Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Running with sugar

Now the pins and needles have finally died down after the Berlin Marathon (it took 3 and a half weeks!!), I finally got to go out for a run a couple of weeks ago which was bloody lovely I can tell you. You know how long I had to run? As long as I wanted! You know what pace I had to run at? Whatever I liked! The horrendous monotony of the training schedule is done. Bring on enjoying my running again!!

Although being me, I need something to focus on. If I don't have it, I tend to let me training slip and get fat(er) and lazy(er). So, what to do. After plenty of aches and pains in knees and hips etc during the training, I've decided to pick up with my barefoot running again. It's something I looked at very briefly in the summer after seeing eatingtrees convert and enjoy it but then there was no way I could train my body to run differently that quickly so I quickly cast it aside.

I now have the time to learn again and the best thing about learning from scratch is that I'm going to teach myself to run quicker too. Just lace up the shoes, step outside and run as fast as I feel I can for a set distance. That distance is currently 2km. I want to run that in 9:00. 4:30 km pace. Once I do that, I'll add half a km to the route until I achieve that pace for the longer distance and so on and so forth until I hit the 10km or HM. That's the plan anyway. I have no idea whether this plan will work and whether there's any science to back it up but I have a logical argument in my head and I'm sticking with it. It is going OK. My first attempt came in at 9:04 when I hadn't run for 3 and a half weeks and the second attempt was 9:07 when snotty and wheezing like a good 'un.

During that time I also had a lovely run with a friend who I've hardly ever run with which was a pleasant 10k around a lovely undulating route although I had to revert back to the old trainers and style which I could feel the difference instantly. The barefoot, although only shorter distances so far, feels more springy and bouncy which is good.

Having, last night, finished 'Running with the Kenyans' by Adharanand Finn, it bought my new plans into context and made a reasonable amount of sense. Recommended by @LongJogRoz on twitter, whether you're for or against barefoot running, it really is a good read. Mind you, I really could do with losing a stone in weight to really feel the benefit and I will attempt to lose some but quite frankly, I have the Christmas season coming which is never useful as well as a baby due in December which will set new standards in lack of sleep, lack of exercise and too many biscuits! This I'm confident of BUT I do know that to get quicker, I need to stop carrying the equivalent of 6 and a bit bags of sugar tied round my waste. Shit! Really?? That's mental. 1 stone equals 6.35kg. No wonder I'm slower than last year!! That's depressing, I'm off to have some sweet Pumpkin Tart to cheer myself up!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Berlin Marathon - Race Report

The Berlin Marathon. This was it. My own stupid bet made with myself was back to bite me on the arse big style! Luckily eatingtrees was kind (stupid) enough to come along and put himself through the joy (pain) of 42.195km as well. For fun.

At least we picked a good'un. Berlin. One of the big 5. In one of my favourite cities and it's flat to boot. It'll be fine right? Well it should be. I followed an exact training schedule. When I say exact I didn't bother with the sprints after week 7 of 16. I didn't enjoy them. In fact I didn't bother with the mid week medium runs after about week 4. I didn't enjoy them either and I'm lazy. So in essence, my training was based on the tried and tested (well it is now) of one long run a week on a Saturday morning and a bit of cycling during the week. The training was quite frankly, monotonous, tedious and dull and this was one of the only ways I could get through it and that's the main reason I won't be attempting another one in the near future.

But to the weekend. A trip to Berlin with the family and eatingtrees with an apartment booked and the whole thing still not feeling very real. That was a good thing really. Even getting to the expo and collecting my race number and chip etc didn't get me. I mean I knew it was happening but I wasn't nervous and don't think the concept of running a maraton had quite sunk in yet! Until I put The Boy to bed on Saturday night and that was it. I could hardly eat, I kept running through everything in my head and realising that THIS WAS REAL NOW!!!


I did manage to sleep quite well though (without the aid of wine I might add) and when the alarm went off at 6am, my only thoughts were... it's time. By that evening, I would have either a Marathon PB or a DNF. As this was my first, there was no other option and to be honest, major injury was the only way there would be a DNF. The start/finish/baggage/toilet area is all around the Tiergarten so we headed there, dropped the bags off, and due to the differences in our numbers, lost each other for the first time before a race. Not really a problem as we run different paces anyway but would have been nice.

I knew the pace I had to stick to and with the aims of 'Under 4:30, I'll be happy' and 'Under 4:15 I'll be delighted', I set off enjoying the crowds, the bands and the steady pace. Mrs HMC and The Boy were waiting for me at the 11km (7m) mark and it was good to see them but as expected, all was good and I was having fun.

 I was OK for the next hour and a half but at around 28km (17m) I started feeling a bit of pain in the ball of my left foot. Nothing completely unusual but I'd generally only felt this after my long runs, not during. Essentially, it's just a bit of bruising caused by the impact of a 14 stone bloke thudding against a pavement for long periods (you should have seen the roads, they came off worse).

At around 34km, the pain was steadily getting worse and the ibuprofen came out and did absolutely nothing to help. It was painful but I did the best I could to not change my running too much knowing that that can generally cause an injury elsewhere. I have to admit, I wasn't loving this bit. But, the thing that kept me going was that you hear so many stories of THE WALL at 20 miles and while I wasn't bounding like a gazelle, I certainly wasn't dead on my feet and while I was OK, I just carried on.

