Cannonball Run Pt. 1

Well I suppose this may end up as the over-riding theme of this blog: my newfound, bizarre and utterly unexpected love for running and my attempts to be somewhat better than shit at it. Towards the end of last summer I finally joined the gym in a failed attempt to impress my then-wife and to get rid of an unsightly beergut which I caught staring me in the face as I got out of bed one morning. I’ll never forget that sight, it was like a little Bernard Manning growing out of my belly.

I’ve always mocked the gym-going public and, having done no exercise since high school, could not see any kind of point to it. Cycling but going nowehere? Running on the spot? Lifting objects heavier than a pint only to put them back down again? Insanity! I was always of the opinion that you should only exercise enough to facilitate your current lifestyle (mine was very much sedentary) and particularly that you should only ever, EVER run if someone was chasing you. And even then, only if they had a knife or a chainsaw.

However I decided to pop along for the above reasons and, to cut a long story short, became a convert in short order. All of a sudden I had a weights programme made up for me and a good idea of all the cardio I needed to be doing. I focussed on cycling as I was getting ready for the Pedal For Scotland event at the time but eventually decided to give the treadmill a bash, just to see what it was like.  I couldn’t believe it – previously I’d be out of  breath just running for a bus but all of a sudden I was happily trundling along for 15 mins at a time without dying. And the rest is history.

So now, a mere few months later, I have a full set of running gear (lycra trousers and all, thanks dad!) and have signed up for my first 5k in a week’s time, the BUPA Great Winter Run and plan a 10k and half marathon in the first half of the year. I’ve also signed up to a Runners Forum which has proved invaluable for hints, tips and motivation.

Now we’re up to date, here’s the reason I decided to post this morning. Two weeks ago I made my first attempt at the route for the 5k, basically following the road around Arthur’s Seat. This was my first outdoor run and there;s a large uphill section at the start so I decided I’d aim for 30 mins and would be happy if I came in a few minutes over that. I actually did it in about 26-27 minutes which really surprised me, thinking that I’d ruined it on the uphill part.

Today I gave it another shot as they’ve changed the route from counter-clockwise to clockwise. Now this still means you have an uphill section followed by downhill but the uphill this  way is longer and gentler with a steeper downhill. I wasn’t sure what difference this would make and I was already feeling pretty tired and choked up when I started so thought it would be 27-30 mins. I actually used the stopwatch on my mobile this time round and was over the moon to hit my finish line (which was actually 5.11k to be pedantic!) and see the timer just hitting 24’30!

So I’m a happy bunny now, looking forward to next week when I’ll be aiming for under 24 minutes and hopefully meeting some folk from the Runners Forum. After that the half marathon training begins in earnest. Shudder…

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