Wednesday, 6 June 2018

RACK Raid 2018

On Sunday 3rd June I took part in the annual RACK Raid (ruins and castle keeps), organised by Fairwater Running Club in Cwmbran. This was the 25th anniversary of this inter club relay race which this year was made up of 14 stages over a total of 114 miles, beginning in Llanthony and finishing at the Castell Y Bwch pub in Cwmbran.

I decided to drive the route the evening before, that way it would be fresh in my mind the next morning. This was a new first stage from Llanthony to Grosmont, a distance of 12.5 miles as usually the race begins in Grosmont.

Sunday morning came and I was up at 04:45 as I had to be on the road by 05:45 to be in Abergavenny for 06:15 to meet with Gwyn and Tom who were my designated support crew. I left my car in the car park and got into Gwyn's car for the final part of the journey to the slumbering village of Llanthony, where upon arrival we were met by a tree which had fallen across the road about 1 mile from the village and our start line.

The organisers made the decision to begin the race from the fallen tree, and they didn't have any other option really, and so at our designated race start time of 07:00, we were off.

The pack set off like a bunch of scalded cats, and they left me standing. There was no way I was going to be able to keep up with their pace, so all I could do was go at the fastest pace my little legs could manage.

The first 5 miles along the winding country road were easy as the road was either flat or a very slight down hill and my pace varied from 07:34 to 08:31, which is a very quick pace for me over this distance.

We reached the main Hereford road, which is usually quite busy, but not at that time on a Sunday morning, and there were marshals there to ensure we crossed it safely, and I then took the country road that would take me to Grosmont.

Very quickly the roads gradient increased and my pace slowed, (I'm pretty slow on uphill sections but usually make up what I lose on the down hill stretches), and then the road would level off for a short distance before beginning to climb again, and this pretty much continued like this until I reached the right turn into Grosmont, which was then down hill all the way for the next ½ mile

All the way along the route I could see a Pontypridd runner about 150 - 200m in front of me, and a Fairwater runner in front of him, but although I managed to close the gap on occasion, I couldn't catch them.

Each stage has a cut off time and mine was 1 hour 53 minutes, which I was a bit concerned about making before the race so, before I started I set the estimated finishing time function on my watch for 12.5 miles, which I find a much easier way of judging my pace in a race than looking at my pace itself, and for most of the race my watch was showing me an estimated finishing time of around 01:40 , so I was well within my cut off time even if I had run the full 12.5 miles, so I wasn't really bothered that I was the last runner to finish because I knew I had completed my stage within the required time, and that was all I could do.

Once I'd finished and recovered a little, it was time to hit the road and Gwyn drove me to the next stage at Skenfrith, where I changed cars and got a lift back to Abergavenny with Gareth. I watched the next group of runners begin their stage to the village of Moat and then the Skenfrith runners as they arrived. It was then time for me to head home to shower and get some food before heading out to support my club mates along the rest of the route.

What a fabulous day that was, which we ended by meeting at the finish line at the Castell Y Bwch pub for food and drink.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Ocean City Half Marathon & Eden Project Parlrun

I've just returned from my spring holiday, and what a fabulous time I had camping in Cornwall and Dorset with beautiful sunny, warm weather.

My first stop was in Cornwall so that I could visit my son and his family. Whilst I was there I was persuaded to take part in the parkrun at the Eden Project, which I wasn't intending to do as I was running a half marathon the following day. But I thought, what the heck, I can just take it easy and maybe a leg stretch would do me good. However it didn't quite turn out that way.

I ran this particular parkrun last December when I was visiting my son to deliver his Christmas presents, and I completed it in 25:57 which, considering the three zigzag hills on the course, I was pleased with. But this time I absolutely smashed that time, but also my own all time PB with a time of 25:10. Wow, where did that come from? To say that I was pleased was an understatement.

Wearing club colours at parkrun

The Plymouth Ocean City Half Marathon was taking place the next day, and with an 08:30 start, and an hours drive to get there, I was up at 5:45 and on the road by 6:30.

