Monday, 22 December 2008

Finally back running again

Not a great deal to report, from the last three weeks. I have only just got over the knee strain and last week was my first full week running for some time. Managed a total of xx miles, some of it with a 7kg pack on, which felt ok and I have calculated a final pack weight of 12kg, so will need to up the weight on a weekly basis now. My next race is the Stansted Stagger, a 26 mile LDWA organised event, this coming Sunday (28th), and once I get back to full time work after the Christmas break I will be able to book up a final race before the MDS.

I have already ear-marked the Grantham Canal 2 day ultra at the end of February, which is a 30 mile run one –way on the Saturday and then the return run the next day ( for more details. I should also be able to get my ECG and medical signed off at the same time too.

I have had my jabs for the race now so shouldn’t (yeh right!!) pick up any nasty tropical diseases, so all I need to do is keep training and in 13 weeks enjoy the hot sunshine.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all

Monday, 1 December 2008

Salomon XT-Wings – From Fitness Footwear

These are marketed as effortless running shoes that are suitable for any terrain, and from the first step in these they felt comfortable, well fitted and almost worn-in already.

I found they gripped and glided over whatever the surface I ran on including a mixture of roads and trails, and felt equally comfortable to road running as to trails.. The Triple Density Eva mid-sole gave such a good ride and great lacing system that only requires one pull to adjust and then leave, made these a perfect pair for shoes.

The loud “grass and black”, the restrained (?) bright red or the more subtle black and grey, give you the option of really standing out or blending in with the crowd, but with the speed agility and grip that these shoes give, most other runners will be left looking at your dust trail.

One last point; they do fit snugly, so I would recommend a ½ size bigger than normal, but they still feel great.

On a rating of 1 to 10, I would have to give these 10, as I cannot fault them at all.

Gatliff Marathon - None Starter

This was an event I was looking forward to, and had made arrangements with John Greenbank, another 2009 MdS runner I had been in contact with via the Best of Morocco web-site, to meet up and run together and have a chat. However the race was a non-starter for me due to an injury sustained in my left knee.

A week ago I was out on a good long Sunday morning run, however the weather had turned against me and was making life difficult. Now most weather conditions I am happy to run in. Not particularly keen on strong wind, but everything else is fine. On this Sunday it was a combination of strong winds, snow and sleet, and it was the sleet coming in on a horizontal plane that was causing the problem. I had my beanie hat almost covering my eyes and a buff pulled up to the top of my nose, so only had a slit to see out of and, as can be guessed, I missed the edge of a kerb and twisted my knee.

Stupid I know, but it was the only way I could see comfortably. I had hoped that a lot of rest would see me right and although it did feel better towards the end of the week there was no way I would last for 31 miles in the mud etc, so decided on the Saturday afternoon not to run. Sent my apologies to John, who, politely, cursed me as I had persuaded him to run in the race too (he’ll thank me for it in the long run?!?), and planned to run a 5 miler on Sunday instead.

That proved too much again, as after 2 miles the knee started to buckle and it was a steady walk home rather than carrying on – right decision not to do the marathon, but hopefully if the knee has improved then next Sunday I will try to find another race to do and still keep training as well.

Monday, 10 November 2008

To be Tried and tested

One of the highlights of the past week was receiving an e-mail from Adam Smith of Fitness Footwear ( who offered me a free pair of Salomon XT-wing trainers in exchange for a web-site plug and shoe review. Now I’m not too proud to accept a freebie, as everything helps and I have been planning to get some more off-road shoes (especially having swamped my last pair in the Steppingly run). Hopefully I should get these this week and will give them a thorough testing with the aim to use them in the Gatliff Marathon at the end of the month (provided they wear in well).

Will keep you posted – watch this space.

8th Steppingly Step – Wet and boggy – great!!!

