Running into 2013 – A review of 2012

So lets be honest the year has not been great. I’m still in the UK and only managed to visit the wonderful Wales and walk Snowdon a handful of times. I have yet to make the move to New Zealand and am still working in theatre. Still single and desperately want to move to Wales and work in the heritage sector or be a park ranger for one of the National Parks,  2012 has not been any different from 2011 or 2010 apart from two letters, ‘P’ and ‘B’.

2012 has been a year of Personal Bests or as my friends across the pond say Personal Records. Hopefully when I do a round up of 2013 I will be sitting in a cafe in Christchurch or Wellington talking about how the past three months have seen me Skydive and Bun-jee jump in between the trekking and kayaking through the scenic backdrop of New Zealand. The 2013 review will also have some PB’s I hope.

So 2012 has all been rather quiet. Work has been slow but I have managed to fit in a lot of running. The first being a 10K around the Orme in Llandudno Wales and this was the first PB of the year, the second race was to see yet another PB although not intended. 2012 was the year I discovered the Marathon and was taking part in the Manchester one that had been away for ten years and as a warm up entered Liverpool Half. When I say a warm up it was to practice my pace, taking on gels etc as I knew I could run 13.1 miles has I had done the distance several times however on that hot March morning as the gun echoed I went for it and after 1hr 41 minutes  34 seconds had recorded a new PB, which had not been my intention as I wanted to see if I could run at Marathon Pace which would have seen me cross the line in under 2 hours.

The next race was the Marathon and what a wet marathon it was, cold with a wind chill of -1 degree. I wanted to break sub 4 as every runner does for some reason anything more doesn’t make you a runner but as I was left out in the cold soaked to the bone and hands frozen to the point where I couldn’t hold bottles or undo the zip to get any gels my brain went F$%K it…. and i hit the wall at mile 15 in the middle of an open vast empty isolated cheshire countryside with 6 miles until the urban sprawl of Trafford and the city lights of Manchester. As I ran those finally 11 miles forcing my legs up rather than dragging them beneath me all I could think off was ‘Who else can say they have done this’ the answer is less than 1% of the worlds population has ran the distance and as I was crying with pain spending time thanking the crowd who were offering words of encouragement and the all so important jelly babies, I was determined to cross that line and as I returned into the park I crossed the line in 4hr 31 minutes and 22 seconds. Cold, exhausted, euphoric and wet I had done a marathon. As I hobbled to the tram stop and clambered into a warm bath my thoughts turned to the next marathon… Not because I enjoyed this one but because I had to get a sub 4.

The next week I was in pain, as a runner friend says I had a bout of the ‘Lady GaGa’s’ “ohhhh, oh-oh-e-oh-oh-oh’ But I had to get better as for some reason I had schedule a whole month of runs. The first saw me at Port Sunlight 10K. Again this was to be a cool down run, a recovery run a nice slow pace. That slow pace saw me get another PB in 43 mins 20 seconds. Oh well I will recover on the next 10K the following week, which I did as I crossed the line in 44 minutes. A new course record for me on the Manchester 10K but I wanted to do better on my home turf but the usual crowded streets and bottle necks does not make for a PB. I was now determined that the 10K in Bangor run would have to be a PB, but it seemed that the Marathon and constant fast running had taken it toll as it was not to be plus the fact that Bangor is hilly and the heat on that day was a joke. As we pulled up I said to my friend I would just run it nice and slow. 46 minutes is not slow and was not nice in that heat. I finally had a week off from not running so rested a little more and by this point I had started seeing a physio on a regular basis and still do to this day. The last 10K of the season for me was in Merseyside and was to take place running through the tunnel from Liverpool over to the Wirral and I did it in 42 minutes, another PB. The week after was seeing me drive to Llandudno again but for a new race distance a nice ten miler. I as usual set off to quick at 10K pace but managed to keep it up to see me cross in 1hr 12 minutes.

Most of the summer saw me walking and hiking in the Lakes and not really get much running done, due to a strange injury I had developed. This was a concern as come October I would be running the 26.2 miles around Snowdon in a warm up to this I entered the Langdale half. To say this was hilly is like saying the Sistine Chapel has a nice painting. So on a very warm late september morning I tackled this course that had climbs of 33% as I twisted around the valley to come in at a very impressive 1hr 45. No PB, but certainly not what I was expecting.

