Paul Dewar

Paul Dewar

Saturday, 26 April 2014 16:51

What's with the wind?!?

What’s with the Wind?!?

A week after my Bolton outing I found myself in Leigh for The Gin Pit Double. I love this event although 11 miles along the canal can be hard work. Having done it twice before I knew what to expect. The route is varied and pretty much off road with no major uphills, although there are stretches along the canal that are resplendent in that muddy stuff.

Day one was a mixed bag weather wise, rain, a bit of hail, more rain, wind and to top it all even more rain with the last few miles in glorious sunshine. My waterproof was on and off more times than??????????????? As usual I went through a bad patch during the middle of the run but managed to hold on and finish in under 4 hours, pretty good for me on this course for day 1, in fact my best day 1 here. I was just a tad worried that I might have over cooked it a bit for the next day so was eager to get into my post-race mode but this wasn’t going to happen today.

I had to get back to work so shot back home for a quick ice bath and then straight to work, no rest for me then! One good thing about going to work is that I was forced to use my tired legs which helps to shift any lactic acid out them and actually keeps them nice and loose as well, much better than sitting on ones backside and watching the latest episode of ‘strictly come jungle icing’ or some such rubbish.

Day 2 dawned bright and breezy with a forecast for heavy rain. All the way down on the motorway I had been watching the black clouds in the distance, it looked like it was going to another wet day. I registered and had the usual banter with the guys I know, as it is in the North a lot of the northern running junkies turn up and the same faces appear time after time. We all have a good natter, find out who is running where next, talk about the weather (well it is a national pastime) and what we shall be wearing for the run.

After a bit of briefing we all saunter off for the day, for once the first few miles didn’t seem too much like hard work and I was enjoying the sun, yep that’s right the sun was beating down on us, although there was still a nip in the air. At the 8 mile point there is a sharp turn onto the canal and this is where I realised why I had felt so good for the first part of the run, the wind was squarely in my face and everyone else’s I suspect and I was somewhat peeved that this was going to be the case for the next 11 miles…deep joy.

At 13 miles I felt great, at 14 miles I felt crap, the wind was really getting to me now and was not enjoyable. The mind is a wonderful thing sometimes, I don’t know how it works or what happens but after a few miles of abject misery and general fugness I seemed to sort myself out and stop feeling sorry for myself. My mile times started to tumble as I picked up the pace and got going. Two miles later I blasted off the canal, well ok then, sauntered at a genteel pace off the canal looking forward to the last 7 miles or so. I was fairly well up the field and was able to pass a couple of guys who looked like I had done 6 miles earlier.

My increase in pace bought me over the line in a sub 4, whoo hoo, two sub 4 hours for the first time at this event and a cumulative top 10 finish (9th) over the two days. Cracking stuff. Bring on Blackpool, this was going to be my crack at a sub 3.30 time for the year and I was feeling confident I could do it.

Thursday, 13 March 2014 22:46

Bolton and Beyond

Has Spring arrived yet?? Well I know it has been a while, but I have had some foot issues you know! What, you hadn’t heard! Tut, tut, don’t you read my blogs.

Having taken December and the best part of January off from running, I tentatively started doing some bike work at the end of January and then stepped out into the cold and ran a mile around the block. It was so good to get out and feel the road under my feet again as it had been far too long since my last outing. Within a week I was brave enough to join in with the Ulverston Tri Club on a training night. These runs take place on a Tuesday and are varied sessions, some weeks might be a social run, another will be focused on technique and another on even pacing. Unbeknown to me, the week I was entering the fray once again was to be a hill session. OUCH

. For those that don’t know, hill sessions are basically running up a hill as fast as you can, sounds easy doesn’t? Yeah? Oh by the way did I say that you have to run up it 10 times after a few miles warming up that is. These are a really good session to run, if you are fit and not coming back from injury. By the 4th/5th rep my heart was bouncing around my chest like a drug crazed drunken buffoon, my respiratory system was nearing the point of meltdown and my thighs were in a whole world of pain. It was hard, and I struggled along at the rear of the group running as hard as I could and seemingly getting nowhere. Somebody had moved the top of the hill and then poured gallons of treacle on to the road. I was seriously glad when I managed to finally finish the set and do my warm down run. It was a bit of an eye opener to my state of fitness and reminded me of how much work lay ahead before my first planned marathon of the year.

Trudi and I normally sneak away for our holidays in mid February so I had roughly 3 weeks to get some fitness back before we left. When I’m away I normally do and hour or so every other day with swimming and maybe a bit of gym work to keep me ticking over. The aim was to get upto 20 miles before we left. I had 3 weeks. This is not recommended but I’ve been running a long time so thought I could manage it. I spent a lot of time on the bike rollers to minimise the impact that running has on my legs and then would go and run. This has the effect of getting the heart rate up and tiring the legs out a bit, in tri terms this is called a brick session, I have no idea why apart from the legs feel like bricks when you are finished.

The first week my long run was 8 miles, the second I was up to 14.5 and a few days before we went away I cracked out a 20 miler. I wasn’t particularly fast but my legs felt great and I had regained some of the confidence I had lost after the long layoff. Once we returned from our annual holidays I had 5 days to prepare for The Bolton Hill Double, two marathons run over the weekend.

Although I had been doing a bit of exercise whilst away I was under no illusions that I was going to struggle through the two days. I arrived in Bolton with plenty of time to spare knowing that I would be bumping into several friends who I hadn’t seen for a while due to my absence from running due to the foot problem. I was not disappointed and enjoyed catching up with Sally, Matt. Malcolm, Foxy, Karen, Colin, Shane, Michael, Phil and Fozzy. The weather was surprisingly nice as well for the time of year, ie no rain. I set of nice and slowly knowing that I had a long way to go on legs that would struggle and also the fact that I would be running the next day. Fozzy had said that we could run together but I was doubtful as he was fitter than I was.

We did however run the whole way together, although he did have to wait for me at gates and feed stations for me to catch up to him. As the name suggests, this is a hilly marathon, going over the top of winter hill and Rivington Pike, not once, but twice! It is a tough run, mainly off road and on very rough or muddy terrain. It is an early season marathon tests fitness levels and also a runner’s technical ability to navigate the ground before them. All in all it is a superb test, although at the time you may not think that. After a steady run with Fozzy we eventually finished and I was started to think about the following day and begin my recovery and refuelling. So, ice bath, food, stretching, foam rollering and more food. A decent nights sleep and I was up and ready for day 2.

My legs felt OK, a little heavy maybe and my foot was pain free which was excellent news. The field was smaller than Saturday as we all lined up and the weather was brighter with just a glimpse of sun. I set off and spent the first few miles on my own and finding it heavy going. The first 3 miles is all up hill and my legs were just not at the party. As I reached the top of Winter Hill my legs felt better and I started catching a few people I knew and chatted away for a few miles. Before I knew it I was at the half way point and feeling remarkably good and upbeat.

