Monday, 22 April 2013

Brighton Marathon 2013

Having trained hard all last week, I had the Brighton Marathon on Sunday to test the fitness/speed, but with slightly tired legs. Now, this is not to say I did not want to post a good time, but as GUCR is my main focus I wanted to use Brighton as a stepping stone on the journey to being prepared for GUCR, hence the zero taper and normal mileage/training in the week leading upto Brighton.
Spent the day in Brighton on the Saturday with my family, walked miles around the lanes and picked up my race pack, and with a White Number, I was in the sub 3:15 start, which is directly behind the Elite start at a seperate point from the mass start. This would ensure a clear run for the whole race, can safely say I would be one of the slowest from the sub 3:15 start (PB is 3:12.50).
Fast forward to Sunday morning, and a simple drive down to Brighton to Withdean Park (Elite + Sub 3:15 Start), and found a parking space only 50yards from the starting area, which was a result.

Me looking a bit pensive/tired at the Elite / Sub 3:15 start point
Usual queue for the toilets, but with only about 250 people going from this start, only 3minute wait, which made a nice change. Met one of the guys (Christopher Howe) from the Torq Trail Team assessment day at the start and we had a bit of a chat, he was aiming for sub 3hrs, while I was aiming (hoping) to run under 3:15, so with a call to the start I lined up about 8 metres behind a load of amazingly fast Elite Marathoners, I made sure I was at least halfway down in the 3:15 area, as the guys at the front were aiming for sub 2:45etc, so no reason at all for me to be up with them. 3,2,1 and we were off.
The idea was to head off at 3:10 pace and see what happened, so that's what I did, as there was a 3hr Pacer from this start, I just ensured he was going away from me slightly for the first few miles, but with a 6:46 first mile and the 3hr pacer still moving away (6:52 is 3hr Pace), I assume he was banking a bit of time, or was also a bit carried away on the first few miles. Having been the 4hr Pacer here in 2011, I thought I knew the course profile, but the climb around 5miles and the two hills between 10k and 9miles were much longer and steeper than I remember, I suppose that is the difference between pacing at a very comfortable pace, and racing at your max pace for a PB.
Had the usual chat with another couple of runners on the way round who were also aiming for 3:10 / 3:15, and I was on target at 10k and also at Half way, but could feel my legs complaining and the pace dropping a little between miles 15 - 18 which was reflected in my time at 30k (avg mile pace from 25K to 30K was slower than 3:10 schedule, but still just on schedule overall).

The sun had really come out by now which was nice, and I was so glad I had put a bit of sun cream on my neck and arms before the start. The crowds around 18 - 24miles were very sporadic, with next to no-one around the power station, which was fine, less people to see me trudging past at a now less than impressive pace. The final 4miles from the power station had the wind firmly against you, which was not ideal, but everyone had to contend with it, so can't complain. Certainly felt the weeks training in my quads for the last 8miles, my 2miles of hill reps on Thursday evening might have been the culprit :-)

During this last section I recognised a few runners ahead of me who had gone ahead earlier on who were also now struggling a little/lot like me, I offered a couple of words of encouragement as I speeded past (read, painfully slowly moved ahead), but I don't think it helped. It is plain to see from my mile splits that I lost any chance of a 3:10 in the last 5-6miles, and just about managed sub 8min miles for the last 4miles, so I was glad to see the 800m to go sign and managed to rustle up a 6:45pace last section for a 3:14:18 finish (238th of 9067 finishers).

I bumbed into Chris Howe as I was at the baggage collection area, and he had managed a fantastcic sub3 and a new PB, which I congratulated him on, he was very happy, and so he should be. I was happy once I had time to collect my thoughts (and my clothes, haha), as this was my 2nd fastest Marathon time, and I had trained hard in the week leading up to the race, so there is definitely a bit more to come in terms of faster times. I just need to put a bit more specific Marathon Pace work into my schedule and maybe have a bit of a taper (or at least an easy week) in the lead up to my next road mara. Watch this space as they say.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Long Road

It is easy to see that my blogging has been non-existent for a few months.
Sometimes it takes a while to get back into the swing of things when major life events occur, and certain things have to go on the back burner, and the blog was one such thing. So very briefly, I will try and bring everything up to date from end of 2012 to current date:

December 2012
Ran Portsmouth Coastal Mara as per usual with my mate Ed as a training run for his 1st Ultra, we ran 2 to 3 miles before the Mara and then cruised the Mara in just over 4hrs. I was pretty whacked, as had done pretty much diddly mileage from end of October to beg Dec.

