Thursday, 20 November 2014

When you sweat no one can see you cry.

Went to the track tonight and silently ran track pyramids:

1600 metres
1200 metres
800 metres
400 metres
0 metres (2 minute rest)
400 metres
800 metres
1200 metres
1600 metres

All at above threshold so it was beginning to hurt a little on the last 1200 and 1600 metres sections. 

The track was covered with a thin veil of mist that by the end was covered in fog which rolled off the enclosing park such that I could not see the other end by the finish of my run. The other track users were doing some kind of painful fartlek routine, the coach peeping his whistle every time they had to run or jog. I chose to run alone with my thoughts when all of a sudden this horrendous flood of emotion popped into my head like a bubble and then for no reason tears ran down my face, silent weeping on a silent track. No one noticed thankfully because when you sweat no one can see you cry.

I left the track content with my 8,000 metre (5 mile) run especially after last night's hill reps and run.

As for my tears, I left them on the track with my sweat and the fog where they shall remain for now.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

More a carthorse than a racehorse

The start of November was unusually warm this year but the temperatures have now dropped to the average of about 6 centigrade in the evening so why did I decide to go out in shorts and a t-shirt?

This evening is hill training night so it is not about distance but quality to strengthen my legs and get some much needed cardio work in. The great thing about these runs is that a group of people meet about 400 metres from my doorstep having run about 2 miles as a warm up, I however decided to leave a little earlier and get a 3 kms in before meeting. I have to admit that was the hardest 3kms I have done of late which saw me plodding up the hill like an old carthorse pulling a dray but by the time I had met the others I found I was really warmed up, stretched enough to do 10 x 50 metre hill reps, which is not big stuff but it felt good to get the legs moving and the heart pumping.

Long way to go from here but it feels that the underlying fitness remains that I need to build on. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Tunnels, Guns and Monkey Feet

Today's run was one of our more unusual ones which found Duncan and I  out on the Thames Path again, however this time along a part of it I have missed on previous runs.

We started out from Eltham train station and pointed north towards the Woolwich Ferry and in doing so passed the scenes of two very vicious and bloody murders both making England look up and see massive changes in the law and the direction it moved as a country. The first was the murder of Steven Lawrence in 1993 at the hands of vicious, racist thugs and 20 years later, in 2013, just down the road a few yards that of Drummer Lee Rigby who was hacked to death by religious fanatics outside his barracks. Both sobering thoughts as we trundled on towards the river.

The run was quite a hard one for me today, my medication making me sluggish and hard to wake was still creeping through my veins, Duncan on good form, ever patient as I slowly warmed up and began to run in full. However, we had a purpose today and that was to reach Gallions Hill in Thamesmead a twenty metre high hillock created from "recycled excavated material" with a spiral path which leads to the summit. I loved the concept of "recycled excavated material" which really means that it was a big pile of rubble, topsoil and scrap that was made during the building of the surrounding estate. Still a nice target for the day and the turn around having passed the Woolwich Arsenal where cannons and munitions were made for the British to find their Empire all those years back.

The highlight of the run, for me at least, was the off piste run through the subfluvial tunnel at Woolwich which connects Woolwich to the north bank of the Thames which saw us pegging it along the tunnel at speed to rise on the far bank to find a cafe.

The journey back to the car was not the highlight as I puffed and wheezed up the hill, Duncan almost skipping but nonetheless a great run with plenty of distractions to keep us on form.

GUCR training starts in full next week with the traditional first day a rest day.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

GUCR 2015 - The journey begins

Picture the scene on Sunday just gone when I suddenly realised that the ballot draw for the Grand Union Canal Run (GUCR) was to be held on Monday at 19:30hrs, a sudden flurry of activity on my side checking the questions and answers set by the Race Director, Dick Kearn, who makes sure we have all read the various documentation he sends. It appears I passed when I was notified that the ballot had been drawn and on checking the GUCR website tonight found my name on the list................again.
Nowadays social media seems to be everything and tonight the GUCR Facebook was on fire as runners announced their acceptance or rejections for the race. GUCR is going to one brilliant event next year with some very capable runners taking part and promises a major battle at the front with some extraordinary runners wanting smash personal bests.
My personal best will be to finish well and this time, with my 50th birthday in 2015 want to make it a very special year by finishing such that my training plan has already been written and starts next week

Monday, 10 November 2014

Thames Path and Poppies

Last week I wrote on my running club's Facebook page that I intended to run from Greenwich to the Tower of London via the Thames Path and Tower Bridge which is roughly 10km.

