Going Big In 2016

Well, it’s been a while since posting a blog update again! But not without good reason. Heading towards the end of 2015 I had managed to get on top of injury problems in my left leg and only a matter of weeks after posting my last update in October 2015 I was struck down with an extremely bad chest infection that saw me sidelined from running for 7 weeks, having time off work and prescribed antibiotics as a precaution. The good side of that is my legs had a good rest. I had already made an application to the Grand Union Canal Race and was ill while waiting for the ballot result. I was fortunate (depending on your outlook!) to get drawn and will now be 1 of 150 people lining up to cover 145 miles on foot.

gucrmap (2) The slight panic was until I recovered from the chest infection I wasn’t able to train. Just before Christmas it had faded enough that I went out for some easy efforts, the worst had gone but my breathing was still difficult. In the New Year I was starting to feel stronger and the running was going well. I started to attend parkruns most Saturday mornings, they are a free, timed 5k run that take place nationwide in the UK and I use them as my speed session for the week. Especially as heading towards another ultra most runs are quite long and I try and make my standard run 10 miles.

As a build up for the GUCR I have entered some other races. The Cambridge Boundary Run  takes place on the 6th March and is a mixed surface marathon in the City of Cambridge. some eagle eyed blog readers may have noticed that this is only 1 week before my Bath half marathon run on the 13th March. I am not planning on running the Boundary race at a fast pace, it is purely a training run, miles in the legs and time on my feet in preparation for the GUCR. The Bath half a week later is a fast course and it would be nice if I could push my current PB from 1h 32m 27s down to the 1h 30m mark. I’m not currently sure if I can do it as i’ve not been doing much speed training but the time of 1h 30m would make being placed nearer the front of future races far more likely.

After the Bath half I may do the Oakley 20 race but have not yet signed up. This is a good last long run to have before some of the UK’s best spring marathons including London, Manchester and Brighton that I am running on 17th April. A good resource for UK marathons is Marathon Runners Diary especially useful if you’re after a 100 Marathon Club membership! My current marathon PB is at 3h 59m, my half marathon as stated above is 1h 32m and my 10k is 41m 11s. Using these times and a few different race calculators available on the web my marathon prediction time is coming out between 3h 12m and 3h 15m. I have no idea how I could bridge that gap, I will be aiming for a PB at Brighton but but I will be happy with an improvement of between 5 and 10 minutes let alone 40 minutes!

Brighton may be my last race before the GUCR. The GUCR takes place on the late May Bank Holiday weekend 28th May so there is a possible gap to enter a 40 or 50 mile race just as a little warm up and kit test for the GUCR but it depends if there is a race available that coincides with my time off from work. If I don’t do a race I will have a long day out on my own. I also plan on having a couple of day trips to Wolverton on the edge of Milton Keynes and having some runs along the route. Apart from the fact Wolverton has a train station right on the river and I am able to get there and back quite easily, it will also be a section of the run that will be dark on race weekend.

On the whole things are moving along nicely, the last club cross country of the season is taking place this Sunday 28th February and I continue to get along to club evenings when time off from work allows.

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I’ve Been Running Not Blogging

I’ve not posted a blog about my running, training or any running events for almost 6 months now. After the Flitch Way Marathon I carried on with my training and then entered the London 12 hour Enduro in June. Part of the reason I blog about my running is self motivation and a way of holding myself accountable and disciplined with my running as well as, I hope, inspiring and motivating others. I began running 3 1/2 years ago after 3 friends passed away within 6 months, one being my best friend who I spent the first 26 years of my life doing everything with. Running helped me with my grief and focused my thoughts and energy..In June, In the darkness of night somewhere on Wimbledon common In the middle of the London 12 hour Enduro I was at last at peace with their passing and my own grief, some 3 years down the line. In an emotional moment I called my wife and told her I didn’t need to punish myself running ultras and I was ready to throw it in for the night and come home. I didn’t. After I hung up I forged on feeling a sense of peace I hadn’t felt for a long time. I felt good again, free and my waning energy began to return. By the end of the night I had completed 54 miles in 11 hours 36 minutes and finished in 8th. I didn’t feel the need to tell people about it or blog about it and share the experience. It seemed for me an almost too personal a moment of closure to put in to print.

