Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Long Expected - Tolkien Run

A new event from those guys at Saxon, Viking & Norman marathons.

With a small field of runners, on Britains newest bit of land and the race being midweek, this race was going to be a bit different. Add to the mix, a Tolkien theme, and it was going to be special!

The race was held at Samphire Hoe, basically a new part of Britain, next to Dover, which was created out of the spill from digging the Channel Tunnel. Here comes my first mistake. After Sundays Farnham Marathon, I expected the course to be pancake flat. Mainly due to me not reading about the course and more from a tv documentary I had watched a fair few years ago about the channel tunnel. 

In the documentary they talked of Samphire How and the fact it was used as a storage area for the large concrete curved walls that lined the tunnel. So in my mind, this was a nice flat area!

Turns out that it wasn't really!! Well, actually two thirds were flat, as we ran along the sea wall. The final third is like the pic above. Over the 27.90 miles I ran, I recorded an elevation gain just shy of 2000ft. Pretty much the same as Farnham marathon.

My initial plan was the same as Farnham, run a good half. Although my glutes were still achey from Farnham which had only been 3 days previous. So this was really about enjoying the event with my fellow runners. 

I set off in a nice comfy 10min/mile pace. Making our way over the hilliest part of the course before making a quick descent to the sea wall. Heading East towards Dover and the docks clearly in view. During these early miles I chatted to Sheila as we headed to the turning point on the sea wall. Just prior to getting there, Matt and Foxy had come past us and Foxy mentioned something about a head wind! At that point I was unsure what he was talking about. But as we made the turn and came onto the main sea wall, I fully understood what he meant!! You couldn't feel the wind at your back at all heading East, but it was a pretty strong wind when you headed west straight into it. 

It wasn't long until we were back at the hilly part of the course, and wanting to run a good half, I continued to run up the hill. It actually felt good. The surface was a good quality trail, so running on it was good. 

Each lap is approx 3.45 miles, so to cover the marathon distance, 8 laps would be required covering 27.6 miles. 

At the end of each out and back there is the legendary aid station. Full of all the naughty food you could wish for. I opted for the bacon cheddars. While admiring Heathers wonderfully made cake!

And back out I went. Matt Tonks was on a flyer, I think he was scared being so close to France, or it may have been difficult to pace with no Jon Godfrey with him. Foxy was after a 50km pb and Keith was always close by or they were talking. 

It was good to meet a fellow 10in10er (TiT). I believe Ellan had turned up late after dropping her child at school, but it was good to have a chat!  

I went through half way in 2.30, not overly disappointed, but slower than I had hoped before I saw the course. 

Mel and myself linked up, and after Mel recently completed the Great Barrow Challenge, 10in10, we started discussing 10 in 10s as you do! We were happy to just enjoy ourselves and keep moving forward. We were soon joined by Jacqueline, who had unfortunately picked up an injury and possibly shouldn't be running. 

The event is a 6 hour challenge. You can run as many or as little laps as you like. As long as you complete one lap, you're classed as a finisher and you get your medal and goody bag. The majority of the field targeting the marathon distance.

After my 5th lap I was very aware of some uncomfortable pain in my left hip flexor and that I was trying to compensate it which was giving me other issues down my left leg. I did something I don't like to do and took some pain killers. I also slipped on my calf guards. I felt better for it and we cracked on.

It wasn't long until we were just about to start our last lap and I had a sneaky shot of Vodka. Thank you Janet. I like to drink tonic water on these type of events, so one vodka was a welcome bonus. It made me feel better for 5 minutes.

I tried to convince others that there was time to run another lap and go for the 50km. Some were already doing this!

Crossing the line was a great feeling. My left leg was shot and I had asked Emily, Rosemary and Sally if they had a spare. Despite my stubbornness and the pain, the medal and goody bag removed it for a while! The medal is huge!!!

The goody bag is full of all the naughties you want after a marathon!

I got an extra choccy bar for working out the Dwarfish Runes on the medal "not all those that wander are lost".

A massive thank you Rachel and Traviss for another fine event! You can't go wrong with these guys. Take a peek at their website

Thank you to the running family again for helping make these events so special.

And a special mentioned to Paul Sahota running in his Darth Vader outfit again! I think he enjoys it a bit to much!!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Raffle Update

It gives me great pleasure to announce that not only is there a sparkling brand new iPad Air up for grabs, but now, thanks to White Star Running, a marathon place in one of their many races next year! You can choose from the Iconic Giants Head Marathon with it's love station at mile 20, the Larmer Tree Marathon where you'll get to run around the beautiful Rushmore Estate, The Ox which has an Ultra option and a medal to nearly die for! Or the shiny new for 2015 Bad Cow Marathon which sees marathon running back in Poole, Dorset.

All you need to do, is visit here donate at least £1 and your name will go in the hat! £10 gets your name in the 10 times etc..

If you've already donated, you'll be automatically added to the draw, but please feel free to add more.

More prize's will be added as 2014 comes to a close so please keep an eye out here!

Finally, please visit to find out dates and further info on their races. X

The IPad in it's shiny packaging!

The wonderful Giants Head medal!

The Larmer Tree Medal!

The Ox Medal!

The Bad Cow Medal!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

New Official Partner - White Star Running

I'm really pleased to announce my first Official partner in support of my journey to and through the Brathay 10 in 10. 

White Star Running have very kindly backed me, which is just brilliant. A well renowned race organisation who put on some iconic and well loved marathons in the UK. 

Races such as the Giants Head Marathon where you get a medal with a huge co....chalk man on it!!

Or there's the Ox, which has just as awesome medal!!

And not forgetting the new for 2015, the Bad Cow Double!!

Here's what White Star Running had to say 

"We are a group of friends who like running, organising races and a cake a and drink afterwards.

White Star Running aims to organise fun, sociable and value for money running events, for runners of all abilities, with no corporate claptrap. We believe in races that are tough, marshals that are friendly, views that are awesome and beer that is cold.

We are very conscious these days that running has been somehow hijacked by big companies organising events to make a quick buck.

We like to think we are not like other companies.

