to quote #1.

And this what makes me wonder…. “pipsqueek”? Is this a sign that he has better genes than I? Is this a sign I have been living far too long in the UK, as “pipsqueek” actually made sense to me?

This run also gave me another opportunity to evaluate how my kids run, style wise of course. And I am glad to report that #2’s running style has remained as erratic as before. One might argue that it is even more.

As we set off his arms and legs were going in all directions. At one point I was afraid he’s going to knock another child out. As he got a bit more tired he became a bit more streamlined, but just a bit. And during the sprint to the line, a matter of about 200m, he managed to kick himself in the backside quite a few times.

I remember myself and my brother running at the age of 7. It was always very efficient. Slow, but efficient. And #1 is just like that. But #2… he is out of this world. He changes direction for no good reason. Just suddenly goes sideways. I reckon he added at least two or maybe even three miles to the distance of the run.

I was a homing pigeon in my previous life

So I’ve volunteered to join my colleagues for a charity run. It wasn’t the first time. 10 legs, with a total of 56 miles from Bristol in the direction of Basingstoke. Taking in the best of what Wiltshire has to offer. This is a charity run our client organizes, and had teams from their company, and a single team from ours.

Due to the day of run falling on the Jewish new-year’s eve, I’ve said that I’d run and head straight home. There’s cooking to finish, and kids to wash.

Three of us, the “fit” ones put our bodies on the line to do a double leg. Making it 10miles rather than 5. After all, all three of us – Albino Rob, 8 minute Bruce and myself are seasoned half marathon runners. Bruce being a full marathon-man.

Rob replenishing

Cardiff half marathon is drawing closer, so obviously we are all fit as a fiddle?!

Usually I run a good 15-20 miles a week. Only the summer heat drained me and I’ve resorted to a ‘what could possibly go wrong’ attitude. To make things better, I contracted a serious case of man-flu just the night before the race.

What could possibly go wrong?

I woke up, on time at 5:30 am. Oh, the great humanity! The second clue came when everyone started asking how I feel given the fact that both my legs are the hardest ones. Seriously more. Denial worked for me. I was surprised, as I clearly remember that we’ve agreed to stitch Rob (again) with the massive hills. I guess it backfired.

Rob went first, at 8:00 before dawn. Tackling the Bristol rush hour and hitting the Wiltshire country side at good pace. I was second to go.

Ready to start

Ready to start

My running started quite deceptively – on a flat section. I think it was at least 50 feet long. then things started to go wrong. The next three miles were a moderate up hill. Three miles where I spent most of the time trying not to run cars over. At the top of the hill I was feeling thirsty, tired and hot. Shall I say what BBC weather promised? I’ll just say they were wrong.

Surprisingly, the support team handing out drinks in silly plastic cups that spill on the road rather than into your mouth, said that I look fresh. Well, I bet I know what he had for breakfast.

The next 7 miles served me with two massive steep hills, with the easier one being only 16%. Walking up was faster.

As I tackled the last hill, I sprinted up it. Or as others might call it – I walked.

Here a twist is added to the plot. The whole route was sign-posted. With a person removing the signs after the last runner.

After the hill I realised I have not seen a single sign in over a mile. I pushed, slowly, on. Another half mile gone without a sign. Here I called the guys and said I thought I was lost. What a mistake! I am still getting stick at work for thinking I am lost on a straight. Apparently the sign-guy removed all the ‘straight-on’ signs as he saw me ‘sprint’ up the hill.

At the end, I finished at a very slow time of 1:56. Yes, a 10 miler slower than almost all my half marathons.

So, time to go home? Na. My friends had me shuttle them for the next 2 hours between start/end of legs.

So, time to go home? Kind-of. I’ve left the guys who we waiting deep in Wiltshire.

An hour later, as I was nearing Bristol and the M5, getting the smell of the Severn estuary I got a call. One of the guys put his bag and car keys in my car. I had to go back. Without a GPS or a clear memory of the name of the place.

Luckily I was a homing pigeon in my previous life.

So, time to go home? Yes!!! Four thirty I was home. Just the time we were supposed to leave the house.

So how is the new year so far? Stiff, mostly around my legs.

Arriving at the finish

Arriving, looking deceptively fresh

Running like a child

I remember an episode of Friends where Rachel and Phoebe go running. Phoebe claims it won’t be fun to run as Rachel runs like an adult. Finally they storm through the park running like kids do – arms and legs all over the place.

I was walking behind my two eldest boys. Sometimes also referred to as number 1 and number 2. They went running. The eldest was running with everything quite in-line. Arms and legs moving back and forth in a most professional manner. But the way he used his legs suggested he was a kid. Which he is, so he is perfectly entitled to run this way.

Number 2 on the other ran like a true kid. Phoebe would be extremely proud. Arms and legs all over the place. For a 4 foot boy he managed to take about 8 feet of pavement when he ran.

Then there’s number 3. He’s two now and been walking since 10 months old. So it is quite safe to claim he’s been running for most of his life. Kids at this age have a very unique running style. It suggest they are most up-to-date with recent running technique. They run on their toes.

I’ve been talking to a friend how is a very gifted runner. I’ll just say he does a sub 70 minute half marathon as an amateur. He’s switched to running on his toes and he now swears by it. I tried it a couple of times and I have to admit it feels strange. Looking at all the videos and all the information out there does make it seem logical. Looking at my son running strengthens this feeling. But I’ve been running the way I am running for almost four decades now. Should I change my running style?

