Friday, 10 June 2016

Updating, sulking but on the way back

It been a while since my last proper blog and in that time a lot has happened, almost too much to catch up on, which has contributed to the lack of blog. How can I fit everything in a blog without it being a 10000 word essay that just goes on and on and not getting to a point. So I have decided that to quickly catch you up I'm just going to use bullet points and if you would like a bit more detail just ask and then I can get on to what brought me back to my blog.

So since my last blog I have

Held a very successful Windmill 6 and raised £550 for my son's School
Won the competition that my wife and I entered to win a trip to the Kangaroo marathon in Austrailia
Completed the world half marathon in Cardiff in 1hr30m23s which is a 3s PB
Finished the Wakefield 10k in 39.26m plus SJ ran it too as her first 10k and smashed it (very proud)
Had an amazing trip with the boys and SJ to Alton towers (the boys first visit)
Started and held the first School mob run at junior parkrun (It went well)
Been asked to help organise the Poppy Dash 5k which will be rememberence Sunday
Become an Event Adjudicator for UK athletics
I'm now also a Grade 2 registered course measurer (Measured my local parkrun for fun and practice)
Applied to be on Ninja Warrior UK 3
Witnessed a few of my running group runners complete races they wouldn't have even thought about and done amazingly well too (really proud)
I have taken the next step in becoming a running coach
Most recently I have also got a job albeit a temporary one, but who knows what will happen.

And now to why I have be away until now......

I have done all of the above while being injured, I have been struggling with a knee injury that I think started at the Huddersfield 10k. What brought it to the surface or tipped it over the edge was the 21 mile buggy run I did in prep for the Manchester marathon. I had to think of the long term effect and drop out of the marathon because of it but from the bad stories I heard about it this year and the incorrect distance of the past few years I may have made a good decision. If it sorts itself out I may give it a go in the future but not for now, I will have to find another flat marathon to attempt my good for age time.

So once I had decided to listen to my injury I dropped down from running 7 days a week to just 2, parkrun and my beginners group, which was ok for a while but it wasn't helping. I then did what I should have done a while back and listened to my body and my wife and went to see my GP, who suggested complete rest for a while. It was the best thing to do but as any runner will agree injuries suck, I sat and sulked, imagined, and wished I could be out there as friends and others ran all the races I was suppose to run or wished I could run (London marathon for example). I also ate like I was running and as a result I have put on a stone and lost some fitness. I did nothing for 3 weeks (GP said a month, sorry Neil) then I ran at Preston parkrun on my return. It was a lovely parkrun but it was really hard and even though I took it easy on my first run back I don't think I had much more to give. I was 4 minutes off my usual pace which was a little disheartening but it was a target, a challenge, a goal to aim for on my comeback. A couple of weeks later and it still wasn't right but I tried a longer run to see if I could attempt the School run (2nd race in the SHTAR (South Huudersfield Trail and Road) series) and after 5 miles, a few stops and some burning lungs I stopped and realised I needed a new approach. Luckily it come in an unexpected but very much appreciated form of Mr Simon Courtney (fellow Stadium runner and personal trainer) who gave me some body weight exercises and foam roller exercises to do. He said that my injury is mainly due to a tight IT band which is pulling at the ligaments and muscles around my knee.

So this past Saturday I ran parkrun and ran it at pace and to my surprise I managed it without too much pain and that was from just one session with Simon. I wasn't completely fixed but I could see a light at the end of the tunnel, I just needed to regain my fitness. So it was on to the School Run and it wasn't for me no it was for SJ, when I said I couldn't do it she said well maybe I should. I was ever so proud of her, she even ran parkrun with the boys before hand as well. She finished parkrun and an hour later was running up some silly hills around Digley reservoir, I couldn't have been more proud of her.

Yesterday (Thursday) I went for my first run other than parkrun for a while and a run with Steve which also was a first for a while. We went for a 5 mile run up hills and on trail and my knee felt really good, I went round about 95% pain free with only the odd twinge so I arrived back home with renewed optimism about the road back to fitness. The 5 mile run was still hard but on a hot and humid night and on the terrain we ran it was a huge step in the right direction. So a big thank you to Simon for taking it upon himself to set me on the road to recovery.

The time has now come for me to get back running properly and that also means I can start to think about entering races again. My main thoughts though are the Shepley 10k which as you regular readers know is my race I organise, which this year should be amazing for so many reasons. Firstly this year will be it's 4th and biggest to date with my fellow Stadium runners making an appearance as its on the clubs championship calendar. Plus it's the 4th race on the SHTAR series which is turning out to be a better series than we thought it would be. As I have become a course measurer I might be able to get the Shepley 10k a UK athletics licenced event which means it will count towards the power of 10 leaderboards and should attract a lot more athletes. But the main reason I'm looking forward to this years Shepley 10k is because this year there will be so many of my friends at the event that I have met over the last 4 years and that was the main reason for starting the event. I wanted to put on the race to start with to run a route I enjoyed a lot with all of my friends and share the beautiful views and surrounding areas with them. The friends and friendships you make on your journey is what keep most people coming back to races and runs and has been a major part of my running this past 4 years. In that 4 years I've also set up various races or runs and met lots of new friends because of it and I hope that I will continue to make friends and create new events and races for people to come and run with me. 