As I headed into the second part of the race I let my legs go a bit to see how far I would get before I conked out, surprisingly, all the way to the end. The next day I was paying for it though, achy legs and knees that felt like they were full nuts and bolts, but the good news was that my foot was feeling fine. Good news indeed after having problems with it for several months.

I went out for a steady ride the following day and this cleared the legs out a bit although didn’t do much for my knees. A few days later and everything is back to normal, well nearly, training is back on track, just a niggle in my left calf from a bit of cramp. Next up will be the Gin Pit Double next weekend, always a good run out and not as hilly as Bolton.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 14:18

A New Year Begins......

But before it does I must first deal with the old year, or at least the end of it.

After the effort of The Run On Water my foot as you may recall was, how shall we say, buggered. I had planned to run the Langdale and York Marathons but for once a bit of common sense prevailed and I had to stand by and watch instead. I particularly like Langdale as it is set in the Langdale Valley surrounded by the Pikes and is a beautiful part of the world. I’m very fortunate to live in these parts as I get to see some fantastic scenery.

Anyway, I digress, back to Langdale. The marathon is normally on a Saturday and by some clever planning the Brathay 10 in 10 (TIT) annual bash is normally held in the evening, thus allowing TITers to travel into the area for a marathon and annual meal. Unfortunately this year it was not the case, but, nevertheless many TITers still ran the marathon. It is always great to catch up with these guys as we sort of class ourselves as complete loons and share a common bond that thus far only 69 people have achieved. So even though I was still hobbling at this point I could at least hurl words of encouragement at them all.

A week later I found myself on the Brathay Windermere course for what was the culmination of an epic event undertaken by a chap called Chris Heaton. He had run decided to run 30 marathons in 30 days alternating between the Windermere course and Langdale. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with these courses, they are two of the hilliest road runs you can find and it was an absolute privilege to see him complete his goal, made all the more difficult that he had achieved it totally un-aided. Well done Chris, great effort.

 

Three weeks later and the end of October was looming, I had a decision to make. Snowdon Marathon was the following Saturday. I had done no training since the canal run and had to decide a) whether my foot could cope with the strain of 26+ miles and b) if I had enough residual fitness to get me round the course. I have wanted to run Snowdon for a couple of years and really didn’t want to miss this opportunity. With this in mind, I donned my cycling gear and went for a 10 mile gentle ride. Great, next day, no pain so went for a gentle 5 mile run. Whoop whoop, no pain again. By now it is Thursday, the race is on Saturday, so not wanting to overdo it I went out and did 8 miles followed by lots of stretching.

 

Saturday arrived and I hung back at the start and drifted over after the rest of the field had started, I didn’t want to get pulled along to fast and wanted to take it easy at the beginning especially as the first 5 miles or so is all up hill. Once over the pass I felt a lot more comfortable and settled into a steady rhythm, enjoying the views and chatting to various people. Before I knew it I was well on my way to the finish, there is a killer of a climb before the finish which I along with everyone else around me walked up and then down to the finish. Considering the complete lack of training I felt remarkably good and put it down to my fitness levels from IM carrying me over the line. I have already booked next year’s event in the hope that I will be fit and ready for it.

 

My foot had with stood the distance and I seemed to have no ill effects, I rested and then did some gentle training in readiness for a mid-week double in November. But this was no ordinary mid-week double, oh no, this was a Phil Ecclestone event, that means hills, lots of them. For each marathon we had to run 8 times over Rivington Pike. When I say run I really mean crawl, it was tough and the downhills were very rocky, wet and slippy. It was a real tough and certainly lived up to its billing as the toughest hill marathon in the UK. For the first time ever I ran well over 5 hours on each of the days, but again some great views and wonderful people and marshals, and above all no real foot pain.

 

This was about to change!

 

Some 8 -10 days after the event and guess what, yep the dreaded foot syndrome came back. It’s just become annoying now, the foot swells up so that my toes look like chipolata sausages and it is very painful to put any sort of pressure on. After a few weeks the swelling subsides but we are now into January and I am still not running. Not good news. Hopefully I will know what the problem is soon and can get back running, no exercise is very boring and it means I have to do all the odd DIY jobs, terrible.

Sunday, 11 August 2013 22:17

Ironman UK

 

I make no apologies for the length of this blog. This event has been on my mind for the best part of a year!

The more observant amongst you may well have noticed a slight hiccup in the order of things. I have decided to miss July, or rather be very brief about July. The weather was hot, very hot. I ran just the one marathon at Coniston over the trails. A lovely run with wonderful views over the lakes and fells. Met up with some marathon buddies and slogged it out in the heat. My time was terrible but who cares, it was a great day out.

Now then, to the main event, Ironman. This year for me has been all about reaching this event in good nick and injury free to give it a go and hopefully finish in a reasonable time. From the outset I always knew that beating the cut off at various points around the course was going to be the main priority. A few weeks ago I revised my goals to not just finishing but perhaps at best finishing with a 14hr in front of the time. I thought if things went well then that was a doable goal.

Trudi and I arrived in Bolton at lunch time and I went to register at the stadium. Here you are “tagged” on the wrist which has your race number on and is the key to allow the athletes into transition areas and swim practice at Pennington. This is where we went next for the Friday practice. It was a bit delayed due to safety reasons but we eventually got wet and did a couple of small laps. It was great to get in and get a feel for the environment, a bit murky but nowhere as near as cold as Coniston. Next up was a briefing for novices at the Reebok stadium at 4pm which I just about made. This was basically re-iterating what had already been sent to us about the event and the course and going over some of the more pertinent points, ie don’t litter, no family members in the finishing shute, and no drafting amongst other things, all of which are punished with a nice big fat DQ by your name.

The following day I had to drop off my transition bags and bike. First we went to Rivington high school which was to be T2 (transition 2 - bike to run change). I dropped my bag off and we were giving a briefing here on how the transition would work and where the feed station would be. Next we went back down to Pennington and dropped my bag here for T1 (transition 1 - swim to bike change) and also racked the bike. Again were told the flow of the transition and I walked around it a few times to make sure I knew what I was doing and the direction I needed to travel in. All the bikes are numbered so all I had to remember was the row I was in and roughly how far down I was. I checked everything was OK on the bike ie tyres inflated etc and put a bike cover over it. The security here is very good, you have a picture taken with your bike which is checked when you pick up the bike on Monday. Also security guards are on patrol throughout the night to make sure nothing goes missing. Finally there was nothing left to do apart from eat, keep hydrated and get some rest.