We are very pleased to be helping "The Machine" in his quest to run Brathay 10 Marathons in 10 days

Hes a great lad, but a bit nuts, hes run a load of our events and we like him :)

Check out our Facebook page

For regular Dennis updates and more info on us 


Andy Palmer 

Big Boss at White Star Running "

Farnham Pilgrims Marathon - The local marathon

Believe it or not, but this was the first marathon I ever ran just two years ago. It's a two year marathon runniversary! 

It's my local marathon and I like to support my local event, however this is no easy marathon. A tough trail marathon taking in the beautiful sites along the Pilgrims Way between Farnham and Guildford predominantly around the North Downs. 

In 2012 it was marathon number 1, in 2013 it was marathon number 12, this year it was marathon number 39. Safe to say I've got the bug!! 

After being confirmed as one of the lucky 18 to be running 2015s Brathay 10 in 10, marathons have taken on a new meaning. Until now I had cruised a few marathons with no time to worry about, to enjoy the distances and socialise with my fellow runners. Now, however, I feel I need to structure my running to be gaining something from each run. That's not to say I won't enjoy it! 

Since my DNF on the North Downs 100 in August the legs had felt heavy, until two weeks ago where I managed to pull out the quickest 5km I've done in two years. Speed work is something I'm going to be bringing back into my running. To compliment the long runs I have booked.

Back to Farnham and my plan was to run at least a good half. My fitness isn't back up to putting down a great marathon at the moment, so a good attack on the first half and then get through to finish number 39. Plan was to run at 10min/mile pace. On a road, this is comfortable, on trail it'll push me. 

The start area was really enjoyable for me. I've made so many running friends since December last year, the actual start of the race got in the way of socialising!!
The race starts at The Sands recreation ground. Roughly 1.5-2 miles from my front door. So it was nice to have a 5 minute drive to the race.

Anyway, I had said I would run with Paul Sahota. I think we are of equal running ability and it would be good to enjoy his company on the route. As the gun went off, I went off. Chatting with a few people early doors and noticing I was a bit ahead of Paul. 

I settled into my planned pace and felt comfortable on the early road section. It wasn't long before joining onto the NDW. A route I know well and train on. It didn't make it any easier. In the distance I could see Jay and Cam chatting. Or more Cam chatting to Jay!! 

I decided to keep an eye on them and not lose them. 

After a little detour through Seale we were back on the NDW and heading towards what I call Nemesis hill. A lose stone and sand hill that goes up on to Puttenham common. In training I run this hill, but it kicks my butt. During the race and only 3-4 miles in, I wasn't going to run it. There's not much to gain running it but more to lose. A good fast walk up got me to the top without the need of a defibrillator! The up is followed by a good quick down into Puttenham. 

The course settles out and stays pretty flat as we follow the NDW towards Watts Gallery near Guildford. Here the Pilgrims Way splits from the NDW. I'd lost sight of Jay and Cam, but knew they weren't to far, so I put a push on. 

A few miles further on, and they were back in sight. A combination of me pushing and them enjoying the aid station. We were around 8 miles in. It was really good to join them and a new running friend Paul Hart. 

We had a good chat while pushing on. A few miles further on and the course starts to get tougher! The climb up to St Martha's on the Hill. Best way to describe this, is a church on a massive sand dune!!! 

The top of the sand dune signifies halfway. Some how, I look pretty alive in the pic at the very top of the page with Cam, Jay and Paul despite the climb!! 

At this point Jay got out his little boom box and got the party started as we turned to head back west and downhill. 
You'd think it would be welcoming to have a down hill run, but I was struggling with my toes banging inside my trainers. Which ultimately left me with some tender toes. 

Of course, it wasn't long before we faced an uphill again. This time heading slightly north to take in the views from Pewsey Down!! Then another quick steep descent back on to the Pilgrims Way and towards Shalford Park and the river Wey.

Then, another cheeky little hill to take in St Catherine's. A hill you go up, around the ruins and come down only actually getting a few feet closer to Farnham. 

With this detour out the way, the route continues on the NDW towards Loseley farm. I should also point out I let Jay, Cam and Paul get ahead as I eased off according to the plan.   

Coming past Loseley farm and the Dark Lord himself Paul, you know the one I was supposed to be running with, turned up. We had a quick chat and he ran on in front of me. I started to settle into a run walk strategy I have for tough times, run 200 steps, walk 200 steps. I also realised how hungry I was!! 

The route continues to Watts Gallery where we then rejoin the route we took heading towards Guildford earlier, but heading back. I stuffed some ritz crackers in my face and trotted on towards Puttenham.

Arriving at Puttenham, rather than continue to head back to Farnham, which would've been really nice, we turned to head out on to Puttenham common. Here come the stys!! 

My legs were now feeling like lead and I could feel where my fitness wasn't at the level it needs to be. A few miles into the common and I started chatting with a new marathon runner Neil. It was his first marathon. Who would be so stupid to chose this marathon as a first?! Then do it twice more?! It was a welcome distraction as I offloaded all I knew about running. That was 30s killed!!! 

We stated together for a good few miles until we were back at the bottom of Nemesis hill. Neil was suffering now, and I'm not surprised, a tough first marathon. I started to push on and actually started to feel comfortable again. I knew where I was, what was coming and how far left to go. 

It wasn't long before I was on the home straight heading towards the Barley Mow pub in The Sands. Lots of support from fellow runners who had finished. Turning left into the field and seeing the finish line! Marathon 39 done and the hardest one of the year so far!

Although my time wasn't great, I knew it wasn't about time but how I performed over the first half. It's a tough course and I'm really pleased with how it went. Something I want to carry into the next marathons as I continue to build the fitness!

I'm never going to win races, I'm not a natural runner. I just have bags of determination and I don't know when to quit. In fact, I don't want to quit. 

Now my brain starts the process of removing the memories of the pain and discomfort, preparing me for some later post run internet marathon bookings!!

Despite how tough the course is, it is a stunning route, plenty of aid stations, 95% traffic free on 80-90% on trail (read sand). I'm proud it's my local marathon as it challenges every year!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Brathay 10 in 10!!

