Sunday, 25 April 2010

Fountains Abbey

Today's race was the first in the BlackSheep Series - the Fountains Abbey 10k.

Having resigned myself on Monday to having a 0% chance of running due to calf injuries, Thursday's brutal physio session with the former Birmingham City FC Head Physio meant that the knots had been unknotted and the legs able to run free(ish).

So, a 4th place finish in today's race was a satsifactory result. I am my harshish critic, and could have finished higher but the legs did not respond well to the hills and pushing them even more with dodgy calves could have meant re-occurence of injury. At 7k I tried to kick and nothing happened!!!

Thirsk & Sowerby won the team prize, and with Gary Dunn back for Ripon that will strengthen the team's credentials immeasurably. Only problem with being a coeliac is that I can't drink beer and so the BlackSheep Ale will find its way to willing drinkers down here in Brum.

25 miles training in 3 weeks is not ideal but I've already moved on to Ripon and hope everyone that beat me today races there so I can take them on in better shape. Anyway, I'll be wearing different trainers there as the ones I used today are caked in mud - so much so that I can't even tell if they are trainers to be honest.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Been a while since my last blog mainly because of depression through injury.

I managed to race in the Easter Monday 10 mile on 5 April and was 2nd in 56m 39s. Really pleased (and with the prize money!) but I was held back by a calf injury in the right leg which then spread to the left leg as I had over-compensated in the race.

Unable to barely walk for 2 weeks I took matters into my own hands and treated myself to a self-harm session. No, not beer or drugs, but a deep tissue massage to unravel the clots/knots in my legs. Those who have had intenes physio know of that pain, but fingers crossed it has worked a miracle cure. Who knows, maybe the BlackSheep Gods have intervened for me.

From zero running to a 5k run on Tuesday, and then a 10k run today. Not super fast but fast enough and more importantly pain-free enough to cause me to be optimistic about not only making the start but also of finishing in one piece. Hopefully I can make a good fight of it with the leaders but I will of course miss the 2+ weeks of not running, but as long as I have two legs that can run pain-free I will use my lion heart to do the rest. My rivals legs may be in better shape and better prepared, but if I'm in touching distance with two miles I'll be happy to test their mental strength.

Will be making the trip north with the new Adidas Adizero shorts I bought today. All that remains is wrapping up in cotton wool and thinking about what footwear is best - the course should be dry given the forecast so I think it's the newish T6 racers.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Injury Rollercoaster

The last 36 hours have been traumatic.

On Friday I tried on my new lightweight Saucony Grid Type A3 trainers for a gentle 10 miles on the treadmill. Well, I say gentle, I mean around a 60 min 10 mile which I think is reasonable now.

About 6 miles in I felt a twinge in the right calf, and carried on for another 1/2 mile, knowing I had warmed up properly and was in fully fit shape an hour before. Then I couldn't carry on and stopped before I did some damage. I literally couldn't walk properly on my right leg and it felt like I'd strained or torn maybe a tendon, or trapped a nerve? Not such a Good Friday eh?

Ice to the ready, Ibugel, anything, a call to the physio.

This morning having had the ice pack on the leg was vastly improved, and a physio session at 9am has really helped. The cause we agreed was the new shoes so they are going on ebay and will be replaced by a pair of Adidas Adios shoes.

Not sure if I'll be able to race on Easter Monday (10 mile)but thanking my lucky stars that Fountains Abbey 10k should be fine.

Oh, nearly forgot about last week's race - first triathlon of the year. 12th (out of around 300), which was disappointing and great in equal portions. Only one swim in 4 months and managed a 7m 6s 400m, which is good for me (around 7m flat is my best), and was quickest in the 5k run. Cycling was mediocre thanks to the wrong wheel choice (a disc in windy conditions is a poor choice) which was due to my lateness in registering and no time to change the wheel, and then my chain came off in the race as I moved from low to high gears too quickly, another mistake by yours truly.

The good thing is that I was 12th due to making technical mistakes rather than physical ability. The technical errors can be ironed out and then the physical stuff takes care of itself. If I had technical ability but no physical ability then I'd be struggling. I do learn from every triathlon but as there is so much to learn it's tough to do a perfect race but one can hope.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Sports Relief

Well, a week ago I was scheduled to race on 21 March in my first Duathlon of the year.

Then I remembered it was Sports Relief on 19 March (tomorrow) and that last year when I watched it I vowed to myself I would do something this year.

An email came round from work saying that people were taking it in turns to cycle for 5 mins on a cycle machine, with the aim to keep it going from 9-4pm. People can guess the total distance travelled for £1, and the Company will match it.

Putting my thinking cap on, I decided that I would walk from 9-4pm, and people can now guess how far I will walk in this 7 hour period as well! I am hoping to do a marathon along the canals of Birmingham but I will need to motor I think to achieve that. The rucksack will hinder me as well, although all those flapjacks and energy drinks will be needed. Just hope the weather is fine!

It looks like we will raise around £1,000 for Sports Relief which is great and I will have put something back into this life I take so much out of, and help those less fortunate than myself.

