Month: May 2014

Photos from a dinosaur-free Jurassic run

We recently went away for a weekend to the lovely coastal town of Sidmouth in Devon. As always, when we go away I take my running gear with me just in case I get a chance to stretch my legs.

My lovely wife is a serial napper, she loves a little sleep in the afternoon and sometimes even a big sleep, and it was whilst she napped that I took the chance to run down to the seafront and along the awesomely named Jurassic coast. I figured there’s always some kind of coastal path to run along, so I’d do just that.

I’m training towards a trail 100km in less than two months (terrifying how close it is!) and thought some time on the trails and hills would do me good. Sadly I wasn’t prepared at all for the types of hills on what turned out to be a 10mile run. 2hrs 7mins later and I was back at the hotel with aching quads. Having done a sub 1:40 half marathon, to run 3 miles less in nearly 30 mins more was a lesson I learned the hard way. The elevation profile below speaks volumes.

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I’ve never exceeded 2000 feet elevation, even on 20mile+ runs. To break 3000 in 10miles was a challenge. I did as much power-walking up as I did jogging down the hills or on the flat but it was definitely a positive experience and some of the views were stunning! I’ll leave you with some selected views from the beautiful coastal trail.

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Brighton Marathon 2014

Where to begin with this years’ Brighton Marathon? It’s been over a month since I ran my second marathon and I’ve still not got round to posting about it. This is in part due to a genuinely hectic few weeks at work (often up at 5am and not home until nearly 8pm, eat, sleep, repeat), as well as some busy personal weekends. Thankfully, due to the wonders of my memory and my Garmin, the race is still pretty fresh in my mind! So I’ll do my best to share what this years’ experience was like.

The race itself was on Sunday the 6th of April, but we had to head over on the 5th to go to the Expo (short review of the expo: was a bit better than last year, good food freebies) and pick up our race packs. When I say ‘we’ I’m referring to myself and my brother-in-law Ben, who was running his first marathon. We also had support from my wife Becca, his fiancée Sarah and my parents-in-law who had moved back to the UK after 4 years working Papua New Guinea just the weekend before and were still recovering from jet lag. After Ben and I had got our race packs and numbers and been to the Expo, we went back to the flat my in-laws had someone arranged for themselves through a friend.

Yes, it really was that close to the Elite start

Yes, it really was that close to the Elite start

Yes, the flat they had was directly opposite the elite start! Not a bad view for them and only 10/15mins walk from the main race start. After the evening there we were off to bed. Pre-race sleep is always tough and this time wasn’t an exception, not sure if it’s nerves or adrenaline (most likely a bit of both) but I only got about 5hrs sleep before we were back off to the flat so Ben and I could get ready to run. A brief walk down to the start line and we were there and ready to go.

The queue for the portaloos

The queue for the portaloos

Last year, I was part of a group running for charity and we were at the start at least an hour before the start with a lot of waiting around. This time we were there with about 25 minutes to go, and I spent 24 of those minutes queueing for the toilet. Now, without going into too much detail, I’m nervous before a run and my digestive system does funny things, so I’d taken an Imodium to try and avoid any mid-race hiccups. I got to my start pen with about a minute to spare, joining the very back of the 3:15-4hr group, knowing that I would never get anywhere near the 3:30 pacer that I wanted to guide me around. Last years race was started by an England cricketer, this year it was Paula Radcliffes turn, the world record holder at the marathon, she was privileged this year to get not one high-five from me, but two. I’m sure 12,000 people down the line her hands were sore! We were off!

Brighton Marathon 2014

Brighton Marathon 2014

My target for this year was 3:30, which, having done a 1:39 half marathon recently was a challenging target but not out of the realms of possibility given that training has gone pretty well, despite work commitments making the last couple of weeks a challenge to taper effectively. Last years 4:07 was definitely going to get beaten and sub 4hrs was my minimum goal. To achieve 3:30 means averaging around 8minute miles for 26.2 miles. Much like last year, the first mile at Brighton is a struggle to set off at race pace due to the volume of people, some sharps turns around the park, and one of the sharpest hills on the course. Weaving in and out of the people saw my first mile include a little walking and an average pace of 8:55. I’d already lost nearly a minute of my scheduled pace!