Another LDWA event, but found this a lot harder that the 55 miler back in September, Mainly because the route was very hilly and due to the traverses across local fields, which were boggy and very sticky after the recent rain we have had. This meant that footwear soon became clogged up and heavy. Thankfully I had learnt from the last LWDA event and bought a pair of Sealskin socks, which saved my feet from being completely ruined and kept all the water out (a well worth buy at £20).

The event (not a race as such, as it is officially a walker’s event) was well supported with about 40 runners and we all took off from a local village hall along a few roads until we hit the first of many, many fields. From there we entered the Steppingly Steps, 350ft of near vertical climbing, before reaching to top, which had breathtaking views for those with any breath left (not me).

There I teamed up with two runners for Orpington, who I ran with for most of the way, exchanging banter and general chatting, to help the miles go by. Also, as this was an LDWA event, it helped to have others there to decipher the directions, which were considerably ambiguous in places and which would have led me to doing more mileage and back-tracking than was planned.

The scenery was extremely nice, going from valleys to the top of Ampthill park , with more wonderful views, however to get to these points meant lots of climbing and according to my Garmin, there was over 3600ft of climbing on the whole route.

Once past this stage the weather started to deteriorate, winds started picking up and the skies darkened, but we headed back into the valleys and the bogs and churned up footpaths of the woods. Most of it looked like a herd of wildebeest had been there first, so picking a route through wasn’t easy. Thankfully because of the socks I could take the wet way through, although nearly lost a shoe a couple of times.

Once out of the wood we only had about 6 miles left, but the woods had stretched my hamstrings to their maximum and they were extremely sore, so I cut the pace back and lost contact with the other two. After the final checkpoint at 22 miles my energy picked up a little and I gently trotted the rest of the way home, to finish in 4:24. Six minutes inside what I had planned for, and finishing in freezing cold conditions I was happy to get some warm food inside me.

In reflection, the only down side on the day was breakfast, as I had tried one of the breakfast I was planning to take to the MDS. This tasted like and looked like wallpaper paste (alright, I haven’t tried to eat wallpaper paste, but you get the idea), so I now have to source something else, but rather now than 3 days into the desert.

Next up is the Gatliff Marathon, which at 50km defies the Trades description law, but this is one I will probably do with a 5kg backpack and maybe hiking poles, to get used to them in my hands. But that’s not until 30th November so a bit of time for recovery this week and back to the mill.

Safe running all

Monday, 20 October 2008

Lull before the Storm

Not a great deal to report this time, the calf strain picked up at the Lea Valley Marathon has healed after a weeks rest (well just under to be precise) and last weeks mileage totalled 46 & a bit, carrying a 4.5kg pack for a couple of the runs, with no problems.

Tiredness is the only problem at the moment, due to my wife’s long working hours and the early starts, but life goes on.

The running shoes for next year have arrived, a meaty pair of New Balance M1100MDS trainers in MDS colours which are a size & half bigger than normal, to allow the foot to swell due to the heat. They look like a canal boat when on and training is going to prove fun, so a couple of thick pairs of socks will be needed to fill them out. Weight training will be needed due to the weight so not suitable for quick 5km races.

Sponsorship for GOSHCC has started to come in and is now about £550, so more pressure will be placed on people to get the money in.

That’s about all this time, it’s been quiet, but hopefully things will pick up and there will be more to report after next months Steppingly Challenge in Bedford, which is a marathon organised by the LDWA, on the 9th November.

Safe Running

Monday, 6 October 2008

My First DNF - Don't Ask

What a disaster this turned into, and what long term damage has it done.

The race itself was a very flat run from St Margaret’s in Hertfordshire, along the Lea Valley into London, finishing near the site of the new Olympic stadium (apparently). Apparently, because I never got there. A nice course with little in the way of climbs (only on small bridges across the river) but with a section on loose gravel and trails that twisted and turned with great regularity. It was these turns that caused the problem.