At 37km,  a friend who was out there supporting another runner SCREAMED my name at the top of her lungs. This lifted me no end and a blown kiss and a thank you and I was on my way again. 4:15 was still achievable if I just didn't crash and burn. 

At 40km, I knew Mrs HMC was going to be waiting somewhere around there so I just kept an eye out and eventually saw her and stopped for a kiss to let her know I was OK. I couldn't actually speak to tell her I was OK but did have to stop her wanting to run along with me. She was 29 weeks pregnant after all! She did take a short cut though which meant I saw her again 3/4 minutes later and before I made my final turn towards the Brandenburg Gate.

At this point I just put my head down, concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and not bursting into tears. Through the gate an into the final 200m stretch completed with a sprint. OK, more a slightly faster amble than the last 8km had been done in but it felt like a sprint. The watch stopped and a big smile crossed my face as I looked at the watch. I'd done it. The stats can be found here for anyone interested.

Completely surrounded by other finishers and all the marshalls and quite frankly, I felt alone. It was strange but that was it. I was delighted but completely drained and I just wanted to get some food and drink inside me. The one thing I have to recommend to everyone out there was something that proved vital. Around 6 weeks before the day I looked up what energy drink they would have on the day and then trained with nothing else. By the time I finished the marathon, I had consumed 5 bottles of the stuff and it proved vital to me.

I finally met up with Mrs HMC and The Boy and we waited for eatingtrees who was making his way round. While we were waiting, I received a congratulatory call from my Mum and Dad but who unfortunately had some bad news. My Grandad who had turned 100 only 3 weeks before had passed away the evening before. This added to my emotions of the run and meant the tears well and truly flowed for a minute or 2 but a glass was raised that night in his honour. To Grandad. This one's for you. Cheers.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Peak of my Training

Now by that, I don't mean my physical peak. I don't actually feel any fitter than I did when I started this marathon training program in June while in France. However, clocking up, which for me is a massive 33.51km on my run on Saturday morning is something of an achievement and the longest run I'll do pre Berlin.

Considering how I've loathed this training from the start and hated the way it dictates time and distance leaving you bored of it's repetitive nature, I was proud to have completed it without stopping once and UNDER my target time. Now I suspect this has more to do with my Garmin flashing the low battery warning at me at around 22km and me having to turn the GPS off than anything else. It meant the last 11km were run with only a stop watch. I had no idea of my pace, no idea whether I was hitting my target times and quite frankly, I didn't care either. I just had to get home and that seemingly gave my all the motivation I needed. Maybe this should be my plan for Berlin. When the going gets tough, the tough turn off their GPS data. Doesn't quite have the same catchiness to it does it. Maybe for now, I'll settle for turning the beep off so I don't feel the need to check it EVERY. SINGLE. KILOMETRE!

Anyway, a moderate 24km next weekend and hopefully both my nipples and toenails will have recovered by then!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Running. That wonderful and energetic activity that keeps a smile on your face, your energy levels high and motivation that continues to rise as your meet or beat your own personal goals. That is unless you're training for your first (and last) marathon. Then it's a ball ache of epic proportions. Seriously.... how do you lot do it? 

To say training's going swimmingly may be a slight fabrication or the truth on one hand but on the other, may just be an out and out lie. I have got to the root cause of my hatred for this training though. I'm an idiot! See, I want to complete a marathon and do it well. I want that feeling everyone talks about, the emotion, the sense of achievement and the like, I just don't want to have to spend 3 hours of my Saturday morning pounding the pavement trying nasty energy sweets and energy drinks. I'm aware one isn't going to happen without the other and there's not a chance in hell I'm giving up on this but it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it and therein lies the reason for the lack of blog activity. I'm a miserable git when it comes to my running at the mo.

Not running in general mind, In fact, I'm already planning on the aftermath when I'm going to concentrate on becoming faster at the shorter distances but at the moment, I'm bored of long runs! Really, really sodding bored! Half Marathons are nice, 10k's are lovely but anything over those 21.1km is nasty.

I've had a couple of weeks where I've completely missed my target times too though which for my latest jaunt of 29km I'm not too worried about but the week before 22km annoyed me somewhat. Especially as I came in under 2 mins quicker the previous week on a 27km go. Nothing seems to be consistent at the mo.

After Saturday's horrible 29km, the balls of my feet were actually bruised and painful so luckily having another pair of brand new identical shoes in the cupboard, I did just under 5km on Monday morning to see if it was any better and I think it was although we'll see come Saturday when a lovely 24km is called for before 33km on the following week.

Berlin is 4 weeks and 5 days away. Get through this and I can start enjoying my running again..

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The sound of silence

Ooh, ooh, ooh. The giddy excitement of a bright warm morning, a cycling commute in a T-shirt and a bike in one piece again! Obviously it'll piss down later and I'll get wet but that's a UK summer for you!

