Friday, 8 July 2011

First Experiment with Huaraches, So much for an easy week

It’s been an interesting week this week, both running and work.  I’ve been steadily building duration and effort levels overall over the last few years, but this year it seems to have really ramped up another notch.  Still nowhere near as much as some will be doing, but the relative increase for me, is significant. 

Last week I began to feel it a bit, so I’d earmarked this week as a general slowdown, take it easier week.  Also, it coincides with an unusual work pattern for me.  Normally I’m either away from home for the bulk of the week, or at home for the week, which means I can get into a pattern.  This week I’ve been working at a local airport, about an hour away by train, so I’ve been commuting daily, which means I get to go home and eat real food each night, but it also makes it harder to get into any structured plan with the extra time spent on the train.   But as this week was intended to be a bit more intuitive, take it as it comes, that’s not been an issue, plus I get to re-read Born to Run on the train each day

I was actually quite excited to be working with this client again, as it’s been almost three years since I was last here. On that occasion I was looking mainly at their management of health and safety as an initial assessment, with two colleagues looking at environment.  I could see that there were a number of environmental issues that looked like they needed some serious attention.  On that visit, I left them with some fairly significant safety issues and I was looking forward to seeing how they’d dealt with them.  They must have done something decent as we certified them later on. 

This is one of the cool parts of my job, I get to peek behind the scenes of things that most people never get a chance to look at.  Two weeks ago I was running around the countryside with a local electricity company looking at how they manage HS&E halfway up a hillside in the pouring rain while trying to meet targets of restoring power to people, the week after that I was working in a factory who’s main concern was trying to keep their product sterile.  They were making the cement that is used to glue your hip or knee replacement in place, a fascinating process.  As I spend so much time in airports, it is nice to be able to see a little of what goes on behind the scenes.  You need to think of an airport as a mini town really, needing to provide everything for people to live there for a short length of time, in this case about 20 million people a year.  So you need sewerage and waste management systems, major landscaping facilities, transport, security, drainage, catering, and that’s before you’ve got anywhere near flying.  Then you bring in all of the baggage handling, aircraft handling equipment, de-icing, fuelling systems and tank farm, snow clearing in the winter, emergency response, and then you have stuff like an inflatable airbag system for recovering an aircraft that’s gone off the runway, to gently lift it out of the furrow it’s ploughed and get it back on firm ground.  It’s a pretty complex organisation overall and that’s what makes it interesting.

Now these guys have really made some decent moves forward environmentally, getting their thinking systematic, and in the right place.  If you think Source-Path-Receptor, it’s a pretty simple but effective methodology.  What do I have that could harm the environment, how will it get there, and what will it harm and how.  These guys have really gotten into the upstream prevention of release and minimisation of release i.e. it’s much easier and more cost effective to stop it in the first place than do clean up afterwards.  They’ve spent a lot of money, and set some high standards for their client airlines and it shows.  They still have some problems, but they now understand them, and have a decent plan to deal with them.

Safety is not quite so advanced, and health is even further behind, they’re still basically a reactive organisation here.  Wait till it goes wrong and then fix it, particularly in the health agenda.  Next time you go through an airport, spare a thought for those people at the passenger search area where you get irritated because you have to load your hand luggage onto a conveyer to get it x-rayed, strip off half you clothes, empty your pockets and then get embarrassed because you forgot to take that bottle of hand lotion out of your bag, or that bottle of champagne you were taking as a gift for your aunt is not allowed.  Before you get irritated, impatient, or even dare I say, aggressive towards these guys, remember that they don’t set the rules, but also remember that they are there lugging bags around, bending and stretching to search people, or looking at those weird coloured x-ray screens for 8 hours a day.  And they’re not that highly paid to do it.  Give them a break.

Anyway, this is one of the key health concerns for an airport, even if you take out the potential for verbal and physical abuse by a passenger, they have a problem with musculo-skeletal disorders, knees, hips, back, neck etc and they need to put a lot of work into how they manage this area, and make sure that people follow the rules that will help them reduce the potential to injure themselves.

As for me, working here has meant that I’ve spent the week wearing steel-toecapped shoes, heavy and with big thick rubber soles and cushioning.  By the beginning of Thursday, I was finding that my shins and feet were aching, and this is the only thing I can put it down to.

So, with all that going on, this was a good excuse to make this week an easier one.  Monday was a planned rest day anyway, and Tuesday became an additional rest day.

On Wednesday my wife was doing something else in the evening, so I went for a BF run. This was also my first chance to try out my prototype huaraches that I’d made myself.  They worked very well at first and were very comfortable on a grassy track that had just been mown for hay so had a lot of spiky bits left on it.  Being made from a thin piece of flip-flop type foam, they were less effective when I stepped on a thorn, part of which is still in my heel now.  The only problem was that the laces started to slip and the shoes flop around a bit, so I took them off after a mile or so.  Luckily I didn’t take them off earlier, or the large lump of dog shit I found would have been on my foot instead!

This turned into a 5 mile BF/huarached run, my longest so far, and at reasonable pace.
1) 8:05 / 132 / 157
2) 8:18 / 149 / 156
3) 8:11 / 143 / 153
4) 8:10 / 148 / 155
5) 8:05 / 140 / 145 
Total 40:49 / Average 8:10 / AHR 142 / MHR 157

Thursday night I stayed at the airport hotel for ease of logistics.  Looking at a local map I thought “hmm, maybe 5 miles around the airport, maybe 6 allowing for wiggles in the roads”.  By the time I realised it was a lot longer that 5 miles, it was too late, and turning back was as far as carrying on.  I ended up doing 9.76 miles and being late for dinner with my colleague.  Bang goes the easy week.

Total 9.76mi / 1:15:25 / 7:43 / AHR 148 / MHR 165 / cad 89 
1) 7:53 / AH 138  2) 7:55 / A 147  3) 7:41 / A 147
4) 7:53 / A 153  5) 7:42 / A 154  6) 7:54 / A 150 
7) 7:52 / A 150 8) 8:08 / A 147 9) 7:51 / A 148
10) 0.76mi / 4:31 / 5:58 ??? / AHR 150 – that last one’s a bit shaky as I went under a tunnel

Oh, and I saw this really cool 747 with radome, chaff dispensers and anti missile IR gear. Came from somewhere in the middle east apparently

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