Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A time to glance back & to look forwards to what`s planned ahead.


Wow - 2013 was certainly an eventful year – an amazing year in terms of running performances & smashing those self-built walls of doubt & restrictions . I am absolutely sure that 2013 would have turned out completely different if I had not the support of my family & some amazing friends . Last night I read some of the comments left on my fb wall. I felt very humble reading them again – both in what they said & by whom. I am so grateful for the support.  Thank you.

Some highlights of 2013…. 
- January -
Stubbington Green 10Km – an unbelievable result. I didn`t look at the pace / time during the race. The song “Right here, right now” by Fat Boy Slim in my head pushed me further & faster around the course as I didn't want to waste this shot. Amazed to see a) snow forming on my arm warmers & b) the time on the finishing clock. Garmin time = 00:43:36    

(Monthly haul =  one mug & one PB)
- February -
Frimley Lodge parkrun – An incredible time. Garmin time = 00:21:06 Would I ever get here that time again??
Wokingham Half – A race where I kept my bin bag on for 12 miles due to the terrible weather conditions. Again didn`t bother to look at pace or time till the 12th mile. Splits - 7:36, 7:42, 7:35, 7:42, 7:32, 7:34, 7:24, 7:31, 7:34, 7:35, 7:50, 7:10, 6:58, 0:12 (0.03@ 6:42). Garmin time = 01:38:00
Bramley 20 – A change from the pre-race plan but sometimes a change can work out better. Always going to a be a progressive run but ended not how ever could imagine. First 10 miles in 01:27:57, the second 10 miles I completed in 01:15:30. Splits - 8:47, 9:02, 8:49, 9:16, 8:56, 8:47, 8:56, 8:22, 8:38, 8:24, 7:49, 8:13, 7:36, 7:27, 7:23, 7:26, 7:36, 7:37, 7:18, 7:05 (two folks stuck out in this race – Heather & her running back down the course to tease me about her 10 mile PB time & getting beaten by Paula in a sprint finish at the end).
Moonlight Challenge – First Ultra of the year & first time I listened to an audio book – The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. “Everything is possible if you believe” – wow a new 32.75 mile PB in 05:44:11 – except for the water stops & bag drop I ran every step of the way. Splits - 9:46, 9:57, 10:14, 10:23, 10:24, 10:20, 15:22, 9:39, 9:48, 9:54, 9:30, 9:46, 10:14, 15:06, 9:19, 10:11, 9:19, 9:45, 9:52, 14:16, 9:28, 9:35, 10:13, 9:38, 10:07, 9:41, 15:00, 9:40, 9:52, 10:02, 9:58, 9:56 7:40 (0.92M @8:23). Six hour wait for a Cornish Pasty – thanks Mike.

(Monthly haul = Three medals & four PB`s)

“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of no-where….and sometimes in the middle of no-where you find yourself” – Jim Willett. 
- March -

New Forest 50Km – A birthday ultra and why not!

Fleet Half – Bit of a pacer (not that I needed to) but also in fancy dress – a Santa – huge amount of laughs from the other runners & the crowds were just brilliant.  Great to see friends having great races.

Basingstoke parkrun – An accidental PB of 00:21:05 – You can wish for things to happen but sometimes they happen when you don`t expect them.

(Monthly haul = Three medals, two PB`s & one T-shirt)

- April -

London Virgin Marathon – My first target race of the year. What a day - I have never felt so good in a race. A 12 second PB, a small negative split, `bumping` into a friend at 8 miles – what are the chances of that?? Chip time – 03:39:29 Splits - 9:00, 8:21, 8:08, 8:11, 8:13, 8:18, 8:13, 8:14, 8:07, 8:27, 8:27, 8:22, 8:07, 8:03, 8:06, 8:16, 8:09, 8:04, 9:27, 8:05, 8:25, 8:22, 8:13, 8:50, 7:12, 8:07, 3:50 (0.48M @8:05). What a race, what a day!.

(Monthly haul – Three medals, two PB`s & two T-Shirts)

- May -

Neolithic & Milton Keynes Marathon – My first back to back marathon. A brilliant experience going into the unknown. Neolithic = 04:33:24 & Milton Keynes = 04:22:48 & legs intact = result.

