Monthly Archives: May 2014

Spring in my step

Lovely pictures

Running Buffet

One of the best decisions the organisers of the 5×50 challenge have made was to switch from holding the annual challenge in the autumn to the spring. Rather than running up to the last day of British Summer Time, it now starts on the first day of BST and runs for the next 50 days. This means that, rather that getting darker and colder, the weather generally gets better as the challenge progresses. Throughout the challenge I have enjoyed seeing spring blossom so, on one of the days of the challenge, I swapped my 5k run for a 5k walk with my camera to capture some of the sights from the routes I run around Ashburton.

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May 23, 2014 · 7:45 am

Did Someone Say, “Taper”?

Here we are, halfway through my taper. I’ve not been doing much running, but it’s been pretty full-on apart from that.

I made life easy for myself on Friday, just cycling in to the St Andrews, to have a drink at the St Andrews Brewery ‘tap house’.

Jan and I had set the weekend aside for mountain based activities. Seeing the weather forecast, it looked like the east would be best place to be, so we planned a trip to the Cairngorms, with a stay in the small refuge hut in the corrie east of Braeriach. This turned into rather an epic, thanks to tough weather and an already-occupied refuge! Bivvying in light rain, out in the open wasn’t ideal for a romantic night away, but we survived quite well. By Sunday night we were eating Italian buffet at La Taverna in Aviemore: the night before seemed a world away.

Me before my rough night in the Cairngorms!

Me before my rough night in the Cairngorms!

The Lairig Ghru looking like the entrance to Mordor

The Lairig Ghru looking like the entrance to Mordor

The Northern Corries of the Cairngorms, still glowering under at the end of our walk on Sunday

The Northern Corries of the Cairngorms, still glowering under cloud at the end of our walk on Sunday

When I returned to the house on Sunday night, I checked my phone, which I had left behind, for messages, and was partially dismayed, partially delighted to get a message from my friend, Huw asking if I fancied a mountain bike ride in the East Highlands the next day. I was delighted because it sounded like immense fun, and dismayed because my legs were pretty sore. I texted Huw to say I would decide in the morning, but I already knew what I would probably do, and sure enough I was over to his house the next morning with my bike in the car.

We went, with two of his friends, Robbie and Mike, to the Spittal of Glenshee, to ride a circuit that included Glas Tulaichean, a new Munro for me. We enjoyed a fairly sunny, breezy in places, 26-mile circuit, although I pushed rather more of it than the other 3, not being a ‘proper’ mountain biker, or having a ‘proper’ bike.

Grand views over the Grampians

Grand views over the Grampians

The MTB Boys Enjoy a Break

The MTB Boys enjoy a break

My bike, which has hub gears and a fat (29x3) front tyre, but no suspension, was a bit less suited to the more technical parts of the ride: a partial excuse for me to walk a lot!

My bike, which has hub gears and a fat (29×3) front tyre, but no suspension, was a less suited to the more technical parts of the ride: a partial excuse for me to walk a lot!

I’ve not exactly given my legs an easy ride on this part of the taper, but I’ll be away from home right up until the Kent Road runner after tomorrow, so they’ll get plenty of rest before then.

Please don’t forget why I’m blogging:
http://www.justgiving.com/excellentlondonmarathon

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Get to the St Andrews Brew Co. tap house if you get the chance

See what it’s about here.

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Kinnoull, What Happened There?

I’m now well into the first week of my taper. I had Monday off, went for a lovely mountain bike ride into Tentsmuir Forest on Tuesday, had a short, sharp training run on Wednesday, then yesterday went over to the outskirts of Perth to do the Kinnoull Hill Race. The race is a 4-mile dash around Kinnoull Hill, a fine wooded hill, with a folly, Kinnoull Tower near the summit, only about 1 mile east of Perth’s centre.

I had a little trouble finding both the registration and somewhere to park, so, for the second time within the last week, I arrived very much ‘warmed up’ to a race start.

I was very aware of the ‘weight’ of the recent miles in my legs throughout the race: I didn’t even make the overly eager, too-fast-paced start I do for a lot of races. I was wary that, once we’d got to the summit, only about ¼ of the way in, there would be lots more big climbs, but actually it just rolled after that until the dive down towards the road near the end.

There is a very well marked ‘bear left’ near the end, which I managed to miss anyway, thanks to running in convoy with other competitors. One minute I was charging past pieces of red and white marker tae every few meters, the next I was wondering why there was a fence to climb over of the race route, and suddenly realised there was no tape! There was, at least, still a path on the other side of the fence, so we charged onwards, ending up on a road that took us to the A85 (which we shouldn’t have been on), then going up a side road to the finish line from the wrong direction.

