Monday, 19 March 2012

Spitfire 20 March 2012

This is becoming one of my favourite races. I ran this last year prior to my last marathon, and again this year it falls in the calender perfectly ahead of the London marathon.

Perfect conditions
The Spitfire 20 takes place in and around Dunsfold, Surrey. The race is a two lap course which goes round the vast tarmac area of the local Aerodrome (made famous by TV's Top Gear) before heading off around the country roads in and around the village. The course is undulating with a couple of hills of note. The race is organised by events to live who once again put on a great, well run event.

Some of us Twitters running today
Twitter has been a great motivator for my running the last year and today brought together friends old and new from the running community. I met up with: Steve (@StevieRun71) Jo (@Jo365) Lesley(@lilbee67) Alma (@plustenner) Kirsten (@shawkirsten) Tim (@JediRider) @runningfairy and Kevin (@52marathonman). It was brilliant to talk to people in more than 140 characters! Great bunch and great to chat with.

It was finally time to get down to business. I lined up with Steve and his girlfriend Jo and the race set off at 9:30 in the spring sunshine and blue skies. Steve who is running both the Brighton and London marathon was off like a train. Jo and I set off at a more leisurely pace.

Today's run for me was all about getting my confidence back and get the miles under the belt following a bad run the week before.

At the start...Ready,Steady,Go

We ticked off the first 5 miles at an average of about 9:30 min/mile pace and probably slowed a little for the following 5. Although about half a minute slower than marathon pace I was more than happy to be feeling good and get these 20 miles logged. There are two races that are run on the day, The Tempest which is 10 miles and the Spitfire being the 20 miles.

As we reached the halfway point Jo, sadly decided to call it a day. She had been ill in the week leading up to the run and it had taken it's toll. It was good to have company on the first 10 miles with Jo (and Kirsten for a couple of miles), it made the time time fly and I was feeling surprisingly fresh. With this in mind I decided to push the 2nd half and get a boost from a negative split.

Running around the Aerodrome

My nutrition has been a bit hit and miss on the long runs, but I seemed to get it right today and will be repeating this at London. I started the day with porridge made with goats milk (apparently this is a bit easier on the stomach) and a couple of slices of peanut butter on toast. I kept hydrated with a Lucozade sports drink whilst driving to the race. During the race I carried a Lucozade sports drink, took on water at the water stops and for the first time tried the Power Bar gels who were one of the race sponsors. These were available at all the water stops and I took advantage by grabbing a few each time to stock up for my final preparation for London. I took a gel at mile 5, 10 and 15.

Power Bar Gels...Not the tastiest but seemed to do the trick!

The final 10 miles were all done under 8:30 min/mile pace with even a couple of sub 8 min/miles thrown in. With this speedy rhythm going (well speedy for me!) I felt strong and wasn't going to stop for nothing, not even my lace that had come undone at about mile 14. Now with this being a fairly good pace I was overtaking a lot of people in the second half of the race. The only problem with this was every time I went past a runner I got " Your lace is undone" I raised my hand the first few times, then I managed a "Thank you", then a "I know but if I stop I wont start again". By the time I had been told this for about the twelve time, I was thinking " I know it's bloody undone, do you think I can't feel the lace jangling around, and you've all told me 300 times!!!".......I stopped and done it up.

The last hill close to the finish brought me back to earth and slowed me a little but I finished strong and full of confidence in 2:56:24. A couple of minutes slower than last year but definitely a faster second half than last year.

I learnt a lot from today. My pacing and nutrition. To run a sub 4 marathon at London I would need on average 9:09 min/mile pace, but after today I'm thinking maybe 9:30 min/mile pace for the first half and then pick it up in the second half like today. Food for thought.

After collecting my medal and Mars bar at the finish I decided to treat myself to a sports massage that were being done my the team from Finefettle For a small donation this got me a 10 minute massage to loosen off the tight spots.

This is a great event that is well run and well marshaled and has a good atmoshere to it, one I will keep coming back to, and the day was made doubly great by meeting up with all the fellow 'Twits'

For my report on last years event click here

Thursday, 15 March 2012

What could go wrong on a 7 mile run?

