Play in the Big Leagues

Continuing the brain dump… Like a pre-teen or teenager so eager to grow up fast, I wanted to hit the longer runs and keep challenging myself as quick as possible, so the natural next step for my progress has a runner was joining an Half and then a Marathon race.

Even before my definite move to London, has a “joke” to myself when I was still in the limbo between being a Jogger and a Runner, I signup for the London 2012 Marathon and surprisingly I got a place.

But then the real move happened, and with less than 2 months left to D-Day, was clear that first I was totally unprepared and second mostly unaware of the commitment for a Marathon…, so I didn’t had any choice but to called it off for my “still” big regret until today.

Oh the irony! Since then and after building real running mileage and finding myself in a better position to tackle a Marathon, I kept trying year after year to get a place on the London Marathon Ballot without success.

After coming back from a short weekend in Portugal in May 2014, my alarm on the train buzzed… was the reminder to register for the 2015 Ballot! God’s know I tried, but conjugation of dark forces denied me first proper internet access, combined with a chain of followup office meetings that took most of my morning and when I could breath, just tried again, but the ballot was already closed!

I had promised myself that I’ll get into a Marathon in 2015, so quickly reviewed my odds and remembered I received not few days ago an email related to the Schneider Paris Marathon, has quick I remembered it, has quick I registered for a place… After a few months like Iris the divine messenger of the gods, I got an eMail with the good news… I was on the race!

To be honest after getting the news, didn’t made up any plan or draft any real training schedule, just let the days pass until Xmas holidays came and hit me hard, less than 4 months and I’ll be running on my birth city. So I did draft a training plan that could fit on my schedule and promised to stick with it.

Winter, “bad” weather, work, family trips, etc… all got into the way of my “perfect plan” and with that lost precious first month and half of proper training. Worse, being a impulsive/passionate type of person and always wanting to juggle more that I can handle, I was already doing some parallel training for the London Triathlon 2015 (more later on this), dividing running time with cycling and swimming.

At the end from the planned 62 training runs, I just completed 48 of them (77% of my plan). But still did managed to do some valuable long runs (>25Kms) on Sundays mornings at Hyde Park… learned first to like myself more left alone with my thoughts for averages of 4 hours, pace myself properly, holding the urge to speed up too early, refuel during the race and build up the required minimum confidence to address longer runs.

I’ve to be fair, some days I was getting fed up and worried that I’ll start hating running, glad that emotion never got the best of me!

One thing on my plan I did right (at least that’s my understanding), was to signup for an Half prior to the big one. So mid March 2015 I was proudly with friends on the starting line of the Vitality North London Half Marathon. And was the right essay to see if some of my pacing and fuel strategy were on the OK track.

1h39m46s later of waving hi to Mo Farah cheering us at the starting, I was crossing the finish line… proud that I strictly kept my strategy along all the run and very pleased with the time, not dead, able to even sprint at the end… Yep for me I was on the right track!

The Marathon “narrative” need a space for its own, that I’ll address on my next post.

My learned highlights:

  • What fuel works for me and what really doesn’t… oh the urge to find the closest portaloos it’s real, it’s not a myth!
  • Don’t over drink, last minute toilet run doesn’t count has warming up
  • A pace strategy it’s crucial to cross the finish line with some dignity
  • Don’t follow the crowd like sheeps, be a different type of animal or even better be the wolf or a smart fox

But the end result of this training, besides being now a true evangelist that the weather no matter how bad is it, can’t be used has an excuse to not hit the road, it’s that at the end, my priority list was reshaped, Running/Cycling/Swimming/Trails those that keeps my spirit kicking are on the top!

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Pinning Bibs

On my unofficial jogs and runs, or weekend “strolls” in the park, was not uncommon at all to reach the 5k or 10k typical beginners running distances. Better even, I’ve still fresh the memory following a gluttony dinner of Portuguese Francesinha, hitting the London Victoria Park on a Sunday morning and doing a half marathon with just the guilty pacing my stride.

But all those unofficial distances, even looking with pride to the logs, couldn’t beat the joy and excitement when a friend booked what became my first official 10k run (10k for Crohns 2014 London Hyde Park).