The sun was shining warmly and there was an on shore breeze as I walked from the car park along the road from the Barbican to the Hoe, where the race village and start was, and I had just enough time to use the loo and apply sun cream on my exposed skin before entering the starters pen, just behind the 2 hour 15 minute pace runners. I wasn't planning on taking that long though.

On the dot of 08:30 we were off and we headed downhill on a loop that would take us past the start again, along an uphill section there as we then headed towards the Barbican and east away from the city.

By mile 4 there was a long uphill climb for a little over a mile before we turned off the main road and along a country lane towards a wooded park. Up until now the sun had got pretty warm and so the shade of the trees was very welcome. But all too soon the park had been left behind and we were out into the hot sunshine again, and I was sweating profusely and grabbing a bottle of water from every water station.

The route took us back over a bridge and then there was an out and back section, roughly between miles 9 and 11 when we then headed back into the city the way we had come.

By this time the heat had got to me, but also probably the previous days parkrun had left me feeling more tired than I had thought also, and so the last two miles were pretty tough, and as you leave the Barbican, the road bends sharply right and you have the final ¼ mile with a tough uphill climb ahead and spectators clapping and cheering lining the road.

I didn't stop to walk, although I did feel like it, and I was pretty slow by this time. Another sharp right hand bend and the hill steepened a little more, followed by a sharp left hand bend and an even steeper ramp to negotiate before seeing the finish line about 400 metres away, and with only about 200 metres to go, I felt a sharp pain in my right calf and I wasn't sure if it was cramp or my old injury flaring up again, but I couldn't stop now and I managed a running hobble towards the line.

I had finished in 02:07, which considering the heat, I was reasonably happy with. Along the way I had seen St. Johns Ambulance staff seeing to runners who had collapsed, probably due to heat exhaustion and dehydration. I was told afterwards that the lead runner, having reached that final steep ramp in about 01:30 collapsed and had to be helped up so that he could finish.

All in all I enjoyed this race. It appeared to be well organised, the route wasn't bad at all, although I would like them to flatten out some of those hills, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a different race to take part in.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

ABP Newport Marathon Report

Sunday 29th April 2018 began as a bit of a chilly morning and a overcast, grey sky as I drove to my chosen parking spot only a few minutes walk from the start line.

On the Riverfront is a art structure known as "the Wave", which was where I had arranged to meet Michelle from Newport Live who, (as a EVERYbody competition winner), wanted to interview me on camera for a piece on the Newport Live website. This only took a couple of minutes and then I headed off to Friars Walk shopping centre where the guys and girls of Caerleon RC had arranged to meet to have a group photo taken.

The whole area was buzzing with people turning up from all over the UK to take part in this inaugural race. I spotted people from Plymouth in Devon, Stowmarket in Suffolk and Rugeley in Staffordshire.

This event was looking like it had been very well organised and there didn't appear to be huge queues for the toilets, but there were large queues to hand in our bags, the Friars Walk car park being the location for this, and what a great idea that was. All bags were being searched but once the organisers realised that they weren't going to be able to check every ones bags before the race was due to start, they speeded up the process by only checking random bags. Well done for this decision 👍

The race start was delayed by 30 minutes due to traffic holdups coming off the motorway for the Park & Ride bus service, caused by roadworks and the exceptionally large volume of traffic. Again, another good decision by the organisers. Imagine if they had gone ahead with a 9 AM start when hundreds of runners were still trying to reach the event. The downside of this was that thousands of runners had been standing around in their starting pens, in the cold, for probably about 45 minutes.

Awaiting the start in our pen
The race began and there were large crowds lining the start to see us off.
I quickly got into my race pace and I wouldn't be seeing Newport then for another 20 plus miles as the route took us out into open farm land as we headed towards the village of Magor, but I was surprised to see pockets of supporters waving and cheering in various places along the route. I thought that at best we wouldn't really see anyone, (other than the marshals), until we did reach Magor.
Passing my billboard picture

As I approached Magor, I could hear shouting and cheering, then, as I approached a sharp left hand bend, I could see large crowds lining the road with a bunch of hardcore Caerleon RC supporters whooping and hollering, which put a huge smile on my face. The route took us through the village in a loop and brought as out to where that group of Caerleon supporters were again, and they spurred me on through the halfway point.

