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Monday, 21 November 2011

Rhayader 10 Mile - November 2011

Rhayader 10 Mile - Elan Village - 19/11/11

As part of an effort to do a few more races and to get in tip-top shape for the upcoming Aber 10k, I decided to follow the Ian Evans performance plan and race race race!

After meeting the aforementioned gentleman, we were collected from Llanbadarn petrol station by another fastman, James Thomas from the Uni team who offered to drive. Bridget also pulled up for a refuel and informed us of a few others heading over. In all there must have been well over 10 members of Aber AC, many of whom had done a few laps of Pudseys Marathon the previous evening.

The brights skies of Aberystwyth gave way to slightly duller coverage over Pumlymon, yet for November, we weren't complaining and in Elan Village, the weather was pretty much perfect for road running.

The visitor centre voyer filled up and we met up with Dave Powell, Cameron, Gron, Sian, at least two Helen's, Bridget and even the mighty Bash had come along for the race. Kevin and Geth Holland also showed up and with some members heading over to the Dyfi 8 which unfortunately clashed with the Elan 10, it seemed a very active weekend for Aber AC.

The dilemma of what to wear was fairly easy as the conditions were mild and so it was the summer kit that clung on yet another week deeper into the supposed winter. Shorts & vest it was then.

My plan was to race for position which is totally against every other race I've done this year, save the Twin Peaks I suppose. Even though the race was a standard distance, it was too hilly to record a top  time on and so I was no longer a slave to the Garmin pace setting watch, i just raced instead of time trialling. This tactic usually sees me wheezing and going backwards at some catastrophic point, usually at around half way as I would have already spent my race tokens for the day way too early, but with nothing to lose i went for it.

The first mile was an easy downhill affair and I made the front pack and tried not to be alarmed at the sight of an early leader streaking away from us. Mile 1 was completed in 5mins 30 seconds and the alarm bells rang. This was 30 seconds quicker than PB 5km pace! Not to panic, I put it down to the downhiil section and besides, I felt comfortable in about 7th place. Mile 2 was a slightly more stable 6.10 and again, things felt good. We hit the climb and i found myself at the front of what was left of our group. James Thomas had been feigning his pace up until now and he hit 5th gear on the climb and streaked ahead. I also thought I felt good and decided to track him, big mistake!

By the top of the climb I hit the purple zone, the bit after the red zone which is the bit when you imagine that this is what it must feel like to be drowning. This feeling usually means game over, reduce pace to trotting standards and limp home red faced, but there were still just under 8 miles to go!
I decided to man up and deal with the pain, and posted a 7.33 mile for mile three. My pack caught me up but I managed to find something to tuck in with them. I guess the hill had hurt everyone.

By mile 4 I 'came good'. The drowning sensation had gone and I was back in the 6.10-6.30 pace bracket, although it was uncomfortable with all the undulations.... The next few miles were spent with two other guys. I was the demon descender (unusually!) whilst one of my new friends was handy on the sharp uphills and the other seemed great on the long gradual decents. We worked like a pack of three breakaway cyclists trying to hold off a marauding Tour de France peleton and so we were able to stay ahead of the other chasers. At around mile 7 I pulled away from the two yet was overtaken myself by a young guy dressed all in black who looked like he was out for a Sunday stroll. I decided it would be unwise to give chase and anyway, I had my own problems as my pursuiters Darth Vader style breathing made it feel like he was on my shoulder. He was actually about 50 metres behind me but it was very off-putting!

Coming into the last two miles and I could see the man in black and also the guy in pink who was in fourth place. I was actually reeling them back but only very gradually and not at a pace that would enable me to catch them. Darth Vader had also gone quiet. I still feared him as some uber tactician who had decided to go silent as he actually got up to me, to then crush me with an un-witting catch in the final metres. I hate looking around but I had to for peace of mind. Darth was thankfully well back and still breathing hard and so I was able to take 6th place and as a bonus, a new PB by around 25 seconds from last years Teifi 10. I'll take that and remember not to try the racing part too often as it so nearly ended in tears!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Dim Llundain in 2012!

Ballot application unsuccessful, so time to choose another event around April 2012 and get training.

Burgess currently has Shingles.....wuss!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Snowdon Marathon 2011

Yes, I've entered. Blame Ian Evans and Brian Ashton who have managed to pursuade half the Aber AC club to join them this October for Europe's hardest 26.2 marathon event.

Look out for some blogs as we prepare. I'm not going to have a plan like London. It is not a fast course and so I'm going to go and enjoy the day with no target. I'll throw in a few long mileage runs in the run up and see what happens !!!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Job done

and's over.