A slighter slower race in a warm up to Snowdon was the Macclesfield half, which was no fast time but just a really good race being able to run in my home town and hear the fellow runners complain about the hill sections of the course. I had to bite my tongue as after Langdale the hills were more of a bump in the countryside than any force to be climbed.

So then came October and the big race was upon us. I just wanted to finish it, and had set a target of five hours. Snowdon has a lot of hills, long hills. Not steep, but long. If I remember correctly one section climbs for over five miles. Unlike Manchester I felt fine crossing the line in a PB of 4hr 17 minutes I felt super. Legs didn’t ache, I could walk with out looking like I had just shat myself managed to get out of the car with little fuss after a 2.5 hour drive, to be honest It didn’t feel like I had ran a marathon. I said to my friend who had kindly driven me on the day that Snowdon would be my last 26.2 mile race. I wasn’t cut out for them and preferred halfs. He laughed and said there’d be another one…. He was right.

The only race left to run now was Conwy Half. A half I was introduced to by a running friend and saw me get a PB in the distance in 2011. I wanted to get a sub 1:40 and had worked out my pace and even worked out on the which sections I could speed up if I had lost time as again the first four miles tends to bottle neck so you are running slower than you would like. On this cold November morning in the crisp ideal weather conditions for PB’s I set off running towards Llandudno and to climb the great Orme for the 3rd time in a race. By the time I got back to Conwy I was clock watching trying to work out when I would cross the line, the Maths in my tired brain was way out as when I finally crossed the line thinking I had failed to get a sub 1:40 and looked down to my Garmin to stop the clock to see 1hr 38mins 36 seconds. Get in .

And so thats it my 2012 has mainly been in running. Sure I bagged some Wainwrights and finally did the Snowdon Horseshoe, but 2012 has been all about the new races and the way I have gone from strength to strength. Hoping I will take all of this into 2013 where I hope the Manchester Marathon will see me break sub 4, but I’m hoping a sub 3.30 will be on the cards. The Bridge race in Anglesey will see me do a sub 1:35 for a half and I’m hoping that the Manchester 10K will see me smash 40 minutes for that distance but again I am secretly thinking that a 35 minute PB would be nice.

To do all of this I need to be strict. My training has never followed a plan, I have just ran. 2013 will see me kick the booze for the first four months, eating like a runner should and doing some good old cross training as well as plenty of tempo, hills and speed work, I need to get this targets and I need to run fast…. I have dream to beat Mo in Glasgow in 2014.

Enjoy the rest of 2012 and enjoy 2013… I know that I will as towards the end of the year i will be finally boarding that plane to take me to New Zealand.

Cheers’

Below are links to my race reports

Nick Beer Run

Liverpool

Manchester Marathon

Langdale

Macclesfield Half

Snowdon

Conwy

Is there anything harder than a Marathon?

In truth yes. There are the Ultra’s or fell running. So what is my point. The point is that I have run a marathon, go me, woo woo and as a reward for all my training did I take time off to recover because oh boy did I need to recover the day after I couldn’t walk but I did manage to drive to the physio for a good deep tissue massage. No rather than taking time to recover and get back into running I had lined up a series of races which all began two weeks after the Marathon.

Now the thinking behind these races were recovery runs. Races to take it easy and get back into running however after the first it soon became clear that recovery was not the word. Over the past eight weeks I have ran ‘Port Sunlight 10K, Manchester 10K, Bangor 10K, Llandudno 1o miler, Mersey Tunnel 10K. In all apart from Manchester and Bangor  I beat my PB, each week I would go out hard, for my 10K’s my pace is under 7 minutes a mile for the Llandudno race I set off at 5k pace and some how kept going at this rate till mile 5 when I had to slow, but only slowed by 20/30 seconds.

