Paul Dewar

Paul Dewar

Thursday, 24 September 2015 21:04

Feeling a Tad Tingly

Feeling a Tad Tingly!!

Phew, after Outlaw I took a well earned 6 days break to re-charge the batteries and catch up with work stuff, a necessary evil, work stuff that is. I then did a few days gentle training and found myself on the start line for the inaugural Hoad Hill Marathon.

It was the day before my birthday, not any old birthday I hasten to add, but my 50th and I had decided that this marathon was part of my celebrations. In true Lake District style precipitation was falling freely from above as myself and a group of likeminded friends and strangers ventured to the start line. I was looking forward to this run as it was on my home turf so to speak and I knew the area, although not the entire route! More of which later.

The start meanders through the town and out through the local villages and then over Birkrigg, providing some stunning views of the area, even if they have to be viewed through the rain. A little jaunt along the coast for a few miles proved to be nice and flat, although it is very pebbly along here.

After around 8 miles the route heads back inland towards Hoad Monument, best describe as a pepperpot shaped monument atop a hill. It is what I would call a spikey climb, short and sweet to be tackled wearing crampons and a rope harness! I reached the top gasping for air and took on some much needed water, yep even though it’s raining the old body still needs liquid to function, before setting off down the back end of Hoad, a more meandering path that leads through a small wooded area.

A little jaunt over Flan Fell before heading out into the wilds once more. This was the part of the route that I didn’t know and in some ways I’m glad I didn’t know what was coming. The road just seemed to go up at a steady angle for about 3.5 miles, over puddle splattered rutted paths, disappearing into the clouds of mist swirling around the moor. It was very eerie as this moorland is a windfarm and I could hear the whoop whoop of the giant blades before I could see them. Well done to the marshals up here because the weather was foul and the moor very bleak.

The descent was an ankle breaker, over rough heather and water logged marsh land. I was concentrating so much on my foot placement that I hadn’t noticed the rain had stopped, there was even a glint of sunshine in the distance. Indeed with only a few miles to go I was able to take off my rain jacket and get some warmth from the sun, I mean it is August after all!!

A thoroughly enjoyable day out, even if it did rain for most of it, however the afternoon brightened up considerably and we had a great 50th party.

A week or so later, after a few days of sniffling (man flu) I noticed a slight pain on one side of my stomach, at first I didn’t think anything of it, but became more concerned as the days went by. It was very tingly and had spread around to my back as well, but still on the one side. Eventually a diagnosis revealed that I had shingles, a nasty little viral infection left over from the days of chickenpox. Fortunately, I didn’t have a bad rash and the pain was just on my body but, it just wiped me out physically. I was worn out by the afternoons and unable to do the training that I wanted to do. I was sleeping up to 9 hours at night so knew I was physically tired.

Some 5 weeks later and I actually feel a lot better, still sleeping loads more than usual, but that’s not a bad thing and back on the training regime, although not as hard as usual.

I have Ironman Barcelona next weekend. After my epic race at Outlaw in July I was hoping for a decent time but have re-adjusted my goals to just go and enjoy the experience, the atmosphere and hopefully some sunshine.

No pressure then, only 140.6 miles and the 17 hour cut off to beat.

Check out my new website. www.tohellandback.co.uk

Tuesday, 11 August 2015 22:59

Can I Become an Outlaw

 

 

Time will tell, but first the a little matter of The Lions Bridge marathon, a wee nimble around the lanes and trails of Leigh. This is one of Malc’s marathons, you know, the ones where you just rock up, register and run. A great day out, that on this occasion was 6 laps of a 4.36 miles or there abouts.

I set off treating this as a long training run, no heroics, just run at a good steady pace and enjoy it, and that’s exactly what I did. I had no issues, felt comfortable all the way around and, had it not been for 4 horses and riders apologetically holding me up for a couple of minutes on the last lap, would have done every lap in 40 minutes. I was very pleased with the performance considering that I had also cycled over 100 miles on Thursday and run 8 miles straight of the bike.

Sooo, Outlaw... A long distance tri, and by that I mean iron distance, 2.4 miles swim, 112 miles on the bike and a wee marathon to finish, and yes it is a full marathon, all 26.2 miles of it. It’s a daunting prospect when stood on the start line, or rather behind a line of canoes in the lake at the water sport centre in Nottingham.

The previous few days had been spent sorting my kit out for the day, endlessly checking the weather forecast hoping for an improvement in the wet weather that was forecast and cleaning and oiling the bike ready for action. My mind is constantly thinking about the race at this point, it just takes over everything. I am thinking about the times that I want to do, the times I think I might achieve if all goes well and then just about finishing. Have I got everything I need, where did I put my running watch, I’ll be lost without it?

112 miles on the bike, ouch, that’s not going to be pleasant in the rain, best take a jacket, but which one?

How many socks shall I take, has the weather forecast got any better yet?

A marathon to run, do I need another jacket for the run, gloves? No, it’s the summer after all, even if I’m wet I’ll be warm enough, wont I?

More questions than answers, how’s the weather looking now, lovely at the moment, 140.6 miles under my own steam.

Before I know it, it’s 6am on Sunday morning, the hooter has gone, I’ve had my good luck kiss from Trudi, I can do no more, time to get on with it. There is a flurry of body parts thrashing around in the water in every direction I look in, and despite my best laid plans to avoid the melee, I seem to have found myself right in the middle of it.

I get a hit on the side of the head, dis-lodging my goggles and letting the water in. I try to stop to clear the water and settle the goggles back on as someone swims into the back of me, dunking me under for a brief moment. Once sorted I set off again, trying to compose myself, I need to settle down and find my rhythm.

Open water mass starts are scary things, I’ve done a few but they just don’t get any easier, I’m having negative thoughts already, I’m struggling to find my space, getting knocked around, bumping into other guys, who are probably suffering like me. I get a kick in the chin, nothing too bad but I need to stop momentarily, I re-focus and drift off to the right, it’s a longer way to go but I find clear water and at last get going at my pace.

Panic over, I let the training kick in and sight the next buoy, I know from the race briefing that red buoys can be taken on either side, orange ones on the right. I have 2 red, 2 orange and then 3 red to go before heading for the blue arch. My goggles are not sealed properly now and are leaking, I have water sloshing around in my eyes but I feel OK now.

I round the two orange buoys without any incident and manage to find some feet to hang onto to get a draft, this lasts for 10/15 minutes and takes my mind off how far I have left to go. Before long I reach the finish and climb onto the ramp, a volunteer pulls my zip down allowing me to shrug shoulders out of my suit. Phew, that’s the swim done, a quick check of my watch tells me that I am slightly down on my schedule, oh well, still 138.2 miles to go. As I reach the change tent I plonk myself on the floor, legs in the air and another volunteer pulls the wetsuit from my legs. A quick change, make sure I have some food in my pockets and, yes I have decided to take a jacket, the forecast is not good!

