Tuesday, 31 March 2009

5 marathon month

Distance: 5 miles
Time: 43m26s
Mile 1 - 9m06s
Mile 2 - 8m54s
Mile 3 - 8m40s
Mile 4 - 8m34s
Mile 5 - 8m08s

I'd planned to run 4.2 miles today (a 40 minute "brisk" run). This would bring my total for the month to 130.2 miles, averaging 4.2 miles per day for each of the 31 days of March. I kind of like the symmetry of running 4.2 miles to bring my daily average to 4.2 miles.

But then out on the run, somewhere along mile 2, it suddenly dawned on me that 130.2 miles is very close to 131 miles. And 131 miles is ten half marathons. Five marathons. In one month.

And given that I am unlikely to come close to running the equivalent of 5 marathons in one month again (well not until next time I'm mad enough to enter myself in for a marathon!), it would be a shame to have come so close to this milestone, and yet fall 0.8 miles short of it.

So I upped my pace a bit, and altered my route slightly so that I could cover 5 miles instead of the planned 4.2 and blow me if I didn't manage a really rather brisk pace for the distance.

And as well as now having run 131 miles in March, I've also run 264 miles in 2009...

Monday, 30 March 2009

Intercity 126

Distance: 800m
Crawl: 32 lengths

Distance: 1.73 miles
Time: 20m01s

Sports massage: painful
Time: 30 minutes

It's Monday, it's lunchtime, so that's a swim then. My normal recovery session. The pool seems as busy as ever, so I venture into the laned-off area as usual now that I'm good enough to not get too much in the other swimmers' way. I still got overtaken a lot, but on the whole I barely rested between lengths.

Then after work, a gentle 20 minute recovery run. What's a recovery run? Very very slow? Running very slow feels awkward and uncomfortable. I'll run at a slow comfortable pace then. I managed to keep it down to over 11 minutes a mile, which is my slowest run this month. A success there then. That brings my monthly total to 126 miles. That's like running from Oxford to Hastings¹.

And to finish the day a reward of a sports massage to iron out any muscular problems from yesterday's 18-miler. It started off really well. My calves seem to be in good shape, and even my achilles which was a bit sore this time last week seems ok now. Then hamstrings. Ouch! Why did they get so crunchy? Was my faster pace yesterday to blame? Probably. Then quads. OUCH! Oh well, as I explained to the therapist, I don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth unless she hurts me. How she manages to find how to hurt a muscle that felt perfectly ok until she stuck her elbows into it though...

¹ I couldn't find another city that's 126 miles away from Oxford, but intercity-and-town doesn't have the same ring to it.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

London Marathon - piece of cake?

Distance: 18.32 miles
Time: 3h00m02s
Mile 1 - 10m07s
Mile 2 - 10m24s
Mile 3 - 10m19s
Mile 4 - 10m05s
Mile 5 - 9m46s
Mile 6 - 9m58s
Mile 7 - 9m47s
Mile 8 - 9m44s
Mile 9 - 9m43s
Mile 10 - 9m47s
Mile 11 - 9m52s
Mile 12 - 9m54s
Mile 13 - 9m55s
Mile 14 - 9m40s
Mile 15 - 9m42s
Mile 16 - 9m40s
Mile 17 - 9m18s
Mile 18 - 9m00s
0.32m - 3m13s

It was not without a little trepidation that I set out for today's run. Last week 16 miles seemed tough, and it was. But psychologically 16 isn't much further than 13, and I knew I could do 13 comfortably having done that distance a few times before. But today's 18-miler just seemed daunting. I even woke up in the night, not worrying exactly, but still a big thought to think about in the early hours.

I decided to have a bit of a lay in this morning, not in a huge hurry to get up having lost an hour with the clocks going forward. Up at half nine, downstairs for ready brek and banana. Then a huge mug of green tea, and a very hot bath to warm up my legs. For a change today I also used my stepper to warm up a bit before my run. Something I usually skip, as I normally just run gently for a few hundred yards as I start out. So it was midday before I hit the road.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, yet there are large clouds dotted around. Enough to shade me from the sun on and off for half the run. A gentle breeze, but nothing to worry about. Today's plan was 180 minutes "comfortable" (or so I thought, when I got back I found it should have been 180 minutes "slow". Oh well). I'm keen to avoid running too fast today, as I have such a long run to cover. I must keep it down to 10 minute miles. I succeeded on the first mile, and then slowed my pace a fraction. I decided I was quite happy to get round in a goodish time, I wasn't going to try to stick to 10-minute-miles.

2 miles in, and I'm feeling good. I've done a 9th of my run. That's 11% of it done already. Great! Only another 16 miles to go. Surprisingly this little pep talk worked, and I wasn't daunted by the fact that I still had 89% of my run to do, or that 16 miles is still a long way. At the end of mile 3, it's better still. I've done a 6th now. Only 5 more lots of 3 miles to go. And this is how it felt for pretty much every mile. I assumed at some point it would get difficult, and the fact that I still had hours left to run would get to me, but it didn't.

At 5 miles I take my first gel. The sun is warm, the birds are tweeting. It's a good day for a run. Mile 6 down, I've run for an hour (just over). 2 more hours to go. Is that too much? No, I'm still feeling good. Before I know it I've finished mile 8. Only 10 more to go! How weird is that? "Only 10 more" miles!! I wonder how many other London Marathon runners are out right now? I wonder how the friends I've met online who are training are doing in their runs. There must be 1000s of us out running today. What a contrast it will be to today's run, where I'm out alone in the countryside with no one for miles around.

Mile 9 and I whoop out loud. "Half way!!!" But now I've turned North out of Hanney. I know it will be windy here, it always is. And sure enough there's a breeze in my face. This is the start of a 3 mile stretch to Southmoor, and I'm going to have the wind against me for the next half hour. It's not strong though, and I forget about it soon enough. I glance down at my Garmin wondering where mile 10 will come. Oh look, a 10th of a mile ago, I missed its little bleep. Time for another gel.

