Current PB's

  • Marathon - 3:54:26
  • , Half Marathon - 1:27:41
  • , 10K - 42:32
  • , 5K - 19:47

Sunday, 31 October 2010

October 2010

A brief review of October:

No. of days running: 17
Miles run: 117.62
Time on feet: 14:33:38 (which gives an average pace of 7:25/mile for the month)
Races run: 1 (Kilomathon)
PB's: 1 (Kilomathon)
Races entered: 2 (Buchlyvie half marathon, 7/11/10 and Lochaber Marathon, 10/4/11)

I'm really quite happy with how October has finished up training wise. I've included the 'races entered' details above for a couple of reasons. I definitely find it easier to get out the door for a run if I have a race to aim for. After the Kilomathon I didn't have anything in my race calendar. The Buchlyvie half next Sunday is what has helped* me on my way to 117 miles this month but it has also helped me to change the way in which I have been training.

I am aiming for a really fast time (for me) next Sunday. I ran the Great North Run in 1:32:44 and have set myself the challenging target of getting under 1:30 for a half marathon. In order to do this I decided that I had to make some changes to how I was training. I read somewhere recently that if you want your body to change, which I do, I want it to get faster, then your training has to change. In the past three weeks I've made two significant changes to my running. I've included a specific hills session in order to build some more strength in my legs and I've started to run the middle section of my long runs at my target pace for the half marathon.

I have to say that I've really enjoyed these changes (even the hills!) and now that my last long run is in my legs I'm looking forward to a somewhat easier week to get ready for next Sunday now. A sub 1:30 half marathon requires a pace of 6:52/mile from start to finish. I'm not sure I'll manage that next Sunday but should, at the very minimum, get a new PB. If I manage that I'll be happy.

The second race I entered this month was the Lochaber marathon in April of next year. After next Sunday's race I'm going to have a few days (maybe a whole week!) rest and then training for my next assault on the 26.2 miles distance will begin in earnest.

* I said 'helped' as the race is not the sole reason I have put in so much work this month. The friends I have on Twitter and on DailyMile have really helped in that respect. I've been thinking about a blog post on 'motivation' for about a week now but @runningfairy who is one of my friends on Twitter made a much better effort at it than I ever could. It's actually a guest post on the snikt-running blog which belongs to another of my Twitter friends @paulb323 Please check it out, it really is a great post.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Marathon

The marathon and I are about to recommence our battle. On Friday night I entered the Lochaber Marathon which takes place on Sunday the 10th of April next year in Fort William. My friend on Twitter, @paulb323, had entered it a couple of weeks ago and asked if anyone else was interested in it. I have to admit that it was a slow burner of an idea at first but it just never went away. Any time I thought about what races I wanted to do next year then the Lochaber Marathon always popped up!

After the disappointment of the London marathon this year I really want to have a go at a smaller marathon to see what I can really do over 26.2 miles. I re-read my race report for the London Marathon again recently and the main issue I had on race day was the amount of people around about me. The Lochaber marathon is limited to 600 runners and is an out and back course along the banks of Loch Eil (so is mostly flat!) To be honest it sounds like the perfect race to really see what you can do over 26.2 miles.

The marathon is such a cruel beast that you really do need everything to come together perfectly on race day if you are to perform to your best. That's why the battle is about to re-commence, I just don't feel like i've given it my best yet. The score at the minute is 1-1! For my first marathon in Edinburgh 2008 I set myself a target of sub 4 hours and managed to get 3:54 so I'm claiming that one as a win. In London this year I wanted to get under 3:45 but struggled round in 4:01, madame marathon can have that one.

Based on recent form, the Vegas odds makers have the marathon in as a big favourite but if I was you I'd stick a fair bit on me for this one.

Marathon, you're going down!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


I like to have a plan! I always find it easier to to get out running if I have a plan to stick to. It doesn't have to be the most detailed or comprehensive of plans but if I have an idea of what I should be doing it really helps! When I entered the Buchlyvie half marathon I had 4 weeks to prepare for it and had already set myself the really challenging target of running a sub 1:30 (6:52/mile in case you're wondering!) So I have a plan to help me achieve that goal.

There is an excellent running blog called Joe Still Runs For Dom (which you should really check out) and Joe swears by his hill repeats and interval sessions. With this in mind I decided that I was going to incorporate these two elements into my running. Hill repeats for two weeks then a speed session each week for the final 2 weeks prior to the race.

I ran my first hills session today and I have to admit it did feel a bit strange. Run to hill, run up and down hill 6 times, run home is pretty much how it went! It was amazingly satisfying when I was done though. Next week I'm going to up it to 8 or 10 reps before moving onto the speed sessions.

