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Blogs and reviews of my two favourite hobbies: Running and Football
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BREAKING NEWS: I AM GOING TO BE RUNNING IN THE 2017 LONDON MARATHON! WOO-HOO! - RAISING MONEY FOR MY LOCAL ST HELENA HOSPICE - MORE INFO TO FOLLOW BUT HERE'S A LINK TO MY FUNDRAISING PAGE: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.
I'M THINKING OF ENTERING A MARATHON A MONTH UP TILL THEN... OR MAYBE A YEAR (WE'LL SEE) - WILL UPDATE THE PAGE!
Recent and Planned Runs
Halstead & Essex Marathon - Sunday 8th May 2016
Two words: Hot and Hilly. I'm not making excuses, but these were two big factors in me not achieving my aim of a sub 3 hour, 30 minutes time. Although there was a good turnout of spectators, they were bunched into certain sections of the course, so for long periods of time there were just the runners (and even running in isolation on occasions), so there wasn't the constant spurring on to be had, that can shave a few minutes off your time. I breezed through the first half, but it was as if a switch had been flicked for the second half, maybe when I started covering the same route. I suddenly started thinking about my fluid strategy too much and lost my relaxed rhythm.
That said, I absolutely loved this event. The organisation was great, with use of parts of the leisure centre and the marshalls were absolutely top class. I can't wait for the 2017 one! Highly recommended. Not one for a PB, but a rewarding, challenging event, with a medal, nice technical t-shirt and a great goody bag with food and drink. Big shout out to the Halstead Road Runners! Here's a link to their website. I was part of the Cancer Research 'cheering team' at the London Marathon a couple of weeks previously, and it was good to get out there running my own marathon - a great day.
Colchester Parkruns - any Parkrun, for that matter!
I love my local Colchester Parkrun events. They're absolutely free, and you get a text and email with your time and placing, and you can trend your progress through the weeks. I would urge anyone to turn up and give it a go, whatever your ability. As they say, you can walk, jog or run! I know some folks go for a coffee afterwards too. I'm thinking of getting a 'Post-Parkrun run' thing going, where a few of us go for a run after the main event. Some people rock up, do the run, and then drift away, after all of hour an hour! - which seems a shame. So I wondered if other like-minded people would be up for a run afterwards for a few miles. Anyway, head over to the Parkrun website, and find your nearest one, and turn up Saturday morning - you won't regret it! If you are out and about away from home, maybe drop in on a different Parkrun event. They often shout out for visitors!
Hatfield Broad Oak 10K - Monday 30th May 2016
An 11am race start meant I was up at a fairly social hour for a bank holiday Monday morning. Fuelled up with porridge, blueberries, banana, honey and crumpet with peanut butter, washed down with two cups of coffee. My son was accompanying me as my support crew for this one, with my wife and daughter out shopping for the day. At least this event took my mind off that and the damage they were potentially doing to my credit card. Noticed fairly sharpish this morning that, as predicted, the weather was none too splendid. It was overcast and a little chilly, which from the running perspective, were absolutely fine - but it seemed quite windy (which is only fine as far as tailwinds are concerned!). We got there really early, after a drive of around 50 minutes, parking up at 9:15. Had a good wander around the area where the flower show was, looked in the church, and had a wander around the race HQ area. Have to say, lovely area. I thought I was on the set of Midsomer Murders, and was waiting to hear the blood-curdling screams at some point, as someone came a cropper! Was pleased to spot a cracking-looking barbeque stand and a bottle tombola. There are few things more exciting than the old "has to end with a 5 or a zero" tombola. I don't get out much. Fantastic village and two glorious-looking pubs!
