Monday, 31 May 2010

Jesmond Dene Handicap 2010

Selected photos from tonights Jesmond Dene Handicap at Jesmond, Newcastle. (click on link)

Friday, 28 May 2010

Edinburgh Marathon 2010 (The Trilogy)

The third of 3 entries and not a ring or hobbit in sight.

This is the last blog about this years Edinburgh Marathon (I promise, Mr Frodo). The blog wouldn't be complete without tying up the loose ends that have been washing around my asphalt imprinted mind. I've spent days mentally re-running parts of the course. Does that make me a saddo? (yes..Ed)
After the post race cold showers, there was a general consensus that the heat was worth 5 minutes of lost speed. Some said eight and I assumed their time had been slightly over the 3:05. Running in poor conditions does give you some comfort that you could have gone quicker. Although you'll never be sure what or how you would have performed had conditions been 'ideal'. Had some M.P come into my post race office and looked in my drawer, there would have been a note saying 'Sorry, We've spent all the energy. None left!'

There are some nice photos offered for sale in hard and digital format by the marathon organisers and once I manage to save the tidy sum required, I might put in my order. Its mightily reassuring to have a picture of yourself in distress in the sun after 26 miles of running (and in high definition focus as well). Alternatively you can sit back and take the slideshow. Most of their shots are excellent. I only managed to find one of me in this event (above). It was taken as the runner in front of me had just swerved and cut across my path after Musselburgh race course (at around 8 miles) to give a lad with a microphone who was keeping the punters 'entertained' with his own brand of hi-paced race humour a high-five. Runner in front then turns behind to apologise. I recall summoning up a grunt in acknowledgement. A nod or forgiving smile was out of the question. Too much effort.

At Portobello, one kid pointed and yelled 'there's a pirate' as I ran past. It was a measurable improvement on the verbiage I got from some of the locals at the earlier North Berwick Race.

The runner in the foreground finished 3rd female. She skipped past me at 5 miles and I am embarrased to admit I initially thought she had just 'joined in' as we ran along the Portobello promenade. Iphone in hand, tanned and with the words 'smurfette' on the back of her t-shirt, another runner beside made a comment as to who she was as she bounced casually ahead with a high knee lift. I suggested she may be an international getting some training in and then, reconsidering, thought she might be in the relay event.

I didn't give it a minutes more thought as I regressed into my own private hell run for the next few miles. She still had a minute on me at 14 miles and it wasn't until near the turn at Gosford Hall while wrestling with the dark fire in a hazy mix of heatstroke and mild confusion that I passed her. She finished it turns out in 2:58 and the newspapers didn't take long to get hold of this speed merchant. Pretty impressive running. I wonder where I can get a smurf t-shirt from.
Finally, as I consider whether this start is the end of my marathon career, I wondered what London would be like. Should I or should'nt I? Will the beer be warm?.Who is Smeagol anyway? Or I could combine a holiday abroad with a run; maybe do Boston. Now that's more than a feeling...

Monday, 24 May 2010

Ednburgh Marathon 2010 (Part Deux)

Today, I'm mostly refining a leg free glide down the stairs. Gliding up the stairs is a bit more tricky. I forgot to add these wee gems yesterday...
(pictured below is Weshams Steve Littler who got past Hinch of Tipton at the final corner)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Edinburgh Marathon 2010: Ignition accomplished

I woke in Fife at 7am in the hotel we found (no where near Edinburgh) with the rain belting down and a low cloud. Terrific! Things dried out steadily as we went south arriving in Auld Reekie and parking up at 9am off George Street. We could do this because Edinburgh doesn't charge for Street parking on Sunday. Very civilised.

We grabbed a coffee in Hanover Street and I just had time to pin on my 5 gels before I vaulted the red zone fence and donned my 'skull and crossbones' bandanna. I don't usually run with headwear but I expected the sun to make an appearance. The Edinburgh marathon kicked off at 9:50, off we went and by 2 miles it was 'sun up'. I caught up briefly for a blether with Stuart Hay of Dunbar at 4 miles before he went off ahead.

