Posts Tagged ‘Fleet


a grand day out: fleet half 15.03.09

The Best Laid Plans – Fleet Not Flat – Staring At The Sun

Getting my family anywhere is like a military operation. It involves precise planning and determined execution.

So it was we set off for Fleet (me, Mrs eatingtrees, son 1 and son 2) 10 minutes later than planned and then, after an unscheduled stop at the local shops to “get breakfast” for the family, we were happily on our way 15 minutes later than anticipated. Fortunately, the roads were clear and it was a beautiful day so we arrived in Fleet a little after 10am, parked the car and found Hauling My Carcass.

I was feeling a little edgy as the last time I had run a Half Marathon was in October. Then I had been training for about 5 months and was completely focussed on what I had to do. This time I was wary of pushing too hard and missing Prague and have had, at best, 6 weeks of rushed training. I’d taped the splits for a 2 hour finish to my wrist as a guide but was aiming realistically for around 2hrs 5 mins.

We made our way to the start and loitered around the sign for 2 hr finishers (worryingly, there was not a sign for 2hrs+), noticing how warmly the sun had begun to shine. Once the horn sounded for the race to start, we shuffled and trotted our way to the start line and we were off. We tried to start slowly but set off a little slower than anticipated, so after 2 miles, we were already a minute adrift of where we wanted to be. The first 2 miles is also a starting loop so it is a little weird to have found yourself back where you started after 19 minutes of running. I was feeling fairly comfortable as we went into the 3rd mile, and the 4th. It certainly wasn’t a flat course and it was now after midday and the sun had really begun to shine. Leaving Fleet town and entering the surrounding country lanes, I began to realise how hot the sun had become. The course had started to undulate and was also starting to feel that we perhaps had tackled more inclines than declines. Hauling My Carcass and I stayed together until the 7 mile mark, where we both then clamped on our respective earphones and agreed to run our own races.

Around about the 8 and half mile mark, I noticed my iliotibial band starting to tighten, so began to ease off a bit. Inclines have always aggravated it and pushing myself on the slopes was beginning to take it’s toll. Once I eased off, it was OK as I headed towards my psychological barrier of between 10 and 11 miles.

Between 10 and 11 was where I had my big humbling moment at the Royal Parks Half. Looking back, the final few days before that race were about as far as one can get from good race preparation. I had finished my old job on the Friday and then had a big night out that saw me get in about an hours sleep. I then rushed around on the Saturday, believing that coffee would get me through before another (mostly sleepless) night before the race. A friend of mine had described me at that point as being “ripped to the tits on caffeine and adrenaline” and they weren’t far off the mark. Suffice to say that at the Royal Parks, I was off like a whippet from the start and at around the 10 and a half mile mark, begun to feel “a bit distant” and the whole world looked like I was viewing it through tracing paper. I knew I had to slow down or fall down so allowed myself 1 minutes walking and a good long drink at the water station. I didn’t want to do that again…

By the last water stop in Fleet, I had finished my drinks so took a little time to stop and refill my bottle with water from the plastic cups being handed out as I knew that I still had approximately 2 miles left and needed fluids to keep me going. The last 2 miles were good and the Jelly Babies and water seemed to be working. The end seemed elusive but once I turned right back into the park and could see the finish line, I got a new lease of life and still had enough in the tank to attempt a stagger sprint finish. Time was 2:06:47 but crucially, I didn’t have to stop and finished without injury. Now I have to work on my time for Prague – I wanted a pb but I will need to run the distance 11 mins faster for that so may settle for sub 2 hours in the Czech capital.

When I got back to the car, the temperature was showing as 22c – so it was a warm day, but a good one too. As a final note, it should be said that the organisation and marshalling of the event was great and the crowds who turned out to cheer everyone on were fantastic. Thanks.
Soundtrack to this post: Rag and Bone – The White Stripes


bring on the cake

Testosterone Poisoning – Let The Punishment Fit The Crime – Happy Birthday To Me – Like Father Like Son

No matter how much I think of Fleet as a warm up for Prague at the end of the month, I still can’t help feeling competitive about it. It must be what a female friend of mine refers to as “Testosterone Poisoning” – becoming unnecessarily competitive about something that really doesn’t matter much. But it does matter, to me at least, because 6 weeks ago I was still struggling with running more than a couple of miles without my Iliotibial Band giving me problems and making any training and using stairs a very tricky proposition indeed. I know that I’ve pushed the training a bit faster than I should have and there was a time when I thought I was going to have to call off taking part in Fleet entirely… But I’ve completed my “taper”, the last pre-race run has been done (6.54 miles) and all that remains is to carb up (it’s my birthday on Saturday so I should be full to the brim with cake come Sunday morning) and try not to injure myself in some ridiculous domestic accident.

