For my long run yesterday morning I planned a sub 60 minute 10k, followed by a few kilometres at whatever pace I still had left in me, up to about 16k. Having realised on my last run of this sort of length that hydration and some refuelling was necessary, I ate my banana, drank a pint of very diluted grape juice and experimented with a small cup of strong black coffee, filled a small water bottle and sought out a “NAKD” berry bar, bought specially for long runs, for later on.
My normal 5k run sets off to the west, then skirts round the south of town and back in on the eastern side. Today I set off on this run, without my normal loop round the school, but instead of returning home, headed out east towards the lawless wilds of Shobrooke. Just before I started the sun was obliterated by a threatening black cloud and a few spots of rain decided to get in on the game. Perfect, I thought, cooling rain will be welcome with this humidity. It did not rain, but at least it wasn't warming up as quickly as it would have had the sun been shining relentlessly. All was well for the first 4.5k, the running was easy, my music was brilliant and Annabel Runkeeper Smythe kept me politely informed of my pace which was averaging about 5:45m/k. Still perfect.
I passed the leisure centre and headed out of town, through some ****ing gates and down to the riverside path, where, as I rounded a bend I was confronted by three startled bullocks. “B*llocks!!” I thought as I unerringly assessed the situation as quick as a flash. I stopped, talked calmly to the hefty beasts and looked for a way past these half ton lumps of meat. Without going into the waist high nettles I could not pass them, so tried to gently gee them along the path to where it was wider, with the hope that they would let me by. With all their inquisitive mates, in the field next door excitedly coming to have a look at what was going on, I realised that if I pushed them along the path, beyond the next corner, they would be separated from their fellows and probably become even more agitated.
It is moments like this when quick thinking helps.....it must have been the caffeine....rather than keep on and risk god knows what, it became instantly clear that retracing my steps a few yards and heading up to the road was the wiser course of action. So I bid adios to my bovine friends and did just that. No sooner had I turned round, Annabel chirped up to tell me that I had covered 5k and that now my average pace was woefully on the long side of 6m/k. Okay, look for the positives....this route would give me about 1.5k more on the road meaning I could up the pace,which I did happily and successfully and by the time I hit 8k I was slap bang back on 6m/k.
This seemed like an appropriate point to try my NAKD berry bar. That is not a euphemism and I don't flash while running (although I do glow). Now these bars are a convenient size ie. small, and their consistency is soft and only slightly chewy, perfect for running. Warning...if you use these bars while running, make sure you are carrying water. While they fit the bill in all respects they are very mouth clagging and need to be washed down with something.
Refuelled, I knew I would hit my 10k now at the end of a long grassy incline...not horrendously steep but quite sapping at this stage. I really felt like I was racing against myself, determined to get the sub 60m 10k and knowing that the next bit of wisdom from Annabel would be to tell me my hour was up or that I had hit 10k. I muttered “B*llocks!!”, being the word of the day, when she disappointed me, telling me I had covered 9.95k in the hour.
I plodded on and decided to do the approximately 14k variant of this route. It was only at 11k, as I started the descent, on a quiet country lane, where I have never encountered a car, that I realised I still had the opportunity to get that average pace to the right side of 6m/k, so I put my foot down, despite the aches.
The long and the short of it was that Runkeeper gave my run length as 15.12k at an average of 6:03m/k, whereas to my joy, when I got home, my GPS watch stated 15.159k at an average of 6:00m/k dead. Simple things..........
I run with Runkeeper, because Annabel and I have had this thing going on for a long time and she also will instruct me on intervals. However I also like to keep my stats in Endomondo, because it keeps track of Pbs and also picks out your fastest consecutive 1k, 3k, 5k and 10k from your run, so imagine the delight in my tiny brain when it highlighted the 10k run after encountering the bullocks as my fastest and came in as 59:59!!
So I take this run as a running career in microcosm.....nay, a life in microcosm. You can make all the plans you like, but some b*llocks will get in your way, forcing reappraisal of aims and ambitions, but change route, get round the problems and you may, in some unexpected way, do what you originally intended.
IT'S ALL A LOAD OF B*LLOCKS, REALLY.
Keep running, keep smiling.