Monday, 6 July 2009

Belated catch-up

Sunday (28th)
Distance: 10.03 miles
Time: 1h29m32s

Mile 1 - 9m13s
Mile 2 - 9m04s
Mile 3 - 8m54s
Mile 4 - 8m59s
Mile 5 - 9m07s
Mile 6 - 8m53s
Mile 7 - 8m43s
Mile 8 - 8m57s
Mile 9 - 8m37s
Mile 10 - 8m42s
0.03m - 17s

Exercise: Gym class
Circuit Training (abs)
Time: 45 mins
Distance: 2k
Time: 8m50s

Exercise: Lunchtime run
Distance: 3.29 miles
Time: 28m57s

Mile 1 - 8m40s
Mile 2 - 8m54s
Mile 3 - 8m49s
0.29m - 2m32s

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.2m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.79k
Time: 10 mins

Exercise: Gym
Distance: 2k
Time: 8m35s

Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.65k
Time: 10 mins

Sunday (5th)
Distance: 10.01 miles
Time: 1h27m40s

Mile 1 - 9m05s
Mile 2 - 9m08s
Mile 3 - 9m03s
Mile 4 - 8m57s
Mile 5 - 8m43s
Mile 6 - 8m42s
Mile 7 - 8m28s
Mile 8 - 8m41s
Mile 9 - 8m25s
Mile 10 - 8m19s
0.01m - 04s

Not such a great week for exercise this time, but still keeping up to 6 lots in 8 days. Sunday's run was a hot one, though I left it late so it was no longer scorching. It was still pretty muggy though, so I was bathed in sweat by then end. Nice.

Monday and I try out "circuits" for the first time. Since I want to get my money's worth on my gym membership. I used to do circuits at school. This is something altogether different. In principal the same - you spend a short period of time on each station doing a different exercise. The difference being I used to do 30 seconds per station on an exercise that was doable. Now I'm doing a minute at each one on some exercises that are, quite frankly, beyond me. The personal trainer showed us what to do. The worst one was the "kick-ups" with a twist. Lay on your back, kick your legs up straight, but twist one way and then the other to work the abs. Simple eh? Nope, I couldn't even get my legs to go up!! I obviously have a lot less strength in my core than I thought. Nevermind. Sammy assures me that I'll be able to do it after a bit more practice!
After 45 minutes of punishment, I "cool down" in the ice-cold aircon in the gym with a relaxing 2k row...

Tuesday - day off (still recovering from Monday!)
Wednesday - day off (trip to London to attend the VRH Parliamentary tea at the House of Commons)

Thursday and I'm back to it. Out for a lunchtime run in the heat. It's way too hot to push myself too far or too fast, but I manage a neat 3 miles or so. Then it's back in the gym in the evening. I return to the original training plan as I'm pushed for time. This week I'll be back up to the slightly longer sessions.

Friday and I'm tired, it's been a long week and I've been out late a couple of nights. But I don't want to miss the gym altogether. I don't feel up to the hour's training session, so I go for a simple 2k row again and 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer. It's better than nothing!

And then Sunday comes round again, and I'm up for another 10 miler. This seems quite a good distance to be doing at the moment. It's close enough to a half marathon to keep things ticking over nicely during the summer, but short enough so as not to tire me out altogether now that I'm doing the dreaded circuits on a Monday.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Throwing myself off a 7-storey building

Exercise: Gym class
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.90k
Time: 15 mins
Core & flex class
Time: 30 mins

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.15m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.74k
Time: 10 mins

Exercise: Lunchtime run
Distance: 7.43 miles
Time: 1h06m02s

Mile 1 - 9m09s
Mile 2 - 9m03s
Mile 3 - 9m04s
Mile 4 - 8m58s
Mile 5 - 9m00s
Mile 6 - 8m40s
Mile 7 - 8m38s
0.43m - 3m27s

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.15m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.76k
Time: 10 mins

Exercise: Evening run
Distance: 7.79 miles
Time: 1h08m12s

Mile 1 - 9m10s
Mile 2 - 8m52s
Mile 3 - 8m52s
Mile 4 - 8m48s
Mile 5 - 8m42s
Mile 6 - 8m46s
Mile 7 - 8m29s
0.79m - 6m30s

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.6m
Time: 20m
Core exercises: 15 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.78k
Time: 10 mins

Another week, another 6 exercise sessions in 5 days. On Monday I decided to take advantage of the classes they run at the gym. I want to top up my regular training sessions with some different workouts, partly to mix things up a bit to keep up my enthusiasm for going to the gym, and partly to learn new exercises that I might be able to practise on my own, should I ever feel the need to.

As I have the week off work, I chose the "Core & Flex":
"This is a specialist abs/back session, using those big balls! Effective exercises to flatten, tone, lengthen and strengthen! Abs of steel, are you up for it?"
This started with sit-ups with a 10kg weight across my chest. Since I'd spent 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer to "warm up", the weighty sit-ups soon had me sweating with the exertion! Then the personal trainer got me to do Russian twists, followed immediately by laying on one side, lifting myself up on my elbow and holding it for 20-30 seconds. Then squats balancing on the Swiss ball. Then some weight lifting - kneeling down pulling a weight down putting my elbow on my other knee, then alternating. Lastly some stretching work with the Swiss ball to loosen things up.

Tuesday, and it's back in the gym for my normal training session. Things are gradually getting easier so I'm gradually upping the weights or the reps where I feel things need pushing a bit further. I'd been thinking of going for a lunchtime run as well, but wasn't organised enough. And besides I could still feel the workout my abs had been given from the day before.

Wednesday and I'm definitely out for a run today. I plan about 6 miles, or maybe just over an hour. Without too much thought I set off on a slightly knew route, making it up slightly as I go, a double lap of the village which works out neatly at about 2.5 miles. Things are going well on this run, so I opt for 3 laps of this new route, and manage it in only 66 minutes, which is a pretty good pace over this distance.

Thursday back to the gym. Things are definitely a bit easier now, though I still stumble on trying 25 V-sits on the 3rd round of the core exercises. 15 are easy. 20 are straightforward. 25 are a killer. Still 24 is close enough. I'm still feeling a little guilty with myself for a few bottles of beer and too many chocolate biscuits from Wednesday evening, and feel the urge to burn off a few more calories. So when I get home I get straight out again for the 8 mile circuit round the local villages. I plan to do the route in roughly 9-minute-miles, and as usual manage to beat my plan upping the pace on the second half. A phone call a few minutes from home cuts my run short - a friend who was going to pop round about 8 o'clock is already there, so I sprint back through the churchyard getting to my doorstep at 7.45pm, otherwise I would have run round the road to make the full 8 mile run.

Friday and I have a catch-up session with the personal trainer. He's happy with my progress, and suggests I mix in a few of the "core & flex" exercises from Monday's session. I should also up my treadmill run to 20 minutes, and I should feel free to up the speed a bit too if I want. Our next catch-up is in three weeks, when he's going to give me some harder ab-work to do, so wants me to show some improvement before then. I'm not sure how many more times I can "beat the distance" on the elliptical trainer, but I'll keep at it. He's happy for me to at least match the distance if I can't beat it.