The alarm was set for 2:45 am as I had breakfast booked for 3am and a bus from the stadium down to Pennington booked for 4am. Now, to try and sleep!! The first of three alarms went off, and we were both up and about feeling remarkably chirpy considering what was coming up. The bus ride down was uneventful and we were dropped just a short walk from the start. By the time I reached T1 the sun was trying to put in an appearance. I checked the bike again and went to put my wetsuit on. There was a nervous chatter going on amongst us and plenty of good lucks being bandied about. I bumped into Paul and we shook hands and wished each other the best of luck. I didn’t think I would see him for the rest of the day so was pleased that we had had a brief chat with some calming words for me.

At 5:45am we were led down to the pontoons so that we could enter the water and go to the starting buoys. I managed to see Trudi who appeared to have a great vantage point stood on a bench. This was just what I needed, I would have been disappointed if I missed her and I was now finally ready for the off. Once in the water I tried to hang back and to the side. This event is a mass start so all 1600+ athletes are in the water all aiming for the same buoy in the distance.

Only 140.6 miles to the finish!! Yikes!!

The national anthem had been playing followed by a countdown and then a massive hooter went. There followed a massive splashing and thrashing of arms and legs as everyone took off. I was getting bumped around a bit and received a couple of whacks on the head for my troubles. This is basically what it was like for the whole of the first lap and it can get a bit annoying. I was trying to take it easy as well for this lap as there is an awful long way to go and adrenalin can make you go a lot quicker than you think you are. The first lap completed I set off on the second and made a decision to swim way out of the main traffic. This meant I was going a long way around but I was a lot more comfortable and was able to swim on my own at a nice rhythm. Just towards the end I had a little bit of cramp in my left leg but I managed to stretch it out whilst swimming so that was OK. I exited and was stunned with the time I had done, I started peeling of my suit whilst running towards T1.

Only 138.2 miles to go.

The change went well, I wear my shorts under the wetsuit to speed things up, so only have to dry my feet and upper body, dry socks and cleats on I loaded my top up with malt loaf and set off to find my bike. As I was running to exit transition chomping on some malt loaf I saw Trudi again and she obligingly took some photos of me with a mouth full of food, cheers, they look great! The first 15 miles I was aware that I was going a bit fast so I was consciously trying to slow down, my legs were also aching which was a bit worrying given I was about to spend a day in the saddle. I was also eating more malt loaf to get the energy in for later on. Just before the 15 mile marker we turn onto a loop that we cycle 3 times. I knew that each loop would take approximately 2 hours 4 minutes, approximately you understand! This is also the first time we climb up the slopes of Winter Hill, a tough climb, but fortunately I had been training for it so even though it was hard work, I was ready for it. Once over the top there is a lovely stretch which is very slightly downhill and therefore very fast. Unfortunately there is that old adage that says ‘what goes up must come down’ and vice versa. This meant that the second half of the lap was predominately going uphill although to be fair it was quite gentle.

The support on the loop was fantastic. Trudi along with Janet (Paul’s wife) and their daughters were at mile 62 and 93 and were in a fantastic position to see riders as they came over a road bridge and down around a sweeping right hand bend. It was great to see them and really gave me a boost. The other spots that were brilliant to ride through were Adlington and Belmont. The support here was fantastic and Tour De France-esq as the road was completely blocked by supporters who parted before the riders as they struggled up the hills. The noise was deafening with mini cow bells, rattles and horns blowing as well as the cheers from the crowds. Even though I was getting pretty tired it bought a smile to my face on the last two laps and really helped me to get up the hills. Fantastic stuff.

The bike section was tough but towards the end of the bike thoughts started to turn towards the run looming on the horizon. I had been eating malt loaf and power bars every half hour with the occasional gel sweets chucked in for good measure. I had also been drinking a bottle of water (approx. 700 ml) every 15 miles so was fairly sure that I wouldn’t have a major breakdown due to lack of energy. Judging food and fluid intake is very difficult during endurance events as so many variables come into play, the weather conditions, how much sleep you’ve had, how hard are you working, what have you eaten during the previous days and how rested the body is.

I rolled into T2 and my bottom was mighty relieved to ease itself of the saddle, my legs were relieved as well but they still had some work to do. The bike was collected from me as I entered T2 and I gingerly made my way towards the gymnasium where we were to get changed. I collected my bag and made my way to a quite seat, sat down and changed my socks and shoes, peeled of my padded cycling shorts ( I had my running ones on underneath), swallowed a couple of anti-inflams, just in case, and set off for what I thought would be one of the toughest marathons of my life.

Only 26.2 miles to go.

I had set a target of running at 10 minutes per mile as this had been my target all through training. Having said that, I had never stuck to it and had always been a bit quicker, normally nearer 9 minutes per mile. I was feeling remarkably good as I gently jogged the first few miles but then I started to get really bad pains in my stomach. This I thought was just a touch of wind but after a mile or so I decided that a toilet break might be a good idea. As the portaloo readied itself to go into orbit I realised that perhaps my stomach hadn’t become as accustomed to high energy food as I thought as its contents seemed to be making a desperate bid for freedom. The pit stop over with, I bounded down the road, bounded who am I kidding, shuffled down the road and onto a stretch along the river.

This was a lovely run away from the roads for a couple of miles before emerging on Chorley Old Road at about mile 8. The remainder of the 16 miles would be run on a 4 mile loop in an out and back style to the town centre. After each lap a band was thrust onto my arm, once upto 3 bands I could enter the finishing shute.

Only 16 miles to go.

The rain had started to fall by now which was actually refreshing and kept everyone cool. My pace was hovering around the 9 minute mark at this stage but I was feeling very comfortable. This is where my running experience would tell as I knew I was comfortable at this pace and felt I could go deep into the race with few problems. I entered the town centre for the end of the first lap, grabbing a gel and water from the feed station I saw Barry (Trudi’s sisters husband – I’ve always been confused, is he still my brother in law even though he is Trudi’s or is he a brother in law once removed or some such rubbish – sorry I digress) with his youngest Daniel. It was a pleasant surprise and he told me that Trudi was outside McDonalds on the corner with Nicola (Trudi’s sister) and Benjamin. Confused yet. I spent the next few minutes looking out for the golden arches and as I rounded the corner Trudi, Nicola, Janet and her daughters were all cheering me on. It was great to see them. I did the little loop around the town centre and ran past them again on the way out. My stomach wasn’t good again and I had to take an enforced break in another portaloo. These gels seemed to be going right through me which was worrying. I set off feeling much better and picked up my first band to prove I had completed a lap.

Only 12 miles to go.