A few people showed interest but have a feeling the torrential rain probably made them choose not too but did have two intrepid members come along for the fun, Nicky and Emma.

I have run this route on many occasion and have got the route off to a T even with small diversions if the City Zoo near Rotherhithe is closed. Nicky and Emma were great running buddies with funny stories and conversation. I could wax lyrical about how beautiful London is at night along the river, the history and the people but you just have to take it from me that it is. I loved it when Nicky and Emma smiled when we reached the Tower Bridge after some short photo opportunities to then cross the bridge for the serious part and purpose of our run, to view the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red art installation of thousands of ceramic poppies signifying one person dying for every poppy, truly inspiring and significant.

We were not surprised to find thousands of people milling around that evening as it was mentioned that it was to be dismantled after 11th November, we quietly walked around until I saw a lovely lady wearing a Monkey hat so without thinking I shouted "Ohh a Monkey Hat, I must get a picture of it with my Monkey Feet" The photograph above had the heading in Facebook of:

This is the epitome of bemusement of someone "Going along with a joke they don't understand" when I asked this lovely lady with Monkey Hat to have a picture of me in Monkey Feet!

She was a great sport and her man friend totally taken aback with my request.

Sadly we had to leave the poppy field but returned to Greenwich by DLR to a well earned pint of cider in the pub. A great run.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Monkey Marathon

I entered the Thames Meander Marathon about 11 weeks ago fully knowing that I was not going to be pretty.

Training in the past few months has not been great and I could list a whole page of excuses from depression to it being too hot or I was overworked. I don't go in for that nonsense these days, I have nothing to prove to others but only myself and to be frank, I had lost interest in running as I was distracted by other things in my life.

I challenged myself to run a marathon with very little preparation but a burning desire to feel as though I was running again so chose the Thames Meander Winter Marathon which is not too far away . Do not be distracted by the word Winter in its title as we are having a very weird weather in the UK at present with usual averages at this time of year being 13 centigrade and were hitting 21 C when I approached the start line in Kingston, London. 

Before I start, my Monkey Feet got first place in the Barefoot running category, sadly there was no such category.

Mr Annoying

In all sports, interest groups or offices there is always a few characters who are obsessional to the point they see themselves as the "Expert" and need to tell everyone of their escapades, how what you are doing is wrong and everything they do is the right way. I tend to hang back form these people but I was just leaving Kingston station when I saw a man dressed in running kit and mentioned to him whether he was running the marathon, he was and boy did he want to tell me about every race he had done and "how experienced he was" He asked me if I was in the 100 Marathon Club and how many road marathons I had run, I said "No I am not and I have only run four road marathons" Oh, did he love that as he happened to mention he had done 4 road marathons that week already and chose to give me advice on drinks, shoes and nutrition.

His face was an absolute picture 30 minutes later when he approached me to see I was wearing my Centurion Winter 100 shirt and my Vibram Monkey Feet, he said "You told me you had only done 4 marathons mate", I said "Yes road marathons but have done over 50 trail ultras"..... he visibly shrunk 10 cms and scuttled away to probably advise people of his endeavours"

 The Race

The Thames Meander is a must for any runner with beautiful scenery, loads of distractions on the river which was very busy that day with a very big boat race such that we had support cyclists racing close to us as they bellowed support, dog walkers and race enthusiasts for about 5 miles (out and back makes 10 miles) along a stretch but we seemed to work well together.

My choice of Monkey Feet were not the best decision I had made as in some places the path had deteriorated such that there was no tarmac on it and my feet were taking a beating as my heel clonked on jutting rubble.

