Monday, 26 December 2011

2011. A very good year

'Rain is falling, 
all around me, 
people running, 
on Christmas day, 
it's the morning for a run along the sea front, 
Merry Christmas, everyone!'

I love Christmas Morning running. Everyone is so friendly. 8 others along the seafront yesterday morning all enjoying a crisp morning. I followed my usual 10k route I do when I'm down at the in-laws and my legs certainly felt the lack of activity throughout December. The cycling and the running has been a little lax this month but after a year where I've done so much I'm proud of, I'm almost allowed this month off. Off being Grim and a Christmas day run. There's still time for more but with a crappy head cold, whether I'll bother is a different matter.

2011 has been: 13 races in 12 months. 4 personal bests that I was VERY happy with, travelled over my target of 2011km by 436km and a wonderful summer of rides with Dunwich Dynamo being the highlight.

Next year doesn't have distance targets or 'race a month' like 2011 did.  There's only 2 things I really want to do. Cycle Coast to Coast on the Single Speed and run the Berlin Marathon. That's it!

Bring on 2012, it's going to be a good one. I hope all your 2012's are everything you want them to be!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Grim 2011 - Race Report

My final event of the year has now gone and as usual, it was a lot of fun. This is my 3rd proper Grim and I come back every year as I enjoy it so much. Strangely though, it wasn't as grim as normal as 11 degrees and sunny makes it much more pleasant although in a strange way, not as much fun. I only say that because when it's close to zero, the impending fear you get from every single puddle gets your adrenaline flowing but when it's slightly warmer, the puddles don't have that hold over you. In fact, I made a point of aiming for pretty much every single one of them.

This is the thing I don't get. Why would someone pay £25 to enter and then try and go round the edge of the puddles! I just don't get it!! It seems completely alien to me. If I didn't want to get wet and muddy, I wouldn't enter this event. Where's the logic?? Don't get me wrong, I'm don't swan dive into them but running, splashing and squelching through mud and puddles gives me more child like joy than any other event I do!

To the event itself, impeccably organised as ever and no hassle at all. They have amended the course this year though. They've taken out the part known as 'the boring bit'. Previously, this was about 3 miles of gravel road through the forest with absolutely no obstacles at all. DULL! This is now only about 1km long and the rest has been replaced by logs, train tracks, big mogul hills (hill, puddle, hill, puddle, hill, puddle etc) which was my favourite bit and then some steep, muddy and narrow tracks through the forest. So much better. I can honestly say it makes the whole route interesting now if not a little tougher on the legs.

Soaked from the waist down and mud up to and in my beard! Welcome to Grim!

It's restored my faith in Grim events after May's quite frankly, crap, Beast in the East and also makes me look forward to Grim 'Night Terror' which is coming up in Feb which should make the whole concept even better by making it colder and also only having the light of a head torch to guide you round. Hahahahahahaha! This is gonna be so much fun!!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Old Deer Park 10k - Birthday Race Report

It's my birthday and I'll run if I want to. That was my philosophy when I booked this race. Described as flat and fast, I wanted a PB for my birthday. As I've mentioned before, I've never gone into a race aiming for a PB so this had potential to fail big time. However, I'm please to say, I didn't. Fail that is...

Getting the family up early for a drive to Kew on a Sunday morning, I knew it was meant to be chilly although I didn't expect this at 7:30am this morning. Would we even find Kew???

I'm glad to say we did, so parked up and wrapped up, off into the cold we went. We followed the mass of runners heading to the start area and I picked up my timing chip and tried to stay warm.

I'd heard a lot of negative reviews about the organisation of this race in events gone by but I have to say, it was fantastically done this time. The only exception to this was apart from your number and a couple of advertising leaflets, we got nothing through the post so working out what to do on the day was more guesswork than anything but considering all I had to do was pick up a timing chip, it wasn't exactly difficult.

With 5 minutes to go, I headed to the start and left Mrs HMC and The Boy to wander the park. The organisers started calling people forward by expected finishing time and knowing I wanted to go sub 49, I headed to the front of the sub 50 group.

Visibility had slightly improved at the start but those KM markers were destined to come from nowhere during the race.

The first 3 km are along the roads which were very well marshaled before hitting the Thames towpath for the rest of the race. Well at least I think it was the Thames. There was only about a metre of it visible but it was certainly cold and wet looking so I guess it must have been.

A couple of quick early kilometres got time in the bank and by the 4th KM, I knew I could run the rest at 5 minute KM and PB which was a nice thing to know. I then eased off to around that pace for the next few until 7km and then decided it was time to see if I could push on further.

At around 7.5km, you reach the part of the course where the quick runners are coming back towards you  before they veer off to the finish but this is also the point where the supporters are, cameras in hand.

This was the only bit I found tough, running towards people who had already done the bit I needed to do but head down (well it's not exactly like there was a view) I plodded on while attempting to keep my footing on the cobbles. The wet and VERY slippery cobbles. Luckily there were only around 100m of them and then at 8.5km, it was time to turn for home. 

As usual for me at this point, it was keep running at the same pace, clock your 9km time then see what you can do to get you to the finish. A 4:35km was the answer giving me a finishing time of 47:53 and soggy feet from the grass.

After the medal, water, banana and Ribena, I found Mrs HMC and The Boy and we headed out to get some brunch in an old toilet. I'm not being nasty here, Arthurs on the Green is a converted toilet who served me a great cooked breakfast with loads of coffee and fresh orange juice. Just what a PB cracking birthday boy deserved!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Bits and PC's

So looks like I may have got a partner in crime for next years marathon. I don't think he wants to do it but I think he'd dislike it more if he knew I had and he hadn't. Now we've got the small matter of agreeing on the location. Simple right? I think not. Watch this space.

Going through the 2011km mark last week, mainly due to the regular cycling commute I have now, means I needed a solution to how do deal with my clients when on the bike. Not in the sense of having to give them rides anywhere you understand but more about being in contact. The easy answer was a bluetooth headset but then the problem comes of which phone to connect it to. I have an HTC Desire S for personal use and a Nokia E72 for work. What if the client needs something and the Wife needs me to pick up dinner on the way home? The solution is this little Bluetooth headset . The little genius connects to 2 phones at once (unlike my old one) so now it doesn't matter who try's to call an out-of-breathe, cold and wet man on a bike. I have the ability to [talk] answer.

Wednesday's thunderstorm and torrential downpour (06:55am to 07:30am in case you're interested. All but 5 minutes of my commute) meant that the waterproof ability of my lovely Carradice 18oz Cotton Duck was tested fully. JUSTIFICATION!!! Everything inside, absolutely bone dry. And that's without mudguards! Mind you, I've even ordered those now. I need to be dry through the winter so my beautiful Yolkey is slowing becoming an old commuting workhorse. I already can't wait until next summer when I can strip off all the extras!!! For now I'll accept being seen, being able to see, being dry and therefore being warm, as the way forward!

Changing the subject back to running, November's race is Survival of the Fittest which will be cool but a bit unknown at the mo. It's also my first wedding anniversary on the same day and we've booked a lovely hotel for the night away from The Boy but that means if I'm given a late start time, I'm going to bail. When I signed up, it had a start time like 10am or something but basically they're going to release waves of starters for the best part of 5 and a half hours!! I'm not going to waste my entire day on it.

With this in mind, I've found another race to do. The Old Deer Park Richmond 10k. On my birthday. Not too far from home. On a quick and flat course. Therefore, for the first time ever, I'm going into the race with a mindset of getting a PB. It's always been during the run that I've felt it was possible and then pushed on but not for this one. PB is 49:03. I want it to read 48:xx. That will be the perfect end to the year but obviously as it's planned, watch me crash and burn!!

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Thursday, 20 October 2011

I did it!

At approx 7am this morning in the middle of Epsom High St, I completed my 2011 km for the year and therefore my 2011 year target is done!

I could have stopped to take a picture but quite frankly, it was bloody freezing so I leave you with this image of what it would have been like had I been cycling through Epsom High St in 1950! Ain't that lovely!

