Thursday, 12 November 2015

It definitely wasn`t a case of `beware of Greeks bearing gifts`

…….as this one is a beauty.

After what seems like ages I`m back running – ok it`s not advisable to jump straight into a Marathon length run but tickets & hotel were booked.

A few steps back as it were – When you complete a race like Comrades you feel invincible however you are not - I needed to rest but didn`t & paid the price. August & September`s total running mileage was huge 76 Miles. I did, however do 444 miles on the bike inc. a 4 ½ hrs sportive.  October was `better` at 61 miles including the brilliant `Back to the Future Day` race – jogged out a ½ Marathon distance run in just under 2hrs 15 mins.

I had entered Athens Marathon for a couple of reasons – Athens is a fantastic City – full of culture, it`s relevantly close, great for exploring before or after the race, it is a great event inc the iconic finish stadium, the crowds are wonderful, the weather can be lovely & hot AND route has hills !!  Plus I had ran this race in 2010 – see race report here. I had also hoped to bag a good Comrades pen placement from it. Flights and hotel wise I managed to get the flights via Nectar points & the hotel ( Novotel Hotel in the Omonia District ) was doing an offer.

I flew out late Thursday afternoon, arrived ok & jumped on the train / Metro heading into the heart of the City. I checked in and after a quick shower I was out to my favourite part of the City – Monastiraki  area.  After a fantastic meal & a couple of Mythos I headed back. In the next day I wanted to explore the City – first stop (but I guess actually 12 or so along the metro) was the Olympic Area. Fantastic structures but didn`t appear to be used. After 30 mins or so it was all the way back down to Port part of the City for the Expo. Eventually found it but despite that locating trouble it was a far better expo then last time and a better expo than I was expecting.

The next day I was meeting Wendy & husband Steve we had planned a nice trip up to see the Acropolis & a bit of lunch – it`s a great way to see the city too. The rest of the day was chill time.

I planned, like 2010 to catch one of the earliest buses so up at 4.15 for shower & breakfast. I had already sorted out my kit. I do think travelling through a big City on race morning is just brilliant – the tingles of excitement building. We travelled towards the town of `Marathon` where we go at 9.00am. I briefly see Wendy & wish her well. I get into pen 4  not that I was sprinting off. I chatted to  Bernice from Gosport Road Runners who was also missing the second XC of the Southern Cross Country league
L The plan was a cheeky sub 5 run (& therefore quality for Comrades) – I had a 4 hrs 50 mins pace band as I wanted to see, maybe in the latter part of the race where I was & where I needed to be to achieve this time.

I knew because of the lack of running miles pacing was the key – as we set off it felt like the whole field was going past me but I kept it steady at just over 10 minute / m. I must of had 15 miles of `feeling of being over taken` - then the hills appeared. To be fair they were there all the time but I think folks ran out of gas a bit. An advantage of running Comrades was that when I looked up and saw a hill or incline I just thought “I`ve run Polly Shortts” and picked up the pace. Talking of pace my mile splits were very constant despite the course profile I had started to pass folks who went steaming passed me earlier. I was taking a gel an hour & the water station was simply – water over arm, water over head & drink the rest.
I broke the race down as a 20 miler as that was when it became a downhill course. As I approached the 20 mile point (3.26 hrs) I knew I had done it as long as I didn`t go too mad on this last downhill section. It was a good feeling to slow things down despite the pick-up of pace. I made sure that I kept hydrated & my salt level up so I used one of my SIS tabs in my hand held which I have to say helped – at least it made a nice change of the taste of just water.

My Garmin had gained a bit of distance so I knew I was going to miss a `cherry on top` target but I have to say all things considered was that the run itself was one best I`ve ever done and yes I`ve have run negative split marathons before – inc my PB @ London).
Ok I had a good day & do not get it right every time but one lesson that needs to be learnt is that good pacing in runs so important. No better feeling that nailing a good long run with a good strong finish.

By this stage I had picked up the pace to around 9 min 20 and overtaking loads – the crowds were brilliant esp if you gave them back a bit of acknowledgement. I can say I
didn`t want the race to end but it did and what a finish – the Old Olympic Stadium.  They had switched finishing sides which I have to say plus all the other little tweaks from 2010 had vastly improved the event. The bag collection area was easier to get to. I quickly got changed and headed back to the stands to watch others finish. It is truly brilliant to just sit there and watch others `win` their particular Marathon battle.

ravo Athens !!!

Splits – 1st Half = 02:16:07 v 2nd Half = 02:15:03

Next up – more strength build up in the form of Cross Country ;-) #LoveMud

Oh got my Comrades Qualifier - Pen G - but do have two Marathons planned next year to bump up a bit. #OffToSouthAfrica #BackToBack

Saturday, 24 October 2015

They say a journey starts with a single step.........................

