Friday, 10 August 2012

The Rewarding Nature Of Gerrin’Up Early!

It’s Friday today. On Monday morning, Mrs S and The Boys headed up to visit friends in Derbyshire, returning yesterday while I was in the office. Three days of solitude for me: not a status I would want to enjoy on a regular basis, but one that, on an infrequent basis, helps me recharge, refocus and even (brace yourself, Mother)… tidy up! Three nights when I could go to bed when I wanted, without worrying about waking up anyone, and three mornings of getting up when I wanted, without worrying about being woken up by anyone. So – what did I do? Did I rave into the early hours of the morning and then sleep in till noon before stumbling over to my home office?

No, you cheeky mares! Yes, I did stay up later than usual: but that was about the Olympics and, on Wednesday evening, about finalising a document in conjunction with two colleagues till midnight. Again, not something I’d want to do daily, but there are times when you get a real buzz from the race against the clock… We were all in different parts of the country but let me tell you, this Internet thingy is great and might even take off one day! On two mornings, however, I got up earlier than usual: around an hour earlier than ‘usual’, whatever that means. On Tuesday and Thursday I got up at 6am, got dressed and… went out for a 12k run!

Shocking behaviour, Squintani. It’s one thing to get up at silly o’clock when away (e.g. Amsterdam, Paris, even just across the hill in Bristol), when you have evening commitments that will keep you off the road and don’t want to lose your rhythm. But when you’re home and with the entire evenings to yourself? OK, so the Olympics were on and were always going to take up my entire evening, but still…

…well, there was method in my madness. These here endorphins – they are cool, man! So what if I ran before going into the office – would they put me in a good mood? Would I feel all the better for knowing that, when I got home, I didn’t have to go out?

Around 8:30 on Tuesday, my lift provider (is that the right term?) pulled up. I’m not the worst morning person, by any means, and I enjoy my work: but still I’m a human, and a naturally-mardy Yorkshire one at that, so I’m not always bouncing when I get into his car. But on Tuesday…
…let’s put it this way: I answered the routine “how are you?” question with “Obnoxiously happy”. Can you stand those happy people, the ones that smile for no apparent reason? Eeh bah gum, I can’t be doing wi’that – have a word wi’thisen!
Sadly, on Tuesday I crossed over to the happy side. I came home from my run happy, not least because I was happy with my 6’13” pace over the 12.27km. Showered, broke fast… and was ready for the day ahead. I wasn’t surprised by the endorphins just after the run, but boy did they appear to hang around for most of the day…

…and the same was true yesterday. Up early, identical run (RunKeeper tracked both at exactly 12.27km), a slightly faster pace (6’09”/km). Hardly a killer pace, but over a slightly longer distance than the 10k I’m targeting and over four laps of my hilly route, with just a couple of flat kilometres halfway through, still encouraging. Again, in a nice mood as I headed into the office. And home to an empty schedule bar the Thursday pub visit… well no actually, Mrs S was back so I spent the evening at home, but then were else would you want to be when Usain Bolt’s competing in the 200m?

By the way, did you go to the Olympic Games? Sadly, I didn’t. Young kids, see. Too young to take them, trust me. Do I wish I’d been at Venue X for Event Y on Day Z? Not so much, no: there’s a lot to be said for 42” LCD screens. Do I wish I’d made it to London to take in the atmosphere?
OK, I’ll give you that one. So much so that, when I got home from the office on Tuesday, I booted up my laptop again to see if I could get to Hyde Park the following day. Yaheey, ticket for Hyde Park bought! It was actually free to enter, but £3.50 got you a “priority entry” ticket, or whatever it was called. Even by tight Yorkshire standards, that seemed to make sense: it was e-mailed to me, so time wasn’t an issue. Right, just the transport to sort out… onto the National Express site… coaches sorted, details entered, now to press the ‘book’ button…
…and that’s where the dream ended. The site had allowed me to navigate my way through and only now saw fit to tell me the outbound coach was full. Looked into the subsequent one: same process, same ending. Looked at other options (e.g. Megabus, train), but nothing was feasible. OK, I’d have got there on time by train, I was just somewhat reluctant to pay triple figures for the privilege. Cycling into Bristol for the early Megabus (which might have been full anyway) appealed, but if you’ve been around me during sports you know that there are aromatic downsides to a one-hour cycle ride which would clash pseudo-dramatically with a 2-hr+ coach journey. So I gave up. I’m not too upset, because I did at least try: besides, I’ve got my £3.50 ticket as a memento. I’ve not actually brought myself to open the e-mail yet, but it’s there – and I won’t delete it.
(It would have been great to make it on Wednesday because that’s when the Men’s Triathlon took place – in/around Hyde Park! Silly me, didn’t realise that until I started trying to get there! That may have something to do with the coaches being full, eh? I would have loved to see the Brownleebrothers bring gold and bronze back to Yorkshire – I just left it too late!)

Away from the Games, another reason for testing pre-work runs is that last Sunday’s ‘long run’ made me aware that the nights are drawing in. Oh yes they are! I was fine while I was out there, but upon coming out of the shower some ten minutes later I realised that it had suddenly got seriously dark. Not the kind of dark in which I particularly want to be running up country roads. Sure, as the months go by the mornings will get darker, too: but at least you know, as you set your feet out of the house, that it’s only going to get brighter. You are not worried about how it’s going to be in a quarter of an hour, half an hour or a lap’s time: you know it’ going to be fine. That and the roads are quieter – although to what extent that holds true is something I will have to re-evaluate once the school holidays are over.

So what next, now that Mrs S & The Boys are home? That’s a very good question, I’m delighted you asked. I want to explore getting into a routine whereby I go on a 12k morning run on Tuesday and Thursday, embarking on my ‘long run’ on Sunday evenings. I generally work from home on Tuesday, but in the evenings Mrs S goes off to Brownies at around 6pm, so I’m housebound for a couple of hours: I’ve run upon her return in the past, but that won’t work on shorter days. I generally go into the office on Thursdays, so can take my happy endorphins into the office, and Tue-Thu-Sun seems like a good schedule in terms of allowing rest. Just a thought for now and one that needs to pass muster (and Mrs S), but on paper it sounds alright. As for how it will work in reality, once there are kids that need to be got ready for and taken to school and once there are wet and cold mornings, we’ll see… but I’m optimistic.

Oh, as for Cheddar Gorge (subject of a fleeting reference at the end of my previous post) – not sure, yet. Need to sit down with Mrs S, who’s aware of the request (I e-mailed her whilst away) but has yet to appreciate the potential for it to double up as a family day out. I’m game: emotions aside, wanting to debut in Sheffield at the TenTenTen aside, I think it would be good for me to get another 10k under my belt before Endcliffe Park. Not so much for the exercise, rather for the routine, although at least in Sheffield I’ll have two of my cousins alongside me. Till the start, anyway. After that, I look forward to seeing them at the finish.

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