Monday, 4 October 2010

Sunday 3rd October: Loch Ness Marathon

Run: 26.2 miles
Time: 4 hours 12 minutes 50 seconds

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Day 112 - Saturday 2nd October: Last run

Run: 1.58 miles
Time: 16m14s

Just a gentle jog round the block from my B&B to loosen up my legs, ready for tomorrow's 4 1/2 hour run. That's it, all my training is done. Time for pasta, then a walk down to Bught Park to register, and go to the pasta party!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Day 111 - Friday 1st October: Route familiarisation

I was invited to visit the Loch Ness RNLI lifeboat station today and Jo, my friend (and fellow nessmarathon runner), offered to drive me down to Drumnadrochit. Having been shown round, which was very interesting, she suggested we drive back the long way via Fort Augustus so I could see Sunday's marathon route... so she took me all the way around the Loch and back to Inverness along the other side. This was also great, albeit a little worrying, because now I've had the chance to see how "undulating" it is! Ok, so it won't come as such a shock to me come Sunday, so I guess that's a good thing!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Day 109 - Wednesday 29th September: Sutton Courtenay 20 mins

Run: 2.46 miles
Time: 20 minutes 59 seconds

I dunno what happened to my Garmin at lunchtime. I stood outside for a couple of minutes chatting to Sue from the coffee cart about last night's Chelsea game before I set off, so it should have had time to locate me. It was raining, so the cloud cover was quite thick, maybe that confused it?

Anyhoo, a last "run" before the marathon (apart from a very very gentle jog on Saturday), calls for 20 minutes. I opt to run up to Sutton Courtenay round past the shops and back to work. Round about 2½ miles, so will be a fraction over the time, but not by much. I get the benefit of pushing myself that little bit further without overdoing it.

So my 16 week training plan is almost at an end. In that time I've run 402 miles. I've Cycled 94 miles. I've swum over 15k (600+ lengths). I've rowed nearly 4 miles and done about 2000 ab crunches (sit-ups). This has totalled about 100 hours of training. 62 runs, 27 classes, 4 gym sessions, 14 swims, 7 cycle rides and just 24 days of rest.

And if I get into next year's London Marathon, I'll be starting it all over again in December!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Day 108 - Tuesday 28th September: Swim

Swim: 1000 metres
Time: 30 minutes

I delayed my Monday swim because of yesterday's unpleasantness at the dentist, and chose to do a simple 40 lengths this evening. Although it wasn't long before I wanted to up this to 50! No, no, a plan's a plan. I don't want to overdo it this week, I've a marathon to run on Sunday. The pool isn't too busy, but the main section does have a few people swimming up & down slowly. I head for the fast lane, even though there is one swimmer there who appears to be having some coaching. Hopefully we won't get in each other's way.

It's about 7.15pm and I set off in the fast lane. I pause at the end to adjust my nose-clip, then back for length two, kicking off for length three without stopping. Then the same pattern again. On the third pair of lengths, the other swimmer is at the end, so instead of pausing, I return to start length six straight away, and then think, why not swim all lengths without a pause now? The other swimmer eases past me as she does her fast length, but is waiting at the end getting some more tips from her coach. I touch the end, and kick off again back for my seventh.

Round about length 35 I lose count. Was that 36? Did I miss out 34? I remember counting to 33, am I on 37 now? I call it 35, and if I end up doing 42 lengths, so be it. I'll still call it 40. I surprise myself at how easy it seems to swim up and down, without pausing for a breather every other length. This is great. I'm so looking forward to spending a good 1½ hours in the pool in a couple of weeks, to see if I can swim 100 lengths in one session. No doubt I'll be back to the odd pause again now and then...

Thirty minutes later, and I reach the kilometre - 40 lengths. I even sprint the last one as usual, alternating my breathing after every third stroke, instead of after the fourth. And when I get out, I don't feel too tired either. If I don't get into London next April (we find out next week!) and I can't find another suitable spring marathon, I might look at a triathlon instead? Maybe...

Monday, 27 September 2010

Day 107 - Monday 27th September: Milton Half Hour

Run: 3.33 miles
Time: 29 minutes 18 seconds

At last! A third run day in a row. All these rest days towards the end of the marathon training feel very odd, having got into the habit of running so much. I guess it was all new to me when I did it for London, but this time round it's a struggle to not be running at least every other day.

A gentle half hour is called for, so I head out on a 3ish mile route, and even this feels odd, as I miss the 5 mile version of this lunchtime loop. I run it steadily and comfortably in an 8m50s pace for the first couple of miles, speeding up a little though mile 3 to the end.

I was planning to swim this evening too, but having had a filling this afternoon my face was still half asleep, and I
really didn't feel up to it. Maybe I'll go tomorrow instead.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Day 106 - Sunday 26th September: Charney 9

Run: 9.02 miles
Time: 1 hour 18 minutes 29 seconds

I forgot to say that yesterday's couple of miles meant that I've notched up 1900 miles since I began running almost three years ago. That milestone comes next weekend...

Today sees the last "long" run of my 16-week training plan. When I did this the week before London - I ran about 8 miles up and down every single footpath in Stanford. Today, I fancy getting out in the countryside, and up the distance to cover 80 minutes of running. It soon transpires that my legs have set the pace at a fraction under 9-minute-miles, which feels easy enough given the short distance today.

I divert out to Hatford to give me an extra third of a mile, and if I take the slightly longer route through Charney Bassett, past the pub, then I'll only have about half a mile to make up when I get back to Stanford to clock up 9 miles in the allotted time. I eat up the miles, and the pace feels good. There was a strong wind against me on the open fields towards Hatford, but it's not too cold. I wonder about packing gloves to take to Inverness next week.

As I leave Charney, I reach the halfway point in under 40 minutes. Perhaps I should be taking it a little easier today? No, I think I'm ok. The "intermediate" training plan that came with my race information pack this week (a bit late to start using it with about 12 days to go to the marathon!!) suggested a Half Marathon and 10k races for the last two weeks of training. I did the Half Marathon last weekend, and today's run is certainly less stressful than running a sub 8-minute-mile pace that I'd be doing had I entered a 10k. Next time maybe?

Back to today, and I'm on the home stretch now. I know I'm going to do a negative split, and if I wanted to I could up the pace to a 10k speed, but I settle for a more gentle increase in effort. Back in the village, and I run round to the church to reach the set distance, although I still make it back home in under the 80 planned minutes.

