Sunday, 29 March 2015

4 Weeks until the London Marathon

                                                             (Today's route and stats)

                4 weeks to go until VLM so I thought i'd better get my last long run done. I thought it would be wise to leave the Lordshill vs Totton pub quiz early as I was very tired and I could have easily drunk another bottle of wine and then this run wouldn't have happened. We were thrashing Totton anyway and there was only one more round to go. When I got home I thought about the route. Shall I run the 24 mile run to Andover that I did before and get the train back? This was going to be my original plan but the route seems a bit long and hilly as soon as you get to Longstock and the Clatfords.

               I had decided to run to Brockenhurst in the end but the long way round as I can't stand running from Ashurst to Lyndhurst on the boring and straight A35 road. Last time I did a similar route it was either 18 miles or 21 miles with Brockenhurst parkrun included. I just couldn't remember. I wasn't going to run down the A337 with Kevin Yates this time though. I was going to run on the bike trails. I never quite know where i'm going on the bike trails but I get to Balmer lawn eventually.

              I woke up and it was pouring with rain and very windy looking. I wasn't feeling motivated. I had breakfast and did a bit of facebooking to postpone it a little. Maybe the rain and wind would die down a bit? I packed my rucksack with too much stuff I reckon. I had a pair of jeans, pants, socks, 2 t-shirts, a rain mac, Vaseline, Cake, a bottle of Drench fruity drink, phone, wallet, keys and even aftershave for when I arrived at the pub for lunch.

          The plan was to run to The Filly Inn pub just past Brockenhurst in a place called Setley. I knew the guy who ran the pub and had been meaning to go out and see the place and him. Also a great excuse for a burger and a beer which would be the motivation I needed on the later miles. I had something to look forward to at the end.

         I left my house and ran from mine to Lordshill and then Nursling. The rucksack was feeling pretty heavy already. I was half tempted to run back home and take some stuff out but I figured that my body would adapt and get used to it :) I ran past my works on Nursling ind. Estate and down to Test lane. Even though it was raining and a little windy, the Lower Test still looked lovely as I looked over the railway line at the River test and the reeds. I managed to spot a Grey Heron flying overhead too. Past the Anchor pub and the Ship Inn pub and up onto the main road towards Totton where another runner says Hello. I reply and he says "You're Jerry's mate aren't you?". "Yeah" I reply as I look back and keep running. Can't really have much of a conversation when two runners are training and running in opposite directions ;)

         I get to Totton and run on to West Totton. I then decide to turn off at the White Horse pub at Netley Marsh and run through Woodlands instead of  Cadnum. Woodlands is a lovely looking place but the residents didn't seem very chirpy or responsive unlike when I got to "Bartley" where everyone was full of "Good Mornings" and smiles. On this lovely bit I was able to spot a Woodpecker and then A Jay flies right in front of me and lands on a nearby branch. The colours are amazing when they're in flight. At the end of Bartley I cross the A31 and climb towards Shave wood. The wind is now very strong. I am running hard into the wind and using a lot of force and then suddenly the wind just drops and I nearly fall over because of the increased pace. At least the rain had stopped for a while now. At this point I had only hit 10 miles of my run and was thinking that I was only going to be at 17-18 miles by the time I reached Brockenhurst. I was feeling comfortable though and had no niggles of any kind. I wasn't exactly running fast though. I thought that parkrun the previous day with 2 miles of sub 7's might have had some effect on me. I may have used it as an excuse on a weaker day but today I was feeling good and mentally positive.

             I ran through Minstead where I saw a coach load of tourists and my first pair of Pheasants of the day. I was a bit unsure of the route from here as I usually run this route in the opposite direction. I turned off where I saw a sign for some places I had never heard of. Was I running the right way now? I knew I was going the right way when I saw the Ford at the bottom of the hill. I got to the T junction and I knew to turn left but I could see a sign in the Distance on the right. I was curious to know where they lead to. I ran up there and it read: Acres down. I had been there once before cycling with my friend Russ but wasn't really familiar with the place.

