I may not covet my neighbours, or anybody else’s, OX but am in awe at the level of OXing occurring on the Rushmoor Estate this weeknd. White Star Running’s extravaganza of trail races involved a 50 miler, a 12 hour race, a night 10k, an early morning 10k and the race of our choice, a half marathon. Some have done 4 races this weekend. WOW!
We chose the half, knowing we would be carrying our hard efforts from last weekend in our legs. At the top of the first hill we knew we had made a wise choice.
It’s over a 2 hour drive each way but the wonderful atmosphere was infectious from the moment we arrived. We squeezed the Mini into the car park and for a moment we did covet some our neighbours’ VW vans, even more so as we contorted ourselves in the mini to change afterwards!
We have completed the 32 mile R.A.T. the last two years but Nicky was a bit disappointed with our time in last year’s event, so we are, you’ll be surprised to hear, ‘ON IT’! and intend to be Mr and Mrs Trail Running Experts by then (if Snowdon hasn’t killed us!)
Anyway, suffice to say we went round todays beautiful course at a fair old lick and are ready for the fun and challenges ahead, I think I’ll let our pictures tell the story of our day………
So, today, Eliod Kipchoge and I both ran for 2h00m25s.
There the similarity ends.
So what is winning?
Kipchoge, as the world now knows, narrowly missed getting under 2 hours (for the marathon distance) in Nike’s Breaking2 effort. A string of pacemakers dropping in and out, in supposedly revolutionary kit and running shoes. Personally, I think that with athletics credibility suffering at the top end, it was a welcome and quirky distraction. They have never suggested that they would be claiming it as a world record. However you view it, hats off to Eliod for an incredible run.
I ran 14.6 less miles than Kipchoge, but I think we’re both winners today. We both smiled, doing something we love. I am proud that I spend every day being the best human being I’d ever hope to be and running is a massive part of that. I may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I’m ME.
Me and Kipchoge, never been seen in the same room….
Have I previously mentioned my wonderful wife (I’m DEFINITELY winning!!), well she was in Teignmouth for her first venture into the sea this year, with Pete Wilby Triathlon, and we had a family drive there and watched, in total admiration, as the group acclimatised in the crashing surf.
There’s so much more to Nicky’s journey than this brief mention, but I’m lining her up for a BIG BLOG interview soon, so you’ll have to wait.
So, another win, I reckon, for Nicky and her fellow intrepid swimmers and for Coach Pete for making the session fun, relevant and safe in the wild conditions.
I’ve been reflecting all week about ‘winning’. I allowed myself some disappointment at not hitting my target in last week’s marathon, but will not let myself dwell on it.
It was still winning on many levels, you see:
Firstly, being fit and healthy enough to attempt to run a marathon = WIN
Completing that marathon = WIN
Having completed 32 marathons = WIN
Running a marathon in under 3 and a half hours = WIN
Helping, being helped by, a fellow struggler over the last couple of miles = WIN
Seeing my beautiful, amazing wife complete her 30th marathon in a Personal Best time = WIN
Seeing my good friend Martin complete another fantastic marathon = WIN
Sharing the day with our wonderful friends, Gloria and Jan = WIN
Yes, on reflection, it was definitely a day of WINNING!!
Back in work this week, my quads particularly enjoyed going up and down the ladder to the roof then dragging up dozens of lengths of timber…….
Anyway, I managed a few little runs this week and still loved every minute, despite the rather shuffling nature of some of the miles.
I felt I was ready to tackle some miles today, so I got Nicky to drop me off at Labrador Bay on the way back from Teignmouth and I ran the coast path to Torquay before following the normal route home – you can check out the run here. A very challenging, hilly route with plenty of steps for my quads to enjoy!
I’ve just finished reading Redemption, the John Mcavoy book. My interested in John began after his extraordinary interview on Marathon Talk and the book really has been every bit as gripping and inspiring as I’d hoped.
He speaks about enjoying the mental challenges as much as the physical preparation for endurance challenges. His motivational words and the inspiration of watching Nicky, yet again, pushing her boundaries, never accepting where her limits might be, really got my blood pumping for this run. So this morning was just WIN WIN WIN….
Getting to spend the afternoon with Nicky, Frank (Father In Law) and fantastic Step Daughter, who is still ‘ON IT’ as we say to motivate each other on that there social media, and the bubbly bouncy Grandchildren – more winning.
Anyway, we’re off east again tomorrow for the Ox Half (with no ‘targets’ you’ll be pleased to hear) where we’re hoping to spend the whole day WINING!!