It was a cruise to 8 miles and the name of the game was banking energy,not time. If it looked like water, I drank it (all of it) and gelled up every 30 minutes. It was a disciplined run. I worked through all the tips I'd been given and went past the 1/2 marathon mark at 1: 25 something. The split-times I'd written on my arm for a 2:58 had begun to fade rapidly with the thermometer bouncing around 25 degrees and so much water sloshing around. It occured to me at 15 miles that my recent trip to Oz may have been been useful. The Forth was pan flat and glassy. There was very little wind. Even the stacks of Cockenzie Power Station had a certain attraction as we passed Prestonpans and made our way up in the searing heat to Longniddry.

I had passed Stuart Hay at 10 miles and Steve Ogg of Carnegie at 14 and wondered whether I would pay for this pace later. At 17 miles a dull pain in my medial ligament began to distract me and I wobbled badly between 18 and 21 miles which found me reaching (more fumbling) for the MP3 and the salt. However, once suitably plugged and lightly salted at 22 miles and with my last gel on board (and oddly the knee pain dissipating to nothing), the energy conservation plan was old hat and I put the head down, had enough to open my stride (ok, fractionally) and ploughed on to finish 2:55 and hobble back to the baggage lorries which were a good walk away.
Tough, this marathon lark. (Some more marathon photos to follow)

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Carbo Loading with Auntie Agnes

I've spent the last 4 days on a low carb' diet and generally cutting out the rubbish, but celebrated the end of the famine tonight with 2 lemon puffs and a potato (to be honest they weren't much company)...
Carb' depletion is much discussed on the web. and I wish I'd dropped into The University of Western Australia in Perth last month to get the latest gen on this endurance diet business. Apparently you can alter your metabolism over a week or over a day. The word on the street is that cutting out the rice, bread and beans can make you irritable and feel washed out, but to be honest I didn't feel much different and was upbeat on day 3 trading off the lack of energy with a modest weight loss.
I bought my first jar of marmite yesterday. When I checked out how much protein was in them there wee brown jars I was impressed, raising an eyebrow (as much exertion as I could manage at that time).
'Carbo loading, whats that all about then?' as my old Auntie Agnes used to sing as she put in the miles on the treadmill, knitting.

Today was 5 miles through the Peak District when I abandoned the car somewhere near the A57 and took off at lunchtime up to Bleaklow Hill along the Pennine Way between Glossop and Sheffield. Its what's called a 'drive-by' run in my neighbourhood. Very nice. Pleased to be getting back out on the hills now.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Sutton Perk

Other than the 8 hours of travelling it was no effort to help out the lads at this years (M40) 8 man National Masters Relays held at Sutton Park. I remember writing about our result 2 years ago where we came 13th, and this year we improved with a heady rise in the spring sunshine to 11th. The best result of the day was getting free donuts at the end when the donut man was packing up.
(See the Joelee site for results)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


Right then. Found myself in the Peak District today but even though I had my gear with me, I was pushed for time for a run so it'll have to wait for next week when I'm back down the road. You'll just have to make do with last night's photo of my trog through the woods.
My Edinburgh Run stuff arrived today and comprised a chip, a glossy brochure and a red number. Regretably this will clash badly with my purple body paint and blue and white Hawkhill vest!
In truth, I have pretty much got myself together for this 26 mile crawl through the Edinburgh Hinterland and will go armed in my best tweed with 5 lucozade gels and a copy of Scottish Field for those quiet moments in deepest Longniddry. I will, of course, also be wearing my Avatar 3D glasses just to get the best out of some parts of the course. I dare say after 25 miles of running I may be in such a state that parts of Prestonpans may begin to resemble Pandora.
The advice from fellow runners has been generous and varied. My favourite last week was 'You need to be on the edge, not over it' (This after a 12 x 400 track session). My MP3 strategy is to take it and put it on around 15 miles when things get a bit wobbly and I begin to look under the hedges for my abandoned gloves and hat from the North Berwick Race a fortnight ago and furtively begin to check out the bus times along the route.
In the words of Dr Augustine 'just relax and let your mind go blank...shouldn't be too hard for you..'

