Monday 3 February 2014

I ache, therefore I am.......

      A mild dose of man flu curtailed my activities a bit last week (any excuse will do!) so didn't get out as
River Wharfe in spate at Linton....
often as I'd have liked. The weather was pretty grotty too, as no doubt everyone will have read about in the National news, so I've had to rethink my running programme to escape the gales and general nastiness. I'm going soft in my dotage. I considered going back to the dreaded treadmill but the lady I rang at our local Sports Centre informed me it currently costs £3:60 per session to use the fitness suite.  Being a Yorkshireman, with a few drops of Scottish blood, that sounded a bit much, so the idea got put on a back burner until the weather turns really bad!

The amazing Ed Whitlock in flight....
      So what did I do? Well, I've been reading about old  Ed Whitlock, one of my racing contemporaries who holds about twenty world age group records over all sorts of distances, his latest being an incredible 3:41:58 in the Toronto marathon after just turning 82. Not bad that, eh! Does he do his long runs on scenic country routes? No.  Does he visit his local track for speed sessions? No. All he does is walk a couple of blocks to his local cemetery to run 600m circuits round the tombstones for an hour or two, or until he's feeling thirsty. He's done that for years and seems to prefer it to wide open spaces.
      Coincidentally, one of my speedier running acquaintances, 43 year old Dave Watson of
Dave Watson, another speed merchant..
Holmfirth Harriers, has also taken to training around the dead centre of our village, sometimes in the wee small hours with a headtorch, or by moonlight. Like everywhere else in the Pennines the graveyard sits on a slope so it's possible to do uphill reps for leg strength or downhill reps for leg speed. Dave sometimes does these twice a day - before his longer run over Castle Hill!  He's no slouch and boasts an impressive set of PB's most folk would be proud of - like 5,000m in 14:41 and 10,000m in a respectable 31:46.
      Last week I set off on a short trial run to suss things out. It's only three minutes across the fields to the gates of the cemetery, less when it's blowing a westerly gale, so I was soon teetering round the tombstones exploring the ups and downs and ins and outs of the many intersecting paths. On the second circuit I met a lovely old lady dabbing her eyes beside the well kept double grave of her husband and son.  "It draws me like a magnet" she said, and I understood why. She was grief stricken when her only son collapsed and died while running over Castle Hill. He was 60 years old and she firmly believes he'd still be alive today if he hadn't taken up running. I've tried but can't convince her otherwise. His father was only 64 when he died.
Snowdrops at Linton....
    Today I had the misfortune (!) to be leaving the house just as Dave Watson was passing - on his way to the cemetery. "I'll run with you" he said. Needless to say, it was impossible to match his strides, especially while talking at the same time, so it wasn't long before I was reduced to a short walk, come the first incline. Dave carried on his ceaseless chatter and I was mighty relieved when he departed after a couple of circuits and left me to my own devices! I was curious to know what my heart rate had rocketed up to while running with Dave, but on getting back home I discovered I'd forgotten to start my watch at the shock of having to run with him! I don't even know how long the run took, but pretty sure it was a lot quicker than last time!  My aching legs thought so too. Next time I'll make sure the coast is clear before I venture out for a run.....


  1. and another enjoyable read ... thank you.

    Don't the snowdrops look nice

    Take Care

    All the best Jan

    1. You're welcome Jan. The snowdrops would look nicer opened up with a bit more sun on them. It was very cold last Saturday and they were mainly in the shade under the trees....

  2. I know the feeling, we had a new guy join us at training yesterday, and sudenly the 5km warmup was 30sec faster!

    I know the cemetery might be dead quiet and sound like a good place for a run, but here in SA you might, if running there, get the feeling that you could endup a resident before your time!!!

    Now get out there and run down Ed...

    1. I know, I'd love to run with someone who's a little bit faster - to stretch me out a bit - but Dave is 38 years younger and a LOT faster. Did you click on his profile?
      I could maybe run OK with Ed - but not for long!

  3. Am I reading your side bar correctly and understanding it, in the right column that is titled, "Road Racing PB's" (PB's = personal bests - right?) You are stating that in 1990, at age 58, you ran a 4 minute 5 second mile!?! I don't normally sit here with my lower jaw dropped open (as in dumbfounded) but wow!!! I'm going to be 58 years old in September. If someone told me to run a ten minute mile today or die...I'd have to tell them...just shoot me now. You are amazingly fast! This year when I think of resting, I'll picture you and get motivated to keep trying. Thanks for the inspiration:)

    1. Marc, it was a downhill 'maniac' mile and a contemporary of mine, Gerry Spink, had run sub 4 minutes - when he was 60 years old! I wanted to do the same, but things went a bit wrong on the night. I'd been running sub 4:30's in training, timed my warm-up perfectly on the night, lined up behind a pacemaker who regularly ran sub 4 - only to be pulled out and put in a second race because they considered there were too many runners for us all to run safely in the same race. Afraid I went off the boil.
      Thanks for stopping by.....

  4. Have just started following your Blog, as a 63 year old who loves off road running and enters the odd off road event down here in Somerset, what you write is always inspiring, particularly with the weather being so bad at the moment. I have attempted to start my own blog, but just getting into it

    Best wishes Ian B

    1. Ian, thanks for visiting. Had a look at your blog and it seems the bad weather is curtailing your activities too. Hope you're managing to keep dry...