Mile 11 and I can smell the pig farm. This brings back childhood memories of a holiday in Devon. It's funny how such a horrible smell can conjure up nice thoughts. The slight hill into Southmoor is a bit of a struggle, but I can almost feel I'm on a home stretch now. Just 6 short miles left. Only an hour. I'm still waiting for something to happen. My right knee will hurt. My left glutes will give me a sharp pain. I'll hit the wall and struggle to keep up with the sub 10-minute-mile pace I've managed to get into.

At 13.1 miles it's 2h10m in. That's better then 10 minute miles. And I'm not flagging. I'm feeling as good as ever on today's run. Less than 5 miles to go now. I can feel a surge of energy coming on. I can run a bit faster, can't I? But can I keep it up all the way back?

And the answer is, yes I can. I take my last gel at 15 miles, and keep going strong. Not only that but the sense of elation when I pass mile 16 and know I'm now running further than ever before (again!) gives me even more energy. Come on, only 2 miles to go now. My legs are on autopilot, I'm not even trying to go fast, but I can feel I am. At the end of mile 17 I see I've done a 9m18s split. And now I up the pace. I peak at an 8m30s pace, but I can't keep that up for the whole mile. I pass my brother-in-law and he beeps his horn at me as he drives the other way. Half a mile to go, come on Ulen I can do this one in under 9 minutes...

Well, no I can't. I do it in 9 minutes dead. Still, not bad for me to do a 9 minute mile having just run 17 before it! And what's more I've run the 18 miles in under 3 hours. So I keep running until I reach 180 minutes, albeit at a slower pace now. Then when I reach Stanford in the Vale and clock up 3 hours non-stop running, I stop my run, and walk the rest of the way home to warm down. Then I stretch thoroughly and head off for a hot bath to relax.

Looking at my times afterwards, and I'm pleased I've done another negative split:
1st 9 miles = 89 minutes 53 seconds
2nd 9 miles = 86 minutes 48 seconds

When I told a friend how well my run had gone today, she said "Well the London Marathon will be just a piece of cake then", and perhaps she's right? If that goes as well as today's run, then I shall be more than happy. Just 4 weeks to go now... And since I've clocked up over 600 miles in training (since October 2007), perhaps some cake to celebrate is in order?

Saturday, 28 March 2009

66 lengths in 65 minutes

Distance: 1 mile+ (1650m)
Crawl: 66 lengths

Gym: 30 minutes

This afternoon I wanted to take advantage of my week's leisure centre pass with a swim and a gym session. I'd planned half an hour in each. But then after about 12 or 15 lengths I was feeling so good, I decided that instead of the 32-40 lengths I'd thought of doing, I'd go for another mile and keep going for the 65 lengths I'd need to do. I had plenty of time, but even so I didn't rest too long between lengths, so not only did I manage a mile, but I managed it about 10 minutes quicker than last time I did one. I had the advantage that I had half the pool entirely to myself for all but the last 10 lengths or so. It made sense to finish on 66 lengths so I could get out in the shallow end. I even sprinted the last two too!

Then I went to the gym, which I had all to myself for about 25 minutes, and only one other person came in about 5 minutes before I decided I'd had enough. 100 reps on abductors and adductors, then I tried out the chin-ups machine (a new one on me!) and then I did shoulders and chest (about 20 reps on each in each position), and finally 100 reps on the pecs to finish.

Home now for a huuuuge plate of brown pasta with coriander pesto, and five salmon fish fingers.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Bring Me sunshine

Distance: 5 miles
Time: 50m14s
Mile 1 - 10m23s
Mile 2 - 10m01s
Mile 3 - 10m10s
Mile 4 - 9m57s
Mile 5 - 9m43s

An "Easy" 50 minute run this evening. What's easy? And easy run is when you can hold a conversation... but since I run alone if I were to have a conversation, I'd just be talking to myself, which would get terribly boring because half the time I'd know what I was going to say next. Hmmm. Steady is 10-minute-miles, so easy must be 11-minute miles. I'll try that. So I'll try 4.5 miles that should do it.

I set off from work on the 4 mile route I've done several times before, and deliberately tried to keep it slow and easy. But it's no good you know, I just can't run that slow anymore. Even with a slight soreness in my left achilles and the persistent yet not painful twinge in my right knee. These are problems which meant yesterday's fast run wasn't the fastest 5 miles I've run, but they are also problems easily overcome out on the road which means that a 10-minute-mile pace is still relatively easy over this distance. Am I doing it wrong? Should I have more self discipline to force myself to run at an easier pace?

I dunno. Anyway, I made it round the 4 miles (actually my Garmin measured the distance as a 100 yards or so past the point where I'd normally stop), and I just kept going round the block covering another mile instead of a half. On these last couple of laps round the block the sun was shining on my back as it dipped in the sky. My shadow loomed out in front of me, making my legs look 30 feet tall. Or perhaps as if I was running on huge tall shoes (like those mentioned in @Dave_Gorman 's BBC2 show, Genius). As I ran after my shadow along the road, I was bemused to watch my gait. I'd never noticed how much I swing my feet out when running. The length of the shadow accentuated my running style. It almost looked like I was kicking my feet out sideways with each step (especially my right foot). A little bit like Morecombe & Wise. I resisted the temptation to swing my hands up behind my head with each alternate stride.

50 minutes in, and pretty much dead on 5 miles I stopped, and walked back to work. Stretched and changed, and then off to the gym for half an hour to make the most of my weekly pass. I did 100 reps on the adductor and abductor, then ran single-footed on the leg press (40 reps each foot), then did some upperbody work on shoulder & chest presses. Then off home for the odd combination of sausages, black pudding, sweetcorn, gravy and ... pasta. Call me weird, but my protein & carbs diet seems to be just what I need at the moment.

