Doctor Dan really is “the man” !!

MDSDan

Last week I had the pleasure and privilege to attend a talk from Doctor Daniel Roiz de Sa (Dr Dan). The location for this inspirational evening was Absolute Running’s fitness studio. Dr Dan specialises in Sport and Exercise medicine as well as activities in extreme weather climates. Dan is CMO at Gosport’s Institute of Naval Medicine, not that far from our local running shop, Absolute Running (AR). The evenings presentation was wide ranging but with a bias towards his work with the amazing Duncan Slater (athlete & double amputee) on the 250K Marathon des Sables (MDS).

Nick from Absolute Running is always keen to promote local endeavours and especially ex service personnel, so, with Duncan being ex RAF, this is how the evening came about.

Dr Dan has been involved in expeditions to the South Pole with Duncan, Prince Harry and other ex servicemen, various Olympians as they prepared for the Rio games, including Jonny & Alistair Brownlee and numerous other supporting roles for climate related extreme challenges. However, as he mingled with us and wrestled with his laptop I.T. issues you’d never of guessed that he was the key note speaker. It’s often the case that the people who have achieved so much are actually quite unassuming.

As Dan ran through the format of the evening his passion shone through and as an audience, we were captivate by his every word. The second central theme of the night was the charity that Duncan and Dan worked with on this project, Walking with the Wounded . WWTW was set up to help and promote the transition of ex servicemen back into the workplace. The admission money for the evening was being donated and the link above tells you more about their work.

The video below shows Dr Dan’s heat chamber and the special guest who popped down to Gosport to wish a fellow adventurer well. Dan can be seen letting Duncan into the chamber and explaining what to expect !! We learnt that diet, acclimatisation and lots of data was complied to give everyone their best chance possible, no stones were left unturned !!

Dan’s role was not only to complete the 250K (six marathons in six days) but to run ahead of Duncan so as to be there for any medical requirements. The nature of the event is that you are self sufficient with only water being provided throughout the running and tents as your overnight accommodation. This meant Dan’s pack included spare parts for Duncan’s ground breaking prosthetic legs as well as medical supplies, on top of what he needed to complete the race.

The MDS challenge is a constant battle with the sand dunes, exposed wide open flats, temperatures of 40 & 50 C and wind storms. Billed as the toughest footrace in the world the demands of the Moroccan environment would be too much for the vast majority of us but the combination of determination and willpower really came across as Dan showed us photos of dunes that had rope to pull on, because they were so steep !!

Dan left us with no illusions that the organisers will dnf (did not finish) you without too much compassion so this weight of responsibility must have been immense with Dan also trying to mange his own self preservation. Naturally it goes without saying that Duncan’s efforts were bordering on super human as the first double amputee to finish.

tents

Along with Dan and Duncan local ultra runner James Yeardley from my club Fareham Crusaders had also benefited from Dan’s heat chamber training so it was great to have a chat with him at Fareham Leisure Centre after a Crusaders training night recently.

This blog wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Tom Evans. From the minute Dan told us Tom’s story there was a sense of excitement and real anticipation in his voice. Tom is a Captain in the Welsh Guards and surprised everyone, not least the local favourites, when he came 4th on the first day. Tom eventually finished on the podium in 3rd place which is the best position any European runner has ever achieved. He was running for WWTW and naturally has catapulted himself into the marathon and ultra world with this performance. I suspect Tom will be seeing a lot more of Dr Dan !!

The royal seal of approval was given to Duncan on his completion of the MDS by Prince Harry, so Tom, James and Dr Dan can all say that they beat the desert.

princetweet A number of interesting questions were asked at the end and a heart felt round of applause completed a very motivational evening. Thank you Dr Dan.

We finished at 9pm, I said goodnight to a few of the local runners and asked Dan if he was ok with me writing this blog. Thanks must also go to Nick Carter of AR for organising the night and I think it’s fair to say that we all left feeling that we were capable of “so much more” !!

Finally, AR’s Nick has a series of Red Sofa interviews and this 9 minute episode is a measure of the respect and interest everyone had for the challenge that lay ahead.

Feedback ………. thanks very much Tom.

Tom

18 miles Exton to Cheesefoot Head & back, RTTK preperation

18

Race to the King’s 53 miles are now 7 weeks away so Paul and I decided to catch up on some homework by running a section towards the end of the route. We started in the bottom right hand corner of the map at Meonstoke and joined the RTTK route at about 40.5 just off the old railway line and under the bridge that’s no longer there !! (That link and the remaining links are from Google Maps street view). We followed the undulating South Downs Way path to the A31 which will be about 49.5 miles on the day and was our 9 mile turn around point.

On arrival it was a cold and windy morning so we both started with a long sleeve and short sleeve tops plus jacket. This might sound excessive but kit choice will be key on the day due to the fact that we could be out there for twelve hours, the weather on top of the Downs can be markedly different to the bottom of the valleys and our British Summer time is so unpredictable.