Where to start? I suppose I'll start with the result - 3hrs 12minutes odd. Thats probably a bit faster than most thought I'd do. I secretly attempted a 2.59 on the day only to be shot down by the man with the hammer at 17 miles like so many others. I didn't blow completely, just a gradual painfull slowdown to 8min miles rather than the 6.51's until the last couple when i struggled not to walk.
My conservative estimation was 3.20 ish so overall .... I'm very very happy!

Dan also had a good one, our training definately paying off as he surprised himself too with a cool 3.18. We were together until 5 or 6 miles when he thought better of my suicidal pace and went into his own pace zone. Another two miles and he would have caught me. My last mile was a ten minuter!!

Lessons learnt - train longer! Our long runs were mostly 10-16 miles, which were great if you were running, 10 to 16 mile races i suppose!

The day started well. Well, almost. We caught the DLR to Woolwich and then the overground to Blackheath. The train was full and Dan spotted an empty seat. It soon became apparent as to why the seat was was next to the only non athlete on the train, a middle aged gent who was probably on his seventh can of Stella that morning (it was 8am after all).

The next 10 minutes was spent trying not to breathe in as he explained repeatedly that the ban on alcohol in snooker & darts was a farce as the players simply topped up whilst the cameras weren't pointed their way.

I nodded and smiled and Dan smirked probably due to the fact that he had the window seat. Thanks for that one Dan ;-)

The park in Greenwich was buzzing, and it was fairly cool with a slight morning haze - perfect conditions! We made our first beginners error by placing our finish bags in the lorry straight away whilst everyone else held onto theirs so that they could sit on the plastic so as to avoid a wet bum. Doh!

Time then stood still as it seemed like hours to wait until the start. Toilet visit after toilet visit and the nerves piled up. We entered the start zones, Dan in zone 3 and me in zone 2 due to the different estimations that we applied with. Not to worry, I headed to the back of zone 2 and Dan to the head of zone 3. The zones merged in any case as we walked towards the actual start area and we were united once again.

The race got underway and the expected slow down of pace due to the shear numbers didn't materialise too badly, probably as we started so far up the grip. The first mile was a 7.17 so not too bad at all.

The crowds continued to build, something I'll never forget. It seemed like a crowd from the mountains of the Tour de France, but it continued for 26.2 miles! In some places it even got emotional! The heat did unfortunately build aswell, culminating in a rather hot day and so it was a bottle of water every two miles without fail from 4 miles onwards!

The first 17 miles were perfect. No pain, feeling better than any run, ever. All the niggles gone, hydration - perfect, energy - perfect, pace - not a problem, breathing - fine. Every mile ticked off in precision at 6.40 - 7 min miling.

Only when I got back to Westferry did I start to realise the hamstrings were tightening. Not only them, but the thighs also. I ignored it at first but it became increasingly harder to maintain pace and so by 18 miles i was falling behind. I even saw Carwyn from Sarn Helen walking! Even the realisation that this may be my only ever chance to beat the mighty Sarn Helen runner could not prevent my slowdown!

This was not a pain I am used to. The only other time its happened has been Rhayader 20, so I suppose its an endurance muscular thing. In any case, 7 miles to run with this was impossible at the pace i needed. Maybe 2 or three would have been possible, but not 7 and so I surrendered and went into damage limitation mode. This worked a treat as I was still able to knock out some 8 (ish) min miles and although a horrendous last 10k where i didn't enjoy the crowds or the Mall one bit, i was still able to come home with a satisfactory time. A last minute look to check i was in a Burgess free zone set off a panic attack as the lad outsprinting me bore a resemblence to Dan, even down to the blue vest!

Like I said, his tactics almost paid off as he would have past me had there been another couple of km's in it.

The last few months have been fun. I can't confirm nor deny that Dan has burnt his trainers, but hopefully we'll see sense in a few days and plan to use this for more running adventures later in the year :-)

Monday, 11 April 2011

A New Hope / Hop

Going into the final week and it's neck and neck between the two Aber AC lads for bragging rights.  I had a fantastic 10 miler during the week when everything went well for once. It was a joy to be running and the zone was definately entered as I stomped round in 1.09 without feeling it too badly at all.

Fast forward to Saturday and Burgess turned on the reserve power he's been storing and left me for dead on the cycle path in true sub 7 min mile style.....

Now its all about getting the logistics right, making sure we actually remember all the nitty gritty things that you only need to remember for London. The usual local race attitude must be left behind. No turning up by doing doughnuts around the bends of Cwm Elan to make the 5k with 3 minutes to spare, sign on and pin your number as the starters gun goes off. We need military planning and the ability to catch trains and the like at silly o'clock in the morning. It's gonna be tough. The running will be the easier part!

