Saturday 7th April 2012 – Broken.

Take two of these.

As you will note from the other blog posts in this running blog, I have been quite fortunate so far with health and injury. My luck had to change at some stage. Law of averages.

Yesterday evening I had a raging sore throat, and I ached a little. I took some tablets before I went to bed, hoping that it would be gone by the morning, and I would be able to go for my weekly long run as planned.

When I woke up in the morning, the burning sensation in my throat that was triggered every time I swallowed had gone. I tested it several times and on each occasion there was no hint of pain or discomfort. I felt my legs and arms, no aching there either.

Bloody hell those tablets were good!

I am going for a run then.

The first mistake I made.

Initially all was well, getting out of bed was a breeze, getting changed equally as simple, stretching and going down stairs were OK, admittedly I wrestled a bit with the ipod and ear phones lead, but I do that every morning.

It all started going wonky at around the one mile mark, my right calf starting to go tight, using my in depth knowledge as a Doctor: I chose to ignore it and brush it off as a niggle.

My aim for today was to equal if not better the 14 miles or so I did last week, running along the river again. This was the second mistake I made.

Pain pain go away…

As I ran down hill between miles one and two heading for the bridge across the river and my cue to turn right and run along the river side, my left calf must of wanted to play up too, as it started to tighten and cause me as much pain as my right one.

Being an idiot I soldiered on. In hindsight this was the wrong thing to do. Every damn step I took was agony. I thought I would just run to the three mile mark, then turn around and go home at a gentle jog / quick walk. As I approached the third mile the pain eased off in both legs.

“brilliant, I will carry on then” I thought to myself. This was my third mistake, not good considering I hadn’t even been out of bed for 45 minutes yet!

With true British grit…

That heading should say “Like a total idiot..”

I kept going, the hard clay based muddy ground along the river bank was torture on my legs, my shins felt as if they were going to crack and give way with each step, my thoughts went to ringing Wifey and asking her to meet me at the next lock and take me home, that was another mile or so away yet, I could make it to there though…couldn’t I?

Anyway, no point ringing Wifey, her mobile was on silent and she would still be sound asleep. Looked like it was going to be either a nice slow painful walk home, or just keep going, but with perhaps a shorter route, the same one as last Sunday, but that was 9-10 miles, and a good three miles of that was a continuous uphill plod.

I must be bloody mental.

I turned right at the lock and ran 3 miles uphill, various gradients, various scenery, a little bit of country lane, a little bit of main road an awful lot of agony.

I have never been so happy to get to the two mile straight towards home as I was this morning. My mind was racing with thoughts of never running again, my throat was now raging, I felt sick, my legs were shaking, plus it was our youngest’s party tomorrow, we had family over, the last thing I needed was to be ill and ruin it.

I just kept going.

The end seemed to be miles away, every step was painful, my shoulders ached, my vision was a little on the wobbly side and I was sweating like a trooper. It took me about 20-22 minutes to run that two miles, I am not sure how my legs did it.

I was so very happy to get home, get out of my running kit and into something warm. I was physically shaking and felt quite sick and cold.

I took another couple of those magic tablets.

Might be best if I have a week off running…

If you’re interested, then here is my idiotic run!

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Amsterdam Marathon 2012

At the beginning

When I first started this running blog, I intended to blog about all of my runs throughout the year no matter how short or far, how important or insignificant, rain or shine…or even snow. I hoped that I would be able to blog about some races I had entered, deep down I wanted to enter a marathon and blog about that. What is a running blog without a marathon?

The Marathon is the race every runner wants to compete in, no matter what country they live in, it’s what we all aspire to.

For some, running it once isn’t enough, some people have run 100′s. Believe it or not there are folk out there who run races upto and over 100 miles per race, these are Ulta-runners.

Dean Karnazes is one of them, he’s become a bit of a hero, I listen to his story of how he ran 50 marathons in 50 US States in 50 days. Some of the crazy stuff he has done, makes my 5k weekly runs seem a little inadequate.

It’s good to talk.

A few days ago I spoke to my good friend Rob Cameron. Rob is a runner. He has ran the London Marathon, competed in a few half marathons and is very focused in his approach to his running.

