Monday, April 18, 2011

Virgin London Marathon 2011

Well that hurt!

What a day...painful, hot, incredible, painful, amazing and tiring!

In short the day didn't go to plan (the plan I re-made at 1 o'clock on Saturday) but it was one of the most amazing things I have done! I finished in 4.25.07 which I am pleased with in hindisght because the state I was in made just finishing pretty special! I'll start right back in the build up to the race to see if it throws up any ideas as to why I went wrong!

So Friday I had my first major carb session of the weekend with a pizza for lunch and pasta in the evening I also had a 1.5 mile run to the pool in the evening, a 2,150m swim and then a 1.5 mile run back after but felt okay and didn't go crazy in the swimming! In fact I felt pretty good about everything!

Saturday I popped in to town and did a few things before getting on the train to London, I eventually made it to the Excel centre where I wandered around the Expo, registered etc and checked everything out for a few hours! I'm guessing carrying my heavy rucksack around didn't do the resting much good and once I had made it to my cousins flat about 3 ish I was feeling pretty tired from travelling! I had my pasta on the train and porridge in the morning, I also drank a 2 litre bottle of water with 2 nuun (salt) tablets in it! I also decided that instead of run/walking I would just run at 9 min/miles as this hadn't been difficult in my 20 mile race in March!

We spent the afternoon in the pub watching the football where I had a diet coke and then another couple of pints of water before heading back for a pasta bake and more water! I felt full but not too badly bloated and was very hydrated so figured I was okay! I got to sleep about 11 and then from 4.30 I dozed before waking up at 6 properly - stuffed down a big bowl of porridge and golden syrup, another pint of water with nuun in it! Got myself kitted out and then headed to the tube about 7.30, sipping my zipvit energy drink on the way!

Milling about the trains was all fine and then it was about 15 minutes walk up through Greenwich park to the start, I ate my energy bar then and waited till it was time to get going! My legs didn't feel particularly fresh but then they never really do!

So I made it through the start about 8 minutes after the start time and got going quite nicely, though it looks all jammed up there is actually plenty of room and I only occasionally got bunched in! Someone knocked my Garmin off about a mile in which was a pain - you try running against the tide after 1 a mile in big city marathon! Anyway I retrieved it and carried on...I let myself settle down before checking my pace....8.54 for the first mile...well it was on pace but man it was legs just felt tight and I didn't have the easy crusing feeling I expected!

A quick wee stop in mile 2 slowed me down there, before I let my body just go on the downhills through Woolwich and in to Greenwich...the atmosphere was already amazing here, with house parties, music and bands lining the roads, the drummers under an early roundabout where amazing and made chills run down the back! The sun started to break out about mile 2-3 and it started getting warm but was no real issue - I made sure I took on water at least every 2 miles, however I just couldn't get in to a comfortable body just had no interest in running smoothly!

Greenwich high street was exceptional and just had the most amazing buzz going with loads of cheering and shouting going on - the people getting behind you is pretty awesome! Hanging out of pubs, shops, houses etc!

Saw my girlfriend at mile 12 which was a big lift before heading over tower bridge which was as moving as I expected it to be with the most incredible amounts of noise! It was really hot now heading down to embankment but I didn't mind that and kept taking water on - annoyingly my Garmin was reading about 100m out per mile which meant that even 9mm per wasn't fast enough - I also missed a few mile markers down this long straight so felt pretty lost...seeing the elite guys coming the other way was cool - they looked like they were hurting big time!

Through halfway in 1.57 and I was still on target give or take but I was hurting badly and reaching a tunnel into canary wharf at 15 miles and I had a brief walk and got some lucozade in me...running back out the otherside was when the heat was at its worst and there were lots of walkers and people dropping out but my speed was still hangin in there and although I was pretty sure I'd miss 4 hours I kept 18 I was in a world of pain but again the crowds were pumping big time and about 3-4 people deep, I also met up with Corinne (@bungleduck on twitter) which was cool - we ran to mile 20 and whilst I had no difficulty talking and my HR was about 140, the pain in my legs was horrendous and so I left her and took my first walk here, taking the opportunity for a gel (I had them at 5, 10, 15 and 20 miles) this was the signal that my body had been waiting for and I came off the rails a bit here...I ran/walk to mile 21 in 11.39 and I felt awful, I was faint and felt pretty dizzy but I knew I had been taking on water and continued to do wasn't lack of energy because I had just taken a gel and had done all race - I felt pretty sick too, in fact if I had been sick I perhaps would have felt better but

a) I don't like being sick
b) I was worried they would pull me out the race
c) I was worried if I was sick I would have nothing left in me to keep me going!