A year ago I was running 10K’s at 55 minutes and now I’m about to run them in 42 minutes. From the Port Sunlight to Mersey Tunnel I have wiped 1:30 of my PB. The truth is that each of these races I found hard, my heart was beating overtime and my lungs had to take out a second mortgage for an extension to breath all the oxygen I needed. However despite this I enjoyed all the races, I felt relaxed, felt like I wasn’t over doing it but the week that followed the race would tell a different story.

The result of all this hard running on legs that had not fully recovered (I started running 7 days after my marathon) meant that I have been out of action. My legs have seized up and been so sore that I have not been able to run through the week. So now I am resting, not out of choice or out of injury but because I have no time to run. This week I was in Birmingham working and next I am in the Lakes and the week after I will be working hard. Hopefully this will allow my legs to recover so I can begin my training for the next race which at the moment isn’t till October.

Would I do it again? The answer is no. I might have done one or two of the races but the idea was to have something that would keep me motivated to run after the high of the marathon had died down, instead I found myself out of action saving myself, making sure I was recovered enough for the next race. I should know by now I will never lose my passion for running it has become part of me and the idea of having another goal to look towards to keep you motivate doesn’t really bother me. I enjoy running it free’s me up. If I am honest I could say I was addicted to the racing as well, trying to bag as many medals or tick off as many of the must do races as I can. While I wouldn’t do it again I certainly don’t have any regrets, all the races I have wanted to do and can now tick them off my list

So after the rest period I can hopefully start getting into a routine with some slow running, and some good old hill sessions thrown in, as I am going to need it as the next race is the Snowdon Marathon.

Know Your Pace

Now this is a rant, but it’s also a rave. The title is also a terrible pun that I hope will come clear later in the blog.

On Sunday I was one of 8,000 runners who lined the start line at the docks in Liverpool ready to snake through the streets and parks of the city and oh boy was it a good race. I think this has to be one of the best Half Marathons I’ve run yet, and maybe one of the best races. The streets and parks were lined with supporters more so than the Great North, or any of the 10K’s I have done, and while the atmosphere may have just been background noise to my music I could sense a real thrill and buzz coming from the crowd, proud to support their friends, family and the overall occasion.

Now I should be happy with my result. Just over a year after starting running with my third half and 6th race I go and get another PB. In fact taking 14 minutes of my first half marathon time that was over six months ago. I look back on the Great North and remember how scared I was, will I ever complete it, will I get under two hours and then I look to the night of the Liverpool Half where there were no such thoughts or feelings, the half marathon distance was just another run, those 13.1 miles were now something I could throw out on a Sunday morning as part of my long jog. I noticed this with the 10K, that when I started training for the Great North, suddenly the distance and thought of running 10K turned from fear and thought of a long distance to that of a short run that I’d bang out before work as quickie.

Anyway, the game plan was to go slow, it was to try my marathon pace out and see how I felt. I thought it was going to be tough as the day before I decided to do a 11 mile hike up Kinder Low in the Peak District and my legs felt a little heavy on Saturday night. So on went the compression tights and plenty of carbs to re-stock the old legs. The thought of marathon pace, made me hopeful that the hike hadn’t ruined my chance of finishing. However what happened on Sunday is I went off fast, and I mean fast. Were talking 10K pace, and what followed for the next 7 miles was my legs working like a horse in a race, the sheer buzz and enjoyment of the day supporting the music pumping in my ears carried on the rhythm, I was speeding through this. The hike must have helped, it must have acted as a recovery run, pumping fuel into my tired running muscles ready for the race.

It’s true I did set of too fast and this was maybe a result of the pack, but also the course. The course is a fast one. It is mainly flat and in many places you are running on very wide road leaving plenty of running for the pack to spread out and over take. By Mile 8, my legs were starting to feel it and slowed down, by mile 9 I took on a gel and in doing so, sped up. As I came in onto the water front at mile 10 the captain must have given the command for “Full Steam Ahead” as I started running at 5K pace. I’m going to fast I thought, I can’t keep this up for 3 miles, not after running at 10K pace for 10 miles, but some how I did, and with the feeling of walking on air I ploughed on and clocked watched every couple of seconds. 1 hour 30, and I’ve done 11.5 miles, Jesus I’m going to get a new PB and with the thought came more speed, by mile 12 I was flying passing everyone and then into the home straight with .70 miles to go I got a stitch and slowed right down.

