Sunday, 17 June 2018

It's been a while welcome back to my blog "RUNNING FOR FUN & RUNNING FOR FUNDS

So what's happened since we last met?

Well strangely enough even more running! After the heat of the Paris Marathon came even more heat with my first ultra marathon the GU36 in Guernsey (Channel Islands) 36 miles around the beautiful coastline of this idyllic island paradise, then 3 races much closer to home all in Glasgow
The Giffnock 10k around Rouken Glen which is kind of handy as I work there.......

#Boathouse Rouken Glen

Then another 10k from the Riverside museum into George Square on the Men's Glasgow 10k
The route is pretty much flat all the way and I managed 49:24 a new 10k PB for me. I am not really a fast runner so pleased with that.

NEW PB 49:24

Riverside Museum
Ready for the off on Glasgow Mens 10k

 The final race of 2017 was once again the Great Scottish Run half marathon Glasgow always a favourite of mine. It wasn't my fastest but a reasonable 1:51 on what was my 5th Glasgow GSR

So onto 2018 and a few exciting new races as well as some I have done before. I decided that I would try and stretch myself further by adding another marathon and ultra and closer together than before.

So I signed up for the Glentress forest trail half again, Loch Katrine half, Stirling & Rome marathons and GU36 & Run the blades ultra, back also for the Giffnock 10k phew!!!!

The Scottish winter as usual made training runs interesting especially up at the wind farm in snow and ice, but you have to take what mother nature throws at you and just get on with it.

NO PAIN NO GAIN or so the saying goes :-)

February Glentress Forest in Peebles is always going to be a bit wet, cold & chilly so no surprise I had to wrap up warm for this one, rock hard ice on the route made for tricky going and I nearly went head over heels on more than one occasion on this race . It's quite a big elevation so the time is not so important as staying upright on this one, but still a good workout all the same.

 A few weeks after Glentress it was onto the Trossachs and my first time on the Loch Katrine half marathon.There was a weather warning for snow on race day and sure enough on my way there the heavens opened and I was lucky to make the start of the race and not get stuck on the motorway.
But make the start I did and off we went in the snow for a run half way around the loch and back,with a few flurries of snow and wind along the way for good measure.

Loch Katrine HM

 So after a couple of half marathons it was time to step up to the challenge of 2 full marathons in Rome & Stirling. Having been to Rome before I knew that this was going to be something special as the marathon course passes through or by many of the cities famous landmarks. I was also worried about the heat as Paris was 24C last year and Rome was looking to be nearly as hot, so I decided to travel to somewhere hot prior to Rome for heat acclimatisation, obviously Glasgow is not known for it's heat. So I ended up in Valencia for a few days and enjoyed several long walks and several runs mainly through the  park that runs the length of the city.

So with a good number of miles under my belt I headed to Rome fairly confident of coping with the heat. Having gone through my well rehearsed pre race routine I walked the 20 minutes or so to the start at the Colosseum,  it was a gloriously sunny morning and passing all the sun bathed buildings and walking down a narrow side street directly towards the Colosseum was a heady and emotive start to the day.


After getting ready and dropping my kit bag i made my way to the start area and waited in the toilet queue in vain (not for the first time) then moved on towards the start line. Unfortunately I don't any photos from the start but you get magnificent views of some of the best buildings and statues in Rome from here just an awesome view. The marathon route takes you past and through some of the most iconic sights in Rome including the Vatican, Spanish steps, Piazza Narvona & Castel Sant'Angelo to name a few and is truly magnificent. It was a hot day and as expected the heat finally took it's toll in the later stages of the race and I started to lose pace and eventually dropped back from the 4:15 pacers at around mile 22 and ended up with a time of 4:43

But despite the cobbles, heat and need for the toilet it was still another amazing race experience

So...what do you do when you have run a marathon? You go run another one of course :-)
3 weeks later then I was full of optimism for a new PB in Stirling, a relatively flat course, no heat, no cobbles and plenty of running under my belt, what possibly could go wrong....

