20miles – Make or Break for the London Marathon

March 11, 2013

My running since the start of 2013 has been sporadic. It’s pretty late in the season already and I have, due to niggles and blisters etc, missed out on a number of long runs. The longest I have gone before this weekend was a 15 miler and a couple of 13′s – I can’t even say my midweek runs have had any routine to them. Normally I’d try to do 3 runs but have been struggling to fit them in around work commitments. So, on Sunday morning I ignored the rule book, I left the flat with a brand new pair of trainers on (completely new model and make), brand new socks (both to hopefully remove the risk of blisters) and went LONG.

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When I set out my target was 20miles, I had planed a route which should cover that distance without any loops. I knew this was going to be a challenge in my head and I needed as few excuses to cut the route short as possible. I set out towards the Capital. The first few miles were the boring parts. I covered familiar territory and spent a good hour denying my ‘inner chimp’ a victory and winning the battle in my head telling me to stop. At 6miles I readjusted my shoes as my foot ached on most strides. However, I didn’t stop for long and I told myself it was small pain relative to what I felt last weekend. From about 7 miles the route I had chosen really came into its element…

The Flyknit Experience

March 8, 2013

Nike_Flyknit_Lunar1__collection_detailA few weeks ago I put my name down and won  a ‘competition’ on Facebook for a place at Nikes Flyknit Experience at Somerset House. I wasn’t overly sure what to expect when I turned up assuming it to be like a press event. Try on some shoes, go for a run then send you home in them for good will and hope you review the product. How wrong was I…

Arriving at the amazing Somerset House lit up pink with a Nike Dome in the middle it was already becoming clear that Nike marketing budget was large on this campaign…Free tshirt and (bandana!?) later I went to collect the shoes I was here to try out – the Flyknit.

After a bit of a debacle with not enough shoes I eventually ended up selecting a size too big for me as my size was unavailable. Fortunately for me my wide feet helped with this as whilst the shoe was technically too long my feet were held fairly firm in the narrow shoe and possibly helped by the steam ‘customisation’ fit. See below…

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Once you have selected your trainer size the process moves onto ‘moulding’ them to your feet. The trainers are made from a material that when steam heated adjust around your feet – apparently. The concept is that the shoes shouldn’t be loose anywhere around your foot. Quite a cool little show was put on around this, a little bit gimmicky but made me smile as my shoes came out of the steamer!

First thing to note is these are neutral shoes (I believe), they are ultra light and actually look damn cool as a complete contrast to my current stability shoe. However, I don’t think I would be able to run a large distance in these shoes due to my heavy pronation. once we were kitted out the event was ready to start. They had a quick Q&A with 800m Olympian Andrew Osagie before a warm up and time to run.

Jog on, or maybe I shouldn’t have!

March 4, 2013

Welcome to my first real training post of 2013. As is typically the case, the day after my birthday celebrations normally coincides with the local half marathon and almost every

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year for the last few I have signed up and plodded around Roding Valley. This year was no different and at 8am we set off for the start of what should have been a half marathon with some extra VLM Marathon training miles (6-7) added on for good measure.

The starting gun fired at 9 and we off. This was my second half marathon of 2013 (the first was Dorney in Feb) and as it was ultimately a training run I had no intention of speeding off looking to set into an 8:30 or so stride. Unfortunately at about 3 miles the blister I was a little bit wary about from runs on previous weeks felt like it was starting to become aggravated. I obviously started to adjust my running style to stop landing on the blister but in turn this triggered pains in whole knew places: quads, calves and knees. As I approached the half way point (the course was laps) I saw Laura, by this point I was practically hobbling and she thought I had fallen. I was in pain, I was at mile 7 of a race but I didn’t really want to make this the first time I have ever stopped during a race.

At this point a lot of questions go through your head of which the most obvious is ‘should I pull out?’ I had been wrestling this thought for at least 2 miles previously as each footfall created a pain in my body. I’m almost certain any medical person wouldn’t have even engaged in the debate, pull out incase you do more damage.

2012 in brief…

February 21, 2013

I have been trying to think of how best to summarise 2012. You could look at it in terms of marathons (2), half marathons (5) or in big events (2 – the olympics in my home city and getting married to my long suffering girlfriend/fiance/wife). However which way you look at it it was a great year. So great in fact that I neglected blogging for more important things.

 

175375586206458255_13251831So here is a brief run down (pun intended!)…

January – First run of the year in Central Park, NYC!

February – Human Race 1/2 Marathon, Dorney Lake & Roding Valley 1/2 – getting the miles in for London.

March – Reading 1/2 Marathon and meeting Dave Bedford at the end!