I was charging along well inside PB pace, in fact a good 20 mins inside PB pace and feeling full of running at 11 miles in 1hr 18 min and not feeling tired, which after the previous 3 weeks I was expecting, however it was the footing that led to my downfall (almost literally), as I ran through the trails that formed a switch-back onto the route I felt a pull on the outside of my right calf, that started to ache almost straight away and gradually got worse as I progressed. The next 5 miles took me 45 minutes and by the time I got to 19 miles I could only run a few strides before hobbling a few more. This was the lowest point I thought until the stomach decided to join in and I started being sick (lasted for another day – but enough info on that). I had to think long term and decided that this was to be my first DNF of my career since 2001. I had to reason with myself that to continue could result in a tear that would seriously jeopardise the MDS and that was more inportant that this.

I knew I could have finished and having done the Shotley race 3 weeks ago knew the distance wasn’t a problem. Perhaps I went off too quick and was over confident, but i felt good for the first section and felt I could really benefit on this run from the training and work I had done in the past few months. Now all I can do is take this week off and try to resume training as soon as I feel able to, I will have to reduce the output when I return, but hopefully, as I have 5 months left I will be back soon enough not to have lost much of the training fitness I have done. A bit of water running this week will help and gym work will continue as before.
Only time will tell.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Local Media Interest

Friday last (12th) saw my entrance into the media, with a BBC Essex interview, live in the studio, and a photo session with the East Anglian Daily Times (EADT).
The radio slot went well although I don’t seem to have got any more sponsorship out of it, and the picture in the paper looks good, so hopefully something might come of that. Tomorrow (16th) sees the Essex Chronicle visit, although if I am still stiff I won’t be running that much for them.

Shotley Peninsular 55 mile Challenge

This was my first run above 26.2 miles and it went surprisingly well, although to look at me now (2 days later) it’s hard to believe.

This was a run (not a race) with a difference. The event was organised superbly by the Essex & Herts. Long Distance Walking Association (LDWA), which supplied 8 pages (A4) of instructions of the route, which started at Holbrook in Suffolk. The route was as crude a route as you could find in those parts, consisting of roads, trails, public footpaths, beach (including scrambling over a fall tree blocking the way, through ploughed fields and across bogs and marsh areas, all at a pace that allowed me to read directions as i went.

The first group that went were the walkers, who left at 7.30; there were about 100 of these, and only 18 runners. We were allowed to leave from about 10.30 onwards and I started to catch the walkers after about 2 hours. Due to the nature of the course and the distance involved I decided that I would start steadily and not thrash the run, in fear of crashing before I got half-way. There were 10 checkpoints around the route all of which had various snacks and drinks, although these were hard to swallow having dried out towards the end of the day, and I had taken a few bits with me just in case.

I passed the marathon distance with a cheer, as I was now in new territory, and feeling good, feet were getting a bit sore, and I decided to change my socks at the next checkpoint, and take a good break (spent 1hr 30min in all at these points, so 10 mins each, and very glad I did). Once changed and refuelled with soup and a hot tea I was on my way again, passing 30 miles, passing 35 and still able to keep a good 11 min mile pace going. Psychologically I was fine, the distance wasn’t scaring me and at no point did if think I wish this was over (apart from the car journey home), I aimed to call Mandy at about 9pm to let her know when I hoped to finish, and hoped by this time I would only have 8 miles to go. And leaving checkpoint 8 in fading light I set off into a wood, to get to next point at the right time. This where the head torch came into its own, totally pitch black in the woods and with owls, foxes and who knows what else, but with the darkness came the reduced speed to the point where I was completely lost and only found my way back when I saw another runner coming in the opposite direction. Tagging onto him we head to checkpoint 9, where I phoned Mandy and said I hoped to finish about 11pm.