Today's a day off, and then tomorrow I shall be abseiling off the roof of the JR Hospital in Oxford, along with my sisters and a group of friends. We only have about £70 to reach our £1200 target and it would be really great if we could get it. If you can spare a couple of pounds, please sponsor us. All we're asking for is small donations - £2 is the minimum you can donate though Justgiving, so we'd be happy if a few people just gave that much. It all helps!!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Stanford in the Vale Half Marathon

Weekly catchup:

Exercise: swim
Distance: 550m
Crawl: 17 lengths
Breaststroke: 5 lengths

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.15m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.69k
Time: 10 mins

Exercise: Lunchtime run
Distance: 5.25 miles
Time: 45m53s
Mile 1 - 8m59s

Mile 2 - 8m41s
Mile 3 - 8m47s
Mile 4 - 8m42s
Mile 5 - 8m27s
0.25m - 2m14s

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.15m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.70k
Time: 10 mins

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.15m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.72k
Time: 10 mins

Distance: 13.19 miles
Time: 2h02m04s
Mile 1 - 9m40s

Mile 2 - 9m42s
Mile 3 - 9m36s
Mile 4 - 9m30s
Mile 5 - 9m40s
Mile 6 - 9m10s
Mile 7 - 9m03s
Mile 8 - 9m19s
Mile 9 - 9m18s
Mile 10 - 9m05s
Mile 11 - 8m52s
Mile 12 - 8m40s
Mile 13 - 8m39s
0.19m - 1m44s

Another good week for exercise. Though it didn't get off to a great start. I forgot my goggles on Monday, so had to cut my pool session short, as my eyes were stinging too much to carry on. I tried a few breaststroke lengths for a change, so keep my eyes out of the water, but in the end I decided enough was enough.

Tuesday, back in the gym for the usual mix of running, core stability exercises, strength work and finally beat the distance on the elliptical trainer. I've been upping the distance by 0.02k each time so far, but only got up to 0.69k today - a 0.01k increase on last week in accordance with the law of diminishing returns.

Wednesday and a brisk 45 minute lunchtime run. 5 laps of the village, clocking up 5.25 miles.
Thursday & Friday back in the gym again, and the V-sits are gradually getting easier. I still can't do 25 without stopping on the third attempt, but can at leas to 15 and 20 nonstop on the first two goes.

Thursday and I beat the distance again - to bring it to 0.70k and again on Friday to 0.72k, though I may need to review this at the end of the week in my catchup session as it's getting quite quick now. Perhaps it'll be better to up the difficulty rather than trying to go faster each time.

After a well earned day off on Saturday, the longest day dawns. I enjoy Father's day with my daughter. We mooch about in Oxford doing a bit of shopping, and having a Yo Sushi for lunch. And after a visit to the Charlbury Riverside music festival for an hour or so, it's time to think about my LSR (long slow run). Since I indulged in a gooey chocolate cheesecake slice from Tesco for pudding, I decided I had a few extra calories which needed burning off. I'd been thinking of running 10-12 miles today, but thought, why not run a half marathon?

I mapped out a new route on the mapyourpassion section of the Realbuzz website, and after a couple of attempts worked out a run that would be somewhere between 13.1 and 13.3 miles. So at 7.05pm I set off on the first ever "Stanford in the Vale longest day fathers day Half Marathon", with a plan to run it in under 2 hours and 5 minutes (9½-minute-mile pace). It would be good to beat my Silverstone Half Marathon time, but really as just a training run with no crowd (or even any other runners) to spur me on, then realistically anything under 131 minutes would be good really.

Half way in, and I'm feeling good. 62 minutes. I'm on course to at least equal my Silverstone time, and I know that I'm good at running negative splits when I put my mind to it. Can I beat 2 hours? Hmm, that would be pushing it, and I don't want to overdo things today. I pass the 13.1 mile point at just over 121 minutes. This is great, and means I should comfortably be able to shed a couple of minutes off that come the Birmingham Half in October.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

One short. One long.

Distance: 2.74m
Time: 20m09s

Mile 1 - 7m18s
Mile 2 - 7m40s
0.74m - 5m09s

Midday. The Stanford in the Vale village summer festival Fun Run. I go along to the Village Hall at 11.20am to register myself and my daughter. I've already agreed with her that we won't run together. Unlike the Santa Fun Runs we've done - I've decided I don't want her slowing me down today. If she can keep up - great - but I won't expect her too. And nor will I wait for her if she can't. She's happy to run at her own pace, and doesn't mind me shooting off ahead to try and get a good time. What is a good time? I haven't done this run before. I expect there will be some that take it seriously, but how fast will they go? I reckon I might just do it in about 20 minutes. 22 minutes is more likely I think.

Everyone gathers together before noon, and the final instructions are given out. Then at 12:08, we're off. I'm in the pack near the front of the "serious" runners. And before I've barely left the Village Hall car park, the leaders have set off at a very brisk pace. I dive around the kids running in front of me, dodging them as we all head off down the road. I glance down and see we're doing a 6 minute mile pace. Phew, that's too fast for me to keep up. Still, I'll do my best settle into a pace I feel I can keep up, and hope my stamina will keep me going longer than some of the faster runners ahead of me.

Half a mile in and I overtake my nephew. I hadn't spotted he was in front of me when we set off! On the outskirts of the village, I'm just about to overtake The Incredible Hulk (oh, fancy dress was optional!), and he spots some supporters with cameras by the side of the road, so puts on a spurt and makes a gap ahead of me. A few hundred yards later, I do overtake him, but he does go on to win the under-8 category!

I can't see the leaders ahead, they've long gone. I do overtake a couple of other racers on the road out of Stanford, and then as we turn left towards Hatford I think I'm about 6th perhaps for the over 18s and maybe 10th overall. The route is well marshaled so cars are waved to slow down for us, and the signs telling us where to go are clear. As we turn left in Hatford onto the footpath back to Stanford, there's even a drinks station handing out cups of water. We run along the public footpath, one I don't think I've used in over 25 years! It's in very good condition, not overgrown at all. Even room to overtake fellow runners as I've passed the half way point and feel I'm on the home stretch.

Back in the village and the marshals cheer us on. ¾ mile to go, and I step up a gear, overtaking another couple of racers. There's still one bloke ahead of me that I've got my eye on, but it looks like he's sped up too, I don't think I've got enough left to catch him. We cross the village green and half the village has turned out to cheer us home. My sister gives me a big shout as I pass. Then through the churchyard, 50 yards to go, and from nowhere a kid zooms past me to beat me to the finish line!

I stop my Garmin, and I've done it in 20 minutes. I don't know what position I came in, though someone told me one of the runners in front of me came overall 10th, so that would make me about 12th. I cool down and wait for my daughter to finish, so I can cheer her on. She finished in about 30 minutes, and was one of the fastest under 18 girls to finish, but again we don't know exactly where, as they only announced 1st & 2nd place in each category on the day. We hang about for the presentation ceremony and applaud the winners. The overall winner did it in 14m57s - so I'll have to go some if I ever wanted to try to win this event!!

Distance: 8.04m
Time: 1h13m11s

Mile 1 - 9m38s
Mile 2 - 9m26s
Mile 3 - 9m20s
Mile 4 - 9m11s
Mile 5 - 9m05s
Mile 6 - 8m56s
Mile 7 - 8m41s
Mile 8 - 8m31s
0.04m - 0m20s

7pm. The heat of the day is finally over. Time for a gentle run then. I was in two minds about this earlier in the afternoon, but by 6.30pm I'm feeling keen again. So before I change my mind and just veg in front of the TV for the evening, I get changed back into running shorts and put my running shoes back on. I filled my water bottle with lucozade sport & ice, and headed off on the same route as the lunchtime fun run.

I covered the first mile and a bit up to the Hatford turn in just under 10 minutes. I was half way round the run on the way back from Hatford towards Stanford at this point earlier. And approaching the woods the other side of Gainfield, about 2½ miles in, I noticed I'd been running for 22 minutes so would have been back already. Well as long as I keep up the pace I'm doing, I'll be happy, as 9½ minute miles isn't back considering the amount I've been exercising over the last 2 weeks.

