Saturday, 28 February 2009

Monthly Stats - February 2009

Another month passes, it is all going really quickly. What was once an age before the Fred Whitton is now just over 2 months away. I am very pleased with this months efforts. I took part in three events, all of which I surpassed expectations; especially the Tunbridge Wells half.

Whilst I didn't achieve my total distance running target, I'm not all that worried as its not my focus at the moment and the races went well. The important number for me is the 401 miles cycled. This was a really important target to get. It was important for my fitness but really important for the metal side of it all. I really needed to show myself that I am achieving my aims.

I also lost another 1.4 kgs which is superb.

February Goals:
Do over 70 miles running - FAIL (53.1 miles)
Do over 400 miles cycling - PASS (401 miles)
Complete 85% of my planned training sessions - FAIL (82%)
Break the 10 miles in 30 minute target - Not Attempted
Complete The Ashdown in under 4:30 (riding time) - PASS (4:23)
Complete Tunbridge Wells Half in under 1:55 - PASS (1:48)
Complete the South Devon Half in under 2.5 hours - PASS (2:27)

March Goals:
Do over 60 miles running
Do over 450 miles cycling
Complete 85% of my planned training sessions
Complete the Meon Valley Plod in under 3:50
Complete the Burgess Hill Classic in under 4:30 hours (riding time)
Complete the Ballbuster in under 4:00 hours
Break the 10 miles in 30 minute target

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Great end to a forgettable week

After a forgettable week in my training, I went to Devon on Friday to stay with my Dad and take park in the South Devon Coastal Trail Half Marathon. This was an event run by Endurancelife who organise a series of coastal runs as well as some other events. In 2008 I did the North Devon version of the event near Lynmouth. That was a very tough half marathon on hard terrain with lots of hills. This run was no different.

I set off from Moretonhampstead at 7:45 to drive the 40 twisty miles to Beesands on the coast. It was a fabulous morning, blue skies and it was fresh, rather than cold; a perfect day for running. I arrived at 9:00 as the marathoners ran down the sea front to start their 26.2 miles. Lots of fit looking people.

I parked the car and registered to get my number, ate some of the free Clif Bars from the stand (now my 1st choice of energy bar) and got ready. After a quick safety briefing (don't run off the cliff) more than 300 runners set off.

These events are quite unlike a regular road race. People look different. There are regular runners like myself but there are more skinny people and more facial hair. The gear is different as well with most wearing tights, trail shoes, backpacks and a lot with buffs. This race had made it mandatory to carry water, foil blanket, jacket, food and phone so I ran with my camel pak for the first time.

The race didn't give you time to get settled as it went straight up a hill onto the cliff top before dropping down and going up a larger hill. Then it went along the coastal path with a mixture of good paths, mud, rocks and fields.

I reached the halfway point feeling ok but warm. Out of the sea breeze it was warm and with the pack-pak on I was getting through my water fast. I had my timing chip scanned and carried on straight up a huge hill. Most were walking but I decided to get up it running so I settled into a slow plod and went up. By doing this I must have passed 30 people and I got quite a few saying "well done".
A short spell of flat was met with cries from people ahead. They could see the next hill. In front of us was a field that went very steeply down and from our vantage point we could see the hill and the line people rising from the bottom. It was steep. I got to the bottom of it and started my plod again and managed most of the way but not all. I joined the others walking for the last little bit.
Another slow hill was next but my watch said 12.5 miles so I knew it wasn't far. A push up the hill and we caught site of the sea and the beach near the start. A mad dash down the last hill started with people flinging themselves down the trail in an ungainly sprint. Its a miracle no one broke their ankle. I crossed the finish line to see my Dad, wife and daughters waiting for me.
Distance: 13.5 miles (according to the Garmin)
Time: 2:26:00 (slow but is was a trail run)
Climb: 2550 feet
Finishing Place: 106th
Total Finishers: 360

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


I'm having a terrible week so far. Its half term (small excuse) and I haven't done anything so far. My food intake is also shocking. This often happens after I do something I'm pleased with. Getting a 1:48 half marathon on Sunday has put me in this state. I need a few hours with a shrink to get to the bottom of this. Why does achievement make me lazy?