I'm really pleased to announce that I have been fortunate enough to be selected to run the Brathay 10 in 10!!

10 Marathons around the beautiful Lake Windermere in 10 consecutive days!!

This will challenge me not just physically but mentally as well. Having completed the Enigma Week at the knees, 7 marathons in 7 days, I know what will be expected of my body and mind, although at least during those 7 days there were 3 different courses.

The Windemere marathon is known to be one of the UKs toughest road marathons. So why would I wish to run it in 10 consecutive days? Because the challenge is there, but also to raise vital funds for the Brathay Trust, who work with disadvantaged children across the UK.

All I need to do is from now until May 8th, is condition my body and mind, and raise a huge amount of cash!!

I shall be having a raffle via my Just Giving page for a chance to win a brand new Apple Ipad Air (worth over £300).

All you need to do, is go to my Just Giving Page  and sponsor me a minimum of £1. For every £1 you put in, you enter your name into the draw. So £10 would put your name in 10 times. Please make sure you give your name and state "IPAD" when sponsoring. The draw will be made on the 15th December so the prize will arrive in time for Christmas!!

Please share the raffle with your friends, family and work colleagues!

Please also visit this blog frequently to see how my training is going and to see what other exciting fundraising events will be going on.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Dinton Pastures 10km Race 3

Dinton Pastures 10km Race 3, the third race in a series of four. 
A very pleasant two loop 5km course around the Dinton Pastures country park near Wokingham. 
I've enjoyed the previous two races and was looking forward to race three. I just wasn't sure how my legs would be after the weekends double marathon. Still, I decided to push it and see where I got. Legs felt strong, but it was warm. I decided to try and pace around 8.40 min/miles. Nothing spectacular but steady. I also decided to run in my Salomon Speedcross 3s. This might not seem anything to exciting, but after running in Adidas Adizero Adios 2s, the Salomons feel rather heavy in comparison. With the NDW100 coming up, it would be good prep.
After a little chat with Karen, we were off. The field is a mix of 5km and 10km runners, no more than 300 overall. It soon spreads early on with plenty of room to run. 
What I always find interesting, is when I overtake runners or get overtaken, am I in a race with them or is it a 5km runner. Going through the first lap, you soon realise as naturally the 5km runners stop. 
I went through halfway at 27.04, a bit quicker than target. It being so warm I took the opportunity to stretch the legs while getting some water down. Then get back on it. 
A few times I considered walking and tried to justify it by telling myself I ran a double on the weekend. Poor excuse really. So I pushed on and finished in 54.44. Steady pacing. Comfortable and the legs felt strong. 
I knew I could've pushed harder, but that push is for another race on another night. This was about a solid safe performance. My natural pacing is working well and I feel I'm starting to get back to my best. After the NDW100 is out of the way, I shall work very hard towards a new marathon pb. 

With only one race left of the series, there is now a league table of the series runners. I'm sitting in 11th in the Men's Senior table, just 44 secs behind 10th place. I have a target. Although only a few days hopefully after a successful 100 mile finish, who knows??

Photo courtesy of sports-alive photography

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Enigma Summer Double Marathons

It's been a while since I had ran the marathon distance. In fact, it was my DNF on the Centurion Runnings Thames Path 100 on the 3rd May. Covering 31.31 miles before an ITB injured forced me out. May and the start of June weren't the greatest weeks of my short running career. ITB and Stomach issues causing problems. Thankfully, things started to change mid June. I've learnt a lot about the powers of rest, recovery, speed work, strength work and core work. 
To many junk miles ran. Training needed a shake up. After discussing my training and running with a very good ultra runner and a few very good marathon runners, I binned the junk miles. Created a purpose for every training session. There's no doubt that I can run far. (Marathon distance-50miles) So why keep plodding out long runs?? I've introduced speed sessions and hill work. Neither really covering more than 8 miles. Developing speed and strength. 
It's amazing what speed you lose for a distance like 10k, thanks to marathon and ultra running. It's now starting to come back, and I feel stronger and more confident running further.

So this weekend was the return of the marathon distance. I was also looking forward to seeing my running family that are typically at most Enigma Events. 

I was initially entered to do all three of the weekends events. Which comprised of a Saturday morning marathon, a Saturday afternoon 30 mile ultra and then a Sunday marathon. But, as you can guess from the headline, I only did the two marathons. More about that later.

Saturday morning was an early start. Up at 5am. Plan to be on the road before 6. The first marathon was due to start at 8.15am, and with the British Grand Prix just up the road from Milton Keynes, I was keen to avoid any traffic. Turns out I had a good run and was at Caldecotte for 7.15am.

Picking up my race number, I was number 1! I've been 2 twice, but now number 1. Not that it means a thing, maybe keenness to enter the race?!

I had lots of fluids and food packed up in a cool box that I left at the aid station. Then said hello to the running family. Good to be around such inspirational runners. Lots of 100 marathon club runners, world record holders, 10in10ers. All very warm and friendly individuals! 

I always planned to run the first marathon around 5-5.15hrs. Giving me a good one hour break before the 30 miler. So a steady 12min/miles would be perfect. But, in true running fashion I set off far quicker, even quicker than 10 min/miles, which would bring in a pb! 

I decided not to panic, I was running strong, comfortable and under no real stress. I was able to chat with others, so stayed with it. I was with Paul and Caroline crossing through halfway at 2.07hrs. A good comfortable and enjoyable first half. I decided not long after I had earned a little break and eased the pace off a little. Still in front of the 12min/mile pace. It was starting to get warm and I didn't want to tax the body with the 30 miler coming later. I started to wish for the drizzle to come back. 
Not long after wishing this, we had a heavy rain shower! Be careful what you wish for. I got my rain jacket on, only for a mile later to take it off again! Bloody typical! I started my last lap at the 4 hour point. With 3.35 miles to go, I could walk this home. Well I could've of, but I faffed getting food from my box. So a run walk last lap it was. The competitive side of me decided to make sure I was under 5hrs. And that's what I did. Probably my most comfortable paced marathon to date. First time under 5hrs since Feb and I felt great! Finishing in 4.56! What could I have done as a single marathon??