Jan 2013
Ran the C2C by Go Beyond which is 43-44mile Ultra from Wendover to Little Venice in Central London with my mate Ed. This was Ed's first official Ultra, official in that he had run 28/29miles with me a couple of times in training, but this was the first time he had run Ultra distance with a Race No pinned to his chest. We set out easy, with Ed letting me dictate the pace, being a bit more experienced at these things than he. Long story short, we ran pretty conservatively to the canal section, and then made pretty good progress, Ed let me go ahead at about 34miles as I was a bit stronger, I ran a 7:27 and Ed a fantastic 7:41. Considering I only just broke 9hrs the first time I ran this race, Ed blew that out of the water and looked strong at the finish. If he decides to do a few more Ultras, I am sure he will do well, hopefully I can keep up!!!!

Feb 2013
Ran the Heartbreak Mara in the New Forest as part of training for TP100. Pretty hilly course, with 2 big climbs up onto the ridge and then 3 loops along the ridge, each loop requiring 3 x pretty hard climbs, and then back the way you came with a mile and a bit of road to the finish. Ran all the hills and kept the pace steady on the flat, managed a 6:45 last mile and came in at 3:34 and 27th (of 130ish runners), winner did 2:43, which is mad fast. Great to see a few familiar faces on the course, especially David Ross, who bangs out Mara's most weekends, a lot of them in the 3hr - 3:05 range, even trail ones!!

March 2013
Well Thamespath 100 was the main event for March, I lined up and started all OK, but the course was changed due to flooding as has been widely noted, so it was an out and back along 38miles of the Thamespath, but this didn't really phase me. The conditions underfoot were awful to really awful along a lot of the sections, really large muddy puddles, sticky slippy mud and a bit of snow and cold weather thrown in for good measure. My choice of using my road shoes might have been a bit wrong, but even my trail shoes wouldn't have coped. In short, I fell over at around 23/24miles and landed on my right side/hip and half in a massive puddle, the runner behind me gave me an 8.9 for the fall!!! This felt OK, but by the time I reached the 38mile CP, I was leaning to my left, and knew that unless I was willing to run myself into proper injury, I would not be finishing, so I made the conscious decision at the 48mile CP (49.7 on Garmin after I missed a turn earlier!) to call it a day and retire. My first ever DNF.
What did I learn from this? Well, on the negative, I suppose you could say I stopped before I needed to or had to. And the injury might not have got worse by continuing. Well, these are valid points, but on the positive or in answer to my self asked questions (3rd person posting!!) I stopped because I have other races coming up that are as/more important to me this year, and having run the last 65+miles last year with a niggle and then being out for 6to7 weeks, I was making a valid decision based on some personal experience.
I was glad I was able to make rational and clear decisions in the middle of a race, and mentally I was switched on for the long haul had I been in a fit condition (in my eyes) to continue. Hopefully I will complete the same amount of races I had up to this DNF before I have another one. (Big thanks to Mrs H for coming to rescue me from the CP and taking me home, I owe her big time, again!!).

Torq Trail Team 2013
A couple of months back Torq ( as fitness consultancy and energy products company asked people to apply to be part of there Trail Team for 2013/2014, and I decided to fill in the rather extensive application form, and send it off. Taking into account the high calibre of runners out there and the likely number of entries I was not holding my breath. So imagine my surprise and excitement when I received the below e-mail:

TORQ Trail Team
Dear David,

Thank you for applying to be part of the TORQ Trail Team 2013. Trying to pick from hundreds of talented runners wasn't an easy job - so our sincere congratulations to you for making the selection!
So, on Saturday 30th March, I went over to Parliament Hill for the assessment day, where 30 or so other committed and like minded trail runners were also in attendance. It was great that my friend Gemma and Dave Ross were also part of the invitees, as this made a fun day more so as we caught up and chewed the fat. The day consisted of three great talks/presentations, firstly from Torq on nutrition, there products and race fuelling, then from Stuart Mills on Total Preparation for racing trail Mara's/Ultras (, followed by another great talk on injury prevention and avoidance by a top physio. All of this involved some Q+A as well as getting to chat with each other on racing and the usual runner stuff. Lastly a very easy 4 and a bit mile jog around the park for us to stretch our legs and more chin wagging.
Great to be invited, and it would be absolutely amazing to be involved/selected for the actual Team, but that is not something I can influence. There is a 2nd assessment day in 2weeks time, and I assume we will find our our fate some time after that. So fingers and toes crossed.
Happy Running.
Next blog post will probably be some time in July!!!!!