The utterly tremendous news is this... my bike is silent. This may not be a revelation as being single speed, it's pretty much always been that way unless I'm freewheeling. Well since Cycle Surgery fixed my wheel (and serviced the freewheel of their own accord), it's silent. Utterly silent! Well apart from the tyres on the road and the wheezing from the man in the saddle that is. It's brilliant with one tiny exception. I used to use the freewheel clickerty-clackerty as kind of a warning to pedestrians on cycle paths, cats, birds etc. This morning, silence and very nearly, a squidged cat! I now have to make a noise myself which means I'll now look like 'that weird cycling man that yells at animals'. Seriously, that's what the kids will call me!

On the marathon training front, yesterday's intervals were not the easiest of things. It took a while to get things warmed up and I really had to do some stretches before hand. This was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms when I tried to cross my legs on the train home and had to use my hands to move my leg. Winner! I had to do my 1200m at 4:29 pace. All were between 4:34 and 4:41 which although too slow, I felt like I was pushing so not too worried and on the back of my longest ever run only 2 days before, I'll take it! Mind you, I'm sure my runs were uphill and my rests downhill! Or maybe that's just how it felt!

I have a new route planned for Saturdays 24/25km so should make things a little more interesting although the elevation chart looks like a right arse. Going to have to blank that out I reckon as it's like a sodding rollercoaster!

I can't wait for the end of the work day as I can get back on the bike and see just how much my legs have seized up but the way I'm feeling, I'm just going to attack those hills again.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Show me the light

I don't want to tempt fate, especially as I have 8km on the schedule for tonight but I may finally be relaxing into this marathon training a little.

After a pleasant 17km on Saturday, I think partly due to the company of my Mum on a bike for half of it and partly due to be running on roads I've rarely been on therefore being less mundane, I then had a very successful interval session where I hit 9 out of the 10 times I needed to and the one I missed was only missed by 1.5 seconds! Mind you, this has massive potential for me to fall flat on my face on Saturday morning as I will be running the longest distance I have ever done. 23km. A shade over 14 miles. 21km has been my limit so far and I've only got there sometimes due to the big sign that says finish and the knowledge that I can stop.

In fact, for the next 3 Saturdays in a row, I'll be running longer each time than I've ever done before! This is where the worry kicks in a little. Fear of the unknown for me. Can I cope with just me for company while pounding the pavement?? I'm really not that interesting so wondering if it's time to change my 'no ipod' policy that I self imposed after the dreadful Lisbon Half Marathon in 2010. It's a thought....

On another note, I was recently asked if I would like to review a product from the The choice of product was mine so on I went, looking through the vast selection of products available in order to find something that a)would be useful and b)that I needed. This caused a little bit of a problem due to the fact that marathon training is pretty much dominating my thoughts right now and from a clothing/equipment point of view, I have everything I need to get me to Berlin. So therefore I had to look at other options. Then it hit me, as Dunwich Dynamo was just round the corner and wanting a little extra light for the trip, how about a new head torch being as mine is old and not very bright. I started hunting through and found a couple. One in particular caught my eye but mainly due to the price. £45 for a head torch seemed a bit steep. This had to be a special head torch.

The PETZL PG TIKKA XP 2 was chosen despite having a name that sounds like the bastard child of a snack and a computer program. So what does this torch have? Firstly and surprisingly, there's a whistle to attract attention built into the clasp and head strap. Genius! I would never have though of it but when running and cycling in the dark, you never know when you're going to need to attract attention. The torch has a number of modes. Very bright, bright and strobe. Then on each of these, you have the option of a long distance bright spot or a dispersed light that avoids a hot spot. Then... if you push and hold the button, it switches to a little but bright red LED that could come in really useful for other road users to see when running or if needing an emergency bike light. For a headtorch, it really is full of features!

I gave it a proper test during Dunwich Dynamo where it was my long distance light source while the bike light concentrated on the bit just in front of my wheel. It really is extremely bright and lit up the dark country lanes with ease which made the down hills a lot easier to deal with. Now I know this is 'just a headtorch' and you can buy a reasonable headtorch that does the job a lot cheaper, it's the little extras like the whistle and red light option that really got me all geeky about it. Sad I know but hey, you're used to it by now right??

Monday, 2 July 2012

Dunwich Dynamo XX - What a ride!

I think it's fair to say that Dunwich Dynamo is awesome! Statements on twitter such as 'the most life affirming thing you can do on a bike' aren't that fair off the mark. As I decribed it to someone the other day when asked why I do things like this, the bright bit at the end once you've gone through the dark bit in the middle is one of the most fantastic feelings there is.

Dunwich Dynamo even more so than most. Everyone's there for a bike ride. Not a race, just a ride of 180+km though the middle of the night. You're with chatty, happy like minded individuals that are all there for a variety of reasons but will all experience that bright bit at the end and that brings everyone together.

For those who know nothing about this event, it's an hardly organised bike ride from Hackney in London to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. There are no marshals, no exact route, no official start time (QUOTE: people start to leave when they feel like it after 8pm. A sort of momentum develops'), no van following to help if things go wrong (you rely on the good nature of the other riders) and no charge.

Only my second year for this but last years lessons had been learnt. The flask of hot sweet tea was genius, the change of top and long socks at the half way mark got rid of the chill from last year and the music in one ear from 1am onwards to help me through those dark moments from last year. In fact, because of the above, I didn't actually have a dark moment this year. In fact I didn't stop grinning from 2am - 5am!! Like a bloody Cheshire cat I was!!

