Monday, 7 April 2014

Marathon Distraction No 1 - Thank you Berghaus!

The taper...

That two week period where you reduce your mileage and generally feel like crap... The temptation to try and cram an extra couple of miles in is huge, you remember the runs that didn't happen or didn't go brilliantly, you focus on the negative...

Is it any wonder sports psychologists are in such demand?

I have a couple of friends who are either qualified to strap me into a jacket that ties up at the back, or are training to be qualified; which is great apart from when they play with me head... (They don't that would be unethical... though as one pointed out - fun).

So with professional help a mere call away, but at a significant cost (my sanity), I tend to do the distraction thing... In previous years this has involved booking the next challenge, up to and including the next marathon or ultra...

Err this year they are booked... and I do need to think about the fun for next year, but not quite yet. 

I'm up to date with my OU reading...

Bugger...

At which point an email arrived from Berghaus, I'm 1 in a 100 - Berghaus have a small team of Trail Runners they're taking out to Chamonix for training, a shedload of kit and a chance to run bits of the Tour de Mont Blanc.  The UTMB is possibly the pinnacle of Ultras - the one you have to get points for to get into the ballot, and one of those that the realist in me knows will be a spectator sport - so the chance to run bits of it is in my top 10 (sporting) bucket list.

So the 1 in a 100?  Berghaus (and the other sponsors) have sifted through the applications and picked 100 of us to go to selection days... The first in the Lakes clashes with my next insanity that small matter of walking for 36 h, over Yorkshire, but the second I can make in London.  

The first has names I've read about in awe and near disbelief - Steve Birkinshaw and Helene Whitaker - from the Dragon's Back through KIMM and madness's many. "Feet in the Clouds" and "It's a Hill Get Over It" have been companions and inspirations for as long as I've been trying to combine my love of the hills with trying to move more rapidly than walking...

So I hope that the second can give some of that magic.  What I do know is that everyone of the 100 will be worthy of the trip out, I've not met a runner on the hills who wasn't amusing, potty and had a love for just trying things that transcended anything mundane like pace.  The 100 will have speedies, and others who like me aren't as speedy but all will hopefully have tales to tell and stories to share.  Because whether I am lucky enough to get to Chamonix or not, I am lucky in that I'm going to meet some more people like me, who inspire me, and challenge me to be what I can be not what I've been told I should be...

Who needs a sports psychologist when you have distractions like that to look forward to?

TTFN

Paul

Sunday, 6 April 2014

London Week 16 - It's the Final Countdown...

Apologies, I do like Hair Metal / Poodle Rock...

So I'm here, 6 days and counting... Nigh on 500km run in training (will be clicked over on Tuesday morning), two pairs of trainers, more body lube than I think I want to think about...

The training has been good - only a couple of runs dropped from the schedule, and I've been nailing the pace I wanted almost every run.  Yes, a 4h dead 20 miler would've been nice but 4:04 will do. Especially given compared with previous years worth of marathon training is a PB of 15 and a half min :-D

My taperitis is fading, usual niggles - left ankle, why?  It'll fade, I'll be fine... The smog scare did make me wheeze a bit, and looking back at the data it looks like some of the hard races coincided with bad days... Another bit of data - is useful?  I'm not sure, but it's something to watch...

This week included a proper fun run - the people behind the Liverpool Rock and Roll Marathon now how to put the fun into marathon training, a 5km with glow in the dark face and body paint, free food (always a bonus) and a decent t-shirt!  On this basis the marathon is going to be a joy to take part in!

And so it's the Final Countdown... a two mile stretch, a five mile tempo run and then to London.  A trip to an Expo at least 10 times the size of anything I've been too before.  I'll be nervously reading the instruction book at least 5 times a day, and generally start loading the carbs...

If you wish to track me it should be possible through this link (on the day) VLM with race number 1212

So wish me luck, it's been a six year countdown...

TTFN

Paul



Sunday, 30 March 2014

London Week 15 - Taperitis, feel the power of my mind & going steady

Well it happened, 5 days into the taper and it hit... Taperitis... Grade 2... No running, eat loads, throw a migraine in there for fun, and generally feel like I've run a marathon a day for 3 days (and yes I do know what that feels like)...

One skipped run, a lot of calories eaten (not sensible ones either) and a general feeling that if this is psychosomatic then I have a hellishly powerful brain... So, as ever eliminate the impossible and whatever is left, however improbable, is often the solution... Drinks lots and take the tablets for the headache, take the hayfever tablets (cheery trees I hate you), try and eat a good mix (why is when you're ill there is nothing as good as a chilli burger, with chilli fries) and hold on tight because I know I will come out of it...

