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………
Last time I fell during a run was in the Haytor Heller 2015. Oooo I did graze my knees. I’ve been surprisingly sure footed since then. Until today………..
It sure has been a challenging week chez nous. So we were ready for a lovely adventure today, tired for sure, but looking forward to the Tavy 13. It is a fabulous half marathon, hilly and challenging but with a “ahhhh-weeeeeeeee” 3 mile downhill and flat finish.
The same gang of three (the wonderful Mrs Bonfield, the silver fox & yours truly) set off for Tavistock, arriving in good time and ready for our standard pre-match coffee (or multi-sugared tea). We had all, of course, completed the Larmer Tree Marathon 7 days earlier (see last weeks review) and were prepared to be carrying that fatigue in our legs.
This event, fantastically organised by Tavistock Athletic ClubTavistock Athletic Club, also played host to the Primary Schools Challenge, where nearly 500 primary school children would complete a mile after the grown-ups had set off on their 13.1 mile adventure. This was the culmination of 13 weeks of the youngsters running a mile a week.
What with there being nearly 500 in the half marathon, all the supporters, children’s’ parents and supporters it made for a cracking atmosphere at the track and a strain on the toilet facilities!
We were all running our own races, so we wished each other luck and lined up on the lush spongy running track with the buzzing throng of runners.
The hooter sounded and off we went, starting with half a lap of the track through the wonderful tunnel of noise created by all those children cheering us along.
I seemed to settle into what felt like my pace quickly as we went towards Tavistock itself and then straight into a climb out of the town. I don’t climb particularly quickly but I feel I have become quite efficient and so I focus on the rhythm of my foot-strike and try to ignore those that appear to be sprinting past me! They are either faster runners than me, in which case they’ll be gone or maybe they’re pushing too hard and I might catch them later.
Despite this climb, I went through mile 1 in 6m50s, bang on pace for a 1h30m finish, I didn’t really have a target for today, and I knew there was plenty of hilly stuff to come so I stuck with running on feel. We went along a fairly flat tarmac path through some woodland which ended in a sharp little decent followed by a hairpin turn to join a road and head back uphill.
I noticed the 2 mile marker on a post as I started to thank the marshal, there were so many wonderful marshals, skilfully guiding us through any junctions or tricky sections.
“Thank you marsh………..” SLIP, SMASH, SLIDE. Man down! My gangly 6 foot frame spread-eagled on the junction, “you alright mate?” the concerned calls of many of the runners as they hopped over me and headed up the hill. The very concerned marshal encouraged me to take a bit of time to recover, unsightly blood dribbling down my leg.
My watch had actually vibrated to tell me I had completed mile 2 in 6m23s as I fell!
I picked myself up and set off again, sore and with dented pride, wryly chuckling to myself. I seem to remember the next couple of miles being undulating (6.46 & 6.31) before a challenging climb in mile 5 taking us up on to the moors (8.07) before settling in to a couple more undulating miles enjoying the glorious vistas (6.50 & 6.39).
There is a big old hill in mile 8 and I started to trudge a bit. I spurred myself on with a little look at the ribbon I often wear on race day. My sister lost her battle with cancer 8 years ago, and today would have been her 52nd birthday. I try to only use Karen’s memory as a positive thing and I know she was so happy that’d I’d taken up running and started taking better care of myself, so she would have surely have told me to dig in and get to the top.
Through mile 8 in 8m30s, I knew the run in was down to the town and then flat so I started to let my limbs spiral as quickly as I dared, not wishing to repeat my tumbling antics of earlier!
Miles 9 and 10 (6.26 & 6.39) were a battle into the wind and mile 11 had a little climb (6.59) before whizzing back through 12 & 13 (6.18 & 6.47) towards town and the 600 meter finish on the track. My tired bleeding bloody was pleased to see the finish line and there was a brief emotional moment with me and the ribbon.
1 hour 31 minutes 22 seconds. Unofficial.
