Monthly Archives: September 2012

5X50 = Firing on all four

I’m still working on the 3-day backpack epic.

In the meantime, another week has gone and the 5×50 Challenge is doing funny things to me.

I had a race lined up on Sunday, the Blackland Downs Challenge, a small, local event. It’s basically the training run around Cherhill Down I wrote about in my last post, with an added section of road at the beginning and end, giving a distance of 7.5 miles. Getting out every day had been making me a little achy during last week, even though some of my runs were the minimum 5km, done slowly, and I wasn’t convinced I’d feel race-ready on the day. Even the day before I was having shooting pains in my left thigh.

Well, I needn’t have worried. On a wet, windy Sunday morning, I ran one of the best races I’ve ever done! I made a really good job of it and had a wonderful time. My legs felt fresh. I tackled the nasty hill in the first couple of miles, the long steady pull around half-way and the short, sharp one on the road near the end without losing too much pace or feeling much strain. I noticed the bleak conditions in the first half until my hands warmed up, then I just enjoyed not getting too hot.

The firm, chalky surfaces on some of the paths where really slippery in the rain, adding to the fun. There was also a ‘nettle and bramble alley’ path and a really muddy one.

I came in 5th (out of 48), with a friend from the Chippenham Harriers, Paul Gilham just ahead of me (we got the same time) and another Harrier, Richard Paige 1 second behind me. I got the 1st ‘male vet 40’ prize, although I was beaten by the 1st male vet 50, Brian Gardner of Swindon Harriers.

In UK running races, men aged 17-39 are ‘seniors’: after that you are a ‘vet’, usually banded into age ranges; 40-49, 50-59 and 60+. Big races may add a 70+ band and/or have 5-year age bands. Women usually become vets at 35, but still have 10-year bands. Each band will have its own prize/s.

As a weird coda to my fantastic run, I got very badly nettled and hardly slept last night. I usually don’t feel nettle stings after about 20 minutes, but have become sensitised to irritants recently, something which happened to me once before, about 15 years ago. I expect to get back to normal in a few days and  barely notice nettle stings once more.

I went out for a run around Chippenham tonight, whilst my son, Rhys did his karate session in town. I can’t believe how good my legs feel, the day after fast race. I set off slowly, just looking to get a decent total in during the 90-minute session, but bumped into my very fast runner friend Pete, and sped up considerably when I ran with him, and kept up the pace after we’d separated.

The 5×50 Challenge isn’t really designed for the likes of me, but for those just starting out on a fitter lifestyle, but it’s doing me a power of good 🙂


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Where to from here?…

I’m getting out of synch now, as I’m going to report on today’s run and my thoughts for the future before I submit an ‘epic’ for the 3-day backpack I did in the Cairngorms last weekend. I haven’t even managed to finish captioning the 90 or so photos I took up there yet (don’t worry, the captioning is for my benefit so I can make sense of them in years to come; my report will feature highlights).

After the disappointment of the Kent Coastal Marathon 2 weeks ago, I need to consolidate mentally and physically over the winter and hit a fresh marathon in the spring (London if I can in), faster and stronger. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself yet, though. I’ve got the Blackland Downs Challenge next weekend, the Hogweed Mimsy Muggle at the beginning of October, then nothing else planned as yet. I need to get some long training runs in to build up my stamina some more and I’ve no doubt I’ll throw some races in to keep life interesting.

I’m also doing the 5×50 Challenge. I’m doing something every day – check out my profile if you want to see what.

Today’s was a good run, one of my favourite short loops, around Cherhill Down, near Calne Wiltshire. It drains well and is usually fairly firm, but today it was almost as firm as you would expect at the end of summer! It has 2 climbs: the first ‘ramps up, being steepest when you’re near the top, reaching a difficult to run gradient. The other is kinder, quite long and steady.

The best part of today’s run was really hammering the big descent back to the road near the end. I really let gravity do its thing on the steepest bits, which are also the lumpiest. My ‘core’ feels strong at the moment, which is what you need to maintain control on these ‘technical’ descents.

I’m looking forward to a run on the eastern part of the Ridgeway tomorrow, which might also beat my ‘mountain epic’ to the press!

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17 minutes, 20 seconds… Oh Dear

The Kent Coastal Marathon didn’t go at all as I would have liked today. I ran it in a time of 3:32:20. Hmmm.

I ran the first half much slower than London, 1:40ish, as I planned. The second half was supposed to go faster, but instead of gaining speed, I sped up for a while, then faded drastically. I ran out of fuel at about 20 miles. A couple of gels from a helping cyclist and a water station rectified things a bit, so I at least ran the final 2. I also had the small comfort that I was so far off 3:15 that I didn’t have to kill myself to try and do it!

My summer of hedonistic (for me) running – a couple of ultras, a trail race, some mountain running, very little speed work – really showed; more so than I feared. Maybe I just wasn’t on form.

I’m not going to whinge, though. I’ve had a great summer, and I’ve got a long weekend in Knoydart lined up next week.

I’ll have a think about a spring marathon for another 3:15 attempt in the spring. I’m in the London ballot, and there’s my club ballot if that fails.

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