LETJOG14 – Week 4

Picking Up The Pace

This week was a short week for completing much of the LETJOG14 challlenge; there weren’t many chances to run, although it got off to a great start, only a couple more runs.

They may have been short but…they got quick!

This Week’s Runs

Sunday – 8.4 miles (click here). Wifey wanted to go for a 7 miler, so once the boys were packed off to the in-laws we headed out into the chilly night air. I enjoy running with Wifey, it’s nice to share a little hobby / interest. Plus, she is very determined to complete the Southend Half Marathon in June, and full credit to her, she will not stop, she keeps on grinding out run after run, and is happy to be pushed just that little bit more each time.

I have no doubt that she will finish the Southend half Marathon way way quicker and stronger than she thinks she can.

We ran through the village and crossed the A12 into Springfield, round up and through Beaulieu Park, up over the A12 back through the village and home. For me, easy on the legs and at a pace that I’d be happy to do a full marathon at. For Wifey, a great steady pace, and a run that had a little change in scenerey from the normal route(s) she does. I am sure this is one she’d be happy to do on her own.

Wednesday – 3.95 miles (click here). OK, so, cracking over 4 mile mark would have looked better, and psychologically sounded better, but for what was supposed to be a gentle ‘blow the cobwebs out’ kind of a run was just a blat, and by the end of it my legs were heavy, I needed that little bit to warm down sufficiently (honest…)

It’s nice to slowly get the pace back that I had prior to the crash, maybe only over a short distance, and not that much help on the half marathons, but it doesn’t half feel good!

Saturday – 4.7 miles (click here). No bloody armband to carry my iphone. No bloody Garmin watch. No bloody headphones. All in my locker at work. 40 odd miles away, ready for me to go for a luchtime run that I didn’t get around to. So I ran with that odd ‘naked’ feeling that you get when you’ve forgotten a piece ro two of running kit.

I dropped the oldest off at football and went for a quick 5k run. Around the village, up past the station and back, along the A12 and back to the training ground. A nice 4.7 miles all between 7:30 and 7:50 per mile. Cracking.

Weekly total = 17.05 miles

Total covered this year = 63.25 miles

Distance left to cover = 807.75 miles.

Here’s to next week.

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No Excuses.

Let The Running Commence….

…well maybe not today, but possibly tomorrow. Or perhaps the day after?

I want to run but….

…I’ve got an excuse. I had a really bad car accident at the beginning of October and have been unable to run or train properly or go to the gym. I have been out for the odd run here or there, just to de-stress and unwind. Or to run with Wifey; who ironically picked up her running enthusiasm just as mine was lost in a 70mph wrestle with bloody great lorry.

To be fair, as good as an excuse as that is, it still doesn’t and hasn’t really stopped me from running or curbed my enthusiasm for running; far from it. Not being able to get out on a regular basis has been bloody frustrating, but I have enjoyed watching Wifey go from strength to strength as she trains for her first half marathon in June.

Something to aim for.

Her aim is to conquer the Southend Half Marathon, and whilst she only manages to get out once or twice a week she is already hitting 8-10 mile runs at a steady pace, it’ good training for a half marathon, 13 miles at the beginning of June should be a walk in the park for her.

I have entered this race too, and aim to cross the line with Wifey. I have ran it twice before, it’s a fairly easy course, simple route, and has lots of support from the crowds, especially when it’s hot and they hose you down!

For me, the race is 6 months away, by then I should have finished my physio, and be nearing the pace and good physique I was in back in October. But it gives me something positive to aim for, and in training I should eat away into the 800 plus miles that forms this LETJOG14 challenge.

But for now…

… I am going to break off another strip of this massive dairy milk bar of chocolate and pour myself another glass of port and lemonade…perhaps I will get my running kit ready for the morning and go out before work….?

Tenner says I don’t though!

Tuesday 3rd July 2012 – Running at the same pace

Running at the same pace

This was the beginning of my last week of ‘solo’ running for a while. As of next week I would be working to a marathon training plan, 16 weeks of tempo, easy and long runs in the build up to running the Amsterdam marathon at the end of October.

Today I wanted to cover 5 miles running at the same pace. This may sound easy and probably is for some people, but it’s something I tend to struggle with, so this morning I was going to practice it.

A simple route around the village at a manageable pace was the plan.

Setting off too quick

As per normal I set off a little too quickly, this is becoming a very annoying habit I have, and something I need to work on.

My pace slowed down after a mile or so, my target pace of 8m 20s to 8m 30s per mile, seemed manageable. I set out and headed down toward the village.