Officially it's a day off tomorrow, but I'm planning a swim. And I've mapped out my 18 mile route for Sunday's LSR. Yep. Three whole hours of me, my thoughts and the Oxfordshire countryside.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

101 miles and still counting

Distance: 9km
Time: 52m01s
Km 1 - 7m37s
Mile 1 - 8m46s
Mile 2 - 8m49s
Mile 3 - 8m57s
Mile 4 - 8m58s
Mile 5 - 8m54s

Having won a week's free pass to the Faringdon Leisure Centre, I was keen to hit the gym this evening to get my hard 50 minute run in. I wanted to let the treadmill set the pace for me to make sure I could keep up a sub-9-minute-mile pace. I decided that 5 miles in 50 minutes was too short, but 6 miles was a little too long, so I compromised with a 1km warm up, followed by 8km at a slightly faster pace.

It felt really weird driving home from work, as I haven't run since Monday, and I've got to the stage now where I hate taking two days in a row off running. Given the chance I'd run at least every other day. What have I turned into?

Anyway, back to the gym. I set off at a way-too-leisurely 6kph so upped it straight away to 8kph with the incline set up at 4.5 (I'd accidentally set it higher still but felt like I'd fall off the back!). After 1km, I sped up to 11kph, and reduced the incline to 2.5 and hoped I could keep that up for 5 miles.

It was hard work this evening. A complete contrast to the 7 miles I ran on the treadmill exactly a month ago, where after a 2 mile warm up I'd run 5 miles in 40 minutes. Well a contrast in the fact that I managed an 8-minute-mile pace then more easily than today's ~9-minute-mile pace. What was exactly the same, however, was the boredom. Give me outdoor running anytime!

And worst of all this evening was the music. Ok, I'm 37 so this new modern chart stuff just sounds like noise to me. Ha ha. No, apart from the fact that I didn't like it (I'm into guitar-based rock), its time signature was all wrong for my running. The beat was out of sync with my pounding on the treadmill, which made me want to slow down to get my strides back into step with it. Which of course I didn't want to do.

Anyway, I made it to the end in one piece, warmed down and then stretched. And afterwards I was soaked. My t-shirt was sodden. More perils of indoor running. But this is the last fast run before the marathon now. I have a couple of shorter brisk runs lined up, and the rest are all steady or slow.

And guess what? I've run 101 miles this month. That's gotta be worth a quid of sponsorship, hasn't it? It's the equivalent of running from my house to Wolverhampton!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Change of plan today

Distance: 800m
Crawl: 32 lengths

I knew things were going too well on Monday. Yesterday morning the slight ache in my left achilles that I'd developed on Monday evening was worse, so it felt slightly uncomfortable to walk up and down stairs. It was a day off yesterday, so it got plenty of rest. I used ibuprofen gel on my ankle to alleviate the discomfort, and today it feels much better. However with only just over 4 weeks to go until the London Marathon, I decided not to chance the planned hard 6 mile run today and risk causing an injury, so it was off to the pool for some non-impact aerobics.

It was easy enough to notch up 32 lengths, so managed another half mile in under half an hour. And I even found a certificate in the locker entitling me to a prize (tbc), which could be a week's free gym at Faringdon leisure centre!

Off to yoga again this evening, only a couple of weeks of the course left now. I shall have to choose whether I want to keep it up after the marathon and enroll on another class.

Back to the running tomorrow...

Monday, 23 March 2009

Runner-up runner

Distance: 3 miles
Time: 30m10s
Mile 1 - 10m02s
Mile 2 - 10m06s
Mile 3 - 10m02s

A recovery run this evening. How gentle should that be? Let's see - half an hour, so I shall head out on my 2 mile out and back run from work, and then carry on on a lap of Milton Park to make the time up. Ok, in my head 30 minutes simply equates to 3 miles. I guess I should try to take it even easier than that, but it's just so hard to run any slower on such a short run. So 3 miles it is, and my pace couldn't have been an awful lot more consistent.

Then I had my postponed sports massage. I'd thought of cancelling, since my legs felt so much better than usual today. But then again, for the next couple of weeks whilst my training is at its peak, I do really want the extra help it gives to my recovery. And I'm glad I kept the appointment, as the sport therapist managed to hurt me quite a bit, much more than the last couple of times. So it turns out that my calves, and even my hamstrings (normally quite supple) were in fact quite stiff and needed some deep pummelling to sort them out!

In other good news today - I found out that my "Everybody's Free (to wear Vaseline)" video was awarded a runner's up prize in the Just Giving competition. The winner was Sir Jog A Lot, which is only fair as his was much funnier than mine! Still another £15 towards my sponsorship total was most welcome.

Remember you can sponsor me at: http://justgiving.com/madasaboxoffrogs

Are things going too well today?

Distance: 800m
Crawl: 32 lengths

I was disappointed to miss my sports massage yesterday, as the therapist was ill and not up to giving my legs the good pummelling that I'd been looking forward to. This meant I was also a bit worried that today I'd be even stiffer than usual, so imagine my surprise this morning when I found it quite easy to walk downstairs. Normally Monday mornings spell a rather stiff and sore right knee, and various other aches and pains from the previous day's exertions. It's such a pleasant change to be able to scale the stairs without apprehension...

So off to the pool at lunch as usual, for my half hour weekly recovery session. Last week I hated this, and cut it short after 25 lengths. But today it's a bit of a breeze. I make it to 32 lengths in under 30 minutes, as I was barely resting at the ends. I even managed to sprint the last couple of lengths, and not wobble out of the pool afterwards in complete exhaustion.