(The view from the top of Acres Down)
             I was thinking that there was probably another way to get to Emery down from Acres down but wasn't sure of the way and didn't want to get lost. I drank some fluids and took this picture while I did a bit of thinking about picking a direction. And then, all of a sudden I get jumped by a Siberian Husky. Scared the hell out of me and he was really strong. I started laughing when I saw the owner and this Husky was still jumping at me with lots of excitement. The owner of two Siberian huskies just so happened to be out for a run. A nice bald man in his 40's I reckon. I asked if he knew the way to Emery Down and he said about following the hill up to the top and turning left and then my brain just switched off. I was 13 miles into my run and already I couldn't process He said he lived in Emery Down anyway so asked me to run along with him and his dogs. Well, run with him was kind of a loose term as he headed off and started to run on these muddy trails as fast as he could. It's pretty hard to run a sub 8 minute mile on these muddy trails especially after 13 miles but it was a nice change from my previous plodding miles. The funniest bit was running fast downhill on these trails and my eyes were watering so much because of the wind. I was struggling to see where to put my foot with each stride and if that was bad enough I had this Husky also running a sub 8 and jumping at me at the same time. I was laughing my head off. God knows how I didn't smash my skull in.
          We stopped at the bottom of the hill. We shook hands and he wished me luck with the London Marathon. I then ran onto a familiar road that leads to Emery down and wondered why I had never seen the cutway before. I turned around and saw a sign that read: Private property. I got to Emery down and then to Lyndhurst where I decided to run through the town as it would be a nice change to see some life after 16 miles. It had been mostly New forest country lanes which was lovely but it's still nice to mix it up a bit. A ran through the tourists and onto the one way system and then towards the bike trails. The bike trails I found accidentally once. They are on a dead end road opposite the Foxlease place. I pretty much get lost every time I go there but you have a general idea where you are going as the A337 is on your right for some time and if you get lost you can usually hear the traffic from the main road. But not today! It was quite windy so all I could hear was the blowing of the trees. The trees were drowning out the sound of the cars. I was thinking I only had 3 miles to go, so should reach 19 miles at least. I thought I had got lost. I had certainly lost my sense of direction. You know when you're lost when you have to ask American tourists for directions to Balmer lawn. I got there in the end and knew the end was near. I was thinking about that lovely burger and beer but a pint of diet coke first of course!
            I ran into Brockenhurst and had reached 20 miles. My hamstring twinged a little but all was fine. I usually get some aches in the hamstrings and calves but everything felt great. I think my fitness is improving and my body is getting stronger. My legs were not even aching :) I wasn't exactly running fast though but all the same. 3 hours on my legs and not aching! I didn't even know where this Filly inn pub was so I ran over the railway crossing about 4 times and then got my phone out for google maps. It was a 10 minute cycle. I ran down the A337 where there were no paths and busy traffic. I was beyond caring now though. I just wanted to reach the pub. That was my target and i'm too stubborn to change the plan now.
(In the garden)
            Well I made it too the Filly inn. It was quite a posh looking pub and there I was drenched in sweat and covered in mud. I stopped my watch and sat in the pouring rain on a bench in the garden. I saw an employee and asked if I was allowed in if I changed into my jeans etc.. They were fine with it. I took my trainers, socks, and t-shirt off in the front garden in the rain while the people in the pub probably stared and thought I was crazy. It was so good to put on the clean socks, t-shirt, jeans and my rain mac though.
             I had the diet coke, the burger came and then the real ale. My buddy Steve no longer ran the pub though and had left in November according to a waitress. He now runs a micro brewery type place around Lymington way. Oh well! The food was delicious and the staff very accommodating. I wouldn't recommend any of the pubs in the centre of Brockenhurst but this place is great.
                                                                   (On my way back)
             I managed to find a couple of alternative roads so I didn't have to walk back down the A337 and on the way I was very lucky to see a Male Greenfinch. Haven't seen one for years so that made the walk worth it. I got to the train station and caught the bus to Millbrook and then walked home via food shopping at Sainsbury in Shirley. I must walked another 3-4 miles on top of the run. It was a great day though and the weather really didn't make a difference. Just meant there was less motorists which is always a plus :)
        I think the training went pretty well and it was a nice adventure. However, I don't think i'm on form to run another sub 3.30 at VLM. Maybe a 3.40? You know when you're running well as it's pretty effortless and you're relaxed and your breathing is pretty much silent. I'm not there yet and there's no point in killing yourself for a pb is there. Plenty more races. Think i'm just going to enjoy the day and not put too much pressure on myself. I will run pretty hard, just not flat out ;)


