Running for the pies

Running for the pies

Monday, 10 October 2011

9th October: A bit of endurance training :)

Well this morning saw me up stupidly early to get down to the New Forest for the 100k 'Gridiron'.

This is the 4th time I have ridden it and the first time solo.

The first time I rode it was with all the Hook lads (and their partners in some cases) for charity in honour of the sad passing of the Harwood's mum and Hoop's fiancé.

That first time we went round in a wheels turning of around 4.5 hours, with the lead group of around 15 of us moving at the pace of the slowest and stopping when punctures occurred. The second time there was only 4 of us and we did it in a wheels turning of 4 hours 16.

Last year I took Dean out to do it and we got around in 5 hours, with Dean, an expert off-road mountain biker having his eyes opened to the unrelenting nature of distance road cycling.

I always believed I could get round in a sub 4 hour time, so riding alone this year I was able to push for this goal.

Unfortunately I have no trip computer on the bike at present, having broken it recently and not bothering to replace it yet as I am looking for something to use on the bike and for the running. Having no measure of speed as consequence, I decided to start along with the serious club cyclists to try and tag along with them as I figured they would be doing the pace I need to make my target. Unfortunately they have proper road racing bikes, and I ride a mountain bike with road tyres, although with higher gearing on it than a standard mountain bike. Needless to say I have to work a damned sight harder to match their speeds!

Here's some photos of the ride:

 The club cyclists behind who I tagged along on the first stage
 Skies beginning to clear
 The first checkpoint
 The view south across the national park from the northern edge
 Some of the ubiquitous (and suicidal) New Forest Ponies
 Me in full flow

As you can see the scenery is pretty special and one of the reasons I keep on coming back. You also have to dodge the ponies, donkeys, pigs, cows and sheep en-route which serves to break the monotony!

The first 2 legs I rode with the same club guys, but on the last leg I was all by myself, with a pretty stiff head-wind as I reached the Hamble estuary, which was full of sail boats taking advantage of the weather, the smell of the salt air filling my nostrils... Or was it just from my sweating?

I crossed the finish line in 3:51:16 a time I was very happy with.

The route can be found here.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

7th October: End of the first week (ish)

Well it's the end of the first week of training. So far I have managed:

Mon: 30 mins elliptical
Tue: 10k xc along the canal
Wed: 60 mins elliptical
Thur: 30 min ride, 1 hr footy training & another 30 min ride
Fri: 22 miles on the bike in 1hr45 (before heading off to Jess & Andy's wedding).

On top of this I go out with LSS to walk the dogs for a couple of miles over the fields down by the river each day, come rain or shine.

I reckon if I aim to burn 1000 calories a day over the course of at least an hour then through my physical exertion I should be in a good way come the first marathon. I also plan on keeping Saturdays as a rest day.

4th October: The first run

Out today after work for a saunter along the canal on my normal route.

According to my Runkeeper stats I ran it in my 4th fastest time of 55 mins dead. Considering it is a trail run just over 10k I ideally would like to be running this in around 50 mins before I step-up to the marathon.

I took some photos en-route of a few sights from the run just to put the trail in a bit of perspective. The course can be viewed here should you desire. Apologies for the quality of the photos, but taken on the hoof they are a bit blurred!

 The trail to the motorway with some of the resident ponies
 Pony munching happily away as I pass
 The curly-wurly footbridge over the motorway
 Atop the bridge
 A woodland trail not yet turned into the ankle deep mud of winter & spring
 Across the river Whitewater
 Crossing it a second time
 King John's Castle from where he rode-out to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede

I think the Basingstoke canal rocks. From here you can access the whole of the country via the same footpath. As well as running the last few of miles of it I have cycled the length of it twice, the first nearly resulting in my death from hypothermia!

I set out before dawn one new year's eve and was at the Wey navigation before sun-up to commence the ride. The thing is it was in the midst of a big freeze and the temperature was -5 degrees C with the canal frozen over and a couple of inches of ice. Instead of swimming the ducks just stood there on the ice looking mournfully at their feet. The warmest it got over the course of the ride was -2 degrees C.

Over in Frimley there was a fishing contest about to start. The fisherman were having to use ice-anchors to break the surface and dangle their rods.

Anyway, I did the ride on an empty stomach with just a bottle of energy drink and pushed my body to the verge of exhaustion where a voice in my head was telling me to stop and lie down in the frozen grass for a short sleep and when I wake up I will be fine to continue. Anyone who has looked into survival situations involving cold will recognise that as being one of the major sign-posts of the body going in to shut-down and you should NEVER give in to the voice, no matter how tempting it is... It took me 4 hours fully clothed in bed to get my body back to normal. Moral of the story: don't go riding for long distances in sub-zero temps!