With over an hours break, I took on more food and drink. I got a nice leg loosener massage if Vixx. Changed my top and put my calf guards on. It was time for the 30!

With friends turning up to run the 30 only, it was nice to see some new friendly faces joining us. A fair few were attempting the double or triple.

I started off fine. Legs still felt strong. But then a rare moment of sensible reality hit. I started to question why I was running the 30. I had had a really good morning marathon, the first one in two months. A come back marathon from the previous problems. I was aware that it would probably take me around 6.30-7hrs. Not finishing until 9.30pm. I needed to check in to my hotel, have dinner, bath and try to recover before Sundays marathon. Was this to much on my come back? Would I undo the good training I have done? Will this set me back in my North Downs Way 100 training? Was I actually enjoying it? 
I decide to stop at the end of the lap. I knew at the time it was the right decision, and writing this now, a few days later, I still know it was. But part of me questions that decision. 
The positive was, my legs felt rather good! I got to support my running family. I got to check into the hotel, shower eat KFC and TGI Fridays. Unfortunately, the very tough challenge took a fair few friends out of the race. And some went on to complete their first ultras! Well done Lorraine and Chris! Sorry I wasn't there to see you finish. There was a steak with my name on it!!

I'd like to say I got a good nights sleep, unfortunately I didn't. The only down side of my recovery.

Day two, I got myself a McDs breakfast, conscious that my body still needed calories to burn! I average around 3500 calories per marathon. So the 900 at breakfast was only going to go so far. 

I set off at a steady pace thinking about 10min/miles until I faded. I found I got into a nice comfortable pace chatting with Brian and Malcolm (in the photo above). We stayed together for a few laps, then Malcolm and myself for a further lap and a half. Brian just behind us after a toilet break. At halfway I was aware of the heaviness in my legs. My stride had shortened. So a leg stretching walk was required. 
We were running the same marathon route but in reverse, so I developed a run walk strategy based on the courses profile. Not that it changes much with only 202ft of elevation over the marathon distance! With 40+ miles in the legs, every incline made the legs moan and the heart rate rise. With three laps to go I caught Tiago who was having a well earned walk. He had ran both yesterday's races and had only two laps to go. This opportunity doesn't come up often, so I walked and chatted with him. We've ran many events, but never had the chance to chat. It was good to chat and the best part of another lap was completed. I needed to get running again and Tiago did too, so of we trotted, me slower than Tiago.
I ran walked the next lap, pushing to catch up with May, Kate, Jo and Toks. With one lap to go I was with them. Time for more socialising. 
We had a good chat and catchup. I was tired but happy. I still felt strong but naturally low on energy. Crossing over the final bridge a few hundred metres from the end, I kept running, Jo and May didn't want to be lapped and ran with me. Unfairly, I knew they wouldn't run the little hill, but May did!! So a sprint finish it was, and to top it off, I managed to throw my empty water bottle in the bin as I sprinted past! Another great marathon, very social, finishing in 5.40! 

I felt good, the legs felt good. I was back!!

Thank you so much to Karen and Foxy for putting on such great running events that are far more than marathons. It's a community, no, it's a family! A loving family. 

Thank you Paul for the photo of Brian, Malcolm and myself. 

Marathons 33 & 34 done. 17 this year!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Seven - The Final One

When you look and feel your worst, but still make friends, you know they are keepers.

I didn't want to get out of bed, but the knowledge that every step I took today would take me to the finish line of this monumental challenge swayed it. 

I was up and heading to see Vixx for my pre race massage. One that helped put a spring in my step and helped me start this final race.

12 of us 7in7ers started at 8.30 rather than the normal 9.30. Giving us a chance to be finishing closer to the quicker guys. 

I set of with James and Dan on our run walk strategy. The sun was shining and spirits were high! We were to have a giggle of a day. The first initial aim, try to get past the 9.30 runners before they started. Thankfully we managed that, just. 

It was great to see Mel and Liz with their dogs, Emma was running the marathon and had made wonderful cakes! Lisa running in support with her for 18 miles! Stefan was back for the last day before MDS and Nici was running a double, her first real challenge since being knocked off her bike in November. 

It wasn't to long before the fresher legged guys and the four quick 7in7ers past us, but we were still ahead for now. 
All the public we had come across had been very supportive to us, but one lady was rather cheeky. As we walked, as best we could, a lady made the comment "aren't you supposed to be running"! Shocked, I managed to mutter," I could be boxing and you could be swimming". That set Dan off into laughter, and thankfully she didn't hear it. I wouldn't have been able to run away.

We kept up our run walk for the rest of the lap. Dan deciding we looked like the old boys from Last of the Summer Wine.
Not sure who was who?

Start of lap 3, and Fay was joining us for a lap around the lake. A welcome distraction! Having to reign Fay in, running off to quick for us three shuffling old blokes. We were son joined by Janes surprise visitor Ali. No loud ass whacks today though! 

The five of us trudged on, although the girls did start nattering, and I said to the lads, "how far will they run if we walk?". Didn't get a chance to find out. 

Every now and then Paul would pop up with his camera and get snaps. We all felt we should run when Paul had his camera out, but not on the hills. It was good to se him, and taking the sensible decision not to run day three. Brathays 10 in 10 is coming up! I know, a sensible runner. Very rare.

It was long until we were onto lap four. Fay dropped off but Ali stayed with us. Shuffling along, a bit of Monty Python quoted. Eating up the miles. Although the outside of my left knee was really playing up. Thankfully Dan had some big drugs which I gratefully took. It worked a treat. 

A few more laps knocked out, some hail fell on us and we saw plenty of the other guys as they went past. I picked up my phone, I wanted to show James and Dan a video on Goats shouting like humans. It's hilarious! Go find it on YouTube.