The checkpoint staff were great and signs were great , after all, all we needed to do was have the river on our left on the way out and on the right on the way back. I was pretty well pleased with my fitness and had run the first 14 in good pace but the continual beating and clonking of my heels on the poor running surface eventually found me walking long stretches but running the normal tarmac and/or woodland paths which effectively destroyed any good chance of a reasonable time but I kept reminding myself that this was not about time, it was about getting through it without difficulty and that is what I did, a very slow (for me) marathon on hobby running training and I got through it to meet my racing friend Fiona at the end.

 Lessons learnt

  • Try and stay away from Know It Alls
  • Do some proper training runs before entering a marathon, at the age of 49 years the fitness is quicker to lose than when you are 39
  • At least think about your shoes sensibly
  • Enjoy it 
Well done Hermes Running, great race

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Oh!....that is all she said

Ten weeks ago I realised I was totally demotivated and running held no interest to me so I contacted my good running pal Gemma who is a personal trainer by trade and a brilliant runner.

The conversation went thus:

Jerry  - "Motivate me"
Gemma  - "Piss off and go for a bloody run.."
Gemma  - "What's up? Lacking running mojo?"
Jerry  - "No, I am a big fat lard arse"
Gemma  - "Try marathon PB???? Good for winter. Speed feels awesome to work on..."
Jerry  -  "OK, sounds good, like it"
Gemma  - "Ha! Well that was simple!"

A plan was hatched and I entered one of the only marathons in the south east of England in November, The Thames Meander I just forgot to tell the Delightful Mrs S.....until this evening.

All she said was "Oh!"

Aaargh I hate when she say "Oh!"

So with limited training, no chance of a PB, a pair of Monkey Feet I will be running a marathon on Saturday

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Depression, running and its aftermath

Exactly one year ago today I left work, tears running down my face, a belly full of rage, a splitting headache and a feeling of worthlessness.

This had been building up for some time, my fitness was amazing with recent 30 mile runs for training to race at the Winter100, I even stopped in the middle of a race, my knees buckling under me, not from physical tiredness, but that of a mental anguish, my head screaming as to why I was beating myself up this way. The basics were that I was just mentally tired, the strain of the past 2 years of long hours, short deadlines, extra work hours and low esteem. This topped with [still] suffering from flash backs when in the Police of dead bodies impaled on tree stumps from a train crash, the body of a young woman smashed on the pavement at the hands of her boyfriend pushing out of a window and having taken a vicious beating with a snooker cue and boots....the horrible spectre of post traumatic stress disorder that ebbs and flows through my life. I stood on the station and screamed in my head "Normal people just don't act this way, nobody cries on a platform whilst shaking"

I have suffered this for over 20 years, the depression ebbing and flowing, knocking you like a cricket bat to the skull as it over runs your senses with a quick dig at the solar plexus for good measure. The picture above is not of me physically tired but one where I continually scowled at the world, my jaw ached from grinding my teeth, my upper lip twitched and I was angry, yes, just fucking angry at the world. This was my face 3 days after I left work, tears running down my face, a splitting headache and a feeling of worthlessness, this is the face that the Delightful Mrs S used to comment on as I sighed and moped around, here is a line in the sand when I physically and mentally shut down, call it a nervous breakdown, call it what you want. The next week I was ordered to stay at home by my doctor, a week where I slept more hours than I was awake when medication tried its best to put the lions and demons back in the cage that was my sanity.

Friends were scarce, many knowing I was "mentally" ill, some stayed close whilst others melted into the background not sure what to say when all I wanted was someone to talk to. Medication helped but muted my emotions to just being OK, a Band Aid for the mind, whilst keeping the delicate emotions safe were just that, not a cure but a temporary fix.

One year later
Yes I still cry secretly when alone in the house or on a trail run, I feel less angry with the world and the people in it, something that still harks back to the time that bastard struck me the third time across the back of head with that snooker cue as his brother stamped on the back of my knees and then my ribs. I still have panic attacks in shopping centres, if somewhat less in scale from 20 years ago but nonetheless are still present as I race to the door....."Never let them get between you and the door" I silently scream inside.