Grant and I had had a long Saturday before the ride as we took a car up there to make the return journey easier (last year waiting for the bus was painful although the service they provide is second to none and such good value, but we wanted the option to leave when we were ready this year). This turned out to be a stroke of luck later though! 5 hours of driving is not the best preparation for a 10 hour bike ride!! However, the chippy supper was!

We set off Hackney at 8:15pm once we noticed there was a steady stream of cyclists heading off North so after picking up some directions (for the bargain donation of £1) we joined them. Now a horrible creaking sound is really not what you want to hear at this point but it's exactly what was there. At the regular traffic light stops though the first few KM, we established it was my rear sprocket and then just hoped the chain wasn't on it's way out! I put a lot of lube into the freewheel and by chance more than design, the creaking then stopped. It seems I'd been a bit eager with the cleaning on Friday night and it'd taken a while to get itself going again. Phew!! For a second there, I thought I might have to do it fixed wheel!! (There are people that do that but quite frankly, I'm not that cool and would have moaned a lot... I like freewheeling downhill too much).

Anyway, the bit through Epping was a lot more pleasant this year and with a lot less abuse from passing motorists too! The first quarter flew by and we stopped for refuelling at around 10:30pm. Lunch was had around 12:30 and a further snack break around 3am.


DD gives you so many memories, but everyone will tell you that one of the most ingrained and amazing is during those early hours where you pretty much just have a line of red flashing lights as far as the eye can see! It just inspires you and I really can't put how it feels into words. The spiel I've written will never do it justice!

So as you can see, it was going well. Too well some would say. Well you're all a bunch of pessimists! But unfortunately, you are correct. 5am and with only 18km to go and it happened! I slowed to check if we had to take a turn, Grant didn't notice in time and was closer than I thought and he rode straight into the back of me. I managed to stay upright and stop the bike. As I turned to see Grant, he wasn't there. Nor was his bike.... Running back up the road 10 yards, he was found lying in a 4 foot deep ditch with bike on top. A helpful participant who'd been nearby lifted his bike up and I helped an uninjured Grant out of the ditch.


Oh Shit! His front wheel had bent and popped 3 spokes. Oh double shit, I'd snapped 3 on my rear wheel and it wouldn't even turn! DD was over. We popped his rear onto my bike and I set off faster than I had for the entire ride so far in order to collect the car so I could pick him up again.

Technically, I finished as I got there but only to throw the bike in the car and head back out to where Grant was. It feels incomplete. There was no soaking up of the atmosphere and dozing on the beach in the sun. We started together and cycled together and therefore DDXX will always be incomplete to me but I can't wait for next year. There is just nothing quite like it!

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Longest yet

Today was the longest training run I've ever done. I've never been one for running the distance before a race so I have never gone over 17km while training when I've done Half Marathons. Today's schedule says 19km. As I may have mentioned, I wasn't quite prepared for this marathon training and have struggled with most of the runs so far. Today though, was much better. I felt stronger and just plodded away to try and tried to keep the pace under the time set by the magic spreadsheet! I came in 2 mins and 40 secs under the required time over a distance on 19.47km. Much happier. 

I have a couple of sessions this week (6x800m on Monday and 11km on Wednesday) before I'm forfeiting next Saturday's 21km to do the Dunwich Dynamo. 193 ish km through the night from Hackney to Dunwich in Suffolk on a single speed. I did it and loved it last year (report is here) and quite frankly, I think cycling nearly 200km is a good substitute for a 21km run.

One thing I noticed on today's run though, I got bored. Is it time to start listening to music or audiobooks again...

Friday, 15 June 2012

Marathon training week 1

Firstly, apologies for the spelling, layout, font and any other errors that appear in this post. It's being written on a phone in the Loire Valley in France which means it may not be up to the usual 'standard'. The errors in the writing and English language are as ever, all mine!
This was my first week of training for the Berlin Marathon and in the interests of honesty, I may be well and truly fudged!
However, all have been completed and have consisted of 8x400m sprints, a 5km and today, a 16km. All designed to be run at different paces, they certainly have been and all have hurt a lot. There is no doubt in my mind, I'm a tad underprepared. SHOCK! I have one plus point.... I've bloody well completed them! In 2 days time, week 2 starts so forgive me but I'm off to find the wine, pate and french bread.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Under Armour ColdBlack T-Shirt

I had an email a while ago asking if I'd like to review a new t-shirt from Under Armour. Yes, yup, absolutely was my response. The only condition was I had to review it by the 18th May. No problem at all... I failed. Mind you, this was due to a couple of things. Firstly, I forgot I'd said yes to it as it didn't arrive for over 3 weeks and left me with a week and a half and secondly, IT HASN'T STOPPED RAINING FOR MONTHS!

Eventually, I did manage to get out and test the ColdBlack T-Shirt one Sunday morning (not today) when the sun was shining bright. This was important you see as they claim, even though it's dark, (mine's a lovely navy blue) it still reflects the heat. Hold up... was everything (the only thing) I ever learnt in science class a load of rubbish? Well no. But yes.