Rob mentioned that he had applied for, and would be running, the Amsterdam Marathon 2012. This appealed to me. Greatly. TCS Amsterdam Marathon

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to run the London Marathon, but there’s something about it that just seems like a load of commercialised chaos. I would rather run a marathon that has a few less entrants, a little more low key and a bit different.

And the Amsterdam Marathon has just that. As does the New York Marathon, but that’d cost me a fortune; leaving Wifey alone in the Big Apple for 4 hours or so could have a negative effect on our bank balance, and there’s only so many shoes you can get in one suitcase!

Plus the Amsterdam course looks a little more straight forward!!

Training programme

So now I have 6 months to get my self into shape and prepare myself for my biggest challenge as a runner.

Thankfully Rob is as dedicated a person as I have ever met and although he lives 150 miles away he will not allow me to slack on the training.

I think the fact that I am not starting from scratch should help me. I have run 13 miles plus a few times so far, I have run in all weathers, I have run up hills, along rivers and got up at silly o’clock far more frequently than others to go out and run.

All I have to do is sensibly increase my distances, and ensure I do not get injured.

The Amsterdam Marathon 2012

Saturday 31st March 2012 – A river runs through it

A change of route

Saturday again, my favourite day of the week. My ‘long run’ day.

I’d been checking out some alternative routes lately, although I was quite happy to pound the pavements, I needed to do something different. Something to keep me on my toes, as it were.

We’re fortunate enough to live out in he sticks, and being a sensible chap, I have always stuck to running along the roads, especially in the dark mornings, always crossed the road on a zebra crossing, never talk to strangers blah blah blah!

Across the fields there is a River, this river runs, as you would expect, for many miles. We’ve walked along parts of it on many occasions, mainly in the summer. It had never once occurred to me that I could run along the tow path.

Off to get some fresh air!

I had worked out a route that took me along the road for a couple of miles, down to the river, then run along that for 4.5 miles which would lead me into Chelmsford town, then up past the prison, around Springfield, through Beaulieu Park, then back over the A12 and towards home.

I reckoned between 14 and 15 miles.

The first couple of miles were down hill, it was lovely, the sun was just beginning to rise, the birds were singing and I had a good feeling about this run.

Whilst running along the river, I tried on several occasions to kick myself repeatedly. Why? Well for not running this route before, that’s why.

It was stunning, the water was tranquil apart from the odd coot or duck paddling across it, the air was fresh…it was quite very close to perfection. Seriously, why had I not run along here before? I passed locks and old lock keeper’s houses, I ran past horses and cows eating the early morning dew covered grass, old gunner huts strewn across the fields. It was so much nicer than running along pavements.

The only down side was the ground, it was hard, cracked and uneven, tree roots threatened to trip me every now and then, and it affected my pace and stride. I was running slower, and the undulated ground made me more cautious.

Back on the road.

The river led me into Chelmsford town center, back on tarmac and pavements, my slower pace along the river meant I had conserved some energy, which was handy because the run up Springfield Road was a killer, my calves were aching.

By the time I reached mile 10 I had picked up pace a little, and was running at about 8:30min miles, although it seemed as if my legs were on auto pilot, it felt as if I had no control over them!

The uphill run between miles 12 and 13 almost finished me off. I have a mental issue with this hill. It nearly beats me on every occasion.

Happily I completed a refreshing 14.6 mile run in approx 2 hours 15 minutes, not a record breaker by any shot. But very enjoyable none the less.

Here’s the route!

Wednesday 14th March 2012 – 10K for breakfast!

Target in sight

I couldn’t wait to get out and run this morning. I’d set my target of 10k to take me through and beyond the 100k barrier for this month so far and toward my 155K for the month (although this I now very highly probably going to increase to 200K for the month).

I got out of bed, got changed into my running kit, which included my new Asics running top that Wifey bought me for my birthday (which has to be the most comfortable top I have got, short sleeve, light and breathable) and my new running trainers.

10K heaven

I tip toed downstairs so as not to wake everyone, drank a pint of water, stretched and then hit the road.

I never thought I would say this but 10K is a good distance for me. I enjoy it. It allows me a couple of miles to warm up and four miles to enjoy myself. All done in under an hour.

