Sunday, 16 October 2011

Quickest marathon this year...

Nothing to brag about at 3:58, but after all the illness and injury this year, it was a welcome return to the world of sub-4.

I hadn't entered many events after missing such a lot over the summer, but fortunately Simon Redfern offered me his unneeded place at the notoriously fast Abingdon. I popped up on the train last night and stayed about 3 miles from the start, which made for a beautiful warm-up walk along pretty and misty country lanes this morning.

There were loads of mates there, so great to catch up with people and it was perfect running weather (sunny & cool). It was Paul's 100th marathon - always good to have a new member in the club. He ran a PB today and was really chuffed.

I enjoyed the run and had a fantastic day out. Nice wicky T shirt and a chunky medal, as shown below with Tommy, who nearly thwarted my plan to run by involving me in a "nearly falling down the stairs tripping over black cat in the dark" incident. Fortunately he was fine and I just suffered a stubbed toe (which is now rather larger than it should be, and a bit purple).

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

UK Ultra Champs

This weekend I went to the last round of the ULTRArace UK Ultra Championships. It's a series of 9 races, of which the best 5 score. After a year with an unusual amount of illness and injury, I only just managed to do 5.

The first was the Northampton-Tring double in January, at 45 miles each day. I ran these with a chest infection, which didn't exactly help, but that was the first two races completed in reasonably decent times. Annoyingly I picked up anterior compartment syndrome on the second day (effectively a painful lump on my shin which made me limp badly and have to take a complete break from running for a couple of weeks).

I was just about back to running again when the next round came along with another canal double, this time at Grantham, 29 miles each day. I did a bit better there.

Then there was the summer with the groin strain: no running and missing out on lots of events. I finally got back some of my fitness over the last few weeks, enough to do the Nottingham 50K on Sunday. A beautiful route through lots of woods and fields, along the Robin Hood Trail, finishing at the Castle in the city. I was pleased with 5:13 - not particularly quick, but better than I'd expected after all the time off.

And those 5 were enough to put me in third place in the championships. I got a big box of energy bars, a huge glass trophy and a cheque for £50. Shiny!So, same again next year? A brilliant series organised by Rory and Jen at ULTRArace - those guys rock!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Back to school, back to running...

So the new term has seemed a bit manic at work. Not sure why it should seem busier than usual, but it does. Fortunately this has been pleasantly balanced with the ability to run again. I'm still at the slow end but my fitness is gradually returning. And I'm really appreciating every run. (Picture grinning like an idiot at 5am running around the Heath...)

The Green Chain Marathon was hot but very scenic, following the Green Chain path which links up lots of pretty sections of woods and a stretch along the Thames in South East London. Quite hilly in places, but a delightful day out with great company.

The New Forest Marathon is always held on the last weekend of the year that our favourite campsite is open. It would be churlish not to go. Another sunny weekend, with donkeys and blackberries being the best nature around. Always good to get out of the city for a couple of days. And they'd changed the marathon route a bit, running some of it in reverse (though not actually backwards - that would be more challenging) making it more interesting. And at 4:20 for me, it was a bit faster than of late.

The Flower of Suffolk on Sunday covered some beautiful (and flat) trails along the coast, in blazing hot sunshine. I stayed overnight before the event in Lowestoft. I'd taken some work with me and sat on the beach in the evening doing some Maths - most enjoyable! It was an LDWA thing, the first I'd done for ages. Oh, how I'd missed the stiles, kissing gates, boardwalks, footbridges, filed edges - even a tiny patch of mud. I set off early to avoid the worst of the heat with Gil, a 60 year old 100 club member, who's done well over 400 marathons and ultras. We chatted the whole way round and had a good laugh.

The "enrichment" sessions at college have started up again too, so I've been running in the local park with a bunch of teenagers each week, training them up for a 10K (Greenwich in November). We have a really enthusiastic group, with nearly 40 of them this term!

Apart from the whole being-ridiculously-busy thing, I'm finally feeling back to normal. Nice.