The plan for today's run was a) get out there and do it b) keep as close to 12 min miles g pit stop...

And it wasn't easy running that controlled at that pace, the desire to stretch the legs out and do the miles faster... But that's not the name of the game for the next couple of runs - go steady, keep it controlled focus on the big one... Ok, the first of the big ones.

The second, the Fellsman, is in mental prep - the rucksack is getting filled with gear, jacket & trousers are proofed and 50 safety pins bought... I will not fail scrutiny this year.

The Third, the Rock and Roll Liverpool Marathon is covered by this marathon training plan - after the Fellsman I rest for one week and then repeat the last three weeks of this training plan... However, the RRLM people are helping this week, with a night jog around Sefton Park - apart from anything else I'm a sucker for a free t-shirt! A shift of my training from a morn to an evening won't do any harm and it'll be nice to run with people rather than on my own.  The only thing I have to watch - its a 5KM training run, NOT A BLAT!!!!  That comes later...
 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

London Week 14: Taper Time, 10 for 1 and Looking forward...

It's done, the last of the long LSRs... 20 miles.  The first time in a marathon training plan I've survived going out to 20 miles twice.



The weather was entertaining, starting off warm enough that I was about to strip off my jacket, followed by a hail storm, followed by torrential rain... and repeat...about every 5 miles.  Soaked to the skin and then baked dry I'm seriously happy that I didn't chaff. 

I'd have preferred to run the second half smoother, but hey ho - 20 miles in a PB is 20 miles in a PB.  And better lumpy than injured!

It also bought up the 10 in 1 ratio I've struggled to reach in other years, so for every mile of the marathon I have run 10 in training... and I've a few more to go.

A taper isn't a full stop, its an active period letting your muscles and tendons and mind get back to their best... That's the theory and whilst I know from experience that the muscles and tendons bit work mentally its bloody hard work... So hold on people I may be a grumpy bastard for a couple of weeks...

The one advantageous I've given myself this year is London is not a stop, its an important way point... a very important waypoint and probably the primary one for the year, but then comes the fun... The Fellsman - 60 miles of brutality, where a third don't get to the finish... and then my local marathon - The Rock & Roll Liverpool Marathon...

So three weeks to London, five to Fellsman, nine to Liverpool...

Wish me luck, I'm going to need it...

TTFN

Paul

Saturday, 15 March 2014

London Weeks 12 & 13 - 300, 130 and 1212

This is very late, but I've been having a week at work... Lots landing from a great height, limited dodging ability etc etc etc...

Anyway, this is a bit of a catch up as I've skipped a blog posting as I've been running around the country, both for work and for fun... It's also a blog of numbers...

It's also my 300th Blog - I've spouted on 300 times... Some of them have been written with a smile on my face, others with tears running down my cheeks.  Such is my life as a GUCH, and I hope that its not too boring.

Since I've started this blog, I've gone from a nervous marathon virgin to a multi-ultra marathon runner, I've been invested as an MBE, and I've seen too many friends go through pain and too many die.  I've also seen many kids with heart conditions grow up and be what they want to be, or just grow up to be normal human beings. Having a heart condition doesn't make us good or bad, it just means we have something extra to deal with.  Don't assume we're little angels or little devils - we're just normal...

So, that's the 300 dealt with...

130?  That's the number of seconds slower than my half marathon PB I was on Sunday.  Cambridge is a favourite, mainly because I get to run with one of the runners I find most inspiration - my mate Kieran used to be a GUCH, until he became a heart transplant recipient... He trains despite the nerve induction meaning his system doesn't get warm for miles, and despite a dicky hip and every injury a runner can get.  Travelling down the day before gave us a chance to catch up, gossip, eat scotch eggs and talk training, injuries and chaffing- we're runners, what else are we going to talk about.  And we are runners, neither of us fit with the fun runner motif, we don't have that luxury.


Cambridge was hot - the paper the day after said 20 degrees, which isn't what I like - I sweat at 0 degrees so 20 is painful.  I also got stuck in a group, running faster than I'd intended - I didn't spot they were carrying the batons of relay runners until 8km in.  I was fast, for me, very fact for the first half... and then got hot and started doubting myself... and then got hotter.  By the time I'd choked on another spouty pouch water thingy and realised the PB was on I hadn't left enough time to make it... 130s... two minutes ten seconds over 21km... That's classified as close.