See Under Armour have worked their voodoo magic on the material (they call it revolutionary technology but mine sounds better) to make dark colours act like light colours and reflect the sun's rays and all those other nasty rays from the sun therefore, not making you really, really hot. So... then question on everyone's* lips... does it work?

Tough one that. See to know the answer, I'd have to do the same run in identical conditions wearing a light and dark top and remember every detail (Sorry, I ain't that intelligent). So I can only go on what I felt on the day and I have to say that it was good. I didn't feel overly hot (and I make a fat man in a sauna look like he's comfortable) so that's a bonus. It was lightweight, looks great, is a lovely fit and not too expensive.

I certainly need to go out and use it a bit more (which I will as my marathon training starts in 3 weeks... FAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRK) and if it continues to feel as good as it did on it's first outing, I may actually have to consider buying another. Overall, I loved it and once I have a clear out of some of the old smelly tops in my drawer, it'll be near the top.

* OK, maybe not everyone as some people might have got here by Googling^ 'voodoo magic' but at least a few
" Ahhmm, yes slightly alright!
^ other search engines are available~
~ just seeing what other symbols are on my keyboard now....

Monday, 23 April 2012

Golf balls and barefoot

8:47am on Monday morning and I'm sitting at my desk rolling a golf ball under my arch to stretch the tendons/muscles/stuff (I don't actually know what's down there) as I've heard it's the right thing to do. Calves and arches. Thems the things to stretch too make sure they're in good condition when you start running 'barefoot'. Or minimalist as I'll call it.

I blame 2 people for this foray into minimalist running, eatingtrees and New Balance. eatingtrees as he's been doing it a couple of years, raves about it and I've seen the improvements in his times and New Balance as the replacement for the faithful 1063's and 1064's that I've worn since day dot, was the the 1080 and quite frankly, it feels like you're running on pillows and last time I checked, running on pillows wasn't very efficient!

Not very efficient

Efficiency... I guess that's what I'm looking for with this new direction. Less wasted energy. A way of running that gives me the ability to run the same distance with less energy used and less impact on the legs and knees.

Slightly more efficient

Now the science of 'minimalist' running is a bit woolly to stay the least. It seems there are as many advocates as there are detractors and the old saying that you can prove anything with stats seems to apply. I've kind of gone with the logic that I can comprehend which is that forefoot runners have a softer impact with the ground than that of heel strikers and because of the springy nature of a persons arch, we don't put as much weight and impact through the knees and hips. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

So Saturday was my first trip out in the brand new BRIGHT RED beauties! Knowing how my feet swell when I run, I thought I should go out first in the cushioned shoes to warm up so I went for a lovely run with @MrsSophieHMC. As I run slower when I'm with Mrs HMC, I did a few extra bits, like pushing myself round the lake twice at a quicker pace and then catching her back up but it was a very pleasant 7 ish km which at the end of, I changed into the new shoes and went back out around the block. With all the advice being don't overdo it, I planned to run just a kilometre at a 5 min/km pace but it was feeling good and torn between turning home early or going that little bit extra, I pushed on and ended up doing 1.5km in which the shoes felt fine and I had no awkward aches or pains. Result! 2 days later and still the calves, arches and achilles are all fine. Tomorrow has run number 2 written all over it.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Running away from work

Part of my Berlin Marathon training plan (which I'm NOT currently doing) means that once a week, I'll be running some or all of the way home from work. As I'm yet to attempt this yet, I decided that yesterday would be the day. What a horrible, crappy route that is!

The route undulates constantly and also zig-zags through estates so it means you just can't get into a rhythm. (Why does that word have no vowels, it's why I always spell it wrong I'm sure.) Just as you hit your stride, you have a long steep hill that pushes you harder. Then the downhill follows where you speed up but while crossing roads and jumping over tree roots etc which again doesn't feel comfortable.
It was horrible and surprise, surprise, my pace was all over the show. In 11km, my km times were between 4:54 and 5:57. That's not right.

Maybe it's because I've increased the exercise too much, too quickly. In the last 7 days, I've run 43km and cycled 33km. It contrasts to the combined total over the previous 3 weeks which was a grand total of 15km running! Hmmmm.

Anyway, I've decided that this weekend I'm going to go back to concentrating on short and fast runs of between 3-5km so at least my pace will be more consistent as well as faster. I hope. The theory is that I can then build up a consistent base pace from there. Watch this space.

Final bit of randomness from me. Mrs HMC (@MrsSophieHMC on twitter) who is blatantly becoming addicted to this running lark has signed up for another 10k after her successful sub hour run a couple of weeks ago. The irony of the situation is that after 3/4 years of cheering me on from the sidelines and the last 18 months looking after HMC Boy while I run around a bit, I'll be on HMC Boy duty while we cheer mummy on around the course and over the line. What better way to spend a bank holiday Monday! 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Lo(s)ts of ups and downs

After eating my own body weight in cake, crumble and roast dinner yesterday (notice no chocolate, couldn't fit it in) I knew that my planned quick run of 8/10km would have to be increased somewhat. I also knew it was time for some hills if I was to burn it off properly.

