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P25KRunning

P25K – Week 3

30th August 2018 — 0

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Run 1 (30/08/2018)

Those more observant amongst you may have spotted a bit of a gap between my last run (25/08/2018) and this week’s first run. Today’s post is going to feel a lot like a confessional, forgive me father it has been 4 days since my last run and I have sinned, I committed the sin of sloth. I had to look up a definition of sloth, I think I’ve blocked the word out of my mind after watching se7en (now that’s a jump scare) the best I could find was a “habitual disinclination to exertion”. Ouch, that  absolutely nails my predicament, my laziness is truly habitual.

So let’s get into the bullshit reasons then. Sunday I was on a stag do for a mate, that entailed a 6 hour endurance karting race (one kart 5 drivers). If you’ve never tried it I would strongly recommend it, it’s a great day out. The only issue is for 5 and half hours of the race it was torrential rain, I don’t know about trench foot I had trench arse, having sat in 2 inches of water in a bucket seat for a couple of half hour stints. Thanks John for risking your phone and recording the carnage:

There were 19 teams and we came pretty much plumb last, 55 laps behind the eventual winner. We knew we were going to struggle when the top 5 teams, turned up with their own kit, replete with pit boards and computers for calculating fuel stops. We were there for fun, a lads day out, the majority of teams however where there to score points in an ongoing year long tournament and they had zero tolerance of old men, dawdling on the racing line as I discovered to my peril a few times. Its fair to say I had my fair share of spins (slicks in the wet, madness) and shunts so I was feeling fairly fragile come Monday morning.

I thought I’d therefore give running a miss on the Monday, it was still raining heavily so I spent most of the day entertaining the house bound pup, who was going a little stir crazy unable to burn off his energy. Now I’m not a masochist and I’m not getting any younger so this was a sensible move, I’m not feeling guilty in the slightest about taking the Monday off.

Tuesday and Wednesday on the other hand I had little excuse not to get out there. I managed to convince myself it was too wet on Tuesday. Which was nonsense, for a man that leaks liquids like a sieve, I really can’t get that much wetter in the rain. Then on Wednesday I was invited to play badminton, and I convinced myself that was enough exercise for one day, which it really wasn’t.

This is my biggest fear having completed C25K that I wouldn’t follow through and keep the habit of running going. This blog is a big part of keeping me on track in that respect.

I really liked the C25K structure and slowly improving milestones and I’m finding the lack of such incremental goals difficult. Yes I have my objectives but they are hardly bitesize, each will take weeks and months of concerted effort to reach and I am sadly lacking the discipline to get out there and do the ground work. I think I’ll need to draw up a more incremental set of milestones to somehow motivate myself, break the problem down.

I finally managed to guilt myself into getting back out there by the Thursday, you can tell it was bad by the fact it was 7 in the morning. I came to the conclusion I’m better off just getting it done as early as possible before I can come up with excuses why I can’t do it. Luckily the pup has me up by 6;30 most mornings so I made my mind up to get up early, get him and the cats fed and get out there.

It was decidedly chilly, in fact it might be my coldest run of the year, It’s officially Autumn tomorrow so it’s not going to get any better, get used to it! I was cataloguing my aches and pains up to the park, it was a long list. Reaching the top of the park (to make sure I warmed up) I started out on the first 1km lap.

It’s fair to say I wasn’t having fun, I wouldn’t say it was any harder than any first km I’d done but a combination of the temperature and general low energy levels (read still half asleep) was making it a drag. By the time I’ve done the 2nd lap I’d pretty much had enough. I played the same trick as last time and told myself I can run home, that would get me at least out to a pitiful 3k and all pretty much down hill. It appears my guilt at missing 4 days, didn’t extend to making up for lost time and putting a real shift in and reaching 5k. Too busy cataloguing problems, finding excuses.

Pacing wise, pretty much on the money for my current 8 min/km target pace for the 3 km’s I bothered to do.

 

This is yet another run, where physically I could have completed it but mentally I just didn’t turn up. It’s happened a few times now and it’s becoming the bottleneck to progress, I need to start finding a way to motivate myself to stay out there when I’d rather still be in bed with the pup keeping my feet warm. I’ve no doubt I’ll go into the next run, angry at this performance and do better and the cycle of seesawing will go on. My goal at the moment is to cement a solid 5k, I’ve only ever made the distance twice so far I really need get my head in the right place.

Run Rating : 


Run 2 (01/09/2018)

So much for my plan of getting up at 6:30 and going running in the park. The pup is on new kibble that is meant to help his digestion and it looks like it’s working he didn’t stir until 8 and I wasn’t going to miss the chance of a lay in. Wen was walking the pup over at the local park with a friend at 9, so I thought I’d tag along and run around the lake, perfect. A lay in and a sunny morning run around the lake, does life get any better. Especially when there’s a cafe that will rustle up a bacon roll.

Once round the lake and I set off, leaving the lady’s chatting on a bench, conscious that I actually have an audience for once and one I’m going to be passing about every 5 minutes. I hit the first kilometre in 6 min 47 secs. Oh crap I’v been show boating, idiot, rather than focusing on the run I’ve been prancing round the lake like a Lipizzan Stallion. Now I’m a mile in and I’ve set a new mile PB and I feel like crap.

I’m thinking I’ll hang in for at least 3km, that’s another 4 times round the lake, the thought goes down like a lead balloon, and like a stallion approaching Becher’s Brook I pull up as I pass the bench. Well that’s an all time low, 13 minutes? Pathetic, especially after only doing 3 km on the last outing, this is a worrying trend. I have half an hour to contemplate another failure as I take the pup for a walk up in the hills. To be fair I gave it about 5 minutes thought, it was far too nice a morning to ruin it with nonsense I can sort out later.

My god imagine if it had been a public race, I’d have probably run it like it was 400m and made it only 200m. Needless to say I’m running tomorrow, without an audience, I will get a long run in this week.

I did think of not even recording this run (I use the word loosely) but I guess it’s important to catalogue every form of failure. It looks like this weeks theme is going to be the seven deadly sins, today was pride.

Run Rating : 


Run 3 (02/09/2018)

After yesterdays lack lustre performance, I almost managed to talk my self out of running today. Yet again I managed to convince the pup to go back to bed after another 6;30 pop to the garden, this time until 9am when Wen got up, waking him up. Slap up breakfast and I managed to even fit in a 4 hour’s of Ghost Recon coop with a friend. Basically not a bad lazy Sunday morning.

Wen had agreed to catch up with our friend to walk the dog at the local park at 4:30, and it’s a glorious afternoon, the realisation there aren’t too many of those left this year finally guilted me into getting my running shoes on. I decided I’ll get up to the park just before they turned up and get most of my run done, I didn’t want a repeat of yesterday’s show boating nonsense.

Walking up to the park I’m trying to get my head in the game, I really need 5k and that means I need to start real slow and apply an energy conservation mindset. I’ve done it before I know what I have to do, let’s hope this time I can stick to the game plan.

The first km is not too bad, although it really seems to drag from a time perspective, it’s a bit slower than my 8 min/km target, but better safe than sorry. I don’t care about the time I WANT the distance.

Second km feels a bit better than the first km, I’ve settled into a reasonable pace. Split time comes in at 8 min 30 seconds. Very much slower, don’t care crack on. Just as I’m coming up to the 3k mark I spot Wen and co walking round the park, luckily avoid them on the first pass. Another mental reminder to focus on the job at hand.

The third km I’m starting to feel it on the incline back up to the top of the park. Not helped by having to dodge one kid trying to kill his mate by wielding half a tree, had to grab the branch and bark a “steady” at him. Didn’t stop to see if he completed his death blow.

