Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Big Day

This is what my preparation looked like....

I was quite worried about the weather prospects for the day of the race as all week I have had concerned people saying it was looking like it would be sunny and warm for race day. I tried to avoid any hint of a forecast myself as there would be no difference in preparation and only risk of increased nerves. As it turned out, the morning of the race was grey and reasonably cool and there was some rain for 20 minutes or so before the start. Thanks to my trusty bin bag I managed to stay reasonably dry and warm and lined up in Pen 4 in time for the start. I seemed to be much closer to the big gates in the park than in previous years and there did not appear to the same sense of excitement amongst the runners. I took only a couple of minutes to cross the line and was very soon into easy running. The roads were a little slick with rain but it did not cause too many problems.

Sadly, most of the race is just one big blur of crowd and noise. I remember turning round to look back up the one big hill in the race (somewhere in the first few miles) and seeing thousands of runners poring down the roads. There was the customary booing as the three starts merged into one race. I saw a few characters on the way round. For a mile or two i was running next to a chap dressed in his university cap and gown and a little later ran for 30 minutes or so next to Superman and a man dressed as a baby. I was conscious that I was running ahead of schedule (around 8 minute miles rather than 8.10) but I think the very flat course had me simply bowling along at my usual pace but without being hindered by hills. I reached Tower Bridge in around 1.44 and was a little worried I was pushing too much. I began to feel the running in my legs at around 16 miles, which seemed to early but I managed to talk myself through it and got to 20 miles still feeling OK, but trying to steady myself pace-wise as I did not want to blow up. As it turned out, I was to run (almost) my quickest mile at mile 19 and probably began to pay for that by starting to run out of steam. Some of the pace in that lap was no doubt caused by looking for the Dogs Trust team by the roadside and sprinting towards them screaming my head off and trying to get them shouting encouragement. The miles seemed, however, to flow past and the race was going incredibly quickly. Mile 23 seemed to be on me before I knew it and I began to really work hard mentally to keep going. I began to tire considerably at mile 24 and the wheels really started to come loose at 25 miles, but by this time I was so excited about my time that I knew I just had to keep rolling along at 10 mins per mile and I would smash my PB. Somhow, the adrenalin and excitement must have really kicked in and a few deep breaths saw me clock 7.17 for that mile. I can obnly assume that the speed of it was what made me feel so bad, but also incredibly proud to have that time for mile 25. I really began to choke up as I approached The Mall and could not summon a sprint for the line.

I had a dizzy spell and acute shortness of breath at the finish and had to stop and steady myself. I was also getting signs of cramp in my calves. A couple of chewy sweets and some stretching sorted that out and I managed to get dressed and find my way out of the finishing area. I was just looking at the daunting set of steps out to Pall Mall when I saw Lynne and Will waiting to meet me. We walked the few hundred yards to the IOD and up to the Dogs Trust room where I was amazed to see that I was the first of their runners home. As it turned out, I had the second fastest time as the first chap had simply taken longer to make his way up from the finish. A very welcome, but painful, massage sorted out my cramping legs and after an hour of chat we headed for home and a day of rest.

For the record, the race went as follows:

Mile 1: 8.28
Mile 2: 7.55
Mile 3: 7.51
Mile 4: 7.52
Mile 5: 8.21 (not sure why that was slow, possibly crowds round Cutty Sark)
Mile 6: 8.00
Mile 7: 8.05
Mile 8: 7.55
Mile 9: 8.04
Mile 10: 8.05
Mile 11: 7.59
Mile 12: 7.57
Mile 13: 7.57
Mile 14: 8.00
Mile 15: 8.02
Mile 16: 7.43
Mile 17: 8.19 (again, crowds if i remember correctly)
Mile 18: 8.11
Mile 19: 7.18 (I don't remember having a fast mile here but it could simply have been a downhill stretch)
Mile 20: 8.18
Mile 21: 8.47
Mile 22: 9.00
Mile 23: 9.09
Mile 24: 9.23
Mile 25: 7.17
Mile 26: 9.19
Final bit: 1.53

Thank god that's over. 3 hours 35 minutes 20 seconds.

And this is what it was all for....

....and, of course, the fundraising...I promised I would donate £1 to Dogs Trust for every "Come on Matt" i heard on the way round and now owe them £171! It's all worth it and my fundraising total now stands at £2337 this morning. Another PB!


