Friday, 25 April 2014

Brighton Marathon

      Originally I was gonna run a 50 mile race to raise money for Thomas Hayes and the JDRF charity. Thomas has type 1 diabetes and children as young a 5 years old are now getting diagnosed with it. The JDRF support children with type 1 diabetes. Not only do they support and help but they are not into the idea of a "quick fix" cure. They are after long term cures to help the suffers and it sounds like they are well onto their way with all the research and discoveries that they are making. I read quite a lot about the condition myself so that I could try and relate to people like Thomas and what he is going through everyday. Sounds like you really need to listen to your body and take control of it and you need to test your blood sugar levels quite a lot.

     Anyway, I wasn't sure I could run the 50 miler so tried to get into London marathon for the JDRF but it was too late, but they got back to me straight away and asked if I wanted to run Brighton marathon instead. I gave it some thought and said "Yes". They phoned me and we had a chat. Very nice, friendly people indeed. We emailed from time to time and they sent out my running pack with vest, sponsor forms, magazines, badges and balloons etc..

That was back in January. I seemed to start my training off with that 50 mile race on the 1st of February. You know, that race I wasn't going to do.. I got round in one piece but needed a fair bit of recovery time before I could resume my training. An ultra-marathon is much harder than a marathon surely? Wrong. I did not plan on racing 50 miles but I did plan on racing Brighton marathon. Distance is not what hurts, it's pace! And the faster I run, the more recovery time I seem to need.

      Despite the 50 mile race, I seemed to be behind on my training runs. I was running okay distances but the pace seemed pretty slow. I didn't want to rush or over-train.
Not long after the 50 miler I got an ingrown toenail in my big toe. I managed 3 weeks of long runs with that ingrown toenail and had to squeeze pus out of it as it had also became infected. I went to the Podiatrist where a lady was able to pull out the "Spike" and file down the nail.
She then says to me "Seems to mostly ingrown toenails lately". I felt bad for her and said I had something else to show her. I then showed her my other foot and explained how I had to snap my big toe back into place during Beaujolais marathon. Now i'd got her excited! below is what she wrote for my surgical assessment.

      The training continued with much relief from the ingrown toenail but not long afterwards, I would fall off a curb after one too may ciders, whilst out celebrating a mate's 40th birthday. This really hurt and would swell up pretty badly. There was just over a week to go until Eastleigh 10k and I ran it despite the pain and the foot would swell again after the race. I was beginning to wonder if I would even make it to the start line of Brighton. I felt I had trained to the best of my ability. In fact, I had felt that this was the best I had ever trained for a marathon but I also knew that there was plenty of room for improvement.

    Race day soon come around and Di was ready to drive me to Brighton. It was early, dark and pouring with rain. Mikey decided to stay in bed and who can blame him! Thank you Di, what an amazing person you are and all that you did for me that day. A true saint :) There wasn't much traffic until we got into Brighton and Di was cutting everyone up and driving in all the wrong lanes. We even did that bit from the National Lampoons film where you keep driving around the
Di parked up and I walked to the start on my own, it was quite a walk and I was yet to put my bag in and get ready to race. I had left my gels and vaseline in the boot of Di's car. Not a good start at all! I saw Paul Lacey and then Steve and Becky Cleeves. Thankfully Becky had some Aloe Vera vaseline so that my nipples would smell extra nice. (Thanks again Becky) At least it wasn't raining now. I got to the starting pen and pushed quite near to the front. There were a few announcements and the runners were getting hyped. Then came the sound of the Chemical brothers from the speakers. "Setting sun" was the song I think. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I felt an amazing rush of energy. This was incredible. People started jumping up and down. It was time to run a marathon. A big marathon and my first flat-ish road marathon. I really wanted to go Sub 3 hours 30 and would have to average 8 minutes per mile to achieve this.

It was quite congested at the start as you can imagine. I had put down a time of 3 hours 29 mins thinking that I would be in a group of 3hr 15 to 3hr 30 pen but it was 3hr15 to 4hrs so you can imagine how big our starting group was! The first mile was also uphill despite being a flat course ;) I managed just over 8 mins and told myself not to panic and speed up just to make up the deficit like I usually do in shorter races. This was all about pace. I noticed that I was running some of my miles close to 7.30's but I felt so comfortable and relaxed so I didn't let it bother me. I just kept on running but there were concerns as my ankle was still hurting and I didn't have any gels.

   The ankle pain had subsided after 6 miles. I was feeling better and still relaxed. There were some pretty big hills for a "flat course". I guess they weren't really steep but you were climbing for a while. It was great to see the likes of Simon McCarthy, Paul lacey and Steve Cleeves flying past in the other direction. I was keeping an eye out for all my club runners but not all of us were wearing club vests. Tamsyn had spotted me and I also said hello to Laura. Everyone looked like they were doing really well and this made me even happier than I already was.
The good thing was that we got to run down the hills that we had run up. This was nice as it was close to the coast and there was a nice cooling head wind.