Longer term I'm starting to consider my race options for next year. The Lochaber marathon on the 10th of April next year is looking quite appealing at the minute.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Race Photos

I hardly ever get a decent photo from any of my races. I always seem to look ridiculous in them for some reason. I did however find this photo from the Broadwood 5K earlier in the year. It's not a great shot but I think it does show how hard I was working!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Keeping on Running!

Last Sunday's Kilomathon was the last race I had on my calendar for this year. I definitely find it easier to motivate myself to get out the door running when I have a race to prepare for so I've been busy looking for more races to enter. There are obviously a lot more options in the summer months but I have managed to find a nice half marathon on the 7th of November.

The Buchlyvie Half Marathon looks like a nice flat course so should be good for a go at getting under 1:30. The reviews on the runners world website, are very complimentary so it's a race I'm definitely looking forward to.

Sub 1:30 would be great but I'll be happy if I can get a new PB. The Great North Run, where I ran 1:32:44 is quite a hilly course, especially in the second half so with the Buchlyvie race being flat it should be possible. I've got 4 weeks to get ready for it and I plan on doing a couple of hills sessions to build some strength and then some real fast interval sessions to build my leg speed up. Hopefully everything will come together on the day and I'll get my new PB.

Longer term I'm still not sure what races to enter for next spring. I was unsuccessful in the London Marathon ballot but have entered a couple of competitions to win a place. Once I find out that I've not won any of the competitions I'll start looking for other races to enter! The Edinburgh Half marathon has a good deal on just now. £99 for a golden ticket which gives you lifetime entry to the race and a whole host of other benefits. Might ask Santa for that!

Friday, 8 October 2010

London Marathon 2010

This will be the last of my 'old' blog posts for a while. I wanted to give readers a view of where I've come from with my running and hopefully I've managed to do that with these old posts.

London Marathon 2010

It's taken me 3 days to make this post as I'm really not sure what's going to be in it. I've been mulling Sunday's events over in my head for three days trying to work out what happened and i'm still not really sure.

I set out at the beginning of my training program with the aim of finishing in under 3:45. I'd run 3:54 in the Edinburgh marathon in 2008 and training for that didn't really go smoothly. I kept getting niggly injuries and when I recently looked back over my training diary for Edinburgh I was hardly doing any running at all, 2 runs a week at some points!

Someone asked me at the Expo how my training had went for London and I truthfully answered that I didn't think it could have went any better. Every week from the middle of January I've run 5 days a week with an average of 32 miles per week. My maximum mileage in a week was 44 miles which I managed successfully. I ran 1:34 for a half marathon. I've remained injury free throughout this training period. Everything was pointing to me running a really good marathon.

Sadly it wasn't to be.

I was woken in the morning by the sound of the rain outside, so much for the predicted heatwave! I got up at 0600 and had my usual pre-race breakfast of porridge and honey, plenty of water and then Helen and I headed up to the train station to make our way into London from Basingstoke. We got into Waterloo around 0820. I overheard someone on the train saying that the rain was due to stop at 0930 and looking at the clouds, they were starting to break. I decided that I was going to need my sunblock after all. I must have been some sight standing in the middle of the platform in Waterloo with the rain still coming down outside with my top off getting covered in sunblock!

I left Helen as she wasn't coming to the start and made my way to Waterloo East to catch the train to Blackheath. As I got down to the platform the train was already there but it appeared to be quite busy. The guard was encouraging everyone to move down the platform as there was more space further down. I made my way down the platform but decided to give up on this train. I knew there was another one in around 15 minutes anyway. As the train pulled away though I was quite amazed to see lots of space in the carriages. Everyone was just pilling onto the train and then standing at the doors. If they all moved down the carriages then much more people would have managed to get on the train.

Hey ho, I just got the next one and had a relatively relaxed journey out to Blackheath. As we got off the train I just followed the crowds and was soon making my way over the park towards the blue start. I dropped my bag off in the baggage  lorry and then made my way to the open air toilets. A bit of a queue but didn't have to wait too long. Then it was time to make my way into pen number 4.

I was quite surprised that we started to move forward quite early. Apparently they were removing the barriers from the pens in front one by one. Anyway we were soon off and running, then walking again, then running, then walking. It wasn't until about the first half mile that I got into any sort of rhythm. I had to admit I was quite surprised to pass a few runners in fancy dress during the first mile. I thought everyone knew they were meant to start at the back of the field?