Job done, time to relax. Just a couple of very short runs left before I head to the far north of Scotland to attempt my third Marathon, and hope to set a new PB...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Day 105 - Saturday 25th September: Gentle 2 mile jog

Run: 2.00 miles
Time: 17 minutes 34 seconds

Just a gentle couple of miles this evening. The plan called for 10 minutes, but that hardly seemed getting my running shoes on, so I did a gentle jog round the outer lap of the village, which was spot on 2 miles.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Day 104 - Friday 24th September: Research

Today's another day off, so pretty much involves watching Run Fatboy Run on Film4, whilst drinking a can of Stella. And eating lots of pasta...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Day 103 - Thursday 23rd September: Rest

The first of another two rest days. Time to plug the charity again!
You can sponsor me to run the Loch Ness Marathon a week on Sunday in aid of the RNLI here:

And next month I'm organising a Curry Night at the Saffron in Summertown on Thursday 28th.
It's £17.50 for a delicious buffet selection in the best Indian Restaurant in Oxford.
If you're on Facebook - the event is listed here:
Otherwise just leave me a comment here and I'll send you more details!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Day 102 - Wednesday 22nd September: Easy 40

Run: 4.43 miles
Time: 39 minutes 45 seconds

Today called for an "easy" run, but given the huge mileage I've racked up over the previous weeks, anything under a couple of hours will feel pretty easy. I choose to run outer laps of the village, which are about 1.7 miles, so I can fit in 2 and as much of the 3rd as I can squeeze in in 40 minutes, heading back home at the appropriate point. I set off at a comfortable 9-minute-mile pace, and slow down a little as I remind myself this is supposed to be "easy". Soon I'm not concentrating and my legs have speeded up again. I clock up mile 1 in 9 minutes.

Mile 2 and I'm a bit quicker again, so I do ease off this time on Mile 3, and then on the third lap of the village approaching the roundabout to the new estate, I cut back in towards home, and reach my starting point with 15 seconds to spare. Ok, so I ran a bit faster than planned, and covered a bit more distance. It's odd, I don't remember the taper weeks being such hard work when training for London. And by hard work I mean I'm finding it hard to not run as hard or as fast or as long as I want to! Edinburgh was different as I had a minor injury and then a horrible throat infection towards the end of my training, so cutting back, albeit frustrating, was quite easy.

Maybe one day I'll get the hang of this marathon training lark, and it'll all just fit into place easily?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Day 101 - Tuesday 21st September: Orangey day

A scheduled rest day today, so I treated myself to a full hour long sports massage, but not after I'd visited the kind folk at KC Colour in Wantage again for them to dye my hair in preparation for running the marathon. I'd bleached my hair yesterday, and although I hadn't left it on quite long enough to make my hair completely white-blond, the yellowish hue I'd achieved was still a suitable base colour for the orange tint. Amy set to work and applied the colour to my hair. After 20 minutes she washed it off, and then applied a slightly darker one, as the first colour had only left me strawberry blond.

Half an hour later, and she washed my hair again to reveal... a light orangey colour. Not quite the vibrant lifeboat shade I was hoping for, but still enough to make me stand out a bit to aid my fundraising along for the next week. Then next Wednesday I'm back there again to have the colour topped up, and next time she's going to get a darker, more crazy colour! Watch this space!!

Then I nipped home to change, and back to Wantage to the leisure centre for my appointment with Sammy from inside & out body therapy. Last time I had a sport massage (a few days after I'd run 18 miles), I hardly felt a thing and wasn't sure it had been worth it. I'm not sure about today either, I've been so lucky not to have picked up any niggles in training this time around. Still, I have run over 80 miles since my last session, so she'll probably find something that needs ironing out with her elbows.

Ouch, ouch ouch! Blimey, did she find some tight muscles! Quite the most pleasurably painful massage I've had for a long while. Very tight calves. Very knotty hamstrings. My back was stiff, and my neck needed some rather intense treatment too. And then my quads needed some thorough work to finish off. She more than made up for last time's disappointment. I always say I don't feel I've got my money's worth unless she hurts me, and this week she more than earned the fee! Far from feeling bad because it was painful, I'm really happy that it was obviously important that I had this much needed massage. This will give me a final boost to my training to keep me in tip top shape in readiness for the marathon in just 12 day's time!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Day 100 - Monday 20th September: Recovery day

Run: 3.54 miles
Time: 30 minutes 18 seconds

Swim: 1000 metres
Time: 30 minutes

The plan today was a gentle 20 minute jog as a recovery run. But a 20 minute lunchtime jog sounds very boring. I know, I'll do a bit more than 20 minutes, and run to Steventon & back. Along the railway line, up the hill, down again and back to work. If I go direct, it'll only be abut 2½ miles, won't it? Maybe a bit more? Perhaps I should have planed it out first. Along the railway line, and I've done a mile. I reach Steventon and I'm 12 minutes in. Am I half way? Probably not...! Oh well, up the hill I go, speeding up from the gentle 9-minute pace I've done so far.

I reach the top of the hill, and head back down towards Milton Park. I get lucky at the lights, and don't wait too long to cross the A34 roundabout. Back to the Park, and I'm over 22 minutes in, with about 7 to go. Hmmm. This recovery run's going to be a bit harder and longer than planned. But then my legs don't feel at all stiff from yesterday's half marathon. I pass a couple of RMers on the other side of the road out for a lunchtime run, and we wave at each other. Back at work, and I'm a little over half an hour. Warm-down, stretch & shower, and it barely feels like I've been out for a run at all.

Then this evening I head to the pool for my regular Monday swim. Since I'm in the taper zone, I choose not to go for a big distance today. Much as I'd love to match the 80 lengths I did last week, I decide upon half that distance. But I make sure I rest a lot less, and therefore only take a very short breather every 2 lengths for the first 30, and then try to do the last 10 in one go with no stopping. The fast lane, however, is busy with a couple of slow swimmers (what
are they doing there?) and a couple of extra fast swimmers. We get in each other's way a bit, and I have to give way to the seriously speedy two, one of whom must half some dolphin in her ancestry so graceful is her ability to glide effortlessly past me into a full on tumble turn! Anyway, I get through the 1,000 metres in just over 30 minutes.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Day 99 - Sunday 19th September: Great South Oxfordshire Run

Run: 13.21 miles
Time: 1 hour 56 minutes 45 seconds

Today's schedule called for an easy (or was it comfortable?) 120 minutes. So that's about 12 miles. However, as you know I've been upping the distance and or pace to increase my training to be more of an intermediate level than the beginner's plan. So I choose to do 13 miles, easy. So about 130 minutes. But 13 miles means the route I choose is the "Stanford in the Vale Half Marathon" that I designed last year. And because I was running a Half Marathon, somehow it didn't feel right trying to do it in over 2 hours. I haven't run this distance that slowly since June 2009.

I don't deliberately set off too fast, but I'm soon hitting a low 9-minute-something pace, and it feels comfortable. Although, stupidly, I forgot to double-knot my laces before I set off (thinking I'd do it when I was waiting for my Garmin to find a signal, but then forgot). I reach Park Lane to notice a loose lace flapping about, so have to stop to tie them up. Far from a 9-min-mile then, I clock up the first mile in a tardy 9m41s. Not to worry, maybe I should take it steady after all.

