Sunday 25 October 2015

Week 39 (39 weeks to IM)

Horrors! Why, oh why did I decide to enter a 2nd marathon just a few weeks after finishing my first?! Hmm. Crazy is a crazy does. With such nonsense floating around my head-space, I figured I'd best start training again whilst I search for the answers.
Started the week with a 10k run into work. Interval style. Followed the formula 10 mins warm up; 5 x 2 mins fast (with 2 min recovery); cool down to finish. In retrospect, I should have spent 15-20 mins warming up because I still had quite a distance to plod after my run efforts. During this run (and subsequent activities) I was using a 'special' TomTom GPS watch which they have kindly sent me for testing purposes. It's awesome. I'd like to say more but it's top secret and I'd have to kill you. Tim Tom really is an official TomTom tester!
Interval Spikes
Tuesday was a great day. I cycled tandem style with my blind buddy Roger. We took a circular route stopping at one of our favourite cafe's - Whitlenge Tea Rooms. We both had a mega breakfast at the cafe. For an autumnal day we were really blessed - the weather was super with the sun shining bright, it was peaceful and no wind. We cycled about 55k in all.
54.4K Tandem Jolly with Roger
Next training bout was on Friday. I managed a short (5k) run around my village. If only the weather would have improved...
5k run around Studley
Friday really stressed my head. It dawned on me that it's only 38 and a bit weeks to my IronMan event. Horrors. Finding a (free) decent training plan was really difficult. Jonny Mitchum kindly gave me his plan but it was like reading braille to me. One guy (cheers Ian) from tri-club also emailed me a few different plans but again was hard for me to get my head around, especially as most plans were around 20 weeks long and I wanted to start training now. Further complications arose because I wanted and plan to enter a couple of marathons and bike events (and maybe tri events) during this whole training period too. Anyone wanna be my coach?
Saturday's long run 20.9k
Had wanted to run 20 miles on Saturday but the foul weather fairies but a stop to that. Not wanting to be completely defeated, I headed out in the rain and ran just short of a half-marathon. In view of the fact this run was much shorter than I would have liked, I made sure it was hilly. That was a bit silly really. Even so, felt good to have completed this run.
Quite a hilly menace
Finished the week by going for a swim with tri-club. My swimming has not improved as quick as I had hoped. Still, 50 mins in the water is better than nothing. I didn't attend the running session after the swim but figure I will run hard next week...

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Lazy daze

Teaching Lunar the art of tree-hugging on a lazy day
Last week I did very little. Little on the exercise front anyway. In fact, I only ventured out once and that was to attend tri-club. Tri-club was great though and I had a good swim session followed by a nice jolly on my single-speed bike. 
During the week, I became a 'grumptoid' too. As a grumptoid I have joined an elite marathon training group and amongst other things, am able to honour the life of Martin Crumpton. This group was set up by my second cousin Steve (Martin being his father-in-law). The grumptoids share information, achievements, fundraising ideas etc. I have booked up a place on the Milton Keynes Marathon 2016 where I will be running alongside my newly found grumptoids. Oh, what have I done....

Sunday 11 October 2015

Another challenge

Following the buzz and excitement of finishing my first ever marathon, I straightway entered another one. My thinking was 'strike while the iron is hot'. Now I'm thinking, 'oh man, what have I done?'. This new marathon is only a few weeks away and doesn't give much time for training. The marathon event I have entered is 'The Autumn Shakespeare Marathon on 14 November 2015.
My first marathon raised over £200 for my chosen charity Papyrus. A big big thank you to all those that sponsored me. The charity sent me an email following my run which expressed thanks - that was nice.
As for training this week, well, I did very little. I ran only twice. I didn't swim or cycle or attend tri-club. My runs were neither long nor far. Would I be a chicken if I pulled out now? (Ha!)

Sunday 4 October 2015

The Forest of England Marathon 3 Oct 2015

I completed my very ever first, my very first ever, marathon on 3 October 2015. This was the Forest of England Marathon that started in Henley-in-Arden. A superb marathon organised by the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA).
I had prepared for this marathon by running 1-4 times a week for the past 18 or so weeks. On top of that I would cycle on occasions and fit in the odd swim here and there (I think they call this 'cross training'). My final bit of preparation took place just a couple of hours before the event - this was deciding what to take with me.
I took a plastic Noddy mug (rules stated you had to bring your own mug; I didn't have an alternative plastic mug), 2 x SIS gels, a protein bar, ibuprofen, prop-plus, a jaffa-cake Graze snack and an SIS pouch.
All my gear was covertly hidden under my running vest. Felt it wise to hide the Noddy mug. Oh, I also took a camera with me too.
All prepared, I drove to the start. I got there early and once registered just chilled out with a bunch of other walkers and runners. This was a strange sort of marathon - it was organised by a walking club and sure enough some folk were walking and others running. Some folk would run/walk 15 miles and others the full distance. At registration we were also handed maps and directions as this marathon required a great deal of orienteering too. We were also given a card (like a brevet card I thought) to get stamped at each of the check points (which I kept calling controls). And we had to carry our own mug!

My start time was at 9.30 a.m., the walkers started a couple of hours earlier. All in all, I think around 260 folk took part in this event. The mass start really slowed everybody down and and we were all in single file as we climbed up a path to run across an old railway line. It was nice to see so many runners all kitted out in different colours. The runners vest that stood out most was a girl in a bright orange vest that had male suicide printed on it. She was raising moneys for a suicide prevention charity and I was too (though a different charity). Before too long and the mass of people started to become more spaced out. I figured following others would be a better plan than navigating myself - how wrong was I?! Took a wrong turn at both the 5k and 10k mark. The run to the first checkpoint took me past Studley Castle (where I spent my first night as a married man) and to the Church 'over the fields' where I live. My Noddy mug got filled with coke here, then water, and after a mouthful of jelly babies, I was off.

