On The Road

July round up

It started as a dark misty winter morning in Brisbane, another early start and a trip on my own this time to the coast and the suburb of Manly to run a 10k. It had been 3 weeks after my marathon at the beginning of the month. A week of rest and 2 weeks of mostly easy running and I thought I would see what kind of shape I was in for a shorter distance. I had done a tempo run of 4 miles during the week and was surprised at how easy 6 min/mile pace was feeling so I thought I would enter a race last minute and have a crack at beating my 10k PB which I had set last year in the U.K.

 The Sri Chinmoy marathon team have been putting on races for over 30 years, it was my first chance to experience one and something I have wanted to do for a while. Sri’s phrase ‘Run & Become’ had been the inspiration behind my song with the same title.

 It was a lovely warm morning as the sun rose over Moreton Bay, basking the early morning paddle boarders gliding past the mangroves that run along side the shore.

 This simple, well-organised event had a peaceful atmosphere. No big sponsors, loud speakers or expensive entry fees. A nice touch was the orchestrated silence before the start just to relax everyone.

 I started off quickly, running the 2k with 2 other runners up the front, one of them was pushing the pace and so I let him go for a bit, I didn’t want to run the first half too fast. At the midway point turn around there was the 2 of us left to battle it out. I was feeling good and so I surged slightly to see if I could catch him and overtake. There were a few inclines on the otherwise flat course and I noticed that I was stronger over each of them as they came, so I pushed a bit more to pass him. Around 7k I had opened up quite a gap. I managed to keep pushing, my pace in the second half and I managed to finish strong and I beat my PB easily in the end finishing in a time of 36.55.

 Once finished we were all handed fruit and a free pancake for our efforts. I was also handed a very beautiful shiny medal!

I finished off a big month of races at Bunyaville parkrun, I grabbed 1st place in a time of 19.44. Sub 20 had been my target on this course. It has title of Brisbane’s toughest, most scenic and friendly parkrun! As a proud new run director I would say that, come and see for yourself! Congratulations Claire Anderson on her 100th parkrun this morning and Kathleen for a PB as well!

 

I have just got back after a great weekend completing my 4th marathon. The Gold Coast Marathon was my first in Australia. It is a Gold label race, run on a flat course that travels alongside the beautiful beaches of the Gold Coast in Queensland.

 The weekend started with a big bowl of pasta at a nice restaurant called Bar Italia near our hotel in Surfers Paradise, we then enjoyed a slice of Mexican music and Japanese dancing on an outside stage near the beach, all part of a multicultural festival which ended with a firework display on the sand. We turned in early and woke even earlier to start our epic day.

 We left our hotel at 4.45am to catch the bus to the start. Not only do Australians love the heat, they will also get up at anytime of the day quite happily to avoid it, and therefore an alarm clock start of 4.15 is seen as quite acceptable. When we got to the bus stop, this was confirmed further, we were greeted with the strange sight of hundreds of runners hopping from one foot to another lined up along the pavement waiting for the same bus as us! We had slept in! We finally arrived at the start. Kathleen was running the half marathon, which started at 6. She did a quick warm up and set off with thousands of other runners. The pre-race scene seemed chaotic (I was still half asleep) runners were arriving in all directions from the darkness, clambering over barriers, flinging discarded clothes into the air. Overlapping sounds of rock music and commentary in English and Japanese blasted out from somewhere in the black. It was a rousing send off.

 I now had 1h.30mins to wait for the start. In contrast, the full marathon runners now arrived, slower and quieter, preserving that precious energy. I sat and ate my breakfast as the sun rose over the sea. The light grew further and started to warm everyone into a little more action. I stretched behind the grandstand on a bench next to the beach. A calm and experienced gent in his 50’s sat next to me. We quietly went about our business and then parted for the start with a little nod.

 I had trained consistently since April. My A plan was to break 3 hours my B plan was to run a PB. I had run more miles per week, and I had done a solid amount of long runs and tempo runs in the build up which had given me the confidence to think that I was physically and mentally ready. When I was on the start line, I took a moment to think positively about my race, imagining the finish. I was already at the midway point by appreciating what I had already achieved in training. I thought of the miles we had all done to get to that point, everyone standing with me there had gone through a process of preparation and now it was time for us to finish what we had started.

 I set off to run the first 5k at 5-10 seconds slower than pace so that my body could have time to warm up without working too hard. My first 15k was on pace and I felt really relaxed, I enjoyed looking around, high 5ing a few kids, watching surfers in the water catching waves from time to time, just settling into the race and trying to keep it breezy as they say in Queensland! It was great to see the elite runners coming back in the other direction.

