Welcome to my running blog. I am currently training to run two marathons in April 2011 - Paris and London - to help celebrate my 30th Birthday. I often get asked about my training methods so thought would write a blog so you can see what it takes -also it provides me with a momento of the last few months of my twenties! In addition to the personal challenge I will be raising money for charity - please see my fundraising page for more details:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Wekk 15: The End!

On the emabnkment - looking v serious!
Finally, after all those weeks of hard training, the final hurdle – the Virgin London Marathon. I’ve done marathons before but never two in eight days – how would I cope? Would I have enough energy to get to the end? Could I manage to gorge myself on pasta one final time?

A week of rest
Woke up after the Paris marathon feeling in remarkably good nick with my only concern being the torture of the planned sports massage. Suitably pummelled and twisted I filled the week with rest, overeating, a touch of yoga and the merest hint of a run on the treadmill (a whole 10 mins – marvellous!)  Physically body felt a bit tired and there was a slight twinge in my right hamstring but overall in fighting form.

In my sponsorship form I had suggested that I would run in fancy dress – enough ideas came in that I opted for a beautiful fairy/angel outfit – mainly because it was the only one that fit!

The race
Woke up feeling fresh as a daisy on the day of the race – although was still full from the blowout pasta meal the night before. However I still managed to gobbled down a large bowl of porridge, dried fruit and nuts, some toast, a couple of slices of malt loaf, an energy bar, orange juice and a banana. Yum – prob a little bit overdid the food and felt pretty heavy all day but a marathon is a long way you know.

Walked down brick lane past all the usual partygoers who were still out and about – felt very virtuous having not had alcohol for a couple of weeks! Picked up my friend David (who was also running) and together wondered down to the DLR to join the steady stream of runners all congregating in Greenwich park.

The start was busy with runners stretching, eating and liberally applying lube  (chaffing is a runners worst nightmare). Unlike Paris there were lots of toilets provided – although even then there were reasonable queues – the curse of the over-hydration! I got many an admiring glance and compliment on my white dress and wings. We got corralled into our start pens, a quick word from Richard Branson and we were off!

The weather was already humid at the start and I wanted decided to get a couple of fast km done to get away from the crowds and before it got too hot. My legs felt good, I wasn’t too full and my wings weren’t rubbing too much. Its been a successful few months and I know what pace I am capable of and what speed to go out as that I am on the limit, for the marathon it was just a case of focusing and running like a metronome and hoping I made it to the end! Varying your pace drastically is a very bad idea in a marathon – and I can only apologise to the many runners I overtook – one look at the idiot in fancy dress going past and most of the serious runners would try and keep up. One guy battled to stay with me for the whole first half before dropping off!

During the second half the field was very strung out and the heat was oppressive. I was suffering from some pain in my left Achilles but kept on at the same speed – it was fairly obvious people were struggling and was very satisfying to spend the second half of the race continually moving up the field. Wearing fancy dress is very popular in the marathon but less so for the serious runners – there were big cheers for me all the way round as one of the first fancy dressers and by far the best looking. One runner was very happy to see me go past in costume as he thought the cheers of ‘Come on you fairy’ were a critique of his running style! In addition I had the support of my parents who managed to see me a staggering four times on the way round (no mean feet) and a number of other supporters along the course – a special shout out to all who were at Manuela’s marathon balcony brunch around mile 11 and also to Ben who spotted me twice while also looking out for his girlfriend.

When pushing things to the limit the last 10k is always tough  - however in London the crowds along the embankment are immense – unbelievable support for all runners and if they can see you battling away you get even bigger cheers. I injected a little extra pace for the last couple of KM, steamed past Buckingham palace and into the Mall for the Finish. The Achilles which had felt dodgy all the way round didn’t snap and my super large breakfast (topped up with a couple of gels and copious amounts of lucosade on the way round) kept me going through to the finish. I stormed across the line in my new PB of 2 hours 50min 17 seconds! This was at the upper end of my expectations and amazing given the hot conditions – I’d run solid, steady race all the way round with the second half only about 1 min slower than the first half.

