VMLM 2014 Expo and Registration

A great start to the journey! The first train we boarded from home ended up being terminated so we had to make a change before finally heading to Stratford and then on to Custom House for the Excel marathon registration. The opening time was 10am so we had plenty of time departing home at 07.35am but I was expecting there to be large amounts of people and some queuing to do so I wanted to get there in good time. I took my 8 year old son along to experience the day and he was hoping to spot a celebrity or two! It was his first time on the DLR service which was an experience in itself for him, driverless trains weaving through the city buildings, great fun for him. Excel is dead easy to find, it is on the doorstep of Custom House station and you virtually walk straight into Excel once getting off the train.

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 We got to the queue about 09.50am..it opens at 10.00am and only had about 100 people ahead of us. Once the doors opened and people flooded in the numbers soon swelled and there were thousands of people streaming into the Excel. The first port of call was to loo for my relevant number station to pick up my race pack.

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Number 24813..went and collected my pack and listened to some instructions and then we could head on to the chip collection point.

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It didn’t take long to get the chip and then we headed on in to the expo. We tried to be methodical going up and down aisles but there was so much going on and so many people trying to get your attention and talk to you we had plenty of turns off our intended path. In all it didn’t really matter as we probably ended up doing about 4 loops of all the stalls anyway. Adidas had a huge wall that could be signed so my son and I wrote a few messages up on the wall for people.

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One message was for all the Saffron Striders at the club and the other was for the people on http://www.therunningbug.co.uk . As i was raising money for Macmillan cancer we went over to their stall and had a chat they also had a wall which I signed against my pre printed slot on the wall.

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Being absolutely bombarded with all sorts of gadgets and gizmos to try out i was careful not to blow my money straight away. I had some purchases in mind but didn’t want to get caught by all sorts of things I hadn’t intended to. Having worn out socks i bought some new Balega socks which look and feel great but i’m not sure if to wear them for the marathon just yet. I had also wanted to buy some Brooks ASR shoes. Brooks had sent me a camera to document my runs in the build up to the marathon and in return for handing it in they were giving a £20 discount on shoes and a free bag of pasta. Typical! of all the possible shoe models they didn’t bring the ASR to the expo because it isn’t the most popular shoe. What to do..I was offered an alternative shoe but with no medial post…no thanks…what about if we email you a 20% discount code so you can still buy the shoes..yes please. And the bag of pasta? as we don’t have the shoes, no problem! Samples were available at the majority of gel and snack bar stalls and I think me and my son tried 75% of them, some far tastier than others. I ended up buying some powerbar gels and electrolyte tabs I haven’t tried before so we’ll see what they are like at some point. Fullers London Pride beer is one of the sponsors of the event so we stopped by to speak to them..and have some samples, “sorry son, dad only here”. Next on the list was Vita Coco coconut water stand where again my son was happy to dive in and try all the flavours available and settled on a purchase of mango and pineapple..good choice! I have had trouble with the soleus muscle on my left leg and have been having treatment for some time but one thing i wanted to try was Kinesiology tape. We found the KT tape stand and asked them some questions on what it was made from, how to apply it and why I shouldn’t go away and buy a cheaper brand. I had some applied to my problem area and was told it would be good to keep on for the marathon. I could feel the effect of it pulling and lifting the skin which is what is supposed to help alleviate pressure of any muscular pulls or strains. Feeling happy I bought a roll which I will use along side treatment.

 After about 3 hours of wading through charity leaflet handouts and international marathon invites we decided we had seen and purchased everything we wanted and had covered all the bases on who we wanted to see and speak to we decided to move on to the final section where we could buy some lunch and listen to various speakers. On our way I bumped into a friend and stopped and chatted about our preparations where he told me we had not long missed Wilson Kipsang…gutted, one person on my list I wanted to listen to. We moved on and bought noodles for lunch and sat down to an informative but less interesting talk on final instructions. Looking through the timetable we would have to wait a good three hours to listen to a celebrity speaker and closer 4 to hear Priscah Jeptoo..a bit too long to wait with a couple of hours travel home and trying to keep an 8 year old interested. Nevermind! we had a great time at Excel, the only problem is I am in the rear most pen 9..the 3.5 hour pacer is in pen 3. Being conservative with my application time of 4 hours has given me a little catching up to do..i’ll stick to my pace and i’m fairly sure I will catch up to them in the second half. That’s the plan anyway!