BUPA Westminster Mile – AKA `Fish out of Water` race – a time I still cannot believe – 00:06:05 – My poor legs & lungs!

BUPA 10,000 – A brilliant day out with the club. I always smile at this photo & think of this song. I always thought the film could have done with a Mr Purple!!

(Monthly haul = Five medals, one T-Shirt & one PB)

 - June - 

Endure24 – Gulp - The target race of 2013 - I entered this 24 hour race as a solo but I could not have done this alone – my friends who sent me messages, who came down were simply amazing – I cannot fully express & thank them on how much they helped. 18 laps of 5 miles (90 miles in 24:31:09) = an awesome day.

(Monthly haul = Two medals, one T-Shirt & one PB)

- July -

Elstead `Marathon` - an brilliant race & a great social occasion afterwards.

A couple of new events inc. Olympic Anniversary 5, Try-A-Tri &  Gibbet Hill 10Km – what goes up must come down. One of the few times I`ve `outrun` a dog !!, A `Try-A-Tri` - I know which displace I like.

Thunder Run 24 – A massive highlight for the year – great to catch up with folks & do a bit of running.. An awesome event & this year didn`t disappoint - One word – Mudfest.  6 Laps (37.2M) in 06:05:01 – Will I ever do 7 laps???

(Monthly haul = Eight medals, three T-Shirts & two PB`s)

- August - 

A relative quiet month but did include my 200th parkrun – parkrun `millionaire`

(Monthly haul = Two medals)

- September -

JW Ultra – So close to getting a PB, unsure what hitting the wall actually is but I guess I hit it (you know you are going slow when Swans swim past!) – 30M in 05:00:51

(Monthly haul – Three Medals & an awesome `JW Ultra` luggage label & keyring)

- October -

Bournemouth Marathon – An unbelievable hot day – who gets sun burnt in October in Britain?? Garmin Time - 04:15:19

Caesars Camp 50 – The last target race of the year and sadly the last Caesars Camp event ever. My goal was to finish the 50 miles within 12 hours & see the `Midnight 30` runners off.. again I wouldn`t have done this without the help of my friends – thanks. I got back in 11:51:55 (8 mins 5 sec to spare). This ended my long runs for the year – 5 marathons & 5 Ultras (total 29 which includes 14 ultras).

(Monthly haul = Two T-Shirts, one Medal & one watch)

- November -

Always in the plan to ease back & try some new things, like Cross Country….I do blame TR24 for that.

Two Cross Country meetings with 2nd claim club – Windle Valley. Looks like I`ll be repeating this fun next Winter. Great fun & always good to chase down folks you know & two new events – Loseley Park 10Km & Bushy Park 10Km.

(Monthly haul = One Medal & One T-Shirt)

- December -

Still easing back & running new events – this month I tried out Tadley Christmas XC & Gut Buster 10M – both well worth doing. Also the Boxing Day Run (3.7M) where I just missed out on the `Beer Mile` PB but did manage a course PB….I really must try to balance out the training for next year!!

(Monthly haul = Two medals & One PB)

- 2014 Plans -

I`ve already changed my `A race` of 2014 – now being The North Downs Way 100 (August). In the build-up, as per normal I have entered some great events – doing some from my `Bucket` list (Pilgrims Challenge, Pony Express, Alexandra The Great Marathon & Marathon de la Liberte) & some old & new favourites (Fleet Half, Reading Half, BUPA 10000, Endure24 & TR24) & some new events (Surrey Half, Water Of Life Half & Combe Gibet).

Shall we have another mad year???

Thanks you to all my family, friends & readers – have a fabulous 2014.

Do what makes you happy.



Friday, 25 October 2013

Caesars Camp – The Final One.

Those three dreaded words you never want to see – The Final One – yep the last ever Caesars Camp Endurance Run.  