My rushing about didn’t stop then, though. Knowing Martin and Nicky were also soon to be on their way, I hobbled back to the car to collect jumpers (it certainly was chilly once I’d stopped) and coffee and cake money.
The fantastic Tavistock Athletics Club Catering Team were handily trackside with drinks, cakes, hot dogs, bacon sarnies.. The Works. What an enthusiastic, helpful, smiling, congratulating and efficient team they were. The younger staff members falling over themselves to make sure I was laden with recovery refreshments for when my fellow intrepid runners arrived. Which was quite soon as it turned out, Martin blitzing up the home straight in 1h53m and Nicky following soon after also with a sprint to finish in 2h08m.
Their smiles matched mine as we compared notes and munched and drank through our post race goodies.
£9 this race. With road closures and the facilities and a lovely little medal. Bargain.
Hats off to the Tavy club for another resounding success, wonderful atmosphere and some great memories on a day on memories.
When I started running in January 2007, I really didn’t know anyone who ran and, how shall we put it, wasn’t in the joyous, beautiful, amazing, dreamy, loving domestic environment I am now blessed to be in, to put it mildly!
So I just started sort of running. It was hard, as I imagine most of you who are doing me the flattering honour of reading this will know. The first mile was ridiculous, I actually thought I was going to die and building from there was painful. I remember searching the internet and finding generic training programs and wondering what on earth a ‘recovery run’ could be!
I found comfort, solace, comradeship and incredible encouraging support on the internet. Specifically a Runners World forum labelled ‘Inspire’ and the lovely people on there put me on to Fetch.
Fetch, I here you ask. Well, Fetcheveryone is a wonderful website, community, online training log, forum, support network and generally awesome running thing. Started by the enigmatic Ian Williams, it celebrated it’s 10th anniversary last year and I joined the 10-years-a-member-club just recently.
It appealed to me for it’s homely, yet remarkably technologically advanced and informed content. It seems to attract a certain breed. Runners, naturally, but something more than that. Something to really belong to without needing to ‘go’ to.
Strava may be the training site, app and world community of the masses, a slick machine, the mass production to Fetch’s home baked joys. I’m a member of both and have no truck with Strava, it’s an awesome thing. BUT, I could happily live without it, whereas Fetch has been a part of the runner that I have become.
I have religiously kept all my training on my Fetch log, including a diary of the way my life has unfolded in the 10 years (that’s 20% of my life!) I have been a member. It can be a dark read, in equal measures to it being an absolute joy. All of (my running) life is in there.
In 2007, I didn’t run on 10th March, on the 15th I ran 5 miles in 50 minutes and had very little to say.
Unlike in 2008 when I ran 20 miles and wrote “absolutely pissing down and blowing a gale, both calves completely cramped up in mile 20”! I was deep in training for the Paris Marathon.
In 2009 I was starting to do training sessions with others and on 10th March I did 4 x 1km with the training group, the fastest being 3m40s!!
In 2010, I was training on my own again and did 4 x (4x400m, 100m jog) in Youngs Park, quite a session!
March 10th 2011, I was training for Taunton Marathon and suffering man flu as I did a 7 mile ‘snotty’ run.
The following year, 2012, I was again training for a marathon attempt and on the Sunday of that week ran 22 miles at 8m20s pace around Torbay. Running away from the darkness by all accounts.
I raced on Sunday 10th March 2013. My Dad had recently had his hip replacement and was grateful for the ride out to Siblyback Lake in Cornwall where I ran 42m50s for a freezing, wild and windy 10k. I also plodded a 2.5 mile ‘recovery’ run in the evening. I know…..
On March 9th 2014 I did a monster 24 mile marathon training session, following it on 10th with a 3.5 mile ‘recovery’ jog! “On battered legs” apparently. No shit!?
AHHH, we enter the happy years! No running on the 10th in 2015. Nicky and I had ran the Imber Ultra on the previous Sunday. Running 50km together over Salisbury Plain as Nicky was preparing for her South Downs Way 50 mile the following month. One of the proudest days
No running on the 10th last year either, but 2 days later we did the ‘beautiful and brutal Larmer Tree Marathon’ which, as it happens, we are doing again on Sunday. It was just so wonderful we couldn’t resist going back.