Where will Olwen watch? Her sense of direction is worse than mine. Do we attempt to plan her some multi vantage points knowing full well that this will probably mean she'll miss the entire event due to being stuck somewhere near the Thames barrier? Shall I pack my phone in with my competitors finish bag?? All questions that we'll  need to nail down over the next few days.

I had been worried about how i was reacting to all the traning, but that one run, which i admittedly did after a few easy days, did show that I'm more efficient and fitter than before. If I feel like that on the day, then I should have a good chance of turning in a good performance.

Next weeks report will be the final one in the saga. No matter how it goes, it will be a good one to read as I try to make sense of this crazy event and how we all got on.

Monday, 4 April 2011

2 weeks to go

It's the start of the official taper period now, although actually I started tapering last week due to an extreme post Rhayader / boredom / worn out knees comedown which resulted in only 18 miles last week!!

Time to pick it up a bit this week and try to get out every day for at least a few miles, but nowt too crazy.

The Cambrian News got wind of Aber AC's marathoners and photos were taken of the four ladies, plus myself and Dan at last weeks training session. The shoot lasted as long as the training session and was a lesson in stamina itself. Suffice to say the headbands were in full view although come race day, if its a hot one down there, we'll have to have a re-think. Maybe we'll get someone to hand them to us with a mile to go for the money shot. Whether we'll have the strength to put them on is another matter.

Donations have been coming in well on my Just Giving site (, and I've raised close to £750 so far which is much more than I anticipated. Dan has now got his site up - and I beleive it's
He's raising for Beacon of Hope.

My vanilla flavoured 'Nocte' nightime recovery super drink has arrived to replace the Crohns inducing chocolate flavour, and I'm already feeling the benefits. My workmates say that Nocte is rumoured to be the cure for all man-flu like illneses and possibly far worse conditions. I'll reserve judgment for a while but it's doing the trick by getting me out of bed in the mornings despite my severe & prolongued jet-lag symptoms due to the change to British summer time last week.....

Monday, 28 March 2011

Heads, Shoulders Knees & Toes, Knees & Toes.......

A tough week post Rhayader 20. I expected everything to ache a bit so wasn't surprised when my body stubbornly refused to function at the start of every run last week.

To be honest, after a couple of miles, everything loosened up and I was back to almost normal again, until getting home, when within minutes of resting, everything would sieze up once again. Must stretch more!

I've taken lots of advice from various runners this week and have decided to taper early. I know from previous that I can perform when a tad over rested, but will have no chance if overtrained, and I am on my knees at the mo. So maybe one more fairly long run now, in these last three weeks mixed in with much shorter outings to get the spring back in my legs by London.

Back to the week gone by, the main plus has been the weather. Running around Aberystwyth these past few evenings has been a joy. It all came to a head on friday night, which caused both myself and Dan Burgess to ponder what on earth we are doing. The sun was out, students were on the beach and in gardens having BBQ's and beer as we ran past house after house of people relaxing. I'd had a bad night of stomach problems and hadn't been able to eat all day and was dying on my legs. Dan was mumbling under his breath about where he would rather be (anywhere but running) and we both ended up walking up Consti, but luckliy made it over the top without turning left ;-)

I've found out I'm allergic to the chocolate recovery drink that I take and so I'm gonna have to ebay the lot and buy a different flavour! Thats right, I've been off chocolate since December and even the powdered flavouring is now out. I'm clinging onto the hope that I can sneak chocolate sprinkles past without my stomach noticing...? Here's hoping.

Dan's trainiers now resemble a prop from Spartacus but he is stubbornly refusing to swap them this close to the big day.  My insoles are at least two years old with bits falling off them, but I'm keeping the faith! No blisters are good blisters.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Do the Ickey Shuffle

Well, the Rhayader 20 miler is done and dusted. My first run at a distance over half marathon which I thoroughly enjoyed, but from a performance perspective, I had a bit of a 'mare at the start mixed with bits of good running and lots of mental torture as the miles went by.

The day began with a pick up of Ian and Gron from Plascrug in the morning. Fearing a ban from Aber AC due to the state of my car interior, I gave my shed-on-wheels it's bi-annual full valet on Friday night.

I didn't quite realise the scale of the race - over 400 runners and lots of carnival style activity in the town itself. We still managed to find seats in a decent cafe pre-race where the Aber contingent talked about the upcoming punishment.

As the starters horn sounded, they say it's all in the head, but the first 6 miles were unnecessarily hard and i ended up walking a part of the big hill. Hills are usually my strong point and so I was so annoyed that my legs just didnt work properly at the time when I should have been passing people. Every now and again the fronts of my calves scream with lactic acid in the first few miles of a training run, a very locallised but quite uncomfortable pain which usually goes away with a bit of a breather. You can't really stop in a race so I just slowed and walked a bit as my right foot was also going numb, and then the descent restored full power and I was away.

