Concerts, Churches, Cheshire, Carols and Christmas Trees!

This weekend was a very busy weekend and consisted of two concerts, two churches, one run through Cheshire, and lots of Carols (and a birthday!).

Because I had a lot on and this is a big blog post there are two songs to listen to as you read, so have a crack of the below whilst you read the first part:

In the Church of JCC:

On Saturday I got up nice and early to do park run and/or a bit of extra training down at Sweat, however, my legs were pretty sore. This is a lesson to myself that I really need to stretch more and to get on the old foam roller to keep my legs and calves nice and loose.

With the Wilmslow 10k the following day in mind I decided to leave the training, and instead give my legs some foam roller attention. Ouch! Painful, but worth it to get those legs and super tight calves loosened up. I must admit though as I didn’t go to any training it felt like a missed opportunity for a much needed lie in!

After a morning walk through Widnes’ wonderful “Christmas Markets” (for a local Christmas Market they really do give Manchester a run for its money!) we headed up to the in-laws to celebrate Big Ted’s 65th birthday with the family, and had plenty of tea and cake. I only had one slice. Of each cake (there were only 3 cakes).

Then in the evening Kate and I headed out to the Ritz Manchester, to see the “Bard of Salford” Dr John Cooper Clarke signing (yes, the legendary punk poet singing) with former Strangler Hugh Cornwell. (Incidentally there is a poem written by Clarke featuring this “Church” the Ritz). They were performing “This Time Its Personal” their album of old Rock n’ Roll standards (including the song in the video above, and my particular favourite “MacArthur Park”).

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A slightly bizarre, very funny and very enjoyable gig. We even got a couple of JCC’s hits and some Strangler’s hits thrown in to the mix. Support at the gig was from the wonderful Mancunian poet Mike Garry, who closed with his beautiful eulogy to his mother. I really do urge you to have a listen to it after reading this blog post: “What My Mam Taught Me”.

So, you may be asking what has this mini gig review got to do with my running. Well after standing up all night at the gig my calves had seized up nicely again, far from the ideal preparation for my 10k in the morning, and although (thankfully for me) the gig had a 10pm curfew (really – a 10pm ending for a gig is far too early!), by the time I got home and messed around getting my kit ready it was quite late getting to bed and I was pretty knackered.

In Cheshire:

Sunday was a very busy day indeed.

I was up bright an early, gave a stretch and roll out of those tight calves and then I headed out to Wilmslow for the 10k race. I got there in good time, found a decent parking spot and collected my race number and got myself ready with a few stretches etc. then the usual mental demons set in. “I’m tired”, “my legs are sore”, “I don’t feel up to it”. After getting prepared I got myself positioned jut behind people who looked fast and awaited the count down. As soon as I was running once again those demons disappeared.

The route took us out through out of Wilmslow, through some tree lined avenues via some posh villages and expensive looking houses before heading out in to the Cheshire countryside and back to the outskirts of Wilmslow. It was cold, crisp, still and bright. Perfect conditions for running and it was a very pleasant course, especially the second half with some nice views over the countryside.

As for the running I had in mind that I wanted to beat my time of 49.09 that I got at the Cheshire 10k (see Getting my mojo back at the Cheshire 10K). Looking back at the splits I set off a little quick, but managed to maintain a decent pace through the first 5k, probably because much of it was flat or downhill. The course on the whole is flat, but a bit of an incline from 5 to 6k slowed my pace a bit. I gained some back between 6 and 7k, but the bit I gained there I lost on the between 7 and 9k. As I got in to the last kilometre I was still well within reach of my intended target and I felt I had something left in the legs so picked up the pace. As I approached the final 300m I could see the timer and I could see I was on track to smash my target and get a sub 48 minute, so I sprinted as hard as I could for the line, crossing with a chip time of 47.49.

You can see the difference from my relaxed start and frantic finish below:

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I’m very happy with my time from Sunday. I’m still a long way off my best but I’m now improving with each run. This was my last race of a very tough year so it’s good to end it on a high. My goal now is to up my mileage over the festive period to get ready for the Central Lancashire Half Marathon on the 8th January.

In the Church of JC:

For the next section you should listen to this wonderful version of Silent Night from Richard Hawley & friends (Shez Sheridan’s lap steel on this is wonderful)…

After the run and I headed back to home (via Starbucks for a Toffee Nut Hot Chocolate) before getting ready then heading back out with Kate and the in-laws Ted and Jacki to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral for North West Cancer Research’s Concert for a Cure.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a religious (or Christmassy) person, and I’m much more at home in the church of John Cooper Clarke than I am in the church of Jesus Christ. Anyway I thought it would be nice to go out of my comfort zone, to give support for the charity that I’m raising money for and to honour my Dad’s memory (as he was such a good Catholic boy himself). As you can see from the pictures he was remembered in the concert programme and we left a tag on NWCR’s memorial tree after the concert.

 

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The venue was Lutyen’s Crypt in The Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool. It’s the first time I’d ever been there and it’s a wonderful venue. I had a chance to walk around the cathedral prior to the concert and although not I’m religious I do like looking around churches and religious architecture and the cathedral really is an impressive building.

The concert itself had singing from Danielle Louise Thomas, a mezzo soprano and ambassador of NWCR, plenty of carol singing including silent night hence the choice of song for this bit (as I’m too cool for school and I didn’t join in with the singing much) and a few songs form the choir from Birkenhead Operatic Society Trust who were brilliant and the part of the concert I enjoyed the most. It was also very interesting hearing from the NWCR funded scientists doing the work looking for a cure for cancer.

After the concert we had some refreshments of tea, biscuits and mince pies and it gave us chance to have a look around the crypt before heading back to the car and on the way out getting some nice photos of the crypt and the cathedral (including the main image at the for this blog entry).

Car collected we drove (yes drove because we had to get the car out before the car park shut) round the corner to the Philharmonic Dining Rooms for a nice Sunday Lunch.  As Ted was driving I had a couple of pints (only two) but this was my first beer in a month!

After our nice tea we headed home, and when we got back popped open a bottle of red and put our kitsch Christmas tree up. Kate is the creative genius behind our awesome tree:

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All in all a very busy but very very pleasant weekend, with a successful run thrown in to boot.

Peace and love.

PS – You can sponsor me at:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runningmyler

 

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