We chuckled along to the start of our final lap. Fay and Ali joined us again. The pace was also picking up. That finishing line was so very close now. We walked our walking stretches. One final pee in the bush for James. We ran well our running stretches. We were soon by the pub and only a few 100 metres from the finish. We were stripped down to our running tops, the pace had picked up and so had the heat. The girls took the short route to the finish as we headed off to our finish. The three amigos! Or the old boys above!

James wanted us to do the Can-Can across the line. Initially Dan and myself weren't convinced. Dan thought he might not be able to lift his leg high enough, I thought I would lead with the wrong foot and kick one of them. We did however manage to organize ourselves, and as we came up to the line, we Can-Canned! A fun way to finish an enjoyable marathon and probably my first negative split marathon!! We were home in 6.27! 

It was hugs a plenty as we received our final medal and trophy for completing the 7in7 challenge. Bubbles were drank and pictures a plenty! We had done it.

Thank you Dan and James for the brilliant company. It made the challenge a little easier to deal with. Thank you to Fay, Jane and Ali for joining us over the last two days. Thank you to Vixx for the rub downs.

A massive thank you to Karen and Foxy, for putting on a brilliant event. You looked after us really really well. Top top people.

I shall write another blog in a few days covering the whole event. But for now it's time to relax a little.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the knees Day Six - The Musical Boobies One

Relentless forward progress.

I'm starting to fall apart. I can't really complain though. What was I expecting to happen after 6 consequetive marathons?

The day started off with a massage from Vixx, who had kindly come down for the weekend to help us runners sort out our tired and beaten legs. It really helped and made standing on the start line easier. Although I was a bit behind on breakfast, but I had agreed to walk with James.

We are back at Caldecotte to run two days the normal route, so we walked down to the start line. Albeit casually.

James and I set out at the back, nursing our tired and beaten legs. The plan was to do 16min/mile pace. So we were off.

A good steady first lap saw us just 22secs off the pace, no worries. Not far into the second lap, we decided on a little run and got ahead if our pace. Also realising that our legs would allow us to run. Unfortunately not Gazelle like, as per the beginning of the week. But they were moving forward quicker than a walk. Just.

Start of the third lap and Fay had joined us for a walk when we heard this almighty smack! James had a look of anger and surprise on his face. Which quickly went, when he realised it was his running friend Jane! It was a loud smack. Right on the ass cheek.

Fay and Jane stayed with us, Fay dropping away after the weir. Jane and James had a good catch up, and we ran some more. We were slowly developing a good run walk strategy for the course. 

I also learnt about the Musical Boobies. Jane was wearing a running pack where on the front she had two speakers inside the drinks holder. Great idea, and I may have to try it myself!

James and I carried on going around and around the lake, now run walking. Jane would join us for a lap and Fay would walk with us for a bit. It all really helped and eventually we got day six done.

Vixx was at hand again and we both enjoyed a good leg massage afterwards.
Just the single marathon to go now and this huge challenge will be completed!

Finished the day in 6.39

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Five - The Tough One

Four seasons in one day.
The day started good! It was sunny and I felt physically and mentally good. So much so, I thought I may pee a few people off being so happy!! 

This was to be the last day at Furzton Lake, and it was to be an eventful one!! 
We had two people running in fancy dress. No I don't mean Armani suits, more Big Red Fire Extinguisher and a Bright White Lighthouse! Cue the jokes.

Photo Courtsey of Ruth Benzema.

I was fortunate enough to start the race and enjoy a few of the early laps with Paul Mason. Paul is running the Brathays 10 in 10 this May and was coming back from injury. My plan was the same as the day before, run a lap, walk a lap. We set off as per plan. 

After lap two, Paul stopped to get his gloves as I started to run. Here's where it might have gone wrong?! I ran to what I thought was comfortable, but it was also at speed. Back at that 9.30min/mile pace. It felt easy so I didn't stress about. At the end of the lap, my stomach felt a bit uncomfortable, but it was walk time. 

During this walking point I realised I had pushed to hard. Having to divert to the toilet to make a long distance conference call. Whoops. Back out of the toilet and pub, I opted to walk the next lap.

Fortunately I was with Xan. After spending most of the day before with his partner Cat, it was nice to spend time together as well. Plus Cat was running like it was day one! 

From this point in, Xan and myself ran walked the course. The wind was picking up, the clouds were building, our feet were hurting.

One of the good things about Furzton and it's short laps is the opportunity to see all the runners. As you lose count how many times Steve zooms past, you see Karen and Foxy, plus the food and drink table more often, Teresa (the important part of Team Edwards) is always there to hand you a drink and some encouragement.

Not only did we have the fancy dress, David Barr was running his 100th marathon. This is becoming a common occurrence and is a real sign that I've got in with a bad crowd! Endorphin Pushers!!

We also had Annas birthday to celebrate, and the cake was teasing me every lap, so every time I saw Anna, I asked when could we have cake?!

The Silson Joggers were back to run their second days. Running together, they were easy to spot. I think one of them is colour blind, kept mixing his compression calf guards up. Pink and green together?! Or maybe one signifies left foot the other right? ;) 
They did very well, sticking together with a great pace over the two days. Although their complaints of it hurting on day two, fell on deaf ears. Sorry guys.

With a few laps to go, we were treated to a military helicopter landing on the course, well to the side of it. I was half expecting men dressed head to toe in black to jump out, swipe away a runner and fly off. All on the basis that the runner was some dodgy criminal underworld boss. Not that I think any of them are actually like this? But I have seen a few making calls while running and are pretty quick to! Not mentioning any names Rik and Paul.

Xan and I did get to enjoy a rainbow, and after Xan finished his last lap, I got to enjoy another one, unfortunately, I had to have the 10 minutes of peeing down rain first!

Tired legs and body lead to a 6.17 marathon.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Four - The Hump One

57.2% Done!
Today was the first of two days at Furzton Lake. With it being the smallest of lakes, it's the one that seems like it will take an eternity. Unlike Willen and Caldecotte, which are 7 laps, Furzton is 17! Now I know what you are thinking, sod that. But personally, I think it may be my favourite lake. Despite the fact it has a tough little roller coaster bit to it every lap, and yesterday's hurricane force wind (authors artistic licence used), you do get to see much more of each other while running.