I planned for around 13/14km which would take in a brand new, never run by me, path through the countryside and would include my least favourite route in my area. Chalk Lane. It's not an evil hill but has just the right mix of evil and length. 60/65m gain which takes around 1.5km. Its just doesn't seem to end. My reward for getting to the top of this mountain* (AUTHOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO EXAGGERATE A TINY, TINY BIT) a biting wind throwing the so far pleasant rain, into a horizontal angle into my face. Joy. 

Hey ho, there's then a lovely downhill that follows just moments before another uphill that is on a muddy, uneven and horse trodden bridle path. More joy! At the top of that hill was the never run before path. Time for some 'I don't really know where I'm going but I know where I'll end up' running.

Only I didn't. I ran straight making no big detours but as I crossed the M25, I realised that half of my 'never run before' path was still never run. At no point was I meant to cross the M25. Decision time, carry on or go back... Sod it, carry on it was. It felt like a bit of adventure. I then found a road with no paths that I plodded down hoping I was heading in vaguely the right direction and by shear chance, came upon the A24. A-ha. Not where I was meant to be but at least I knew where I was now.

Once I was back on my planned route, I worked out that my run was more likely to be a tad over 15km. Then the thoughts were, if it's only a couple of extra to pass the 16.7km or 10mile mark, it would be rude not to. An extra couple of turns were thrown in to add a little to the distance and back home I was, soggy, aching and grinning like a cheshire cat. I love the rain!!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Trying something new

After speaking to eatingtrees not long ago and him telling me how, up to recently, a lot of his runs were along exactly the same route, I realised that although I varied my routes and distances, I never just went out and turned left, then right, just for the sake of it in case i didn't know my pace or distance. I just have to know these things so my runs were always pre planned.

It took me a while to get into the whole GPS thing but as my marathon training is coming up and I really want to know my pace on my long runs, I recently invested in a Garmin Forerunner 410. The added benefit of this is I have worked out, I can just go out and see what takes my fancy so that's exactly what I decided to do this morning. Telling Mrs HMC that I was off for a run and would probably do somewhere between 10 and 15km, I hit the road with Test Match Special in my ears knowing only which way I was going to turn out of the driveway.

Through some parks, along some country roads and up and down some hills meant I covered 14.7km in 1:18:05 which although not fast, was a perfect start to a long weekend. Bank Holiday Monday has another run written all over it!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Nonsuch Running Group

I mentioned in my last post about Mrs HMC's running group and I thought I should let people know about them as they've proved to be invaluable in her achieving her sub hour 10k goal.
The group Mrs HMC attended is part of the Run England running groups website and specifically, the Nonsuch Park Running Group.
Designed for Complete Beginners, Improvers or people that are just trying to get back into running, the sessions are tailored for individual abilities and start along the basis of run/walk but include sprint sessions, hill work and fitness work to improve stamina.
The Nonsuch Group is run by a very nice guy called Tom (not me, a different nice guy called Tom) and I've been reliably informed by Mrs HMC that it's a fun and informal group with loads of encouragement from the other members.
The next 9 week course is due to start on Tuesday 1st May at 9:30am (each sessions last around an hour) but they have a free taster session the week before on the 24th April. Again 9:30am. You meet at the Mansion House in Nonsuch Park. SM3 8AL.
If you or someone you know is wanting to have a go or get into running, I (Mrs HMC) can highly recommend this group so if you're interested, get in touch with Tom on 07758 221038 or and he'll give you any extra details you need.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mrs HMC's sub hour challenge - Old Deer Park 10k Report

On Sunday I returned to the home of my PB. The Old Deer Park 10k. Flat, towpath for the majority of the run and plenty of room. It's up there with my favourite 10k's. Yesterday's plan was different to last time though. My lovely wife has been doing lots of running recently and really wanted a sub hour 10k. My job therefore was to run with her, encourage and make sure she didn't finish in 1:00:01 or something like that!!

Her previous training 10k was 1:00:45 so she was nearly there but as she's really been suffering this last week with a cold, chesty cough, and anything else your son tends to bring home from nursery, it was always going to be tight.

A very early start in the morning (05:45am!!! ON A SUNDAY!!!) following a full day in the garden digging and setting up a raised vegetable bed was not good but we were all up, fed and watered and we all jumped in the car along with the in-laws who were very kindly looking after the duracell bunny (i.e. The Boy who just not know how to walk. Run, run, run or fall. They're your 4 options!).

Getting to Kew in plenty of time, we did some warming up (i.e. chasing the D.B. round the field) and then met up with a few members of the Run England group that Mrs HMC has been running with once a week.

Luck was wished, hands were shaken and before long, we were off. I'm sure I don't need to do the maths but to run a 10k in under an hour you need to run in under 6 minute km's. The plan was to head out easy, get the legs stretch and finish strongly. A 5:28 1st km was NOT the plan. We slowed. Not enough. A 5:37 was followed by a 5:44 before we finally settled down to around the 6 min mark, albeit with nearly a minute and a quarter 'in the bank'. 5km was run through in 28:41 which means we were on track but it had taken it's toll.

With a permanently blocked nose, Mrs HMC was struggling to breath easily which made drinking even more difficult as you close off your only air way when you swallow. She asked to slow and so we steadied out the pace in just over our magic 6 minute kilometres but with the nagging thought that we already taking from our time bank. Keeping the pace around the 6:05/6:10 pace for the next 4km, it looked like we were going to succeed.