As per usual, however, my legs have other ideas, and I whizz through the next mile in 8m40s. Surely this is too fast? I'm going to have to be more careful in 2 weeks to more rigidly stick to my race plan. I can't afford to overcook it too soon. Today, however, I have every confidence that I can make the half in under 2 hours, without pushing it too much. I've already done over 2 miles, and there's less than 11 to go. Today's run feels a) like a doddle (compared to last week's 22) and b) seems to be going really quickly - I'm not far off 20% done already.

At the end of Park Lane I turn right towards Denchworth. The wind is against me now, and strong too. Oh, this means it'll be against me for a good few miles towards the end of the run too. Oh well, I can't chop & change the route now. Soon I'm heading East and I'm out of the wind again. Both miles 3 & 4 come up quickly too, although my pace has slackened off a little - back closer to a 9-minute-mile.

Somehow some renewed vigour from the more gentle speed gives me a kick for the next couple of miles, and I'm running faster again. I've chosen to bring only one gel today, so plan to take it at 7 miles. I'm thinking ahead now, and not about the miles I'm going to complete first. I miss clocking up both miles 5 & 6, but can tell I'm still on pace to make the 13.1 miles in about 1h57m, although when I reach the halfway point it would seem that I might make it a bit quicker than that too (especially if I do the usual negative split).

I turn North on the road towards Southmoor, knowing that very soon I'll be turning West back to Charney. All the times I've been running these roads over the last few months, increasing my distance each week, and making the runs progressively harder, fade away to make today's 13-miler seem increasingly easy. At this rate I'm going to beat the time I ran the Milton Keynes Half Marathon in back in July - which is surprising as that's a proper race with a crowd of other runners to keep pace with. Today I'm out on my own, but my inner runner is keeping up the pace without anyone to follow or anyone to cheer me on.

It's been a grey day, and fairly cool to boot. I'm not going to need the 750ml of water I've brought with me, as well as the 500ml of lucozade sport. Still better to bring too much than too little I guess. The downside of planning my run this morning is that it clashes with the Great North Run, so I'll miss the coverage of that on the TV. Still, nevermind I guess. I'm running my own Great Run today.

At Charney Bassett, I get the odd mix of desire to push on and speed up the pace for the last 4 miles coupled with a sense of tiredness. Ok, so I'm not going to push for home just yet, but neither am I going to succumb to the niggling doubt that would otherwise raise its head that I may have overdone it. On a longer run of the higher teens, then perhaps the tiredness would have tried to take a grip over my enthusiasm, but not today. I brush the idea away, barely even given a real thought.

On the road to Gainfield I do feel I can speed up, but then this is slightly uphill, so actually I slow down. The wind, as I suspected, is against me again. Time to dig in and keep going. It doesn't feel bad, but I suppose it is a bit harder work than would be ideal. I think ahead to Loch Ness, and wonder how the land lies there, will there be exposed sections prone to strong winds? What will the weather be like in the far North of Scotland in October? I guess I'll find out in a fortnight.

Now I'm on the downhill in Gainfield, on the home stretch. I can push on and go for it. I use the favourable incline to kick it up a gear, making mile 12 in 8m31s. And with only a mile or so left to go I'm on the edge of Stanford, and again I speed up. Far from flagging now, I feel great as a wave of energy floods my legs knowing how close to the end I am. The last few hundred yards whizz by, as I clock up mile 13 in 8m13s and I pass the Half Marathon distance in about 1h55m (my 3rd best this year), and reach home in 1h56m45s - a distance of 13.21 miles.

The next 2 weeks will be a lot easier now. Next Sunday's 8 miler won't even feel like it's worth getting out of bed for!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Day 98 - Saturday 18th September: Rest

These scheduled rest days feel a bit weird. I'm keen to get out and run, but know that I need to stick to my training plan.

So, some more stats about my training so far. Although my average daily distance for the year is 3 miles (slightly less actually, now I've had two days off), I've only run on about half of these days. I've run 131 times in 8½ months, and spent 130 days resting or swimming or cycling or doing gym classes. That means my average run distance is 5.92 miles.

The full breakdown of these runs:
0.7m - 1m6
1m - 2m16
2m - 3m12
3m - 4m19
4m - 5m20
5m - 6m16
6m - 7m6
7m - 8m6
8m - 9m6
9m - 10m2
10m - 11m3
11m - 12m1
12m - 13m3
13.1m - 14m4
14m - 15m2
15m - 16m2
16m - 17m2
17m - 18m0
18m - 19m2
19m - 20m0
20m - 21m1
21m - 22m1
22m - 23m0
23m - 24m0
24m - 25m0
Total - 775m131

Friday, 17 September 2010

Day 97 - Friday 17th September: Rest

Yet another day of rest.
Out of interest - I've totted up the number of miles I've run in 2010.
So in the 258 days of the year up until yesterday's run, I have averaged 3 miles per day.
Every day.
For the whole year.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Day 96 - Thursday 16th September: Sutton Courtenay - 50 mins

Run: 5.88 miles
Time: 49 minutes 46 seconds

It's hard to judge how far or how fast to run now. For the next 2½ weeks I will be running less often and shorter distances than I've been building up to in recent week. So today's plan is "50 minutes steady". I've kind of got used to "steady" meaning about a 9-minute-mile pace, so I head off on a 5 mile loop, planning to add about half a mile to bring the time up to the full amount. I could stop short at 45 minutes, but I want to make sure that I run up to the planned amount, and just because a steady run is no longer the 10-minute-miles I was doing a couple of years ago doesn't mean I can cut the run short now. Time on my feet is more important than the distance covered.

As I glance down at my Garmin en route to Sutton Courtenay I spot the average time creeping down. 8m58s - 8m52s - 8m45s... I slacken off a bit, not wanting to run too fast. But it's no good, my legs have other ideas about how steady today's pace will be. I clock up the first mile in 8m39s. Maybe I should try harder to slow down? Nope, the legs don't hear me. Mile 2, and it's 8m38s. Hmm, maybe I can keep up this very steady, very consistent pace. But how far to run? I'm going to have to start thinking about where I'm going to add on the extra distance, at this rate the 5 miles will take about 43 minutes.

With no clear plan of my route, I'm sure my indecision will affect my pace. I'm sure to have slowed up, especially now I've left Sutton Courtenay and I'm out on the open road towards Drayton, where I need to be wary of the traffic. Beep. Mile 3. 8m28s! How come the
less I concentrate on my pace, the faster I go? On the road towards Milton I pass the dog kennels I must have run past a dozen times before. Strangely I've never been aware of dogs barking outside it before!