#Maratonaroma #Romemarathon #Stirlingmarathon #Run #ukrunchat #runningfriendsscotland #Running # marathon #ukrunchat #runningblog

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Sunshine & warm weather at last

Hello again and to new readers welcome to my blog update

So 2017 so far......................

This year has been a little different from the norm with every race so far this year being a new one
Glentress forest half marathon was covered in my last blog so onwards to Alloa half marathon in March. This was never going to be a fast race or PB as it has a couple of hills and a long stretch where you are running into the wind. So a time of 1:53 wasn't unexpected but a nice enough well attended run.

As part of my marathon and ultra training I have been "running the blades" and working my way around every turbine at the windfarm, some 200+ turbines and at the moment I am about 3 quarters done. This really helped in training as it has a fair bit of elevation and I can trail shoes on the rough terrain.

So I will be back out to complete that challenge soon. I wonder if they will mint a special "RTB" medal for me?

April 9th - Paris Schneider Electric Marathon

Motivational Inspiration come is many forms
 So after some frustrating travel problems we arrived in Paris a day behind schedule and headed for the expo to pick up my race number and the obligatory race t-shirt. I didn't want to burn too much energy wandering around the expo so we left fairly early and headed off for an early dinner. Unfortunately it ended up being the usual city tourist fare and none too appetising or beneficial, but hey ho.

Arc de Triomphe before start

Race day arrived and the nerves were calmed a little once we got to the start and as you can see by the picture it was a glorious day (But would proove to be too hot by the end of the race) 50,000 people amassed on the Avenue Des Champs-Élysées is a magnificent sight and it was a carnival atmosphere throughout the race. I love this picture I took of the long shadows in the sun as people made their way forward to the start line and space started to appear around the runners. It is a great way to start the race with such a magnificent view both ahead of you and behind. 

 The first half of the race heading out across the city past the famous landmarks was amazing and some of the tall buildings offered some welcome shade. A good vociferous crowd urged us on and the water stations were great with the odd fire hose giving us a much needed drenching. The pace was good and I was with the 3:45 pace setter up until the Eiffel tower but after that there was little shade and my pace started to fade and I struggled as the heat rose.

It was probably the hottest race I have run and the finishing line couldn't come quick enough as I finally wilted over the finishing line and gulped down the post race water. The heat was so strong that my phone couldn't cope and consequently I had no way of contacting my wife so spent a couple hours wandering around until we finally found each other back at the Arc :-) 

Proud finisher of another marathon

It was a great race and would certainly do again but so many to choose from so don't know when I will get back again.

After Paris I needed to continue with my trail runs and did a few munros too with a new PB up and down Ben Lomond one of my favourite climbs. I certainly felt it in my thighs but it was definitely beneficial in preparation for all the cliff steps!!! on the ultra. I also managed to fit in a 28 mile training run at the wind farm and around the local area which was quite windy & hilly, again some good prep so on 21st May it was time for the biggest test so far with the GU36 in Guernsey - Channel Islands.

36 miles around the coast of beautiful Guernsey - 16 miles along the South coast cliffs and somewhere close to 5,000 steps, then 20 miles along the mainly flat West and North coasts

It was an early start at the liberation monument in St Peter Port and the beautiful weather and the magic of Guernsey put me in a buoyant mood. Thanks to my mate Steve for joining me early doors for the start and thanks to my wife and friends for their support during the long day ahead too (well apart from checkpoint 3 lol) 

St Peter Port the night before GU36
6.30am 21st May 2017

 So approximately 70 intrepid runners set out from SPP toward the Eastern & Southern cliff section and 16 miles of undulating steps. The views as expected were just amazing (in fact even better) and the years drifted away as memories of days gone by flooded back and filled me with euphoria.
This was my first ultra and I would be setting new distance, duration and elevation records, with a estimated finishing time of 8hrs although the ultimate cut off time was 10hrs.
Although the cliff section was tough going and had to be walked in many places it was going well and the first checkpoint appeared at Petit Bot and time to take on some more water and jelly babies.

