French Bloke Runs

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Tag: Grumpy Grampy

Travelling and running

Since I’m away from London this week, I thought it would be a good idea to write about travelling and running. Some people travel specifically to run and visit famous running places – here I’m certainly not referring to Lanky Pole who’s been to Ethiopia, Kenya and the USA just for running, no, no, no, he’s not a mad person and he’s even writing about it. But he’s not the only one: Mad Cook is planning a trip to Lanzarote to run the Ocean Lava triathlon with her company, and I’m pretty sure there are plenty of other people doing it. I might even have done it myself (oops) although running isn’t generally the purpose of my travels, but I now try to run wherever I go.

Lyon, France

This is the obvious running destination for me, even though I’m not sure it counts as travelling because it’s my hometown. I’m currently there and it always brings back old memories, this week I’ve been running with Lanky Frog and with my sister and it made me happy to realise that for the first time in my life, I’m at least as fit as they are. I also came here for my first 10K race last September (note to myself: I have to write about that one) and I set my first PB ever. I love running in this city because the river banks are really adapted for running, they are car-free, plenty of trees and go from one park to another.

French Bloke at Run In Lyon 2015

French Bloke at Run In Lyon 2015

Auckland, New Zealand

Yes, I know I’m bragging, but this post is all about bragging isn’t it? This one was back when I still hated running, but at least I had my sister (who was living there at the time) to keep me company. It was a tough run: I had old shoes, weighted 15 kilos more than today and hadn’t ran for a long time. I couldn’t even push myself to finish the run because the end was up a steep hill. Now I would love to do it again (more because I’d love to go back to New Zealand than because I’d like to compare my new running self to my old fat self). Anyhow, this was a sporty holiday with lots of hiking, rafting and swimming.

At the top of the Ngauruhoe (aka Mount Doom)

At the top of the Ngauruhoe (aka Mount Doom)

A Guarda, Spain

Whilst visiting Wonder Woman and Superman in their home town, I had an impromptu barefoot run which became a defining one. I want to write a specific post about it so I won’t spoil it here.

Bucharest, Romania

I actually ran in several places in Romania, during a tour of Draculito‘s native Transylvania and although it was unplanned, I even raced there! Running in the cool forests near Bran Castle or in the picturesque Sighisoara was definitely nicer than running in the steaming hot streets of Bucharest – although it was a great way to discover the city.

Race in Cluj-Napoca

“Crosul Companiilor” race in Cluj-Napoca

Llan-Maes, Wales

This run in the quiet Welsh countryside was definitely the highlight of the week-end I spent near Cardiff and saw France being beaten hard by Ireland during the Rugby World Cup.

Annecy, France

While visiting Wonder Woman and Superman in Chamonix, Brainy Owl and I stayed for a while in this lovely alpine town, did some hiking but I didn’t forget to stick to my holy training plan and we did an lovely easy run together, in the freezing mountain cold.

Rome, Italy

OK, I’m mad too, I have to admit that sometimes I travel just to run. But I have a good excuse: I was also visiting the Quiet Roman to whom I had promised to run the Roma-Ostia half-marathon if he came to Lyon for our first 10K, which he did. And I wrote a report about it.

French Bloke and Quiet Roman

French Bloke and Quiet Roman in Rome

Cologne, Germany

This one was a bit unexpected. I was lucky enough to travel to Germany for work and I decided to stay in Cologne for the weekend. I ran a cool 23 km, just for fun and to visit the city’s amazing green belt, the Rhine’s banks, as well as the major sights – including the famous Kölner Dom.

Bordeaux, France

Not only Bordeaux has some of the best wines in the world, it’s also where Jack of all trades lives. These are 2 great reasons to travel there, but these are not reasons to stop following the holy training plan. So we had a beautiful run along the Gironde together and a good stretching session afterwards.

Missed opportunities

I also went to Poland for new year’s eve with Lanky Pole, but with a chilly -18°C, guess where the holy training plan could shove its intervals sessions. Even Lanky Pole didn’t run for 4 days (yeah, I know that sounds unbelievable).

And because it was a tough hike, I didn’t run in Morocco where I climbed the Djbel Toubkal, highest peak if the Atlas. But Lanky Pole ran anyway. I already wrote an account of this trip on this blog.