A quick right at The Cock, up and over the A12 and back not only adds distance to my route but throws a short sharp hill in both the beginning of my run and at the end too.

Back down to the main road, left at Plantation Road and then around the back of the village to the top of Church Road.

On Target

I turned left then, past The Lion, down hill then up to the A12 junction, over that and back on myself for the 2 mile run home.

So far so good with the pace, although I had slowed a little, something which I expected to do, I hadn’t gone over the 8m 30s per mile mark, I felt pretty good too, the legs were holding up nicely and my breathing was steady.

The last two miles were good, the uphill run back toward The Lion was easier today (I’m sure that’s just a mental thing). I tried pick pace up a little once I’d come back down the hill by The Cock and started the last half mile home.

All in all a good run this morning, happy with it.

Here’s a good 5 mile route

Saturday 16th June 2012 – Mind over matter

Saturday morning

I was up and out of bed all raring to go this morning, I felt good, and was looking forward to going for my run.

After the run on Thursday at the running club I had planned to tweak one of my usual routes a little to try and incorporate part of the run from Thursday. This would form the last part of the run and entail running through the back of Beaulieu Park and round the back of Newhall School and down to the A12, before heading home.

Today’s target was 13 miles.

Mind over matter

I may have mentioned this before, but I have struggled for quite sometime to get through the 3rd mile of each run, except when running a 5K. It’s within this mile that I get the ‘white flag’ moments.

You know those moments when you are already planning a shorter router. Or wondering how far you will get before you will stop and call someone to come and get you. Or if that ever so slightly aching leg or arm will stop your run today. Anything that will make you stop and turn around and go home. These ‘white flag’ moments drive me nuts. I hate them.

The odd thing is, as soon as the GPS or iPhone indicates that I have passed the 4 mile mark, my whole mentality changes, and I look forward to the rest of the run.

It’s a case of mind over matter really. Throughout the 3rd mile I am constantly fighting the darker thoughts and ‘using the force’ as it were.

There go my legs

The run started well, the first two miles around the village were good, I wanted to try and maintain a steady pace. I needed to complete my long runs at a continuous pace, practice for completing the half marathon and marathons I had planned.

All was going well, we’ll skip the 3rd mile and head straight to mile 6. I had ran through Chelmer Village and was now heading back up towards the running club HQ, and my legs stopped moving. Now warning. No pains, niggles or aches. They just stopped.

I walked for about 30 seconds, took and energy gel and some mouthfuls of water from the bottle and continued to run as if nothing had happened.  I was baffled, and remain so.

Heading up to Beaulieu Park I had a decision to make, did I go straight on and head for the route around the back of Newhall School or did I turn right and head for home, thus cutting the run short by a couple of miles.

I went right. Not sure why I had stopped earlier, I didn’t want to risk anything so I opted for the shorter route. I headed back towards the A12 interchange and was just starting the 2 mile straight towards home and my legs stopped again.

I walked for another 30 seconds, took another energy gel and began again, slowly making my way back home.

I managed to complete the 10 mile route in 1h 34m – ok it was slower than I would of liked, but I am still not sure why my legs stopped moving, and wasn’t going to increase the pace just in case.

Here’s the geeky bit!

The Southend Half Marathon

The Southend half marathon

Well the day had finally arrived. I’d been building up to this for a while now. Yesterday’s short easy run with Rob had relieved a little nervous energy and I felt relatively relaxed.

Although like most race days I was eager to leave and head to the race venue in good time. I didn’t want to leave it too late incase we got caught up in traffic or delayed somehow. I’d been training for this day and missing it or arriving late was not an option.

The Weston clan with Rob in tow headed off, we were due to meet up with Crispy and his clan before the race. Turned out he was as keen as me to get there and arrived some 20 minutes before we did.

The race atmosphere

We got there and parked up. Hundreds of people were already milling about. Some spectators but the majority were runners. All adorned with their individual race numbers, all either warming up, stretching or gentle jogging.

The atmosphere was buzzing. Me and Crispy kissed our respective loved ones farewell, got a pat on the back and words of encouragement from Rob, and headed on the direction of the start/ finish line.

We did our stretches and warmed up. Although we were already pretty warm: the forecast had been cloudy with some rain showers today yet the skies were blue and temperature was already rising. I hoped the heat wouldn’t have too much of an affect on us. We just needed to be sensible and run at a steady pace.

On your marks

Crispy and I huddled in amongst the other runners, everyone chatting or doing last minute stretches. The start time was 10:00am. We had a few minutes to go.

I was pretty much relaxed. I’d been in couple of races before, Crispy hadn’t though and I wondered how he was feeling.