A final loose slow 6 miles home from work to complete the training. I may run on Friday or I may not.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Final preparation

Friday: just a gentle 5 miles on the treadmill. Slow and easy.

Sunday: Well, after a walk and 40 minutes of swimming in the afternoon (just fun) I decided to go for 7 miles and ended up running it strongly as I felt so comfortable with my running and had not had a blast for several weeks. Ended up doing it in 52 minutes at 7.25 per mile. It felt tough but good after weeks of running at 8.10 per mile. Probably not the best tapering I have ever done but it just felt good for the mind to be doing something useful.

Monday: an interval session of only 45 minutes. Just gentle jogging and the registration process to go now.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Two weeks to go

There are now only two weeks to go until the big day. This means "tapering" i reducing the amount of training in order to rest and conserve energy for the big day.

Monday: a weights session. A great way to cheat.

Wedensday: 16 miles in four laps of Hyde Park. I simply could not resist the opportuntiy to get in a final long run. I have always felt that too few long runs have cost me time and energy in my other marathons. I chose to do this in the park as its pretty much the flattest running I do. I did not intend to run quickly and took my iPod as this is usually guaranteed to take my mid off pace and slow me down. In the end, I ran 16.22 miles at an average of 8.10 per mile and kept a fairly even pace. Only the last mile was a little slower than the rest and this was partly a deliberate slackening off.

Another rest day tomorrow.

Monday, 12 April 2010

8 - 11 April

Thursday: 10.5 miles home from work in 8.24 per mile. Unpleasantly warm for a change and felt slighlty tried and out of sorts. This is what I get for talking about feeling great last week.

Friday: 8 miles in Hyde PArk at 7.45 per mile. A sort of nothing run just to get some miles in. Not feeling brilliant but not as bad as last night.

Sunday: 13 miles in a shicking 1hr 48 mins. Fely awaful all the way round, I think as a result of some indigestion after a big lunch. A very uncormfortable run, but I was deliberately holding back and really lost focus in the last couple of miles. I don't think this is a sign of problems, just a bad day at the office.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

6/7 April

Tuesday: a one-hour weights session after a rest day. Feels like cheating these days.

Wednesday: interval session - 15 minutes pulling tyres, 30 minutes treadmill intervals, 15 minutes boxing. Hard and enjoyable.

Sunday, 4 April 2010


Monday: a rest day

Tuesday: weights in the gym

Wednesday: interval session. 15 minutes boxing, 15 minutes pushing the big rubber tyres and 30 minutes on the treadmill. A better session than usual.

Thursday: 8 miles at lunchtime round Hyde Park in around 7.45 pace (data lost)

Sunday: 20 miles in 2.44.14 or 8.12 per mile. This was a really pleasing long run. I ate and drank well on Saturday and Sunday morning and also did two 10-mile loops so as to be able to npick up more fluid at half way. It really helped and the run remained strong right through to the end. I even made a sub 8-min mile at mile 16, the fastest of the whole thing. The only slower miles were for the 2 miles of hills which finished each loop. I am now full of confidence for the race and hope to be able to find 3.40 and maybe even below. That would be a dream.

Monday, 29 March 2010

26 March - 28 March

Friday: 10.65 miles in 1.28.57 or 8.21 per mile. It was good to achieve race pace over a long hilly run with a backpack. I did not extend myself and felt quite strong in the latter stages of the run.

Saturday: planned to run 10 miles again tonight but faced with rain lashing down I decamped to the gym and ended up running only 10k due to a combination of boredom and lack of time.

Sunday: another lesson in how not to prepare for a run. The clocks went forward last night but the dogs still woke me at the equivalent of 5.30 am. A nap on the sofa turned into watching the grand prix. This was followed by a 30-minute session putting on the new roof rack turning into a 2-hour trial and then a 2-hour bike ride around Bracknell forest with the dogs. We got back just in time for me to dismantle two wardrobes, grab a 30-minute nap and then head out for 13.1 miles. Feeling so tired before |I set off, this was supposed to only be a race-pace run but I actually felt really strong and pushed on to 1.43.48 or 7.55 per mile and was running more strongly with every mile. The firs mile proved to be the slowest and all the miles in the second half were in in 7.30 to 7.45 range. I think I could have set a PB for the half if I had set off with intent. Good to feel so strong.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

25 March

First day back after enforced break due to work. Interval session: 40 minutes at intervals of 10 kph and 15-16 kph. Felt good.

21 March

7 miles at a fairly brisk pace (aropund 7.46 per mile) to give 39.5 miles for the week. My biggest week to date. Knees sore but holding up.

