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.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

300+ miles in 2009

Distance: 5.54 miles
Time: 50m20s
Mile 1 - 9m26s
Mile 2 - 9m13s
Mile 3 - 9m27s
Mile 4 - 9m04s
Mile 5 - 8m52s
0.54m - 4m16s

Round and around... A good way to start the long weekend. Today's plan was 50 minutes steady. Five and a half laps of the mile circuit of the village? Hmmm, that sounds a bit boring. So I chose to mix things up a bit, and let my Garmin plot the route again. I headed out on a circular tour of the village, up and down pretty much all of the roads, back and forth, in and out. I'd aimed to get back home in 50 minutes, and ended up 20 seconds too late. Oh well, must try harder next time ;o)

Today's run brings my total mileage for 2009 to 301.6 miles - not bad in 98 days eh?
Only 17 days to go now until the London Marathon. It's getting scarily close now...

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Zig-zag or Zag-zig?

Distance: 3.71 miles
Time: 30m23s
Mile 1 - 8m25s
Mile 2 - 8m07s
Mile 3 - 8m07s
0.71m - 5m43s

This evening called for a 30 minute "brisk" run. I decided to run straight after work, on the 4-mile route I normally do, and run as much of it as would fit into 30 minutes. Somewhere around 3½ miles. I set off a bit later than planned. Why do I still procrastinate? I know I enjoy running now. Why don't I just get out there and do it? I think it's because my legs still feel a bit tired and sore after the weekend (did I mention I ran 20 miles on Sunday?)

Anyway, it was a lovely evening, or so I thought, and I head off. I'm soon into a brisk pace and worrying myself that as per usual I've set off too quick, and won't keep it up at this rate for 3 miles, let alone 30 minutes. But hey, I'll see what happens. My legs are on autopilot already and I zip round Mile 1 in under 8½ minutes. Then when I head West out of Sutton Courtenay I feel the wind on my face. Ooh, this doesn't feel good. Normally a bit of a breeze doesn't bother me, but this I can really feel. It must be slowing me down, right? Um, no. A quick glance at my Garmin and I'm running sub-8-minute-mile pace. Good grief. When did I speed up? Well this wind is annoying me, I'll keep it up until the corner at least, and hope when I turn South the wind drops.

I turn into Milton village, and the wind is still against me. This doesn't feel good, but strangely the rest of me does. My legs refuse to slow. I miss Mile 2 go by as I'm watching out for cars as I run along the narrow pavement. Darn. Oh well - it must have been quite good as I haven't clocked up 17 minutes yet. When I reach Milton Park I realise I'm going to end up running past my work at this rate (the normal 4 mile route takes me past where I work and round the block). Perhaps if I double back round some of the roads in a zig-zag it will mean the 30 minutes is closer to work, so I don't have too far to walk back when I'm done. And it'll make for a good map on my Garmin (see above), and give me an excuse to tell a terrible joke (see below).

So I run back and forth round some of the units in the business park. I feel like I'm tiring a little, but am pleased to see I'm still keeping up an ~8-minute-mile pace. Mile 3 clocks up at 8m07s and I'm only about 5 minutes away from work. And far from slowing down now, I just keep on running. I'm really enjoying it this evening. Where did my aches go? They disappeared when I started running. Perhaps I should stop walking everywhere and run instead. It feels so much better. 30 minutes looms and I'm on the road back to work. I was going to stop dead on 30 and walk the rest, but I was so close I ran the last 23 seconds too.

Back to stretch, and change, and then home for coley fillets with parsley sauce topped with cheese all on top of a huge pile of brown spaghetti for dinner. Maybe an odd combination, but I have to mix things up a bit with all the pasta I eat these days so that I don't die of boredom! While I was cooking I let my Garmin upload its data, and was pleasantly surprised to see I'd run 8m07s for both Miles 2 & 3 and averaged an 8-minute mile pace for the last 0.71 mile section.

To finish... the joke I promised you. Enjoy!

