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Chester Marathon

It was only after I checked when my last long run was that I realised it was going to be a suffer fest!

The forecast was good, cool weather and overcast. I knew I hadn’t stuck to the training plan, but, with Marathon Eryri three weeks later it turned in to a long training run.

I’d decided that due to the lack of training that a sensible pace would be the order of the day. My PB pace is around 10:10 per mile. I set off at somewhere near 10:30, I knew there wasn’t going to be a PB!

The goal I’d set myself was n walking before 20 miles. By 17 it felt hard, pace slowed but kept plodding. There was a water station at 20, time for a drink and a walk. Kept this up for a few miles then managed to run the last couple or so.

Finished in 4:48:42. Happy with that considering my longest run had been 16 miles and that was on August 2nd!

Marathon Eryri on 25th October, can’t wait!

Only 2 marathons left this year…

Training has started for two marathons in October.

The first is Chester Marathon on 8th October, followed three weeks later by Snowdonia Marathon. Usual marathon training schedule except for long runs during summer holidays, could be warm…

Two half marathons recently, Trail Wales, slow time; Rhyl Runfest, PB by 18 seconds, slightly disappointed.

A week since the ultra

Well, a week has gone by since I completed my first ultra. Will it be my last?

Hell no, it might have been tough, but in a lot of ways it was more enjoyable than Manchester Marathon.

The start list for the 50km showed 69 runners, so it was going to be quiet out there. It was unlikely that that there would be any supporters out. Only 2 aid stations, 14km and 30km. This is going to be a race on my own.

The race was held around Kielder Water in Northumberland. A beautiful part of the country.It was billed as a trail race. Now to me trail means fairly well maintained but rough paths. More of this later.

A fairly good night’s sleep in the B & B, carb loading breakfast and it was off to the start.

The weather forecast had promised 8 degrees, overcast with the chance of rain, ideal.

The mandatory kit list was extensive, including full waterproof cover and a basic first aid kit. Unlike the majority of the runners mine was in a bumbag rather than a small rucksack.

My strategy was to run the flat and downhills and walk the uphills, hoping for around 12 minute mile pace. Bearing in mind I’d never been past 26.2 before I was hoping this would carry me to the end.

The start time was 9 o’clock. I was hoping to finish in 6:30 or there abouts. Long day ahead.

Bang on time and we’re off. Settled in to what I though was a steady pace, turns out the first mile was sub 10 minutes. Too fast.

It wasn’t long before the field had strung out and I was running on my own. My race, my pace.

Some beautiful trail running leading to CP1. A variety, from well kept forest roads to grassy trails through woodland.

After 1 hour 49 minutes I arrived at CP1, this was at Kielder Castle. There was all sorts available including hot drinks. I decided to top my water up and head off , no need to stop and wait around.

There are some wonderful attractions around Kielder Water including this.

Silvas Capitalis

There was a marshall at this point, quite unusual. He instructed me to follow the arrows with the last thing I heard from him being “go straight through the bog”. I been trying really hard to keep my feet as dry as possible, after all this was a 31 mile race. I spotted the bog, looked for a way round it, didn’t appear to be an option. Ah well, wet feet it is. What I did’t expect was wet bollocks! Only 20 miles to go with wet feet.

Still managing a fairly steady pace I was expecting a nice run along the shoreline path. No, the next part of the race was more akin to proper fell running conditions and uphill. This was quite a long slog, but the view from the top was fantastic. I could now see Kielder Dam, this is where CP2 was. A technical run down and I was there, 21 miles done.

I hung around at CP2. Filled my water bottle, had a piece of flapjack and half a cup of black coffee, nice to feel something warm.

From here on the direction arrows also had reflective tape on. I felt quite relieved about this, not that I was going to be out at night but I assumed the terrain would be easier going for the late runners completing the 100km event.

By now my legs were starting to feel it. The last 11 miles was going to be run/walk/run.

After a couple of miles I noticed a runner catching me up. He was competing in the 100km even’t, I recognised him from CP2. Bloody hell I thought, he must be going some to do the extra loop and catch me up.