My pre-race prep is almost complete except for one thing – music. I may have to run with my older, larger mp3 player. The beautiful new player that I ordered a few weeks back and have been so eagerly awaiting has been “lost in the post”. Now, there are some countries where hunting down the culprit and chopping off their hand would be legal, and in this case, I believe it would be acceptable as I now face having to do the Half Marathon on Sunday with an mp3 player the size and weight of the Oxford English Dictionary strapped to my arm. And think how much faster and more graceful I’d be with a brand new player filled with music chosen especially for the occasion. So I shall have to get creative with a new playlist instead… unless the replacement gets here double quick. Fingers crossed, eh…

For a while, my eldest son (aged 7) has been very curious about my running habit, why I do it, how far I run, do I win any races (bless!). He has even gone so far as to ask if he can race with me. And, as much as I’d love to cross a finishing line side by side with him, I’ve not been able to find a suitable race.

Until now… for tonight we filled out the application form for a 2k race taking place locally in May. It ticks all the boxes in that there is a 2k in which my eldest and I can run together. Then there is a fete with bouncy castle etc. for Mrs eatingtrees and both kids to enjoy whilst Dad runs the subsequent 10k. My son is very excited by the prospect of “racing with Dad” and has already asked if we can go out training for the 2k together.

Soundtrack to this post: Plug Me In – Add N to X


…and the blustery day

Too Windy Too Warm – Sports Slime And The 9 Minute Barrier – Advice Please

There’s something brilliant about waking up on a Sunday morning and seeing the sun through the curtains…

Once I’d dragged myself from the bed, looked out and noticed the trees moving in the wind, I’d decided the pre-run weather check was required so… opened the window, stuck out my hand…Hmmm – sunny, windy… and a bit nippy in the wind – could be a Buff and gloves day. Fortunately, by the time the family was all sorted and I’d got out for my run, I’d decided against the “Buff n Gloves” and set off as usual, long sleeve base layer, running T-Shirt, shorts…

The first thing I noticed was the wind – running into it was like constantly running uphill, which considering the first part of my run is actually slightly uphill took some of the fun out of running on such a bright, fresh morning. The next bit of my route takes me down a long slow descent and through a sheltered village where there was no wind. At this point, I realise that the sun (without the wind) is actually very warm, and begin to question if the long sleeve base layer was a good idea and then begin to sweat… So the entire run was spent either running against the wind or feeling too hot once the wind had dropped. Never happy…!

But aside from the temperature and wind resistance, it was a good run. At the 4 mile mark, I experimented with the energy gel recommended by Hauling My Carcass and the jury is still out on that… I find it hard to eat anything when I run, let alone a slimy, blackcurranty, slightly salty gloop that instantly absorbs all the liquid in your mouth. So maybe I’ll stick to my tried and tested “weak Ribena with a pinch of salt” in my water bottle which has served me well up to this point. Oh, and Jelly Babies…

Still the added caffeine in the Energy Gloop may have had an effect, because although I felt like I was slowing, I still managed…

8.68 miles in 77mins 53 secs, giving me an average of 8mins 58secs per mile.

Although the first few miles were probably 8 mins and the last few 12 mins, I am very happy with the average and have broken, what has for me become, the elusive 9 min mile average which I am very, very pleased with. It also highlights that I really do need to get myself a Garmin so I can see my splits and find out whether I am running consistently or starting quick and finishing slow. The plan is to invest in one later this month but am confused which one to go for. I’ve read reviews and there seems to be very little between the Forerunner 305 and the 405 but I currently favour the 305 as it seems to do all the things I want (GPS, virtual partner, mile splits, upload and analyse etc.) and is 50 quid cheaper. If any of you have any advice or opinions about which one to go for, I’d love to hear them – it’d be a real help and you can reply to this post or send me a mail privately using the “e-mail me” link at the bottom of the sidebar on the right hand side.

So, one (maybe two) more short runs and then Fleet Half Marathon on Sunday… and now I am actually quite looking forward to it. Hurrah!