At Milton I turn left. I've changed my mind about completing the normal 5 mile loop, if I head back to Sutton Courtenay now, I'll be able to cover the 5½ or more miles, perhaps by heading off road onto the trim trail across the field back to Milton Park. However it turns out all I need to do is the little extra loop around the houses at the south of the village. A kite swoops down, and almost lands in the road near the primary school, before circling up into the sky again, effortlessly banking and flying off high above the houses. The school marks the mile back to work, and I've just clocked up 42 minutes, not far off the 5 mile point.

On the road back to work, I pass the turning into the field (where the "trim trail" goes), and I'm glad I didn't choose to go that way after all. It looks a bit overgrown. I shouldn't be considering running off road now, because although the uneven terrain is great for my ankles and achilles, there is also a risk of injury if I hit an unexpected patch of unidentified earth/rock/animal hole. I absolutely cannot afford a sprain at this stage.

Thinking I might actually get back to work after my 50 minutes is up, I quicken my pace. The average for the run creeps down again. 8m31s - 8m30s - 8m29s... this is looking good. I'm not racing, still running a comfortably steady pace. Back to the start point, less than 50 minutes, and not far of 6 miles. It's great that my legs took it upon themselves to run a third of a mile further than planned for what felt like no extra effort. And the average over the whole run? 8m27s - thanks to a sub 8-minute-mile pace for the last .88 miles.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Day 95 - Wednesday 15th September: Rest

Another day off - there are going to be quite a few of these coming up now that I've entered the taper zone!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Day 94 - Tuesday 14th September: Stanford 3 laps

Run: 3.47 miles
Time: 27 minutes 10 seconds

After yesterday's quite astonishing 80 lengths on the pool (I'm still a bit in awe of myself for having done that), it's back to the running today. A "brisk" 30 minutes is called for, so I opt for 3 "mile" laps of the village, but extended a bit to what might be 1.2 miles? I didn't measure the distance before I set out, but did a quick calculation that running 3 of these about 8m20s each would be spot on half an hour.

In fact, however, the laps were only 1.16 miles, and I ended up running faster than an 8-minute-mile pace. I almost ran past my house to clock up the full 30 minutes, but thought that on reflection 27 minutes was close enough. It was a great feeling to have run 3½ miles in this quick pace so easily. I've come along way in the three years I've been running (1,871 miles to be precise). I wonder where I'll be in three years' time?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Day 93 - Monday 13th September: 2km swim

Swim: 2,000 metres (1.24 miles)
Time: 65 minutes

I got to the pool early this week to give me plenty of time to get a mile in, and planned to round it up to 70 lengths, but soon realised that I could make 75 instead. But that would be 1875 metres, which is a bit of an odd number, and also swimming an odd number of lengths would leave me at the far end of the pool.

So I decided to just do as many as I could manage before 8pm and the time I'd be kicked out to make way for the ladies aqua aerobics (unlike Wantage - the Faringdon pool doesn't let the public swim at the same time as the class, and surely in a contravention to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 doesn't allow blokes to take part). With 10 minutes to go, I'd reached 68 lengths... could I perhaps manage as many as 80 in time? That would be a very nice round number - two kilometres.

I sped up a fraction for the last few laps - and just made it in time. The last 25 metres was a bit hard, as they'd loosened the rope, and it was sticking out into the lane that I'd been swimming in. Nothing like dropping a hint that they didn't want me there! When I started swimming for exercise about 8 years ago, just swimming ten lengths was hard work. I never imagined I'd ever be able to swim 80 in one go...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Day 92 - Sunday 12th September: Charney 22

Run: 21.88 miles
Time: 3 hours 40 minutes 53 seconds

Today sees the longest training run I've ever done. I am going to attempt 22 miles. The longest I "need" to do in training is about 20 miles. I did that last weekend. This is a distance, bizarrely, that I "want" to run. I want to give myself the best chance of getting a PB in Loch Ness, by tailoring the beginner's training plan I've been using, upping the distances or intensity a bit here and there.

I map out a new route. Stanford in the Vale - Hanney - Southmoor - Charney Bassett - Lyford - Denchworth - Charney Bassett - Hatford - Stanford in the Vale. This is actually a bit over 22 miles, so I may skip the bit to Hatford and just return home from Gainfield instead. I'll see how my legs feel after the 3½+ hours it's going to take.

I get up quite early for a Sunday, and enjoy breakfast of ready brek & a sliced banana. I get ready with a litre of lucozade sport, 750ml of water and 4 gels. I'm off out of the door just after 8.15am and set off towards Park Lane. I'm not fazed by the distance I'm going to cover today. I know it's not going to be easy, but it's not worrying me either. The weather is good, clear skies, sunshine with a light breeze. No sign of rain around, and I've set off early enough to not worry too much about it getting hot. I should be fine.

The first five miles or so are a breeze, quite easy and I'm hoping the remaining ¾ of the run will be as comfortable, though I suspect not. There's more of a breeze against me on the northbound stretch to Southmoor, but it's not too strong. Almost refreshing. Soon I'm leaving Southmoor and taking my second gel and thinking about the distance still to cover. Normally at this stage of the route I can start thinking about home, but today I'm not even half way...

At Charney Bassett I opt to head straight on to Denchworth, and run back via Lyford (rather than the other way round). It doesn't matter which way I run this loop, except that doing it this way means I reverse my steps from earlier on, rather than repeat the same section in the same direction. I'm all for making the run seem different, to make it more interesting. Well that's the plan anyway.

As I approach Park Lane, the temptation to head home in under 2½ miles is strong. I've never cut a run short through choice though, and have no intention of doing so today. I need to keep plodding on. Only another nine miles to go... Onwards to Denchworth, and I'll only have a third of the run to go. I can feel I'm tiring now, and soon fall into the slippery slope of wondering when it's going to get hard. I am starting to think self-fulfilling thoughts. I can't help it - ideally I'd remain totally positive about how well the run has gone so far, and how well it will carry on right to the end...

... but I can feel it getting harder. I slow down a bit, and try to enjoy the late morning sun. I do briefly perk up and feel myself speeding up a little. Less than six miles now, maybe I can keep it up at this pace, and finish a great run after all? It doesn't last though. Tiredness overcomes me again. On through Lyford, on again through Charney Bassett. It's really not so far now. I choose to skip the extra distance to Hatford, I don't need to push it beyond 22 miles, anything over 21 miles will be just fine.

I reach Gainfield, having clocked up a slow mile (10m55s), which sums up my mood for the run now. However I speed up again on the downhill section, and can feel the end is getting close. I surprise myself that I can actually up the pace like this. It's pleasing to think that I'm not totally drained. I can use this kind of reserve in three weeks' time when I need to get up the hills late on in the marathon. The 21st mile brings up the new longest solo run I've ever done. Hard work without the crowds to cheer me on. The last few miles of a marathon, with the other runners to follow, and the bystanders shouting my name makes it easier than it has been today.