Kieran?  Given his injury record - he finished and with a smile on his face! That's better than many:-)

1212?  That's my race number for London.  I'm terrified now, its a very low number and while I'm sure its independent of the pen I'm in but its still a worry.  It's also a marker for my runs - I've two Long LSRs left - 16 miles tomorrow and 20 the week after, then its stepping down - 12 & 8,,, Nice short runs.

After six years its all getting a bit close... My main job now is to run easy and stay injury free... No heroics and try and avoid this weeks angry run - I do what I do for my charities because I care and when I read that care hasn't been offered to all then I remember why I do what I do. 

So, that was the blog of numbers...  

TTFN

Paul

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

London Week 10 - A niceness of numbers, being a race tart, and Garmin being very annoying...


Well, the miles are rolling out - two  mid week 10ks and then a 10 miler today.  Good solid, 10ks and a 5min negative split for 10 miles.  The amount of walking is dropping, the 900/100 split for the first 5 miles was mainly to get me warmed up and in the flow.

And in a niceness of numbers - I've bought up 200 training miles on my 26th training run... They've not all been easy, they've not all been PBs, but they are relentlessly moving me forward.  It's getting scarily close - I've 3 LSRs until the big day; 13.1 (Cambridge half), a 16 and a 20 miler, then a two week active taper... Five weeks...

 

Five weeks to add some polish, to find the correct strategy for me - balancing that desire of running all the way with the simple fact that adding in a little walking in the first half is paying huge dividends in terms of both my overall speed and how I feel.  At Boot Camp there was an ideal espoused that we should make the first half feel like it was easy, and then get out of the cab and use our strength for the second half.  That's the plan... And yes I will get snide comments for walking in the first KM... but quite frankly I know what I'm doing.   as ever I've been honest about my predicted time on the application forms for London - so I suspect even with my modified-Galloway, topsy-turvy, walk-run, negative split generating weirdness of a run I'll be overtaking a lot of those who were more confident...
 
That was almost diplomatic... and brings me nicely to Cambridge.

My 10mile PB is slower per-KM than my half marathon PB - many reasons for that, mainly I'm a race tart.  I like the  crowds, the cheering, the free sweeties.... I also do better in races than on my own, the ability to follow a cute backside or get into a niggle with someone just a little faster than comfortable for me is a great motivator.  There is also something special about pulling on my CHF colours with a number on, that  takes the commitment up a level...

However, my job this year is to get to London is as good a shape as possible - so my target isn't a PB its simpler than that 1) get round and feel good, with 2) sub-2:30 being faster than the marathon pace...

There. pressures off... and relax!

Garmin, the company who make my running watch, and who for the best part of a decade have kept my heart rate and distance mapping have decided to get annoying.  They've bought out some new software, to replace the old way in which the computer spoke to the watch.  And it doesn't like my watch... All of which can happen and I have no problem with... I do have a problem with Garmin ignoring a polite request, and prioritising those who are rude and abusive.  Which they have done twice now... They're also on to the third iteration of their new software in a week... which doesn't sound like a job well done.  So this is an open, and polite, rant - Garmin I love you... bring back a way for my watch to talk to my PC without me having to use the old software you tell me is out of date!

 

Finally, some good news - the annual diabetic check up was good on all counts!

 

TTFN

 

Paul

 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

London Week 8 - Recovery, Car Crashes, Misdirection and Inspiration

It's been an odd week, busy at work... The plan was that I'd be writing up a couple of walks and a gentle run today, but the lovely people at VirginMoneyGiving invited me an a friend (of who more later) to a day of training tips and inspiration - so instead of north I headed south, to London and Windsor...

Two recovery runs in the week - I can't share them as Garmin has done one of its periodically amazingly poor upgrades to their system, and I now can't make the watch talk to the computer... Then a night at the theatre with friends watching Japanese belt the living daylights of drums - http://www.kodo.or.jp/index_en.html

Then down to London, meeting up with my mate Kieran at Waterloo - Kieran is one of my inspirations, there is no need for someone who has done what's he's done to be doing another marathon - but he say's there's unfinished business and that's good enough for me... Hell, he's scared of heights and has jumped out of a plane...