All of this and every single other run I’ve every done is on my Fetch training log.
Another of my favourite running accessories is the quite wonderful Marathon Talk Podcast (to be blogged about another time). The aforementioned Ian Williams was interviewed on Marathon Talk in November 2014, and it’s well worth a listen.
Fetch has also had a nice piece written in the Guardian. But most of all, I recommend you go to the website itself for wonderful blogs, article, forums, training tools, online logs, a great race calendar, race reviews and previews, discounts on shopping and bespoke Fetch goodies to buy. I did 10 years ago and it gave me the lift I needed to keep on keeping on.
As I said, we’ve got the Larmer Tree Marathon (another disappointed face today when I told someone (the building inspector) that, no, I’m afraid none of my 29 marathons so far have been in London!), expect words. About mud. And hills.
Nicky (my wife, have I mentioned how wonderfully amazing, inspiring and quite beautiful she is?) and I ran the Bideford Half Marathon today. We are both rather proud of how we performed, more of which later……
Talking of pride, I seem to be absolutely bursting with it today. My lovely step daughter, Alisa, and grandson, Callum, did their debut Torbay Parkrun yesterday. I had the absolute privilege to go around with them. It truly was a pleasure and an honour to be there. Alisa is working so hard at getting herself fit, into shape, and healthier whilst juggling her full and hectic family life. Hopefully her knee pain will be nothing sinister and this will be the first of many family Parkrun outings.
So, as you can imagine, we were already full of pride and family love before today’s adventure. We collected our friend, Naomi at 7.30am after our pre match porridge and headed north in the wild wind and rain. Arriving nice and early meant we had prime parking position right near the start.
And with a top view of the queue for the toilets!
It really was very windy (and not just in the portaloos), but the rain had thankfully blown away and we were lucky enough to dodge the heavy showers throughout the run too.
As we ambled to the race HQ for our normal warm up routine (coffee), Naomi informed us that she had brought a flask of tea. A flask of tea I tell you. Outrageous and quite frankly mind bogglingly organised. Nicky and I are terrible with this – we even took a flask to one race, and bagels and other picnic style items. Yet we still ended up purchasing from the race catering facilities before and after the event. So, unsurprisingly we, unlike Naomi, DIDN’T have a flask. We have accepted our failings in this area and quite deliberately set off for races without sustenance.
Saying that, since we’ve been ‘training’ (no, really) we were equipped with a post race protein shake, just like them there proper runners. AND, and, and a banana.
So, in the HQ (having tried the roomy portaloos) we treated ourselves to a lovely hot and cheap (50p, again, I kid you not) coffee and eyed up goodies for later. Pasties only a quid. Cakes to die, well run at least, for and a friendly smile with the service.
Nicky quite insisted that if I finished in a good time I should head straight here and bag us some of this top nosh as she, quite ridiculously, believed there may be supply issues due to the number of participants. There weren’t as it turned out, but I did end up with TWO scrummy pasties for myself, so it all worked in my favour…
Naomi went off for her warm up whilst Nicky and I had a jog around the riverside in Bideford and made our way to the start line.
There’s normally a footwear debate at the events we do, but this being all roads and footpaths, the choice was simple. We decided to wear some.
Previous episodes of this blog have pointed out that Nicky is not a fan of starting near the front of races, preferring to start at the back of the field and have the confidence boosting sensation of moving through the field rather than the demoralising feeling that people streaming past you. And today, this again was a very effective strategy for Nicky, as she overtook 350 of the 1100 runners and her final 3 miles faster than any of the previous 10. She looked so strong and powerful as she surged to the line to finish well inside her pre race target in the fantastic time of 2h03m55s.
Proud husband alert!
I took the more potentially catastrophic approach of getting fairly near the front of the field near the start to see whether I could mix it with the young (and not so young) speedy boys and girls.