....but who says that `step` needs to be a physical one ????

I have come to realise I`m an `all in or not interested` kind of guy. Any commitment, idea, goal or dream I have needs to be locked in mentally.

This year`s goal was to finish the Comrades - which I found incredible tough. What I also found tough was resting - I guess the trouble with finishing a race like Comrades was the feeling of being invincible. To my shock I have found I`m not but this has not stopped me from entering next year`s Comrades - yes I`m going back.

For me, to finish the Comrades - 56 miles in 12 hours - was tough & so amazing so to do it again and in back to back years will be a bigger and more difficult challenge. I will need to up my game.

My physical training plan is coming together with some interesting events, with a heathly mix of PT sessions, bike sessions & more Bikram yoga sessions. Most of this starts after I fully recover from my Ab strain, hopefully the double XC season will make me stronger.

One thing I have started on to achieving this goal of mine is my mental training. I was recently lent two books about Comrades - "Bruce Fordyce - Comrades King" & "Just Call me Wally - Wally Haywood!" (thanks Chris) - which I am enjoying.  I AM locking in this dream.

I have just come back from spending a whole day`s seminar with Les Brown - wow what an inspiration & motivating day.

Below are some of my `notes` - they may not make sense to you as I write then today (& may add more) but in the months to come when I read back I`m sure they will & push me on.
  • "Go Big, Stop playing small! "
  • "Hope in the future is power in the future"
  • "Program yourself for success"
  • "Be the best version of you"
  • "It`s not where you start, it`s where you are going"
  • "Want more of those `I can`t believe it`s me` moments"
  • "Push the limits"
  • "Mind-set Resilience"
  • "Choose your future"
  • "Problems are empowerment"
  • "Master something you love"
  • "Picture your Goal"
  • "Say YES to your dreams"
  • "Override that head-trash"
  • "It`s now or never - my dreams can`t wait"
  • "Invest in yourself"
  • "Don`t wait to live your dreams"
  • "Not too impress but to inspire"
  • "Now is the time to live my Dreams"
  • "I can do this"
  • "Have the will to do this"
  • "Courage, Will, Perseverance & Skill"
  • "Speak from the Heart"
  • "Create Experiences"
  • "Run after your Dreams" - yes Les Brown said that to me !
  • "Sometimes you need to believe someone else has faith in you" 
  • "OQP - Only Quality People"
  • "Let Go or be Dragged"
  • "Surround yourself with like minded people"
  • "The Distance between your Dreams and Reality is Action"
  • "Don`t stop believing"

I promise not to leave it not so long before I blog again.

Enjoy whatever you do (esp if it`s XC).

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

If you really want it, you WILL find a way.....Comrades Marathon 2015

Where do I start ??

Firstly I need to thank everyone who sent me Good Luck messages by card, e-mail, facebook, twitter messages – my time-line & feed were filled with wonderful messages of support.
I do thank you. 

Ok & a SPOILER ALERT – For those who don`t know –  I did it, I am a Comrades Finisher J and yes it was tough, bloody tough.

So how do I write a blog on a race that`s really been on my mind for about 24+ months ago. I`m sure it was longer than that but do recall watching the race in 2013 live via YouTube.

Comrades – basically you have less than 12 hours to run about 55 miles in heat on a tough course. To put that into context my previous 50 mile PB was 11 hours 51 minutes (Caesars Camp 50) & my 12 hour PB was 51 miles (Lightning 12) so even to complete Comrades I had to run through TWO tough PB`s BUT what I would say to this now (& indeed other challenges running or not) is DO IT & TAKE THE PLUNGE. Don`t hide within your comfort zone. There`s never going to be perfect time – just do it or you will talk yourself out of it. What`s the worse that`s going to happen??

Training wise I am thinking about collating my training plan on a spread sheet and adding it on here somehow but all I`ll say is that I trained harder (& smarter) for this race than any other race. I wonder if it actually helped by starting off in December a bit injured & yes I had the luck we all need during training. To sum up in figures (& Inc. Comrades) I ran 912 miles & 52,700 ft. of elevation gain – plus all of the yoga, PT Sessions, Massages etc.

Whoever said that Comrades is a Selfish Mistress wasn’t wrong BUT saying all of that & yes it was hard work, tough & tiring but I loved it – it`s not a challenge if you don`t push yourself !!!

The trip itself – I entered Comrades on the day it opened & the plan was to spent time in Africa afterwards & make it more of an adventure than the race itself sadly for this year (I hope) other restrictions applied and I could only go for a short `in & out` trip but what a trip it was !! I booked my accommodation & flights fairly late (End of March). I booked into the Garden Court – South Beach which was nice & full of Comrades Runners but if I go back & stayed in Durban I would move back towards North Beach which is only 20 minutes’ walk along the Beach front away. As for flights you can get to Durban many ways – UK to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to JNB then internal flight to Durban, or UK to Dubai, then Dubai to JNB & then unto Durban – I went for a BA flight from T5 to JNB then an internal flight to Durban. 
The day of the flight and seeing as it was an evening flight I spent the morning packing, seeing my PT Instructor by having a massage & popping over to see my main training partner Debby & Mike – all really relaxing really.