This event has been instrumental in my liking of long running;

2009 – Midnight 30 – 06:50:24 – Race Report – HERE - 1st ever Marathon & Ultra

2011 – Midnight 30 – 07:19:30 – Race Report – HERE

2012 – 50 Mile race – 13:55:46 – Race Report – HERE 
So come this year I had to enter – I`m not going to lie I was tempted to enter the `100` seeing as it was the last one but the bigger itch won in the end. Even thou last year`s race was a huge step up for me, I was disappointed with the time – I knew deep down I could so much better….. 
So come race day & like most Saturday mornings I was down Frimley Lodge parkrun…..not to run but help out marshalling (those fast boys & girls are just nuts !!!) . Afterwards I nipped back home for a late (& 2nd) breakfast, then chucked a few more bits & bobs in the car & off I went to Caesars Camp….it`s a short trip (3.7M door to gate…not that I`ve ever run that before :-/ ). I got there & was glad the expected parking / HQ problems with the Film crew has been smoothed out (Henk later said that they were most accommodating). I parked up & wandered over to the race HQ to sign in. I saw a few familiar faces & said hello.
My race plan – my preparation for this, had if honest been a bit on the low side, missed a couple of longer runs & only done 3 long runs since June (Salisbury Marathon, JW Ultra & Bournemouth Marathon). I knew from last year that the race conditions would play a large part & the lucky the conditions were so much better. I did have this `A` goal of finishing before the Midnight 30 race started (about 2 hrs 24 mins a lap).  As you fluffed around before the `kick-off` I got chatting to a couple of very experienced runners – it was quite odd to me how these guys were referring to 50 Miles as `doing just 50 miles`  Even thou I felt really confident in myself this was still going to be my 4th longest run ever on not the easiest of courses.
We assembled for the race briefly – which is one of highlights of the event. I looked around and the field of runners & volunteers was just to me staggering with a huge range of long distance / endurance experience on show – but no-one was `up-themselves` - I do love events like that. Anyway after the briefing we had about 2 or 3 minutes – I went back to the car & after a bit more fluffing around I nearly missed the start – opps. It just started to rain - I didn`t bother with a jacket, just a t-shirt, shorts & my trusted arms-warmers & buff hanging off my race belt & my very old Mizuno Wave Harriers WT on – over 700 miles in them. I wore these in my 2009 race - see photo above. I didn`t gained too many places as I was adjusting various bits & bobs and the first few miles we were faily bunched up - which was actually great as the race banter was just brilliant. I caught up with Jerry & Allan – not because I was any faster but only because they, let`s just say `wanted to have a look at an alternative route` - Sorry guys.  To be fair they were not the only ones who missed a turn – I guess I saw it happen 4 or 5 times in the first laps & I too was guilty of it in my 2009 race.
The route is I think well thought out & there are much better descriptions of the course in the many blogs out there but there were so runnable sections, some scrambling places, some places where it easier to slide down on your ar$e than run down & real hard slog it out places.  What I did notice that I was walking at the same time / places as these experienced runners.  As we ran I did notice I was moving quite nicely & soon I was heading to the Race HQ – I guess that local course knowledge made it easier – I ran down the final hill & received a bit of abuse from Henk as I entered the checking-in area.
1st lap – 1:58pm (1hrs 58mins) approx.           
Mile Splits -11:20, 12:23, 10:59, 11:04, 9:40, 11:54, 13:08, 12:08, 12:32, 10:39 
Like previous years I went to the car to have something to eat (malt load) & drink – water, flat coke & lucozade & change of top. I didn`t want to hang around in these `pit-stops` & was soon off again.
The first few miles of the 2nd lap was funny as I was overtaking runners who overtook me at my lap stop. Again I was moving quite nicely & one thing that had changed during this 2nd lap was my thoughts – instead of the first lap thoughts of the past….. what was going on this time last year & the rough months that followed that to happier, stronger, more positive thoughts of what I`ve done since & my achievements this year. I did have more of spring in my step than the lap before. I felt more relaxed..
I think it was in this lap someone said as we were running together  “Why am I doing this??” – I said “Shouldn`t be - Glad I am doing this” and I was. I think we all glad we were there, where else would you want to be on a Saturday than running in the last Caesars Camp race. It reminded me of something I saw recently - `Do what makes you happy`
2nd lap – 4:11pm (2hrs 13mins) approx.