Into the fourth km past the pup and the dog walkers, stay on target. This is starting to hurt, my feet are going numb and my breathing is starting to sound a little laboured. I tell my self this is the penultimate time up the incline and just about make it the top. I know if I can make it to the 4km mark I’ll be able to hang on to 5km.

I’ve had a voice trying to convince me to stop at 3 and 4 km’s, and it’s taking quite a bit of will power to ignore. I want 5K, “are you willing to do the work for it” the voice chimes back. I grit my teeth and get back to plodding away it.

Last time up the incline, my old friend nausea is threatening, I’ve got foam round my mouth that I’m having to brush away as I go past the play area, in case I scare the kiddies. It’s not pretty, but metre by metre it’s getting done. I just need to get to the top of the park, I dig in crest the hill and start the long downhill section. I can’t feel my feet anymore, my legs feel like lead weights and there’s a real threat my legs might give out. I just keep plodding away, I spot the girls and the pup on a bench, and just as get to them I get the 5k shout. I stagger to the bench, to get jumped up and down on by the pup, now that’s what you want at a finish line.

A 42m 38sec 5k, not my fastest, or my slowest and it’s not like I’ve got a lot of 5k data points. This one was purely about getting to the distance.

 

This run hurt, the last km was as tough as it’s ever got. It was difficult to get to the 4k mark mentally and then the last km was physically challenging as fatigue set in. Even with conservative pacing it took a sheer act of will to keep going and override all the cues to stop.

I still don’t feel like I have a solid grasp on 5k, but I am slowly building up a mental checklist:

  • if I don’t turn up at the field (and this is half the battle), I fail.
  • If my mindset is anything less than do or die, I’ll fail.
  • If I go too quick (no matter how good I think I might look), I fail,
  • If I’ve eaten/drank too much too close to running, I fail.
  • If I’m not willing to spend 8-10 minutes feeling like death (after 30 mins of running), then I fail.

I’m a huge believer that you can only truly master something when you’ve seen all the ways it can go wrong and understand how to avoid/fix them. The problem is I don’t think I’ve seen all the ways this can fail yet and until I have I won’t have mastered 5k. On to the next failure.

Run Rating : 


Run 4 (04/09/2018)

So much for my early morning runs. I couldn’t be bothered this morning and when the pup sneaked back into bed with Wen well that was it, we were all back there cats included. I then spent the entire day making excuses for not running. By the time it got to 5pm I’ve had enough of my bullshit, shoved some food in the oven and did a pup hospital pass to Wen on her way in from work.

Walking up the road, I’m trying to get my head in the game. I can still feel the last run in my legs and my left knee is aching a bit, probably more to do with sitting on the sofa oddly again. I decide rather than push it I’ll aim to do a fast 3km run, rather than 5km, I need to start getting into a pattern of short/long runs, that’ll mean my last run of the week will be 5k.

I get to the park just before 7pm, it’s cold and I’m surprised by how dark it’s getting seems like the nights are already starting to draw in. A reminder to sort out some warmer running kit at some point. The park is almost empty, no dog walkers, no other runners and no kids in the play area, well that’s a first. I decide to run anti-clockwise I might as well start flipping a coin on the subject.

First km and I’m being a little bit cautious I’m focusing on making my stride fast but efficient, trying slight variants, leaning slightly back and forward, shorter, longer strides. I get to the first km in 7:26, pretty quick for me. More importantly I’m feeling pretty fresh.

Into the second km, I’m just focusing on maintaining the pace. I finally pass someone, out for some evening air, I was starting to get worried that there was something more interesting going on somewhere and I was missing out. I’m quite liking this pace it seems comfortable, I hit the 2km in 7:29.

Right, last lap, last time up the incline, I decide I’ll run out of the park at the end and start heading home, should leave me a few minutes of cool down walking time. I pick up the pace a little and get to the 3km with a final 7;22. In total 22:30 and a new 3km PB. Not bad if I could maintain it for another 2km I could be looking at a 38 minute 5k which would be nice progress.

Walking home I realise my knee is feeling fine now, I probably should have done a bit more stretching/limbering up.

 

I really enjoyed this run, I could have gone faster but it wouldn’t have been as enjoyable. I definitely need to start mixing 3km and 5km runs up. My next run will need to be 5km to round out the week, not sure if I’ll try for the 38m, a sub 40m would be nice though. Let’s just see if I can get my arse out there before midday would be a bonus.

Run Rating : 


Run 5 (06/09/2018)

Right here’s the plan. I have to drop the car off for it’s service first thing, So Wen will have the pup until she leaves for work and I’ll have time to do a quick 5k on a local track on the way back from dropping the car off. I can even pick up some breakfast on he way back to taking over pup minding duties. Great, it’s an early start (tick), a new running track all on the flat (tick) and the promise of breakfast (tick).

That WAS the plan. I drop the car at the dealership, find the track after a bit of a wander and it’s perfect, totally flat, it’s pretty much 400m (give or take) and there’s no one around. Time to get to work, I dig out my … oh crap I’ve forgotten my earphones. No worry was reading a post the other day where someone said they enjoyed listening to their breathing when running, let’s give it a go.

Once round the track, 400M probably a bit quick for 5k. I need to slow it down a bit. My brain is off doing some maths and casually drops in the fact I’ll be going around this track a dozen times, and that as they say is that. I managed to get to 800M and I’d had enough, the thought of going around this tedious track another ten times listening to nothing but my breathing and footsteps was too much. I couldn’t even convince myself to complete 1k, let alone drag it out to 3k.

It’s madness, I’ve run multiple 5k’s in far worse conditions, this track is practically flat, I should be dancing around it. This is clearly a mental issue, why should I care if 5k is around a track or in a single non-repeating straight line, it’s just one step after the next in either case. I described my running previously as brittle and this is another case in point. I clearly need to develop a strategy for running on a track, probably just the usual break the problem down into running 5 laps at a time. Because at the moment if I have to do double digits I have a mental breakdown.

We’ll chalk this one up to bad preparation again, I wonder if I’d had my earphones if I would have just zoned out and got it done? I don’t think so, but I’m pretty sure I would have got further. To be clear I wasn’t even physically pushed I was just mentally defeated, by the maths, just bizarre. I wonder what I would do on a treadmill, never used one.

Needless to say I’ll be running again tomorrow and it will be for 5k or a bed in A&E.

Run Rating : 


Run 6 (07/09/2018)

I’ve decided after the last run I would go from running around a track to a straight 5k route around the Great Lines park in a clockwise direction. Never tried it before (this way around) and I know that the 4th km at least on paper is going to be tough, pretty much all uphill. So that’s nice.

Got my earphones this time and take a walk up to the hospital, hopefully the fact the run starts right next to the local A&E centre isn’t an omen. I’m fired up for this one after the ups and downs of this weeks running I’ve definitely turned up with the bit firmly between my teeth.

The first km is easy, coming in at a 7:42 min/km which is slightly quicker than I really should be targeting but my last 3km run running sub 8 min/km felt pretty good so we’ll stick with it, for now. Nice cool breeze running along over looking Chatham and a very nice sunset. Over to the Memorial and along to Fort Amherst, fingers cross the gate is open. It is and I’m in and heading down the only down hill section of this run. I have to do a quick pit stop as my lace has come undone, that’s a first and I sort it out quicker than a F1 pit team and push on.

At the 2km mark, 7:45 min/km seems like a pretty good sustainable pace so far, but I’ve hardly been taxed in terms of terrain. The 3rd km is on the flat back towards Medway park and comes in at 7:37 min/km still looking pretty consistent. But I’m now facing a km of hill, worse it stretches out in front of me getting steeper and steeper in all it’s glory. The only good news is I’m feeling pretty fresh.