At this early point in the race I knew that I was going to struggle to hit my target pace of 8 mins/mile. No matter I thought, just wait until it thins out a bit then i'll get into a rhythm and pick up any lost time. The problem being of course that it never thinned out, ever. I found this incredibly frustrating and found myself trying to pick up the pace whenever I could. After much reflection I reckon this is what did for me on the day.

The data from my Garmin shows that for mile 4 my average pace was 8:45/mile but my max pace for the mile was 7:10/mile! Most other miles were the same with a big difference between my average pace and my max pace. Trying to make up for this lost time was a big mistake. I always seemed to be going too fast or too slow and never once settled into a rhythm for longer than about half a mile.

The sheer number of people around me just never eased. I know the marathon takes in some great sights of London but I never seen any of them. I spent the whole race looking at the ground about 1m in front of me to make sure I didn't trip over anyone's feet! The fact that there are water stations every mile didn't help this either, it always seemed that someone was cutting across you to get to the side of the road for something.

I know this has not been the most positive post so far but I did enjoy some parts of the day! The crowds around the course were simply unbelievable. 5 and 6 deep at some points and so loud. Tower Bridge, around Canary Wharf and along Birdcage Walk were the highlights for me. Seeing the elites and wheelchairs athletes coming the other way on The Highway was also pretty cool. These guys just make it look so easy even though they're going twice as fast as me!

I really began to struggle from mile 16 and I had to take a short walking break. I really wish I hadn't done that as from there to the end I found it increasingly easy to give in to the pain and take a walk break. Aside from my time, this is the thing that is annoying me most about the day. I ran over 17 miles on 4 separate occasions in my training but when it came to the big day I couldn't get past 16 miles without have to walk, what's that all about?

I eventually finished in 4:01:04.

If you'd asked me at 1400 on Sunday if i'd ever run another marathon again you'd have got a resounding no. By 1900 on Sunday though I was already looking online to see if there is another marathon I could do within the next month or so. I know I can get under 3:45! And by the Monday I'd already decided to enter the ballot for London next year. I'f I do get in though i'll be tackling it with a completely different mindset. To go and enjoy the day and soak up the atmosphere, rather than going for a particular time.

START TIME 09:47:34
5K 00:27:48
10K 00:53:13
15K 01:18:39
20K 01:44:27
HALF 01:50:00
25K 02:10:39
30K 02:39:30
35K 03:10:15
40K 03:46:20

finish time  04:01:04

One other thing, I did manage to raise around £500 for the Tartan Army Children's Charity, something that I'm quite happy with given the short space of time I had to do any fundraising.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Edinburgh Marathon 2008

Another one of my old blog posts, this time it's my race report from the Edinburgh Marathon in 2008. I promise to start putting new posts on here soon!

Edinburgh Marathon 2008

Well I can now call myself a marathon runner!!!!
What a day!!! looking back now I loved the whole experience; the nerves at the end of last week, the pasta, the excitement when I got my number (I have to admit Andy that I did pin my number onto my vest as soon as I got it on the Friday night and tried my vest on!!), the gallons of water i've drunk, the trepidation before the start.
I actually managed to sleep pretty well on Saturday night and woke at 6am to have my porridge and honey which is my usual pre-race breakfast. My neighbour was also running and had kindly offered to give Helen and I a run through to Edinburgh. We made it through in good time and as we were walking up to the start who should I bump into but Tism! I couldn't believe it! It was good to see you and i'm sorry I couldn't chat for longer but it was getting kind of busy at that point!!
We were soon off and I had planned to go at 8:30 pace and just see how long I could keep that pace for. As it happened I only managed to get close to that on mile 3, most other mile splits were closer to 8:45 for the first half and closer to 9:00 for the second half. I also walked through all of the water stations to ensure that I got enough fluids on board. In my two half marathons I ran through them and ended up only taking a few mouthfuls before tossing the bottle. This time I drank every last drop which I was really greatful for come the end.
When we got down to coast by about mile 4 we were really exposed to the wind. I thought it was more left to right than head on so it didn't bother me too much. It was quite blustery though and I was taken by surprise at one point when I came out of the cover of a building to be almost taken off my feet by it!!! I remember looking out along the coast and seeing Cockenzie power station and thinking that it must be about the point where we turned back (it's a sort of out and back course, just not back to the place we started at, if that makes sense!) It just shows I have no idea of distance because we ran way past it and when we did eventually turn back I remember looking at the power station again and thinking 'oh my god, not only do we have to run to that but about 3 miles past it!!'
I got talking to a guy at about 14 miles and we stayed together for about 3 miles I think. I found this really helpful as it took my mind off any of the pain I was feeling. He was in the middle of training for an ironman triathlon in September where he'll be doing another marathon, with a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride as a warm up!
As I made my way back along the coast I got to the 20 mile banner and told myself that it was only 10K to go and that It wasn't really that far. I continued this countdown as I got to each successive mile banner but the motivation only lasted for about 100 metres, then the pain took back over!! I walked for a couple of minutes at mile 24 which was the only time I walked outside of a water station.
When I got back into the racecourse I couldn't believe how busy it was. As I approached the finish I started to get really emotional and after i'd crossed the line I burst into tears. I have no idea why I did this, maybe it was just the enormity of the whole day catching up with me. According to my watch I finished in 3:54:27 which, given that my training didn't exactly go to plan, i'm absolutely delighted with.
Talking to Helen after the race I said that I didn't have to do another one now because i'd done it in under 4 hours but by the time we were driving back home I was already talking about how i'd love to do the New York marathon!!
I also managed to bump into Russell after the race. Great to see you again Russell, I hope you're happy with your time and you enjoyed your curry on Sunday night.
My legs are feeling pretty ok just now but the pain in my shoulders and arms may be masking that. They are now a nice 'lobster red' after getting sunburnt yesterday.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Scottish Kilomathon 2010