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Tedium of Tarmac

A glutton for punishment I was dropped off without ceremony in the centre of 'The Toon' for a 16 mile run back home. Had I planned it better, or had I planned it at all, I would have run from home south and then been picked up, or got the bus back as I spent the next 2 hours or so fighting the cold north wind.

The initial stage of the run through the centre and down New Bridge Street was pleasant and even the myriad of bars and flocks of beautiful people along fashionable Jesmond's Osborne Road didn't distract me (much). Gosforth High Street and then along to Seaton Burn, down the back road to Blagdon and through Stannington was the route of choice.
As a ran I thought it would be an idea to organise a race from the Holiday Inn on the edge of Newcastle, to Morpeth, around 8 miles. There's not many junctions to contend with and there's a lot of downhill. The Morpeth to Newcastle Road Race (half marathon) was cancelled a couple of years ago due to the recent fad for shopping on Sundays and it began to cost too much to police. Great Pity. I think it was the oldest road race in the Country. Got back in time to watch 'Britain's Got Talent' at which point I felt like putting my trainers back on.
I think I'm suffering fell race withdrawal symptoms and all this tarmac lark is getting a bit tedious. I've got the Black Rock Race and Windy Gyle to look forward to in June. The Black Rock is a beach race held at Kinghorn and is a hoot. Never ran the Windy Gyle in the Cheviots before, but at 9 miles should be a walk in the 'National' Park after the recent daft mileage. Off to Gateshead Stadium today on taxi duty so it'll be another urban training adventure, this time south of the Tyne.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Edinburgh to North Berwick Road Race

It was hard to believe how cold it was as a field of 220 runners lined up along Portobello Seafront for the Edinburgh to North Berwick Road Race. The gloves and hat were on along with 2 layers and we set off at a reserved but steady pace. You could taste the salt in the air from the Forth as we got up close and personal with the stiff headwind which accompanied us all the way to the end.

After a couple of miles the field sorted itself a little and I found myself in around 20th place with 3 Portobello runners including the in-form Willie Jarvie who seemed to be cruising and looked like he was out for a stroll.
At five miles the cold weather gear was discarded on the go as things warmed up. We got some abuse by a couple of locals at Prestonpans who shouted 'hello, grandad' (not sure who it was aimed at but quite complimentary really and it made me smile!). Things were going well at the 10 mile mark which we passed at 65 minutes. We had begun to catch a few who had set off at too optimistic a pace including a Bog Trotter, a Portobello and a Carnegie. Every few miles a few cyclists would come past shouting support and taking photos. We took turns at the front and at around 14 miles I missed the water stop opting to take my second Capri Juice shortly afterwards. However, to my dismay when I groped around the bumbag I found I'd only put 1 in which I had drank earlier at 7 miles. This little event knocked me back and it coincided with the group surging a little at the most exposed part along the golf course before Gullane. I lost about 10 metres at this point and never recovered. Dumped out of the group and slowing badly, the next 2 miles were tough before I passed Fidra stores where the kind folk had provided jelly babies and water and I stopped for a drink. I was passed by 2 runners between 15 and 17 miles, but by 18 miles I was back on track and pulled one back to finish the 20.2 mile course in 2:13 (14th).
Having never raced for so long a distance, I was surprised at how you notice the subtle changes of pace from surrounding runners and the see-saw of others having good and bad patches. A well organised race and with great support on a beautiful course this was a really enjoyable day out with a presentation late in the afternoon and enough sausage rolls, sandwiches and bucketloads of hot tea. Roll on the marathon. (Results at Scottish Athletics Site: Photos on the Portobello site and related blog)