Archive for 27/04/2012

A snail race interrupts the 24 hr chronicles

Today I think that I need to interrupt the 24 hr Chronicles for a special update of a more amusing nature.
Last night Frank and I were invited by Moises Rodriguez of TVE to a dinner at Can Soteras Diagonal Restaurant celebrating the closing of the snail season. It was to be a gathering of people from the worlds of sports, the media, theatre, music, cinema and politics.
But as is often the case when Moises is involved, the evening turned out to be anything but ordinary. It stated with a Snail Race – yes you read right. A race not for runners or cylclists but for snails.

The meal that followed was great fun. Frank and I as friends of the snails of course had a lovely vegetarian meal in great company, as we were entertained with a variety of acts from musicians and others. Definitely a different way to spend an evening!
Be Excellent!

The 24-hour Chronicles Nº 2: On your marks, get set, go!

Ten, nine, eight, seven six… I stood at the starting line hand on my watch to start the chronometer, ready to begin running – I was calm and excited at the same time. My mind was cool and focused while my body was taut with nervous tension, and was ready to go. Five, four, three, two, one – the horn sounded as the oversize digital clock started timing, and I was off!

I set off to the sounds of applause from the small group, fired up and happy to have started, while at the same time very aware that no matter what happened over the next 24 hours, I wouldn’t be able to stop for more than the absolute necessary, I wouldn’t be able to relax or rest until the large digital clock marked 24:00. I knew it would be a very long 24 hours.

As I finished the first lap I looked down at my GPS watch hoping that the problems I had had with it over the last few days would have stopped, and that it would be marking my pace. I had attached the GPS sensor to a strap around my waist, as I knew it would bother me to wear the cumbersome piece strapped to my bicep. I was disappointed to see the pace timer leaping from four minutes per kilometre to ten minutes per kilometre and making pace changes in between every few seconds; I hoped that it would settle and regulate itself into a steady pace over the next few laps. As I passed the starting line again, I signalled to Frank for him to join me for a lap so that I could tell him the bad news – that the GPS didn’t seem to be registering my speed properly.

This was a dangerous situation; I had no way of pacing myself. We had decided to plan this challenge based on my running pace, whereas in previous similar challenges I had set out running conservatively and gradually picked up my pace towards the end. With this change in strategy it was imperative that I keep track of my pace and control it, especially at the start. I know the risks of the first few hours of a challenge or race. When you start you are rested, full of energy and feel motivated and strong, and the risk is to run too fast as your natural mental pacer may be out of synch. Had I been running in the inside lane, I could have kept track of my running pace by timing the kilometres; one and a half laps is one kilometre. This though was impossible as I had chosen to run in lane eight – the outside lane – so as to run in wider circles, thus lessening the potential damage to hips, knees and ankles, because of the wider curves.

“I can’t keep track of my pace, and I’m almost certain that I’m running too fast as I’m so fresh now!” I explained to Frank as he trotted along beside me. “I don’t want to run too slow as I want to try to break my record, and no doubt during the night, my pace will drop as exhaustion sets in. I can’t time myself manually as I’m in lane eight and there’s no set marker for one kilometre!”.

I was worried. Very worried. The risk of burning out during the first few hours was high, and could jeopardise my challenge, and the risk of running too slowly could also jeopardise my goal of breaking me record.

Quim had brought along another watch which he had borrowed, but which no one knew how to use – as I flew around the track they all tried to figure it out. In retrospect I feel that the more worried I got the faster I ran – even though I was trying to control myself. At some point I removed my watch and the waist strap with the GPS and gave them to the team. I asked if there was any way someone could leave and buy me a new watch – this though was not very likely as they had no idea where they could find one – none of the team lived in London.
As I tried to control and keep a steady pace my mind began focusing on the finish line – I visualised breaking my record, but I let go of any fixed number of kilometres, despite the fact that I was aware that I should be able to run considerably further than my previous record. Knowing that our strategy had been severely compromised by the inability to pace myself, my focus was on building up my mental strength to face whatever I had to between then and 1 pm on Saturday. I already knew then that it would be my inner strength that would keep me going; I already knew inside me that I was running too fast, and I was more than aware that this is one of the gravest errors a runner can do at the start of any event.

As the team struggled with the other watch I ran on, knowing that sooner or later I would have to pay for these first few hours…
Be excellent!

The 24-hour Chronicles Nº 1: Setting Off

Friday the 13th began better than it ended. I was convinced that this inauspicious date would be good to me. Little did I know that it would bring plenty of horrors, not the sort usually associated with the date, but horrors nonetheless.

Mark arrived with Johnny to collect Frank and I from the Mould’s at 8.30 am and as planned, we set of at 8.45. Our drive up to London from Salisbury was uneventful and pleasant. I had slept well, breakfasted abundantly, had everything I needed with me, and was in high spirits; everything appeared in order and I felt excited to face another challenge.

The only cloud on the horizon was the fact that I had had the worst training period of my career preparing for this new adventure. To top that off, I had developed a very minor bother in my right knee a week earlier. I wasn’t happy about this, as I never run if I have any bother – I never want to risk an injury. But there was nothing too worrying so we had decided to continue – there was a lot at stake with everything in order and ready with Foodbank and Millwall FC.

I tried not to think about anything negative, and focused on all the positive aspects of the challenge.

After chatting happily for two hours we arrived up at Crystal Palace and found everything already well under way in terms of preparations. Mark Ward and Jamie had arrived an hour earlier, and the chip timing girls arrived at the same time as we did. The team was a hive of activity when my brother Con arrived shortly afterwards, and by the time Quim and Anna (who had arrived from Barcelona two days earlier) joined us, everything was almost ready.

With spirits high and the sun shining despite the bad weather forecast, I felt ready to face this new challenge. I felt it was going to be a positive experience, though I knew that it would no doubt have its extremely tough moments.

I didn’t know just how tough the next 24 hours were going to be though – had I known, I would definitely not have been so joyful and optimistic as I taped on my timing chip, adjusted my orange hair band one last time, and hugged Frank, Con and the rest of the team before walking up to the starting line as the chip timing girls began the countdown to one o’clock…
Be Excellent!

Alex Living Excellence
Alex Living Excellence
Alex Living Excellence
Alex Living Excellence
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