Once on the bike I settle nicely into a good strong rhythm, eating my first piece of flapjack and making sure I drink some fluids early on. I am surprised at how fast I am going, averaging just under 19 mph. My schedule is to try an average 17 ish mph. If I can manage that I can finish the bike in just over 6.5 hours.

The course is fairly flat, no..let’s be honest, the course is very flat and after 2 hours I am just short of 38 miles, flying along, but all the time worried that I am going too fast and am going to burn out on the bike or the run. Any endurance event is a fine balance of pace against the distance needed to travel. Experience is telling me that I am going faster than I have ridden before for this distance, but I maybe foolishly push on regardless.

Halfway in under 3 hours!!!

What is going on??? Still feeling good, still eating and drinking, if, and it’s a big if, the weather remains ok I might get close to 6 hours. That would be awesome, I try not to think about and just keep the legs spinning at the same rate.

The wind starts to pick up and then the rain comes, it’s colder now and the roads are going to be greasy, I need to take care on the corners and junctions. It seems to have come at just the wrong time as I am heading straight into the driving rain and I know that the road is straight for the next 15 miles. Joy, my average speed starts to drop a little as I battle with the elements, I still feel strong and warm enough but my hands are a bit cold.

I come off the last loop, only 8 miles to go, less than ½ an hour of riding. 6 hours is going to slip by, but I am still on for an incredible ride for me. The last miles are deceptively difficult, the driving wind and rain battling to push me of the road, and the road surface is awful for the last 3 miles, pot holes and loose gravel everywhere.

I finish, hand my bike over to yet another volunteer who racks it for me, and tip toe around to the changeover tent in my cleats. It’s like walking on ice but I reach the carpet without incident, phew! I grab my bike/run bag and peel off my wet shoes and socks, all the time trying to warm my hands up. Three of my fingers have gone white due to the cold and I can’t feel them as I pull on dry socks and my running shoes. I empty any food and rubbish out of my top but still can’t get the circulation going in my fingers. I struggle to do the laces up on my shoes and head out onto the run with my shoes flapping around on my feet.

As I set off, my mind is trying to compute what times I need to run for the marathon to reach my different goals. I know that unless it all goes really wrong I will have a new PB, possibly even run under 12 hours which would be an absolute dream.

Within a few hundred miles of leaving transition is a race clock, it shows 7:45, leaving me 4¼ hours to finish the run for my dream time. My back aches, my feet are flapping around and my hands are freezing, what could possibly go wrong?

After a few miles of flexing and clenching my hands I can finally feel my fingers and prop my feet on a handy fence to tighten my laces, ah that’s better and my back ache seems to have gone, things are looking up.

The only way to describe a run after 7¾ hours of activity is hellish. Legs are tired and struggle to accept signals from the brain, stomach is all over the place, the urge to stop and walk is overwhelming, I’m tired, cold and just want to stop. I know I can’t though, I so want to run under 12 hours that I force myself on, always calculating what time I have left, worried that in my tired state I have made a massive mistake in my sums.

I pass the clock again, halfway. So far my maths is correct and I reckon I have well over 2 hours to finish but I know my pace is slowing. I am taking longer at feed stations and have made a couple of loo stops due to my cramping stomach. The weather is not improving but I am not concerned about that any more, my main concern is to keep moving forward as best I can and get this thing done and dusted. I know I am closing in on the finish but am still worried that it could all go wrong.

I have seen plenty of people really conk out in the last few miles and be reduced to a drivelling mess, practically on their hands and knees, dragging themselves along. Fortunately, not for me today, just over a mile to go, another slurp of flat coke and some water.

I can see the finish. I know how far it is. I know I have time in hand, I know what I need to do.

Head down I plod on, one foot slowly in front of the other, grinding out the metres one by one. The crowds thicken, the noise level lifts as people cheer me in to the finishing area. I reach the finishing chute and Trudi is there waiting for me and runs the final 20 metres with me. Considering she has been up all day and caught up with me at various spectator spots, she looks remarkably fresh!!

My arms raised in triumph I cross the line.

11 hours 51 minutes.

JOB DONE.  

Thursday, 16 July 2015 17:00

Here comes the Summer...supposedly

I realise that I have been neglecting you all, all 53 ½ of you that is. I just don’t know where the time goes, one minute it is April and the next thing here we are in the middle of July.

A quick resume of the last few weeks for you. The Brathay 10 in 10 came and went during the month of May. For those of you who do follow me you will know that this event is a real toughy. 10 marathons in 10 days to support the work that Brathay do with under privileged children and young adults. The guys that run it are absolute stars and inspirational to one and all. I look at them in awe, forgetting that I actually completed this event myself a few years ago. I did get to run the final day this year and dragged my friend Julie around with me who wanted to finish in under 4:15. I forget what the time was but we were well inside it.

During the marathon my left calf decided that it didn’t want to play and tightened up considerably, leaving me heading straight to the physio for some much needed trigger relief. I took the best part of 5 sessions to get it sorted and was mighty painful at times, but, sorted it was and I headed up to Coniston for the trail marathon at the beginning of June.

I love this marathon, hilly, muddy, boggy, streams to ford, tarns to look at, the beautiful mountains of the Lake District within touching distance and 26.2 miles to run. What’s not to like? The weather behaved itself and I ended up running a lot of the route on my own, wonderful stuff.

A few weeks ago I decided to enter A Day in the Lakes. This was a last minute entry for me to test out my fitness levels for the upcoming Outlaw Triathlon. The start was delayed for 20 minutes as the swim course had to be reset as the safety team deemed it unsafe in its present location due to the rough water. Not the words you want to hear just before you get in the lake. It must be said that the wind was fairly strong and the forecast was not good.

Eventually we started and were immediately greeted by swells of water which I was ok with but I could imagine a few people being panicked. The first leg was into the wind and seemed to take forever, whist the second and third legs were like a dog leg meaning the wind was behind us before a cross wind. As the course had changed we had to do 2 laps, joy. The last swim to the shore was really tough and exposed and it felt like I was swimming in mud. Once out of the water I was amazed at how long it had taken. I felt that even though the conditions were not good that I had had a good swim. I was later to learn that the reset course was 400 m longer than I thought, phew.

