Saturday, 11 June 2011

Marathon Trail Run - Solo running...

Bloody hell that was hard work!
26.2miles over what can only be described as "hills". According to the Great God Garmin there was 3.957ft of elevation gain, which strikes me as quite frankly a daft way to spend your Saturday. Perhaps Mrs.W was correct this morning when rather giving me a peck on the cheek and wishing me luck, she said "You're mad!"

This was my second attempt at a Trail-Blaze run and having reached the desired checkpoint #5, just beyond 24miles, in 5hr5mins I staggered a further 2miles to the local station to bring up the magic 26.2miles in 5:29:00, which I'm jolly-well happy with.  Given the topography, I reckon that's a pretty decent time - especially as it was a solo run, just me versus the elements.

There was nobody to cajole me onwards and the only incentive I had to really up the pace was around 22miles when a dog tried its damnedest to eat me!

'Twas hard work, but by golly was it worth it!

Run Report: 
The elevation gain doesn't lie, the route started with an immediate 500ft climb leaving you with this view to the rear, which as you can is worth a quick glance over the shoulder...
 ...from there on its undulating beauty as you head out to Birling Gap then take on the might of the "Seven Sisters" who in reality are no fun at all. The Beachy Head Trail Marathon has these beauties in the final few miles, which must be hell on earth as trying to tackle them 4miles into a run is bloody hard work...
...with the first big bunch of hills finished it was then a lovely "gentle" run towards the picturesque village of Alfriston at around the 10mile mark, passing first through a pretty wood then along a meandering river into the village itself, had to stop briefly at a bench to remove my shoe coz I'd finally got pissed off by the foreign object that was under my sole. 

Figured it was a small stone, but turned out to be 4 safety pins from last weekend's race...what a pillock! Needless to say it was considerably more comfortable running without pins in your feet...
...leaving Alfriston life got difficult again with an absolute bugger of a climb from the village leading into what became a steady 700ft climb over the next 3miles. Needless to say pace dropped at this point and the legs began to really feel the impact of the first 10miles plus last Sunday's Trail Half Marathon race. For the next 3hours I listened to MarathonTalk, running solo I'd have been mentally fried on my own, and there's nothing like listening to Tom and Martin's account of their 85km Comrade Marathon, which put my own "tiny" run into context and forced me ever-onwards. 

The scenery becomes far more rugged, still beautiful but just not in a cuddly way...this is much more "I'm gonna break you beauty, eat you alive, then spit out the bones" and its just goes on and on and on for f$cking miles with no respite...
...dropping down to the village of Southease at least gives you something different to look at, but if you blink you'll miss it. Was sorely tempted to stop on the village green where the sort of village fete that you only get in tiny English villages was in full-throw for a spot of afternoon tea, but at around 18miles if I'd stopped for scones, jam and cream I'd have never got going again...although that might not have been a bad thing!
Had to run up a really long concrete path, dodging about 50 middle aged mountain bikers who were all flying down it, as I staggered upwards. Running this in trail shoes after 20odd miles was extremely uncomfortable. Bizarre geeky fact, in the field just beyond that gate is a sign marking the Greenwich Meridian, so I'd just passed from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere. You might not give a toss about that, but it's the sort of geeky tit-bit of knowledge that I quite enjoy...(which probably offers some alarming insights into what its like to be me!). 

Thankfully the top of this path brought me to where I'd taken a wrong turn before, on the right track this time it was now just a question of getting through the final few miles in one piece, which was easy said than done with a sudden torrential gale-force downpour while high on a hill-top followed by the psychopathic tiny annoying dog who kept trying to eat me, while his owner did nothing! Not surprisingly my serene "basking in nature psyche" was interrupted momentarily in a flurry of expletives directed first at the dog then the owner. Oops! But they deserved ever last "bleep"!

Finally got to the checkpoint at Housedean Farm, thought long and hard about aiming for the next location 5miles away at Ditchling Beacon, but legs were toast at this point and thought "sod it!" this'll do, no way I could have run over more hills. I know that seems lame, but after all those hills the idea of heading up another monster for the next 5miles was just too much. Endured a painful final 2miles on pavements which just ain't fun in trail shoes then Falmer Station reared into view and the adventure was sadly/gladly over. 

Would love to say I'd ran ever step of those 26.2miles, but with topography like that it just wasn't going to happen. Some may say power-walking up some those hills doesn't count as a run, but it'll do for me. Thankfully, I managed to drag myself to the final step in under 5hrs30mins, which although I had no time target at the start is a nice mark to duck under. 

