Friday, 22 September 2017

Hursley 10k

                                                       (Heading for the finish line)
    I hadn't run the Hursley 10k in 5 years. It was in 2011 that I started running and this was my 5th 10k race that year. I was 26th in a time of 43.16. I remember beating Stuart Smith which was a big achievement for me (although he did have a knee injury) I also beat Neil Catchlove by 5 minutes but I didn't know him then and he probably did it on crutches or something...

   Anyways, I was back to recapture some of my early running days. I went to school to collect my race number the day before. I thought I knew where the school was and it was empty. It was empty because I wasn't outside the school, I was outside the Parish hall which I thought was the school. I google mapsed the school, turned my bike 180 degrees and began pedalling again. It didn't take too long though.
I collected my number and got a t-shirt. The two women I spoke to at t-shirt collection were very friendly and we chatted for a while until a much older lady came by and told them off for being "tarts" and flirting with me. I can't say I noticed to be Off home I went and waited for the next day to arrive so that I could cycle another 9 miles each way without getting lost and getting to the race with plenty of time.
                                                              (It sure was muddy!)

      The next day (race day), I locked my bike at the school and not too long was it before I bumped into Rob and Kim Kelly. I then saw Clare Satterly and Peter Casey. I wandered about in a field for a bit (race village?) and got myself a free banana and queued for the portaloos. I got chatting to Rob Kelly again and then I felt this yank on my running shorts! Luckily though, I had tied them tight. Nothing worse than being naked in a field full of families. That would be my mate Paul Carpenter then. I also saw Paul Hammond taking pics of the Eastleigh crew.

                                          (Beaten by my old running Coach, Koach Kelly)

      It was cold and it was wet and my warm up run of half a mile got me covered in mud and gave me wet feet. I made my way to the start line and hid behind Rob Kelly who I was hoping to stay with for some of the race. I also saw speedy V50 Alan Graham from my running club. There were some other Lordshillers too but I didn't know them as I only go to training twice a

     As the course was too water-logged for a lead bike, we had a lead tractor or something. The thing nearly didn't start after the run command was given as well. But off we went running through a water-logged field with wet, cold feet splashing in the grass. You were never quite sure where to put your foot with each foot fall either. It was a bit uneven and you had a choice of long folded grass or 4x4 ditch with long folded grass. Bit of a lucky dip really but my ankles did good.

(Warm up anyone?) 

     Out of the field we came and onto a road leading uphill. We ran uphill, reached the top and then down into another field. This was a bit different from the original course I ran in the dry and glorious sunshine in 2011. They had to make a diversion or two though so i'm guessing that this was one of them. 
Into the woods we went and now it got really muddy! I was sliding all over the place in my road shoes and finding it really hard on my muscles. Every foot fall again had to calculated. Tree roots, bogs etc.. It was going okay though... until...

  I got to mile 3 and the mud continued. I had slowed and was finding it tough. I had been racing a lot lately. A 20 min parkrun the day before and a 23 miler on the Wednesday. Weak excuses I know!
Anyways, the course took us downhill now but I was still slipping all over the place and couldn't judge my foot falls too well as my eyes were flooded with water from the wind or possibly sweat. I had to slow down as it felt too dangerous to be running fast downhill with little balance. I think about 8-10 people passed me on that bit. When have you ever seen anyone pass me on a downhill? 

                                            (Probably the only bit of road on the course)

   As we got to mile 4 I thought it was about time that I started to do some racing. Rob was nowhere to be seen now but I would try to close the gap and after half a mile I finally caught up and passed the first female runner from Winchester. She was breathing hard, I kind of congratulated her as I overtook but not sure if she understood my grunt. I was passing a few more now but the course had a fair bit of uphill now. I was glad to get to mile 5 after a long climb and finally see some more downhill that was runnable. I picked up the pace and passed a few more people including a guy from Winchester. I think that woke him up a bit as later he would dash past me and I didn't quite have the energy to push him into a sprint finish at the end. He was looking way too strong for me. 

  I didn't beat my previous time due to the conditions, neither did I beat my race position from 2011 but I had tried and raced as hard as my body would allow. I was so glad to cross that finish line!

27th place in a time of 44.20. My coach beat me by just over a minute I think. 
It was a tough race but I will be back next year to beat my course time. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Best shape of my life!

                                           (The lowest my runbritain handicap has ever been)

    I guess I start this story from my earliest memory of wanting to run faster...
I was running Fort William marathon, I had a bad knee from running a 12 hour race the week before. I had also ran 3 other marathons including London that year and a 50k. My times were awful though. My most vivid memory is chatting to a guy who passed me at Fort William. It was his first marathon and probably about my 20 something.. Despite running a sub 4. I was unfit and overweight. I was starting to get sick of plodding out these slow marathon times on no training. So, I decided to quit the marathons and concentrate on the shorter stuff.

(Heading for a pb at Maidenhead half) 

Fast forward to 2017. I got a 5 mile pb at the start of the year and was starting to run 20 minute parkruns again.
Later in the year I decide to take 2 months off work unpaid. I was going to spend the summer cycling around the country again but despite cycling over a 1000 miles around the UK before, I had really lost my running fitness. This year, I would run races instead with a bit of cycling in the middle. I entered Swansea half as my target race but struggled with the distance as I had just been running 10k's and 5k's most of the time. I had really slowed after 7 miles and got a time of 1hr 33 instead of the 1hr30 that I wanted. It felt like I was starting to run from scratch. Starting all over again for the first time. The endurance was difficult to build for a while.
Around this time in June, I had also decided to become a Pescetarian. I had read a book about digestion and why we only ate meat for survival in the winter as there were no fruit of vegetables available. It had inspired me.

(Running through a housing estate towards another PB on the Trowbridge 10k) 

Fast forward a few months and I have now lost over 2 stone and have gone from running 50 miles a week to 25. I never lost weight when I was running 50 miles a week! I am running half that now, but the miles are a lot faster. Quality over quantity, less junk miles as they say.

I have now been running sub 20 parkruns. I have run 8 this summer in fact, with a PB of 19.02 last weekend. In the last 4 weeks I have PB'd in the 5k (19.02) 10k (40.28) and Half marathon(1hr28mins14secs). I also got a 1 mile pb of 5.29 :)

I am in the fittest form of my life and I will be 43 tomorrow. It is a great feeling, let's hope I can keep the weight off. All I did was give up meat for a few months and I can't imagine me ever going back to it. I have tried dieting so many times and the weight always piles back on.  I can still eat chocolate, cheese, bread, crisps and drink beer. My metabolism has really sped up. Everytime I think i'm going to gain weight... I seem to lose a bit.
There is a great quote from the book Again to Carthage by John L. Parker JR... "Running is easy when you reach your plateau but you forget how hard it was to get there".

Hmmm... Maybe I should run another marathon next year ;)