I’m a 3rd of the way up the long incline and I’m trying to convince myself I don’t want to risk it, the hill gets steeper (twice in two humps) into the distance, that in fact I’d be better off taking a left or a right and continue running on the flat. I get to the fork in the road and think sod it, better to fail trying than fail worrying about it. I run straight on up, definitely having to put in a shift. My breathing is getting laboured, legs are feeling heavy and my feet are going numb, been here before it’s just a question of slowing it down a bit and sucking it up.

I finally get to the top of the incline back at the Memorial, not surprisingly slower at 7:56 min/km and I’m trying to calm myself down, slow the breathing down focus on keeping my running form efficient. The last km is flat and then down hill so in spite of the the fact I’m knackered and sweating like a pig, it’s going to get done. I get my head back down, just need to hang in there 8 more minutes and it’ll be in the bag.

The last km comes in at 7:36 min/km thanks to the terrain, bringing the whole 5k in at 38m 56secs, a new PB by about a minute. I’ll take it, I’m just happy to get another 5k in the bag, hitting my target of getting two 5k runs this week.

 

What an up and down week of running. Two fails, two 3k’s and two 5k’s just about got the job done. It would be in my interest to avoid the fails going ahead, although they are all good data points. I’ve  managed to improve my pace overall by 30 seconds a km, which is good and when the runs go to plan I’m feeling a lot more comfortable. I’ve noticed on both the 5k runs my feet tend to go numb in the last 2k, might need to look into that – might be as simple as tying my laces too tight (I kid you not).

Next week I’m going to aim to do 2x3k and 2x5k without the drama, it’ll be interesting to see if there is any measurable improvements in pace. One of my goals is to secure that 30m, 5k still seems a way off yet.

Run Rating : 

P25KRunning

P25K – Week 2

27th August 2018 — 0

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Run 1 (19/08/2018)

I’d agreed to meet some good friends at the local park, under the pretence of walking their dog. The reality was they were there to catch Pokemon and I’m not just talking about the kids. My plan was to get up there early and do some more quick km laps and hopefully knock out at least 4k before they turned up. I got up to the park 45 minutes early working on the basis I’ll just keep running till they turned up.

The first km was probably one of the quickest I’ve done and I knew about it by the time I hit the second lap, I was already starting to struggle, legs heavy and breathing hard all the way back up the incline.

I managed to recover something before I hit the 2km incline but I was definitely in a losing battle. I was getting a sinking feeling of deja vue. My last run around the island, I had failed to hit the 4km mark and this run was rapidly heading the same way.

The 3km mark was really tough I only just made it up the incline, my lungs where burning and my pace was dropping off rapidly. I had one last km and I had little left to get it done, any idea of doing extra distance had long gone. Then I spotted my friends and their kids waiting for me and I had to make that judgement call, run past them and complete the 4k or stop and be sociable. Two microseconds later decision made I pulled up and said hello, I’m only human!

This run was tough, not as tough as the island, I’m starting to suspect the residual radiation from swapping out nuclear submarine cores is affecting my running down there, more like my kryptonite than gaining superhero powers.

I’ve got enough stats now to draw a performance baseline. Sub 8 min/km are tough, sub 7:30 are not maintainable probably beyond 2-3 km’s and the closer I go to 7 min/km, the closer to melt down (topical) I get.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. My weight, I’ve lost little since I started running. To be fair I’ve done nothing with my diet and it still features far to much junk food, so this doesn’t come as a huge surprise to me. Now, it’s definitely the case some of my fat has become muscle, apart from my legs, my stomach is (and I use the word very loosely) more toned, i.e. there are muscles under the fat where before there was just more fat.

But at this point the net weight loss is as close to zero to be statistically insignificant. This leaves me dragging 18st/114kg/251lbs which I’m starting to suspect might just be slowing me down a tad. I think if I’m going to get really serious about improving my times it’s going to be done in the kitchen not out in the field.

  

 

I had some excellent feedback on Reddit to my “Is there life after C25K?” post. Firstly the general consensus was switching to running 4 days a week instead of 3 would appear to have significant benefits. The big benefit of completing C25K was improved fitness, the true value of which is for a fixed time I can now burn more calories (compared to walking or sitting on the couch). Having got to this point, actually using the ability more often is a bit of a no-brainier. It also has the added bonus of removing my dilemma of when and where to take that pesky extra rest day.

In addition mixing my runs up with shorter/faster runs and longer/slower runs seems to be a common theme. I like the idea of that, it will keep things interesting alternating the goals. But before we really get into this I need to pull my finger out and achieve the distance at all costs.

Run Rating : 


Run 2 (21/08/2018)

This run was influenced by this post from nobodez. I had already set my mind that I was going to run beyond 4k and this just cemented my resolve to not leave the field before 5k was in the bag. Like the tortoise and the hare, I’d been obsessed with speed, nobodez just cracked it out slow and steady (just like the C25K program taught).

Walking up to the field I’m running through my pre-flight checks, this is going to be as tough as I want to make it. Too quick and I will struggle to finish, I now I need to keep my lap times slower than 8 min/km if I’m going to stand a chance. That’s 40+ minutes of running on paper, and I’m sure I can follow nobodez’s example.

I get to the field and set off clockwise for a change, I run this route less often and I have less mental baggage associated with it, a cleaner slate. The park is busy with the usual collection of families enjoying a slightly cool summer evening. The first km and I’ve got slow and steady going around like a mantra in my head. I’m deep in energy management mode every step being micro-managed to find the least amount of effort to keep going. I am Leonidas ….

My battle is a pure exercise in giving nothing away, not giving a single joule of energy more than I need to give to keep moving forward. I reach the first km mark and not surprisingly I’m feeling pretty good.

I hit the 2km mark and I’m still plodding away, still saving my energy, still biding my time. The 3km mark seems to take an age to arrive. The voices are trying their usual “not even half way” nonsense. I’m feeling fine as I finally hit the 3km mark, I know at that point that it’s on, not only am I feeling pretty fresh I’m actually recovering 100% before hitting the incline.

It’s taken 27 minutes to get to 3k, far slower than my normal pace and I’m clearly looking beyond 40 minutes. Damn the time, I’ll be out here until it’s done. My brain starts calculating distances, possible finishing lines, key milestones I block it all out, I don’t care. The finish line is 5k wherever that ends up being. I get my head down and get back to my slow and steady mantra, give away nothing!

I reach the top of the park at 4km and I’m still feeling pretty good, In fact I’d actually go as far to say I was tentatively enjoying it, careful not to count my chickens to early. Head back down, sweat is pouring off my cap in an almost continuous bead, My dayglo orange top is in now two tone (dark top, light bottom), not even this hi-tec fabric can cope with my torrential down pour. I don’t care I wipe the sweat out of my face, take off the cap and give it a wave around before reseating it and getting back to the job at hand.

One last time up the incline, I’m having to dig in towards the top but there was nothing that was going to stop me at his point, I’d been up this way in far worse states many times before. I’m now plodding along, waiting for the 5k announcement, I (as always) have a good idea of how far it is. I finally cross the finish line, 5k in 45:41. My first thought is not hurrah but how much have I got left in the tank. The answer comes back at LEAST another km probably more, wow! My second thought is amazing I ran for 3/4 of an hour, followed by damn that’s slow 45m for 5k.

I’ve engaged a controlled stagger towards the exit, trying to wring my cap out. I’ve talked before (in C25K) about my inability to celebrate these milestone moments, this was no different. Probably my biggest running milestone (the big 5 K) and all I can manage is an internal nod of recognition, allowing myself just enough time to carve a mental notch before I turn to post run analysis and the mental planning and expectations of the next run kicks in.