Looking back If I kept it up, I could have broken the 1:40 barrier. To say I’m happy about my new PB is not really the truth, I went off the game plan and if I’m honest I’ve chucked the race out of the window. The race was a training session to make sure my pace for the marathon was a good one. The worrying thought now is what if I go off at 8 minute miling on April 29th, as opposed to 9 minute miles. I suppose, you could argue, that 6 months ago the pace I ran on Sunday would have been too quick and I’d have burnt out within miles, so maybe with the right gels, and getting some more speed and hill works in 8 minutes a mile could be achievable, after all I was running at an average 7.45 a mile, running 15 seconds slower.

Now, back to the point with the pun. The ‘Know your Pace’ is not about me, but in fact about other runners knowing their place. I’m not for one minute slating the fun runners, or those who wanted to get fit after christmas, or lose some weight, run one race a year or had a bet in the pub or in deed those people who like me run to raise funds for charities that are close to our hearts. I think everyone should run, I try to get all my mates to run, I enjoy seeing people smile as they run and this race was no exception. People who were in pain by mile one were still smiling and being boosted by the crowd and as you ran you could see the colourful body of the snake as it weaved in and out of the streets. Everyone had different reasons to run but everyone was enjoying it. Running with people makes running enjoyable and maybe is one of the reasons I shot off to quickly, trying to keep up with the crowd. But here lies a problem. Some big events will place you in waves judging on your finish time. Admittedly some people do not know their finish time, when I ran the Manchester 10K I estimated it to be an hour, half way through my training I was on to break 55 minutes. However a lot of races just have you all start together and see you all pushing for the front. This is where the pun comes in.

Be realistic people, Don’t go to the front of the crowd if you are a 2 hour finisher, If your pace is 10 minutes a mile, go to the back. It’s not just runners who run slow, it’s ones who run slow as a pack in the centre. Keep to the left, or pavement side, don’t run in the middle in a group, or those who start to walk after a mile, those people should get to the back, as there is nothing worse than settling into a rhythm and then have Brenda suddenly stop in front of you.

There are secret rules in running like keeping to the left and over taking on the right, if you need to pull out or stop running for what ever reason be it a shoe lace needs tightening then moving over to the side of the road by the pavement is the rule, not stopping in the centre. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should run, and for some this may be their first and last adventure into running but for many of them who are the fun, or part time runners know your place. If you don’t have a game plan, or are going to burn too quickly don’t huddle at the front and ruin other people’s chances of PB’s or a good race. I suppose my argument is, if you don’t know your finish time or not use to running then get to the back, or stay in the middle. The first two miles saw me pass so many runners all of whom I thought were on to cross the line after 2 hours, so why were they at the front, it just makes my life harder to weave in and out to get in front.

Oh well, all in all a jolly good fun day and truly a race I would do a again. Also for a first half, it is worth doing, a very flat, fast course. But if it is your first and you’re  unsure of your finish time then don’t queue up at the start with me.

 

 

A Week today, and 27 days.

Well next week, I will be lining up on the streets of Sheffield ready to run my 2nd 10K race. In the small amounts of training I have done and let’s be honest I ran a half marathon in September a simple 10K is nothing and my training has reflected this. Rather than doing distance I have concentrated on speed work doing short 5K runs and as a result beat my PB for my 5K around my block.

I’m looking forward to the race, and have already included it in next years running diary. Other events include the Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, Great North Run half Marathons, the Thunder Run and the Manchester and Sheffield 10K. I am still thinking about entering the Manchester Marathon but am not sure if I am quite ready for it yet.

In other news I am still in the middle of a busy work schedule, I’m off to Barrow on Tuesday then back up the M1/A1 to Newcastle for a show, then after that I am resting and taking time off. Partly because in 27 days I will be turning 30 and to be honest I don’t care. I am not sure what I want to do. To be honest I want to go away to Wales and walk Snowdon again and be my self. Is this  good??? or should I be with my friends??

Oh well some time running the streets will help me think about it.

See you soon.