The race was delayed for 10 minutes due to the earlier congestion and therefore latecomers. Although I'd set my watch with plenty of time to spare, it didn't actually lock into a satellite and get going till a good half a mile into the race, which threw me off kilter a little. And of course, it was set for miles, not kilometers. Oh well. I glanced at my watch at one point and thought "I'm doing much better than I even dared to hope for" ....and then remembered I needed to add three or so minutes to my time. The race was through a very picturesque setting and I felt good throughout. The last part across the field was great in the respect of having lots of space and also room for the spectators, but going from road to bumpy'ish grass needed a quick adjustment. Was no problem though and I'll be ready next year! Loved the "it's all downhill from here" sign at around the 8K or 9K marker (maybe nearer 9). I'd driven past that earlier and knew it was a nice downhill (in the good way) from here.
Finished with a gun time of 42:37 and chip time of 42:30 which I was more than happy with, seeing me home in 135th place out of nearly 1500 runners ...and loads of fast ones too, I have to say - a strong field. Had a celebatory \ recovery bottle of water and orange segment (reminds me of half times playing youth football years ago) and then onto the barbeque stand where I had the finest hot dog (or "sausage in a roll" as it was called) I honestly think I've ever had, complete with onions and brown sauce. Awesome. My son enjoyed himself I think, even with the walking around and killing time (and evidently he'd treated himself to an ice cream during the run). I saw him in the High Street at the half way point and gave him a wave - really appreciated his support. I usually go to events on my own, so having someone there at the start and seeing him midway and at the end was lovely. A great day. I was happy with the weather, but the spectators were probably wishing it was more like the previous two days' weather, to be honest, which had been very warm. I still have clear memories of the Halstead Marathon on that warm day, so it was all good for me! Superb event - well organised, and although a bit of a queue leaving the car park, it was no big deal and largely due to the 'Road Closed' signs being thrown in a ditch by someone apparently. Well done to the organisers. I think I shall be back. My son may be able to drive me next year so I can partake in an ale or two afterwards :-)
Southend Half Marathon - Sunday 12th June 2016
Had to watch the Wales and England Euro 2016 games the evening before, stone cold sober. Reason being, was up at 6am the follow morning in order to have a feast of a breakfast and set off for the seaside. Surprise surprise, I was going to be attending this event on my own today! Porridge, cereal, honey, banana and a crumpet with peanut butter - followed by a shower and the donning of my running hear - later, and I was out the door at 7:10am. A little over an hour later I was parking up at the venue. Queued for 20 minutes for the pay and display machine - yet machine singular! - and shelled out £4.50 for the privelege. Surely some deal could have been struck with the council, or an easier method of paying concocted? No matter. Queued for 15 minutes for the loo. Queued 5 mins to drop my bag off. The start was delayed 5-10 minutes due to problems with people running late. Heard they waived the car parking fee for newcomers. Oh well.
I positioned myself with the front group of runners, thinking time was of the essence. I wanted to get away sharpish after the race so I didn't have to queue leaving the car park, as I wanted to get home to get read to go back out again ...to attend my wife's Grandad's 100th Birthday party. Yes, 100th! The route was a little odd in that it was largely an 'out and back' straight route, done twice - which meant you got to see things four times. It deviated a little at the start and end, but most of it was repeated. It was certainly flat and fairly straight. Gave it the feel of a relay drag race type thing though and you got to see the faster and other runners. There was quite a breeze, and I couldn't figure out at times whether it was a headwind, tailwind or sidewind. Conditions other than that were perfect - not too warm, and even a light drizzle for a while. Ideal conditions for a half marathon but I was hoping it brightened up for the party later. (It didn't).
Anyways, long story short, I finished in 1 hour, 32 mins, 30 seconds - although according to my watch I'd run 13.18 miles - yes, 0.08 longer than the half marathon distance. Maybe the distance was correct, but either way, it's no problem. I paid £20 to enter, which was pretty good. Got a nice medal, but no t-shirt for that, but at the end got a bottle of water, carton of coconut water and a banana ...and a bunch of leaflets. Not a great goodie bag it has to be said, but that's not why I enter these events. The marshalling was great and the support fantastic - felt like they lined most of the route ...due to the nature of the route! One small bugbear of mine is the cups of water at the water stations instead of small bottles. I know it's more economical and safer all round, but I don't tend to slow down by much when drinking, so my efforts resemble more "It's a knockout", where I end up getting the tiniest bit actually down my throat. I can understand the use of cups - just doesn't make it easy - but there were plenty of water stations, also with wet sponges, so can't complain.