I plan a run at 6am tomorrow morning to shake myself out of this rut. I just have to get off my fat arse and do something.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon

Back in 2002, the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon was my first ever race. At the time, I was training for the London Marathon. I had only been training since mid-December 2001 and this was my longest ever run. It was a tough day and I was pleased with 2:23:38 although my overriding feeling was that there was no way I could run that distance twice.

Roll on seven years and I found myself again on the start line feeling nervous but with a whole lot of miles in my legs and experience under my belt. My mind was distracted by my friend Emma who was running her first marathon and was very nervous. In the end she needn't have worried as she romped home in under 2 hours. Fabulous for a first try on a difficult course.

The race started at 9;30 and I set off on my own. I had decided against music as I wanted to concentrate. The first 6 miles were ok with some ups but mostly slight down. The sting then came as a hill up to mile six and then a big hill from the 7.5 mile mark for about a mile. This section was my slowest with three miles at around 8:50 minute miling.

My biking and hill running really helped here and I reached to top of the hills in a good condition and was able to push on straight away.

I kept trying to recalculate if I could get in under 1:50 and I knew it would be close. I pushed on and really went for in in the last mile running in 7:25. I was delighted with the result of a 1:48. My third fastest half marathon. I felt tired but not destroyed and I could have gone a bit quicker, especially if I was running with someone a bit faster.

The Stats
Time: 1:48:24
Average Pace: 8:16 minute miles
Finishing Place: 695th
Total Finishers: 1614

This was a great race. Great value and really well organised. I would recommend it to anyone. I got a great medal, there was a good technical t-shirt worth although I didn't get mine and a Sainsburys goodie bag with drink, chocolate and shampoo.

That's more like it

After last week's bad weather and bad health, I was determined to get back on track with a hard week.

Monday was a 5 mile run in Battersea Park. On Tuesday I went off to Box Hill to do some training for the Ballbuster Duathlon in March. I knew where the 8 mile Ballbuster course was but I had not run or cycled the entire circuit. I got to Box Hill at midday and decided to drive the route. I noticed that most of the course had no footpaths and one small section was on a main road but it was quite enough so I thought I'd give it a go.

I ran the 8 mile loop in 1:08:30 which was ok. I didn't push too hard at any stage. I'll hope to be closer to the hour mark on the day. I then set off on the bike. I had planned to do 2 laps but with the lap in the car, I was running out of time so one lap was all I could manage. It was fine and has given me a lot of confidence for the race. I know the second 8 mile run will be very hard but I know I can do it.

Whilst climbing Box Hill on the bike, I shot a video with my new video-camera.

Wednesday was on the bike for an attempt at my 10 miles in 30 minutes. Its ridiculous as I know I can do it. Rather than the hilly Richmond Park, I chose the flat Clapham Common but there was too much traffic and I must have stopped at 6 or 7 red lights. I did 9.1 miles in 30 minutes and 21 miles in total. I will find a route and complete this task.

Thursday was a great 42 mile ride through Kingston to Richmond Park and then 3.5 laps at a moderate pace. Friday was supposed to be another cycle but things got in the way so nothing was done.

Saturday was down as a rest day but to make up for Friday, I was up at 6am to run 6 miles in the cold and dark. I than had to drive the return journey from South London to north of Doncaster to see my Grandma and Auntie. It was lovely to see them but 400 miles is a long way to go in a day.

Sunday was event 3 in the 12 event series. The Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon. As its an event, I've written a separate blog entry.

Weekly Totals
Run: 32 miles
Cycle: 70 miles

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

New Toy

It was my birthday on Sunday and from my wife I got a great new toy. I got a Flip Video Mino.

Its a small, pocket-sized camcorder about the size of a small phone with a screen and 2GB of flash memory.

Its simplicity itself. One button record, up to 60 minutes of video and an inbuilt USB arm to connect it to the PC. It also has built in software so you can edit video, upload your video to your PC or straight to YouTube.