Back in Stanford, and I cut through the churchyard, but rather than head straight home, I eek out the last little bit of enthusiasm I'd found, by running past the village hall, up to Joyces Road, and back into Huntersfield to almost, but not quite, clock up 22 miles!

Job done, in the last thirteen weeks of intensive training I've run over 350 miles. Now it's time to taper off for the next few weeks, with fewer weekday runs, no overdoing it in the gym, and just a couple of short weekend runs of 13 miles and 8 miles. I rather think after today's efforts, I have earned the right to think of a 13 mile run as "short".

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Day 91 - Saturday 11th September: Gentle jog

Run: 1.92 miles
Time: 18 minutes 04 seconds

Just a gentle jog round the village this morning to loosen up my legs, since my calves are still a bit still from the hills and gym workouts I've put them through this week.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Day 90 - Friday 10th September: Rest

A day off today, followed by another day off tomorrow (or maybe just a little recovery jog down to the postbox and back). The peak of my training is over, just one more BIG one to do... then it's taper time!

Day 89 - Thursday 9th September: Steventon 10k

Run: 6.23 miles
Time: 56 minutes 55 seconds

A change of scenery for this evening's run. An hour's steady run, with the added twist of a hill. Since I was meeting some friends after work in Didcot, I planned out a route from work that would be about an hour's run. I set off on a 4ish mile route to Sutton Courtenay & back via Milton village, with the detour out to Steventon along the railway line, up the hill and back to Milton Park to run back and forth a bit to bring the total up to around 6 miles.

Then a quick shower, and get ready to go out to find I'd been locked in the building... luckily I was only stuck for a few minutes before someone turned up who could let me out. There was me almost thinking that after work runs would be fun to do to mix things up from my usual laps of the village when I get home, but risking getting stuck in the office is not something that would make this enjoyable!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Day 88 - Wednesday 8th September: Gym classes

Gym classes
LBT: 45 minutes
Aquacise: 1 hour
Yogalates: 1 hour

Making the most of a free Wednesday, I packed in three classes today. The usual LBT, followed by Aquacise (a new one on me), and then Yogalates.

There were 10 of us in the LBT class this evening, so a lot busier than usual. The instructor let all the girls finish the squats when they wanted to, but I had to hold it for another count of 16. I beat her! The leg raises were a killer though... so she got me back.

Then to fill in the time before Yogalates, I was persuaded to try out the aqua aerobics class. Again I was the only bloke, this time in a pool of 20 women. It was interesting, but not very strenuous. However I'm sure it was useful, given I'm only 3½ weeks away from a marathon, and better for me than spending an hour in the gym, which would have been a bit too much like hard work.

So - last class for today - an hour's Yogalates to finish the evening. A bit tough in places given the workout my legs had already had in the previous two classes (especially the balancing poses). I still prefer yoga to this version (but that's not available as an evening class).

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Day 87 - Tuesday 7th September: Steventon Hill

Run: 4.43 miles
Time: 36 minutes 52 seconds

A brisk run today, including a steep hill climb in less than half a mile. Average over the distance still 8m19s.

I could have done the 5 miles loop again today, albeit not at last week's super speedy 7½-minute pace, but I chose the hilly route today instead. I haven't practised my hill runs enough in training for Loch Ness. It's all too easy to get into a routine of doing the same routes. I only have a few chances left to get some gradients in.

I set off quite steady, speeding up all the way, covering nearly two miles before I hit the muddy path alongside the railway. Even playing dodge the puddle, I made it to Steventon still under 8½ minutes a mile. Then it's the steep hill. According to my Garmin it was a 90ft gain in about 700 yards, which would make the gradient a mere 1 in 22. If feels steeper than that. Still, I made it to the top in good time, clocking up an 8m34s mile with the hill.

Then it's back downhill to the A34 roundabout, where I was lucky with the lights and the traffic, and got back onto Milton Park without too much delay, making an 8-minute-mile to finish.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Day 86 - Monday 6th September: Mile swim

Swim: 1650 metres (1.025 miles)
Time: 55 minutes

Swam another mile this evening! Got to the leisure centre later than planned, so it was gone five past seven by the time I got in the pool. I didn't think I'd be able to get 66 lengths in, as it takes me almost a minute a length, and it would normally take me about an hour.

However there were a number of swimmers going just a bit faster than my normal pace in the fast lane, which spurred me on to keep going, barely stopping every other length for a quick breather. And so I made it, one-and-a-bit miles in under 55 minutes and even kept enough back to sprint the last length.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Day 85 - Sunday 5th September: Recovery Run

Run: 3.02 miles
Time: 27 minutes 39 seconds

A gentle jog round the village this evening to loosen things up after yesterday's long one.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Day 84 - Saturday 4th September: Charney 20

Run: 20 miles
Time: 3 hours 19 minutes 56 seconds

On Monday I ran 18 miles from Stanford - Denchworth - Charney Bassett - Lyford - West Hanney - Southmoor - Charney Bassett - Gainfield - stopping just short of Stanford and walking back to cool down.

Today I ran almost the same route, but in a different order, joining up the bits I missed around Charney Bassett and between Lyford and Denchworth:

Stanford - Charney Bassett - West Hanney - Southmoor - Charney Bassett - Lyford - Denchworth - Stanford.

I deliberately ran it more slowly, so completed the extra 2 miles in an extra 27 minutes. It may not have been much further, but it certainly was much harder. Although I did still manage to up the pace on the last couple of miles, completing the last one in a bit over 9 minutes, so overall I'm still happy with the outcome.

I set off later than planned as I realised I'd forgotten to get any more gels and was down to my last two. It would have been a real struggle to get round this long distance without the added fuel on the way round to keep me going. So I nipped into Abingdon first to grab a couple of Go gels from Fit2Run. Not my normal brand, but they did the job. I have used them before so knew I didn't run the risk of an adverse reaction for trying them out for the first time!

I'm glad that when you run a marathon there are water stations on the way round. Today I took a litre of water and 750ml of lucozade sport, and although I'd drunk most of them towards the end of the run, my arms were feeling it from having had to carry the extra weight all the way around with me!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Day 83 - Friday 3rd September: Rest

Kind of mixed up my training schedule, what with holiday last week and a bank holiday on Monday - so I lost at least a day this week.

I was toying with running the five miles that were planned, but since I did a super speedy five yesterday (which should have been Wednesday), and am going for 20 miles tomorrow (to give me Sunday to recover before work on Monday), another run this evening would not have been sensible. Perhaps I should have fit in a swim today instead? Next week I should be back on plan as I near the "taper zone" the week after.

Loch Ness is now just a month away, so it's time to remind you of my sponsorship page:
Please tell your friends!

