Sunday, 29 March 2015

Run The Bath ... (Half)

My thoughts on the Bath half-marathon which I completed (just!) on Sun 1st March ..

Stayed overnight at new Premier Inn in the centre of Bath so I could walk to the runner’s village (less hassle on the day). Porridge, tea and toast for breakfast and saw a few other ‘running’ types doing the same. Back to the room - there was some rain around so decided to go with an outfit of long tracksters, long-sleeved t-shirt and yellow hi-viz jacket that could be removed if needed. Made my way to the runner’s village chatting to other runners on the way. No chance of getting lost - you just had to follow the crowds. The village was very busy – made my way (slowly) to the exit where the signed routes to the start pens begin. Paid one last visit to the toilets – the queue for the ladies must have been very long as some women were queuing in the gents. There was lots of giggling on their part and comments on keeping their eyes firmly fixed on the queue ahead and not daring to look anywhere else.

Made my way to the orange start and it was very slow and congested – I had to chuckle at the ‘get in lane’ signs for the green and orange starts. Finally got to the orange pens five minutes before the start of the race at 11am. We heard the countdown “5-4-3-2-1 ..” but apart from a big cheer nothing happened. After a bit we shuffled forward then stopped again. Finally we started walking, then we walked a bit faster until finally (gasp!) we were jogging slowly. Around the corner, over the start line and after a 15 min delay we were finally running.

Took it steady over the first (downhill) mile – it was very congested and I got overtaken by the rhinoceros. Steady over the second mile – I wasn’t surprised to see one or two people already walking on the uphill section. I actually made it to just under 3 miles before the elite runners started overtaking us having already completed their first loop. Still congested at 4miles – I was running alongside a lady at this point who was doing the same pace and we compared notes on how we felt. I had already decided to take a walk break at the water station at 5 miles to refill my water bottle. I felt fine at this stage and checking my splits afterwards, they confirmed things had been going to plan (10.31 11.19 11.24 11.14 11.49).

I caught up the lady I had been running with before and we stuck together through the 10k timing point and the start of the second loop. It was less congested by now and I was into more of a rhythm over the next 4 miles (11.37 11.21 11.20 11.08). I had warned the lady I was going to stop at the 9ml water point and have another walk break and would probably catch her up later. But then disaster – the cramps I have suffered from at Bath in the past (2010 & 2011) returned despite me havi g been using electrolyte tablets in my water. From then on it was a case of keeping going as best I could but as the miles went on I had to walk more and more and the cramps became much more painful. The splits of those next three miles tell the story (12.40 11.43 13.08) as I had to keep taking walk breaks and stretch my calves.

By the last mile I was struggling to run for more than a minute at a time (the split time of 13.44 bears that out). I walked until the final corner and then ran as best I could towards the finish, gritting my teeth and ignoring the pain. Watching the finish video I can see I almost fell over after I had crossed the line. However after a short break I was able to make my way through the finish area to collect my medal, have my timing chip removed and collect my goody bag and finisher’s t-shirt. Which this year is actually a rather funky Brooks technical t-shirt and a good antidote for the pain. The finish time (which given my problems is rather academic) was a disappointing 2hrs 36mins.

And no, I don’t think I’ll be attempting a half-marathon again unless someone can work out why I keep getting these bloody cramps every time I try and "Run The Bath".

Monday, 13 October 2014

Photos from "Ridgeway Run 2014"

Just after three mile point and water station ..

Approaching six mile point and 2nd water station ..

Off we go again ..

Sprint finish!

Beat him!!
 Check time - new PB!!!
Well done mate ..

Collect t-shirt, meet up with family .. and recover

Tring Ridgeway Run 2014

Here are my thought on yesterday's race in Tring - my 3rd time running it but the race itself has been going for 33 years. Photos to follow ..

As I sat having my breakfast porridge at the hotel, the mists were slowly clearing and I could see Incombe Hole in the distance, part of the route I would be running a bit later. Breakfast over, I collected my gear and made my way to Tring Park Cricket Club where the race is based. Arriving early (8:50am) I nabbed a good parking spot. Wandered over to race control to pick up my number – a very efficient setup and I was on my way back to the car within a minute or two. The weather was warming up a bit and there was no rain forecast – so decided to go with shorts and t-shirt and hope I would be warm enough. Did a bit of stretching, pinned my number on, paid a call of nature (toilet queues weren’t too bad) then it was time to ditch the fleece and to walk to the start in Marshcroft Lane, jogging and jumping around a bit as I did so to try and warm up a bit.