I was still feeling strong and had been passing a number of runners which always is a good thing mentally. I was looking out for anybody I might recognise when I saw Colin waving at me coming down the other side of the road. He was about 10 minutes in front of me and looking good. Colin is a marathon runner and 3 times Ironman who had showed me around the course the previous week. We spent several hours on a Monday afternoon at Pennington, around the cycle route and also on the run route. It was very informative for me and helpful. Colin stayed ahead of me for the rest of the race and ended up finishing a very good 4th in his age group.

I had been carrying a couple of my own gels that I use in training and throughout marathons. They are a bit more gloopy than the ones being supplied, so I decided to take one as I approached the town centre for the second time. I was worried that if I had to have another emergency stop I would be in dire need of some energy from somewhere as I was sure that I must be running on empty now. Good news at last, there were no adverse effects although from now on I would munch on the savoury biscuits that were also at feed stations. I saw all the girls again, waving like lunatics from the roadside and pushed on to pick up my second coloured band.

Only 8 miles to go.

Two bands down and one to go, still running strong and still at 9 mile pace. It was at this time that I was working out roughly what time I might actually finish. I had 8 miles to run, and if I wanted to dip under the 14 hours I had set myself it meant that I had around 2 1/2 hours to finish. Wow. For the first time in the day I felt that I could finish this adventure. The running was beginning to get harder, surprise surprise, but I was buoyed up with the fact that relatively, I had just a short distance to go. I entered the town centre for the third time happy in the knowledge that the next time I was here would be to finish.

Only 4 miles to go.

Then the wheels started to creek and wobble. I don’t know whether it was the fact that I was so close to the finish that I mentally switched off or whether I had no energy and was knackered, probably both. I had my last band and was really struggling to get one foot in front of the other. I had to walk a bit, well a lot actually but at the turnaround with only 2 miles left there were several of us all on our last lap and feeling the effects of a hard day. We encouraged, cajoled and metaphorically clapped each other on the back and I managed to summon the strength and energy from somewhere to get a decent pace on again. Surprisingly, and from where it came from I have no idea, but I settled into a nice 9:15 minute mile pace and ticked of the steps to the finish. It was a beautiful, I actually ran down the road with my arms outspread for a while drinking in the fact that I was on the verge of becoming an Ironman.

Only 800 meters to go.

800 meters and I was going to savour every meter, the applause was fantastic as it had been all day. I was on the crest of a wave, Trudi saw me as I came around the penultimate corner and she sprinted towards the finish, I had to go the long way around. I had my 3 bands firmly on my wrist and entered the finishing shute, the red carpet was laid out even though it was a bit wet. My fist pumping the air I slowed down and relished in the moment, all the months of training and hard work had borne fruition; I had just become an Ironman, wow, what a feeling, what a feeling of elation and pure joy to have put my body through so much and to have survived. I was indeed one very happy bunny!

A tough, rewarding, hard, awesome, stomach cramping, brilliant experience. Would I do it again? Yeah, give us a couple of years though to get over this one.

Just before I finish I would just like to publicly say a huge ‘Thank You’ to Trudi who puts up with me doing this running lark. She has supported me throughout the years and never moans ( well not much anyway) when I disappear at weekends running multiple marathons leaving her to look after the pub. She is a star.

As most of you know I don’t really divulge running times but for once I am going to, here goes for the stats.

Ironman UK. Bolton

Swim 2.4 miles…1:14:33 position 593rd

T1:-8:18

Bike 112 miles…6:51:30 position 674th

T2:-8:41

Run 26.2 miles…4:10:26 final position 497th

Total time……12:33:27

Thursday, 01 August 2013 23:21

Jolly June

June

 

The first Monday in June was to be a baptism, literally. My mentor for this Ironman journey is a guy named Paul McKenny who has given me loads of hints and tips, after all, I blame him for getting me involved in this whole adventure. Monday night he had organised a few guys to go for a dip in Coniston Water as the first open water swim of the season. The other 3 guys were all experienced tri-athletes who have several ironman races between them, and then there was me. I class myself more as an afflete, someone who does the training but not to focussed on results, after all, I’m getting too old to keep up with the young whipper snappers nowadays. Keeping fit, enjoying events and bumping into friends old and new is what it is about for me.

Sorry, I digress, back to Coniston. We all got suited up and paddled in. Because there was 5 of us (and, I suspect because this was my first time), Paul’s wife Janet was in a kayak, just in case! It was very cold, I mean take your, breath away cold, and this was with a thermal rash vest, wet suit and two swim hats on. We all set off together and I soon realised that there was a lot more to this open water swimming lark than meets the eye. It’s not just a case of getting in and swimming as you would in the pool, oh no, the cold seeps in and really messes things up. Within about 5 minutes I was struggling to breathe, out of breath and cold. I just couldn’t see how I was going to swim 2.4 miles in August if it was going to be like this. I couldn’t go on and had to stop. All the other guys had swam on ahead but Paul had been shadowing me and when I stopped he knew I was in trouble and gave me the best pep talk I’ve had in my life. Basically calm down and breath – very important that last one, concentrate on breathing. Get that right and everything else would fall back into place.

I set off again with those words ringing in my ears and after a few minutes I began to settle down into a rhythm. I got to the turn around buoy and had a brief rest and then set of back. I felt a lot more comfortable now but was still getting out of breath and struggling to keep up. Finally, I had clawed my way to the exit point. I was knackered and when I tried to stand up I was wobbling all over the place. Paul, still in motivational gear said something like “Don’t worry about that, someone will grab hold of you and drag you out at the event”. Oh well, that’s OK I thought!!!

The following weekend I was to run The Hardmoors Marathon. Kevin had come down to stay for a couple of days and on Friday we went out for a small run. When I say small, I mean about 15 miles. We had a lovely run but perhaps it wasn’t the best thing to do within 48hrs of a marathon. On Sunday, we set off for Yorkshire at silly o’clock, arriving some 45 minutes before the start. We quickly registered, got our numbers and sorted ourselves out. We popped down to the village hall where my bowels had decided that it was time to be evacuated. Great. I popped into the loo, had a pooh, and emerged to the sound of the race starting, for once excellent timing on my behalf. Bowels empty I felt great and trudged off up the first hill.

Oh, by the way, the first hill was about 8 miles long rising steadily all the time to the ridge line. The views were fantastic all the way and the weather was breezy but nice and sunny. Once we were beyond the first 8 miles the route was gently undulating circumnavigating around the valley heads. We eventually dropped down into a valley at about 20 miles and were immediately confronted with a major league hill. It was a stinker, literally, through mud and then onto a dried track all up a steep incline. The good thing was that we thought that we only had a couple of miles left to go. Oh how wrong we were!! Once over the last brow we continued on to the last checkpoint where the marshal cheerfully informed us that we were about 6 miles from the finish. Really, I thought, we should be done in about half that. We plodded on and turned towards the village in the distance. The moor land here had become over grown with heather but at least it was predominately downhill which was a good thing on tired legs. The 26 mile point bleeped away on my garmin and I thought to myself “Erm, long way to go to the village yet” Eventually, after some 28.5 miles the finish appeared which was a very welcome sight although having said that the legs felt OK and I still had some running left in them.