The advantage for me for flying out of T5 is that it`s only 25 minutes away, So later on I checked in & wandered around the airport for a while – I saw quite a number of the UK Comrades T-shirts David Ross had kindly organised . I boarded the aircraft and sorted out my seat for the flight. As I closed my eyes (something I seem do before all flights) an attendant tapped me on the shoulder & said “Hello Sir, would you like to come with me” – I thought “what have I done??” to my relief & complete surprise I was being moved to `Club Class` - thank you so much for that. I didn`t take full advantage of the bar but did raise a glass to you guys.  

I arrived in Durban with hours to spare for my connecting flight & after spending a little while I met up with some other UK Comrade runners in the Mug & Bean for a bit of a natter. The flight to Durban was I think uneventfully as I slept all of the way there  !! At Durban airport I jumped into a taxi for the 350 R trip to the hotel. Well what stunning countryside - I think my mouth was open all the way to the hotel. I checked in & after a quick shower I was off to the Expo. The buzz was electric. There was lots of talk about a pre-race route trip – I didn`t do this as I wanted it to be a surprise. I had an early night. 

In the morning I went for breakfast & even though it was Friday you could sense the atmosphere – it was brilliant.  That day & I didn’t want to wear myself too much I just wandered down to see where the North Beach parkrun would be held the day after. That night I went to the Runner`s World Pasta Party – which was great & listening to Comrades Coach Lindsey Parry which was motivating - we do write our own story.

#parkrunDay – I was looking forward to this. It was a 8:00am start as I got outside & started to walk down the promenade & was simply amazed on how many runners were already running, jogging / walking – I have to say many were not there because of the parkrun but just getting in their early morning exercise.  As I walked down a parkrun volunteer came aside, she noticed my 250 parkrun top & made comment but with that her phone went & she said “Hello Gill Fordyce” – after she finished the call I said “Sorry Gill as in the wife of Bruce?” she said yes & that Bruce would love to see my top. We walked over to Bruce who was getting ready & was introduced. Bruce said without any hesitation that he wanted my top…I replied that he would have to wait J Gill kindly agreed to take a couple of photos.

Bruce wished me luck for Comrades.  I met up with Dennis & the gang and awaited the pre-run talk. I edged towards the front & hear Bruce mention myself & Frimley Lodge parkrun (at last I felt like Darren Wood – aka Mr500 J ).  I ran an easy 30:00 mins with Dennis.  There were 1,245 off runners that day & the volunteers coped very well – thank you North Beach for a wonderful morning. Afterwards it seemed most of the UK runners went to the Mug & Bean cafĂ©. I met up with even more UK runners. In the afternoon I wanted to drop my post Comrades bag into the Expo – at least it`s one thing less to worry about on race day so I got that sorted.

Race Day –

Alarm set for 03.00am, kettle on & moved all my stuff unto the bed…where I noticed the Garmin was already on !!!!! So it was straight on re-charge, dived into the shower & out before I got wet. Prepared my `Oat so Simple` breakfast & thought “hang about where`s the spoon?” – so I ended up eating my Porridge with a stirrer – which took ages!! But apart from that I calm. I left the hotel at 4.00am for the short taxi ride to the start (50 R) – it wasn`t cold but I still wore my Brighton Marathon cotton t-shirt (well it was the race I got my Comrades Batch / Pen position in). I sat down by some steps opposite the clock tower & watched the pens fill – what an atmosphere & still 60 mins to go. The pens close at 05:15 so I got into mine at about 05:00 – I sat down on the kerb & thought about the day ahead, how I trained for this, my success along the way, the best moments in build-up races  – it was up to me now. No-one could do it for me just me. Instead of being worried I just smiled and thought `Let`s do this & get this done”.

As time ticked away & towards 05:30 we all moved forward – and not in a crushing way & we seemed to respect everyone`s room. The music got louder – the guy on the microphone pumped up the atmosphere. We shook the hands of the runner to the right & wished them well  - then we shook the hands of the runner on the left. We all had one goal and that was to finish, some had more than one but that was the aim everyone. I switched on my Garmin & not really knowing how much charge it had but hopefully enough. The famous `Shoshaloza` blasting out – the place erupted, then the `Chariots of Fire` – I actually had goose bumps.  I was hear listening to this live, not via You-Tube but live & just about the leg it for 55 miles – wow wow wow !!!! I will admit I had a lump in my throat.

