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Showing posts from 2016

Desire....

I’m not a runner who runs everyday or every week, I move in and out of desiring the feeling that running gives me… That desire can be generated, when I am facing a run or a distance that genuinely scares me – a marathon will do that.

Or it comes back naturally, softly insinuating itself in the back of my head.  I catch myself wondering how to take my kit on a work trip, wondering where my Garmin is and whether its charged.  I start thinking about what I’m eating, not changing much, but just thinking…

It must be infuriating to watch, as I seemingly go into running hibernation, still turning out for runs and not doing horrendously – nowhere as good as I should be, nowhere as good as I had been six months earlier.

Which brings me to my first race of 2017 – an mixed terrain half marathon along the Wirral Way – I printed the plan, and I followed it for a week and then I didn’t.  The desire wasn’t there… So plan B is going to kick in, I know I can run halfs with little or no training – no…

Fat and Flabby

Elite athletes have a concept known as periodisation - they organise their training around key events; there's the four year cycle of the Olympics, the Worlds, the Diamond League and so and so forth... They will plan their lives, marriages, children around these cycles.

I'm not an elite athlete, I'm not genetically predisposed to that, nor do I have the single minded determination to make that.

What I am is someone who can train hard for a focused period of time, push myself in that time slot and then get distracted afterwards and do other stuff...

So, after the Dublin Rock and Roll Half, and if I'm honest with myself since the Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon I've been closer to competing in an eating competition than bothering any of my PBs, the desire to get out there and run has been minimal and the weight has come back - I'm back to my pre-marathon training weight and feel it (uncomfortably in some trousers).

But I've not been inactive -  I cycled the …

An international adventure…

Running in foreign lands holds a mystique, and for this dicky ticker runner a few problems – across continental Europe some race organisers ask for ECGs, others for positive approval from medics for undertaking an event.

Whilst I’m sure I could get a copy of my ECG, I’m not sure it would help much – let's face it there’s plenty of general cardiologists who wouldn’t get my ECG and what it meant, let along alone if it's was flaky.  The positive approval thing is an interesting one, I’m encouraged to exercise – indeed welcomed as a shining light (on the exercise if not the volumes of food I consume, but as I’ve often said I’m no saint and definitely no angel).  However, in an increasingly litigatoius age would any cardiologist risk saying I’m positively fine to pound the streets for a number of hours???

Which made the choice of international run easy – I needed somewhere that didn’t ask for ECGs, and a run organiser I trusted to have the right support in place.  Roll up Rock n R…

Injured?

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I suppose it had to happen... A near perfect marathon training period, only marred by the heat of the run itself.  A cracking month of learning to ride a bike again and then doing my first big bike ride... And then I should have switched back to running... and I did for a whole week...

The plan was to start building the hills in for the Ultra in mid-Aug.. So off to the Peak District I went, a merry walk to the youth hostel from Edale station - some of my favourite miles in the world...


However. somewhere along the way I jarred or twisted my knee... and spent a painful 2km walking down the backside of Losehill...

Now an injury should be a massive bruise, a whole body scrape or something which is spurting blood... Mine is a dull ache, an awareness of something not quite right, a pressure that nags at me when I'm walking.

RICE has been engaged, as has ibuprofen internally and externally and a week and a bit later its still there, a pressure on the inside of my right knee that niggles…

Renaissance?

Hello Reader,

it's been a while - sorry, it's been busy...

So the highlights for those who go TL/DR (too long, didn't read)... I've cycled a fair way, started to pick up the running again, walked my favourite 5km and managed to twist my knee a bit... Oh, and I've added some more letters to my name.