Monday, 1 October 2012

I have let the Blog Posts slip again!!!

I stated at the start of this year I would try and keep upto date with the posting, well, having not posted anything for over 2 months, I would say I am failing miserably. Anyway, this will just be a very quick update on the latest events I have done with a view to try and get the blog back upto speed from now on (don't hold me to this though).

Sunday 12th August - Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 (50k).
Ran as an medium/hard training run, met the lovely Sandra in the first 100yds, ran and chatted a fair bit until Sandra peeled off as this was just a bit of a jog before Ridgeway 85 (which she was 1st Female for 2nd year running, which has never been done before, awesome). I cracked on a little bit and was surprised to come home 14th Overall in 4:34, which was nice. Good course and good, well spaced CP's, just a little bit more road than I would like in the last 8miles.

Sunday 19th August - Everton 10K
This was a spur of the moment entry while I was down in Lymington with the family, and the fact that the profits support local charities, including a Hospice, meant I was more than happy to hand over my £12. It was blimming hot, and the vast majority of runners were sporting club vests, great, I was going to be in trouble here.
Slightly undulating course around the very quiet country roads, with one drink station at around 5k, but banging it at low to mid 6minute mile pace along with the hot weather meant I was gasping from around 8k and all I could think about was getting a drink. Had a really good scrap with a guy for the last 3k, and only did him in the last 200m with a massive sprint finish. Finishd in 41.13 and 27th of 278 runners, so not at all bad for a plodding ultra runner.

Sunday 16th September - Farnham Pilgrim Marathon
First time I have run this race, and I have to say I was really impressed, great course, well stocked CP's and friendly marshalls, topped off by the fact it was great value for money and a nice medal/t-shirt/goodie bag as well. Met my good friend UltraBobban at the start who was just out for a plod round having lost a bit of his mojo after his brilliant sub24hr on the SDW100 earlier in the year, I on the other hand wanted to race, and race hard.
Rob and I started at our own paces, and I was in the 2nd group of 6-8 runners for the first 3 or 4 miles, until a group of 4 or 5 went away, including the lead lady, who went on to win the race outright in 3:07 (wow). Turns out she is a 2:36 marathoner, so no surprise with that sort of speed, but very impressive. I had a really good race upto about 12miles and was feeling strong, but my right calf started to feel tight almost like it was going to cramp. So every time I landed on my right foot it was quite painful, by the time I got to 14miles I had asked a Marshall where I could get a lift back to the finish!!!
So for the next 12miles I had to nurse the calf round, and stopping to massage and stretch it out on about 5 or 6 occasions, which was frustrating as people were going past me, and I couldn't push the pace on the up, down, or flat sections (arrgghh). Thankfully the course was really, really good, and this helped take my mind off things, and I even managed to push it a little in the last 1/2mile to catch a few of the guys who had passed me, and a foolish sprint finish at the end considering the calf situation. So in the end I finished in 3:38 for 25th overall of 290 runners, so not bad at all, but I had my eye on finishing somewhat higher up, roll on next year so I can have another go.
Rob ran steady and was just over the 4hrs, which considering the lack of miles he had put in over the last 2 months was pretty impressive.

The calf is still causing me a bit of an issue, feels like I have a knot in there as getting the tennis ball onto it makes it feel 85% beter in minutes, so hopefully it will just ease off and sort itself out, but have physio booked for Weds just to give it the once over.

Next up for me is Abingdon Marathon, having been injured for this race last year, I had targeted it as a sub 3:10 attempt this year, but having again picked up a niggle, this might have to just be a jog round for fun, but fingers crossed, as if the leg feels ok I will give my all to go for the time I wan't.

