People are naturally given to change so deviation is normal.
Over the last year or so I have ridden more long distance events. I expected to enjoy pushing the boundaries of time spent on my bike and distance travelled in a ride. In May 2014 after I did a 300km Audax ride I knew that I was not going to enjoy doing another one and that riding even further was not something I would enjoy. I continued riding Audax events to the end of the Audax year in September as there were certain challenges I had set myself.
Since then I have had a good think about stuff I would like to achieve before I am 60 in November 2015.
I started running properly in 1989. I joined a Club and started doing local races; I competed in the Dorset Road running league. I ran my first London Marathon in 1994. I was a runner almost exclusively for the best part of 22 years. All the time my children were growing up I found time to run and race. I loved it. But, my body was starting to object, especially my knees, so in 2009 I stopped running so much and although I have kept running a little bit, I haven’t gone to running club and I haven’t really raced. I have become a jogger. My running had become non–competitive, less serious, less strenuous, much slower and requiring less effort. I still had a nice time but I was definitely jogging.
Something happened. At the beginning of September my 3rd daughter Kathryn, now 26, did a half ironman. I supported. (This is not merely going along to the event and shouting ’good effort’ as she ran past but involved getting up at 4am and feeding her porridge for starters). When we got home she rested and I went out for a jog – but it turned into a run because I didn’t want to be a jogger anymore.
Crucially my body having had several years rest from running seems to have recovered. My knees don’t hurt anymore. I have lost all my running speed and fitness. Running is significantly harder on the body than the sort of cycling I have been doing. I have retained some cardiovascular fitness from the cycling but my running is much slower than it used to be. This is not something which I accept and will work hard to get quicker.
Through September I gradually increased the running and by the beginning of October hill reps and tempo runs were beginning to feature in my life again.
On 12th October I ran the Mendip Muddle. This is a hilly off road 20km race. The course is tough (there’s 420m of climb) and set in some fine scenery around Cheddar in Somerset.
I enjoyed the race very much and did alright.
The following weekend I ran the Weymouth 10. The race is organised by Egdon Heath Harriers – which I have now re-joined – and starts and finishes on Weymouth sea front.
I last ran this race in 2004. This time it seemed seemed like a very long way. Crucially, even 20 minutes further back in the field than I used to be – I was still racing. Striving hard to catch that person in front and get away from them. I managed to beat my target of 90 minutes – but only just. This was not as much fun as a hilly off road race and to be honest was jolly hard work.
The following weekend I headed up to North Dorset for the 20th Stickler. This race is 10.1 miles of hilly Dorset countryside including the infamous ‘stickle path’, Okeford Beacon, Hod Hill and Hambeldon Hill.
I last did this race in 2007 and was delighted to be only 6 minutes slower 7 years later. I loved it. Off road and hilly is a lot of fun.
Which brings me up to date. Yesterday was the Gilly Hilly. I last ran this while introducing Kathryn to racing back in 2006 when she was only 17.
I ran hard and competitively and was pleased to have trimmed 20 seconds a mile off my speed in the 2 weeks since the Weymouth 10. So, all good.
I am very excited about the running again. It’s that fabled runners high. It may only be chemicals shooting around in my brain but it’s feeling pretty good right now. I am still riding my bike and have renewed enjoyment from that now I have removed the long distance targets from my ambitions. My bike rides are now mostly reduced in time from all day rides to a few hours which leaves much more time for running – and swimming.
But more about that in another post.