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Salomon Crossmax Guidance

20131011_103321   I am a moderate to severe overpronator so when looking for a trail shoe I had it in mind to look for a shoe that offered support. It isn’t that common to find a trail shoe with support as most people will tell you because trails are so uneven and the foot is always moving about there isn’t much point in having the support. I would rather have the support and run blister and injury free. My UK men’s size 9 weighed in at 380 grams which is quite heavy for a shoe but it is worth it for the protection they offer and is hardly noticeable running on trails. If I was running on roads for any distance greater than about 3 miles then I am sure they would slow you down and become uncomfortable. I have quite a wide foot and buy an E width when buying road shoes. These weren’t tight or uncomfortable so i would say they are either a D or possibly an E width although this wasn’t stated when purchased. Salomon describe the elements that make the Crossmax as follows: Stretch Air Mesh Lace Pocket Protective Toe Cap SensiFit QuickLace Friction Free Lace Eyelet SensiFlex Textile Non Marking Contagrip OS Tendon Contagrip HA Contagrip LT Molded EVA Dual Density EVA Light Weight Muscle Compressed EVA Transition Link Carriage Construction EVA Shaped Footbed Ortholite Out of the box the shoe was a good red and black design. To the feel it was very solid a really stiff when trying to flex. My initial worry from this was they were going to be real bricks on the feet and take some getting used to. Trying them on they were amazingly comfortable with the Ortholite providing a snug and comfy fit. Walking around in them they did feel a little stiff with the main amount of flex being in the toe box area. They certainly held the foot very firm and gave the feeling of protectiveness and support that is required from a trail shoe. Taking them out onto my local trails they were great to run in and the stiffness wasn’t even noticed. The Contagrip outsole was superb in the mud and prevented the slipping that road shoes usually had. The lugs are a combination of rubbers to suit differing surfaces so they handle every thing from tarmac to gravel and sloppy mud. Having run on the road in them i wouldn’t want to do very much at a time as the minimal sole cushioning means you really feel the foot strikes. My road sections when on a trail haven’t been more than 3 miles at a time and that is about as much as I would want to do as  could see lower leg or shin trouble coming on doing long distances on the road. The quick lace system is good but I found I was over tightening them to start with and had to find a balance between tight enough to stop any heel slip but not too tight to cause discomfort. It may be my foot shape but the top eyelet on the inside was rubbing my foot and making it sore. This may toughen up in time and is something I will keep an eye on or I will have to resort to plasters in that area when I run. When my feet got wet the Crossmax drained really quickly, was comfortable to continue running in and seemed to dry a little from the heat off my feet. The toe cap was also great offering protection from scuffing tree roots and clipping the odd stone. I used the Crossmax to run my first ultra the Stort 30 organised by http://www.challenge-running.co.uk/stort30/. They were fantastic through the entire 30 miles, I had no blisters at the end and only a couple of hot spots. Although I had wet feet they drained really quickly which helped reduce the likelihood of blisters. I will being using these shoes all through the winter on trails and hope to run more ultras in them in the future. Apart from the issue with the eyelet, which may only be personal to me,I had no problem with them at all and would recommend these shoes to anyone.Salomon do these shoes in a standard non guidance form so you do need to check when shopping that it is or isn’t the guidance version.

Running On A Budget

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Money has been stretched for most people in recent times so i thought i would write a post on what budget gear is currently available. I’m not one for buying really expensive clothing if i can find something far cheaper that does the job perfectly well then that’s good enough for me. I haven’t included running footwear because of so many variables like pronation, supination and width. I have searched out socks, shorts, t-shirts, long sleeve tops and also added a few accessories. I hope this is of some use to people and saves you some time trawling around the internet.

