Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Grabbing the bull by the horns – The OX

Sneaks in…

So many good races & results since I last blogged it would be difficult to catch up & give them justice. So to give a quick summary - Last November I went to Nepal & ran a fantastic event in the hills & trails & hiked the Annapurna Base Case Trail. Then spent 48 hrs in Delhi – amazing place. Unfortunately I picked up a stomach bug  - no details but I managed to drop 8 KGs just like that. It certainly curtailed my Cross Country Season. I treated it like coming back from injury – slow short miles at first which gave my leg muscles a chance to build back up. I couldn`t even picture any fast miles or sadly no elevation until March time.

During that time it wasn`t all training by myself..

January – 151 Miles inc.  Tadworth Ten, Farnborough Half Marathon &  Stonehenge Stomp.
February – 167 Miles inc. Bramley 20 , Wokingham Half MarathonMalta Marathon (awesome Cove Joggers weekend away event).
March – 201 Miles inc. Amersham Ultra  & The Good Friday Marathon
April – 151 Miles inc. London Marathon & the re-arranged Fleet Half Marathon.
May –  112 Miles (so far)

Elevation - 39,528 ft

I would say all of those were controlled runs except the Amersham Ultra where this event was too early - 50 Km in the trails & hills around Amersham was really too much but it was my Birthday.  I did also start the South Downs Way 50 in early April – I should have gone with my instincts about the elevation & trails on this one & pulled out beforehand.  I managed 27 miles (in 6 hrs) before pulling out – no real damage except for missing toenails. Should have gone with road shoes really. My altitude to that was that there is no such thing as a bad race as I leant so much in those 6 hrs.

At the start of March I introduced intervals in my training – proper interval training now. Very privileged to be running in a group organised by Paula Fudge.  The group is fantastic and it`s held locally - lucky enough to be `warm up warm up` distance range. The sessions are mixed around which I like and the actual sessions I seem to be able to handle – legs do not always appreciated the Caesars Camp hills the next day though.

With all this mind the targets this year &`A` races included – solo running at Endure24 and Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach 100 Mile run in September.  London, despite the warm day was a good steady paced controlled run. With Endure24 in mind I really had to do a 50 mile run (which is why I entered and started the SDW 50). After my DNF (only my 2nd) there I entered the Ox50 race. An eight lap 50 mile event near Salisbury – prefect testing arena for Endure24. I also dropped a Marathon run (North Dorset) in the build-up week and went for elevation instead.

So to the Ox50. My last official 50 mile race was the Caesars Camp 50 back in 2011 – I completed CC50 in 11hrs 51 mins but did beat that time and running further during both Comrades. I think I ran 9hrs 30 mins for first 50 miles in the down run in 2015 so based on that I knew I could beat my PB at the OX but 50 miles is a long way and anything can happen….

Arrived late afternoon on Friday I pitched what could be my Endure 24 tent set up. Small tent, Food & Kit tent & gazebo tent. I did not have to wait too long until Richard Boese turned up & pitched his tent. The race start finish was away from the campsite area which made it interesting but hey you cannot control something that you cannot control – control the controllables as I heard Tom Evans say . My first time at one of these `White Star Running` events – they do have something for everyone (but like the course itself), Friday night there was a 10Km, Saturday was the 50M & a 12 hour event (which most were using as a marathon) plus a relay race, Sunday was another 10KM & a Half Marathon. My only interest was the 50M and to be honest I wanted to race (as much as you do when it`s 50 miles). The weather wasn`t brilliant on the Friday so Saturday was going to be even more interesting….

As it happens the weather was prefect – slightly chilly. My race plan was like most of my races I had broken down – laps 1 to 4, then laps 5 & 6 & then lap 7 & then the final lap – a lap of honour. One thing which was ticking away was that the course & distance didn`t really tie up – 4 laps equals a Marathon and 8 laps equals 50miles……. Ok we’ll see what happens… (as it happens each lap was 6.7 miles).