I hope I can keep this up for the next 4-and-a-bit weeks. I feel better than James Brown!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

16 miles nonstop - only 10 more on top!

Distance: 16 miles
Time: 2h26m29s
Mile 1 - 9m35s
Mile 2 - 9m46s
Mile 3 - 10m01s
Mile 4 - 9m51s
Mile 5 - 10m02s
Mile 6 - 10m12s
Mile 7 - 10m12s
Mile 8 - 10m01s
Mile 9 - 10m10s
Mile 10 - 10m14s
Mile 11 - 10m35s
Mile 12 - 11m12s
Mile 13 - 10m50s
Mile 14 - 11m07s
Mile 15 - 11m08s
Mile 16 - 11m24s

Another milestone on the way to my London Marathon goal in 5 weeks' time. I've now run 16 miles nonstop. Quite an achievement in itself, but a bit daunting to think I still have another 10 miles to go on top of this...

I wanted to pace myself at an even 10 minutes a mile, but as always set off a little too quickly. I settled into a steady pace after a couple of miles, but simply couldn't keep it up for the whole run.

I spotted a couple of swans in the field between Gainfield and Charney Bassett, noticing that their winter "lake" that had formed whenever excessive rain floods the area had dried up. I wonder how long they'll stay now before heading off to find a wetter environment to live in?

I notched up 2h04m during Mile 12 and was a bit disappointed as last Sunday I'd managed to up my pace easily to sub 9-minute-miles for the last three of the Half Marathon to finish the 13.1 miles in that time. And today I knew I still had nearly four more miles to go, not just one.

All in all it was a pretty uneventful run. The sun shone, there was a breeze but it was enough to keep me cool, rarely too much to bother me a great deal, and since I'd headed out shortly after 10.30am I could tell that I'd be out for the best part of the day. The cloud cover was sparse and only briefly gave partial shade, so I could relax and soak up the rays as I ran.

I saw a lot of cyclists out today, and even passed a couple round about Mile 11. Ok, so one of them was about 5 years old and the other was her Dad, but it did give me a brief spurt of speed before the aches of left hip and right knee took their toll on my pace and slowed me down for the last five miles.

I managed to get home without resorting to walking or taking any shortcuts, several of which had tempted me as I passed. Oh look, if I turn right here I could cut the run back down to 12 miles. Or here. Or even here I could still make it back in 14...

Once home I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back out for a 5 minute walk to warm down, before stretching and zapping leftover pasta bake in the microwave as I ran myself a really hot bath. Now I know various people advocate a really cold bath after a run, but I find a hot one does wonders for me, relaxing my tired legs and making me feel fit again.

After a brief rest and a cup of tea, I grabbed my camera and nipped out along the 16 mile route again (this time with car) to snap some pictures along the way as it was such a nice day:

Mile 1 - leaving Stanford in the Vale

Mile 2 - leaving Gainfield

Mile 3 - approaching Charney Bassett

Mile 4 - leaving Charney Bassett

Mile 5 - halfway to Longworth

Mile 6 - leaving Southmoor

Mile 7 - open country between Southmoor and West Hanney

Mile 8 - open country between Southmoor and West Hanney

Mile 9 - approaching West Hanney

Mile 10 - West Hanney

Mile 11 - Lyford turn

Mile 12 - Denchworth

Mile 13 - between Denchworth and Goosey

Mile 14 - Park Lane

Mile 15 - the other end of Park Lane

Mile 16 - back in Stanford in the Vale

And, yes, the country roads around where I live really are that quiet on a Sunday!

Saturday, 21 March 2009


Distance: 3.16 miles
Time: 31m45s
Mile 1 - 9m42s
Mile 2 - 10m15s
Mile 3 - 10m08s
0.16m - 1m39s

Another gentle jog this evening. A 30 minute "easy" run. What's easy? I'm thinking 10-11 minute miles, but I just can't seem to run that slowly when it's only 3 miles! I did manage to slow down a bit after the first mile though. Not much to say, not a very eventful run, just a steady slow jog round the village. A simple run to keep me going until tomorrow's BIG one...

Was the Silverstone Half only last Sunday? It seems longer ago already. Today's run brings me to 31.2 miles for the week.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

8 miles is now a short run!

Distance: 8.11 miles
Time: 1h12m25s
Mile 1 - 8m58s
Mile 2 - 8m52s
Mile 3 - 9m01s
Mile 4 - 9m11s
Mile 5 - 8m59s
Mile 6 - 8m40s
Mile 7 - 8m44s
Mile 8 - 8m50s
0.11m - 1m06s

Today called for a brisk 75 minute run, so by "brisk" over that distance I decided that meant an 8 mile run, trying for 9-minute-mile pace. It felt like I'd set off too fast as usual, but was pleased to see that I'd hit my target pace by mile 1 pretty spot on. I kept it up through mile 2, but miles 3 & 4 were a struggle as the wind was against me, and it felt like it was sapping my strength.

I took a carbo gel after 4 miles and told myself I was over the half way point now, so I should easily keep going. I wanted to up the pace like I did during the half marathon on Sunday, where I found it easy to speed up for the last 3 miles. Mile 5 I managed in my target time again, and then I did manage to speed up a little, but started to flag again when I got back to the village, and by the 8th mile I'd pretty much had enough so slowed right down for the last 150 yards.

Still, not bad to do this route in 72 minutes compared to the 77 minutes and 75 minutes it took me last time I ran it back in the middle of January. And this brings me to 73 miles so far this month, with still another 12 days of March left...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Everybody's Free (reprieve)

Distance: 4.6 miles
Time: 40m01s

Starting to increase the mileage and speed again, today called for a 40 minute "steady" run, and tomorrow suggests 75 minutes "brisk", although not too sure what the difference is there. Then I think a rest day and a more gentle 30 minute run on Saturday - followed by 160 minutes on Sunday which I reckon would be 16 miles. 18 next weekend, then 20, then taper down to the big day in April!