 From half way (1h.29) to 35k (2h.29) I kept on pace, I stayed relaxed and ran my own race, I didn’t follow a pack, I just ticked along in my own groove. I was running sub 3 pace, but my legs were getting heavier and I knew that 30k was where the race really started. As I ran along the highway in Southport I saw Kathleen, and even stopped to give her a sweaty hug! She had finished the half in a new PB of 1h.46.27.

 The next section is no doubt the hardest part of the race, you go past the finish for one more loop, and from 35 to 40k it started to get tough, I was determined not to panic as my pace began to slow and my A plan looked like it was slipping, I just kept on pushing for a PB. As I reached the last turn around I received an amazing bit of motivation that spurred me on to the finish. One guy looked at me and said “well done Leo, you have done the hard bit now go for it! And so I rallied, I push as hard as I could, my right hamstring was cramping and I had to be careful. I tentatively upped the pace as I entered the final stretch and with the finish line in sight I took the time to enjoy the cheering, high five the crowd, and relish the few seconds I had crossing the finish line. I finished in 3.08.11. A 20 min PB. My splits are online here

 The weekend was a festival in its truest sense. A coming together of people, a community of runners of all ages, from around the world that ran, cheered and celebrated their achievements together. I would recommend it highly to any world marathon travellers out there. The next day we filled up on seafood and wondered along the beach and cooled our legs in the surf.

 My training experience in the lead up to this race had been one of exploration, discovering new surroundings, building new relationships and trying to find my place in a big new city on the other side of the world. I have run in the early morning, in the blazing heat of the midday sun, into the dusk, through the bush in the dark, past koalas and over snakes. I even squashed a poor cane toad one night on a trail that leaped under my foot. Adidas boost have nothing on that natural bit of bounce.

 I did all of my training in Brisbane along the river or on the trails in Bunyaville National Park alone or with family and friends (thanks Kathleen, Tristan and everyone at Bunyaville trail runners and parkrun) Thanks for the support from everyone else here in Australia and abroad especially BBDRC. I feel very proud, running a marathon and pushing yourself to reach your goals is a big effort, thank you to everyone who helped me along the way.

 

I completed my first trail race in Australia yesterday, The 10th Pinnacles Classic. I really enjoyed the challenge, finishing 3rd overall. The race is set in Brisbane Forest Park. Starting at Gold Creek, 18k of undulating fire track, 1000m of elevation, looping around a reservoir. It was organised by TRAQ, an experienced and friendly team of people. They created a great, laid back atmosphere from beginning to end putting a smile on the runner’s faces even when we faced some of the meanest hills Brisbane has to offer.

 After a brief announcement and a few humorous anecdotes by the run director, the race started. We jumped over a small creek and tackled the first hill, which was a long slow climb for a 1k or so. I found myself in the lead, and after 2k, I was starting to think I might had pushed the early pace too hard, we reached the first downhill section and someone came along side me and pushed on slightly ahead. I kept him in my sights. The first 5k was the toughest part mentally, I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of terrain and had no idea if I could keep on pace. The big hills started to come, I ran 3 or 4 and then I reached a big one that was also difficult underfoot, I walked, everyone walked. This is a big difference from road running, it’s fine to walk, if it is a tough hill, it was actually quicker to walk. I realised that my muscles were really not prepared for walking up big hills and they were burning by the top. In trail races, walking up hill is a skill in itself and something worth practicing.

 I pushed on and noticed that the guy in front of me was strong on the uphill, increasing his lead. I got into a nice rhythm, tackling one hill at a time and letting my legs loosen on the downhill, letting me recover. On a flattish section, just before halfway I decided to open the gel I had been carrying. I took my eye off the trail for a second and over I went. I rolled a couple of times, got up, brushed myself off, I had a few scrapes but nothing serious. Lucky! Anyone who has read my blog before will know I like to have a little tumble! I heard a cheerful voice from behind asking if I was ok. At the halfway point there was an aid station. I decided to stop and fill up my water bottle, making sure I was ok. The runner behind me had now caught up, and we left the aid station together.

 The second half was easier than the first. There were less steep climbs and more downhill. I also had company, myself and Gold Coast based runner Simon Foster, ran side by side, working together. We got into a great rhythm, chatting when we could. In the final section, which was a long steep descent, we really put the hammer down, imagining we would see the guy in first at any time. I eased off slightly in the last 500m as we dropped down a grass bank near the finish, careful not to fall again. Simon belted down and picked up a lead, finishing strongly in 2nd, I was close behind, after sprinting along the last 200m on flat gravel track to finish 3rd. My finishing time was 1.30.22

 After I had got my breath back and stretched, I stood in the early morning sun, cheering people to the finish. At 9.00am with a beer and hotdog in my hand, I chatted away to lots of other enthusiastic and friendly runners until it was time to catch my lift home. Well done to everyone who completed and supported the race, it was a fantastic event.