Oh it's good to be back

Keep running everyone

Friday, 25 March 2016


In my last post I mentioned the #myrunningmate competition that the Kangaroo island marathon were holding with a couple of entries to the marathon and travel and accommodation up for grabs. Well we only went and won it!!!!!! OMG!!! SJ and I are truly amazed and so very humbled by the help, votes, shares, and general loveliness shown by our friends and total strangers towards us for this comp. We are so excited now and can't wait to find out the details etc. about the comp and share them with you.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

February update and a bit of March including Dewsbury 10k and theWindmill 6

February started where January left of with lots of running, well what did you expect and the start of another month or so of PB's yet again. At some point all the PB's will stop I'm sure but for now I'm just happy to keep pushing and getting better and faster.

Early February is Dewsbury 10k time and this year was my first attempt at it, with a flat out and back route it was popular for getting PB's, people compare it to the Leeds Abbey Dash. I hoped not as I was looking forward to it and to possibly getting that elusive sub 40 time, I had tried and failed at the Abbey Dash so this was my next opportunity. It was also on the Stadium Runners race calendar so I had to give it the best I could so I could pick up as many points as possible. I got a lift over there with Steve and on the drive over we discussed our tactics and Steve was happy to pace me to a sub 40 which I was happy with. If I could stick with Steve as long as possible I should be able to hit my target, so at the start line we made are way as close to the front as we dared and at 9am we were off. About 1km I passed Steve feeling great and just planned to stay in front of him as long as possible because I know Steve would hang behind and then just breeze past at the end. At the turn around I took a gel even though I felt ok still but knew I might need it in the closing minutes. By 8km Steve still hadn't passed me and I was still keeping my focus and posture to try and keep it that way. It was also at this point that the route turned a corner and we had a fairly strong head wind for the last mile. So normally when you want to push that little extra to get the best finish you can you can't because of the wind. I had to just dig deep and push even if I didn't get that little extra push at least I wasn't slowing down. As I got within 200m of the finish I put in a little extra for the sprint finish and to make sure I gave Steve a run for his money. I crossed the finish line and and turned around to congratulate Steve but he wasn't there, so I looked at my watch and to my amazement I had finished in 38.14mins. I had beaten my 10k PB by over 2 mins, I was gobsmacked but absolutely over the moon. Steve came across the line a few seconds later in 38.30 beating his PB too and he said he tried to stay with me but couldn't which made me smile as that was only the 2nd time I had beaten Steve at a race and I thought the first would be the only time that would happen. We hung around to cheer and meet up with all the other Stadium runners and it turned out to be a great day for PB's as at least 75% of us had beaten our PB's. Well done everyone....

The high of the Dewsbury 10k was still helping when It came to parkrun the following Saturday where is also took a few seconds off my 5k PB too as I crossed the line in 18.40m this running thing is highly addictive when you keep PBing. That same day I handed out some flyers for the South Hudderfield trail and road series with Jon as there was only a few weeks until  the first race, The Windmill 6 which was my race that was raising money for Shepley First School. There was a bumper crowd of nearly 600 at parkrun that day so we were hopeful of a few entries from our flyers. 

The next few weeks consisted of lots of emailing and posting on social media trying to sort out and drum up some more attention for the Windmill 6, although that didn't stop me running. I was still run streaking and was closing in on the 100 day mark at the end of February with the 100 day coming the Friday before the Windmill 6. Would I stop at 100, well anyone that knows me would quite quickly say no and they would be right. Especially as the following day is parkrun and then the Windmill 6 the day after that. Before all of that happened it was the last Sunday in February and that is Huddersfield 10k day, which for all of you with a good memory or if you've been running with the past couple of weeks you would have heard me rattle on about it. The Huddersfield 10k was my first official 10k now an amazing 3 years ago, with all the running I have done it seems longer ago than that. I had actually questioned whether or not I was going to enter it this year, but for sentimental reasons I did, and I the form I was in I was hoping for another PB albeit a course PB. There was no way I was doing it in 38 mins but I was going to aim for a 42 at least. The night before the race however I had gone out for a small school reunion and as these things do, it went on longer than I had planned and as usual I decided to run home too. I had already run nine miles that day and with the added seven running home (in none running shoes!)I had ruined my legs and made my feet quite sore. So race day my feet were in bits and my calves were very tight, but I pushed on not complaining too much as it was self-inflicted. I push as hard as my calves would let on the uphills and let myself go as fast as my feet would allow on the descents, but it took its toll and I couldn't force myself to finish strong. That being said I did cross the line in 42.37 which was a minute quicker than last year, but I knew I could have done so much better, a lot closer to 40mins based on how I felt and my performance on the day. Still it was a course PB so in the grand scale of things a great result and could have been so much worse given what I had done the day before.