Two weeks later and I found myself in Pooley Bridge on the shores of Ullswater. This was to be the venue for my first attempt at a tri-athalon. Here I was a complete novice on my own about to take on a tough course surrounded by guys who were tweaking bits on bikes and messing around with wheels whilst I stood there scratching my backside. I was as they say a tad nervous.

The previous week Paul and some other guys had done a little training tri around Coniston which for me had gone well. I had felt a lot more confident and comfortable on the swim, two of the guys didn’t even attempt it as they said it was too cold. We had a gentle transition on to the bikes, by gentle I Mean a coffee and Jaffa cakes, and set off on the bikes for 30 ish miles. I struggle a bit to keep up with the guys towards the end of the ride but was pleased how it had gone. These guys are all keen cyclists were as I had only bought a decent bike at the end of March. Again after another gentle transition we set off for a run around the lake, which went very well. All in all some valuable lessons learnt which were about to be put into practice.

Paul was away on holiday but he sent me a good luck text. I replied that I was somewhat nervous and was, how shall we say, in dire need of several bowel movements. His reply that, that was normal settled me down and I suited myself up and went to the briefing. I was like the teacher’s pet listening intently to every word that was being said, The words “choppy”, “windy” and “might shorten the swim route but will decide in 10 minutes” struck me as slightly worrying. As it happened the safety guys decided that although it was a bit rough the swim would remain, relief or not, I just wanted to get on with it now and test myself out.

I was starting in the last wave, yep, you’ve guessed it, the slowest wave. This didn’t bother me as I just wanted to take my time and feel my way into it. The first few minutes were like being in a washing machine, arms and legs flaying all over the place, but eventually it all settled down and I found myself in a bit of space and able to swim my own race. The first leg was into the wind and fairly choppy but once we had turned around I could feel the wind pushing me along. I was beginning to pass some of the swimmers who had set off in the previous wave and felt was pleased with how things were going. I finished the swim, which I found out later was in 41 minutes, so I was pleased with that.

Next up came the bike 58 miles of bliss, er no, not really. The ride down the lake to the bottom of Kirkstone Pass was into the wind and hard work. I was trying to take it easy at this stage as I knew what was to come. Kirkstone Pass is, as the name suggests one of the passes in The Lake District and as such is a steep long drag to the top. From memory I think it stands at 1450ft above sea level. I was glad to summit the climb as in my mind that was one of the tough parts over with, there followed a nice downhill stretch and flat road to the bottom of Shap. This is another long, long climb that although is not as steep as Kirkstone, just goes on for mile after mile. Fortunately the wind was now behind us and going down the other side I was reaching speeds in excess of 40 mph with very little effort, happy days. The last 15 or so miles seemed to flash by on slightly undulating roads and before I knew it I was back into transition for the run.

After a quick bite to eat, pee stop and change of footwear I set of on the last leg, 13 miles of fun!!!! Most of the run was off road which normally means one thing, HILLS. It did not disappoint, after the initial mile or so just to get the legs moving the road turned into track and pointed upwards at a rather alarming angle. The problem was I knew that this one was a mere babe compared to what was to come. Once on the flat and downhill I began to make up places as my running endurance began to show through, but I was tired. I had been out all week running and cycling notching some 200 miles+ in training and it was beginning to tell. At about 6 miles the mountain of doom was before me. This was to be a strictly walking part and everyone around me seemed to be having the same idea. If I had a pair of crampons I would have put them on for the hard slog up this little beauty. Another 1400 ft ascent and I was on my way back down, but the descent was difficult and dangerous in places, so taking it easy on tired legs was the order of the day. The last 3 miles was all on that tarmac stuff, which was nice but did seem to go on for ever, a sure sign that you just want to reach the end.

Job done, and considering the profile of the course I was pleased. I had set myself a target time of 7hr30mins and was chuffed to bits to come in at 6hrs56mins. A good day to round of a good month of training. Dare I say it, things were looking good for the Ironman in a few months time.

Monday, 29 July 2013 10:29

A May-zing Month

May

The month of May has become synonymous with The Brathay Trust 10 in 10 since I took part in it last year and became only the 47th person to complete this epic endurance challenge. More to follow on that later.

During April I had started training on the bike and also swimming. The swimming was the one discipline that worried me the most, I can swim but this 2.4 mile swim that had to be completed was definitely entering unknown waters. (get it, waters, swimming, oh never mind). I started having swimming lessons to get my technique sorted and after only 45 minutes had learnt that I was doing so much wrong I was surprised I managed to float. Fortunately, nothing was to major and within a couple of lessons I was straightened out, breathing right and swimming like a fish, well not quite, but things had definitely improved dramatically. May saw me in the pool upto 3 times a week and steadily improving all the time.

The bike was a bit easier to get to grips with, I mean after all, how hard can it be. Ahh those lovely cleat thingys!! Due to immense global warming it was still freezing cold and I found myself going out to ride 20ish miles with hat, 2 pairs of gloves, various tops, leggings, 3 pairs of socks and waterproof over shoes. Guess what, I was still coming home unable to feel my fingers or toes. This was in late April and I thought the warmer weather would never come. By May I was stomping along, still getting a bit cold but not as bad, but may be getting a bit cockier. On a 50 miler I slowly pulled up to a junction and being lazy didn’t want to un cleat my foot. I was going slower and slower keeping my balance waiting for a break in the traffic when all of a sudden I lost my balance and did a comedy fall to the ground. Fortunately no one saw me but this was not to be the first comedy fall. This time I cut my right knee, a week later having not learnt my lesson at all, I promptly did the same and cut my left knee, d’oh.

Things were moving on though and my mileage was slowly building, although I was still getting some horrendous back ache.

Back to the 10 in 10, after last years event I wanted to volunteer my services to the running of the event this year. It is such unique event that raises money for a great charity helping young people that I wanted to be involved. As it happened, both myself and Trudi helped as often as we could over the 10 days. It was great to give something back and experience the event from the other side of the fence, as it were. Out of the 15 athletes that started, 14 finished the event with one unfortunately dropping out after 8 days with a stress fracture. It’s a tough event, really tough. The last marathon of the event is the mass event on the Sunday. I was entered into this but due to the fact that I had been helping for the previous 10 days had only managed to get out for a run on a couple of occasions. It was a great day for running, weather wise, and there was plenty of support as the 10 in 10 guys started an hour before the main field. The rest of us started to the accompaniment of a shotgun, and began the tortuous journey of hills around Lake Windermere. I was having a good run until the wheels decided to come off around 19 miles or so. By now I had started to catch some of the injured 10 in 10 guys so did not mind having a chat with them and giving any words of encouragement that I could. They were all doing fantastically well, some with quite serious injuries. I struggled up ice cream mountain but once I had been jelly babied up at the summit I felt much better and was able to carry on at a reasonable pace. This is a tough hilly course but the last 3 miles are fairly flat and even downhill so it makes it a bit easier for the run in. The pint at the end was well deserved and a lovely pre cursor to the evenings celebratory meal with the 10 in10 runners and support crew.