April – London Marathon – quickest time I have ever run London, but still 9 minutes off that 4 hour mark! Great to have run with friend Noel Thatcher (well, we started together)

2011 Great South Run

November 2, 2011

This race was one of those I signed up for months and months ago. I’m not really sure why, it just seemed a good excuse to visit Portsmouth again and also re-run one of my first ever races.

Following Berlin I somewhat pushed it to the back of my mind, my running has been sparse to say the least, baring the two races I have blogged about I have barely put my trainers on…
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Roll on Sunday morning, race day, over 100 miles from home. I had already established I didnt have my SIS energy drink, nor my gel belt and add to the list no safety pins. I thought the last odd, as they are normally in the race envelope although there is a part of me that recollects possibly using them for the Royal Parks Half 3 weeks ago! So far the list of things I had forgotten was just about passable, I knew id get pins at the start and I could live without the SIS. However, what was about to happen next was a major cockup. As I went to put my chip on my trainers I opened my shoe bag to be presented with my trail shoes, Fudge, I couldn’t run a road race in these. At this moment I had 2 options, 1 pull out or 2 run in my day to day trainers. Had I been in mid-training for a longer run I’d have probably opted for option 1. However, as this was my last planned race of 2011 I figured what was the worst that could happen so went for option 2. I should point out my day to day trainers are kswiss and designed to be run in (but they are neutral and and don’t have the right support). Pulling the laces tight the chip was added, I cant deny, I was definitely apprehensive about running.

Time for breaky, Laura laughed about how my food choice seemed more extreme than most other runners in the hotel who opted for bananas. I figured it was a late start and I could eat what I wanted really. I had a nice suprise when Chris my best man turned up un announced to support me. I was shocked and very grateful!

Wow, forth paragraph and I haven’t even started the race, readers I apologise. At this point I should just fast forward to the start, where due to Martin Lewis (my boss) running the race, I had the fortune of starting with the celebs and media at the front. Standard banter between Iwan Thomas and I ensued, it seems we constantly race the same events. Whilst he has the upper edge on shorter distances of 10km and under its about this distance where I could possibly beat him.

The claxon went off, we were 3 rows from the front and the elite men went off like whippets. Iwan wasnt much different and wanting to keep up I clocked a sub 7 min first mile, way too quick for me and he was far ahead of me (so much for a slow first half mate!) I pulled back my pace and got into a rhythm that I should find ok to hangon to and take in the sights.

At one of the switchbacks at about 6 miles I clocked Iwan probably about 800meters ahead of me, tortoise and hair came to mind. Onwards I pushed, 7 miles no sign of him, 8 miles nothing, until about 8.7miles when way up in the distance I spotted him. Could I make back 200 meters in just over a mile…?

I pushed on at the hardest part of the course along the sea front with a head wind. Judging from my watch I was maintaining a consistent pace and Iwan got closer and closer. Somehow at about 9.2 miles I caught him. I pushed on, hoping to get enough distance to help with the final 400m (his optimum race distance). As I entered the final 200m over the tannoy I heard his name announced and I gave all I had. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him as I crossed the line, a part of me thought he had slowed to let me win (if you did Iwan, thanks :-) )

Laura and Lara (Martin’s wife) met met right on the finish line and we waited to cheer Martin over. He did amazingly well completing the run in 1:28:10. For someone who hadn’t run that far ever he should be mighty pleased with his time.

Anyway 10m completed in 01:14:34, am pretty damn happy about that as going into the race I had no idea what form I was in and all things considered I can’t grumble at 7:30 min miles over the distance.

Its a bit odd as I write this I have no more events in my diary for 2011, the season appears to be over. Time to look back and reflect and ultimately decide what happens in 2012…

N
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History Stands

November 2, 2011

A few weeks ago I had the fortune to find out about a special evening organised by Niketown Stratford to celebrate its opening and launch of its weekly run. A small group of us had the privilege of a Q&A session with world record holder Paula Radcliffe. I found out about the event whilst at Noel’s seeing baby Soshin, so I mentioned it and Noel was keen to be signed up too.

Free tshirts were distributed on entry with the words ‘History Stands’ on them and Paula’s world record time on the back. I say world record but in the eyes of the IAFF it is no longer recognised as that, the title has been stripped years after the event citing ‘mixed race/male pacers’ as its reasoning. This is utter b@llocks. I have yet to find anyone who thinks otherwise but perhaps I move in the wrong circles…!

Anyway the Q&A was interesting, offering a personal insight into such an incredible athlete. It was a very nice touch especially given it was free. Paula came across incredibly well, answering audience questions even those by the national press who lowered the tone of the evening by asking ‘quote making’ questions. The only sad bit was her entourage being so miserable, a photo would have been nice but I did get lucky and get my Berlin Marathon number signed. I thought this appropriate, she raced the event too and qualified for London 2012 with her result out there…

After the q&a we went for a run, it was the inaugural Niketown Stratford Run club. Having racked up many miles a few years back the Oxford St equivalent its nice to see it coming closer to home. A 5km jog took us upto the olympic park and back. The routes needs a bit of tweaking to bring big numbers however as Stratford is still a large building site that will come in time I’m sure! It was a good first bash and is very promising.