In fact I achieved what may be a first today. I would have to check back, but I ran each and every one of this evening's 8 miles faster than the previous one. I didn't make a conscious effort to do this, I just kept running at a pace that felt good. If possible I do seem to enjoy running the last 3 miles of a run faster than before, but to run all 8 speeding up on each one is pretty good. I'm quite chuffed with that!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Weekly catchup

I've had a busy week exercising, but not blogging. So a brief note now to list what I've been doing in the last five days:

Exercise: swim
Distance: 800m
Crawl: 32 lengths

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.15m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.64k
Time: 10 mins

Exercise: Lunchtime run
Distance: 4.17m
Time: 34m23s
Mile 1 - 8m12s

Mile 2 - 8m16s
Mile 3 - 8m14s
Mile 4 - 8m06s
0.17m - 1m33s

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.15m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.66k
Time: 10 mins

Exercise: Gym training
Treadmill hill run
Distance: 1.15m
Time: 15m
Core exercises: 10 mins
Strength exercises: 25 mins
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.68k
Time: 10 mins

Exercise: Gym work
Distance: 5k
Time: 22m00s
Elliptical trainer
Distance: 0.88k
Time: 10 mins

So I've had another successful week of getting out to do some form of exercise 6 days in a row.

Being on such a high of fitness enthusiasm, I decided to enter the Birmingham Half Marathon on 11th October. When I mentioned it to a friend at work the next day, he said "oh, you didn't fancy doing the Swindon one then?" I replied "erm, when is it?" (thinking I might be brave enough to enter two) "October the 11th, I think...."

So I could have entered my local half marathon with only a 15 mile trip to the start line. But now I've already entered one that's nearly 90 miles away instead. Oh well. I like Birmingham. It's my second favourite city. And apparently the course is quite flat. Whereas Swindon isn't quite so flat, and in spite of being the town of my birth, isn't that high on my list of favourite places... I now have something concrete to aim for. With 120 days to go, I'm officially back in training. I'm aiming for under 2 hours.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

10 mile run - just for fun...

Distance: 10.02 miles
Time: 1h31m08s
Mile 1 - 9m33s
Mile 2 - 9m36s
Mile 3 - 9m26s
Mile 4 - 9m13s
Mile 5 - 9m11s
Mile 6 - 9m04s
Mile 7 - 8m49s
Mile 8 - 8m57s
Mile 9 - 8m38s
Mile 10 - 8m23s
0.02mile - 12s

After another successful gym visit on Friday where I did 1.85k hill running on the treadmill in 15 minutes, core & strength work and finally 0.62k on the elliptical trainer, yesterday was a day off. That's the first time I've done 6 days exercise in a row for a while, and it feels good. Even the V-sits are coming along!

Today I was back out on the road for a "long" run. I've kind of decided where possible that I'll run at least 8 miles on a Sunday. However today I was feeling a bit more keen and thought I'd go for 10 miles. It had begin to rain before I set off, but not heavily and had stopped by the time I headed out the door. I managed to set a steady pace, so I could make it round the ten miles quite comfortably.

A few miles in the heavy grey clouds that littered the sky gave up some of their rain in the form of a light drizzle. It was neither cold nor uncomfortable. In fact it was almost refreshing. But that too came to nothing and soon it was dry again. At the next junction I have to choose. Left to Charney Bassett. 5 miles back home. The 8 mile circuit. Or right towards Lyford. The 10 mile circuit. 7 miles back home. Without a pause I turn right. Running another 5 miles seems just too easy.

I'm feeling good, and this gives me extra confidence and as well as speed. And better still, the other side of Lyford I know I'm on the way home, I know I can run a negative split today. I ran the first five miles in a fraction under 47 minutes, and the last five miles in just under 44 minutes.

Partly I want to get home before I get drenched (though in the end it stays mostly dry all the way). Partly I want to get home to eat. I have a carbo gel at 5 miles, which gives me a boost, but doesn't make me any less hungry. I'm looking forward to a big dinner this evening. I think I'll have earned it.

I weave across the roads, keeping to the side that gives me the most visibility at all times. Now that the verges are high with grasses and the hedges are full, I daren't run on the right of the road into a blind corner and risk meeting a car speeding the other way if they can't see me clearly. This isn't such a problem in the winter and spring. I'm glad I don't wear an iPod when running - as I need to be fully aware of the traffic on the road, just in case I need to jump out of the way.

Two miles to go and I'm running faster still, trying not to overdo it, but knowing I've got enough left in me to run this mile faster than any of the previous 8, and then faster again on the last mile to get me home in just 91 minutes - the fastest I've run 10 miles.

Time for a huge plate of brown rice (with tomatoes, peas & pork mince) and a long hot bath to relax.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

45 mins round most of the village

Distance: 5.09 miles
Time: 45m14s

Mile 1 - 8m49s
Mile 2 - 9m04s
Mile 3 - 8m58s
Mile 4 - 8m49s
Mile 5 - 8m43s
0.09 mile - 48s

I was going to go to the gym this evening, but heard the forecast for tomorrow was rain, so decided to swap to get out in the sun for a run and then I can be indoors tomorrow should the weather turn.

Rather than boring mile laps of the village, I decided to run round and round and let my Garmin let me know when I'd got to 5 miles. As usual I tried to not double back on myself too much, but it was unavoidable really. I was hard a few miles in to keep going past my house and not quit too soon, but soon the 45 minutes were up and it was time for yet another plate of brown pasta.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

National Running Day

Distance: 4.25m
Time: 36m27s

Mile 1 - 8m34s
Mile 2 - 8m48s
Mile 3 - 8m34s
Mile 4 - 8m21s
0.25m - 2m09s

Apparently it's National Running Day today. Though that didn't make any difference to my planned 4 mile lunchtime run. I was going to do that anyway. A bit hot out, but I still managed a steady run. Not the fastest I've done this route recently, but still pretty good.

And this brings my running total up to over 750 miles since October 2007.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

2 hours exercise in 2 days

Distance: 800m
Time 30min

Monday - last session in the pool in Didcot. Now I've got SOLL Leisure centre membership - I'll be swimming in Wantage or Faringdon instead. Or maybe even in the open air pool in Abingdon. I started off in the "fast" lane as usual, but soon a few serious swimmers got in and kept overtaking me. Luckily the rest of the pool was less busy by this time, so I moved back into the main area and finished off my 32 lengths there.

Distance: 3.17m
Time: 26m31s

Mile 1 - 8m21s
Mile 2 - 8m32s
Mile 3 - 8m13s
0.17m - 1m23s

Tuesday lunchtime. A brisk run. I'd thought about doing 4 miles but a) set off way too fast (I looked at my Garmin in horror to see i was running at 6m47s per mile) and b) decided I wanted to keep a bit of energy back to cope with the gym in the evening and c) it was hot.

