Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Lightning, Yoda and a bacon baguette.

Not long after finishing the Lightning run, I sent a text to my mate Simon..."Proves that it's not all physical  If you want to do it; it's there to be done".
I didn't mean to get all Yoda or sound like Confucius (the bloke from the Chinese takeaway) but it sums up how I felt and what I had achieved.

I arrived on the Saturday nice and early (second person there!) and got my tent up and sorted in no time at all. It was nice to sit and chillax watching people arrive and striking up some running related banter.
Because I was running as a soloist; we have our own area to camp in.

It was proper warm so it was a blessing when the ice cream van pitched up. I'm not sure of the nutritious values of ice cream but it tasted good.
I was wary of just sitting around all day so I walked a tiny bit of the course. I'm sooo pleased I walked the course in reverse because 300 metres after the start there's an almighty hill which would have put me on the back foot even before I had started!

I'll quickly describe the course now but go into a smidge more detail later. One word Brutal. As mentioned, the course turns right up a very steep hil shortly after the startl. The only people I saw run up it were those in 5 man teams where they might only be doing 1 or 2 laps during the whole day, so could bust a gut to get up it.
The hill entered one of the wooded areas and here the route consisted of 1/4 mile of very narrow, twisty sections. Tree stumps and branches were just waiting to trip you up or twist ankles plus in parts the organisers had to cut back bluebells and general grassy green stuff, so it was also very slippy.
The course had a couple of flatish sections but because they were over slippy grass early in the day, they still required special attention. In contrast, there were a few sections of extremely hard baked tractor paths (is that what you call them? Tractor roads) which were rutted and again were a fantastic temptation for weak ankles.
No matter how hard I try and describe the course, without you being there, you can't appreciate how tough it was. It makes Kielder look like the Newcastle Town Moor Parkrun.

The night before was bloody freezing. You know it's cold when you use a portaloo after someone else, sit down and think "oh, that's lovely and warm".
Before I knew it, my alarm was going off for 4:30am. Race day!

A sandwich from the catering tent and a cup of tea was my pre-race food of choice. This was followed by a safety brief at 0530 and we lined up at 0550 ready for the off.

Lap 1

As a soloist, I took my place at the very back of the course with my fellow nutters and at 6am a rather feebler hooter sounded, and we were off!
Runners in teams of five powered off (I believe the fastest lap of the day was 38 minutes) while the nutters set off at a more leisurely pace as we were potentially going to run for another 11 hours and 59 minutes.
The first 200 metres ran through the campsite with the sound of cheering, clapping and words of encouragements. We continued for another 300 metres-ish on the relative flat before taking a sharp right up an incredibly steep hill which, after 3 laps, I named it ‘Twat Hill”.
Almost all soloists walked up this hill and that was my plan for the rest of the day.
Once Twat Hill was overcome, the route twisted through one of the wooded areas. This was a very twisty section with very slippy parts due to the organisers cutting a path through the undergrowth for us to follow. Ankle snapping tree routes, branches and random holes were all dangers to be wary of but apart from a few stumbles later on in the day, the trips and falls didn't affect me although I do know a few people came a cropper.
My plan even on lap 1 was to walk any kind of uphill and run downhill and the flat sections. It was chilly at 6am so I was wearing my tights (running, not fishnet), long sleeved Skins compression top, long sleeved shirt and Wallsend Harriers club vest.
There was a drinks station just after 3 miles which you passed again at the 5 mile point. Both times I drank 2 plastic cups of water. As the finish of Lap 1 was approaching I had to plan on what my strategy was to be. I toyed with the idea of running 2 laps back to back but discounted that as being bloody stupid so I decided to pause for a drink and gel.
With half a mile to go there’s a very steep descent which snakes towards the start/finish area. Rounding the corner, the chap on the tannoy gave me a shout “Soloist Mick Stringfellow, finishing his first lap”
Me…a soloist :)

The soloists don’t go into the main handover area where the soft runners go (soft = teams of 5), instead, we peel off after the finish line and enter our camping area. Here we can grab some food or drink or change shirts etc. There’s no stipulation on time spent in this area so if you wanted to, you could finish lap 1, have a 4 hour break and run another lap. You could even cross the track and go the main area for a massage or to the catering tent. The choice is entirely yours. I went to my tent, took a big glug of Lucozade and an energy gel.

Total Miles - 6

Lap 2

Within a mile, I started to get a hot spot on the heel of my right foot. I can count on one foot how many blisters I've had during my illustrious running career but here am I with a goddam blister in the making and I could also feel a hot spot on my pinky toe! I think it was just due to the unnatural movement of my foot in the show due to the changes in terrain.
The only real change in this lap was the amount of runners had thinned out so I was running by myself for quite a time. It’s fab when someone running the hills gives you a “well done solo”. Nice boost and feel good factor.
A mile into my second lap (7 miles) was a nice achievement. My longest run since the Great North Run back in September!
At the end of Lap 2 I peeled off towards my tent and did some work on my feet. A couple of compeeds on my heel and pinky and a change of socks were welcome relief. I also ditched the Skins top. Half a bottle of Lucozade and another gel and I was off for more.

