Monday, 26 April 2010

Fellsman race - NSPCC Fundraiser

Just a quick post regarding my Fellsman race in a couple of weeks time. I've decided to use this as a fantastic opportunity to raise some money for the NSPCC which I'm sure you will agree is a very worthy cause. My company supports the NSPCC every year as part of our entry into the UK Challenge in June, and staff help to raise money by doing all sort of things like baking cakes, washing cars, or jumping out of planes. I decided to run the Fellsman! naturally....

So please dig deep and give whatever you can. DONATE HERE -

London Marathon 2010

I sit here on the train returning home from completing my 3rd london marathon and my best yet. I say this for a number of reasons and will get straight to the point. I got a PB by 12mins over my 2009 time but more pleasing than this I ran my most even pace for a marathon. In fact I went one better than that by getting a negative spilt. But this only tells half the story of a race which whilst not full of incident there were a few significant points to note.

Firstly it was the hardest race and at the same time the easiest race I have run. This sounds weird and I cant really explain it other than to say that i felt i gave it absolutely everything i had whilst at the same time I felt (quite) comfortable throughout. I say 'comfortable' which should be qualified... meaning full on constant effort and at times moderate pain but nothing major. The ultra running paying off there then!

The first 15 miles were certainly nothing to write home about. The first couple of miles from the blue start were very slow mainly because it was so congested. You just couldnt move freely. One a half minutes lost in just 2 miles. It felt ordinary and was off the planned 8 minute miling pace (i had hoped for even quicker but it soon became apparent that this wasnt going to be possible). The miles wore on and i maintained the pace along with my friend and colleague Chris Scott. We worked together well but I was still not feeling particularly great. By halfway we were just off the pace for a 3:30 finish but this relied on maintaining the same pace for a further 13 miles and it was only going to get harder (all but impossible then).

But at around 16 miles I came alive and felt the best I had all day. Hooray finally the race had started for me. Time to crack on and claw back some time I thought. I pushed on and passed runner after runner after runner. This felt great and only motivated me to push more. Perhaps a 3.30 finish was still on. But toilet issues came into play and perhaps ruin my day. I was hydrating well, but perhaps too well! At this point i was on the Isle of Dogs around canary wharf which is very built up with no convenient places to stop for and quick pee (e.g. a tree!). I finally got to an official loo stop. A big relief. A minute lost and back on the course. I continued to pass more runners. Some i had passed before. I continued to take on water as well as energy gels provided on course and lucozade sport. All Pretty sickly stuff but they do the trick. Whilst i had no real idea of my pace or time (I wasnt wearing a watch) it felt good so I continued to rack up the miles at a sub 8 pace. Then a real blow to my plans - stomach issues... if u know what i mean :-( I wasnt feeling great all race but could ignore the signs as it wasnt too much of an issue early on... It was now! And not a loo in site. Oh s*** (almost literally)...sorry about that. Eventually i saw a sign [TOILETS <-- ] in the distance. This was at 23 miles. However it was off course and I had to take a detour around the back of a building. Another 3 minutes lost at least! Argh :-( I was starting to make a habit of this now.

I continued to chase still with no idea of my actual time. I gave it everything and enjoyed every bit of those last few miles blasting along... 'bring on the pain' and it almost felt effortless. Without a watch I had no way of knowing if i could do it. Tick tock, tick tock... Soon I was at Big Ben and then around the corner onto birdcage walk. My wife, daughter and parents cheered on from the sidelines of St James park as I steamed past. Then around the next corner and another and the finishing line was in sight. Glorious. I pushed on and crossed the line. The time on the clock was 3:31:XX so it was very close (The delay in crossing the start line meant that the finish clock was 1 or 2 minutes out). Would it be enough?... It turns out that it was and it wasnt depending on how you look at it. I found out in the pub later that my chip time was 3:30:06!! So just 7 seconds outside going under 3:30 but still 3:30 nevertheless. I can't grumble and my 5 km splits below tell the full story. Even pacing throughout and a negative split to boot which I never thought possible so well chuffed with that. If only I didnt have that Big Mac the day before!! :-)

           Time            Splits
5K      00:26:11      00:26:11
10K    00:50:59      00:24:48
15K    01:15:48      00:24:49
20K    01:40:28      00:24:40
HALF 01:45:49
25K    02:05:03      00:24:35
30K    02:29:23      00:24:20
35K    02:54:49      00:25:26
40K    03:20:30      00:25:41
Finish  03:30:06

2nd Half (01:44:17)

That's it for road running for a while. Back to what i really enjoy on the trails starting with the Fellsman 60miler in just 2 weeks time :-) bring it on!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Wednesday club run ruins marathon hopes....

haha now I've got your attention I thought I would fire off a quick post before Sunday's London Marathon. In actual fact the title of this post has some truth in it as someone made the decision to go offroad for the club run on wednesday across very dodgy uneven terrain and freshly ploughed fields!!! this was certainly NOT what my ankles needed just 4 days before the marathon. to add to this I also ended up running over 8 miles as its a 3 miles round trip to get from home to the sports centre where the club meets, so all in all not a great taper run. But don't think its done any damage.