Now I turn my attention to 2012. That goal's easy. Complete a marathon which by the way, I'm still looking for your suggestions here

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

And now for the bad...

I left the last post on a high but all in all, there's some bad news too. It all started back in May when I ran the BUPA 10k in under 50 minutes. I was utterly knackered and beaten (unlike a smiling fresh faced eatingtrees that crossed the line only a few seconds behind me) but also delighted. It was like I'd finally sped up after 2 and a half years of pretty much the same speed. I was overjoyed and did something stupid.

In 2010, I had a goal of running a Half Marathon in under 1:50:00. I failed miserably! Didn't even come close but totally unexpectedly, I acheived it on Sunday and this has triggered my something stupid.

I told myself that if I ever ran a half in under 1:50:00, I owed it to myself to try a full Marathon. The whole 26.2 miles. Every single one of the 42.2 km. I also said I had to do it in the following calendar year which means 2012 will be the year of the big one. Ah Crap!!

I have never wanted to do a full marathon. I don't have the dedication in training or ability to deal with that much pain. I also suspect I never will again but for one day only (although I hope it doesn't take the whole day) I will attempt to do a Marathon. No time limit, just completion. No word of a lie, I AM ALREADY NERVOUS ABOUT IT!!! The thought of it fills me with fear but by putting it on here, it makes it a lot more difficult to back out.

But I need your help. I need ideas of a great marathon to do. If I'm only going to do it once, I want it to be great. I want the event itself to numb the pain! I will consider any but be nice to the beginner please... the less hills the better. A few thoughts strike me... Berlin maybe? Rotterdam? What about around the lakes in Switzerland? Like Lausanne? What do you think?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Maidstone Half Marathon Race Report - Ups and Downs

If I've learnt just one thing this year, it's that I can blag my way round a 10k and post a semi decent time. Push hard out of the blocks, get through half way and then just accept and deal with the pain that comes around 8k. Never going to be the quickest but job done. Not a problem. Today's race was a Half Marathon though. You can't blag a Half Marathon but I also know I hadn't done adequate training for this race which we were doing to 'celebrate' a friends 40th.

Christ was it cold this morning though. Up at 6am ON A SUNDAY and then had to de-ice the car before myself, Mrs HMC and The Boy could leave. That's not what you want come race day.

We arrived just before 8:30 for a 9:30am start and Mrs HMC and The Boy headed off into town to find a coffee and somewhere warm. At that point I decided I was going to run with my arm warmers as I only had a short sleeve and you cannot quite understand how grateful I was to have packed them the night before.


I met up with eatingtrees and Paul and headed down to the start as we were discussing guestimated finishing times. I guessed 1:56 - 1:57. This was based on my recent 17 ish km run and using that pace plus a little bit for the additional distance.

A quick note about the route,  a dull first half along the side of the A20 and undulating throughout but a pleasant and countryside based second half with less pavements to trip on than the first made it a pretty good overall course but not a favourite. The marshaling and support was second to none though. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement.

The start horn sounded and we plodded along but the route was very crowded and very soon I decided to take to the side of the road and paths in order not to lose too much time. The first mile was recorded in 8:08 which delighted me and then the fear came. I'D FORGOTTEN THE NIPPLE TAPE. NOOOOO!!!! Oh well, too late. The shower was going to hurt later! Along with a second mile of around 8:00, I knew I was setting off fast but I didn't want to slow and then fail. I at least, wanted to push as much as I could and then crash nearer the end if that's what was going to happen. I just carried on and generally hit the 8:10 mark.

I ran through 6 miles in 48:4(? something) and I was happy with that. Not far off my recent 10k times. I then decided that I would go through the 7 mile mark and add 54 minutes and that was my time to beat. Knowing how much I'd slowed on the training run, I thought this was a good guess. 7 was done with the clock reading 57:3(? something). OK, time to beat was set at 1:51:30. It would give me a PB by 3 minutes and so I plodded on up and down the undulating route but I had a nagging thought of what if...

8 miles completed and now a new target. I knew sub 1:50 was a possibility but I would have to push really hard and give it everything. I did and as the miles ticked on, an energy shot was taken on board and the sodding hills never stopped coming. The downs becoming worse than the ups as the legs were starting to burn. I just wouldn't stop though. Now I knew sub 1:50 was a maybe, I knew I'd be absolutely gutted with anything less.

When I did my first Half, I forgot about the extra .1 of a mile you have to do. I wasn't going to make that mistake again. At 9 m/m, that .1 takes 54 seconds. That could make or break it. 12 mile mark. 1:41:28. I only had to run one more 8:30 and then I'd have a minute for the last .1! One last push.

The 13 mile mark came round in no time and my watch read 1:48:52. COME ON!!!!!! Look down, keep the legs moving and probably look as though you're dying in every photo. Here comes the finish line. A KERB!!! WHO PUTS A SODDING KERB 20 METRES FROM THE END! Up the kerb into the tape, over the mats, stop the watch, check the watch, collapse sideways in the dirt. I'd done it. 1:49:41. I was now a sub 1:50 half marathoner, had a PB by 5 minutes and 10 seconds and I was and am, bloody delighted!! Even the shower wasn't as painful as it should have been... There's only one problem with my time today but I'll save that for next time. I'm going out on a high with this post!


Sunday, 2 October 2011

There's something going on around here...

Well there was yesterday anyway. Knowing the heat was going to get to me if I went out later in the day, I decided to get out of the house at 7:30am for a long run. The Maidstone HM is now only 14 days away so I thought I better start the training at some point and it seemed as good as any. I pulled on my trainers and headed out on a 15.4km route I'd been doing earlier in the year.

As I don't listen to music when running, I sometimes need something to keep my awake and today was VW counting. It seems there was a show on somewhere as by the time I'd finished, I'd seen 21 classic VW campers and 8 classic Beetles. There really are some dedicated people in the world!!!

Anyway, the route is an undulating little fellow that always tests my legs and 5-10km I could really feel something in my knee. Not a pain so much as some discomfort. Oh dear I thought but as with the majority of my running hypochondriac-ism, it settled down a bit as I was coming back along the road to home after around 12-13km.

At this point my brain decided that it would be good mentally if I could get 17km under the shoes as leaving only 4km extra to do on the day would just be a case of pushing on mentally so as I got closer to home, I suddenly took a detour and headed up another hill. The High St was coming alive now as it was close to 9am but I continued up the hill, past the other end of my road, up another hill and the started the steady descent back to home. Then the knee did it again but this time with pain. I slowed right down an got back and then id A LOT of stretching and touch wood, this morning it seems OK if not a little achy (along with the rest of my legs).

My pace was a lot slower than my recent 10km outing but 17:3km was completed in 1:32:55 and it's just a relief to have done some distance. It's not going to be quick but at least I know I should be able to complete it now.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Ashtead 10k 2011 - Race Report

Ah the joy of a home town race. No getting up stupidly early and before The Boy wakes up, no looking up directions to places unknown the day before, no sitting in a car park for over an hour as you turned up far too early and best of all, a toilet close at hand without the queues.

The Ashtead 10k was here again and along with it, the uneven bridle path of kilometre 1 and 9, the 'will there, won't there' of the hornets, the wearing his union flag/jack shorts by the organiser and the singing of the national anthem before the start.

Being this close to home, it also gave Lovely Wife a chance of being on time for the finish too which is more of a rarity now The Boy's around and I'm please to say she made it to cheer me along the final straight and even got it on camera.

eatingtrees came to visit before the race which was good to have a catch-up and then a slow wander down to collect our race numbers, pin them on and get to the start. The course is an out and back and can only be described as 'undulating/hilly' and as I said while walking down there 'there's no chance anybody would get a PB here unless they haven't raced much'.

Knowing the area and course like I do, the second 5km is more downhill than up so at the halfway point, the thought is more, 'worst is over' rather than a 'having to tackle it all again' attitude.

It's a little bunched at the start so I took to the long grass at the sides and when I ran through the first km mark which is mostly uphill in 5:05, it boosted my confidence no end. A recent training run on this exact course was long, slow and painful so I plodded on with a renewed sense of energy.