Day 82 - Thursday 2nd September: Fast Five

Run: 5.0 miles
Time: 37m49s

Today's plan called for a fast 50 minute run, but I decided to up the pace to make it
really fast, but lower the distance to make it about 40 minutes instead. A friend who used to work at RM, who encouraged me when I started running, once told me he did the Sutton Courtenay loop in under 40 minutes. At the time I thought I could never aspire to run 5 whole miles in under 8 minutes each. I could run one that fast, yes. I could run five miles in under 50 minutes yes. Knocking a couple of minutes off each mile over "such a long distance" seemed unlikely.

Yet here I am a couple of years later, and I know that actually I can achieve that pace now. I've run 7.6 miles in an hour, and 8.4 miles in 65 minutes. But they were mile laps of the village, running past my front door where I know I can stop at any time and be home quickly. I never do stop, but it's a kind of "safety net" to running that fast. If it proves too difficult, I can just stop a lap or two early.

Running out on the road on a single five mile loop is more of a challenge, because I have to cover the same distance, regardless of how fast I can keep it up. Does that make any sense? Sort of!
Will I have the same self determination to keep running as fast as I can for the whole route? We'll see...

So I set off at a steady pace, to warm up. Gradually upping the intensity until I'm about an 8-minute mile. This is good, I think I can keep this up. Uh-oh, Mile 1 and it's only 7m50s. That's a bit faster than planned, but since it still feels so good, I think I'll be fine. I glance down on mile two and notice my average has dropped to 7m45s, so it looks like Mile 2 will be faster. Yikes, can I really keep this up?

Mile 3 and I push it a bit, I'm feeling really good now, and keep telling myself I'm over half way, not too far to get back now. Hey at this pace I'll easily beat 40 minutes. Mile 4 and I keep it steady, I don't want to burn out too soon now, I'm doing so well, I'll just cruise along at the same pace - 7½ minute miles! Not in my wildest dreams when I started out running could I think about running this fast, certainly not for miles at a time.

Mile 5, home stretch now, and I'm tiring. It's hard work now to keep up the pace, or rather to keep up the
even faster pace I've set myself now to get back to work. I slacken off slightly and then speed up again. Then I round the corner and the office is in sight. So what did I do? I break into a real sprint for the last hundred yards, easing off just slightly to bring up the distance to the full five miles. 7 minutes 10 seconds for the last mile.

Another negative split run, with each mile faster than the last, and the last at a pace that would see a marathon done in under 3½ hours (knocking an
hour off my PB!). Just a shame this is only a threshold run of five miles, and I can't really keep this speed up over that kind of distance... but then I never thought I could run five miles in under 40 minutes. You never know, maybe one day? Perhaps I have a sub 3h30m marathon in me somewhere? For now, sub 4h30m will suit me just fine!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Day 80 - Wednesday 1st September: Rest

A scheduled rest day today. Yesterday saw the end of my biggest running month ever - over 140 miles in August! That's about 4.5 miles per day.

In fact since I took up running in October 2007, I have clocked up just over 1800 miles, which is a daily average over 35 months of 1.7 miles. And in 2010 alone, I've already run 700 miles so far - that brings my daily average up to 2.7 miles for the first 8 months this year...

Little wonder I need a day off!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Day 80 - Tuesday 31st August: LBT + Recovery Run

Class: LBT
Time: 1 hour

Run: 2.01 miles
Time: 18m43s

Away on holiday last week, busy this week & next, I thought a whole month without a gym class wasn't ideal, so I extended my hols by another half day so I could get another hour-long LBT core fitness session in. Although having decided to do this, I regretted it when I realised that I'd be doing my long (18-mile) run just yesterday afternoon. However my long hot bath last night (and the good long walk at the end of the run itself) meant my legs were decidedly ache-free this morning!

There were just the two us us doing the class again this week, and as usual Amy made some of it hard just for my benefit! The worst bit was leg raises - lie on your side one leg on top of the other, and lift the upper leg & down for eight. On the 8th, keep it up and hold, then lift it up higher from there for another eight. Sounds easy? Try it with ankle weights at the same time!

Other than that we did donkey kicks, squats, single leg lunges (they burned), and loads of different ab crunches. I made the whole hour with only a few wobbles. And when I got home instead of jumping straight in the shower, I nipped out for a gentle jog round the village for a couple of miles, for a recovery run.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Day 79 - Monday 30th August: Charney 18

Run: 18.00 miles
Time: 2h53m26s

Back home and back to normal training. Today saw my delayed weekend LSR - a distance of 18 miles. Last time I ran this route, I kept going all the way home, covering about another three-quarters of a mile. Today I stopped at 18 miles, and used the walk back through the village as my warm-down.

I tried to run this at a ten-minute-mile pace, but I still find it hard to run that slowly now. I wasn't far off though. The first half was good, with no problems to speak of. The weather was good, sunny, not too hot, with a light breeze.

The second half was harder work though, my legs were definitely tired after about ten miles, and knowing the full route was almost 19 miles was not a thrilling prospect. However once out of Southmoor, I decided that I'd do what I did when I first ran this route, and stop when I'd reached the required distance, and just walk the last section back home. This cheered me up, and spurred me on.

In fact rather than slowing to a 10+ minute mile pace (as I had started to do), I sped up considerably for the last 4 miles, and made them in ever increasing times:
9m15s - 9m13s - 8m52s & 8m10s. I think that was pretty good, to be able to run just outside an 8-minute-mile having just run 17 beforehand!

York City Walls

Running round the outside of the city walls (almost, I was inside between Bootham Bar and Lendal bridge), I stopped every minute or so on the way round to take a snapshot of the points of interest:

07.07am - Micklegate Bar

07.08am - Victoria Bar

07.09am - View of wall from Price's Lane

07.11am - Baile Hill (site of the original motte & bailey castle)

07.12am - Clifford's Tower (York's second castle)

07.13am - York Castle Museum

07.13am - Water Mill (part of museum)

07.14am - Fishergate Postern Tower

07.14am - View of wall from Paragon Street

07.15am - Fishergate Bar

07.17am - Walmgate Bar (the only one in the country with a barbican intact)

07.19am - Red Tower

07.21am - Footbridge over River Foss

07.22am - Jewbury (with Minster behind)

07.22am - Jewbury

07.25am - Monkgate Bar

07.25am - Advert for Bile Beans (popular from about 1900)

07.26am - View of Minster from Lord Mayor's Walk

07.29am - Clifton Bootham (I'm now inside the walls)

07.30am - Bootham Bar

07.31am - York Minster

07.31am - Lendal Bridge (I'm outside the walls again)

07.35am - River Ouse (as seen from railway bridge)

07.37am - Cedar Court Grand (once LNER headquarters)

07.39am - Old Station entrance - before the new station was built in 1877
(on Queen Victoria's only visit to York, she never left the station)

07.40am - Micklegate Bar
(One complete circuit of the walls in just over half an hour)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Day 78 - Sunday 29th August: Without the city walls

Run: 3.81 miles
Time: 38m56s

The city centre of York isn't that big. Having seen most of the walls over the last few days, I decided to run round them for my last holiday run.

