Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Running around the Monopoly board and my biggest run to date

Hi there, before you read the rest of this blog, I have set a challenge – see how many places mentioned here are also on the standard UK Monopoly board. First one to post the correct answer in the comments section gets a prize!

As the big day approaches my weekly distance seems to have levelled off in the 45km area but the balance within this has shifted, with the longer runs getting longer and the shorter runs being less frequent.  This is because I have found I usually need a couple of days off after a big run before I tackle the rest of the week, with the first day after giving my muscles a rest and on the second day I still don’t quite have the energy to go and do more training. 

This was certainly true this weekend and since Saturday I have yet to hit the road again, but then I did do my longest run on Saturday afternoon, so I reckon I deserve a rest!

I set off in some light drizzle which was fine by me, as the baking sunlight from the week before was a massive pain in the arse, and started off down the Regent’s canal towards the Limehouse basin, as usual. Another benefit of the rain was a lack of “Shoreditch trendies” – you know what I mean, the sort of people who have “haircuts” and hats, with silly skinny jeans, rolled up at the bottom. If the weather is nice then they flock to the canal, drinking their cider and generally getting in my way. No such problems this weekend though! I sound so old.

I was also feeling much less heavy legged than the week before and was confident of covering both a distant distance and doing it in a respectable time. On top of this I was giving energy gels another go, so hopefully I would get a bit of a boost near the end and not flag as much as I had been.

So, down the canal to Limehouse, no problems, then through Whitechapel and Aldgate and across the city to St Pauls, where I dived into M&S for a bottle of water and my first energy gel, around the 10km mark and in around 55 minutes, which is my target marathon pace. So far, so good. Then down to Ludgate Circus and turning right to go generally uphill to Kings Cross station. I did have to slow to a fast walk up some of the hills, but I was still generally ok and the rain had stopped, which was another bonus.

At this point I then changed my normal route to extend it a bit. Instead of heading up Pentonville to Angel and then Upper St to Highbury and Islington, I instead went up Caledonian Road and then back down to H&I. Although this is slightly longer I think it was much faster, as I was running along some fairly quiet streets instead of the hustle and bustle of Angel on a Saturday afternoon.  From here it was then up towards Stoke Newington and then Manor House tube and having more energy gel, before then heading east to Stamford hill and then dropping back down through Stoke Newington and Dalston before heading for home.

I still had some energy left this point, which was a nice surprise and I did consider running on but at this point I was frankly bored of all the running and just wanted to get home and have a quick rest before going out that evening!

So, after all that I covered 27km (16.5 miles) is just over 2 hours, 40 minutes, which bodes pretty well for the big day itself, which is now just 32 days away! In that time I still have another 2 big runs to do before tapering off, as well as a long weekend in York for a wedding, although the runners will be coming with me to that one.

I am now really close to hitting my fund raising target but am running out of time, so please, if you keep forgetting to sponsor me, then forget no more and do it NOW! My page is at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runningfatbloke and it is super easy to sponsor me, so please do! I am trying to raise £1,600 for the Willow Foundation, which provides special days for seriously ill young adults. Since I know that most of you lot who read this fit into that bracket, then remember they could be helping you if something happened in your life, so just think of this as prepay ;o)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

GO GO GO! It's the Silverstone Half Marathon!


Sorry for the lack of blogging over the last week, but until now there has not actually been much to write about.

Last week was a week of little and often, going to the gym Monday-Thursday and just doing a few kms on the treadmill in the build up to the Silverstone half marathon on Sunday.  Since writing “Went to gym, did XXX on treadmill” etc is boring to write about and I am guessing boring to read, I didn’t bother.

However, after a quiet Saturday I was up bright and early on Sunday to get a lift from north London to Silverstone to run a couple of laps of the famous circuit, and ticking off my fourth half marathon in consecutive weekends.

Although lots of runners were glad of the sunshine I was less so, as I have a shaved head and didn’t really want to get sunburnt as well as extra dehydrated.  On top of this there was little in the way of shade (it being a race circuit and all, there were not many trees for cars to ram into) while there was a limited breeze.  So although it was great weather for a picnic, this run was going to be no walk in the park. 

However, it all started off well, with the theme to the BBC GP coverage (“The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac) blaring out over the speakers.  I couldn’t find the 9 minute mile pacer anywhere, so just trundled along hoping to see them at some point, with the plan the same as the Dorney Lake half marathon a few weeks ago: stick to them like glue for as long as possible.  Without the calming influence I charged off far too fast though, recording personal bests in both my first and second kilometres. 

This, coupled with the blazing sun quickly took its toll and I was not helped by getting a massive stitch at around 1/3 distance, so I slowed down for a few minutes. After this I found it difficult to regain my rhythm but still hit the halfway point in just under an hour, putting me in line for a good go at my overall personal best of 1.58.38.

The second half of the race was a different beast though. I was getting really tired and dehydrated and my pace slowed quite a lot. In the end I had to force myself to continue running rather than just jog along as normal, with the final 4km proving to be the toughest I have done yet.