On discovering I had forgotten my running watch I was initially horrified. How can I POSSIBLY pace my run without a device on my wrist, receiving signals from a ball of metal far, far out of sight up there in the sky, making thousands of calculations in real time to produce essential and urgent information, without which I simply couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.
Hang on though, I KNOW I will go off too fast, I KNOW the distance to go will seem impossible if I carry on at whatever pace, I KNOW I will slow down as this prophecy plays out for real. And, Kevin, just bloody run, see what happens.
And we were off. The first mile is a loop around the football club and back past the rowing club to take us to the road heading out of Bideford. Felt good at whatever pace it was so why worry. Lovely. “What time did we do that mile in, mate?” I couldn’t help but question. “6.22”!
The out section is on a (closed) road and mildly undulating and I stuck with the group of runners containing the time keeper (although I didn’t trouble him for further updates) and felt I was running hard but not pushing my heartbeats into a debt that I couldn’t repay later in the race. We did reel a few runners in during the first few miles and, very gradually, I could see I was catching Naomi.
Before the course turned off for the gloriously flat, or even gently downhill Tarka Trail, Naomi became part of the group we were running in. I was absolutely loving this great course, pockets of enthusiastic support and numerous friendly and encouraging marshals, combined with enjoying the rhythm of my own running meant the miles seemed to be flying by.
As the miles approached double figures I passed Naomi again who told me she was experiencing a bit of stitch and I offered sympathy (with the small amount of available breath at this effort level) and pushed on. The group had splintered by this point and I knew I hadn’t held on to the early pace. Miles 11 and 12 came quickly though and soon I was turning to head back over the bridge towards the finish on the riverside. At this turn I saw Naomi was still close behind.
Now, I’m not competitive…….
So, I emptied the tank as we passed the markers telling us there were 800m, 700m, 600m etc to go and summoned what passes for a sprint finish from my 50 year old pins.
1 hour, 27 minutes, 30 seconds the great big digital clock on the finish line showed.
I really am rather proud of that and chuffed to have ran so freely without the watch. I’m also pleased with that as progress towards my target of running a ‘good for age’ time at the North Dorset Village Marathon at the end of April.
We had our medals and tee shirts (although we nearly forgot to collect Nicky’s) and we availed ourselves of some ‘recovery’ food and coffee before heading to the car for a chatty and tired drive home.
The heavens opened driving home and we all agreed we had been blessed by the weather gods for the race.
I appear to be streaking. Not the type where I disrobe then charge across a cricket pitch, leap frogging the stumps at great risk to me dingly danglies, no not that at all, oooo no no no. No, I mean streaking, like a football club being on a winning streak. You know, like, say, Leicester City last season, not this season, last season. Amazing how my Facebook feed isn’t so full of people who were born and bred in Leicester lately! Streaking. In this case I could be described as on a run streak. Streaking.
It appears, as I write, that I am up to 25 consecutive days of running. It happened accidently really and I didn’t really notice until day 11 or 12. Problem now is……. how long will it keep it going?
I’m lucky, I know, that my running is so varied in pace, mileage, terrain, company that every run is feeling lovely and fresh, tired, naturally, but fresh.
The longest run in this streak was on Sunday just gone when I managed a whopping 27.6 miles! I did 10 at my target marathon pace and then caught up with Nicky to do 17 of her 20 with her.
The shortest run, just clicking in at 3 miles was a 1.5 mile out/back on the beautiful Cornish coast path on the morning we drive home from our amazing week in Cadgwith
The nippiest (should such a word exist) was on Saturday 11th February when I did a road out and back 10km run from our lovely holiday cottage. Clocking 41m33s. Pleased with that pace straight out of the box as it were.
The gentlest run was the beautiful 9 miles we did together with Charlie, again whilst on our beautiful holiday in Cornwall.
Seeing as I never intended to start streaking, who knows how long I will streak for? Ron Hill recently ended his after a mere 52 years!
Having set myself, after a talking to from my incredible, inspiring and quite beautiful wife, some short and long term targets, then a run streak is definitely another way of staying motivated.