The klaxon sounded on the stroke of 10:00 and everyone bottle necked to get under the inflatable start. It took us a couple of minutes to get through, as we crossed the line (which then activated our chip strapped to our ankle) I caught a glimpse of Wifey Rob and the boys to my left all waving and cheering. Today I would do them proud.

My targets for today’s race were a) finish in the top half and b) finish in under 2 hours. Crispy and I thought we could finish around 1h 50m mark but we hadn’t banked on such warm weather.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

We started well, and the first couple of miles took us through a bit of a residential area before dropping down onto Shoebury front and heading towards Southend. We were to complete two laps up to the Sealife centre and back and them back up to the park where we started.

Between miles 2 and 3 people around us were already dropping off. It was very warm. I was a little concerned, we were running around 8m30s miles and I think we should of slowed a little. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Thankfully there were plenty of water and sponge stations but I was carrying my own bottle filled with water. I didn’t need water stations. I am a fool. Still people were dropping out. Still the temperature rose.

Mile 8 was my nemesis. We’d completed one loop and were a third through the second. I was busting for a wee. I felt dizzy and sick and my legs felt like jelly. I told Crispy that I may have to stop and for him to keep going. I didn’t want to hold him up.

I took water at the next station, followed it with some segments of orange a spectator was handing out, an energy gel I had with me and a jelly baby that another spectator was handing out. Before I reached mile 9 I was right as rain and re charged. I took water at every station from then in.

I felt good but I’d lost Crispy. I kept glancing over my shoulder trying to find him. I wasn’t sure if he was ok? Or if he’d stopped or what!? Just after mile 10 we all turned left and ran up a short hill. Turn right at the top and through residential area. My legs feel like lead. I stopped at a water station and looked out for Crispy as I caught my breath. No sign of him.

I carried on.

Crossing the line

I ran slowly on. The crowds cheering and clapping was great encouragement. We turned onto some parkland and ran along the sea wall. I stopped again. We were less than a mile from the finish line and I had intended on crossing the line with Crispy, yet I couldn’t see him anywhere.

I had to carry on without him, I ran as hard and as I could to get to the line, my legs were heavy, and my heart was pounding inside my chest. Wifey, Rob and the boys were all at the line cheering and clapping, I crossed the line and pressed stop on the GPS. 

I fell into the line of people collecting bottles of water and a finishers medal, continually looking out for Crispy. There he was coming in through the line behind me, looking a little dazed and knackered but he’d finished! I was both relieved and pleased for him!

We’d completed the Southend half marathon, I was very pleased, I crossed the line in around 1h 58 minutes (could of been quicker) and position 716 out of 1493.

Here is the very hot half marathon info!

Tuesday 5th June 2012 – Improving my running pace

Trying a new route again

The other day, in fact the other day when I tested out my new GPS watch, I tried out a new route, this took me along the back country lanes through to Utling, then back up through Hatfield Peverel and home, all in all about 6 miles.

The first time out had been good, and this time was no exception, my aim was to beat my previous time, even to beat it by 2 seconds would be an achievement. I was also trying to improve my running pace.

I’d been out for a quick 5K yesterday, and hoped that I hadn’t used up too much energy.

Getting connected

Using too much energy was the least of my problems. Remembering to switch the GPS tracker on the new Garmin was my problem. I’d turned it on whilst I was stretching and warming up, and then set on my way.

I’d pressed the ‘start’ button, but it wasn’t until I was about 3/4 of a mile into it, and I heard the watch beep, when I looked I realised that it hadn’t connected with satellites, all I had done was to take it out of sleep mode. So if you ever buy one of the Garmin GPS watches make note!

A 10K run

The cock up with the watch had put me off a little, I was hoping to do a proper like for like run with the one I did the other day, now I wasn’t going to be able to do an accurate performance comparison. A like for like comparison on my pace and mile splits wasn’t going to happen.

Never mind though, I was here now and going to make the most of it. It was a lovely clear morning. There’s something about running along the country lanes and breathing in lung fulls of fresh air that make running that little bit more enjoyable.

The run up through Utling was good, I felt fine up until I hit Hatfield Peveral, the hill run up through Utling had taken me a bit as it had last time, I knew it was coming but forgot just how much of a bugger it was. By the time I had reached the Duke of Wellington pub, I had my breath and my legs back.

I turned left at the pub and headed towards Boreham, thankfully there was a little down hill run before heading back up the 3/4 mile up hill stretch before getting back home. The hill run was made simple by counting ten steps at a time, it didn’t seem too imposing and before I knew it I was at the top of the hill and home!

Here’s all the technical stuff!