We moved forward again & then remember my `Crib sheet` I attached it to my number so I could easily read it.  The next sounds we all wanted to hear was the “Cock`s crow” {great story about this – In 1948, at the start of the 8th Comrades a local runner Max Trimborn, one of the 44 entrants that year, couldn`t contain his nervous energy on the starting line. He needed to so something…anything. So he cupped his hands, filled his lungs, and issued a lusty rooster crow. The other  runners so enjoyed this homey touch that they demanded repeat performances in subsequent years. Trimborn obliged for the next 32, sometimes adorning himself with feathers and a rooster vest. By the time of his death in 1985, Trmborn`s crowing had been preserved on tape & still starts the Comrades Marathon – just how fantastic is that?? This is the beauty & charm about this race there are so many wonderful stories}.  Anyway we moved forward, again no pushing & shoving as I went over the line I started the Garmin…… HANG ABOUT – what a muppet, it`s a GUN TO GUN Race. I quickly checked with a runner & it took almost 2 mins to cross the line – ok time is now Garmin + 2 mins. What a Comrades rookie !!!

While it was dark it wasn’t too dark, as we all made our way out of Durban we filled the road – it was a sea of bobbing heads as far as you could see both in front & behind. All you really needed to concentrate on was the cats eyes & any discarded clothes  (talking of which my gloves soon came off – they were nice too – oh well never mind).

The plan was to be between 10 hrs & 11 hrs – but thinking it would be nearer 11 hours.  

My pace band was – 80Km – 00:52:00, 70Km – 02:00:00, 60Km – 03:10.:00, 50Km – 04:19:00, 43Km – 05:00:00, 40Km – 05:30:00, 30Km – 06:44:00, 20Km – 07:59:00, 10Km – 09:16:00, 5Km – 10:06:00 & Finish 10:45:00.

The `Crib sheet`  was just regarding the 5 major hills – they don`t tell you about the smaller hills or the hill with no name….

Cowies – 73 Km (2Km), Fields – 68 Km (3.5 Km), Bothas – 52 Km (2.3 Km), Inchanga – 43 Km (3.7 Km) & Polly Shorts – 10 Km (2.5 Km)

For those that don`t know in Comrades everything counts down – all the KMs markers count down, which I have to say is great at the end but not so great at the start but at least you are fresh. 

The first 35 Km (22 Miles) is uphill – this is not a warning this is fact – the incline is relentless. One of the 10 hrs buses went past.  The 1st of the hills is Cowles – I walked & planned to walk this hills & make up time on the down sections. I felt a surge when I went through the timing mat knowing that phones & apps were going off now – smiling to myself about all those refresh buttons being pressed beforehand – sorry guys. The next uphill section was about 14M & lasted about a mile – this incline was brutal, not only was it sharp but the contour on the road was incredible – I felt the strain all the way down my left leg.  We got the summit – I say summit as still goes up but the sharpness is less.  The 1st 11 hour bus goes past… head drops… 

The support along the roadside is amazing, the drinks stations are fantastic. The difference between the richer & poorer areas along the route is so distinctive – so moving.

Another 11 hour bus goes past, then what seems to be only a few minutes later the 11.30 bus goes by – my head really drops as I`m not even half way & I`m way behind schedule. I try to join the bus but it doesn`t seem to match what I need i.e. runs in the wrong place, walks in the wrong place, the drink stations are too busy.. I soon get off – I guess you need to join them from the start rather than go off too fast and then join. I see it disappear down the road. So I look at the views instead – they are spectacular. I would love drive the course with a camera. I decide there and then that “Yes I`m behind schedule & got the pacing wrong & that I might get timed out but this is the Comrades Up Run & it`s meant to be tough but there was no way I am pulling to the side of the road – the recovery bus will just have to run me down”  The next water station I put small chunks of ice in my hand held water bottle along with a High 5 tab  (it was like a slush puppy) & put a huge bit of ice under my cap & I picked my feet up. It was like in Rocky where he gets told to win by Adrian - I got my second wind. I thought if I get timed out let`s just see how far I can get – my target was 50 miles & to beat 11 hrs 51 mins.

I ran to Arthur`s Seat & I placed a flower & wished him well – I didn`t have a smoke but I did have my 3rd (& final) gel – I had more but didn`t really fancy then.  Later on I gave a couple of the double expresso ones away to the kids along the way – Hope they liked them.

I saw a sign saying `35 Kms` to go and thought that`s only 7 parkruns to go I can do this ….& yes I did count each one down. I later saw Hideo sporting his Dorking & Mole Valley AC vest, who was completing in his 16th (who also stopped for a trip into McDonalds on route - fantastic) we tagged each other for miles which was fun - if I say we tagged each other 7 or 8 times I think that`s an understatement & I did appreciate his help. We later worked out that we both run on the left, I spent more time at the water stations – I did have a hand held (which I highly recommend) & on the day I`m slightly quicker down-hill. I could hear him doing his tour guide bit telling folks it`s all downhill now as we just cleared the highest part of the course.  21 Kms to go – only a I have half marathon to go & most of this was downhill.