Total Miles - 12

Lap 3

Much slower was the theme here. Feet were ok but it was getting warm now and I was desperate for a drink. I realised that my drinking strategy was letting me down. (Note to self – buy a camelback for next year)
Another achievement; once 13.1 miles was passed, it become my longest run for 4 years!!
At the end of lap 3 I changed into short sleeve top, club vest. I kept my tights on in the belief they might hold my legs together.
I was hungry now so more Lucozade, gel and half a ham bap.

I was chatting to an experienced ultra runner who was pitched opposite my tent and he said “its difficult to get the eating strategy right without overdoing it and spewing”

Total Miles 18 

Lap 4

I took half a bottle of Lucozade with me and a gel. My plan now was to drink the half bottle before the 3 mile water station, have a gel at the water station and a couple of cups of water.
It must have been the motion of running, the gels and food that caused me to throw up around the 23-ish mile mark. Nice.
Back at tent I took an extra long break of 3-4 mins. Gel and water, no Lucozade

Total Miles – 24

Lap 5

Tough. No other words required. (apart from maybe prefixing tough with fooking)

Total Miles 30 

Lap 6

When I arrived back in the nutter area there was no doubt in my mind that I would do another lap. No brainer.
I wanted 36 miles.

Unfortunately my mate Vixx pulled out of the run earlier but was on hand to give me some encouragement and to take my photo before I took a step into the unknown…over 30 miles.

There was a lot of walking, a lot. No matter how hard I tried, I really, really, struggled to run. I was aching all over.
Due to dehydration my head was aching, my neck and upper back were stiff. My lower back which has given me nothing but problems over the years was amazingly fine!
My ITB (side of legs, running to outside of knee) were sore to touch and caused pain. My quads were shaking and my lower leg at the front (no idea of technical term) were shot. I had hotspots on blisters and blisters on hotspots.
I was well and truly knackered. I’ve never been so bolloxed in my life.

The week before I asked my Son; Thomas to pick a number. He picked 32.
My plan was to phone him at 32 mile and speak to him. My thinking was it would give me a mental boost and push me on. I had my phone in my back pocket, so just as my Garmin battery packed up at 31.5 mile, I phoned him.

Me   “Hi, Tom…it’s me. Y’allright? Remember when I asked you to pick a number? What was it”
Tom   “32”
Me   “Guess what, I’m just passing 32 miles now mate”
Tom   “ok, arr right. Ok, see you later”

Not the most encouraging conversation but it was nice to say Hi and it still gave me a boost. Cheers Tom!! :)

I tried to take a gel at 3 miles into lap 6 (33 Mile) to give me a final push but I spat most of out as it was close to making me throw up so I ditched the gel and plodded on.
Entering the finishing straight was such a relief.
I knew, just knew that there was no chance I could do another lap; no way. I was done in.

Vixx took my photo as I crossed the line which was cool. Cheers mate.
As soon as I got to camping area I lay behind the car to escape the sun. I felt relatively ok lying down but as I sat up after 5 minutes I felt extremely nauseous. Vomit number 2 was on its way; watery mouth and everything going on; nice!

I kept it down and hobbled to my camping chair. Vixx said I went grey and Christ I felt it.
After 10 mins I started to feel better so I grabbed my kit and hobbled to get a shower and change. Sorry to mention this but chaffing….OMG…never had chaffing like it.
I was walking like a 95yr old man due to blisters on the sole of left foot, together with chaffing in places I didn't know existed and legs which felt like they were cast from iron.

Total miles - 36
Position - 39th of 50 soloists
Total vomits - 1
Total blisters – Many
Total gels taken - 5 and a half
Total Lucozade - 2 bottles
Total water - approx 1.5 litres
Total food during race – Half a ham bap.
Pre-race breakfast  - Sausage sandwich (Mo Farah had one before the VLM), one cup of tea
Post run food – Meatballs and slice of garlic bread with loads of salt within 60 minutes.
I also bought a Bacon baguette and had it much later, about 4 hours after finishing and it was the best baguette ever. One thing is though, following these stupid races any food with any kind of salt content stings the roof of my mouth like crazy. I guess it's the salt deficit.

I stopped over night as driving home would kill my legs and there’s always a danger of falling asleep at the wheel. So, in slow time I packed away most of my stuff in the car and hit the camp bed around 8:30.

I really enjoyed the weekend. It was the toughest race yet but the banter with fellow runners on the course and before and after is great. Although only speaking for a few minutes you have a bond and an appreciation of how tough it is but you always part with a "good to speak to you", "good luck" etc.