Saturday 2nd June 2012 – The Garmin 110 Forerunner

Upping things a little

As you know I’ve been trying to improve my running a bit, I’ve been seeking more motivation and I have been taking my running a little more seriously.

I have got back into a running routine, I am plotting and running different courses and routes. I have joined a running club and I have entered races. I have even entered the Amsterdam Marathon.

All of these things are good and I am feeling better about my running, the main thing that is getting on my nerves and leaving me frustrated about my running is the fact that I seem to set off far too quickly and flag majorly towards the end of the run or race.

I need help with my pace.

The Garmin 110 forerunner

I recall a year or so ago talking to a guy about running, he was all excited about a new GPS watch he had just bought. He was a very serious runner, he’d completed a few marathons and he said that if I was serious about my running I should get one, I would need one.

I remember thinking it was a) a bit geeky and b) far above my level of running, after all at the time I was only running to keep fit.

Little did I know that it would become so addictive, and I would find myself where I am with it today. He was right, I needed a GPS watch. Mainly to keep track of my pace, something I could look at and measure how fast I was going and whether I needed to increase or decrease my pace.

I have done some research, and all GPS watches seem to do the same sort of thing, prices ranging from £100 to £300 – £400. I didn’t want to spend a fortune, but wanted something practical that would offer me the basic information I needed; mainly distance, pace set and current pace.

The Garmin 110 Forerunner seemed to be the most suitable, and upon reading reviews from others who had purchased it, it was quickly looking the likely choice.

Using the Garmin 110 Forerunner

Ok, so when my shiny new toy arrived yesterday I couldn’t wait to try it out.

I found it easy to set up, the small easy guide manual did what it said on the cover. I put it straight on charge ready for using it today.

I was going to try a new country lane route today, I was up early and heading out the door, ready to test the Garmin 110 Forerunner out.

Two minutes later I was still standing outside the front door as the watch searched for satellites….still waiting…

It finally connected, I pressed start and set off at a fairly rapid pace, a quick glance at the watch told me I was running sub 8 minute mile, so I eased off a little. After half a mile or so I turned right off of the main road and headed for the back lanes, towards Utling, fortunately there was little traffic, the air was cool and I was smiling.

A gentle run down hill (this could only mean one thing…time for a hill), and across a ford, a gentle right hand bend and then up hill. A bugger of a hill too. But I was ok, I felt good, I had paced myself for a change.

I ran through Utling and then onwards and through Hatfield Peveral, then downhill alongside the A12 and up towards Boreham. The 3/4 mile run up hill towards Boreham. It was tough going, but enjoyable.

I managed to clock 6.08 miles in about 51 minutes.

Here’s the new route with the shiny new watch!

Sunday 27th May 2012 – Preparing for a half marathon

Planning a run

I had planned today’s run a week or so ago. I was going to try to complete a 12 mile run with Crispy, my graphic designer mate. He had entered the Southend half marathon too, so we were going to get out for a run together.

We had covered 10 miles a month or so ago, and as much as it was a good run from my house, through the village and in and around Springfield and back, we decided that this time I would drive to Crispy’s and we’d run from his house.

Preparing for a half marathon

Crispy and I are both confident enough runners to be able to cover the 13.1 miles of a half marathon, I have run that distance and further on a number of occasions, but lately the furthest I had run was about 10 miles, most recently the Edmund Carr Charity Race a couple of weekends ago.

I think that what ever the distance of the race that you are going to run, you should of run that far a couple of times prior to running it, just so you are aware of your mental state, whether your body can cope with it, whether you can maintain that pace and whether you are in a fit enough state to complete the race.

It may be that you are more comfortable with 10k or 10 miles, and anything over and above that is way out of your comfort zone.

So today’s 12 miles would be suitable preparation for the actually race in 2 weeks time.

Training sensibly

By the time I got to Crispy’s house at 9am the temperature was already 18-19 degrees, it was warm and humid. Not ideal running conditions for me.

Crispy had plotted out a good route through country lanes, away from heavy traffic. Lots of fresh air and countryside, and as it would turn out, just enough shaded parts to take the edge off.

We decided that it would be more sensible to stop running if we were struggling with the heat or cut the route short, a much slower pace of between 9:00 minutes and 9:30 minutes per mile would be more suitable.

We set out and clocked the first mile at 9:17, a nice steady pace. The sun was beating down, but I knew we’d be ok, and we’d get to the end ok.

I love hills

We were passed by 3 or 4 cars in the first five or six miles, half a dozen cyclists over took us, and we crossed paths with a couple of other folk out for a run. I was pleasant and bearable – just.