Two dyslexic skiers are at the top of the ski slope. The instructor says "Right then, you just go down here, zig-zag -zag zag. Follow me!" and heads off down the mountain. The first skier is about to go, when he turns to the other and says "Did he say zig-zag zig-zag or zag-zig zag-zig?", and the other replies "Ooh, I dunno. I'll ask this bloke with a sled, he'll know..." so the second skier turns to another chap and asks "Excuse me, when we go down this slope, do we go zig-zag zig-zag or zag-zig zag-zig?" to which he replies "Sorry, I can't help you there, I don't ski. I'm a tobogganist" and then the first skier says "Oh, that's good. Can I have 20 Marlboro lights and a box of matches?"

Monday, 6 April 2009

Easy does it

Sports massage: painful(ish)
Time: 60 minutes

Distance: 625m
Crawl: 25 lengths

Distance: 1.88 miles
Time: 20m27s

After my LONG LONG run (did I mention it was 20 miles?!?), I'd treated myself to an hour-long sports massage yesterday evening. Something to look forward to on the 3½ hour run, that I'd have any kinks and aches and pains pummelled out of me to aid a speedy recovery. The niggles and aches that I'd developed over the latter stages of the run did indeed need un-knotting. And bits of it hurt. Quite a bit in fact. Funnily though my back felt ok, but the sports therapist found some very tight bits which I hadn't realised were there. The hour seemed to pass by quickly. Shame, I could have stayed a lot longer. Is there an irony that "Pain Killer" by Turin Brakes, which was on in the background, will always now be associated in my head with "Pain"?

Today, I can walk. Not comfortably. But on the whole better than I have been in the past. I was quite tired, and didn't know if I really had the energy for my usual recovery session in the pool. But I managed to not talk myself out of it - and headed off for a swim. I decided that I wouldn't do the usual 32 lengths if I wasn't up to it, but anything over 20 would be good. I stopped at 25, given that the "fast lane" was quite busy today and I was alternately being overtaken and having to overtake slower swimmer myself (which made a change, but also made it harder). It was worthwhile though, as after lunch my legs felt a lot less stiff and achy.

Then this evening I set out for a gentle 20 minute recovery jog. And rather than boring laps of the village, I set out on a slightly random route, not planning particularly where I was heading, just letting my Garmin map the time and distance, and deciding on the way where I'd go so as to arrive back home in roughly 20 minutes. That should have loosened up my legs a bit more and help to get the muscles back in a state of repair fit for tomorrow's "brisk" 30 minutes.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Zootlewurdle zootlewurdle zootlewurdle

Distance: 20 miles
Time: 3h36m06s
Mile 1 - 10m02s
Mile 2 - 10m13s
Mile 3 - 10m18s
Mile 4 - 10m21s
Mile 5 - 10m26s
Mile 6 - 10m15s
Mile 7 - 10m39s
Mile 8 - 10m21s
Mile 9 - 10m23s
Mile 10 - 10m35s
Mile 11 - 10m30s
Mile 12 - 10m42s
Mile 13 - 10m56s
Mile 14 - 10m56s
Mile 15 - 11m03s
Mile 16 - 11m38s
Mile 17 - 11m32s
Mile 18 - 11m41s
Mile 19 - 11m55s
Mile 20 - 11m30s

Fact! I ache therefore I am.

I really hope that the alternating experiences that I'm having with my long runs will carry on in the same pattern.
On 8th March I had a horrible 14 mile run. It was wet and it hurt. On 15th March I had a great Half Marathon at Silverstone.
On 22nd March I managed 16 miles, but the last four were really tough. Last week I had a fantastic 18 mile run...

Given the unexpected success of last week's 18 miler, I was looking forward to today's run. 20 miles? I can do that. It's just another step along the way to the London Marathon in 3 weeks' time. It's my last LONG run before I start tapering down for the last few weeks. And running 20 miles in itself is pretty amazing. Isn't it?