I'm hoping more warm up and stretching will sort the problem in the future!

As for the race, its was a great ding dong betwen myself, Dan & Louise all the way to the line. After the big initial hill, my early lead over Dan was wiped out by the top and Louise was up ahead but within view.

Dan & I crested the hill together but his superior descending skills (or is that superior weight advantage?!) meant he had caught Lou by the bridge at the bottom. The descent had sorted my calf problems out and I was feeling good and clawed my way up to the other two. This set the tone for the remaining 13 miles, yep 13 miles which Lou pointed out as we passed the 7 mile marker!

The scenary was stunning in this 'Welsh Desert', not a bush in sight much to the annoyance of Brian Ashton who was speaking from experience back in the cafe before the race....

After around 8 miles the humps began again and whilst I tried to climb ahead on the raises, Dan escaped past me on all the downhills, to the point that he had carved out a 50 metre gap between 9 & 14 miles. Lou was also closing in as we navigated the hairpin bend descent.

As we hit the feed after the hill at around 14 miles, Dan seized up, time for his body to throw a hissy fit. As I neared he got it back together and we then ran the next four miles in serious discomfort. This was the business end of the race for us and Barker was about to scalp!

As our strides shortened, we struggled to maintain pace and I suggested that from behind, we probably looked like a pair of more mature ladies at the back end of the Race for Life field rather than runners in the Rhayadetr 20! Louise later confirmed this to be true.

We were caught at around 18.5 and the three of us ran together until, fortunataly for me, there was a great big hill at 19 miles (they seem to give my cycling legs a breather!). My legs came good and I managed to carve out a small lead. Dans cramp returned and he had a bit of trouble in the last mile. I caught a few more runners on the outskirts of town and with one more runner in the distance, Jos literally 'seargant majored me' from the sidelines to catch the guy. "One more place!!!!" he kept shouting. It certainly worked and I came into the home straight feeling tired but thoroughly satisfied with a time of 2.32. I'm not sure what this would equate to in London, its hard to tell, but now i know how hard the marathon is going to be. At 18 miles, myself and Burgess could easliy have curled up and died, so we're gonna have to beat these thoughts and pains on the big day!

Monday, 14 March 2011

6 Nations disease

Not a great weekend of miles!

A trip to see friends up north meant a rushed 10 miler on Saturday morning and a hangover on Sunday...
The problem is the six nations rugby, and watching Wales games with friends. It's a great evening out and although I've managed this very well so far this campaign, the wheels fell of slightly for the Irish game.

Sunday's mild hangover meant a rest day, and so Monday becomes long miles night this week.

'Luckily' the french match is late on this coming saturday, and more importantly after the Rhayader 20. I'm hoping to make it to the pub but all will depend on whether i can walk or not after 20 miles of tough terrain.

I've had some advice to 'just get around' this daunting race and some who say that I should tackle it head-on. It's a long enough gap until London, but going flat out may harm the ability to do some decent training next week. Decisions decisions, but fact is I'm still at 15 miles for the long runs and so I simply have to do this race!

Weekly mileage is around the 40mile mark these days. A bit low compared to some, but I am getting out almost every day now and am feeling pretty good with a bit of spring in my legs..

Luckliy Burgess also succumbed to a few beers aswell which perked me up no end. I'm also plucking up the courage (gradually) to see the physio again. I need a full leg massage, problem is that I know this could well be the single most painful experience of my life (including walking on an upturned plug) , and I'm paying for it.

Time to train.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Ouch, pass the Vaseline...

Only half a weeks running these past seven days, due to the annual Ystwyth Cycling Club Bunkhouse weekend. Wouldn't miss that for the world and so it was; four hours a day for three days in the mountains of Snowdonia, basing ourselves at Betws y Coed.

The Swallow Falls YHA comfortably accomodated all 20 or so Ystwyth riders and I wasn't the only runner taking a break from the dreaded trainers...Phoebe Webster was also in attendance, still on her road to recovery from a hamstring/sciatica problem. It didn't seem to stop her, especially on the climbs where she competed pretty much on equal footing to the lads.

Anyway, it was hardly a holiday as the Ystwyth lads are only a week away from the racing season and so the pace was pretty serious. After many weeks of purely running I was pedalling squares on the Friday and lost touch with my group between Bala and Cerigyddrudion (we faced a stiff headwind both ways on the upward and return legs). By saturday I had recovered well and enjoyed the ride which took in Llanberis, Caernarfon, Pwllheli, Cricceth, Tremadog, Bethgelert and back to Betws. Sunday's return through Blaina Ffestiniog was another hard yet stunning ride with the weather being very kind to us all weekend.