On to the bike leg, a little jaunt over Kirkstone pass and Shap fell, both at around 1500ft of climbing. Did I mention that by now that, not only was it blowing a right hooley, but it was also tipping it down adding to the feeling of deep joy I was experiencing. I couldn’t feel my feet at this point and was riding along squeezing the water out of my gloves, such fun. Kirkstone loomed in the distance; at least I think it did as I couldn’t see the top of it due to the fog. I had to remind myself that this was the end of June! The good thing about not being able to see the top of the pass is that I didn’t know how far it was to go, so I just kept my head down and pedalled away. The pub appeared in the gloom and I sped of down the other side, taking it easy though as the roads were treacherous. As the route headed towards Shap the rain eased of a bit but typically as the road climbed higher the wind and rain picked up again. Once over Shap the weather became kinder and there was even a glimmer of sunshine. I had been trying to eat on the bike to keep myself fuelled but all my food was soaking wet and kept falling apart making it difficult to get the food in. I had a couple of gels so took them instead. By the time I rolled into transition the sun was out, hurrah.

On with the trainers and of I went. The run is a bit of a beast with a massive climb in the middle and a technical downhill preventing the build-up of a decent pace. I set off and realised about a mile later that I hadn’t picked up any food, d’oh, what a rookie mistake. I had no option but to plod on and hope that I had enough energy in my system to see me through the remaining 12 miles. The hill came and went and I hit the last 3 miles with a spring in my step. I had managed to snaffle some jelly babies at a feed station and felt reasonably good on the last stretch. I finished in over 7 hours, not what I wanted and slower than a few years ago but given the longer swim and horrendous weather conditions I was pleased with my overall performance. At my age times, are not everything!! Two and a bit weeks to Outlaw now, a long distance triathlon in Nottingham, I have had a good weeks training this week and will be finishing it up running a marathon on Sunday. After that a few steady weeks before I see whether I can become an Outlaw.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 16:15

Spring has Sprung

Spring steps

Well what a few weeks it’s been, a month of two halves you could almost say!

Since my last confession I have been and had some more work done on my neck and I am pleased to report that at the moment it seems to be behaving itself. It still creaks and groans a bit but in general has not been affecting me too much during the last few weeks.

After finally managing to get some miles in the legs I rocked up at Leigh for The Gin Pit Double, a weekend event with, as its name suggests a marathon on each day. I love this event, lots of off road running, lovely views most of the time, great marshals at the feed stations and not congested once the first few miles are out of the way.

How did I get on….erm… well I got on. My lack of training shone through like a belisha beacon and I struggled from early on. It’s funny how the marathon distance will find you out and expose you and the lack of fundamental training that has not taken place. I think I finished somewhere in the region of a good 25 minutes down on last year’s time. Oh well the plan was always just to get round and make sure I could go again the next day…as indeed I did.

Day 2 was not much prettier but at least I ran a little better and with more consistency. My pace was slower from the off but I was able to maintain the slower pace for much longer with no stops and consequently whooped my time from Saturday by a massive 6 minutes. Still way slower than the previous year, but nevertheless a job well done. I now knew where I stood in relation to the previous year and how much training needed to be done to “catch up” as it were.

Since then my training has really taken a turn, managing to get some time on the road be it on the bike or running and also in the pool. The slightly warmer weather makes such a difference, especially on the bike, although as I write this there is a bitterly cold wind howling. I managed to get in some good rides and stay dry (bonus) and was back up to the 50 mile plus range with only my backside aching from the buttock cleaving saddle.

I also dipped into the pool for a swim, the first in many months I am ashamed to say. I do like swimming but for some reason I can come up with every excuse under the sun not to go. It’s raining, it’s too hot, Trudi has the car (it’s a 5 minute bike ride to the pool!!) I have a slightly runny nose, I have a boil on my left buttock…you get the idea.

I don’t by the way…..have a boil on my left buttock that is.

I digress, next major event was the Manchester Marathon, a nice flat affair with plenty of local support as it winds its way through the streets of southern Manchester. I had a fairly heavy week leading up to the Sunday but had had a couple of easy days to give the legs a chance of going under 4 hours.

This is a fairly large marathon with around 8000 runners and although I knew a good few people who were running I managed to avoid them all, unintentionally of course. We set off and I was trying to run well within my limits for once, and was surprised at how comfortable I felt given the lack of endurance training. As the race went on I was even more surprised at how I felt and was running a good 20 minutes or so ahead of schedule.

With 8 miles to go I bumped into one of our friends who was running her first marathon and was aiming for under 4 hours. Julie was doing very well but I could feel that her pace was dropping away slightly after a mile or so, so I said that I would stay with her if she wanted to make sure she got to the finish in that elusive 4 hour mark.

As it happens, although her pace was waning, I’m sure she would have made it on her own. The final few miles were particularly hard for her, as the normally are anyway, with that finishing line staying elusively in the distance. We crossed the line with 12 minutes to spare and a very happy Julie had bagged her first marathon. I also seemed to have found my running mojo again and was back to enjoying it once again.

I had a week till my next outing in Blackpool, always a good day of running and usually with lots of wind thrown in for good measure.

Before I got to the weekend though I wanted to have a good week of training and indeed I did. Tuesday saw me at the gym, on the bike and running with the club, Wednesday I dragged myself to the dreaded pool for an hour, (no excuses today) and a ride out with Trudi later on while on Thursday saw me tackle 90 odd miles around the beautiful Lake District. The sun was out and it was a great day. No problems with the legs, just a bit tired towards the end, and of course, the slightly sore posterior thanks to the afore mentioned buttock cleaver.

After a couple of lighter days training, Blackpool beckoned and once again I rocked up with no real time in mind other than to go sub 4. It was a very cool windy morning, but once there were a few miles done it was very pleasant to run in, although the wind did prove to be a bit gusty at times. All in all a very good day, actually shaving a few minutes of the previous week.

Which brings us right upto date….well….nearly.

Yesterday this intrepid individual ventured forth into the cold waters of Coniston, my word, it doesn’t half take your breath away! It was cold, mighty cold, but once a few minutes of swimming have taken place the body does seem to warm up a bit, just the face and feet feel like they have been removed by some cryogenic laser!! I lasted not 15 minutes and will be back in the pool tomorrow morning with much more eagerness.

Maybe I’ll try again next week!!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015 22:15

Winter Woe

Winter Woe

Forgive me for it has been far too long since my last confession…, I mean blog. I will attempt to peel back the layers of my memory and reveal what exciting things I have been up to.

A few weeks after Mallorca I found myself in a somewhat misty and murky York for a mimble around the streets and countryside of this wonderful city. I had no preconceptions about this race, just wanted to run and see how it went, and it went well as it happens. After several miles of running, with great support from the people of York and a brass band or two, I stumbled upon Michael Pate, a running buddy who I enjoy running with enormously. We normally catch up on our news and put the world to rights and in doing so encourage each other to tick along at a reasonable pace. Before I knew it we had blown past the 20 mile marker and so I decided to push on and see what I had left in the tank. I absolutely gave it my all for the last 10k, indeed this was the fastest 10k split that I ran for the whole race, and boy did I know it as I toiled up the last hill towards the finish line. I was chuffed though as I had equalled my best time for the season, although my legs were feeling somewhat goosed!!