Out to Eton, and jump a cab - out to the Dorney Lake complex, where there was a Triathlon ongoing and a hole load of rowing (it is Eton College's rowing centre...). Unfortunately, there's not a lot of parking so it looked like all of the rowers had abandoned their cars on the side of the road... Our cab was going one way, and the large 4x4 with a trailer attached... that'll be a trailer with now a large amount of the cab's paint on it... a short chase ensued, and our out of breathe cabbie came back without any insurance details...

We arrived, with 20 minutes to spare before the start... For the reception guy to tell us that anything running related was down the other end - back 2km to the triathlon tent...

And so we walked down... and the guys and girls to look confused and send us back up to the reception...

The rowing course is 2000m... Kieran had started suggesting that this was an elaborate scam, but trust me I've nothing worth the effort of this one...

So we walked back up...

And then as we approached the complex again... we saw a sign.... I say a sign, an A4 bit of paper...


That made me happy...

Martin Yelling was excellent - good sensible advice based on the simple fact that if we've done the training we've all done and kept doing it we would finish.  It was going to hurt, but that the hurt would be worth it for the cold heavy weight of a medal at the finish line - we talked runs, food, the taper and fundamentally disagreed with the existence of the wall - if you do things right, it DOES NOT EXIST!!!

All good stuff - we then went out for light session - c5km in total (still locked into the Garmin), running at our easy, steady and threshold paces and showing us how easy it is to run too fast, and what an impact that can have... 5km has never been so interesting, trying to run for 90s at threshold, and then 1min recover, turn around, and if you're getting it about right you finish 90s later exactly where you started...

Lunch... and the view...


Yes, this is February...

After lunch we had a good talk on nutrition & hydration, complete with freebees from Lucozade (thank you) and an absolutely brutal stretching session that hurt more than the run... Trust me if some of those photos come out there'll be some explaining to do ;-)

Then the lads from Walking for Wounded talked about walking to the South Pole and how they kept going in -40, with ipods freezing, altitude sickness knocking their mates... All done with the sort of pathos any GUCH would recognise, that acknowledgement that our bodies may be battered, missing bits or have plastic bits inside of us... but we're still a damn sight luckier than many of our friends.

The guys were genuinely great, funny, and self effacing - they'll also be on the start line at London with us - though I suspect they'll be somewhere ahead of me, grinning and thinking about the finish line and a cold pint...

We finished with a session on how to make our virginmoney giving pages more appealing... which was all good stuff:-)

Then an event free trip back, apart from the very happy England fans getting on at Twickenham, and the less happy Irish fans.  A stroll along the South Bank admiring the view and a quick healthy pizza.

The Kieran headed back to Cambridge to home and to get ready for his LSR and I off to the YHA at Thameside for another recovery run, the 20miler was good, but it took a lot out of me.  So 10km to the Cutty Sark, via circumnavigating Peter the Great and an emergency stop at a McDonalds toilet...

So, an excellent day - thank you to VirginMoneyGiving for picking me and letting the pair of dickey ticker runners to turn up and cause havoc.  Special thanks to the Walking for Wounded for reminding us all that how ever shit it gets out there, we're doing 26.2 miles not 10 days and to Martin for sage counsel and advice.

A good week, just need to get the Garmin talking to the laptop

TTFN

Paul  

Thursday, 20 February 2014

London Week 7 (Sorry it's late) - London runners PLEASE SMILE

It's a marathon not a sprint... And sometimes in training it feels like a damn slog!

After the t-shirts and goody bags of last week, the mates waving back from Southport pier it was the lonely runs, the ones where you have to work to get out of bed early enough, the ones where the last thing you need is to be hundreds of miles away from home.

London.  It's odd, I'm training for the London Marathon and I disliked the running in London.  It took me until half way around the second of the runs to work out why.

When I run up and down the Loop Line in Liverpool there's a growing number of runners out - the Liverpool Rock n Roll Marathon is 6 weeks after London (and yes I'm in that as well ;-)).  Not every runner chats, but the vast majority nod or wave. 

London there was nothing.  I barely existed. I got a "wtf" look when I waved at the first three people and then gradually shrunk back into myself.

That didn't stop me almost making very good friends with the Royal Protect squad... my short run was a gentle 5km, out from the hotel past Buck House and to the Mall.  Being a smartarse I decide to run over the edge of the Victoria Monument to avoid some of the traffic... Only to discover the back side is fenced off with crash barriers - I've circumnavigated Queen Victoria... coming out the bit I went in I was being looked at closely by the coppers... I did wave then, and smile...