Distance: 1.85km
Time: 15m00s

Core exercises: 180
Strength work: 302

Distance: 0.60km
Time: 10mins

This evening I returned to the gym for my first session on my own to try out my new programme. I found the selection for the hill training and embarked upon a slow but invigorating treadmill run. 15 minutes later and I'm fully warmed up and onto the core exercises. Again I found the V-sits too hard, so swapped them for long arm crunches. The Ab crunches were again quite easy, and the Russian twists easy to begin with and ... impossible after 60 reps!
Then strength work, 12 reps on each exercise x 3 repeats. As the Shoulder press was busy when I wanted to use it I squeezed in 50 reps on the adductor to fill in the time. Then lastly 0.6k on the Elliptical trainer. Last week I did 0.58k and this is a distance that I'm supposed to beat each time I do the next 10 minute go on it.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

25 mile month

Distance: 8.1 miles
Time: 1h15m40s

Mile 1 - 9m48s
Mile 2 - 9m32s
Mile 3 - 9m58s
Mile 4 - 9m47s
Mile 5 - 9m10s
Mile 6 - 9m00s
Mile 7 - 8m42s
Mile 8 - 8m41s
0.10m - 0m58s

At long last I'm back into the habit I want to be. Running a few times a week, with a long run on Sunday. Given that it was hot again today, I decided to leave today's long run until the evening, when it would be cooler. Whenever possible now - I want to run on a Sunday the 8 mile circuit from my house, it's the shortest loop that's easy to run, yet gives me a more interesting run out than simple laps of the village. Sometimes I'll run further, but hope to not often run at least this distance each week.

I set off at an easy pace, not wanting to burn myself out in 7 miles like I did a couple of weeks ago. It's also been a tiring week. The gym session on Thursday took more out of me than I thought it did at the time, but things will get better soon when I'm back to exercising at least five times a week. There was a nice breeze, so even though it was still quite warm, it wasn't too hot to run. I took the first half of the run quite steady, and then when I knew I was on the home leg, I sped up, sensing that I was getting closer to home with each stride.

It felt good to be out running in the sun, even though I knew I wasn't as fast as my last long run a couple of weeks ago. No matter. I'm not in a race. I just want to run every week, and today was a big step in the right direction. I've only managed to run 25.8 miles this month. Less than even a marathon distance. That feels a bit weird.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Burn baby burn

Distance: 1.8km
Time: 15 mins

This evening I spent an hour in the gym. I was having my own programme set-up for me by a personal trainer. Basically I want to lose a bit of weight (I still have a bit of a spare tyre in spite of the 730 miles I've run in the last 18 months), work on my core (to aid my posture and improve my running), and generally improve my strength & fitness. Oh, and I also need a plan so that as well as a target to aim for, I have a structured approach to gym work. As long as I know what I'm doing, I have an incentive to go along twice a week and work my way through the exercises.

I started with 15 minutes on the dreaded treadmill. But hey, 15 minutes isn't bad. I've spent over 1½ hours on one before. And better than just running a flat 1½ miles or more, the PT set me off on a mixed hill programme where it ups the incline automatically. I was up to 6.0 a couple of times, so It was giving me a harder workout than just normal running. When it returned to 0.0 at the end it felt like i was running downhill.

Then a set of core fitness reps. 15 of each V-sits; Ab crunch & Russian twist.
Then 20 of each. Then as many as poss of each. I found the V-sits really hard on the 2nd go, so swapped them for a Long arm crunch instead. The Ab crunch on the fitness ball was the easiest, and the Russian twist got really hard towards the end. Apparently these do get easier after a couple of weeks! After 25 reps of each, I was feeling the burn.

Now onto the machines for some strength work. Leg press (60kg). Leg curl (30kg). Chest press (20kg). Shoulder press (15kg each arm independently). Ab rocker (30kg?) The PT wrote all my benchmark weights down, so I don't need to remember them. Lastly I tried the "Woodchopper" at 10kg, but ended up doing the reverse version (more like a golfswing) at 7.5kg to start with. I may try alternating them to work on the different bits of the same muscles. Just 12 reps on each machine, upping the reps or the weight when it gets too easy.

Right, that's all the core & strength work done. More cardio to end with. 10 minutes on the Elliptical Trainer. 5 minutes forward at level 4 and 5 minutes backwards at level 5. I think I covered something like 0.6k (again it's on my progress card, so I forget the exact distance). Next time, and every time thereafter, the idea on this exercise is to beat the distance. So each time I try a bit harder and up the pace a bit to get further than the last session.

Now I'm all tooled up with a proper workout plan, I shall be back 2-3 times a week to put the plan into action, followed by a catch up in 2 weeks' time to monitor my progress. And I should see an improvement in my running too. Hey yeah, I can run a marathon. So I can run for 4½ hours nonstop. But if I'm going to keep on running, I think I need to improve my all round fitness and keep my motivation levels up. It's harder to do without a goal at the end, but one day I will run another marathon, and I aim to be fully fit when that happens. You never know I could go for a sub 4-hour one next time...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Another quick jog

Distance: 4.19 miles
Time: 35m45s

Mile 1 - 8m44s
Mile 2 - 8m36s
Mile 3 - 8m37s
Mile 4 - 8m14s
0.19 m - 1m32s

At last I'm getting back in the habit of going for a run. Today I was keen to get out for a 4 mile run, but kept putting it off as it was windy and rainy. Having given myself a bit of a kick up the backside for procrastinating, I managed to get out and run a brisk 4 laps of the village. This is more like it, I seem to have found a faster pace now. It'll be good to stick to this. This gives me more confidence to enter a half marathon with the aim of doing it in under 2 hours.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Getting back to fitness

Distance: 625m
Crawl: 25 lengths

Distance: 5km
Time: 22m26s

reps: 230

I'd thought about going for a run on bank holiday Monday, but my feet were still a bit tired and aching from all the walking I did in London at the weekend (for some reason I decided it was a good idea to walk from Waterloo to Notting Hill as it was such a nice day on Sunday, rather than go underground...), so in the end yesterday I put my feet up - the only exercise I managed was to mow the back lawn (long, long overdue!)

I went to the pool at lunchtime today for the first time in a couple of weeks. I was hoping to get in a half mile (32 lengths), but soon found I was tiring. Since I've been exercising a lot less in the last four weeks since the marathon, it seems my level of fitness has dropped off a bit. No worries, I still made a good 25 length session.

Then after work I had my "start-up session" at the gym in Wantage. This was little more than an induction, and I have an appointment now on Thursday to have a training plan put together for me. This is so I can get the most out of having signed up for a year's membership, to give me some targets to aim for and a plan to stick to to give me the motivation to go regularly.

Whilst I was there I decided to get in half an hour's workout with a 5k row, followed by some machines. I set the rower to level 3 to closely mimic the resistance when really rowing, and settled into a steady 29/30 strokes per minute. For the last 200m of each 1k I sped up to 33-35 strokes per minute. After a drink of water and a short rest, I did 100 reps on the adductor and 100 on the abductor, and then 30 on the chest press to finish.

So now I'm a fully fledged gym member, I shall be swimming on a Monday, gymming on a Tuesday and again on a Thursday when I can, and perhaps even some classes - but I'll see what they suggest on Thursday. Apart from that I shall be running on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Well - that's the plan anyway. Lets see if I stick to it!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Looking forward to tomorrow's Tweetup

Distance: 3.13m
Time: 26m39s
Mile 1 - 8m32s
Mile 2 - 8m22s
Mile 3 - 8m22s
0.13m - 1m21s

Friday evening. I haven't run for ten days! Busy all last weekend, then under the weather, then busy again... I really need to take my kit to work and get out for some lunchtime runs. Still I was determined to get my running shoes back on, and get out of the house for half an hour. It seems the less I run, the faster I want to when I get going again. I think I overdid it a little, ending up with a stitch on the third mile. So I eased off to finish.

Off to London tomorrow to have a Tweetup with fellow FLM09 Tweeple and bloggers. Not sure who's going but it should be Becki, Phil, Becca, Neil (plus mrs neil), Dan, Sir J (plus mrs Sir J), and maybe a couple of Tweeps from Justgiving. If I've missed anyone, then sorry! I'm tired (been awake since 2am), so just off to put the finishing touches to the potato salad for tomorrow's picnic and then off for a much needed early night!