After nearly 2 weeks being involved with the 10-in-10 it was time to get back into ironman mode and get back into the pool and on the bike. At least the weather was a bit warmer now and my hands and feet were not getting as cold.

Next time, open water swimming for beginners, Manchester Marathon, Hardmoor Marathon and a Day in the Lakes, all in a months training!!!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013 20:37

'Ard April

April

 

So, what happened in April I hear you cry, I have very good hearing you know. Well as I recall I only did two marathons in April.

The first one was at Blackpool, starting at the football stadium and onto the promenade for a 13 mile down and back that had to be negotiated twice. I like Blackpool for running as this is the marathon that I ran my personal best at many, many years ago back in 2003, although the route is slightly different now. The course is very flat and lends itself to fast times in the right conditions. However, this year I was suffering from man flu, or a mild form of it anyway, so coughing and spluttering and dispensing all sorts of mucus type substances in to tissues I rocked up at the start with the idea of taking it easy. I was pleased to see a number of runners who would be participating in the 10 in 10 plus a few from previous years, and was at pains to make sure they knew I was ill, I am a man after all!!! I took the first 8 – 10 miles very slowly, jogging along chatting to various people and enjoying the lovely weather that had suddenly appeared.

Once past the 10 mile point I realised that I was actually feeling reasonably good and that I seemed to have cleared out my nasal cavaties. Perhaps the man flu wasn’t as bad as expected, Trudi was right after all. It was at this point that I decided to put the hammer down and get a move on, and what followed was one of the fastest half marathons that I have ever run. I can’t remember the exact time splits but it was something like an 11 minute negative split for the second half. I was amazed with how I had run the second half and thouroughly enjoyed it. This however, is not the recommended way to run a marathon and it must be said my legs ached a touch afterwards. When I got back home I was straight into the walk in fridge where I have a large tub of ice cold water to stand in and aid recovery. Bit chilly but it does the trick. My legs felt as good as new the next day.

At the end of April I was up at the crack of dawn to travel to Manchester for a wee nimble around the streets of the city. After Blackpool’s amazing negative split I was feeling confident about going for a seasonal best on another flat course that would lend itself to some fast times. After paying a tenner to park at the Old Trafford (how much) I prepared myself for the start, go to the loo, eat a banana, eat some malt loaf, drink some fluid, go to the loo, again, line up for the start. I set of well and felt I was running within myself for once and under my target for the day. I knew I was doing well as I was hurting early on, not the tired aching type of hurt in the legs but the stretched but cheek muscle hurt which screams at you to slow down. Unfortunately you've just got to ignore it and keep on going, after all you get used to it eventually or something else starts hurting more.

By 10 miles something else was hurting more,I knew that I had a blister that was making my foot go numb but I knew that stopping and looking at it was not going to make it any better, so I just carried on. At least the pain of the blister took my mind of my legs. As this was a major city marathon there were pace makers for those runners who needed help in pacing their run to achieve a certain time. I was aiming for a sub 3.30 hr and went passed the pace maker for that time at about the half-way point slightly worried that I might be overcooking it, but feeling good I continued at the pace feeling confident that I could keep the pace up. All went to plan until the last mile when all of a sudden, I started to cramp up really badly in both calf’s. I had been drinking plenty of fluids so put it down to the fact that my legs were gone, a highly techinical phrase meaning knackered, devoid of energy.With the finishing line within my grasp I opened up the hurt box, dug into the reserves of will power and determination and forced my legs to carry on and surprisingly the pain went but I knew that I was struggling to keep the pace going.

Fortunately, I only had less than a mile to run and managed to hold on to the finish. I ended up 3.30 minutes ahead of my target, and recorded my seasonal best for the year. All in all a good day out and another jump in my ice bath to sort the legs out. 

Oh by the way, the blister turned out to be bigger than a 50p, the biggest I have had for ages. I don't know what caused it as I never run long distances in anything that has not been tried and tested in training. Haven't had one since so just put it down to bad luck. Unfortunately I had to have a couple of days off the running as I could hardly walk on the left foot until it healed up a bit. Still managed to swim and bike though!!

Wednesday, 02 October 2013 20:13

Run on Water

Cast of characters:

Sara – A slip of a lady with massive determination and bundles of energy.

Sally F– 10 in 10 winner, fantastic runner/ultra runner preparing for an ice ultra next year.

Cath – A powerful lady with guts and determination. Already has a 50+ miler under her belt.

Phil – A big lad with a big heart. Already with a GUC finish under his belt (Birmingham – London canal -145 miles non stop)

Adrian – Conceived the event. Knows all about running through the pain barrier as he ran the last few days of the 10 in 10 with a stress fracture. Why?

Matt - Strong, rock solid athlete, training for The Spine (basically the Pennine way-268 miles of joy)

Sally O and Andrew – support and general hurlers of abuse disguised as encouragement

So, the Ironman (IM)was done and dusted and I took a few days to rest and let the body heal itself after such a mammoth event. The following Saturday I went out for a leisurely bike ride and slowly got back into running over the next few days. Everything felt fine and I had a couple of 12 milers to get back into the longer stuff. I was starting to focus on the Run on Water event, a mere 129.67 miles over 4 days along the Leeds – Liverpool canal, some serious running and a test of mental strength.

Things were going well with a planned 30 mile training run coming up but then disaster struck. I awoke early one morning and my right foot was in agony, swollen, pulsating with pain and the colour of an apoplectic teenager with constipation. Or in other words it hurt a lot. A box of ibuprofen later and it was still painful to walk on.

As the run on water approached it started to ease off a bit and I went out for a couple of miles to see how it reacted. Everything seemed fine but with only 5 days or so to go I was still un-decided as to whether I should attempt the canal or not . A day of rest followed to see if there was a reaction followed by a 5 mile run which again seemed to be fine. I was due to leave for Leeds on the Wednesday and on Tuesday went out for another 5 miles or so and decided that I would give it a go, I mean what could go wrong, just a little pain in my foot!