So, today was the day. We’d trained and trained for this target race. Maybe both secretly hiding nerves caused by the pressure we had rather publically placed upon ourselves……
Could we deliver…
WELL, one big bold shiny Personal Best, with bells and whistles and tassels goes to my rather incredible lady, Nicky…….
She believed in herself, reigned herself back from running TOO much faster than target pace, took a couple of slightly less rapid miles on the chin, refocused, took a gel and dug deep to get back on pace for the run in.
As she belted up the finishing straight, I was just bursting with pride and emotion, She had worked so hard to be capable of such a performance. Marathon #30 nailed!
Our early night in preparation for the early start was fairly pointless as we were treated to the sounds of the BMAD festival down on the seafront until (what for most people is a perfectly acceptable) 11pm.
Now, ordinarily, I love a bit of All Along The Watchtower……
So, after about 5 hours sleep, we dragged ourselves out of bed and porridged ourselves up and got plenty of caffeine down us. Martin, running too, was collected from the bus stop (where some say he sleeps) at crazy o’clock by our devoted and ever-present supporter, Gloria.
I even remembered the way to Sturminster Newton (although I think the journey home involved a little detour…)!
The NDVM bases itself in Sturminster Newton High School, where a small army of volunteers were providing drinks and cakes as well as bacon sarnies. As regular readers will know…. TICK.
The start is on the road outside the school and car parking is plentiful, ably directed by another small army, this time of boy scouts.
It truly is a lovely event.
Martin, as usual, had a few short issues, but was threatening to have a smash at a time today too. He’s come very close to 4 hours a few times, and despite his proclamation that he hasn’t really done high miles, we suspected he’d go close.
He was also offering a curly-wurly to anyone who deserved it by the end of the day. This is a bit of a tradition brought to our group via some good running friends of old.
We were right about Martin’s running. On a blustery day, he ran hard and strong to come tearing towards the finish line for a time of 4.04.
Great running again Martin.
“What about your race, Kevin?” I hear you all cry in unison…
Cards on the table, I genuinely thought I was in shape to run close to my personal best. Sure, I knew I was over tired, but I always train tired and believe myself to be strong mentally to tough it out, so I lined up fairly near the front of the field and set off with purpose.
The course is relentlessly undulating, but barely contains anything we would describe as a hill, so I aimed to keep just inside my target pace for each and every mile.
I soon got in to a little group ticking off the miles at about 7.15 pace, and, whilst I knew I was working for it, I didn’t feel massively uncomfortable, so pushed on. The breeze was brisk in places but we seemed to all be willing to take our turns in front.
I know the course winds through some lovely countryside and picture postcard thatched villages, but I was only half aware of it as I tried to keep my pace focussed. There’s a line across the road at halfway and I clocked that in 1h36m, so inside my 3h14m target pace. I knew from last year that the worst of the undulations were around the 20 miles mark so I felt I’d banked a bit of time.
Miles in 7.09 7.02 7.15 7.23 & 7.25 preceded……
THE WHEELS COMING OFF!!
Oh and how!
By then I was in a group of three, “Oh they’ve sped up” I thought, glancing at my watch. WRONG! I had slowed down. Quite Dramatically.
This hadn’t happened quite so eye-wateringly since my very first marathon, in Paris. I took a gel from my pocket before putting it back, I was starting to struggle to lift my feet and quite frankly, I was exhausted. Nothing a gel could do for that.
I took my demise in good heart and let myself naturally get slower and slower and slower as runners started to pass me by. I took a minute at an aid station to enjoy some melon, coke and Jaffa cakes before setting about my last few miles.
My salvation came in the form of Luke. Luke was stopped at a marshalling point looking in a world of pain. Which, it turned out he was, with his back in spasm around a herniated disc injury. Ouch.
Come on mate, lets shuffle in together. Which we did. Great to meet you Luke.
The biggest dilemma I have with my ‘disappointment’ is that I genuinely believe that, ultimately, it doesn’t matter, and I know that there are many for whom a sub 3.30 marathon would be a dream.
I guess I’m asking for permission to be a little disappointed, whilst still chuffed to have clocked up marathon number 32, ran another quick time and had a wonderful day out.
I did train very, very hard for this and believed I had it in me. Hey ho.
My 1st half 1.36, my 2nd half 1.52. Detonated!
They may be many reasons for this:
Maybe spending a full day up and down a ladder carrying bags of rubble on Friday didn’t help. Maybe those troublesome sinuses and snottyness were drawing on my reserves. Maybe lack of sleep. Maybe being so much heavier than I intended to be for this day. Maybe eating too much simple sugars rather than good fats and protein. Maybe not having the strong core needed to maintain running form when tired.
Maybe, today, that was how it was meant to be.