I was not planning to blog again till after competing in the Spitfire 20 race in Dunsfold this Sunday but following an interesting run tonight it was too much to tell over 140 characters on Twitter, so a quick post is needed to tell the story.
I had a half day today off work to go and watch my youngest play football in an inter school tournament. They got knocked out quite early, which meant I got home and out the door by five o'clock for an hours run. The sun was slowly setting so I head out over the trails of the ranges a mile away from my front door.

I do a lot of running over here, it's MOD owned land but when not being used by the army it's the perfect place to run with it's vast open heathland, hills and trails. When the red flags are up you cannot enter certain area's. When I got to the gate where the first flag is I had a playful dog running part the way with me, with this distraction I totally missed the flag and continued through the gate.

Red Flag...Do not enter!
You usually get the odd dog walkers on this run but this evening it seemed I had the world to myself. The main part of the run is along a ridge with the views across the Surrey Hills, you can even make out some of the taller landmarks in London on a clear day. I now know why there was no one else around, because of the flags but I seemed to be lucky enough to have got away with it with no soldiers training. As I ran past the wardens office, within a few minutes my solitude was broken with an irate Warden shouting at me. I raised my arms in the way a holiday maker would abroad who cannot understand the language, sped up and made my way out the ranges.

Perfect Running!
Back in civilisation I was running down a hill near to home when I saw three characters approaching who appeared to have already had one or two (or three!) drinks so early in the evening. They were no spring chickens and the woman in the trio began mimicking that she was running.....Here we go, I thought. As I approached them the woman started to lean on me as if she had just finished a marathon. She stank, gave me a big grin with her brown stained twisted teeth (I say teeth, but there were more gaps than teeth) before cackling away with her pals.What a comedy moment.

My new friends!
Within the last few minutes I had been shouted at by a warden and nearly taken over by the living dead! Nearly home, I had one last encounter to endure. As I came under a railway bridge leading into my estate, I could hear a bunch of teenagers up above me. I thought nothing of them until a large stick came whizzing past my head and shattering against the wall. I turned to stop and give them a piece of my mind but realised it was a large group. Now I'm no Jackie Chan and thought better than to take it any further, I turned to them raised my arms as if to say 'Why the heck did you do that for' and continued the rest of my run. I could hear them heckling in the distance, they must make their parents proud I thought.

I'm not sure I've ever had such a eventful short run. It topped off my day, earlier I had been caught by a speed cop for speeding, 3 points on my licence and £60 fine...Doh! Well at least there was no chance of getting stopped again for speeding on this run!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Marathon Training - A set back and other running ramblings

In my last post I noted that I was 'right where I wanted to be with my marathon training'. Now of course if you say something like that, what's going to follow.....Yep, you talk to soon and a set back looms it's ugly head!
I've pushed my long runs to 20 miles and have run a couple of back to back 12 milers over the last few weeks. This weekend we were away so I decided that the Friday would be 'long run day'. Along with running buddy Brian, we would run from work to home on an extended 19 mile run.

To date all my long runs have taken place first thing in the morning (I prefer morning's and most races are run in the morning). Now whether it was because of the time of day being late afternoon, I will never know but the run was set to be a disaster in more ways than one!

Firstly my legs gave up on me at around mile 14/15, and secondly I got lost! Lost in an area that I've spent the last 40 years of my life. It's been because of running though that I've discovered so many new places around where I live and I'm sure that goes for a lot of other runners too.

I got myself lost due to 'Speedy Gonzalez' (Brian) shooting off and being left without a head torch to fend for myself (He's a good friend like that!) but having watched the last series of Bear Grylls, I was confident I would be OK alone in the woods in the dark :-)

The lost bit was not a problem it was a bit of an adventure, it was the hitting the wall at mile 14 that was the problem. I knew by about mile 7 that this was not going to be a good run, I've normally hit my stride by then, but today felt different. I guess it's just one of those days that you have to just write off and was probably down to a number of reasons (nutrition,tiredness,etc.) that hopefully will not come along again.

Thankfully I have not dwelt on it or let it get me down too long. After tweeting about this run on Twitter it wasn't long before the great running community picked me up with their words of support which helped a lot.

