on running

Went out for a run tonight, after spending some time coming up with a veritable raft of excuses why not to.

Too cold, too tired, just eaten (not entirely true), legs still sore after running on Saturday, and so on.

See, Saturday was the first run of the year. First run for months, truth be told. And it hadn’t been a particularly enjoyable run – I’d gone on my ‘short’ run, a 2.4 mile loop from my house. This is the run I did quite a lot as my speed run last year – I’d got the time down to a creditable (for me) 21:11, or 9 minutes for a mile.

But that was in March. Yikes. Saturday was painful, leaving me walking several times and grumbling internally at the stupidity of running and exercise in general.

So tonight I pulled on my running kit (NTS: blog post about running kit) and set off. I’d replaced the battery in my trusty Garmin Forerunner 50 (NTS: blog post about how crap Garmin’s watch straps are) so I could time myself this time.

Stretch, and we’re off. I’ve never really gone in for this warming up lark, but I’m starting to think it might be a good idea. Watch this space. Down our street to the main road, already it’s feeling ok. Better than Saturday at least. The weather is chilly but not cold, and it’s dry and clear. Across the main road and down to the traffic lights. I’m starting to wonder if it’s possible to do an audioblog whilst running, and my mind is nicely distracted as I trundle along. First incline, not too bad. Breathe, keep plodding on.

A note about my running style: I’m not sure you could really call it ‘running’. More of a steady plod plod plod at something over walking speed. That said, a nine-minute mile is pretty good, and I’d be happy to get there again.

Turn the corner at the top of the hill and avoid the first of many puppy pebbles. Seriously, why can’t people pick up their dog’s crap? Grrr, rant, etc.

Along the road to the field with the horses, which is deserted tonight. We’re now on the outskirts of the village – fields on one side and houses on the other. It’s not far now until the turn for home (NTS: another blog post about loops vs out-and-back routes). Bit tricky this bit as it involves going from one side of the road to the other then back again as the pavements run out.

At the corner now and it’s a short downhill and into a dark section of the run. This bit is between two fields which in the summer are a blaze of colour, poppies and rapeseed on either side. Now though they’re just short grass, but it won’t be long.

It starts to rain and I wonder if I’m going to get soaked – it’s one of those showers where it could so easily turn to a downpour, but tonight it just lasts for a minute or so before moving on. We’re back into the village again, streetlights bathing the road in their sodium glow. This was the point at which I stopped and walked on Saturday, so already I’m feeling better. Legs have warmed up and stopped aching as much.

Past the big expensive houses with their vast driveways, cross the main road at the corner and we’re nearly there. I’m composing this post as I go, but know I’ll forget 90% of the stuff I’ve thought of. Never mind, just get down what I can.

At the traffic lights, turn again and we’re onto a short uphill bit. No trouble tonight, but it’s the downhill on the other side where the legs start to ache. Turn into my road and we’re nearly there – I dig out my watch and click the stop button.

I have to look again at the time. 20:04. That’s phenomenal – knocking a minute off my previous best? After months of not running?

Then I see the ‘lap 2’ flashing – I’ve obviously knocked the lap counter at some point. Curses.

Final time: 24:57

Slow, but steady. I’m glad I went out. Hope you enjoyed the trip – I’ll be blogging more about my running adventures in the days, weeks and months to come.

coffee and spaghetti

the inimitable Michael Marshall Smith’s latest blog post is jolly entertaining

How the Spaghetti Murders Started

On a slightly-related note, I opened a pack of Tesco ground coffee yesterday morning.

No, really, I did. Life is just that exciting round here.

I noticed on the side of the packet a photograph of a large, friendly pile of the aforementioned coffee nestled artfully in a hessian sack, with a spoon sticking out of it.

Under which was the text ‘serving suggestion’

Now, call me an old traditionalist if you will, but I would wager that 99.999% of coffee drinkers in the known universe would prefer their coffee served in a mug, having been steeped in hot (but not boiling) water first. And not, as Tesco would suggest, in a sack, hessian or otherwise.

books of 2009: Red Seas Under Red Skies

Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch

Second of the ‘Gentleman Bastard’ series, following up from the brilliant The Lies of Locke Lamora. My friend at work bought it and loaned it to me to read first (nice chap).

In Red Seas, Locke and Jean end up having various piratical adventures on the high seas. Generous dollops of treason, double-crossing, triple-crossing, sneaky high jinks, cunning escapes and thrilling cons. Reminded me of the Pirates of the Caribbean series in places. Huge amounts of fun trying to work out how on earth the author will manage to get our heroes out of this and that.

Republic of Thieves is out in March 2010, according to Amazon. Whatever you do, don’t read the Amazon page until you’ve read this book first! Major spoilers etc.

If you’ve read both, you might be interested to know that Scott has posted up the prologue to book #3 on his website…


Is it next year yet? 🙂 I really want to re-read them both again, right now.

Added to amazon wishlist for future christmas pressies. 🙂


*taps microphone*
Is this thing on?

I was making my way to the car park a while ago, headphones on, enjoying the rush of people around me as the Scissor Sisters played tunes in my head.

I love the feeling of having a personal soundtrack to what I’m doing. It allows you to feel disconnected, yet still *there*, if you get my drift.

Everybody wants the same thing
No trading places on the chain gang
It doesn’t matter how you swing it
Everybody wants the same thing

So, there I am, heading over the bridge when I notice the guy in front of me. Youngish, smartly dressed. Staggering. He falls to the left, corrects, straightens, keeps going and staggers to the right. Rinse and repeat. He almost collides with half a dozen people while I gradually catch up with him. He seems quite jolly though – I can hear him talking away to himself and anyone who’ll listen.

When the hammer comes down it never makes no sense
Chaos is not a virtue, paranoia loads the bases

Not that anyone will. Who’d talk to a staggering, crazy drunk dude on a cold dark night such as this?

I bide my time, gauging the flow of people, waiting for the moment when I can step up my pace and slip past him on the narrow pavement. Cars whiz by, inches from the side of the road, cutting off the option of using that as a space. Ah well, there’s no great rush.

What is it that you want?
What is it that you give?
Where do you plan on finding it?
How do you want to live?

There. A gap. I increase my stride, timing my move to his stagger. He goes left, I pause, he goes right, I go past.

We’re now a hundred yards further on. I sense a presence behind me. A staggering presence, moving erratically. I tune out the words to the song and realise that he’s talking to me. A hand catches the arm of my coat and I remove the headphones, tinny voices spilling out into the cold night.

“Mate,” he says, eyes wide. “I have a question.”

“Yeah?” I reply. Sharp, huh?

“Mate,” he repeats, gesturing at the stream of traffic and people as his stagger comes to a halt.

“Why? Why is Leeds… mechanical?”

This last word is spat out, loaded with venom and bile. His eyes dance in the sodium glare of the streetlights.

“No idea mate, ” I offer. Weak, but true.

He drops to his knees, arms raised to the heavens, face turned to the sky. “WHY? Someone must know! Someone *must* know!”

I shrug. The only possible answer to such a question. Whatever this guy is on, he’s flying. Good luck with your quest, mate. I hope you find an answer.

Love is what I want
Love is what I give
Right here’s where I’m finding it
That’s how I’m gonna live…

lyrics courtesy (and copyright, no doubt) The Scissor Sisters, Everybody Wants The Same Thing, from their album, Ta Dah!