Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Running one of the wonders of the world.

This week I am in San Francisco for work purposes.
I decided, while here, that I really wanted to run the Golden Gate Bridge. I mean, how often does one get to run along one of the 7 wonders of the modern world?

I didnt have a decent camera with me, I forgot to bring one, but I did have my trusty phone cam... So here is a little photostory of my memorable run. All images can be viewed in glorious full size with a mere click...

For a start, there was no way I was going to be able to run to the bridge from my hotel. Im staying about 7 miles from the bridge. That each way plus the 3 miles across the bridge and back would be WAY too long.

So, I looked at my options and decided I may as well do something touristy in the process and ride the trolley. I headed from my hotel to Powell and boarded this very car...

I rode the trolley to the end of the line, Bay. From here I started to run. Thanks to google maps on my phone, I figured the best way was to run along Bay for a while to Lombardo then head onto the marina. Once on marina, I got my first good view of the bridge,

This was actually my first time getting a proper look at the Golden Gate bridge. Ive been in SF a few times now, but never had any free time. Once we drove somewhere were I got a bit of a glance at it, but it was very foggy and didnt look very impressive. I got lucky today and it was clear and sunny.

The run along the marina was nice. Lots of other runners, nice sea air, beautiful view. As I got closer to the bridge and actually started running on the path alongside the road, it was strange. Lots of traffic beside me, no other people. Also, lots of puddles. Apparently yesterday there was a huge amount of rain. Score one for luck for me that I missed it. At a few parts where there were pedestrian subway underpasses under roads, I was actually running in ankle deep water.

I think at this point I was running along state route 1 or "california 1"

The run was certainly longer than I had thought. My training schedule for today was actually a rest day. Some chance...

The thing about running towards something as tremendously large as the Golden Gate Bridge is that you see if from very far away and it just doesnt seem to get any closer mile after mile. Eventually, however, I reached the bridge and paused to see this rather spectacular sight...

Didnt pause for long though, at this point I think if I had my legs might have seized up. I pushed on and started running along the bridge. This was the sight that greeted me as I ran onto it.

The run itself was completely exhilarating. It honestly was fantastic. I think part of this was due to a larger than usual endorphin rush, probably caused by the fact that I was running much further than planned just two days after my longest run to date. However, it was mostly just from the sheer thrill of doing it and from the incredible beauty of the views and majesty of the bridge itself. It looks amazing in photos.. yes. Its a wonder of the world.. yes. But none of this really conveys how incredibly impressive this thing is as you run along the length of it. The full length is 1.7 miles, so the run across and back was the easiest 3.4 miles I have ever run. The view from the bridge was spectacular. Sadly the cam phone photo does it NO justice. You can just about see alcatraz in the distance.

When I got to the other side, I turned round to run back and found myself running the full length with a smile on my face and at a fairly decent pace, at one point I glanced at my Garmin and was flying along at about a 7:30 minute per mile pace (thats fast for me.. ok!). I had my iPod on and as listening to "Does it offend you, yeah?" which just seemed to work perfectly.

So here I am, halfway across... loving it...

I came off the bridge and ran back via Crissy Field, along by the ocean which was also beautiful. I had figured out before I even reached the bridge that by the time I finished I would probably be close to 10 miles. I figured that after 12 miles on sunday my knees might protest too much and thought I may have to stop running and walk at some point. Luckily, I stuck at it, my knees did indeed protest the pounding but not enough to stop me. In total, by the time I made it back to the trolley stop I had clocked in a total of 11 miles and had hugely enjoyed it.

When I finished, it had just turned 9:30am. I have to say, starting your day with an 11 mile run that includes running along one of the wonders of the world is FANTASTIC... but... its tough to live up to. The rest of the day seems long and dull by comparison.

Just to finish off, here is a screengrab from google maps of my route....

Sunday, 22 February 2009

First 12 mile run

Today I did my first 12 mile run.
Previously my longest run was 10 miles.
I was over at a friends house last night and told him I was planning the 12 miles today and he suggested we run it together. Now, Ive been running less than a year, and Liam has been running for about 25 years, but I though, what the hell.. why not?
So we met at a nice sport and set out. from the very outset, I knew Liam would have a faster pace than me... and while I am sure I slowed him down a little, I dd my best to keep up.
IF I had gone out to do this run myself, I know I would have probably done 10 minute miles and taken 2 hours for the run. Thanks to being pushed a little, I did it in 1 hour 43 minutes. An average pace of 8:36 per mile. For me this would be good going on a 5 mile run.
So, much as I like to run alone, I guess the lesson here is.. if you're going to go running with a friend, might as well run with a friend who is a better runner.

Ive attached my route, just because to me it looks good. Click the image for a nice full size version of this.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

On yer bike...

Over the last year Ive been focussed exclusively on running. I had decided a while ago, however, that I wanted to do a Triathlon. So, I bought a cheap mountain bike.

I went out a few times with my 2 year old son on the back and did some short distance cycling just for fun. It was pretty much the first time I had been on a bike for many years. Literally since I was a kid I think.

So a month or so ago I knew that I would need to start considering the bike element of the Triathlon and training properly. I started off by going to a spin class to get into the idea of it and start building the basic strength. Im now doing these fairly regularly (2-3 times a weeek when I can) and it seems to be helping.

On sunday past, I ventured out for my first road ride alone. I was heading to a local park with my wife and the little guy. I decided to cycle there and they could follow in the car and meet me there. So I cycled the 6 or so miles to the park and it was a lot of fun. On a downhill section I got the bike up to 30mph. To any cyclists out there that probably sounds like nothing... but to anyone else who, like me, hasnt been on a bike for about 20 years... man its SCARY, and pretty exhilarating too.

We went to the park and had a lot of fun and I headed off to cycle back home. Only problem was that the journey back home was all uphill. Which was tough going. It was about 6 miles home with a steady uphill slope which clinbed 560ft in total. So the total 12 mile journey took me 1 hour and six minutes, with a break of about an hour and a half in the middle.

This is the right distance for a sprint triathlon, but time wise.. phew! Way off! I should be doing it in half that time.

On Tuesday I arived home a few hours early from a business trip. I had started the day with a 5 mile run, but the sun was out, Steph and Zane were not due back for an hour, so I threw my bag in the house, donned my gear and jumped on the bike. I cycled 12.3 miles, this time on a more flat course and managed a slightly more respectable time of 55 mins.

Still WAY off a good time for a triathlon though, but of course my training is just starting.

Today, Thursday, I went to my early morning spin class and discovered it was cancelled. So I jumped on the stationary bike in the gym, set it to 20km distance and started cycling. It seems that in a period of about 36 hours Ive made what can only be described as miraculous improvements as I completed the 20k in 36 minutes 33 seconds. Now that i more like a triathlon time.

What it really shows is that I am never trusting a stationary bike to give me any indication of my ability. Much like running, training indoors on a machine is fine to build up the basics... but nothing prepares you for hills and wind like being out in the open. Ive got to a point where I just cant run on a treamill at all, and while there is obviously a huge advantage to spin classes, I think that I am going to have to clock in a lot more miles on the road for my biking to get to an acceptable standard.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The begining

This is the start of a new blog for me.
A few weeks ago I came up with an idea.
I decided that I am going to do an Ironman triathlon.
Pretty ambitious, considering my furtherst race so far is a 10k.
On this blog I am going to track my journey towards this goal. Hopefully it will be a bit of motivation for others. If not, hopefully it will at least be entertaining.