A gentle jog today, not too far as I've planned my LSR for tomorrow's bank holiday. I made it even slower this morning, by stopping several times en route to take pictures of the bars and other interesting sights on my way around.

The stop start nature of the run felt uncomfortable, but it's not a serious one, and when I get home I can upload
a pictorial record of my run without the walls.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Day 77 - Saturday 28th August: Rest

Last day off today before I get back into a more regular training regime again from tomorrow.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Day 76 - Friday 27th August: Cool riverside run

Run: 5.84 miles
Time: 54m25s

I dragged myself out of bed early again today. The plan, run alongside the river Ouse for 3 miles, double back to the B&B. The reality, 4 miles by the riverbank, head into the city, and run round some more of the walls...

Although I would normally have run about 8 miles on my training plan, there wasn't really time for that, and besides - I am still on holiday, so settled for a little under 6 today!

Day 75 - Thursday 26th August: Rest

Another day off running, as I enjoyed a day sight-seeing with my daughter. One of the highlights was The Ghost Hunt of York!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Day 74 - Wednesday 25th August: Early morning run

Run: 5.13 miles
Time: 45m52s

Having missed out on a run yesterday, I'm itching to get out for one today. I awake about half six, and can't get back to sleep. So it's on with my running shoes and out of the door for a fairly brisk morning jog.

I don't know where I'm going, but run towards the Minster, and run round in circles round the city walls and back, reaching the B&B by 7.45am. I am quite pleased with myself! What a great start to the day, eh?

Day 73 - Tuesday 24th August: Rest

An unexpected day off today. Spent half the day trying to find a B&B to stay in for a few days away. The internet let me down, so had to resort to the old-fashioned "ring the city tourist office, and let them find somewhere for us". This meant staying in to await them to call back. Twice. 2 hours later and we're quickly packing for the 4 hour drive to York... I don't forget to pack my running shoes!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Day 72 - Monday 23rd August: Mile swim

Swim: 1650 metres (1.025 miles)
Time: 1 hour

For a change today - I went to the Wantage swimming pool for a lunchtime swim. And once again, I found I'd forgotten my goggles... However I bought a new pair from reception, and headed back to the pool. Not a great start, but now I have a spare - so I'm less likely to forget them again.

I set off in the "fast" lane, and managed 8 lengths, but decided since it was pretty congested, I'd try the "slow" lane instead. However although the slow lane wasn't quite as busy, it was very much slower, so I'd actually be more in the way trying to overtake everyone than I would be keeping to one side in the fast lane and letting the speedy swimmers past me. The fast lane was wider too.

So back in the fast lane, and I keep plodding on. Length after length. 20. 30. 40... After 50 lengths everyone else's lunch must be over, as I'm in the lane alone. And then the lifeguard removes the rope, so there is no lane any more. Uh-oh, does that mean I won't be able to get my mile in today either? No, I'm ok - there may be no lanes now, but there are no classes or anything either. A couple of times I have to avoid another swimmer who's using the width of the pool, but they don't really get in my way.

I reach 60 lengths in under an hour, and speed up a bit for the last few lengths, trying a bit of a "sprint" for the last two, but it's a long time since breakfast, and I don't really have the energy to do them too fast... but I do make it to 66 lengths (stopping at 64 is short of a mile), in just a fraction over an hour.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Day 71 - Sunday 22nd August: Hatford 4

Run: 4.03 miles
Time: 36 minutes 06 seconds

A gentle recovery out & back jog this evening, which turned into a bit of a speedy one. Mile 1, taking it easy on the footpath to Hatford. I sped up a little up Sandy Lane until I reached 2 miles, then turned round and headed home. Taking advantage of the downhill gradient, I upped my pace a little to begin mile 3, but my legs said they wanted more, so I sped up again and kept it up through mile 4.

This set me up for a comfortable negative split: out 19½ minutes - return 16½ minutes.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Day 70 - Saturday 21st August: Southmoor 16

Run: 16.10 miles
Time: 2 hours 42 minutes 11 seconds

After a rather late night (read early morning) at a friend's housewarming barbecue yesterday, I put off today's LSR as long as possible. The weather forecast for today has promised heavy rain showers, so I'm not relishing the prospect of being out on the road for 2½+ hours, as no doubt I'll get soaked too. Oh well, the trials of training for a marathon. I'm sure I'll be fine.

I head off towards Park Lane, keeping my speed down to 10-minute-miles, making sure I'm not tempted to run a bit faster like I did last week. You're supposed to do these long runs
slower than race pace, but I find it difficult to run much slower. Mind you since I didn't get a full night's sleep, it's not difficult to run a bit slower than normal today.

As I run towards Denchworth, I notice that the sky over to my left looks pretty grim & grey. Where I am it's blue with patches of cloud, but otherwise warm & sunny. There's a strong breeze to help keep my cool, but no immediate sign of the threatened downpour. I reach 4 miles, a quarter done already. I'm feeling good, but there's still a long way to go.

On the way to Hanney I take my first of two gels to keep me going. I'm juggling my drinks bottles, decanting the one that was half & half Lucozade Sport into the larger one with just Lucozade in it, so I can ditch the empty in the bin by the bus stop, along with my empty gel wrapper. I'm not paying attention to my feet and hit a pothole. Oops. Luckily I bend my ankle easily, and no harm is done. Perhaps all the gym classes I've been doing this year have paid off, and my feet are stronger and more flexible as a result? I should be more careful though.

Northward bound now, and Winter Lane usually lives up to its name, but not today. The wind which has picked up is behind me. Phew, I was dreading a headwind along this 3-mile section to Southmoor. It's a bit of a plod this bit, although passing the halfway point is pleasing. But I don't get complacent. It'll still be an hour & twenty minutes until I'm back in Stanford.

Still, I reach Southmoor, and I'm feeling quite good. Not great, but touch wood, today's run seems to be going ok. I certainly don't feel I've got any excess energy to pick up the speed, not that I want to. No matter, I just need to keep up this steady gentle pace. I reach ten miles and start planning my second gel. Maybe I'll leave it until I approach the straight North of Charney. There'd be abut 4½ miles to go then. However it's not long on this mile, and I feel myself flagging a bit, so opt for my gel straight away as a much needed pick me up.

Charney Bassett is in sight, but it feels like I'm running through treacle. Well, ok not as bad as that, but it does suddenly feel quite tough, and instead of feeling good knowing I've reached the three-quarters point, it feels like the next 40 minutes are going to be long ones. Mind you, there's still no sign of the soaking that I was expecting. Maybe I'll make it back in the dry after all?