Future opportunities

The Pencil Witch is getting married with Grumpy Grampy, so we’re going to Scotland soon to wed this lovely couple, so that should be an opportunity for running while travelling although I doubt I’ll be in a condition to run the day after the wedding party. Maybe they’ll invite us to a second wedding in Brazil! That would be a great opportunity for new running horizons…

The tale of my Olympic Park 10k

Once upon a time, in a far far away land at the fabled end of the Jubilee Line, in a remote place called Stratford, there was a strange tower called the Orbit. At this tower, there was a race. Not just any race Dorothy! A race between legendary creatures, a race where I met Pinocchia, Bluebeard, as well as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. I’m pretty sure Goldilocks and Shrek were here too, but I couldn’t see them in the crowd. This race was the Olympic Park 10k, organised by the RunThrough fairy.

The Orbit and the Olympic Stadium - Photo by Martin Pettitt

The Orbit and the Olympic Stadium – Photo by Martin Pettitt

This Sunday was supposed to be a great reunion with all my running friends at the Olympic Park, but they deserted me one by one. Brainy Owl had had a bike accident (it turns out that car bumpers are tougher than human knees), Lanky Pole wanted to come but his coach had decided that a 10k race wasn’t in his training plan that week, Grumpy Grampy had bought his bib but “forgot” to train before the race so he had to throw in the towel, even Mad Cook who had made the trip all the way from France couldn’t race because of a nasty health issue, to her greatest despair.

So get your hankies ready. On this cold and windy day, I had to go alone: I took the tube alone, I arrived at the race alone, I collected my bib alone, I drank a coffee alone, I warmed up alone (remembering Lanky Pole’s advice and slowly building my warm-up routine) and I went to the starting line alone. Emotional.

A few minutes before the start, I took an energy gel, not because I needed it, but to test them and see the effects it would have on my race. The ultimate goal being to take some during my first half-marathon in 3 weeks time. In all honesty, I didn’t feel the kick I was expecting. I didn’t feel anything at all really, but it may have had an effect on my race, as you’ll see.

Countdown to 0, I start running. Too fast but I don’t care, my strategy for this race is to ‘under-perform’ for the first lap, but at the pace of my previous PB, and then to ‘over-perform’ even faster for the second lap. It didn’t work as I expected: I ran really fast for the first lap, but I couldn’t run faster for the second lap, so I kept the same pace.

My first pacemaker was Pinocchia, a lady running like she had wooden limbs. I thought to myself: ‘with such a stiff running style, she can’t possibly go fast, I’ll overtake her quickly’. WRONG! She was doing much better than me and my self-righteous poorly executed mid-foot strike: she was already far ahead of me after the first kilometre. I soon found another pacemaker, a bearded dude in a blue shirt. Bluebeard is a heel-striker, I can hear his slow and heavy pounding from a distance, but his pace is incredibly close to mine. When the course goes downhill he’s a tad faster than me, but every time it goes uphill again I overtake him. For the next nine kilometres, it’s a real race between the two of us. Does Bluebeard pace me, or do I pace him? I don’t know, but the competition really pushed me.

Just a kilometre before the end, we overtake Tweedledum and Tweedledee (two funny ladies with orange wigs) who struggle to finish their 5k. I wish I could give them some sort of encouragement but I have my own battle to fight, so I’m sparing my breath to overtake Bluebeard. Eventually, I managed to sprint and overtake him just before the finish line! I let out a manly scream of relief, making the audience laugh in the process, and I crossed the line after 42 minutes and 39 seconds! OK, that was actually 3 seconds slower than Bluebeard’s chip time, but I beat my previous PB by more than 2 whole minutes! I think that deserved a manly scream followed by a manly hug to the guy.

In the end, between my energy gel and Bluebeard, I don’t know who I should thank more for this performance. But I’ll bet that the competition was the greatest motivator. So thank you Bluebeard for making me less lonely, and thank you for helping me set a new PB!

Imperial, WTF? Metric FTW!

I promised some ranting, I’ll deliver. This post could have been written by Grumpy Grampy himself.