The people taking down the times were a little perplexed, and the couple of women in our breakaway were annoyed because they had been in 3rd and 4th positions. I had no real ambitions for any glory, just a desire to give my legs a hard, but short, workout, so I didn’t mind too much. Looking at the route we took on my Garmin Connect page, I would say we must have run a little further, which must be all the more displeasing for those who missed out on a prize.

It’s not the first time I’ve got lost in a race, although I could definitely blame the marshals the last time. That one knocked me down to 3rd, only losing one place because the other ‘lost’ runner and I were so far ahead of the field (which is why we caught the marshals out). Lesson: always look for the course markers, not just the runners in front.

I finished ahead of my Friend, Dave Turner: I would normally expect to beat him by a narrow margin, but still beating him despite the detour, and with seriously sore thighs from my recent exertions, was a good indicator of my current fitness. I hope that bodes well for Kent.

I’m off walking in the Cairngorms with my girlfriend, Jan, over the weekend, which should give my legs a gentle workout, in keeping with the taper.

Please don’t forget why I’m blogging:
http://www.justgiving.com/excellentlondonmarathon

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The Hump Part II

Ah-ha! The hump is done.

Today I cycled the Etape Caledonia; quite an undertaking! I completed it in 5:25:09, coming 3255 out of 4229 finishers. The winner managed an astonishing 3:26:01 – I find it hard to believe that someone can average over 50% faster than me, as I felt like I was ‘shifting’, so my deep respect goes to those who can. Considering I’m not a ‘proper’ cyclist, I was riding a bike with hub gears, mudguards and a pannier rack, and after the grief I’ve given my legs in the last week or so, I’m pretty pleased.

A Singular Peregrine frame with Shimano Alfine 11-speed hub gears and TRP Spyre disc brakes, spray painted alloy mudgurards and a Dutch retro chrome pannier rack.

My Bike – A Singular Peregrine frame with Shimano Alfine 11-speed hub gears and TRP Spyre disc brakes, spray painted alloy mudguards and a Dutch retro chrome pannier rack.

Now, at last, I can taper.

Please don’t forget why I’m blogging:
http://www.justgiving.com/excellentlondonmarathon

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The Hump Part I

I’m just about the start my taper: wahay! Standard practice for marathon prep is a 3-week ‘taper’; ie keep up the running, but nothing overly long or arduous. Training conditions the body and legs, but also tires them, so doing anything too tough in the ‘run up’ to a race will do more harm than good.

‘Part I’ for me, today was the Loch Leven Half Marathon. We had good conditions – not too hot, dry when I was running anyway (not sure about later), and light winds. Despite my heavy previous week, I managed 1:31:22 ‘chip time’ and came 59th out of 532 finishers. I hope this means my legs and body are well conditioned for 3 weeks’ time.

Now I’ve off to bed so I can get up at 4:00 for Part II, the Etape Caledonia.

Please don’t forget why I’m blogging:
http://www.justgiving.com/excellentlondonmarathon

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Nearly Over the Hump

The training plan seems to be going well, and I’m starting my taper soon, hence the title of this blog. I say, ‘seems’ because it’s too early to know if it actually has: the 31st of May will show me for sure.

I ran my last big run on Wednesday, out from my house to Kilconquhar and back, running just shy of a marathon and climbing 490 metres! A real milestone for me was getting the run in a little under 4 hours. Because motivation to keep a good pace in a ‘practise’ marathon is lacking compared to a race one, practise times tend to be relatively slow, so I was chuffed to break the 4 hour barrier. Looking back at the previous long (c35k) training run I did in the middle of April, I saw that not only did I run a further 6 km on Wednesday, but my pace was better by about 20 seconds per kilometre.

Wednesday’s big run was nearly all on roads, but they were fairly quiet and Fife is very scenic. The run out was great because I could see the sea from not much over half-way, which approximately coincides with the high point; then the run back is equally attractive because the hills of northern Fife burst into view on the high point.

I used the private roads and tracks of the Balcarres Estate in both directions, which added some variety to the run: It looks like an area that is worth further exploration. I also used the Kinneuchar Inn in Kilconquhar as my half-way rest stop, which was enjoyable thanks to the very friendly landlord, Tom: I’d like to cycle over there one evening for a meal.

For my pre-taper finale weekend, I will run the Loch Leven Half Marathon on Saturday and cycle the Etape Caledonia on Sunday: I’ll definitely need a taper after that.

Please don’t forget why I’m blogging:
http://www.justgiving.com/excellentlondonmarathon

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