I found out yesterday that the route I'd planned shared some sections with the Grove Half Marathon being run today. It's almost a shame I didn't know about it sooner - perhaps I could have entered it and then run 7 miles home again afterwards. Though on the whole it's a good thing I didn't enter it - I would have wanted to beat my Silverstone time, and that wasn't the plan today. Today's plan was slow and steady. Running an average of 10.5-minute miles to cover the 20 mile distance in 3½ hours.

I set off a bit later than planned though (originally I'd wanted to be out running by 10am), so as to avoid clashing with the runners using my bits of road as they covered the 13.1 miles of their race this morning. So perhaps if I left at 10.30am it would be better, eh? In the end I faffed about a bit and didn't get going until 11am. At least I won't have the chance to faff about on 26th April. No doubt I'll be awake really early and raring to get down to Greenwich Park for 8am!

Once I'd got going, I set myself the target of running the 10½ minute miles. And as usual I set off too fast. I slowed a little, but running somewhere between 10m15s and 10m30s per mile felt comfortably slow. Certainly comfortably slower than last week. And that's how it went for the first third of the run today. When I reached Hanney, I felt a bit tired. And psychologically I'd made this run seem tougher than last week, as then I'd whooped with joy at reaching 9 miles, the half way point. Today more of my run comes later on, with an extra loop, so at the same point in the road, I'd only done 6½ miles this week. A lady was out gardening, and as I passed she said "Not far to go now!" I didn't have the breath to correct her that actually yes there was quite a way to go. Another 13½ miles and about 2½ hours of running still to go actually. I just smiled.

The wind heading North from Hanney to Southmoor wasn't as bad as last week, but the distance I still had to cover was daunting. And with each mile the run just seemed to get harder. Had I overdone it on the first half of today's run? I don't think so, but maybe I had. As I left Southmoor, I missed the 10 mile point bleep on my Garmin. So when I realised I'd passed the half way point I gave a little "woohoo", but it was half hearted really. Time for my second gel, perhaps that'll get me going. I think it did for a couple of miles, but then the aches started to set in. My left glute was moaning at me. My right knee (well ITB really) felt tight and sore. Then my left ankle joined in. And when all three were causing pain at once, it felt like time to stop and walk it off. But I didn't! Sheer determination kept me running. Though the temptation to cut the run short when I reached Charney Bassett (for the second time today) and nip home in 4 miles instead of the 7½ that I still had to do was strong.

I didn't cave, and the pains turned back into aches. But they'd taken their toll on my pace. No longer able to stick to the planned 10½ minutes per mile, I was content to just get to the 20 miles in whatever pace I could manage. I was hoping that I'd find a boost of energy from somewhere, but it didn't happen. Even my last gel at 15 miles didn't seem to put anything in the tank. I was beginning to wonder if I'd hit the wall and not be able to run all the way back home. I do feel thirsty. I don't think I brought enough drink out with me. Only 750ml lucozade sport and 330ml water. Luckily I won't have to worry about this on the day. It was hot today, and I have been sweating a bit. So I ration the last of my water to get me back to the last couple of miles.

The aches, in spite of not turning back into pains, are still with me. My hips ache too now. And now my right calf feels stiff, like the beginnings of a cramp. Why is it so much harder this week compared to last? What have I done (or not done) differently? I think it's a combination of not having had so much pasta to eat in the last week (I'd opted for jacket spuds a couple of days), and lack of sleep. I've had a couple of restless nights recently, especially last night. It seemed to take an age to get to sleep. And when I did, I don't think I slept for long. I woke up feeling like I hadn't even been asleep at all. Then I realised I must have been asleep as I'd been working out the plot for a Disney film. I won't tell you the details as a) I don't want anyone pinching my good ideas and b) I can't remember them anyway. Rest assured if I do that I'll be sending them off to Disney and making my millions.

Anyway, back to the run. Or jog. Or hobble as it is becoming. The urge to give up and walk is quite strong now, but as I turn the corner into Park Lane (not as fancy as it sounds - it's just a single track road past a couple of farms) there's only a couple of miles to go. And hey, I'm just about to pass 18.3 miles so the rest of the way back will be the furthest I've ever run in my life. I've walked 20 miles in a day before - several times on sponsored walks round Blenheim Palace - but they always took about 5 hours. Today I'm going to do 20 miles in 3½ hours. Ok, maybe a little over at this rate, but not far off. 20 miles! 20 miles!! As I approach the last mile, I swig the last of my water and tell myself that it's really not far now. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it. I feel like Thomas the Tank engine now...

