Monday 30 April 2012

Falmouth - Helford Coastal Run

Despite, or perhaps because of, the terrible forecast I decided to head out for a battering in the wet and windy conditions.

I headed out in shorts and T-shirt, which seemed OK to start with, but got pretty uncomfortable after I'd turned at Helford Passage and began the return leg, getting pelted with freezing rain.

It was an interesting mini-adventure with foam blowing off the sea, and a mud-bath trail in many places.

Stats = 23.5km in 2h14m.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

London Marathon

Results | My Splits
Sore legs after my 26 mile jog and 385 yard sprint
My preparations for this year's London Marathon had been slightly unorthodox.

With the arrival of Benjamin in January, I'd done almost no running in Jan and Feb; then crammed in 8 half marathons the month before London; but didn't manage a single road run longer than 13.1 miles. So I knew for sure I would fade in the 2nd half.

Without any long run training, I knew there was no point in taking the race too seriously, so instead I treated it as an easy-osy potter around the streets of London, and put up no resistance as runners drifted past for the first 25 miles.

To avoid calculating the difference between my chip and gun time, I decided to lead the charge off the Red Start, and was only beaten in the initial sprint by somebody dressed as Superman. Once underway, I backed right off and went through the first mile in 6:03, which was no doubt too fast, but it didn't feel quick since I hadn't run all week.

I then maintained an incredibly even pace until Mile 14, going though halfway in 1:24:18, before suddenly getting a stupid stitch which meant I couldn't breathe or run properly for a couple of miles. Eventually the stitch must have gone away, but by that time I'd slowed right down, and couldn't really get back onto the pace, so I just plodded along, still thinking I would run around 2:55.

Anyhow, I must have been too complacent and slowed down more than I'd realised since when I was approaching Mile 25, it suddenly dawned on me that I was in danger of tripping over the 3 hours. I got a nice shout from Amy Pitch just before Parliament Square which galvinised me into making one final push up Birdcage Walk. Since at no point so far had I actually been forcing the pace, I realised I could speed up fairly easily and found myself passing crowds of folk, which suddenly became quite fun.

I didn't want to overcook it and cramp my legs or anything, but when the "400 metres to go" sign came into view I realised my watch said 2:57-something. This felt far too close for comfort, so I chucked away the bag of jelly babies I'd been carrying and gutted myself around the corner, only to remember that there is another corner before you see the finishing gates on The Mall. As I came to this final final corner I could hear the BBC annoucer bellowing something about James Cracknell, but then I saw Superman who had out-sprinted me off the startline, so I nipped past him and put in by far my fastest 200 metres of the race to dive under the gate in 2:58:59.

Mightily relieved.

Mile Splits
You can see from the mile splits that I was pretty comfortable until 14 miles, but then got a stupid stitch in mile 15 that clobbered my pace, and I never really got into it again after that, until pulling out all the stops for the final 400 metres.

3 times before I've averaged 6:40 pace or better, so I still think that in future I can run a 2:50 marathon (average pace needed is 6:30 per mile).

Monday 16 April 2012

Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon

Results | Activity on Garmin Connect | Photos

Perfect conditions for my 5th attempt at the Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon: cool, no wind, and bright sunshine.
Photo by Gillian Scott  -  Scott Sport Photography
With London Marathon one week away, my plan was to have a steady comfortable run, trying to stay relaxed and focussing on running at a sustainable pace. I set out without over-cooking the first kilometre, but during the next 2 km I decided to catch up and sit on the shoulders of Alex Chalmers and Mark Walsh. I thought I might be able to stay with them, but bit by bit their pace was too fast for me, and I was dropped as they both chased after and caught Paul Thompson around the 4-mile mark.

I went through 5 miles at Dumbarton in just under 30 minutes, which made me think that 1:18 might be  possible, however once I'd ducked under the railway line and started on the long straight drags through Dumbarton I suddenly felt quite tired and jaded, and could sense I would get caught at any moment.