Since then I have changed to doing shorter and faster runs. I have started to attend Parkruns on a regular basis, I’ve changed up my diet a little again this time too a zero added sugar, the biscuits and cakes have gone! My bodyfat has dropped from 30% to 19% and there is just a portion  of fat around my waist that is preventing me from having abs again! And since July I have had 3 new PB’s and begun to run sub 20 minute 5k’s for the first time since my teens. My 5k PB is now 19m 32s, 10k PB is 41m 11s and half marathon PB is at 1h 32m 27s. I put most of this down to the regular parkruns. Longer term I am aiming at Brighton Marathon to complete the new set of PB’s.

 

I have been doing plenty of runs and events  I could have blogged about but haven’t, maybe it’s time to get back letting people know about my experiences again. The moral of the last 6 months has been that actions speak louder than words, I’ve been working on all aspects to improve. I’m ready again to add some occasional words for others enjoyment and motivation.

 

 

 

2015-10-25 14.41.41

Still Making Progress With The Running

By the end of March I’d managed to shake off the injury I had been carrying for almost a year. The running was beginning to improve again, the distances getting longer and the pace slowly improving. One thing I have started doing the last few weeks is actually attending Park Runs. I registered about 2 years ago but had never been until 4 weeks ago! They are clearly a great training aid for a bit of speed because I ran a new PB of 20m 51s a couple of weeks back.

Out of nowhere the other week I pulled/tore a muscle along the front of my shin which made walking painful. I have no idea how it happened or why. went to bed fine and woke up in pain. So that put an end to running the Ashdon 10k. It healed up pretty quickly and I was back to the running with no problems a week later running the Birchanger 10k. That was a really tough run! some large hills on a 2 lap course meant my time on the face of it was quite slow at 46m 13s. but a flatter course would easily take 3 or 4 minutes off that time. That means my target of a sub 40 minute 10k is still some way off.

A bit of a last minute impulsive entry I have entered the Flitch Way Marathon. As it is local and I’m looking to increase my training mileage I’m just treating it as a training run. I am quite likely to enter the 12hr Enduro at Wimbledon in 4 weeks so this will be the start of the increase in distance that I need.

Here’s hoping I can now stay injury free!

Paris Marathon 12th April 2015

I headed toward the Paris marathon with some trepidation. Having had a lingering injury for some months I took November and December off to recover. I started back running on January 8th and the left leg was feeling far better and started right back at the beginning running just a few easy miles and building up slowly. The trouble was I was 2 months behind most other people training for a spring marathon. All I could do was not panic about the situation but continue to slowly build the miles up week by week. In the weeks building up to the marathon I managed a 17.5 which was extremely difficult, a 20 miler which went really well and a 16.5 again where I struggled. I could do no more other than give what I had on the day.

We departed for Paris on Friday 10th April so we had good time to explore Paris before the race. Leaving on the 13.31 from London we were in Paris at 16.50 and headed across town on the metro to the Arc De Triomphe which was a short way from our hotel, literally 3 minutes from the start and finish area (http://www.elysee-etoile-paris-hotel.com/) That Friday evening we headed for a walk about to get our bearings heading around the Arc De Triomphe along some side streets and down to the river with the Eiffel Tower standing on the opposite bank.

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We then headed under the Eiffel Tower and along the park to a restaurant we had booked before leaving home.

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A fantastic seafood restaurant http://www.vin-et-maree.com/ which we can both highly recommend. The staff were very polite, friendly and understanding of our poor French! I was hoping to have a couple of early nights before the race which was looking to be impossible eventually getting to bed around midnight.