13 - 18 miles were OK although by 18 miles I was really beginning to feel tired with a distinct lack of energy. So this was "the wall" that I had heard so much about. I had made a point of eating energy chews every 3 miles to try to replace some of the energy that I had used, but this strategy didn't seem to work for me.

The other thing was that my little toe on my left foot was feeling quite sore and I was also beginning to suffer from a few cramp twinges. I think my foot had swollen and my toe began to rub on the side wall of my trainer, and this was feeling very uncomfortable.

I was so happy to see the Transporter Bridge on Stephenson Street, but by this time my running pace wasn't that much quicker than my walking pace, or so it seemed, and I was having to walk a little and run a little by this time. I was keeping an eye on my watch which I had set up to show my estimated finishing time. Every time I walked the time dropped to about 5:08, and then when I burst into a trot again it dropped and I wouldn't stop to walk again until it reached 4:53. Once at the bridge end of Stephenson Street we doubled back towards Nash Rd where I saw others from Caerleon heading towards the bridge. Eddie, Sally, Jo, Shell, Yangi and others. Claire and Ann had already overtaken me ages before I got to the bridge.

25 miles done and a little bit of a hill as I ran over the SDR bridge, then we turned right into Usk Way and the final section to the finish line, and with just 200 metres to go Sally caught and overtook me, looking strong and fresh as a daisy. Curse you Sally 😁, but well done you, an awesome effort for someone who never thought that she would be able to complete a marathon. I remember when she told me that she had registered for the race and she said to me, "OMG, what have I done"? Well you done good girl!

No sooner had I crossed the line and grabbed a bottle of water, I heard a voice calling my name, it was Michelle from Newport Live who very quickly got me on camera to ask how my race had been, then I headed off to collect my medal and goody bag, meet up with C25K group friends Claire, Ceri and Cat and grab my bag so that I could change into a dry T shirt and change my trainers for flip flops before we headed off to grab a hot mug of coffee. Friend and Caerleon colleague Michelle Clabon phoned me to say that she was in the pub and did I want to join her for a beer? I didn't need to be asked twice and we all headed off to meet her and daughter Maddy.

Once home I was able to take a proper look at the damage to my toe, which was feeling a little sore and a lovely shade of purple.
I also had quite a large yellow bruise on my right calf, which I have no idea how I sustained, but that is the calf that has given me so much grief over the last 2 years, so I was just glad that it held out for this race.

I completed what I set out to achieve, which originally was one marathon but turned into two once the Newport race had been announced. Would I do another marathon? Hell no! Those last 6 miles were grueling on both races, not to mention the winter training in some of the worst weather conditions, and at night too. It also took up too much of my life with little time to do even the basics like housework. There were times when I was struggling to keep clean clothes on my back or eat a proper meal, the joys of living a single life eh.

So what next? Well, I am running in the Ocean City Half Marathon in Plymouth on the 20th May, I have a 10k trail race booked and I have been selected to run a leg of the RACK Raid, a 112 mile inter club relay race. I am also running the half marathon part of the Long Course Weekend in Tenby, which I ran last year and I fancied having another crack at this challenging, undulating route. I quite fancy doing more trail runs also and maybe even have a go at some fell running, but half marathon is as far a distance as I want to run now.

Check out the video below that Newport Live put together.

And here is the video that I produced using my GoPro camera.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Running Roundup # 14

It has been a little while since I've posted anything, and that is mainly because I haven't done anything much, running wise anyway. After Manchester I rested for a week, then due to some stuff going on at work I lost my mojo for a couple of days before about 10 days later going out to run with the 5210k group in Caerleon who were on week # 1 of this course, and we decided to introduce the group to the joys of Indian running. Unfortunately we had a temperature of around 22°C and so by the time the group had covered 2 miles, they were melting and had been sapped of their energy.