Now, with a change of medication, I find that the mute button has been switched off and whilst still feeling vulnerable mentally have seen a rise in my need to get running again, enjoy it for the freedom it gives me to silence my doubts and anxiety. I still think it funny that I can go out in the middle of the night with just a head torch, a bottle of water and a map in the middle of nowhere with no problems but become a gibbering wreck in  shopping mall.

And that picture
Yes, I still scowl sometimes, I still cower away from crowds, I fear counselling as I don't want to scratch the scab that the Band Aid covers to reveal old emotions, old wounds, no...the rage I once (and still have if less evident) had, the guilt and the fears are still there and I expect will always be there.

Do not see this blog as a call for sympathy, I don't want sympathy, I don't want that.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The Delightful Mrs S Actually Growled

An evening of email conversation last week prompted me to start getting some kit together for next weekend's little jaunt.

"Jaunt?" I hear you shout Dear Reader, yes indeed is my answer for next week I will be helping out at the Winter 100 as a course marker. Some of you will remember that I ran this last year finishing the last 23 miles with a twisted ankle with minutes to spare, this time I am back again to help thankfully on the first spur on the Thames. I am thankful I do not have to mark the Ridgeway as I have a love/hate relationship with it having always got an injury on it (like last year).

So why did Mrs S growl?

Well you can already guess by this blog's picture it is my kit, for sitting there is:

  1. 2 x short tops
  2. 1 x long top
  3. Windproof
  4. Waterproofs
  5. Buffs
  6. Torches
  7. Gaiters
  8. and the one that made her growl....a camp bed
Yes, a camp bed as I will be marking late evening/night on the Friday night and will be camping in the church hall where the start is ready to help out for a bit in the day.

I am seriously looking forward to running/walking the 25 mile spur next week

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Monkey Storm

Rushing to the track tonight arriving about 10 minutes late I saw the others on the far curve doing their warm up drills and stretches. Paying my subs I was straight onto the track with the intention 5 * 1600 metres at a tempo pace with two breaks of 1 minute. 

Before the drills were over I took to the track and just felt great that I was out running again and I felt my pace was comfortable and I was consistent in my run. I was so lost in my own little world that I was unaware that it had started to rain until it came down hard to knock me out of my trance and then an amazing lightning strike close by and enormous thunder clap with the rain chucking down around me.

Thoughts flashed around my head about being in an open area hoping the lightning would hit the floodlights before us, a silly thought considering the storm was moving away from us.

Good run tonight, if a little lonely, but I am glad I was out there. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Monkey Train

Probably the weirdest run to my running club in a long time was on Tuesday evening when I went by train.

Leaving late from work I was desperate to get out for a run but first job was to cook dinner for the Delightful Mrs S and then get myself to the club in time. 

There I was in the kitchen cutting chicken, onions and peppers at the same time darting in and out of the room to get shorts, shirt and my Monkey Feet. This with gathering sauces, wraps and fajita seasoning to have them made and warming in the oven for her to eat after a hard day.

My attention to detail somewhat taking my eye off the ball such that I realised that I was not going to get to the club in time so had a mad idea. Often as I run in the woods to the club I get overtaken by a train so I thought I may as well catch that train and get there earlier than normal. So grabbing my train pass I ran to the station leaping through the doors with a rather dramatic entrance and sat down all sweaty and Monkey Feet. I often smile inwardly when I sit on trains in my usual garb as I often get side way stares and double takes at my Monkey Feet knowing that people want to ask but the good old English reserve prevents them doing so.

So to the run... That run was just about the run, nothing more but just to get me back on my feet to try and push away the nagging feeling of the start of a depressive episode. The group was a tad boring for my liking and was not very motivational so I broke away early to find my way home through so back doubles, a moodily dark field with the distant presence of two horses and a shadow ridden woodland path with gnarled routes....perfect for my mood but afterwards had me thinking of my friend Duncan who went "Off Piste" recently and realised there was no one there to help him if he got into trouble [Blog here]

And so after, I felt much better knowing that a relatively short run for me was indeed successful, my cardio-vascular needs work and very little strength has been lost with the lull in my running.  

Friday, 19 September 2014

Monkey Feet and Union Flag Shorts

My apologies for bringing up politics in my blog but today is a potentially a monumental day in the history of the United Kingdom and Great Britain.