A two day conference, followed by a day of meetings... followed by another day of meetings... My joy was unbound.  However, I did thanks to a mate, find a cracking restaurant near Victoria station - kazan-restaurant.com - ok, can't quite cover a full meal on the expenses but worth the extra couple of quid for the best mixed grill I've had in a while.


Having avoided being detained at Her Majesties pleasure, I thought I'd better head off down the river... A plod, but apart from the lack of smiling, an enjoyable one. With London's landmarks as a backdrop no run can be really unpleasant.

Meetings done, travel chaos avoided, and home... Saturday was a trip to Manchester - an OU tutorial, good fun as ever and an local charity meeting for adults like me who were born with their heart conditions and want the same things everyone else does. 

And so Sunday dawned... The first 20 miler of this campaign... Out along the Loop Line until it runs out, wave at the Runcorn Bridge in the distance, turn around and run back.

First five miles were 800m run 200 walk, then five at 900/1000 and then a constant for 10 miles.  I did almost bonk, being a type II diabetic means I do try and reduce the amount of sugar I throw into the system.  However, running for 20 miles on a small bowl of porridge, and four gels was hard work.



However, I took 14 minutes of my 20 mile PB.  So I am one happy running bunny:-)

So with happiness in my heart and hurt in my legs I'm going to save some of the fun news of this week until the end of this weeks blog... Think Fame, Friends and hopefully fantastic freebees:-)

TTFN

Paul

Sunday, 9 February 2014

London Week 6 - Colds, carbs and canines

Well it had to happen... the first run missed, not run, didn't walk it, just flumped...

Yup, I flumped... I woke up the day before with a headache, and as the day progressed felt the mild drippyness of the nose and a drying of my throat... Brilliant, a cold...

Fortunately, it wasn't a bad one. Fortunately, I've been here before - lob carbs down my throat take paracetamol for a couple of days, take an extra day to recover...

The good news is I missed 10km, a single run out of the 18 I should've done. Not too bad then...

The runs themselves have been good & solid, a gentle 5 km on Tuesday...


And then my first race of the year... a firm favourite... the Mad Dog in its 4th iteration: The Good, The Bad and the Pugly!  The wind was against us - for 4 of the first 5km... My splits were a 35 min first 5 and a 31 min second.  It was like running into a wall, continually...



My fifth fastest 5km, in these conditions... I'm a happy me:-)  The opera singer, salsa drummers, bands and marshals all deserve a HUGE thank you, I was a bit nippy and I was moving moderately fast.

And to the victor the spoils...

 
 
 
Next week is painful, too many meetings and too much travel to count, so the shoes are packed...

TTFN

Paul

Sunday, 2 February 2014

London Week 5 - LSR PBs, 50km week, and Scouse "humour"

This is a partial experiment... This is a blog out of time and space - I'm off out tonight, so enjoy!  If this doesn't work I'll post it a day later...

This was a big week... The plan had two "easy run" 10km in during the week and then a 30km as the LSR.

The first 10km hurt, hurt like hell.  It was cold, miserable and I could feel the DOMS in every fibre of my leg muscles... But I did it, and grumped all bloody day about my legs...


The canal is great, the cyclists however could do with pointing their headlamps down - 100+ lumens in the eyes is not good when there's a wall on one side and water on the other!

The second 10km felt a lot better...


Which is all good:-) 

But Sunday loomed.... 30km... That beginning of the scary distances... After this is the 20 milers, those final LSRs before the 26.2. 

It was a lot warmer than the 6ish o'clock runs.  The regulars were out - the blind lady and her guide; the lunatic father pushing his daughter in the biggest stroller I have ever seen and the amnestic runner that I have had three identical conversations with, and he's never remembered one of them... And for the first time the weather was good enough the youths and other less inclined to be out people were lurking on the loop line... as evidenced by their "humour" - "Get your knees up, last 5" - said the large dog walker - I was 3km in, 27 km to go... So what the blazes was he going on about?  The last km when trying to hammer up the last hill, to bring it in under 3:50... To get the immortal "Hope you're running to lose weight you fat f*ck"... Well, it worked I flew the last couple of hundred metres...

Needless to say they were smoking... revenge may take a long time coming, but it might hit them...

And for the warm afterglow of a stonking PB of 20 min.  The planning, training and confidence seem to be working :-)

So next week is a light week; a 5km, a 10km and then next Sunday a racing 10km at the Mad Dog:-)

TTFN

Paul