Loads of encouragement and nearly there's from me and we had picked up the pace again for the final km. You have to cross a little pedestrian bridge before you run across the field towards the finish. It's quite tight but does give you the sense of 'nearly there'. Mrs HMC went for it and picked up the pace as soon as we'd hit the field but maybe a little too early. 100 metres from the finish, she told me she was going to throw up to which I replied 'not yet you're not, only once you've finished'. The loving support and affection is the thing that won her heart in the first place.

Cheering was coming from the crowd near the finish line and she picked it up again to sprint finish and come in 58:28! 


She smashed the hour target while not feeling well and hardly being able to breath and no, she didn't throw up in the end either! So, so proud of her and she's already asking which race we can sign up for next! I think sub 55 minutes has to be the next target but that's going to take some work. And some bullying.


Sunday, 18 March 2012

No longer a virgin. Marlow Duathlon Race Report

Today was my first ever duathlon so let me say this, the legs are aching a LOT right now. So how was it?

Generally it was enjoyable but a lot harder than it should have been. My fault completely obviously as I did the 'not training enough' part again. I've cycled and run over the last couple of weeks but I have never done them both. In fact, I was thinking earlier that I don't think I've ever done them in the same day!!! Not a great start and I was pretty nervous.

The Marlow Duathlon consists of a 7km run, a 25km cycle and a 7km run. So 39km in total. Or not... Eatingtrees garmin read nearly 40.5km at the end which I have to say, didn't surprise me a bit as on the first run, I was 30:08km through 6km (pretty much bang on my 5 min/km pace) and then the 7th km took nearly 8 minutes???? How's that possible??? I'd love to know the actual distance of the 1st run as 7km it was not. Is it actually possible to run an 8 minute km. Surely that's slower than walking pace?

Anyway, first run out of the way and into my very first ever 'transition'. That's where you dump a load of your stuff before you start and then come back later and try to remember where you've put it all. It went OK. On went the helmet, buff, gloves and rucksack with the drink in it and off I ran (with the bike) until they let you get on it. I was expecting the run to cycle transition to be easy as I do a reasonable amount of cycling but ouch! The first 2km is at an incline which means you have to stand up and push when riding a single speed and wow my legs felt weird. I hadn't expected that at all! In fact, I was absolutely dreading the rest of the ride as it was just so strange and not enough speed either. Eventually I passed the 5km marker and realised that I was actually quite enjoying it and it felt a lot better than it had. Numerous comments from people on 'proper' bikes gave me some encouragement which I appreciated although was also aware some people were thinking 'mad/idiot/stupid/glutton for punishment' at the same time.

The cycle went well and I think I did pretty well  and overtook as much as I was overtaken. Now came the bit I really feared. The final run. The only experience I had of this is eatingtrees telling me that the first couple of km are very strange which they are... and not very quick but after that, km 3 to 5 felt OK if not particularly quick and then came the final 2 km over a muddy, slidey and narrow path and my legs had absolutely nothing left. They felt so, so heavy and I followed the same guy for the whole of the final 2km and he was only a couple of metres in front but I could not give myself a push to get past at any point. On the final half km I had a really bad stitch but refused to walk knowing I wasn't far away. Finally, I was at the last corner and it was time for the sprint finish. That wasn't going to happen at all.....

I shuffled over the line in somewhere in the region of 2hr 20min (time TBC) which I was extremely chuffed with and would definitely do it again although maybe with some training next time. Time to put my feet up and open a beer.....  

Monday, 27 February 2012

Running with company

Well I'm at least a week late with this post but never mind. Last weekend (not yesterday) was great as we had visits from both sets of The Boy's grandparents in the space of 4 days so it meant that me and the lovely wife could get out for a run together. Twice! Granted my pace is quicker as I've been running so much longer but it was just lovely to run together. We did a 7.8km loop and knocked over 2 minutes off second time round! Result

That puts us squarely on plan for a sub hour 10k for the wife when we run together in the Old Deer Park 10k. This course currently has my PB but we'll be running together to aim for that sub hour for her! If she lets me anyway. She's come back from her last few runs saying she runs better without me. Where's the love??

Prior to that I have a Duathlon to do and in hindsight, it probably wasn't the best idea to sign up for it. I'm never at my greatest of motivation at this time of year but I've always wanted to try it. Based on the previous line, you can probably guess that my training is less than perfect. I.e. none. a couple of runs with the wife and a cycling commute. Never on the same day obviously, that would be sensible. It looks like I'm going to have to wing it. Why do I do it to myself? This year was always going to be a bit of a slow starter as I'm trying not to overdo it so I'm ready for the marathon training come May/June but we'll see. It should be fun. Ahhem.