Tonight was part of my personal campaign to get back into proper training and get quality miles mixed back into quantity but in some ironic way I discovered that I only had a pair of my beloved union flag shorts available as the Delightful Mrs S had decided to wash my training shorts for the third consecutive wash!

At the track tonight there was a lovely surprise when I discovered that there was a new running group making a guest appearance for the evening bedecked in very fancy kit with S.L.G.R written in orange against a black cloth, their group is called "So Let's Go Running" or Slogger for short. A rather passionate group of runners and a lovely bunch of people.

These guys had never been in proximity of my Union Flag shorts or Monkey Feet before but it was funny to hear the regular comments of:
  1. "Take longer strides"
  2. "How can you run so fast with such short strides"
  3. "What colour shorts will you be wearing tomorrow?" 
  4. "What happens when you step in dog shit?"
My answers:
  1. "Why, I am in front of you?"
  2. "High cadence equals barefoot equals no forefront foot strike."
  3. "I honestly don't know but I hope I do not have to change them."
  4. "Errrm, I stink of dog shit, what happens to you when you step in dog shit?"
Back to running.....base fitness off slightly, cardiovascular needs work but feeling good...just need to get the long runs in.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Monkey Speed Training

This is a story of two halves, one of age and the other of youth.

Yesterday I was toying with the idea of going to the track as I usually do on a Thursday but this time actually engage in the Speed Work Session. These guys normally grunt around the track with creased up faces and chatting of 5km or 10km PBs. I mostly go there for marathon pace training and enjoy the banter.

Prickled into a new training plan I could have easily have sat back on the sofa and found a good reason not to go but this time I couldn't as peer pressure was upon me like a Monkey on my Back in the form of Duncan who had poked his head up over the parapet of family life and said he would give me a lift. So jumping into his car I was pleased to spot that he had brought along his young lad,Ché, who on a normal Sunday visit to Duncan's is frolicking around the house with his brothers full of the joys of Spring fuelled by a belly full of freshly baked banana cake. Tonight it was different as he sat back in his seat, an erudite air about him as he read a book as quiet as a mouse. Ché can best be described by his doting father as a book reading cricket fan.

So to the track, I told the Coach that I was up for the Speed Training but after retrieving his jaw from the track and with an enormous grin on his face told me it was probably a little too much for the particular session but was packed off to do 3 x 1600 metres. The grin turned to frustration when he said "At your 5km pace Jerry", a blank expression passed over my face "But I haven't run a 5km race in 6 years!", the same response was he suggest "A bit faster than your 10km wait for it you're going to tell me you haven't raced a 10km....oh go on just run them as fast as you can"

I was happy with that and so leaving the speedsters behind, Duncan, Ché and I ran off, the former chatting happily on the out track and I wheezing and grunting around the track at my pace. I came back from my reps passing the other two ever so often, the both of them now in bare feet, I chose to do the same for a few laps joining them for a couple of laps to cool down.

At the end I was amazed to hear that Ché had run 5 miles with his Dad almost non stop and around 9 years old (My apologies as I never remember Duncan). So I have now named you a Book Reading Cricket Fan Runner but how long will it be until you are a Running Book Reading Cricket Fan
Monkey Runners

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

It wasn't pretty

Having realised that I haven't run in socks or running shoes for some 3 months I found it a real struggle to actually find a pair of socks and embarrassingly I could not find my green trail shoes so resorted to a pair of retired shoes who have done some 700 miles in them.

Off I plodded with my head torch wrapped around my hand for a slow ploddy run through the woods to the club. 

Well there was only one choice, run with a slower group and get my confidence back and enjoy an unpressured run, and I did, all 7 miles of them unscathed and happy that my foot injury has cleared up with minimal niggles. I am not worried about the distance as this was just a step into getting my mojo back and to help shift a few pounds that have started to pile on recently. Next run is on Thursday and some possible speed work for a change!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The tide has turned

Since May my weekly mileage has dropped to zero, first from recovery from the GUCR 2014, then a heat wave where the Brit in me refused to run and until now a secret, a foot injury after sweeping the North Downs Way 100 a few weeks ago.

