New marathon blog post

I'm in Morecambe tonight (well, Bolton-Le-Sands, actually) ready for tomorrow's half marathon. I'll post about the race tomorrow night, when I'm back in Derbyshire, but in the meantime I've added a new post to the Brighton Argus marathon blogHow Not To Fall Over:

I knew I’d face many challenges in my preparations for the Brighton
Marathon. And it appears that one such challenge is learning not to
fall over.

Right! Time for bed. I've got a big day ahead of me tomorrow.

My new marathon blog

As from today I'm one of the writers of a new group blog for the Brighton Argus. The Brighton Marathon Blog features a number of people sharing their experiences of preparing for the Brighton Marathon. I'll be posting every other week about how I'm getting on. This week's post talks about long runs and preparing for the Morecambe Cross-Bay Run:

"When I signed up for the Brighton Marathon a few weeks ago, I found I
was more excited by the training than the race. I like going out for
long runs at the weekend and building up the distance I can manage. I
could do long runs without the marathon but having the goal of a race
helps motivate me. I’m looking forward to building up my stamina until
I can run 26.2 miles in one go.

Please drop by, read the post, and leave comments. The next post will most likely talk about the Morecambe run and the unfortunate accident I had this morning.

The RSS feed is here.

Long-running ambition (M-12 weeks)

Growing up, I wasn't much of an athlete.  I wheezed when I ran and came in last every race, which is why my love of running has been such a surprise.  I don't really mind the bad days so much because I'm still getting over the novelty that I run at all.

Of course, there's one obvious challenge with running.  Every year London marathon runners were paraded on Blue Peter.  It felt like taunting to me since I was as likely to run a marathon as I was to climb Everest or whatever other wholesome exploits were celebrated on the show.

But the more I've run the more I've thought: I could do that.  In the Runner's Handbook, Dick Traum is quoted as saying  "Anyone who honestly takes the time to train can finish a marathon.  You don't have to be much of an athlete, just patient and disciplined." The idea seems delightfully unlikely based on the child I was but I've decided to take the plunge.

The Brighton Marathon won't be until 2010 at the earliest so I've signed up for the Blackpool Marathon in April.  I know the area well, it's flat and I have family nearby so it looked like fun.

I'm now 3 weeks into the training program and it's going well so far.  I'm hoping for a time between 255 and 270 minutes and seem to be on track so far.  It's been hard work, but I'm very excited.  I only wish I could go and visit me at 13 to tell him what I'm up to right now.  He'd never believe me.

The Brighton Santa Dash 2008

The weather at last year’s Santa Dash was poor, but this year it was significantly worse.  The strong wind on the return portion made it very hard work.  I’m significantly fitter than I was for last year’s race but, to give you an idea how tough running into the wind was, I was 1¼ minutes slower than in 2007.  In the last kilometer or so I came very close to giving up and walking.  But I didn’t.

Still, it’s the only opportunity I get to dress up as Santa Claus and run about; it’s fun to see that many bedraggled people in costumes; and there’s the one great satisfaction of a race like this: nothing I do in the next week is likely to be as tough.  I’m definitely going to be there for the 2009 dash.




Mortality and Consumer Choice

I've recently been reading the Runner's Handbook.  It's a good source of background information and I'm learning a lot from it.  One thing I've learned is that through running I reduce my risk of dying from heart disease.  I'm pleased about this – I doubt heart attacks are much fun.  What the book doesn't seem to focus on is the implication of reducing my risk of heart disease.

Thing is, I'm almost certainly still going to die; which means I'm now more likely to die of something other than heart disease.  I had a look on wikipedia and found their List of Causes of Death by Rate.  To summarise:

  • 29.34% die of cardiovascular diseases
  • 19.12% die of infectious and parasitic diseases
  • 12.49% die of cancer
  • 6.49% die of pulmonary diseases
  • 6.23% die of "unintentional injuries"
  • The remainder are mopped up by digestive diseases, intentional injuries, and so on.

So, to alter the advice in the runner's handbook, I've not decreased my chance of dying of heart disease so much as significantly improved my chances of dying from disease or cancer.  Thanks, healthy lifestyle!