I had gone with the Hoka Speed Goats 2 (one whole size up). For laps 1-4 I started off in my `Round the Guernsey Island` race top plus arm sleeves then after completing the marathon distance a quick wash and change of top. I completed the 4 laps in around 4.45 / 4.50 hrs and feeling fresh – this is where I expected to be during the SDW50 not battered and bruised. Right half way and I felt good. I put on one of my Caesars Camp t-shirts and grabbed the ipod. Now I have in the past run listening to audio books, motivating podcasts or high BPM music – today`s motivation came from Chris Tarrant Ultimate Summer Party Album (amazing what is on my ipod..) it did the job as soon enough the next two laps were done. A quick wash & change into a Comrades vest – well time had ticked on and it was the afternoon now. I also used during this 7th lap my sticks – I thought that during Endure24 or the Stagecoach run I would NEED then so it was about time I practised using them during the back end of an endurance race. That 7th lap went really quickly and soon I was at the start area dropping off my sticks & fishing out my Club vest for the final lap. I have to say it was a weird feeling knowing you are running quicker than PB pace despite being a hilly course & still feeling good. It was clear that the course distance would be around 53 or 54 miles. I ran through the 50 mile mark on my Garmin at 10:01:05 – so close and still hadn`t gone past the half way feed point. Talking of which and thought out  the whole race I hadn`t eaten ay of my own food (which was much the same & what I`ll be using at Endure24) but replied on the snacks and nibbles on offer – this worked out ok as it certainly cut down the amount of fluffing around time I seem to generate during a lapped event. The last half lap came round so quickly – it`s amazing how the body can work. Soon enough I found myself on the last field sprinting to the line….ok not really sprinting but in my head I was.

Finishing time = 10 hrs 45mins 56 sec (Garmin distance = 53.7 miles & 6,093 ft elevation).

Job done.

Lap 1 = 1 hr 6 mins 18 sec
Lap 2 = 1 hr 12 mins 50 sec
Lap 3 = 1 hr 16 mins 30 sec
Lap 4 = 1 hr 23 mins 6 sec
Lap 5 = 1 hr 28 mins 42 sec
Lap 6 = 1 hr 29 mins 16 sec
Lap 7 = 1 hr 28 mins 51 sec
Lap 8 = 1 hr 20 mins 38 sec

Results – Full Results

Garmin -

If you get the chance to enter a White Star Running event then do so. The relaxed atmosphere so helps to a good race day performance.

Next up – well going with the flow esp. in these last few weeks before Endure24.. I would say I`ll do more yoga but maybe not with the state of my toes..

Sunday, 2 July 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words.....

So here`s a three thousand word blog :-)

May still write an Ironman 70.3 blog as pleased I did it & a great experience.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Well hello....

.....has it really been nearly two months….opps

Anyway what have I been up to? Well after the Exmoor 50Km I needed some down time so early November was a combination of rest, parkruns & Cross Countries. Mid November also saw my last trip to the pool & also my last ride on the bike (note to self – that`s too long for both bearing in mind what`s coming on this year).

The End of November was a long awaited trip to Cyprus for the fantastic Cyprus 4 Day Challenge. This event had been on my wish list for ages – I guess since I started running – I wasn`t disappointed. We stayed at the Coral Bay Hotel which also was the Event HQ which made this a lot easier. The 1st race was a 6Km time trial with runners going off in alphabetical order 10 seconds apart. The next day was the 11Km Hill Race – I loved the 1 km that went downhill – it was a brutal uphill race but stunning scenery. Day 3 was the Half Marathon – another great course with the 1st 3Km going up, then 3Km downhill (some nice 7 min milling there) then following the coastal paths till the finish. The last race was a fast, yes fast 10Km around the town of Paphos – I was really pleased with a time of 00:46:45 but closer to 45 mins would have been amazing. There was a Half Marathon in Paphos just a few hours later – I do think it`s possible to do that one too – maybe next time J Great week away – getting in some sun, being with other friendly runners from all around the World with well organised races & staying in a great hotel.

December is normally my quiet month with less than 100 miles, BUT I had seen an nice event over Christmas week that looked good. It was the White Cross 50 Km Ultra, along the South Downs which was too good to ignore. My week away in Egypt was great – they had a wonderful gym with a couple of new treadmills (next year remember to get a Garmin foot pod). A couple of training laps around Caesars Camp when I got back & the now traditional Boxing Day Beer Run finished off my pre-ultra-training. Ok it wasn`t going to be a fast one but my legs should hold up against the lumps & bumps of the South Downs. It was a great event – very relaxed. The route for the 50Km option was 3 legs of a Cross so plenty of opportunities to see other runners coming the other way (the 45 mile option covered all four legs of the Cross). A cheeky sub 6 hour finish was pleasing including a downhill road mile at 29M of 07:15 . 