Significantly, I have found that the recent increase in my anti-depressants prescription has taken the edge off my "need" to run which I regret enormously. The passion, the fire in my belly gone plus the increase in weight and thoughtless people feeling the need to comment on it continually has caused me to try and take back some control.

So what to do? Play along with the depression and alleviate the symptoms or sit back and hope my brain chemistry fixes itself? I have chosen the former and decided that I just need to go do it and take on a new challenge, a focus for the time being and be positive.

So in true Jerry fashion I have decided to run the Thames Meander Winter Marathon on 1/11/2014, just 10 weeks away. I have the muscles, the underlying fitness still(?) and a need so here goes..............wish me luck


Thursday, 14 August 2014

A Sweeper's Tale

Arriving at 6.00am at Detling last Sunday I entered the village hall to be met by a row of alert but tired Marshals who greeted me as if I was their long lost family member (Centurion Marshals are an incredible breed) I announced I was the Sweeper for the last 21 mile section and heard there were still a few out on the course so settled down for a cup of coffee and a chin wag until the runners came through.

"Good luck with those it is very slippery out there!"  was the last farewell I got whilst a Marshall grinned as I trotted off in my Monkey Feet.

The sun was up and the sky clear but we had all been told to wait for the remnants of Hurricane Bertha to hit the South-East of England directly over the path of the North Downs Way! I had come prepared with my kamleika smock and woolly hat in my backpack along with a first aid kit, Buff and spare cash.

Within 20 minutes of running the rain started, easy at first and then a little harder, then the wind until it was just another rainy Sunday in England. This section of the North Downs Way is tough and even after 5 miles I was amazed to think that some of the runners had ascended and descended the blasted hills which had me gasping, sliding and swearing as I went which was actually not that bad in my Monkey Feet as I could feel the ground and balance well in the awkward terrain.

At about 9.00am the full force of the remnants of Hurricane Bertha hit the North Downs and I was loving it with the windy gusts nearly knocking me off my feet crossing open fields, branches whipping my face, mud splashing over me such that the smock was on very soon and later the woolly hat. You know me, I was loving it, the Monkey Feet  holding up well in the conditions underfoot which were not totally happy on exposed wet chalk but is any other trail shoe?

I finally came across some tired or wounded runners and slowly walked in to the checkpoint with them to hand them over to the Aid Station staff but then discovered that they had missed the cut off big style such that I would have to go self-sufficient for the last 10 miles as the next Aid Station was to close soon. I cared not a jot, took extra water and went about my Sweeping knowing the last runner was now about 1 hour ahead.

I love these solo runs, the fun of helping others reach their goals, my independence for about 5 hours of my silly life, meeting a few old faces at the Aid Stations and my love of the North Downs.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Monkey Mapping

The plan was to meet Peter at Newlands Corner on the North Downs Way(NDW) at 7.00pm last Friday, leave his car there and we drive to Farnham (the start of the NDW) mark the first 15 miles of the 100 mile course get in his car and get him to drive me back to Farnham to collect my car to go home....simple!
In fact it was not, after meeting Peter at Newlands Corner, the heavens opened and so carnage unfolded on the roads ahead with early Friday evening drivers stuck in queues created by crashed cars or sheer weight of traffic leaving us to arrive at the start of the North Downs Way in Farnham some 50 minutes behind schedule....not good when it transpired poor old Peter had left his waterproof in his car and I had a 1:50,000 scale map of the NDW which, whilst useful, is rubbish on a route finding as the scale was just to small to see detail.

With big hugs from the Centurion Crew we went on our way happily marking our way following the paths and roads easily but then the rain really hit us, the wind picking up and the signage becoming difficult to spot  in the gloom some with missing fingers to confirm our direction which during the day is quite easy but at night in bad weather very difficult.

Then the mistake happened, a bad judgement call by me taking us down a hill and to a double T-Junction that in the gloom made me fit the road to the map sending us both in the wrong direction. Now the rain really hit us and after about 4 exploratory runs, a phone call to my wife to get a fix on our location on Google Maps my map finally turned to mush, the cover falling off. We had been out for 2.5 hours and covered only 6 miles (marking is very time consuming) we decided to make the call to go back to my car via road.