On Saturday we made use of our Carnet of metro tickets to venture around town. First off on the Saturday I had to make my way to Port De Versailles and collect my race number and goodie bag. while there I bought some electrolyte powders to carry with me during the race in an attempt to stave off cramp. After finishing we headed across town on the metro again to Notre Dame.

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We looked around the Cathedral and the area shops and headed along to Pont de L’archdeveche and placed our own lock upon the bridge.

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After having some lunch we were running out of time. Three lads (Tim Mcmahon, David Johnson and Chris Bushell) from the my running club, Saffron Striders, were coming over on the Saturday and we had a restaurant booked for that evening so we had time to either go to Musee D’Orsay or head up the Eiffel Tower. before when visiting Paris we have been to the Louvre and the top half of the Eiffel Tower was in fog! We decided to head over to the Eiffel Tower. Saturdays weather was overcast and a bit breezy and by time we got to the top it was blowing a gale and had started to rain a little, but we still had great views across the city and could see the entire course laid out before us. We had run out of time so headed back towards the hotel and met up with the others and soon after went out for our meal and had a reasonably early night.

The morning of the Paris marathon had arrived. I had started to feel the nerves, the weather was warm already and the forecast was for a warm day of around 18c. I had a continental breakfast of coffee, croissant with jam and orange juice. We then headed out and had a photo close to our hotel.

 

close to our hotel
close to our hotel

We were staying very close to the start and finish area so only had a couple of minutes walk. After talking about plans to meet up after the race we made our way down to our starting area. Having a current PB of 3h 59m for the marathon I was hoping I could improve a little and opted for the 3h 45m Violet start pen.

Top of the Champs Elysee near the Start
Top of the Champs Elysee near the Start

The start pens started at 08.45am and headed out in 15 minute blocks, ours leaving at 09.15am.

The Violet start pen
The Violet start pen

After a while of stretching and jogging around the cramped area we were moved down toward the start line and eventually away! I started out comfortably and always take the first 2 to 3 miles to get into a steady pace. The Champs Elysee is cobbled and didn’t know how much of the course was going to be like this. The weather was getting really warm and it was only around 09.45am, it was going to be hotter than forecast. I didn’t really take a great deal of notice of landmarks at the start, I do remember passing the Grand Palace and then Place De La Bastille. My pace was right on where I wanted to be to better my PB and was well on a 3h 45m marathon. As I started to warm up I knew I had to slow my pace a little I had my head down and was working away and before I knew it we were looping around the park at Bois De Vincennes. I was now down to 8m 30s per mile which was still on for bettering my PB. Next I was just looking for Notre Dame I knew this was well passed half way, cobbled sections kept appearing here and there and was uncomfortable on my lower legs. Around the Notre Dame area the roads dip down and go into subterranean tunnels which you then have to work up hill to get out of, these really affected my ankle that  have had problems with and around mile 16/17 I felt my left Achilles ping and really began to burn and sting. There was no way I was going to drop out unless I was in danger of missing my train home. I took some Ibruprofen to help with the pain. I had been taking my electrolyte powders and so far had no issue with cramp at all. I was now passing the Eiffel Tower and had around 8 miles to go my pace had now begun to dip significantly and I was barely on for knocking a few minutes of my PB, as long as cramp didn’t hit I thought I may scrape a 3h 57m time.

There is another park, Bois De Boulogne which you pass through before heading to the finish. I had just about entered the park after mile 20 and I felt my thighs tighten and the beginning signs of cramp coming on. I knew then that it was going to be a tough 6 miles back to the finish. There had only been water on the course and  I could have done with some energy drink as well. I had to walk I knew if I cramped fully I would be stopped for minutes trying to stretch and  relax so it was better to walk and let the legs relax a little. I can’t remember where it was but there was 1 Isostar stand with energy drink so I had 2 cups which helped and picked me up so I could jog along again. The heat had been burning on my back for over 13 miles and I was starting to feel sick, I had been drinking plenty and wetting my head so although it was bit of a late thought I turned my cap around to protect my neck. I was so close now and counting down the kilometeres…38…39…40. I knew my PB had well and truly slipped away but I was running the last mile of the Paris marathon, in pain, but with fantastic weather and great crowds. With a last surge I passed as many people as I could manage without cramping up and finished. Initially I made it about 4h 25m, 26 minutes outside my PB.