Mile Splits – 20:07, 13:13, 12:34, 11:40, 10:04, 12:45, 14:56, 11:40, 14:48, 11:18.

Again I stopped at the car (after getting zapped) – again a bit to eat (Muller Rice) & something to drink & just a change of top – I wasn`t getting cold so I didn`t bother changing from the shorts but did remember to apply more Body Glide. My feet were ok. I knew it was going to get a bit dark during the end of next lap – I didn`t take my head torch as I wanted to push myself getting around this 3rd lap - it would give me a big boost doing 3 `daylight` laps. I struggled in the first few miles of lap 3 mainly as I ate too much rice !!! We did had the `pleasure` of Henk running towards shouting “Come on run you d*ckheads” Once that indigestion had gone it was a lot easier & I was glad I had food down me. I didn`t quite make it round before it was dark – let’s just say the last 3/4th of a mile was interesting…. 
3rd lap – 6:38pm (2hrs 27mins) approx.
Mile Splits – 21:41, 13:50, 14:19, 13:40, 10:22, 13:44, 14:33, 15:13, 12:39, 12:20

(Jon not being able to count - thanks to Pete for the photo) 
I grabbed the trusted Lenser H7 head torch & rear light, again just a change of top & out into my first dark lap. I had a few stumbles & found some tree stumps on this lap but I was pushing the pace – I knew that I had support turning up back at Race HQ – which was just fantastic – you couldn`t hang around – you may all night but they won`t.  To me the second to last lap is so nice knowing you have to do it only once more. I did fly down that last hill……
4th lap – 9:27pm (2hrs 49mins) approx.
Mile Splits – 23:14, 15:18, 13:14, 15:30, 12:04, 13:00, 17:48, 14:11, 13:25, 14:21,
I was greeted to a mass of folks - Jon, Deena, Rebecca, Peter & the Frimley Lodge parkrun Crew – Karen, Louise, Richard, James, Duncan, Andy & Dave (I hope I got them all there) – I couldn`t believe it so many turned up – I was glad I was having a good race. I felt good but also bad that I couldn`t hang around & chat. I nipped to the car, changed my top, had something to eat & drink & grabbed my spare torch (rather than fluff around with new batteries) & said hello & good byes & off I went – gutted I wanted to chat but I couldn`t as I had to this lap in less than 2 hrs 30mins …. Ok back to the 15 minute milling to get back in time. I had just missed out on a PB at the JW Ultra – missed it by 6 mins & dropped 10 mins in the last 3 miles – I did not want for that to happen again & finish the race at 12:06am.

One really good thing was that my Garmin was exactly 1 mile ahead when I left for the last lap – I guess I hadn`t parked my car that close again. From the previous laps I knew the 1st two miles I was going to be slightly behind on time – but knew I could make the time up in the `runnable sections`  - I was Garmin watching a lot. I was still feeling great. I saw Karen, Andy & Dave at the `half-way hut` – again which was a huge boost. After what seemed only a few seconds I said my farewells to them & thanked Dick & his crew for being there & for each year I had run & reminded him that he was the first person who congratulated me when I ran my first ever marathon back during the 2009 race – I did say his race was a little too much for me (Grand Union Canal Race – 145 miles) but hoped to see him soon.
The last time around the lake & thank goodness the last time up the `incline` at around 6.5 / 7.5 (never enjoyed that section too much), over the cattle grid then up & running again, over that last style & down the narrow track. The cows had moved on ! As the miles ticked off - I seemed to get faster & faster.. I hadn`t really seen too many runners, I past a couple who looked to be doing ok..I was into the last mile now..I ran up that small final slope & down to race HQ, over the grass corner & ran towards the finish. I raised my hands in salute – I couldn`t believe it…I had done it & felt really strong.