I positioned myself towards the back of the group and at 10:00am on the dot the race started.  I settled in to my own rhythm and ignored various people running past me. The first mile is flat and my split was 10:45. You cross a road and follow some narrow footpaths through woods – there was a hold-up ahead and we had to walk. There’s also a small climb to negotiate - I passed a few people who were already walking who I had seen run past me at the start. Checked my watch – mile 2 split was 11:33. You emerge from the woods, run alongside a golf course, cross a road and run through a farmyard and then the track ahead begins the first big climb. I ran about halfway up but then (like everyone around me) when it got to the steep section, decided to walk. I started running again towards the top when it flattened out – saw my family here for the first time and waved for photos. Checked my watch again – mile 3 split was 12:20 and although I was breathing hard I felt fine.

The 4th and 5th miles are on a broad track along the ridge through Ashridge  - I settled back into my rhythm and was passing a few people and my splits were 10:42 & 10:47. Shortly after the 5 ml point you follow a footpath then make a sharp turn at the top of Incombe Hole – this is steep at the top but flattens out gradually. I let gravity take over and felt great as we approached the 6ml point. Another check of the watch – pleased to see 10:19 being displayed. We crossed the road and I prepared myself for the next climb. Saw my family again here and waved for more photos. I was walking up Pitstone Hill when I saw my sister at the top taking photos – felt duty bound to start running again. 

By now we were running on the Ridgeway Path itself and there are rabbit holes, tree roots, steps and ramblers to keep an eye out for. My mile 7 split was 11:40 because of the earlier walk break and the terrain. I still felt good as we emerged from the woods, and followed the paths down to cross the road and start re-tracing our steps back along Marshcroft Lane. A group of 3 or 4 women behind me had thanked me for towing them along the last two miles through the woods and overtook me at this point –cheeky buggers! I tried to stay with them – checked my watch at mile 8 and the split was 10:20 so was pleased with that.

I was starting to feel tired but knew I had the chance to post a good time so kept pushing along and trying to keep up with the ‘cheeky girls’ who by now were disappearing into the distance. In the last mile I found myself running along with two other guys and we were swapping places all the time. I had started trying to speed up but they were doing the same and overtaking me. So I stayed behind them as we approached the finish together and readied myself. 

Crossing the road with 50yds to go, the marshal said “There’s a finish line just through that gate – come on, let’s see you go for it!”. We were running abreast by now and I was in the middle. As we ran through the gate I took my chance and set off between them hoping to catch them unawares. One guy fell behind but the other came alongside me. I pushed again and he did the same and I sensed him coming past me again. With a final effort I got ahead of him and beat him to the line. We were all smiles afterwards and agreed there’s nothing quite like a sprint finish. I had remembered to stop my Garmin as I crossed the line and was delighted to see a new PB of 1:43:02 (5.5 mins quicker than last year). 

Checking afterwards my split for the 9th mile was 09:55 and 09:15 for the last 0.7 of a mile. I collected my technical t-shirt – this year it’s bright yellow and will be great for Winter training – then met up with my family to re-live the race and be told I had been looking good at 3mls, 6mls and especially in my sprint finish. Some more photos and they wanted to know if I’ll be back again next year. I certainly plan to be there - I think I can improve some more, especially on the hilly sections. And if I can get faster on the flat sections there’s less chance of being held up in the first few miles. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

C2C - Day 12

I wrote this at the end of day 12 but didn't get a chance to post it - seemed a shame to waste it!

Thu 17th - Blakey Ridge to Grosmont (Day 12)

14ml, 6h 45m

I was still feeling worn out after yesterday's 20 mile leg. As we set off down the road I tried to keep up with the front group but my legs didn't want to know! So I walked at the back with Liz and Pauline.

After a few miles of road walking we joined a track across heather moorland. The sun was out again and it was very warm. With conditions like this I have been very glad of my Camelbak so that I have enough water every day. The front of the group were quite a way ahead by this time and I was still towards the back.

The route took us to Glaisedale where most of the group too advantage of a tea shop. Then on through the village to Beggar's Bridge and Arncliffe Woods until we eventually arrived at Egton Bridge. After a lunch stop beside the river (lunch Mk 2) we made our way along the old toll road through the Egton estate and eventually arrived at Grosmont. I had regained some energy by this time but was still feeling very tired.

We had booked a table at the Station Tavern and a very noisy meal it was too. I think an 'end of term' feeling had already started to make itself known. A Frenchman called Jean-Luc has been walking the C2C alone at the same time as us and our group has become friendly with him. So Jean-Luc joined us for our meal as an honorary member of the group.

Various national anthems were sung and rather than complaining the people in the other bar complimented the group on their singing!

Friday, 18 July 2014

C2C - final day

Mission accomplished! :-) We arrived at Robin Hoods Bay at 4pm today. We dipped our boots in the North Sea and threw the pebbles into the water that we have carried from St Bees. Then visited the Bay Hotel to sign the Coast To Coast book and drink a well-earned pint.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

C2C Day 11

Tough day with 20 miles done and 2500 feet of climbing. Coped better with conditions but completely worn out tonight and feet sore. Easier day tomorrow.