I’m not an expert on running, so I frequently look for resources online and they’re in English more often than not. I also use smartphone apps and gadgets whose default language is English. In short: the running world is predominantly English-speaking, and more precisely American and British. Ah, the USA and the UK, the only two countries in the world that still use the old imperial system (although the UK is very slowly transitioning to the metric system). Let’s just get straight to the point: the imperial system doesn’t make any sense, even to those who use it every day!

Here, most people know their weight in stones and pounds. There are 14 pounds in a stone, how the fuck does that make sense? I don’t know! So let’s say that I used to weigh 14st 1lbs but now I weigh 12st 6lbs, calculating how much I lost requires a bloody PhD! On a side note, how stupid is it that the abbreviation for pound is lb?  These units are silly, it’s official. Indeed the legal definition of a pound is now based on the metric system: 1 pounds weighs 0.45359237 kilogrammes!

Same shit goes on with height: there are 12 inches in a foot, well that only works for a baby girl wearing size 12 shoes. And it’s not accurate at all either: saying I’m 5’1″ means I could be anywhere between 179cm and 182cm. Still, in this place and age, people use this barbaric system.

Indeed when it comes to units of length, the real crazy starts. Of all the Brits I’ve asked, none of them knows how many feet and yards there are in a mile! For the record, there are 5,280 feet or 1,760 yards in a mile. For example, a marathon is 26.219 miles or 26 miles and 385 yards. Mind blown. And let’s not speak of intermediary units such as chains and furlongs, because no one has any clue with regards to their measures.

All the same, runners use this nonsensical system, have there scales set to stones/pounds, enter their height into their running apps in feet/inches, and worse of all, count their running distances in miles, plan their pace in minutes per mile, even to prepare for races like 800m, 1500m, 5km or 10km. It really is the norm here: training plans and training plan generators will spit out your training pace in imperial units and won’t even offer to convert to metric, runners and coaches will use the same useless units in running clubs. What. The. Firkin. Hell.

This system is farcical, I beg you, please just give it up! Know that even though I intend to become a British citizen in the near future, I do not intend to use it for running and certainly not in this blog.

Mètre étalon

Mètre étalon – By Alain Bachelier

A week-end of running

My current training plan includes intervals or hills on Saturday and a long run on Sunday. I have to admit that I don’t really like intervals, or hills or fartleks. So I usually do the bare minimum: 10 minutes warm-up, then I run my intervals and plan to finish them as close to home as possible. But I love my long runs. I don’t have to run fast or to suffer, I don’t have to think too much about my pace or my technique, I just clear my head and enjoy the running.

Last Saturday however, Lanky Pole and I had planned to train together. So I warmed up for the usual 10 minutes, running to the rendez-vous point in Greenwich Park. Then he told me: “So, you don’t have a set routine before races or training? 10 minutes warm-up is the bare minimum. I’ll show you some stretchings and shit.”. Boy that wasn’t easy: side steps, high knees, skipping like a bloody deer, dancing the Macarena or some shit, dynamic stretching (i.e. stretching while running, how mad is that?). Then a series of short sprints and off you go run your intervals while I do my hard stuff, I’ll see you in 30 minutes, thank you very much.

Well, that was hard but I could handle it. Kinell, I still have my intervals to run. Let’s do that on Blackheath, at least it’s flat. Oh, it’s actually not that flat! And with all that mud and the wind, it’s even harder! At least it’ll be finished in 30 minutes.

Nope. Lanky Pole had another cunning plan in mind. Let’s do actual stretchings now! And the arms, and the neck, and the legs Ouch! That hurts, I can feel it’s good for my legs but that hurts. Adductors, calves, thighs in all direction… And it’s not over: more silly movements with the arms and that should do it. I can guarantee that after that you really feel all your body. Now I have another great idea, let’s cool-down for another 10 minutes of easy run. Alrighty!

Well, that was a whole new level of training for me, but that wasn’t all! Lanky Pole, Draculito and I joined the Pencil With and Grumpy Grampy for a ceilidh in the evening. An night of traditional Scottish dancing to prepare for the wedding (Pencil Witch is Scottish and she’d getting married to Grumpy Grampy) means another bunch of hours running and jumping on the music of a fiddle.

On Sunday, the beginning of my beloved long run wasn’t too easy and I was feeling my body more than usually. I think the intense training of the previous day affected my pace. Eventually, I was still happy with it, I managed to run 19K in just above 1H45. My longest distance ever! (so far)

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