My first race was 10K back at the end of September. I struggled like a bastard that day. It’s amazing how much my running has improved in the past 5-6 months through continually getting out and pushing myself.

Practice makes perfect and all that!

It must be the trainers

I haven’t felt so comfortable running as I have the past few days. This could be down to the new trainers. It could be the fact I listen to audiobooks and not music. It could be that I am just naturally improving and growing as a runner and the trainers and audiobooks are coincidental.

Who knows? All I know is that this mornings run was fun. I really enjoyed it. A good 10K run before breakfast.

This takes me well past the 100K barrier so far for the month. and only half way through it.

My next run is Saturday. Although I’m popping out for a ‘couple of pints’ Friday night. I may leave the run until Sunday.

You can see the run here.

Saturday 11th February 2012 – 10 Miles!

A week with out running

I woke up this morning full of excitement with a little bit of fear / concern thrown into the mix.

I was determined to crack the 10 mile barrier this morning, but due to the recent crap snow and ice I hadn’t been out for a run since last Sunday, so either A) the long rest would be a great help or B) the long rest meant I was a little out of practice and was going to struggle some what. I hoped it was option A.

I’d been keeping an eye on the conditions of the pavements and pathways, and they had been improving daily, but I wasn’t prepared to go out running in the dark on a still icey path. Today would be the day. I could feel it.

A touch of frost?

Running kit on, downstairs for a stretch and a warm up (feed the cat), check the weather outside…and low and behold it was clear, although it seemed we had been on the receiving end of a very heavy frost. Temperature check, minus 4. Crap.

The sun was just poking it’s nose over the horizon, the cockerel was making a row in the garden, time to hit the road!

Setting a pace

Something happened as soon as I started running this morning; on the opposite side of the road was another bloke running, from the village up the road into our village, nothing odd in that, in fact nothign odd at all, but he was properly running. Not jogging slowly or quickly. Full on running.

Well that was me ruined. Instead of settling into a nice pace to start off with, seeing as I wanted to push myself that little bit further this morning, I wanted to catch up with him. Not only did I want to catch up with him, I wanted to over-take him.

I did neither. He was way too fast. A hardened pro no doubt. After 150 yards or so I realised 2 things; Firstly I was not going to catch him, and secondly my legs were fricking stinging! Bollocks.

I needed to concentrate on the job in hand!

The first two miles flew by, albeit I was bored, and my pace quickened a little, I wanted to get the first 4 miles out of the way, and into the meaty bit.

What a fool I am.

Having torn through the first couple of miles at about an 8m30s pace, I got a stitch at 4 miles, this lasted until mid 6 to 7. I was struggling. The stitch was really pissing me off, I couldnt shake it, but was glad to be at 7 miles, and new that I had plenty in me to keep going.

The stitch, and not my pace or technique, had been my point of focus and I needed to get back into my stride…which took me about half a mile.

Home straight

At 8 miles I knew I had 2 miles or perhaps more to go, the home straight is 2 miles long give or take a few yards.

Down a hill, up the other side, a mile of flat straight, chuck a left up a short hill and back down, at this point my right calf was cramping a little, no time to worry about it, I was almost home. Left again, half a mile to go. Pace quickened again, running full out for the last few hundred yards…

10 mile barrier…BROKEN!

I’d done it. It had taken me a couple of months to achieve it slowly, but surely.

Very pleased. I am now ready to book in for some 10 mile runs, and 10K runs.

You can see my route and times here

Tuesday 10th January 2012

Is that the alarm?

The alarm went off at 5:25am this morning, I turned it off and lay there struggling to keep my eyes open for a minute or two, this is the first week back to proper normal running routine since the Christmas period. I hadn’t ran since my epic 7.35 miler on Saturday.

Right, let’s get my arse in gear then!

I got my kit on, went downstairs, did my stretches and ventured out into the darkness. Got a bit of a shock with the weather, it was quite mild. Which was nice.

Early morning runs.

Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic, although the recent wind has taken a few trees down and there are a couple laying across the pathways, plus a few random branches poking out at me in the dark, avoided one…hit another! Must remember it’s there tomorrow.

I managed a very steady and comfortable 3.14 miles in just under 29 minutes, I was very happy with that (you can see it here).