Overall a good event, that I'd do again I think. The car park pay and display and loo queues weren't great, but given the amount of people, that's not too bad. Some tweaks and ideas for next year maybe. All in all, a great morning. Oh and I wasn't late for the party, and let's just say I indulged in plenty of the barbeque, that I felt I earned, and my body demanded! :-)
Mersea 'Round the Island All-Terrain Race' (13.4 miles) - Sunday 26th June 2016
Well this was a different experience for me. I'm used to road running, with a little bit of trail and fields. This event had a little bit of road (and only a little), with some trail, fields, mud, sand, shingle - the lot. We'd had a lot of rain recently, and that played a big part in the plentiful supply of mud and puddles. I wore the closest trainers I had to trail ones, also conscious of the fact that they could get caked in mud and sand! In a nutshell, absolutely loved it. I had an absolute ball. My time for the 13.4 miles (or 13.3 according to my watch) was 1 hour, 44 minutes and 8 seconds - placing me 31st, out of the field of 250 runners. The terrain and fairly strong headwind for a long spell were factors in that time - for us all. I honestly couldn't recommend this event enough - it's superb. My first time and I shall definitely have this on my list for future years. Only cost £10 to enter too, with free parking, bottles of water (or cups - but bottles are great) and a medal. When I collected my car key from the kindly chap (part of the organising team) who had locked it in his car for me, he asked me if I'd enjoyed it. My grin probably said it all, but I couldn't resist saying that if I was looking to wade through lots of mud, I'd have gone to Glastonbury! :-) Top morning.
Standard Chartered Great City Race (5K) - Thursday 14th July 2016
I entered this one as part of the running club for the company I work for - Linklaters. The race was taking place in the City of London, round the corner from our London office. I work in our Colchester office most of the time, but usually a day every two weeks I spend working in London. So I simply made this race day a London day. I was intrigued and a little excited about running through the closed streets around the City. It didn't start till 7:15pm, so there was a bit of waiting around, having finished work for the day, but the weather was perfect and it looked to be a lovely evening.
When you registered for the event, I think you specified your estimated finishing time, and if you were a fast runner expecting to complete the course in under 18 minutes, 30 seconds, you had a coloured sticker on your race number and could enter a separate pen for the race. The next category was for runners expecting to finish in a time between 18 minutes, 30 seconds ,,,and 27 minutes. That's a really broad range. A 19 minute runner is vastly different to a 27 minute runner, yet here they were all grouped together. There was nothing more granular than that - no 18:30 to 21:00, 21:00-23:00, etc, I believe there was a third category for running expecting to finish in a time over 27 minutes - but not 100% sure about that - could have been to the far left, but there were so many runners it was hard to tell.
When I say 'so many runners', I'm talking about 5,000 or so! The 18:30-27:00 bracket of runners contained probably 95% of the 5,000 runners, and I was smack bang in the middle of that trong. We inched towards the start time, and when the starting gun went off I was about 3 minutes from the start. Thank goodness for chip timing these days, where your time starts when you reach the start time and set off properly! Well, what can I say. I spent the first 2 miles zig-zagging around other, slower, runners - and found it all a bit frustrating. It was only the last mile when I had a bit more room. I tend to get more frustrated by having energy to burn and feeling good, but getting held up by other runners in front of me, than I do having an open road in front of me but no energy to exploit it!
Now, I know this is mostly about having fun, being among fellow runners, and raising money for charity. I get all that and love all that. However a part of me does want to break PBs or run fast. I felt good for this race, so felt a bit held back. Sorry, but there you go. Doing a 5K parkrun on a Saturday morning, but first mile would probably be completed in around 6 minutes, 20 seconds. The second and third miles are nearer 7 minutes or a bit over. During the City Race, my first, congested mile took me 7 minutes, 30 seconds. The second mile was done in 6:39, and the third in 6:30 - so it was a reversal of the norm! The time of 21:49 I achieved was a bit misleading, as according to my watch I'd only ran 3.03 miles, instead of 3.10 - and that with the extra zig-zagging! :-) Anyway, got a great goody bag and medal, and a nice (cotton) t-shirt. Not sure I'd do it again, but if I did, would get there dead early to get a place at the front of that middle batch! Oh and I finished in 550th place, not far off my target of being in the top 10%.
JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge (5.6K) - Wednesday 20th July 2016
It was a bit of a trek from my company's office in London down to Battersea Park, on a warm day. It was well worth it though, for even another relatively short run. My company had a hospitality tent, which made it all the more pleasurable, as it was somewhere to dump my rucksack and grab some water before the race ...and somewhere to retire to afterwards for some food and drink (and swap stories). I loved the course and despite the crowds (over 16,000 people!) the segregation of runners based on estimated timings worked out well. I got myself to the front of the second batch of runners, so had a fairly clear run. I even caught some of the first wave of runners, with their blue race numbers! :-) As I mentioned, it was warm and muggy, but I was pleased with my time of 23 minutes and 49 seconds, giving me an average min/mile of 6:49, and a placement of 681st. Would do this event again.
Nike FlyKnit Lunar 3
For the last couple of years I've been wearing Nike Air Pegasus running shoes, with Adidas Supernova Glides for a firmer, faster run. I have been hankering for a lighter pair of running shoes that still offer good cushioning and picked up a part of Flyknit Lunar 3s at a Nike outlet shop for half price. They're my "special occasion" shoes! I'd also looked at the LunarTempo 2 and LunaRacer shoes too. The LunarTempo 2 toe box just didn't seem right to me and the LunaRacer were a little firmer. I suppose I'm looking for a cushioned, lightweight, fast shoe for all runs, whether fast 5K or plodding marathons. Fact of the matter is that such a shoe doesn't exist and you tend to need different types for different runs. For a fast 5K I think the LunaRacer is ideal. My problem is that in the weekly 5K Parkrun I attend, I run 3 miles to get there, and go for a 10 mile run afterwards - so would need two pairs with me! ;-) I initially wasn't sure but I love my Lunar 3s, and ran the aforementioned Halstead & Essex Marathon wearing them. If money was no object I'd probably buy a pair of LunaRacers and maybe even give the LunarTempo's a go (and see how my toe box grips plays out).
Nike RN Distance?
Aside from the Lunaracer 3 or LunarTempo 2, I'm half tempted to try a pair of Nike RN Distance. Any advice, please drop me an email - that'd be gratefully received and appreciated.
Half marathon on Sunday 22nd May 2016
Having clocked up 18.8 miles the day before via a combination of run \ ParkRun\ run (followed by a long bike ride), I was surprised to find myself keen for a run at all. My wife and daughter were out, my son was studying, the sun was shining, so I thought, why not! I did a nice local 13.1 'something mile local route of my own devising, and was pretty pleased to average out under 8 minutes per mile, which is always my target when running on my own, and not in a rush to go particularly fast. My Pegasus 32s developed a habit I'd never experienced before, whereby my right lace kept going loose (never needed to double knot them before). Nothing major I know! - was just such an easy, uneventful run, that's the only anomaly of note I can recall :-)
10K on Tuesday 24th May 2016
I have a 10K race coming up - the Hatfield Broad Oak 10K to be precise, next Monday 30th May. This distance isn't one I often run, so I'm not totally sure what sort of time I should be aiming for and how to plan my run. In a 5K I just go for it and hold nothing back. In a 10 mile, half marathon or above I don't go crazy from the start and hold something back in reserve. A 10K though, smack bang in the middle - how would I approach this?! I don't like finishing a run still feeling fresh, as I figure I could have channelled more effort into my run. Weird, I know. So I set for my own 10K run after work to see how I felt with varying speeds deployed. I did it in 48 minutes, so in a race scenario I'll aim for 46-47 minutes I think :-) I'm looking forward to Monday. Going to bring my son along as my support crew (well, hold my bag). I've promised him a hot dog and ice cream in return! My race number and chip arrived in the post today (woo-hoo!) - number 1295, so maybe a sizeable field. I will post a review of the event and my run on Monday. Looks a great course - picturesque! Bet we run past some great houses and country pubs!