As for Michael, well he ran a seasons best also. I thoroughly enjoyed the day, the support, the company and the course. I had been looking forward to running York again this year, but I seem to have accidently entered Ironman Barcelona, which is the week before!!!!

Two weeks later and I found myself in another wonderful part of the country, North Wales, Snowdon in particular. This is one of my favourite marathons with some spectacular views of mountains and coastline. It was to be a little different for me this time however, as I was going to escort my brother, Graham around the course. We had run together at school, both representing the school in the cross country team, but this was to be the first time since then and I was looking forward to it. I’m not sure Graham was as it was his first marathon but we were going to find out very shortly.

The start is very pleasant for a few miles and we ambled along chatting to those around us, and then it went uphill. This was the famous Pen Y Ghent pass, a gruelling climb over a couple of miles which really spreads the field out. Graham kept his head down and worked solidly to the top, impressive stuff for a first timer.

From then on it is several miles of downhill and flat with fantastic views, even on this drizzly day. We kept a steady pace until about 18 miles when Graham’s wheels started to wobble a bit, I was carrying spare gels and there were some at feed stations so he was able to try and keep his energy levels topped up.

The last hill before the finish can only be described as brutal, the weather was closing in and the wind had picked up, it was getting decidedly chilly. I think it is fair to say that Graham was looking for the finish line at this point, it was really tough on that track, the rain and wind driving at us and his legs not wanting to do much.

Finally we crested the hill and began the steep descent into the town, my knees were hurting as I had been on them for longer than normal for me and the steepness of the hill wreaked havoc on them. I don’t think Graham was fairing much better, but he still managed a smile and a sprint for the finish line to beat me. I would say, of course, that I let my brother win!!!

As is often the case after a marathon, we celebrated in style at the local burger joint, while Graham was wondering how he would manage to sit on a plane to India the next day with his stiff legs – he managed it but was a bit sore for a while after. I am pleased to say that he has entered Snowdon again this year. I shall have to get my own back this time!

A week later and Trudi and I flew to America, New York City to be precise, were we had both entered The New York marathon, Trudi’s first. A few days before the marathon we joined up with some of our running friends from the UK for a few miles around Central Park were Trudi finally managed to do her great impression of Phoebe from friends. So many boxes to tick-so little time.

The race day arrived; it was bitterly cold and very windy. We were up early, fed and watered and on a bus to the start before sunrise. Like many major marathons the start is split into a number of mini starts and becomes one main race after a few miles.

We found the blue start and settled down for the long wait as we would not be starting until the final wave at 10.55am, by this time is was only 8am. Normally, the organisers erect marques for the runners to shelter in but due to the wind they decided not to this year leaving runners to find shelter wherever they could. We managed to sneak in behind stack of bagel boxes and a van with a few others but it was still bitterly cold.

Finally, having stripped some of our clothing of to be sent to the finish we were called to the corrals. We were still both wearing 2 tops plus a jacket, hat and gloves, but with lots of bodies around it wasn’t too cold. Did I mention how cold it was?

Boom…..the cannon fired and we were off, over the Verrazano Bridge were it was absolutely blowing a right hooley. I tried to run interference for Trudi from the wind but it was just horrendous. After about 5 miles we started to warm up as the sun shone and the buildings gave some respite from the cold wind. There were bands playing and plenty of support from the people of New York which was great, and also from other runners who liked the tops that we had on. (see attached article).

http://www.brathay.org.uk/2014/11/trudi-completes-new-york-marathon-raising-2380-brathay-trust/

https://www.justgiving.com/Trudi-Runs-New-York/

 

Trudi did really well, keeping a nice even pace and only having a few wobbles along the way, the atmosphere was great, the volunteers were great and a police officer even took a photo of us on a bridge with Manhattan in the background. We saw water stations have tables lifted into the air and get blown over, we high fived loads of children, ate bananas and gels for fun when we could get them and finally arrived at the bottom of Central Park.

This part is a gentle uphill for a couple of miles before entering the Park for the finish, and we blitzed it. Every other runner was walking along this stretch, but Trudi was determined to run the lot and received lots of support for her effort. It was tough with 24 miles in the legs but well worth it. And then to the final mile, soaking up the atmosphere and receiving the medal at the finish, a nice chunky medal for a hard days work.

It was a long, it was a very cold day, the coldest marathon day they had had for over 40 years, but it was a great day and I was very proud of Trudi to have achieved her goal. Another box ticked!

I rounded of the year with a lovely run out at the inaugural Kirkstal trail marathon near Leeds. Lots of friends there as it was the 10 in 10 dinner in Leeds that night. There was some mud, some canal, some road, some cake and beer and Matt, my 10 in 10 roomy completed his 100th marathon. What more could you ask for.

Since then I’m afraid that work, injuries and colds have got in the way of any serious training. I am still suffering from the injuries I sustained back in May on the bike and know that it still could be many months before my neck is 100%. I need to get back on it though as I have some seriously tough events coming up this summer.

Promise I won’t leave it so long next time.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014 12:42

Mallorca Mayhem

Mallorca Mayhem

As promised we are now on the other side, and what a busy time it has been.

Monday morning-silly o’clock - Trudi and I travelled to Mallorca. We were joined for the week by Steve, Trudi’s brother, Nicola, Trudi’s sister and her family, Barry and their two boys Daniel and Benjamin. The idea was that these guys would be able to have a family holiday while I was busy checking routes, registering and being briefed.

We arrived to some rather British weather which was not what we wanted, at least we were used to it! I spent an hour or so putting my bike back together and checking that nothing had been damaged in transit. All was good, just needed to buy some gas cartridges as mine had been confiscated at Manchester airport as I didn’t have permission to carry them.

Tuesday morning - The sun was out and I took a stroll down along the front to the registration area. It was only about 20 minute walk from the hotel and was in the process of being set up. I had a good walk around to get a feel for the swim start and exit and transition area. Again all this was being set up but at least I could get a feel for it. I also found a bike shop for the cartridges, which was also going to be the start for a training ride the following morning. I walked back along the run route, or what I thought was the run route!!

Tuesday afternoon - Had a run around the run route, see above!!

Wednesday morning - Met at the transition area for a group training ride around the second lap. This was led by a guide who knew the route and I sensibly plumped for the slower group. It was a lovely ride, fairly brisk for me on the mountain but well within my limits on the flat, in fact it was like being in a mini peloton steaming along at 23ish mph.

In the afternoon I went to register for the race. Barry came down with me, he is a member of the tri club so was interested in what goes on. We had a bit of a laugh as I was wearing an ironman t-shirt with a difference, a picture of an iron made to look like a smiley face, most amusing watching deadly serious athletes trying to figure out what event it was referring to only to realise it was a joke

Thursday was a day of relaxation with a bit of sunshine thrown in, along with preparing my bags for the transitions.