February also saw me enter a competition for SJ and myself to win a trip to Australia to take part in the Kangaroo Island marathon. We had seen a Facebook friend enter and just thought why not give it a try and see what happens, so I posted a photo of me and SJ with the boys and posted it. The idea is that people vote on your photo and the photo with the most vote wins the competition, when we entered the leading 2 had about 800 and 720 votes so we felt like we had no chance. We started to share the post on Facebook and thanks to friend and family sharing it we quickly rose to about 420 votes which was amazing. Then suddenly overnight we had only 250 votes and the leading 2 had gone down to 200 which had put us in the lead, we weren't sure what was going on or whether this was for real or not. After a little investigation from SJ apparently the organisers had taken the votes off people because of people cheating and figuring out how to vote more than once, so they reset everyone votes to a certain date and then voting was open again but with a more strict voting system. So it was real we were in the lead and we had a chance of winning so we didn't let the opportunity slip away. We posted and share our link all over facebook with friends and family sharing it too, plus we added it to groups we are in and we soon were up to 600 votes and counting. There was a couple of American ladies in 2nd who were sticking with us in the votes but we had the slight advantage. It became clear that it was looking like it was going to be between us and the American ladies and after a bit of back and forth with local plugs we have started to pull away. We had our story in our local paper and they did in theirs too as well as being on their local radio station too, but we have still managed to stay ahead of them and as of today with 8 full days left in the comp we have 1281 votes to their 932. It's getting very tense yet exciting and I'm sure come next week we will be a nervous wreck. 

The Windmill 6 was an amazing success with over 90 people entering it and 73 running it on the day, we did have a slight panic as it snowed the couple of days before it and lightly the morning of the race, but luckily on the day the roads were clear and the sun came out making it, to quote a runner "the most picturesque race" he'd been in. Everyone had a great time and I got some great feedback from everyone. The only issue we did have was the windmill nursery and cafe got very grumpy about the runners wanting to use the toilets before the race. Complaining they weren't paying customers, even though I had asked permission beforehand and warned them they were coming and most of them will stop after for a coffee and or bacon butty. So there was a few annoyed runners but luckily not at me, and because the cafe were being silly a lot of the runners decided not to stick around because the cafe owners were very rude to them. It's a small cafe in the middle of nowhere so you would think they would take all the customers they could but because they were quite so rude they lost out on what could have been a really profitable morning for them. Oh well we had a successful run and we raised a good amount of money for the school. It was a great start to the series too and a few people have signed up to the series since and because of the Windmill 6. So on to the next one which is the School Run from Holme school and a trail run up and over the Digley reservoir, it should be a great race, you can find info on the series here.

That's it for now but I'm sure I'll do an update for the close of the comp.

Keep running everyone

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

January 2016 and what a start to the year PB's, interviews and new stuff

In my last blog I talked about trying to make sure I topped a great 2015 with an excellent 2016, well so far its mission accomplished. Last year I started with the goal of cracking a sub 20 at parkrun by the end of the year but did it within weeks of the year starting. Well the same happened this year too, my goal was to get a sub 19 by the end of the year but just as last year I did it within a couple of weeks. I put a lot of it down to the run streaking I have done for the past couple of years around this time of year but also a bit of it is down to new shoes.
The confidence and buzz a new pair of shoes gives you is great, going round corners is easier and in slightly damp condition you still push hard knowing that you're not going to slip in the slightest. This resulted in a parkrun PB of 18.47, which when I crossed the line and saw my time on my watch made me uncharacteristicly shout and yell really quite loudly and with such joy that it made my friend Steve get goose bumps, as he was really delighted for me.

The next day I then went to the first race of Team OA's 4 seasons 10k trail race to test out the new trail shoes. A few friends were doing the same race so I turned up and paid on the day (first time I've done that and it felt weird) and lined up on the front of the startline next to Tom Whitworth and his dad. Tom is a great runner and has just turned 15 so his dad was running with him so he could enter the race. Tom parkrun PB is a mid 18min so I knew if I kept with him I'd would know I was doing well. We stuck together all the way round and in the end we both left his dad behind on the final descent and Tom passed me with 200m to go and we crossed the line, get this, Tom 3rd and me 4th how amazing is that.... I was on cloud 9, finishing 4th was awesome and on such a muddy and hilly course I was even more amazed that I did it in 46 mins too.

During the following week I had a job interview, something that I haven't had for nearly 7 years and for a job I knew I could do but hadn't done anything like it before. The interview went well but there was a definite sense that they wanted someone with experience but at least I could come away with a bit of experience and happy that I put myself across to them properly and without saying something silly or getting too nervous to answer the questions properly. Now I know this blog is mainly about my running but I put this in because of all I have done over the past three and a half year has helped me in more than just in a race or run. For example being involved in parkrun and mainly Junior parkrun has helped me immensely in organisation speaking in front of people and believing in myself and what I can bring to others. Even if it's just how I appear to others that gives them the confidence to try something new or follow in my foot steps, it's how I've have gained a lot of my skills and knowledge. A week later and it was confirmed that I didn't get the job but I was ok with it as I had done something that I have done for a while and came out of it with a great self confidence and more experience.