Hoping to go for a long run on Monday. Perhaps...

If you're in London tomorrow, and are free then send me a Tweet and come and join us!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Too nice to not run

Mile 1 - 7m59s
Mile 2 - 7m45s
0.32m - 2m40s

Now what? I seem to be one of a many FLM09ers suffering from PMT. Post Marathon Tension. The blues you get once the huge challenge you've been working up to for months has been and gone, and all you have left is a shiny medal and a letter in the post from Marathonfoto asking for an arm and a leg for some pictures of what has already become just a memory.

I'm thinking of joining a local running club, to give me the enthusiasm to carry on running. To keep a sense of purpose. Without a training plan I feel a bit lost. Getting out running on Sunday was great, but keeping it up, getting back to running 3 or 4 times a week is going to be harder. I was all set to dump myself in front of the TV this evening, but as I drove home the sun got to me, and I decided I had to get out and run. Even just a short one.

I was so keen when I got in, that I set off at quite a lick, making the first mile round the village in under 8 minutes. And I was so chuffed, I sped up for the second mile before slacking off a bit on the last bit back to my house.

Hey this running stuff is good. I haven't run a couple of miles that fast for a while. Hurrah for me for getting myself out of the door, even for just a short one.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

Mile 1 - 9m10s
Mile 2 - 8m53s
Mile 3 - 8m43s
Mile 4 - 8m47s
Mile 5 - 8m52s
Mile 6 - 8m48s
Mile 7 - 8m36s

Today saw my first run out since the London Marathon. The only exercise I've done since 26th April was a 25 length swim on the following Tuesday. I wanted a complete rest from running, as advised. I'd asked the sports therapist when I had an hour's massage to iron out the kinks in my neck and aches and stiffness in my muscles. Running 26.2 miles took its toll on me, but with her help most of the aches had gone by Wednesday. She suggested 2-3 weeks off to let my body fully recover from the 4½ hours pounding the London streets.

I've been itching to get out running since, it feels so odd to have gone from 4 runs a week for the last 9 months to nothing at all. I got half way through writing up my blog entry for the Marathon, and my laptop broke. It's with the supplier waiting to have its data transferred off before being restreamed. I hope I haven't lost everything...

So, back to today. I had a lazy morning, cooked up some brown spaghetti to have with zapped bolognese for lunch and watched the Grand Prix. At 3pm I got ready to go, and headed out of the door. I'd decided that I wanted to go for a proper run out in the countryside, rather than laps of the village, as it would give me more purpose, and I wouldn't feel like wimping out after just a few miles.

I chose the 8 mile route and set off. The birds were cheeping, and soon I was running in the middle of the road (where I could) to avoid the camber at the edge. A mile in and I realised I'd made a huge mistake. I hadn't used any bodyglide or tape to prevent chaffage. See? This is what happens when you get out of routine! There's no way I'd make it round over 5 miles without getting sore nips, and could imagine the bleeding that 8 miles would bring. There was only one solution, off with the t-shirt!

As usual, I thought I'd set off too fast. Could I keep up a 9ish minute pace for 8 miles? Well, we'll see. Will I make 8 miles? Not sure. I can always turn back, but once I'm out over 3 miles away from home I'd have to choose as before long the only way back would be to cover the full distance. I was a bit amazed to see that I'd sped up for miles 2 & 3. Yep, I can go the distance. My pace over the whole run was pretty consistent too. I was running faster than usual, as I was just so happy to be out running again.

Things went well right up until Mile 7, when I got a stitch. I eased off a little, and ran up to the village sign. Well chuffed to have made it round 7 miles in just over an hour. At this point I decided this was enough for my first run, and I'd simply walk the last mile back home through the village, to warm down. Ok 7 miles wasn't quite what I'd planned when I set out, but it was still more than the 6 miles that I'd hoped to do when I decided to run this weekend.

I'm busy next weekend, so no long run to look forward too, but I reckon I'll be heading out for some lunchtime runs now that I'm back in training. Training for what? I don't know yet. I'll find something soon so I have a new goal to aim for. A sub 2-hour half marathon in the summer I think...

Oh, and the title of this blog entry is thanks to the song going through my head. It was number 1 the week I was born. If I'd entered the world just one day later - it would have been Get It On by T.Rex

Sunday, 26 April 2009

I've only blimmin well run a marathon!

Unofficially I reckoned I ran it in 4h31m02s

Officially FLM reckoned I ran it in 4h30m58s

5km 0:31:28 25km 2:40:32
10km 1:03:41 30km 3:12:56
15km 1:36:33 35km 3:46:19
20km 2:08:31 40km 4:18:11
half 2:15:33 finish 4:30:58

Too tired to blog properly. I shall do that later in the week. Suffice to say it was a GREAT DAY, and fab to meet up with other runners I've met online. Shame I didn't meet others, but with 36,000 people running at different times a bit difficult.

I did see my parents cheering both times on The Highway (miles 13 & 22), so that was a bonus!

Best wishes to everyone who did it today (and to anyone who had to pull out). Right then, who's up for doing it all again next year???!!!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Am I ready for Sunday?

As ready as I'll ever be. Just a gentle 10 minute jog in the morning, and then it's the BIG one on Sunday. At last.

It's gone sponsorship crazy this week. In the last 5 days I've had 22 online sponsors donating £290 between them. And offline I've raised another £46 that I know of, and pledges of money from a few more people too. My work should be topping up my total as well, with a £500 donation and they also promised to match pound for pound everything I raised over my £1500 target. All in all once all my potential sponsors are in, and I've been round with a bucket next week when I show off my medal (and fading green hair), takes me up to somewhere between £2400 and £2500. I wonder if I can make it to £2620 and raise £100 for every mile I run?

I've also had some great comments this week - most in response to my green hair. Here are some of the best:
• Ulen running something more strenuous than a bath? Well why not, good luck with it!
• You look like Keith Allen!! cool x
• The frog is out of the box!
• Do you glow in the dark ??!!???
• Enjoy being green! Ribbit :)
• Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! (that from my sister!)
• You look like a white (and green!) Djibril Cissé
• That hair is ridiculous! (in good way - v v green!)

I've carbo loaded and hydrated all day. Two lunches (baked potato for the first one about noon, followed by pasta & veg about 2ish!). Two cups of tea (one redbush, one decaff green). Half a litre of cranberry juice and 4 cups of water. Then liver & pasta for dinner. More carbs tomorrow, and in the afternoon I catch the bus to London, hopefully to meet up briefly with another of this year's runners and also one who did it last year. And then off to stay with my cousin who lives near the start (well a few miles away) to round off the day with another pasta dinner!

I've got all my stuff ready so just need to pack tomorrow. Obviously I need to remember my vest (spot the name courtesy of Becki Saves The Rhino look out for "mad frog" on the back!); number (49341 - affixed to vest); running shoes (complete with red laces); Championship Chip (fixed to laces); FLM 09 marathon adidas shorts; seamfree boxers; X-socks (run sky run); Garmin (not that it will be accurate - especially through Docklands); Vaseline (for armpits); Body Glide (for toes); zinc oxide tape (for nipples); Suncream (???); Justgiving sweatband (for wrist); Lucozade carbo gels (5? 6? however many will fit in my shorts pocket); old jumper (to ditch at the start); kit bag (with number); goodies for after the race (Wispa bars - thanks Lauren!! xxx); change of clothes for after. What have I forgotten?