I was greeted across the line by the Guinness world records people – they were expecting an official record breaking attempt that year by a fairy – but I didn’t qualify as I hadn’t applied (I had applied for a fancy dress record a previous year but then got injured so hadn’t applied this year out of superstition). Maybe next time…

Was a glorious sunny day and afterwards relaxed in the park and enjoyed a few beers to celebrate with friends and other fellow runners (congrats to Barbarra who had a storming race as a peacock for a Guinness world record and to Helen who got an amazing time!).

Race all done – checkout all the pics to see how awesome I looked. Mission accomplished pretty much as planned – two marathons in eight days and a new personal best – can’t really ask for more – I may be thirty but am still fighting fit!

Thank you for everyone’s words of encouragement and support, for those of you who trained and raced with me, my parents and obviously my girlfriend who had to cope with me training non stop for the past three months. Has been a great few months and has been fun writing a blog for a few months.

Finally thanks for all the sponsorship – am still collecting in money for anyone who was waiting to see if I actually made it! Link at the top of the blog. 

Running past buck palace
Runnign across Tower Bridge

With the parents post race - note their Paris finishing tops!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Week 15: London Marathon - come and support

Massage on monday to recover from Paris. Legs feeling pretty sprightly considering. Spent the week relaxing, touch of yoga and pigging out on carbs.

Race on sunday - here's a detailed guide to the best places to watch and a full description of the route.  It all starts at 9.45 and I will be running around 6 min 30s per mile so you can get a rough idea of where I will be at any point in time.

Afterwards will head to the gardens on the embankment - between embankment and temple tube - to drink beer and eat food.  If you're coming by please bring plenty of both ;) Everyone welcome.

For anyone who can't make it out please show your support by sponsoring me - link at the intro to the blog. Thank you for everyones generosity so far.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Week 14 Cont: Enjoying the brass in Paris

Tick.  First Marathon completed. 3hrs 20mins. Next up London.

Sunny Paris
And how did the weekend go? Tres bon since you ask. J’ai  arrive a paris on the Friday night feeling relaxed and rested after a chilled week of training.  Saturday nous sommes promenade from cafe to cafe and manger beaucoup de crepes pour le carbo loading. Un petit relax in the jardins in front of le tour Eiffel followed by a charming trip along the seine dans un boat. Lots of soleil and not a cloud in sight. Tous le monde ( parents, sister, partners, parents neighbours etc.) decamped to a belle Italian restaurant in the evening to fill our bellies with pasta ahead of the big day. And so to bed filled with a certain I don’t know what or even a little je ne sais quoi.

(mange tous Rodney  mange tous– but that’s enough of the cod French for now),

The Marathon
Up early for a breakfast of museli, a couple of bananas, nuts and orange juice. Running clothes on with attractive emergency poncho to keep out the early morning chill and into the metro to join the forty thousand other runners all rendezvousing at the Arc de Triomphe. What a start to a marathon! Lining up on the Champs Elysees, the rising sun lighting up the whole of Paris before us. The only downside was the lack of toilets – queues for miles for the few portacabins that were provided. As usual at a running race the thousands of over-hydrated people made use of any available wall or shop window turning one of the poshest streets in Paris into a giant urinal. Herded into our starting pens we had a few words from the mayor of Paris and a moment of silence for the victims of the Japan earthquake and then we were off!

The route meandered through the centre of Paris, past many of the major landmarks, out through a large park to the east of the city and then back, along the bank of seine through the Bois de Bologne and finishing just short of the Arc de Triomphe. The wide streets meant there was plenty of space, however, compared to other marathons, there was a scarcity of water (only every 5k) and only one measly sports drink station. On the upside there were plenty of bananas, oranges and raisins at every water stop as well as hoses spraying down the runners at regular points. I had my stash of gels to keep me going through the last few kilometres.

The front of me - in red shirt and glasses

My arse.