They say when one door closes another one opens and a few day later that was proven true as I received an email about something I had expressed interest in back in December. I was chosen to be 1 of a 100 testers of a new running watch from Epson the new runsense SF-810. I have to review the watch through a regular Vlog that I will post on YouTube and on a Epson website too and if I do this up to March 20th I get to keep the watch and all free of charge. I'm so excited about this opportunity, I like new things and having the chance to test it out before many others is just so cool. It arrived a few days ago and I've been playing with it and checking out its feature everyday since, discovering which are cool and useful and which are just unnecessary. You can see my terrible attempt at my first Vlog by clicking here hopefully I will get better at them as this product test continues.

The watch boasts a 99% accurate heart rate monitor and a smart GPS feature which should reduce the loss of data from such things as tunnels and dense over hanging trees that play havoc with the signal on most running watches. So far I have had very few problems with the watch just setup issues, like understand and getting familiar with the buttons and what they do. The main setup issue has been adjusting the display setting, you can choose which type of measurement you want on your display i.e. heart rate, distance, lap time, and time. However when I added time to it, it wasn't time as in duration, no it was time as in clock time, this puzzled me as I looked up and down the list over and over again. If Time was a clock what on earth was duration time under, they can't possibly have forgotten to put a stop watch on a running watch, could they? Well as it turns out after SJ looking at the list, that it was classed as split time, which I thought would be something similar to lap time. SJ said it was a slightly old fashioned (apologies if that is a bit offensive or ageist)way of saying time/duration. Once you have your display set up the way you like it you have to save it and then, this is a silly bit but make sure you write the data to the watch otherwise it won't register it and revert back to the way it was before. 

On a normal day to day and run to run basis it has been brilliant, it's light which always helps, some watches can be quite heavy which you notice on a long run, so any extra weight you don't have to carry with you the better. The strap has lots of holes making sure you can get a great fit on you wrist and avoid any unwanted movement. On a run it's been really good and the GPS has so far been spot on give or take 5/10 metres at the Km splits. The smart GPS is supposed to learn your stride pattern so that if you go through a tunnel or lose signal briefly it can still work out your pace and location. I haven't needed it yet so can't comment whether or not it works but I'm sure I will need it at some point. However I have had some loss of heart rate data where it thinks I have a heart rate of 100 for a good couple of km's, now I don't know if it is because I'm wearing the watch too tight or too loose or if it was too cold for it but something wasn't quite right. I will keep an eye on that and see if it sorts itself out or not.

The battery life on the watch is really good, it boasts 30hrs of GPS tracking but I thought I would just see how long the watch lasts if I just use it like a watch. So I wore it all the time, like a normal watch and then on my runs too, to see how long it would last before it needed charging and I was pleasantly surprised. It lasted four full days and four 10k runs before I put it on charge overnight which means you could use like a watch and wear it all the time just charge it every few days whilst you sleep. It also has a power save mode which is cool, when I took it off to get in the shower/bath or to do the washing up and put it on the side, after a couple of minutes it turned itself off. Then when I pick it back up to put back on it recognises that and turns back on, saving on your battery life again. so far I'm very impressed with the watch, let's just hope it continues that way as the test progresses.

There has also been other great things happening in January like, my running group on a Wednesday has grown to around 12/13 people and nearly 30 since I started back in May and even Dexter has started to join me on a Wednesday which makes me ever so proud of him. It's great to see lots of new faces join me for my beginner runners group and so far they have all done amazingly well. January has also seen another interview for something I'm very familiar with but as yet I don't know the outcome so I won't go into too much detail other than to say if I get it I will be so proud and excited. Clark has achieved and received his 10 t-shirt and even smashed his junior parkrun and Saturday parkrun PB's, he is turning into a brilliant little runner.
SJ has set her sights on completing her first 10k by June and I've signed her up to take part in the Wakefield Hospice 10k in April. It's amazing that she has decided to do it and it makes me so proud of her, plus she is doing really well at Judo too, she's well on her way to get a green belt soon.

In December last year I was approached by a friend at parkrun to see if I could come into the school he works at to do a talk about junior parkrun as the have a small running club and would like bring them to junior parkrun and maybe attract a few more to their running club. Well yesterday we finally found a time to suit us both and I went down to stand in front of 200 kids and talk to them about junior parkrun and parkrun in general. I gave them the run down on what happens on a Sunday and a few stats about parkrun then I asked them if they had any questions. Immediately there were loads of hands from enthusiastic kids which was great to see and I did my best to answer them all. There was questions like "do we get a trophy?" and "do we have to run with our parents?" so I think they all got what I had been saying and when they were asked who wanted to try it almost all of them put their hands up which was amazing. It wasn't until after the assembly that I had anytime time to breathe and reflect on what I had just done. I would not have been able to do that three years ago without feeling terrified and really nervous and probably done anything to get out of doing it. Another thing that I feel I have parkrun to thank for as it has given me a whole new level of confidence when it comes to talk to people and talking in front of large group of people all with their eyes firmly focused on me. 

So January has been an awesome month so far and lets hope that the rest of the year continues in the same way.

