Monday, 28 September 2009

Ponies, ponies everywhere!

Well, it was a weekend in the New Forest after all. Actually, the animal count included, in order of sightings: ponies, rabbit, bats, cows, horses, pig, badger, donkeys. And all but the badger (roadkill) were frolicking about gaily. Plus there was the comedy owl hooting in the night, plus a shooting star (admittedly not an animal, but pretty cool to see all the same).
We rode down on the motorbikes straight after work on Friday and were drinking wine in the moonlight outside the tent by 8 o'clock. On Saturday we took a stroll through the trees to Brockenhurst, where there are good cafes, shops and pubs. A leisurely day out in the sunshine. And the blackberries were ripe too. Nice.
On the Sunday morning I took the small wiggly roads to New Milton for the start of the New Forest Marathon. I met up with loads of runners I know (plenty of Fetchies and 100 club members at this one) and met still more that I didn't. It was a beautiful course, mainly on country lanes and a few bits of trail, through forest, open grassland and small villages. It was too hot for me and I think I was still a bit tired from last week's run to the seaside, but finished fairly comfortably in 4:26:05.
On the way home I stopped at Fleet services and came out to find that half a dozen uber-shiny black and silver Yamaha custom bikes had rocked up. They made Haku (my Yamaha Fazer 600) look like some sort of sci-fi cousin.
This morning's recovery run was ok - I didn't feel very strong, but not too knackered either. I had more of my protein powder (£2 off by quoting 'Protein432') with my breakfast to help me recover, ready for a longer run this coming weekend...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

London to Brighton is quite a long way really

What a lovely trail run. And as my brother pointed out, 'London to Brighton' is the sort of route most people can picture and know where it is and roughly how far (supposed to be 56 miles - I clocked 57.8 on the Garmin).

Actually, the first 9 miles were not trail - we went through the deserted Bromley shopping precinct and followed roads to the first checkpoint. After that there was a mixture of trail and country lanes. The paths were generally good and there were some beautiful sections through woods (probably my favourite running). There were, oh, about sixty seven million stiles on the course. Maybe I exaggerate? Seemed more than strictly necessary anyway.

I met several runners I know either at the start or en route, which was good, as well as meeting new people. From a few miles in I ran with a runner called Helen and we stayed together right through to the finish. We actually ran most of it, with just a bit of walking up the hills (notably the big steep hill to get over the South Downs shortly before approaching Brigthon). That should have meant a reasonable finishing time, but the map reading slowed us down a lot. We didn't actually get very lost, but spent a lot of time standing around checking the map and trying to work out which of the vague tracks across the field ahead was the one we were supposed to follow. Even with the compass it was tricksy navigation.
I was looking forward to finishing on the beach in Brighton, until the reality of the pebbles confronted me on the very last weary hundred metres. It felt very good to get there though. Time? 12 hours, 36 minutes, 46 seconds.

I felt more tired than I have in ages on the Monday after. Probably because I didn't manage to eat much on the day, so expended around 5000 more calories than I consumed. But I ate plenty on Monday and Tuesday, including some protein powder to help the muscles, and felt much stronger on Tuesday's run. (You can get £2 off if you want to try some of the protein, by quoting 'Protein432' when you order. It's good vegan stuff, made from hemp.)

All in all it was a good day out - I'll definitely have to go do it again another year.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Robin Hood, Robin Hood...

...riding through the glen... That tune's been going round in my head all week. Which is silly because there was nothing Robin Hoodish about the Nottingham Marathon apart from the name and the fact that the medal has a bow and arrow design on it.Jim and I went to Nottingham on Saturday and spent a pleasant day moseying around town. On Sunday I left Jim to entertain himself with his mighty camera, while I headed to the park for the start of the marathon. There were many Fetchies and a few Vegan Runners, so lots of people to see, some of whom I hadn't met before 'in real life'. Heather and I decided to run together again after our successful pacing last week. It worked, only faster - we finished comfortably in 4:08.

The first half went through the grounds of the uni and some pretty parks, also taking in some hills, which were gentle enough not to need to walk up. The second half headed out past the water sports centre, which involved flat but windy sections and lots of doubling back where we got see other runners. It felt good to be 'running' another marathon after the summer where most of the trail runs involved a fair amount of walking. I guess the Ridgeway is just about out of my legs by now, though my feet are still a little sore.
Comfortable runs like this are great for my confidence in the build up to the ten in ten next year. Oh and I nearly forgot to mention - Robin Hood was my 70th marathon!

I donned my compression socks this morning for a very nice 9 mile recovery run. Lovely. And I'm trying some new vegan 'Hemp Natural Protein' to see if I can improve my recovery even more. If this stuff works, I may be entering into a sort of sponsorship deal with the hemp folk.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

How to Recover from an 86 Mile Run

Well, it seems like the Ridgeway was yonks ago, but it has only been a week. I wondered how well I'd recover. I wondered whether it was foolish to enter a marathon the following weekend...

I reckon 4 hours and 17 minutes says recovery is going pretty well, thank you very much!
The Kent Coastal Marathon, starting at Margate and running along the coast in both directions (and therefore half of it into a headwind), made for a lovely day out. It was possibly my most consistent run for ages. I ran with Heather, who was herself recovering from a summer plagued by injury. We took it steady and kept expecting to need to walk 'at some point soon'. But we just kept jogging along, chatting away.
Of course, I felt a bit more tired than usual, but felt rather chuffed with myself. Running on tired legs is good training too. "For what?" you ask? Well, for running around a big old lake for ten days in a row next year perhaps... see for more on what I've got lined up to challenge me next year.