Happy Running.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Chichester Challenge 42km

Short catch up on my last race, the Chichester Challnge 42km (see, I dont always run Maras and Ultras!!).
It had rained so much over the previous few weeks, that they had to adjust the course as some sections resembled small ponds rather than wooded trails, which menat the start was delayed. Went off pretty strongly and apart from having wet feet within 200yds first few miles went ok, I was in a small bunch of 5 including a runner called Matthew (who I ran the rest of the way with) 4 guys ahead moving away pretty strongly. Couple of guys were then coming back towards me thinking they had missed a turn or sign, I checked the map and was pretty confident we needed to keep going and would come to a road, this thankfully turned out to be the case, and the two guys went away again. Going was pretty boggy and muddy in a lot of places and it was raining fairly hard which made going a fair bit harder than 2010 when I last ran in this event.
Matthew and I also decided that as this more a training run than a flat out race we would run all of the inclines no mater how muddy or boggy, which was pretty hard going on the couple of BIG hills that come very close together, but good fun.
At mile 18 or 19 we came out of the woods and one of the 4 lead guys was standing at the 4way junction and there was no sign and the map was slightly unclear (we later found out the sign had fallen down into the long grass). We looked at the map and decided to go down and right, we should have gone straight (oops). Long story short, we ran all the way down into the gulley of the hill, realised our mistake when we could see CP2 instead of CP4. We told CP2 who, as we would need to run a harder route to pick up CP4 signed our CP cards (thanks guys). We made our way across to CP4, which menat a long 1mile uphill road and lost one of the group, made our way along the correct route and thought we would have lost a load of time so we were surprised when we came into the finish to find we had come 7th and 8th!!
All in all a good event, which is through some lovely estates, some of which are only open to the public for the day of the event, and great value by the Rotary Club. I will probably go back again next year.

Happy Running,

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Stag Do + Kent Roadrunner Marathon

My apologies, this is a long post, even by my standards.

Had the pleasure of joining my good friend Ultrabobban on his Stag Do on Saturday, which involved Borough Market for food and Cider (8% stuff and I don't even drink cider normally!!!), Epsom Derby, Brick Lane for a Curry and then things get very hazy indeed. All in all a great day/night, and Ultrabobbans friends, who I had not met before were all top blokes, which made the whole day an absolute blast.
The only problem with having such a great Saturday was I had booked myself into the inaugural Kent Roadrunner Marathon for the Monday, and I certainly didn't feel fantastic when I woke up on Sunday morning!! The Kent Roadrunner had been organised by my running friend Ian (ably assisted by his partner Sandra) at the new Cyclopark that had only opened a week or so before in Gravesend, Kent. I wanted to do this race as A) my 1st Marathon back from injury, B) it had been organised by friends and C) it was also supporting Ian's chosen charity Kent Air Ambulance.
So, having done a 50mile week the previous week which included 20miles at 8.26avg pace, I had concluded that I would get round the Marathon, but had realistic/low expectations of my finishing time as I had the Stag Do on the Saturday and only 3 x 40+ mile weeks of training behind me since getting properly back into training since my injury.
So up and out the door early yesterday, and apart from feeling a bit tired didn't feel too bad. Cyclopark was easy to find, and in to pick up my number and timing chip. Bumped into the lovely Ian and Sandra, but only spoke briefly as they were very busy, also saw a runner I know called Rik (who did something like 54 marathons last year!!!) and we quickly caught up on recent races etc before making our way to the race briefing. Ian (Race Director) kept it short and to the point, explaining it was 17laps of the cyclepark, how to keep count of how may laps you had done (easy done with 16 wrist bands) and a couple of mentions, one of which was a bloke running his 700th Marathon (OMG!!!). Also saw and said hello to Jen Salter (international level ultrarunner and really quick at most distances) and then we were over to the start, 3.2.1 GO.
I set off at a fairly comfortable pace and within about 1mile a small lead group started to pull away (including Jen), and I was in the 2nd group of runners, 1st mile was 6.48 so not mental, but based on recent amount of training about 20-30secs too fast IMHO, but I felt OK, so decided there and then that I would try and maintain as near to 7min miles as I could while I felt like that pace was manageable, whether this would be for 5miles or 15, only time would tell. Each lap is 2.493km or about 1.6miles give or take, and while there were no real hills each lap had a few short inclines and a few short sharp declines, but with the course being very open there was quite a head wind on certain sections, but the real killer, that came into play in the later laps was the last 5-600m that was all slightly uphill and included the steepest climb. Now don't get me wrong this was only a short (maybe 50metres) semi steep uphill, but by lap 12 you really, really felt it, and this is where I struggled in the latter stages, I am sure I was not the only one.
I tried to not look at the Garmin too much, just went on feel, and was pleasantly surprised to see 6miles go by in a smidge over 42mins, so about 7min miles, so just tried to stay relaxed and carry on. The next time I looked at the watch was around 13miles, this was around 1:32 dead, so about 7:05pace, blimming heck, I was going well, but was really starting to notice the little incline and uphill to the Start/Finish at the end of each lap. It also started to get a little warm, and that did not bode well considering my choice of hydration  from Saturday (unless Cider is the secret elixir of the elites, I doubt it).
I did have the pleasure of Jen Salter's company for a while as she had settled into my pace and we had a bit of  a chat, which was cool, and I congratulated her on the World Record on running the length of Ireland, I did even go ahead of Jen for a couple of laps, but she finished her race way stronger than me, so being ahead was short lived! It was around mile 17 that I realised that I was really thirsty (Cider from Saturday?) and with some quick mental arithmetic, as long as I kept going at a fairly good pace a PB was on the cards, which I tried not to get too excited about and just crack on. But I did need to take on at least two cups of water or water/electrolyte energy drink on this lap, and pretty much each of the next as I was obviously paying a bit of a price for my less than ideal hydration over the weekend and of course I was running a mara faster than ever before!
One thing I did laugh at, was at one stage when about 11 laps in, I did think my wrist bands were not disappearing fast enough, or I had too many left, had I inadvertently been given too many to start with? No, it was just me trying to wish away the miles/laps, which is what we all do when the miles will not come quick enough, which then makes them take even longer. Funny to reflect on after the race. The next miles 18to23 were just about not slowing down too much and maintaining the PB, but it was tough and took a lot of mental effort, but I was pleased to see on the Garmin (which by now I was looking at a LOT more than the rest of the race) was still showing 7.20 - 7.50 min miles, so no dying into 8's or 9's, which was great news.
Coming round to start the last lap, I could see the clock ticking to 3hrs1min??secs as I crossed the line (getting some great encouragement from Sandra), so 14 and a bit mins to do 1.6 or so miles for a PB, no problem. I didn't really have a huge amount left, but tried to keep my form and a 7.20mile went by, good, and now just keep going, around the final couple of bends and up that nasty little incline for the 17th time, and the last 4-500m slight uphill drag to the finish. I could see the clock and I sensed I could get to the line before the next minute clicked by, so started winding it up as much as I could and a really big effort for the last 100yds and I am finished, and the clock stops at 3hrs12m47secs new PB by 3 1/2 mins and 25th overall - WOW. 