So to Sunday... well I can say that I'm definitely looking forward to it and it certainly looks like being another hot one! ouch :-O so I will have to be a lot more sensible than last year with regard to better and hopefully more even pacing and taking on a lot for fluids and lucozade throughout the race. one other change from last year and in 2006 is that I'm at home on Saturday night and travelling up Sunday morning which does mean a VERY EARLY start... about 4:30am (5 hrs before race start!!) which isn't brilliant but then you never sleep too well the night before anyway so perhaps shouldn't matter too much.

anyway thats enough ramblings from me... hopefully my next post will start by saying I BROKE 3:30!!! :-)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Aldbury Cross Country 5 race report

It was a spare of the moment decision this morning to run the Aldbury cross country 5 (I was reading Runners World race directory as I sat on the loo :-) but I’m glad that I did as it was a glorious day and a great race.

The route is hilly with part of it on the well known Ridgeway trail.
The first 1\2 mile is a steep climb from Aldbury village up to Ashridge monument. I put myself near the front of the 200 or so runners starting as I knew from 2008 that this first climb is somewhat of a bottleneck if not cleared quickly. Once at the top having passed a few on the way up I found myself quite surprisingly in 2nd place. The guy in front (a Tring AC runner) was pushing the pace about 20 or so yards ahead but not so much that I didn’t think I could match it so I just tucked in behind from afar and settled into my stride.

I half expected those behind to soon be on my tail but as the hills rolled on up so did my confidence. The views from the Ridgeway over looking the Chilterns are fantastic and certainly take your mind off the exertion as did the great support from the many ramblers and Sunday walkers out and about. The Tring runner in 1st place was pulling out a comfortable lead by half way not that I ever thought I could catch him as he seemed so at ease in his stride whilst I was giving it everything I had.

Once onto some tighter twisting trails at around 3-4miles into the race I heard 3rd place behind me as the stile gate banged. I wasn’t surprised... I'm not a 'proper' XC runner and really shouldn't be so high up the field. It was only a matter of time before they all passed me and punished my early enthusiasm. However, 3rd place was alone (great :-) so I told myself just to stick with him for as long as I could. My knowledge of the course told me by this point that there was only about a mile and half to go so I just hung on. The pace was quick but what goes up must come down so we were enjoying the long decent back to the start\finish area after the climbs through out. I could see the 4th place guy by now and kept an eye on the gap but it didn’t seem to be closing :-)

I was so happy with 3rd position as this stage that I didn’t have the will or the legs to try challenging for 2nd. One right turn later and there was the finish line with my wife and daughter waiting for me. What a nice feeling. I was pretty chuffed with 3rd spot :-) I wasn’t wearing a watch so didn’t know my time either. I had run 40 minutes in 2008. The times were posted on the club house; 34:34 for me. A nice boost for next week in London and a podium spot for the 2nd race in succession :-) However something tells me this run of podium finishes may come to an end in London!...but I can always dream ;-)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

ditching the garmin for london

I've made what I hope is a very good decision today which is to ditch the garmin (and any kind watch) for the london marathon. this i hope will allow me to get into a natural rhythm and pace without constantly looking down at the watch to check the pace and adjust accordingly. This can  have the effect of slowing you down too much when you feel good and making you speed up when you don't. So I'm sure this will help a great deal, in getting a far more consistent and natural pace not deditated by technology but by my own body and signals that my toes, feet, calves, quads, and hams will send the brain. This should then allow me to perhaps push on when I feel good and hold back a little when I don't. The proof will be in the pudding but the fact that I run my half marathon PB without a watch last year surely proves something.

We shall see but I'm well excited by this prospect... and the results will be telling...

Saturday, 10 April 2010

LBAC Stag run

it was the monthly stag run on Wednesday at the club. a 2.5 miler (3 laps) blast around the park in LB. I was in the running to lift the trophy if I can keep the PBs coming. The format is based on your previous time which places everyone running on a staggered start. I started third from last out of 31 runners racing (a record number of turn outs for the club stag run!). I never like the beginning where you have to wait your turn and watch everyone else go off first. But the fun immediately begins when you start chasing people down. I knew I was pushing harder than before because of both my breathing and garmin pace. 1st mile in 5:46, the 2nd slower in 6:00 as my enthuasim in the early stages started to show. But I dug deep and continued pushing in the final lap still passing other runners all the way up the hill and over the finish line. the time 14:31 - a PB and 22secs faster than the previous month. I finished 4th and collected 22 pts for my troubles which puts me in pole position to lift the Stag Trophy in the final run in May. But I'm not counting my chickens quite yet and want to put in one last performance, and perhaps another PB.
see full write up and April stag results here -

Thursday, 1 April 2010

london 3 weeks away

With the memories of my first ultra win in the wiggle still fresh I must now start to focus on more pressing matters such as the small matter of the virgin london marathon. i went for my first run today since wiggle nearly 2 weeks ago. just down to the gym for a short work out to see how the legs are. all signs are good so i just need to ease myself back into the 14th week of the 16th week marathon schedule (not that i have really been following one).

i plan to focus almost entirely on pace and speed in the next 2 weeks to ensure that the 8 minute miling planned for london (3:30 finish) isnt a shock to the system. afterall ultras running at 10 minute plus miling are quite different so it will be interesting to see how (and if) i adapt. we shall see.

the plan for the weekend is a 1o miler starting at 9 minute pace and quickning to run the last 5 miles at 8 min marathon pace. Then on wednesday its the club stag run where i will need to bring out the guns and nail it to stay on track to claim the stag trophy. hopefully the weather will be awful so no one turns up and i get an easier time of it. :-)