I was thinking of trying another wiggly run round the village today, but in the end opted for simple laps of the village instead, running mostly on the verges again where possible to give my knees a bit of a rest. Trusting my Garmin's readout today (after all it had spotted I'd started my run outside my own house, not from someone else's back garden!), I ran a steady pace of 8m39s, 8m42s, 8m36s & 8m45s for the first 4 miles, and then carried on round the lap until I'd reached a round 40 minutes, then I walked back.

Justgiving have a competition to enter a Marathon related video. So I've turned my Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) parody into a video and entered it here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Gently does it

Distance: 625m
Crawl: 25 lengths

I went for my normal Monday swim yesterday. I really didn't want to do any exercise at all really, and would have been justified in having a day off, but didn't want to slip in my plan now. Besides I always seem to feel better after a swim, in spite of my body crying out for a day off! The pool was really busy, and after 16 lengths I gave up in the laned-off section, and rejoined the main pool. Even there it was quite congested too, so after 25 lengths I decided to call it a day.

Distance: 2.21 miles

Time: 21m20s

Today I ease back into the running with an easy couple of miles around my village. Again, no need to follow a predefined route, I just fired up my Garmin and set off, running in a sort of loop round the village paths, back and forth through the churchyard and the back alleys to make up my 20 minute gentle jog. I'd sort of planned to try to not double-back on myself, but a bit difficult to do so without that forward planning after all!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Silverstone Half Marathon

Split Total Time Total Distance Average Speed Max Speed
1 00:09:54 1 09:54 08:57
2 00:09:38 1 09:38 08:59
3 00:09:46 1 09:46 08:53
4 00:09:38 1 09:38 08:48
5 00:09:32 1 09:32 08:30
6 00:09:50 1 09:50 08:27
7 00:09:36 1 09:36 08:06
8 00:09:16 1 09:16 08:22
9 00:09:21 1 09:21 08:26
10 00:09:33 1 09:33 08:27
11 00:08:55 1 08:55 08:08
12 00:08:29 1 08:29 07:47
13 00:08:20 1 08:20 07:32
14 00:02:28 0.32 07:41 06:36
Summary 02:04:22 13.32 09:20 06:36

adidas London Half Marathon at Silverstone 2009
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Please note; these results are provisional until fully ratified

Pos. (Gender) R. No. Name Time
3832 (3074) 9726 Neale, Ulen 02:04:20

The sun shone today, the race was delayed a little (due to congestion reaching the circuit, they postponed the start time by 15 minutes to allow all the runners the chance to get to the start line!), the sky was blue and there was a gentle breeze so it wasn't too hot. En route to the start line today someone commented on my gloves, which I've been used to wearing all year. I decided to ditch them into my kit bag, pleasantly surprised that it's finally warm enough to run barehanded. What a change compared to last Sunday!

After a warm up on the start/finish straight, we shuffled off. I started my Garmin when I crossed the Start line, about 2 minutes after the start. Whether it was bad planning, laziness, or just plain nerves, but when I rounded the first corner, there was already a long line of blokes peeing at the side of the track! I couldn't see any sign of a pace runner, so I judged my own speed, checking regularly on my Garmin that I was keeping it down to a 10-minute-mile. I'm aiming to complete the Half Marathon in around 2h10m-2h15m (ideally 2h11m!), so don't want to set off too fast. It's surprising to see how many other runners are all overtaking me. It kind of makes me want to speed up, as it feels I must be going too slow, but I stick to my plan. The miles tick by, and I try to keep it steady.

The drinks stations are well manned, and I keep topped up with water, and then lucozade sport. And I take my first gel around 5 miles. I'm feeling good, and again I want to speed up, but know that although I'm feeling good, there are still 8.1 long miles to go, and I must conserve my energy reserves to get me through the whole race. I note that my Garmin is measuring the miles a little earlier than each official marker comes up. Around the 6.5 mile point, I look out for a "half way" sign, but don't see one. Still, I'm happy that I've managed the first half in around an hour, so I'm still a little ahead of plan, in spite of my efforts to keep my pace down.

But now I'm over half way, it seems to get easier. I'm really in my stride now, and my legs are on autopilot. I just hope they can hold out, but the more I run, the more confident I'm feeling that I can keep it up right to the end. On Mile 7 I can hear the commentary from the Finish line. The winner has just completed the race. And I still have about an hour still to run! Through Miles 8 & 9 I dig deep, keep my head up and keep pounding away. I take my second gel after completing Mile 9 and feel a surge of energy as the glucose kicks in.

I'm looking forward to Mile 10, as then it's just 3 miles to go, and that seems easy. It's a final lap of the F1 circuit, so it will be better than the running around the inside and outside of the circuit we've been doing since finishing the F1 lap at the beginning of the race. And sure enough I get a psychological boost at this point, and shift up a gear. Now I'm passing the runners in front of me, and continue to do so for all of the last three miles. I'm tapping into the reserves I laid down by keeping my pace down in the first half of the race, and instead of flagging, I just get stronger and more confident with each runner I pass! I know I'm going to surpass my 131 minute target time, and work out that I can even make it in 2h05m if I can just keep it up to the end. Before I know it Mile 12 has gone and I'm into the final mile. The crowds are lining the circuit cheering us all on. There's the 20km marker, we cross a red strip across the road, bleeping away furiously as our transponders mark our time. Round the corner and there's Mile 13, with the Finish line just ahead. I smile for the cameras, and put on a spurt as I pass Dave Bedford standing by the Finish line to welcome us all home.