** Updated Thu 17th **

Wed 16th - Ingleby Cross to Blakey Ridge (Day 11)

19.75ml, 9.5hrs

Today's leg was described a rollercoaster day and they weren't kidding. Right from the start we were climbing as we followed a forest trail up through the trees and joined the Cleveland Way. We then climbed a succession of what Chris our leader referred to as 'big bumps' as we climbed up onto high moorland.

The heather is not yet out in most places except for one or two small patches. Every now and then we would disturb some grouse hiding nearby who would go running off down the track ahead of us. A lot of work has been done on the moors as in places there are almost the equivalent of pavements across the moor. From the very highest parts of the Moor we could see the industrial areas Tees Port.

Early on in the walk we came across some teenagers doing their Duke of Edinburgh award. Several times they came storming past us only for us to find them around the next corner resting. Slow and steady was definitely the best method and especially when climbing hills. Our leader Chris has shown us how you can conserve energy by taking 'baby steps' uphill. It seems counter-intuitive at first but by taking smaller steps and using the bigger muscles of the legs you have more energy left for the next hill (and the next and the next ..)

By late afternoon we had done most of the climbing. We left the Cleveland Way at a place called Bloworth Crossing and for the last few miles followed a disused railway line that crosses the moor. The line seemed to stretch on into the distance forever and we began to wonder when the walk would end. And then, just as described in Wainwright's guide, the Lion Inn appeared in the distance as we rounded a corner.

It had begun to rain by now but to be honest, none of us cared by this point. We just kept putting one foot in front of the other and little by little we got closer until we finally arrived.

I was yawning throughout our evening meal and was so exhausted after the walk when I laid down on the bed to email a quick update to my blog I promptly fell asleep and woke up an hour later. When I did try and get ready for bed and tried to get back to sleep I couldn't get comfortable at first. My legs were aching and my feet were throbbing but eventually I managed to nod off.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

C2C Day 10

Only time for a quick update tonight .. more detailed update to follow (wifi permitting). Another 16.5 miles completed today .. Total mileage now 145 miles and just 50 miles left over next three days. We have crossed the Vale of Mowbray today and are in Ingleby Cross on the edge of the North York Moors. A 20 mile roller-coaster walk tomorrow with over 3000ft of climbing to be negotiated. Gulp!

** Update posted on Thursday 17th July **

Tue 15th - Bolton on Swale to Ingleby Cross (Day 10)

16.5mls, 7.5hrs

Today's leg has been described as 'boring' because it is almost flat. We didn't find it boring by any means .. It's certainly flat but there was enough variety in the places we passed through to keep things interesting.

The b&b we stayed in overnight had fantastic views over Richmond and we had breakfast in the conservatory looking out over the town. Jill commented on how big the spoons were until she realised she had picked up a serving spoon when she got her cereal. We did check whether she had already started on the Whisky marmalade.

The packed lunches on this trip have been a bit hit and miss. One person's idea of what constitutes lunch is very different from another's. Our landlord Ralph was one of those who provided more than enough. For instance, mine consisted of a cheese roll, crisps, pork pie, banana, peach, biscuits, fruit drink and chocolate bar. He also gave us a bag of hard boiled eggs! :-)

After getting the coach to Bolton on Swale we visited the churchyard where Henry Jenkins is buried.. he was reputed to be 169 when he died.

The walking was a mixture of fields, country lanes and farmyards. My work colleague Mark would have liked one farmyard in particular .. the stile we had to climb over had model rats clambering around one fence post while the other was topped off with a skull!

It had been cool to begin with but as the day wore on it got warmer and warmer. It was a long day (almost 17 miles) and by the afternoon I was struggling again. We had been used to quiet roads and villages but a couple of miles before the end we arrived at a service station on a very busy dual carriageway.

My feet were very sore by this time and my legs were aching .. we stopped for a break but then had to cross the road (the last fast A road we cross on this walk). The traffic had been very busy while we rested but as we got to the side of the road there was a break in the traffic. We ran across and as luck would have it, a break in the traffic appeared on the other carriageway and we were able to run across there to the safety of the grass verge.

I think it must have been pure adrenaline that got us over the road because the tired legs and sore feet soon returned. However, in a mile or so the first group had reached their b&bfor the night and we made our way to ours, a mile further on. And what a welcome we received!

We were greeted by the couple who run the b&b with glasses of Prosecco and a chance to toast ourselves for another hard day completed. And after we had all showered and rested they cooked us a roast beef dinner with REAL Yorkshire pudding (huge ones the size of large teacups).

We all hope our feet and legs recover by tomorrow morning. We have to cover 20 miles and do over 3000 feet of climbing and will be setting off at 08:15am.

Wish us luck! :-D