It's a keep left on a pathway kind of race and for me personally, the plan was to get as close to halfway point as possible before seeing the leaders run back past me. As it was, I made it to just past 4km (just before 6km for them) before the leader sprinted (it can only be described as sprinting) past and got from me as well as others on the course, a big cheer/clap/well done such is the general good feeling of the runners.

I hit the half way point on 24:45 and wow did that bring a smile to my face. I was honestly expecting to fight against last years time on 52:07 but currently, I was on for a sub 50 minutes for the third time in the last four 10k's! Another motivational boost.

Right, off we go. A slapped hand while passing eatingtrees less than a minute later kept the legs moving up the hill to the back of Ashtead common and now the watch was being checked every kilometre. 6km, still under 50mins. 7km, still under 50mins and I knew 7-8km was a quick one. 8km, 5:15!! I'd backed off too much as I felt it was easy and was now only 10 seconds inside that 50 minute mark and had the short sharp uphill to come. DAMMIT! Time to dig in again and now I had pace makers. They were going at a good rate so I felt that if I stayed in touch, I could still do it especially as the final KM is downhill albeit on the most uneven bit of ground I ever run on. Well except Grim.

Uphill and 9km complete and I'd got back 15 seconds. Sub 50 was back looking likely. What I didn't know (and had I known during, I may have pushed a bit harder) was how close to a PB I had come. 49:10 finishing time. 7 seconds off a PB. Nearly 3 minutes quicker than last year and I felt great!

Wonderful marshaling, a lovely atmosphere and a great race for me personally. Today was a good day!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Ahhhh Crap!

I had one of those 'Ahhhh Crap!' moments when I woke up this morning. 4 weeks until I have to run the Maidstone HM. 21.1km. That's more than I've run in the last 8 weeks in total!!

I also appear to have only 1 (possibly 2) weekends in which to train for it. I going to make a prediction here and now. I suspect I won't be getting a PB but I will finish it. Surely it can't take me longer than the evil Lisbon one in 2010 right?

I do have to figure out when I can run a bit though. It looks like I'm going to have to do some runs home from work. Total distance is a very good 17km but may have to build up to that a bit. At least my route home has loads of hills so it'll get the legs working. First I have the Ashtead 10k to look forward to tomorrow. Should be a good one if not particularly fast. I'm hoping to come close to last years time but no PB, that's for sure. Eatingtrees is joining me for my home town race which will be cool as he's missed races in the last couple of months but Paul has had a return of ITBS and won't run it unless he cuts both his legs off. Which kinda creates more problems than it solves.

The cycling is going well and I'm clocking up loads of kilometres which should easily see me through the 2011 goal I set myself at the beginning of the year but it has curtailed the running a touch. With all the cycling, I really had to do something about the rucksack on the back. Along with some shoddy pillows at home, it was starting to do the neck and back in so I invested in this thing of absolute beauty. I love it and best of all, no rucksack!!



All this cycling has got me thinking about next years European HM with Eatingtrees though.... 2009 was Prague, 2010 was Lisbon (evil) and 2011 was The Hague. So where in 2012? My thought process now is somewhere close to home. Like Belgium. That way, we can cycle there and then run a half marathon. The Mass HM in Visé is looking like a distinct possibility....

Monday, 29 August 2011

Arundel 10k - Race Report

It's been a while hasn't it. Sorry about that. With work, The Boy's first birthday and a few other bits and pieces, I just haven't got round to writing anything. Or in fact running much either.

I did do the Suffolk Coast ride but my last run was actually on the 23rd July. Oops. Not exactly a good training regime but as I've cycled the best part of 400km in Aug alone, I felt I should be able to do this run and complete it, if not in a very quick time. Mind you the hills worried me. I booked this as August's race as it was down near in in-laws so we could make a weekend of it but I also knew about the hills. Or hill. It's one long climb from 1 to 5km and then again from 7 to 8km and the the finish is uphill on the High St too. Bring it on.

They say, never do anything new on the day of the race. However, with all these hills, I decided I could use some help so I started my morning with the Orbana Healthy Energy sample I'd been sent. The idea that it's gives you a natural boost instead of the caffeine and sugar dosed ones I occasionally use. Firstly, what does it taste like. Well on the plus side, it isn't horrible and sickly sweet but does it taste nice, fresh and well.. healthy and natural?? Not to my taste buds but everyone's different. It was certainly drinkable and maybe did give me a boost but I have to say I didn't notice an instant kick from it. Maybe it's more of a slow release thing. I certainly still felt pretty good when I'd finished the race so it's a possibility  and at least my body wasn't full of all the usual crap. Anyway, you can check out all the proper info on them here. Hopefully they do them in bottles soon though as measuring out 250ml of water, then pouring that in a bottle in order to shake it and mix the powder in is a little more hassle than I need at 7am when trying to get ready.


As for the race, what can I say. Beautiful. Absolutely stunning scenery. You wouldn't do this race for the PB but I had bright (a little too bright if you ask me) sunshine and the views went on for miles (although they tend to when you're that bloody high.) It starts in the High St before going through the castle grounds and through the park up to the high point at the 5km mark. Then it's an alternate route back down (that somehow still manages to get a sod of an uphill that lasts a whole km in there) before coming back through the castle grounds again and then a steep finish up the High St.  The marshalling was fantastic and everyone seemed so friendly.


There was only one disappointment and that was that due to the tight fisted-ness of the Management at Arundel Castle, no one was allowed into the grounds to see the runners and to get to the park beyond it was an almighty trek which is not good for a mum, a Boy in a pushchair and 2 grandparents. They did get a good spot at the bottom but it seems such a shame when all those views are on offer. The castle grounds literally only had the odd marshall and some bored looking employees in golf carts who were probably keeping an eye out for anybody actually looking around the grounds for free while running. Maybe I'll get an invoice in a couple of days as I did look up a couple of times.

UP THE HILL TO THE FINISH LINE. I'M THE BLUE DOT IN THE MIDDLE (you can click to see it bigger)

However, this has nothing to do with the race itself which as I said... brilliantly organised and brilliantly marshalled. I came in on 52:14 which although not quick against a finish time I'd set myself of 53mins, I'm pretty happy damn with.Now I need to make sure I get some training in as I have a couple of people coming to my home town race next and I can't let the locals down can I!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Hell of a ride - Dunwich Dynamo 2011

I've now written 3 first sentences to this post. This is by far, the worst so I will move on quickly. Very soon after London to Brighton 2010, I stumbled onto something that mentioned this insane ride through the middle of the night from Hackney to Dunwich Beach on the Suffolk coast. Ooh, ooh, I said to Grant, 'we could do that next year, wouldn't that be cool'. This weekend was 'next year' and it was time for Dunwich Dynamo 19.

I went through every emotion the week prior to this ride. Nervous, excited, scared. It was a bit of the unknown from the riding in the night, the distance was by far the longest I'd ever ridden and going without any sleep which I hadn't done since The Boy was born.

It started pretty badly as the restaurant Grant had booked for us to carb load prior to the start wasn't actually open. Plan B came into effect which was pub meal under massive umbrellas trying to avoid the torrential downpour happening around us. Following that, it was up to Hackney to firstly avoid having our bikes stolen and secondly, start the ride.

The first 30 odd kilometres are through East London and out through Epping. Most of the drivers are fine but there are a load of angry little tossers leaning on the horn and shouting abuse out of the window. Also, I saw a mother driving her young children and allowing one little girl to lean out of the window and shout abuse. You must be a very proud mother and I'm sure your daughter will grow up to become a fine upstanding citizen. Or a politician.

We planned to stop at 50km whether we wanted to or not to refuel and get some energy on board. At 47km and 11pm, there was a lit garage in a little place called Leaden Roding so we ate and drank a little, put our jackets on as the temperature was starting to drop and after 10 minutes, headed off again.

The next 40 or so KM's went by with no major dramas and off we cycled through a few Essex villages from which we received a mixture of high 5's, abuse, flashing drunk 'ladies' and general pub chucking out rubbish. We headed to the closest thing to an official stop point in a village called Sible Hedingham at around 87km to be met with such horrendous queues that we sat on the curb and ate and drank some bits and pieces from our bags instead. I would have actually killed for a cup of tea though.