I'm amazed as I stop my Garmin. I've done it in 2h04m22s. My first ever Half Marathon, and I've beaten my target time easily. Perhaps I had enough in me to have broken the 2 hour mark after all, but I'm not disappointed as I hadn't expected that I could get that close! We queue up to have our chips removed, pick up our finishing goody bag, and then head off to stretch, eat, drink and get changed. All in all a fantastic day. I'm so chuffed that not only have I done it, but I've done it so well, finishing strongly, with a negative split as I comfortably run the second half of the race faster than the first.

I kind of want to hang about and see if I can meet-up with the other runners who I know are there today that I've met on Twitter and Facebook, but I'm pretty done in, and really want to get home. I do bump into one girl I know, and manage a brief hello, but other than that I make my way back to the car. The only downside to an otherwise great day is the time it takes to leave the circuit. I queue up for over 1.5 hours to get out of the car park. It seems a bit odd to think that I've just run 13.1 miles in 2 hours, and then spend almost as much time again driving less than half a mile to leave!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Gentle jog

Distance: 1.09 miles
Time: 10m31s

Just a gentle trot today, nothing too strenuous, as it's Silverstone Half Marathon day tomorrow. Since I'm staying over at a friend's this weekend, I gave my Garmin a chance to try out a completely new kind of run for me - one I haven't worked out on a map beforehand. I set off along a road I've never been down before, kept running for 5 minutes, then turned around and ran back again. No more worries about pouring over a map to sort out a route and calculate the distance. Just get out and go!! Ok, get out, wait for the Garmin to pick up a satellite signal, then go. As per usual I set off too fast, so slowed down once I'd got going. I haven't worked out how to judge a 10-minute-mile pace, which is what I think I want to do tomorrow. Luckily there'll be pacers there, so I can just follow them. I always seem to set off about 9-min-mile speed, which is good, but not something I think I can keep up for the whole half marathon. Not on my first one anyway. No doubt later in the year I'll be aiming for another one, and trying to beat the 2 hour time, but not this one. It's just another training run on the road to the London Marathon, so I'm not planning on doing any flying laps...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Kite running...

Distance: 4 miles
Time: 36m37s
Mile 1 - 9m01s
Mile 2 - 9m15s
Mile 3 - 9m07s
Mile 4 - 9m11s


Mile 1 - 8m44s
Mile 2 - 8m47s
Mile 3 - 8m40s
Mile 4 - 8m39s
0.21m - 1m45s

Today's plan was for a steady 35 minutes, so I upped my pace from yesterday (quite easy to do when I can see where I'm running). Mind you the ~9-minute-mile pace was a bit harder to keep up with all the running on grass I'm now doing. However I'm quite pleased with the consistency I managed today.

Two thirds of the way round lap two, I got a great view of a red kite hovering above me. I wish I'd had my camera to get a good picture, it was very close. Round about the same point on lap three, there it was again, this time circling over the allotments. As I approached the end of the final lap, I was looking keenly for the kite, but couldn't see it. Then it swooped overhead again. When I got home, I picked up my camera and headed back for my "warm-down" walk to the spot where it had been, but it was now much higher. I took a few pictures anyway, and here's the best one:

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

All the verge running

Distance: 3 miles
Time: 31m35s
Mile 1 - 10m28s
Mile 2 - 10m35s
Mile 3 - 10m31s

Mile 1 - 10m31s
Mile 2 - 9m56s
Mile 3 - 10m02s
0.11m - 1m04s

This evening called for a steady 30 minute run. I headed out for 3 laps of the village, armed with both stopwatch and Garmin. I needed both so I could record the laps from house to house, and also to let the Garmin record what it thought the actual mile laps were.

I spent pretty much half of each lap running on the grass verge for a change, at the advice of my sports therapist. A harder workout on my ankles, yet a softer workout on my knees. A bit rough in places, as the odd rut caught me out in the dark. Hmmm. This harder workout might be good for strengthening my ankles, but I don't want a sprain, so I?

I was a little disappointed to see that my Garmin measured the first lap back to my house at almost exactly a mile. I'd always assumed it was a bit closer to 1.1 miles, so all the laps I've done in training have been further, making the eventual 26.2 miles seem a little shorter! So I was a little bemused when I passed my house for the 2nd time to note that my Garmin had already clocked up over 2 miles. Then it recorded the end of Mile 3 about a minute before I got home.

I guess GPS positioning is just something I have to get used to. It's great for convenience, but not fantastic for accuracy. Here's a review of the Forerunner405. Though I was pleased that I'd had a decent steady workout this evening, I was quite annoyed that when I plugged my ANT USB stick into my laptop it didn't work first go. Then I plugged it in again and the ANT software seemed to be running, but no icon appeared in the system tray. I'd activated my Garmin from standby mode and nothing much was happening. I'm just about to track down the support page, and my watch bleeps and says "Transferring data". After an age, this is still what it says. Still no sign of the ANT device running on my laptop. Oh well, I fire up the Connect website to look for help, log in (why didn't it "Remember me" from last time?), and there is my run. All uploaded and ready for me to update its details. Yet my watch still says "Transferring data" and there's still no icon?

Ah well, I got there in the end. Oh, and look at my squiggly map. That explains the shorted first lap, it thought I'd started from someone's garden in the road round the corner?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Getting better at crawling

Distance: 800m
Crawl: 32 lengths

Now I've been in the "fast lane" a few times, I find it easier to go there straight away now, rather than fight for my place in the main pool. Ok, so I don't swim "fast" and get lapped every other length by the serious swimmers who are also using the lane, but it's not too congested, and I don't feel I'm in their way. It's better for me really, as I'm less likely to stop too long at each end. So in spite of feeling a bit tired and hungry, I managed the 32 lengths in good time today.

Actually I'm feeling pretty good today. That's probably because I had another
sports massage yesterday evening. "Sports massage reduces the heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, improves flexibility, and relieves pain. It also lessens chances of injury and reduces recovery time." And it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the weekend, because in spite of the pain (yes they do hurt), they are also very relaxing!