Last, first - The OU is weird, OK, I'm coming from a bricks and mortar Uni background - but the idea of giving a degree then allowing people to do a bit more and get an honours is a tad... Well... Odd to me.  So with another 80% I've passed my Renaissance Art History, which in OU terms is a 2:1 (another oddity, in brick uni world 70%+ is a first)... However, when I started my OU journey I said I was doing it for fun and interest, and my choice in modules would be driven by interest and my approach would be to have fun with the issues - rather than playing the game... On that basis I'm astounded by my scores, and impressed with my application.  In the last few…

The Marathon

This is going to be a race review and a rant... I should apologise for the rant, but it happens almost every run I go on, and I'm grumpy about it...

The Rock and Roll Marathon was hot; 20 degrees of heat, 26.2 miles with the added fun of the humidity of a couple of parks.

The first half was a dream, I deliberately (because of the heat), ran well within myself, sticking to the 5:15 pacer like glue up out of town, around Goodison and Anfield and up the terror of St Domingo's.  Coming down back into town I had to allow my legs to run themselves, to run slower than felt comfortable would've have been harder and more likely to get me tripping over myself than the risks of being over exuberant. However, one eye was on the Garmin and I was still clocking 30s a KM slower than normal on the downhill, the flat was fine and took in the front, a couple of awesome bands and the Chinese Arch (complete with Chinese drumming group) and the second really nasty climb up Upper Parliament Str…

Streaking...

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I've said before that I don't know where this streak has come from, and I'm desperate not to jinx it... But the runs are flowing and the PBs are falling.

Last weekend was the Spring 5K & 10k in Sefton Park - good runs, well organised, flat and enjoyable.  I did the 5k as Ironman, so went out with no expectations...

Hmmm...

No expectations...

That'll be 74s off a PB that has lasted since 2012, on a busy field, on a distance I hate - its far too short, I don't get into my stride, never feel warm, never feel comfortable.  Add in a mild panic attack as there was a thumping in my chest... that'll be the arc reactor I was wearing...


Yup, that thing was bouncing on my sternum... and I forgot about it... Until hammering around the course, it bounced and those demons of living with a dicky ticker came back for the merest of seconds to disappear in an amused instance... 
And then there was the 10k, I'd come so close to dropping below the hour that I knew it was p…

The Hour

No, this is not a new direction for the blog - Virginia Woolf is not high on my reading list....

So the hour...

It's another arbitrary target, another random point in time that is utterly meaningless... and means everything... And I'm very conscious this is a running thing... and probably a me running thing.

Ten kilometres... 6.2 miles... in an hour.  Ten sub-6 minute kilometres, one after the other.  No let up, no easy kilometres in the middle, no real time to warm up - at least not for me.

And the hour has sat there, its something that's been discussed with my running mates, the fast ones giving hints and tips, the others commiserate and wonder if they'll ever get near too.

I'd all but given up, that elusive hour seemed to be slipping away... And I'm marathon training, so the mid-week runs are meant to be looseners, gentle plods that help the legs recover....

Apart from something didn't quite go to plan on Thursday, the first couple of k's were normal…

Barnstorming...

It's been a funny old week (insert old cultural reference here); the mental push to get an OU essay in, the fear gnawing that my run of good runs was over, bad news and good news in almost equal measure, irritations from work (yes I know that's my fault for turning the blackberry on) and then the run itself.

The guts settled down about Wednesday, but I felt drained and was conscious that I'd not eaten a lot for more than a  few days.  A night out with old friends; a decent steak and a share of a decent bottle of red seemed to cure that, if not leave me in much position to tag a training run in on Friday morning.

For those not used to marathon training plans, they have two main components - the LSR, the long slow runs that systematically break your body down a little bit more than the last one, just enough to build the muscle during the recovery week.  And the recovery runs, for me two are planned each week, and in a good week I do the two... Most weeks I concentrate on the…

In every training plan...

There will be three things...

1) the cold
2) the injury scare
3) the bug...

Until Sunday my training had been subject to 1) for a week of a head cold and then immaculate, perfection personified.  It was too good to last, and this Sunday my stomach decided it didn't want to play - yes I may have had a bad week at work and with other stuff, and then a busy day on Saturday but it was a very good day.  Yes I had a drink, but I've run further on more...