A big thanks to Emily Smith for the photos and support. This was me waving to Stuart. Obviously he gave me the abuse I needed and told me I was too relaxed and needed to run faster. I think this was at the halfway point. So 13 miles in and I was still pacing better than I thought I would and feeling good. This wouldn't last though..
I was now getting worried as I still hadn't got my hands on any food or gels. I had had some Gatorade on the course but that was it. I think I managed to pick up a couple of gels at mile 15. Di did try to hand me my gels earlier on when I saw her but I hesitated and decided against it. The support was amazing. There were faces popping up all over the place and faces I knew and didn't expect to see there. That's our awesome running club for you.

      18 miles in and I was starting to slow. I could feel it and see it on my garmin. I was now battling to stay under the 8 minute mile mark. I had now had 2 gels and a little girl had given me some jelly babies but I think the damage was done or I just hadn't trained well enough. I had told myself that 8.15's would have to do but in the end I settled for pushing hard and settling for sub 8.30's instead. As long as I beat my previous marathon PB of 3.39 what did it matter?
The most annoying thing about mile 18 was that I was stuck with a Batman. I was tired and feeling it but wearing me down even more was Batman running beside me and getting all the cheers and support. He was happily waving and looking all fresh while I was all sweaty and in bad form. About a mile and a half later, I wanted to punch him. It wasn't his fault, I was just struggling with my tolerance levels. I dug deeper and pushed on. Either that or he stopped for the crowds and did interviews.

     Thanks again to Emily Smith for this photo. Not so smiley now am I?? 

       I took some watermelon from a lady and said thank you. She told me that I was welcome and to carry on running and not stop. That watermelon was the best thing I had eaten in a while. I remember running a downhill bit before we got back onto the seafront. This really helped me get back into the marathon I think. My legs were achy and tired and this allowed me to open up my stride, stretch my legs and get a big of fast downhill running in. It felt pretty good and the change of pace was refreshing.  Mile 20 was soon upon us and I was under the 2hrs 40 that I wanted to be at. All was good. This part of the race was quite tough mentally though as it is a long road into a powerstation and back. It just looked like your average industrial estate to me. Those were some hard miles but it was good to see the Speedy Steve and Simon fly past in the other direction. 

     I was in agony now and the last 5 miles were a real mental battle. I felt like I wanted to walk now. There was a conflicting battle going on in my head. I kept going. It would hurt more to walk than probably run anyway. Not far ahead I saw Paul Lacey walking. This really surprised me as he's a fast runner. I caught up with him and tried to encourage him to run with me. I wanted to walk with him but that encouragement and the words I gave him were also echoing in my brain. Keep running Dean. I carried on and the last few miles were back on the seafront. There were lots of spectators now and they were cheering us on. "Well done Dean Jones, keep going". Lots of people were saying my name as it was printed on my vest. 
The last 2 miles my name was said a lot but I found it really hard to focus on getting to the finish with everyone calling out my name. My concentration was at its limit. My hearing was coming and going which was a bit scary. I then saw Matt White from our club. He was also now walking. I put my arm around him and tried to encourage him too but to no avail. I was obviously not very good at the encouragement thing by the looks of it. 

         On the last mile my toes were cramping and crossing over. This had never happened before either. Didn't look like I was going to make the 3 hr 30 mark as the two 3hr 30 pacers had just passed me. One of them stuck with me for a while which helped me push as hard as I could. Despite this, my pace wasn't fast enough to keep up with him so off he went over the line and I could see that the clock had already passed 3 hrs 30. 
I got to the finish line and the time read 3 hrs 31 mins 30 secs. Luckily I got my sub 3hr 30 on chip timing as it took me nearly a minute to cross the chip timing mat. My official time was 3 hours 29 minutes and 30 seconds. I had done it! 

   It sure was a great race and I am so happy with the time that I achieved. I managed to raise £529.02 plus £124.05 of gift aid, so the total I raised was £653.07. I wanted to raise at least £500 even though I only needed a target of £300. The JDRF support on the day was fantastic. I also got to meet the team and got a great post race massage and a bag with lunch in it. The XL t-shirt from the race actually is Xl and fits me and a great medal too. I would recommend this race if you are going for a fast time but it's very expensive to enter if you're not entering via a charity. 

   A massive thanks to all who sponsored me, the people who cheered me on, the well wishers, the JDRF charity and Di for looking after me and keeping me sane :) 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Southwick Country parkrun

          Graham and 2nd Lordshiller home Mr. Neil Garton. Photo stolen from parkrun page.