The Saturday saw me running at Riverfront Parkrun as usual, and it was nice to be able to run it at my own pace, as the previous 10 weeks had been run with the C25K group. I always find running at a much slower pace than I'm used to, is much more difficult than you would think. You may think it would be easy, but actually, I don't find it easy at all. So I paired up with Claire Louise, (who had also helped out with the C25K group) and we ran the distance together.

Me with Claire to my right (glasses & pink hair)
Claire was looking for a PB, which I didn't know if I could get for her, but I thought that if I just ran at a good strong pace then maybe it would happen for her.

We got to the half way turn around point by the rickety bridge, and Claire was still there, hot on my heels. By the time we reached George Street Bridge, with about half a mile to go, she was beginning to lag behind a little, and I slowed down to let her catch up, but she insisted I carry on at my own pace so that she could chase me, so I picked up my pace again and off I went.

I crossed the line in a time of 26:00 and Claire came in at 26:29 and yes, it was a new PB for her, which she was really chuffed with. Yayyyyyy 😂

Saturday evening was party time 

for the C25K group, and quite a few of us met up at The Potters in Newport town centre for a few celebratory drinks to mark the end of their running adventure, and a good time was had by all and I'm sure a few sore heads on Sunday morning.

On Tuesday the group met at the canal at 14 Locks for their run, so I thought I would tag along for a nice and easy plod, after all, I was going to be running another marathon on the next Sunday.

The weather was shocking, with strong winds and heavy, lashing rain, which reminded me of a couple of my marathon winter training runs where I got soaked through to the skin and was freezing cold. Fortunately we only covered a little over 3 ½ miles and not the 14 - 18 miles I ran my nightmare runs in.

Thursday saw the group back at Caerleon and this evenings session was to run a 1 mile time trial, make a note of their individual times and then at the end of 9 weeks to run the mile again and see how they have improved. We then did some 100 metre sprints before jogging back to the club house. 

On Sunday I will be running in the ABP Newport marathon, which has been promoted as the flattest marathon on the planet. I don't know about the planet but quite possibly in Britain. Once we leave the city and head out into the countryside it is definitely extremely flat. I ran many miles across those flat lands during my training sessions and feel it is flatter than Manchester was.

I've been contacted by Newport Live who have asked if we can arrange to meet before and after the race to interview me on camera, for their website I guess. They also asked for my race bib number so that they can track and tweet my progress. So I am meeting them at the wave at 8 AM to do this.

Before I go, I would like to say a HUGE thank you to all of my friends at Caerleon RC who have shared my training runs, and my pain, in the wind, horizontal rain and cold, but we did have some laughs along the way also. So thank you Sally, Carl, Tania, Rachel, Ann, Michelle, Maddy, Karen, (I will NEVER forget that grueling run with you, fortunately your company was awesome)! I would also like to thank others in the club who have given me sound advice, and to all the C25K 2018 group who must be bored to death by now of my marathon training stories. This maybe you in a year or two.

I'm hoping for a time of around 4:30 - 4:45 ish, so wish me luck, as I wish all of you luck, and I shall keep my eyes open for many of you who I know will be dotted around the route as marshals or spectators. But please don't shout out, "you're nearly there", as someone in Manchester did when I was still 9 miles out 😠

Thursday, 12 April 2018

I've only gone and done it!

That's it done, my first marathon completed. However, it didn't go to plan at all as I had some issues along the way.

The weekend began with an easy drive up to Manchester. My Travelodge was only a minutes drive from the M602 motorway where I exited by Media City, and where the BBC and ITV television studios have relocated to at Salford Quays.

There were five of us from Caerleon RC running in this race and there had been a bit of banter going on the Facebook messenger group page that had been set up, and we used that to arrange to meet up at Nando's for dinner from our respective hotels at 7 pm.

Sunday morning arrived and I was up early so that I could have my porridge two hours before the start of the race. There was also plenty of prep to do also with the taping of my calf's and filling my Camelbak with water etc.

I met up with my sister in the hotel lobby who had driven that morning from Blackpool to watch me run, and then Michelle and her husband Simon joined us and we began the short walk down towards the starting area.
Ness, Michelle & me 

We met up with Vanessa whilst Ian and Jason were way ahead of us in the faster starting pens, then Michelle and Ness decided to move into a pen ahead of me.

