Saturday, 19 March 2016
The runner in red is Simon who I ended up running with for most of the day. It was good to have the additional motivation of someone nearby - I suspect I would have slacked off a bit more if it hadn't been for the company.
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Apologies in advance to anyone reading this. The main aim of my blog is to keep a record of some of my thoughts and memories of racing - I appreciate that it isn't exactly a thrilling read!
- Thursday: hill reps (faster)
- Friday: 5M easy lunchtime run with a friend
The day of the race was fairly nippy day but I decided to stay true to my northern roots and run in just a vest (well, I wore shorts, trainers, etc, too!). It was a cold start but with a race as intense as a ten miler I tend to warm up a lot... or at least I am so busy feeling knackered that I forget about how cold my hands are. The start of the race was at my old school and it felt a bit weird being back there after so many years. In true Cumbrian fashion, the road just in front of the start line was partly blocked by a lorry transporting sheep - maybe this was just a nice touch put on by the race organisers to add to the atmosphere.
As many races do, the event started pretty quickly, exacerbated by the fact that the first two miles are net downhill. I ran about 5:41 and 5:44 for the first two miles, finally dipping back towards 5:58 in the third mile which had one of the few small rises in the race. I had the lovely surprise of being greeted by my wife (Shayda) along with my nephews at about the three mile point - a great little boost as things were starting to feel hard. My excitement got the better of me again and mile 4 was a 5:48. I started to feel the effort a bit and my pace began to decline - 5:55, 6:00, 6:06, 6:08 for miles five to eight. In the midst of mile eight I received an unexpected boost when a horse I was passing reared up at my causing me to 'sprint' - or perhaps just stagger slightly faster - in terror, and it gave me an adrenalin boost. A slight aside but I highly recommend having your life threatened by a large crazed beast as a means for boosting your race performance. I managed a 6:03 for the ninth mile despite another little hill, and then managed to grit my teeth for a 5:53 final mile... helped by a juicy downhill onto the bridge across the Eden. I finished feeling exhausted but elated, 42nd overall in 59:12. (Okay, those times don't quite add up - I took them from my GPS which was no doubt a little out).
The B2C was the Northern Athletics 10M Championships which I qualified for due to being born in Newcastle, and I finished 20th in that - sounds better than 42nd (which includes several rather rapid women who chicked me) - running a decent chunk under the hour and shows that the previous week's race in Battersea hadn't been a complete fluke, albeit on a course that is net downhill. I was really starting to feel the addiction of this road racing shenanigans, enjoying the challenge of running hard and also the geeky joy of aiming for the next arbitrary numerical milestone. I decided that I'd aim to push down my half marathon time next...
Friday, 30 January 2015
So... I am back running regularly, getting in 5 or so runs per week consistently for a few months. I have started doing one interval session per week and my long term hip whinjury seems okay - it is still there, lurking in the background, but hasn't flared up significantly.
This weekend will be an entertaining test... Having barely run off road since the Transalpine race in 2013, I am heading up for a recce of some of the High Peak Marathon route with Adam, Duncan and, if he can get there through the snow, Andy. The MWIS forecast says there will be winds 40-65mph on the tops with a temperature of -17c with windchill.
Here we go...
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
Or: How I learned to stop worrying and love road racing
True to form, I didn't do this in a very structured manner: I just decided to find a bunch of local races and have a crack. In particular, I thought I'd enter a half marathon, since I'd never done one before. A colleague had mentioned the Ealing Half Marathon so why not?
All in all I ended up taking part in two 10ks, three 10Ms and two half marathons, with a couple of Parkruns, a couple of cross country races and a 24M fell running challenge thrown in for good measure.
Following the Transalpine race, it took a couple of weeks for my immune system to recover from the lurgy I had suffered from during the event. Two weeks of relative rest probably did my fitness no harm, and also gave my muscles, tendons, etc a chance to recover from eight hard back-to-back days in the mountains. From past experience, I have a tendency to injure myself by not resting sufficiently after hard off-road events - I tend to get over-excited and fail to rest - so at least this time I didn't have a choice! I had also had a slight recurrence of the hip and groin injury that had beset me during the summer. This was frustrating and puzzling in equal parts: why on earth had the whinjury been fine during the Transalpine yet problematic on gentle road runs since? (Answers on a postcard to the usual address).
Real life got in the way for a couple of weeks but on 20 October I entered the 10M 'Beat the Hour' race in Hyde Park. I didn't realise until just before the race but there was going to be a pacer running one hour pace. Since I was expecting to run a minute or so slower than the hour, I didn't feel brave enough to take a risk and try to keep up. In the end I finished narrowly missing the hour which rather surprised me - pleasantly! It was perhaps a shame that I didn't have a go at following the pacer, but then it is always easy to think of improvements retrospectively.
Sunday, 29 September 2013
- Type 1: simple, instant gratification - what normal people call fun.
- Type 2: not pleasurable at the time but something that you enjoy looking back at - retrospective fun.
- Type 3: really just not fun at all - the only pleasurable thing is surviving.
In the evening after each stage there was a 'pasta party' which gave everyone a chance to recount stories of the day whilst refuelling prior to a briefing about the next day's stage. To someone who has experience of fell running in the UK it was amusing how strong the warnings were about 'dangerous conditions' on some of the stages. Admittedly there were a few sections with significant drops, but generally with fairly benign underfoot conditions, and the toughest sections were no worse than a Grade 1 scramble. The final part of the evening was a photo and video montage of the day; these really captured the atmosphere of the event and provided a chance to admire the wonderful views some of which were missed earlier on that day due to exhaustion or having to concentrate on the rocks whilst pelting rapidly downhill.
|Cheesy smiles before the start of Stage 1|
|Chilling out after the first stage|
|Grimace for the camera|
|A view of the Stage 3 descent from a cable car|
|Staying in hotels (as opposed to in places like the nuclear bunker [yes, really!]) was a nice luxury and had it's benefits|
|Cruising along in the sunshine on Stage 8|
|Some lovely singletrack during the mammoth 3km+ descent on Stage 8|
Monday, 2 September 2013
Thursday, 29 August 2013
Since Wednesday the 21st it may have appeared, to the casual uneducated observer, that I have been on a holiday based around two family weddings, but actually I have been executing a scientifically calculated taper phase for the Gore-Tex Transalpine run.
This has involved:
- being press-ganged into my first attempts at Iranian dancing [gentle, if embarrassing, cardiovascular exercise]
- flying across the Atlantic twice [altitude training];
- sightseeing in and around Washington DC [heat and humidity training];
- not a great deal of sleep [fatigue training];
- eating my own bodyweight in tasty Persian food [carbo loading].
In the midst of the sightseeing, the weddings and the many 'mehmooni'* I squeezed in a few runs. It was hopefully enough to keep things ticking over and to loosen my legs off, and at least I shouldn't be over-trained when the race starts! It was great to meet more of my extended family and to experience a bit more of the Persian culture. I really should re-start learning Farsi...
So, I am writing this on the flight back to Blighty for an overnight stopover at the airport before flying out to Germany. Things have been so busy recently that I haven't had much time to think about the upcoming race but now the excitement and anticipation is building.
*Iranian parties at which I met approximately three thousand** of my mother-in-law's family.
**This may be a slight Iranian-style exaggeration.