I try to keep my weekday mornings consistent, and go a little off piste at the weekends!

Right then, early to bed and early to rise and all that!

My first proper race!

The Saucony 10k – Chelmsford

How on earth did I get to enter my first race? Well, it was quite easy really. I had been running for a year or so, and had not long attempted and completed my first 10k run/jog. And I remember thinking “that was easy enough”. (Seriously, sometimes I am my own worst enemy).

I looked online for local races, and found that in 3 weeks time there was the Chelmsford Saucony 10k – all runners welcome. Brilliant. I printed off the registration form and sent it off with my cheque!

Remember I had only run 10k once, and I had 3 weeks until the race, less than 3 weeks now.

Training

I continued my regular training, hitting the roads 3 mornings per week with a 5k and I ran a 10k on the Saturdays with a quick 5k on the Sundays.

The thing was, the race was on a Sunday, so I didn’t train on the Saturday before as I was reserving energy. My last run before the race was on the Thursday, I was concerned I would injure myself and therefor not be able to compete, and I was determined to run.

All in all I had ran 10k a grand total of 3 times before entering a 10k race. In hindsight probably not enough.

Before the race.

I remember the morning of the race, I was fidgety, I kept looking at the time (the race started at 2pm), I was ready to go at 12pm. My wife said to me, “why don’t you just go, get there and relax a bit?” Wise words. So off I went.

My palms were clammy, was I actually ready for this? I knew I was. Only an hour of my life,  perhaps less, perhaps? Hopefully less, I didn’t want to finish last, what if I finished last? Would everyone laugh at me? Did I have the right kit on, had I remembered to put pants on? (It was a road race, and the roads were not shut off to traffic, what if I got hit by a car, always wear clean pants right?)….god I hadn’t even got in the car yet and I was bloody nervous.

I arrived at the venue and there were lots of people milling about, talking, laughing, stretching all looking relaxed. I was alone and bricking myself. I went to register, then walked to the changing rooms. Loads of others getting changed, I got my kit on, pinned my number on (number 74), at that point I felt really really nervous. I had a number, as did everyone around me. This was race day. 300-400 people in a race. Nervous. So very nervous.

Take your marks.

We all started walking to the start line (about a ten minute walk away). I joined a friendly couple and their daughter in nervous chat and laughter, it was her first race too (I had to beat her – bloody competitive edge in me).

Wifey and the boys arrived at the start line to see me off, this helped a lot, I calmed down and kissed them all goodbye, and took my place amongst the masses. Only an hour (or less) right? I needed the loo…

Now then, my best time for running 10k was 58 minutes 25 seconds – and that was my target for today, under an hour.

The gun went off, I heard “good luck daddy” from wifey and the boys and off I ran.

The course.

Hmm how best to describe the course? Country lanes, tight bends, cold, sunny, oh and hilly. Bloody hilly. And no music. This would be my first run without my music to listen to, no pace setting music, nothing to help me focus. That’s Health and Safety for you.

The race.

I started OK I think. I felt alright, tried to settle in a bit. Just after the first mile marker the chap I had been talking to before the race ran past and said “good start, 8 minutes for the first mile” and off he went.

Hang on. 8 minutes? I was going too fast. My average pace was about 9 minutes 30. I tried to slow a little, but each time I did, I saw someone else to overtake (I told you I was competitive). I was annoying myself.

All I could hear was breathing, panting and gasping (not just me). It was terribly distracting. Coming up to 2 miles I wanted stop and go home. Fact.

Just before 3 miles my calf muscles decided enough was enough and they didn’t want to play anymore, they seized up a bit. I stopped running and walked for 20 seconds, got overtaken by 3 people and began running again. The fact I had been overtaken spurred me on to keep going.

At 4 miles I checked my watch for the first time, it read 30 minutes 14 seconds. What the f…? I had been running at break neck speed (for me anyway). No wonder my calves had left me and gone home! That worked out roughly at 7 minutes 30 seconds per mile. I was way too quick for my own good.

I stopped running. I walked for a bit and did a quick calculation. I wanted to finish in under an hour. My calves were killing me. I had done 4 miles in half an hour, I had about 2 and a bit miles to go, and I had half hour to do it. I was going to achieve my goal.