Running through sleepy Exton we soon approached the narrow lanes that take you to the top of Beacon Hill and its trig point. On the RTTK day this will be at about 41.5 miles so the 1.5 mile tarmac lane with its 450 feet elevation will be the last “big” climb to test your physical and mental fortitude. The Beacon itself can be seen just before you take a right hand turn onto the narrow track up to the trig. If you are brave enough to look, here , is the google maps street view as you leave Beacon Hill Lane and start to ascent.

The view back towards Old Winchester Hill where you will have come from is amazing and well worth savouring, I say that because the vast majority of us will be walking towards the trig !!

The trail takes you through a farmyard and along a tree lined section which may be useful if it’s windy but we were lucky today as the wind had dropped and the sun had come out. Now, as we’ve all experienced your mind can play tricks on you when you are running because I mentioned to Paul we must be near Milbury pub about a mile later on, “there’s no pubs around here” was Paul’s reply, just as the path opened out onto the car park and pub. So the Milbury’s pub is now affectionately called the invisible pub.

With the sun getting stronger we stopped for a quick food and drink break in the shade.

DSC00357

Our next noticeable point of reference was Holden Farm but before that we were presented with a classic South Downs photo opportunity with trees, crops, a hill and a trail. This beautiful view is only spoiled be me being in the way !!

DSC00361As I’m writing this my friend Alison has posted a photo of exactly this location with the caption, “stole your route” which made me laugh !! The South Downs Way ought to be a compulsory trip for everyone to take in the sights.

Did I mention the undulations, well there isn’t anything huge but they do come quite regularly and at this point when we are in the 40 odd miles done stage then I’m sure they will all seem bigger. We crossed the A272, ran around the edge of a field, past yet another barn and then we could see in the distance the A31 traffic at the bottom of the wonderfully named Cheesefoot head. By now we’d clocked 9 miles and the sign that I was next to showed a reassuring 3 miles to Winchester so this will be about 50 of the 53 Race to the King miles. What we also noticed here, were in a couple of tanks in the nearby fields. This turned out to be Juniper Leisure Tank driving  !! How cool is that 🙂

**Update**, after another look at the map we should have turned left instead of heading down towards the A31 where the Winchester sign was. So that’s at about the “V” of Temple Valley on the map at the top of my blog, “ha ho”, the live and learn !!

DSC00362 As you can see behind me our return leg would start with a hill so Paul played his trump card, a pepperoni pizza pasty. Easy to digest, lots of salt and quite tasty (he let me have some). Our return 9 miles were spent discussing RTTK strategy and all in all the 18 miles were the furthest I’ve run the weekend following a marathon so I was very pleased.

DSC00363 We leant some valuable course knowledge today as I’m sure that the last 13 miles of our 53 will be much more mental that physical, preparation is the key !! I hope this has helped to give other RTTK runners a flavour (not the pepperoni one) of what’s in store (not Sainsburys) 🙂 We returned to Meonstoke village hall were my request to the lady at the desk of “can we borrow some water on a long term basis please” was met with a “yes certainly”, the hot day had meant we’d both run out.

I will end my blog here but as we speak I am working on a video of snippets that Paul took on our way so watch this space for the final instalment.

3 Forts Challenge 27.2 miles

DSC00345

The 3 Forts Challenge is a 27.2 mile trail run that takes in the South Downs Way (SDW)and three Iron Age forts. So, Cissbury Ring 250 BC, Devil’s Dyke 100 BC and Chanctonbury Ring 600 BC mean not only are you in a beautiful part of the world but you feel like you are going back in time as I doubt it has changed for hundreds of years.

Crusaders Paul, Sally, Jon, Dave, Lucy and Kate joined my trail running buddy Paul Coates and I on a windy morning along with Phil Hobby from Stubby. Kit choice was going to be important today seeing as we were set for 3,450 feet of elevation and the temperature can drop significantly when you get up onto the top of the exposed Downs. I wore my long sleeve Helly and was pleased I did as well as carrying my Ron Hill waterproof jacket that ties up around your waste because heavy rain for forecast for later. Finally with ten feed stations on route the organisers certainly had the runners interests at heart.

aa

route

As we set off on the initial two mile gradual climb to meet up with the SDW much of the chat was the fact that this would be two miles downhill to the finish !! Having said that when you have been on your feet for 3/4/5/6 hours the jarring on your thighs can actually mean you hold back on your natural instincts 🙂

Once onto the main trail some concentration was required due to the dry rutted mud and it was here at about four miles that I chatted wit Phil Hall who I know from twitter and have been in the same races but not actually met, so it was great to have a bit of a chat.

By six or so miles our days task came into view with the skyline being our target.