All in all I December turned out to be a 177 mile month & that contributed to a new yearly best of 1,644 miles.

What`s coming up….well continuing getting in the miles with the Winter Tanners 30 – wonderfully hilly & muddy LDWA event (7hrs 40mins) which was more pleasing as I self-navigated around the course. The Farnborough Half Marathon this weekend – maybe not a PB effort J but a good effort nevertheless with 35 other Cove Joggers – not bad for a small club. A couple of  XC races & a return to The Punchbowl `Marathon` & The Grizzly. Fleet Half Marathon & a couple of Twenty milers – Bramley 20 & the Thames Riverside 20 should get me into good shape for the Alexander The Great Marathon (Thessaloniki) – well all these Brighton, Manchester & London Marathon runners can`t have all the fun can they?????

The end of April is the Three Forts Marathon (27M) which should set me up nicely for the Guernsey Round the Island Ultra. 

It`s not going to be all running, running, running as I need to get back in the water & do time on the bike to be ready for a boy`s holiday cycling in Majorca – oh and the 70.3 UK Exmoor (half) Ironman in late June.  After that will depend how that Half Ironman goes…………………but hopefully a full distance one. 


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Exmoor Ultra 50Km - The Perfect Race

Make the reason on why you push yourself so powerful it's impossible to fail.

To me it was the prefect race - it wasn`t the fastest I covered 50Km or even was it the furthest I`ve ran or the best performance but I would not have wanted to be anywhere in the World than where I was running. I really do think I would have come back from anywhere to run, likewise I think I would have run even it`s was a 100 miler it was that perfect.

What made it so perfect that it was on the same day as my Dad`s passing - a date you never forget. The start / finish point would be yards away from where I, despite the years gone by, feel closest to him.

I had been planning to go and run Snowdonia Marathon - voted the best British Marathon twice - the day before but when I saw this event I entered straight away. Luckily my training was going well. The Red Bull Steeple Chase Challenge ( a mad but must do race) also in Exmoor went really well despite the difficultness, my 5Km are sub 22 mins, 10Kms were around the 44 mins mark, 11 mile tempo runs are just inside 90 mins & been enjoyed my Friday long hills sessions at Caesars Camp. Not quite pre-Comrades fitness & endurance speed but blooming close. I did want to give Snowdonia a go (has 2,750 ft. of elevation) as it would have been my last big target race of the year.

I travelled down early on Friday afternoon - after a very stressful & horrid week at work - thankfully there are not too many of those in all my time I`ve worked there. I arrived at my friends parent`s cottage just after 4.30pm & chilled for the evening. Just for fun I watched `The Race` - Story about Jesse Owens (I was saving the `The Barkley Marathon` documentary for Saturday night !!). I had toyed with going to Minehead parkrun in the morning but settled for a trip to Barnstaple in the end. If I return I will remember about the bridge closure and that way ensure my warm up run would be cut in half & at a slow pace. Really nice parkrun & followed the 22 min pacer around for most of the course. Afterwards I recced a bit of a bike course I know but did decide that a hilly 24 mile ride the day before would just be a bit too crazy...always nice time though :-)

So the day itself - and no over sleeping this time - I was up in plenty of time to make the 7am briefing. A small field of runners for the Ultra, maybe 35 of us included Big Peter which was just great to catch up before the off at 7.30am. The two mile or so of the course following the river was on the same route as a run I`ve been doing whenever I`ve been down there (coincidence??) then it was across the moors following my a path but a series of flags.

The last time I saw Peter he was in the front group of three powering up the 1st major hill looking in good form. We had spaced out quite a bit - I think I was around 10th. I was moving rather well. It stayed that way till about the 10th mile (1hr 40ish) where I wasn`t confident of the route direction (better to be safe then sorry & do bonus miles so early on) so I waited around till a group of about 6 came past. We set off and still no signage so I hung back again. The next two runners had the course downloaded on their watches (Note to self - good idea for next time) and confirmed it was the right way. Lucky the next section was a lovely down hill section so I set off in chase mode to catch the 6 or so runners I let though...