My time was 11hrs 51 mins 55 secs
J and I had enough time to catch Henk`s race briefing for the Midnight 30 boys & girls before they were off. I wished Nikki well on her race. 
5th lap – 11:51pm (2hrs 24mins) approx.
Mile Splits - 21:11, 16:08, 16:22, 14:24, 13:34, 11:40, 17:16, 15:46, 13:07, 14:49, 11:32, 2:25 (0.22@ 11:02)
(These are rough lap times as I managed to clock up 1.22M over the race)
I stood around chatting to Karen, Andy, Dave & Richard for a bit but then got quite cold & headed off to the car to throw warm clothes on. They came over which was great. After they had gone & I went back to the race HQ & thanked everyone who was around & off I went.
What a brilliant event these Caesars Camp Endurance Runs have been & cannot thank Henk enough for his hard work over the years.

Pleased that this performance was good as it finishes off my long runs now for the year –  5 Marathons & 5 Ultras. Scores on the Doors = 29 (15 + 14).
Next up – some fun…ok, some much shorter fun.       Some Cross Country fun to be precise - earlier in the year I joined (as a 2nd claim) – Windle Valley - another local club but they run the Thames Valley Cross Country League & the 1st race starts on the 8th November so hopefully I`ll be fully recovered & raring to go for that J but to get back into practice it`s the Halloween 5 & Loseley 10Km next week.
My longest run now till the end of the year will be Gut Buster 10 on the 29th Dec – yes I have ditched my Gosport half place.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

What no splat the rat – Mortimer 10Km.

A quick catch up…a week after the JW Ultra I find myself heading towards a local 10Km & if someone says "It`s a village fete 10Km" then I think this is the closest you will ever get to an event that fits that bill - The Mortimer 10Km - it has bouncy castle, stalls from local charities - didn`t see `a splat the rat` stall though L 3Km kids race, great 10Km course, enter on the day, loads of room from parking etc - it`s brilliant. Myself & Dennis get there early, grab a coffee & watch the kids race goes off, I go for a mile or so warm up & then catch up with folks from the Basingstoke parkrun who are out in good number.

The race plan - well was a bit difficult to predict as I didn`t really know what my legs would do so soon after the previous week`s 30M - maybe 47 mins. My only previous run here was in 2008 (I know) & I managed one of my first sub 50 mins times - 49:34. The course hadn`t changed - fairly flat for 7Km then a climb & then the finish & the weather was good.. It was good to see other Cove Joggers - Lin & Brian pop over to race this one too.

Soon it was time to assemble at the start, I moved towards the front. The start is about 400 mtrs on the field then out onto the road for a small loop - the grass start makes it like we are in the Grand National horse race - no fallers thank goodness. We do a loop, about a mile going past the many spectators, which is great for the support. First mile - 6.59/m - ok that`s PB pace - opps. The second mile inc a small hill - which I seem to overtake loads of folks - 7:13/m - pleased. I get a bit caught up in a group of runners in the 3rd mile & kind of relax into their pace rather than mine - 7:21 /m - what a rookie !!.

I go through the 5Km in 22:15 or so.

The next mile includes the downhill section & inc running past the spectators (more showboating) - 6:55/m Around 4.25 miles there is the first incline, then flattens out then up again - 7:36/m which wasn`t bad as I seemed to be a `bus driver` - take turns guys !!!` This incline lasts till about 5.5M, then flattens out - I chase the guys who get off the bus & go running past !!!  We head towards the spectators - heads up, knees up, lean forward - 7:26/m & then head into the field for the last little bit & under the gantry.

I stop the garmin at 44:51 - all pretty good, the legs did well. I do have to say it helped that I knew quite a few runners who were either kept ahead of me (thanks Daryl) or I chased down during the race.

I stood cheering on the finishing runners with Marie, I saw some good battles being played out inc Lin & Brian with Lin claiming that one. We waited for Dennis who was bang on time. Afterwards we grabbed another coffee (no cakes thou Richard !!) & watched the prize giving. 

Great Event.