I don't really like that part of the race when I'm just standing there in my starting pen and waiting for the gun to go off, I just get fired up and want to get on with it.

And then we were away! Surprisingly there weren't too many people viewing the start, and I tried to get into my preferred pace as quickly as I could as we ran a 3 mile loop which took us back towards where we started and I just kept my heart rate at a steady 140 - 145 bpm. But by 6 miles something very unusual happened. My heart rate had crept up to my maximum of 162 bpm but my pace had not altered and I was still running the same average 09:40 minute miles as I had done over the previous miles, but I was feeling good without excessive, heavy breathing.

At 11 miles I felt a touch of cramp in my left calf, which again is unusual because I generally don't suffer from cramp.

My half marathon time was good and about where I wanted it to be at 02:09 and I was still feeling comfortable apart from the occasional cramp twinges.

At 15 miles tiredness was beginning to set in, the cramps were becoming more frequent, but worse than that, I needed a pee, so I had to stop at the portaloos for a much needed comfort break. By this time it was obvious to me that my hoped finishing time of 04:30 wasn't going to happen and so all I could do was plod on.
At 18 miles my thighs had become really tight and I had to stop for a minute to stretch them. This was turning into a bit of a nightmare, and having previously run in two 20 mile races as part of my training, I couldn't work out what the hell was going on. Was I just having "one of those days"?

At 20 miles I was out in the countryside, and it reminded me very much of my training runs when I headed out towards Goldcliff and the Newport wetlands, which is all very flat farming land, with a few posh houses thrown in here and there.

Whilst out in this section, (and my cramps were still bugging me big time), I glanced over to my left and there was a young lady who was looking a little tearful, and understanding her plight I said hello to her and I told her that I was also struggling, having to run and then walk when a cramp attack took place, and so I asked her to run with me, which she did.

Donna and myself
Her name was Donna and she was from the Wirral and she was running on behalf of Guide Dogs for the Blind. We chatted some and I tried to offer her encouragement and we stuck together for probably about 3 miles, until Ness and Michelle caught me up and I continued to run with them.

With about 1 ½ miles to go, Ness and Michelle were beginning to leave me behind, I just didn't have the legs to keep up with their pace, and cramp or no cramp, I was going to continue on, non stop, to the finish line.

Barriers on the pavement stopped the public from encroaching onto the road and there were plenty of spectators there, cheering and encouraging on runners they didn't know, and in the distance I could see the finish line.

I continued my slow but steady progress but that finish line was just taking an age to get closer, but of course eventually it did and I crossed the line with a huge sigh of relief. I didn't feel elated, proud, excited, nothing like that, just HUGE relief as I walked very gingerly into the finishers enclosure to collect my goody bag and meet up with the others.

Spot the Steve approaching the finish line competition 
At this point, a couple of things happened. Firstly my head became very light headed and I felt dizzy, and my legs also felt wobbly. Michelle told me that I had gone as white as a sheet. The other thing was that I was feeling guilty. Guilty for having left Donna behind to cross the line on her own. I am still torn as to whether I did the right thing at that point when I left Donna. On one hand, she seemed much better by this point and I knew that she would make it to the end and that it was OK for me to leave her and continue on to the finish with my club mates. But on the other hand my conscience is telling me that I should have stuck with Donna to the line. This would play on my mind later once I returned home. More of that later.

A very slow and painful walk back to the hotel followed, although I really did have to laugh about it, but another strange thing happened. Although I had put on my hoodie and I was warming up, my hands were freezing, so much so that my fingers went numb, and this was something that I had never experienced before.

I stripped down to my shorts and lay back on the bed. Oh the relief! This was bliss! I laid there without moving for about an hour before dragging myself to the shower.

