Saturday, December 31, 2011

10k to 10 miles in 6 weeks

Thought it best that I return to all things running and review two late summer/early autumn races that I competed in.
First up and 7 weeks after the Cookstown Half, I was lining up for the Laganside 10k in Belfast. I first entered in 2009 and completed in 55 mins and then last year, I registered a time of just under 48 mins. This however, was my first competitive 10k of 2011, so although quietely confident I wasn't sure if I would get under 45 mins.
The training had gone well, with regular sessions at Dromore AC, some hill work and longish runs of around 10 miles. This 10k is a very popular one as the course is pretty flat throughout and it is run in the heart of Belfast. As ever the start is always congested but with the race being chipped, I started near the back in the hope that I wouldn't set off too quick and burn myself out after a mile. A number of other Dromore runners were lining up too and I was keen to keep an eye on the likes of Aine and Mary who were both more than capable of a time around 45 mins.
The gun sounded and we were on our way, I had no problems weaving through the pack and was soon on the heels of Jonathan(fellow Dromore runner) who I knew was capable of a 45 mins time. My pace was steady and I knew that if I kept Jonathon in sight, I would get a good time. Just before half-way we crossed the Ormeau Bridge and here there were a number of Dromore supporters urging us on. I hit half-way in around 23 mins and this gave me a lift as I knew that by keeping at this pace, 45 mins was a possibilty.
Between mile 4 & 5 things nearly went wrong as turning up past Cental Railway Station I had to take evasive action as a number of pedestrians were heading our way, the only place I could go was onto the road and thankfully there was no oncoming traffic. A few expletives came out of my mouth (why were marshalls not keeping the paths clear?) but I regained my composure and made my way along the tow-path knowing I had less that 2 miles to go. By this point I had passed Jonathon and could see in the distance a number of Dromore vests. Reaching the Ormeau Bridge for a second time, Diane from the club who was supporting not running, was pointing furiously in the distance at a Dromore vest - it was Aine. Could I catch her? The last half a mile or so is flat so I dug deep and quickened my pace slightly, all the time closing in on Aine and with 10 yards to go I passed her. I was over the moon, kanckered but over the moon. I knew I hadn't quite got under 45 mins but my time was going to be a PB. I picked up my bottle of water and headed for the Up & Running stall. This year the organisers gave all entrants a voucher for Up & Running rather than a T-shirt, which I felt was a much better idea. I stocked up on energy bars/gels which will come in useful in 2012 during my marathon training. And what of my official time? 45-58, which knocked over 2 mins off last year's time and another PB.
October 9th and 6 weeks on from the Laganside 10k and I'm down at the Navan Centre in Armagh waiting for the start of the Armagh 10 mile road race. In 2010, I completed the race in 1 hr 22 mins but I was hopeful of getting under 1 hr 20 mins particularly as there had been a lot of speedwork in my recent training. Although this event is well publicised and attracts a lot of entrants, the organisation leaves a little to be desired. This year's race wasn't chipped, no changing facilities on-site and the cotton T-shirt is exactly the same as last year's. Oh and the other thing is the "fun run" starts at the same time as the main race, so you spend the first mile dodging youngsters, walkers and pram-pushers!!
What of the race? Well, I set off way to quickly, hitting 2 miles in 15 mins...this was a pace I wasn't going to be able keep up, so I took stock and eased back slightly. The route is through quiet country roads and has a few hills so makes for a challenging run. I knew at half-way a pace of 8 minute miles would get me close to a 1hr 20 mins finish, I was feeling really positive and was able to push hard over the last couple of miles and finished in a time of 1 hr 17 mins 42 secs. Really pleased and happy to see most other Dromore runners finish in under 1hr 25 mins.
Will I run the race again in 2012? Not sure, the course is great and there aren't many 10 mile races but the organisers will need to up their game.

1 major race left in 2011, the Seeley Cup 10k at the end of November. Will I get that sub 45 time???

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Adam Ant - Vicar St, Dublin, Nov 25th 2011

This is a post with a difference, in that there is no mention of running or how my training is going. Instead, I'm going to review the Adam Ant gig that I attended on November 25th.
Before I start, just a bit of background into my 31 year obsession with all things Adam Ant. It was in 1980, that I first saw Adam & the Ants on TOTP performing (miming) "Dog Eat Dog" and from that moment I was hooked. Later that year, I bought the "Kings of the Wild Frontier" LP in Central Milton Keynes' long-gone Virgin Megastore. I wasn't allowed to go and see the "Prince Charming Revue" in 1982, apparantly I was too young at 14 to go to London,on my own! So, I had to wait until 1995 before I saw my hero in concert at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London as part of the "Wonderful" tour.
I only found out that I had a ticket for the Vicar St gig, 20 days before the event. How come? The ticket was a birthday present from my lovely wife, Louise who had apparantly booked it 6 weeks before. I was over the moon as I thought the chance of seeing Adam in concert again had passed me by.
November 25th finally came around and before I left the hotel, I 'put on a little make-up,make-up'and headed into Dublin city centre. Vicar St was only 15 minutes walk away and at 8pm I found myself jostling with lots of Antpeople at the merchandise stall. The venue itself is small and intimate and has a capacity of around 800, so the chances of getting a good spot amongst the crowd was pretty high.
Around 8.20pm, the support band Georgie Girl and Her Poussez Posse took to the stage. 4 girls with attitude all playing their own instruments, a great sight in these days of The Saturdays and other indenti-kit girl groups. The band reminded me a little of Kenickie and they seem to have the same sense of humour when they stormed through a version of "Addicted to Love". 30 minutes later they left the stage to great applause...Georgie would be back later as one of Adam's backing singers.
The next 15 minutes seemed to go on forever and with the venue nearing capacity, I positioned myself to the right of the stage and waited...
The lights went down and the first few bars of "Plastic Surgery" caused mayhem in the crowd and this was before Adam had even appeared. A minute or so later, there he was no more than a few yards in front me, jumping around the stage...I was ecstatic. I love "Plastic Surgery" so this was a great start and this song, over 30 years old is more relevant now than it ever was...the way it ridicules those who mess around with their looks..."clean your face with Mr Sheen"
Adam and the band didn't stop for breath as singles, 'B' sides and album tracks were performed with gusto including "Beat My Guest" (all time fave 'B' side), "Zerox" and "Ants Invasion". The backing singers appeared just as "Stand & Deliver" started up, following soon after, a real surprise as "Puss 'n Boots" was given a rockier edge, during which there was a bit of banter between Adam and the two backing singers.
Adam seemed to be having so much fun and was really enjoying himself. He seemed quite humble when he introduced "Kings of the Wild Frontier", the crowd felt this and gave the song a rapturous reception. In the next 30 minutes, a few early songs were performed - "Whip in my Valise", "Never Trust a Man with Egg on his Face" and "Cleopatra", oh and a new song "Vince Taylor" was squeezed in.
Hour and a half in and there was no sign of Adam wanting to stop and 4 classic punk 'B' sides blew the roof off - "Christian D'Or", "Lady", Fall In" and "Red Scab"...BUT then it was all over, or was it? Surely, there would be an encore? We all shouted Adam's name, clapped, stamped our feet and then he returned to give a punk edge to Marc Bolan's "Get It On" and "20th Century Boy". There was still time for one more song and it had to be "Physical (You're So)"...the song that seems to have ended all Adam's gigs from the year dot.
This had been one of the greatest nights of my life, it was everything that I hoped it would be and more. Can't wait for the new album in 2012 and I will jump at the chance to do this all over again in an instant.