Right then, off down the pub for a quick pint or six... and an early night.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Green Day

Distance: 3.25 miles
Time: 30m04s
Mile 1 - 9m10s
Mile 2 - 9m11s
Mile 3 - 9m10s
0.25m - 2m32s

Hair: vibrant green
Time: about an hour

Distance: 2.08 miles
Time: 20m22s
Mile 1 - 9m17s
Mile 2 - 10m20s
425ft - 0m45s

On Monday I went out for a 30 minute recovery run. The plan was to take it gently, but since it's not less than a week until the London Marathon - I was too keyed up to run slowly. I made it round three laps of the village in a pretty consistent pace, and then slackened off for the last couple of minutes to reach the 30 minute point. I don't understand how I can run faster than I plan to to get the run over more quickly when I'm being a bit over enthusiastic. I can't make a 30 minute run go any faster, I just end up covering more distance... Anyway, that was Monday out of the way. Busy social commitments this week prevented my blogging it sooner!

Now to yesterday. Green Day. I'd had a mad idea - well a second mad idea after the one to run the marathon in the first place. This mad idea was to have my hair dyed green. Initially I was just going to get a spray-in dye from a chemist and do it myself. But when I realised that these run when your hair gets wet, I thought it a bad idea. I don't want to run with streaks of dye down my face... so then I spoke to one of my sister's friends who works in a hair salon, and asked her advice. She said it would be possible to dye it green properly, but I should go and have a proper consultation to check. I made an appointment and explained what I wanted. They booked me in for a bleach & dye job which I went and had done yesterday.

I turned up a few minutes early for my appointment, only a bit nervous about what I'd decided to let myself in for. But no going back now. I want green hair. I'm going to have green hair. Why green? Well a) I'm as mad as a box of frogs, so green is appropriate and b) so I stand out a bit and people can see me. Oh, and c) so I can raise some more sponsorship! When I pulled out of the 2008 Marathon, I went along as a spectator. I stood in a good vantage point in Docklands for about an hour and watched the runners pass by. I was on the lookout for about 5 people I'd "met" through Facebook, though only one had I encountered face to face. During the hour I spotted exactly none of them. I realised how hard it is when there is a constant stream of faces passing you just how difficult it is to see someone you know - let alone someone you are trying to spot from their profile pic! I did spot the Masai Warriors and Kate Lawler (BB3 winner), a bloke in a mankini and loads of people dressed up as eggs, Mr Men, beer bottles. But your average runner looked much the same as the next. If I want people to spot me on the telly, or better still as I pass them on the day, I decided I needed to stand out from the crowd a bit.

Back to the salon - Headlines in Wantage - and Kirsty came out with the bleach and before I could change my mind she started applying it to the back of my head. My nerves soon left me, although she said I looked petrified. I tried to relax a bit. Before long my head is covered in the gloop that will turn my hair white blond. I need to have a light base colour so that the green will take, otherwise it won't show up. By the time she finished applying the bleach to the top of my hair, I can already see that the left side of my head is a very light yellow. I commented that I haven't been this blond for about 30 years! They stick a polythene cap over my head and let the bleach set to work on colouring my hair a very white shade of blond.

After about half an hour I move to the basins to have my hair washed by Rachel, the trainee who is going to help colour my hair. Whilst it was being bleached I was in front of the mirror, so I could see what was going on. Once my hair is clean of the bleach, Kirsty & Rachel set to with the green dye, and I can't see what's happening. It doesn't take long, and they're done. It's now a bright shade of blueish green, and needs 10-15 minutes to set. When that's done, Rachel washed my hair again and then I could get a good look at the finished effect.
It's perhaps a bit bluer than the "lime" green I was expecting, but I'm still chuffed that it has come out so well. I hope my vibrant colour will help my friends and family spot me on race day.

Rachel (left) and Kirsty (right) from Headlines in Wantage.

Then after a curry in the evening with some friends from work (last non-pasta dinner before Sunday) we went to a pub quiz, and I was perhaps a little disappointed not to turn more heads. However when I went to chat to the Quiz Mistress after the event (in which we came a rather average 4th), two of the members of the winning team commented on my beard not matching the natural colour of my hair. So I explained why I'd gone green, running the London Marathon and all that. They wished me well, and then both decided to donate their quiz winnings to my charity - Volunteer Reading Help - so hurrah for that! And a huge thanks to both of you if you happen to be reading this. I can't remember the full name of the team, but it was something about there being no F in Brian I think...

Today - a short gentle lunchtime jog with my colleague who is over from India. We set off perhaps a bit faster than he's used to running, but the pace seemed quite easy for the two of us. On the second mile however, we slowed down a bit. I'm not used to running with someone else, so it felt a bit weird adjusting my pace to suit the both of us. I guess this is something I'll need to get used to as I hope to join a running club after the marathon is over- in order to keep my motivation up once the big day is over and done.

So that's it for the training. It's all over now. Only a very very gentle 10 minute jog on Saturday morning before I head off to London. Oh, and I'm going to the Expo tomorrow to fetch my running number and running chip. I shall pop by the Realbuzz, Running Free & Justgiving stands. So if any of you fellow runners see me and recognise me from my green hair, please say hello!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Last swim...

Distance: 800m
Crawl: 32 lengths

Back in the pool at lunchtime for my "recovery" swim. It seems so long since I last swam, but it was only 2 weeks ago. I don't know how many sessions I have left on my swim card, perhaps one? I don't know whether I'll sign up again. Swimming has been good for me, and has featured as an important part of my marathon training. But once the marathon is over, will I still feel like doing it? People say that running is boring. I don't find that. I love running. Swimming, however, I find very dull. It would be good to keep it up though, so as to keep up my overall level of fitness. And since I've lost almost 3 stone in the last 8 months, I want to stay fit and healthy after I've recovered from the 26.2 miles next Sunday.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Elite vs. Endurance runners

Distance: 8.41 miles
Time: 1h20m06s
Mile 1 - 9m49s
Mile 2 - 9m46s
Mile 3 - 9m18s
Mile 4 - 9m12s
Mile 5 - 9m21s
Mile 6 - 9m24s
Mile 7 - 9m24s
Mile 8 - 9m39s
0.41m - 4m08s

Last of the long runs. Well I say long, but 80 minutes is quite short really. Less than a third of what I'll be running next week. Which got me thinking. The Elite runners run The London Marathon in about 125 minutes. Most of us mere mortals will be running it in 240 - 360 minutes, maybe more. Ok, it's pretty impressive to be able to run 26 miles in under 5 minutes each. I'm not denying that. That's what makes an Elite runner a class above the rest. But can they run for 4 hours? Can they run for 5 hours? How about a big cheer for most of us. The Endurance runners who can run for at least twice as long as the fast lot. That makes us pretty special too, doesn't it?

Having run round most of my village 10 days ago, and covered 5½ miles, I decided if I did this again, but ran down all the cul-de-sacs that I'd missed out, I'd be a lot nearer to the 7 miles I had planned for today's slow run. I set off out of my house this morning at 9.50am, about the time I'll be shuffling towards the start line next Sunday. I'd got up shortly after 7am to have my ready brek and banana, a little later than I expect to be up next week. I headed right down my road, and turned right into the first turning I came to. Ran down to the end of the road, round the pavement all the way and back again up the other side. Back into my road and down to the corner where I turned right again, and again followed the pavement all the way down one side and back up the other. I followed this pattern most of the way around the village, occasionally having to cross over to get another bit of road in.