It is a great feeling & a huge turn around that I`m chasing rather than being chased – yes I`m tired but feeling generally ok & moving well. I was still chasing that 50 Mile `PB` which I`m think it going to right on top of a Polly Shorts…..I go through 50 Mile in around 10hrs 32 mins (Note to self-go find a 50 Mile race – late edit – Found one J ).  Polly Shorts is a real climb – all I wanted to do is run but I don`t as I seem to have this walk / run & water station strategy right so I carry on with it. 

Less than 6 Kms to go – I`m loving it. I`m waving to the crowds (ok trying to get the blood down from my hands) they wave back. I go past loads of runners – some I even recognise from earlier in the race.. I get photo-bombed – we did have a laugh. It`s funny how you remember the stupid parts of a race.  They sneak a couple of more hills in..  In the last two miles now. I see quite a few runners with cramp but they are still moving forward – which is the key – don`t stop. I near the stadium – the noise is intense. I raise my arms up, acknowledge the crowds.

I am running inside the stadium now – yes me – thank goodness I`m wearing my glasses. In one way I wish you could bottle this feeling but I guess it`s better if you earn it. God knows how fast I`m running – feels like I`m 5 minute milling. I want to finish but don`t want to finish – I want this moment to last for ever.

I see the finish line – it`s a wonderful sight, I go through & received my medal, Ok I missed the bronze medal but I still get the best medal I`ve ever received – a Comrades Finishing Medal (to be precise a Vic Clapham). I thank as many of the volunteers as I can & make my way through to the International finishing  area.  

My Splits time & Cut Off`s –

Cowles Hill – 70.9 Km (16.8 Km) – 01:57:40            Cut Off – 02:40:00 = +43 Mins Ahead
Drummond – 44 Km (43.7 Km) – 05:28:10              Cut Off – 06:00:00 = +31 Mins Ahead
Cato Ridge – 30 Km (57.7 Km) – 07:27:58                Cut Off – 08:00:00 = +32 Mins Ahead
Lion Park – 17 Km (70.7 Km) – 09:22:10                   -
Polly Shorts – 7.5 Km (80.2 Km) – 10:32:05            Cut Off – 11:10:00 = +38 Mins Ahead
Pietermaritzburg – 0 Km (87.7 Km) – 11:26:29     Cut Off – 12:00:00 = +33 Mins Ahead

Useful information about Comrades – Make sure of your Comrades medal & this Comrades, the ALSORAN way Link

Post Race

Yes I was fortunate - I got my pacing wrong, I totally under estimated the first 35Km but I had the luck in the race as well as the training – many a good runner didn`t get this & didn`t make the line (starting line & the finishing line).

I walked through the Finishing area, collected my bag & wandered over to where most of the UK runners I knew were. As I was putting warm clothes on I switched on the phone & while I think I’ve felt most emotions life can throw at you but I cannot recall ever feeling so overwhelmed by reading messages of Support & Congratulations as I did when I was sitting there.  I will treasure that memory for a very long time.

I sent a tweet which I had been thinking about for ages – “I am a Comrades Finisher #BestTweetEVER”. 

I sat there not really saying too much, eating or drinking – just grinning like a loon but eventually I wandered over to where the Buses where to take us home.  I got a bit of luck here too as my Coach instead of dropping me outside another Hotel of a similar name stopped right outside my hotel. #Result  I had a quick shower & hit the bar.

The next evening David Ross had organised a meal – what a great end to Comrades.

I flew back the next day. Hardly surprising I slept on the short flight to JoBurg, I didn`t have to wait too long for the connecting flight. I boarded the Aircraft I sat in my seat, as I was sitting there I`m sure I recognised a person a few seats up but didn`t disturb her. A flight attendance tapped my on the shoulder and asked if I had run Comrades, I said yes & she said “Oh well done, will you come with me please Sir” – Once was amazing but twice – I was totally gobsmacked. Again I raise a glass to them both  – such a kind & wonderful gesture (I did hear a wonderful story afterwards too). I have to say as soon I put the seat back & my feet on the foot rest I was asleep & slept for most of the flight. 

On the way to the Passport clearance & baggage reclaim I saw the person I thought I recognised and had the chance to say hello – I was right it was only Ellie Greenwood – last year`s Ladies Winner & this year 6th place Lady. She is such a nice person. Sorry rubbish photo.

