Category Archives: Night Terror

300km! The fight for second starts here.

So, that’s 300km up for the month (in fact I’m now at 316km). The target is somewhere between 450 and 500km. If I could do the latter I’d be pleased, but it will mean some serious kilometerage over the next 10 days – well, 18.4km a day anyway, which actually isn’t too bad.

My mortal running enemy Mr Fletcher is currently on 326km, but hasn’t uploaded for today (which I think was about 12km). So, probably around 22km separate us. It’s all very exciting. To be honest it appears that while the snow and freezing conditions have inspired me, they seem to have weighed heavy on Mr Fs shoulders – so I’m hoping the terrible weather keeps on coming in the UK. I have a Lance Armstrong “win at any cost” approach to this, as you can see.

So, why has my blogging been so tardy this Janathon? In all seriousness it’s because I tend to run twice a day. The last run is often late at night, and it’s usually absolutely bloody freezing. When I get back in my hands physically can’t type until they thaw out, and usually by then I’m slumped on the sofa under a blanket watching Family Guy. So, apologies. But I haven’t been slacking on the miles, as you can see.

Anyway, I could barely type that out, so I’m going to stop. Best wishes, and if you happen to see Andrew out and about remember to trip him up!

(Only joking).

 

Janathon… Day… er 9, 8… 7?

I bet you were worried.

My sudden, terrifying disappearance.

Two whole days missed. No kilometres logged on RunningFree. My second place in the leaderboard becoming third. Then fourth. Then fifth. I could hear the hushed whispers…. Has it all got too much for him? Has his body crumbled under the strain? Has he been hit by a small white Peugeot van and smeared messily across the French tarmac? Has he been spirited to the fourth dimension by a 16 foot talking beetroot wearing a fake moustache?

No. None of these things.

There have been a few technical issues, now resolved. When I say “technical issues” I mean an issue of me not using technology to provide updates because of my general laziness.

However, my distances have now been logged, and I stand proud on 137km so far this month (on foot) and 49km (on the bike). This puts me comfortably back in second. Hopelessly adrift of fletchea, granted, but not out of the running (ho!) completely. To be fair, I don’t see fletchea doing any pedalling, so I think I should get to add my bike distance and running distance together. Sounds fair no?

It was an interesting run today. Well, I ran 12km this morning and then another 9km tonight, but the latter was the more interesting of the two. I changed my night running strategy today. I figured that running late at night isn’t without risks. I live in the middle of nowhere. It’s quite feasible that if I set off for a long run at 11pm on a day with the temperature below freezing, and fell into a ditch and broke my ankle I could perish of hypothermia before I encountered another human being. I should point out that I wear the same thing if it’s 30 above or 10 below. Shorts, T-shirt, socks, shoes. It’s warm enough if you’re running, but the moment you stop? Ooooh boy. I suppose I could wear full length lycra leggings and one of those puffy running jackets but I’m far too stylish for that. Even if it means certain death if I stop running.

Anyway, while running through scenarios in my mind of me being chipped out of an ice block in 500,000 years time by a future civilization and pondered over (“what was the sparkling bracelet upon his foot? Was it perhaps a mating ritual?“) I decided to experiment with running 5km circuits close-in to my house, figuring that even if I broke my ankle I could probably crawl home before becoming entombed as a human mammoth.

Amazingly I encountered some runners! Real ones. I occasionally see a few people shuffling round in shell-suits puffing and wheezing like an old steam tractor, but my strategy to go round and round the local village finally put me in sync with two local people who seemed to know how to run properly. Being France what could have been a lovely moment where two groups of people could meet and share a singular love of a sport was instead a bizarre social encounter which left me puzzled for a while afterwards.

First of all one of the runners (both male) was wearing a luminous sports bra. Let us call him Pierre and his friend Jean-Paul (I have no idea what they were called, but it seems reasonable). Neither Pierre or Jean-Paul had torches or generally fluorescent running gear. Considering it was pitch-black this seemed peculiar. The only means of alerting passing cars to their presence was the luminous sports bra. Admittedly he was wearing it over a T-shirt, but even so… It’s not really pertinent to the story, but I thought I’d mention it.

After we had exchanged pleasantries, I enquired how far they were intending to run. 15km, came the entirely reasonable reply. Did they run all the time? I asked excitedly (having never seen anyone in about 2 years of running in the area who looked like they took the sport at all seriously). Oh yes! came the reply. Every Tuesday and Thursday, and sometimes Wednesday at 6pm. Now, I can’t be sure this is a lie, but considering I’ve run through the village at about 6pm about 200 times and NEVER SEEN ANYONE EVER I thought this was a bit odd.