        So Neil says, "Do you fancy running Southwick parkrun on Saturday? It's my mate's 50th parkrun". The first thing I do is go onto the parkrun website and try and locate the place. Where the hell is Southwick? Turns out it's just by Trowbridge in Wiltshire. "Yes Neil, I would love to, but I have to get to a photography course in Fratton/Southsea by 2pm". "No problem he says".

      He picks me up at 7.15 and isn't late! I'm so used to the Mattingly's picking me up, I thought it meant 7.30. Anyways, off we went past Salisbury and beyond. We get there, park in the carpark and walk over to the starting area. I had obviously done my research into the course and watched a youtube video too. Nearly three loops anti-clockwise on a gravel trail path and dirt/mud track around the beautiful Southwick country park. Today was different though. When the clocks are due to change on the Sunday, the course on the Saturday is ran Clockwise instead of anti-clockwise.
I spoke to many people about this. Some said this way was an easier PB course and others said it was tougher. I had no way of knowing as I had never ran it. We met up with Neil's mate Jon who was running his 50th parkrun. We were also meeting a Graham but he was busy getting in the miles before parkrun for the London marathon. Eventually we were all standing on the grass surround by worms at our feet and chatting away. Mostly making parkrun jacket jokes at Neil's expense.

                        Jon who was running his 50th parkrun. Another stolen parkrun pic.

      We got in line and were briefed about the course. The ankle was still sore, so I wasn't racing hard today. I started near the back and when we started, it was an uphill gravel track. We shuffled forward slowly as it was quite congested and narrow. I didn't care as I wasn't going for a fast time.
Half a mile in and i'm pretty much clear to run at any pace I wish. I was starting to pass quite a few people now and there were some tight slippery bends in some places which made it fun. The support was great as you came to the mile point and near the finish line and you get to run past a nice pond and over a little bridge. I ran a 7.36 mile but was now pain free in the ankle and wanting to push a bit harder, so off I shot on this lovely undulating course which seemed to be pedestrian and dog walker free. I ran my second mile in 6.40 and still felt I could push. I was really enjoying this.

      The last mile was tough though and I was feeling it now. On the last bend of the course, right near the finish, the wind had now picked up. There was no wind on the first two laps but now it was very strong. I had run my third mile in 6.32 but the 0.1 mile remaining was so hard against a very strong. I pushed on and finished in a time of 21.40. I was really happy with this. Neil and co were still running so I thought i'd go back a support with one of the marshals.

    We cheered and clapped as the runners went round, shouting words of encouragement. The thing is that you couldn't tell how many laps someone had run so you couldn't really say "Well done, the finish is just around the corner" because it might not have been! Neil comes over the bridge and is running pretty well I think, but obviously I don't tell him this. "Come on Neil, put some effort into it" I holler. He tells me i'm walking home as he runs past. I laugh nervously. I hope he's joking.

                               Me trying to look all mean and serious for the cameraman

    I forget that Neil has past me despite trying to mock him and continue cheering on the other runners. I was really enjoying the smiles and thank yous that people give you when you support. I then remembered that Neil had finished and headed back to the finish line where Neil and I ate Jelly babies and Jelly beans. There was also free chocolate on the stall but it was only 9.30ish. Too early even by my standards.

   We congratulated Jon on his 50th parkrun and walked up to the Squirrel's cafe. I chatted to Graham about running and various races. He runs for Frome running club and told me about a few of the local races.
Squirrel's cafe is a charity based cafe and does amazingly tasty and cheap food and most importantly of all... Coffee!

   As we ate bacon sandwiches I got to hear so many funny stories. Most of them were about Jon. Now, I never wanted to play golf in my life until I heard half of Jon's stories. It sure was a great event with great people. Every five minutes though, Jon would threaten to apologise to a woman in a black top who he swore was the woman who he had spat in the face of on today's parkrun. It must have slipped his mind eventually because we left without approaching her.
The only other memory I have is being in the queue for more coffee and this woman telling me about her mushroom allergy. "Can you smell them?" she would say. "Disgusting things". I didn't have the heart to tell her that I loved mushrooms. "Bring me out in a rash they do and my face all swells up". Hurry up serving lady, I just want a

    I would love to come back to this course and do it again. Apparently it gets quite muddy in the winter though. Very friendly people and a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Beats playing golf anyway ;)

                               Graham and Neil leading the pack on a lovely course

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Eastleigh 10K 2014

Thanks to Paul A Hammond for this photo. Exchanging a few words with Stuart Smith just after 4 miles?