I checked out my Garmin page today, and am pleased to see the route I ran yesterday all mapped out in red:

Click here to view full size

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The rain, the wind, the pain and then the hail...!

Distance: 14 miles
Time: 2h25m37s
Mile 1 - 9m27s
Mile 2 - 9m51s
Mile 3 - 9m50s
Mile 4 - 9m57s
Mile 5 - 10m06s
Mile 6 - 9m43s
Mile 7 - 9m50s
Mile 8 - 9m43s
Mile 9 - 9m58s
Mile 10 - 10m14s
Mile 11 - 10m27s
Mile 12 - 12m09s
Mile 13 - 11m46s
Mile 14 - 12m31s

I set out today a bit later than planned. I'd hope to get going by midday, to mimic next Sunday's Half Marathon at Silverstone. However the forecast showers turned up right on cue at noon. And it chucked it down. So I set out at about half past when the rain eased off.

Having loaded up on a huge bowl of ready brek for breakfast, and a lucozade sports chewy bar for a snack. It took a bit of fiddling with the Garmin to set-up my 14 mile training run. I'd already worked out yesterday evening how to calibrate it to measure 1 mile laps. So I hoped I'd got it set-up right, and set off, in the drizzle.

The main road was busy and I was thankful that the passing cars gave me a reasonably wide berth, and didn't cover me in water as they overtook me. Even though I was on the pavement there was enough surface water to give me a good shower if they got too close!

Approaching Mile 1 and I turn off the main road onto a quiet single track road. I'm pleased to see my Garmin counting down the distance to the mile point, and then bleeping quietly as it marks my first "lap". As usual, I'd set off too quickly. It's really hard to try to keep it down to 10 minute miles, especially when it's cold and wet and I want to get going to keep warm. Two and a half miles in and I take a right turn. This is new to me (well running anyway), as my 14 mile route today means I have an extra couple of sections to stretch my 12 mile route.

Mile 3 comes and goes without me noticing, so this is exactly the kind of place that I would have mis-measured the distance on my stopwatch. I'm sure the map showed Mile 3 as being just round the corner, but my Garmin had already registered that I was on Mile 4 now. The weather doesn't look much better, but then it doesn't look much worse either. I rip open my first carbo gel and slosh it down with some Lucozade sport. Over on the left I can see blue sky. That's were I'll be headed on Miles 9-12 so things are looking up.

Mile 5 and the sun breaks through, I can feel its warmth on my back. I'm feeling good. Mile 6 and 7 come up easily. Hurrah I'm half way. And when I reach Mile 8 I'm feeling great. Only 6 miles to go. That's easy street now. Then I turn the corner towards Mile 9. And the wind hits me. I hadn't noticed it really since Mile 3. And it drags me down. I'll just make it to the end of the road, and when I turn left out of the wind, I'll take my 2nd carbo gel. That sorts me out for a bit, and I'm in Charney Bassett. Only 4 miles to home, here comes Mile point 10. I'm starting to feel really chuffed. The run had started badly in the rain, but had just got better with each mile, and now I'm on the home stretch.

And then it hits. The wind picks up again. 3½ to go and the sun goes in. The clouds are darkening, and I can feel spots of rain on my face. Despite having not long had a carbo gel, my legs are tiring. Come on, I tell myself, only three and a bit miles to go now. I can do this. But it just gets harder. The rain starts up properly and I'm getting cold and wet again. At this point I think I made the mistake of slouching, dipping my head as I trudge into the wind and rain. Because now I feel a pain in my left glutes. I haven't felt this before. I slacken my pace, but it doesn't go. Then ouch! I feel a stabbing pain in my buttock. Not good. I walk it off and then start jogging again. Come on come on now, only 3 miles left. The pain has subsided to a dull ache, so I carry on. But the rain picks up again. I slog on until Mile 12 and as I approach Gainfield crossroads, there's that pain again. So I walk it off again. I try not to slouch, but the way I'm feeling and the increasing rain is not doing me any good.

With only 1½ miles to go, I'm back running again. I've got to keep going, keep warm and get back as fast as my tiring legs will take me. The pain in my hip has gone, but I can't pick up the pace. Another rush of wind from the right, and the rain turns to sleet. Yack. I see a deer running alongside me on the other side of the wall. I almost stop to say hello, but I don't have the energy. Then, just when I think things can't get any worse... they do. The rain turns to hail. Ouch. I'm really getting cold now. T-shirt soaked through, freezing rain on my face and now hail. Good grief, this has got to be the worst run I've ever encountered. I struggle on home, and take a short cut through the churchyard to get to my house more quickly, but then realise I'm still so close to getting to Mile 14, that I run round the green, and past my house towards the village hall, so as to make sure my Garmin registers the full distance.

14 miles done, and I'm done in. I was planning to let my daughter take my picture running, but scrap that. I just need to get in, get out of these soaking wet clothes, get bathed and get fed. Please, someone explain to me, what have I let myself in for? This running lark is somewhat less than fun today (politely understated!)

I really really am mad as a box of frogs for ever undertaking this in the first place....

Friday, 6 March 2009

Is there such a thing as "too much" gym?

Distance: 4 miles
Time: 35m46s
Mile 1 - 9m04s
Mile 2 - 8m56s
Mile 3 - 8m59s
Mile 4 - 8m47s

My gym membership ran out on Wednesday, so I made the most of it with a return trip after work to spend half an hour on the machines again. 100 reps each on adductor & abductor. Chest press, shoulder press, pectorals, and then another 75 reps back on the adductor & abductors.
I think I made the most of my week's free pass:

Thu - 7 mile treadmill run

Fri - 40 mins in the gym
Sat - swim; gym & treadmill
Mon - swim & gym
Tue - gym
Wed - treadmill & gym

Then after the gym on Wednesday I had my usual 1½ yoga class too, so I was completely exercised out! A well earned day off yesterday...