To anyone watching, I guess I must have looked a bit odd. But I'd decided that if I was to run 7 miles, I wouldn't want to run out in the countryside, as my shortest route is just over 8 miles, and also I was happy to run at a slower pace than normal, and assumed that all the to-ing and fro-ing would slow me down (hmm that reminds me of a rhyme¹) However, after a couple of miles of this, I was nicely warmed up and happy to run a little faster. I didn't consciously speed up, and I was still running at a very comfortable pace.

Somewhere along the way I made a miscalculation. I'd got it into my head that the 7 miles I'd planned was supposed to be slower than 10-minute-miles, so thought my training plan must have suggested an 80 minute run. So this is what I decided to to run today. I was trying to judge how to encompass the whole village, and not to double-back on myself too much. The odd section would be inevitable, but I reckoned I'd make it round with only a few very short overlaps. And give the pace I was happily running at in the sunshine, under the blue skies, and being cooled by a pleasant gentle breeze, I worked out I'd need to run at least 8 miles. So I decided to run out to the two edges of the village, South East and North East, both times I ran out to the village sign, and then turned round to head to my next section.

And so I managed to make it round, up and down and back and forth every single road in my village, and even a couple of the footpaths too. And I also cut across the football field at one point, so I didn't have to double back along a road I'd already covered. In the end I made it back to my house in just under 80 minutes, so I ran across the road and round the green once more to bring me up to the 1h20m point. Then when I got in, I stretched, and opened a lucozade hydroactive to rehydrate. I uploaded my data and then logged my run against my training plan that had me down for... a 70 minute run. Oops. I've overdone it slightly today. But in spite of running more than 8 miles and averaging 9½-minute-miles at still felt very easy on the whole.

And this evening I had the luxury of my last sports massage before the BIG DAY. The sports therapist managed to find a few nice knots. My left quad. My right hamstring. Both ankles and calves. All were a bit stiff and crunchy. Plenty of elbow work to iron them out. Oh, and my right ITB too. She complimented me on my ability to make it through the half hour without screaming. I'd winced a lot. But never felt like screaming. Well not out loud anyway. So either I have a higher threshold to withstand pain than most, or my legs are not as bad as all that. Mind you she was concerned a couple of times that I was ok, as she was really digging in quite thoroughly, so maybe it's the former...

Here's my garmin map of my route today. I could have run a bit further down the Horsecroft, but other than that, I think I ran round the entire village:

¹ There was an old bear at the zoo
Who could always find something to do
When it bored him to go
On a walk to and fro
He reversed it and walked fro and to.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

7 days 11 hours 30 minutes to go

Distance: 1.06 mile
Time: 10m20s

Just a gentle jog this evening. After a day out sightseeing in London, where we covered 20 miles in 7½ hours. Don't worry - none of it was running, and most of the distance was covered either underground or on the top deck of a bus... We did walk across Tower Bridge. I felt a moment of excitement again, thinking about running across this famous London landmark next weekend. We turned left at the end (not right!) and walked past the Tower of London. And when we crossed the road by Tower Gateway station, I looked along it, and got an even bigger surge of something amazing as I imagined this point in the race next Sunday. There will be less than 4 miles to go to the finish!
We jumped on the tube again back to Westminster, and walked to Trafalgar Square. I made the others walk through admiralty arch and gaze down The Mall at Buck Palace in the distance. Look, there's the finish line....

I love London, I really do. And I'm so happy that I'll be running round it next weekend. It's taken 18 months of slog (less the 4 month break when I was injured last year), but the end is so close now...

So I've only a week left and only need another couple of hundred pounds to reach my sponsorship target. So if you can spare a couple of pounds, please do. It all adds up! Cheers :)

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

What do I do when it's all over?

Distance: 4.34 miles
Time: 40m01s
Mile 1 - 9m37s
Mile 2 - 9m05s
Mile 3 - 9m09s
Mile 4 - 9m00s
0.34m - 3m09s

There are only 10 days 18 hours and 37 minutes left until the London Marathon. I've been working towards this goal for so long now, I can't imagine stopping after it's done. Will I be online at 9am on Monday 27th April entering the ballot for the 2010 Virgin London Marathon? Hmmm. We'll see. I know I'll want to do more half marathons though. I need to do something after April. Obviously I'll carry on running, as I've got the bug now. But running for running's sake seems a little, without purpose. I'll definitely find some race or other to do later in the year.

Today saw the last weekday run of over half an hour in my training schedule. I seem a bit sad about that. Hence my musings on what next. The plan said 40 minutes easy. Yes yes. What's easy? That's slower than steady, isn't it? But it's such a nice day, I just can't bring myself to run slowly. So I end up running steady. I'm not straining, nor pushing myself too hard, so I'm somewhere between easy and comfortable. Before I know it my legs are on autopilot again and I'm breezing round in the sun. It'll be good if the weather's like this a week on Sunday. Not too hot. Not too cold. Not too wet. Not too dry. Just about right.

Monday, 13 April 2009

65 miles from the sea

Distance: 2.27 miles
Time: 21m08s
Mile 1 - 9m38s
Mile 2 - 9m09s
0.27m - 2m21s

In England, apparently, you are never more than 65 miles from the sea. I live 65 miles away from Southampton. And 65 miles away from Portishead. But I'm not sure the saying holds true for the whole country. I mean, where's the nearest sea to Nuneaton? Why am I talking about the sea? Well it's a bank holiday of course. But no, I haven't been to the seaside today. I've been to the riverside. Lunch on an island in the middle of the Thames to be precise. No, I mention the seaside as when I set off for my "20 minute" recovery run this evening, around ten to eight, I pass an ice cream van. Playing "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside". It sets off in one direction, I in another. After posting a letter, I turn left. I can still hear the van's warbled tones, inviting the village kids out to delight in frozen desert as the sun goes down. At the end of the High Street, I carry on into Chapel Lane, and as I turn left into Cottage Road, I hear the van again. I'm convinced its tinny tune is going to torture me for the the whole of my run, but perhaps he's realised business is too slow at 8pm on a mid April evening and calls it a day.

Blip, Mile 1 down. 1-and-a-bit to go. I head up to the main road, and turn left. My legs, having felt a bit tired and achy for much of the day, walking around Abingdon, have now loosened up a bit. I knew running is better than walking, and I'd feel a lot better when I got into it. I pick up the pace slightly, and am soon turning left into the High Street once more. I follow an inner loop to get me back home, clocking up about 2¼ miles in 21 minutes. When I set off I was not looking forward to the run. I feel I should be resting today. But a plan is a plan. These recovery runs have a purpose, so I stick to it. And now I'm feeling a lot less achy and am looking forward to tomorrow's rest day. So I'm glad I stuck to it and got my scheduled run in. Back running on Wednesday.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Neighbour of the Beast

Distance: 12.09 miles
Time: 2h00m06s
Mile 1 - 9m40s
Mile 2 - 9m48s
Mile 3 - 10m08s
Mile 4 - 10m10s
Mile 5 - 10m25s
Mile 6 - 9m45s
Mile 7 - 9m57s
Mile 8 - 9m57s
Mile 9 - 9m54s
Mile 10 - 9m48s
Mile 11 - 9m49s
Mile 12 - 9m47s
0.09m - 0m53s

"Let him who hath understanding reckon the neighbour of the beast for it is a human number, its number is Six hundred and sixty eight"

Today is the last of the "long" runs. By long I mean a run in two digits. The next time I run more than 10 miles - I'll be in Rotherhithe, heading for Bermondsey. Originally I'd planned to get running today at 9.45am so was hoping to be up by 8am for my ready brek. When my alarm failed to go off at 7.47am I decided that I was too tired to get up just then (even though I'd coincidentally woken up within 5 minutes of the time the alarm didn't go off), and rolled over and went back to sleep for an hour. Ok, I'm up by 10am and down for my kids porridge with a chopped up banana. I get showered, sort out my lucozade sport (500ml), carbo gels (2), and water (330ml). Front door key wrapped up in the toe of an old sock (to stop it rubbing in my pocket). Garmin on wrist, phone in back pocket too. I'm ready aren't I? Um... oh yes I was going to try out the Tesco own-brand "imodium" today. Not that I've needed it, but it's a hot tip for the day to take one before the marathon in order to stop any unwanted delays en route. And NEVER try out anything new on the day of the marathon.