Soundtrack to this post: Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars) – Grinderman



Stick Pins In Me, Why Don’t You! – The Taper Starts Here – One Day I Will Learn How To Use WordPress Properly

Last week, I visited my osteopath as I had a “mystery” pain in my shoulder which appeared over a couple of days and then seemed to decide that it wanted to stay. After a few sleepless nights, I realised that it wasn’t going to disappear by itself so made the appointment to get it sorted. Afterwards, it was unbelievably sore and stayed that way for the best part of a week. When I went back to see her today, I explained how sore it had been. She immediately got to work and massaged and cracked me to within an inch of my life. She then decided that to finish it all off, I needed needles stuck in me. Now… osteopathy with an acupuncture chaser seems to have done the trick (at least I’m not close to tears like I was this time last week) but it got me thinking how someone would even contemplate curing you by sticking pins in. It’s almost like deciding the cure for sore eyes would be to rinse them with lemon juice. Anyway, a little “off topic” but it has been rattling around my head so thought I’d share it…

Yesterday was another psychological hurdle for me as I ‘d decided that I needed to run a 10 miler before the Fleet Half Marathon in 9 days time. Once again, the aim was not speed or grace (and believe me there was neither) but to do the distance, without stops and without injury. I was a little hesitant about it before I set off and the first 5 miles were a grind but something happened around the 6 mile mark and I seemed to hit my stride. As I ran back along the towpath and towards the sunset I actually had one of those moments where I realised why I enjoyed running so much. The last few weeks has seen such an increase in the amount of miles covered that it has felt more like a chore than anything enjoyable but now I feel that Fleet is acheivable, suddenly the training has begun to be enjoyable again. The plan is for a shorter run on Sunday (8ish miles) and anorther shorter still (min 4 miles) mid week and then I should be set for Fleet on the 15th.

10 miles – 95mins 40 secs – average of 9m 34s per mile

Like I said, not speedy, but I can work on that now I know I am back up to completing the distance. So, 10 miler done, shoulder kind of fixed and I also learnt what a “pingback” is (thanks JogBlog).

Soundtrack to this post: Special Cases – Massive Attack


still walking

The Stress Free Run – What Killed The Rat – A Grin So Wide I Could Eat Bananas Sideways

The thought of my 8+ mile “kill-or-cure” run yesteday was a bit of a mixed blessing. On one hand, if I could finish the distance I would be a happy boy and would have overcome my fear of hills and would be one step closer to feeling that I was recovered and able to run properly again. The downside was that if I struggled I would throw a MONUMENTAL strop and be in a bad mood for at least a couple of days and possibly aggrovate my ITBS which would put me out of Fleet and, very probably, Prague.

So, I decided that I would basically take it easy – have a gentle run, no pressure but just try and do the distance. Time was not important but I would hit the stopwatch at the start of the run and then forget about it. I set off, and at a slow pace I felt very comfortable. It was nice to be out running again just for the hell of it and not feeling like I had something to prove to myself.

Now this route is one of my favourites that I do on a regular basis. It takes in a small village, a tree-lined bridle path, touches the outskirts of the town, a long slow incline up to the next town along and then back along the towpath and through the park back to mine. I hadn’t run it since early December and was just enjoying being out and, weirdly , not suffering on the run. By the halfway point, I am still feeling pretty fresh. Hello trees… Hello sky… Ooh, a cloud… a dead rat on the towpath…

About a mile from home, I get a pang of guilt at having taken the whole run so slowly and, as I still have a bit of energy left, decide to up the pace for the last bit just for the hell of it. Last sneaky uphill before the end and… relax.

And here is where I have my little revelation…

I took all the pressure off myself and “just went for a run”. I wasn’t bothered about my speed (in fact I felt I had taken it too easy) and, most importantly, I stayed completely relaxed for the whole run. OK, I had a few twinges around the knees and thighs but I didn’t pay too much attention to them and just kept on at the same comfortable pace but… (and I have checked and re-checked the below because I couldn’t quite believe it):

8.68 miles in 78mins 55secs
which I worked out at averaging 9mins 6 secs per mile


I am more than happy with that as:
a) it’s the longest distance I’ve completed since before Xmas
b) it’s my best time since before Xmas
c) I can still walk up and down stairs which indicates that the ITBS has not flared up again

I also now feel that I can vary my training a little more now. Having completed 8+, 10 miles is not so daunting. And if I can do ten, then 13.1 is not too much more of a stretch.

Soundtrack to this post: Just Kissed My Baby – The Meters

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