Monthly stats

Miles = 204.3 Miles (Highest Month Ever)
Time On Feet = 34 hrs 54 mins.
Elevation = 14,783 ft
Highest Weekly Mileage = 65.2 Miles
Longest Run = 87.7 Km Comrades
Longest `Time on your feet` Run = 11 hrs 26 mins (Comrades)
Highest `Back To Back / Miles` = 2 Days / 57 Mins
Races = 7 (North Dorset Marathon, Alton Ten, Windlesham Relays, Hook Ten, Woodlands 5 & a Bit, BUPA 10,000 & Comrades)
parkruns = 5 (Rushmoor, Frimley Lodge x 2, Yeovil & North Beach)
Yoga Sessions & hours = 1 off / 1.5 hrs (Need to do more)
PT Sessions = 2
Sports massages = 3

What`s next –

After training for 6 months I`m going to be seeing & running with load of friends as the Endure 24. I am in a team of 8.

Thank you South Africa

Job Done !!!

………..or is it ???  J

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Comrades Blog...well not quite

but (hopefully) here some `music`........ 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Quick glance back as there something more exciting on the horizon..........

Well it`s true isn`t as I`m not going that way but I do have to say April was a great month.

Monthly stats  - when I said from last month stats "Please Sir, I want some more" I didn`t really expect to be that close.

Miles = 186.9 Miles
Time on Feet = 29 hrs 16 mins
Elevation = 10,273 ft
Highest Weekly Mileage = 50.4 Miles
Longest Run = 27.09 Miles (London Marathon)
Longest `Time on your feet` run = 3 hrs 50 mins (Brighton Marathon)
Highest `Back to Back Days / Miles` = 6 Days / 48.6 Miles
Races = 3 (Compton Downland Challenge 20, Brighton Marathon & London Marathon
parkruns = 3
Yoga Sessions & Hours = 2 off & 3 hrs (2 x 90 mins of Bikram Yoga) (Note to self - do more)
PT Sessions = 1
Sports Massage = 3

Highlights = Three fantastic races - everyone should do the Compton Challenge, it`such a great event & what stunning views - a `something for everyone` course too. Brighton - well you can read about that here. How can I sum up London Marathon, well I didn`t take my foot off the gas as I did in Brighton & got the job done in 03:46:40 (v Brighton`s 03:50:36) - it was a spectacular day in the Capital esp with the `Paula` effect.

I always said I need to be in `PB` shape for Comrades and while I`ve not seen any `PBs` against any of my race times in this campaign (most were set two years ago) I will take where I am now as I`m there or there about plus a bit older - sometimes about how you feel with yourself & how the race went or where you are in the big picture rather than getting that `PB` sticker.

What`s plan for the rest of the month - One more last long run this weekend at the North Dorset Marathon, then a more visits to Casears Camp just to get some strength back & an old favourite the Hook Ten, more Bikram Yoga....oh and the World`s largest & oldest Ultra - Comrades :-)

Tactics for race day - Re-reading advice from previous runners - Ian Sharman & chapters from `Make sure of your Comrades Medal` yeap if I`m not our running or cross training my nose will be in a book.

"The human spirit can handle much more than we realise, It matters how you are going to finish. Are you going to finish strong?" - Nick Vujicic


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

On Top Of The World....

Brighton Marathon.

I entered this one last April before I firmed up plans for Comrades as everyone was talking about it – all good, well except the `Power Station` part !!! As my plans for this year unfolded & took shape this weekend would be an important pin. I wanted to qualify early for Comrades (which I did at Portsmouth ~ 4:20 – 4:40) but wanted to push (without breaking myself) for a better Batch (Pen) placement.  I had a go & just missed an improvement at Dover Marathon (4:22) so this was the next attempt. I didn`t really want to push myself at London & North Dorset is hilly but I had those in my back pocket if I had to.

On race day & I had decided not to travel & stay down there.  I was kindly driven down my the Fudges who were there in support of #CoachFudge team, runners from Windle Valley, Frimley Lodge parkrun & I`m sure every other runner that ran past – thanks again for the lift down & thanks to Darren for the 5:50am pick up.  We got there in plenty of time – I didn`t see too many signs for the University car parks but there again I wasn’t driving. Jumped on bus & met the famous `parkrun tourist party bus` team from Reading which was nice as I got to chat to them. The bus dropped us off very close to the near the start & we said our farewell to the Phil who was in the elite start. I didn`t need the loo so I had loads of time to chat.

I was off in the Red pen and after a few adjustments in my kit after my little warm up run I made my way into the starting pen where I met up with fellow Frimley Lodge parkrunners – Alex & David.
The plan was 03:55:xx OR 04:15:xx and anything else would be just a good day in the Sun – I wore a 4:00 hr (9:09) pace band as I could see where I was all the time against that plan – very useful things those pace bands.