Friday, 20 March 2015

The Larmer Tree Marathon

(Chris Lamb, Dean Hatton and myself at the start)

          Dean had entered this race for some reason and asked if I wanted to do it. I was easily talked into it as I had done the Ox Ultra last year which was also organised by "White Star running". It was one of the best race experiences that I've ever had, so it was easy to make my mind up with this one. Later on, we managed to talk Chris into it too. We all knew that we wouldn't be racing this hilly, trail marathon. Dean is training for an Ironman and Chris and myself are training for the London marathon. We just thought it would be good to get some miles in our legs and enjoy the beautiful views as well. I also thought it would be a good idea to cycle 40 miles around the new forest on my crappy mountain bike the day before.

         Dean picked us up and off we went to the Larmer tree marathon. Kind of between Salisbury and Shaftesbury. About an hour's drive from Southampton and there was hardly any traffic on the road. It was an easy journey to make. We got there and it was really cold in the wind. We picked up our race numbers and chip timing thingys and back to the car to sit in the warm again. I managed to snap one of my chip timing bands when I tried to tighten it with my shoe lace. They were those paper chain type chips that go on your trainer except there was no sticky bit to attach them. You had to tie them through your laces. They were really awkward and you needed one on each trainer. We got there in the end though.

(Chris gets impatient with us slow ones)
           On our way to the start, I decide that i'm gonna wear my raincoat as it's so windy and icy cold. Then I see this old guy just stood there in his shorts and vest. It's then I decide to man up and put my coat back in the car. Later on in the race I would chat to this guy and thank him that he made me change my mind as it soon got warmer on the run. He was 57 and had only been running for 4 years. He was also running London Marathon in April and this was his first marathon. He later passed us and beat us as well as Paolo our Filipino friend who was running his third marathon in three weeks. We were making our running club, Lordshill road runners look as bad as we possibly could ;)
          Andy the race director/organiser did the race briefing and then we were away. Nice and slowly we ran down a hill and we could see lots of runners ahead and then up a hill and into the woods of the country estate. The most noticeable thing about this race so far was the noise though and it was coming from Chris's rucksack. He'd only gone and put a half full container of nuts and raisins in there. So we had this rhythmic chant as we ran. He got a lot of comments to. Was he a cocktail waiter carrying lots of ice? Had he stolen money from the kids at the church? The best one though was this lady who thought he had travel Scrabble with him. It sounded like the letters were bouncing about it. His nuts were the highlight of many conversations. In the end though, he decided to eat them all in one go as we ran on.