I arrived at the start line feeling remarkably fresh, and so I should have, having done hardly any training for 3 weeks. My problem was that I had to convince myself that my fitness levels would be OK after such a long lay-off following on from the relatively light training after the IM. On paper I had only run about 70 odd miles in 5 weeks, a long way from my normal mileage, at least the foot seemed to be OK.

Day 1

We all set off and settled into a gentle pace, the going underfoot was pretty good pathways and the route was pancake flat, no surprise there, I mean it is a canal after all. The only undulations were the locks and a couple of times that we had to cross over the canal. All in all a nice run though I was beginning to suspect that I might get a tad sick of the sight of water.

At twenty miles the path became a bit muddy and more like a sheep trail across the moors with tree routes and stones to contend with. At this point my lack of running for the previous weeks was beginning to tell and I was slowing down a fair bit and indeed walking for some parts. The finish couldn’t come fast enough for me and I was ticking of the miles very slowly. Eventually I reached the finish at 29 miles and was happy to stop, but was disappointed with myself for bonking so badly with a few miles to go. I needed to rest, recover and eat well to be sure I was going to be OK for the next day.

Day 2

Dawned bright and sunny, as good a day as any to run an ultra! After a rather unsettled nights sleep, I rose early as we all did in preparation for a 9.30am start. Not that early you may think but for us runners it’s a good idea to get some fuel in and to give it a chance to digest, otherwise there is every possibility that you will be saying “hello” to it as it is forcefully ejected from your stomach a few miles in. Not the most pleasant of experiences I’m sure you will agree. Sorry, I digress, back to the run. I had decided on a new tactic for today, run slower. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Nope not really, running slower requires a lot more concentration trying to rein in the natural pace you want to run at.

The first several miles seemed to pass by fairly quickly as the terrain was rough under foot but open country which was pretty to look at. At about 12 miles I felt like I was struggling a bit and stopped to chomp on some Jaffas and malt loaf, I immediately felt better and trotted off towards the halfway point and some food and fresh water supplies. I had set off with nearly 2 litres of water and at the halfway point had consumed nearly all of it. Sally O was on hand though, thrusting water into my hand while I chomped away. By the time I had finished eating she had filled up my water bladder and stuck it all back together in my back pack, great pitstop. Apart from occasionally seeing Sally O or Andy cycling on the path, this was the only support and chance to pick up food and water during the runs.

Of I set for the second half. My gentle plod was just that, my aim was to go through the marathon distance in a reasonable time and then just try and hold that pace for as long as possible. 26 miles came and went and as I was heading of the canal path to route around a tunnel, Matt came flashing past me like a steam train. The guy was hammering along at some pace. I tried to keep with him and let him drag me along but he was just moving so fluidly that within 400 metres he was nearly out of sight.

30 miles done, only 2 to go, or so I thought. We had been told that the finish would be at bridge 114. The only trouble was that there were 114 A, 114 B, and 114 C. We all had maps but as it was a straight forward canal run maps were buried deep in back packs so as a result weren’t consulted whilst running.

At about 32.5 miles I passed bridge 114C, naturally thinking that the next two bridges in the sequence would be fairly close , also as I was given to belief that the run was 32 miles so by my calculations in my tired head I thought I was close to the finish. This is when running is not much fun, and I was starting to have a sense of humour failure. Imagine, legs are hurting, feet are throbbing, hungry, dehydrating slowly, mentally tired and just generally want to stop and lie down. My brain had programmed itself for 32 miles and anything beyond that was not acceptable. It takes a great deal of mental strength to re-programme and keep putting one foot in front of the other but this is what I had to do. I was reduced to running with periods of walking and slowly chugged along passing bridge 114 B at last and eventually seeing the finishing bridge in the distance. What a welcome sight that was I can tell you and another 34 miles ticked off. Nearly halfway!!

Day 3

Saturday morning and my foot was just starting to ache a tad. Psychologically, I had thought this was going to be a tough day from the outset, just about half way but by the end of the day still plenty to do. I was ready for the challenge and set off as the previous day at a nice steady pace. Today seemed to be the warmest day so keeping hydrated was going to be important. I was reminded of this on the few occasions that I saw Andy and Sally O who reminded me to drink little and often. It’s funny, it doesn’t matter how many years I have been running but sometimes when you are tired you can forget to do the basics. Eating and drinking are pretty basic things to do, miss out on a planned snack and water though and it will come and bite you later on in the run, especially on long distance stuff.

The halfway point came up pretty quick, or so it seemed. I was feeling comfortable in my legs but my right foot was taking a battering and was protesting somewhat. I was sucking pain killers at regular intervals but was confident that I would be OK. The sun was the warmest it had been for the run and the scenery was a lot better than the factories and old mills of Yorkshire.

As I approached the outskirts of Wigan I stopped and took my phone out to take some pictures. Here there are a number of locks all falling downhill which look quite stunning and the view across the town was lovely. I trotted down the locks knowing that I was within a few minutes of the finish. For me the difficult day was over, and as it turned out it wasn’t too bad after all, 5 hours for 30.5 miles. Only one more day and we would be in Liverpool! The only downer on the day was that Phil dropped out at half way, I was really surprised as he has such a good pedigree at ultra events, having said that he knew what he could deal with and his feet were in bits. A great shame but he would live to fight another day.

Day 4

After a lovely Italian meal with the “gang”, I had a pretty decent nights sleep. I slept with compression socks on to try to reduce the swelling in my foot. It was going to be a painful day and, if the forecast was to be believed, a wet and windy one.

We had all decided that we would do a staggered start so that we would more or less finish within an hour of each other. Sara was first to start as she had been struggling with injury and was out on course just after 8am, in fact we were all struggling with injuries or niggles in one form or another. Cath and Adrian were next out the door with Sally F, Matt and myself starting at 9.30 as normal.

I had been hobbling around all morning and had only put my running shoes on 10 minutes before the start. I struggled to squash my swollen right foot into my shoe and laced it up, popped some more painkillers and concentrated on the day ahead. I knew that whatever happened I would get to the end, I just wasn’t sure what state I was going to be in when I got there or, how long it would take.

As we were about to set off it started to rain so I decided to pop my rain jacket on, only to take it off a mile down the path. The early part of the run was very pleasant and scenic and the weather managed to behave itself. About an hour or so in mother nature decided to throw everything at us, the wind howled and the rain came down in torrents, a tough day was about to get tougher. I plodded on past groups of fisherman who seemed impervious to the weather, one stopped to ask me what we were doing and seemed gobsmacked when I told him. Just a normal day for us runners.

I reached the halfway point a little later than I anticipated, but considering that I had a small person with a hammer banging on my foot every step I took I was prepared to accept that. Times for me were irrelevant now, and to finish in one piece was the order of the day. After a brief stop at halfway, where once again the pitstop crew sorted my pack out and the great Matt Dunn (10 in 10 fame) shoved some painkillers at me, I was on my way.

