Friday, October 21, 2011

Minor twitter balls-up perhaps?

I realised last night that perhaps I made a minor twitter balls up... I shared via twitter my view of the half marathon I ran in a post below "Race report - Cardiff Half-marathon" which appeared then on the official race website twitter feed box. The title of my post might lead a reader into thinking it was so form of newspaper or official 'report' / 'critique', and I apologise if anyone thought that or were expecting something other than my thoughts (and how I got round).

Lesson learnt, so if I do something similar again I will endeavour to choose a less declarative title. Of course I could have simply written my of a formal 'critique' in the first place, but I opted to save my thoughts for the official feedback form where it will (I hope) be more useful :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Back on the move: days off were a bad idea

It was a bad idea at the start, but I kidded myself into having a couple of days 'off' the myfitnesspal calorie / activity tracker after completing the half marathon over the weekend. As it happened the end of the stomach bug saw my appetite surge so there wasn't a great deal of mental resistance to the idea. Oh boy, do I now remember why I have enjoyed the food to fuel process over the last three months... I felt so ill and bloated after a couple of days of 'old me' style eating!
Image: Grant Cochrane /
It was not as if I went out to a restaurant and ordered the works. I simply picked a bit more for lunch, an extra snack here and there, and didn't apply my calorie in / out thinking. The simply truth I discovered (accidentally) is that it doesn't take very long at all to truly re-educate your system to new eating habits. Okay, so the brain can be conned here and there, but my body really let me know fast that this last couple of days was different, that it felt heavy, and that it felt too much. If only I had known to listen to this kind of thing over a decade ago when I was climbing to my heaviest and physically lowest ebb.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wow, what a belt indeed

In browsing the blogosphere some while back I spotted product review page by a blogger with a section of reviews of things they had tried / bought and found that worked (blog - 'I'd Rather Be Eating'; page "what am i a camel ifitness review". I read with interest their review of a running belt that they had worn for the first time in a marathon and had absolutely no issues with. As someone who suffers chaffing really badly (I wear a compression vest or t-shirt to avoid horrible joggers nipple!), I had always been shy of wearing any kind of belt or bag whilst running.

Inspired by the review and then by the ifitness website I purchased one and tried it out on a long weekend run. Wow, no rub even having loaded my iPhone, keys and a gel pack onto it.

That was a couple of months ago now and I have enjoyed using it on near enough every run. It is great to have a phone with me, and I have been trying out the gel packs in earnest now (with a possible future marathon in mind). It is completely comfortable, I forget that I am running with it and has thus far stood the test of British weather / profuse sweat. If you want to try a belt I can recommend you have a look around their website.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Race report - Cardiff Half-marathon

Well we did it, I got round despite a cold all week prior (and a stomach bug brewing) and my wife completed her first ever half. The day couldn't have been better weather wise, clear, bright, not overly warm, light cool breezes here and there. Our preparation on the morning went very well. We got the kids organised, got out of the house only a few minutes late, headed into the city centre dropped off our stuff and then walked down to the start in Cardiff Bay.

We arrived in the start area 'just in time', I made a rushed decision about which pace area to wait in and ended up in the wrong one (the band ahead of my planned pace!). I had no time to work out if the new start area truly worked, but my impression was it was a little claustrophobic. Certainly the athlete's village looked the part as we rushed through looking for the start areas.

After the start I went out to fast (I know, I know, school-boy error!) and so rewrote my race plan in the first mile and a half. I opted to hold the pace and then try to manage the degradation in pace using my GPS watch as a gauge. I did just fine at maintaining the initial over the top momentum through the first 45mins up to my planned isogel and drink zone (the second drink station on the course - the drink stations were excellent all around the course). It was not until past a quick 10km (45secs outside my 10k PB) that I began to have to graft hard. Working to maintain pace and over the next 4 miles manage the beginnings of the pace fade. I went from 8min 45sec/mile over the first 6 miles out to 8min 52sec/mile by the 10th mile.