Time to concentrate on running again for a week or so, in the run up to the Silverstone Half Marathon on 15th, then off to find another gym to keep up the strength work.

Back to this evening then, a steady 4 mile run after work, still bright & sunny, very pleasant to run out in. I struggled to keep my pace down to 9-minutes as I was really keen to get out on the road, having spent perhaps a bit too much time in the gym recently! Very pleased to complete the four miles and a very steady pace.

Looking forward to an "easy" 14 miles on Sunday. Hmmm. I'll tell you how easy it was afterwards!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Spring has unsprung

Distance: 6 miles
Time: 57m59s
"Mile" 1 - 9m54s
"Mile" 2 - 9m38s
"Mile" 3 - 9m37s
"Mile" 4 - 9m36s
"Mile" 5 - 9m37s
"Mile" 6 - 9m37s

Making the most of my week's free pass to the gym, I decided to head off early this morning and get today's scheduled 60 minute run in before going to work. I decided on the treadmill so that I could get a steady paced run in, in the warm and the dry. That said it wasn't too wet this morning (compared to last night's wind and rain), but was cold enough to mean a delay in leaving the house, having to defrost the car before I set off. Where did spring go? It was really pleasant and sunny at the weekend, and I was just starting to look forward to running out and about in the good weather. The low winter sun shining off the wet roads made for a potentially lethal drive in too. There should be a law against that much glare when you're driving.

Anyway, I made it to the gym, set the treadmill to 9.6k, did a couple of hundred metres warm up at 8kph and then upped it to 10kph for the remainder. Boring boring boring. I wish I'd gone out in the cold and run round the village instead, but no, keeping up with a steady run is good today, and the lower impact is good for my knees too. Keep going keep going. As always it seemed an age to get to half way, but gradually felt better after that as my legs were on autopilot and each stride was taking me that much closer to finishing. Got there in the end. Phew. Off for a shower, and stretches and then a day's work.

Roll back to yesterday evening. I was toying with the idea of running the gentle 30 minutes that I'd missed on Monday at the gym, but again the treadmills were taken. So I spent half an hour on some strength work again. 100 reps each on the adductor & abductor. 50 reps on the chest press & shoulder press. 20 reps on each leg on the leg press. Oh, and then here's a new one I haven't tried before - pectorals! So I did 50 reps on that one too. I can't work out if all this gym workout is building up my muscles so that I've put on weight, or whether perhaps the curry I went out for last night for a work do had something to do with that!

Monday, 2 March 2009

The Tax Man is funding my training

Distance: 750m
Crawl 30 lengths

Reps: ~400
Time: 30 min

Another half hour in the pool at lunch, only 30 lengths today. Then back to the gym this evening. I was planning a gentle 30 minute 4k run, but all the treadmills were taken. Oh well, onto the machines instead. 100 reps on the (now fixed) abductor. 100 reps on the adductor. 20 reps on shoulders x 3. The chest press was taken by some beefcake who was using it as a rest station. I didn't have the nerve to kick him off. So onto the leg press, 20 reps on each leg, followed by 40 "running on one foot".

Then, as that very nice man at the tax office sent me a cheque last week, I treated myself to a half hour sports massage and got all the knots in my left quads and right ITB all smoothed out. I wasn't going to have this weekly, but after my little unexpected windfall, I decided why not? I'd highly recommend having your legs pummelled and squeezed if you can. Ok so it hurts a bit, but no pain no gain, eh?

Next on my shopping list is a Garmin 405. Or maybe a Timex Bodylink T5G311. Any suggestions?

Sunday, 1 March 2009

I have run 500 miles, and I will run 500 more!!!

Distance: 13 miles
Time: 2h12m34s
Mile 1 - 10m57s
Mile 2 - 9m15s
Mile 3 - 10m20s
Mile 4 - 10m16s
Mile 5 - 10m58s
Mile 6 - 9m02s
Mile 7 - 9m54s
Mile 8 - 9m53s
Mile 9 - 10m33s
Mile 10 - 10m50s
Mile 11 - 9m47s
Mile 12 - 10m35s
Mile 13 - 10m14s

Today called for a 120 minute "comfortable" run. But it was feeling so comfortable on the way round that I decided I wanted to stay out another mile and make it to 13. This would also break the 500 mile mark in my training, since October 2007. 515 days since I started running, and I've just clocked up 500 miles. Not bad eh?

The weather today was good, quite sunny even and I wished I'd worn sunglasses. I think I need to invest in a Garmin or similar, so that I can keep track of the miles more accurately. I don't think I was varying my pace a great deal today, so I think I was just a bit off with where the mile points were.

When I reached the end of mile 3 it felt like I'd only been out for about ten or fifteen minutes. It's amazing how much easier it is to run for half an hour out on the open road, rather than on the treadmill in the gym. Yesterday's 30 minute run seemed to take much longer compared to those first three miles today.

Then before I knew it I was half way, and heading home again. The breeze picked up, and the sun was hidden behind the clouds, so it felt more like a slog, especially around miles 9 and 10.

Mile 12 and I'm back at home, I could stop now - that was the original plan, but why stop just when I'm enjoying it? Nar, I'll do a lap of the village to finish. As I headed off down my road, someone was out washing their car and talking to their neighbour. When I passed he said "Now there's a man with dedication!" Hurrah, yes I must say that's true. Pat on the back for me! I am pretty dedicated, aren't I?

Then more kind wishes of encouragement from a friend of the family I passed in the High street "Keep going, keep up the good work Ulen!"

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 pscrun@ulen.me.uk PSC Trust
PSC Support Or visit my Justgiving page for PSC Support at PSC Support - Justgiving
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