The reason for getting it was to record bits of the major events I'll be doing this year. I want a record of Hardknott from the bottom, of my mates face as he complete to 150th mile of the Dave Lloyd and the view from the top of Mont Ventoux.

I still need a way of keeping it sweat free and dry in my back pocket but a small zip bag will probably be ok. Here is an example of what it can do:

Friday, 6 February 2009

Snow and another cold

Well, an altogether appalling week. Monday and Tuesday brought heavy snow down in London which prevented me from going out. My only alternative was the turbo trainer but I had left my bike at my sister-in-laws after the Ashdown and I couldn't go and get it.

When I could finally drive to Bromley to pick it up, I had caught a cold and had a hacking cough - that will teach me for cycling in the snow. I just didn't think it was wise to go out and do anything that could make it worse. So that was nothing for 5 days.

By the weekend, my cold was showing no signs of going so I decided to do some exercise and sweat it out. My wife was away at a spa for the weekend so I couldn't do much. The kids have Stagecoach on Saturday so I had a one hour window which I used to have a run. I ran fast but it was much harder than it should have been.

"Don't train when you are unwell" is what all the running and cycling magazines say. They are right. Sunday night saw a basic, drippy nose cold turn into a chesty, green, nasty thing that kept me awake. So Sunday was spent mooching around, feeling sorry for myself. A week to forget.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Ashdown Results

Race Number: 933
Finishing Position: 307th
Total Finishers: 559
Total Time: 4:36:28
Ride Time: 4: 23:00
(Estimate. 10 minutes 1st stop, 3 minutes 2nd stop)

1st Finisher: 1:56:06
Last In: 6:33:46

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The Hell of the Ashdown (Brrrrrrrrrrrr)

My second Sportive of my short cycling career saw me cycling 100 km around Kent. The day started at 7am with a rush to the window to check if 3 feet of snow had fallen overnight. Unfortunately it hadn't and I had no excuse but to have my porridge and cycle to the start.

I opened the front door after my breakfast just to see if it really was as cold as predicted and yes, it did feel like -7. I put on pretty much every item of lycra I owned a waddled off into the cold.

At this point, I will refrain from using the obvious puns linking the cold weather and the "Hell" aspect of the ride. If I don't see an article entitled "cold day in hell" then people are just not trying hard enough.

Anyway, I was in no hurry to get there as my start time was 10:30 which was pretty much the last group to go. The 18 miles took me ages as I was constantly on the look-out for ice and the easterly Siberian wind was in my face.

I got to the start and sorted everything out and was ready before my start time so I tried my luck and managed to get away at 10:15.

The first climb was only 2 miles in and was harsh so early in a ride. I settled in with a group of about 10 other riders and continued with them until the 2nd hill. I was at the back at the bottom but by the top, I was surprisingly in the lead so decided to push on. Maybe the training is working.

From this point on I was pretty much on my own. I saw some of the same people in front and behind for most of the rest of the race but I never got in a group which was not clever on a windy day.

The hardest hill came at about half way with a long drag up to the first feed stop. It think they call it The Wall. It was quite straight so seeing everyone else going up it was psychologically hard. It never got steep enough to be really tough but was a challenge.

The weather was very cold but manageable until sometime after lunch when the skies darkened, the temperate dropped and the snow fell. And it fell fast. Within 10 minutes there was a layer on the roads, my glasses were covered and I couldn't see very much. I tried taking them off but it was worse. A few riders bunched up and we played follow the leader at 6 mph for 30 minutes or so. It wasn't pleasant.

We were getting a bit worried because at the speeds we were going, we weren't going to get back to base before dark. Fortunately, the snow stopped and the sun came out and everyone sped up.

A few more hills and then about 5 miles of gentle back-roads back into the Charles Darwin School. Job done. I handed my timing chip in, got my certificate and cycled the 4 miles to my sister-in-laws house for a big dinner.

Distance: 89 miles
Climb: 7,500 feet
Time: 5:55:11
Average: 15:03 mph (given the 30 minutes crawling along in the snow and the wind, I'm really pleased)