 

It is of course good to finally get to 5k after all these weeks, but I can’t help but feel the run was ultra-conservative, in fact it technically didn’t even count as jogging at less than 4 mph. I need to try another 5k run on my next outing and try to find a faster sustainable pace, somewhere around an 8 min/km would actually count as jogging and should result in a 40 minute 5K. The challenge is I don’t know how to run to a given time, I might have to do some investigation.

Run Rating : 


Run 3 (23/08/2018)

I had every intention on this run to go out there and do 5 x 8 min/km laps, following on from the last run. It didn’t play out that way, so let’s get the excuses out of the way first:

  • I finally got to run at 2pm, it was meant to be earlier in the day, but the rain had put paid to that
  • I could still feel the effort of the last run in my legs, especially in the thighs.
  • I hadn’t eaten, thinking I was running in the am and by 2pm my stomach was growling but I hate running with undigested food in my stomach.
  • I had taken the pup for a long walk to tire him after the rain stopped around 11am.
  • The reason for the extra long (almost 2 hour) walk was I was going to leave him on his own for the first time in his crate and I wanted him dog tired. It’s fair to say this was preoccupying most of my day and a lot of my thoughts on the run.
  • I hadn’t found a pacing app so I was having to wing it on the pace.
  • My Bluetooth headset battery died.
  • The dog ate my homework?

The bottom line is I turned up badly prepared, hungry in the wrong way and preoccupied. When my tunes gave up just after the 3km mark that was enough. I was tired, absolutely soaked (from sweat) and more worried about what my pup was doing in my absence (even though Wen was keeping an eye on him via webcam). I’m not sure who’s suffering separation anxiety more, evidently he just whined for a couple of minutes and went to sleep for the remainder of the time.

The first two laps were pretty much on target for 8 min/km, the 3rd lap is a bit more telling I was starting to struggle. I need to get better at picking up the pace on the down hill section of the run, I’m definitely coasting at the moment. I think I could have got to 5km at this pace if my head had been in the right place, if I’d applied anywhere near the same level of focus as the previous run.

 

I’m a bit frustrated that I only achieved 3km when I set out to do 5km, and not for the first time this week either. I would classify my running at the moment as “brittle”, it takes very little for me to be undone. I’m lacking the discipline of getting to the field and switching everything else off and turning up to really run, that’s what makes the difference ultimately and it’s something I’ve got to get better at.

I’m going to run 4 times this week, my next run will be on Saturday. I’m hoping my legs have fully recovered, I’m running either way, they will need to adapt.

Run Rating : 


Run 4 (25/08/2018)

Taking all the good advice to heart, I decided to fit in a 4th run this week, back at the local park and I  was determined that it was going to be 5k. After the distractions of the last run I turned up to this one focused, fed, charged up (headset) and ready to get the bit between my teeth.

I knew what I needed to do, 5 x 8m = 40 minutes that was the target, a pace that on paper I should be able to sustain if I manage the situation correctly. The park was oddly quiet for a Saturday, slightly overcast and cool so good running conditions.

I set of clockwise, dodging an errant ball near the play area, trying to judge the pace. The first km came in at 7:32. Far too quick, so I dialled it back and tried to get into a steady pace, the second km was 8:04 pretty much on the money. By the third km, I started to feel the early pace in my legs, lots of puffing back up to the top of the park in 8:17. I’d made a conscious effort halfway round to slow it down on the hill, I MUST finish the full 5k first.

I reset my mindset, 2 laps to go, I just have to get around twice more, I was on target for a 40 minute 5k I just needed to keep going. The 4th km was really tough I was trying to fully recover all the way down the incline, with little success. I knew I was in trouble, a rising feeling of nausea and I was struggling to find the resolve to go backup the incline, so I bottled it.

To be fair I had a 6 hour karting event on the Sunday for a mate’s stag and I couldn’t afford to damage myself. So I compromised, I’d keep running but I’d do it by running back home, about a km, which had the benefit of being half flat and half down hill, I’d glide it home. Not surprisingly the last km was quicker at 7:54, thanks to the terrain rather than any effort on my side.

I ended up staggering to a stop about 20 yards from the house in 40 minutes 19 seconds not bad at all. Ok, I might have cheated a little on that last kilometre, but I was sure my body would thank me an hour into karting.

 

All in all a good week of running, more lessons learned, more kilometres under my belt and I finally not only earned my first 5k, but improved on it by 5 minutes at a jog (>4mph yippee). It has blown a big hole in my original plan of building up to 5k over 3 weeks, thankfully.

Next week is going to be interesting, I need to bag a couple more 5k’s at least, I’m under no illusions I won’t be finding another 5 minutes (i.e. 35m/5k) in a hurry, it’s going to take time and distance. I want to get to the point where 5k is my short run and I can start adding kilometres, but that is also practically a few weeks off. Next week more consolidation.

Run Rating : 

AnimalsDog Days

Archer – Week 6

18th August 2018 — 0

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Archer week 6, has it only been 6 weeks? It seems like an eternity. He’s now just over 3 months old and continues to grow at an incredible rate. He looks very gangly at this point with legs that are far too long and paws that look like hand-me-downs from an older sibling. I’m sure he’ll grow into them. In addition, his front end appears to be growing at twice the rate of his back end, so he’s starting to look like he’s skipping leg day at the gym.

Along with his physical growth, he continues to mature as a stroppy, arrogant, opinionated little bundle of attitude. He’s almost perfected his sad puppy eyes look, which he pulls out anytime he’s asked to do anything. He just needs his bottom lip to wibble and he’d be able to do a very passable impression of a rain-soaked orphaned child from a Dickensian novel. It’ll be a future Oscar-winning performance for sure. The only cure for such attacks is to pull out a treat, which has the instantaneous effect of returning him to being a lovely cuddly model of man’s best friend. It’s fair to say this Jekyll & Hyde act is running a little bit thin.

Rice and chicken

As far as I can make out, raising a puppy especially a Golden Retriever appears to be mostly about trying to secure a solid poop. I can now measure the quality of my days by the firmness of my pups faeces. After last weeks bout of diarrhoea, we managed to get Archer back to solids. Unfortunately, this only lasted a couple of days before I was facing another 3am double cleanup; at least this time he didn’t walk it around the room.

We knew it was bad when Wednesday morning he decided he wasn’t going to have breakfast, he didn’t even go and look at the bowl. This was a first, he’s always eaten his food no matter what consistency it might be coming out the back. We gave him until lunchtime to see if he’d turn it around, no joy. It was time to break out the secret weapon – rice and chicken.

For a pup that had 10 other siblings, Archer has surprisingly never been what I would call a food-oriented dog. He sits quietly and watches me prepare his kibble, I put it down, he’ll stroll over and slowly chomp it down over a few good minutes. In fact this week I was deliberately putting my hand in his bowl and taking bits out while he was eating it, an exercise from puppy club to stop him being possessive around food, and one Archer clearly didn’t need.

Until of course, he tasted rice and chicken, he literally breathed the whole bowl down in 10 seconds flat and I was in no doubt that if my hand had been in the bowl I’d now be fingerless. This was his first taste of chicken and it might as well have been the first time he’d ever eaten. He had to go back and check his bowl several times to ensure that he hadn’t missed anything before trying a “Please sir, can I have some more”  act for several minutes.

He had rice and chicken for supper as well, breaking his previous speed record by a clear 2 seconds. The good news is, it sorted his bowel movement out beautifully. He made it through the night and delivered a prize albino deposit the next morning. The only issue now is he won’t eat his scientifically balanced puppy kibble anymore. We tried for two meals and he skipped both, in the end, we ended up having to put a bit of chicken under his dry food to get him to eat it. So it appears we’ve made a rod for our own back.