I tend to be more of an Adidas man than Nike but in this instance kudos to the later.

History Stands!

Neil
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Cross Country Running

October 28, 2011

Last year I told myself that I would at least try one of the XC races offered through the Serps and with one being organised relatively locally at Cheshunt I gave it a go.

As with most of my running if you were to roll back 10 years and ask me to do a XC race out of choice I’d have probably laughed at you and found a good excuse as to why I couldn’t. I hated it at school. However, there I was Sunday morning all kitted out in my Serps running top stood in a field ready to run 5 miles, and out of choice!

Given the weather has been dry here I knew the ground should still be quite hard so I opted for standard trainers. It turns out this was the correct call as the ground was solid. At 10:30 the claxon sounded and off we all went, 3 laps of a few fields. The course was far from flat and on the signup info it was branded as ‘undulating’ which after the first lap seemed fair.

I’m never going to be at the front of these races, but as a new xc’er I was desperate not to come last, turns out I needn’t have worried as I comfortably came mid pack, where I expected really. I pushed as hard as I could, I’ve never done this short a race and took the attitude of whats the worst that can happen…

Good fun, I hope to make the next one!

N

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2011 Royal Parks Half Marathon

October 14, 2011

In May I was invited to do the Royal Parks Half Marathon and I took up the offer. However, until about a month ago in my head I had it down as one week after Berlin, fortunately it was two! I obviously had the distance (or double it) in my legs so wasnt overly concerned about that side my major worry would be how much of the marathon would still be in my body…

At 6:10am my alarm went off, I woke up feeling ROUGH, I went for a shower and felt lousy so got back into bed. I had decided I was too ill to race. At this point Laura gave me a kick up the backside and at about 645 I had a change of heart and got up and ready. We had to be out at 7, speed eating time :)

Jumping out at Marble Arch I wheeled Laura with me to the start (see here to see how Laura broke her foot) and found the VIP tent. Today I was a VIP apparently! I found the bag drop and spotted a couple of celebs Nell McAndrew, Duncan Bannatyne and Sophie Raworth to name drop before prepping myself for the race. Fortunately, Jackie had kindly come along to be chauffeur for Laura so they headed off to about the 6 mile marker.

I headed to the starting pens, completely unsure what pace I would manage. I suspected, unless I deliberately took the first half slow I wouldn’t hang on to a permanent pace but was probably best just to go for it with the expectation of a second half blow up! In the pen by pure coincidence I bumped into Keith Luxon a fellow Havens Hospice runner, and also an ultra runner of the most extreme – I know of only one other who has run longer than Keith but I dont think its anywhere near as frequent.

My pace from the start was pretty hard, pushed along by being in the same pen as the faster runners aiming for sub 1hr30. I clocked 7-7:30min/mi, it wasnt until about mile 5 I thought I may have gone off a bit fast! At 6 miles I spotted Laura and Jackie a gave them a quick message telling them I had overcooked it and would be slowing for the second half. About half a mile on my gel must haven kicked in and all of a sudden I felt ok. I barely slowed at all, every mile was sub 8min/mi and most were nearer the 7:30s. After 10 miles I knew I could hang on regardless now, 24 minutes I told myself whilst taking another gel. 16 minutes…8minutes, 7:59,7:58,7:57 the countdown had begun in my head.

Spotting the gantry in the distance whilst my watch showed 1:39 (no seconds displayed) I decided to try for a sub 1hr40 with no idea how far or long to go I put my head down and went for it, no longer looking at my watch. As I crossed the line I stopped the garmin, my watch read 1:40 (no seconds displayed), nevermind. It wasnt until I got a text with my chip time that I established I actually did 1:39:59 sub 1:40 and my watch read 1:40:00! Jackpot. I can’t really grumble about that as it was faster than Maidenhead which I had done a few weeks previously.

All in all a good run and I’m glad I pulled myself out of bed (even if it just delayed my cold for 24 hours)! I do like the Royal Parks Half Marathon, both times I have run it I have thought it a well organised race. The medal is different and the freebies you can get at the end is the best I have seen at ANY race. The first half of the race gives you all of the best bits of the London Marathon whilst the second half is in Hyde Park weaving through its paths.

Loved it!

N
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Berlin, Marathon start #5…‏

September 28, 2011

Months and months (before running the London Marathon) ago I entered myself into the Berlin Marathon. It was on the back of a successful Dublin Marathon and I thought what could go wrong…

Then London happened, confidence waivered, I spent the next few months training and most importantly praying for a dreary autumnal /early winter day and possibly if last year was anything to go by, some rain. The worst thing that could happen was it be hot.

