Sunday 26 December 2010

Goals for 2011

Now that all the races and big runs are finished for 2010, it's time to think up a few goals for next year.

My main goal for 2011 is to achieve some consistency by running regularly, and to try out a few new events.

In terms of road speed over the standard distances, my goals would be to run sub 17 minutes at Glasgow or Strathclyde Parkrun, sub 28 minutes at 5 miles, and another sub 35min at 10k.

At the longer road distances, I'd like to clock another half decent Half Marathon time, like sub 1:17, but ideally something more like 75 minutes to enter new territory. For the London Marathon I'm hoping to break 2:50 at last, having run 2:53, 2:54 and 2:54 my previous 3 times.

On the Scottish hill running scene I don't have any goals other than to plod around a few races, and possibly to photograph as many as I race.

On the longer distance side of things, I have a half-baked plan to head back to the Pyrenees in late June or early July to have a bash at the Pyrenean Haute Route. This 800km trek is described in 45 stages from west to east, but I would attempt it in the opposite direction, aiming for the Atlantic, to avoid it feeling like a re-run of my GR11 in 23 days. I would also try to complete it in 21 days to make it a bit of a challenge.

In the nearer term, I've got a 35 mile hill run planned in the Lake District that has been at the back of my mind for about 40 years, and I hope to attempt this in late Feb or early March.

Saturday 18 December 2010

Glasgow Parkrun #101

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect

Arctic conditions for the 101st Glasgow Parkrun with another off-road course.

There was a reasonable turnout of 104 runners, given the Baltic temperatures and onset of snow just as we were about to start.

The route this time consisted of 5 laps each of 1 kilometre giving 10 climbs up to the wooden gazebo in the corner of the field diagonally across from the Burrell.

I set out hard trying to shake off Niall McAlinden from the start, but he caught me on the first climb and ran away on the first descent. I caught and passed again on the 2nd climb, but on each descent from then on Niall seemed to gain a few more yards, especially through the trees as we were lapping slower runners. After Lap 2, I could see I wasn't going to catch Niall again but kept on working to minimise the gap.

Niall finished first in 18:31 and I was 2nd in 18:47, after which there was a 3½ minute gap to Al MacLachlan with Ellie just 3 seconds adrift from 3rd spot finishing 4th overall in 22:12, so very nearly a Westies 1-2-3. Other Westies running were John Quinn and Peter Grassl (both for the first time), and Pauline. Cat arrived late enough to miss the race, so ran the course on her own whilst the rest of us had cappuccinos and scones in the Burrell cafĂ©.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Strathclyde Parkrun #35

Results | Photos | Activity on Garmin Connect

Glasgow Parkrun was cancelled due to the snow and ice, so we headed down to Strathclyde Loch.

There were only 37 runners, and we were warned at the start that the course was covered with snow and ice, but I didn't anticipate quite how tricky it was going to be, and I'm not sure the Adidas Adizeros were the best footwear.

I set out as fast as possible, and went through the first kilometre in 3:17, forcing the pace until I could hear no more breathing behind. At 1.5km I reached a slight bend when suddenly my foot shot sideways on ice, and I crashed to the ground hard onto my knee and elbow. I got up quickly and tried to re-gain momentum, but had now lost confidence in my footing. The middle third of race was on a complete mixture of snow, ice, slush, wet grass and gravel, and required extreme concentration to stay on your feet.

I reached kilometre 4 without falling again, and then forced the pace back to the finish, running the final kilometre at 3:18 pace. My official time was 18:07, and I was pleased to win my first Parkrun, albeit with a depleted field. Ellie did well to finish 6th overall and first woman in 20:34.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Snowy Helvellyn


A stunning run up Helvellyn with Ellie. We made an earlier start and set off from Glenridding just after 8am. We took the precaution of not taking a map, compass, whistle, rucksack, food, drink or any spare clothes. All I carried was a camera, mobile phone and car key.

I couldn't remember exactly how to get to Greenside Lead Mine, but we found the way in the end, then made our way up to Keppel Cove for a more gradual climb over Whiteside and Helvellyn Lower Man. We saw nobody on the hill until we were descending towards Grisedale Tarn. The descent down Grisedale was not as runnable as I'd hoped due to tricky underfoot conditions, but we made it back to the car in just under 3½ hours.

Slide show:

Saturday 4 December 2010

Glasgow Parkrun #100

Results | Photos | Activity on Garmin Connect

The 100th Glasgow Parkrun at Pollok Park, and the 2nd anniversary of the event. So I thought I should make a special effort to attend. Heavy snowfall and ice meant there was no way we could run the usual course, so instead the route was more like a cross country course following three twisting laps around the games fields in ankle deep powder snow.

Photos courtesy of Paul Roberts

I wasn't quite sure where we were going, or which shoes to wear, but selected the Inov8 Oroc 280s, since it was easier to run to the start in these. But as soon as I started running, I wished I'd worn cross country spikes, since it was pretty tough trying to generate any pace ploughing through the soft snow.

Eyeing up the competition on the start line, it wasn't that obvious who was running, and who was jogging around watching since most runners appeared strangely fully clad in leggings and some jackets on display. I would have worn a vest if I'd remembered one, but instead had to make do with a T-shirt. It was a bit cool, but there was bright sunshine and no wind, so it didn't feel at all cold once you were running.

I hammered off as fast as possible as usual, and held 2nd spot behind Luke Traynor for about 100 metres before to my surprise Niall McAlinden was the first to pass, quickly followed by Eritrean duo Amanuel Zerezighi and Tewoldeberhan Mengisteab. Tewolde powered on to win the race comfortably, despite not having a bar code.

Meanwhile I was sitting in 5th place hoping that Niall would fade after his rash move to overtake so early. I thought that I could just sit and wait for my moment, expecting him to come back on the 3rd lap. However, each time I ramped it up to close the gap, Niall was doing exactly the same, so despite working harder and harder on each lap, I never actually closed the gap at all and Niall came in a full 9 seconds ahead of me in 19:46 to my 19:55 on a course measuring 5.10km on my Garmin. Ellie finished soon after in 23:39 for 29th place overall and 1st lady by well over a minute.