I have to admit that I am too fat. Well, not as fat as you imagine. But much heavier than I appear. ‘Heavy boned’ people call it.  When I tried to run on my toes it felt as though I am even fatter. The pressure on the toes was immense.

So considering all I can – how much faster would I run and is it worth the effort and pain, I can only come to one conclusion – definitely maybe.

Cyclist guide – how to cyclerun

I am bad at running. Even worse than cycling, I’ll have you know. Not as bad as swimming probably.

But unfortunately I like doing those things I am bad at. Maybe it is the pain and suffering I enjoy. Mother nature gave me the wrong genes. I suffer from a blood disorder which means I have tiny lazy little red cells. So lazy that they won’t do the most basic thing – carry oxygen to my aching muscles, but they’d happily sip a nice cocktail in the sun. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

But, since I’ve been cycling for so many years I have some basic endurance. The body is an amazing machine. And even I can produce pedal strokes that for the untrained eye would appear fast. My body has learned how to turn the pedals around 90 or even 100 times in a minute. I can be quite efficient doing that.

Ok, so far that is the Prolog. Now to the subject matter.

One-pace Bruce started running with us lately. Now that Albino has left the company it is just down to one-pace Bruce and myself to keep the tradition of lunch-time runs. Basically, Bruce has everything going for him, apart for a full set of hair on his head. He is 10 feet tall and weighs less that I do. So every step he makes he covers 10 times my distance. At least! Without exerting any additional energy. Plus, because he is tall he can get the clean air, with unused oxygen. Whereas I need to settle for used air with discarded oxygen.

The weather on the day in question was typical Welsh day – drizzle with cold wind. In other words – lovely. I was very very tired. At lunch-time one-pace Bruce asked me if I’m coming. I said I’ll skip it. Tired, hungry and in no mood. So Bruce did the unthinkable – he said no problem he’ll go alone. I couldn’t take such a blunt insult and immediately changed my mind. I’d come. But only if he runs slowly. And so the deal both of us knew one-pace Bruce couldn’t keep was struck.

Well, I guess by now you’ve realised that one-pace Bruce is named so for a reason. Just under 8min/mile is his pace. If he sprints – it is 8 min/mile. If he just plods along it is 8 min/mile. And he can do it for long distances. Half marathon even. And I bet he’ll carry most of it through the London Marathon this April. To make him change pace you have to physically cripple him. I think.

So here I stood all dressed up for a run, feeling dead and empty inside. My legs filled with lead. 8min/mile is a sprint for me. I can keep it for four miles. On a good day. With back wind. And probably someone elses legs/heart/lungs.

Off we go

Since my legs were heavy I’ve decided not to try to lift them. I’ve tried to do what my body is used to doing – cycle. Turn my legs over very quickly with baby steps. Fooling my body to thinking it was actually cycling. I think I was doing 3 paces to my old 2.

Two miles in and I hardly feel tired. Breathing is easy and one-pace Bruce is panting behind me. I’ve decided not to look into my Garmin Forerunner all the way. Just run. The thought of my glorious lunch awaiting me driving me on.

On the last straight one-pace Bruce was coming at me. Trying to pip me to the line. We’ve run many times together and he was always first. By minutes. But I was having none of that. I just started running rather than cycling. I’ve started putting in long ‘normal’ strides but keeping the high turnover rate. Since I had just a few hundred yards to go motivation pulled me through. Anyone can run for a few hundred yards.

I blitzed one-pace Bruce with 7:20 min/mile for 4.5 miles. All that while feeling weak.

Bruce and I in the olympic race

That's us. Really 🙂

Conclusion

Cyclerun isn’t for everyone. It worked for me. I am now slowly starting to use this style more and more. Finding it is much more efficient for my old crumbling body. I believe that once I start cycling seriously again (this week hopefully) I would benefit from it even more.

So if you’re a cyclist and you find that running on a flat is hard but uphill seems quite natural… do what I did – cyclerun.

So I have a blog too

Where do I begin?

For a long while I thought about starting a blog. I thought I have a lot to say. Though I am not sure if anyone would ever read it. Which gave me more confidence in deciding to write it.

I don’t know what this blog would hold. I know it would be diverse.

So I need to set some rules for myself

  1. No (more) blogging about blogging
  2. Anything goes. From work to private. From hobbies to, well, aaaaah, work.
  3. I won’t try to be funny. Though I can’t really promise I will succeed.

Rather simple, I think.

So what would have the immense honour of being my first diary entry? I have accumulated quite a few issues in my head.

(Not) Doing it for the kids!

Reading half marathon took place today, and I was supposed to be there amongst the thousands racing. Racing would be an exaggeration for me. I should have been racing myself, as most of the other thousands and thousands wouldn’t even know I am back there.

It would have been my third Reading half marathon and seventh half marathon.

Enter stage left – two small children two-year-old and seven months. Both featuring good-ole-fationed viral infections sporting high fevers. How high? Today we can reveal that the final score was 39.9c – 40.0c in ‘favour’ of the little one.

As the race is a two hour drive from Wales I felt disinclined to leave the missus home alone with two such hot tamales.

So well done to Rob and one-pace Bruce who both managed pbs. Me? I’ll have to wait ’till Cardiff half.

A’z