 A final word, a big shout out to everyone I know running the London Marathon tomorrow. Good luck, I will be watching on T.V, not from the sidelines this year!

More Pics

Garmin

In my last blog, I finished up saying that I would like to try a longer trail race. I have signed up to a race near Brisbane called the Pinnacles Classic. Every year since I started running, I have run a marathon near the date of my birthday in April. Since I am in Australia and the marathon season is still months away, I thought the new challenge of a 18km, 18 Hills trail race would fit the bill this year.  It will be an adventure doing something new and challenging and for the bargain price of $25 to enter I was in!

 I am also starting to think about training up for a marathon again.  For most runners, this all starts with setting a date with a race and making a training plan. Usually, training plans for the marathon are months long with specific sessions and amounts of miles to build up to that final goal. Within this is your running schedule for the week, a mini personal challenge to complete. It is always at the back of the mind when you start your week, part of the jigsaw for a runner juggling life. How do I fit it all in this week? Sometimes you have the energy for an early run or a sneak out at lunch break, perhaps you are disciplined enough to step out into the dark with a torch in the rain and finish the miles you wanted to do in a week. The next week could be different, now it feels hard to fit your sessions in between everything else and you feel tired and frustrated with your lack of motivation. Through experience each runner discovers what works for them, what their limits are, how to keep motivated, progressing forward and hopefully injury free.

I have been taking my training, 1 or 2 weeks at a time, and as I build into my marathon training, I will try to only look a few weeks in advance so that I am patient with my build up. This works for me, thinking months in advance can be overwhelming and consuming. Following a tough training plan like it is set in stone can lead to injury and burnout. Over the last year, planning my training more spontaneously has helped me tune into my body more and I still found I progressed running injury free. I will see how it works for a marathon build up.

Over the last few months I have been consistently running about 50 km a week and starting to feel fresh on days off so I thought I would challenge myself to see if I could run every day for a week. It requires a bit of a leap of faith, to up-mileage because you feel like it instead of having it written down in a training plan, but I felt ready.

Obviously, running every day is not some kind of record. Elite athletes run 2 times a day practically every day of the year, and beyond that there is the legendary Ron Hill who hasn’t had a day off since 1964. For many, what I set out to do is a very modest achievement, but for me, it felt like something worth writing about. Every time we challenge ourselves to do something new, we learn more about ourselves. When we succeed we get a great sense of satisfaction.  This gives me confidence and it makes me strive to be better. I always feel this positive energy is worth telling people about.

I completed my challenge without dropping my training intensity at all and I felt good after my last day so I was obviously ready for this. It actually started on a Friday after a day off. I have also included my last 2 days of the week. On Saturday, I volunteered for Bunyaville parkrun, which was great fun, cheering on everyone including Kathleen and her dad Mike who was completing his first parkrun on the last day of his fundraising week. He walked 10,000 steps everyday for Walk For Water, check out the blog here. I also tested out my stamina with a longer than usual run on Sunday. It is Monday and I am now enjoying writing about all my own steps and thoughts I had last week. That is the thing about time off, it is nice to have time to consolidate. Sorry Ron don’t be disappointed, but I’m having a day off!

 

FRI EVE:         7km easy

SAT MORN:    5km parkrun 18:15

SUN MORN:    20km steady 1h:33

MON EVE:       7km easy  

TUES EVE:      8km  Hard/ Intervals with the South Pine Striders. 1k time trial 3:20

WED EVE:       6.5km Trail run easy

THURS EVE:   9km Hill session steady/hard

 

TOTAL:      62. 5km  39m

 

FRI:                   OFF

SAT:                  3K easy

SUN:                  25K easy/Steady 1h.55

Check out this article about world indoor medalist at age 39 Bernard Lagat, he has some really interesting things to say about training and resting.

We have had a wonderful time in Sydney. We stayed near the beach with friends for a month and spent many hours running along coastal paths exploring the cliffs and beaches that appear around every corner on this magnificent Pacific coast. One beautiful morning was spent running from Clovelly to Bondi and back with lots of hills in between, finished off with a jump into the sea for a spot of snorkelling and a dive through crystal waters to see all of the colourful marine life. Another nice run is the opposite way, South along the coastal path to Coogee and beyond. I also made use of Centennial park which is inland towards the city, a favourite spot for Sydney runners, a lovely leafy park oval, 4k round with horses trotting along side.

