Running update – week 8

I was rather hoping to bring you some good news this week about my return to marathon training.  You may recall I’ve had an enforced rest due to a slight pull or strain in my right calf.  Well, I have rested it and had 3 good massages on my legs and back in the hope of curing the problem.  Things were looking good on Monday when, after a long walk, I managed a 1k jog around a field.  Things looked even better on Wednesday when I did a good 4k (2.5 miles) with a 3k (nearly 2 mile) warm down.  However, my ‘attempt’ at a 10k (6 miles) this lunchtime failed miserably, with the same problem coming back after only 2.5k (1.5 miles).  So I sit here dejected. ☹

The revised plan, below, was a little ambitious, given the events I have on the horizon, so I’ll just have to grin and bear it and make yet another comeback in the summer.  In the meantime, I may well have to get out my road bike and take it for a spin.  Every cloud and all that… 😊

Running Log Week 8

The needle’s stuck…

Like last week and the week before, it’s been another Sunday without a run…  I thought I was doing the right thing by resting my calf until last Wednesday (i.e. a whole 8 days) but clearly that wasn’t enough as, only 2.3 miles into my run, I felt it tighten up again.  Inevitably this has curtailed my marathon training somewhat (see below) and it’s called into question whether I should actually enter the race and even whether I should consider retirement from long distance running events altogether… 😦

Anyway, I now plan to rest it for at least 2 weeks and I will therefore refrain from posting anything on this topic until I have some better news to report!

running log week 5

Snow stopped play…

Today would normally have been the day when I went for my ‘long run’ in preparation for a marathon in May.  However, the weather has disrupted my training twice this week.  My plan would have been to do 5 or 6k (3 miles) on Wednesday, but a few inches of snow and freezing temperatures scuppered that, as the pavements were far too icy to run on.  And today, the heavens have opened and snow is forecast all day.  Already we have about a foot of snow, so Jude and I are confined to barracks.

This means my weekly total is a big round 0k (0 miles).  But regular runners will know that it’s best just to write off the week (as you would if you had an injury or were ill) and continue with my plan from week 4 onwards. (Note that Week 1 was actually week 52 of 2018, but I couldn’t find a way to set that on Excel).

Back running again…

I lack motivation and I need a push to get me doing almost anything these days… Happily my wife managed to nudge me bit by bit into renovating the kitchen and the cupboards are now all painted and a new floor laid.  I even managed to cut a new worktop to size, which was a first.

When it comes to running, especially at this time of year, the freezing temperatures and the lack of a decent training route is a real mental block that I need to get through.  Indeed, I’ve not been out running since my Hallwilersee Half in October.  So I needed an incentive…

Thankfully, Datasport* came to the rescue again.  (*They are the people who advised me last year, via their regular and very informative emails, of the free travel to the Half marathons).  This time, one of the “Events not to be missed” was the Winterthur Marathon on 26th May.  Now, I hadn’t really got it on my radar, even though I have a goal to run all the Swiss marathons.  I thought it might be too small to put it on my list.  However, by May, I’ll be in a new 65+ category and I read that “The first three podium ranks of the respective categories win attractive prizes in kind.”  Not only that, but I read on their website that only 2 in that category finished in 2018… and 4 h 2 mins was good enough for 2nd and 4h 18m secured 3rd in 2017.   Now call me mercenary if you like, but that was just the kick-start I needed.

So last Sunday I plodded up and down our road for about 30 minutes (or about 5k/3miles) in sub-zero temperatures.  (My lungs complained bitterly for 2 days afterwards).  And today I drove down to Sion to pootle along my favoured flat training route, beside the Rhone, for just over an hour (or around 11k/7 miles).  As weekly totals go they are not far, but it’s a start…

As you may know, I don’t like to post anything without a picture or two, so I stopped off a couple of times on my way down to Sion to capture a few distant snowy mountain tops.

Zurich

With a certain festive period approaching, Jude and I took ourselves off to Zurich for a few days to find some ‘different’ presents.   I’d been there before to run the marathon, but I hadn’t really had time to explore the city and I have to say that we were both very impressed with how organised and quiet it was.  It was more like a large village than a big city.  It was also nice to see the wooden Christmas market stalls and the streets decorated with more lights than you could ever count.