I was smiling at the end, because I bloomin’ love running and I feel blessed to be able to do this wonderful sport at all.
Another of our little gang, Jan, fresh from smashing her own Parkrun yesterday, turned up at the finish to cheer us all in, along with Gloria, and quite frankly, it really was a lovely, lovely day and I also feel blessed to have such great friends.
As for Nicky?? Sometimes words just simply don’t do justice to how she makes me feel!
AND it starts at 8.30AM, I’ve just read, so it actually starts in 36 hours time. It’s a two hour drive and we like to be there with an hour or so to caffeine up, so that’ll mean leaving home at er, hang on, I can do the maths, er……. surely that can’t be right!!
Nicky and I have both trained really well for this, plenty of quality runs, long runs, time on our feet, quick half marathons and 10k’s BUT we’ve both got maranoia – ache all over, tired, tight muscles, confidence dissipating, blah blah blah…… I’m sure it’s partly in our heads, we don’t normally suffer nerves as we do tend to aim to beat the cut off rather than aim for a time in most of our marathons.
Anyway, I think we should be heading bedwards in light of this revelation about the start time…..
Ahhh the countdown to the North Dorset Village Marathon, 4 days to go. FOUR DAYS!!!
I haven’t done enough training, I haven’t eaten the right food, I haven’t done enough core strength work, I haven’t slept enough, my foot, ankle, shin, knee, hip, back, hair hurts. I’ve got too much heavy duty work to do, I haven’t planned my nutrition, my kit, my trainers are too old, too new, too big, too small, it’s going to be too hot, too windy, too flat, too hilly. It’s too early, too far to travel, have I definitely entered?!?!
Yup it’s marathon week. What can possibly go wrong?
Actually, it was on Saturday and remarkably not a drop (touch wood) of water. We had rattling pipe syndrome, a particularly bad case too. All fixed. Bosh.
It was an old builder friend who introduced me to the Friday saying as he drilled through a water main…… on a Friday. Nice bloke, proper cockney, used the f & c words like we use punctuation, moved to France in the end.
Mind your French, as they say.
Another phrase I never thought I’d never hear, “Your lunch box is too big!” my amazing wife Nicky blurted out on our beautiful 10 mile walk this afternoon. Ok, they weren’t her exact words, and she was merely referring to the lack of space in the rucksack after I’d been left in charge of packing food, but I’ll take it. If there wasn’t so much suspicion, speculation about the legitimacy, or otherwise, of his remarkable (some say ‘unbelievable’) athletic performance, I’d compare myself to Linford Christie….
I hadn’t taken my note book with me today you see, an essential piece of equipment to carry at all times if I want to be a ‘writer’! But, with all that lunch, there wouldn’t have been room in the rucksack anyway!
No long run on a Sunday? Asked no one, other than in my head. Well, I’ll tell you. We’ve got our target marathon next week, the North Dorset Villages Marathon, and we are ‘tapering’, as in we’re not doing long runs this weekend. So we did a few miles together this morning then I did another half an hour on my own before heading home to porridge ourselves up. Check out the run.
On Saturday we went to Parke Parkrun where the aforementioned, beautiful Nicky, ran around with my incredibly motivated Step Daughter for her second ever Parkrun.
She’s on such a mission this year, we are so, so proud, and she’s looking amazing, healthy, happy and has an infectious spark about her.
Grandad here, who was flying solo with the Grandchildren, might have had something in his eye as they came along the finishing straight, so much quicker than last time, despite this being on a much more challenging course.
We both did 5k time trials before work on Friday, my run totalling over 8 miles and very happy to run 19m00s in my last hard effort before NDVM.
Had some beautiful early morning runs last week with the dog, we’ve been treated to some gorgeous sunrises this week……..
So, today, with more time than we’ve had on Sunday for a while we decided to go and do one of our favourite 10 mile walks, including getting out the bulging lunch box for a lovely riverside picnic (but not my note book to write about it)………
With 7 days to go until our ‘big’ race I’m feeling pretty good about it. Ultimately it’s a run over an arbitrary distance, aiming for an arbitrary time and has no bearing on whether or not I am the sort of human being I dearly hope I am. If I am remembered as someone who is caring and considerate and loving and gentle and worthy and humble then that would be enough for me. sure, it would be a bonus if I ran 3h14m around Dorset next Sunday but, actually, I think my commitment to TRYING to be the best I can be is far more important.
That said, I will be running as hard as my little legs will carry me…….
I was wrong (I know!), shopping trolleys are EVERYWHERE…..
So, a 4 day weekend, what bliss, it seems to have passed by all too rapidly but there’s been plenty of fun and frolics, some lovely time with the Grandchildren and a ride out with Nicky’s Dad. Then today, another little road trip.