Friday morning - Checked my bags and bike one last time before going to a briefing on the beach after lunch. I have to say it was a great setting, there was a bar serving beer or water, water for me, and absolutely loads of food for the athletes. Once people were settled down the briefing begin, the normal Ironman briefing but with one nugget of information that no one was expecting, it was to be a no wet suit swim. WHAT!?!? There was a general gasp of exclamation that shot around the crowd. Yep a no wet suit swim, they wanted to make Mallorca the European Kona!! I also found out that the run route had changed a bit, there would now be a long out and back loop which just happened to go past the front door of our hotel and then the back door a few miles later. Great for my support crew

Well, my immediate thoughts were that I might struggle a bit. As you know my swimming has been somewhat lacking due to my accident and wetsuits do help with buoyancy. Still, it was going to be the same for everyone so I would just have to get on with it.

A few hours later and I had my bike and bags safely in the transition area ready for the following day.

Saturday- Race Day.

05:00 - As always with days like this I tend to be awake before the alarm goes off and this was no different. There is always a few nerves buzzing around my system as well which makes it difficult to get some breakfast down, but I just have to force the food in and hope it stays there!

06:00 – Trudi and I strolled down to transition and then she went down to the swim start while I gave the bike one last check, and finally decided what to start the swim in. I decided on my tri top, just in case there was a slight chill in the water, this would prove to be a mistake though. I was ready for the day and left transition, headed down to the beach and tried to find Trudi in the dark. As the darkness dissipated I found her for one last good luck message and hug before heading into the swim start area.

07:30 – The pro race starts, meanwhile I am gently pooh-ing myself trying to get the blood moving around my shoulders. I am one person amongst 2600 starters, I know the start is going to be bedlam so I hang around near the back of the pack waiting for the hooter.

07:35 – AAAAAHHHHH, OMG. What a nightmare, there are legs and arms everywhere and the once blue sea looks more like a massive bowl of chicken soup. I’m getting bumped from all sides, I’m having to stop swimming every so often as I bump into the person in front and have nowhere to go and, to top it all I can’t see where I am supposed to be swimming because of all the yachts and arms and legs in the way. I am beginning to wonder what I am doing here and why I do these things, my throat is burning with the sea water and I am struggling to get into a rhythm.

08:30 ish – I stagger onto the beach at the end of the first loop and am gobsmacked that it has taken me so long to get to this point. The first loop is longer than the second but even so this is far too long, I need to get my act together and set off into the surf for the shorter second loop. I feel more comfortable now and am able to get a shake on, swimming close to the buoys and finally beginning to enjoy it.

09:02 -Finally, the swim is done!! I have salt rashes on my neck and shoulders from the top which are burning, a schoolboy error as I have never swum in it before. Luckily I have put a spare top in my bag just in case, my old favourite soreen top which I know is comfortable. After a run through the showers to get the salt water rinsed off I enter transition and get myself sorted for the bike ride.

09:11 – On the bike at last, I feel more comfortable now and try to get some nutrition in, a flapjack affair, but my mouth is dry and I struggle to eat it. It must have taken me about 10 miles to force it down, all the time having to swill it down with some liquid. The first few miles are pancake flat and it helps to get the swim out of the legs and settle into a reasonable pace. Soon after this though the road starts to go up. It’s a steady climb. Not too steep to honest but enough to get the heart going and it does drag on for a while. All the time there are numerous riders who are on the return leg back to the bottom of the hill.

10:23- Reaching the top of the climb is a good feeling as there is a feed station here, I top up water and then it’s a straight turnaround and back the way we have just come. I have done over 20 miles at this point and enjoy flying down the hill on a dual carriageway all to ourselves. The course is lovely and scenic with a few hills that are steady and long rather than all out steep and I enjoy the unspoilt views as I nible away on my food, which is going down a lot easier now.

12:15 ish- By now I have been going for nearly 5 hours, I feel good, I know that I have the tough part of the bike route to come but also am happy in the knowledge that I have ridden the route a few days before and know what’s in store. At this point the route goes back through Alcudia and the loops out towards Pollenca and the mountains. I get a great cheer from my support crew who are probably waiting for me so they can all get into the restaurant for their lunch, I mean they have been up since the crack of dawn, they must be hungry!! Seriously though, it is great to have the support and really does give me a boost.

13:15- Here it comes, the big climb for the day, some 6+ miles of mainly uphill tarmac, at least it’s smooth and in better condition than the roads here! As I begin the climb I have to stand up occasionally on the pedals and notice that my front tyre is a bit soft, not sure how long it has been like that but as I am going uphill I decide to carry on for a bit and see what happens as it is not going to slow me down.

13:35- It’s definitely going down and I pull over into a gateway. As luck would have it I have managed to stop just as a bike mechanic came zipping up the road, no sooner had I tipped the bike upside down and got the front wheel of and he was there. No tools required for this boy, the tyre is off, new tube in, and back on in a matter of seconds, well not really, but it seemed like that. I took the opportunity to get some fluids in and look at the fantastic view. Job done and away I went.

13:45- Or not as the case would be. As I was getting back into my stride the tyre blew. AAAHHHGGGG. It must have been nipped as it went in and decided to let go. Not to worry, my new best friend was off his scooter again in a jiffy and on to the problem. This was my second and last tube so I was really hoping there wouldn’t be any mishaps with this one. A few minutes later and the job was done…again.

13:50- Now I know what you are thinking. 5 minutes on from the last post, surely not another puncture, no not another puncture, nothing in fact. After my push of from my best buddy I sailed up the hill. Probably something to do with the rest I had. I felt good still and pushed on trying to make up for the lost time.

14:15- OK so I’m guessing the times a bit now. No more punctures, my mechanic friend has been passing me, servicing other bikes and re-passing me. We have a quick thumbs up each time we pass each other until I hit the top of the climb and began the death defying decent. I am now back at the bottom of the mountain after a great decent on closed roads, zig-zaging down the side of the mountain, having to brake hard, accelerate and brake hard again. It was a truly exhilarating few miles which I absolutely loved.

15:50- my legs have been feeling it a bit for the last few miles but I am in the final mile. My super support crew have been out in force again and I am buoyed as I reach transition for the change into running shoes. Yes my legs are tired, it’s going to be a hard slog but I know there is only a marathon to go…….only a marathon to go, who am I trying to kid? That’s still 26.2 miles in boiling hot sun, on tired legs, with no energy, sore shoulders, raw neck and 4 ½ loops of running so the scenery, although great may get a tad boring.