I will 100% do this again next year. I've got some ideas and plans already. I need to look at hydration and that other thing that I never seem to do...train.
Oh yeah, I should really get some miles in before doing these races.
But, as Yoda would say "Proves that it's not all physical  If you want to do it; it's there to be done"


Monday, 28 April 2014

Lightning strikes next Sunday!

With less than a week to go before I run for 12 hours! I'm feeling pretty relaxed about it.
I'm physically not prepared but I'm mentally ready to rock 'n' roll.

I've got an extra incentive to keep going when the going gets tough (see below)
How many miles will I do?
I have no idea. 30, 40 or even 50?
With 6.5 miles being longest run since September and not having run further than 13.1 miles for well over two years; I'm obviously going for the 50+. :)

Luke Collins.

On 15th July 2010, aged 7 months old, Luke was diagnosed with a visual pathway glioma (a brain tumour on his optic nerve). Since then he's had numerous operations, chemotherapy and has had a really tough time.

Please look here for more information.


I've never asked anyone for sponsorship since I've started running, but I'm doing it now for the very first time.

Money raised will be spent to improve Luke’s quality of life; to ensure he has access to all of the best aftercare, therapies and rehabilitation; to ensure Luke is supported to develop fully making sure all the necessary resources are made available to him at home

I'm running my second ever ultramarathon (and encompassing my second ever marathon) on 4th May. The race starts at 6am and continues for 12 hours. The challenge is to run as many miles in 12 hours. It's all off road trails and is very, very hilly.

My proposal is this;
For every mile I run, may I ask that you pledge 30p to Lukes fund.

To put it into context. My longest run since October is 6.5 mile and I've only just got back into regular running. It's going to be a huge physical and mental challenge but nothing, and I mean nothing, to what Luke is going through and will do for a long time.
I'll run, walk, shuffle or crawl for the 12 hours so please, please, do what you can.

To donate, please go to www.gofundme.com/lukeslifelonglabour

I'll be updating my progress on Facebook as the race progresses.

Thank you for your time.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Lightning forecast in 27 days.

Only 27 days left before I embark on my second Ultramarathon which will hopefully encompass my second ever marathon.

I've got back into regular running over the past 3 weeks with Wallsend Harriers. I'm not exactly running 24/7 in fact it's only twice a week but I'm back enjoying my running again.

Physically i'm not ready for the Lightning but I'm mentally ready to go!

I have 3 targets for the day...

3 - 26.2 miles
2 - Over 35 miles
1 - Over 40 miles.

As the route is technical and all off-road, my plan is to walk up the hills and run downhill and the flat.
I'm not going to give up; I'm ready to keep moving for 12 hours.
I'd be over the mood to average 4 miles as hour but who knows. As long as i keep on moving I'll be happy.

Friday, 10 January 2014

New Year, New Body?...

Nah, not a new body; just tuned up a bit!
It's safe to say that I've put quite a lot of weight on during 2013 due to my not running.

As of January 7th I've started my body tuning. Unfortunately I'm not running due to ear infection but as of the 7th, I've stopped eating bread (apart from 2 slices of toast Mon to Fri breakfast. Can't stomach cereal)
I've also stopped eating sweets/chocolate etc. Just sticking to 3 meals a day.

I have the Lightning 12hr ultra on May 4th and I've saved a bottle of red wine from Christmas, as my prize  :)
I love my red wine but not red wine will pass my lips until May.

Last July I was a hefty 14.8 but on Tuesday I was 15.1.
My aim is to get to 13.7 by December. Possible? I hope so. :)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Thunder & Lightning very very frightening me galileo galileo

No I'm not starting a Queen tribute band but I am doing the Thunder run in July (my 5th) and I've just signed up for the Lightning run in May (my 2nd)

Lightning Run = run as far as you can in a 12 hour period (6am - 6pm)
Should be interesting :)

Monday, 7 October 2013

Kielder Duathlon 2013 (run, bike, run)

What a bloody tough day at the office.
Put the kettle on, crack open the chocolate hob-nobs and I'll tell you about my day at Kielder...

I had a score to settle at Kiedler. In 2011 I attempted to do the race as a soloist but 3 miles into the bike section it went all wrong and I had to call it a day, so it was payback time!. (read about 2011 here)
To be honest I didn't really think about doing it until my mate Simon, badgered me into doing it although to be fair it didn't take long for me to say yes.

The course covers the 26.2 marathon route and consists a run. bike and run (hence the name!!)
You can enter as a team of 3 or as a stoopid soloist!
As an added bonus Daley Thompson was taking part! His two sons doing the running legs and Daley on the bike. This was my chance to take on an Olympian!!

With our bikes gracing the roof of my car we set off at 8:30 getting to Kielder around 10:20 giving us plenty time to park up, get the bikes ready and book them into the bike drop off area. You're allocated a  crate which travels to the first transition area (T1) with your bike. Inside I had my helmet, bottle of lucozade, SiS carbo gel and glasses.