We chatted a bit, but whether I was invited to join them in the future or not, I don’t know….

This is what puzzles me. I taught a French class the other day (well, I taught a class of French people about English) and we talked a lot about the differences in culture between France and the UK in terms of social interaction. For example. In France the phrase “Oh yes! I’d be delighted if you wanted to come and stay at my house! Stay as long as you like!” actually, genuinely means “come and stay at my house as long as you like!

In the UK the phrase “Oh yes! I’d be delighted if you wanted to come and stay at my house! Stay as long as you like!” means “stay in my house for 2 or 3 days tops, after two weeks the sight of you will make me want to vomit and if you stay any longer I will personally stab you to death when you sleep with a rusty screwdriver“.

The French don’t understand this. Their social interactions are very blunt, rather than a tapestry of little white lies. But they also sometimes say very little and expect you to decipher meaning from tiny gobbets of information. It could be that by proffering information on the exact timing and location of their mini-running club that they would be delighted for me to tag along in future. They might even expect it. I don’t know. It’s all very confusing.

But anyway, apart from the luminous sports-bra I was shocked at their relative lack of lighting or visibility equipment. When I enquired as to why this was Pierre said he knew the road like the back of his hand. Which is fine I guess. But when it’s pitch black you actually need to find the road you know like the back of your hand before you can demonstrate your hand-related knowledge of said road. He seemed adamant that head torches were bourgeois accoutrements and entirely unnecessary . I didn’t argue. One thing you learn early on in life is never argue with a Frenchman wearing a luminous sports bra.

A maxim for life. You might want to write that down.

We ran together for 5 or 6km before we parted. The set off up the main road, disappearing into the rain, cloud and light fog with only a thin strip of luminous bra-strap keeping them alive. It was a peculiar meeting and one that lingered long after it had finished.

The question remains – do I run tomorrow at 6pm, try to meet up with them and try to learn more about these mysterious, phantom runners, guided purely by glowing lingerie. Or should I continue to run alone?

I think we both know the answer to that.

Janathon – Day Trois

I AM LEADING JANATHON! 3 DAYS IN AND I’M IN THE LEAD! TREMBLE BEFORE ME MORTALS! TREMBLE BEFORE YOUR NEW RUNNING GOD!

Not that I’m bothered or anything. You know. It’s just for fun. Just for fun….. m’wha ha ha ha ha!

Anyhoo.

I went into the local sports shop today.

Using simple mathematical reasoning I’d worked out that I was going to get through running tops faster than I could wash them, so it was time to invest another 6 euros in a cheap bit of sportswear manufactured by exploited child workers somewhere in South West Asia.

I’m a bit like Henry Ford when it comes to running gear. Any colour as long as it’s black. But as I reached for yet another black running top I stopped and thought “NO”. I took a stand  against my personal monochromatic tendencies today. In a moment of wild abandon I bought a red one. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, or are aware of my general moaning, I’ve always disliked red. I was quite upset when my chunky Garmin 305 GPS was only available in red. I complained endlessly about it to anyone who would listen. When people stopped listening I started complaining to the pets. When they stopped listening I just started having internal dialogues with myself. Like Gollum.

But as I admired myself in the mirror before setting out for my 16.37km run today I noticed I was practically red all over (Joke: What’s black and white and red all over? Answer: ME). Red top, red GPS, red trainers and (I’m going to be open and frank here), red pants. For anyone American reading that’s pants in the underpants sense. For anyone British reading this that’s pants in the pants sense. For anyone else reading this then STOP THINKING ABOUT MY PANTS YOU DAMN BLOODY PERVERT.

I have embraced red. Red is indeed the new black. To begin with I was a little self-concious. I felt like a human strawberry gambolling through the French countryside. But I did notice that rather than the usual wing-mirror grazing I tended to get from French motorists, for once, they steered well clear of me. Fear the strawberry. Respect the strawberry. If I can twin this with my existing approach to terrifying French OAPs late at night I think I can take my campaign of terror to a new level.

I also bought a luminous yellow band with sparkling (red, yes!) lights on it. The idea is, I think, to strap it around your wrist or thigh (if you’re wondering how they manufactured something with a strap capable of adapting to a standard wrist and a standard thigh, then they didn’t, it’s hopeless) and any approaching cars spotting you late at night think they’ve encountered a low flying UFO and keep well clear. I’m not the most masculine of blokes, but the thought of strapping a luminous garter band on my thigh and running around late at night as I sparkle like Tinkerbell is certainly going to be an interesting new life direction, but one I’m ready to take.