Pics will be available on later this week.

The last thing Dan Burgess said to me on our Thursday night suffer session was 'don't fall off your bike'. I kept to my word, although the same could not be said once we stepped into the cafe in Bala. On approach to the toilets, i didn't see the subtle transition from carpet to painted concrete floor around the side of the counter. My cleated shoes couldn't cope with the camber either and I then did a good imitation of the bad guys in Home Alone 2 when they stepped on the marbles. Luckily I landed on my windjacket which was packed up in my rear jersey pocket - result = soft landing & releif /embarrasment all round.

Not riding for so long had left some areas a tad unprepared for the rigores of riding in the saddle, and left me cursing the fact that i had no chamois cream or vaseline!

Last weeks runs were generally ok apart from the Thursday night 9 miler at marathon pace. Burgess opened up his secret turbine which he'd been hiding for the past few weeks. It blew myself and Ian away on the prom. Impressive stuff and so I was somewhat releived when his text the next day mentioned something about not being able to walk properly :-)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Super Kev!

Last weeks massage did the trick. I can now run fairly normally, as in not 'like a geriatric'. Dan may disagree, but in all honesty I've been feeling alot better over the past few days. Kevin the physio's mastery at his Pain Factory certainly seems to be working!

I smashed out a speed session on the hotel treadmill in Milton Keynes last Tuesday then some enforced rest due to work & travel meant I had to put in a heavy weekend to make sure the week wasn't a complete washout. Saturday's 8 miler brushed away the cobwebs and Sunday's long Llanilar run was difficult for altogether different reasons.

Being that the previous day/night was Mr Burgess' 21st birthday AND Wales v Italy...both of us were a tad worse for wear and totally under motivated at 10am on Sunday morning. This was thanks in part to Dan's birthday celebrations at the Farmers in Llanfihangel where the wine did flow, especially as it was on the back of an afternoon at the Castle Hotel watching Wales hold out in Rome against a tough Italian team.

Another discovery this week - SiS Rego Nocte. Although it sounds like a fuelling system for NASCAR, it is a nightime recovery drink designed to aid recovery by improving sleep and restore all the usual protein, vitamin & minerals. I haven't bothered with too much sports nutrition so far, just a bit of protein after long runs and the odd gel during, but I woke up this morning feeling much better than usual. No hobbling off to brush my teeth, i walked normally for the first time in weeks, and the spring in my step is returning!

So far so good, and so I'll keep using this stuff for as Mark Cavendish says - 'Marginal Gains'!

Friday, 25 February 2011


Almost forgot to mention - I've nominated a charity for the Marathon - Crohns & Colitis UK. Since emailing a few bike industry contacts and all the members of Ystwyth CC, i've raised £320 so far with more promised.

I didn't expect this and so thanks very much  to all who have sent in some donations.

PS - Dan has apparently raised the stakes in the Sweatband war, coming up with an all-brown number. I'll have to see it to beleive it!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Battle of the sweatbands...

Dan Burgess has been donning a sweatband straight from Wimbledon 1981 over the past few weeks, suggesting that I also wear something similar for the big event.

After some delving in my box of 1990's cycling gear that I forgot to throw out, I came across what I was looking for, a luminous green, yellow and pink Assos sweatband that would look better on Jane Fonda's head in one of her fitness videos.

So the challenge has been met. We can both now look as stupid as each other on our training runs.

Last week was tough (ain't they all?), I must have pushed it a little too much in the Tregaron half as my legs were in bits till the end of the week. I brought up the rear on a few of the Tuesday night efforts and even after a rest day, I was 10 minute miling on Thursday.

The calf muscles are not happy and so after Sunday's 15 miler, I booked a massage today and must say that despite the severe pain as the physio dug in, he seems to have freed up a lot of the knots and grizzle that he says has accumulated over the past few weeks. I guess I'll need to go back a few more times to keep the injuries away.

Time to get the grizzle back.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Gwaeth Caled!

Last week was a toughie! Lots of  runs with me, myself and I, what with missing club night due to work commitments, and Dan also away on a romantic Spa break in Bath.

I hauled my creaking carcass around town on the Monday after our mammouth 1hr 45min run on the Sunday. It complained like an old diesel in winter but with Tuesday off it meant Wednesdays speed work would at least be done fairly fresh. I have noticed that my recovery time is improving as the weeks go by, but Thursdays marathon pace 8 miler was painful for the first 4, but surprisingly sprightly for the final lap, which was nice!