Following in the tradition of the worlds elite athletes and in particular Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, we tucked into sausage sandwiches and a cup of tea. Pre-race refuelling sorted :)
Our pre race conversations were random as ever but one interesting topic we discussed was the pros and cons of having a wee while running or cycling. I think it was unanimous that if it was lashing down we could safely pee while cycling but if it was dry then it was probably a no-go. With the weather remaining bone dry all day and the sun beating down we discounted wee-gate.

The race was due to start at 1pm so we made our way to the start area. Looking around there were some obvious 'expert' triathlon type people. I didn't want to embarrass them so my game plan was to let the speedy runners go off ahead. ;)
It was great to see so many Wallsend Harriers taking part today most of them doing the RBR and a couple starting 10 minutes later in the 10k race.

The start is on a slight incline which after 20 yards takes a right up the first of many hills and away from the main area.
My plan was to take the first run steady. My last run was the Great North Run back in mid September and training before that was non existent so i had to run slowly. To be honest even if I was at my optimum fitness i'd still be cursing at that hill. The route swoops down back into main area and over the finish line (if only!!!)
The 7 miles are a constant up and down hilly route with minimal flat stretches. In a normal 10k I'd stride out and pick up speed on the downhills but I held back and coasted down as punishing the quads so early would hamper my bike section and the bike bit was where I thought I could make up some time after a slow run.
I was expecting the run to be around 6.4 as my previous attempt but T1 had moved to 7.1 miles which wasn't nice.
7.1 miles of up, down, up, down, up, down...etc

Distance 7.1 mile -  Time 1:12:12

Helmet on, swig of Lucozade, energy gel, gulp of water, glasses on. Then it was bike time :)
Time in T1; 1:50

Immediately, and I mean immediately, there was a hill and a bloody steep one. Downhill would have been appreciated to get into the cycling but it wasn't to be.
Just like the first running leg, it was up and down all the way with some quad killing uphills but the down hills were excellent.
My first big downhill and I was going way too fast but I though what the hell! :) A woman on front was braking all the way down as I could hear her disc brakes squeaking and I shouted "ON YOUR LEFT" She must have thought what an idiot but I didn't fancy having a collision!
The only ailments I had was the feeling that my calf's were seconds away from cramp after 3-4 miles. On the downhills I kept trying to stretch them as best as I could. It must have worked as they constantly felt they were 'seconds from cramp disaster' but thankfully they remained intact.
Knowing I was coming to the conclusion of the bike section, I was standing up on the pedals as much as possible to try and stretch the back and legs as much as possible in preparation.

Loads of switchbacks and loose gravel made it very interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. I stopped once to grab a bottle of water and fill up my bike bottle which must have taken less than 30 seconds.

Near the end of the course a fast downhill switched left and up an almost vertical climb, the corner was so tight that I started to go down the ditch on the far right side, another rider who made the same mistake but had to stop told me to "dig in, you can get round and up, don't stop"
Hill followed by hill followed by hill followed by hill...etc

I think 2 people passed me and I reckon i must have passed maybe 5?
The only flat part is 12 mile in as you ride along the dam. Unfortunately the cross wind spoilt what would normally have been a welcome flat section.
It was hard work but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the ride. but I knew what was waiting for me....the last run
Distance 15.55 mile - Time 1:27:39


Dismount bike (like an 85 year old), helmet in crate, glasses off, gulp of lucozade and I was off.
Time in T2; 1:40 (slick!)


Please forgive my language but the final 3.83 miles were a complete and utter twat.
If my hamstring could talk they would have said "you have to be fooking joking", my calf's would say "stop, stop...STOP"
I was passed by a group of 4 people, which I hated. I tried to hang onto the back of them but it was no use. There was no one behind me and it wasn't long before the passing 4 were away and out of sight (i'd like to think they were running as a part of 4 teams and were fresh)
The last run took me 47 minutes which is utter crap but I was shuffling.
The Kielder running weekends catch phrase is 'Britains most beautiful  If you were spectating it is indeed a beautiful part of the UK but to be fair I was only interested in the patch of gravel directly in front of me. I could have been running through the concrete city of Scunthorpe, it wouldn't have made a bit of difference.
Hey guess what...the last section was hilly! :)

With 100 yards to go I got a fantastic cheer from the Wallsend Harriers crew as I returned to the relative metropolis of the Leaplish Visitor Centre and more importantly the finish line!
My passing comment along with a wave was "i'm broken" but was accompanied by a smile. :)

Simon took a snap of me with 50 yards to go.
I've titled this photo, "The Death Shuffle"

The speed bump ahead of me on the photo was like a mini mountain. Even lifting my feet 3 inches off the ground was an effort!
As you can tell; my running form has collapsed and I'm just shuffling to the line.