This week I'm going to run some easy paced lunchtime runs as I have a 20 mile race next Sunday which will hopefully get the confidence back.

I was keen to also make a point this week about recovery shakes. Now whether this is psychological or not, I've been using a certain well known brand of recovery shake (you know the one!) for a while and I believe I've noticed the difference in recovery after big runs. However steadily the price of this shake has risen and soon mounts up over the weeks especially if you believe the blurb on the bottle that states you'll recover even better with another shake 2 hours later (sucker!)

In these economic times we all need to sacrifice some of the luxuries so I've now been either buying a cheap milkshake off the shelf or using a good old pint of milk out the fridge after a tough workout....and hey presto I've noticed the same difference. Now I'm not saying that the top branded shake is a waste of time, but I think the benefits are probably felt at the more elite end of training rather than the amateur who can easily get all the benefits they need from good old Milk.

I've finally got around to reviewing a product I'd been sent a little while back.

The Cygnett armband is designed to be worn around the upper arm and take an iphone. I don't own an iphone but was pleased to find that my new smart phone (Samsung Galaxy W) fitted snugly in the pouch. The pouch has clear waterproof front to it allowing you to still operate the touch screen.

I downloaded a running App on my phone once this was done I got it set up ready to go out but the only trouble was that my phone has buttons along the side and when trying to push the phone into the pouch the buttons kept being activated. If you do have an iphone for what this product is meant , I guess this won't be a problem. After a few minutes I managed to get the phone in OK and set off.

I've never run with an armband before so this felt a little awkward but the strap was comfortable and with its adjustable Velcro strip I soon got used to the sensation of having the band on my arm. While on the move it was not really possible to view the screen unless I stopped and swung it around my arm or took the band off but also the phone's screen is on a power save anyway and goes of every minute, so it was a case of not being able to view the phone till I finished my run. 

I was out for near on 40 minutes and the strap never loosened once which was impressive, I had visions of  me stopping every 5 minutes to adjust. I don't run with music often and did not on this run but there is an additional Velcro flap on the armband where you can wrap the cord of your headphones around so it's not bouncing around whilst running which I thought was a nifty idea. A comfortable product that would be best suited to an iphone which it is designed for but held my similar size phone securely.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Marathon training...So far so good.

I feel guilty that I'm not running this weekend but making up for it by blogging about my running. I'm itching to get out and run but instead letting my body rest during this period of marathon training.

I've no reason to feel guilty though, within the last 7 days I have accumulated 52 miles and I can't remember hitting that many miles before over this period of days. Here's a short resume of the last week.

Sunday 26th February. I ran 20 miles (see last post) 8:45min/mile pace

Monday 27th February. Well deserved rest day after the 20 mile run.

Tuesday 28th February. Having missed a planned tempo run at lunchtime, I managed to get out in the evening and run 4.5 miles at a pace of 7:35 min/mile pace. I've not done a tempo run for a couple of weeks and it showed. It felt hard (as it should!) but was not as quick as my previous times of low 7 minute miles. However this was still about a minute and a half quicker than marathon pace.

Wednesday 29th February. (Leap year.Won't have to do this run for another 4 years!) This was meant to be a slower run than what it was (7:58min/mile pace) but it was with running partner Brian, and I always run quicker with Brian....if I can keep up with him! 3.4 miles along the canal footpath.

Thursday 1st March. I felt tired from the previous couple of days faster runs and I still felt the previous Sunday's long 20 mile run but I stuck to my guns and attempted my second back to back run. This was running 12.5 miles from work in the evening and then back 12 miles in the morning (see previous post) The evening run is the tougher of the two as it involves the last few miles of climbing and a big hill at the end. When I got home I was shattered and the thought of doing it all over again in the morning was not appealing! 9:11 min/mile pace.

Friday 2nd March. Pleasantly surprised! I ran these runs again with Brian and I stayed with him for the first few miles but gradually dropped of him. What this meant though was that I could fall into my own rhythm. I kept waiting for the tiredness to kick in but mile by mile I ticked off until I completed the run feeling pretty good and not far behind Brain (The tortoise and the hare!) 8:57 min/mile pace.