 

Hallwilersee Half Marathon and Swiss Trains

One way to run an Autumn marathon is to run two Half marathons. 🤔  When I discovered that there were two in quick succession, I didn’t think I’d be able to run either, let alone both.  So I’m very pleased to post another report, this time on the Hallwilerseelauf.  (In case you missed it here is my Greifensee Half report from a few weeks ago).

You may recall that Sarah, Karl and I just failed, by only 13 seconds, to dip under the 2 hour mark.  So after a little bit more ‘speed’ training since, I had (perhaps too) high hopes of running 1 hour 55 mins, or in any event under 2 hours.  The course had a downhill start, which was nice, but inevitably you are drawn into going off too quickly.  With the sun shining brightly (again) and the temperature around 23 degrees, I once more suffered in the middle to late stages, but I “dug in” (as you have to in these races) to finish in 1h 57m 27s.   OK, it wasn’t 1h 55m, but one of the things driving me on towards the finish was the thought that the sum of the two races just had to be under 4 hours… 😀

As before, I didn’t carry my camera or a phone, so I have no photos of the race itself, but here is a link to my own personal video of the race courtesy of the organisers/sponsors.  I’m the guy in the red vest and black cycling type shorts and long socks by the way. 👨  Depending upon your internet speed, you may have to wait a few seconds for the video to come up and it’s best viewed, of course, by maximising the screen (via the top right hand corner of the video window). Enjoy!

Once again, I had free travel to and from the event, but it involved catching a bus and 5 different trains to get there and 6 different trains to get back to Sion (where Jude would pick me up).  With connection times between trains of as low as 3 minutes, perhaps only in Switzerland would you even dream of getting there and back in a day.  But that’s exactly what I did.  It didn’t matter that there were weekend engineering works along one section of the route, the schedule had been adjusted and all 11 trains were exactly on time.  (See my outward and return timetables below).  Words cannot describe my admiration for the Swiss train (and Postbus) network. ⏱👍👍

 

Grand Raid BCVS Mountain Bike Race, 2018

I mentioned in my previous post that I’d put my name forward to help out during the Grand Raid, which runs both from and through our village.  However, the organisers never got back to me on where they’d like me to be, so I presumed they had enough volunteers and I decided to do my own thing…

An ex-colleague and good friend of mine, Kevin, had successfully completed the ‘short course’ three years ago and he’d recently been in touch to say that this year he was doing the full distance, from Verbier.  I thought he and the event deserved my support, so at 7:15am yesterday morning, I duly set off along 2 different sections of the route, taking pictures as a I went.  Now, sporting events have never really been my forte when it comes to capturing the action, but I hope the pictures below convey both the beauty of the scenery as well as the agony and the ecstasy of some competitors.

While I was waiting for Kevin at La Vieille, I also bumped into another ex-colleague and friend, Jan, who was doing the 3/4 route from Nendaz.  He, I’m sure, will have revelled in the challenge and pain of the ascent over the Pas de Lona.   Kevin, however, missed the cut off time by just 2 minutes and wasn’t allowed to continue.   Unfortunately he broke his derailleur during the descent into Evolène and had to wait 15 minutes while it was being repaired.

If there are any mountain bikers out there reading this, then I can only say that you will not find many more demanding or rewarding events than the Grand Raid.  Apart from a variety of distances, (choose your own personal challenge), they now even allow for Electric bike competitors on the two shorter routes.  Though I certainly wouldn’t want to push, carry or simply lug one of those heavy things over the Pas de Lona!

Pic d’Artsinol Walk

One of the advantages of living in or near a ski resort, is that the ski lifts often run during the summer too.  About 2 km/1 mile along the road from Evolène, the chairlift from the small hamlet of Lanna takes you up from around 1,400m/4,600ft to Chemeuille at just over 2,100m/6,700ft.  From there it’s a very pleasant and not too demanding walk up to the top of the Pic d’Artsinol at 2,998m/9,836ft.  From there the views extend in all directions and include the Dixence Dam as well as the Matterhorn. (See pics 16 & 17).