 (We walked most hills as they were pretty epic!)
             The signs on the course were very entertaining. We could see them way ahead and looked forward to reading them. More races need humorous signs! The marshals were equally brilliant. Telling you that you were nearly there at 10 miles and offering you cakes from the boot of their car and chatting/joking with us. They were very spirited and always laughing. Each water station was a real uplifting part of the race. We knew about the Lovestation at mile 20-21 and really looked forward to it. We knew there was cider and vodka there! When are legs were tired, all we thought about was this station. Dean was worried that they were going to be dry as we were taking so long to get around the course. Which then had me worried. I think we picked up the pace a bit after that.
(The ladies offering us another view)
          There were lots of nice, friendly people to chat to, laugh with and get along with on the way round. This was becoming more like a stag do than a race. Especially when we finally got to that Lovestation. "Cider" says a lady. "Yes please" we all reply, grinning away like alkies. We had 2 cups of cider and then we get offered a cup of Bucks fizz which we excepted of course and then another lady produces a bottle of Blackberry Vodka. We had some of that too. I was feeling a bit tipsy now and the ladies were offering to rub Vaseline into Chris's We didn't want to leave but it would be getting dark if we stayed too long. So on we ran. But, with all the booze, scotch eggs, cocktail sausages, cake and everything else I ate along the way... it was all spinning around in my tummy like a washing machine. I wasn't sick though :)
(A beautiful view during the race, near where the Ox race started last year)
                 I managed to take lots of photos on the way around with my crappy compact camera. They weren't brilliant but it was easy to carry in a bumbag along with 2 gels and my phone that I never used. I put my garmin in trail run mode which I had never used before and the only difference I noticed was that it told you every time you climbed 250ft of Ascent, which happened quite a bit on this course. The final total of ascent was over 2600ft! Snowdonia marathon has about 1000ft more but the three climbs at Snowdonia are gradual. The hills are worse here as they are much steeper as there's more of them. A great, hilly, challenging trail course with lots of different terrain to keep your brain engaged from the roads to the woods and then muddy trails and big hills to climb and some fast hills to fly down.
(This lovely lady got us tipsy!)
        Anyway, we were near the end and did a loop back the way we came. You couldn't get lost on this course as the signage was brilliant. Just after the first mile we noticed a rope swing but it seemed to late to stop and play as we were in a big crowd of runners and the moment had passed but we didn't realise we would pass it on the return journey. So Dean got on and I took some photos as he was happily swinging around at mile 25. Secretly I wanted the rope to snap but it didn' We tried a bit more running as we knew we were near the end but it was still hard going. Some of the mud was very tacky, like running on clay. We got there though. Chris ran on ahead while me and Dean walked up the last hill and then ran to the finish line where we could see the clock ticking away. We were hoping for a sub 5 hour marathon as I said I would quit marathons if it took us over 5 hours. it took us 5 hours and 2 minutes. That didn't stop me from entering 2 more marathon when I got home though!
(Dean, the king of the swingers!)
          There was a beer waiting for us at the finish line too! There was a mix up with the medals. So we would get our medals in the post at a later date but in the meantime they offered up a free beer or a muff. There was also a free food voucher for a meal when you finished. I wasn't at all bothered about the medal even though they look amazing they just get put in a shoe box with all the rest. I'd still rather have something more useful like a t-shirt or a bottle opener, pint glass etc...
    We all went for burgers and a lovely cup of tea/coffee and chatted to our new mate Paolo. We even got to chat to Andy the organiser/director of the race. I joked and said it needed more industrial estate and Dean said a dual carriageway would have been nice. What a lovely guy! We saw a peacock too before we headed off. We were very tired but very happy. I got home and booked up the Giants head marathon straight away which is also another White Star running event. Definitely worth doing this race and reasonably priced unlike so many races nowadays. We'll be back!
(Check out those hills!)
(Chris with Paolo at the end. I think that's his name anyway!)

Friday, 13 March 2015

Losing some weight

(Me on the scales before juicing on Monday the 2nd of March)

           I guess it happened a while back. My friend Dave Brett told me about this film called "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead". He said it was a documentary about a guy who tries to lose weight by just juicing. Consuming nothing but fruit and Veg in a liquid form for 60 days! I thought it sounded a bit psychotic to be honest. Anyway, a year or so later I come across that documentary on Netflix. It's a documentary by an Australian guy named "Joe Cross". He was suffering from some ailments and was in a bad way due to excess weight. The documentary was very touching and gave me hope and inspiration.

          I had been trying to lose weight since the new year but seemed to be putting it on. Last October I was just under 15 stone and running well. I felt at my fittest when I ran the Great south run and achieved  66 minutes in this 10 mile race. I ran an effortless 10k in 41 minutes during that race and i'll never forget how well and efficiently I ran that day. I wanted that back and also I have the London marathon to train for in April.

     Sadly, depression had hit me hard over the winter and the comfort eating took over. I was eating so much junk food everyday and drinking quite a bit of alcohol. I thought I was eating sensibly at the time but it was evident with my weight gain that I wasn't. I was fooled by low fat yoghurts and low calorie cereal bars etc..