SOCKS

Nike Elite Running Quarter Sock Unisex – £5.00  http://www.achillesheel.co.uk/nike-elite-running-quarter-socks

Mizuno Women’s Ronin – $6.88  http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpage-MZWRS.html

Karrimor Duo Sock – £3.00  http://www.sportsdirect.com/karrimor-duo-run-socks-1-pack-415044

Adidas T Sock – £2.99  http://www.sportsshoes.com/product/ADI4605/adidas-t-run-ankle-running-socks/

I have used the Karrimor and Nike socks with no trouble at all and the wear and durability is great. I have started using socks like the Nike elite more when racing as they have good elastication through the whole sock and help support the foot more than the average sock.

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SHORTS

Asics Boxer Short – £5.00  http://www.sweatshop.co.uk/clothing/shorts/asics-boxer-short.html

La Gear L LK – £2.49  http://www.sportsdirect.com/la-gear-i-lk-short-ld20-572050?colcode=57205025

New Balance World Class – $9.88  http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpageMRA-NBMWCS.html

Nike 4 Inch Women’s – £5.00  http://www.achillesheel.co.uk/nike-4-inch-short-womens-black-baltic-blue

Lonsdale 2 Stripe – £5.00  http://www.sportsdirect.com/lonsdale-2-stripe-woven-shorts-mens-435000?colcode=43500092

I use the Lonsdale shorts mainly because they have zipped pockets which can be handy at some races when i want to keep my train ticket or door key on me while i run.

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T-SHIRTS

Asics Womens Eikoku Top – £7.00  http://www.achillesheel.co.uk/asics-eikoku-ss-top-womens-ss09

Karrimor Short Sleeve Men’s – £3.99  http://www.sportsdirect.com/karrimor-short-sleeve-run-t-shirt-mens-451131

New Balance Lady Short Sleeve – £6.99  http://www.sportsshoes.com/product/NEW689527/new-balance-lady-short-sleeve-t~shirt/

Asics Ready Set T – $9.88  http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpageMRA-AMRSET.html

Craft Active Run – £4.00  http://www.sweatshop.co.uk/clothing/t-shirts/craft-active-run-t-shirt.html

When i started running i went and bought 2 or 3 cheap technical t-shirts but as most people will find as you enter races you will start to get a t-shirt as part of your entry. These seem to be getting better all the time and i have a good collection of technical t-shirts from races.

LONG SLEEVE TOPS

Brooks Women’s Equilibrium Nightlife LS – £12.00  http://www.achillesheel.co.uk/brooks-equilibrium-ls-top-nightlife-womens-aw09

Men’s Asics Favorite – $24.88  http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpageMRA-AMFVLS2.html

Karrimor Women’s LS – £4.99  http://www.sportsdirect.com/karrimor-long-sleeve-running-top-ladies-456032

Asics Eikoku LS – £7.99  http://www.sportsshoes.com/product/ASI2095/asics-eikoku-3-long-sleeve-running-top/

Ronhill Vizion – £10.00  http://www.sweatshop.co.uk/clothing/long-sleeved-tops/ronhill-vizion-l-s-crew-11818.html

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ACCESSORIES

Nike Shoe Wallet – £2.50  http://www.achillesheel.co.uk/nike-shoe-wallet-grey

Asics Arm Warmers – $8.95  http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpage-AARMW10.html

Lonsdale Headband – £1.99  http://www.sportsdirect.com/lonsdale-headband-mens-770009

Hilly Reflective Armband – £2.99  http://www.sportsshoes.com/product/HIL67/hilly-reflective-running-armband/

Adidas Team GB Cap – 3.00  http://www.sweatshop.co.uk/accessories/adidas-team-gb-cap-ss12-7795.html

There are loads of bargains to be had out there and you can easily go cheaper than some of the items i have listed. If you do go cheaper you will begin to compromise on quality with t-shirts tending to be cotton rather than technical polyester. With regards to shoes if you know what type you need going for last seasons model can be a cheaper way of getting the footwear you need. With regard to the t-shirts remember that you can start to build a collection by looking at races that offer a technical t-shirt as part of the entry. If anyone knows of some great money saving websites please feel free to comment and let people know, thanks.

Happy running all!, Baz.