Eighteen miles was the plan, and it didn't happen. Ten grumpy miles did, however ten that included the two hills from hell on my training route and on the run itself, and was the sixth fastest 10 miles I've run.

It's easy to overanalyse and get yourself into analysis paralysis (trust me, I'm an analyst I can put myself in spirals over data at any time and if I'm being mean can sucessfully argue that night is day and day is night with other analysts), however it was 3) the bug... I know it was a bug because I stil…

Not a patient information leaflet - The Exercise Test

Ok, as with the MDT blog I wrote a little while ago, this is not a patient information leaflet – but as I’ve never been sent one it might help some people.

So, the dreaded exercise test, the test that some of those in the congenital heart defect community hate more than any other.

The letter comes, in my case without a patient leaflet, and suggests you dress for exercise… Not the most helpful statement in the world – for those who don’t do a lot of exercise, or for me, who has a range of “outfits” for exercise, ranging from skimpy shorts through to full on winter walking gear (complete with crampons & ice axe) – think of me as a cheap rate Action Man figure…

So, based on having done these tests twice – shorts, or not too baggy leggings, and trainers.  If you’re male don’t worry too much about the top half, ladies a comfy bra – they’ll be attaching a 12-lead ECG to you.  In my case they shave the bits they want to attach the electrodes to, and just for fun abrade it for better conn…

Self-Limiting Beliefs...

This is one of those messy blogs that will dart around; part of it is a conversation I need to have with someone, so if they (and I doubt they will) read this they should know that this is the Willgoss-lite version... Part of it is the first part of a new adventure and the other bits are the running and climbing, and hopefully something will pop out of the wittering that makes sense.

So in my traditional way - I'll start in the middle, I've recently become one of a fairly small group - a member of a small cohort of around 300 people on the Civil Service's Levelling the Playing Field Positive Action Pathway - a year long development scheme, that is intended to give me, and the others, the skills and confidence to progress to the next level in the civil service.

The only way to get the best out of these things is to challenge yourself, to get external challenge and to add to that with information, details about yourself you may not like or want to know, but that you need to …

Fail to succeed...

Two sporty things are reaching the point of me needing to move to the next stage...

The marathon training is easiest to explain, and what I'm most comfortable with...

Tomorrow is when it gets real, I know I can blag a half marathon, I did it at least twice last year... Just go out and run-walk a half marathon on minimal training, injured, full of cold... been there, done that.

Now it's real - 14 miles, 23 km, beyond the half, into the known unknowns.  I've been on belting form, three PBs in 5 weeks all on long slow runs, all on a course much hillier than the routes the last PBs were run on.

The course tomorrow throws me another hill, being my home marathon has a great advantage I can run the course - which is why St Domingo Road is becoming a Sunday fixed point in space and time - the first absolute sod of a hill of the marathon course, followed by a too steep for fun run down to the town centre.

Then, comes my personal hell - Upper Parliament Street - the steep rise over …

What's your secret?

I posted my second PB in three weeks up on Facebook this morning, which means I also ran a PB this morning. At which point I was asked what my secret is...

Three minutes off my 10 mile run is not insignificant, 12s a kilometre may not sound a lot to non-runners it is.  For me, it was the first time I've averaged under 7min a KM for 10 miles, its faster than I ran in that glorious period of running up to the London Marathon two years ago.

Hell, it's only the fourth time I've gone under two hours.

It was also the morning after an almost five mile run, in the dark, where I didn't do bad - 57min.

So, in the grand tradition its time to split the infinitive and boldly go into that odd mode I'm surprisingly good at...

Analysis Mr Spock

Three minutes is not insignificant, which suggests that something significant is different.

1) Route - my training for London was flat, one hill to go down at the end, and one to come back at the end.  Short sharp hills (for those who know …

We Live...

This is based on a post I put in a closed group for us dicky ticker folk... Some said it helped with the loss of one of our own.  Unfortunately, as is the way on Facebook, it got deleted... As this weekend's antics (to mainly be told of in another post) gave a practical example, I thought I'd share...