The next bit was going to be the hardest and the bit I'd feared the most so and about 1.15am, we headed off into the darkness for the next 50ish km run. 5 minutes later, what could have been complete disaster. While riding at a reasonable clip alongside Grant, I suddenly saw, and then yelled to warn those behind me, 'GLASS!'. Instinct took over and knowing Grant was on my right and the left hand side was clear, I quickly went left. Unbeknown to me, a curb had started only a few metres before and I hit it pretty hard and was flung from my bike but luckily just onto a lot of grass. No aches or pains and landing on the soft damp grass was VERY lucky. The bike seemed to be OK too and using a stopped passers by headlight, gave it the once over. All seemed good and we were off within a minute or 2.

5 minutes later I called for Grant to pull over as something didn't feel right and it wasn't. While avoiding the puncture from the glass, the force of hitting the curb with the sidewall of the tyre had caused a puncture. Time for what Grant described as his worst nightmare. Mechanical problem on an unlit road at 2am. No need to thank me buddy, that's what I'm here for! A new tube and a compression CO2 pump later, we were away again with only around 15mins lost.

This part of the ride was tough though. The downhills were scary as you couldn't see much, my eyes were very tired and wanted to shut a couple of times and in general, the feeling that apart from some strange people who's lights you can see in front and behind, no one else is stupid enough to be awake. Not quite true but that's how you feel. The uphills were better as you had to work harder and therefore get the blood flowing around your body again. These helped to keep me awake. Then 3.30am arrived and the very first glimpse of light on the horizon. It gives you the perfect little boost and at 4am and with 136km completed we stopped for 10 minutes to refuel and attempt to stop Grant's cranks making the most annoying creak and squeak that had been going on for the last 100km. In case you're wondering, it didn't get fixed.

At around 4.15am, the sun was starting to rise and we were met with this lovely sight. This is why people do these rides.

I was through the worst of it mentally and now it was just time to plug away. Nothing really to report about this part of the ride. The backside was sore, the thighs burnt just a little bit more with every incline but it was all good and to be expected. At 6am, it was rest backside, go for a pee and snack but were back on the bikes within 5 minutes and this was to be the last push. We had in the region of 22-25km left.

At 6:23am, we saw this. I cannot describe the utter joy that this picture brings.

From then on, we picked up the pace and went for it as the end was in sight. All the while, passing numerous riders that were cycling another 50km in the opposite direction to get the train from Ipswich. We're not the mental. We arrived at Dunwich Beach at 6.50, had a post ride hug, locked the bikes up and went off to get some breakfast. Though unable to even start or hold a conversation, after 3 cups of tea, a little food and a dry and warm complete change of clothes, we felt human again for the first time in a while and headed to lie on the beach to await the coach journey back.



All in all, it was fantastic. It was a massive sense of achievement to complete the ride and I'm pretty sure I'll be back next year to complete it again. These little notes are for me if I do it next year.

Take an extra cycling top - A change of top around 2-3am could have really sorted me out as putting the bag on a cold and sweaty top is nasty.
Long socks - Again, pulling them up through those middle of the early morning hours could have kept the chill off the legs (tights would be too warm).
Ipod - One headphone in one ear through the traffic free and quiet hours of 1-4am could have really helped me along and kept me alert.
Lift - Pay someone to drive up and meet me OR take the car up the day before. Waiting 5 hours for a coach for another 3 hour journey is a killer!
Lights - Buy a better set. Although bright enough, lose connections of the cheapies meant going 'dark' just when I didn't need to on a couple of occasions.
Crash - DON'T!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Cranleigh 10k Race Report - Payback time

Last year, I ended my Cranleigh 10k race report with the following words 'I can't wait until next year. I'll be back. This course owes me 17 seconds!' Today was payback day. I remembered this course from last year and knew it was flat so although I haven't done a tremendous amount of miles in the last month I did feel that going under 50mins for the second time in 2 races was a possibility. Could I go under 49:35 for a new PB though... that I wasn't as confident about.

I got Mrs HMC and The Boy up nice and early and headed off through the countryside to the little village of Cranleigh. There we met up with my mate Paul (eatingtrees was due to join us too but as he's completely broken, he had to pull out) and we made our way to the start area with a spring in our step.

You are organised into predicted finish time and then led to the start which is on a pretty narrow disused railway line so a little stony, a little muddy but plenty of shade from the sun. Surprisingly, people seemed to have got into the correct time pens because as we started, there wasn't as much overtaking as you usually get. People just seemed to settle quite quickly into their own races. First KM split was 4:38. WAY too fast. After that, I seemed to settle down and aimed to be under the particular 5 min mark (i.e. 5,10,15,20 etc) at every marker.

There were loads of marshals, loads of signs and 2 very much appreciated water stations. I love this race. The marshals are so encouraging and the runners so appreciative of them. You always here a lot of 'Thank you's'. I did feel a bit for the guy that got the job marshaling through the farm and next to the cow shed though. I picked the short straw. The one small hill appears around 6.5km and lasts for about 30 metres so it's pretty easy and then gone although Paul did mention that you can see it coming from quite a way out which means it affects you more mentally than the actual physical effort of getting up it.

8km passed and I had just under 11 minutes to come under 50 mins. No problem. At 9k, I realised my error. I had slacked off and recorded my slowest KM for the course so far, A 5:30ish!!! Time to dig and push on. I did and ran one of my fastest KM for the last one crossing the line in 49:03. A new PB by 32 seconds so absolutely delighted but annoyingly, knowing that I was only 4 seconds from going under 49mins, is hard to take.

I got a bottle of wine as I passed through the finish area (although I have no idea why, only some people were getting them) but very much appreciated and then turned to See Paul come into the finishing straight setting himself a new PB of 50:40.

Once again, thanks to all the marshals and race organisers. It was fantastic again. I guess there is only one thing to say, I can't wait until next year. I'll be back. This course owes me 4 seconds!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

June was good. Just not so much the 'athon'.

Well Juneathon was a fail. Started to pick up little niggles and then just decided that as I was going on holiday for the last week and a half, I didn't intend to spend that time forcing myself to exercise when there was baguettes and paté to eat and copious amounts of red wine to drink. Therefore, I didn't manage much but with an 85.98km London to Brighton Cycle, my fastest ever run at Crisis, the offer of a new job and a week and a half camping in France, June was extremely good without the 'athon' part. Some amazing stats and huge numbers this year though so well done to everyone that was involved.

Upon returning from eating a lot of baguettes and paté and drinking copious amounts of red wine, I felt Sunday would be a good idea to get on Yolkey and cycle a stupidly long distance. Actually, I really didn't think this was a good idea but as I had a)already agreed to it and b)knew that if didn't do it, I wouldn't be in a position to complete Dunwich Dynamo in 2 weeks, I didn't have much choice. Therefore myself and eatingtrees completed 147.76km in one gear though the hills of Surrey and West Sussex. I'm not going to lie. I had to dig deep. A lot. I found it tough but to be fair, I'd be a little freaked out if I hadn't. It's a bloody long way for a slightly out of shape father to go on a bike. Just shy of 92 miles!! Now we just have to do it all again in 2 weeks and add another 50km to the distance. Joy. On the plus side, it should have a lot less hills. On the downside, it'll be pitch black, through the middle of the night with no sleep. This was something I wanted to do?!?!?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

That's the year completed

Just a run round the block for today's Juneathon and a first little foray into my speed increase theory.

Really happy. I've now found and entered to 2 missing races (Aug and Nov) so that's my minimum one race a month for the year complete. August will be the Arundel Castle 10k (with maybe a little camping thrown in as it's the bank holiday weekend) and thanks to a friend of eatingtrees, November's race will be the Mens Health Survival of the Fittest in London. What have I let myself in for?!?!