Got home to a blessedly empty house, had a nice bath, covered myself liberally in DeepHeat and settled down to watch Octopussy...nice! the start of the year my plan was to run my first ever 2 marathons this year, I've done the Brighton Marathon and have Osaka in a few months, but I've now also done 2 solo trail marathon-distance runs so I'm quite happy with that performance in the last 4weeks. Now its the end of crazy solo-adventures and soon back to regime-running as I train for Osaka in October, and I can't wait!

Distance: 26.2miles
Elevation Gain: 3.957ft
Lowest elevation: -31ft (bizarre given the hilly topography of the run)
Time: 5:29:00.27
Images: borrowed from Google

Monday, 6 June 2011

Juneathon Day 6: Unleash the beast...

...oh no not me, I'm far too modest! 

My 8yr old wanted some running shoes so we gave them a spin: 8:14 and 6:25 pace for that final 0.17miles.

I beat him, but only coz I threw in a hill at about 3/4mile to slow his little legs down then changed the finish line just as he was slowing to victory. By golly, he's swift! Really really struggled to hold his pace on final 1/3mile.

He loves his new shoes, great to see that spark of new running shoe excitement...
...was going to have a rest day after yesterday's half marathon, but how could I resist his eager demands to go for a run?

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Seaford Trail Half Marathon

...what an absolute joy!

Forecast was grim, morning was grey and the wind up on them there hills was strong and swirly, but I'm not sure I've had quite so much fun in a long long time.
From the nice old chap who gave me his roll of loo paper pre-race coz bogs were empty to the spectators and marshals dotted around the course in 1s and 2s, and lost but not least the runners themselves, this was all about niceness. Beautiful course although it was a bit grey and brutal in today's weather conditions, but that only enhanced the dangerous beauty of the race, giving it that added bit of spice and sense of competing with nature.

Granted this sentence will sound a little trite, but I felt so free! 13.1 miles of relaxation (odd choice of word, but true), felt as though all my cares had been washed away and it was just me (another 483 runners) and nature. A wonderful feeling, and the sense of liberation that comes from hurtling downhill on trails was really quite childlike in its excitement.

Never done a trail race before so this was virgin territory in more ways than one and had no idea what to really expect in terms of pacing etc etc. Started off this morning thinking I'd be content under 2hr15 against my road PB of 1hr49, so I was over-the-moon to finish my first trail half marathon in 2:02:51. 

Only 1min per mile slower than my road best time, which is better than I was expecting this morning (was expecting to give up around 2mins per mile). Given the topography of the race and the brutal wind on the hill-tops I am very very with this indeed:
According to the Great God Garmin there was 1,047ft of gain over the route, which may or may not be impressive, but is a damn site more difficult than anything I've ever run before. Penultimate word there is what gave me most satisfaction as well today, I ran ever last step of that 13.1...passed a lot of people on each hill who'd stopped to walk them, but I was determined to run that entire race come hell or high water.

Race Itself: 
Opening 3/4 of mile or so were on roads heading out of town, turned onto bridal path at which point the Marshall shouted, "Good luck, its a really hard race"...which head us all a bit dumbfounded. From that point until the last mile or so on the seafront to the finish the entire race was off-road.
The hills began (above) pretty quickly, building in steepness and although the one from mile 4 to 5 was quite frankly a bugger (did miles 3 and 4 in around 11:30 each though which given the climb I'm happy with), my side-ways chi-running hill technique got me up it with little difficulty, but it was impossible not to "enjoy" the hill when either side of the path were field of lavender in bloom - beautiful!
After a couple of miles on fairly bleak terrain on top of the Downs we dropped down in to the stunning little town of Alfriston, past the church and off along the river for a "relaxing" 4-miles or so til the final flurry of hills. 
We came down from the hilltops you can see in the background down to the village and with the hills behind me I felt remarkably sprightly banging out 8:26, 8:37, 9:13, 8:45, 8:38 before I hit the final hilly section where things slowed down a bit with a 10:26.

What did strike me as amusing, particular on the hill-tops, was how and why when there's so much space to run why do we runners weave our way through the countryside in single file, a drawn out line of lyrca stretching as far as the eye can see.

Picked up pace again on the last couple of undulating miles even though there was a bugger of a final hill around mile 11and knocked out the final mile in 8:06 which given what had come before I was very happy with.
Wonderful race, with a fabulous descent towards the finish and final mile or so back on the road along the seafront!

Got my medal and an end-of-race banana, then grabbed my bag and ran the 1/2mile to the station just in time to catch the train home, and more importantly just before the heavens opened!
Can't wait for next year, will certainly run this race again and any other trail races I can find in the meantime.
Brilliant way to end of the weekend and mark Day 5 of Juneathon.