Today was the first running of the Scottish Kilomathon and only the second time the distance had ever been raced after the first one took place in Derby earlier in the year. The Kilomathon was billed as a 'metric marathon' of 26.2 kilometres or 16.3 miles.

I don't know why, but for some reason I just couldn't get 'excited' for this race in the same way that I did for the Great North run a couple of weeks ago, or for any of my other races actually. Usually in the lead up to a race I meticulously plan everything, from a race strategy that will ensure I reach the goal i've set to planning my journey to the start to ensure I get there in plenty of time. I didn't do any of that this time.

In fact the title of this post was almost "I'm An Idiot" I had set myself a target of finishing inside 2 hours and for some reason I thought that 8 minute miles would get me that target. Given that I'd run the Great North Run at a pace of 7:04/mile I thought I could do that no problem (this was the extent of my strategy for today!). In fact you need to run at under 7:30/mile to get a sub 2 hours for 16.3 miles. It wasn't until around the 6th kilometre today that this fact clicked in my mind! At this point I quickly checked my time and worked out that I could still make it.

My planning for getting to the start could have been better as well. My followers on Twitter will know that at around 0730 this morning I was stuck in traffic, the race started at 0800! I literally parked the car, dropped my bag off and made my way into the start pens! I've run races in my home town where i've been at the start with much more time to spare.

Anyhow onto the race itself. We started from the Highland Showground at Ingliston which is just beside Edinburgh Airport. The start was well organised and we ran around the showground a bit before heading out past the end of the runway. It was pretty cool running alongside the runway whilst planes were taking off. I know i'm going to sound like a kid here but planes still amaze me!

We made our way out through Kirkliston and over the Forth Road Bridge into Fife. Maybe it's just because I stay in Falkirk and our biggest football rivals are Dunfermline (in Fife) but it did seem to get a bit darker, wetter and windier as we crossed into Fife. A bit like approaching Mordor! Thankfully we didn't stay for long and we just turned around and back over the bridge.

After crossing back over the bridge we passed through South Queensferry and then up a really really steep hill. The route then passed through Dalmeny before heading back to Kirkliston and then back to the showground for the finish. The route in general from the bridge back to the finish was really quite hilly.

At 150 metres to go one of the marshalls shouted "only 150 to go, you can kick from here" Easy for you to say I thought! I did however try to pick up the pace a bit and try to catch the runner in front, didn't get him though. I did get 'called in' though. They must have had someone looking up the finishers numbers to get their name and passing it onto the woman on the mic. It was pretty cool having my name called out as I was finishing.

My finish time was 1:58:16 (which was texted to my phone within about 30 minutes of finishing) and my mile splits were 7:22, 7:20, 7:30, 7:28, 7:25, 7:20, 7:16, 7:30, 7:26, 7:21, 7:41, 7:32, 7:21, 7:21, 7:23, 6:53. Pretty even splits which I'm really happy with given the undulating nature of the course. (my Garmin has only measured it at 15.96 miles which is why there are only 16 splits in case you were wondering)

I have to say that I had my concerns about this race and for some reason I wasn't confident that this race was going to be well organised. These concerns I had were completely unfounded and the whole event went really smoothly. I'd recommend the Kilomathon to anyone looking for a slightly longer than half marathon race or for anyone looking for a race as part of their marathon training.