At 15.5 Mile or so this amazing steep track that zigzagged up towards & across Countisbury Hill, then we followed the amazing South Coastal Path. When we hit the top there we had a few half-marathons runners going past - I was a bit cheeky and overtook a few going down hill.

Through the 20 mile mark in around 3hrs 50mins and feeling good - I hadn`t eaten much - maybe 2 gels & a couple of jelly babies but I had some food in my vest kit if I needed some. The next section reminded my so much of the Red Bull Steeple Challenge - it was that stunning. When I ran that Challenge race I hadn`t seen this Exmoor race which was another bizarre twist of fate.

My initial pace of around 10 mins per mile had slowed to 12 / 13 min per mile and I went through the marathon mark in around 5hrs 20mins. Lucky we were on our own now. Every now and again I passed a runner or saw one just ahead as the course twisted & turned. I still felt good despite being tired and despite being `alone` I had not needed the ipod.

The last section as I called it was tough as I knew we had to be heading up towards County Gate then sharply down towards Oare. This last 6.3 miles took my 1hr 40 mins and my legs and big toes were totally mashed but I didn`t care.

Ok I had missed by 6 hr & top ten finish I had wished for at the start but that was ok - I had finished one of if not then most challenging races I had done.

Great to see Peter at the end & with a top three finish.

Words cannot really express how I am so grateful that I saw this race & that could run 50Km....

That was for you Dad.

Next up its the Silly Season....no not that but Cross Country Season & the Cyprus Challenge.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

New Adventures….

So has it really been ten weeks plus since that memorable day in Durban !!!

Well it has – so I guess a quick catch up is needed…

June – basic stats.

Run = A total of 44 Miles were run – 20 of those were at Endure 24 weekend & 4 x parkruns.
Bike = 164 Miles.
Swim = 1.2 Miles.

So a real easy month – which is something I learnt from my mistakes last year.

July – Stats

Miles = 135 Miles (Yearly Total = 1,000 Miles)
Longest Run = 26.2 Miles (South Downs Midnight Marathon)
Races = 5 (Elstead `Marathon, Runnymede Relay, New Forest Ten, Yateley 10Km & South Downs Midnight Marathon),
parkruns = 5 off

Bikram Yoga Sessions = 2 off

Sports Massage = 2 off
Bikes Miles = 100 Miles (Inc. Farnham Charity Ride – 50M)
Swim Sessions = 5.1 Miles (Inc. Friday Night - Half Moon Swim

Also attended a Sight Loss Awareness & Guide Running course – yeap I`m a Guide Runner.  

So getting back into it nicely.

What`s new on the horizon – basically some fun events. I have a mile race, `Race The Train`, Pilgrims Marathon, Redbull Steeplechase, Snowdonia Marathon & Cyprus Challenge all planned in before the end of the year.

Also, and before it gets colder a couple of Sprint & one Standard Triathlons.

This really ties up with the main plan - that is to complete a Half Ironman next year -
Ironman 70.3 UK Exmoor (June 2017) to be more precise then complete a full distance triathlon in the following year.

There is a special, personal reason why it has to be Exmoor and with that in mind I recently went down there to see another triathlon event being held at Wimbleball Lake –
Xman Events - Wimbleball – a truly extreme event. I was so impressed with anyone who got into the water that day, regardless if they crossed the finish line later on or not.  The bike course is just horrific – 109 Miles with 3,462 mtrs elevation !!!!

Am I good enough ?? That question I often ask myself when I step out of `that comfort zone` – well I don`t know is the honest answer but if you never ask then you will never know.  

“Having the courage to try is the most important accomplishment of all”

PS This doesn`t mean I`m giving up the cross countries or the ultras – it just means I`m going to have more fun.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Comrades – Alarm bells going off everywhere…….well not quite everywhere !!!

What can I say about `The Comrades Marathon` that hasn`t been said already ??      