 We also ran a 10k called the Sun Run. Another beach side run which follows the hilly roads between two Northern beaches, Dee-why and Manly. After an early wake up at 4.30, the earliest I think I have ever got up for a run (or anything for that matter!) we set off as the sun rose at 6. When we finished alongside the beach in Manly, we took off our shoes and jumped straight in the surf to cool down. Out of 2843 runners I was 53rd in 40:18 Kathleen was 166th female finishing strongly in 51:47

 Now back in Brisbane, another month of running ended well with a 1stplace for me and a 19th for Kathleen at Bunyaville parkrun in Brisbane in a trail 5k. 100 people turned out to run this young parkrun. Only in its 13th week, Bunyaville is growing in popularity due to a friendly atmosphere, beautiful quiet tracks through the bush and very challenging elevation. To give you an idea of the hills lets say it is relentlessly undulating, with parts of twisting single track, a bit like riding your own roller coaster! Very fun.

We have now done three parkruns in Brisbane and we have enjoyed the different challenges each one brings.

Last time we were here we ran New Farm Park, which is a flat road 5k. A big parkrun in the centre of town with 300+ runners. It runs on boardwalks along the Brisbane river next to parks and luxury apartments, again out and back but this time quite flat. We both ran well here on a not too hot morning of around 24 degrees at 7am! I came in 4th in 18.30 and Kathleen was 11thlady and 85thoverall in 24.29 a really good start to 2014.

We met up with the Bunyaville Trail Runners for an evening run this week again. We ran 8K run through the Bunyaville National Park, it was free to anyone, we just turned up and joined in, we were very warmly welcomed, It was a challenging trail run with plenty of elevation and plenty of breaks to catch your breath and have a chat before the next hill. Here is their website, anyone who is in Brisbane looking to meet people for a run should really hook up with them.

 http://bunyavilletrailrunners.com/

 After running trails again this week I am tempted to try out a longer mountain race, there are many round here that look like a different challenge and really enjoyable with fantastic views and sights along the way.

We have just arrived in Australia and have been here for about a week, slowly getting over jet lag and re-uniting with Kathleen’s family and the summer. On Saturday, Kathleen and I ran the 5k Mitchelton parkrun in Brisbane, which is close to where the family live.

The week before, in my last British parkrun for a while, I finished 1st at the Gorleston parkrun for the very first time. The parkrun down under this week was in rather different conditions, it was hot and quite humid already at 7 in the morning but I felt good and was surprised to find I was leading after a mile. The course is lovely, it winds along paths made for walkers, runners and cyclists. There are 100’s of miles of these paths in Brisbane ready for us to explore. At the halfway point I was feeling good and pushed hard to make a gap, at one point I looked back to see I was in front with no-one in sight, I was foolishly already writing my blog and thinking of how to describe finishing 1st at two parkruns back to back, on different sides of the world! The reality was that I slowed down badly in the last half a mile only to have a superhero dad, pushing a buggy, overtake me on the last corner. I finished in second, hot and sweaty but feeling great all the same! I finished in 18:23. Katheen came in a few minutes later 34th out of 122 runners. Here is the page for Mitchelton parkrun for people to check out.

We have also ran around the area and through the bush a few times this week, slowly getting ourselves orientated to the area following tracks that wind past creeks and peeling trees with the sun casting shadows everywhere, We have also seen quite a few of the local wild animal inhabitants of Brisbane on our runs including a metre long carpet Python this morning, it was bathing in the sun on some grass next to a main road! He was harmless but it was good sprint training all the same!

I have had a busy month, gigs in Cornwall, Derbyshire and Birmingham have clocked up the miles in my old Fiat. I finally made it under 18 mins for 5k at Norwich parkrun with 17:57 and feeling on form I decided to tie in the Birmingham Great Run as a final half marathon of the Autumn.

I am glad I did because despite a late one giging the night before I managed to clock a new PB of 1:22:09 and a place of 104th out of almost 20,000 people. My finish also made it onto the TV highlights! 

It was a great event and I had a great time hanging out with team mate Jon after and wondering around Brum. It is a great city, its funny to think that I finished that race outside a bar I would regularly roll out of at 4 in the morning as a student! Back then I could not of imagined I would become a runner and come back and run a race around the city. It was brilliant to see somewhere I know well in a completely different light. I recommend it. A really great race, especially because Birmingham is the land of the car, and for one day all the underpasses and highways we taken over by Brummies on foot. 