I phoned my girlfriend (Kelly) to say I was off target and so I'd be late to the finish line, she gave me lots of encouragement and so I stumbled on!

I decided to try a 4 min run/1 min walk technique and I think this got me through the next 2 miles or so, there were loads of people here and the noise and cheering was amazing - I had 'Timmy' written on my number and everytime I got a shout I tried to run a bit more and acknowledge the 'shouter'! Surprising what else sounds like Timmy when you're very tired...even 'Chicken' sounds similiar! It was overcast now which was nice, although the heat hadn't bothered me the shade was very welcome!

The good thing was that when I did run, I actually ran reasonably quickly and so my 11-12 minute miles weren't as bad as they could have been! Mile 24 was a beaut though....15.30 - there was a long tunnel through to Embankment and I walked the whole was carnage though and littered with people stretching, collapsing, resting and just holding this stage the St John's ambulance where stretchering people off left, right and centre and there was some tough looking scenes....I was hanging in there but determined not to join them on the floor...I couldn't go all this way and not get my medal!

My walk/run/shuffle got me through mile 25 quite nicely and I'll say it again....what a crowd...just amazing - 3-4 people deep everywhere and the noise and cheering was so incredible! Turning left past Big Ben was cool with a nice little down hill to the 600m to go banner...some more walking and then with 400m to go I got back up to speed and in past the grandstands...put a big smile on my face and soaked it up...nearly got emotional but I'm English so obviously I showed nothing more than a slight up turn at the corner of the mouth!

Just about walked to get my medal, photo taken and goody bag (best thing in there was an apple) I then picked up my stuff, the walk round to my meeting point was probably the hardest bit and I was close to passing out....I did speak to Jonathan Edwards though which was cool....for me...probably less so for him!

Found a spot on the ground and just a nut bar down me and the free lucozade and started to very slowly feel a bit more took about an hour for Kel to find me which actually suited me fine as I could steadily recover - slipped on my compression tights which caused a bit of cramp but was worth it when they were on!

We then slowly made out way through various train stations and home....I had a cheese toastie on the train but didn't feel to hungry till someone mentioned McDonalds...I still reckon this is the food of choice after a hot endurance event - all that salt and fat always feels good!

A big mac, double cheese burger, chips and mcflurry later and I was feeling a bit better.....I then went for my first pee since mile 2 excuse the graphics but I was obviously very dehydrated.....I had taken water on all day and although it was 20 odd degrees it wasn't crazy hot but I guess it was still enough to send me over the edge!

I think that combined with the 105 miles on the bike last weekend left me tight legs and I just couldn't flow like usual! Ah well lesson learned!

Positives: -
  • The crowds...I tried to high 5 as many of the little kids as possible!
  • I can get through a marathon
  • My shuffle is still good for 11 minute miles
  • I learnt loads about the last 6 miles!
  • I am sore but okay today! 
Negatives: -
  • I need to learn about my water usage!
  • Its gonna hurt like hell after 2.4 miles swim and 112 mile bike!
  • In mile 20 mile race, I held 8.45 min/miles for the first 10 before easing in to 8.30 which was more comfortable so the fact I could only just hold 9 means something wasn't right - I know I am capable of so much more!

This is my Garmin data below and medal above! 

So pleased to have done it!! Any ideas why I messed up gratefully received!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nearly at the race...

2 days, 18 hours, 25 minutes and 58 seconds to go to the start of the 2011 London Marathon and I am surprisingly excited about it. I only found out I was doing this a couple of months ago and its only really started to sink in over the last couple of days that I am actually going to be doing this race...I mean me...the London Marathon...crazy!

Its not an A race and is just some more training but it has been taking over my thoughts for the last couple of days and I've been reading up and generally researching as much as possible and now I am really looking forward to it - first time I ever met someone who I had just run it I remeber thinking how unbelievably far running that far sounded...well its not the most exciting thing in the world hence why run volume isn't huge but I can run that far and I can't wait to do it in front of the amazing crowd! I also remember thinking that it must take someone amazing to do that...well if I can do it...