It is truly an iconic event which is a must for all endurance runners. It is, for me such a brutal race – 55 miles or so of relentless asphalt with enough camber in the roads to match the elevation gains and all to be completed in less than 12 hours with 5 cut-off`s along the way. Sure the route is supported well but it`s down to you and you alone make that huge personal journey from the start and make it through the finish line in time.

I feel truly privileged & proud to have run Comrades in both directions and in back to back years & to finish within both the new & old cut-offs.

So to recap slightly.

After last year`s race I felt very fortunate to have completed within the 12 hour cut off. I was caught out by the hills in the first 40Kms & going into the race tired. Even before I finished I knew I could do better & I knew I would be back.  So before I put together my training plan I spent some time looking at my past training. This time going for more an even balanced mileage build up & constant hill work in January, February, March & April & more cross training plus to keep the motivation up I would do `30 mins min` a day for Jan & April – any exercise for 30 mins a day. My main training plan was a diluted 24 week 50  mile a week 100M plan from the fantastic `Relentless Forward Progress` by Bryon Powell.

My training had gone well, no real niggles – it is hard to try in a 24 week plan to `simmer` at the right moments & `not boil` over but a hot 55 mile hilly race in South Africa tends to keep you focused.

My brain was full of powerful mantras.

It`s possible

And my personal favourite from wonderful `The Pursuit of Happyness`

Despite the deliberate changes in my plan the Pre-Comrades mileage between the two years was less than 5 miles (819 / 815). My `Pen qualifier` time difference was only 25 seconds. I`d even worked my speed – getting my midweek `4 mile speed` loop down to 00:28:52 a time not seen since 2013.

I have to say I felt good going to South Africa.

I booked the same flights as last year – Wednesday & back on Tuesday from / to Heathrow - Joburg – Durban but didn`t leave it till March to book them. We landed at Joburg and I must admit we did have to get a wiggle on to catch the connecting flight to Durban – maybe bit more of a 1hr 55 min turnaround was needed. The plane to Durban was packed full of Comrades runners inc. Jonas Buud who came in 2nd a couple of years back & is the current 100Km World Champion.

We landed in Durban and got the group bus from the airport to Durban – costing R80, it was nice to catch up with some familiar faces on the bus. I was staying at the Blue Waters Hotel along the main beach road in Durban so ideal for the Up & Down run plus you don`t want too much of a warm up for the North Beach parkrun. I got dropped off & checked in and after a quick shower & change I went straight to the expo - remembering the tag chip from my shoe. I got my race pack & made my way inside the expo. This is the only place where you can buy Comrades branded merchandise – I had planned to bring a lot back. Also on the wanted list was `pace bands` - I wanted 3 timed bands and despite booking a hotel in PMB for the evening before the race I did also wanted to keep options open by buying a bus ticket leaving Durban early in the morning. After about a couple of hours I went back to the hotel. The evening plan`s was to attend the International meet & greet at the Hilton but I thought a quiet night would be best suited.   

On Friday I went on the `Comrades Marathon Bus` route. I was on Hideo`s bus. It was very informative & professional. We stopped first at Comrades Marathon House and then followed the route back from the start to Durban. One sight from last year that stuck in my mind was Ethembeni School – hugely inspirational & very moving.

Seeing as I wasn’t going to run with my phone/camera I planned to take loads of photos of the route inc the `Wall Of Honour` - I had completely missed seeing this during the Up run last year.

It was a fascinating tour & well worth doing but maybe do the run first then go back and do the tour another year. 

In the evening I met up fellow `members` of Runner`s World Comrades forum for a really good meal & natter at Spiga – thanks justanothrrnr for organising.

Saturday morning, well that`s parkrun of course. It was amazing how North Beach parkrun coped with 1,873 other parkrunners – a world`s best for attendance. Oh and a cheeky course PB for me (00:30:18 – 469th place). 

Later that evening I made my way to the Hotel in Pietermaritzburg & the wonderful Ascot Bush Lodge - it is a fabulous place. By accident really I met up & had dinner with Dave & Mel Ross, Penny, Greta, Stephanie, Caroline & Paul which was great. We retired about 9:30pm & I got my kit ready for the morning – I had even remembered a metal spoon for my morning porridge. Now seeing at I wasn`t planning to drop a bag in at the start or take anything back I didn`t bring much with me so I used the alarm on the Garmin & set it to 02:30am ready for the 05:30am race start. 