November's race actually falls on my first wedding anniversary so I suspect it's going to cost me long term. I suspect a meal out is the very minimum I'll have to pay for asking my wife to stand around Battersea Power Station and watch my get tired, wet and muddy!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Crisis Sq Mile Race Report

Ignoring the fact that due to an number of excuses reasons including VERY late running trains, evening meetings and Mrs HMC's classes, I have missed Juneathon days 6,7 and 8, so Day 9 meant it was time for my first foray into the world of the Crisis Sq Mile.

An event that has been championed by numerous people as fun and a little different, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss plus I'd get to tick off June's race too.

I met up in Paternoster Square behind St Pauls with Cathy, Grant and Shaun and after donning the red shirt t-shirt and laying down for a bit for a photo opp, we started (surprisingly it seems) at 7pm sharp! I knew nothing of this race except that the roads weren't closed, we'd probably scare a few commuters and we'd cover many a sight of London. Distance... unknown. The only info I had was that last year (and bear in mind it changes every year), it was 7.3km.

So I continued my BUPA theme of pacing myself. That being say 'Sod it' and run as fast as is acceptable for as long as I could. The route (this year) took us from St Paul's, along Embankment, across Blackfriars bridge, looped round past the Millennium Eye, along the South Bank, back over Blackfriars, along Embankment in the other direction to, and across Southwark Bridge and then a loop round to finish after crossing the Millennium Bridge. It's lucky I'm a bit of a bridge geek really.

It's a great sight to see somewhere between 1000 and 2000 runners in red t-shirts hitting the streets Flash Mob style. It's an event I really enjoyed and I'd like to think I'll be back next year.

I finished the 6.71km (according to 2 Garmins) route in 31:26. That's an average pace of 'bloody quick for me' per mile.

And as it was this was another quick run (last 3 runs all under 8 m/m (5m/km) and Crisis at 7:32 m/m (4:42m/km) I now want to know how fast I can go. Every other time I've tried to speed up, I've picked up an injury but after recent conversations with both Grant and Shaun, a thought hit me while sitting on a stationary train for a long time last night (thanks SouthWest trains, twice in a week... nice). I'm not going to share my thoughts with you at this moment and not because of any secret 'build up the tension thing' or even 'I want no-one else to know thing'. It's purely that it could all turn out to be a load of crap so I want to test my theory first. It's not going to be a quick process but if I start to see an improvement soon, I'll let you know my thoughts. I'm going to be my own guinea pig!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Time for a change

I didn't mention it at the time but there was a strange smell on the second half of the BUPA 10k that wasn't all that pleasant. It took a while for the penny to drop that it was actually my t-shirt and after 2 years and numerous races and numerous training runs had come to the end of it's smell free life. Time to go shopping!

I wanted a couple of replacements and found myself heading over to to check out what they had. Quite a simple and straight forward website meant that I was able to find the mens tops quite quickly and once I'd checked out the size guide and selected the size I was after, I was given a large selection of tops from some very well known brands to choose from.

Prices ranged from the very high (maybe it's just me) to much more in my price range so I found 3 I liked that were at the lower end of the scale, in colours that mean I'll never be missed on the course again and headed to the checkout.

Delivery had 3 options which were standard, express and next day and I have to say, I'm not a fan of paying for standard delivery and generally go elsewhere but I felt £2.99 was a small price to pay for the 3 tops I'd chosen. I could even pay by Paypal which saves the whole card details and address input thing but maybe it was having a bad day as it wouldn't let me use my account. Pah! I ordered Tuesday and delivered on Saturday (just after I got back from a run typically) so not as quick as some sites but if I had been desperate for it, I could have paid more I guess.

Overall, a good site with loads of stock from some good brands at pretty good prices. Give them a go next time you smell a funny smell while running. It may be you.

Juneathon has continued with a little running and a little cycling but nothing interesting has happened so I don't want to bore you all. My stats, as with all the others are on that running free site.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

After the fizzle, here comes the pop

Well after Monday's blistering BUPA 10k, I was ill all night and lost pretty much most of the fluid in body. Not the best thing for muscle recovery and diluting the lactic acid in my legs. Tuesday, I couldn't physically move. Wednesday was only slightly better so day 1 of Juneathon was a mighty 1.43 mile bike ride around the block to check the creaking in my cranks. I'm pretty sure that if I was at school, the report card would have said 'can do better'.

This morning I did. At 5:30am, I headed out on the route that WAS Juneathon 2010. Last year, out of the 22 days I ran, 19 days were run on this route and the majority of those at 5:30am. The fastest I had ever run this route was 25:02 and I remember it being tough. Today, with VERY heavy legs and a head that only a 5:20am alarm can bring, I headed off again. The legs hurt but it didn't feel too tough so I fail to understand how I smashed my best time again. 24:36!!

That's 4.47 KM pace (or a frankly ridiculous for me, 7:43 m/mile). This is someone who struggled to creep under the 9 minute mile barrier 3 years ago.

And yet more news, for the first time in at least 6 years and probably more, my weight has dipped (just) below 13 stone! I've been 13 stone something and once or twice hit 14 for so long, I was resigned to being that weight forever. Now, my weight starts with a 12 and I'm a happy boy. This combined with the last year running in the Surrey Hills and the numerous miles on the bike are obviously paying off with my times.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Although I'm in danger of peaking too soon on this post, let me just put it out there that after god knows how long, I ran this race in 49:35. That's 2 mins and 2 seconds quicker than my previous PB and finally broke that sub 50 minute hoodoo!

Well how did it all come about....

I did this race a couple of years ago and remembered all those bits today. The things I love, i.e. flat course, lots to see, loads of support and Mo Farah and Jo Pavey running at full pelt to the things I hate, i.e. the 'safety officials' with their high level of self importance, the fact they try and start cramming you into the pens up to 45mins before the race and those commentators that quite frankly ruin what could be a nice quiet morning in Green Park.

I met up with an excited child called eatingtrees who was bouncing off the walls with positivity for this race and sat on the grass looking at the clouds and wondering when I'd have the courage to take off my jeans and go with the shorts. Then the sun came out and BOY did it come out. Another reminder of the race a couple of years ago when the heat was a killer. A quick chat with Dianne, and separately with Adele, Edward and Hector and it was off to dump our bags we went.

I was in 2 minds about this race. I hadn't run for 2 weeks due to a painful left knee and couldn't decide whether this was genius or stupidity. Would I crash and burn? Quite possibly but I also felt confident that if I didn't and the knee held, there was a PB chance. I didn't honestly believe it would be sub 50 though. Because of the lack or recent training (although I had been running prior to that plus plenty of miles on the bike) I had decided on a strategy for this race. One I had never tried before. This is what I emailed eatingtrees prior to the race.

"Incidentally, my current plan for BUPA (which I have never tried before) is push from the start and see what happens. No taking it easy and seeing what happens. No resting in case the knee hurts. Just say fuck it and see how long I can run at 5min/km pace and hope I don't crash and burn."

Some would say bold. Some would say stupid and I was well aware those 'some' could be right but I felt that for this race, it was my only option.

One thing I have learnt doing these London races is that you can't let yourself get held up for the first km. That can easily add 2 minutes to your time so when our Blue A group started, I just went. I had no idea that eatingtrees was hot on my heels with the same 'don't get held up' theory as me but with a first km of 4.45, it obviously worked although I panicked a little as there was no way that pace would stick.

Eatingtrees had eked in-front at this point but I knew that I just had to stick to the pace and any time I started feeling myself slow, I just pushed on again. Kilometres 2 and 3 were both 4.45's too and by the time 5km came up, I was shocked to see I was well inside the 50min pace at 24:49.

Just after that I had caught eatingtrees again and we ran the next bit together side by side (he had headphones in) and then I I just kept doing what I was doing. At 8km, I remember looking at my watch, seeing 39:40 and thinking right, 2 kilometres at 5:10's and you have your 50 minute 10k. I ran through 9km and looked don to see 44:50. Blimey I'm consistent.

This was it. I could actually do this. I turned into Horse Guards Avenue and then right onto Whitehall. I knew Mrs HMC and the Boy would be at the top of Whitehall so I kept an eye out, shouted a hello and then turned for The Mall. This bit is longer than it looks and seems to take an age but by just keeping focussed on pushing on and checking the watch, I ran over the line, looking like I'd been shot in that new magic PB. Hardly any time at all later, eatingtrees came across with a massive grin, with his arms out like an aeroplane looking 30 times better than me. Oh yes, the knee... it was absolutely fine apart from one little twinge. I don't know what all the fuss was about.