So, the Duathlon is a non-starter on Sunday. I'm sure I'll be exhausted after 7 hours of walking and racing Sunday is a recipe for injury, no matter how much I want to race. To compensate, I have entered for a 10 mile time trial on 5 April. The last race before Fountains - and means a 3 week break from races before Fountains so should be raring to go and hit Fountains hard.

The 10 mile runs I'm doing should make the 10k races a walk in the park!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

The First and the Last

I had a thought today as I drove to work ... and it is unusual for me to think on this journey as I am on automatic pilot ...

"Race every race as if it were your last".

If this were the case, how would I approach my "last" race? Would it be any different than normal? Would I care about tactics? Would I care about pain? Would I even feel pain?

One answer I would need to know in my "last" race was how fast I could truly go, to the extent that I had pushed myself to my physical limits. I would need to have crossed the finish line knowing there was nothing else I could have given to achieve a better time or result.

With that in mind, there will be no quarter given in races from now on.

On a more "lighter" note, I received confirmation that my latest pair of Brooks T6 racers were pinging their way to me. Not that I need another pair of running shoes, but it's better to keep a healthy stock, and in any case, I'm mainly just buying them from vouchers won, so they are free!!! I have £25 in vouchers left - so will put the difference to buying another pair of Adidas Adizero Adios shoes - beginning to rival the T6 as the Halliday shoe of choice.

As planned (for once!), I stuck to the training schedule of a 10 mile run last night. I felt really good (for once!) as I embarked on a training session, and decided to try and trim the 59m 13s current PB. Going through the halfway stage at 29m 20s I knew I was there and (with a magic sprint finish for the cameras) turned in a 57m 56s. Job done and with 2 months to the Ripon 10 miler, who knows where I'll wind up.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

One Shot

As the great songsters JLS say "You only get one shot, so make it count".

With that in mind, Sunday's big news was that (unless my mathematical ability has deserted me) I have secured the Centurion 5 mile series title. This is an event which has been going for some 40 years so I'm very pleased to add my name to the list of winners.

Sunday's race went well - there were two competitors who potentially could have beaten me in the series (you need to do 4 races to qualify). I set off like the proverbial rocket with the aim of breaking them before I broke myself (I did not want to leave anything to chance by relying on the last race on 11 April to have to beat them). The plan worked and I came second, knocking 20 secs off my PB for the (off road) course - 26m 54s. I had a bit of a stomach bug and spent most of the rest of Sunday in bed, but it was job done. The winner was a new (dutch) athlete (and so can't qualify for the series), who spent the whole race running right behind me and clipped my heels 3 times. One more time I'd have swung for him - obviously no racing etiquette in Holland! I'm not sure what times I'm capable of on a 5 mile road - maybe sub 26m 30s now.

Today feeling better and had an hour session on the cross trainer which I really enjoyed. Will probably do a 10 miler on the treadmill tomorrow night. I did a good 59m 13s last week, so should shave a few secs off that. The aim is to be 10 mile race fit for Ripon on 9 May. I want to be able to attack a 10 mile course, rather than just struggling around ... we'll see!

As I have won the Centurion series, I will not be racing in their last race on 11 April. I'll see what shape I'm after a duathlon on 21 March, and triathlon on 28 March, but it's not beyond the realms of possibility that I'll solely focus on training after that and not race until Fountains (25 April). Having got my race tactics from "Master" Dunn, I want to be in peak condition for that.

Spent some of my vouchers on some new Adidas Adios trainers. They are great, although not as good as the Brooks T6 racers in my opinion (they are super great!). I'll do my 10 mile run in the Adios tomorrow night. I tried two other Adidas shoes - the Mana and the Ace - but they were nowhere near as good as the Adios. If they are good enough for Alistair Brownlee they are good enough for me!

My son Rowan's 5th birthday tomorrow. Working from home and so that means I can enjoy the all important Tea Party!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A race against time

My sole focus is on being fit for the Centurion 5 mile race on 7 March.

The hamstring is showing signs of (slow) recovery. I ran 8.5 miles tonight, albeit this was at around 6m 10s pace, so hardly breaking the speed of sound. Still, no damage done to the leg, although if I were a gambling man, I would say if the race were tomorrow and I went flat out the odds would be against me so far as winning were concerned. The run was followed by 30 mins on the bike, so a good session all in all, especially after 95 mins on the bike last night.

Fountains 10k is 2 months away - looking forward to that, and also seeing my parents loft conversion which should be nearly ready by that time.

Entered for my first triathlon of the year - East Leake on 28 March. Better get to the swimming pool - I haven't swam properly for about 3 months, but as long as I can get down to 7m for 400m I'm very happy. Will need at least two good sessions in the pool to achieve that, plus a bit of adrenalin! I'm hoping to venture outside on my bike sometime soon, although winter shows no sign of departing yet. Can't wait to put the super wheels on and fly.

Hopefully getting a small bonus from work soon. Can't really modify the bike any more, so looks like I will have to treat the wife to something instead! Life is tough sometimes.