By Road

This was probably not one of my best decisions when we got directions from a lone female driver how to get back to Farnham by road which took us along a notoriously dark and dangerous road famous for its ghosts called the Hog's Back. Here we ran on the road and on the verge as cars drove past at 60 mph to return to the car unharmed.

Not my best entry as a runner having failed my promise to complete my job, going out with inadequate equipment (map case) and taking my older head torch which is good for a trail run but not for the job of marking.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Marking Marshal Monkey

On arrival at home this evening I was presented with a parcel sitting on the stair, not your normal parcel but that perfectly sized one, not too big and not too small.

I actually knew what was going to be inside, my Marking Kit for the first 14.7 miles of the North Downs Way 100 this weekend containing:

  1. Arrow Cards
  2. Plastic ties
  3. 500 metres of red/white chevron tape
 and the lovely surprise of a much sought after Centurion Crew shirt which are really well made technical tops.

Last week I put a call out to my clubs and I have found a volunteer to come along with me to mark the course involving the shuttling of our cars to be able to have one at the start and the end of the route.....this is going to be fun

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Barefoot Running Experiment

Thursday evening is my usual run at the track but this week I wanted to do an experimental one with no Monkey Feet or shoes but longer than my usual 1 mile.

What I often wonder is how exactly my foot strikes the ground when in bare feet or in my Vibrams so decided to place four strips on each sole; 
  1. Two parallel strips across the balls of the foot
  2.  One strip along the outer edge of the sole
  3. One short strip hold the back part of #2 to the heel
Leaving the speed trainers to their warm up I went on a 5km run around the track in my taped feet to see how the wear developed to show how my feet landed. Now this was just a unscientific experiment but I was surprised by the wear on the tape, the inner ball of the foot taking the brunt of the impact followed by long and middle toe, the main weight bearing metatarsals but looking at the long tape the strike patter only covers the forward section.

As for the heel, yes they are being struck as I would expect but not as a heel strike but as a flat placement or "scuff"

I am feeling pretty pleased with the run being the furthest I have run with no shoes, a total of 5km, but note there is a slight pain in an old injury site showing that Monkey Feet (VFF's) do protect you somewhat even if we think they don't.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Another DNF

Reports like this can always be a venting for despair, feelings of failure and the "Why oh whys?" 

Today I have no excuses apart from that I had a terrible event and I knew it from the beginning as  I traipsed out in 30 C degree heat on a 100km self-navigating trail run at noon having previously had a bout of stomach cramps.

Let me take you back 3 hours into the morning of Saturday; after dropping my daughter off at her workplace I ventured home, grabbed my backpack and dry kit to take a 45 minute drive to Tonbridge Wells but as the journey started I began to realise that the traffic was heavier than normal for a Saturday and then reports of 2 accidents on the motorway so I diverted off to go an alternative "country lane" drive to then get stuck in more traffic about 3 miles from the start. By now the temperature was in the high 20's and I was sweating profusely and slowly getting more and more fed up as I had now missed my 11.00am start time with a window of 60 minutes to get going.

Hot and flustered I finally found the start, signed my waiver and ran out. Due to my mood and now very hot body I decided that before I started that I would drop down to the lesser distance (now 42km) and just enjoy the day with little or no pressure. Along with my normal safety kit I added an extra 750ml of water and because of my decision to drop down the miles my MONKEY FEET.

The ground beneath me was great, the instructions intricate and therefore not really designed for runners and I have learnt the hard way never to follow the well trodden paths as a lot of people go wrong and you too get lost proved when a runner passed me 3 times in the first few miles and he started earlier than me!

Crossing open fields I was really suffering in the heat and was just generally unhappy as I was just not dealing with the weather at all so arriving at the first checkpoint announced that I was quitting knowing that I would become ill if I continued.

This later proved to be the right decisions with reports of people dropping down a distance, other runners DNF'ing after nearly blacking out...I believe thas was not a challenge for runners that day as their body temperatures would have become dangerously high. Fair play to anyone that got through this event with such minimal support...just not for me, no excuses.