Earlier this year I cycled the length of it again but in sunshine this time and with the company of Dean & Rob as a silly cycling challenge. The previous year the two of them had completed the South Downs Way in 2 days, so this early morning start and finish in the pub for lunch was a mere stroll to them. It goes to show I am not the only one out there prone to bouts of sporting lunacy!

I've decided that my first marathon is to be an unsupported effort along the canal from Brookwood Station to home, giving me the correct distance on a relatively easy flat terrain. I'm aiming to run this as early in January as possible so I will have got one marathon under my belt asap and give good time for prep for the next one and the psychological advantage knowing that if I have done it before I can do it again, no matter how hard the terrain!

3rd October: The first day of training

I told the good lady wife of my plans, my challenge for next year... I was told in no uncertain terms I was barking mad and why would anybody wish to embark on such a challenge. However the Long-Suffering Suzanne (LSS) has given me her full support and backing, so long as she is not expected to join-in and that I am not broken at the end of the year!

Suzanne is long-suffering having been dragged up a mountain in a gale with driving uphill rain in the past... At least I did propose to her on the summit to make it worthwhile... And for our honeymoon I managed to persuade her to go up and down Ben Nevis. At least after Ben Nevis all other peaks will be easier, or so I keep telling her! Here's a photo of LSS on the summit of Ben Nevis getting something warm and wet inside her!

The reaction of others has been similar to that of LSS, initially the retort upon being told of 'why' mostly born of incredulity about running 12 marathons in total when 99% of people will never even run one in a lifetime.

Well the temperature here is an unseasonal mid 20's so I decided tonight to just go for 30 mins on the elliptical, something light to break myself in. LSS reckons that anything over 5 mins on setting 2 of 8 is torture, and I have it set on max! She does have a point being a mere slip of a lass and if like me you're 15 stone of idiot then there's plenty of weight to turn them pedals around. Having said this I thought I would have my weigh-in and it transpires I'm 14st 10lb so here's the start marker. With any luck by the time of marathon 1's arrival I will be weighing in at the light weight 14 1/2 st!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The first Post


A question that has figured prominently in my life... The first girl I ever asked out having said this in reply, and what I should have said if I was quicker of wit was "why not".

I've seen friends like Pini go off and run marathons - and finishing in good times, seen younger guys like Tom Halls complete marathons and followed the Ginge & Dan Hall on Facebook as they've also gone and run the London marathon.

The biggest influence of all however is Jamie Faulkner, with whom I used to play footy, who decided as he hit the big 4-0 to become an Iron Man and blogged about his experiences as he worked hard over this year to accomplish his goal, which he did so at the iron man Wales this September.

The caveat...

As Damon Albarn wrote and Phil Daniels spoke, There's nothing worse than jogging round and round and round, just seeing the same sights in multiples. Like most I too go and do it, but only through necessity in the winter darkness so I do not have to look at the same depressing sights - oh it's that lamp-post again... If I go for a run that is worthwhile and enjoyable then it has got to be with a sight worth seeing to take my mind off things; Countryside, not concrete. When I go out for a run normally it is a 10k trail run from home on to the canal, follow the path to the end then home. Therefore these marathons are all to be off-road/ trail runs.

This off-road distance running thing is not coming entirely out of the blue. After accepting a challenge on Facebook from one of the guys I grew-up with, I ran the Brutal 10k over at Deepcut in the colds of February... I ran it whilst in recovery from a particularly evil groin-strain sustained a few months previous and from which I had not yet recovered and limped across the line agonisingly outside my notional target. That said I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge... Leading on to the next one: In May I ran the village 10 mile race (Hook Fun Run), beating my notional target and last weekend I completed the XT Off-Road Duathlon in Hawley Woods. Ok it may have been near the bottom of the times, but it was faster than I had hoped and on the back of zero training... It made me realise that with a bit of training and preparation I could easily shave 15 minutes off my time and finish comfortably mid-field. This made me hungry for a bigger challenge, not just the full triathlon which I aim to attempt next year, but something even meatier!

So as you can see, I am not a total novice on running off-road. I also tend to cycle a fair bit - next week is the New Forest Gridiron, a 100km round the forest route that I have cycled the last 3 years and I am aiming to complete it in under 4 hours time wheels-turning. This is going to be my first piece of endurance training ready for the big off in January :)