16:00- As I run out of transition I take a couple of pain killers to deal with my neck and shoulders thinking there was some water on the way out, oops, no water and a dry mouth full of tablets. Ergh, not nice and I end up having to spit the contents of my mouth out, wishing the first feed station would magically appear as I now desperately need some water.

16:20- Water at last, anyone would think that I had been in the desert for the last week! I gulp down three cups of water and push on. I know already that it’s going to be a long run, or should that be shuffle and that I am going to be lucky to finish in the light. Hard to imagine when the afternoon sun is beating down on me, never mind, I am protected with hat and sunnies.

17:30- I see my support crew twice on the lap, which is great. It is something to aim for as well as the feed stations. My legs are tired, and I am suffering from a lack of endurance training. I have adopted what I call the 10in10 strategy. Run from one feed station to the next, walk through the station taking on liquids, and run to the next. It’s a head down, grind it out approach, no niceties involved, just get the job done.

18:15- It’s still hot, I am still tired, I am still going.

19:30- Guess what, it’s not so hot, the sun is sinking behind the hills but I am beginning to slow up. My pace, once a sprightly 9 ish minute miles is hitting double figures. I don’t care, I am beyond caring, parts of my body I didn’t know I had are beginning to hurt, sod it, everything hurts. I suck on water and flat coke like it’s going out of fashion, I squeeze my last gel into my mouth and know that I have a paltry 6 miles or less to cover to get to the end of this journey

20:00- The light is beginning to fade when I notice a collapsed runner on the roadside, people are around him and I hear that the medics are on the way. I carry on, he is in good hands and as we loop around I see him a few minutes later, medics are with him but his determination is strong, he’s not giving up, he wants to finish, he is listening to them, they are checking him, he may be foolish but he wants that feeling of finishing an Ironman. He doesn’t know it but he has probably inspired hundreds of people to get to the finish. I hope he made it.

20:19- I grab a coke, this is my last feed station, I only have a mile to go but still I feel the need to get some sugar into my system. It’s dark now, I wanted to finish in the light but to be honest it’s nice running along the sparsely lit beach path. I can see the lights of the finishing chute ahead of me, the giant red M-Dot glowing like a beacon to guide me home, the cacophony of noise from the crowd reaching my ears, a warning of the celebration to come.

20:28- I am in the finishing chute, I have just been cheered by my support crew who have been fantastic all day, the guy with the microphone sees me coming and is about to announce to everyone that I have arrived. He is momentarily put off as I run up to him a plant a kiss on his forehead, the look of worry on his face quickly disappears and is replaced by laughter.

20:29- “Paul Dewar you are an Ironman” rings in my ears as I cross the line, arms wide open in celebration, a wide beaming smile on my face, I have finished what only a few months earlier I thought was a dream. For nearly 13 hours in scorching heat I have pushed my body to its limits once again, but wow what a great feeling it is to have done it.

21:15- I have my medal, I have my finishers shirt, I have my recovery shake, I have collected my bike and bags from transition, I have a chocolate muffin that I picked up from the food tents in the finish area, I have Trudi who is glad that I have made it in one piece, I’m a happy man, I am an Ironman.

To take part in Ironman this year has been quite a journey, a journey that was dictated to me by the massive crash I had at the end of May, which left me with several injuries that I am still being treated for now. To get to the start line has involved a few people putting me back together, others who have supported me and believed that I could do it.

In no particular order I must thank the following,

Drs Murray, Forrester and Walker for sticking me back together and sorting my head out.

Jayne Dennison and Liz Leach for their healing fingers and mobility exercise regimes.

All the guys at UTC especially Paul McKenny who’s support, guidance and motivation is second to none.

My staff for allowing me to train for 15 hours a week

Trudi, for being Trudi, supportive, understanding, loving. She knows what these events mean to me and lets me get on with them.

Thank you all

Pre Mallorca jitters anyone….No, just me then

Wow, what happened to the last 5 weeks, they have absolutely flown by, and hasn’t the weather been behaving itself. It does make it so much easier to get out the door and run/bike/swim when the sun is shining. I have tried to cram in as much training as possible over the last few weeks without over doing it. Hopefully I have just about got the balance right.

I have to say that there is not much to report for once, no accidents, no fighting against the elements or arguing with cars.

The swimming has sort of taken a back seat, I have been getting in the lake once a week and leaving it at that as I don’t want to aggravate my neck and shoulders too much. They are still not playing ball but are steadily improving as each week passes. I have been having some MFR treatment to try and sort them out which has made a great difference. I have resigned myself to the fact that the swim is a long way and it will take as long as it takes. From the training I know that I am not as quick as last year but am not far away. Hopefully on the day I can put in a respectable time to get me on my way.

Bike wise, I feel stronger on the bike than last year, I think this is just down to more experience and also some structured training sessions with the Ulverston Tri Club. That man Paul McKenny delivers a good bike session that makes you work. Hill reps and time trial-y things that make you puff and groan but actually help you a lot. Whether I will be better on the day will depend on many things not least, the profile of the course! Some nice race organiser has put a 2300ft climb in at 80 miles, ouch, that’s going to hurt.

Run wise, I think this is where I am going to suffer. Because of the accident I have missed out on a lot of running and especially the endurance stuff. I would say that I am a couple of marathons short of where I would want to be ideally but at least I have got myself in a position to be able to start. I have had a couple of good brick sessions (long bike ride straight on to a run) doing over 100 miles followed by a good 8+ mile run, so at least I can take positives out of those training sessions.

Today was my last long session, a mere 60miles on the bike followed by an 8 mile run. I was pleased with how it went though I must remember to drink more fluids, especially on the bike in the midday heat of Mallorca.

I am tapering off for the next week now and starting to get piles of kit sorted out in a corner of the bedroom. We fly out early Monday and I am already starting to get the nervous tingles of apprehension. Today I printed of the race briefing, all 57 pages of it; thankfully it is in 3 languages so I only have 19 pages to read. I have also read the race booklet and found out my race number.

Number 1926 for those of you who may want to track me.

So, just over 3 months ago I was lying on my back in hospital, unable to move my neck,very limited shoulder movement and fearing the worst, next week I will be on the cusp of taking part in my second Ironman.

The human body is a remarkable piece of kit.

See you all on the other side.

Sunday, 17 August 2014 22:05

Here comes the Summer

Here comes the Summer

So, where were we? Ah Yes, I remember, which I am surprised about after the bang to my head. I now realise, some 10 weeks later, how lucky I actually am

. A week or two after the accident I was sent for several X-Rays on my back, neck and shoulders, there was a worry that I might have done something nasty and my physio didn’t want to start doing any deep work until I had been thoroughly checked out. My GP agreed and I was zapped full of radiation the next day. Fortunately, there was nothing untoward, apart from a spot of arthritis at the top of my neck!! I was somewhat alarmed about this but was quickly re- assured that this was perfectly normal for a man of my age. I must be getting old!!