One last thing, when I got back home I heard the sad news that a runner had died during today's event. My thoughts go to his family and friends at this sad time.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Jedburgh Half Marathon 2007

Another of my old blog posts. This is the race report from the Jedburgh Half Marathon 2007. I entered this race with the sole aim of getting 1:39:59 or better as I missed that at the Great North Run by only 18 seconds! Here's the report.

Jedburgh Half Marathon 2007

I entered this race in the week following the Great North Run with one sole aim, to finish in 1:39:59 or quicker. This was my goal for the GNR, which was my first half marathon, but I missed out that day by 18 seconds! The reason I was so keen to do another was that I knew I could go faster. When I look back at the GNR I can see what went wrong on the day for me and I wanted to try to get everything right.

Helen and I set off at 8.30 this morning for the drive down to Jedburgh, Andrew was going to his gran's for the day. This presented me with the first 'issue' of the day. One of the biggest things I got wrong at the GNR was that I wasn't properly hydrated on the start line. To make sure that didn't happen today I had been drinking pretty much non-stop for the past 24 hours. Needless to say, what goes in, must come out and I have to admit to stopping in a couple of lay-bys on the road down to relieve myself!

Anyway I got to the start line hydrated and with an empty bladder. The race started and I had my pace band for a 1:35, I like to give myself a bit of lee-way! A 1:35 requires 7:15 minutes per mile and for the first 3 miles I was doing 7 minutes and feeling great. This was excellent news, I was up on my lee-way target! There was water between 3 and 4 miles where I had the first of my two gels. This went down ok and I continued making good time, slowing a bit but I put that down to the water station. I went on through the Borders countryside, which was beautiful to run through. I had begun to slow a bit but nothing too serious, I was still on for a 1:35! Then at 8 miles I took the second of my gels with some more water. This one did however cause some problems. I started to get a really bad stitch at about 8.5 miles but found that it got better if I burped?! I guess the gel was reacting to something in my stomach. Anyway this caused me to slow a bit more but I was still on to beat 1:40. When I got to 10 miles I was feeling much better and had got there in 1:14 which was about 2 minutes faster than I did in the GNR. A quick calculation meant that I could do 8 minute miles for the remaining 3 and still get my target. They were three tough miles, into a fairly strong headwind and miles 10.5 to 11.5 was all uphill!!! but I managed it!!! I left my 'sprint finish' for the 200m to go banner this time instead of the 800m and managed to pick up a few places to finish in 1:38:56.

I'm delighted to get under the 1:40 but at the start I said I wanted to try to get everything right. I got a lot more right today than I did in the GNR but there are still improvements to be made!!!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Great North Run 2007

As this is the new place for my blog I wanted to post some of my older posts here. This is the first of those posts, my race report from the Great North Run 2007;

Great North Run 2007
I slept pretty well on the Saturday night, late nights on Thursday and Friday followed by the drive down on Saturday led to that I think. I got up at about 8 and after a quick bit of toast and marmalade made my way to the start. Helen and Andrew were going to head out to South Shields to meet me at the finish so I said goodbye to them at Gateshead Metro. I basically just followed the crowds up to the start. I just glad the guy at the front knew where he was going!! I got into my start pen nice and early then seemed to hang about for a while waiting for things to happen. At this point I should have went to the toilet, but more on that later. I had planned to have an energy gel at the start and one again at 6 miles, however I really didn't fancy taking one at the start so offered it to a few runners round about me but no one wanted it so ended up just tossing it.
Once the race started I quickly settled into a nice pace which was quite (pleasantly) surprising. A lot of the advice I got was that everyone goes off too fast so you have to be careful not to go with them. I had picked up a pace band for 1:35 (1:40 was the real target but I was giving myself a bit of leeway!) and for the first 3 miles was spot on. I was beginning to become more aware of the fact that I should have visited the toilet before the start though and at 4 miles had to have a 'pee break' I though that i'd feel better after this but I actually felt a lot worse. I got a bad stitch which I didn't get rid off until about mile 7. My pace was obviously slipping during these miles but I knew that 1:40 was still possible.
In the lead up to the race a lot of people had told me about how the crowds 'see you through' the tough miles from 8 to 12. I was a bit sceptical of this as i'd never experienced it before but the crowds were absolutely fantastic and did 'see me through' these miles. I was delighted to reach the top of John Reid Road and head down to the coast as I knew wasn't far from there (due to my 'rece' the previous night!) When I saw the 800m to go banner I though to myself "that's it, not far now" and put on a bit of burst that lasted about 150 metres!! The crowds again seen me through the last 600 metres!!
I've just checked the Great Run website for my finishing stats:
10 Mile time: 1:15:57
Finish time: 1:40:18
Position: 2507
I'm absolutely over the moon with these results!!!!