Michelle and I enjoying a
 Expresso Martini
Later that evening a few of us went to Cafe Rouge for dinner as we were in the mood for a big, fat, juicy steak, whereas the others went to Bella Italia, but Michelle and I just didn't fancy pasta, that wasn't going to cut it. And the very kind staff at Cafe Rouge gave Michelle and I both a Expresso Martini, on the house to help celebrate our achievement. Then it was back to our hotel for a nightcap and to have one last chat about our experience.

Once home again, my thoughts returned to Donna and yes, I was feeling guilty for leaving her alone, and if this had been a training run and not a race, and also my first marathon, that would NEVER have happened. I would have stuck with her to the very end, encouraging her all the way. So how could I find and contact her to see how she finished? Facebook seemed to be the obvious solution at first, someone on there was bound to know her.

I am part of a closed group on Facebook called "Did you run today?" and so I created a new post and included a picture of myself and saying that I was looking to make contact. I also contacted Guide Dogs for the Blind but they replied saying that due to data protection laws they were unable to help. But on Monday evening there was a post from a lady who said that she new Donna and she gave me her surname, which allowed me to find her on Facebook and then I was able to make contact.

At mile 25 Donna met a friend who crossed the line with her in a time of 05:10, so I am happy that it all turned out well for her in the end.

As for my own time? 04:56 which was way off the 04:30 I was predicting. Having analysed my own race I now think I know what my issues were, and it may be down to my electrolyte drink tablets having caffeine in them, and also popping the occasional half a dozen chocolate coated coffee beans into my mouth. I used the coffee beans on the two 20 mile races with no ill effect, but with the caffeine in the electrolyte, I think this sent me over the top, increasing my heart rate and also possibly giving me the cramps. So on the 29th April I shll be running in the ABP Newport marathon, which is flatter than Manchester, and I will not be using any caffeine at all.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Running Roundup # 13 (Unlucky for some)

Saturday saw me at the Riverfront Parkrun as usual to run with the C25K group, who began their penultimate week of the 9 week course. They have run so brilliantly over the last couple of weeks that it was decided to try them running the full Parkrun distance, non stop, and without the usual 5 minute warm up walk.

I hung about towards the rear of the group and Andrew took up the most rearward position. As we were approaching the halfway turn around point, Collette began to pull away, and seeing that everyone else in the group was covered by a volunteer helper, I decided to stick with her.

Collette did brilliantly finishing in 34 minutes and knocking about 4 minutes off her PB, but then I would have expected that as we didn't do the warm up walk section. Many of the others also took time off their PB's too and were just buzzing with excitement at the end of the run.

Tuesday is club night as always and this weeks route was the Frechfa Frolic, a simple out and back course.

I headed off with the 6:45 group and caught up with David Davies for a while until we saw Natalie running towards us, who decided to turn around and join us running in the opposite direction. Our pace picked up a bit and we left David behind. The pace was good but my heart rate was a little higher than I would have liked it to be, but I was feeling comfortable.

On the return leg Natalie peeled off and headed for home so I slowed my pace right down and then was overtaken by Mr Speedy pants, Andrew Wright with about 1.5 miles to go, but I was the first was home from my group.

Being the first Tuesday in the month, we stayed behind in the club house to enjoy a beer and a chat, which was mostly about the forthcoming marathons.

And that is now it for me! The next time I run will be on Sunday in the Manchester marathon. I was going to do a slow 3 miler on Thursday and then run with the C25K group on Saturday morning, but I've been persuaded not to, that I should be resting and saving my energy, so that is what I shall do. I will be baking a cake and taking it along to Parkrun for the group though, and cheering them on as they come through the finish line.

So my next Running Roundup will be my marathon report. Wish me luck eh.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Running Roundup # 12

Saturday was a very easy day for me, I drove down to the Riverfront Parkrun and joined my C25K group for their run.

It was the start of week 7 which meant a 5 minute warm up walk, followed by 25 minutes of non stop running, and in fairness, most of them just carried on running past the 25 minute mark and finished the course running.

Most of them managed to improve their speed and were really pleased once they'd seen that they had a new PB, and that will continue now for the next two weeks, as that will be the end of this course for this particular group of runners. But I think that most of them will go on to join the 5210k group afterwards, and I know that some of them have already entered 10k races.