With Sundays Tregaron half marathon looming, I cheated on Friday by taking the day off. After two hard sessions, I simply didn't feel up to it. I guess i would have forced myself had Sunday not been a race, but I justified it by telling myself I'd race hard on Sunday.

After a casual 5 miler on saturday with the Mrs doing a farly good impression of Mickey from the Rocky films, riding her bicycle alongside me, I headed to Tregaron on Sunday morning for a welcome return to the blue, yellow & black vest.

This would be my first race since the Teifi 10 last April and so I was both looking forward to it and yet had a tinge of nerves, because I guess it was a proper race!

I was a complete wimp whilst warming up, after deciding it was blinking freezing i put some thermals on to the disgust of Mr Burgess who told me in no uncertain terms to man-up. This i duly did and so it became a vest only affair. It was the correct choice as within a mile of the start, i was both warm & wet. The thermal vest would have weighed me down no end.

Aber AC had a good turnout on the day, with Dave P, Lou, Steve, Goronwy, Bridget, Clive, Ian, Paul Rose, John Evs, Maureen Pritchard, Dan & myself all taking to the start line.

It was raining, pretty cold but there was little wind and so the conditions were slightly poor yet not crazy.

As the gun went, Dave was soon in the second select group, behind the front three Sarn Helen runners with Lou, Ian, Dan & myself in a strung out third cluster of runners.

We stayed together until the right hander off the main road onto the back road towards Swyddfynon at around two miles, after which i found my climbing legs and started catching some guys up ahead. The next six miles was a ding dong between me and three others with Burgess yoyoing off the back yet making amazing returns to the group on the downhills. The race was on, and I was finding that I was getting clear / making up ground on the uphills but losing out downhill, apart from to a bloke from TROTS who despite walking up all the hills, managed to stay at the front of our group??? He must have a very special walking technique!

Onto the Cors Caron and I was mid-race scalped by the first lady. Both she and Mr TROTS looked good and I concluded that they were going for a sub 1hr 30. Some quick Cliff Thomas style mathematical equations were then done to ascertain the situation with four miles to go and it was an outside chance. I'd have to sub 6.40 the last four miles tho!

With a mile and a half left my Garmin was telling me it was off, as the girl & Mr TROTS must have miscalculated! Sheesh, to come this far and not get it would have been disappointing. I passed 12 miles at 1.22.45, meaning the last 1.1 would need to be done in 7.15! I was fed up of finishing both running races and cycle races on the wrong side of important time splits, and so I fired the emergency generator up and squinted my face and went as fast as I possibly could. The vague blur ahead was the long straight road into Tregaron from Bont. There should be a PA caravan there somewhere but I couldn't see it. It was further on than I remembered, darn it, keep sprinting. There was black smoke in the engine room by this point but as the big timing board came into view, it was displaying nice things, namely 1.29.45 as I crossed the line.

I'll take that for a first race after injury, and hopefully on a flatter course, I can work towards a better PB in future.

As the rest of us finished, we all headed to the Rugby club for a well deserved bowl of Cawl and to applaud the winners of the categories. Lou grabbed second female as did Anita for her age group. Dave had a great time but was a victim of the age category boundaries this time, pinning him up against the 40 year olds.

Roll on a rest day I say!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Run-Protein-Bath-Eat-Sleep-Work --- repeat

Am now entering week three of 'proper' training, albeit delayed thanks to the ankle slip.

I still have eight more hard weeks ahead, followed by a two week taper. I'm gonna have a proper taper as it seems I need to take it easy for this amount of time to ensure I get the 'Mark Smith' bouncy-springy leg feeling back. At the moment the legs are in a perminent state of sluggishness, a state I guess which is normal for people who run every day, maybe until you get to a certain level of condition where a four mile run feels as easy as walking up one flight of stairs....

Last week was a good one though, only one session missed, thanks entirley to Arriva trains (who else!). Thursdays marathon pace run was again a half wheeling Burgess episode, although I was able to converse this time a little better. I'm sure he is beginning to think I am anti-social at times! Fact is, i am the epitomy of the theory that men can only do one thing at a time. Actually I can both run and talk up to a certain level of effort, after which it's just run and try to avoid collapsing into a broken heap.

We welcomed Ian Evans to our Sunday 12 miler, and again went out to Wallog and back then added the Aber 10k on for good measure. It's not even half marathon distance, but it was the longest run so far. We have Tregaron this Sunday and will then ramp up from there. Again the notorious steps from the Clarach side of Consti were my undoing, but apart from that the run was pleasant save the last mile when Dan announced that a sprint finish would be 'fun'. Despite not really taking part, the effort of not trying to lose too much ground to the other two was enough to tip my legs over the edge and so it was straight into the bath whilst downing a pint of protein, followed by an afternoon nap!