I’m half hoping I do get knocked over. As I lay in broken heap on the road and the driver runs towards me in a panic I can wheeze “…you didn’t believe in fairies…. then this happened…. I hope you’re happy”. I can then do a dramatic death rattle and disappear in a puff of glitter.

Leaving just a faint red outline on the road.

Janathon Day 1

So, here we are again. This Janathon thing.

I think I came eighth last year with about 350km run through the month. I was hopelessly adrift of the more hardcore runners – the top guy placed did double that, or something ridiculous. But, it doesn’t hurt to try for a magnificent top 5 placing, so this year I think a target of around 450km fits the bill. This is around 15km a day, entirely doable. Unless you miss a day, and then things get messy. Or you get injured. Or you just can’t be arsed.

Today was the first of a formula I’ll be repeating frequently. A 15km slow, endurance run in the day (with the backpack) and a faster 5km speed run late at night in the pitch black (without the backpack). it was good to see the hordes of fair weather runners out today on the usually deserted roads. 2 or 3 weeks time they’ll all be back indoors cramming Brie and red wine into every orifice and pretending they’ll get back to it at some point. I love a fresh faced New Year runner though – all kitted out in 250,000 euros worth of sweat-wicking fluorescent body suits and military-grade satellite navigation systems. Red faced, puffing, dragging their feet like a partially paralysed turtle. Happy days!

Anyway, back to me. The additional motivation of Janaton should be useful in getting me churning some serious kilometerage this month, but the looming 80k I need to run in March will probably be the bigger incentive. I have shook off many of my niggling injuries, with only a bad right hip still causing problems, so I should be able to train. But, critically, it’s whether I can train enough so I don’t collapse halfway through the Paris ultramarathon and need to get resuscitated  by a Frenchman. Who in my nightmares is normally played by Gerard Depardieu.

So you can see why I’m worried.

FIN

So it’s over. 31 days of hell, finished. Finis.

Lets look at the stats:

Total km: 350

Total amount of time running (hours): 34

Place on Janathon leaderboard: 8

Average km run each day: 11.29

PB’s achieved: 0

Times I ran as fast as I could: 0

Blog posts: 31

Blog posts that insulted the French: 31

Regrets: 6

Welts: 1

Bad backs: 2

Pairs of shorts consigned to dustbin due to excessive groinal ventilation: 1

Contact lenses lost in haystacks: 1

Pensioners scared: 3

Onions consumed on pizza: 0

Haircuts: 1

Good haircuts: 0

Piglets: 10

ZEST4LIFE: 0

Public wees: 16

Porcelain Jesus: 0

Chance of me doing this again, expressed in binary: 0

 

Big thanks to Cathy for organising the event, and I might see you all for Juneathon… maybe.

A firing squad, budget crisps and Sting

22.5k on the bike, and 16km on the feet, putting the runthomasrun cat among the pigeons on the Janathon leaderboard and putting me within sniffing distance of sixth. I AM SNIFFING YOU.

Thankfully tonight’s run was an altogether more pleasurable affair. Not because it was any easier (as each day goes by I get more and more fatigued, and slower and slower) but because I experienced it at a natural brightness level (it was still dark, but not ultra-dark).

Why?

Because the phone call came through at about 10am this morning.

A morose man – with a tone of voice suggesting he was about to announce that my entire extended family had been wiped out in a gas explosion – informed me that my glasses were ready. ONE DAY ahead of schedule. Admittedly the schedule was already running 7 days and 23 hours longer than I expected, but you need to take good news where you can find it.

Back on the bike, and back into the local town I went. I figured nothing could possibly go wrong again. It didn’t. I am now the proud owner of a new “stylish” pair of glasses, with incredibly thick cheap lenses, that nip my right ear like a beaver and are so small that my world has become vertically letterboxed.

Still, mustn’t grumble. At least it’s bright again. I’m sure the OAPs of France will rest easy in their beds once more.

All the talk in France today is about the credit rating downgrade. If you don’t follow world economics basically Europe is up poo poo creek without a paddle. France is taking a battering from the credit rating agencies, and the National Front are on the rise ahead of the presidential elections in four months time. As a foreigner in this land with a long, tortuous blog complaining about the country I expect I’ll be first against the wall when the next revolution comes. Still, I figure if the firing squad need regular eye tests I’ll be safe for a while yet.