Distance 3.83 mile - Time 47:12

Total distance 26.55 mile
Total time - 3:30:44

The commentator was name checking everyone as they approached the finish line. Hearing my name and the crowds clapping and cheering was a great end to a tough race.
Over the line, pick up goody bag and the best bit...they actually hang the medal around your neck. It's the only race that I've done where they do it and it really does make a huge difference.
I picked up my bag and met Simon who had just bought a cup of tea which was 'lush'.

So then, did I beat Daley Thompson, the Olympian?

The chicken didn't take part!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Lightning 12hr

Having a long term target should/could/may help me keep up with the regular running especially if it involves sticking to a plan.

So now the London Marathon is a no show I'm going to give the Lightning 12hr a crack in May next year!.

I did it in 2011 with no training and no running at all in the preceding weeks and still managed to do 30 miles. (6.30 hours) I was broken!

I haven't really though about a training plan but I think I'm going to probably adhere to a marathon distance program. Its too early to say I want to do 30, 40, 50 miles but...50 miles is the one to go for!!!

Virgin London Marathon

Three words...


Monday, 23 September 2013

Final long ride before Kielder

I know whoever is reading this pretty much has no interest in my cycling and running etc but here I go again...

Today was pretty much my last 'long' bike ride before killer Kielder, so after a bit of planing and investigation via Google maps, I decided on a route taking me from North Shields to South Shields to Newcastle and back home.
I set off from home in glorious sunshine and headed through Royal Quays and North Shields to the Ferry.

I had a rough idea which way to head...West. As long as I keep the River in view I shouldn't go too far wrong.

I reckon I must have been on the roads for 4-5 mile before picking up the cyclepath/wagonways onwards to Newcastle.

Looking towards South Shields
I've no idea why I haven't done this before. It was stunning. The route meanders along the river throwing enough little ups and downs to get the heart pumping but also lets you relax on the down hills to soak up the environment.

I've been through Hebburn before and have never ever thought; "hmmmm, what a lovely place this is" Mainly because it's a bit of a dump but if you search out Hebburn Riverside you'll love it as the following photo will explain...

Hebburn Riverside

I crossed the Tyne on the Millenium Bridge and grabbed a cuppa from one of the many coffee shops along the Quayside and then continued on home keeping to the Hadrian Cycle path which meant I didn't have to go anywhere near a road until half a mile from home.

I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It's a great way to unwind and switch off to normal stresses and strains of life and just cycle for the pure enjoyment; exploring somewhere different and enjoying life.

Will todays bike ride improve my chances of finishing Kielder? No Idea is the answer.
I did 19.27 miles average speed 11.8mph. The bike bit of Kielder is 16-ish miles but is a heck of a lot hillier than today plus I will have just ran 11k, which lets be honest, will make a huge difference!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Killer Kielder Duathlon

Only a couple of weeks left before my second stab at doing the Kielder Duathlon (Run, Bike, Run)
If you look at my old race reports here you'll see that I've got some unfinished business at Kielder so i'm really looking forward to it.

Stage 1 - 11km run
Stage 2 - 25km bike
Stage 3 - 6km run

Today was my longest bike ride for some time. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though it was lashing down. It was probably 80% off road, mainly on Wagonways and bridleways hence the fairly slow time but it's good practice for killer Kielder.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Oggi Oggi Oggi, Pace Pace Pace, Oggi Oggi Oggi, PB PB PB!

All the chit chat in the days leading up to my 7th GNR was about the expected rain and gale force winds, however it turned out to be excellent running conditions.

On arrival at the start area at 9am, the clouds were bubbling up but it didn't rain. After many wee stops on the way down the Central Motorway I met up with a bunch of friends and chatted until it was time to enter the pens.
Pretty dam good photo
This year was a bit different as I was pacing my mate Vixx around. The plan was to go sub 2:23 so I had my Garmin charged and ready and the mile splits tattooed on my arm with the aid of a permanent pen. (it's still visible!)
It seemed to take bloody ages shuffling down the motorway to the start line but eventually it came into view.
I seductively took my old tracky jacket off and flung it over the fence. It was bloody cold; I can tell'ya!
I've always started on the left carriageway but as Vixx always starts on the right I joined him. After all, the elites start on the right so if it's good enough for Henry Gebrselassie and Jo Farah it's good enough for us! Running on the right means there aren't as many opportunities to join in or instigate an Oggi Oggi chant so as soon as I was under a flyover I let rip my second loudest Oggi Oggi of the day! Brilliant. I love it! :)

Over the Tyne Bridge and onwards to Heworth roundabout, we kept a steady if not slightly faster than planned pace but pacing the first couple of miles is tough. The amount of runners, hills and weather were against us but by the sharp left at mile 6 towards South Shields we were up by a couple of minutes. It's good to have a cushion to fall back on as mile 10-ish is a twat as it's a slog uphill.