Luckily I remembered from last year the problems I had with trying to catch up too much pace too soon. There was still 25miles to go, averaging 7:58 for those miles would have got me back to 8min miles by the end of the race, I didn’t need to do a 7minute mile and catch it up instantly.

The next 10 miles all were safely within the 8:05-7:48 minute mile range, and the average pace was getting close to 8mins, I was well on track to finish strong. Due to some changes to the route early on, one of the biggest hills around mile 10 was removed, and there followed 3 nice gradual down hill miles to the sea front, clocking in at 7:58, 7:53 and 7:54.

Unlike last year I was running alone this time around and really looking forward to seeing Becca and family at the half way point. I passed them feeling strong and gave the pre-arranged ‘two thumbs up’ meaning I felt strong. At Mile 13.1 I did feel strong, I’d fuelled according to plan with a  couple of Jelly Babies every couple of miles and the pace just under 8min/mile was feeling comfortable. Then, all of a sudden, it didn’t.

I’m not quite sure why but just after halfway and seeing Becca, everything began to feel difficult. Maybe adrenalin had got me to that point, but suddenly, things weren’t working as well as they had and much earlier than last year when I’d crashed around mile 19. My legs felt strong, but I had no energy, surely it couldn’t be the wall? I also felt like there was a massive rock inside my stomach, maybe it was the Imodium? I still think it was the right thing to do given the stomach issues on the day, but something I’ll try and avoid in future.

I struggled manfully on and the next 3 miles were 8:05, 8:09 and 8:18, getting steadily slower and each mile used up more effort. 3:30 was definitely not on the cards, whatever had happened, I was utterly spent. The last 8 miles were a bit (a lot) of a slog, I ran/walked the rest of the way back, averaged around 10:30mins/mile with a fastest mile of 9:19 (mile 26, for some reason I found the energy) and even ended up doing 7:08 pace for the final 0.2, showing my legs still had the pace in them, but something was wrong with my energy.

I crossed the line in 3:51:03, despite the horror of the last 8 miles, a 16minute PB/PR and was looking forward to meeting up with the family. I met Becca soon after and she brought me a mini Mars bar, something that both tasted amazing and gave me a massive energy boost last year, this year it made me throw up within minutes of the race finishing. More evidence that my stomach wasn’t in a good place. However, I was craving a cup of tea and that absolutely hit the right spot.

Next up on my list is the 100km Race to the Stones in July. I’m going to try a different approach for that, especially around the fuelling given what I experienced here. My plan is to eat differently, eat far less carbs and processed food and train according to heart rate. Teaching my body to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs, and hopefully avoid the dreaded ‘wall’ for a race nearly 2 and half times the length of a marathon!

What have you done to avoid ‘The Wall?’ Any tips and tricks to avoid it?

30 Days Paleo – A review

My wife and I have experimented with the Paleo diet for 30days and been surprisingly happy with it. Go read her summary!

So we did it! 30 days on the Paleo diet. For those that haven’t heard of Paleo, or the paleolithic diet, its also called the ‘caveman diet’ and basically consists of primarily eating what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. The premise being that our bodies cope better with that stuff, and our diet has changed dramatically while our genetics haven’t really. So no dairy, no grains and no processed or refined foods (especially no sugar!!), but lots of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit and nuts.  It’s relatively low carb (some people go very low carb with it, we didn’t), but should be fairly high in good fats.  Initially that was as far as we had planned, we said we’d do it for a month, mainly as a way to have a bit of a cleanse and for Matt to investigate how it helped with his running. But, (and this came as quite…

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Weight for it!

It’s been a little while since I blogged about anything, and I promise my Brighton marathon report will be up soon (short version is that I got a new personal best!). Today’s post is as a result of a photo my wife took of me after she complained my shorts were ridiculous and I need to get some new clothes. I compared it with a picture I took nearly 2 years ago just before I started running and the difference speaks for itself!

My total weight loss in that time has been 30lbs (2stone 2lb) or 14kg for those metric types, and my waist has gone from a 36″ to 32″. This has almost exclusively just been from running and in the past month some major diet changes that have shaved off the last 7lb (3kg).

The goal when I started running was to get more healthy, this amount of weight loss has been a happy result! I don’t need to lose much more now, but I’m absolutely going to keep on running.

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