I Have A Voice

Archer has well and truly discovered his voice. What started as a whimper which tended to scare him more than anyone else has developed into a full-throated and at times ear piercing bark. I’m trying to convince myself this is a good sign of his ongoing development, What isn’t so great is it’s now his go-to form of communication, he’ll bark when he’s happy, excited, frustrated or upset. Which pretty much covers all the waking states of a 3-month-old puppy. And if you thought there was at least respite when he sleeps, think again he whimpers, chomps and muffled barks his way through the nights as well.

When left in the garden, invariably to let him get on with his number 2’s as he doesn’t like being watched (don’t go there), he used to just sit at the gate when he was done. Those days are gone, now it’s barks of “Oi! I’m done” echoing around the neighbourhood at 6:30 in the morning or 10 in the evening. Best of all if he keeps barking for more than 30 seconds he’s joined in serenade by at least two other dogs in the vicinity.

The real problem is the first and most important rule of training him not to bark, is to never return to him when he’s doing it. Whoever came up with that sage piece of advice I wager has never had to balance its application against continuing to let your pup wake up the entire neighbourhood. During the day I let him bark his heart out, but it’s not a strategy I can employ at all hours unless I want a brick through the window. We are going to make a few changes to his morning, evening routine to reduce the chances he’ll need to feel the need to bark.

He’s also taken to barking when he’s frustrated, either because someone isn’t playing fair with him (usually me) or if someone is doing something interesting (i.e. anything) in another room and he isn’t involved, he’ll whine and then start barking. These two are much easier to correct, although I’m not sure I can resist winding him up.

The last form of barking is insanely overexcited barking, if he thinks he’s getting chicken in his kibble (see above) he literally loses it. He honestly just doesn’t know what to do with himself, so he’s taken to barking out of sheer joy, I suspect if he wasn’t barking he’d have exploded in a puff of fur. It’s an easy one to fix, but funny as hell to witness.

Puppy Club

He finally made it back to Puppy Club this week, and in addition to the usual pups:

  • Teddy the tiny Maltese terrier cross (I’m not sure what with – possibly an ant). He’s tiny!
  • Lucy the Golden Retriever, a month older than Archer
  • a Pomeranian (I keep missing the name of)

We were joined by two lovely French pugs, whose names I didn’t catch either. The usual round of letting them off their leashes, leaving Lucy and Archer to last. The other pups tentatively explored the room and carefully introduced themselves to each other, all very civilised. Then the terrors were unleashed and all hell broke loose, with the usual violent play of two retrievers going at each other hammer & tong. Archer as normal spent most of the time on his back with Lucy at his throat, tail wagging, like a concuss boxer pleading for the towel to NOT be thrown in.

Amazingly the other dogs were starting to get the hang of this game, the french pugs joined in. Archer had Lucy and the two pugs on him at one point. Still loving it, still pleading for one more round. When Teddy the Tiny Terrier launched himself into the fray as well, trying to bite Lucy’s legs out from under her there was almost a cheer, this was the dog under the underdog. I think it’s the first time I could see the attraction of such a small and tenacious breed.

This weeks command was “wait”, we were on shaky ground as Archer has yet to fully grasp the temporal aspects of anything. If a dog year is equal to seven human years, a dog second equates to about a micro-second, I’d tried to teach him the command a dozen times over the last few weeks and it always ended up with a confused pup. Luckily Wen had decided she was going to do this week’s command before we got there.

The rest of the pups did fairly well, in fact, one of the pugs was doing so well that it took several minutes for him to actually realise he could have the treat. When Archer’s turn came, the first attempt as far as Archer was concerned was a complete success. Sit, Wait, Treat (all in under 3 microseconds). To the casual observer it might have looked like he had gone straight for the treat, but with the right equipment, it’s possible to see him sit, look at his gangly leg at an imaginary wristwatch and then casually get up to retrieve his reward. No point waiting for the specific commands, better to anticipate.

His second attempt was helped by the lady running the session firmly holding still for approximately 2 seconds given the definite impression of a planned wait.

Pooping Feng Shui

I’m sorry to labour the pooping anecdotes, but it’s a big part of my life these days and I need to get this observation of my chest if only to ensure I’m not going mad. Archer’s trip to the garden for number twos should be a straight line from the patio to the poop spot, on a chilly evening that would be by my reckoning the most efficient way to get this simple task done.

Why therefore does he spend a good minute of his (and my) time, nose down tail up darting around the lawn like he’s trying to find pooping nirvana. As far as I can tell the route to the spot is as close to seemingly random as I’ve ever seen in nature. I’ve been fooled on occasion into thinking he’s found it only for him to change his mind at the last minute (the tease), the stars clearly did not align. Before I waste the rest of my days trying to find order in this chaos, I’m hoping someone already has some insight.

In the last week, he’s also taken to doing a final flurry after pooping, where he walks forward two steps and makes a token gesture of trying to bury it with two quick back kicks before walking off. He does it with such gusto he looks like a prancing Matador, after an epic victory. What in all of nature is the purpose of this move? He’s not buried it, at best he’s taken another two notches out of my lawn. If someone could please explain to me what the purpose is other than a puppy fist pump at another successful delivery, I honestly would sleep better at night.

DRAGGIES

Last week we were enjoying some lovely walkies. This week Archer has given up walking in favour of sitting and staring into the middle distance or working on his orphaned child impression. This has taken what should be 15-20 minute sessions and extended them out to roughly an hour. A combination of treats and tricks usually gets him moving again. On a couple of occasions I’ve been tempted to drag him (I am only human) he goes down more spectacularly than Ronaldo in the penalty box, so it’s hardly practical.

It’s frustrating, to say the least, there is definitely a pattern here where he will learn something, do it correctly for a period of time then regress, we keep seeing it playing out in different forms and has to be hands down the hardest part of raising a pup.

The highlight of this weeks walking was the opportunity to meet a truly humongous gentle St Bernard. The paws of which were the size of Archer’s head, when he went to unceremoniously sniff him between the legs (as is their way) his muzzle was larger than the gap between Archers front and back legs, sending him onto his back. All the time covering him in a wall of drool. What a fantastic creature, I’m not sure Archer was so impressed he seemed to have pissed himself. I doubt he’ll meet many dogs larger, which is a real shame.

I’m sure we’ll get the walking back on track, I have to keep reminding myself he’s only 3 months old. Patience, grasshopper!

P25KRunning

P25K – Week 1

14th August 2018 — 0

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Having completed Couch to 5K (C25K) I found myself with a lot of work still left to do. The program teaches you to run for 30 minutes, unfortunately that does not equate to 5k with my pace. I’m not alone, it’s fair to say most people who complete C25K will struggle to get it done in 30m during the program. So where do I go from here?

AnimalsDog Days

Archer – Week 5

12th August 2018 — 2

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Walkies

We’ve been on several walks now and Archer is not surprisingly loving them. He loves being constantly fussed over by every passerby. He invites it, pulling at the leash to meet each and every new friend. Most people (80%) will take the time to run through the “ohhh he’s so cute” routine, usually asking his age and pointing out how fluffy he is, just in case I hadn’t noticed (my black t-shirt covered). He laps it up.

I do however worry about the odd person who doesn’t interact with him in some way, not even a smile. I’m not talking about runners or otherwise occupied people or the small number of people who are obviously afraid of dogs, you can spot them a mile off, their body language gives it away and I make a point of putting him on a very short leash. I’m talking about the very small number who upon seeing a puppy making a bee line for them, show absolutely no interest. It seems unnatural to me, and I find myself thinking Archer is a natural Voight Kampff test, and worryingly not all of these people are passing it.

After the attention, it’s the smells he loves the most, the little nooks and crannies that have obviously been turned into doggy bulletin boards. He reads each one avidly decoding the secret messages left by his kin. Occasionally he’ll just stop, head up, nose twitching he’s definitely having a completely different experience to me on these dewy morning walks.