I started running again, at a slower pace. The hills were agony, I was overtaken by quite a few people, but I was now enjoying it. My legs stopped aching, and I was really enjoying it. I noticed people along the road were cheering and waving at all the runners – had they been doing that the whole race?

The 6 mile marker was lovely, I nearly stopped to give it a great big hug, but kept on going. People who had finished already were walking past me heading home, I didn’t have far to go. I kept on.

Round a little bend up into the athletics stadium onto the running track and there was the finish line, and bugger me, there was Wifey and the boys clapping and cheering me on. God it was wonderful to see them, I was very emotional at that part, fortunately they never got to see me wipe away a little tear after I had crossed the line.

Crossed the line. Did you read that bit? I crossed the line. I finished the race and in a pretty good time too, I did it in 53 minutes and 43 seconds. I knocked 5 minutes off of my personal best.

I was elated. I was pumped. I wanted to run it again. I wanted to give wifey and the boys a big hug. What an amazing feeling, those of you who have done it will know what I am talking about.

You can see all the results here. I was position 230 out of 329.

Not bad for my first race.

I wonder what it feels like to complete a Marathon..?

 

Setting goals

Setting a goal.

Every now and then I try to set myself a new goal when it comes to running.

Not necessarily a major goal, just something that will enable me to push myself a little further, it stops me from becoming too complacent.

This may be trying to beat a certain time, or adding a few hundred yards to a run, or even going for a run in the freezing snow (done that before!).

Well this week I decided to push myself a little further. I wanted to run a greater distance than I had previously run, I have run 10K a few times, this is about 6.2 miles and the furthest I had run to date.

My next run would be something harder, it needed to be. I needed something to get the blood pumping.

Pushing the boundaries

So on Friday I mapped myself a new run. I have some local routes around this village and the next one, but I had not yet run across to the other village…and back. I had driven there. Of course I had, no more than half a dozen times though.

I knew it was through open fields, past farms, the odd cow, duck and pheasant, I knew the lanes were narrow and probably a little muddy, more a dirt track than a road, and I knew there were going to be a few hills to climb. I love running up hills, not so keen on running down them (that’s a story for another blog another time). I’d mapped out a 7.2 mile route. This would be tough.

Just planning the route was exciting. Taking on a route for the first time is exciting. I couldn’t wait.

Running at it head on

I had set the alarm for 06:30am this morning, and when the alarm went off, I thought about the run and the cold weather and then realised it was still dark. Taking on a new, practically unknown route in the dark was not a wise move, there would be absolutely no street lights, and very narrow lanes. Pretty much suicide.

I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Instead I would head out late morning, once I had got up and done a few things. Wifey and the boys went out around 11:00am, so I threw my kit on, did my stretches and hit the road.

My running playlist was sending happy tunes to my ears, the beat was good and I set off at a good pace…downhill to start with (wasn’t overly happy about that).

It got easier.

The first 2.5 miles had me beat. There I’ve said it, I thought I would be OK, but the wind was whipping across the fields and I was running straight into it, it was taking my breath away, and I was struggling. My legs ached after the first mile and I wondered what the hell I was going to do for the rest of the route. I had planned 7.2 miles remember?

At 3.5 miles I turned right and the wind eased off, my breathing became easier, and I was beginning to enjoy the run, I was beginning to enjoy it a lot, and was looking forward to the next 4 or so miles. Regardless of the hills.

I circled back on myself, and as I almost reached the 5 mile mark the wind was now behind me. I was running at a steady pace, smiling and not aching.

Final push

At 6.75 miles I turned back on to the main road, and had about half a mile to go to home, and it was all uphill.

I ran. I dug deep and bloody well ran up that hill. My legs were pumping, my heart was banging against my chest, and I kept saying to myself “you are going to do this, keep running”.

I finished at 7.35 miles. I was back at where I started. If you are interested you can see the route, splits and graphs here. I was very happy, I knew I could do it, but whilst running my mind was questioning my ability, my mental state wasn’t good, failure crossed my mind once or twice, at just under 2 miles I wanted to stop, turn around and walk home.

But I couldn’t give up.

I need to run that route again. Perhaps make it a regular route, who knows, but I need to do it again just to prove to myself that I can.

And I will do.