My one mistake was getting in the wrong pen, I started in the second wave of runners and never caught up with anyone who I could have paced myself against, I did a lot of weaving. This being said, it is a motivational advantage to overtake people the whole race which helps you stay positive and stay focused.

I have had a very easy week and a half of training since then only having three easy jogs to recover from a busy summer and Autumn of racing. My next running challenge will be another 5k PB in a month.

I ran two races in the last two weeks and I am pleased with both results. My 12th place at the Ipswich Half Marathon made the local paper, I finished in 1.23.41 a PB. It was a tough race with lots of elevation and twists and turns but I really enjoyed the challenge, great support on route. The picture of me is taken at the end when I was sprinting flat out to keep in front of another runner who had an amazing last mile and came from nowhere.

I also cracked my summer challenge of a sub 18 min 5k. I ran 17.57 at Norwich parkrun yesterday. It has been really good weather for running this week in the U.K with lots of cool, still, misty mornings and I paced myself well, without having to pick up the pace too much towards the end. 

I really thought I might be able to fly, for one split second when I saw the gate and I sized it up. I was gaining on it fast and was in full flow, the blood was pumping, adrenaline surging through my body. I was ticking along, surging forward through the wind and the rain with ease and I felt so confident. I decided not to slow down and waste valuable seconds losing my rhythm opening the gate, no I would vault it, I used to jump 5 foot gates all the time when I was a lad, no problem, yep, here I go, this is the RNR and I have to deliver the baton.

 The Round Norfolk Relay is an exceptional race. It is one of East Anglia’s most unique events and it always brings a challenge to any runner or supporter who decides to get involved. It always gets me excited and I want to push myself every year for the team. I was running stage 2, 14 miles along the coastal footpath from Hunstanton to Burnham Overy. The stage has a small stretch on the road, but mostly it was run on grass, mud, boardwalks and sand. I had done a recce of the course, which was a good idea because it has a lot of twists and turns, I was ready to just run, enjoy the atmosphere and push myself hard in what would be my first competitive off road race.

 So back to the gate, I had just helped two runners who were looking lost, I had re-assured them that they were going in the right direction, and had re-assured myself that with all this knowledge, planning and athleticism, vaulting a gate would be a breeze, a momentary obstacle on my way to the finish. No.

Before my brain could even catch up with this monumental bad choice I was landing on the ground with a painful, loud slappy mud thud right on my hip, in front of a bunch of spectators and team support cyclists. I let out a surprised and embarrassed howl that silenced the initial laughter from the on lookers who are collecting their £250 from You’ve Been Framed as I write this. The reason they laughed was not out of cruelty but simply because it must have looked hilarious watching a complete pillock failing spectacularly to vault a gate. Ever see that episode of Only Fools and Horses when he falls through the bar? That is how I felt after. I tried to act very cool and like nothing hurt, especially when running alongside my cyclist Leigh who saw it and very kindly said nothing more than “are you ok?”

 One moment of mad over ambitiousness that I will never forget. I learnt a big lesson about off road racing, your legs don’t do what you want them to do after running for a while and obstacles have to be sized up a long way in advance to avoid tripping and tumbling your way to the finish, or worse not finishing at all.

 I finished in 1h 35.07 which was 9th on my stage. A total of 14.38 miles, slightly over length possibly due to a last minute route change before ‘that gate’. A brisk wind on the nose and some very tricky paths were around every corner to keep you focused, but the barren open landscape was so beautiful to run through especially when you were totally on your own.

 Another year over and another great team result, well done everyone who ran and helped, I can’t wait to hear all of the stories.  

Closer….

Since my last post I have managed to shave off a few more seconds and get closer to my goal time for 1 mile and 5k. I clocked at 5.08 mile on a fine evening at the club and a 18.11 for 5k this month at Goleston parkrun. I am aiming to get under 18 minutes for 5k. I think I am getting close. I will be trying the flatter Norwich parkrun this weekend. I have also signed up to the fabled Round Norfolk Relay once again, I will be running stage 2 which will need a little recky due to an alarming amount of twists and turns and lumps and bumps!

Summer of speed training, 10ks, Golden Miles and the Ekiden Relay

 The Ekiden Relay

 6 members of a team run 6 stages, a 7.2k then either 10k or 5k to make up the marathon distance, all on 2.5k laps around a School grounds in Ipswich. It was a hot, humid afternoon and I was running last, no pressure then!