Hopefully by the end of week eight, running 15 miles will seem like a walk in the park, but I very much doubt it!

Monday, 31 January 2011

"You look ill"

The old saying amongst us cyclists is that when your friends and relatives start saying that you look ill, peaky or like a hard labour camp victim, you are going well......

But there is a small difference between looking lean and fit, to looking slightly exhausted and anaemic with sunken eyes! I'm not sure where I sit at the moment, probably somewhere between the two thanks to (finally) a bout of the cold virus that almost everyone else i know has had over the past month or so.

Both Dan (Burgess) and I had busy weeks, working away for the bulk of it, searching in vain for decent hotel gyms to keep the training up on our travels. I eventually did find a gym in Braunschweig, Germany which although holding their weekly over 60's aerobic session, kindly let me join in amongst the bemused older folk who looked on as they walked briskly on thier treadmills to me doing all shapes trying to maintain marathon pace for 40 minutes!

Dan and I did manage to get out for a steady 5 during the week. Again in cycling, the term for someone going slightly better than their training partner is 'half-wheeling', and so Dan half wheeled me for a good portion of the session, leaning back to chat to me at 7 o'clock, or was i just trying to get him to crick his neck??

He certainly seems to be running at a nice pace and the moment, seemingly handling the runs with relative ease, despite a few missed sessions which we are both guilty of. Lets hope his form continues.

As for me, I'm struggling a tad. Dans pace is the pace we need to be at, but I'm not quite up to speed just yet, I'll put it down to the injury and the fact its week one of the heavier schedule. Yesterdays long run was a lovely 11 miler to Wallog and back with great views across Cardigan Bay, we meet at 10am at Plascrug and plan to again next week if anyone fancies coming along?

As we finished the run, which took about an hour and forty minutes, one of us said "Only 15 miles to go..!" maybe it was me actually, it was only a joke, a true one at that but we're hoping that all will be different on the day and the crowd will give us a few free miles with all the cheers and atmosphere.

Here's hoping. 

Monday, 24 January 2011

R.I.C.E.S (Strapping!)

One week in to my return to training and the legs feel...tired!

I started the week with a couple of 40 minute runs which didn't feel too bad, the ankle holding up quite well. I still can't turn left, just like Derek Zoolander, (or was that right?) but straight line running on smooth pavements is ok. The ligaments at the outside top of the foot are the main concern now. They didn't kick up much of a stink at the time of the injury, but they have now decided to join in the fun!

So the 'injury sweetcorn' (nee peas) are still in use but I'm hopeful that everything will hold up to the punishment that I am about to dish out to myself. My programme proper starts today with a lunchtime 5 miler with Mr Burgess. Yesterdays long one was cut at 8 miles when I couldnt really do much more, so much so that I spent the evening in a motionless state on the sofa, so there is alot of endurence work ahead. If only marathons were five miles long!

I've managed to find a corker of a hotel for the event, not that I'd usually describe a Travellodge in this way, but it's the location, by the London City Airport which is the point. It's a stonesthrow from the ExCel registration hall and not too far from Greenwich, I may even make the start on time at this rate!

One last point, Its time to buy my trainers that wil take me through to the race. My current Asics shoes are a year old, and even with my lack of mileage this last year, they are now overdue for a change. What to buy? I've always gone for the same Ascis every year the 2150 (or whatever thay are called). Any recommendantions for a lighter faster trainer? I'm probably going to go for the same agaim so as to avoid any potential niggles over the next few weeks to be honest.

Time to meet Dan for that run!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? %^$&" it's Dai James!!!

Well, its good news all round, (i think), and the training shall commence this week after my ten minute trial on Friday evening.

Despite the odd moment of searing pain when my ankle is pressed in some unnatural position whilst lying on the sofa(!), it has gained strength over the past week. The physio instructed various exercises of which many I've forgotten but luckily I've remembered enough to carry out a pre-bedtime ritual each night. He told me that once I can hop, I can try a run and so after a glorious yet painful looking leap last Wednesday night, I past myself fit enough to try a jog on the tenth day since the physio's words.

So strapping myself up with tape and a compression sock, I donned the dusty Asics trainers and scooted down the road and onto a small circuit comprising of Myn y Ddol, San Bruiec bridge, cycle path & return. So far so good and there was no sign of a limp.

As I stared into the distance along the straight section of cycle path I could see a swarm of runners coming towards me. 'Jeez they look fast' I thought. 'It must be the elite crew from up top' was another muse, bearing in mind that I use glasses when driving and watching the TV. Just as the group were about hit me, I recognised the main protagonist as one Dai James, followed closely by all the usual suspects - Bash, Dai Rob, John etc. There was a quick exchange of greetings but something wasn't right...they were running efficiently and not chatting about the football, that's right, there was no sign of Adriano!