The 2008 Brooks Brighton 10K

Yesterday was the Brighton Brooks 10K race, which went very well.  I started further back than I wanted, meaning the first couple of kilometers were like Churchill Square on a Saturday.  Once past the crowd I could go faster and made up for lost time.  It was actually one of the easiest runs I've had (maybe because of the slow pace at the start) and I had lots of energy left for the finish. I was delighted to come in at 790th (by gun time – by chip time I came in 720th) at under 47 minutes – I knew I was faster than usual but not how fast.   I'm mostly recovered now but I'll take a few days off then switch down to practising 5K runs ready for the Santa Dash.

After the race (and still wearing my shorts) I visited the Art @ Taylor Made gallery where Jake Spicer was doing a live painting of Rosy.  I've often looked at paintings but not painting – it was fascinating to watch Jake picking out what information to put on canvas.  I'll post a photo of that when I get back to Brighton.

I had a long coach ride to Derby but I had lots of distractions- a history of, the West Wing and the BBC documentary on Hugh Everett (the "human interest" side was brilliant, but I wasn't sure about the physics explanations).  I wouldn't have survived without headphones to block out the people making long chatty mobile calls.  Maybe I do need an MP3 player after all?

I'm now in Derbyshire for a few days, relaxing and catching up with some friends.  I'm impressed that my sister has learned by heart the novel Each Peach Pear Plum

On (not) being able to run

One of the things I looked forward to in the new house was going running.  We're only a short distance from the seafront, which is a lovely flat route.  But it's not working out quite as well as I planned.

The problem is the wind.  One direction you can run happily, but than coming back is hard work.  Rain I don't mind, cold I don't mind, but I hate running into the wind – which means I've been slacking off rather a lot in the last month.  I've occasionally gone a few days without putting on my running shoes.

Thing is, most of the time the wind is not as bad as I expect (and certainly less testing than the Morecambe run in August).  I'm not sure how best to get my motivation going again.  I think what I'll do next week is go out every day, even if it's only for 5K, and simply get over it.  I can work on my distance again when my motivation is fixed.

Brooks Brighton 10K in November

I've taken a break from running since the Morecambe race but I'm looking forward to restarting my training in September when I return to Brighton.  To give me something to work towards I've sign up for the Brooks Brighton 10K on October November 16th.  I'm taking the next couple of months off to concentrate on writing which should also give me lots of time to practise running along the seafront.

The Morecambe Cross-Bay Run 2008

It's been a few days since the Cross Bay Challenge and the experience seems even less real than it did at the time.  I've never been in any other place like that bay.  There were few landmarks aside from the other runners so it seemed that running took you nowhere.

The race was planned between Flookburgh and  Hest Bank.  The distance would have been 13 miles, more or less, but the River Kent rose after the start meaning the race had to be turned back to the starting point.  Given the location the change is understandable – the organisers certainly weren't messing around.  Everyone issued with wristbands and checked on and off the sands, and the list of runners was shared with the RNLI and coastguard.  We were warned not to stray from the course because of quicksand.

The actual distance was 10.8 miles, which I ran in just over 100 minutes.  The first five miles I was going faster than I've run before because of the wind behind me.  I remember thinking how tough it would be if we ran against it.  And, as we approached the river Kent the line of runners turned and we were led straight into the wind.

For the first half mile the wind was so strong it knocked me back to walking speed and I stopped running to conserve my energy.  When it relented I started running again.  I couldn't figure out what was happening since I had little idea of the geography.  There should have been distance markers and water stops but after 4 miles these disappeared.  It was just the sands and the runners.

The bay was the most desolate place I've ever been and felt strangely spiritual.  The wind gathered up wisps of sand, forcing me to keep my eyes on the floor for long periods.  Running into the wind felt like a nightmare, that dream where you run and seem to be going nowhere.  Every so often we'd reach water and I'd speed up to cross as quick as I could.

It was only when someone pointed out we were reaching the place we'd started that I knew for sure what had happened.  Yes, it was obvious we were going the wrong way, but at the same time the wilderness was disorientating.  I kept expecting to reach the Kent crossing and approach  Morecambe.

My only criticism of the race was the mess left at the water stops.  The instructions had said to drop the bottles near the stations, but they ended up littered for some distance.  There must have been a better way to handle that.  I also feel a little sorry for Mum and Dad,who spent several hours waiting at the finish line with little information on what was happening.  They seemed to have enjoyed themselves anyway.

Some other posts on the event.