(The first juice I ever made. Carrot-apple-Lemon from the Joe Cross Juice recipes)
            After watching the Joe Cross documentary I went into town and bought his book "The reboot with Joe - juice diet". I also purchased a juicer from Argos on the same day. I had done a little bit of research from Joe's website and it said not to buy the cheapest juicer as it will not juice as efficiently and you end up with wet pulp that needs putting in again. The more powerful the wattage the better! I spent £80 on a Braun juicer that was knocked down from £130.
           Now, I was reading Joe's book but wanted to try a juice at the same time and prepare for my reboot. I was planning on doing a 10 day reboot. That meant no food for 10 days! Just juices but it also said that you needed to ease yourself into the program by eating just fruit and veg beforehand. Me being me, I couldn't really be bothered with that and the reboot never really started. I just chose recipes I liked the look of and went out and bought the fruit and veg.
          I went to the farm shop to buy my stuff because I thought it would be more organic, locally produced and in the meantime supporting the local farmers. It was a bit limited to be honest but I bought what I could from there and then off to Sainsbury afterwards. I was buying stuff that I knew nothing about. This is a guy who lives off pasties, scotch eggs and pork pies! I had never bought things like lemons, ginger, beetroot and celery before. I also knew for a fact that I don't even like Celery or beetroot. I was starting to think I was losing the plot a bit here. Had I been brainwashed?
         Anyway, I made my first juice from Joe's book. Carrot-Apple-Lemon. Which uses 4 apples, 4 carrots and 2 lemons and would make 2 servings. I drank the juice and actually thought it was quite nice. I think 1 lemon would have been enough though and it was something that my stomach wasn't used to. I stored the other one in the fridge for breakfast the next morning and had that instead of cereal.
(Joe's mean Green: 2 cucumbers, 8 celery sticks, 4 apples, bag a kale, 1 lemon and 5cms of Ginger)
       So, as I was saying... The reboot never really started but what actually happened was that I was juicing once a day and making 2 juices. I would have one then (In the evening) and save the other one for breakfast. That juicer is a pain to clean and takes ages but that's pretty much the only hassle about it. So, I was having juice for breakfast instead of cereal then i'd have a sandwich for my first break at work (Tuna or Ham salad) and then another sandwich and some fruit for lunch at work. Come home and juice again. Sometimes I would have toast and peanut butter or more fruit if I was still hungry.
      Even though I was still eating I could feel myself getting weak and grumpy. I was tired and lethargic at work and would sometimes nap as soon as I got home. I was getting headaches and dizzy spells too. I read this may happen in the book though. My body was not used to all these nutrients and craved sugar and junk food. I ended up coming down with a cold on the first few days and I was cold all the time. I later read that feeling cold all the time was another symptom of the detox. It was weird!I only did this for 4 and a half days and then my friend Craig was down from Cornwall for the weekend so we got drunk and ate crap food all weekend. However, I had already gone from 16 stone 3 to 15 stone 4 in 5 days! That's a loss of 13 lbs. Incredible!

(Celery-Pear-Cucumber: Bag of Kale, 2 Cucumbers, 6 celery sticks and 2 pears)
         Monday soon came around and the guilt of the weekend had caught up with me. So it was back to the juicing. This week though I felt better. I was a little bit hungry to start with but there were no headaches or dizzy spells. It was much easier this week. I just followed the same pattern as the week before. Juice for breakfast, sandwiches and fruit at work followed by juice and a snack at home.
        Today was my last day of juicing before the weekend. I made another new recipe. There are lots to choose from in the book or they are easily obtainable online for free. Today's juice was called "Sunrise" which contains 3 beetroots, 8 carrots and 3 oranges. It was a little bit sweeter than I had imagined actually. I hate beetroot but it was fine in a juice. Although I have been urinating a sea of red all day! This is also something new to me.
I am now off the juicing for the weekend again as I need to carb load for my marathon on Sunday and will need Protein for my recovery which the juices will not produce enough of.

(Today's juice: Sunrise)
            I will be back on the juices again on Tuesday and i'm still enjoying them. I would love to get down to somewhere between 14 stone and 14 and a half stone as I believe this will benefit my running and skateboarding. London marathon isn't far away now either.
       Anyway, maybe this is a fad for me but it seems to be working and I am actually enjoying it now. I don't do anything that I don't enjoy! So, on Monday the 2nd of March I was 16 stone 3 and today (13th of March) I weighed in at 14 stone 13! A weight loss of 18lbs with only 8-9 days of juicing. I know the hard bit will be to keep this weight off me but i'm still gonna have that Cheese or Chicken burger after my marathon on Sunday with a couple of pints of real ale ;)