Anyway after a couple of minutes after the starting hooter we were off. The start was interesting esp the slight climb & decent where runners went off to fast & paid the price. I managed to see the `Pink` wave go off as I circled round the first lap. I did actually find the first 5 miles really enjoyable – the crowd support was amazing – folks everywhere (inc Gobi –
who seemed to be everywhere). On the slight climb through the town I found myself running with fellow Cove Jogger Luke we both commented that last time we ran a marathon together it was the `hot` one at Bournemouth - I took a gel every 55 mins – also a couple of sips of water (I do have to say I`m a fan of those paper cups). I do also like course where you can see the faster runners coming along on the other side and Brighton course is a great one for that – the leader came flashing past – no-one near him. We saw the lead Ladies. I saw David Ross (Comrades) followed by Phil (#CoachFudge & Frimley Lodge pr), Kate chasing a sub 3 and Big Pete both from Winchester, also spotted Lisa from Fleet . Also a fast Fetchie I chatted to at the start.

Now not one to study the course I was taken back by the out & back route at 8.5 / 9.5M but it was useful to see who was just behind. As I start the hill I saw Abby & Ben & just behind was Richard all in fine form. At this stage of the race I was slightly ahead of target time – through 10M in just over 1hr 25mins. I did think this section (8M – 14M) was a fast part of the course (best mile was 13M at 8:06 min/m).

Through half way in 01:52:42. Just after this we went down another out and back part – again enjoying this part. I got a massive shout out by the `Andover Crew` at 16M / 19M (through 30Km in 02:39:26) and out along the beach road again.

(Me at Mile 19 - photo thanks to Bob Fudge)

I did still feel strong here – I guess all those long runs in the hills are paying off. The pace did start to drop around the 21 mile mark - I had really expected this as yes done the long runs (530 miles this year so far) but no tempo runs and for a good marathon you cannot skip important parts of the training but I kept moving forward – I knew apart from a disaster I would bump up my batch (pen) position.

Just before the mile 24  marker I walked through the water station (good job the wasn`t an ice cream seller there).
So with 2 miles to go no sub 03:45 but maybe a sub 03:50. I have to say I did take my foot off the gas as it were – I don`t really want to do that again but I guess I was just `saving my legs` for London.  I saw Paul Sinton-Hewitt near the finish – what a good place to watch the race - and dropped down onto the beach front and through to the finish.

I finished in 03:50:36
so race plan A achieved – I am running Comrades from Batch (pen) C.  I am delighted in that.

One stat I did notice before Brighton Marathon was that according to Strava that I had managed to run 33,307 ft of elevation this year – now Mount Everest is `only` 29,029  ft high so in a way I am `on top of the world`.

Next up – and apart from a rather special parkrun at Frimley Lodge the Saturday (a double `250` celebration) it`s that London thing. 

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Follow the Yellow Brick Road.....

I do enjoy March, it is such a great month for putting in some good solid miles & normally loaded with races - well this year did not disappoint. It was also time to shift the focus from the trails & unto the roads.

Miles = 188.7 Miles 
Time on Feet = 29 hrs 19 mins 
Elevation = 10,102 ft
Highest Weekly Mileage = 62.2 Miles
Longest Run = 26.9 Miles (Port Of Dover Marathon)
Longest `Time on your feet` run = 4 hrs 23 mins (Port Of Dover Marathon)
Highest `Back to Back Days / Miles` = 6 Days / 62.2 Miles
Races = 6 (Yateley Hockey Club 10Km, Leith Hill Half, Kingston Breakfast Run 16M, Fleet Half, Port Of Dover Marathon & Tempest Ten)   
parkruns = 3

Yoga Sessions & Hours = 6 off & 9 hrs (6 x 90 mins of Bikram Yoga)
PT Sessions = 3
Sports Massages = 3
Swim = 1 km (30 mins)

Highlights =  It`s been a great month, recording my highest monthly mileage ever (closest was 181 M back in Jan 2010). I also managed to tick off a run I thought of years ago but never managed it till this year. The run was a bit of a warm up to a very local half Marathon & complete it in a good time - I ran the 5 miles to Fleet (42mins) & completed the Half in a progressive time of 01:46:06. A fantastic run at Kingston.  

Conclusions =   As Oliver said..."Please Sir, I want some more !"  

Comrades Connection - Yellow Brick Road is Toto & this.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Breakfast at Tiffany`s…………….well Breakfast in Kingston really.

When I put my Comrades training plan together it was always on the `shew-whiff` basis by being hampered by `that` tight  hamstring so no normal speed sessions or tempo runs planned in but the main emphasis being on endurance (miles & miles) & strength-work (hills & hills & PT) and stretching (hours & hours of yoga & massage) & making up the rest was listening to experience – both from self & others, belief in myself, bit of luck and all bounded with a heavy splash of fun.