That was wishful thinking. Energy was fine and I was enjoying the nigh time scenery of Felixstowe docks (no honestly), and enjoying being out alone doing this. I had less than 10 miles to go and the final checkpoint stop was very quick as I want to get to that 50 mile mark. Once this was passed the energy started to drop a little and trotting became the quickest I could move, but I was determined not to stop now, and meeting up with another runner jogged the last 2 miles to finish in 13hours and 1 minute, but before midnight, which was my main aim.

Hot meal, great mug of tea and said my goodbyes to the organisers and headed home with a great satisfaction. I had achieved something I had dreaded in the previous weeks, but now I feel that I can get through anything if I try. Marathons should (?) be easier to get through with this mentally strength I have found and I can continue to the MdS happy that I am getting fitter and stronger with the training I am doing.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Me again

Time for another update, and I have decided to now do these updates fortnightly, as plans over then next 7 months are quite full and busy and a monthly update would be too long and boring (who said that!!).

Anyway, not too much to report intially, BBC Essex have been in contact regarding a radio interview on the 12th September, the day before the Shotley Peninsular 55mile event. They are talking about running a series of interviews with me, on a monthly basis, in the months preceding the MdS, in an aim to get more info on what has happened to me in the past month and what my next steps are. Hopefully this will give me more of a chance to gain more personal and corporate sponsorship for the race. I have also decide to do a press release to coincide with the first interview to flood the local market, and longer term plans are to ‘go national’ before Christmas on both TV and newspapers.

Anyway running-wise the last few weeks have been mixed, the first week since the last report went well, hitting 40 miles for the week with a 3.5kg pack on a times but then last week hit a low due to a stomach bug, so only 28 miles. No niggles or injury worries thankfully, and now that Mandy (my wife) has changed jobs I now have Sundays free to run and log some decent distances.

Hopefully you haven’t dozed off yet, but I’ll leave for now. Next report will be after the radio interview and Shotley run, so a lot to report on.

‘Til then

Monday, 18 August 2008

A planned 45 miler that went a bit astray

This was a run that I planned myself and looked quite straight forward. The plan was a train to Felixstowe then run to Ipswich on to Hadleigh, then to Sudbury and finally home.

The distance between each town was almost 10 miles, which broke it down into manageable chunks, and there was a bus and train service from Sudbury to home in case I got into any difficulty.

The run started well and within 10 minutes I was into my stride and running comfortably. I had only a light pack on (3kg max) and had filled my camelbak and water bottle too, so was fine with what I had. The first 10 miles went fine, using back roads meant I kept away from the fumes and as it was a hot day the fumes would have been bad. Problems hit once I got to Ipswich. The signposting on one of the roads was misleading and I ended up turning of too early and losing my way, eventually doing a 4 mile loop before getting back on track. I had planned to stop after 10 miles at a petrol station, to get lunch but this had been delayed and with the additional weight in my pack as I filled up with water I started getting hungry and needed to stop. The first convenient stopping point was at about 17 miles and I took a long well earned rest, however the damage had been done and despite refuelling I couldn’t get back into my stride and had to accept that the run should stop rather than do damage continuing.

I managed to get to Hadleigh and finished there at 24 miles. Extremely disappointed but travelling back home on the bus was glad to have missed the rest of the way as the roads were very heavy with traffic and not a safe running route at all, so in hind sight a bit of a lucky escape.

Next planned activity is the Shotley Peninsular challenge on 13th September, so I will report back after that, although if BBC Essex gets back in touch soon I will be on the airwaves and discussing the whole thing with them.

More on that if and when it happens.

Safe Running All

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Forms Are Here

Big lump in the throat today as the offical e-mail arrived with the forms for regstration for the MDS next year.

Bit of confusion over some of the translations and a bit of fuss on the MDS Forum site as techno-phobes couldn't print off the forms in full page size, but i managed, Three forms we need to complete along with supplying 3 passport photo's and the medical form for me to sweet talk my GP into signing.

Hopefully now this will make it all offical and i can start really pushing sponsors etc and getting kit finalised.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Faversham Marathon

This was a new experience for me, as all the previous marathons had been on a point-to-point route, or single lap. This race was to consist of forty laps, and took place in Faversham, Kent, just off the coast and in a quiet town recreation sports park.