The first runner to pass wore a Dumbarton AAC vest, closely followed by 4 more runners including Paul Carroll of Clydesdale Harriers, who asked how I was. I replied I was feeling pretty gubbed, which was true, since when the 5 runners passed, I couldn't latch onto their pace.

From 8 to 12 miles I ran along on my own, apart from passing the Dumbarton vest at 10 miles.  From 11 miles to the end, I usually really try to ramp up the pace, but today I was happy enough to potter along at the same pace, which allowed Emilio Cosimo of Springburn to catch me at 12 miles. Normally I would have put up a fight over that final mile, but I thought it would do me more good to concentrate on maintaining the same steady pace.

Turning under the bridge and onto Seaforth Road at the end I was surprised to see my watch still reading 1:19-something, so I thought I should put in a bit of sprint to the line to try to scrape in under 1:20  That finishing straight always lasts a little longer than I remember, but I managed to cross the line in 1:19:54 which was pleasing to meet my target time with a few seconds to spare.

Now I just need to run double that distance next Sunday.

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Heaven and Hell Half Marathon

Results | Photos | Activity on Garmin Connect

Photos courtesy of

A hilly little route just outside Perth, starting near Scone Airfield.

The main challenge is the rather daunting climb of around 220 metres at 8 miles.

I hadn't done this race before, and thought it might be checking out.

I did a short warm up with course record holder Paul Arcari of Kilbarchan, who'd run the course in 73 minutes, and clearly wasn't going to get much competition today. I thought I might be in with a shout at top 5 or 6 depending on how I played my cards.

The race started at a pretty pedestrian pace, apart from Paul Arcari who raced off into the distance and out of sight almost immediately. That left Grant Wilkie of Corstorphine and Craig Reid of Bellahouston Road Runners as the only targets to chase. I possibly could have closed the gap on them a bit, but instead decided to shelter in a group of 6, and get some protection from the wind, even though the pace was a bit too slow.

Taking some shelter in a group in the first couple of miles
Once we hit the first long uphill drag after 2 miles, the race started to stretch out, and I found myself in 6th position by the top of the hill, giving chase to runner 190 in the blue T-shirt who turned out to be endurance triathlete Douglas Allan.

Crest of the hill at 4 miles
I felt pretty good going through 10 and 11km, before battering down the steep tarmac hill to the 8-mile marker. I was catching Douglas all the way down the hill, and almost got onto his heels at the base of the climb.  But somehow all my resolve vanished once I started climbing, and I ended up shuffling up the hill and little more than walking pace. This meant Douglas quickly disappeared from view, and opened the door for Euan McIntosh to catch me halfway up the climb. Euan and I worked together up the remainder of the hill, into the increasingly powerful wind. Once over the crest at 10 miles, I thought I might be able to pull away, but Euan was strong on the descent, and eventually opened a small gap with 2 miles to go.

In my mind, I was going to put in my final burst with 2km to go, but the course suddenly had a few minor hills which killed my pace, and I could feel I was being caught by another runner. With just over 1km to go, Gerry Craig of VP-CoG came trotting past looking pretty comfortable, and looking like he'd catch Euan as well. For the final kilometre I was hanging on for grim death trying not to lose any more places, and also trying not to keep on looking behind, which is always a sign you are fading away. 

With about 400 metres to go, I suddenly thought that rather than wasting my energies on wondering if I was going to drop more places, I should really just shift my body and jump past Gerry again. This meant doing horrible things to my heart rate, but I upped the pace and was hovering on the point of gauging the exact level of effort needed to pass Gerry before diving into the finishing funnel. I thought I pitched the effort perfectly with one last ditch effort, only to discover that wasn't the finishing line, and there was still 100 metres to go around the corner.  

Turning into the finishing straight just after passing Gerry Craig
 The photo might not show it, but this was me gasping into the final few metres of the race.

So the end result was I finished 7th in 1:27:10, which wasn't too bad seeing as most of the route I was running at a pretty steady comfortable pace.  Paul Arcari won the race by more than 6 minutes in 1:15:05.

Race winner Paul Arcari showing howing it should be done