As this was my first of two marathons within a week my aim was to get round in a steady 3hrs 30mins. My training has all been for a speedy sub 3 marathon so my main aim was not to get carried away with the crowds and excitement and go too fast. For those of you avid blog readers you may have noticed I get a little competitive and in a marathon with so many people around it is very easy to keep trying to overtake. There is a real ebb and flow of runners even though the majority of people around you are aiming for a similar time – keeping focused on who you are keeping pace with is essential. Luckily technology is there to help and the instant feedback that a GPS watch is invaluable with speed readings rather than the old fashioned method of trying to calculate every mile in your head. One downside is the modern runner relies too much on this and when we went through a kilometre tunnel chaos ruled as everyone lost satellite connection and watch pace alarms started beeping left right and centre.

The views were fantastic and the sun was out but not too strong and there was a preponderance of brass bands round the course – by my reckoning more brass than water stops. The crowds were thinner than for London and New York and less vocal. Luckily I had my travelling band of supporters armed with cobweb brushes cleverly transformed into Union Jacks. The night before a plan of attack was drawn up and I knew where on the course and what side of the road to be on to see the GF! Chasing round after runners is a pretty tough task and the GF and Jason, my sister’s boyfriend, had the whole family to cheer on at various points. They did a brilliant job and helped break up the tedium of all those miles.

Post Marathon
Finished in a slightly faster time than expected – 3hrs 20min but felt good. Mum and Vicky, her long time running partner, beat their target time of four hours by a couple of mins and dad was four hours on the button. Little sis, in her first ever marathon, stormed through the majority of the course but an injured ankle scuppered her final few KM – was a brilliant performance from her. Everyone together we decamped to a beautiful square to enjoy the sun, sample the delicious French food and enjoy a well deserved wine or beer.

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to do a race with the whole family. Mum and dad have been inspirational to me in many areas of my life, with running being one of the more obvious. They have never pushed me to run but I have always felt inspired by their obvious enjoyment and dedication to it. Ever since I can remember dad has been running - he also took me to watch my first London marathon a good twenty years ago. Mum took it up once we had grown up a bit and didn’t need constant looking after – and has promptly stormed round every imaginable distance often finishing in the top three for her age.  Great to run the race with them and also have little sis there as well and celebrate together afterwards.

Legs felt decent afterwards – managed a walk around town. Luckily GF's french cousin had joined us so took us on a trip to the Musee de Orsay and a few more cafĂ© stops. I enjoyed a cheeky glass of wine and some more crepes before heading home on the Eurostar.

Round one of two done – a week of eating, sleeping and stretching ahead of me. Bliss.

Mum, Dad, Me and VIcky at the finish (waiting on a pic including little sis - will be in a future blog!)

The whole crew enjoying a relax in a Parisian cafe.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Week 14 - Carbo Load and Paris marathon

Quick post before jumping on the Eurostar and heading off to Paris. Been a great week - couple of chilled runs, still off the booze and now off the coffees. Feel a different man! Just starting the tough task of carbo loading - someone has to eat those cakes! Now just a matter of staying hydrated and not stubbing my toe or walking into anything. Still aiming for a relatively steady 3hr 30min pace on Sunday ahead of the big test in London the week after. The whole family in Paris as well as mum and dads neighbour Vicky who is also running. My sister and I's better halves out on support and cheering duties.  Wish me luck, sponsor me if you have the time and will let you know how it all goes next week!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Week 12 and 13: Tapering

And finally the tapering period has begun – the longest run has been ran and from now on the frequency, distance and intensity of training decreases. Luckily this coincided with my 30th birthday allowing me a couple of nights of celebrations unhindered by the need to pound the streets. Not only has my running decreased but my blogging updates have been tapering as well! Its been fun writing about the training and hopefully you’ve got a rough idea of what’s involved in training for a couple of marathons but there’s only a few different ways of writing about the long slog of running to make it sound that interesting!