He had been pushing his luck when greeting other dogs in the park for the last week. Clearly not showing respect and tending to bounce around a little too over excited. That was until a lovely German Shepherd finally annoyed by his over zealousness decided she had enough and gave him what for, pinning him to the ground and giving him a close up look at her very impressive set of teeth.

He got the message and it stuck, since then he’s approached all dogs (big or small) with a little bit more respect Getting down low and reducing his bouncing as much as any excited pup possibly can. It’s funny to try and see him get lower than a terrier, especially as he gets bigger.

devourer of worldS

At home things have not been so great. He loves to chew things, all things. If it fits in his mouth he’ll chew it and given half a chance swallow it. The biggest problem with his chewing is it’s left him with an upset stomach for the last week. He couldn’t make puppy class, for fear of leaving a stream of brown stinking liquid across the vet reception. It’s hugely frustrating that he doesn’t seem to connect his predicament at the back end with what’s going in at the front end.

The lowest point was 3am on Thursday I’ve awoken to a godawful stench I’ve got up and gingerly tip toed to the light switch to discover a chocolate milkshake. Luckily he had hit the puppy pad and so in my bleary eye state I’ve started to clean it up. I tie it up in a bag and take it downstairs. On my return I’m hit again by the smell, only to realise he’s done a second equally large pool of poop, again on the remaining pad (good boy). I then realise in horror that’s he stepped in this one and walked it around the room. Quarter of an hour later and another bag of liquid poop, I head downstairs to lose the bag. On my final return to the room, I find Archer on my bed, on my bed with uncleaned paws. I think that’s when I lost the will to live.

The next day I woke up in a fowl mood, too little sleep and the smell of doggy poop still in my nostrils, worse Archer also woke up on the wrong side of the bed and he was being extra arrogant too boot. We spent the morning huffing and puffing at each other. I finally went for a run to clear my head and get some alone time, to get my shit (no pun intended) together.

He continues to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable at all times, it seems like a battle of will’s most of the time. In many instances the only way to win is to distract him with treats, but it’s a hollow victory to have to cheat.

Back to the vet

By Saturday he’s dropping dark (although thankfully solid) black poops, which can be a danger sign of an upper intestine/stomach bleed. He’s not got any other symptoms, in fact he’s his usual arrogant self. But we resign ourselves with a trip to the vet, if only to put our minds to rest. Waiting in the vet reception (the same one he plays in weekly) he’s loving meeting all the dogs and people going past.

A gorgeous border collie sits down next to us, 2 years old and a professional working dog the owner tells us, in fact on his way up to Yorkshire tomorrow for two weeks worth of competition trials with the rest of his pack. I can’t recall seeing a dog that was so focused, just sitting there looking around the room you could see it analysing everything, it interacted with all the other dogs and people.

When Archer decided to do his puppy play nonsense the border collie growled and bared it’s teeth, Archer was being very slow on the up take, continuing to annoy her, until she had no choice but to make her annoyance clear. As with the German Shepherd earlier in the week he was solidly put in his place. It is a lesson he needs to learn, not every dog wants to play, especially a working dog that has little tolerance for the bullshit of a puppy.

The vet finally calls us in and gave Archer the once over, everything was normal he wasn’t presenting any  issues, he maybe a little bit gassy. The vet took his temperature for the first time, catching him off guard, but it too was normal (i’m not sure Archer agreed it was normal). The general consensus was whatever it was it looks like he was practically over it, obviously keep an eye on him and he should be fine.

The vet had also reminded us to sort out his Pet Insurance, Archer was covered a few more days under the original policy thrown in when we picked him up. We had been umming and ahhing about it, trying to make that financial vs risk judgement call. The situation was rapidly resolved when the vet, pointed out a foreign body removal in a big dog could be problematic and they’d just done one that ran to £3k. Imagine a couple of those in the first two years, my sisters lab had already suffered similar self inflicted problems, luckily avoiding a worse case scenario.

Building Bridges

If there’s one area that has made progress, beyond archers ability to grow millimetres with every sleep, it’s his relationship with the cats (photo proof above). There is now mutual respect, he understands not to bounce at them and they’ve twigged if they don’t run he won’t chase them. In fact it’s gone the other way the cats will lay in the hall because they know he won’t pass. If he still puts his nose where it’s not wanted he gets a hiss, with the constant threat of a double tap to the head. I’m starting to think the animal approach to dealing with puppies seems to be far more effective than my treats and kind words.

It’s been the toughest week so far, between his dodgy tummy and Archer’s increasing bloody mindlessness it’s not been a huge bundle of fun this week. The only silver lining is I might still be on target for a Xmas card with cats and dogs sleeping together, fingers crossed.

C25KRunning

C25K – Week 9 – Run 3

7th August 2018 — 0

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The last run of the program W9D3, it’s graduation day and I’m determined to go out in style by completing my first 5k.

By my calculations (based on previous runs) I’m looking at another 8-10 minutes of running beyond the 30 minute primary goal of today’s session.

Up until now I’ve been running routes that tended to have an incline. My secret weapon in this endeavour is a pool table flat route along the riverside country park, and by a complete fluke it’s almost dead on 5k end to end, it must be a sign.

I decide to walk to the park, which in of itself is a 30 minute walk as I have some errands to do en route. The weather is sticky, it looks like the darkening cloud cover might finally deliver some real rain later, in the meantime a fewer small showers during the day have done nothing but make it feel muggy. Not ideal running weather, but it doesn’t matter I’ve run hotter and damper in the last 2 months.

I finally reach the park and set off at a slightly quicker than normal pace, I’m really banking on the lack of hills enabling me to up the pace a bit, which in turn should mean a time closer to 38 minutes and I can finish just that little bit sooner.

5 minutes in and I’m coming around a blind corner on the outside just as a mountain biker comes hurtling past. It’s clear he’s not going to be able to stop in spite of his best efforts and I have to dive out the way. No harm and like true Brits, both parties are apologising profusely as we head away from each other. Note to self, on tracks with cyclists hug the inside of the corner rather than the outside, it’s probably safer.

Out to ten minutes, it’s going ok, but I’m not really enjoying it. The humidity feels worse than most of my previous runs, and there is practically no breeze. Worse still the tide is out and the river bed is properly stinking, some full on botanicals for you gin lovers. I’ve also realised my originally planned route is going to leave me at the far end of the park, doh! I need to switch it up and start running the long leg out now so I’m running back, otherwise I’m looking at an 1+ hour warm down walk home. I hand’t factored that into my route when I was armchair planning with Google Earth.

15 minutes and I’m going up the only real incline on the entire route, it’s two small hills back to back. Nothing major but by the time I’d got over the second one at about 20 minutes I’m starting to feel it. More so the humidity seems to be making my profuse sweating totally ineffectual. I do a quick status check, everything is fine, no reason to stop running, looks like I’m clear out to 30m.

25 minutes, I’m really not enjoying it now, I’m having to slowly start digging in a bit. Then my phone goes, it’s my sister I’m expecting her call, just not right now. It’s an important family matter, not right now. I do the maths, could be another 12-14 mins before I can ring her back. I tell myself there is no way I’m going to stop before 30 minutes I will complete the program and the primary goal at ALL COSTS!

I push on convincing myself, she can wait 12 minutes. The distractions aren’t helping, I’m now worrying about what she’s going to tell me when I speak to her. The last few minutes of the 30 are grim, but I just keep slogging away at it, I’ve been here often enough now to know the score, my pace is getting slower and slower. I finally get the 30m well done from Laura, and I’m thinking ok let’s just keep going to 4k at least that’s only a couple of minutes away.