So no more than five minutes into my first run for a while and I see the AC crowd on full steam ahead mode. I didn't turn around to join them, I just trotted around the course and back to the house, seeing them again at Myn y Ddol, so I guess they were doing some circular efforts or were maybe doing a reccy of the 10k course.

Result - minimal pain, no extra swelling.......same again Monday night then!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Still in the pits

Three weeks after the ankle 'crack', I'm still sitting on the sidelines looking on bitter & twisted as the evening trainers run past the house in prep for the Aber 10k.

After a second visit to the physio, it looks like I have damaged this - Posterior Tibial Tendon, plus some minor ligament damage. Worst case scenario is that it is completely snapped, which will result in the loss of my arch in said foot and a long time out, the best case is that it will continue to heal and i will be able to run in about 10 days time.

It will come to the cruch soon as to whether to carry on with this marathon idea this year or defer til 2012. I don't want to delay it, and will be quite happy just to do this years edition and forget abot timings, maybe doing a second marathon later in the year, but I will need at least 10 weeks of prep, which gives me only 3 more to heal.

I can now stand on tiptoe and i walk without a limp, but running is a different ball game and my calf muscle has reduced in size a little.

On the plus side, cycling doesn't hurt! This means I have been exercising on the turbo trainer and with the Ystwyth CC I've also kept the weight down. I managed not to put any weight on over Christmas which was tough on discipline but will hopefully speed up my return to running form when I start. Hopefully I will be able to try a run this Friday as this would be 10 days after the physio's 10 day curfew.

Good luck to all Aber AC guys & girls this Sunday for the 10k. I'll be marshalling somewhere out on course and cheering you all on :-)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Stupid Stupid Stupid!

Well I'd like to start this instalment of the Marathon Diary with news of long, enjoyable beachside runs in the surroundings of the Playa Blanca promenade in Lanzarote amongst the other people who escaped the UK ice & snow and headed out overseas for Christmas.

Unfortunately the day before travelling, with itchy feet the previous week due to prolongued days of no runs thanks to the treacherous ice, I decided to head to the Penweddig fields for an easy lunchtime session in the snowy field. The rest is comedy...

After getting ready in the car at Plascrug car park, which took a good 10 minutes due to the shear amount of layers needed not to freeze to death in the -4 temperatures, I trotted off past the Leisure Centre and around the back of the swimming pool and on past Penweddig School. I remembered there was an access gate to the field somewhere, oh there it is I've gone past it, stop, turn, slip, CRACK, ouch, really ouch!

After feeling sick for a second, I'd realised I'd slipped in front of a window containing a class of schoolchildren and thought better of rolling around in agony which is what i wanted to do, so I got up, put some weight on it and pretended to be OK. I was more annoyed with the fact that I'd taken so long to get dressed, and now, 1 minute into my 'run' it was over.

The bus drivers who were parked up waiting to take the kids home were looking at proceedings with interest as was the class. Bugger it I thought, I've come this far, I'm gonna try and run.....So I climbed the gate and hobbled into the field.

I realised that I could just about put weight down if I landed on my heel, so thats what I did for three laps. The generous snow dropping cushioned my strides and the adrenaline I guess hid the pain a little. In hindsight I suppose this was a stupid thing to do, especially as I heard the crack, despite wearing an i-pod shuffle playing Metallica, later the physio would tell me that cracks are often heard 'through the body' in these situations. Great!

Driving back to work was difficult, my left ankle was the one I hurt and so clutch control made me laugh for some strange reason. The pain was a kind of 'i stubbed my toe' pain which although bad, just gave me the giggles. I know, thats weird!

Touch wood I've never been proper injured before, and after a distress call to fellow crock Helen Marshall, I managed to get an appointment with her physio the very next day. The pain wasn't actually that bad when I visited him but he diagnosed a grade 1 or 2 ankle ligament tear, on the inside and outer ligaments. I hobbled home feeling sorry for myself. We were flying out to Lanzarote the next day where I had planned some serious marathon mileage.

Running was definately out (and still is two weeks later), and so I located the hotel gym and strapped myself in to the gym bike in true Kevin Costner putting his boots back on in Dances with Wolves style.

I was limping like a good un, but thankfully the motion of pedalling wasnt too bad and I got some good bike sessions in.

So all is not lost. The marathon training schedule was supposed to start in earnest on Jan 1st, hopefully I'll be able to manage a trot in a weeks time. I'm off to get that confirmed with the physio now.