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Sunday, 16 September 2012

Farnham Pilgrim Marathon. Race report

Hats off to the organisers of the Farnham Pilgrim. What an amazing marathon. This is the far end of the NDW and I don't often get down to here unless it is an LDWA event.

This was my 30th Marathon. Somewhat of a milestone I guess. There were no personal expectations as readers of the blog will know that since the SDW100 and achieving a sub 24 on challenging territory, I was somewhat bereft of my mojo for the last 11 weeks. Having done nothing more than about 15 lazy miles as a long run recently, I knew that today I was going to struggle. The run yesterday, along with the 2.5 hour coaching session had left me aching in new places but a big dinner of veg from the garden and pasta allowed me to have a few carbs course through my veins!

At the start I met Dave Immune in the car park. Dave looks in fine form, as lithe as a ginger greyhound (he'll kill me for stating this!) and was in no mood to entertain my plans to bimble around and use as a "get the miles in" run. "my run will start with a 3 in it" said Immune......

At the start I bumped into Helen who i had run with for the whole of the SDW100. As the gun went off, Dave started at the front and I ran with Helen. Not having LSRs in my legs I bade farewell to Helly at about mile 3 and ran at a comfortable pace. Being the Pilgrims' there are lots of churches along the way. To the keen reader, this may not seem such a problem, but many of these vestibules of Christianity are in prominent places and often atop hills. The climb up to St Marys is nothing short of brutal, made worse since the last 3/4 of a mile is in sand......

St mary's was close to the half way point and I felt pretty good. Unusually, I didn't really strike up much more than a few words with fellow runners and neither did they. Most went about their business. "You done this before?" "No, me neither....beautiful though isn't it?" "Fucking sand!" was the level of dialogue.

There was a cruel little climb and switchback at St. Catherines ruins at about 16 miles, then back down and along the river (or maybe it was a canal!) where the scenery was stunning. At this point I realised that I had left my ibuprofen in the car and my lower leg near to the break last year started to give me a little niggle. I still felt mentally fresh and my legs were working well.

Hitting 20 with a cheeky 10k to go I had passed maybe 50 or so runners who had perhaps gone out too quick and were walking not the hills, but the flat parts. Usually I switch on the afterburners and head off at a hard pace and bang out the last 10k faster than the rest of the race. Upon reflection, back towards St Lawrence's, maybe a slight change in my gait and cadence developed into a touch of cramp or some sort of muscular niggle, coupled with my lack of long miles left me wanting at about 21 miles. I wanted to get home injury free so dropped my pace significantly and as such, from a sub 4, to a finish of 4.12. Slightly disappointed not to sub 4 but upon finishing meeting up with Dave who did 3.38 after doing 3.15 a few weeks ago, realised that perhaps this was a tough old beast.

It was a beautiful run and really well organised event and for £20 with a medal, T-shirt, loads of food, amazing marshalls and well stocked aid stations, organisers of ridiculously expensive events need to take note!

Marathon #30. Done.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

What are the streets of London paved with?

tower bridge by ultraBobban
tower bridge, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

As the rays of sun struggle to peer their way through tall buildings and trees as the autumn equinox approaches, I find myself looking at the social and income deprivation that surrounds our beautiful capital.

It all depends on where you run but like most South Londoners, you can't run far without crossing postcode borders, from classy big houses with gates to tenement facades and new-build legoland houses. Occasionally there is a bin upturned and unashamedly emptied across the pavements by festering foxes. Litter provides a good indicator as to the social deprivation of an area; whether from the dumped mattress or from cans of super strength lager or half eaten boxes of chicken and chips.

What I noticed as I was on my 7th run in 7 days earlier this week was the amount of men, mostly middle aged, drinking on the streets while walking, possibly home from work. London doesn't usually faze me but once I had my eye in, I could spot these ruddy faced fellas from a way away and then smell them as I strode by, avoiding litter and dog faces on the way.

The concentration of these chaps centred on areas of income deprivation so I ponder when running the indices of income deprivation now need to include these poor lost souls. I need to add that to the index of number of chicken shops per street, litter and dog faeces. A new method to the game of Map My Run

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Night Run (Downs NRG)

kent house by night by ultraBobban
kent house by night, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Downs NRG (Night Running Group) reconvened on Friday night not far from where we left off last time and after picking up Jezza, we headed to Foal Farm it was quickly into the evening discussion of Olympics, new backpacks and the recce for the October 16th run with the joining forces of possibly 3 running clubs worth of talent.

On a high elevation already, we headed for the old Spinning Wheel and looked to traverse the highest point in Kent. After just a mile or so, we switched to headtorches as the sun went down and we were in wooded territory.

Just then, a rustle in the scrub. A fox? A squirrel? No! This was massive! A bloody badger ran into our path, stopped us in mid stride and the bugger ran across my feet! Heavy little shits badgers are.

So on we went and after a pause to locate the highest point in Kent at 251m above sea level we headed slightly downhill and in search of the highest point on the Surrey part of the Downs. Not before we came across a field with blokes flying remote controlled planes in the dark. Could this night get any weirder?!

Onwards and to the ups and downs of the Downs and to the trig point cleverly hidden behind a tree between two masts and the highest Surrey Down was located. Back down the ridge and full of jovial Friday night banter. We arrived in no time at the pub for a pint of Stowford Press cider and 20 minutes of reminding ourselves of why we are real runners who run for runnings' sake and not for anything other than shits and giggles.

And back.......slightly slower, bellies full of apple juice. Until we were stopped by an Asperger's farmer who considered us for a short time as lamping Gypsies. Clearly we were sartorially different, minus greyhounds and rabbits......but we listened to the man who had a 19 inch neck and who gave up running to take ups......well we weren't going to mess. As he continued his monologue, we disappeared into the night and back to the car and then to civilisation. Downs NRG is alive and well and after another run just 10 hours later, I'm more than a little tired and enjoying a Kingston Episcopi 7.2% Botley Mill dry cider. wonderful