A week or so ago, I was also sent some rather lovely JABRA sports bluetooth headphones to play with. Basically, these headphones make it possible to listen to any music player that has a bluetooth connection without the wires that can get tangled everywhere. Genius. I have to say, as I pulled them out of the box, my heart sank slightly as I realised they were not in ear ones that I prefer, but rather the ones that sit on the ear. Not ideal but I have to say they were really good. The extra bit of genius with these headphones is they work along side the Endomondo Sports Tracker app, a running application for Smartphones with features designed specifically for Jabra SPORT, including the ability to get quick and easy status updates on speed, distance and lap time simply by tapping the headset. How useful is that!! This does work extremely well if you have a half decent GPS signal on your phone. A great little gadget which will get plenty of use on the bike as I don't generally enjoy running with music much. If you're after a bluetooth headset to use while working out, I really can't recommend this one highly enough. Almost perfect! 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

It's not Grim down South - Grim Night Terror Report

'This has to be the most stupid thing we've ever done.... and we've done a lot of stupid things'

This statement made by both me and eatingtrees pretty much simultaneously at 5pm on Saturday night summed it up I reckon. Here we were, sitting in a parked car, wrapped in a lot of layers with snow falling around us, just about to run around in pitch black with only a head-torch for company on a course that can make your balls shrink just thinking about the cold and in which eatingtrees has fallen over into a puddle within the first 100m once and gone over on his ankle on a different occasion. Oh yeah and we paid £25 for the 'privilege'.


Once we couldn't put it off any longer, we headed to the start and jumped and jigged around a lot trying to keep some feeling in muscles that were getting colder by the second where it was announced to a series of jeers and boos that they'd had to divert the course a bit owing to the 4 inch solid ice covering the larger puddles that 'would cut us to ribbons'. At that point, I wasn't overly disappointed as I was still expecting some puddles, just not knee and waist deep ones.


The route was 2 laps around the forest, in the snow, with loud speakers playing screaming and heavy breathing noises throughout the route. Think horror film, not porn. It was really well marshalled and all done in good spirits but it didn't take long to realise that even the smaller puddles were sheet ice and the only way you were going over those is on your arse. So pretty much everyone followed the same route diverting around the big puddles and 2 laps were completed in about an hour and 5 minutes. Pretty quick for me over 8 miles. Only is wasn't 8 miles because of all the adjustments the organisers were forced to make through not fault of their own. It turned out to be between 6.5 and 7 miles which is more than I usually run on a Saturday night in Feb I guess!

Would I run it again? Yes but only if it was a proper Grim. It has potential and this one could have been great but a week of below freezing temps leading up to it just gave the organisers no choice in shortening it and making it safer. All in all it was a bit tame. I've never been able to drive home in the same clothes and shoes from a Grim event before!!!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Running into the night

I thought it best to at least try running with a head torch prior to tackling Grim: Night Terror so I had a choice of getting up at 6am or waiting until later in the afternoon to go for a run. Not really a choice. 6am wasn't going to happen on a weekend!

At 5:15pm I found myself putting on my gear for what would be a very strange time for a run for me. I mean it's nearly beer o'clock not run o'clock! Head torch on and cap over the top to keep it in place I headed out on a route involving 2 pitch black sections. The first one is pretty close and through Ashtead Park. Pretty straight forward and managed to avoid the pot holes on a semi gravel road but job done. A road section followed around the roads before heading into Ashtead Common.

I won't lie. I freaked myself out a little. You literally can't see anything more than 10m in front of you and there's a lot on nocturnal animals out there making strange noises. I was a little apprehensive but then I turned into the wooded section. Oh Dear! The imagination went into overdrive. That mixed with the torch suddenly pick up a pair of glowing eyes that would suddenly dart off in a little unnerving when you've recently watched Sherlock's 'Hound of the Baskervilles'.

5 minutes later, I was back onto the relative safety of the roads and street lights! Torch seemed to do a good enough job but I do suspect Grim is going to be a bit of a nightmare with people turning round and blinding you but not a lot we can do about it really. 7.4km done! Bring on the bog, puddles, blackness and 8 mile dark miles.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A run of shame!

Today's run is sponsored by 'guilt'. That feeling when you finally accept you've been lazy throughout December and January and eatingtrees post yesterday reminded you that you only have 3 weeks until Grim Night Terror. Now had I been cycling at all, that wouldn't have bothered me as much but since a variety of things have stopped me cycling recently, it really was time.

I hadn't planned to run today. My experience of 'running's a damn sight easier when I've cycled a bit' meant I'd cycle a few times this week and then head out next weekend and all would be good. Then I saw the weather....

-2 C tomorrow morning when I'm due to be on a bike. No thanks, I already deal with enough tossers in BMW's* on a normal cycle commute so adding ice to that mix is quite frankly stupid!!

The final nail in the coffin was Lovely Wife has run 4 times in the last 8 days. Me? ZERO! OK, time to hit the streets. I'm extremely proud of LW but I can't let that go without a run! 9.4km were completed in a time slightly longer than planned but completed none the less and the guilt has subsided enough to have a glass of wine in preparation for dealing with (almost) anything tomorrow can throw at me.

I've also invested in 2 new pairs of running shoes that should get me through 2012. A white pair to lead me up to the marathon training and then these beauty's to get me through the training miles and the Berlin Marathon itself.

Now my sister reckons red trainers belong only to 'Stars of the HipHop scene' and as I'm neither hip nor do I hop, I can only assume she believes it to be a bad idea but as there's going to be 40,000 runners in Berlin, I've got to do all I can to stand out and I'm worried a long ginger beard just won't cut the mustard!

*tossers are available in other cars. Type 'German saloon car' into google for a starting point.