Now for three days off whilst at a work conference.

Friday, 19 March 2010

16 - 18 March

Tuesday: easy 5 miles on treadmill at 8 min per mile.

Wednesday: rest day

Thursday: a massive 18 miles in 2hrs 29 mins or 8.17 per mile. This was the usual route out to Dorking and beyond in fairly good conditions (warm but a little breezy). The pace was reasonably consistent: a little slower for some uphill miles and a little quicker for downhill. The only difficult miles were the last three, which are notably more uphill than the rest. Having come up the tougher slopes from 16 to 17 miles, the final mile was a bit of a struggle and I did not get to pick up the pace even though the terrain had levelled out (9 min 12 secs for final mile). I think I need to take more than one bottle of fluid on these longer runs now as I ran out after 12 miles and felt a little dehydrated towards the end.

All looking good for April so far. I think I shall plan a 19 mile run and a 20 mile run over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

15 March

Ok, i wimped out of a run over the weekend. I had planned to wait until Sunday evening to do 13 miles but then had a much longer journey back from Derbyshire than expected and just couldn't face it when I go home.

Monday: 9.5 miles at 8.34 per mile. Hilly course and heavy bag. Also, the first sign of sore knees has been developing over the last few days. I hope its just a temporary thing and not indication of actual damage. I did hit a pothole on a run last week and it may simply be bruising from that.

Friday, 12 March 2010

9/10/11/12 March

Missed a day on Monday because of work things but then managed to run home on Tuesday: 10.4 miles at 8.26 per mile along a hilly course and carrying a bag.

Wednesday: a very vigorous run on the treadmill: 5k at 14kph (fast) and then intervals for another 5k. Very tired afterwards.

Thursday: weights session at home

Friday: 10.5 miles at 8 mins per mile along a flat course.This was supposed to be a race pace run but I just seemed to get quicker as the run went along and felt good. I may not get a long run in this week as I am away for the weekend and its too much to run and drive. Hoping for 13 miles tomorrow. That would be 40 miles for the week.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

4/5 March

Thursday: a standard interval session over 5 miles.

Friday: a great run of 17 miles to Westcott and back. Conditions were perfect: the sun shone and there was no wind and a relatively cool temperature. I ran in a single layer. The run took 2.21.35 or 8.19 per mile. I felt good and strong for the whole run and the pace only slacked off in the last three miles as the return hills kicked in. I had eaten very well during the morning and drunk plenty of liquid before setting off. This made all the difference to last weekend's disastrous outing which I had attempted with minimal food and dehydrated. Confiodence came flooding back and the recovery over Friday and Satursday was reasonable. There was certainly not much stiffness although there was a little fatigue.

Total miles for the week: 36. Managed 5 consecutive days of training.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

1/2/3 March

Had a great lift last night when I totted up my fundraising totals and realised I am over 90% of the way to my target of £2,000. That's motivation for you.

Monday: 6 miles in 44 mins 15 secs. A great way to bring back the confidence after Saturday's fiasco. A really good, consistent run without ever truly feeling like the gas was all the way down.

Tuesday: weights session.

Wednesday: decided to try and run 8 miles at my new target pace of 8.20 per mile (equivalent to a 3.40 marathon). It's actually quite hard running that slowly and I kept having to check my watch and slow down. On any downhill section it was really difficult to stay north of 8 mins per mile. I eventually managed to drop anchor sufficiently to come home in an average pace of 8.15 per mile. It was very easy, although the run was relatively flat. I need to use this as a confidence booster to tackle the long training runs.

Miles so far this week: 14

Monday, 1 March 2010

27 Feb

Once in every training programme for a marathon there is a sharp reminder about the level of respect you have to show the longer distances. I planned to have an easy Saturday and go for a long run (16 miles) in the afternoon. I promptly managed to forget that I would need to be properly hydrated and fed before such a long run and set out with far from sufficient food or drink inside me and taking only a bottle of Lucozade sport for nourishment.

The result was the most traumatic run I have endured for a long while. I ran our along the A24 to Dorking and beyond and was feeling reasonable at a steady pace to half way. However, the pain began as I turned for home and I began to feel quite tired quite quickly and endured a terrible last 30 minutes where every step was agony and I have no idea how I managed to get home without actually walking. I managed to forget to charge my Garmin and I have no idea how fast I was running in the final few miles but I would guess at slower than 10 mins per mile on the relative flat.