For the record, week 12 I managed a grand total of two runs: a rather stonking 29k run after work with some particularly strong speed work for the last 10k. The following day I limped around a 12k with sore legs. On the weekend I celebrated turning 30 and enjoyed my last few drinks before the marathon. By Monday I wasn’t ‘enjoying’ them so much and a slow start to the week culminated in a couple of light runs by the end of the week to clock another 44k. However the clocks have changed, the sun is out and the evenings are light – running is wonderful again! Shame the change in temperature and clocks has brought out all the fair weather runners and groups of school children – the south bank becoming particularly congested. I find the best solution is to drop the shoulder and lean in – amazing the distance you can get with a gangly exchange student.

In between the running have become a bit of a yoga fiend – a couple of bikram sessions at the weekend and the odd ashtanga class (which I have only discovered recently and is brilliant). The reduced training, increased yoga and lack of alcohol all helping me feel fantastic (although it took a few days for the previous weekends hangover to wear off). Hopefully that continues for the next few days – off to Paris with the family on Friday and marathon on the Sunday.  Wish me luck!

KM Ran
Week 12  Ran  41k  (plan 60)
Week 13 Ran  44k (plan 40)
Week 14 Plan 25k (excluding paris marathon!)

Monday, 21 March 2011

Week 11 cont: Winning, duh.

Boom – the tiger blood started pumping this week! Post the weeks skiing it took a few days to get back into exercising without big planks strapped to my foot but by the end of the week we were flying. And the secret weapon? Off the booze for the week and lots of shut eye. Obviously my training is coming to a peak and the weeks ‘rest’ while on the slopes has left me rejuvenated but is amazing how fresh I feel after a week with no alcohol. The only thing I’m addicted to now is winning.

On Friday I was an F-18 bro, but on a treadmill! I deployed my ordinance as I hammered a sprint session – 3 mins at full tilt and 2 mins rest for 40 mins with a warm up before and after. Hit a top speed of 20.5 on the treadmill (that’s 20.5 kmh – or 3 min per km for those of you without a warlock brain.) which is impressive although sadly that’s roughly the pace that the marathon world record was run in.  

At the weekend I was at home with the aged rels for a pre-emptive birthday celebration. As a special treat the whole family had entered a 15mile race in Banbury on Sunday (I’m spoilt aren’t I…). The race started off tough but I managed to tailgate someone for the majority of the course. We made steady work overtaking people from about half way onwards – he dropped me on a big hill three miles from the end. Despite only having one gear, one speed, go, I managed to pick up the pace and steamed past him and with the wind in my sails (or the afterburners enagaged on the old F-18)  had a storming final 3km picking up a few more places including beating the first lady – winning, duh! Jogged back along the course to add a few more KM to my overall total and to see in aged rels, their running buddy Vicki and my little sis. Gnarly day had by all!

Overall for the week a nice tidy 86km including a nice run out along the river to Battersea park – pic of Battersea bridge included. Also managed my usual hour long gym session with Ian where I worked out like a rock god from mars. Week ahead scattered with plans to celebrate my birthday but aiming to clock a respectable 60km – after that it’s the easy bit – tapering! Exercise less, sleep more, eat well. Can’t wait.

P.S. If you didn’t get the topical quotes in this weeks entry then congratulate yourself that you don’t waste your time reading vacuous quotes by overhyped celebrities. If you want to catch up with the rest of the world check out the following link, or just google Mr Sheen and see what turns up. Winning, duh!

Week 11 Total
Week 11 Km Ran   86km  (80km Target)
Week 12 Target      60km

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Week 11: Back running

Back in London after an excellent weeks skiing – decent snow over most of the resort although had to trek a bit for the best of the off piste. Fortunately no damage to limbs and muscles although the liver took a bit of a beating. No running at all but we were up promptly to get first lifts and skied pretty hard all day (apart from Friday when body and soul needed a leisurely day, skiing gently with regular break to enjo gluhwein sat out in the wonderful spring sunshine). Just what I needed as a break from all the running. Pics below of the beautiful scenery and secondly  the Mooserwirt - apres ski bar for the discerning customer...

Back out on my usual running jaunts this week – lets hope the legs are feeling strong after the week off – aiming for a solid 80km this week.