And I do. It's been a tough run, not my best by any means, but still not my worst either. One to learn from I hope. I need to drink more water, eat more pasta, and get more sleep. The best thing of course is that it's now going to be much easier for the next 3 weeks, as I'll be running a lot less. No more LONG runs. No more FAST runs. No more HARD runs. Just an easy 12 miles next week, then a really easy 7 miles the week after. And the odd 3-4 mile run in between. It's been a hard road to get me where I am today, but I'm here. The end is in sight. I can almost hear the cheers of the crowd in The Mall willing me on to complete The London Marathon.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Running in red laces

Distance: 6.5 miles
Time: 1h00m12s
Mile 1 - 8m56s
Mile 2 - 9m02s
Mile 3 - 9m22s
Mile 4 - 9m07s
Mile 5 - 9m16s
Mile 6 - 9m11s
0.5m - 5m14s

A 60 minute steady run this evening. I had planned to go to the gym and run and set a steady pace for this. Then I thought I'd try to run 10½-minute-miles to try to get a feel for that pace, as that's what I want to stick to on this Sunday's last long run before I start to taper. And then being in the gym I could do some more strength exercises, making the most of the fact that the end date they put on my weekly pass was today, even though it started last Thursday.

However, I was just about to work out what pace in kph I would need to run a mile in 10½ minutes, and how many km I would run in an hour (alright, that should be quite obvious if I stick to a steady kph), when I was overcome with a desire to get outside and run in the sun. Ok, I can go home, run for an hour, and then hit the gym...

In the end I just ran. The 6 miles were good, and my pace was steady (rather than the "slow" that I'd toyed with for the treadmill). And I was so glad I was outside in the fresh air, with the changing scenery. I would have been so bored indoors. Once I'd reached the 6 miles in 55 minutes though, I started to tire. So when I got home, I just stopped and stretched, and then stuck some brown rice on for dinner.

Forget the gym. It's not like I'm losing out by not going. So I didn't make the most of it (like last time I had a weekly pass with 10 activities in the week!), but I still did 7:
Thursday: 5.6 mile treadmill
Friday: 30 minutes gym
Saturday: 1 mile swim + 30 minutes gym
Monday: 0.5 mile swim
Tuesday: 30 minutes gym
Wednesday: 30 minutes gym

I've had an excellent day's sponsorship. A combination of cakes in the office earlier in the week, and some Facebook status updates during the day, and I've raised another £97.77 today bringing this week's total to £147.77. I think my post about having run 5 marathons in March has also impressed people that my dedication to training is worthy of their support.

Oh, and why am I running in red laces? I'm not altogether sure, but was sent them along with my official London Marathon magazine and registration form. I believe that Flora will donate 50p to H·E·A·R·T UK the every runner who crosses the finish line. See for more info.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The power of social media

First up, I'm the "Tip of the Day" on the Justgiving London Marathon micro site:

I use my Facebook status often to keep my friends up-to-date with my marathon training, and that has spurred the odd donation.
Last week a friend commented on my plea for more sponsorship, saying he'd see how things were after pay day and sponsor me again. Since he'd already sponsored me generously - I asked him if he'd plug my Justgiving page with his friends, which he promptly did and within a short time a friend of his sponsored me £20. I have a few more friends lined up whose Facebook status I will hijack over the coming few weeks so that I will get some more sponsorship in from kind people that I've never met!

Making the most of my weekly pass to the leisure centre, I popped into the gym for half an hour yesterday evening, and again at lunchtime today. I concentrated on some upper body strength exercises again, although made sure I did my glutes too. I'm not turning into a body builder, but just improving my overall fitness level a bit, so I'm in better shape for the gruelling run at the end of the month.

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