The weather was blustery in places but nothing too bad and the 'bad' rain still held off. My feet were wet though and from mile 3 I had a bloody blister between my toes. From mile 10 it was head down for Vixx and grit the teeth. Walking was never an option for us; a PB even by a second is a PB so that was our aim. Before we started he told me he didn't want to know the mile time splits; just if we were on time and if we needed to speed up. I knew we should be ok as by mile 10 we had a good 7 minute cushion but 10 to 12 miles is a right old bugger.

Running through South Shileds I overheard a woman saying "it's a bit quiet (the crowds)" So I let rip with my biggest OGGI OGGI OGGI of the day. :) I'm pleased to say that the runners replied! Sometimes you just can't be arsed with an OI, OI, OI reply when you're 10 miles in! The best thing was another runner past me on my left and said "cheers, I really needed that!" :)

The course drops down severely onto the sea front just before mile 12, followed by a sharp left then it's just a smidge over a mile to go. I told Vixx we were doing good; just keep the pace steady and the PB was his.
At 800 metres I picked the pace up a tad and he was right behind me.
With 200 meters to go he left me for dead sprinting off to the finish. I said "bloody hell" under my breath and weaved and skipped between the crowd like a gazelle to catch up. :)

I was chuffed to bits for Vixx bagging a PB by over 7 minutes finishing in 2:20:17. I finished in 2:20:20.

For me I was very pleased. That was my longest run since October 2012 and my previous long run was 8 miles about a month ago. My did 3 miles 5 days before and that's pretty much it.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was unsure whether to wear my Saucony Fastwitch as they are quite sparse on the cushioning and wasn't sure how I'd get on over 13 miles. They were spot on. Running a half marathon in them is no problem and goes to show that sometimes not listening to the 'experts' in the running shops and running in what feels comfortable and right for you is sometimes the way to go.

So then, will I be doing my 8th Great North Run in 2014? You're goddam right I will! :)

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Friday, 30 August 2013

Great North Run.

With 17-ish days to go before my 7th GNR I still haven't thought much about it.
I'm hoping to get along to the City Games the day before which I'm sure will enthuse me.

My training has neen non existent which is my standard approach.
In August I did an 8 mile run on the 6th and 12th and 5 miles on the 27th.
I'm not worried about completing the 13.1 miles as its well within me but it'll be slow.

Following the GNR I'm moving back home after working away for close to 2 years so regular running should be back on the horizon.
Another catalyst to regaining my commitment to running may be in the form of sucess in the London Marathon ballot. The you're in/you're out letter should arrive by the end of October.
Fingers crossed :)

Failing that, my plan is to do either Endure24 or Lighting 12hr. Both ultra marathons over 24 or 12 hours.
Watch this space.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

21468. My lucky number.

What are the chances of that? My Great North Run number arrived a couple of days ago and would you believe 21468 is my lucky number.
Quite a few people on Facebook and running forums I frequent are moaning about being in the wrong zone. "Running with fatties in Pink" "dodging the 'hand holding fun runners' in the white zone" etc.
I expected more from them.

All runners whether they've been running 1 week, 1 month, 10 years or 20 years all started somewhere; so to belittle people is out of order.
Anyway;  the GNR isn't a half marathon for PBs. Yes you can run a PB but the GNR isn't just a half marathon; its an event, an occasion...its the Great North Run.
So if you want to run a fast half, go somewhere else.
However, If you want the best atmosphere, the best support, the best buildup to race weekend and the best half marathon in the world, embrace the slow runners, the middle of the pack runners and the fast runners and do the Great North Run.

Monday, 12 August 2013

All Bran + Running = Catastrophic consequences

I've only been able to run twice since Thunder Run. Last week I did 8 miles and tonight I did another 8 miles.
I was going to do 10 but legs were getting tight so 8 miles it was.
I stoopidly decided to have All Bran and Muesli for lunch which caused a near disaster mid run but thanfully there's a toilet in the park I run in!

Including poo stop, it took me 1hr 25. Not earth shattering but then again it's all relative.
Compared to 18 month ago it's painfully slow but that was then and this is now.
I can only get fitter and faster and eventually back to where I want to be, minus the All Bran.

Im off to Cornwall for 2 weeks holiday on Saturday so if I can squeeze at least 3 early morning runs and 10 miles on my return to Scunthorpe then Great North Run should be less painful.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

My running blog is back...

Well yer' bugger, this is the second incarnation of my running blog. Unfortunately the web hosting company I used went tits up, so I've got this temporary blog up and running.
Most of my previous race reports are missing presumed dead but i'm hoping to salvage some so when I do, i'll get them back on here.

Please feel free to leave comments so I get the warm fuzzy feeling that someone's actually reading this tripe. :)


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Green for go ?!?