Sunday saw me traveling to Quedgeley in Gloucestershire with Liz, Vanessa and Yangi, all from Caerleon RC to take part in the Gloucester 20 mile road race.

The day began quite chilly and a little overcast, but that was to change and we would end up finishing the race in glorious sunshine.

My race began fine, and I'd started with a plan and hoped that I could keep to it as I wanted to try and improve my time of 03:28 from the Fission 20/20 a couple of weeks ago.

I set my Polar M430 watch for a 20 mile distance to give me an estimated finishing time, which is a great way of keeping a track of my time during the run, but I was really following my heart rate and trying to keep it at about 145bpm, which equates to a pace of about 09:40 per mile, or at least until I hit the 15 mile mark anyway when I found that my pace was getting slower but my heart rate was climbing to a little over 150bpm.

The race is a 6.6 mile loop and there are 3 laps of mostly flat roads but with a couple of small hills. I got lapped during my second lap by the lead runners, (no surprise there), and I believe the winner came in to finish in a time of about 01:54. I bet he had 3 Weetabix for breakfast 😉

The first 2 laps for me were fine but my pace did slow on the third lap, and the hills were about 2/3rd away around the course, but I didn't have the strength in my legs then to run up them, so a brisk walk it had to be, until I reached the brow of the hill anyway.

With about 1.5 miles to go, my watch was estimating a finish time of 03:22 and so I dug deep and tried to increase my pace a little, and just a few minutes later I finally crossed the finish line, and my legs were totally shot.

It was at this point that the thought occurred to me that had this been a marathon distance, I would still have had another lap to go, and I did begin to wonder if I would have had the energy left in my legs to do that. I know I had paced myself for 20 miles and not 26 miles but, had this been a marathon, and I had run at say a 10 minute mile pace, would I have been in a better position strength wise at the end of the 26 miles? I'm not so sure. The 09:40 pace was comfortable, my breathing was easy, I was able to talk if I wanted to, my legs felt good. If I had run it a little slower I'm not so sure that I would have saved any energy for later. I guess I probably just hit "the wall"!

So I'm thinking that my final 6 miles in Manchester are going to be the toughest 6 miles I will ever run and that all I can do is to try to keep my legs turning over as best that I can and try to think beyond the pain and look forward to a hearty meal and a couple of beers in the evening with my friends.

So that is my training phase now complete and I have now entered the tapering phase, and time to begin resting my weary legs.

By Tuesday my legs were still feeling a bit achy, and I decided that I wouldn't do the club run that evening so, I went along for a very slow and easy 2 miles with the C25K group and was pleasantly surprised how good my legs actually felt, but I think I really needed to rest my legs anyway, I am in the tapering phase of training and I should be resting and storing energy in the bank.

Wednesday evening I went along to the Farmers Arms in Goldcliff, which is where Run Wales were holding a seminar about the ABP Newport Marathon, which is only about one month away now.  This was headed up by double Olympian, Steve Brace with other guest speakers, who were all there to tell us what to expect and how to prepare in these final few weeks, but first we headed off along the flat lands to run either 4 or 6 miles, and of course I chose 6 miles.
The route

Pre run briefing
The leaders pace was a bit quick for me so I just let them get on with it and zoom off ahead, but I did want to run this at about a 10k race pace, and as it turned out, I was pretty consistent although once or twice I did have to slow my pace a little as my heart rate was creeping up to my maximum limit, but I averaged a 08:32 per mile pace, which I was pleased with.

Steve Brace addressing the runners
I'm now going to enjoy two days resting and give my calf muscles a well earned break. On Saturday I shall run to Parkrun, an easy paced run along the canal path and home again for about 10 miles, and then I may not run again until the Tuesday club run. I will then have to start thinking about getting my kit sorted out to take to Manchester as I hate leaving things to the last minute and then finding that I have forgotten something vital.

Only 10 days to go to the big M 😲

RACK Raid 2018

On Sunday 3rd June I took part in the annual RACK Raid (ruins and castle keeps), organised by Fairwater Running Club in Cwmbran. This was th...