I am well aware that it will hurt and that I will hit the 'wall' at some point but I am confident that I will finish in my hopeful time and that with the correct nutrition I will be able to feel fine most the way round! The only tough bits on my last 20 were the long lonely lanes and my over-carbing so I am learning from that! I am also hoping that I am not bright enough to realise that I am tired!

As for the over-carbing, well this week I have been really strict on my diet and kept it light and fresh, tomorrow (Friday) I will start upping the carbs and the come Saturday it will be pasta for lunch and supper, with some rice pudding to follow then porridge and honey will be seen off safely on Sunday morning! I'll avoid eating the wraps, ice cream and Guinness on top of this ala the 20 miler...?!

As for clothing, the charity have given me a vest and t-shirt...I wasn't sure about the vest as I've not ran in one before and the t-shirt is a wearing rather than running t-shirt...however I summed up some courage and wore the vest for my 10k on Thursday night and actually it is great, comfortable and cool so I'll be wearing that...see below...

...though I appreciate I may look like a plank! However its a great charity and the least I can do!

I have really struggled with my last few runs, they've hurt and I have struggled but I am told this is normal during taper week (I am only doing a weeks taper) so am not too worried I know I'll turn up just fine on Sunday (gulp)!

I am still hoping to stick with my 9/1 run/walk race plan in a bid to keep my legs fresh as possible and should be able to pace this to about 9 minute miles which is more than comfortable, I'll get help up at the start as I am in a slower start pen but will hopefully make this up later in the race...not too quickly mind or I will burn out! I steadily paced the 20 miler to 2 hours 55 minutes so assuming I can do almost the same then that leaves 1 hour to do 10k which is more than acheivable (on a normal day)....hey even if I fail it doesn't matter, its all about the experience, but I will fail big time, no 4 hours 3 seconds or anything like that, I will back right off and soak up the finishing straight!

We've had some more bad news in our area (not related to me) so I am also aware of the fact that I am very very lucky just to be able to do it so that is always great motivation!

I guess this means a lot because I don't really view the ironman marathon as a marathon...I am aware that it is but I see it more of a 15 mile run then an 11 mile survival run/walk/crawl where just keeping going will be an acheivement! In a way the stand alone marathon seems harder....can't wait!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Life in training....

I've taken the following extract from - his is slightly more extreme than where I'm at but I know how he feels.....

"When you knock out the amount of training I’ve been doing you tend to go into solitary mode , you have to train mostly on your own , there is no one else out there doing the sheer volume and distance   .. normal recreational runners cannot even get close to appreciate just what its like, running two times a day 130+ miles a week .. the mornings , evening and weekends are taken up , I’ve been fortunate enough to run with 2 or 3 different groups of people , everyone doing their own thing and everybody great company but still I spend most of my long runs and morning runs on my own ….. I often feel that I put all this work in and no one even notices , no-one really cares or gives me a little slack because of it  , my mother moans because I am five minutes late getting to hers after a run , does she know how much effort I put in just to get up and out the door to do that run, just how important it is that I do not miss it !!! , one of my friends just blanks me off when I start to tell him of a beautiful route I just ran over the hills , people really are ignorant to how much work I am putting in , and this blog , you’ve no idea of the amount of my friends who can’t even be bothered to have a read of my blog , yet I listen to their stories of Saturday night benders patiently ,bloody hell !!! don’t they realise how important this is !!!!!  I write this tongue in cheek because of course I know that its only of great importance to me , I am not so self-absorbed as to realise that in the grand scheme of life this is not important at all , and everything I do is ultimately for myself and not for self recognition , haha amongst my friends you are never going to get to carried away before being dragged back to earth,  but I do want people to be aware of what I do and hopefully this awareness raises money"

Struck me enough to add a post...

Second week of April Training...

Awesome weeks training, in fact my highest 7 day total total to date which is good, I also feel good so that if it wasn't for the London Marathon on Sunday I would be good to carry on with a similiar weeks worth of training!