   The Eastleigh B&Q 10k race is a very popular race. Not only is it a Hampshire League race but it is also known as a fast, flat PB course! I had been wanting to run this race for three years now. The first year I entered I had torn my soleus muscle very badly at the Salisbury 10 mile race a few weeks before. In fact, I had torn it way before that but kept on running on it until I could run no more and was losing the feeling in my leg from time to time so it was time to finally rest for recovery and this was very slow. It took about 5-6 months again before I ran and even then I could only run about twice a week because of the aching afterwards. I now run 3-4 times a week and no more as it will still cause pain from time to time.
    Anyway, the following year I eagerly entered again, but again, I got injured at the Salisbury 10 mile race. This time it was shin splints. I was in agony straight after the race. I even went for an x-ray as I thought I had a fracture because the pain was so bad. This was due to me thinking I hadn't trained enough for the race and ran a speedy 10 miler two days before the race. This was obviously too much strain for my poor legs. Both times at Salisbury I got injuries and both times I PB'd. Next year (2014) I vowed not to run the Salisbury 10 race and just run the Eastleigh 10k. This nearly never happened though as I had fallen off a curb and twisted my ankle when I was out celebrating a mate's 40th birthday. I'm not accident prone... honestly!

My ankle on the Wednesday. 4 days before the race.

       It was doubtful that I would make it to the startline or even finish the race. I was not too confident as the ankle was still sore and a little swollen. I was long overdue a PB on a 10K race as I hadn't run a 10K race in 15 months and was hitting 41+ minutes in 10 mile and half marathon races. My current 10K PB was 42.12 from Stubbington in 2012. 41.12 was also my first 5 mile time at the Braishfield 5 mile beer race where I was beaten by Derek Goodchild.

     I didn't know what I was going to run like today. I was excited about running but not hyper enough to believe I was going to run well. I stood with Mike Mattingly in the starting grid and off we went. Mike shot off and I had trouble keeping up with him! He was weaving in and out of the congestion and I simply couldn't be bothered. It took me about 30 seconds to cross the chip timing mat and I was still walking when I crossed it. The ankle was sore and I just wanted to make sure that I didn't turn it over again, so was very cautious about every step I took and knew I had to be focused on this even in the last miles when I would be tiring and the ankle would weaken and become vulnerable.

    After 3 quarters of a mile, I was feeling good and the ankle had warmed up nicely and had now felt pain-free. I had run my first mile in over 7 minutes but wasn't too bothered. Time to give this race what I had! I dangerously cut across in front of a runner and felt bad about it even though he swore at me. In my defence, I don't think you should be in the "Sub 40" section at the start if you're going to run a 7 minute mile. Later I would also get told off by marshals for running on the wrong side of the road. I was in the zone now though and nothing was going to stop me... apart from the ankle maybe.

    There was a slight hill on the third mile. I had already passed Rodolfo but as you may know, uphill is a big weakness of mine and he passed me. This didn't last long though as after this, there was a delightful downhill where I passed him for the second time. I was flying past runners on the opposite side of the road but was still getting breathless and tired. I had hit the 5k mark dead on 21 minutes. A PB was possible at this point.
    I had decided that at 4 miles, I would ease off the pace a bit and as long as I ran the remaining 2 miles at an average pace of 6.45 each, I would PB easily. I was quite confident now. This is when I saw Stuart Smith and he was yelling abuse and telling me I looked too relaxed. Was great to see him, Rob Kelly and the other supporters from our club. I could only hear some of the supporters shout my name but weren't sure who they were. I don't really remember much about this course, it just seemed a blur as I was just focused on the race.
  I then caught Laure at about 5 mile and told her to get running. I shouldn't be able to catch her as she is super speedy. We ran together anyway, and she was now my motivation. These last miles weren't as easy as I had hoped. We were running hard and I managed my 6.45 at mile 5. I saw Dan Campion who stood out cheering as I approached. Just the sight of seeing Dan made me run faster as he is one of my running heroes and an inspirational figure :) We pushed to the end but the wind was strong against us. The last stretch seemed to last for ages. Where's the finish line? There was a lot of support at the end which always makes me want to run faster but I was struggling for a sprint finish. I told Laure to run ahead and she did and then Rodolfo flew past me with an amazing sprint that I was in awe of. I had finished with a sub 42 on my garmin and got a chip time of 41.28. That's a PB of 44 seconds :) This also happened to be my 50th race!

A great day was had with the club and it was so good to see my fellow runners who I hadn't seen for ages. This was the shortest race I had run in 15 months and it felt weird that a race could be over so soon and to be eating cake at the finish of a The guilt! I also got a T-shirt but they only do Large t-shirts, so sadly I don't really have a memento from the race apart from my race number... Oh, and a PB ;)

A big thanks to Stu Smith, Dan Campion, Kathy Annals, Rob Kelly and Emily Brent for the support and the others that I forget. Now resting my ankle and hoping to make the start of the Brighton marathon.