Distance Runner

I guess I’m gonna, Oh be a runner, I’ll run back and to, for ever and ever, and I don’t expect you’d understand, how this could ever make me happy…

The story for Tuesday nights run starts on Saturday. Kate and I went for a nice hipster “Festive Punk Rock Afternoon Tea” at The Baltic Social where with the lunch you got a pint of lager (The Baltic Social is one of the most hipster places in Liverpool). This gave me “the taste” early on.

We headed back home and then Kate went up to her parents to help her sister Emma wrap the Christmas presents for Emma’s kids, whilst I stayed at home. After nipping round my mums to watch United cruise to an easy victory on the telly I went home and I was soon bored. To alleviate this I also headed up to the in-laws to help (watch) with the wrapping of the presents. Whilst there I “accidentally” got through a box of Ted’s Christmas Stella (I did get “the taste” early on and it showed no sign of abating through the night), so then all of a sudden its 2am and Kate and I are a tad drunk (her off red wine, me off Stella) and getting a taxi home.

So what’s this got to do with a Tuesday night run? Well I should have gone for a long run on Sunday morning with my Team Sweat running buddies. However I had to let them down as I had a Stella hangover, I just couldn’t run, my head was too bad! Sorry!

So to get back on track with my mileage I went out alone to do last weeks long run (for me 10 miles is long at the moment) on Tuesday instead.

Tonight’s run was sound tracked by my Spotify “Your Top Songs 2016” playlist where Spotify puts the 101 most played songs of the year in a playlist for you. I listen to some amazing music but not everything on that playlist is suitable for running to (more on this later). However one track did crop up which seems totally apt for what I’m up to. Check it out:

Man & The Echo are a fantastic new band from Warrington (yeah it’s a shame they’re from Warrington like), their debut eponymous album being one of my favourite records of the year and the lyrics in Distance Runner resonate personally somewhat with stuff like:

“I thought of those departed, knowing that there is no heaven, I thought no other ragged region could ever make me smile and think of them”.

This song really seems to paint a very vivid picture of this region and the areas around Widnes and Warrington. In fact the towers on the M&TE album cover look VERY much like the eight towers of Fiddlers Ferry.

Right on to the running, my route takes me out down towards the town through Widnes’s kebab alley (Albert Road) then up and over Halton View Bridge, passing the Eight Towers pub and heading out past Fiddlers Ferry Power station. I’m feeling pretty good at this point going smoothly a few miles in and I got thinking about when I used to cycle down this road when I used to work in Woolston. Most days the ride to work would be easy with the prevailing wind at my back but the ride home would be a bit more difficult with the prevailing wind in my face and I started to worry about the return leg back towards Widnes, thinking the wind would be in my face going up the uphill section of the route.

Venturing in to enemy territory (Penketh is Warrington, right?) I headed up Stocks Lane with its nice hill up to the bridge over the railway line before turning left on the A57 Liverpool/Warrington Road which is the longest single stretch of the route and the one with the biggest incline. I had worried about the wind earlier for this stretch, but it was a southerly wind blowing across rather than in to my face, so didn’t affect me too much here.

This section heads from Penketh in to Bold Heath, past the Griffin Pub. A note on the Griffin Pub, it has served awful food for quite some time, but has now recently been refurbished and turned in to a “Chef & Brewer” chain pub. Somehow they’ve managed to make the place even worse. Avoid this place like the plague, one of the worst places I’ve ever eaten.

Leaving Bold Heath you soon pass through the boroughs of Warrington, St Helens and back in to Halton (phew!) in quick succession.  This section heading back up to Rainhill Stoops roundabout is probably the toughest bit of the whole route and climbing steadily from about 6 to 7.5 miles.

I was in this section where my playlist started to mess around with my running flow by picking songs that are not necessarily conducive to good running. Much of the playlist is taken up with my upbeat “workout” tracks as I listen to these a lot, but I also listen all kinds of other stuff and my playlist kicked up stuff like John Prine (70’s American folk) gruff jazz legend Tom Waits, 90’s lo-fi indie Mercury Rev, and a track from Nick Cave’s beautiful and grief stricken “Skelton Tree” album, all great but none of which help with running. After flicking through some songs I got back on track (just about) with a Toots and the Maytals cover of Radiohead’s Let Down (honestly it is brilliant, check it out!).

After getting through this toughish section, I crossed the bypass (Watkinson Way) and heading on the path back towards Norlands Lane.  It was here where I totally freaked out some poor chap walking his dog. I was running along the path and as I got close to him he must of heard my feet hitting the ground and my heavy breathing he jumped round, very startled, in to some rubbish kind of karate “kee-ya” pose (well that was the noise he made). It was the least convincing karate pose ever and after a quick “Sorry mate” I ran off in to the night chuckling to myself.

Coming out of Norlands Lane I pick up the home straight section of the route, nice and easy downhill on Birchfield Road finally seeing lots of other runners out and about (I hadn’t seen many people between Fiddlers Ferry and Bold Heath). This last mile was by far my quickest, partly because it’s all downhill, and partly because I took it upon myself to try and catch up some of the other runners about and partly because I was still feeling pretty good.

I did a total distance 10miles in time of 1:28:07. This is an average pace of 8:44 min miles – my target was around 9 min miles so for my next long run I want to up the distance and lower the pace a little, but I’m very happy with tonight’s effort.

Some musings on my running footwear. I recently switched to some Hoka Vanquish 2’s to give me more support as I’m upping my mileage from being a 10k runner to a marathon runner. The support I’m getting from them is great as I used to get some lower ankle pain from my old trainers, and now this has gone. I also like the smooth and comfortable ride I get from them.

However, I’m still getting some blisters on my big toes and on the arches of my feet. Funnily enough tonight I could feel the big toe on my right foot hurting from around 6 miles, but when I got home it was the one on the left foot that was more damaged (which didn’t hurt/burn at all during the run).



I’m not sure how to proceed with this now. Stick with it and harden my feet up (bathe in witchhazel?), try a change of socks back to a “Monoskin” (I have used Hilly Twinskin for years – maybe the extra room in the shoe and added movement in the twin layer sock contributes) or look at swapping shoes again. I like these shoes and they cost me a lot of money so I don’t want to do that just yet.

Anyways, all in all happy with tonight. Next up some festive park runs (I might make Christmas Day not decided yet) and a 12-13 mile planned for Boxing Day (unless I drink too much champagne on Christmas Day – which is a real possibility).

Peace and love. And Happy Christmas!!!

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