Cliff section GU36

We had arranged to rendevous at the 2nd checkpoint which I duly reached around the 4hr mark, time for a quick change and some nourishment from a well stocked checkpoint support team. After a brief rest it was  time to head off for the 2nd half of the race around the stunning West coast bays and checkpoint 3 at La Rousse. The heat was getting stronger and I needed a few unplanned stops at beach kiosks to take on more water both internally & externally. I even found time to stop for a tasty coconut ice cream (now that's a first on a race) the miles slipped by with brilliant beach views and again memories of the 1986/87 Guernsey hash house half marathon's where I started this running lark all those years ago.   

I haven't changed a bit ;-)

 Although there were a few minor uphill sections it was lovely and flat for the most part and I felt fine to just pace it out for the rest of the race. At checkpoint 3 my followers were nowhere to be seen, seems I took a detour in error at this point. I checked with the volunteer support team to see how I was doing in comparison with the other runners and to my surprise I was nearly halfway up the field, which gave me a great boost to finish the last section without anybody else passing me. So it was onwards Northbound around towards the marina and the final stretch via St Sampsons harbour.

And then all of a sudden the finishing line was in sight and it was only a few miles before Guinness time with the guys. It had been a totally amazing day all round and I never thought I would finish feeling so fresh with energy to spare, but after 8hrs 7 minutes it was back to the Liberation monument and job done. Final placing 35th from 59 finishers with several other not completing the course

And guess what I have already signed up for GU36 me crazy if you like :-)
For fantastic views of the island see this race video by following this link GU36
I am runner #33 and feature in front and behind the camera across the cliff section
(Video courtesy of fellow runner Stephen Cousins)  

GU36 2017 Finisher

 Next up the slightly shorter and closer to home Giffnock 10k in a couple of days and aiming for a new 10k PB of under 51:19
#ukrunchat #GU36 #Parismarathon

Monday, 6 March 2017

2017 Running challenges

Well how did that happen?

It's been nearly a year since my last blog entry from the John Muir Way
The John Muir way was just 1 part of my triple challenge in which I also ran the London Marathon again and bagged Ben Nevis for the first time. By the time I had completed my 2016 triple challenge I had managed to collect £1,300 for the John Muir Trust

London Marathon 2016 - John Muir Trust runners

So what about 2017 then? I hear you say ...............
Well I decided that I wasn't going to do any fundraising this year and just run for fun.
I also decided that I would try and stretch myself further by taking on my first ultra run which ties in nicely with a 30th anniversary trip back to Guernsey where I ran my first half marathon and met my wife all those years ago. More  of the ultra shortly, but as usual I tried to get into the London & Berlin marathons via ballot but failed to secure a slot for either race so this year I am off to France for the Paris marathon on the 9th April to join 50,000 runners from all around the world in what is one of the planets biggest marathons (although not one of the majors)

 So at the moment I am 12 weeks into a 16 week training programme for a sub 4hr Paris's hoping, I am looking forward to it immensely although disappointment to miss out on my 3rd consecutive London Marathon. The training also includes my first trail half marathon in Glentress Forest and the Alloa half marathon on March 19th (another new one for me)
Glentress Forest trail half marathon took place on February 25th and was the hardest race of my life so far with over 2,000 feet of elevation and very muddy, snowy and wet underfoot it was a miracle I stayed upright throughout the race. Mind you the mud did slow you down when coming down hill so it was useful in that respect. The weather forecast was for 40 mph winds and heavy rain but the gods smiled on us and in the end it was only light rain and minor winds.

I ended up with a time of 2hrs50m which is about an hour slower than my usual road race time so you can see how tough it was.
But none the less it was good training material and a fun run for all involved.

Apart from the races already mentioned I only have another couple arranged at the moment, the Giffnock 10k and the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow again. But I am sure I will fit in some others for Summer & Autumn, in the meantime I continue to focus on Paris & Guernsey #GU36.....................................