 I had done a gig the night before at a Wedding in Bath and had stayed at a hotel on the M25. A late night followed by an early morning and a late arrival was a bit of a worry for the team captain Steve, but when I did arrive and had pasted a quizzing on how I was feeling and whether or not I had been on the booze the night before (good-ish, no-ish) I received a welcoming hug, a number and some safety pins. Until I became a runner I would never have imagined that the sight of safety pins would send me into such a giddy, excited fever, but the strapping on of the number for a runner is like the click of the seat belt for a racing driver, just a bit lower tech,

 We were lying in 4th place overall as I started my lap, and thanks to a great 10k leg by Ted before me I could still see the runner from the team in third up ahead. As I went through the first half a mile I caught him and passed him quite easily, what a relief! All I had to do now was concentrate on steadying my pace and getting over the finish line, from all around the course I could hear the cheering of other team-mates who kept appearing on different bends of the track to shout my name, It was a blast, we finished 3rd out of 124 teams in a time of 2h.35 minutes. We cheered on the rest of the teams, cooled down and collected our trophies. I had also knocked a bit off my 5k time with a PB of 18:25 and was 9th in the 5K overall, not a bad Sunday afternoon.

 Speed training and the Golden Mile

 Since May I have been concentrating on my speed training and running shorter distances whist trying to keep up a long run on Sunday. I have run 5 Pbs in 6 races, which feels fantastic and shows that the training has been working. After the marathon it has been nice to mix up the training and I have tried to add in some sort of speed work to every run. I have added an extra speed session on Wednesday concentrating on my Golden Mile time. I had my first crack at it last night. My target was to crack 5 minutes, my PB was 5.39 last year, my predicted time was 5:11. I knew I had work to do but was feeling good after the Ekiden relay. I was feeling in good shape. I started off well and ran 800m in 2.39, but the 3rd lap took its toll a bit but finishing with a 1:16 last lap was enough for another PB (5:17) but not enough to break my golden mile time. More track work needed I think, I have the speed, but I just need to build middle distance endurance. A good first try, a PB and something to work on, I have a few more attempts this summer, It was a great session, a lot of the other runners smashed their predicted times and we cheered each other on and shouted out lap times and encouragement.  My inspiration for this type of training has been the quote below!

Why should I practice running slow? I already know how to run slow. I want to learn to run fast.

Emil Zatopek

 I have also run 3 10ks. Diss (39.05, 14th place) and number 1 and 2 of the Bungay summer series with pbs in race 1 (38:48) and in race 2 (38:39) which was also good enough for 12th . Race three is in 2 weeks. I will report on the whole series after it has finished.  

 I have enjoyed running in the warmer weather although getting up and getting out early is very important especially on a long run day. There is a glorious golden haze in Britain at this time of year as the sun beats down on the parched grassy lanes and wind swept fields. The sun casts great black shadows under the avenues of trees here in Suffolk. When I run up to Hales or out through Earsham to Harleston on quiet roads from Bungay I hear only my feet, my breathing, the birds in the trees and every now and then the loud squork! of a pheasant I have crept up behind. After the run its nice to plunge straight in the Waveney river. Last week, on a hot evening, Kathleen and I ran down to Ellingham mill, jumped in the river and then ran back. What a blissful summer evening it was in the Waveney Valley.

Gt Yarmouth 5 mile Promenade series
I ran a lovely race last night on Gt Yarmouth sea front. Race three of the 5 mile Promenade series. The wind dropped and the clouds disappeared for 2 hours, making way for perfect running conditions. It was a great turnout. Everyone there had been rewarded with this lovely evening. It was cold and rainy 2 hours before but we had all made the effort to get here and it was a perfect sunny window made all the more special when it rained hard on the way home.

The race loops along the seafront twice. Past bowling greens and duck ponds. It is a very flat course apart from a short section where you duck your head as you drop into the darkness under the pier for a few seconds, and then pop up out the other side.

Every now and then you have a run like this when everything falls into place, and it makes no sense really. It has been a difficult week for my family. We are grieving the passing of my granddad Ron and I wondered if I had the energy. All the training manuals would probably not recommend working a long day outside in the rain with no time to eat, a rush to the start with only a 5/10 minute warm up and yet I ran a great race, quite a bit faster than I expected. It was also a PB. (This was mostly down to the fact I had never run a 5 mile race before!)

I was determined to finish strongly and so I held back as best I could for the first two miles, I then picked up the pace mile by mile finishing with a 5.45 last mile and a sprint finish along side another runner, it felt perfectly timed, pleased with a time of 30min.39 secs. I am still waiting for the results to confirm time and position. 5 miles for me felt a lot closer to my 5k pace than to my 10k pace. As a next challenge, I would love to get under 30 mins over this distance.

 A great experience quite unexpected, you never know how you will feel until you are actually doing something, so always try your best to get to the start line whatever it is. Until you are running you just don’t know. If you have had a tough week, if your tired, whatever the weather, get out there. Don’t think too much and have a go. I surprised myself and had a great time. 

