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

End of the Season

Well after my last race the ‘Conwy Half Marathon’ in Wales the place where I seem to always get PB’s and the races that I most enjoy it was also the end of the season. Well the end to my running season and what a fantastic year it has been. Now as my physio puts it, it’s the time to take it easy and concentrate on any niggles and injuries and make sure I correct them and not carry them over into 2013 which will see me run Manchester Marathon again, The Island Race which is a half and Manchester 10K. There will be more I am sure, I just need to find them and book them.

So as I am resting the blog will go a little quiet so don’t worry it’s not that I have died while I am out on a run. I will be back in the new year. I will be back in a couple of weeks doing a round up of my year and what a running year, two marathons, three half marathons and 4 10K’s and a 10 miler all with new PB’s and more weight lost.

I will proberly also be back to have my annual snipe at Christmas as I really really love that period of the year… NOT. But that for the next couple of weeks is all from me partly as I will be heavy in desiging several Christmas shows back to back so won’t be able to run and won’t have time to play about on WordPress.

See you soon. Hope you don’t miss me too much.

Breaking 1:40

Under the gaze of a seven hundred year old castle in the winter sun on a cold November morning I ran through the game plan in my head. Along with 200o other runners in the 4th year of this truly wonderful half marathon that would see us run past one of my favourite castles and then along the coastal path to the Victorian town of Llandudno passing the pier before starting the undulating climb of the Great Orme before rapidly descending back to the coastal path to the finish below the castle. This was the Conwy Half and a race I had run before and got a PB and today I was determined to race and race hard to go after another PB and a sub 1:40.

The game plan was simple. I just needed to run 7:37 splits the only trouble was the year before the congestion in the first few miles is horrific you really can’t get into your stride, and then there is the Orme itself. I like hills but I couldn’t run up that in 7:37 pace. The only saving grace was the down hill sections where I could catch up and as long as the down hill parts were in 6 minutes pace then I knew I was on for a winner. I also knew at 10K I would have to be clocking a time of 47 minutes to stand any chance of breaking 1:40.

The gun went off and as predicted it was a battle to pass those runners who thought they could run at the front, while many of them were giving it a good go and I knew that many would regret it down the line. I really do wish people would know their pace and position themselves accordingly at the start.  My pace was as expected all over the place but after the first mile it averaged 7:44, not bad just a few seconds behind my target pace. For the next 3 miles I hit 7:37 on the nose and then came the hill with 7:50, 8:10 and 7:45. I wasn’t worried as I knew I had two miles of down hill one of which was very steep and then 3 miles of flat road to take me back to where it all began. I was still on course when I crossed 10K in the 47 minutes which reassured me that a PB could well be in sight. My legs still felt strong and I had more energy gels if needed. Any fear of falling behind schedule was soon forgotten as the down hill sure me clock 6:44 and then the flat straight saw me slowly increase pace from the 1:40 as I picked off each runner one by one seeing me clock in at 7:17, 7:25, 7:11.

I looked at my watch and sure I was making good time, and when I saw the finish line and looked to see 1:35:34 beam back at me and dug deep and sprinted to the line to cross in 1:38:32.

All I need to do now is to get it under a sub 1:35 but that will have to wait for next year.

There are Good Drugs

It’s like a drug, well that’s what they say and to some extent they are correct but unlike people who ‘Chase the Dragon’ or drown their sorrows with a bottle of ‘Vodka’ there are no support groups for people like me. Come mile 14 I was feeling strong and felt good. One hill out of the way and the other climb had just two more miles before I would be running on a level playing field. Manchester at fourteen miles had seen me smack into the wall so hard that my run turned into a mixture of walking, hobbling and staying still. This time I still had tears in my eyes but it was more out of joy than the sheer agony that I was placing on my body and soul.