So, having been at last cleared of any broken bits I proceeded at full speed to the physio who incidentally also informed me that arthritis is common in sporty people, don’t feel so bad now. Over the next few weeks I was zapped with ultra sound and lasers, prodded and probed, pulled and stretched, stuck full of pins and given a mountain of exercises to do with stretchy bands, weights and a massive pilates ball, all of which I have tried to do religiously, even though I look stupid balancing on top of a massive green ball.

They were clearly working though, and much to my delight I was cleared for gentle exercise on my bike rollers. These are an indoor rolling road basically that the bike sits on top. I had already had the bike checked over for any cracks as it has a carbon frame and, let’s face it, I don’t want to have any more mishaps!

Two weeks later, and several sessions on the rollers with my nice fresh legs I was deemed fixed enough for some gentle jogging, with the specific instructions not to overdo it and if I feel any pain to stop immediately. Yeeeeaah, things were beginning to move along nicely although I knew I still had a long way to go. My aim through all this re-hab was to get myself fit enough to take place in Ironman Mallorca which is due to take place at the end of September. I was a long way away from that yet but at least it gave me a goal to keep me going.

I started off with some nice gentle runs and although my shoulder hurt a bit I felt OK and increased the distance that I was running upto about 8 or so miles fairly quickly. It was around this time that I realised something else was going on. Trudi had been saying for a couple of weeks that I had been forgetting things that she had told me only the day before, obviously I couldn’t remember so mainly put it to one side. It was then that I realised that I was also getting sentences up in muddled words (see what I did there) and struggling to remember some words all together, I seemed to be in a dark place, maybe expecting too much of myself. I was also still having headaches every day, and no, it wasn’t due to beer!

Looking back now I realise that my brain was a bit scrambled up, well, more than normal anyway, and was quickly reassured that I would be OK. My GP reminded me of what a wonderful piece of kit the human body is, and I must say I have to agree. It is amazing what you can achieve if you push it hard enough. I digress, I was also reminded of the fact that I had had a massive impact at 40+ mph and could expect a 6 month haul to get back to normal. Wowzer, that put a dent in my Ironman plans. I think the very fact that I realised what was happening pointed to the fact that I was recovering in the head department and fortunately, as it happens I was.

I was starting to increase the mileage on both the bike and running, but was still not allowed to go swimming. I wasn’t really surprised about the latter; I still didn’t have a full range of movement in my shoulders and was getting frustrated at the lack of progress. My physio was great though and was genuinely surprised at how far I had come in 8 weeks, saying that most people with my injuries would still be doing nothing never mind wanting to do an Ironman in 10 weeks

. A few weeks later and I was cleared for “10 minutes of swimming, do not go hammering along for an hour” I think she said this as I had rocked up on Monday morning and sheepishly proclaimed that I had run a steady trail marathon the day before, whoops, after all, my legs are fine! So after a bit of paddling in the pool I was in Coniston a week later and went for 20 mins, it felt great to be back in the water although I did have a few aches the next day.

This week I managed 1.5 miles and was chuffed to bits. Ironman training continues afoot and I feel that I am really making progress now. I still hurt, my left shoulder is mainly muscle damage and aches in the night and first thing in the morning, my right is damaged around the AC joint and lets me know if I do too much, my neck gives me a bit of gip occasionally but is so much better and the really good news is that I haven’t had a headache for a couple of weeks and am back to my normal grumpy self.

Things are looking good, Ironman Mallorca is now 6 weeks away and I feel confident that I will be there to compete it, the times may not be brilliant but who cares, a few weeks ago it was still a dream.

Friday, 13 June 2014 15:37

Lucky, lucky boy

So K2B training was all but over, and I was beginning to taper down for once, not something I tend to do all that often! Trudi has started running and we occasionally go out together so that I can show her some of the routes that I run and give any advice/get earache for running too fast. On the Tuesday before the K2B I decided to run 5 miles with her and then I was going to go for a club run later on. (this is my kind of tapering – 2 runs in a day!!)

We set off to run over Hoad Hill on what was a rather warm and lovely day, and fell into a nice steady rhythm. As I am running a bit slower than my normal pace I have a tendency to look around and enjoy the scenery, and why not, I live in a beautiful part of the world. Other times I am just being plain nosey and not looking where I am going. It is this last point that caused a few problems as I was being nosey watching two vans swapping goods around I ran off the edge of the kerb, turning my ankle in the process and generally buggering it up.

I stopped immediately but the damage was done and what ensued was a hobble home with Trudi encouraging me to take it easy. This was followed by lots of ice and two pairs of compression socks on one foot to try and get the swelling down. This was not good and by Wednesday I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be running 40 odd miles on Saturday morning. I was not a happy camper but at least I was consoled by the fact that Trudi and I were helping out at the 10 in 10 for the following week.

And what a week it was. If you have never heard of The Brathay 10 in 10, I urge you to look at the Brathay website and follow the various links to videos of these ordinary guys putting themselves through the mill for the charity. 10 marathons on the same course over 10 days is an epic achievement and once again the people that attempt it are really inspiring. Trudi and I feel very privileged to share 10 days with them while they try to achieve their goals.

Due to my cankle I had to miss out on the mass marathon on the final day, I so wanted to do it, and honestly would have done it, but I would have done more damage to my ankle were it not for Trudi (with the help of Di) putting her foot down for once and making me listen to reason. My ankle was still swollen and it was the right decision to make.

A week later and I decided that it was time to get back out, I strapped up my ankle and joined some Tri club members for a recce of the bike route for the Coniston Tri. Several members of the club were participating in the race the following weekend and so it was a popular route choice. For me it was a chance to stretch my legs after my enforced lay off. Well, what a lovely ride it was, well 30 odd miles that is, right up until the moment I fell off. Maybe fell off is putting a touch lightly, think more along the lines of “had an almighty crash at some 30+ miles an hour”.

I could give you some details but I was out of it with concussion and am unable to remember anything much, albeit I do remember a car pulling out ahead of me!!! After a dash to hospital with the nee-naws going I was checked over, observed, tested, fed pain-killers, checked again, mopped up and put back together with steri strips and plasters.

Warning – public information – always wear a helmet when on a bike. It saved me from a lot worse injury and possibly my life. I can be a bit blasé about it now but it still hurts and it is 2 ½ weeks after the crash. Nothing broken but my neck, ribs and shoulders are still bruised and not working properly, especially my right side. I know I have been very, very lucky and I walked out of hospital a few hours later, but please, if you ride a bike, stick a skid lid on.