Keep running everyone

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015 review and plans for 2016

Over the last 12 months I have surpassed my goals that I set myself this time last year, and this has made 2015 a totally amazing year, one that will be tough to top. There is one thing for sure about 2016 and those who know me won't be surprised I will try my hardest to make this one even better..

At the beginning of the year I had set my sights on the half marathons I was doing and my first ever marathon as well as beating my parkrun PB, what I didn't expect is how well things would go. As 2015 started I was already a third of the way through my 100 days of running challenge. I was expecting a few injuries after running every day for 100 days but all I got from it was one sore ankle that needed a little bit of rest. That wasn't surprising as I finished off the challenge with an unofficial marathon route around Huddersfield. After resting a couple of days I was back on it getting ready for the Liverpool half where I would smash my half marathon PB with a time of 1h30m26s. It was then on to the Huddersfield, Yorkshire and Leeds half marathons which all went really well. 

I then created the June 10k challenge which 8 others and I completed  smashing PB's along the way. It was a tough but great challenge and it kept me motivated until my marathon training was due to start. We all did it for different reasons but we all finished it with a great sense of accomplishment. I think I will do it again in 2016 and see how many more people will join me this time. 

During the rest of the summer I tried to keep up with my training runs but I could have done better, the south of France is a bit of a distraction but a great one. Then there was another successful Shepley 10k and another great run for me and Jessie's debut at my event.

As Autumn hit so did the serious training and the long runs, when I could. There was a failure on my first long run when I failed to plan properly and fuel myself for the long run. This resulted in 2/3 miles of walking and my kidneys screaming for water and my body going into shock when I got home. I learnt from it and my next and final three long runs went well and I felt ready but slightly nervous for my marathon.

I was nervous for about 15 mins on the day until excitement took over, and in the end the day went amazingly. I finished my first official marathon in a time of 3h19m55s which considering I was hoping for 3h30m was awesome and got me all emotional at the finish. I finished it with a slight bit of cramp and that was it so I wondered if I could have pushed it that little bit harder. 

I finished my first full year at Stadium Runners which meant I had entered enough of the club calendar race to qualify for the championship and I finished 6th clinching it on the final race of the season at the Guy Fawkes 10 mile race at Ripley castle. Then we had a great awards night celebrating 10 years of Stadium Runners in one of the fantastic event suites at the John Smiths Stadium.

Which then leads me on to December where once again I took part in the Marcothon challenge, completing it with a run with some other Marcothon runners from Acre street runners on New Year's Eve with a 12km run. I have tried to up the training for this years Marcothon by doing buggy runs and even double runs just to see if I can push that little extra for next year. 

Last year I ran 2600km or 1615m which is nearly 1600km or 1000m more than last year, It has paid off as my PB's have dropped a lot as a result.

5k PB has gone from 20.47 to 19.04
10k PB has gone from 43.05 to 40.20
Half marathon PB 2h02m to 1h30m although there was a huge difference in the courses from very hilly to flat.

My plans for 2016 are fairly simple when put into words but to actually put them into miles on the roads etc will be a different matter. I have entered the Manchester Marathon and have plans for a couple of half marathons in the springtime but other than that I haven't set anything in stone yet. I do however want to take part in my first ultra this year and I'm probably going to target the White rose ultra as the one I take part in. 2016 also see the start of the new road and trail series I am part of and my 2 races (the Windmill 6 and Shepley 10k) will make up 2 of the 5 races in the series, it's a very exciting time. I will update you all on this as we get closer to the first race which is the Windmill 6 on March 6th.

My 2016 has already got off to a great start with Steve and I doing the New Year's Day parkrun double and running in between them as well. We started with Dewsbury parkrun with lots of our friends from Hudds parkrun. 

We started steady finishing it in 21 mins which then left us 1hr and 5m to run the 8.5 miles to Greenhead park, Huddersfield and then run Huddersfield parkrun. Steve managed a good run round Greenhead park to finish and I got to run with my family for their first run of 2016 it was a great day. That was then topped off by the following day being my birthday and another parkrun where I managed to run round just 2 seconds off my PB, which after running 15 miles the day before was absolutely brilliant, let's hope that the rest of 2016 continues like it has started. 

My beginners group has already had an awesome start to 2016 as well with 6 new faces yesterday one of which was Dexter and he did amazingly too. It was a great start to the year for the beginners group and I can see a lot of potential in them all too, I'm really looking forward to the next session and also the intermediate group this evening.

To finish I'll add afraid my favourite photos from the year.

Let's keep it up everyone and keep running

Friday, 27 November 2015

The Marcothon challenge is upon us again, how will this years challenge go?