Whoop-whoop. Last night was my longest run since late Feb. A whole 8 miles!  
Don't laugh... My running and general fitness is dire at the moment but with the universe's biggest half marathon in 39 days!!! I really have to get a run or two in. 8 miles near enough, is roughly, kind of close-ish to 3/4 of the the 13.1 miles.
Divn't get me wrong, last night was by no means quick with it taking me 1hr 25min but it felt good to run non stop. My legs were getting a bit weary with a mile to go but overall I was fairly pleased. The route was 7, figure of eight laps around Scunthorpe park which included passing the ice cream kiosk at least a dozen times which was friggin torture for a fat lad. 
My ickle dilemma is do I wear my bright green Saucony Fastwitch trainers for the GNR or my cushioned Brooks Adrenalines. Since I stopped wearing my Brooks my achilles hasn't bugged me at all but with the Fastwich being a heck of a lot thinner on the cushioning, will they be ok for an overweight 6' 2" running machine over 13.1 miles?   I'm 75% sure it'll be green for go but we'll see. I'm going to try and get out for 10 miles next week with the green speed machines strapped to my feet.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Thunder Run 24

For those who didn't read my previous Thunder Run race reports, i'll explain what it's all about.

Set in Catton Park, Derbyshire; teams of 8, 5, pairs or soloists run round a 6-ish mile route taking in trails, woods and fields without a sniff of tarmac or pavement. There are maybe 2 small stretches of relatively flat running but the rest is up and down, ranging from steep, steeper and 'geet steep as 'owt'.
At the end of each lap you pass the baton to your team mate in the 'handover pen' and they set off on the next lap.
The winning team, pair or soloist is the one who completed the most laps in 24 hours.


As in most years I like to get there nice and early and this year was no exception, arriving on the site around 13:10.
A soon as Thomas and I stepped out of the cool and refreshing air conditioned car we were hit with a wall of muggy heat which pretty much set the weather for the weekend; well...almost.
Like a finely oiled military machine, we dug out the tape and cordoned off a moohasive area for our 2 teams (5 per team) and proceeded to put up our Gucci new tent and canopy in record breaking time.
In previous years I just used a small 2 man tent but with both of us going we needed a bigger tent and being able to actually stand up in a tent to get changed is a huge benefit. Lying down on a camp bed and trying to shuffle my ample frame into a pair of lycra shorts is a sight to behold.
By 6pm pretty much all of out team had arrived with two of them arriving early doors on the Saturday.

The area we choose to pitch our tents is a 4 minute walk from the main expo and start/finish area but it means we are next to the route to cheer and offer support not just to our team, but every other random runner out there, plus it means we can almost guarantee to get all of our tents together which means you aren't trying to search out random tents in the dark to find your mate.

We picked up our race numbers and adidas tech T-Shirts and had a wander around the various tents and stalls. Adidas, buff etc then grabbed some food from the catering tent.


It was obvious it was going to be another scorcher as even by 8am you could feel it getting hotter and hotter. A sausage and egg roll (they don't call them buns darn sarf', they call them rolls. Most strange) was the breakfast of choice for me and Thomas. Mid morning Thomas pulled the names out of a hat for the running order, with me being the 4th runner. At 11:30 we walked down to the start area to get the latest briefing and to watch the start of the race. :)

We were told that extremely bad weather was forecast around 6pm and if it was real bad it was up to the runners on the course whether they wanted to continue with the lap! What bloody weather were they expecting? They didn't actually say what it was, hurricane, tornado, hail, snow? Whatever it was, it couldn't be that bad...could it?
I guess it covers there back legally so if you're struck by lightning or sucked up in a tornado..."we did warn you".

I had some chillax time before my lap which was nice so I could take cover in the shade and relax but it wasn't long before I had to get the lycra on - standing up! :) No need to do the lycra shuffle. :)
I took over from Anne-Marie and as she handed me the relay baton, she recommended I grabbed a sponge at the halfway water station to cool down.

After 400 yards or so the route turns right up a steep hill; and I mean steep! Half a mile later and the course meanders through the top campsite (where were are). Running past the tents is great as you're guaranteed a shout of encouragement from at least a handful of randoms. Some of my team were waiting to take some action photos and Thomas had a bottle of water for me. Quick gulp of warm water and I was off again.

It was oppressively hot and I was sooooo glad to the see the water station at 3 miles. During a normal 10k it's very rare that i'll either slow down or certainly not stop for water but today was totally different. I stuck my hat in the bucket of water and slapped it on my head and it felt great for at least 5 minutes until it dried out.

The finish line was pleasure to see and after a quick scan of the waiting runners, I handed over my baton to my mate and he was off.
Lap 1 done in 1:08. Considering I had done 1 and a half parkruns in July and a very slow 4.5 mile run three weeks before, and lap 1 being my longest run since late April, I was very pleased with my time.

Thomas was pleased to see me, especially as after a shower and change we were off to the expo for some food and drink.
By 6:30pm the clouds were looking very dodgy and not long after, the first rumbles of thunder could be heard.
Not long after the heavens opened and the deluge began and didnt stop until around 2am.