This is my way of dealing with things, it's not intended as the best way or the only way, its just my way...

A friend has died, whether we were Facebook only friends, or the sort that we would talk to for hours down the pub.  We don't know, can't know, what happened.  All we can do is mourn them, each in our way, each in our own time.  And above all we live.

We may never know the details of their death, and if we're in groups run by our medical teams they can't tell us the details.  The medical legal world doesn't let them.  We shouldn't ask the family, they'll be deep in mourning themselves, and unless are family friends then All we can do is mour…

The Personal Best Protocol & What's a marathon?

It's been a good weeks running...

The Mad Dog - 9th Fastest 10k I've run... The 5k training run - 9th Fastest 5k I've run... The 5 miles - 4th fastest 5miles I've run... And today, the 8 miles, 13km, the first long run of the training... and on an awful course, one of the Strava segments is called "Relentless Domingo Rise" and it is... There's also a glorious down hill section - but both of those will be on the marathon course. Anyway on this pig of a course, I run a PB... a good PB by 6min and 49s...

Where has this come from?  I have no idea - but long may it continue... Next weekend is a stress test - instead of running on the mean streets of Liverpool I'll be in the hills of North Wales - time doesn't matter, it's all about strength for that run.

But it does mean that the Personal Best Protocol has been activated - my old tradition was PB, slap up lunch... That doesn't really help the PBs keep coming... So it developed, PBs of under a m…

The MDT Letter

In the last 5 years or so a new TLA has appeared (apologies for those who aren't Yes Minister fans - a TLA is a TLA in that its a Three Letter Acronym) that can strike fear in the hearts of those awaiting their test results...

The MDT!!!!

The what?

The MDT... The Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting...

In the old days, our cardiologists would get out test results, have a think, possibly a large drink and try and work out what to do with us... The good ones would ask for colleagues to have a look over their shoulder.

As a process this stank, and as a scientist it is so short of best practice that it always bemused me - I'm used to peer review, review committees, "blinded" review...

So, over time the informal look over the shoulder has changed, developed in the right way, so that we're not looked at as one offs, by one person.  But looked at by the team that looks after us (even if we only see our cardiologists and cardiac liaison nurses) and they review the results wit…

Three Colours: Willgoss

I'm fairly sure I'm more the Cornetto Trilogy rather than the classic French-Polish trilogy of my formative years...

However, in my pile of running tops I have three colours; three tops of equal meaning to me.  When running this blog through my head as I walked this evening I wondered if I could call them head, heart and legs... But they're all my heart...

Which would give my heart three chambers - and I don't have a Fontan circulation (even though I'm told by some it's the "coolest" circulation to have).

But hey ho - lets give this a go...

My Children Heart Federation tops are probably the one I'm best known for wearing - black and pink these days, it and its predecessors have been the length and breadth of the UK; 5Ks; 10ks, halves (too many to count), my first marathon, ultras... I've killed more CHF tops than I care to think of - after a while the corrosive nature of my sweat will destroy anything...

CHF is my "heart" as it is an…

The Way of the Rottweiler

This is a post I’ve been playing with for a while, it's probably vain, it could be semi-autobiographical, it could be completely made up, anyway…
You see him from a distance; his size and bulk make sure of that. The low rumble of his growl commands attention both welcome and unintended.Depending on where you see him; the eyes either twinkle with amusement, gently encouraging open conversations and shared adventures or pierce through your skin, examine you critically and seem to decide that you don’t make the grade.
Those, who know him best, know the control, the precision he tries to bring to all that he does. Others, who think they know him, question who let him off the leash, and whether the strap should be applied.
To some he’s an overgrown puppy; all clumsy big feet, bustling around, inquisitive nose always seeking out the new, the next toy, wandering while he wonders what’s over the next hill.To others, he’s a creature born out of the pits of hell, prodding and poking where h…