But it was a race that I approached with some trepidation. The thought of forty laps of a recreation ground, seeing the same scenery time after time and knowing what the terrain coming up was like filled me with a sense of uncertainty. Would I be able to mentally cope with the potential boredom of not really going anyway? Would the temptation of dropping out (never an option) if things were going very badly, be too great? And would I get lost?

I arrived early and registered and put my marked own drinks bottles, filled with PSP22 and Go Electrolyte drinks on the respective table, at least I knew what I was getting. I also had Go-gels and had a power-bar before the race, as well as breakfast before I left the house.

All these worries and doubts were laid rest early on in the race. There were about 29 runners in the marathon and another 13 runners taking part in a 6 hour race. The early morning temperatures were already at about 18 degrees, but would rise to about 25 by lunchtime; however the route was well covered by trees and only had a small patch of sun at the start/finish area, but this time I had prepared for the weather, making sure I had a small pack with salt tablets in just in-case.

The drinks station and lap counters were all positioned in the same area, and it was encouraging to know that there would always be someone cheering you on each time you passed that point.

The race itself was all on tarmac, fairly flat with a couple of speed humps in places but with a rather steep hill, albeit only 50 metres long at one end, doesn’t sound too bad, but after climbing it 40 times it was to be the least liked part of the course. Each lap was 1044.35 metres (to be exact) and the total amount of climbing was 3900 feet, which is only 100 feet per lap, but I was surprised how much it mounted up.

Route as issued by Race Director Sid Morrison

The race started in a rather relaxed fashion, and I was into my pace and stride pattern by the end of the first lap, and finished the first lap in the first group of four, a surprise to myself, more than anything. As the next lap progressed I found myself moving to the front of the group and by the end of the third lap had built a 50 metre lead. This was not planned but my pace was still averaging 7 minute miles and I felt comfortable with it, so didn’t slow. I lead the race for the next 13 laps (about 8 miles) but then started to be pulled back in by the rest of the runners, mainly because I was slowing more for drinks every other lap, which through out the momentum and lost a bit of ground (plus there was a toilet stop, but that’s more the you need to know).

The rest of the race passed without drama, and although I slowed once I hit about 19 miles, which resulted in me finishing in 3:36:46, 4 mins outside a PB, so still a very pleasing time. Overall race position was 11th, so finished in the top 30% of the field, and having seen the profiles of most of the runners I was immensely pleased with the result.

All in all a good days run, no bad after-effects, no injuries, only a small blister on one toe, managed my fluid intake well and have recovered well to back running three days later. All bodes well (shouldn’t tempt fate), for the 45 miler in 3 weeks time, but I still need to re-boot my glycogen levels, which I started doing 2am Monday morning when woken by a growling stomach.

Best trophy so far, a worthwhile memento of a hard but satisfying race.

Will update numbers once they are offically confirmed.

Have a good month

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

South Downs Marathon Report

As tough as last year, terrain-wise, but fitter this year which showed with a time of 3:55:20, 12 minutes faster than last year and more importantly inside the 4 hour mark. My biggest problems were caused by poor weather forecasting, which had most runners preparing for chilly conditions and rain and instead we had 19 degrees and dry hot conditions. This lead me to suffer from cramping at 21 miles as i didn't take any salt tablets with me and there were no isotonic drinks on the route. Not a problem for the MDS as i will have properly prepared for the conditions and be suitably kitted out.

Apart from that it was a very enjoyable race in very nice scenery.

Training has begun again (3 days rest after the Marathon) with little side effects apart from low glycogen stores which are being replenished, as i type (bagel with almond butter), so the next target of the Faversham Marathon in 6 weeks looks on target.

Still nothing as regards to corporate sponsorship (tight !!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but hopefully something will appear or else the re-mortgage may need to be upped a little).