My next lap was 9pm-ish and the course was fast becoming a mud bath. It wasn't bad enough that I couldn't run but it was muddy and slippy enough for a bit of caution.
By the time I finished i was covered in mud. My trainers were water logged, my legs caked in mud but blimey, what a fantastic lap; great fun! (1:18)

I was proper shaking with the cold after this lap so a hot shower followed by a cup of tea and a midnight feast of salty chips inn the tent with Thomas was just what I needed.


The laps for our team were now taking roughly 90 mins as the course was completely clogged up with ankle deep mud which meant that my next lap slipped until 4:30am.
Until 2am-ish the rain was intense. Lying on my camp bed I couldn't believe the noise the rain was making but I also couldn't believe how Thomas could sleep though it all!

My lap took a very long 1:30 which was due to the very, very slippy conditions. I'm not the lightest fella in the world but if I was build like Haile Gebrselassie I would probably just skim over the mud and puddles but I found the best way to get through the mud was to walk. I quickly found that I could power walk through most of the course faster than I could run it!

Our last runner finished at 10:30am-ish and that was that. We all made our way to the start/finish area for 12:00 for the end of the race and collect our fantastic medals.

All in all it was another great Thunder Run weekend. Yes, the weather was shocking but it didn't spoil the weekend, it just added to it. A great weekend.


As in previous years, the craic and banter with our two teams in great but also the craic and banter with fellow runners on the course is great and is what makes this a gerat event.

Opening the door to a portaloo only to find a women getting off the loo and pulling up her shorts! "The door was unlocked" I said but I think she was in too much of a shock to reply.
I scurried off to another portaloo to pour antiseptic handwash in my eyes.


Bloody brilliant! but please, please do not enter next years Thunder Run as I want to make sure our two teams can enter again!!

If you need more proof that this is a totes-amaze-balls weekend, watch this...


Endless and unforgiving, the road must be conquered,
miles upon miles of tarmac menacingly awaits,
every pull and every strain.Fail to prepare for it and the road will prove your downfall.
Each step breaks a new pain barrier,
each blister earns the right take on these historic streets,
to join thousand of soles pounding this relentless terrain, all pushing towards a distant conclusion reached only by huge exertion.
Each drop of sweat lubricates inspiration for the breatheren of the brave,
there determination to succeed rouses huge affection and encouragement because in this personal battle, camaraderie is key.
The elite push the boundaries of human nature, whilst the pack exceed the boundaries of human spirit.
But through the pain and the turmoil,
the goal remains the same….
to train….
to achieve….
to finish.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Terry O'Gara

I've managed to salvage my post I made a while ago about Terry O'Gara, or TOG.
Here it is...

The words ‘legend’, ‘inspirational’ and ‘hero’ are words sometimes banded around when people talk about sportsmen and women and dare I say; on occasions these words are used with no credibility or substance at all.
There is however one gentleman who can be regarded as a legend, inspirational and a hero with 100% certainty and he is Terry O’Gara.

I first met Terry on a hot July evening at my very first Wallsend Harriers meeting.  He asked if I was able to run for 60 mins which I was; however I wasn’t prepared for the pace!  Needless to say I struggled but Terry insisted I come along again, stick with it and see when happens after a few weeks.  That was my first encounter with Terry and even then I thought, what a nice bloke.
Over the following weeks and months I quickly realised how much respect people had for him.  Here’s a bloke of 65+ years, running his socks off, getting his group through the tough Tuesday night hill sessions, pushing then hard, making them work and heaping masses of praise on them.
On numerous occasions following a race I would ask him how he done; he would quickly say  something like, “ok” or “went well” and immediately ask me, or others how they done.  He was very modest about his running exploits, instead asking how other people done.  (by the way, at age 69 he did the Great North Run in 1:32:11)
I’ll not go into the History of Wallsend Harriers here (click here for the history) i’ll just add that Terry was one of the driving forces in the mid 80′s, reviving Wallsend Harriers, putting them back on the North East harriers map and subsequently helping to improve North East athletics as a whole.
A fantastic personality, cheeky humour (verging on sexist??  nah, not ‘wor Terry.  “there’s too many women in the club”  ), fantastic running achievements, a motivator, selfless, an inspiration to all standards of runners, a dedicated family man and a really, really decent bloke who I will miss loads.
I only knew him for three years or so but it feels like i’ve known him for a lot longer.
Every time I pull on my Wallsend Harrier vest and take up my familiar ‘middle of the pack’ starting position I’ll be looking skywards and smile; knowing that Terry will be pushing me along when the going gets tough.
So then…a legend, an inspiration and a hero.  As I mentioned earlier, theses words are afforded to many people. Some deserving of the accolade and some not so much.  These words however ARE Terry O’Gara and so much more.