Bit of a plug but Lisa gave me a few huge cheers around the course - Lisa Wilkinson Sports Therapy

Thursday, 26 September 2013

I`ve been down this path before…..JW Ultra III

Yep the 3rd time at JW Ultra for me. As per previous years I stayed at the re-named `Etap` in Birmingham - 15 mins approx. away from the finish if you are thinking of staying there but remember to take your own kettle, tea / coffee etc.. anyway it`s quite nice. Due to Friday night traffic issues I did arrive quite late so with a pre-planned early night I didn`t venture out. Up at early o`clock - after the normal race breakfast - coffee & porridge I was out the door.
Slight change (for me anyway) the Race HQ was at the T.S. Sherbourne - all very nice esp. afterwards when sitting out in the yard in the sun….We jumped unto the coach to take us down to the start at Stafford-Upon-Avon. I sat next to Garfield - her 1st Ultra…how good is that? We got there and had about 40 mins or so before the start - which just disappeared but it was nice to have a brief chat with Suzy, Plodding Hippo & Lady Alton (* Not their real names except Suzy`s). 
We made our way down to the start area..after the race briefing we were off. Like last time I thought around 5 hrs would be good - why because it`s about 10 minute miles which easy on the brain. The first section is not along the canal but as soon as we hit the towpath we soon settled down to our own pace..we past friendly & cheerful marshals along the way inc `2FF` in Stratford - I thought he was running - anyway soon enough we had gone 6M - 00:57:xx - which was about right….
Just before the 8M mark we went across the `Edstone or Bearley Aqueduct` - which is the longest aqueduct in England at 475 feet (See Sharon I do read these route cards).
No Rich K there this year so I took my own photo...

From previous years I remembered the first checkpoint was just shy of 10M (about 9.5M) - I went through there in about 1:30:xx - I just grapped a water & re-stocked my hand held…I was pleased with that time, it was about right, maybe even slightly ahead of schedule of PB pace (4:54:08 - in 2010) & despite my lack of long runs since Salisbury I was feeling ok. I took my second gel around the 12M mark (01:54:xx) - the blister I picked up from the Farnham Half wasn`t bothering me (mainly due to a whole tub of Vaseline being used) also glad I went with the vest & shorts approach. I knew I was ahead of PB time but didn`t have too much to play with……around here I had a bit of a nasty coughing fit - caused by swallowing one too many flying objects - the trouble of running like a basking shark. I did have to stop for what seemed to be several minutes - not nice - esp as I was in a good rhythm too!!
I saw Elaine & Colin around 14 / 15 which was really good as it was me a chance to empty my shoes of stones - one drawback of wearing loose shoes..anyway soon off - cross the canal & quick peek down towards down the Grand Union Canal…
Just around the 18 mile mark I went past a runner who I saw go off at a very fast pace at the start - he had over-cooked it. He asked where the checkpoint was - I said it wasn`t far….opps sorry about that. I got there about 03:14 - `20 miles in & 10 to go`. I topped up the hand held & grapped a few jelly babies & off I went - I got some cheers from the pub - thanks. My PB margin was down (03:14 + 01:35 = 04:49:xx) to about 5mins….despite the miles ticking away I kept the pressure on…but I was seeing a lot more 10:xx:xx coming up..
I hit the marathon mark in 04:14:xx & again I thought "right 3.8 Mile in forty minutes" - just about do-able esp. as the course measures short on the Grmin………then disaster - my legs went heavy - just under 3 miles to go. I had to stop…I thought you are not going to go anywhere being still so I walked - it felt like I was staggering so I jogged. A relay runner came past - I tried to tag myself on the back of him. We went over the bridge where it went `ever so slightly wrong` last time - I looked across & there was a jogger (nothing to do with the race) coming towards us - "Oh been there before" I thought & carried on with a little grin. The next bridge is a biggie…well it is if your quads have gone…I did struggle - it felt like I had to climb a mountain. Time was ticking past…another 00:14:xx mile…..
My PB was gone - my next target was a sub five…I was in the last mile..I knew I was close…was is it about that last mile?  I forgot the legs & ran. I saw 04:58:xx - did I really deserve a sub 5??? I knew the finish was just past the bridge. I ran through the finish & stopped the garmin - I haven`t felt so exhausted in ages - I looked it was 05:00:51 - knickers !!
It was good to see Sharon, Hilary, Elaine & Colin at the finish..& after a while I got my bag & made my way back to the Race HQ - which did give the legs a chance to recover.