The safety police who had nothing better to do than piss me off, insisted on keeping me away from Mrs HMC and the Boy for a good 30 mins by closing all the relevant points where we could get together but after walking half the length of London, we were joined again and along with eatingtrees, Adele, Edward and Hector, headed into SoHo for some well deserved Mexican food!

What a race, what a day. Now I just need to figure out if I'll ever be able to go faster!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Continued hiatus brings out Yolkey

As I'm currently on a bit of a hiatus from running due to the continued pain in my left knee, it was wonderful to get out on Yolkey on Saturday morning with fellow London 2 Brighton rider, my Mum who was down visiting The Boy, and complete 37.3km.

I say it was wonderful to complete it because after not having one ever before, I got my second puncture in 2 rides! I didn't believe slim filled inner tubes would give me any benefits. I am now looking on the internet for some slime filled inner tubes as I'm sure they would have stopped the second if not the first. ARGHH!!!!

Something I did buy myself this weekend were some cycling shoes though. Mountain bike ones obviously so I can actually walk in them but cycling shoes none the less. See I've had a pair of clipless pedals sitting in the shed for a year or 2 now so finally decided to bite the bullet and get some shoes to use with them. Haven't tried them but I'm going to fit the pedals tonight and then in the next day or two, take it for a little test ride.

BUPA 10k next Monday and then follows Juneathon. Not sure how well I'll do with the knee and will probably have to be more cycling based rather than running based but with Crisis coming up too plus a camping holiday in France, things are looking like fun!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Grim: Beast in the East Race Report

I'm a huge fan of the Grim Original event generally held in December (although in January this year due to the snow) so immediately after finishing last years event I signed up for 'Beast in the East' hoping for more of the same.

I was looking forward to it so much and brought with me, the usual towel, change of clothes and joyful anticipation of what was to come. There were quite a few people I knew doing this including eatingtrees and Shaun, plus friends Paul, Graeme and Chris so it was a social affair and one I felt we'd be talking about for a long time yet.

We won't. In all honesty, it was a tough 10k. Or 9.7k or 9.6k or 9.5k depending on who's Garmin we read but that's about it. No puddles, no marsh, no freezing cold knee deep mud. No shrieks and whoops of delight and frankly, no lasting memories. I didn't even have to get changed before I drove home!

The website states 'we didn't think anyone would break the hour for this 10k' but I'm an overweight 31 year old who only runs so I can eat more crap and I finished in 58:23. Quite frankly, it was a tough 10k and not even as tough as the Hard As Snails 10k i did a couple of years ago.

It was good to see a few people who I knew and catch up but this just wasn't a patch on Grim Original and there is no chance of me doing this event again. There was nothing grim about it. Give me the water, mud and screams of delight of the original event any day.

I did have a chance to try some Voltz Energy Shots that I'd been sent though and they are pretty good. I've tried gels in the past and find them too difficult to stomach but these shots are just liquid energy. Basically, pure sugar and caffeine. They do both Citrus and Berry flavours and the best thing about them if they don't taste too strong. It's a subtle taste and the citrus one tastes wonderfully like (this description has been deleted due to stolen words taken from eatingtrees).

Oh, OK. But I will say again , they taste very good and I'm looking forward to trying them when I go out for a long ride in a couple of weeks too. I reckon they'll go down just as well then.

During the race, my left knee appeared to flair up again so apart from a couple of little runs with Mrs HMC, I'm going to stay off the knee until the BUPA 10k at the end of May as I really don't want to do it any more damage. Then maybe, just maybe, I might be in line for a PB

Monday, 9 May 2011

The glass was half flat

Saturday. Early morning. A lot of rain. Plans to cycle 34km. Oh well. Now I had plans to cycle 34km in the rain. Being a little precious about Yolkey, this was the first time I was ever going to go out on it in the rain but it would be a good test of the tyres if nothing else. I helped get the boy ready before jumping on the train to Horsham. Then I cycled some of the most beautiful countryside roads I've ever been on. Powering on, head down it was not. Head up, looking around, 'la le la', 'isn't this pretty' was a lot closer to the truth. As for the rain, a little drizzle was about it which was a result!


I knew I had a 17% gradient hill coming up on the way out of a little village called Steyning so I was resting my legs a bit on the downhills approaching the village and had to come out from the kerb a little to avoid some broken glass as I was coming up to a junction. It seems i didn't come out far enough though. There I was on a grass verge at a main road junction, bike upside down and wheel off. I had to prise the shard of glass out of my tyre with the pliers on my leatherman but eventually got it out. Then repair to both, a bit of air back in and off I went again but never fully trusted the tyre again. This is why I don't like hand pumps. You can never get that solid feeling back.


The hill hurt. a lot, and no, I wasn't able to cycle up the whole thing with the single speed but I got up quite a few and walked up other bits. Actually, I reckon I found the walking harder than the pedaling. Anyway, I finished the ride with an absolutely horrendous sound coming from my cranks which happened on my last ride too so it appears my bottom bracket is well and truly screwed. As it's a sealed unit so sod all I can do about it. New one is now on order along with a spare inner tube and a spare tyre!

There was plenty of rain on Saturday night which meant that lovely fresh air was too good an offer to turn down so I headed out on a lovely flat 10k run around the streets and sea front of Worthing. Bang on 10k route was plotted and a gentle pace was picked. However, I had a few minutes to go and not that long and realised I could be on for a good time here. Paced was promptly picked up and had it been a race, I would be telling you I had a new PB, 5 seconds faster than my current but is wasn't so it's not. It does mean that if I can avoid the crowds at the start of the BUPA 10k in a few weeks time, I could run my record pretty close which is kinda cool.

Next weekend sees Grim Beast in the East and a birthday celebration weekend for Mrs HMC so there won't be any time for a ride but I have a few extra km to be run this week yet and obviously a bike to clean. With the mixture of muddy water and grease, Yolkey is not looking his best!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Job done

The 2 birds, 1 stone theory came out last night as I headed out on an 8km loop that ended at the polling station to vote a mere 300m from my house. Upon walking in and giving my address, I got the pretty quick witted line of 'and you're that tired running from there, you need some more practice'. It was said with a smile and I thought still showed some humour after being sat at a desk most of the day handing out polling cards.

The run was non eventful but felt comfortable the whole way and that even includes the 2 hills that i have to contend with on that route. In fact I spent pretty much most of the run thinking about Saturday's cycle to and Sunday's run around Worthing. It was just nice to be running in the evening again to be honest without the need for torches, 14 items of clothing and frost on the beard. The 8km was run in 5.15's which was a comfortable non pushing pace for me.

A 34km ride is planned for tomorrow followed by a run on somewhere in the region of 9-10km on Sunday morning which should give me a good level of fitness as I approach Grim Beast in the East the following weekend. Not that will be fun. Quite a few people I know who are doing it so it will be a real team 'get everyone over the line event'. Bring it on!

Sorry for the extremely dull post. I even got bored typing it but I've come this far now so I better fi....

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

If Carlsberg did weekends....

What a splended weekend that was. May I request that we only have 4 day weekends going forward please. I'm not anti royal or anything but the chance to get out on Yolkey on some quieter roads on Friday morning was too good an opportunity to miss and I promptly clocked up 25.25 miles around the Surrey hills which is a good start to the training.

This was followed up on Saturday morning by a repeat of Wednesday's 9.11km route but it was a tad slower due to heavy legs and took the best part of a minute longer. Then came Mrs HMC's idea of going camping for the night on Sunday. A chance to test the new tent properly and also get the boy camping for the first ever time before our planned trip to France in June. Everything worked. The boy slept like a log, the tent held up in some average winds and myself and Mrs HMC got to camp properly for the first time in 2 years as last summer, the bump was a bit too big to do it comfortably. Wine, open fire, marshmallows and sleeping under canvas. Bliss!