One of these days I'll get myself organised properly. Perhaps in 2 weeks? My downfall today was that I stayed up to "watch" Match of the Day. But after the Chelsea game (that was too close!) my concentration had wandered. I should have called it a day then and salvaged the remnants of the early night I'd promised myself. Anyway I eventually hit the road (well pavement) at 12.30pm. Not long after I left, my brother-in-law shouted out words of encouragement to me from his upstairs window. I'd like to think they were encouraging words, as I couldn't actually make out a word he said.

What's the plan today? 12 miles in 120 minutes. Easy, eh? Having run 3½ hours last Sunday (was that only a week ago?), just the 2 hours today should be comfortable. And I feel good, having taken it relatively easy this week, my legs are barely aching at all when I set off. Normally there's at least an echo of whatever niggle I've had the week before. Ooh, hold on, here's one. My left glute barks at me. I think it's complaining about my water bottle bouncing against it, as it's clipped into the back of my shorts. I move it round to the right hand side, and my glute shuts up. I hope that's the last I'll hear from it today.

The weather's not fantastic, but whatever rain we've had has been and gone. It's quiet and calm, even if not sunny. The sky above is wet and grey. So begins another weary run. I hope it won't get worse. I hope it won't rain. Actually I think perhaps it should. Perhaps I should be prepared for how it feels again to be soaked through. But I don't really want to feel miserable. Mile 1 flies by without incident, and when I turn out of Gainfield approaching Mile 2 I'm hit with a sudden sense of quiet. All I can hear is my breathing and my feets (sic) as they hit the ground. The occasional car in the distance. The odd bird tweeting in the hedgerow. The far off hoot of a pheasant in the nearby copse. The rustle of an Easter bunny hopping about in the verge. This is why I like running on a Sunday. It's just so very peaceful.

Mile 3 and I'm content - I'm a quarter of the way through the run now. I take a swig of Lucozade (I never drink before Mile 3, getting myself used to the position of the first water station on the marathon route). In Charney Bassett I see another runner out for a walk. At least I think he's a runner. He's wearing running shoes (not just trainers). As I pass him I wonder if he looks at my back with a sense of ... admiration? Who knows, I can't see his face. I hope so. I'm wearing my madasaboxoffrogs London Marathon 2009 t-shirt today. In the hope that any passers by will see why I'm out running. Again. In the last 9 weeks I've run 10 miles or more 10 times.

Mile 4 and I take my first gel. I'm heading out of Charney Bassett towards Lyford. I've done a third of today's run, but there still seems to be a big chunk of run to do. As I approach Mile 5 it crosses my mind that if I turn right through Lyford I'm only 5 miles from home. But that's not the plan today. I kick it up a notch and head on towards Hanney. As I turn right at the cross roads, I know I'm nearing the half way point. No whoop of joy today, as I'm not out on a new personal best run. It's just another training run. I take it steady, but I can feel I'm running a little faster again now. (Note to self, remember to whoop for joy when I pass Poplar in 2 weeks' time. Then I can celebrate running further than I ever have before!)

Mile 7 and I'm in West Hanney. Only 5 miles to go now. That doesn't feel so bad. I'm up on the pavement where I normally feel something in one of my legs tell me that it's tired and it's had enough. Not today. My legs don't feel great, but at least they aren't hurting. Keep plodding on then. I don't get the zen-like sense of peace that I've had on previous runs, where my legs switch onto autopilot and I'm away in a far off place with my thoughts. But then I'm not getting bogged down with the struggle against tiring legs, nor the pains and niggles either. Some runs are good. Some runs are bad. Some runs are, well, just a bit nondescript.

Mile 8 and I pass the Lyford turn. Pleased with myself that I didn't succumb to the temptation (howsoever small) to cut the run short today. I wait until I turn the corner to take my second gel, as I'll be on a longish straight section of road then, and can more easily concentrate on squirting the sachet of sugary gloop into my mouth, and juggling my bottles to wash it down with water. Having read somewhere of the importance of drinking water with a gel and not a sports drink, as it makes it much more efficient for the body to consume. I look down at my feet plodding away. I decide they are worthy of a picture. Or three.

Mile 9 and I'm feeling good again. I'm now 75% of the way through the run. I clock up 1½ hours on the road. Only 30 minutes to go now. Though I don't have the energy to kick it up a gear (like I did at the Silverstone Half Marathon), I do have the reserves to keep up a steady pace. At least I'm not flagging like last week. I turn the corner into Park Lane and know I'm on the home stretch now. Although it's amusing to think that I wouldn't have even reached the halfway point on last week's run. Mile 11 seems to drag. This road, which I've run over a dozen times now, seems longer than before. But I'm not slowing, I'm keeping up a very steady pace, as I have been for the last few miles now. Not long to go, and I can look forward to a nice relaxing hot bath. No sports massage to look forward to today though, as my sports therapist is away for Easter. Still, since I've only run a relatively short 12 miles today, I shouldn't be quite so knotted up as usual.

Then I'm out on the main road, heading back to Stanford in the Vale. Trying to judge where the 12 miles will arrive. Which road do I take back to the house to make sure I get the distance correct? The short one I think. As I round the corner I realise I'll be a couple of hundred yards too short, so I cross the road, circumnavigate the green and head into the churchyard. Round past the village hall and blip, there's mile 12. I haven't yet clocked up 2 hours, and that I should do by my house... but I miss that by 6 seconds. What's that in terms of a margin for error in a 120 minute run? Dunno, I'm too tired to do the math. Maths. Whatever. I turn around and wander back through the churchyard to warm down, then head in for stretches, a hot hot bath, and a slap up plate of liver & onions. And pasta.

I upload my data, and realise I've now clocked up 668 miles in the 18 months that I've been running.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Vest printed

Thanks to @bekibutton off of Becki Saves the Rhinos I've had my VRH charity vest printed with my name so that the crowds can cheer me on as I run the London Marathon in a couple of weeks' time. So big thanks to Becki for a great job.

On the front - my name. Hopefully some of the spectators will get it right...

And on the back, my blog / real buzz name (well almost - madasaboxoffrogs is a bit of a mouthful...)

Do you need your vest printed for the marathon?
Or any other event?
If so - go here - and leave your details. Very reasonable (cheaper than the expo), and it's for charity too.

Running 13.1 miles in memory of Carl

I ran the Silverstone Half Marathon on 15th March 2009. I managed the 13.1 mile course in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Not a bad effort for my first Half Marathon! I returned in 2010 to run it in 1 hour 54 minutes, and plan to do it again in 2011. I decided to run this in aid of The PSC Trust and PSC Support in memory of my brother Carl, who died from liver failure in November 1997. If you'd like to sponsor me for this - please email me at PSC Trust
PSC Support Or visit my Justgiving page for PSC Support at PSC Support - Justgiving
Have you signed up to the national donor register? If you haven't yet done so, please think about it, and let your family know your wishes.
Give the gift of life.
Join the NHS Organ Donor Register
Organ Donor Line 0845 60 60 400