The second check point was not too far out. The route took me over the familiar fields of Studley past the 'Greens' and onto Purity Brewery. Sadly we didn't stop at the brewery but took a right turn and stopped at the check point at Spernal Farm. Here they were dishing up bacon and sausage and the likes. For £15 entry fee, we were really being looked after. I chose to eat jaffa cakes instead and had one of my gels washed down with coke and water.

The route continued and we passed Karens house (my running partner from years ago) before taking me along familiar MTB routes I like to cycle. Much of the whole route I had either cycled or ran before. I ran through fields that took us to Alcester Town and then stopped at checkpoint 3 - about half way now.
As per usual, the food at this check point was awesome. I had quiche which was washed down with coke and water. I took a pro plus tablet and 1 ibuprofen too. Good job really because I was starting to feel cramp. Just prior to reaching this check point I had started running with a nice chap called 'Owen' and we essentially ran together from here on.

Starting off from check point 3 was difficult with my legs feeling achey. Owen said I'd get the wind back in my sails soon and he was right. We ran through Oversley Wood where SJ and my girls ventured only the other day. Much fields were crossed as we made our way to the next checkpoint. We crossed loads of foot bridges, stiles and kissing gates throughout this marathon too. Not exactly sure where the check point was but it was up and down hill to get there!
Hillines profile of marathon
At this control (cycling audax events has made me refer to check points as 'controls'), I once again drank coke and water. Sometime prior to this I took 2 more ibuprofen tablets and my legs were working fine. A nice danish pastry was devoured before I ran the final leg. 

Final leg was a bit hazy but it essentially took Owen and I back across fields heading for Henley. Once I spotted a rail bridge/tunnel I knew the end was only moments away. Quite strange there was not crowds of people standing on the pavements as we ran towards the finish. A couple of folk clapped as we reached the School and once inside the hall I felt utterly awesome in knowing that I had actually ran a marathon for the first time in my life. Funny end to a marathon - I didn't get given a medal, I had to give in my check point card!
A kind fellow took my card and exclaimed 'all the fives'. He then wrote 5:55 on my card. It had taken me 5 hours and 55 minutes to complete this marathon. Shortly after, I got awarded a certificate (pictured at start of blog).
It felt like the done thing to do - to take a photo of myself and my running buddy Owen at the end. For a few hours we had shared an awesome adventure and helped each other get to the end. Amazing! Better yet, we had actually finished an 'ultra' event because our marathon was over distance. Indeed we actually ran 44.2k (27.46 miles)! A guy at the start informed that any distance over marathon distance was considered an ultra - so there!

Would I do it again? Most definitely yes! I loved this event. The fee was cheap, the volunteers were lovely, the runners friendly. The food was great (I had baked potato and quiche at the finish). In fact, I am already considering my next marathon already....

Friday 2 October 2015

The 5 days before the big 'un.

This week did not go to plan. My thigh muscles (quadriceps) felt shot after the trip-club session on Sunday gone. I blame the spin class! The spin class went fine (compared to my previous spin) at the time, but afterward, oh my goodness! For this reason, Monday was spent recovering!

My muscles were still really quite painful on Tuesday. I had made plans to cycle with Roger and I wasn't going to let him down. When I rocked up at Roger's he was just recovering from a cold, so we (thankfully) decided to go on a shorter ride today. We had a nice time cycling his tandem and essentially cycled a loop going  to Hockley Heath and back.
Tandem ride with Roger, 44k
The weather was fine. The company was great. Not to mention the food we ate! We stopped at Wedges cafe and ate a lovely pork bap which was ginormous! Yummers.
When I left Roger's abode, he handed me a copy of his 'cycling CV'. Impressive CV it was too. Roger has cycled numerous audax events and as a blind guy, now in his 70's, on a tandem, is just amazing. He had cycled at least 12 x 100k events including the Cotswold Corker (very hilly) and the Snowdrop and Sunrise Express. Roger cycled 25 x 200k events including the Cheltenham Flyer and the Droitwich/Towcester. Better yet, he cycled 9 x 300k events including the hilly Elenith and the wonderful Heart of England. He cycled 6 x 400k events and 5 of these were the Brevet Cymru. I have cycled the Brevet Cymru twice and it really is a top ride. Roger cycled 2 x 600k events, both of these was Bernie's Long Flat One. Roger earned Super Randonneur status in 1991 and 2001. Over and above that, Roger cycled LEJOG audax style in 1990 and covered 1400k on his tandem. Lastly, Roger cycled Aberystwyth to Great Yarmouth audax style (500k) in 1991. Roger is a legend. In another blog, I might rave on about all his cycling holidays...

Midweek and my thighs were still real achey. Hmm, only a few days to go to my impending marathon. I had wanted to run twice this week and cover 9 miles. That was my plan. I ran just over 6.5k on the Wednesday and figured that would be it until the big 'un. My legs still ached. My diet had been real bad and oh well, whatever, never mind.

Thursday was spent resting my pins. They had started to feel better.  The London Marathon Folk had sent me a parcel. This parcel contained a magazine which basically informed 'sorry loser', you have not got a ballot place for the 2016 marathon. Shame that (sarcasm). As way of consolation, they sent me a rather funky Spiderman suit. Bonus!
Friday was spent panicking! 

My run is tomorrow. Arghh. If you would like to sponsor me (and a big big thanks to those that have), please visit here!


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