Strangely, my legs feel heavier today than they have done at any point this weekend so it'll be a quick jaunt out tomorrow, followed by a ride down to Worthing on Saturday to visit the in-laws and clock up more miles. I just need to get this few days of work over with first!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Hydration. I got a D

I worked from home yesterday. This meant a few things:

a)I had a fridge full of chocolate
b)I had a boy to look after as Mrs HMC had to pop into work for a meeting
c)I had lots of spelling errors on my emails from an excited boy hitting the keys
d)I had time for a run

Now seeing as this blog is loosely about running, point 'd' seems to be the most relevant.

I needed to take the boy to one of his nursery settling in sessions and had planned to stay in town, take my kindle, buy a coffee and kill some time. However, in a moment of inspiration, 10 mins before I was due to leave, I realised I could drive in, drop him off, drive back, get changed, go for a run, have a shower, drive back in and pick him up again just as he finished if I was organised.

I was. Now after my last run where I found an old route I'd done a while before and spanked the time out of the park, I decided on that theory again and promptly found a 9.11km route that I'd last run on the 24th July 2010. It had taken me 47:56 and I assume it was hot. It certainly was yesterday. Perfect blue sky, sunshine beating down (to give the tops of my cheeks their scarlet glow) and absolutely no water in my body. Yup, stupidly forgot to drink much during the day so when at 3pm, I headed out into the bright light, I could already feel that my lips were dry after about 500m of running. Arse.

The ups and downs ticked themselves off as I battled with the school eviction time and the mums in their ridiculous Chelsea tractors double parked everywhere but all got better once I got off the roads the through the common. I'd wrongly read the time I had to beat and was pushing to finish in under 47:11 which I thought was the time I'd set so when I came in at 46:58, I thought job well done. Then I checked the computer and realised I'd taken nearly a minute off. Result. Imagine what I could achieve with the power of water.

Long weekend number 2 is on the horizon and I'm hoping this one doesn't see me have to cancel any planned bike rides or spend any nights on the loo but hey, you just never know. If the plans don't get interrupted, they'll be a 37km bike ride on Yolkey, a bit of a run or 2, some tinkering on Mrs HMC's new bike and lots of play time with the boy. It all starts tonight though with dinner with eatingtrees and the listening to of stories regarding his Vibrams and his absolutely destroyed feet.

Friday, 22 April 2011

London Olympics Accommodation

I see that the application date to get your tickets for the Olympics closes in a couple of day's time. Have I submitted any applications? No. Is this because I don't want the Olympics in London? Hell no. Simple reason is that some of the events are very expensive and the ones that I'm really interested in like the road running and road cycling are free. In fact, the road cycling passes at point less than a mile from my house so I'll be there.

Many people from all over the world will be coming to London and I really hope we can actually put on a show that we can be proud of. Despite East London having to put up with a lot of disruption, I do believe that it will leave a lasting legacy that will benefit future generations if funding is kept and the government don't cut yet more projects that can help and benefit people.

For the people visiting London during this time, you have my sympathy. I've stayed in a few Hotels in London in my time and would probably recommend around 20% of them. £100 per night does not get you a lot and if you're over here for a while to enjoy a number of events, it's going to cost you. I was therefore intrigued when I was recently told about It's not something I'd heard of before but looking into it further, it seems like a pretty good deal.

Basically you rent other people's property on short term deals through an easy to use and secure website. This could be just a room, an apartment or a house so you can adapt your search to what you specifically need and to your own budget, pretty much anywhere in the world. A quick search for London has already bought up a studio apartment in Shoreditch for £90 a night or £550 for the week. I'd love to see the tiny room you get given in a central London if you found someone only charging £90!! And you get a whole apartment!

There are loads of photos of each property so you can find the perfect place for you to stay and depending on the city, there are various perks to take advantage of. Again, for London, you get discounts on using Fonmigo which is a service that gives you cheap smart phone and data usage while away and also a voucher for using Streetcar UK if you want to get out of the city and these are included in you rental rates. All this with 24hr customer care seems like a deal too good to miss. As it's free to sign up, I may have to pop along now so I'll be ready next time I take a trip.

Monday, 18 April 2011

As quick as 2 opposite pole magnets coming together!

On Thursday afternoon, I developed an annoying pain in my left knee. It was a pain like it needed to crack (which mine do regularly) but I just couldn't. Slightly bemused as I couldn't remember a twist, jolt, bang or anything that could have caused it so just put it down to a bad day and hoped with a day's rest, it would sort itself out and allow my to run a little 9.91km route back near my parents as we were visiting this weekend.

I could still feel it a little on Saturday morning but felt fine to run on so I headed out. I've only done this whole route once before and my stats tell me that this took 53:06 in Feb 2010. After last weeks Hertford 10k, I felt I should be able to beat this but with the knee pain yet to be diagnosed, I took a phone with me in case I had to make a call. Is it was, I didn't it was fine during the run and I was able to come in in 50:08!!! For me, that's monumentally quick. The only times I've run at that pace, it's been less than 6km. It felt good and means I'm looking forward to the BUPA 10k even more now. There could be a possible PB on the cards as it's so flat!

Those thoughts were slightly curtailed come Saturday night when bouncing/rocking the boy to sleep and the knee nearly giving way. Hmmmm. Come Sunday, all seemed fine again so I've got no idea what's going on there!!

A little bit of TLC needed I think to make sure it doesn't develop into something more.On another note, I was sent a Trion:Z bracelet to try so I decided to keep it on for a full week and see what I thought. Now apart from looking quite cool, I'm not entirely sure what these magnetic bracelets actually do. The website says things about why they're so much stronger than competitors magnetic bracelets and has quotes from famous people that wear them like Rory McIlroy (I hope he wasn't wearing it during the Masters last week then) but there doesn't appear to be anything to say a)what it does and b)how and whether it works.

You may look at my quick time on Saturday morning and say well it did something but considering I took it off on Thursday night, that doesn't mean much. I like the idea of alternative therapy and using different methods it's just I don't actually believe many actually do what they say they do.

I suspect, like most of these things, come down to a placebo effect of believing you feel better and hey, if that works for you then brilliant. I also think that if you would like one of these magnetic bracelets, then the Trion:Z website is a great place to look as it has a wealth of options and colours for you to choose from.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Hertford 10k Race Report - A tale of 3 distances

It was time for eatingtrees' home town race so after a Saturday of gardening, walking, and lots of fresh air, we got up early and headed to Hertford early Sunday morning for a 10k. I had a few doubts about this race before I made my way there, like no ability to enter via this new invention called the World Wide Web and having to rely on stamped addressed envelopes. No chip timing was also a minor point but as I tend to go by my watch time, it doesn't bother me. Stories of gates being locked last year and the race being shortened and also being listed as 'approximate 10k distance' didn't fill me with much confidence either to be honest but it would be a nice day out.

However, I really enjoyed it. It was extremely warm so was delighted that I was doing something silly like the Brighton Marathon (Well Done to Adele and Hesbels) but I felt good as the runners gathered at the school to make their way to the start.

The first km was very slow as there are many runners on a narrow path and by the time the first km post arrived, my watch read 5:45. Hmmm. Nevermind. I plodded on with eatingtrees and saw Mrs HMC and The Boy just before the 2km mark which is always lovely and luckily my watch read 11:05 at the next post. A 5:20 K, that's a bit better. I was holding on to eatingtrees' vest at this point though. He was upping the pace and although I was staying with him, I was finding it tougher than expected.

I had been sent some sunglasses to try out from those lovely people at Polaroid and as yet, the only testing I'd managed was by the pool in Egypt. (They're very good for that by the way). However for this race and my last long training run of 15km, I've been trying these out. I have to say, they're awesome. They don't fog up which has happened when I've worn glasses before (hence running in contact lenses), they didn't rub, and they just sat where they were meant to and did their job. The best thing I can say about them though, is when I inevitably sit on these and break them, I'd actually be tempted to part with some hard cash to replace them! They have a massive range so check them out here.