Day 3 I had picked up two blisters, which I managed to treat with surgical spirit. One had gone and one was on the retreat. A change of trainers and I felt good to run.

Four friends joined the race today for the day. It was fantastic to see Carrie,Carl, Mel and May ( May is doing the final 4)and it really lifted my spirits. The proverbial spring back into my step. However I was keen on the wind which seemed as powerful as being inside a tornado. (More licence, not been in a tornado, plane or twister)

We were off, I'd like to say that I flew out the gate all keen and had to rein myself in, but day 4 of 7, there was no risk of that!

My plan for the day was to run a lap, walk a lap. Repeat until Karen said I was done. Easy. Sort of.

After lap two, I needed a wee, so I had to trot off to the pub. How easy it would've been to stay there!! However I didn't, I went to my car, for headache tablets. Managing to avoid all temptation to regain my sanity!

Due to my enforced break and slow shuffle (which when I talk to the grand kids in 40 years, will be running like a gazelle across the open plains of the Serengeti, being chased by the lions, Steve, Jeremy and Rik!), Cat wasn't far behind lapping me. Her plan was the same as mine, but was doing walk then run and repeat. 

It seemed only right to natter and chatter again. From this point onwards I think other than the odd break, we ran walked together. Although I was a lap down. 

Inbetween our jolly going round and round the lake we would be joined by other runners for periods of time. Having a good catch up and cuddles with Mel, little chats with Carl and Carrie as they pushed on. May joined us on hers and Cats last laps. 

Once those guys finished, I thought I would catch Marathon Man, Trent. He was actually behind me, but my legs were feeling great, and it was an opportunity to see what was under me, so I shot off after the two ladies finished.

Now, bear in mind there was now 100 miles of running (sort of) in my legs. I some how managed to get into a 9.30min/mile pace. Comfortably my fastest pace for probably the last two marathons. I couldn't believe how good my legs felt. I soon caught Trent, where I had planned to have a little chat, but looking at my watch, realised I might just squeeze sub 6. So like a man possessed I blurted out a hello and carried on. Then remembered the hill! (Which feels more like Everest every lap) Naturally I walked most of it, I'm not stupid! 

Before getting to the top, I surprised myself and started running again. I bashed out the last few 100 metres and finished 71 seconds I believe over the sub 6. But I didn't care, I was back and four marathons out of seven done!! 6.01

It was great to see Rik Vercoe complete is 300th marathon. Steve Edwards was steady again today. Really is Mr Consistent. Jeremy not to far behind running in unknown territory like myself.

I must also say hello to the Silson Joggers. Somebody really does read this!! Stop yawning! 

I never thought I'd say this, but bring on day five!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Three - The Enjoyable One

First day at Caldecotte.
Day three morning started with me feeling tired but determined. It was the first of three days at Caldecotte lake, but we were running it in reverse, Anticlockwise. The wind was a bit choppy, so I opted to wear my jacket. 

Starting off with Foxy running again, we did a small loop before the main loop and I was surprised that although I felt tired, the legs felt good. That put a smile onto my face. 

I spent the first lap chatting to the odd runner and realising I was getting to warm. So end of lap one and jacket off. 

I was then joined by Cat, who had picked up a packet a crisps but then seemed to Palm them off to everyone rather than eat them?! We chatted for a good lap and a half until I struggled to digest my bacon rasher crisps. 

I wasn't to be alone for long, as Kate was soon closing me down. We chatted for a good half a lap, but her relentless running was just to much for me. So I dropped off when we caught Martin and Traviss. 

I spent the best part of a lap and a half chatting with Traviss, and had even managed to order a pint of coke, thank you David. I did the majority of the next lap happily on my own, fully aware that day three was going to be the enoyable one.

Not long into the penultimate lap, I was rejoined by Cat. She was doing well considering she had decided to run naked (without a watch). We chatted for a little while until Vicky caught up. Cat went on to finish day three as Vicky and myself still had a lap and a bit to complete.

Vicky got a massive PB yesterday of 30 mins, so it was nice to catch up and chat. Especially as we are local to each other. I also naively thought Vicky would be pleased to plod to the finish with me, but nope, she got me running again. 

We had a really good catch up on the way around to the finish, our lives intermingled unknowingly. Sort of. Without Vicky cracking the proverbial whip, I would've slipped to over 6 hours, thankfully though we came home ten minutes slower than day two at 5.56!

Thank you to everyone for the conversation, it really helps the miles go.

On a bonus, the £2014 target has now been beaten and I shall need to think of a new one!

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day Two - Oma's Marathon

Same course, different run. 
After yesterday's cramp issues and going off to fast, I changed the plan. I settled into a good early pace, took on salts and enjoyed myself. Like yesterday though, the second half was to be harder than the first. 

The weather wasn't as nice as day one, and on the far side of the lake, it was very windy with a head wind to deal with. My quads were starting to ache. Probably due to not ice bathing on day one! At around mile 18 it became a real mental battle. If this was day two of a double, I would've bashed the miles out to get it done. Unfortunately it's day two of seven which required me to be sensible!

I went inside myself to review the build up into the event. The last few weeks haven't been to plan, which made me think upon recent events, or more so my Oma and Opa (grandmother and grandfather). They had been married 66 years until the recent passing of my Oma. With them in my thoughts, I realised I shouldn't be dull and glum. I'm very fortunate to be able to do what I love. That's when the sweepstake idea popped into my head! See my Facebook!

Running was still tough but I had a spring back in my step, so much so, I swept the course of markers on my final lap. Crossing the line with Kaja. 5.46

It was tough but probably the most sensible race I've ran. This one was for you Oma! X

Monday, 17 March 2014

Buff Enigma Week at the Knees Day One - The Easy One

They say no two marathons are the same, and today I found that out. Of course, I kind of knew that having done 23 previous ones. But there is always more to learn.

Having set myself a plan for the day, which was basically to run comfortably for around a 5 hour marathon, I made the rookie mistake of going out to fast. With the weather nice and sunny and the enthusiasm of it being day 1, I set off in the middle of the group and ran without checking my pace with my Garmin. Just running on feel. 

