on... just cruising along

Recently, I was lucky enough to be taken on a Cruise along with my “parental family”. Unfortunately, for various reasons which I won’t go into here, my wife and children didn’t come, creating quite a strange dynamic. As I trudged along behind mum and dad on the first evening, it took me back to my mid-teens, quiet and shy, wondering what to do, whether anyone would talk to me, but this time missing my family desperately.

This time round though, I had something else to keep me occupied - running. After a rather regimented evening, I vowed to continue with my planned long run on Sunday morning. A quick read through the ship’s itinerary showed up a “Running and Walking track” on the top deck, so investigation was in order. The track enclosed the basketball court and the Funnels (sorry if I’m being a bit technical here), together with some sunloungers. There was a sign on the wall which read “7 laps to 1 Mile” - about 230m per lap.

I didn’t sleep too well on the Saturday night, but arrived at the track bright and early at 07:30. Some rain had come down in the night, so the track was closed off at two points while the staff cleared the rainwater. The opportunity was there to stand down, and find the gym, but I saw this as a test of mental toughness and so I began. We were moored at Guernsey, so the “movement effect” through GPS should have been minimal, just swaying a little here and there.

Initial loops were 160m in each direction, with 180 degree turns in between.

After 10km, I changed direction for variety and in an attempt not to get dizzy. By about 09:00, there were more people on the track. I’ve got clear memories on a lady with a pair of twins in a buggy, walking in the opposite direction. The first lap, she was looking away, second lap at me, third lap raised a smile, fourth lap a larger smile and so it went on until even she got a bit bored and left. Two hours and ten minutes, and I’d clocked up my 20km (or there abouts), and I panicked in case my GPS was switched off.

Here’s a link showing the “Strava art” that I clocked up on that visit. Sort of a “shaggy dog” in my opinion, with a definite pair of legs and feet - this impressed me.

https://www.strava.com/activities/369549051

I decided that I couldn’t just run around all week, so I settled down with a good book. I’ve been having trouble finding something new recently, so was delighted to find a post on the NEWTS facebook page recommending Tim Lebbon’s latest novel.”The Hunt”. I picked up a copy and while I try to avoid “dark subject matter”, this looked good. Disturbing, but excellent - especially when you’re spending a week away from your closest family. It’s available at most good bookshops, supermarkets, and even on Amazon. Worth a look, though I’m only about 20% through, so no spoilers please.

I tried the Spin class one afternoon, which was fun - the trainer was so polite. She kept asking us “would you stand for me”, “would you hover for me” as opposed to the usual bellowing that I’ve experienced, but it was no less effective, especially when naming the spinners one by one in a soft ukranian accent. It certaily worked for me - hadn’t done spin in a long time and this hurt, but had the effect a recovering my legs after the long run. As if I hadn’t sweated enough after that class, I topped it off nicely with 5k on the Treadmill. Now this was a different sort of challenge, looking out at sea while moving, with the glass showing a perfect reflection of my feet. I had a few moments of slippage, where I nearly came off the treadmill. Something I’d only really experienced once before when running against a mirrored wall, and she really shouldn’t have adjusted her top like that while running. The thing that struck me about the treadmill running was just how accurate my Garmin watch was without GPS signal. The first km bleep came exactly on time, with the second one slightly behind. I know that it’s meant to “tune” itself based on outdoor runs, but it had never looked to be too accurate indoors. Subsequent kms were only one or two seconds out, suggesting that the treadmills in my normal gym are just not very accurate. This overall effort was rewarded with a trip to the pizza counter, then some southern fried chicken. I did struggle with the required eating on the cruise that week, but this was effortless (even if not to be recommended).

Subsequent days saw me running when leaving port, which was a bit more of an interesting experience (especially when running into the wind). My run during disembarkation from Spain shows a little tick followed by a straight line out of port, with my effort improving significantly as time went on:

https://www.strava.com/activities/369549094

On Friday night, I decided to do a parkrun effort - ran 22 laps (just over 3 miles) in just under 25 minutes. My Garmin reported it as a 12 km run - pretty impressive as most of it was run at 2 minutes per km (as opposed to the normal 4 - 4.5). Again, the Strava art looks more like a slightly squiggly line.

https://www.strava.com/activities/369549080

During all of my little runs, I was impressed by other users of the track - especially the regular walkers who kept me company, one of which (Helen) kindly took a few photos to prove my time onboard. I felt a bit daft, introducing myself to her with “Nigel” written across my Lliswerry shirt but she replied that she already knew my name… from the Karaoke earlier in the week. In amongst the “oh too serious” quality singers that performed that night, my “Tainted Love” came as a welcome relief. It certainly brought tears to eyes and I received numerous comments, even after leaving the ship. Oh, my parents must have been so proud.

And if you’re wondering, yes I did take my hoops. The ceilings were a bit low for indoor use, and it was a bit windy up on top, but I found a solution. Hit the Golf practice nets after the Golfers retired for the night - that part of the ship had the cleanest deck as the cleaning staff all congregated to witness a different type of passenger. It’s not all about running, you know.

Nigel.