Splits - 9:33, 10:44, 8:57, 9:02, 9:11, 9:10, 9:20, 9:23, 9:19, 11:07, 8:51, 9:20, 9:07, 9:55, 9:01, 10:16, 9:46, 9:25, 10:22, 8:14, 10:08, 9:20, 11:24, 10:40, 10:18, 10:26, 11:43, 14:08, 14:10, 8:19 (0.71@ 11:42)

Main Website - LINK (which does include my 2011 blog)

As I`ve read before “there`s no such thing as a bad race, you either run well or learn a lot”….what did I learn?             Basically the same words as when I ran in 2011….`The JW Ultra is 30 miles long !!`
Next up – A bit of pacing a Frimley Lodge parkrun (32 mins) & the Mortimer 10Km, then my final long run before Caesars Camp 50 the Bournemouth Marathon on the 6th October.



Friday, 13 September 2013

Want It Get It …………….

Stockbridge 10Km.
I ran this event last year - See Blog – and I had a bit of nightmare of a race. No excuses I blew it so this year I wanted and knew I could do so much better..
Like most races I got there early & got booked in. I went to a 1.5 mile warm up - along the High Street & past my Aunt & Uncle`s old house - the old Garage now Stokes Of Stockbridge – nice memories. I didn`t venture too far up the hill going out of Stockbridge. As I jogged out to my Aunt new house I saw Sandra & Ian - which is also nice to see familiar faces at races..
After the race briefing we formed up - I was thinking about the race tactics & how it was going to roll out - keeping it steady in the first two miles, before `attacking` the hill (the place where it went all wrong last year) & using the downhill section at mile 4 to `carry` me home….only for my thoughts to be interrupted by fellow Frimley Lodger (& 1st place finisher of the previous day`s Winchester parkrun) - Dave Bush who was jogging out along the Test Way & causing all sorts of `trouble` with our race marshals….
We started & around the small estate we went before heading past the Pub & Church…here I notices that Sandra was just in front …”ok time to back off” I checked the Gamin and I didn`t think 7:22 m/m pace was `too fast` - I gave a high 5 to the marshal holding the gate & back along towards the start finish area - I noted the course was a bit slippy…maybe wearing the Brooks T6`s racers wasn`t the best move in the world !!
We went around the Pub & Church again & out onto `Cow Drove Hill` - I knew from last year this started off flat before a sharp corner & the start of the hill. As I was getting into my rhythm two runners came almost alongside & starting chatting to each other - it was almost they were having a contest who could be the most negative… "This pace won't last", "Don`t know why I bothered entering this race when I know I`m not going to do well" etc etc….. arrgghhh - why be so negative ???? I just thought this is good practice to keep positive despite all of that talk…
Up past the sharp corner & up `the rise` - there was a small group of 6 runners in front - still early days. Pace wise still ok & feeling relaxed. As we progressed up the hill I went past this small group & started to pick off a few runners up the hill. I was feeling great - swinging the arms like a loon, driving forward. I saw the water station at the top and knew it was far till we turned down along the `Test Valley` - I had actually forgotten how much downhill there was and that this first section was almost road rather than trial,…I didn`t look at the Garmin but I knew I was going fast by the numbers of runners I was overtaking…
We hit the trail of the `Test Valley` it was quite sticky - both underfoot & weather conditions as we were under trees. There was a runner in front - about 10 secs & then a pair of runners in front of him - these were my targets . I felt so much better than last year so if I kept the pace going I would be ok… I did think the guy in front was also using the runners in front as `targets` - I tried my hardest to catch him but I wasn`t really getting anywhere…..
Past the Marshal on the gate - another `high 5` - I knew where I was…one final last push I thought…oh make that we both thought. I could see the finish..& went though. I shook his hand & said to him he was my target - he knew….
I looked at the Garmin - so pleased I had kicked into touch last year`s race…45:42 was totally surprising. This is a good race & so pleased I could give it justice.
Splits - 7:24, 7:42, 7:49, 7:14, 7:50, 7:08, 0:33 (0.09@ 6:10)

Next up - This Sunday is the Farnham Half Marathon. Yes a half - I switched from the full just after the Salisbury Marathon when my toe / knee / hip hurt - a good decision bearing in mind next Saturday`s jog along the canal at the JW Ultra.