I had to be rescued from the doorstep when I got home and given sugary tea to recover.

Thankfully, I think this was the result of poor preparation and not any difficulty with the distance as I recovered fairly quickly and had a busy day on Sunday.

Note to self: IDIOT!

Miles for the week: 35

26 Feb

Decided to vary my interval session this week so I went to the gym and did 30 minutes on the treadmill, alternating 2-minute sessions at 10kph and 15kph, fol owed by around 20 minutes of boxing. Boxing is surprisingly aerobic and I worked up a healthy sweat. The downside was a slightly stiff back on Saturday morning but it felt good to have done something different for a change. The repetition of training is hard to live with.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

23/24 Feb

Lost my opportunity to go for a run at lunchtime by a meeting that ran over and so found myself at home in the evening thinking I had missed a day. At 9 pm, in a fit of enthusiasm (guilt?), I decided to do some weights. A very tigerish 45 minutes later and my arms and legs were feeling very heavy indeed. Woke up this morning feeling rather the worse for wear and sporting a sore shoulder.

A briskish 8 miles round Hyde Park at 7.57 per mile at lunchtime. All miles fairly even, which was not bad given that I am suspicious I have a cold coming on. Can't quite decide if its real or not (could be after effects of the weights session). I guess I will know tomorrow, but the nose is suspiciously drippy this afternoon.

Miles this week so far: 15.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Must have forgotten to post news of some runs as the last entries seem to be old. Oh well, you didnt miss much. In the week before half term there was a weights session, an interval session and then a 8 mile run home from work.

Then we made the mistake of going on holiday for 10 days skiing. Every year I tell myself this will not hurt my fitness and every year I am wrong. Sure, there is a good muscular workout for the legs and shoulders (all the polling along) but the CV fitness is nowhere near enough. So...I did 7 miles last night and felt terrible. An embarrassing 8.30 per mile, although it was on a hilly course and with a heavier than usual bag. Hopefully, I'll fell better next time out. At least I have two months uninterrupted running ahead.

Monday, 8 February 2010

5 and 7 Feb

I wish I had more to tell you but.....

On Friday I managed to leave all forms of timing apparatus either at home or in the office and so ran 8 miles home some time or other.

On Sunday, I ran 14 miles. I definitely did 13.1 miles (ie a half marathon) in 1.43 and I think I got to 14 miles in 1.51, but my Garmin has just given up the ghost and I can't retrieve the data from it. The run was good. I felt a bit flat-footed and the slight numbness in my heel was bothering me a bit. I think it might be time to crack open the new shoes just in case the heel support has gone on the current pair. However, the time for the run was OK given that I was not attempting to run at race pace for a half marathon. In fact, it was probably a bit fast for a race pace marathon. Anyway, the push into greater distances starts here and it is always a bit of a landmark to go beyond half distance for the first time.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

1/2 Februay

Monday: weights

Tuesday: 40 minutes of interval training. 2 minutes at 10 kph followed by 2 mins at 15pkh. No fun at all.

Sunday 31 Januray

12 miles at 8.02 per mile up to Cheam and back represents a very brisk run all things considered. Pace fairly even save for where the hills kick in. I felt good all the way through, even up the hill out of Epsom (although the pace slowed a bit).

Felt fairly shattered after the run and a little sick. This may have been the drink I took with me which did not seem to agree with me right from the off. Must remember to get some Lucozade in.

Friday 29 Jan

A fairly relaxed 10.6 miles home from Mitcham Junction. Averaged 8.28 per mile and was not pushing and keeping a regular pace up all the way. Suffered a bit in the last mile up the hill out of Epsom but otherwise a fairly even run.

Got home to find my new shoes have arrived. I am planning to keep them in reserve until my birthday.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Tuesday 26/Wednesday 27 Jan

Tuesday: weights session.

Wednesday: managed 1.5 miles outside (intending to go 8) when a freezing cold rain descended and (with iPhone aboard) i decided turning back for the gym was the more sensible option. I then did a further 7.5k on the treadmill at 8 min per mile pace. This was not quite the run I ahd wanted to do today but was OK. Obviously, the rain was nowhere to be see when I exited the gym. Just unlucky I guess.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Monday 25 January

What a relief. 6 miles at full tilt round Hyde Park (7.21 per mile) has put paid to all of yesterday's blues. It's note quite a PB but in the context of last week it's like winning the Olympics. What a contrast from yesterday. And, I put the whole thing down to state of mind. I was simply determined to run fast today and to put it all on the line. This was the best run since pre-Christmas highs.