The Milton Keynes marathon. My third marathon and the first thing to say is, I finished!  In a time of 3.31.04, not a PB but yet again I am left with an incredible experience that I will remember forever. I really enjoyed most of it and had another very valuable lesson in the art of marathon running.
 It was a hot day, when I woke up early at 5.45 I could tell it was going to be one of those breathless days where the sun arrives big, bright and golden in the sky and will not rest until it sets. We arrived in Milton Keynes at about 9 and joined the bustle of the marathon preparation at the MK Dons stadium where the race starts and finishes.

 We started at 10am. 2000+ runners all heading out together on this long journey, a coming together of a community ready to tackle this sun bathed course that was last year drenched in torrential rain. At some point however, I knew that it would become a personal journey for every individual as they tried to overcome the challenge that was in front of them. For some it was to finish, for others it was to finish better or faster than last time.

 I was planning on running at a pace that would see me finish in 3.15 minutes. I set off and found the right pace, checking my watch as little as possible to settle down and relax into the first 10k of the race. I was feeling good, the course followed main roads and snaked around roundabouts, and for the first hour I tried to switch off. I found the 3.15 pace maker and decided it would be a good idea to keep him in sight. I went through half way in 1.37 bang on and besides a slight stitch for a mile or two I felt good. I keep focused and let the miles of road and bike tracks that wondered through endless housing estates and pretty parks whiz by without too much thought. I really have no idea where I went. My support team (Dad and Kathleen!) were with me 4 or 5 times on route, which was brilliant. 

 I chatted to the pacemaker quite a bit and found out he ran Ultra marathons including the Leadville 100 and the Comrades, 10 times. I have never run along side someone who has run races I have read and dreamt about and it was really inspiring.

 I ran through 20miles bang on again 2.29. I felt stronger at this point than I had done in my last marathon. My pace dropped off by about 20 seconds but at 22 miles I still had the wind in my sails. At mile 23, I then promptly started to feel sick, probably dehydrated; I had to stop to throw up discreetly in the bush. After that I never really got going again. I cramped up in both quads, and a run walk was all I could manage through mile 24/25. As the crowds thickened up and the stadium came in sight I managed to pick up my pace for the last half a mile and as I came into the stadium I could see the finish. I took the opportunity to high 5 all the kids on the front row as I looped round the stadium and I finished with a smile! 
I am now having a few easy weeks to let my legs recover and then I will concentrate on a few shorter races over the summer. Another marathon completed, the race itself as well as the journey to get to the start was another experience that taught me a lot about running, myself and life, roll on the next one! Well Done to everyone who completed a spring marathon!

The Milton Keynes marathon. My third marathon and the first thing to say is, I finished!  In a time of 3.31.04, not a PB but yet again I am left with an incredible experience that I will remember forever. I really enjoyed most of it and had another very valuable lesson in the art of marathon running.

 It was a hot day, when I woke up early at 5.45 I could tell it was going to be one of those breathless days where the sun arrives big, bright and golden in the sky and will not rest until it sets. We arrived in Milton Keynes at about 9 and joined the bustle of the marathon preparation at the MK Dons stadium where the race starts and finishes.

 We started at 10am. 2000+ runners all heading out together on this long journey, a coming together of a community ready to tackle this sun bathed course that was last year drenched in torrential rain. At some point however, I knew that it would become a personal journey for every individual as they tried to overcome the challenge that was in front of them. For some it was to finish, for others it was to finish better or faster than last time.

 I was planning on running at a pace that would see me finish in 3.15 minutes. I set off and found the right pace, checking my watch as little as possible to settle down and relax into the first 10k of the race. I was feeling good, the course followed main roads and snaked around roundabouts, and for the first hour I tried to switch off. I found the 3.15 pace maker and decided it would be a good idea to keep him in sight. I went through half way in 1.37 bang on and besides a slight stitch for a mile or two I felt good. I keep focused and let the miles of road and bike tracks that wondered through endless housing estates and pretty parks whiz by without too much thought. I really have no idea where I went. My support team (Dad and Kathleen!) were with me 4 or 5 times on route, which was brilliant. 

 I chatted to the pacemaker quite a bit and found out he ran Ultra marathons including the Leadville 100 and the Comrades, 10 times. I have never run along side someone who has run races I have read and dreamt about and it was really inspiring.