One thing that James forgot to mention though were the hills. The first one was similar to the big one from Baddow last week, the second one wasn’t as bad, but bad enough. “how many more of these hills?” I asked Crispy, “just one, and it’s worse than those two – sorry, I forgot to mention the hills didn’t I?” he said.

We started on the third hill, it was a bugger, there was little shade around, we’d been slipping into the shadows as and when we could throughout the run so far, but this hill was exposed, it was a good half a mile long and seemed relentless.

Finally getting to the top and turning a corner I could see the road ahead wound round a corner, and it looked as if we would be going up hill again.

“Sorry mate, there is just one more hill, not good at explaining routes am I?”

Bugger. Was my first thought, but hey, we’re here now and there is no way I am stopping now. We tackled that hill, both of us grinding out step after step up that steep incline, and the feeling of achievement when we reached the top was immense.

The sensible route

At 7.5 miles we had a decision to make, did we go for the full 12 miles or cut it short and do 9-10 miles? We we both shattered. The hills and the heat had taken their tolls, to try and be heroes and possibly risk an injury would be silly, we decided to take it easy and head back the short route. Which was good cos it was downhill all the way home.

We managed 9.05 miles in 1 hour 26 minutes. Not quick by any means, but it felt good to have done it.

We’ve planned to do the course again in a weeks time – hopefully it will be a little cooler.

Here’s the hot hilly run.

Chelmsford Running Club

Running alone

There’s something nice about running alone, you can run at your own pace, you can increase or decrease your speed when you want, you can run where you want to and you can run when you want to.

You can watch and listen to the world go past as you run along streets, by streams or through woods and fields. You can experience the sights and smells alone, special moments when you see a deer an owl or a kingfisher, ok so it may be nice to share those moments, but it’s those moments that make MY run special. A reason why I like to run alone.

The solitude of running; that YOU time of the day. If it’s before or after work, its weekends, its running in the sun, snow or rain, it’s that short spell of freedom that allows you to break away from family or work stuff and come back refreshed and re focussed, de stressed and calm. Another reason why I like to run alone.

But running alone doesn’t help to improve your running. Nor does it help to get you used to running in a race or group running.

Running alone does not give you a pat on the back, or those words of encouragement when you want to throw the towel in, it doesn’t push you to improve your speed, it doesn’t give you a team of runners who are there for you and it certainly doesn’t give you another social aspect to your life.

Chelmsford Running Club

A year or so ago a friend of mine suggested I join a running club. “I don’t need a club to run” I said, full of myself. At the time I probably didn’t. I was achieving my own little goals under my own motivation and drive, something which I continued to do.

Then just after Christmas just gone I looked up “Chelmsford running club” on google, there in front if me were the words “Springfield Striders running club”. I took a quick nose at the website, they met up a couple of times per week, loads of members seemed to regularly win medals and they were fairly local.

I forgot all about them for a while, my time to be one a Strider was not yet.

Since I have booked myself into the upcoming races I have struggled to motivate myself a bit. Getting up in the mornings is a struggle (which is odd considering there’s normally daylight steaming through the curtains and it’s not dark at 5:30am). I knew I needed to do something to help with getting out and improving my distances and run times if I was going to finish these races.

So two weeks ago I punched “Chelmsford running club” into google again. Again there were the “Springfield Striders” in front of me. I decided there and then that I was going to attend a meeting on a Thursday the following week.

Joining a running club

I was very much looking forward to Thursday evening.

I was a bit nervous when I arrived, I didn’t know what to expect, or where or how far we would be running. What if I was too slow? What if I couldn’t keep up? What if I was out of my depth? What if I made a total tit of myself! Just…what if..?

I needn’t have worried. The first person I spoke to was very nice and friendly. I explained it was my first time and that I ran “a bit”. She introduced me to a member called Paul (which was easy to remember), we chatted for a bit before we went out. Paul has ran numerous races and completed 12 marathons, all in quite a short space of time.

Tonight we would be running 5 miles. Brilliant. Or unless you are Paul’s GPS system 5 is actually 6.5 miles.

Paul and I set off at a good pace, after a few hundred yards we were joined by another couple of guys. We ran. We chatted. We laughed and joked. We continually encouraged each other throughout the whole run. Time flew past.

I struggled a little with the slightly quicker pace, but I felt rejuvenated. I wanted to do it again. Back at HQ we warmed down and said our goodbyes.

I was buzzing. Why the bloody hell hadn’t I done this ages ago??

If you are thinking of joining a running club then do it. Now.

There are lots of additional benefits to it, discount from running stores, discount from race entry fees and help and encouragement from other people just like you!

Go on…do it

This was the 6.5 mile route!

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!