My blog posts these days are very sporadic and when I do post it seems to be just race write ups, and when I do have something other than races to write about I don't seem to find time to blog. The other reason I don't blog as much as I used to is a little 2 year old called Flynn!  Yeah he's 2 now and very bossy too. He has discovered words and a few sentences so I get told to get him things a lot or take him places he can't quite reach yet, like cupboards, shelves and mainly the fridge because he wants everything now and won't wait till Lunch or Tea. The main reason I don't blog as much is my best ideas come when I'm out running and by the time I'm home it's gone, memory like a sieve some times!
A Flynn selfie

So what have I been up to recently? Well since the marathon I've taken it a little easier dropping the distances on my runs to no more than about 10 miles and I've been happy to now and again say to myself, I don't have to run today so I won't. That's not because I've lost the love of running or the inspiration to get out there and pound the streets, no. The thing with marathon or longer training is the amount of time you're away from family, and it's especially unfair on SJ as my runs we're mainly when she gets home from work. So she would come home we would have a little time together then I would be out running for a couple of hours, come home jump in the shower and then she would be out doing her things (Judo, Pub Quiz and Beavers). So it's been nice to be able to sit down with her and just do nothing, watch a bit of TV and just enjoy being in the same house together.

A photo of SJ and I at the recent Stadium Runners 10th anniversery awards night and a rare night out for us, it was a great night.

I have done a couple of races since the marathon, the Guy Fawkes 10 over at Ripley castle which was a tough hilly 10 miler, but I finished in a very pleasing time and comfortably too. Then there was the Leeds Abbey Dash which I entered for one reason only, to go for a sub 40 time as I had been so close to it at the York 10k a few months back. Things didn't go to plan and I finished it in 41.04 which is my second fastest 10k time and a nearly 5 minute course PB, which I had to remind myself about as I was a little annoyed that I couldn't break the 40 minute mark. I know it will come but I had set my sights on it and was feeling great leading up to it, plus it's probably the first race that I've done where I haven't hit my target or surprised myself at how well I had done. I've stopped being so hard on myself and just got on with my usual weekly runs but as always my thoughts have moved on to the next challenge or figuring out what the next challenge is.

As it is nearly December it would be a shame not to do Marcothon again as it had such an impact on my running last year. For those of you who aren't familiar with Marcothon it's a challenge that someone started a few years ago that has increased in popularity over the last couple of years. Basically you have to run everyday throughout December for a minimum of 5k or 25 mins that includes Christmas Day as well. Last year I started it with a 21.28 5k PB and a 45.33 10k PB and ended the challenge with a 20.52m 5k PB and a 43.14min 10k PB. I did go on to smash those PB a month later but it was the Marcothon challenge that started the transformation in my running. 

This year however I am going to try to run each weekday with Flynn in the buggy unless the weather is bad as it would be just too cruel to take him out in it. That at least will be a little tougher than usual and could just be what I need through December to give me a good start to the new year and hopefully kick start my next set of races in 2016. 

When I started running, now 3 and a half years ago, I just wanted to be able to drop the boys off at school without breaking into a sweat (check, done, unless we run up because we are late) but as I got fitter and could run further I wanted to keep going to see how far I could run. At the time I was thinking 10k, 10 miles, half marathon possibly, but I didn't think about marathons until I had been running about a year, that was just silly to think I could run that far. That seems to be the case with a lot of people who are new to running they build and build and test themselves and push boundaries and limits, but most people will get to a point and then discover their favourite distance. Even if they have run further before they find a distance which challenges them enough without it turning into pain and that feeling of why on earth am I doing this. 

Now I have done a marathon I can say with almost 100% certainty that I still have further to go, the fact I went 26.2 miles for the first official time and only got a tiny bit of cramp at the finish line has made me question just how far could I go again. I am really looking forward to finding out too but like I said earlier it does take up a lot of time away from the family, so this is going to have to be planned very carefully as I love my family to bits and I don't want my hobby (if I can call it that), to take over their lives too much, it's just not fair. Now don't get me wrong it's not like they hate running they quite enjoy it taking part at parkrun each Saturday and junior parkrun on a Sunday too, there are more things in our lives other than running. SJ, Dexter and Clark have taken up Judo and really enjoy it, so much so that all of their faces light up when they talk about it, just like I'm sure mine does when I talk about running. 

So 2016 is going to be the year of Judo Mons, Judo belts and running miles (or Km if you're like me) let's just hope we can all progress together 

Keep running everyone

Monday, 12 October 2015

2015 Yorkshire Marathon race review and my first of many????

All the miles, the sweat, the blisters, the mistakes, and the time away from the family, led me to this, the 2015 Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. 

I hadn't followed a proper training plan leading up to the marathon unlike many of my running friends but I knew what I needed to do and I was determined to get the miles under my belt. I knew I was fit and my legs could take the miles but I just had to do the long runs to prove it to myself mentally before the day so I could just turn up on the day and enjoy the experience. The only thing that could have thrown me mentally was the fact that on my long runs I had only managed to keep to my hopeful marathon pace for the first 13-15 miles then I had slowed down. Now granted there was things called hills that got in the way or failed fuelling runs but it was a negative on the training. Luckily I have some amazing people around me that can't fail to inspire me, keep me positive and just make me happy. Negative, what Negative?! I am normally a very chilled and relax person and take things in my stride good or bad but when it comes to running I'm very positive and very positive with other peoples running too. So when I woke up on Sunday morning at 5.20am feeling nervous I was a little anxious, luckily the walk up to Shelley to meet up with Steven Taylor who was driving Steve, Dan and me over to York gave me time to collect some thoughts. So by the time we were on the M1 I was excited again and I just couldn't wait to get there.

