Saturday, 19 October 2013

too fat for spikes

"Too fat for spikes" was an accusation by one Ally Robertson a few years ago at the Borders Cross Country. As in, "Are you not too fat for spikes?" from him to me. Perfectly seriously. The flaming cheek. I paid him back by thrashing him over (if memory serves) the Berwick-Upon-Tweed course. I wasn't aware spikes - spiked running shoes for track or grass - carried a maximum possible weight, nor what the outcome might be if exceeded. You can see why only so many people would be allowed in a lift, or why there might be a maximum weight recommendation on an aging bridge. But spikes?

I never got to the bottom of it, nor bought a pair until recently, primarily for a race in November in Cardiff. I'm not a big fan of shoes that can only be worn in very limited circumstances. Usually for cross country I wear rubber studded hill shoes and they give adequate grip in most situations. With spikes you can't run for extended periods on tarmac and stony ground. Often at xc races they will lay out old carpets on the road crossings. Meanwhile...

Andrew was going to give me a lift to the cross country but decided to do the parkrun rather than Stirling. I thought a parkrun would be good and maybe if I was fit, the xc as well. I took Andrew up on the offer of a lift to Cramond and hoped another might be forthcoming for Stirling although there was precious little noise about it on the Porty facebook page.

The day started mild and with only a slight wind. I swapped my t-shirt for a vest. Today was the fourth anniversary of the Cramond Parkrun. It certainly does not seem like 4 years but there you go. It has fast become a regular favourite with all types of runner across Edinburgh and there was a good turnout today with various attractions and sideshows going on at the same time.

There were a few speeches then we were off. I settled into about 6th or 7th and watched Michael ease away into second. I thought better of damaging myself trying to keep up and hoped to maybe make ground on the return leg when the wind would be behind us. It's a while since I've done a parkrun and I was hoping that being reasonably fit would carry me through and maybe even get close to a pb, or better, under 17 minutes. 

It quickly became apparent that things were not on schedule. I was having a decent run but unless Michael (who was by now on the distant horizon) was exceeding himself then I was a long way behind my target. This was confirmed at 4k when I wasn't much under 14 minutes. This means I was travelling at 3.5 mins per k and was likely to finish around 17.5 minutes. Which was about 25 seconds slow. Can you not run any faster was the question I asked of myself, and the answer a resounding no. Oh well get used to it. 

old codgers
young codgers

And so that was about it. I think I perhaps need to do more speed training to take 32 seconds off today's time which was officially recorded at 9th with 17.31. Less than delighted and although that was third highest by age grade on the day my overall verdict was not good enough, could try harder. The great thing about parkrun is you can test your mettle there every week (if you can be arsed getting out of bed) and it is a splendid resource. Michael finished second with an excellent pb of 16.35. Dougie was right behind me although I wasn't aware of him until we stopped.
Parkrun results here

Nice to see Gio there although I forgot to get any closer for a chat than this.

I saw a row of 3 massage benches and got in the queue. I had had a massage after the Dunbar 10 miler the other week and felt it was one of the reasons my legs were sufficiently recovered for the Harrison Park Sunday run the next day. It felt a bit like someone other than myself had stretched my legs for me. I felt a bit guilty about this as I had meant to return to the lady masseur at Dunbar to leave a contribution. But was then distracted by prize giving. The least I can do now is to say she did a very fine job and put down a link to her details. I encouraged a more harsh going over and she got elbows and forearms involved until I was wincing. She said I had very unrelaxed legs although to be fair I had just run 10 miles at race pace; they were bound to be a bit stiff. She did a very restorative job and I would highly recommend her services - also available as she travels into Edinburgh. Carol Weissgerber. Highly recommended.

So I managed to get a leg rub - thinking if I could get myself to Stirling then it would help my legs recover for that. It really seemed to, though it was not as skilled as Carol's had been. I think the parkrun masseur was in training rather than already fully qualified.

Alex Oliver got in touch as I had breakfast. (I have to race parkrun empty or risk spilling breakfast.) He said if I was still looking for a lift then to make my way to London Rd for 12.15. This I did and a pal of his ran the three of us to Stirling. As we travelled, the torrential rain on the windscreen was making me wonder why I was doing this. I suspected we didn't have a male team and as it turned out I was right. Test driving the spikes. That was why. In the changing rooms I overheard someone say 15mms for sure. So I unscrewed the 12mm spikes and put in the 15. 

A few weeks ago I went into Run and Become and Adrian let me try on loads of pairs of spikes. Most of them felt like climbing shoes ie a bit small, tight and uncomfortable. And the colour schemes seemed designed for the partially sighted. I ended up buying a pair of Nikes - ones I rejected initially as they only have 4 spikes in the forefoot (most have 6) - and I am slowly beginning to appreciate them. I tried them on in the shop sans spikes then hadn't touched them till I put them on today to race. With the 15mms (I bought 12 and 15 mm, they came with only 9mm) you have to walk like a penguin on tarmac. And I was now making that traditional crackling noise everyone makes when running over stones or concrete. I still don't entirely believe in shoes you can't wear on a large amount of running surfaces but when the going is very soft, as it was in parts today, they probably outshine even the most gnarly hill running shoes. 

We didn't get there in time to photograph the women running. And anyway it was chucking it down so hard I would have ruined the camera trying. We got soaked walking from the car to the changing rooms which were steaming with the breath and mud and sweat and rain and horror of the earlier events. Again I questioned what I was doing here. Chloe and Edel filled me in on the finer points of the course and gave me a couple of good tips about lines to follow. Edel said with enthusiasm she HAD enjoyed her run. Given the conditions I hoped I would enjoy my race as much. And I did. Mostly.

Barry in the red jacket set us off and I held back just a bit. Usually I charge forward anxious to be as far up the field before the course forces us into a long narrow chain. Being in unfamiliar shoes and wishing not to impale myself or anyone close by, I kept clear of the front push forward and managed to get over the first bit of carpet without cartwheeling my spikes into the small of anyone's back. I kept it steady for a while then half way round the first lap I moved through the field. I continued to do this on lap 2 (having clocked 10.40 for number 1) until a point where I could no longer overtake those ahead. It's a much more engaging process than going out hard and slipping backwards through the field. 2nd lap I hit 22 mins, so a tad slower but I was still feeling ok. I could see a few quality runners up ahead, some I caught, some got away but by the time I came up the last hill to the calls of some of the ladies who had braved the grim weather to cheer us on, I felt that it was not a bad run at all. Around 33.35 I think. 

I also think I was the only Porty male. Willie Jarvie was there but anticipating the lack of Porty attendance was running for a different team! I didn't see him afterwards to ask how it went. In fact I was in a hurry to get back to my bag in the changing rooms in which I had unusually left some valuables. They were safe and sound though it was a tricky business to get clean and dry in the humid muddy rooms. I had taken my spikes off before I left the grass but otherwise entered the showers fully clothed to get the mud splashes off my kit. I then wrung it out and showered properly although when I got home I almost felt like another shower to get thoroughly warm and dry. Very well done to all those who braved what can only be described as filthy conditions. The terrain went from bowling lawn to ankle deep mud with a couple of short sections of crackling stone and carpeted  tarmac. The spikes were fab. Very light and nippy, shed water and mud beautifully and for once I felt I was going up the short hills with the best of them, getting excellent grip and not getting much suck through the mud. Once I get them a bit more grubby and worn looking (they washed up brand new alas) I will probably find a place in my runner's heart for them.

shitty weather was not confined to Stirling

No comments:

Post a Comment