The weather eased of a bit and my jacket came off, only for me to have to put it back on a mile later. This was to be the order of the day for the remainder of the journey. About 7/8 miles out of Liverpool I came up behind Cath. She was walking and looked to be in some pain, but like me was determined that she was going to finish, funny breed of people us runners, just don’t know when to give up. Andy came up on the bike and chatted with Cath as I ran on. 3 miles later and I stumbled across Sara. She too was walking and had run out of water. I gave her a good slurp of water and left her with a painkiller if she needed it later and trotted of down the road.

I could tell I was coming through Liverpool as the buildings were becoming quite industrial. There was a sharp right turn that took me down some locks to the end of the canal. It was here that I caught up with Adrian, and for once the howling wind was squarely behind and blowing us along. Adrian asked if we should finish together but I declined as I wanted to finish on my own. Although we had all bonded as a team it was a very individual event and like the IM had been a long, hard but rewarding journey. I virtually skipped along this part of the route running towards Albert Docks, the pain in my foot momentarily forgotten as I forged towards the finish. This last day had been the longest and the slowest, my foot hurt like hell and a couple of toe nails on my left foot had decided that enough was enough and are at present a lovely black colour.

The inaugural Run on Water had been completed. Sally F was the winner, Matt behind her, they both looked like they had been back for ages by the time Myself and Adrian trotted over the line. Sara and Cath weren’t too far behind. We were all winners really, we had accepted the challenge and conquered it, all 130 miles, a brilliant effort all round, just a shame Phil wasn’t there with us.

As usual some Thank You’s. Trudi, as always just lets me get on with it without moaning, without her I couldn’t do it. Also the guys that work for me covering shifts and working extra hours when I’m not there. Thanks also to Sally O and Andy for keeping us all going with words of encouragement and a friendly smile. Adrian who’s madcap idea this was and last but not least the other guys who ran. Truly inspirational people doing something daft.

What about the foot I hear you cry!?! Well now, a few X rays later, a visit to a podiatrist, physio and doctor twice and nobody knows really. It’s been given a couple of more weeks of rest by the doctor before she refers me to a orthopaedic consultant. Here’s hoping I never meet them It still hurts but not so much, it’s still glowing but not so bright, it’s still inflamed though the chipota toes are getting smaller, the things us runners do, we just don’t know when to give up!

Thursday, 18 July 2013 22:11

March Madness

Well this could be a massive blog or a serious of smaller ones. I suspect the latter as time is tight and my mind is full of other stuff which restricts the normal ebb and flow of my genius writing. I jest of course, about the genius bit that is.

As Capt Farquart has been toiling away for the past few months building this spectacular new website for us I have been unable, or probably more closer to the truth un-inspired and training too hard to actually get my backside into gear and put finger to keyboard. At last it is happening and so without further ado I shall now proceed.

I think I shall run through the spring months with a quick resume of training and marathons, after all I don’t want to bore anyone….

 

After returning from a lovely holiday in sunnier climes I was thrust into the first marathon of the year at sunny Bolton. I was reasonably fit having trained as usual throughout the winter but nothing would prepare for what was to come. The Bolton Hill Marathon was a new marathon on the circuit but unfortunately Phil the organiser had decided to run it on Mother’s Day so perhaps the turnout was not as great as hoped. I don’t know how he had managed to slip it past Melissa his wife but I suspect a bribe might have been in order!!  I drove down to Bolton on a bright spring day although there was a bit of a nip in the air and enjoyed the views of the snow covered hills as I drove along. As the start approached I realised that perhaps I had under estimated the weather conditions and decided that I would run in my leggings, gloves, hat and jacket, a decision that I would not regret. The first 3 miles is a gentle run up winter hill and straight into the teeth of a howling gale and icy roads. The views from the top were fantastic despite the bitter cold wind. The next 19 or so miles were a heady mix of cold weather, large hills, and a beautiful couple of miles of sunshine along the valley bottom, a chance to warm up at last. The hills had taken their toll, and so by the time I reached mile 22 and what can only be described as a hill that would require crampons and rope to scale I had just about had enough. The biting cold wind was getting to me but as I reached the top I thought “great I’ve cracked this one, it has to be all downhill now”. Oh dear, how wrong was I! I approached the last feed station to be told to turn left. The problem was that left led us up another hill, ahhhh, not another hill. For the first time in a marathon I had had enough, the weather and hills had worn me out and I just wanted to finish. Once over the ridge line the route dropped away and I started to feel a lot better as the temperature rose as I descended towards the finish. I finally crossed the line very cold and tired and felt such a sense of achievement at having completed one of the toughest marathons I had done. I shall be back next year just to see if I can do better.

The following week I was due to run The Gin Pit Double organised by Malc Collins. This is another trail marathon based around Leigh. I did this run last year in lovely sunshine and the route was dry and pleasant to run on. No such luck this year, the early spring months of bad weather had taken its toll and the off road bits were extremely muddy and wet and tricky to negotiate especially along the canal were one slip could have ended up in an early dunking. I was so glad to see the back of day 1 which I found a real struggle and was lucky that a running friend, Kevin dragged me the last 8 miles to the finish. I trudged back to the hotel and prepared myself for the following days adventures.

Day 2 was a lot better, not the weather or the conditions, but my head was in a better place now that I knew what was coming and in what has become a Paul Dewar tradition in running doubles I managed to finish 8 minutes quicker than the previous day.

Finally, March was rounded off with the Good Friday Enigma Marathon. Although this is held in Milton Keynes and is a bit of a drag to get there for one marathon I had decided to run it as fellow 10 in 10er Kaz was going to be celebrating her 100th marathon. For once the weather was almost balmy, ideal for running with a bit of a nippy wind at one point to cool the old body down. Most Enigma marathons are held at Caldicotte Lake and consist of running several times around the lake. Sounds boring but actually is not as bad as you would think. By the time you are on another lap there is normally something different happening on the lake shore so there is plenty to occupy the mind. I ran well for once and finished really strongly and then enjoyed the celebrations as Kaz notched up her century. There were plenty of fellow 10 in 10ers at the event and so a very sociable time was had by all including beer and chocolate cake!!! Well the carbs have got to go in some how!!

 

April to follow shortly......

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 14:45

More About The Charities

 

The Brathay Trust
http://www.brathay.org.uk/

Brathay is one of those charities that perhaps operates under the radar but does some fantastic work with children and young adults in helping them to make a postive contribution to their communities. Those who are in care, who are not in education, who may be in gangs, or even sexually exploited are taken on several courses and given the chance to intergrate themselves back into society and lead a normal, better life.

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