Sunday, 25 April 2010

Titus AndRUNicus

A fantastic weekend away in Stratford-upon-Avon. We got the train up on Friday after work and stayed in a lovely little B&B not far from the centre. We spent Saturday wandering around town, where there was Shakespeare's birthday parade, many brass bands, acting, cheerleading, morris dancing and drumming. We hired a rowing boat and Jim rowed me along the Avon in a manly fashion (as usual). Drinks by the river with comedy geese entertaining us. Pizza for dinner. And a beautiful sunny day.

Today, I had hoped to run a relaxed sub 4, but my legs didn't want to play. I figured that after running fast last week, combined with the cumulative effect of a huge mileage over the last couple of months, my legs deserved a rest. So I took it very easy and came in at 4:24:39. That'll do. The taper for the 10in10 starts now.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Fancy Dress Marathon, 2007

As the London Marathon approaches (which I'm not actually doing this year, I'll be at the Shakespeare marathon instead this weekend), I decided to dig out the video footage of me from the 2007 run (my 26th marathon, which explains the deely boppers a bit), having a quick chat with Colin on Tower Bridge, which was broadcast on the BBC.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Brighton Rocks!

The first ever Brighton Marathon took place today. A gloriously sunny day (when did I stop finding the sun horrible to run in?) and another new PB for me - 3:40:54. Yes, that's ten minutes quicker than at Paris last week. It's the first time I've decided to try to run a PB and actually been successful too (I tried it a couple of times before, but gave up after the first few miles of trying too hard). Running between Paris and Brighton consisted of five 10-mile runs, two of which were on my hilly route. Makes me wonder if that tapering lark really is really necessary.

The course was rather nice and after a few mildly lumpy bits in the first half, it flattened out for the second. The start was delayed quarter of an hour and the T shirt is cotton, but otherwise a top notch event. Great marshaling, loads of support, plenty of water, fantastic atmosphere. I reckon I might have to pop back next year to do it again.

After the event, we went tot he Fortune of War pub down on the seafront, where I met up with Jim, plus my big brother and two nieces, as well as several 100 Club folk and Fetchies. Roger Biggs presented me with my 100 Marathon Club medal. It's shiny. I also enjoyed wearing the 100 club vest.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A shiny new Parisian PB

Maybe it's because I'm so easily pleased, but I always have a ridiculously good time in Paris. We had 4 days there and spent the time wandering the streets to see all our favourite places, as well as seeking out a few museums that we'd not been to before. This time they were: Musee des Egouts - the sewers - pretty interesting and not nearly as smelly as expected; a le Corbusier house; Musee du Vin (yes of course it included a glass of red) and a small art museum with a Dali exhibition. We stayed near Notre Dame, handy for going out around Saint Germain in the evenings.

Conditions were perfect for the marathon on Sunday morning - sunny and cool with a light breeze. I'm not really a fan of big city runs, but as we ran through the Bois de Vincennes I decided Paris is definitely one of my favourite road races. I was running at an easy pace, grinning like an eejot and enjoying the scenery, so I was a bit surprised that I overtook the 4 hour pacers at half way, then ran a negative split to finish in a new PB of 3:50:25. Shiny. And long overdue - my previous PB was set back in 2006.I thought maybe my legs would complain the next day, but they were happy to trot out another 10+ mile training run from Notre Dame along the Seine and around the park at the base of the Eiffel Tower. I suppose I did find the steps up to the Sacre Coeur a little tougher than usual that afternoon.

A brilliant trip away - I think we'll have to go back in the summer, then again for the marathon next April...

Sunday, 4 April 2010

100 is a very shiny number

So, on Friday was number 99 – the 27 mile Bletchley Enigma Marathon, organised by fellow Fetchie and 10in10 runner, Dave Bayley. It was a pleasantly flat and scenic route, with a lap around the lake in Bletchley Park, followed by 9 miles along the canal to a turnaround point, then back in the opposite direction. I ran with Fetchie Katie for the first half and we were joined by 100 club member Neil on the way back and we chatted the whole way. There was a strong wind, which fortunately was a tail wind for the return leg. The rain and cold kicked in for the last couple of miles around the lake, but we were pleased to finish in 4:29:04.Then I took a train up to Goring & Streatley, where I was collected, along with a couple of others, by Jan Kearn, the lovely wife of Dick Kearn, who himself is an amazing and inspirational character, as well as being the race director of the Compton Downland Challenge 40 miler. (He’s also the director of the GUCR and he and Jan also man checkpoints at the Ridgeway 85 and Caesar’s Camp 100). Some people might think it odd to arrive the day before a race, go out to the pub with the organisers and fellow runners, then sleep on gym mats in the school hall. But it works, with a great atmosphere and lots of interesting people around. I wore my compression tights overnight and was pleased to wake up with relatively fresh legs.

The race is on a figure of 8 shaped course (there is also a 20 mile options, making for a total field of over 200 runners) over the downs, including some steep hills up onto the Ridgeway and this year featuring some very slippery mud (and for some reason I didn’t take my trail shoes, so spent a lot of the day sliding around in my roadies). There are 8 checkpoints, well stocked with a variety of food and drinks, manned by enthusiastic and supportive marshals. This has to be one of the best-organised events on the race calendar. With a huge feel-good factor. I took it fairly steady, wanting to finish feeling happy. I enjoyed the run very much and chatted with various runners throughout the day. I finished half an hour quicker than last year, in 7:21:54. At the end lots of people were congratulating me on completing my 100th marathon and becoming a world record holder (unofficial so far, but I should hopefully be able to get it certificated by the Guinness people by sending them some evidence). There were many people there that I knew, including the three gents that ran with me through the night at the Ridgeway, the chap who did the last 60 miles of Caesar’s with me, lots of 100 club folk and Fetchies, plus I met more new fascinating people.
I had a brilliant day. But I mustn’t get big headed – training for the 10in10 and GUCR continues, so I’ve done my gentle 10 miler this morning…