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All things considered it was a great experience, I was disappointed that I didn’t do better but I was at least 4 weeks behind on training and I’m not really good at running in hot conditions so that was more than a fair time on the day.

It started so well!
It started so well!

Now I know what to expect, how to travel around and have a good hotel to use I would think about signing up for next year. I have nothing else booked at all for this year so I’ll have a couple of days to get passed the worst of the soreness and pick the running up again later this week.

Au Revoir for now.

Schneider Paris Marathon

Soon be time for the Paris marathon, training has gone reasonably well and the worst of the injury I had has passed. A fuller blog post and report will done after the race. In the meantime I have the following I need tweeted on Twitter, thanks to anyone willing to help.

 

 

If you could include #BelievewithSE along with #Run42! and @Traindriverbaz. Every tweet equates to an amount of distance and the target is 42k. These three bits would equal 400 metres of distance so to reach 42k I would need around 105 tweets!!

 

Running Races And Travelling On Motorways

My most recent race has been the Bath Half Marathon that took place on Sunday 2nd March. To get down there I travel on the M11, M25 and the M4 and it had to be one of the worst long distance trips i’ve had to make. My own fault really for choosing to drive down at 5pm on a Friday evening when everyone is trying to escape London. The reason being we weren’t in any great rush and it gave us all day Saturday to shop and sight see in Bath.

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After having a good day Saturday I prepared my running kit for the morning. We got into Bath about 08.45am parking in Victoria Park and going for breakfast in Cafe Retro which is only 5 minutes walk from the runners village. The weather was great and far warmer than last year and although overcast was dry as well. I got to the runners village slightly later than last year to save standing around for an hour but this meant it was far busier and took some time to make my way through the crowd. My winter training has felt like a real slog battling what has felt like permanent wind and rain for the last 4 months but the perseverance has paid off as my only race this year had paid of with a personal course record. So I was hoping  the Bath Half Marathon would go well, also this race was the start of my build up toward the London Marathon.

route

The start time had come and I was off to a great start being in pen D about 3 metres from the start line the initial mile is downhill and made the most of it to get into a good pace. The first mile was perfect and my pace was 6 minutes 24 seconds per mile! The next section is a short sharp hill along Green Park and around Queen Square the road is then a downhill gradient for the next few miles along the Upper Bristol Road to the river crossing back onto the Lower Bristol Road. After tackling the hill my pace dropped off which I was expecting as I know I am currently unable to maintain such a quick pace over a long distance. The next few miles my pace went 6.32, 6.58, 6.58, 7.08 and 7.10. I was running at a really good pace and was trying to maintain a 7 minute mile pace, knowing I was coming back towards the hill for the second time I was determined to attack it and get back into a good pace on the gradual decent back to the river crossing. During the race I had a thought that running long distance races is like travelling on motorways. The driver that overtakes and then cuts in sharply nearly clipping your feet in the process. That one person that tailgates and seems to be glued right behind you the whole time or the middle lane hoggers that you can’t seem to overtake comfortably. The elites that get to their final destination quicker than anyone else and the slower drivers at the back that’ll complete the journey all the same. Mile 7 came in at 7.11 and after tackling the hill my pace dropped slightly to 7.26. I managed to pick it up again for mile 9 and 10 clocking 7.20 and 7.15. The end was almost in sight but I could feel my legs tiring and the pace dropping with it mile 11 and 12 was 7.23 and 7.27. The final mile of the Bath Half is uphill last year I cramped at this point which allowed UK celebrity Dermot O’Leary to overtake and beat me by 42 seconds. I was showing no signs of cramp and pushed hard up the hill passing mile 13 at a pace of 7.16 per mile.. I didn’t feel quite strong enough to put in a final sprint and it was only at the final 100 yards I felt a slight twinge in my left calf. I crossed the line and knew I had smashed my PB! my recorded time was differing from the official time with the official time coming in at 1 hour 34 minutes and 11 seconds. This was 6 minutes and 31 seconds faster than 2013, my second race this year and another PB. Obviously I am now hoping this form continues and I can improve on my times.