I must of woken up fairly soon after drifting off and like last year realised my Garmin was switched on so in a daze I must of switched it off……and woke at 04:49am – Yeap 41 mins to race start !!!! Looking back it did remind me of the Four Weddings & a Funeral scene. The hotel staff were amazing & they realised that Mel was still there & woke her up. The Hotel wasn`t far from the start as you could hear the PA / music system. I couldn`t miss Comrades because I over-slept could I ???

We drove down Woodhouse Road until the junction of Boshoff Road, I ditched my `warm gear` in the car. As we pulled up at the junction we saw cars & cars in a tailback `heading` towards the start but not moving very fast at all. Other runners were bailing from cars & coaches left, right & centre and making the rest of the way on foot so I thanked Mel for absolute star & I bailed out here too. 

Looking at `Map my run` afterwards the start / City Hall was 1.7 miles away – lucky I followed a couple of `A` pen runners and made good time – ok not ideal at all doing a warm up at what I think was sub 7:30 pace with an incredibly high heart rate but needs must. I went through the first security gates & could see the pens. I got into the first pen I could (sorry for pen jumping) & caught my breath. I thought to myself “I had my the start” then literally the famous sounds of the Shosholoza came on. I had a huge grin & thought “Right Gower don`t mess this up anymore. This is your day - Start slow”

(I am very close to this person)

After about 3 minutes I crossed the start line –It felt like the whole race went past me in the 1st mile or so but I didn`t care I was running the Comrades Marathon – I couldn`t believe that only 45 mins ago I was still asleep and probably dreaming about Comrades !!!  

Yes I had remember to start the Garmin when the gun went off this year.

After about 3 miles & the first down section I pulled to the side & applied sun-cream (Sachets are wonderful), took my shoes & socks off & rubbed Vaseline around my toes & sorted out my race gear & grabbed a discarded smock but couldn`t find any gloves . I still needed breakfast !!!

The plan was always to do better than last year. Plan `A` was sub 10:30 hrs (Bronze), then sub 11hrs (still bronze) & then if the wheels did fall off it gave me 60 mins to come home for another Vic Clapham medal. I checked my wrists bands & had put the right ones on – 10:30, 11:00 & International Area & settled down in a what seemed a very relaxed pace.  I also had my fitbit on.

Even though I was wearing a 10:30 paceband it didn`t mean too much but only where & what time I need to be. As it happens I was running at the right pace – I hit the 1st top `checks` smack on pace. This boasted the confidence and I felt more relaxed. I did have a bit of hip flexor tightness but put that as the unexpected warm up & it will go after a while – I never gave it much of a thought after that. Each water / feed station I stopped to grab a couple of things – keeping it very light and washed it down with coke.

I chatted to Dave Wood from Reading – another back to back runner for a little while, then just a bit further up I saw Hideo which was nice as he kept me going last year when I thought I was down & out. I just kept going at this comfortable pace –despite the ups & downs and the walk breaks my mile splits seemed to very constant. I was good to go past all these sights we saw from Friday`s coach trip & brought back so many memories from last year. 

I went past the marathon point – not that it really matters - at around 04:50 / 05:00 . The Miles or as it happens the Kms were nicely being ticked down. There was certain sections I was really looking forward to – coming up now was `Arthur`s Seat` & the `Wall Of Honour` - I wanted that good second half & wanted to see my Comrades plaque once again. 

I must admit I did get where `Arthur’s Seat` was a bit wrong as I picked a flower…..and then realised it was still miles away. There was no-way I was going to upset the Running Gods by throwing his flower away so I kept hold of that flower for about 4 miles cradling in my hand like if I was holding a small bird !!!!  Eventually Arthur`s Seat appeared & I said “Good Morning Arthur” and placed that carefully held flower down with the rest – ok it was a bit battered & wilted but the thought was there. Just after that I crossed to the other side of the road & patted my Comrades Plaque.

The views around this area were stunning and really did take your mind off running.