When he caught me up we started to have a chat, he’d pulled a groin muscle so decided not to do the extra loop. We ran and chatted for the remaining 7 miles, it was nice to have someone push along a little.

With a couple of miles to go I noticed another runner up ahead. With my current strategy of run/walk/run I was catching him slowly.

Eventually I spotted the sign to turn up back towards the start and therefore the finish line. After turning in the next 200m were uphill, sod it! Dig deep and run the last part of the race. By the top of the hill I’d caught and passed the lonely figure from in front. The finishing line comes into sight, fantastic! Ultra done! 6 hours 43 minutes 40 seconds.

Here’s a link to the results.

The moment I stopped moving my legs began to stiffen. The organisers had provided food at the finish, hot soup and bread, lovely.

Now for the 4:15 drive home.

 

 

Marathon complete – a bigger challenge awaits.

4:25:45

That’s my finishing time from Manchester Marathon. A personal best (PB). Happy with that.

So how did the race go? The aim was to get under 4:20. The strategy was to set off at a decent pace, 9:40 ish, ultimately aiming for just under 10 minutes per mile.

I knew this was a potentially risky strategy, going well early on with the risk of burning out later.

The forecast was ideal, 12 degrees and raining.

With the forecast in mind I decided on a thin base layer and my club vest. The start time was 9:00. It started on time.

Within a mile of the start the base layer was off, ballast for the rest of the race .

The  early pace was quick, as expected. Somewhere around 9:30 per mile. Felt like I was bagging a bit of time for later in the race. Through 10km in about an hour. 10 miles in 1:36 and half marathon in 2:06. Well on target for 4:20. The next major checkpoint was 20 miles. My PB for a 20 mile race is 3:15, I went through in 3:14. I had one hour and 5 minutes to complete the marathon and achieve my goal.

A comment from a spectator “You from Wales?” yes I replied, “Well you’ve come a long way, get a bloody move on”

I had hit the wall. Mile 22 was 11:10, over a minute slower than I needed to be. It was going to be a desperate final 4 miles.

My early pace had brought me to a walk run pace. This was going to be it for the next 50 minutes or so. Legs so tired they wanted to stop. What made them continue? Well the comment from a spectator above is a starting point. Knowing my wife was at the finish line. The phone call I would make to my children at after the finish.

Somewhere around mile 25 the stadium came in to view, not far to go. My watch was showing it could be tight to achieve a PB. The sub 4:20 had gone. Now it was sub 4:28. The turn in to Sir Matt Busby Way was wonderful, the finish straight was slightly downhill, the opportunity to stride out after struggling for 4 miles was fantastic. Unfortunately I didn’t see Wendy on the finishing straight, even though she was shouting my name.

So, 4:25:45 wasn’t too bad after all. Part one complete. Part two is 31 miles, off road, 890m of ascent: a bigger challenge awaits.

Live marathon tracking

My progress during Manchester Marathon can be tracked by clicking on this link.

Week to go and a fell race…

Few days to go before Manchester Marathon. Have I done enough? Will there be a wall at 22 miles?

Who knows…

Last Sunday was my last race before Manchester, an easy 10k would do. No, a British Championship Fell Race.

Every year Eryri Harriers make a pilgrimage to Northern Ireland for a fell race. Didn’t go last year because it was a medium distance race the week before London Marathon. This year’s race was a short. According to the details it was 6 miles and 850m of ascent. What could go wrong…

The mist descended, it was raining, the wind was blowing. Couldn’t see the summit from the start line.

The race started at noon, I took my usual place on the start line, somewhere near the back!

Once we were out of the woods and on the mountain, navigation was going to be the key. The map showed a gap in the wall and then straight up to the first summit, Millstone. So why, like a lemming, did I follow 4 or 5 runners in front of me and turn left? Lack of confidence navigating? Maybe.