Time: 2:02:51
Elevation Gain: 1,047ft
Splits: 8:39, 9:12, 11:35, 11:30, 9:32, 8:26, 8:37, 9:13, 8:45, 8:38, 10:26, 9:08, 8:06, (7:10)

Oh, and don't worry I didn't lose time and end up over 2hrs by taking photos...I "borrowed" these from Google

Saturday, 4 June 2011

I must be exhausted...

...or else why would I shed a tear watching Britain's Got Talent? After all its only Day 4 of Juneathon.

no running today, but pacing up and down the sideline watching son in 7 matches at football tournament has to count for something.

Came home and did 100pressup W1D3:
PressUps: 30 (4,5,4,4,13) - only for 8yr old son to then do 31 to beat me!!
TricepDips: 100 (5x20)
Crunches: 200 (10x20)
Need early night, need to be up early to get to my trail Half Marathon round the Sussex countryside in what, according to the BBC, promises to be awful weather. 

Bring it on!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Juneathon Day 3: Faster than the bus...

dropped 8yr son at football training for Brighton & Hove Albion (he got scouted earlier this season, so that's another thing he's better than me at - boo hoo!) and decided it was quicker to run home than bother with the bus...which it was, although with a very slow opening 9:56 probably not much quicker.

Knocked off the others in 8:38, 8:22 and the final 0.31 at 7:34

Very underwhelming run, boring run along one of the main roads back into Brighton, could have taken more scenic route and am at a loss as to why I didn't.  Nothing exciting or even remotely dull to report I'm afriad.

Ran in my old Asics as a test...they really are crap, feels like running on super-tired legs compared to new pair.

Work from home now for a few hours and head back to the training ground after lunch to watch the under8s team play some matches against other teams.

Stunning weather so should be very nice day

Happy friday one and all

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Grumpy Medicine...

...was a right grumpy bugger when I got home tonight. No excuses, just being temperamental.

Thankfully, the clan were out enjoying a nice summer's evening on the seafront so a quick change into me shorts and out to hit the pavements for Juneathon Day 2.

No nonsense 3-miler (25:16), opened with 8:29 then 8:18 round the park, last mile in 7:59 and the final 0.7miles in equivalent of 7:02 pace.  Nice progression through the miles...

...would like to claim it was all about ridding myself of the woes of the day, or down to a wonderful running strategy, but in actual fact my mate was waiting in the pub and I had 27minutes from leaving home to our agreed meeting time.

Couple of cheeky pints and the world doesn't seem like such a bad place after all.

Home...another "Britain's Got Talent" semi-final...W1D2 of 100press-up challenge...and shephard's pie for dinner.

PressUps: 22 (3,4,2,3,10), Tricep Dips: 100 (5x20) and Crunches 200 (10x20)


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

start of Juneathon

No excuses, nowhere to's Juneathon time. Wanted to start in a blaze of glory, all guns blazing etc etc with a long flying run to impress one and all, but I've got a race on Sunday so being sensible this week. Doh! So much for "no excuses", it's taken me all of  30odd words and 11hrs5mins into June to come up with my first one.

A gentle pre-breakfast 2miles in 17:05 on tired legs (another excuse) with my old Asics to see if there really is a difference between my new ones and these planks of wood (does that count as an excuse for something?) or whether the weekend's PB was the placebo effect from a pair of new runners.

To give the opening day a little more vim I re-started the 100press-up challenge, partly coz I've been a lazy bugger on the core fitness front for the last couple of weeks, but more importantly I can no longer stand the looks of disdain my 8yr old son* gives me while I struggle to do what in reality listening to MarathonTalk I grudgingly accept are actually "elbow bends" and not really press-ups at all.

So back to square-1 on the press-up front and I tried very hard to do them properly eeking out 5sets per the Week1 Day 1 programme with 2, 3, 2, 2, then max'ed out a 10 for the final set. Not very impressive, but Rome wasn't built in a day, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, etc etc.

Got chest down "properly" so I'm happy, and luckily The Little Man's mocking sneer was nowhere to be seen (more to do with the fact he was in the garden than anything to do with style), then knocked out 200 crunches with the roller and 100 tricep dips.

Juneathon then. I'm gonna stick to doing something everyday, but key "goals" for the month will be:

  • 100+ running miles
  • 5th June: Seaford Half Marathon (Trail)
  • 11th or 12th June: Eastbourne to Brighton Trail-blaze run (26+ miles on trails, not a race, just me) TBC
  • 26th June: Stanmer Park 8km Race (Trail)
  • Stick to 100pressup challenge - hardest goal of the lot!
  • have fun!
So, let's see what tomorrow brings...

happy Juneathon everyone!

*the Little Man can happily bang out sets of 10 press-ups dropping properly to the ground and holding each you can imagine he's not learnt that from me, but at karate (currently a brown belt - helped by his Japanese ninja-genes)