 I ran through 20miles bang on again 2.29. I felt stronger at this point than I had done in my last marathon. My pace dropped off by about 20 seconds but at 22 miles I still had the wind in my sails. At mile 23, I then promptly started to feel sick, probably dehydrated; I had to stop to throw up discreetly in the bush. After that I never really got going again. I cramped up in both quads, and a run walk was all I could manage through mile 24/25. As the crowds thickened up and the stadium came in sight I managed to pick up my pace for the last half a mile and as I came into the stadium I could see the finish. I took the opportunity to high 5 all the kids on the front row as I looped round the stadium and I finished with a smile! 

I am now having a few easy weeks to let my legs recover and then I will concentrate on a few shorter races over the summer. Another marathon completed, the race itself as well as the journey to get to the start was another experience that taught me a lot about running, myself and life, roll on the next one! Well Done to everyone who completed a spring marathon!

The running community has been through a difficult few weeks. I am so shocked at what has happened in Boston, a place I have friends, where I have visited recently and a town I have run through. This was first and foremost a tragedy for the people affected and the city of Boston as a whole. It also felt like a personal attack on our running community.
We went to the London Marathon expo last week and met a runner and co-founder of a fantastic charitable clothing company called Janji. He was two blocks away from the blasts and yet he was here, carrying on with a defiant, friendly smile on his face. He told us he would be cheering everyone on somewhere along the course. We realised it was important to carry on, with no fear and with the same smile, and we stuck with our plans to be in London. I was cheering everyone on, especially my fiancé, Kathleen, who was doing her first marathon and raising money for Mencap.
What a day. I am still buzzing from it days later. Everyone seemed defiant and the crowds seemed to be bigger and louder than I remember in 2011 when I last watched the race. The silence at the beginning was very moving, and as I walked down to the 10k marker on the route I could feel the usual sense of excitement and anticipation in the air between spectators. Our plan was to see Kathleen at mile 7 in Greenwich near the Cutty Sark, then mile 17 on the Isle of Dogs, then 26, near the end.
I have never run the London Marathon but it seems to me like a huge rush from beginning to end. Like being shot out of a cannon, the crowds of people running, the cheering that starts and never stops until you walk away from the finish, where the roaring fades away. Your senses heightened, the sights, the music, the fleeting, yet incredibly emotional glimpse of family and friends jumping up and down and screaming your name, and of course the feeling of finishing. The conclusion to a festival you and every other person who ran and watched were a part of. An incredibly positive and unifying energy that you will all have in common and be able to recall forever. Kathleen ran so well, she looked strong from beginning to end, pacing herself brilliantly, with a big smile on her face even when it got tough.
Inspired by watching Kathleen and the thousands of people who ran past me, I can’t wait to line up for my marathon in Milton Keynes in two weeks and give it my best shot. Watch this space to see how I get on.

The running community has been through a difficult few weeks. I am so shocked at what has happened in Boston, a place I have friends, where I have visited recently and a town I have run through. This was first and foremost a tragedy for the people affected and the city of Boston as a whole. It also felt like a personal attack on our running community.

We went to the London Marathon expo last week and met a runner and co-founder of a fantastic charitable clothing company called Janji. He was two blocks away from the blasts and yet he was here, carrying on with a defiant, friendly smile on his face. He told us he would be cheering everyone on somewhere along the course. We realised it was important to carry on, with no fear and with the same smile, and we stuck with our plans to be in London. I was cheering everyone on, especially my fiancé, Kathleen, who was doing her first marathon and raising money for Mencap.

What a day. I am still buzzing from it days later. Everyone seemed defiant and the crowds seemed to be bigger and louder than I remember in 2011 when I last watched the race. The silence at the beginning was very moving, and as I walked down to the 10k marker on the route I could feel the usual sense of excitement and anticipation in the air between spectators. Our plan was to see Kathleen at mile 7 in Greenwich near the Cutty Sark, then mile 17 on the Isle of Dogs, then 26, near the end.

I have never run the London Marathon but it seems to me like a huge rush from beginning to end. Like being shot out of a cannon, the crowds of people running, the cheering that starts and never stops until you walk away from the finish, where the roaring fades away. Your senses heightened, the sights, the music, the fleeting, yet incredibly emotional glimpse of family and friends jumping up and down and screaming your name, and of course the feeling of finishing. The conclusion to a festival you and every other person who ran and watched were a part of. An incredibly positive and unifying energy that you will all have in common and be able to recall forever. Kathleen ran so well, she looked strong from beginning to end, pacing herself brilliantly, with a big smile on her face even when it got tough.

Inspired by watching Kathleen and the thousands of people who ran past me, I can’t wait to line up for my marathon in Milton Keynes in two weeks and give it my best shot. Watch this space to see how I get on.