Official training for the MDS starts week commencing 7th July as back-pack training begins and sights are set on that rather than the intermediate races in the run up, and i have just planned a 45 mile route for a run-walk day in mid August, which will give an indication on progress.

Gait analysis being done this weekend as i think i may be starting to pronate, judging by the blister on the side of my ankle, so a change in running shoe might be called for.

Anyway, better get back to work, and will trot back on in a months time for the latest update.

Safe running Y'awl

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

MDS 2009 Dates

Dates for next years race have been confirmed.

Sunday 29th March to Saturday 4th April.

Fly out on 26th March, travel to camp on 27th, Admin on 28th, start running 29th.
Finish running (walking, crawling etc) 4th, prize giving (yeh right!!) 5th, return to UK 6th.

Plan next adventure 7th (i'm thinking Himalayas 100mile stage race, but could be put off for life).

10 months to go!!!!!!!!

Monday, 19 May 2008

Yet another change of plans

Like the British weather, my plans have changed again for the 4th time in a week. This weeks Baddow 10 was cancelled at the last minute (by me - due to wanting a good family day) so Fridays 8 miler turned into a 19M run and promptly caused a massive blister under my big toe - great. Usually ignore blisters but this one is a pain (sorry).

Apart from that, things are looking good for the South Downs Marathon, now only 3 & bit weeks away, and mileage will taper off after this weeks 22m run, in preparation for the race. Just to add a bit of spice to thing i have also signed up for the Faversham Marathon in mid July, which should be interesting as it is a 40 lap race race, which could be very soul destroying or a lot easier as the race is divided into pieces. Time will tell.

Poor news on the corporate sponsorship front. 100 letters sent - 40 replies - total of £50 for GOSHCC (thanks to Rowse Honey), nothing on the corporate side, so i can only hope that someone, somewhere will read this and feel sorry for me and send in that corporate sponsorship cheque to help (now what is David Beckham's address).

Will hopefully have better news next month and will have done the South Downs as well, so next months Blog should prove interesting.


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Monthly Up-date

I have finally sent out my presentation files, to over 100 companies, in the hope that someone will provide enough corporate sponsorship to get me to and through the MDS. Hopefully i will start to get some feedback by the end of the month, and with the London Marathon just finishing running should be in the public eye at the moment.

Training has been going well, although the target of the Halstead Marathon on May 11th has changed, more due to babysitting duties, rather than a lack of training time (main sitters are away - so can't leave my daughter with anyone for 5 hours), so the new target is now the Baddow 10 mile on May 18th, and if training continues as planned i should be looking at a PB for 10 miles (currently standing at 1:07:14).

Still on target for the South Downs Marathon on June 14th, and will be planning a night away at a travelodge the night before, to cut down on travel on race day. I did this race last year and it is a good challenging yet very scenic course, so will take a small digital camera with me, to capture what i can.

Will sign off for now, but back same time next month
In Cha Allah -as they say on the MDS

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Up-date time (again)

Well it's the end of the Easter weekend and all of this years MDS runners are probably nervous as hell as they fly out this Thursday (lucky buggers).

Training since the last entry has ticked over as due to a few weeks break through colds and illness that Kent 30 mile challenge ended at the 20 mile mark, with a sprained knee and lack of energy. Plans for next year have taken shape and the presentation files are being collated in preparation for sending out to the 100 or so target sponsors (hopefully at least 10% will give me something).

Current training is aiming towards the South Downs Marathon in Mid-June, although the Halstead 26.2 race in May might be run if i feel that i have trained enough for that. The South Downs is probably the best off-road race that i could find and will give me a good chance to test the type for shoe i will need for next year. Kit issues will no doubt surface over the next few months and once monies start coming in i will invest wisely.

That's all for now, although i intend to update on a monthly basis (unless something exciting happens??????). Facebook link is also up so any viewers can link to all my web-site through one