That said, with a potential shooting in mind, I thought I’d say something positive about the French today. That’s what I thought. When it came to action, things became trickier.

I finally remembered the thing I admire most about the French. It is the fact that they produce some absolutely cracking budget range crisps. I’m not saying the UK doesn’t do a decent entry level potato based snack – in fact we may be the world leader – but France does some terrific stuff too. I will warn you upfront – if you’re thinking of taking a voyage into French crisp heaven you need to steer clear of their nut flavoured crisps. Who in their right mind wants a peanut flavoured crisp? Wrong.

But where France beats the UK is in the provision of economy crisps that don’t really taste of anything. You might think that’s a bad thing, but France have nailed a number of crisp lines that feature a sort of anti-taste. These wonderful crisps taste of mouth, which means you can eat loads of them without feeling sick/full/satisfied.

It’s like sex with Sting.

The French have perfected Tantric Crisps.

With a Tantric Crisp you have an extended promise of a taste orgasm, but ultimate disappointment. But Sting will tell you the voyage, of course, is where the pleasure is. Only with a French Tantric Crisp can you truly experience an extended sensual experience unmatched by any Quaver or Monster Munch.

Probably the best example of Tantric Crisps are the miraculous Sabor Bacons. These crisps are only available from L’Eclerc (the French equivalent of Tescos) in their budget range. They are 38 eurocents for a surprisingly large bag and look a bit like a fat Frazzle. If you were grading crisps on taste from 10 to 1 these would need a score assigned on a different axis. They literally taste of nothing. Put a handful in your mouth and you wouldn’t know. In fact sometimes you can have a few in your mouth and suddenly realise 4 hours later when you lie back to go to sleep and start choking.

There is simply nothing on God’s snack based earth that compares with a bag of Sabor Bacons. I would go to war for a bag of Sabor Bacons. They truly are one of the greatest things the French have given to the world, and yet only a handful of people know about them.

Now, admittedly, as a first entry on our list of great things about France perhaps a bag of economy potato chips isn’t what a nation would aspire to, but we have to start somewhere.

Mainly because it’s the only thing I can think of at the moment.

Until tomorrow!

“It’s 106 miles to Paris, we got a full tank of gas, a Garmin, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses”.

Imagine it’s dark. Like proper dark. Not a sort of half-dark wishy washy sort of dark, but a real deep black sort of dark. Imagine you had a pot of black paint, and then left it in a dark cupboard. In a bag. At night.

That sort of dark.

So imagine it’s that dark and you’re going for a run. What item of clothing or accessory would you feel would be least useful in such a situation? That’s right. A pair of sunglasses. However, as I pounded for 10km along unlit, utterly dark rural French roads tonight I was indeed wearing a pair of underpowered prescription sunglasses. If you haven’t been following the blog so far, and I don’t blame you if you haven’t, yesterday’s post shows how a series of unfortunate occurences led me to be stuck in the world’s 5th largest economy without a pair of glasses for six days.

I’d never run in the dark before. I’d certainly never ran in an enhanced extra-dark where natural darkness was accentuated artificially by beachwear. To offset the fact I was in a world of dark I brought a headtorch. It’s not a great headtorch, and occasionally flickers when it bounces up and down. I figured I better supplement it with a bit of high visibility clothing. All I had was a fluorescent yellow jacket – the type you wear on the side of the road when your car breaks down. It was slightly big, and by the time I’d put it, the flickering head torch, my black cap, sunglasses and shorts on, quite frankly I looked absolutely fucking ridiculous.

Still, run every day, that’s the Janathon promise, so out I went. It was actually a quiet and peaceful run, all things considered. For me at least. I think the woman I passed letting her dog out for a wee may take a while to recover. Old, frail, and partially blinded by my flickering headtorch, I think all she could see was a ghostly fluorescent apparition with shoulders as wide as a truck and two dark pools when the eyes should have been. She certainly went back into her house quicker than she came out.

I’m hoping I achive local legend status and the French equivalent of the X-Files team come out to try to trap me.

I’ll be like a slightly crapper version of the Chupacabra. A mysterious figure that sweeps past in the night, wheezing, puffing and hunting for prey with its adaptive night vision. Be good children of France! Sleep well tonight! For he walks among you!

Until Thursday.

Sport
Running
Start Time
Jan 7, 2012 6:38 PM
Distance
10.00 km
Duration
57m:20s
Avg Speed
5:44 min/km
Max Speed
4:25 min/km
Calories
932 kcal
Altitude
106 m / 168 m
Elevation
61 m ↑ / 50 m ↓