I’d overtaken Maggie Oliver in the woods. I was to meet up with her again after the group I was with eventually turned to go up the mountain, that was a couple of minutes lost. Maggie and I stayed together until the summit. After the summit we agreed to run together on the descent. Compass out, a bearing of 45 degrees and off we go. Our target was a quarry, taped off for safety but also as a handrail to find CP4. After stopping a few times to check the map we spotted the quarry, ding dong, navigated perfectly. Run down through the woods and head to the finish line. 2 hours and 6 minutes, slowest 6 miles ever. Except I did 6.74, that was the lemming bit after going through the wall.

Talking to others at the finish made me realise my distance wasn’t too bad, there were stories of 7, 8 and even 9 miles. People coming off the mountain and down the wrong valley.

In the end, after the results had been veified, 15 disqualified for not making every checkpoint, I was 196 out of 252 starters, happy with that!


finishwoods

Under 2 weeks, what will the race plan be?

Less than 2 weeks to go until Manchester Marathon.

So how’s the training gone?

Fairly well actually. Always a nice feeling to get the long runs out of the way. Was getting really bored of plodding the same route. Not so much the running, more the noise of the traffic, dogs and people.

Now I’m not anti social, but running around the village or in the woods means peace and quiet. I don’t need to worry about people getting in the way, traffic, although there is still the occasional dog that pops out to see me.

Back to the preparation, compared to last year my mileage will be down by about 30 miles, not bad considering I had a lot more time to train last year.

The plan for the race; thinking that this might be my last flat course marathon, that the training has gone fairly well, that I’m not starting in the pen with the panto horse. I’m going to push to beat last year’s time of 4:28. My ideal goal would be sub 4:20, if I can run sub 10 minute miles for the whole race I can do it, I reckon by mile 22 I will know what’s likely to happen.

Don’t forget that I’m trying to raise money for Ty Gobaith. Click on the donate link at the top of the page.

4 weeks to go…but a cracker today!

Not long now. 4 weeks tomorrow and it will be part 1, Manchester Marathon.

Back to today.

Rhayader Round the Lakes 20.

Wasn’t expecting too much. Training has been going ok, nothing outstanding like last year.

Speaking of last year, the weather forecast was looking better, no snow!

Met up with an ex colleague at the start, Dave Edwards. He has been a great encouragement and help since I started running. Always pushed me, always been faster.

Set off together knowing that he’d pull away, and he did.

The race starts by the leisure centre and goes through the town centre, then, it’s uphill for the first few miles. Noticed Davey was within reach, 50 – 60 metres ahead. By the top of the hill I was with him, pulled away on the downhill but he caught up again. Ran together for roughly 10 miles then we parted, not sure if I pulled away (probably not) or he slowed down (more likely).

Doesn’t matter, I was in for 3:20, Dave was in for 3:26.

Cracking training run for 4 weeks tomorrow.

Stepping up!

I suppose the ideal situation would be fair weather and health.

It appears as if that’s not to be.

The week before last there were the storms to contend with. Missed a long run because of it. Then, this week it’s been a cold/virus, possibly manflu. Missed another long run.

Anyway, time to step it up again. Out tomorrow for 20 miles. Not worried if it’s a plod, need the miles in!

Big decision is which way to run round the Great Orme?

From high to low…

Where to start? High.

January. First hard month of marathon and ultra training. 140 miles for the month.

Finished off the month with a 9 mile run in some of the most atrocious conditions I’ve ever run in. Cold. Windy. Rain. Sleet. Weather warnings in place. But thrashed it for a half decent run, the hot shower after was very welcome.

So to February. Riding on a high from feeling on form in January, the first run of February was the week’s long run.

Planned 18 miles. The route is the same as the 16 but with an extra loop at 9 miles. Get as far as 4 and legs feel wooden. This feeling happens often on a long run, need to get into my stride, it can often take 8 or 9 miles.

9 miles is where the “additional loop” kicks in. Decided on the side of caution. Bailed out on the loop and headed back. Familiar territory.

Short stride and feet dragging, wind head on. Enter the darkness of the final mile, literally. Glad to be back at the car. Also, good to have a long run in the bag for the week, no matter how tough it was. Low.

Only one way to go!