At that point I was still confident I could maintain and keep the average pace for the whole race to a value that would bring me in well inside 2hrs. However I made a major miscalculation... yes, my watch measures my running, but over a set course with wide roads and bends it is possible to run more than the set (measured) race distance / race line. So while my pace was looking good I hadn't noted that my watch was increasingly disagreeing with the mile markers. Somehow I ignored them and believe I would complete in under 2hrs regardless.

I got to mile 11 in 1hr 40min flat, leaving me 20mins to complete.... but my knee began to ache and my befuddlement with the watch pace continued. Then around 12miles the race pace guy for sub-2hr went by me, I hadn't seen him the entire race so was fearful. Only for another half mile later another sub-2hr pace group to come by. I was physically and mentally GONE, there was little left and fight as I might I couldn't pull a sub-ten minute mile out of myself. I tried to sprint at the line but my legs were spent and at this point my stomach was in painful spasm (the stomach bug had made itself known). I crossed the line angry and infuriated with myself. Sure I ran 13.1 miles in under 2hrs (GPS to be believed), but I began to realise that my staying out of the way of faster runners because of my poor start slot judgement I ran the long way around so many bends (including one very long 1.5 mile section). I learned any number of lessons the hard way, even though I had read about them all and probably even advised other to beware.

The race was great, the day was great, and in the fullness of hindsight I was unlucky with illness. The race organisation is improving, it after all only it's second year as a 'large' 15,000 competitor city half. There was little wrong that another year or two of running the event from the same base won't fix. Let's just conclude from the fact that I just finished registering for next year that I'm hooked on the race :-)

PS. no pictures of our own sorry. We were busy and the family were looking after the kids back at home. I'll paste a link to the official pics at some point soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My biggest sporting challenge yet - 26.2miles

After some thought (okay, borderline procrastination) I looked at marathons around the time of the London race and made my choice to actually run one. I have selected the Milton Keynes marathon 2012. It is the inaugural Milton Keynes marathon, the course promises to be flat appears and based around stadiummk facilities.
Milton Keynes Marathon

Anyway I have decided it is time to have a go despite having once saying I would only ever run a marathon once if I want now to run a major city marathon (London, Berlin, Paris) I will have to run two!  I have started to plan training and approach, but any advice is more than welcome. So far I have gotten as far as...

  1. Fundraising - Since it was a charity page that helped me find the event I have been giving a lot of thought to a choice of charity and now have a shortlist in mind.
  2. Training - At the moment I plan to start a 16week program in early January giving me November and December to get back to some sculling and rowing training (or as I am now thinking of it 'strength training').
26.2 miles of running seems like an awfully long way right now and no doubt come January (training run one) it will seem that bit further. Any which way I will very definitely be "on the move" this Winter.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Winter wondering

I am still trying to figure out how to spend my Winter training after failing to get into the London Marathon via the ballot. It is true that there are charity places still available, but I don't feel that I can commit to both the training and raising a couple of thousand in sponsorship.

The wondering about the Winter has further been mixed by the arrival of my rowing club membership renewal form. I have unfinished business with rowing (especially having lost weight recently), namely getting my sculling novices and a really 'good' PR for the 2k ergo test. Run or row? Or both? That is the biggest puzzle at the moment, with the background givens that I have much work to do in work and at home too.

Going to have to keep working on the answers, I really don't know which direction to head in just now.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Weight update

This morning I finally got around to updating the weight chart on my "Weight page". It was quite satisfying because I hadn't done it for a while and the recent changes are significant. The update has taken me a little while as I had to redraw the graph a little to include a new minimum of 13st instead of the old 14st. Another small sign of changing times I suppose that I needed to broaden out the graph to include a new lower target. There was a time that I remember so very well that 13st felt so very far away. It's nice to be here and it's nice to be heading into the Cardiff Half marathon next week with these recent advances on my side.

All time trend line as it looks today