Weak forces

OuchI heard a story of a man who was going to Heaven and was told he could bring one physical thing from his life on Earth.  Since he had a lot of gold, he chose to bring that.  When he arrived, one angel looked at him with a bemused expression on his face and he asked “you brought pavement?”.

While Heaven may be paved with gold, London most assuredly is not as I found out Friday morning.  I think this must happen to every runner at least once; that moment when what you take for granted, the miracles known as your legs, that you rely on for stability and motion, are suddenly whipped away as the ground beneath your feet seems to fall away.  For a moment (and it only needs a moment), the combination of forward momentum and the force of gravity, have sole and unimpeded authority over your body and it’s brutal .  Physicists describe gravity as a “weak” force, runners don’t!

I think if you had to design something that would hurt if someone fell on it, you would be hard pushed to better paving slabs.   When you hit it (the pavement) and have got over the initial confused shock, you start to work out exactly how badly hurt you are.  If you are a child, the strategy is clear: start crying – even if you aren’t really hurt then a bit of attention can never be a bad thing.  However at 5:30 AM on Cromwell Road in London, there isn’t anyone else about so that plan is a dead loss.

When I saw blood dripping on the pavement I had dread thoughts of spending the day in A&E or worse.  Fortunately when this mishap took me I was only about 10 yards from the enterance of the hotel where I was staying in South Kensington and I knew that they would probably have a first aider.  When I looked into the mirror however, I didn’t see a gaping hole in my head and the damage looked to be more costmetic than structural.  Again fortunately I had my “longs” on, which protected my limbs and I think I would have bled more if I was in shorts and t-shirt.

Since I have been logging my running, I have clocked 8,276 miles and in that time I have only fallen once before and that was on a slippery off-road route.  So, what’s the moral of my story? Well I dont think there is one except this:  If you do that sort of mileage this is pretty much bound to happen sooner or later but, I suspect that you won’t do anything like as much damage to yourself as you would if you didn’t excercise.  So I’ll take the knock thank you very much!

“‘Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you moulded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭10:8-12‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬


Old men will dream dreams

Temple Newsam ParkrunSomething happened this weekend which has caused me to re-evaluate what I can achieve in running.  It has made me dare to hope that I can achieve things I would never do again.  In short, it has enabled me to believe in myself again.

My home parkrun is Temple Newsam and it is known as one of the toughest courses in West Yorkshire and is arguably THE toughest.  Some years ago when I was very fit, I achieved a personal best of 23 minutes 31 seconds.  In general, times at Temple Newsam for me are around a minute slower than other less challenging routes.  This, in recent years, has always seemed a feat that I would be unlikely ever to repeat.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to reach the significant milestone of under 25 minutes for that parkrun and surprised myself by not only beating this objective but absolutely smashing it by doing 24:08.  That was hard to do but nevertheless I thought that on Saturday I would try and put a little extra into it and squeeze under 24.

By sheer coincidence, there was a 24 minute pacer running on Saturday (the amazing Wayne Herbert) so I had a way of gauging progress without looking at my watch all the time!  To my amazement, I was able to keep ahead of Wayne for most of the time and finished some way in front.  I was even more amazed when I looked at my watch and realised that I had finished in 23:24, some 7 seconds faster than that record of long ago!  It was only a few weeks ago that I was chasing 25 and this was almost too much to take in.

This experience has brought home to me that just like a goal seems out of reach, there is no reason that with hard work, commitment and faith it cannot be achieved.  I have therefore set my goals for next year to be more challenging than that I had originally planned, and really go for those long-standing PBs.

My goals for the year (and it doesn’t matter if I do some early):

Pontefract parkrun PB (22:44)
5K PB (21:38)
Marathon PB (3:58:36)
200 miles in a month
1,500 miles in a year

Some are harder than others but now I dare to dream!

In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.

Acts 2:17 NIV


Hot in the city tonight

Oxford streetSeveral years ago my job needed me to spend around 3 days per week in London, staying near Marble Arch at the west end of Oxford Street next to Hyde Park.  I used to love running around the park especially in summer when the  atmosphere was brilliant with loads of runners, walkers and people just enjoying a summers evening in the park.

Evenings in the atumn and winter aren’t so good because the parks are closed and you need to do a circumnavigation around the roads.  It’s still quite interesting because you pass great landmarks like the Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park Corner and of course, Marble Arch.

Today I was in the area again staying in the Amba Hotel (used to be called The Thistle) Marble Arch which has had a major refurbishment and is now very swanky.  I did a run around the park which couldn’t be that fast because there were lots of pedestrians and traffic.  I am thinking of doing the same route again in the morning with my head torch (because the streeetlights even in London can be lacking in some places), when it might be a little quieter.  Trying to run down Oxford Street in full “Christmas Mode” is interesting and I wouldn’t recommend it!

The people I met in the office today couldn’t beleive I had to clear snow off my car this morning, even though it’s only a 2 hour train ride, it’s a different word!

“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:16‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