Time to celebrate..

Weekend 23/24 January

A good start to the weekend with 10 miles at an average pace of 7.53 per mile. This was reasonably pleasing after a week ruined by a cold and coming straight after Friday's feeble effort on the treadmill. The pace did fall away a bit towards the end but that is partly due to gradient and I was fairly pleased to get hom feeling only slightly shattered. It's funny how a cold can ruin your confidence and how much confidence affects your running.

But then....I decided to do some heavy lifting in the garden on Sunday morning and moved 30 barrow loads of logs from the back of the house to the front and felt so drained I could hardly speak. This was done by lunchtime and I resolved to rest and go for a run in the evening, perhaps another 10 miles or so. A quick 30 minute walk with the dogs put paid to that and I ended up lying around the house feeling drained and miserable and with confidence at an all time low. There are always these days when it seems easier not to run than to run and your response to this is a good indicator as to state of mind. It's better to go out even if you run a short distance slowly. I bottled out. Done in by a bit of gardening. Am I really going to run a marathon in April? What a depressing day.

Total miles for the week: 15.


Friday, 22 January 2010

Friday 22 January

I managed a one-hour weight session on Tuesday and was then struck down with a cold which has had me out of action until today. It's quite disconcerting not to be able to run at this stage of the process. Half of your brain is telling you you MUST run and the other half knows that if you do you can inflict long term damage on your body and immune system.

The sensible side of my brain won out until today when I attempted a leisurely 5 miles at 8 min per mile indoors (it was raining). Now feeling pretty wacked and coughing like an old man but glad I tried. More tomorrow and Sunday I hope. It will be a short week but at least I will have trained for 4 days out of 7.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Sunday 17 January

Took advantage of sunshine and cool temparatures to run off towards Dorking in the afternoon. Took it steady, as this was the first long run since the holiday, and covered 10 miles in 1.18.51 or 7.53 per mile. This makes 30 miles for the week. Recovered reasonably well from the run but had tired legs all evening. Pace was a bit down as there was the odd patch of flooded path to negotiate. An enjoyable bit of training.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Friday 15 January

A lazy run around Hyde Park, Shepherds Bush, Earls Court and South Kensington: 7.3 miles in 7.58 per mile (which is almost like a day off) I was feeling the effects of yesterday's interval session and did not really run with the intention of going quickly.

Also tried out some new anti-blister socks. They worked, but felt a bit slippery.

Over 20 miles so far this week. Hoping for 10 more tomorrow.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Thursday 14 Jan

A truly horrible bout of interval training. 40 minutes alternating between 10 and 15.5 kph. Almost didn't make it to the end but there's nothing that says "good session" quie like feeling nauseous and light headed. Lunch!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Tuesday 12 Jan

Finally a run outside after all the awful weather we have had lately. 8 miles around Hyde Park in 59.52 or 7.37 per mile in old money. This is the first post-Christmas run which felt as good as the pre-Christmas ones. The going underfoot was good except for a few hundred yards with some snow and ice. A very steady pace maintained for the whole run.

Monday, 11 January 2010

SNow Stops Play

Still way too much snow on the ground for proper training.

Monday was weights and Tuesday a brisk run in the park - 6 miles around Hyde Park in freezing temperatures in around 7.38 per mile. This was much slower than pre-Christmas, but it was the first pacey run after a long break and I was having a little trouble with breathing as I think there is some form of chest infection lurking. I decided not to push it too far and the second half was more modest than the first. The the snow two runs on the treadmill in the remainder of the week. The first was 10k at 12.5 kph and I felt terrible afterwards. I now have a sore throat to go with my slightly restricted breathing but there is nothing seriously wrong. The second was 12k in one hour and I felt much better afterwards.

Another more vigorous weights session today and not too many ill effects. Breathing and sore throat back to normal.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

New Year

Getting back into training after a long Christmas break has been filthy (about 3 weeks off due to 10 days of holiday and then the rest with the roads covered in ice and snow). I managed a 5 mile run in about 40 minutes on day 1 and then a treadmill run of 10k at 8 min per mile pace two days later. That was followed by 6 miles at 8.11 pace on a cold morning and without any real purpose to the run. Weights session yesterday and now waiting for the stiffness to kick in and a run tonigt. More snow forecast tonight so may not make a run as I have to take work home with me.