Monday : - as I had rested (hangover) on Sunday I used Monday as a training day, and knocked out a a good 1 hour, 19.5 mile ride from the house, good route with only one nasty hill and lots of good riding in it so will use this more often

Tuesday : - Morning swim, various 400's, i.e 400m warm up, 4*100 drills, 4 * 100 sprints, then more 400's for a 2.4 k swim.
In the evening I knocked out a good 7.2 mile run practicing my 9 min run/1 min walk routine which I plan to employ in the Marathon next week - I averaged 8.5 minutes per mile on this quite easily but will back it off on marathon day - my two runs this coming week will be at this pace to check I am comfortable with it.

Wednesday : - Into the gym for a small brick (20 min cycle, 5 min run) not sure what benefit these have but I guess they must do something and its all a good workout - I then went and did some weights and core work, all building a base and keeping shoulders strong!

Then it was in to the pool for swimwise (coaching session) this was a total failure as I kept getting loads of cramp in my feet! I'd been working a tennis ball into my feet most the afternoon and as they tightened back up it was causing me issues! Still managed 1.2k of drills and other swimming, so not all lost!

Thursday : - I went and jonied in rugby training as the weather was good, 2 hours of running around and sprinting meant my legs were pretty shot afterwards - I didn't fancy going out for an interval session or fast run and would definitely have got more from this session anyway!

Friday : - 2k morning swim, 5*400 but I was tired and my speed was down with legs being very tight from the nights running before! Still got it done and its all good! I know my swim is fine for the time being and will increase as per the schedule so I am not in anyway worried about this!

Saturday : - Great cycle, 70 miles in 3hours 54 minutes, went out with a friend at 8.30 and whilst a slight nip in the air the sun was out in full force and it soon got hot! The first 2.5 hours were pretty speedy and we both some reasonable efforts in to get round averaging 18.9 mph which is much faster than planned and I could feel some tiredness creeping in to the legs although it had taken an hour for me to click in to gear anyway!

After 50 odd miles we backed it off a bit and spun through some leafy lanes enjoying the fantastic weather before my friend left me at 55 miles and I carried on spinning around over some rolling hills to round out for 70 miles feeling pretty fresh, I then slipped on my trainers for the prescribed 15 minute run, went straight on to a track and run for 7.5 minutes before turning around and coming back for a whole 1.81 miles! I noticed that I was running at 8.11 min/miles which is a good pace for me, I expected to be slower but it seemed to be the natural pace for me, slowing down (or even speeding up) would have caused a lot more difficulty! Something to address for the future as my IM marathon will be a lot slower!

Sunday: - Due out for 2 hours with the local group, I was expecting (hoping) for a nice sociable ride....and yet we ended up knocking out a fast and flat 1.45 hours/35 miles of riding (with obligatory cake stop by the sea), it was a great ride actually and we averaged 20.4 for the outward journey and slightly less on the way home - I put in a few good stints at the front including a good 2 miles at 25 mph+ however I was hanging on towards the end and grateful for the slightly slower pace for the last 3-4 miles!      

Felt fine afterwards though and was tempted by swimming in the evening but I was already over my suggested timetable by 2 hours so with an eye on the marathon we knocked up a superb BBQ and sat in the sun!

All in all feeling good, am slightly stiff today but seeing the osteopath (also my riding partner) tonight to work some tension outof them!

The rest of the week is mostly spend slowing down and getting prepared for Sunday - I am swimming Tuesday morning, nothing hard, probably one of my usual routines, a 4-5 mile run on tuesday night trying the 9/1 method again, Wednesday is busy with the vicar (wedding stuff), Thursday was going to be a morning swim but I think I'll do an evening gentle ride instead followed by a short jog and swim on Friday night...then its go time!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Summer Sun...Somethings Begun.....

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh....what beautiful weather, I reckon 22-24 degrees C is my perfect temperature for everyday so the last few days has been very nearly ideal! Obviously on holiday I like it hotter but for day to day you can beat it....and England bathed in golden sunshine is about as good as it gets!

Training has been really good too, got a 4 hour bike ride tomorrow into a 15 min run and then a further two hours on the bike on Sunday which should also be really nice....I'll be toasty brown (red) by the end of this weekend! I also have sore muscles and am tired anyway from this last week so by Sunday I shall be nicely cooked! Then next week is a very quiet gentle week leading in to the London Marathon, the week after has some prescribed sessions but again is pretty easy to recover and no running! Then it picks right back up for the final 9 weeks of intense hard training! I am really looking forward to the race now and feel I am on the right path, knowing it is only 11 weeks to go is a great feeling as it has been a long journey and the end is looming large!