My phone goes, it’s my sister again I can’t ignore her this time, given the situation. So I pull up and answer, but I’m secretly relieved I didn’t have to do another 8 minutes. Shame on me! Walking back having spoke to my sister (which was good news) I’m struggling to see this run as a positive. Yes I’ve finished the program that I started all those weeks ago, but I’m frustrated at myself for not finishing it with that all important 5k trophy.

The stats. My fastest average pace to date, resulting in a new PB to 3km.

 

But, I’m honestly not happy. I’m not happy at getting all the way out to 30 minutes and then being relieved that I didn’t have to do the extra 8 minutes, it’s pathetic. I’m not happy that I let the weather impact me so or that a phone call distracted me as much as it did. I’m really not happy that I robbed myself of the 5K I desperately wanted out of today’s session.

Before I even get back home, I’m critically analysing the run, deconstructing all it’s little mistakes and failures and I’m getting angry, I’m planning the next run in my head and I’m making mental notes to address my short comings.

And I think that best sums C25K for me, it’s true legacy. There is no happy ending, or big celebration party or even a pat on the back. Instead, there is a genuine hunger to go further and faster. Even if I had reached the 5k mark on this run I’d have been annoyed at the time, in fact I realise only now there was no way I could ever complete C25K and be happy.

A little over 2 months ago, I could hardly run for 8 minutes and that was with 90 second breaks, I now consider 20-25 minutes the commute time to where I need to start working. Where before I was beset with malediction both physical and mental, I’m now increasingly able to run without drama, to focus purely on the running.

It’s a truly stunning transformation and one I could not have comprehended even a couple of weeks ago. C25K works! It does exactly what it says on the box, you WILL be able to run for 30 minutes by the end of it. But be under no illusion that it will not be easy, “Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy” (Nicholas Sparks). But you might just find yourself standing on the top of this peak espying a misty summit in the distance with envious eyes.

Now I’ve got to go and figure out what I do now. I’m obviously going to go get me a 5k for starters. I’ll probably follow that up with trying to bring my 5k times to something approaching 30m as a hopefully achievable target for my old bones. I might take a closer look at 10k, I like the idea that it goes back to interval training as that has worked so well to get me to 5k, and I understand improved pace is almost a side effect of distance.

I need to put some structure around all this starting with a new app. It’s farewell to Laura, I’ll only hear her voice in my dreams or more likely nightmares; “You’ve got this!!!! Argggghh!!!”. I think I might have a touch of Stockholm syndrome.

Run Rating : 

 

 

C25KRunning

C25K – Week 9 – Run 2

5th August 2018 — 3

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It’s my second to last run in the program and I’m pondering speed or distance all the way back to the Great Lines. Part of me is determined to make it into the fort this time, it’s the middle of the day so there’s no reason those gates should be closed.

I decide by the time I’m hitting the field that I’m going to up the pace, not insanely, but enough so it still feels comfortable. I’m working on the basis I MUST do the 30 minutes, it’s the primary goal and non-negotiable. If then I’ve still got legs I can make a decision about going for the distance.

I am conscious that the hill climb to the top of the fort shouldn’t be underestimated and that’s going to be the tricky bit on this run. So off I set it’s pretty warm and I’ve got my shades on for a change, so I’m looking really cool!

I am struggling to settle in the first 5 minutes, an intermittent stabbing pain in my back reminds me I’ve been sitting awkwardly on the couch again. I try to straighten up and un-tense as I’m running oddly to avoid irritating it. At the ten minute mark, I’ve got it under control, but I’m still not enjoying it. It’s too warm, I’m sweating at an even faster rate than usual, my super cool sunglasses seem to pool the sweat and then releasing it in streams, my eyes are stinging and I can’t see properly. Then to further compound my growing catalogue of issues, there’s a stabbing pain in my left knee, it’s a bit worrying and it takes a few strides before it thankfully subsides, I must have just caught it oddly. This is not fun at all.

I push on to the 15-minute mark, I’m running alternate routes through my mind, I know if I go up to the fort I’m not going to make 5km, I’ll be trading distance for height (honestly I should be a glider pilot). My pace will also inevitably drop off, so the chances are it’s going to mess up both of my secondary objectives. I get to the go/no go point and decide it will be the fort, convincing myself it’ll count more than numbers in the app. That and I will have my 21 gun salute damn it!

It’s tough, I’m slowing right down, but I’m still just about going. I know it’s bad I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, never a good sign it seems to act as my reserve tank. I dip into it at my peril.

I get to the garrison church, a slight plateau before a short shallower climb up to the fort entrance. The sweat in my eyes is continuing to be a constant annoyance and I’m desperately struggling to try and spot if the gate is open from a 100 yards out. To my joy I can see a gap, it’s open, I’m finally going to storm the fort. It only occurred to me writing this now that I should have taken the sun glasses off it would have been far easier, clearly I wanted to look cool more than actually see at the time.

Through the gates, I stop for 10 seconds to snap the photo of the cannons (I earned it) and then up to the top of the fort via a very steep ramp. Back onto the flat and I’m struggling to recover before the next steep (but thankfully short) hill climb up the ridge. I get back on the top of the Great Lines and I’ve got about 3 minutes left. I’m just hanging on at this point (like a spent boxer to his opponent), any idea of a sprint finish or carrying on to hit 4k (let alone 5K) was lost somewhere on the hills. Laura announces the last minute, time is slowing down like a scene from inception.

Finally, my 30 minutes are up. I’m still running for 10 seconds (the time I stopped to take the photo), just to be honest to myself. I engage stagger mode, tip my head down and I have a stream of sweat (not droplets an actual stream) falling onto the dust. It takes me a good 5 minutes to walk it off, luckily I’ve got a 15-minute walk home.

Throughout the entire run, I could feel my demons lurking in the dark places. Every time I confront them, they scuttered away but they are not gone. They are dogged, watching, waiting, biding their time constantly looking for a weakness.

Shout out to Rosie Fraser for the cool Unsplash background.

They could smell blood and they were ravenous. I haven’t been feeding them much lately and I could hear them circling, snarling. The heat, the hill, my back, my knee, the sweat I was feeling hunted all the way to the finish line. No out and out attacks, just the promise of one if I strayed off the path. Luckily I’ve got enough experience at this point to avoid the darkest paths through the woods.

Stat wise, my first reaction was of disappointment. The average pace although quicker by 40 seconds over the last time I felt it should have been faster. Luckily the 1km split times, revealed a better story on the flat I was achieving just over 7:30 min/km, which would equate to a sub 40m 5k if it could be sustained.

The stand out track of this run was:

The Flood –  Take That

I think this ended up on the playlist when looking for rain-related tracks last week. Either way, it’s a cracking track, especially when you are trying to drag yourself up a hill. My take on the lyrics:

“We will meet you where the lights are,
The defenders, of the faith we are.
Where the thunder turns around
They’ll run so hard we’ll tear the ground away.”

In my mind the light is at the end of a very dark wood and I am the defender of the faith (that I can do this), and I’ll run so hard I’m tearing up the tarmac.

Although no one understood,
There was more of them than us learning how to dance the rain.
(learning how to dance the rain)
There was more of them than us now they’ll never dance again.

No one ever understands, of course. There are more demons than us (me), out there learning to dance at my pain. Now they’ll never dance again! Still amazes me how I can spin lyrics in duress to my own inner monologue.

I have one run left, my final run will be on the flat (not sure where yet, I’ll need to get a spirit level out) and I’m going to aim to run for 40 minutes or 5k whichever comes first and I WILL finish the program in style.