By the time I'd hit 5km, I felt extremely comfortable. In fact, the next 4 KM's were all between 4:59 and 5:07. I was really enjoying it and I knew that if I actually had 1km to go AND I could keep the pace up, I could be close to a PB but with the Hertford 10k map lists it as 10.2km, My more detailed map using listed it as 10.3km and eatingtrees' Garmin told us it was a touch over 10.1km. Basically. Take your pick! That last km took just over 6 minutes so certainly was longing even if you exclude the last bit which is quite a tremendous hill.

The event was fantastically marshaled and at the finish there were loads of bananas, water, Lucozade and cheering. A thoroughly good day and a time of 52:38 to boot. I was going to be happy with under 55 mins so delighted with that! See you next year!

After that, it was round to eatingtrees' house for shower, lunch, sun time and shisha. A perfect end to a bloody good weekend!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

A top run

I had to get myself out for a run today as the weather looked like it could be a good one and I have the little matter of the eatingtrees home town race next week, that being the Hertford 10k.

It was also a chance to test a couple of recent items I'd been sent to review. Today's was a new top. Without a doubt, one of the softest tops I've ever had. It's like running in a cuddle! The only problem is that it was a long sleeve cuddle and we're coming into spring so it was quite warm. It would have been great to try this one about a month ago but beggars can't be choosers. They can just merely comment.

The top is from the people at BAM who produce some quite lovely Bamboo clothing. It's not designed primarily as a running top but something for everything. Running, cycling, skiing and hiking etc which means I'm pretty sure, it's going to get a lot of use and in that way, I'm certainly going to put their 'Non Smelly' claim to the test.

It felt like it was going to absorb a lot of moisture and being dark blue, I suspected that come the end of my run, it would all be a slightly darker colour and soaked. I was wrong. At the end of 14.34km in 1:19:07 and in quite warm temperatures, this was the result!


So all in all, really happy with it and I'd even be tempted to get a short sleeve version for myself apart from one thing, the short sleeve don't seem to have the zipped neck which in keeping the wind out really helps but in letting the air in, would be even better.

The run was a non eventful and quite slow trot around my usual route while listening to an audiobook . There really is nothing else to add but I do love spring. I think it could quite possibly be, my favourite season . Not too warm. Generally dryer and you don't have to wear half your wardrobe to go outside. Bliss

Next week's trip to Hertford will be lovely with promises of 10k runs, bike post removal, shisha and Mrs Eatingtrees' home cooked food to look forward to, how could it not. Right, I have a lawn to mo and boy to entertain. Enjoy your weekend's people!

Monday, 21 March 2011

A great weekend for a run

My usual Saturday morning weekend run was delayed by 24hrs this week as I had some friends coming over for the weekend and he fancied a run to increase his training as he's signed up for his first ever race. That being Grim's Beast in the East. That meant on Sunday morning, after passing the babies over to the wives for their breakfast we hit the road.

He'd generally been running around 9km as his max distance so I added a couple of km for good luck and plotted a course on roads, paths, bridleways, mud and gravel over uphills, downhills and the odd flat bit. My thoughts being that it would be better training for Grim than just some roads.

He runs at a similar pace to my half marathon pace so it was easy just to hit the usual rhythm and plodded on. He's also talker but he's a very interesting person so it meant we chatted for a lot of it and it never felt tough or a chore. We finished after doing 11.77km in 1:04:58.

This week I had my race number through the post for eatingtrees home town race, the Hertford 10k and also got into the London2Brighton bike ride again. This year, we'll be doing it on the new builds and my Mum will be part of the team too. Such a good event last year that we couldn't resist. Life is good right now!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Den Haag Half Marathon - Race Report

Last year, despite the company being fantastic, the food excellent and a new city being explored, my Lisbon weekend will only ever be remembered for that utterly hideous and confidence sapping race. It was time to banish those memories on another installment of eatingtrees and Hauling My Carcass' European adventure.

It washz time to head to De Nederlandshz for Den Haag Halve Marathon!

The road trip was on. At 7:50am on Saturday morning, myself, Mrs HMC and eatingtrees, left The Boy with the Grandparents and hit the road. 524km of tarmac minus around 50km for a train tunnel lay between us and a swimming pool, sauna and that accent that makes 3 people in a car attempt to say everything with that dutch twang.

The drive was good and pain free, we arrived in loads of time and got ourselves settled before heading out for the night to a little Italian restaurant we'd found on the world wide web. We had to wander around for 10 minutes before we found the restaurant but it gave us time to appreciate how pretty the centre of The Hague is. It just added to the excitement of the next day's race. Casa Caroni is a fantastic little restaurant with fantastic food, run like a family kitchen and amusing staff too and was perfect for what we wanted the night before a race.

CPC Loop Den Haag was going to be an unusual race for me. It was in the afternoon. I don't run in the afternoon at all really. I'm usually a 'get it out of the way early' kind of runner but Sunday I'd have to amend my plan some-what. As the bus we used to get into town travelled along one of the roads of the race, we had to head into town before 11am to make sure we could get there but with us needing to pick up numbers and timing chips etc, it didn't matter too much. In fact, it gave us more time to look around and see all the other races (they had 2.5k, 5k and 10k all before the HM). We could have had even more time but due to everything being in Dutch (as you'd expect) and being 1 of 3 incompetents who travelled without knowing a word of Dutch, it took longer than it probably should have. We walked right past it! 15 mins later, we were back.

A sandwich, some snackage and a couple of hours later, we were ready. The bag was checked in, Mrs HMC knew where she was heading and into the starting pens we went. Within 5/10 minutes, we were off. I had some stomach cramps just before the race and they were similar to the Cranleigh 10k last year but there was no way I was dropping out of this and I suspected that just like Cranleigh, it would sort itself out. The first 5-6km were quite hard. It was extremely busy with many people taking detours on cycle paths and across tram lines and but to be honest, I couldn't pick up the pace anyway. I guess the best description was uncomfortable. An irritant rather than a screaming pain.

However, after that, it just clicked. Suddenly it felt right. Suddenly the pain subsided. I just hit my consistent stride like I know how to do and settled in! It was feeling really good. Not fast, not slow but just good. I knew after the first quarter that a PB was nowhere near but I never expected it to be so it didn't bother me however, I knew I could still post a time I was very happy with and with the way it felt (did I mention it felt really good), under 2 hours was a definite.

The KM's were being ticked off and with a rough course map in my head, I knew where I was, how far I had to go and when I'd be running past Mrs HMC and her camera. 13.5km ish to be exact ish. I threw my cap to her (or to the foot of the lady next to her if I'm honest) as I'd gone without after 2km as I was just too hot and headed for the 'pier' part of the course. The support was still there cheering and blowing those little plastic trumpets as it had been all the way round and although I doubt my face showed it, I was smiling inside. When there's an event in The Hague, people make the effort to come out and see you!


More KM's were ticked off and there was even a hill. Well slope. Slight incline really but it even had a tiny down bit too. The most I'd had to deal with up to that point was a speed bump. I didn't feel like I tired at all. Then suddenly, there was Central Station in the distance and I was near the finish! I carried on, head up, still feeling good and crossed the finish with a chip time of 1:57:37. Very bloody happy with that and honestly felt like I could have continued which is a first EVER for me! A few minutes later, a very smiley eatingtrees crossed the line and I could just tell he felt great too. You can check out videos, photos and my splits here and enter bib number 3286. Although I don't have a half way point time, by looking at the average speed and also the first and second 10k splits, I ran a negative split which only the second time ever I think!! I told you it felt good.


A quick jaunt back to the hotel for another swim and sauna followed by the best meal of the weekend at a Kenyan restaurant called 3Stones and then a shisha once back at the hotel topped off what was probably my best race day ever!

The return drive had 'Gent' programmed into the Sat Nav as we were stopping for lunch in Belgium for eatingtrees birthday and sitting in a little local cafe, we chatted about how good the weekend had been while eating yet more great food before setting off for the final drive and cuddles with my little boy.

Thank you to the babysitting grandparents, a great city, some wonderful locals, some awesome food and mostly to my 2 travelling companions. I just have one question... Where to next year?