My race number and timing chip turned up today, Wednesday 25th May, for the Hatfield Broad Oak 10K on Monday 30th May! Can't wait. Sad maybe ;-) ...but when you have your race number, you start really looking forward to the event!
10 miles on Thursday 26th May 2016
I had intended this to be another 10K pacer, practice run. I felt good though so kept going to 10 miles. I did glance at my watch as I got to around 6.2 miles and saw it was on 47 minutes - so I definitely think I'm aiming for 46 minutes come Monday and the Hatfield Broad Oak run. Was a nice evening, fairly warm still.
Run \ Parkrun \ Run on Saturday 28th May 2016
As per usual, up at 6:50am to have some breakfast and coffee, and eventually out the door around 8:25am for the 3 mile jog down to Colchester Castle Park. I love it when I get near the town centre and you sense everything opening up for the day. Market stalls being unloaded, workers arriving outside shops, that kind of thing. A couple went into Bill's for breakfast - I could easily have turned around and gone in there for a sausage sandwich - but probably for the best that I didnt. I got to the park with 10 minutes to spare, which I spent (as per usual) adjusting my right shoe lace, a couple of swigs of water and popping to the loo (which was barely worth it!). The 5K run was great this morning - not a PB but the time of 20 mins, 53 secs wasn't too shabby and saw me home in 29th position out of 329. Numbers of participants were down from last week's record of 415 - maybe people had plans for the bank holiday weekend ... or were nursing hangovers after the beer after work yesterday afternoon turned into a session! :-) I then went for a nice 10 mile leisurely run afterwards, clocking up 16 miles in total for the morning. A lovely morning, sunny and warm, and a gentle breeze. Makes you glad to be alive! With the weekend in front of you, it's a wonderful feeling. That's me resting up now till Monday. Might treat myself to a couple of pints this afternoon, settling down to watch the Championship playoff final and then the Champions League final. I really must get my "post-Parkrun run" off the ground!
When I got back from my Saturday morning run(s), I had my Southend Half Marathon race number and chip in the post! This event is on Sunday 12th June ....the morning after England's opening Euro 2016 game against Russia. Great timing Mark! I will have to have a couple of beers during the game, but with a 6am start the next day, it'll have to only be a couple, alas! The sacrifices we make for running! :-)
Hatfield Broad Oak 10K run on Monday 30th May 2016
A superb event and a good run. I did another run afterwards, when I got home, for one reason or other too. Enjoyed this morning immensely. See the 'Event Reviews' section above for more details.
Some Good Sites etc
Runners World Find a Race The Running Bug Run Britain Time Outdoors Marathon Runners Diary 100 Marathon Club Running Diary Good Run Guide Half Marathon List Southern Running Guide
Shoes and gear reviews
Run Repeat Running Shoes Guru Sole Review Runners World Run Blogger Believe in the Run
From Last to First: How I Became a Marathon Champion (Charlie Spedding) Run! (Dean Karnazes) 50/50 (Dean Karnazes) Running with the Kenyans (Adharanand Finn) The Way of the Runner (Adharanand Finn) Don't Stop Me Know (Vassos Alexander) Running and stuff (James Adams) Running to Extremes (Lisa Tamati) Running Hot (Lisa Tamati) Born to Run (Christopher McDougal) Natural Born Heroes (Christopher McDougal) Operation Ironman (George Mahood) - check out his other (non-Ironman\running books too) Eat and Run (Scott Jurek) Trail Blazer (Ryan Sandes) Fat Man to Green Man (Ira Rainey) Fartleks & Flatulence (David Berridge) 824 (PJG Robbins) The Diary of an Average Runner (Mark Cameron)