Initially I thought this would be a good way to run. Just listening to the body. Unfortunately, after 3 miles, I checked my watch and saw I was running at a sub 4 hour marathon pace. That wasn't going to happen and I'll pay for that later. It took me until past the half marathon mark (2.02) to settle into where I should've been. 

With the sun no longer beating down as hard as the first few hours I worked on my second half strategy. Trying to recover the damage from the first half. This involved walking which I started to do around mile 16-17. A nice quick walk that allowed me to stretch the legs and let them recover. It also created opportunities to chat to some of the other runners as they started to catch and pass me.

That's where my competitive side kicks in. Seeing people go past as I slip down the finishers list. I spent most of that time reminding myself of the challenge. Time is important, doing the 7 marathons is the challenge. 

After having a good stretch out and talking with Traviss, I set off into a run walk strategy. With the thinking of not stressing the legs. Unfortunately though, I was starting to get cramp in my calfs. What was frustrating was I had maintained good fluid and had been take my salt tablets. But obviously not enough. See, more learning. 

Eventually I got through day one in a pleasing and pretty much in target 5.10. With things to adapt for day two, I was very pleased and would say day one was a success and I was exactly where I want to be. 

Although I must say, trying to manage myself across the distance when you are normally up against the clock, rather than this challenge, made it tough. As you can read, it took me a long time to settle into the correct pace. 

Any how, day two awaits!

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Viking Coastal Double Marathon

Ok, so these two marathons were last minute entries. Although on the waiting list, I didn't know until Thursday if I would gain a place. Thankfully a place per day became available.
I knew that the event would be well organised, and I had heard good things about the goody bag and medal. When the race organisers are both 100 marathon club members, you could say they are more than qualified to know what a marathon runner would want from a race. We weren't to be disappointed!!

The marathons were on the same course for both days. Starting at the sea front in Birchington, Kent, then running 3.30 miles west along the Viking Coastal path to Reculver Castle. Once there, it was just a case of running back to the start area, doing that loop four times.

I decided to drive to the race on Saturday morning. The weather was looking promising considering the recent heavy rains. But being a Coastal event, I was aware the weather could change quickly. I arrived in plenty of time and started to see the usual faces from other double marathons. I received my race number for the weekend. Number 65.

As the weather was good, I opted to give my new Balls to Cancer running shirts their first outing. My plan was to again try and hit a pb, or more specifically 4.22 marathon. Running 10 min/miles as an average. The plan was to run at least halfway at 9 min/mile pace, 16 miles was where I was hoping to hold it for, then I could slow to 11 min/miles pace for the second half. Haven't got my head around negative splits yet. Only down side to my plan, I had forgot my salt tablets?!

I soon saw two friends who I knew were attempting their first double marathons. Hannah Prentice and Jennifer Chilton. They both looked a little nervous, but also excited. Hannah was doing marathons 6&7? And Jenny was doing 3&4 (I know, nuts). These were to be 20&21 for me. 

With our final race brief, a few hello to friends and applause for Rik Verco for doing 150 marathons in 365 days, plus Brian Mills starting marathon number 952!! A uk record by a very large margin, we were off. 

Still chatting with Stefan after the first loop. (6.6 miles)

With the wind at our backs, I settled into my pace and chatted with Stefan for a while. Although I felt the pace was a little slow I pushed on a bit. I was aware that I was now running around 8.45min/mile pace, but I wasn't stressed and stayed happily with it. It was a nice flat route upto the castle, where we turned around 100 yards short of the castle at a gate. As soon as I turned to head back, I immediately noticed the head wind. Joy! I had a plan and I wanted to stick with it, so it was a case of pushing harder back into the wind to keep the 9 min/mile pace going. I was now in a little group, and we were having a good chatter. It was helping. The head wind was making it tough to keep on pace, but I knew I'd get the benefit when heading back out. I was amongst some great runners and felt proud of how I was doing. Reaching the quarter distance I took on some shot bloks and headed straight back out. This left me out on my own as the little group spent a bit long at the aid station. 

I went inside myself a little bit as I pushed on, the head wind now at my back, I didn't feel as help for as the first loop. Nevertheless, I stuck to my plan, occasionally having to slow back to the 9 min/mile pace. To occupy my mind I started counting the field and my position within it. I found myself sitting in 22nd position of a field of 57! I was stoked, but knew there was a very long way to go. I had also set my virtual pacer on my Garmin to 9.40min/mile pace. That would be a 4.15 marathon time.

At the second time of touching the gate, I opted to freshen up on the route back into the head wind. I was ahead of my VP by 6 odd minutes, roughly 9 minutes in front of a 4.22 marathon pace. My walks were short, but it allowed me to push a little harder when running without over stressing myself. It wasn't long until I slipped into 23rd. I argued with myself about gaining the place back, but it was stupid, stick to the plan. Not far from the half way point, Stefan pushed me down into 24th.

Again I wasted no time here and was back out. My half time was sub 2, so all was still really good. 
Stefan was soon back on me, kicking my backside. I had decided that I wanted to get back to the gate 5 minutes in front of my VP. So at this point I could afford to slip into approx 9.40 min/mile pace. 

I soon slipped down into 26th place, but did so with encouragement from the two guys going past me. They knew my target and were very encouraging, which lifted me. It was time to dig deep. I stuck to my revised plan as best I could and arrived at the gate for the third time, 4.30 minutes in front of the VP. The plan now was to see how much of that I could keep when heading back for the bell. I was now  the best part of 12 minutes in front of a 4.22. It seemed like a lot of time, but with just under 10 miles to go, it was a small amount realistically. 

Turning back into the head wind, which now seemed stronger than before, I started to struggle. With my focus purely on getting to the bell as quick as I could to keep the time I had made. I was struggling with cramping, not my legs, but my stomach. All week I kept thinking I need to take my salt tablets to the race. I was now rather annoyed with myself for forgetting them. A mistake which was now costing me big time. I struggled to the bell and the start of my last lap in front of my VP by a few seconds. Still not a loss though. I still had approx 7 minutes in front of a 4.22 and 13 minutes from my pb. This was going to be tough.