As the KMs signs counted down I knew a sub 10:30 would be slightly out of touch but if I kept it steady it would close. Soon we saw the 21Kms to go sign – that`s only a half marathon & we could see Durban!!!

The next big milestone was the 50 Mile mark. My official 50M PB is still Caesars Camp at 11:51:55 – I was well under that. I went through in about 9:20 ish. This was a major boast plus shortly after that the Kms become single digits. I saw a couple of runners cramp up so I eased off the pace & took walk breaks.  

I did actually feel that 7-5 Kms were tough but once you see that 5Kms sign – well we all know what that`s means. To be fair I was counted these down from 30Kms but only one left. Then 4Kms…..I was going to do this. I thought back to 2014 You-Tube clip of the race where Ellie Greenwood passes Ian Sharman with such a wonderful smooth cadence. 3Kms to go…2Kms to go – ok who put that bridge there….then 1Km to go. Even though I was battered (& do mean battered like I`ve never felt before in a race before) you just had to smile & acknowledge the spectators’ cheers back.

The I saw it….The Kingsmead Cricket Ground. What a sight. Two corners to go before you get to run inside. It was like I wasn`t running at all – all the aches & pains had magically disappeared. It was a truly wonderful place and like last year you wanted it to end but didn`t. Then you saw the best sight on the course – it was worth every single metre in those 89.21 KMs – The Finish.

I went through feeling so great and like I was the first one there. I was given my medal & because my number had two strips on they gave me my back to back medal – I had done it.

I did make the International Tent before they ran out of beer – I exchanged two tickets for two beers but it`s wasn’t time for beer – told you I felt battered !!! I said a quick hello & sat down for a minute or so & looked around for Mel & David but couldn`t see them. I knew I had to keep moving as I didn`t want to end up in the medical tent so I made my excuses and made my way back to the hotel. Sorry John1946 if I didn`t make too much sense on the footbridge.  

I can totally understand John Tarrant infatuation of Comrades. It is a fantastic race.

But will I be back??

Well I never say never…..I did things in training I didn`t think was possible. I pushed myself further than ever before. I got out of that safety zone, I grew, I made friends & I had fun (esp at the after Comrades Party) so if I don`t go back then thank you Comrades for being such a part of my life.

Lastly thank you again Mel.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Have a plan not a wish.

The main concentration for March was Manchester Marathon – not only would this be my 50th Marathon but importantly it was my shot at a sub 4 hour time. Unlike last year`s Comrades campaign, this time out I had only 3 Marathons as planned Comrades Pen qualifiers...

Athens Marathon in November (04:31:11 – Pen G) & Marathon Day Marathon in February (04:16:10 - Pen F) & this one in Manchester.

I am pleased to say I managed a steady paced run & finished strongly in 03:46:10. This got me into the same Pen as last year`s Comrades – Pen `D` (ahead of the Green Number Club). As I`ve not really focused on endurance speed or huge mileage but elevation so to end up with the same result as last year is really pleasing.

Interesting – Mileage last year from January to May was 614 miles….and this year it`s 622 miles, also my Pen D qualifier last year was London in 03:46:40
J  #Spooky

So all in all a pleasing steady Month with some good cross training.

April - Scores on the Doors...

Miles = 150.5 Miles (Yearly Total = 622 Miles)
Time On Feet = 23 hrs 33 mins 00 sec (Ave 09:27 pace)
Elevation =  9,912 ft (Total 44,512 ft) 
Highest Weekly Mileage = 50.7 Miles (End Of March / April)
Longest Run = 26.2 Miles (Manchester Marathon)
Longest `Time on Your Feet` Run = 3hrs 46 mins 04sec (Exc. Bag Reclaim time !!! )
Highest `Back To Back` Run / Miles = 5 Days / 43.5 Miles (End Of March / April)
Races = 2 (Combe Gibbet To Overton & Manchester Marathon)
Parkruns = 4 off

Bikram Yoga Sessions = 4 off (5 Hrs 00 Mins)
PT Sessions = 2 off (2 Hrs)
Sports Massage = 2 off
Bikes Miles = 95.4 Miles
Swim Sessions = 2 off (1.3 Miles)

Now the focus is on the race day…....re-reading of `Make sure of your Comrades Medal` will be in full flow.