bathhalf

I have quite a few races coming up these are…

Essex 20 County Championships

St Clare Hospice 10k Hastingwood where I am confident i can improve my 10k PB of 43 minutes 27 seconds

Oakley 20 Bedfordshire

and then the Virgin London Marathon

The Long Road To My First Ultra Event

Part of the Stort 30 route
Part of the Stort 30 route

 Like a lot of runners I have had a long term plan to run further and faster as time goes on. When I decided to get back to running as a serious hobby I was a 1 hour 10k runner which used to take some considerable effort and would leave me gasping. Through regular runs, dedication and joining a running club the distance has slowly increased and the times have come down.

 I have now gone and registered for he Stort 30 ultra, a 30 mile ultra in Hertfordshire along the river Stort tow path on October 27th 2013. This has been 18 months in the making with setbacks along the way. Through all of 2012 I was running 5 times a week with Tuesday and Saturday being my only rest days. This I now know in hindsight was too much and i kept getting colds and injuries. In 2013 I reduced my runs to 3 or 4 times a week, this did help a lot but I was booking lots of races on back to back weekends. The recovery periods weren’t really adequate, so again i was picking up injuries. I sought help for my injuries with www.thesportsinjuryclinic.org who gave me some useful information, exercises and causes. Through using better technique and sports massage it has really helped get on top of some of my problems and helped me progress further with my running.

My entire list of competitive events and times achieved that have led me to this point are below. As you can see the times slowly improve.

June 2012 10k Stansted 51 minutes 55 seconds

July 2012 10k Clapham 47 minutes 59 seconds

August 2012 10k BBC 45 minutes 59 seconds

September 2012 10k Saffron Walden 46 minutes 13 seconds

October 2012 10k Manuden 45 minutes 01 seconds

December 2012 Club Cross Country 5 mile 36 minutes 32 seconds

December 2012 Club Cross Country 5 mile 45 minutes 58 seconds

December 2012 10 mile Buntingford 1 hour 16 minutes 19 seconds

January 2013 Club Cross Country 5 mile 37 minutes 40 seconds

March 2013 Bath Half Marathon 1 hour 40 minutes 42 seconds – CURRENT PB

March 2013 Cambridge Half Marathon 1 hour 42 minutes

March 2013 10k Harlow 43 minutes 27 seconds – CURRENT PB

May 2013 10k Ashdon 47 minutes 44 seconds

May 2013 10k Clapham 44 minutes 49 seconds

May 2013 10k Henham 45 minutes 09 seconds

May 2013 10k Hatfield Broad Oak 44 minutes 10 seconds

July 2013 10k Lee Valley 45 minutes 43 seconds

I had been trying to improve the 10k time but as we went into May onwards the weather started to heat up and it affected me during races. It was during the summer I turned my attention to longer distances and other possible races to enter. I have applied for the London Marathon for which I should find out soon if I have been successful in the ballot or not. At the end of July I started on a marathon plan with a possible idea of entering an ultra in the Autumn of 2013 and then following training through winter for a spring marathon. This is the point I am now at. I have entered the Stort 30. I now have 7 weeks to go with my longest run in 5 weeks peaking at 25 miles before tapering for 2 weeks.

Other notable times and achievements from the last couple of months are below.

1k 3 minutes 4 seconds

1 mile 5 minues 36 seconds

5k 21 minutes 02 seconds

Thanks for taking a look and reading, other stats can be viewed at Nike+