Well a fun part came this weekend at the Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run There was 3 distances – 8.2M (one lap), 16.2M (two laps) or a new 20M (a two & half lap course) - I opted for the 16.2M run.  When I first saw this it literally screamed progressive run but at what pace? There were pacers there – 6 minute, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12 (the 6 min pacer was apparently on a bike).

It was a nice & early (start time 08:30am) & on the way over I bumped into Matt – good to briefly say hello. I parked up & as I was dropping my bag off I chatted to Mike from the Club (Windle) who had just got back from hols & made our way to the start line – literally all  metres away from each other. The course itself was flat & basically through the start / finish, over a bridge, along the River past Hampton Court , over another bridge, out towards Hinchley Woods and along the river towards Kingston.  I opted to start & cross the line with the 10 min pacer and then catch up the 9 min pacer – chase the pacer - a similar plan when I did the Basingstoke Half last year but not straight away – kind of  a `8, 4 + 4` plan.  I settled nicely into pace with the slowest three miles in the first four miles.  I took two gels – one on each lap but no water during the race. The water stations & the wearing of earphones (narrow footpaths on the inward trip) were to me the only areas of concerns.  As we headed back towards Kingston I could feel the pace increasing.  I turned left past the start and out on my second lap. It was nice to increase the pace – I felt like I was racing again plus you do get a boost from passing other runners.  I totally recommend progressive runs rather flat out runs. With about 4 to go I saw Steve & wished him well. As I past the final water stop (approx. 13M point) I did push the pace to catch the pacer – I hadn`t seen their flag at all & getting a bit concerned !!! With a mile or so to go when I saw the group – a bit narrow for such a large group.  I caught up and thought well I`ve come this far & might as well carry on to the finish and after a while went past.  It is nice to end a solid week training (44 mile week) with a sprint finish & feeling good J

As I made my way through the finish tunnel I was given the largest goodie bag I have ever been given – it was incredible, full of useful stuff too – well done Lidl & well done Human Race Events for putting on this race.  It`s one I`ll do again.

Race splits;

Start – 4M = 00:37:26
4M to 8M = 00:37:09 (halfway turn 01:14:17)
8M to 12M = 00:34:37
12M to 16M = 00:33:06
Finish = 02:21:00

Full Garmin details
Results - HERE

Job done
– had a lot of fun & March`s race number 3 in the bag – only 3 to go (Fleet Half, Dover Marathon & Spitfire 20M).

Saturday, 28 February 2015

My legs are just fine and dandy.....

The marks in the snow;


Miles = 105.7 Miles.
Time on Feet = 20 hrs & 26 mins.
Elevation = 10,266 ft.
Highest Weekly Mileage = 57.1 Miles.
Longest Run = 32.5 Miles (Punchbowl `Marathon`)
Longest `Time on your feet` run = 7 hrs 25 mins 43 sec (Punchbowl Marathon).
Highest `Back to Back Days / Miles = 5 Days / 57.1 Miles.
Races = 2 (TVXC - Thames Valley Triathletes, Punchbowl Marathon)
parkruns = 2

Yoga Sessions & hours = 2 off & 3 hrs (2 x 90 mins of Bikram yoga) 
PT Sessions = 2
Sports Massages = 1
Bike Miles = 0

Highlights = A fantastic end to Cross Country seasons - managed 4 races. Also managed some time off with an excellent 8 days skiing - stats; 51 hrs, 177 miles, 95 runs & top speed 48.4mph.  

Conclusions = It`s all about the hills.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

The road (trail or treadmill) to Comrades - it`s an Ultramarathon not a sprint !!

Scores on the Doors;


Miles = 132.3 Miles.
Time on Feet = 20 hrs & 58 mins.
Elevation = 7,159 ft.
Highest Weekly Mileage = 40.4 Miles.
Longest Run = 20.1 Miles (Stonehenge Stomp `20`)
Longest `Time on your feet` run = 3:35:36 (Stonehenge Stomp).
Highest `Back to Back Days / Miles = 5 Days / 31.0 Miles.
Races = 4 (Tadworth Ten, TVXC - Tadley, TVXC - Bracknell, Stonehenge Stomp 20)
parkruns = 7

Yoga Sessions & hours = 8 off & 10 hrs inc 4 x 90 mins of Bikram yoga
PT Sessions = 3
Sports Massages = 1
Bike Miles = 0

Highlights = Started off with a double parkrun & run in-between Rushmoor & Frimley Lodge (Thanks to Dave for the tow). The splendid Thames Valley Cross Country meet at Tadley which was a true mud-fest of a XC - fantastic. Planned progressive parkrun (Splits - 8:09, 7:45, 7:22) - encouraging.

Conclusions = Highest monthly running mileage since June 2013 (155). It`s been a good solid month of moving forward & active rest. No speed work but that will come. Good base work done.

"Because you know I'm all about that bass" -  Meghan Trainor.

RIP Graham Petrie.