In the end I finished in just over 2 hours 7 minutes – not a bad time at all, but the amount of effort it took was fairly frightening and the thought of doing that whole thing twice back to back still fills me with terror.

So, to try and combat this I am going to give energy gels a go. I used to use them when I lived and ran in NZ, but I can’t seem to find the same brand over here, and the ones I have tried before made me feel pretty rotten, which is not great when you are trying to run for two hours plus! Still, I am going to buy a few and give them a go in the gym over the next week or so. That way, if I do feel unwell I can just jump off the treadmill and hot foot it to the bathroom, rather than being stuck miles from home and feeling like rubbish. Anyone got any recommendations?

Remember, I am putting myself through this hellish nightmare to raise money for the Willow Foundation. I am only a few hundred quid off my target now, so if you are thinking of sponsoring me then please don’t forget. Why not do it RIGHT NOW, here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runningfatbloke. Cheers!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Going further, getting slower

Another weekend gone by and another long run completed. After last week’s relatively poor efforts at training I thought I had better up the anti and attempt 25km (15.5 miles).

However, it was not a great run.  Indeed, just 3km in my legs already felt like lead and I considered just turning round and going home, having another attempt on Sunday morning.  Then I remembered that is was probably going to chuck it down on Sunday and if I wanted to get this week’s long run done in the dry then it was going to have to be that day, so I plodded on.

I managed to get through the first 10km at an ok pace and then it actually got a little bit easier, especially as I went past the halfway point, despite having to run up Pentonville hill yet again.  I continued to plod on but by the time I got to Stoke Newington, around 19km I knew that a full 25km was probably going to be beyond me, so I cut across Clissold park and went past the ½ marathon distance after 2 hours 11 minutes, 3 minutes slower than last week and 13 minutes slower than my personal best. I thought training was meant to make me quicker???!!!!!!

Still, in the end I managed 24km, although I did have to walk the final 1km but I expect there will be some walking in the final race as well.

Over the last few weeks I have been getting progressively more and more tired, but on the other hand I don’t really want to take a break from training with only 6 weeks, 6 days left until the race, and remember the final week of that is tapering down.

So this week it is all about little and often. Last week I did 18km in two biggish runs, but this week I am aiming to do around 25km spread over 4 visits to the gym, before having Saturday off. Then on Sunday it is the Silverstone half marathon!  The start line is the same as it is for the Grand Prix, so I am going to download The Chain by Fleetwood Mac and hit that as I go over the line!

You can keep track of my training by following @runningfatbloke on twitter. And remember, all this pain and suffering is in order to raise as much money as possible for the Willow Foundation, so please sponsor me at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runningfatbloke. I only need another £309 to hit the £1,600 target!

Friday, 2 March 2012

More injuries, hills and a prize giving!

It has been a bit of a flat week so far, with injury and tiredness limiting my training activities.

Indeed, since last weekend’s longest ever run I have only managed to get in two training sessions and although I feel a bit guilty about missing out on at least one, if not two runs this week I think both my body and mind needed a bit of a break before what looks to be a busy couple of weeks for both training and just general stuff.

So, after having Monday off I went to the gym on Tuesday for a warm down from the weekend/warm up for the week ahead, and managed to get through 8km in around 43 minutes in a pretty uneventful session. I was actually feeling pretty good but had to see a man about a dog and ran out of time (pun intended).

Wednesday’s session was a fair bit more intense.  I was having a guitar lesson after work (see, more than one string to my bow) and in order to fit in some training I decided to run home from work. However, its only only around 3km from home to work, so I went a super long way round to extend it out to 10km.

Now, I work in the middle of central London, near the river, so not only did I have to go uphill for the majority of the run, but I also had to deal with loads of people making their way home, not really looking out for a fat bloke in a bright yellow shirt running along. This meant I had to do a fair bit of dodging and diving and this, coupled with the hills (especially running up Pentonville - see picture, copyright google I imagine) meant my 10km was pretty slow and hard work. 
Still I got though it and had a pretty good lesson afterwards. However, the injury on the side of my left foot is still there and I was in quite a lot of pain yesterday after a 10 hour stint at work, with no time for a lunch break. Given the pain and the tiredness I thought it best to have the evening off. On top of this I think I have got another cold, with my glands all swollen although I have not got the runny nose or sore throat yet. 

Anyway, this evening (Friday) is a rest day before tomorrow’s frankly massive run, giving me and excuse to eat loads of pasta bake tonight. The plan is do to just over 25km (15.5 miles) and hopefully this should only take me around 2 and a half hours, maybe a touch less. At this stage though it is predicted to rain, which could be interesting but at least it will mean there are less people around to get in my way!

Anyway, I hope you all have a great weekend and if you are also a runner you achieve what you are attempting.

Oh, and please SPONSOR ME! I am getting really close to my target now and when I reach it I will give out a random prize (price to be decided) to someone that helped me get there! You can make a donation at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runningfatbloke. I am raising money for the Willow Foundation, which provides special days to seriously ill young adults. I am most likely to just pick a name out of a hat. Warning: Could be some smelly running socks.