As an afterthought make sure it fits also. For reasons I can’t explain, when we stopped to regroup at the bottom of Grizebeck Hill I tightened my helmet up as I felt it was a bit loose under the chin, so glad I did as when I crashed it was nearly ripped off my head and took a massive lump of scalp with it, if it had been a bit loose…who knows?

I will not be doing much for a few weeks yet I suspect, the body is an amazing piece of kit and I hope it will fix without any lasting issues, we shall see. In the meantime I shall be taking it easy and no doubt spending a bit of time in the hands of the physios.

For the guys who I was riding with also huge thanks for making sure I was not doing anything daft like trying to get back on my bike.

To the two unknown elderly ladies who realised straight a way I was in trouble and phoned the ambulance before I had hit the ground, thanks also, you are stars.

To the young lad who realised I was being strangled by my helmet strap and helped remove it, cheers fella, I owe you a beer.

To all those friends, family and customers who asked about my well-being, offered to help in the pub, texted, face booked and generally rallied round for both Trudi and myself I would like to say a sincere “Thank You”, your thoughts and generosity will always stay with us.

Finally, to Trudi, who puts up with so much, letting me train most days, attend races up and down the country, listens to me moan about injuries and niggles, puts up with piles of sweaty damp clothing on the floor, bits of bike in the hallway, several pairs of trainers in the kitchen and manages to turn a blind eye to how much I spend on my pass time, I Love You loads and thanks for always being there for me.

Right, that’s it, I’m off.

Friday, 30 May 2014 13:11

What's with the Wind...Pt 2 !?!?!

Two weeks later, and I was in Blackpool. I like running here, it is the marathon that I hold my personal best on from many years ago. As usual I went through the usual shenanigans before the start, chatting to several friends and deciding what to wear.

The gun went and the field set off, I immediately realised that the wind was blowing a lot stronger than I first thought and that it would be hard stick to my game plan, ah the game plan I hear you say, well the game plan was to run a sub 3.30 hour marathon, so that means a mile every 8 minutes ………….for 26.2 miles.

The first 4 miles were into the wind and I was zipping along nicely, this was followed by 6 ish miles with the wind behind me which helped me along a great deal, I was just about on target, well slightly over at 8.02 minutes a mile. The next quarter of the run was back into the wind, and it had picked up significantly by this point. I was zig zaging along the open path now looking for all the relief from the wind I could get, be it from another runner or a lump of rocks sticking out into the path. Whatever I did seemed to make no difference and the wind buffeted away trying to stop me in my tracks.

I was mighty relieved to get to the 16 mile point were, once again the wind was on our backs. I had struggled a bit to stick to my plan and had fallen behind by a few seconds a mile, with the wind behind me I managed to make up some time over the next few miles and then disaster struck.

I had gone through 19 miles feeling strong when suddenly the tank went to empty, I had ‘bonked’ big style, my legs went to lead and my pace just went out the window. This was hitting the wall big style and for me hadn’t happened like this for some time. There was no ready energy in my body to burn so my body was having to burn fat which takes a while to do. I pushed as hard as I could but my pace was slipping away, I had a couple of gels that I sucked on to try and get me going, and I felt that after a mile or so my legs were coming back to me but then the turnaround came and I along with everyone else had the final 3 miles to run into the severe wind.

Wow, this was hard work but I began to feel really strong again and was able to keep up a reasonable pace. At this stage of the run the field was spread out quite a bit but I still found myself running with a young lad who was struggling in the wind. Eventually he tucked in behind me and used me as a shelter which on any other day would probably have got to me a bit, but today I didn’t mind, I was well behind my schedule now and just wanted to finish.

Eventually the line came into view and I left the lad on his own as I picked up the pace for the last half mile or so, I was flying along now and was puzzled why I had struggled earlier on, I would have to analyse this problem later and see if I had done something different. I finished some 8 minutes behind the time I wanted but I had finished my 50th marathon which is a decent milestone to reach.

Also, as my new running friend came over the line I was given a hearty handshake and a ‘Thank You’ for helping him over the last few miles to his new PB. That made my day, after the miles of disappointment at knowing my target for the day had gone I had at least made someone else very happy.

All in all when I look back on the weekend I feel that running into the wind, trying to keep a decent pace going caused me to blow up so early. I also think that the wind had got into my head a bit and I was almost looking for an excuse to ease off, mentally I felt I was strong for the race but for whatever reason my mind had a blip and went for a wander for a few miles. A lot of long distance events are competed and completed in the mind, get the head right and the legs will follow. (within reason that is)

A few weeks later and I found myself at Milton Keynes for a multi lap race around a lake. It was Good Friday and the reason for the long drive was to celebrate Heather MH’s 100th marathon. I have known Heather for a number of years, indeed she was due to run the 10 in 10 last year but had to withdraw due to some issues in her hip which seemed to take forever to sort out. Her husband, Alex is a great artist and photographer and freely lets runners pinch photos of them running.

The days was a lovely day for a run, I had travelled down the night before and endured plenty of traffic jams on the way so was not as rested as I could have been, however I set off at a nice relaxed pace just wanting to enjoy it and put the memory of the Blackpool bonk to bed (ooohh matron). I was soon joined by Heather and we had a nice chat for a few miles, Heather was finally attempting the 10 in 10 in May and after a long wait was looking forward to it. As we ran I was aware that she was ticking along nicely at my pace, she must have been aware of this as she kept telling me to run on and leave her to which my reply was that I was at my normal pace and that she was running well.

We stayed together for a few more miles and then I slowly began to pull ahead, but not by much and by the time we had finished Heather had recorded a new personal best at her 100th marathon. What a fantastic achievement for her and thoroughly deserved after a couple of years of injury and for once I was happy to take the partial blame for someone’s mishap!!!!

The following week I ventured over the Pennines to Huddersfield for the first marathon there for some 20 years. This was to be my last marathon before the K2B which was 3 weeks later. Again it was a great day for running, nice and cool with a light breeze. It was a smallish field, about 200+ and a lot of the northern contingent were present. This was a marathon that had been billed as a tough hilly run, and boy was it just that.

The first ½ mile was flat and that was about it, the rest was either up or down with some really steep bits thrown in for good measure. I ran about 12 miles or so with Michael, who I have known for a year or so, and enjoyed putting the world to rights. He was struggling a bit, lets face it, we were both struggling, did I mention the brutal hills? Anyway I ran on.

I never know quite what to do in these situations, most of the time I personally would prefer to be on my own so I can give myself a good talking to/ feel sorry for myself, it is very rare that I have run an entire marathon in the company of someone else. It was a good run out though, and although I tipped over the 4hr mark I was pleased as I had plenty of running at the end.

The K2B was now on the horizon and I was looking forward to it. The logistics of food and clothing were beginning to fill my mind as I would probably be unsupported for this attempt and I needed to plan my race more than normal due to it being about 40 ish miles long!!!

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