Pining the Bib surrounded with all those “first time” feelings, was prone terrain for all usual beginners mistakes. I started on the front row mostly to make sure I was caught in photos, yep narcissism won this one! Being on that first row and trying to “look good” obliged me to start way stronger than I could cope with, and that was my first valuable lesson… Pace yourself properly.

It didn’t end up that bad after all, managed to finish in 45m18s with an average pace of 4’35”/Km… But was feeling the effort!

Shortly after that first 10K official run, I did a couple more 10K runs and joined the 5K Parkrun movement, but mostly that first pinned bib was my “curse”… The running “bug” pinned deep into my skin and desires for longer distances grow up on me. And that moment was another milestone on my quest to become a runner.

PS. Now, I no longer pin bibs, started to use a running belt to get use when doing triathlons, but the same excitement remains strong!

Nike+ Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

I always loved running, the freedom, the emptiness of mind and occasionally getting the “runner’s high” was more than enough to keep me “going”… But to be fair I was merely a jogger than a proper and regular runner initially.

Back in 2008 and being a techie guy and early iPod proud owner, couple of years after Nike and Apple released the Nike+iPod sports kit (2006), enabling runners to log and monitor their runs via iTunes and the Nike+ website, I decided to join the club and with that track my runs and hopefully transform myself from a jogger to a runner!

Looking back, the 7 runs tracked in 2008 with mere total 35Kms done, are without better adjective ridiculous. But it gets even worse, the following 2 years I didn’t track any run at all, just getting back to running from mid 2011 tracking 10 runs with total 54Kms done, those mostly in the summer time.

Excuses, well the usual I think… work and family getting somehow in the way, but all ends up having poor time management skills.

2012 and the move to London, added with the amazing green parks and a vibrant community of runners, helped me refocus and I started gradually adding mileage to Nike+ until a reached the “magic” number of 2,409.2KMs and 397 runs tracked.

I’ve to say that the gamification embedded into the Nike+ platform, helped dealing with the occasional issues with syncing runs and even worse losing some of them. I was almost hooked into reaching the for “god’s” only Black Level (5000Kms) and also the fact some of my friends were on the platform too, kept me using Nike+.

End of summer 2014 and the itching desire of getting better data to help me improve my runs, the ability to ditch the iPhone/iPod, freedom to choose other running shoes than Nike brand and mostly the capability of doing multi-sports (Triathlon) tracking… rushed me waving goodbye to Nike+ and say hello again to another platform (Suunto Movescount). That moment was one of the first milestones to become truly a runner and a triathlete wannabe!

Flashback on Fast Forward

My Mindset doesn’t allow me to post forward my current state, there’s a reason and a path, small but still a path that brought me here.

So the next few posts will be a quick catch up game on relevant milestones, until finally I made up my mind on exposing myself ticking the boxes!

But be aware or afraid, my story telling it’s closely related to a good or bad nonlinear film, so flashbacks will be common…

Higher Purpose

Hi all,

Welcome to my personal, first and hopefully last blog. Yes last, cause I’m now impel to not be one of those things started but never committed. Like Art my goal is that it will never be done, it will never be completed, but just abandoned (when the time is right) – Leonard da Vinci

Box-ticking meaning can be translated into the completion of a form answering questions or even worse, more to serve a bureaucratic expediency than to accomplish any higher purpose…

Well that’s not the case here! There’s a higher purpose, and it’s to keep track of a middle-aged man ticking dream boxes or better unfinished businesses.

So what are those unfinished businesses? Growing up, I’ve nourished 2 passions; Sports and Music and it’s now the right time to tick those boxes and fulfill the dreams… Being i.e. the road to finish an Iron Man event or a 100Km Ultra Trail, along mastering Samba Pa Ti on my recently acquired electric guitar for the ecstasy or nightmares of my beloved ones!

The problem and the struggle…, I’m a day dreamer, new dreams and challenges keep popping on my mind, so I’ll have to learn and master the art of focusing, organization and motivation…

Feel free to join the crazy ride!

Happy readings,
A