It's said many times, a marathon is a 20 mile training run with a 6.2 mile race at the end. Unfortunately I had ran a 20 mile race and was slipping into a 6.2 miles of pain, all of it in the stomach. I was stuck in a rut. I was trying to push, my stomach bringing me to the occasional stand still. I was slipping back through the field. I reached the gate for the final time for the day. 4.22 was all but gone. It was now about breaking the pb, even by a few seconds. But I was done. I applied a run walk strategy, but it still wasn't enough. Matt and Jennifer were next to catch me, a bitter sweet moment. With a mile to go, these were the last two to pass me. I had a little chat with Matt, he was doing marathon 99. I then tried to catch Jen. But I couldn't. I finally crossed the line 35 seconds behind Jen. Completing the marathon in my 4th fastest time of 4.39.54. Not a disaster, but due to one mistake of forgetting my salt tablets, I could've smashed my pb. I congratulated Jen on her time, a pb for her by a massive 30 minutes!! We didn't have to wait to long to see Hannah complete day one as well. All three home! Mel Floyd then arrived, which was really pleasing after she had a knee injury during the Winter Double and DNF'd, day two. She was back and the marathon completed!

Day one done
Fantastic goody bag!

After a rubbish nights sleep, Day Two was upon us. I managed to get a good bacon and eggs breakfast in, before heading to the race venue. It had rained over night, but it looked like it was going to be another dry day. The wind had settled down too.

Today was about getting the job done. No time plans, just do what needs to be done to get through 26.2 miles. I had decided if I could to run with Hannah and Jen. Stefan half attempted to convince me to try for a pb, which I laughed off. Another short race brief for those who didn't run day one, and we were off. I started running with Jen, Hannah and Mel chatting just behind us. 

Jen and myself settled into a 10 min/mile pace. We slowly opened a gap between Hannah and Mel, and discussed if we should run with them. Although I knew Hannah would be happy with Mel, after they ran Berlin together for 95% of it. 

We soon reached the castle/gate for the first time. Both of us feeling the pace a little, so we started to ease it back to 10.30 min/mile pace. Thankfully there was no head wind to fight! We soon started chatting about all sorts of weird and wonderful subjects. It was nice to be sharing the miles. 

We were soon finishing our first lap. Time to get some scoff on. Plenty to choose from, cheese balls, pretzels, mini cheddars, peanut butter M&Ms. Water, squash and energy gels. With some scoff on, my jacket removed and Jen catching up with her mum, we were off back to that castle.

Reculver Castle and the turn around point.

We had decided to do a walk run strategy. Easier said then done. Jeans walking pace was unbelievable, I struggled to keep up!!! We were breaking up the course into walk sections and run sections. We were also both aware of little niggles creeping in. My foot was sore and Jens knee was feeling out of sorts. Jens plan for the weekend was to pb day one, finish day two. Pretty much the same as my plan, but I missed that pb. 

The weather was beautiful and there was many cyclists and walkers out and about. Although I did joke that I wouldn't walk the route. Even though I was running up and down it eight times in two days.
The castle was reminding me of the part in Monty Pythons Holy Grail, where King Arthur attacks the castle to save the fair maiden after Concorde took the arrow to his chest. You know, where the guards look and see him charging in the distance, then look at each other, then look back and he's no closer. After a few more glances, he's suddenly there. That's what the carle was like. It just looked like it wasn't getting closer, then suddenly we were there. 

Still smiling or wind? You choose!

Eventually that castle was in front of us. Yes, only needed to see it two more times! We both were surprised to feel our stomachs rumble?! How could we be hungry? We ate lunch in the Brewers Fayre, dinner at Chiquitos and breakfast that morning! We were calorie burning machines. Best get back to that aid station for food!!

Easier said than done. Our niggles were now protesting. Making us question what we were doing. No doubt like the walkers we were chatting to. We were soon discussing how nice it would be to have an ice cream.

From the halfway point on it was about digging deep for us both. We were hurting from the day befores effort. Our walks were becoming longer than our runs. We were doing what we needed to, getting the job done. I don't remember much of the next loop other than hurting and the castle taking forever. However I did enjoy the bell, signalling the last lap.

At this point we were down to walking. Happily, we were passed by Mel and Hannah who were running really well. We stuck to our plan. Somehow we discussed bowel movements and other odd things, including what do dogs think?! 

Finally the castle and gate arrived. We were 3.3 miles from finishing the challenge. As beautiful as the castle and route is, I'd be lying if I said I would miss it. Although, in the long term I will.

Saying good bye to the gate.

Just a Parkrun to go, that's what one of the runners said to us. It was true, just a very tired, aching and sore Parkrun! We attempted to run, but it wasn't happening. So it was back to Jens walk speed. 14min/miles! Although we decided that we would run across the finish line.

With that last .2 miles in front of us, we set off doing our last bit of running for the weekend. We had fought our demons through day two, we did it wearing smiles. It really was a pleasure to help a fellow runner complete the challenge of doing two marathons in two days. Even if they beat me by 35 seconds collectively! We crossed the line together in 5.42.

Without Jen, day two would've been so much harder mentally. Running with a friend to chat to really helps the miles go by. We talked about everything except, war, religion and politics. It was amazing to see Jen complete marathons 3&4. To do your first double so early in a marathon career is bonkers. The same for Hannah. They both set themselves the challenge and they both completed it in style.
100% impressed. It takes a huge amount of guts and sheer determination to complete a challenge like a double marathon. Only a small percentage of the worlds population will complete A marathon, you get into very small percentages to find those who have done two in two days. It really is an amazing achievement. One that should be respected for the challenge it is, but also huge respect for those who take it on and complete it.

Well done guys, I'm proud of you!

A big thank you to Traviss and Rachel and their support staff for a fantastic event, medal and goody bag.
A big thank you to all my running friends at the races and supporting me around the country. 

Viking Coastal Double Marathon finishers! Hannah, Me, Jen and Mel.