Sunday, 25 September 2011

Trainee Hill Runner. My introduction.

Today I finally put on my 'L' plates and I now consider myself a trainee hill runner.

I ran for the first time in 4 weeks today. In fact it's only my fourth run in 9 weeks due to 3 daft muscle tears.  I live and I learn.

I have been running since April 2010 in an effort to lose weight  and keep from becoming a lard-ass. For  a whole year I ran alone on the footpaths and beside the roads, through industrial estates and round vast Tesco distribution depots. I got myself from nothing to 5km without too much problem within about 6 weeks and, to be honest, I stayed at that for a bout a year. Running alone on the roads it's easy not too push yourself too far and it's easy to go home early instead of pushing on. I think only twice did I go out for an hour in the first year. 

In April of this year I decided I needed to change something as I got to that plateau where you have lost the weight that is easy to lose and nothing else shifts. Simply because I wasn't pushing on. I changed my routes as they were actually very boring indeed. I ran down the valley towards the river and headed west. I never explored the river going west before and what a delight it was. I will write about that some other time... for 2 weeks I went out and did between 5 and 7 miles along the river, finding interesting new places to check out and it was great. 

The solitude still bothered me, I thought It would be good to do some social running so I met up with a local Jog Scotland group and I fitted right in. I was quite nervous on my first night and I knew I was quite slow so I presumed I would be at the back but to my delight I found the pace similar to my own and I ran 3.5 miles and I was running with the 'fast' group. My second time I ran 4 miles with them, and although most of them ran on a bit further I thought 4 was enough, however in the car on the way home I actually wished I was still running so next time it was 6 miles and it stayed around 6 miles at least twice a week well until the 3rd week of July until I had my first injury.

Running 10km all of a sudden gave me great confidence and I entered a local Primary School 5km fun run. I completely got my pace all wrong and ran a bad race, although it was my fastest 5km time to date (26 mins exactly). I wasn't put off and I saw the next local race was the Lothian Running Club's 10km Dechmont Law Trail race. The 10th anniversary no less. I entered although everyone I spoke to about it told me it was a bad idea. I was not going to be scared though and when I got the course map I went up for a run. Yes there was some hills in it and some mud but what wonderful views, and from the first time I ran it I was hooked. Totally. 

That was probably the best thing that happened as it confirmed why I was 'different' from the rest of the Jog Scotland group. They were mostly half marathon road plodders. I just thought that sounds so boring however I just presumed that's what happens. You start at 5km you do a 10km and then you train like hell to get to a half marathon. Now I saw another way. A hilly, muddy, fun way. I saw people running uphill, through the mud and smiling like they were actually having fun. I wanted to be like these crazy people. 

OK so I competed in the 10km, and finished with a reasonable 54.08 minutes, not bad for a beginner. I ran and ran Dechmont Law quite alot for a few weeks. Missing the Jog Scotland group quite a few times. 

So today for the first time since July I ran it again. My eagerness to get back into it got the better of me and I just set off to fast. Obviously in these 9 weeks I have lost much fitness but the legs held up well and were solid.  I hadn't even ran 2 miles when I was just all out  and I had to stop. Very disappointing but It was a big hill at the start and I flew up it and the mud was heavy and I just couldn't keep it going. I did briefly feel like one of those grinning mad folks as I splashed my new trainers, Brooks Adrenaline ASR8, through muddy puddle after muddy puddle and for the first time I did what I saw guys doing at the Dechmont Law race. If there is a big wide muddy bog and it looks nasty instead of tiptoeing around it with the risk of falling in, just run right through the bastard. Chances are you might not lose a shoe. So there were 2 ladies out for an energetic walk coming the other way and they were tip toeing around this big wide black swamp and I just ran through it smiling. "Hello Ladies". They looked at me as if I had just crapped on the bonnet of their brand new car. I am never going to tire of that look.

 So I walked back through the woods, checking out the golfers to the left. Do they look happy? No.  I noticed the big boulder that I run past every time. The one that had the 'alien marshall' at the 10km run. Well there is some hard to read little plaque and it turns out that is the location of the famous close encounter with aliens that a local forester claims to have had. Duh! of course it is. Right well now I know exactly so I can show you next time. 

Groovy! By the time I got out of the woods I was feeling recovered enough to tackle the law itself.  Now from the bottom of the swamp to the top didn't take much more than 2 minutes but it was a steep climb. I managed it and kept at it at a steady pace. I did that hands on knees thing. Seemed to help. At the top the wind was incredible, it almost picked me up like a kite. I didn't spend too long enjoying the view as I wanted my first taste of running down a steep hill. It didn't disappoint what a thrill. Instinct told me to lean back, but that felt wrong. I Leaned forward and felt like I was more falling my feet scrambling below me trying to keep up. What a thrill. It was over pretty quickly. You got to start somewhere I suppose, and that's where I started.

So going forward I need to get myself back up to doing 10k again, and once I have completed the circuit  I will climb the law and speed down. Whee! When I get to the point where I can run up it I will be very happy indeed. I noticed at the top that if approached from the east there is a long steady path incline which must start down in the posh houses. I need to investigate that too as I will obviously need a good long hill to practice on. I know there are no shortage of hills nearby but that path with the climb to the top of the law looks like quite a challenge from where I am today. 

If only I could find a hill buddy at a similar stage as me. The raw, excited and not so skilled stage. 

Bed time for me. I could just keep typing and typing, there is so much that wants to come out but the best thing about a blog is I can open and close it whenever I choose.