Rolling on many months, the day before the Mararathon and I’m stood in our hotel bedroom opening the curtains. Not a single cloud in the sky. Bugger. I had always planned to do the international breakfast run on the Saturday and today I would get a glimpse of what was about to come…heat.

The run was very busy, thousands crammed the 6 km of roads up to the olympic stadium, finishing on the track. It was quite good fun and on top of that I was finally able to put a face to a name with James S who I had been in contact through our mutual friend, Sean at Audiofuel.

However, when we got to the end we were presented with a problem. Whilst heading into the stadium to watch us my fiance fell down a large step, really hurting her foot. We chatted to the medics there who iced it and then bandaged it. They said it wasnt broken as she could wiggle her toes but elevate it and see how it was later. Bugger. We headed out of the Stadium and back to the hotel, somehow managing to blag us a lift in an official race car!

Leaving Laura with her foot elevated on the bed I headed to collect my number. The expo was RAMMED and unfortunately there didnt seem to be any medium Adidas kit left. Shame really, as I have a technical T shirt from all of my other marathon campaigns. It was also pretty pricey, much more than the Adidas kit I get here im sure? Nevermind. We spent the afternoon lounging around the pool and chilling and we had dinner in the hotel restaurant. All very relaxed perfect preparation really.

At 630 my alarm went off. It was race day. Time to go. Meeting James in the lobby we walked to the start. Whilst it was a little cold it was clear were heading for a hot one as once again there was not a cloud in the sky. Rubbish really…

I had expectations of a highly efficient setup, vorsprung durk technique and all that. It felt far from that. The bag drop was all over the place, nowhere near enough toilets etc. Heading to the start I saw Sean and Francis of Audiofuel. With hindsight maybe I should have run with them but I wanted to go solo. Afterall a large percentage of a marathon is what it does to the head. Running as a group relieves some of this as you have someone to bounce off at the bad times, but it also seems the easy way out.

I had decided I would make a conscious effort to take on fluid at every station. As it was cups I stopped to walk whilst drinking, I wanted to not overheat again. My race was always going to be slower. For the first time EVER mid race I had to stop for a pee, perhaps at this stage I had overdone it with the fluid!

Whilst hot I managed to hide in the shade for the first 17 or so miles. Then the sun ended up directly overhead. No escape at the hotest part of the day. I slowed right down and sadly my head got the better of me, convinced I was going to go again. My breathing got heavier, I guess I was just worried. I think in the last 6 miles I probably dropped about 10 minutes however I was not going to pass out on this day so it was my sacrifice and it paid off. 3 hours 55 mins later I crossed the finish line no medic needed!

Sadly no finishers tshirt is given for free at the end of this race however a pint of beer was readily available, which I took. I headed back to the hotel on a rickshaw (don’t ask!) and spent the afternoon in the hotel pool, jacuzzi and ice bath. As I write this blog a few days later all this helped keep my legs relatively pain free!

So there we have it marathon start number 5, marathon medal number 4. Not bad for a 27 year old…

What next? Pass!

N

Ps On return to England Laura, my fiance, went to a&e where she was x-rayed. Turns out she broke her 5th metatarsal and is now in a cast and on crutches. She managed to survive on paracetamol and ibuprofen for 2 days and even managed to get to 2 points of the race to support me. The pain must have been immense, far greater than I was enduring on thats for sure! I don’t think I could ask for a more loyal supporter of my silly running campaigns. Thank you Laura. Xx

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Here we go again…

September 23, 2011

Yes, that’s right I have looked at the schedule and next week has the words REST scribbled right across it. This can mean only one thing Sunday is the big day. Shed loads of training, loads of long runs later and I’m finally in the taper stage for Berlin.

I don’t really know how I feel about the last few months of training. I certainly am not as race fit as I was before London, but then look what happened! I have spent more time concentrating on fluid intake, especially following one long run a few weeks back where I returned heavily dehydrated (I lost almost half a stone in weight). However, I’m heavier and definitely slower than April you only have to compare my Dorney Half in Feb (1:32) to my Maidenhead Half (1:41) to see the difference! Getting the negativity out of the way, as always, I have covered the distances in training, completing a number of long runs upto 23mi and have been relatively injury free.

At this stage of the day it is mental to not have a plan. I know for a fact, that I won’t be targeting sub 3:30, i’m not confident enough in myself that I can hang on to 8min/mi for the distance. I think I’m going to head out with the intention of running 8:20s but have to asses the conditions beforehand (weather etc) – about 3hrs40. The key is getting around safely before what time I do. I also want to enjoy it, hopefully at that pace I will do.

Update to follow some point next week. Look out for me on the telly :)

N
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