In other news I finish my current job in less than two weeks (21st April) and then have till the 3rd May off due to bank holidays and accrued holiday so 11 days of time off will be awesome during which I plan to do loads and loads and loads of pedalling including a crack at the Ironman course under race conditions which will be pretty good I think! I then start my new job on the 3rd which I am very much looking forward to...unfortunately no shower so no cycling to work....though with hills out that way thats no bad thing!

Back in the gym I have been getting back in to doing some weight lifting and core work, only light stuff to help strenghten the general body areas rather than for packing on muscle but its all good and will give some base to when I start putting more muscle back on after the ironman!

Other than that its time to enjoy some sun...woohoo!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ironman Update #13 (from a round robin e-mail)

Unlucky 13...well no, not really, in fact March has been a very good month really and a step up in training as provided a few breakthrough sessions too - as with everything, training goes in peaks, troughs and plateaus and it is always nice to break through off a plateau and notice some real what has this month looked like: -

Swim - 14.4 miles, 10 hours
Bike - 325.8 miles, 18.2 hours
Run - 68.8 miles, 10.2 hours
X-train - 5.5 miles, 2.1 hours

Total - 414.56 miles, 40.61 hours

Swimming -

I won't lie, I can barely remember the swimming I have done this month, despite it being a large quantity, its mostly been steady state swimming, I have been working hard on the efficiency of my stroke and keeping my body high in the water. I am far less concerned with speed now and happier to swim efficiently whilst maintaining a reasonable pace.....14.4 miles is still a very long way to swim! I am confident that in a lake with a wetsuit I can comfortably do 1 hour 5 mins for the swim which is pretty reasonable and won't compromise the rest of the race!

Bike -

ahhh thats what this month has been all about, the nice weather and the clocks going back turn cycling from a necessarily evil in to the more interesting hobby that I vaguely remember from last summer! Up to the beginning of March I was only averaging 40miles per week, that has now been over 100 per week for the last 3 weeks! Being able to commute on a 45 mile round trip also has its advantages!

My previous best commute was to average 18.4 mph and be very tired, now I can do it quite happily averaging nearly 20 mph without overexerting myself - that is a big improvement and provided one of the breakthroughs that I mentioned - I won't be averaging that in the race but its good to get that reasonably easily!

Having said that I have been working on my pacing a lot and calculating how fast I go for how long etc which at the very least keeps my brain occupied on the long rides!

Run -

I had a 20 mile race at the beginning of March which seems an age ago now, it went fine and wasn't too bad! I say this slightly matter of factly but 20 miles is still a bloody long way and really hurts your legs! However I hit my target and it was only the boring scenery that really got to me in the end! I followed this up with a really tough 14.5 mile run down the Avon Valley Path before picking up an injury to my Achilles which I think was caused by a tight calf muscle!

However it seems to have cleared up now so back in the mixer as far as running is concerned...we hope! The London Marathon is in two weeks so fingers crossed I'll be okay for that, with the last 1.5 weeks off running I will continue to train right up to and through the marathon itself. For the marathon I will be doing a run/walk strategy - roughtly 9 mins running, 1 min walking - all of my longest runs have been done using run/walk (apart from the 20 mile race where I ran the whole way!) and not only do I run faster this way, I also recover a lot quicker afterwards which will be important after London as I can't afford to miss a few weeks through recovery.......oh and if anyone in London has some floor space I can adopt for the night of Saturday 16th I would be most grateful???

So where does that leave me right now...well I am 49 hours up on this point last year so I am progressing very nicely, I am starting to feel a bit of confidence that I can at least finish the race....I guess it all depends on what state I will finish in!

Its 12 weeks to go from Sunday just gone and I am now in to a more regimented schedule which I picked up from the internet - this lists out all the key sessions to help me focus on what I need to do and gives me more confidence that I will be in good shape for the day!

So 12 weeks to go and I have a fair bit more to raise so please donate....I really need the motivation now!


Thanks everyone!