Long distance running (part 3) – Sub-3hr Marathon attempt

After running the London marathon in 1982 and the Jogle in 1983, I continued to run and race shorter distances, like 10k, 10 miles and a few Half Marathons.  But as I neared my 40th birthday, I decided I should have a crack at doing a sub-3 hour marathon.  Based on my best times at the shorter distances, I knew this should be possible, but of course you have to train hard and I’d need to execute the race perfectly.

So, as a relative novice at the distance, I decided to gain some experience by having a ‘test run’ in the Langbaurgh Marathon in the October of 1993, which was 6 months before my birthday.  I’d trained for about 3 or 4 months before this race (up to about 18 miles) and my aim was to see how far I could run before stopping and at what point I fell below the sub-3hr pace.  To my astonishment I managed 21 miles before I had to walk and 23 miles before I dropped below the required pace and finished in 3 hrs 4 mins.  (I’m amazed my brain had the capacity to work this out at the time, as normally that’s the first thing to shut down!)

As you can imagine this gave me a huge confidence boost and I continued to train hard, including some Long Distance Walker Association events, like the Kilburn Kanter and Rudolph’s Romp (which were both around 21 miles).  Indeed, I enjoyed doing these events so much I continued to do them for many years afterwards.  They are a fabulous way of building stamina, without the pressures of a race and have the added advantage of being off road, usually with lots of hills to build strength.

So, my chosen target event was the South Coast Marathon, which was just 11 days after my birthday in April 1994.  I have to say that I don’t remember much about the race itself, except that it was quite a sunny day, though not too warm.  After around 21 miles, I felt a little dizzy and decided to walk up a slight incline and was very relieved to see a drinks station only 50 yards ahead.  Suitably refreshed and feeling back to normal, I continued running, though I must have missed some of the later mile markers as each mile seemed to take an absolute age.  I then recall looking at my watch with about 10 minutes of the 3 hours to go and wondering if I might make it.  Then, out of the blue, I saw the 26 mile marker and, boosted by seeing it, I finished strongly in a time of 2 hours 55 minutes and 40 seconds.  (This remains my PB/PR to this day).

I mention this story, not to show off in any way, but as a lesson to all you young (well, under 50) runners out there.  Make the most of your best running days while you can.  You’re a long time retired or losing speed as you get older…  (The stats suggest that you lose about 3s per mile, or 2s per km, for each year after the age of about 45).

Yes, it’s an old T shirt, but it was never going to get thrown out after all that effort! 🙂

South Coast Marathon 1994

Hadrian’s Wall Path (Day 3 of 4)

My mate Pete is a Master when it comes to organising our trips.  Everything was booked and in place by October last year, but then, in January, not one, but two of our B&Bs  cancelled (due to refurbishment of their bedrooms)!  There are not many places to stay on or near the route but, of course, Pete was up to the challenge and he promptly rearranged for us to stay at two different places.

The first was to stay in Greenhead rather than Haltwhistle.  This helped in a way, as we would have had to walk off the route to get to Haltwhistle, BUT it did mean that it would add another 2 or 3 miles to our, already long, third day, making it at least 20 miles long.  A quick look at the contours on the map told me that this was going to be a very up and down day and, with a 7kg (15.5 lb) pack on your back, it would easily be equivalent to doing a marathon (for which I was certainly not prepared!)

The second change was that the owner of our expected accommodation in the village of Wall offered to pick us up from there and drive us to (and back from) one of his other pubs in Newbrough, which was 5 miles away.  (Clearly we were not planning on walking that far off the route!)  Again this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the Red Lion was very comfortable, also had our, by now, favourite beer, called “Ale Caesar” and they served up the best food we tasted all week. 🙂  Not only that but, Liam was suffering from a chest infection, so after reaching Housesteads (about 10 miles or half way in) he made the strategic decision to take the ‘short cut’ directly to Newbrough.  However, this still involved going to the top of what turned out to be the last hill at Sewingshields Crags and then walking 4 to 5 miles along the road to Newbrough.

Meanwhile, Pete and I soldiered on (I hope you got the pun there) a further 10 miles along what was thankfully a fairly flat path running alongside the B6318 to Walwick and Collerford, before the path turned south to Wall.  The only thing that kept me going was Pete’s promise of a beer in the appropriately name Hadrian Hotel in Wall.  Cheers Pete!  🍻 😀