Arriving at Elvington Airfield for the park and run bus service we parked up and jumped straight on a bus heading for the university campus, it was really smoothly done, great organisation. It wasn't long before we pulled into the campus and we were off looking for toilets as you do, and then we hung around the event village and got changed and ready in our outfits, got our gels ready and then dropped off our bags before once again going to the toilets. 

It was getting close to the start of the race so we went to find our assembly zones Steven was in zone 1, Steve and Dan were in zone 2 and I was in zone 3 because I signed up before my running had improved so I was down as an estimated time of over 4 hours. As my running has come on leaps and bounds since the start of the year and my training has been going well, I was aiming for a time somewhere between 3h30 and 3h20 so to be back in zone 3 was confusing whether or not it was a good place for me to be. As I tend to set off a bit too fast was it better that I would have so many people in front of me to hold me up but at the same time they could hold me up too much. They could also help mentally as I will hopefully be overtaking lots of people and the more positive thoughts I can get as I run round the better but I could also fall into a slower pace by following the wrong person, so it was a strange and hard to predict what would happen.So I made sure I was right at the front of the zone to give me the best chance ofnot being held up, but it still seemed really far back from where my friends were and I could see the 4 hour pacer in zone 2 and the 3h30 pacer in zone 1. Plus in between zone 2 and 3 was the corporate relay runners but at least they should be faster in theory as they were only running 5km each before handing over to another runner. Just before the start there was a minutes applause for a fellow runner who was due to run the race but sadly died before he could test himself on the streets of York. It was a great show of respect and a reminder that it doesn't matter that much if you reach your goal or fail just as long as you try. It was that moment that I just focused and said to myself just stick to my target pace as much as you can and if I needed to slow down it doesn't matter just enjoy the occasion. If this was going to be my only marathon because I just couldn't do and it was just a bit too far for me at least I could enjoy the atmosphere and remember the day for that and not the failure.

There was a countdown and the 2015 Yorkshire marathon was underway but it was a further 3 minutes before I was crossing the start line and off running through the centre of York. The crowds did help me not shoot off trying to catch the guys, they kept me honest and settled my adrenaline boost until I was running nice and steady at a good pace just overtaking a few people at a time. I found my target pace of 4.45m/km and kept my focus on the route and the surroundings rather than the other runners, just so I didn't start picking someone out and trying to chase them down. There were exceptions to that and they were people that I knew or had met on the day, for instance Steven Taylor's friends that run lots of marathons with him. There was a guy dressed in a full clown costume, I forgot his name but you don't forget a clown costume, another guy with a red top on that I briefly saw before we started and Mike Wells who wore a halo and wings but I knew I would be any near him as he's a phenomenal runner on a run streak of 1500+ days which is just incredible in itself nevermind the distances he puts in. So when I could see the clown in the distance I felt myself pick up the pace a little and as I passed him I got a psycological boost and then kept to my plan and pace. I was soon closing in on the guy with the red top and again I picked up the pace until I was passed him. I was just hitting the first 10k check point at this point and was bang on track, it seemed to fly by the first 10k which was a great feeling. 

It wasn't long before I was catching another stadium runner in Andy Pigg who was aiming for sub 3h30 and I could see the 3h30 pacer not far in front of him so I thought he was doing well. I slowed a little to chat to him to see how he was doing and feeling but he was a bit down beat as things weren't going to plan and he could feel a couple of niggles. I tried to keep him positive and gave him a wish of good luck as I picked up my pace again and set my sights on the 3h30 pacer. This however was the first real time I was held up since the start as we hit a narrow country road section of the route. The swarm of runners that surrounded the pacer was so big that for runners like me that we're trying to slowly make our way past were having trouble and had to be very patient so as not to trip anyone up whilst we made our way through the pack. I even had to wait until wider parts of the road or grassy verges so I could go round people safely, I didn't want to affect other people runs just because I was a little inpatient. Eventually just after the 10 mile mark I was clear of the pack again and the difference in the size of the field was amazing, I had plenty space to pick up my pace again and get back on track with my plan. It was long before the halfway point was in sight, some timing strips and a clock, I hit the timing strip at half marathon distance in a time of 1h40m44s which was pleasing I just had to hope that I can keep my pace up and that the second half wasn't too much slower than that. I expected that from that time I would end up crossing the finish around about 3h25m which was still under my target so a great confidence boost. SJ was at home keeping an eye on my progress via the Yorkshire marathon app and this is what she got at this point.