I am off course talking about the joyful drug of running. The full race report of Snowdon Marathon will be up soon but the main aim of this post is to report that as I was approaching the finish line I promised myself that this would be the last 26.2 miles I would run. I’lll stick to halfs in the future as I know I can run those in my sleep I thought as I crossed the finish line. A quick walk to find my friend and I suddenly realised I was already feeling better than Manchester. The fact I could walk, I could bend. The truth was that my legs didn’t feel like I had just completed a gruelling challenge that less than 1% of the population of the world have undertaken but I had and have the finishers medal and T-Shirt to prove it. I was now a marathon runner for the second time and I felt as fresh as a daisy. Not too fresh that I could go off and run the course again or indeed run for another five minutes but I could walk to the car unaided.

As I sat at home and watched the coverage on S4C and looked at the pictures and read forums on the race and the triumphs of the day I suddenly thought… I need to run a marathon. Now I know I said I wouldn’t run one again but you see I got a new PB at Snowdon and I still need to get a sub 4 that’s the very reason why I am still running the other distances. I wish or a more truthful look would be that I need to break a sub 1.30 on the half and go sub 40 on the 10K.

Running is a drug and it’s one that can be dangerous. I am now not only looking at running my next marathon but indeed looking at the world of ultra running. To say I don’t care about the distance is not true as I do love the 13.1 miles and shorter speeder cousin of the 10K but marathon running is fun. It’s a test from the training to the race day and as I sit up and rest and let my body recover I dream off being able to tie my laces and pound the streets to the beat of my heart. The only downside to running races and marathons is the sheer fact you have to rest for more than a couple of days but at least those couple of days will see me find time to hunt for my next marathon goal.

There is no one to help the likes of me and while the drug of running comes in many forms of pounding the streets to lining up on the start line and going all out all I know is it is one you can not come off and at the end of the day it’s good for you. Isn’t it?

Thought Sundays Were Made for Rest!!!

They were! weren’t they? It says so in the bible ‘And on the seventh day he rested’ Through history Sundays were seen as rest days people didn’t work.There was no noise of clogs on the pavement trudging down the cobble road to Quarry Bank Mill in 1864 on Sunday and come to think of it it has only been within my lifetime when shops have decided to open their doors. No, Sundays are rest days they are getting up before your parents and watching ‘Sharky and George’ (google it if you’re unsure it’s a childhood reference) then helping to bake cake with your Ma before getting dirty in the garden digging holes for your dad before being called in for a milky coffee and getting cleaned up before a roast and the afternoon film which would often be a western or a war theme. While you snoozed the afternoon away waiting for the buffet style evening tea and the Sunday night bath you could be assured that the day had been spent in deed resting from your usual life. And even now the thought of Sundays are to sleep in and do not a lot.

So why is it that my Sunday just gone I found myself in the shower at 7am and in my car for 8.30 heading along the M56 and on to the A55. Yes Sunday was a Race Day. I had been looking forward to this cheeky 10K in Llandudno North Wales as I was using it as a warm up to my Marathon. The course runs around the Great Orme which climbs 650ft in about 3-4 miles, before it sends you cascading down in just over a mile.

I had run the Orme before as part of the Conwy half so half knew what to expect. The atmosphere was electric even for a small running club organised race. The truth be known it looked like the locals were staying in doors as the promenade was filled with the 800 runners that were ready to start. After doing so big organised races like the Great North and Manchester 10K, I do prefer these smaller ones. You get more for your buck and a better chance to have run rather than being stuck trotting along like a heard of sheep on a country lane trying to break away from the pack.

I manged to get to the front of the pack at the start and when the gun fired I was away. I didn’t really know how to treat the run, so I just ran my 10K pace and felt fine. I think I was spurred on by the fact that up the hill I was over taking and never once being over took myself.

It was only towards the end when I over took a guy, and no longer had anything left to give a final push and sprint across the line that he took back the lead and crossed the line seconds before me.

All in all it was fun, I felt I could carry on that pace and my legs were fine. All the long running  is making these 6.20 miles seem like childs play. The bonus of the day was I also got a new PB and came 160th. All I need to do now is try to break the 40 minutes for a 10K then I will be happy. For those who don’t know, then within a year I have gone from a 55 min to 44 min race time so who knows another couple of years and I could take on Mo Farah.