Blip. Nearing the woods between Charney & Gainfield, and my Garmin tells me there are just 3 miles left, having completed 13. A bit further down the road and I notice the Half Marathon distance clock up. In about 2h13m. Part of me wants to quicken up at this point, there's not far to go now. That'll be my brain then. My legs, however, say no way. At Gainfield I start to feel a bit better, as there's less than 2 miles left now. And on the downhill, I do speed up here.

Back at Stanford, and I speed up again, I find some energy reserve that didn't appear to be there half an hour earlier, but I make the most of it, and run back home in order to get a huge pile of brown pasta on the go, with some mixed veg, a chopped chilli and pesto sauce. And five whirlpool poached eggs. I think I've earned a big dinner today, plenty of protein & complex carbs to help repair my overworked muscles...

Friday, 20 August 2010

Day 69 - Friday 20th August: Rest

I was planning a quick 20 minute jog today, but stresses at work kept me back later than planned. In the pub already, now on holiday for a week, so hope to get some training in!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Day 68 - Thursday 19th August: White Horse Hill

Run: 8.61 miles
Time: 1 hour 16 minutes 55 seconds

Today I had the morning off work, so I could plan a different route for my scheduled 8-miler. The beginner's training plan calls for a comfortable 75 minutes, but since I'm now above the level of "beginner marathoner", I'm upping some of the runs by either adding 5%-10% to the distance, or upping the intensity. Not by too much, as I don't want to risk injury by over-training, but hopefully by enough to make my training regime challenging enough to help me get a PB in Inverness.

Initially I was thinking of running through Hatford, along Sandy Lane, as this is supposed to be a bit hillier than my usual Gainfield - Charney loop. However I have to fetch a parcel from the Faringdon sorting office. I could start my run there instead, so I fire up Map Your Passion on the realbuzz website and start planning the route.

How about run towards Clanfield, turn left through Kelmscott to Lechlade.... nope, hold on. That's too far. Start again. Faringdon - towards Lechlade, turn left after Eaton Hastings (where I'd just have to sing the wrong words to a Jam song), cut across to Great Coxwell and back to Faringdon. The distance is about right, but hold on - the A417 is a pretty busy road. How safe is that to run on a weekday? Maybe I should leave that for a quiet Sunday morning.

Then it comes to me. I can park in Fernham, run to Uffington, up White Horse Hill, and back again. No, that's no good either, it's getting on for 10 miles. A bit too far. So I opt for Baulking instead, about 8½ miles, just about right. It'll still be less than 80 minutes - but I get a great workout by running up the road to
White Horse Hill and down again!

I want to get some hills in to my training, as I've checked the elevation profile for Loch Ness. Initially it hadn't looked too much harder than Edinburgh, or even London. But then I spotted the scale for the profile is about 5 times larger. Where there was a 30 foot hill in Edinburgh, there's a 150 foot hill to look forward to this time. So what better way to prepare than attempt my local hill which has an elevation gain of about 450 feet?

I park up (by the Church), set my Garmin (which starts suspiciously quickly), check the weather (fine, if a little breezy, but no sign of rain), and set off. I make the first half mile well under 4 minutes, and it annoys me that this means I set off too soon (before my Garmin had properly located me), because I know full well I'm not running under 8-minute miles. Ah well, too late now.

I can see White Horse Hill over on the left of the horizon. It doesn't look too big. On the way out of Uffington, however, it looms up in front of me and looks
huge. Luckily I'm on the upward incline already, and the overhanging trees obscure it from view, so all I can do is worry about the hill my feet are on, not the big green monster up ahead. When I reach the crossroads, and the hill is there in front of me, it's now so close it no longer looks so threatening.

I steady my pace as I head ever upward, speeding down my breathing to two-in two-out (instead of three-in three-out that I normally stick to). My legs are complaining. My mind is telling me I'm mad to attempt to run up this hill without being properly used to this kind of incline. Naturally I slow down, but I'm still running, not quite plodding, and certainly not giving up and walking. I'm chuffed to see I've done the last mile in 10:14 - in spite of how much height I've gained.

As I pass Dragon Hill, I can feel the worst is over, there's a slight breather which feels great, but there's still a way to go. Up round the corner and the Horse itself is just obscured from view up on my left; I gaze out over the Valley to my right, wishing I could pause to enjoy the fantastic view you get from up here. But I'm not here to sight-see today, I'm here to work. To stretch my muscles and stress my heart. And anyway, the Hill is beaten. It's all downhill from here.

Click to enlarge

I take it easy along the top road, catching my breath, and preparing myself for another 5 miles back to the car. Then it's downhill, and this is harder in some ways than the uphill. Going up is perversely easy, because you just put one foot in front of the other and work hard to get up. Down means having to watch your footing, check your speed, worry about loose gravel or rough road, as it would be all too easy to slip and fall. The last thing I need at this stage is a sprained ankle!

Down into Woolstone (16% downward slope according to the road-sign - in an 8:14 mile), and the road flattens. This feels like hard work now even though I'm still going downhill, but this is probably because I'm still running so fast. Into Uffington and my average is coming down towards 9-minutes per mile for the whole run. The next couple of miles and I'm still running under 9 minutes, and my average is still dropping.

I pause briefly having passed under the railway line, I hear a train and the wind disguises its sound. I turn to look, but it's just an Intercity 125 (common as anything along the Swindon - Didcot line). I turn back to the road ahead, and kick up a fraction, knowing there's only a couple of miles to go.

Past Uffington Station and the end is near. I rejoin the road from Uffington to Baulking, and I can't help but increase my pace again, risking blowing out before I finish the last half mile back to the car. I check myself, and steady my pace a bit, and I get back to the car in under 77 minutes, which is rewardingly faster than I thought I'd make such a hilly run when I set out!

This is a great run, and I'm sure I'll be including the 3,000 year old iconic landmark in my routes again.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Day 67 - Wednesday 18th August: Rest

Another complete day off all exercise today.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Day 66 - Tuesday 17th August: Gym class + Stanford 5

Gym class
LBT: 60 minutes

Did the hour-long LBT session at the gym this morning, to make the best use of my time off this week. Just the two of us doing the class, and the instructor really made it count since I was there (she likes to see me in pain). I survived though, and even the "killer" stability ball exercise was easy (but don't tell Amy!)

Run: 5.09 miles
Time: 44 minutes 56 seconds

A steady 45 minute run this evening with splits of 9:12 (warm-up), 8:59, 8:39, 8:18 & 8:55 (warm-down). I set off to do a couple of "outer" laps of the village in about 40 minutes, and ended up doing three and a bit laps in 45, with a good steady run speeding up on each lap, until the last where I took it easy to wind down to finish...

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
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