From my memory of the course route I knew there was an out and back section coming up and it was long before I could hear it too so as I reached a road junction I could see runners going in both directions so I knew where I was and this was a chance to see my friends going the other way and to see if I was catching them at all. I saw Steven Taylor and gave him a big clap and cheer and then a bit further back I saw Dan and gave him a big cheer as he was doing really well and was looking strong, he was also doing his first marathon and was in an excellent position at mile 14. After I hit the switch back point I started to keep an eye out for the runners I knew, to see how they were doing, I saw Andy Pigg and gave him a big cheer. Once again I was upping my pace as I was closing in on Dan and after a little chat with him was passing him and on my way up a very slight incline towards mile 16 and the start/finish of the second out and back section. I hadn't paid enough attention to the route as this section seemed to go on forever, luckily there was a couple of spectator points here with quite a large crowd of people at each point cheering everyone on, it was great and kept my spirits high. Not that they had dropped or anything as still at mile 17 I felt amazing and was have a great time. I saw Steve for the first time at this section and he looked like he was flying, I gave him a cheer and carried on to the switch back point where just before it I saw Steven Taylor and he just said this is where it's all in your head. Which was a great reminder and bit of advice because I said to myself, you're feeling good and all you have to do now is run 13km which you do pretty much every other day at home it's nothing. So with a long steady climb back up to the end of the out and back section I took all the excitement and positive feelings I had and put my foot down so to speak. Reaching the top of the incline and the end of the out and back section I still felt amazing and passing the 20 mile marker I just said to myself only a 10k left. This is where at the start of the race I was afraid I might fall apart as I hadn't had the best long runs in training past this distance, but I saw Steven Taylor a couple of hundred metres away and used him as a target like with the others. As he got closer I thought if I just stay with him I know I should be on for a great time, but as I drew alongside him and had a little chat with him I knew I had more in the tank. So when he said kick on I didn't hesitate at all, and before I knew it we were down to the final 7km, not that 7km to go is a distinctive point in a marathon but it just stood out to me. I found myself counting them down now and as I did that my pace started to slow so I had to focus and remember to lift my knees more and to keep swinging my arms otherwise my posture would slump and I would start to drag my feet rather than thrusting my knees forward. I could feel the muscles in my upper legs becoming slightly painful from about 4km to go and I knew that if I was to slow now or speed up too much I could quite easily get cramp, so I really had to maintain my pace more than ever. 

Turning the corner at the 40km mark a very helpful man was shouting not long to go now just a mile, normally that would be really hard to find exciting but after 25 of them the last one sounds brilliant. It was also at this point that the quiet( village roads started turning into more busy city roads full of sounds from the spectators shouting their words of encouragement and taking photos. Then as I reached University road I knew I was almost there, all I had to do is push myself up this final hill which was steeper than I remember when running down it at the start. I did it though and I was on the final 500m stretch where Kath Pinnington captured this photo. 

I was now running down the hill to where I started round the little round-about and then down to the finish where Mr Simon "the bunny" Brass was marshalling and shouting. I was so happy to see him and hear him it was one of my favourite moments of the race and if I hadn't been trying to hit my target I would have stopped for a big bunny hug. So a high five was it for now although I did start to cramp up as I passed him so I ended up crossing the line a little tenderly, I had done it, I had run a marathon. It didn't hit a first as a just walked on like I had crossed the line at parkrun and done it a hundred times before even stopping to say hello to Tom Williams (parkrun uk Manager) and have a brief little chat although because of the slight cramp I had to keep moving. 

SJ then got this message on her app.

On to the T-Shirt and medal area I went where I met Steve where I also remembered to look at my watch for the first time. I had completed my first marathon in 3h19m57s which was better than I had expected, I was gob smacked and even more so when Steve showed me his time of 3h19m24s which meant I was within 30ish of him. He's such a good runner that if I can get close to him I know I've done really well. Then as Steven T crossed the line and in a time of 3h24m10s it hit me that I had finished my marathon with a negative split, I was speechless for a little bit and didn't know what to do with myself briefly. Then Dan came across the line finishing his first marathon in a time of 3h27m44s which was brilliant and a sub 3h30 which he had planned and trained for, well done Dan. We headed off towards the event village to pick up our bags and meet family etc. and when we got there we went straight over to get our medals engraved with our times on. It was whilst in the queue and checking phones that the emotions hit me and at one point I was very close to bursting into tears. It was so overwhelming and a little surprising that I felt that emotional but at the same time I was thinking damn right look what you've just done, well done you. 

After we had all got our medals engraved we went for a well deserved beer and sit down. We all went through our phones tagging photos and responding to all the message and comments on Facebook and Twitter etc. and after that it wasn't long before we were talking about which marathon to do next. It was a truly amazing experience that how couldn't you talk about another one, even if it did hurt a bit, it was worth it. All the emotions that came with the race and day made up for most of the pain and all the comments from friends and family at home gave me such a great buzz that I will never forget the day I completed my first marathon. According to my chip time result I came 324 out of 3951 which puts me in the top 10% (8.2% to be prescise!) and that is just fantastic. We finished our drinks and headed back to the buses and to the airfield to pick up Steven T's car so then we could get off home and into a well deserved bath. 

Now that the marathon is out of the way the rest of the year seems a doddle up next is the Guy Fawkes 10 mile race and then the Abbey Dash to try and get my Sub 40 10k. If I can get my sub 40 before the end of the year I will be one happy boy. Other than entering races I also have another race to organise this time it's the Windmill 6 on the tops above Birdsedge and Ingbirchworth resivoir, keep your eyes out for that one, it should be a cracking race.

So until then, keep running everyone.