Run Rating : 

AnimalsDog Days

Archer – Week 4

5th August 2018 — 0

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It’s been an exciting week for Archer between puppy club and his first walk, he’s continued to grow at a prodigious rate. An update on a few of the key areas:

  • he’s finally learnt to climb the stairs on his own, just in time because he’s getting a bit to heavy to be lugging around. We are still working on coming down them, which involves me animating him like a marionette, but he’ll get there.
  • toilet training is going well. He can now almost get through the entire night, and the number of accidents has dramatically reduced. His clear preference is to get outside now. On the odd occasion if I’m busy/distracted and forget to take him, he’ll now come over to me and make it clear he wants out.
  • his relationship with the cats continues. They will often now pass each other without incident, it’s a bit cagey but they are getting there. Archer has had to be told to “back off” a couple of times by the cats with a double jab to the face, it’s a language he understands all to clearly. Wen discovered that the cats love for catnip overrides any fear they still have of the dog. Wen will spray the catnip on the carpet and both cats will get down of their perches and push past the dog to get to it. That’s been hugely helpful because calm (high) cats are far more tolerant, and because they are relaxed Archer realises it isn’t play time and is calm as well. Hopefully we’ll close the last few inches in the next few weeks. I have a target to send out Xmas cards with both cats and Archer sleeping together, Archer with a Santa hat and the cats with elf hats, I can dream and there’s always photoshop.
  • training hasn’t made much progress this week, we’re still bedding in the basics (come, sit, down, paw). The biggest priority is to nail “come” in all situations. To that end i’ve got some “higher commodity” treats in the form of cocktail sausages, which I’ll only dish out if “Come Now” is successful.
  • his food bowl has been moved out of his crate into the kitchen, it’s simpler and less prone to me spilling on the carpet. The kitchen is also where his remaining accidents where occurring, I’m hoping by putting his food there he’ll get the message.
  • being able to sleep through the night means we have a much more solid routine and are generally in a better mood on both sides.
  • he had his 2nd bath this weekend. I can’t say he was happy, but he accepted it with good grace and he really enjoys being dried off and the general pampering Wen gives him afterwards. Just before he goes and rolls in the dirt again. He was a very dirty dog judging by the colour of the bath water.
  • he’s been far less belligerent this week. He’s had a lot more opportunity to socialise than in previous weeks, both at puppy club and more visitors. Coupled with a bit more freedom in the garden, as I blocked the last of the areas he would get into the most mischief. He seems to be more relaxed than last week.
  • puppy maintenance, we had to cut his claws again (only 2 weeks since last time) and I finally had enough of the pissy stained wick of hair hanging of his old boy, and got the scissors out. Shudder, the things that aren’t discussed about puppy ownership, oy vey.
Puppy Club

On the Monday he had his first of four visits to the vet’s for puppy club where he has an opportunity to socialise with pups of his own age and the nurse briefs us on aspects of owning a puppy we might not have considered. There were meant to be 8 pups but only 4 made it (it is after all summer holiday season). The pups that made it beside us, included:

  • another golden retriever female called Lucy. 4 weeks older than Archer and it showed, she was a inch taller and a few kg’s on him
  • a pomeranian, a lovely bright eyed ball of fluff about the size of two hands
  • a tiny terrier cross, which could literally sit in one hand

The nurse did the introductions, and we got into the main event letting them off the leash. First was Lucy and the pomeranian, not surprisingly the pom was overwhelmed by the attention of her boisterous new friend and made her feelings clear, bringing their first brief encounter to a curt end. Next Lucy had a run at the tiny terrier, Lucy tried to be a little less scary, sensing she needed to be more gentle, but dialling it right down from 11 was still to full on for this pups first outing.

Then it was Archers turn, I was in two minds whether he would go the way of the first two pups, or if he would be up to the challenge. I needn’t of worried 30 seconds later he’s on his back there’s flashes of teeth and claws and he’s loving it. Lucy is beasting him, and he’s having the time of his life, tail going part in submission and out of sheer excitement. The other two pup owners look on in horror at the violence of the scene, the nurse reassuring them it might look like something from Fight Club but it’s actually quite normal for this breed (and Lab’s).

They are in danger of going at it all night so the nurse get’s us to break it up and runs through the finer details of Coprophagia a word I’d never come across, which is surprising given I’d eaten enough in my career. Archer I’m afraid  is most definitely a coprophagia connoisseur, favouring cat then bird. Luckily he’s not a huge fan of K9 either his or the foxes. He should grow out of, in the interim I’m doing my best to reduce his access.

Next it’s the sit demo. First up the terrier who does a sterling job, although to be fair his bottom is only 1cm from the ground so it’s not exactly a challenge. Lucy after a bit of coaxing mangers her sit, followed by the pom who was straight in there. Then it’s Archers turn, he’s been doing sit for weeks, we’ve got this one in the bag. Sit Archer, nothing. Out with the treat, Sit! He’s too interested in the other dogs especially Lucy. Sit! I’m trying to get his attention and it isn’t happening, I take him further away and stand in his line of sight so he can’t see the other dogs, Sit! The nurse offers up a new treat. Sit boy! Nothing. In the end I finally managed to get his attention by shoving the treat in his mouth and taking it out again, I seize the opportunity and bellow SIT! Finally, he puts his arse down, thanks mate!

The nurse weighs each of the pups during the evening as well to make sure they are hitting their targets (for each of the breeds). Archer has put on the best part of a kilogram since his measurement 3 days earlier, proof that we’re not going mad and he really is growing millimetres during every sleep, and he still sleeps a lot!

The session ends in another all out royal rumble, this time the terrier and pom start to come out of their shell if only to egg on the ongoing prime time Lucy and Archer bout. Archer still looks like he’s losing, and loving it. Every time Lucy’s owner calls Lucy off to give him some respite he’s diving straight back in. His interaction (when he gets a chance) with the terrier and pom is much more nose bumps and sniffs.

The nurse hands out some free samples and the session is over. Lucy & Archer definitely loved it, I’m not sure the other two pups were quite as impressed. He slept well that night, whimpering and kicking Lucy in his sleep.

First WalkIES

FINALLY the day had come, a week after his 2nd set of jabs and “I” was allowed back out. Sweet freedom, oh and Archer was allowed out the first time as well. We’d been training him to walk on leash in prep and he’d been for a few car rides by now, so it wasn’t going to be a complete shock. I’d arranged to meet with a friend and her dog Syd, a lovely old girl (the dog that is). His first outing was going to be at the local country park a leisurely stroll around the lake.

So on with the leash, the 4 photo montage (see above) was pretty much his reaction:

  • photo 1 – walkies? I don’t know what that is but I’m excited because you are, let’s do it!
  • photo 2 – actually I really don’t know what walkies are and the leash means we are going out
  • photo 3 – out is scary, so many noises and smells
  • photo 4 – i’m scared, let’s just sit here a while

In the end end I gave in (again) and carried him to the car and clipped him in the back. The irony that in a couple of weeks he’ll be chewing my arm off to get out the door and in the car. not being lost on me, so we’ll entertain it for now.

We get to the park and have to drag him out of the car, he’s not a happy pup. I start him slow walking towards the path round the lake. Everything is getting super sniffed, he’s very skittish, totally overwhelmed by it all. Then he spots our friend and her dog and his tail goes up wagging and he forgets how scared he was. In a split second he’s now all about a walk with the pack and making new friends.

So we walk around the lake a couple of times enjoying the weather and the cool breeze. He’s as good as gold, walking nicely on the leash. He greets everyone he meets as a long lost friend, he’s gentle with the small children and respectful to the bigger dogs. All in all a perfect walking companion even at this point.

I’ve decided he will be better of on a harness than a collar and I’ll investigate getting an extending leash, not that it would have been usable today but there will be more open walks in the near future. I have to keep reminding myself that he is still a pup and try and it keep these walks to 15m tops, especially in the sun. We’ll keep it to one walk a day until he gets used to it. It’s obvious even from this first walk that the stimulus he gets is going to make a huge difference to his and my general temperament during the day, and it’s the perfect antidote to the weeks of cabin-fever.