I am still, as I write this now, still unsure how I managed to run a PB or anything near it. I had just got some training behind me having been out for 6weeks from 3rd March and the ThamesPath 100miler, I had been on a Stag Do on the Saturday and drank way too much Cider (i never even drink cider), and had not had the best amount of sleep. Maybe, because I was really relaxed, no pressure to do or chase a time and just run (not looking at the Garmin, I think helped) as I ran a lot just on feel rather than on x pace is too fast/slow. Also, I usually run Mara's as training for Ultras, so always have that to consider, but maybe a good Marathon time requires marathon training, not ultra training par se. So for the moment I am going to enjoy my shiny new PB for a while, with fingers crossed that there are some good times ahead and maybe even some new PB's when you least expect them.
Happy Running.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Back on the road.

Well last week saw 5 runs totaling 24 and a bit miles. 7mile long run (don't laugh) and 3 miles at 8.35pace (look out Marathon World Record!!). So big progress in the scheme of things, and some solid gym work and eating as though I was still doing 70mile weeks has seen a 7lb weight increase since beginning of April (obviously all muscle!!). VV easy week this week, and then try and build slowly again on another 3week cycle.

Happy Running.

Monday, 26 March 2012

3 weeks and no running.

So 3 weeks have passed with no running, and this has been less irritating than I would have imagined. Probably because I know the back of the leg is still not 100% and therefore I am not going to risk running until after I see the physio again on Weds for an update on where we are at. On the plus side, I have been to the gym a fair bit and have been doing a pretty solid amount of weights and doing some interval stuff on the stationary bike.  Tomorrow will see the mountain bike used on the ride to/from work (20mile round trip), and I may try and do this 3 times this week, and then a 20+ miler at the weekend. And fingers crossed, I will get the ok to get out for a gentle run.

Happy Running (or maybe that should be Gyming, not even sure that is a word!)