Yeovil this time, as an ultra trail running friend quipped, “all the way to Yeovil for a 10k?!” I know, and a road 10k as well.
Nicky and I do like a road race, especially as we’re targeting a road marathon in a couple of weeks. We also like a road trip, so this ticked a few boxes.
Yawning and delaying getting up, our mojos weren’t bouncing this morning and I think if either of us had pulled the plug we’d both have gone down the hole.
We managed to get in the car though and had an easy, uneventful drive to get parked good and early for Yeovil Town Road Running Club‘s flagship fast and flat 10k.
Has anybody heard the expression ‘a visit from the gingerbread man’ in relation to running? Well, it refers to a sudden need to, well you can guess the rest. The gingerbread man was well and truly knocking on my door this morning. You could actually hear my stomach grizzling over the road noise driving up. We got ourselves a coffee (“just make a donation”), eyed up the cakes, had a cheeky custard cream, then headed back to the car, both yawning and stretching and mumbling. We reluctantly stripped to our running kit and donned our numbers. I went for a warm up (there’s a running track on hand) and, after a visit to the portaloos, so did Nicky.
Regular readers might know that Nicky isn’t renowned for her warm ups, they normally involve keeping her hoody on until the last minute. BUT we have been doing proper warm ups in training, so she did some laps and stretches too.
In a previous post on this blog I received some online, er, banter, for suggesting that they may be a bit of elitism in running. Either about speed, kit, age or ability, any thoughtless quips, mockery or dismissive looks can have a truly demoralising effect on a runner perhaps lacking in confidence or maybe new to the sport, or who is trying to lose weight, or, indeed, for any other reason. Anyway, and I won’t labour this point, as the 400 or so runners were heading over to the start I over heard one lady say to her friend that she was very nervous. Maybe it was her first ever event, maybe she’s been injured, maybe she’s never run that far, maybe, just maybe there are reasons that are none of our business. Well, watching her head drop as a gentleman marching past in his high-viz vest retorted “Who on earth gets nervous for a 10k!?” I guess it was rhetorical, as he didn’t wait for an answer as the lady in question looked at the floor. Come on guys….
Just my opinion.
So, the race…….
My stomach seemed to have appreciated the warm up and I settled in to the pack as the low key countdown set us on our way. Anyone reading this blog hoping for a blow by blow chronical of every footstep is going to be disappointed. I’m really not very good at remembering these things in order….. or at all sometimes. I remember getting my DVD in the post after the Paris Marathon and being surprised to learn that I’d run (I say ‘run’…) past the Eiffel Tower!
When I’d been training well in the past, I’d managed to get under 40 minutes for 10k, so I was secretly hoping to be in that sort of territory again. The group I was running with seemed to be in the same level of discomfort as me, so I guessed we were pacing it right, the first mile in 6m12s seemed to feel right and somebody in the group had the breath to comically ask if any of us were pacemakers, “Is this the 40 minute bus then?” I semi seriously replied. Another member of the group chipped in “FORTY MINUTES, I CAN’T RUN FORTY MINUTES!” and promptly slowed down and disappeared behind us. Sorry mate!!
Mile 2 in 6.23 as the countryside rattled past. I’m so used to running for longer than this that, as mile three beeped on all the watches around me, I smiled to myself that we were halfway already and it felt like we had just started.
After 6.17 for mile 3 I sort of teamed up with a Yeovil runner (Darrell, I think, thank you mate for the rhythmic pacing) and we pushed through 4 in 6.13 and 5 in 6.14. We were both pushing hard now, and as I slightly slipped back he glanced over and gave me fantastic encouragement to keep up with him. 6.18 for mile 6 and he pushed on for a sprint finish as my legs turned to jelly and I wombled up the finishing straight to finish in (chip time) 39m26s. Chuffed as a chuffed thing.
Just as there had been around the whole course, there were so many welcoming marshals and volunteers at the finish, with much welcomed fluid and a fabulous quirky medal.
I know you readers are all thinking “what about NICKY?!”…..
Well I rushed back to the car, still sweating, pretty much stripped off (apologies to the people I hadn’t noticed cooling down in the field behind me) towelled off some sweat (only for it to be immediately replaced) had a quick spray and rushed back to the finish line.
I was right to rush back, Nicky came storming around the corner in little over 55 minutes looking really, really strong. As ever, she had paced it brilliantly and her fastest miles were at the end of the race. Proud husband alert…..
A cracking event, I guess by its nature aimed at the speedsters, but lots of great encouragement for everyone throughout the field and definitely recommended, particularly if you are chasing a time.