DSC00349

DSC00350

I’m a firm believer that you get out of life what you put into it and as runners we train for days like this. The sheer beauty of our surroundings coupled with the physical and mental challenge ahead quite simply make you feel alive and highten all of your senses. With 350 + like minded runners the day promised to be a memorable one. As Julie Andrews once sang, “The hills are alive with the sound of runners” … or was it music ??

We dropped down towards the River Adur which meant the wind dropped and the sunshine was pleasant on your bones but as Sir Issac Newton will tell you what goes down inevitably goes up. Not having run in this area before I couldn’t say for certain which hill this was but it certainly meant walking from about half way up !! The grass and trail then gave way to a narrow road and this road weaved towards the top of the hill. With vehicles parked on the roadside it reminded me of a Tour de France stage, I almost excpected Chris Froome to run past me !! (Cycling joke)

DSC00351

I’d read on the course notes that 11 miles was a turn around point so it didn’t surprise to to see “speedy” Paul Webster heading in my direction. Paul finished an amazing 41st out of 352 so much respect to you Sir. Paul Coates passed me next with a picture of concentration on his face which isn’t like Paul, we usually get a pose of some description. Clearly his 38 mile ultra from the previous week was starting to take some toll on his legs. I turned and fairly quickly saw Sally & Jon on the downhill then followed by Dave, Lucy and Kate. Seeing as I had my waste band open for a drink I took a photo.

DSC00352Apologies for taking a photo when you were walking but trust me we had all been run/walking at that point. An easy section of downhill was gratefully received and I pressed on to the most challenging section between 17 and 21 miles were the long drawn out hills tested your resolve and patience !! I use either a slow but constant stride for these or walk for a count of ten and then run for a count of ten. This works for me 🙂

DSC00353

I passed an open toed sandals runner stopping to take pebbles out of his shoes (well flip flops really) and was mindful that the dark clouds were starting to roll in and that rain was on its way. The twenty mile beep on my watch was a welcome sound and a downhill chalky section between 21 and 23 had to be taken with some concentration but was still a delight. The final hilly section between 23 and 25 miles took some effort but again this is what we train for. If you can smile when it’s hurting you must be enjoying it 🙂

In many ways hills are a metaphor for life. You keep plugging away with whatever it throws at you and sometimes it feels like you aren’t getting anywhere but when you reach the top and know you’ve reached your goal then the sense of accomplishment is immense. Running can be quite emotional, at points like this, as a wave of self belief sweeps over you and you feel like you are on top of the world (well the South Downs).

The last two miles were bliss as the downward trail wound its way towards the finish line. The drizzle that had started at about 22 miles was becoming more noticeable but there was no way I was going to waste the “free miles” of the downhill section putting on my jacket !!

I crossed the line in just under 5 hours 7 minutes and in 218th place out of 352 which I was happy with in a field of runners who would have specifically chosen this event.

DSC00354

Phil and Paul had both finished ahead of me and Paul Webster was probably at home having his tea 🙂 The remainder of the Crusaders came in through the heavy rain that had developed so well done to them too. Today got the thumbs up from both the lads above and certainly from me too, even if this photo was from before we started ha ha !!

DSC00348

Thanks to the organisers for a great event. People ask me why I blog, it’s for days like today when you come away with a sense of achievement, pride and simply an overwhelming feeling of enjoyment. Come and join us on the trails, maybe you will get hooked just like us 🙂

P.S. I hum to myself when I run (sometimes this gets me funny looks) todays choice was mainly Ben Howard with the lyrics “Keep your head up, keep your heart strong” 🙂

 

 

 

 

2017 Running Awards Evening

DSC00331

They say a picture paints a 1,000 words and when I look at this photo the two that immediately come to mind are “happy & proud”. As the best blog award was announced  and the big screen display changed, it was very exciting to see all the shortlisted logos and fantastic to see mine right up there. I’d like to thank all the people that voted for my blog both last year and this year. Two years blogging and twice shortlisted #amazing !!

In this post I have tagged as many people as came to mind and if they write a blog I have added a link to it via their name.

The venue for the Running Awards was once again the Indigo Rooms within the O2. I travelled up to London in the afternoon and checked into the Pilot Inn which is literally 0.6 miles away. I’d recommend the pub rooms as a stay over because I had a friendly welcome, free overnight parking, a good sleep and quite a funky room.

DSC00336As I strolled towards the O2 I contemplated the evening ahead. What did I hope it would bring ? Realistically 401 marathons Ben had to be the favourite and second/third spots were up for grabs but my main goal was to meet the bloggers that I read the most and spookily enough that all happened within the first hour or so.

We’d been emailed that the Bloggers Forum would start at 8.30pm and on arrival the Indigo Rooms had the awards lit up in lights. The people from the majority of the other categories were dinning downstairs and we were in the balcony bar above. Once I’d had my official Running Awards photo taken I checked in at registration. If it’s anything like last years then you’ll get the sense of pride and achievement that I felt. Who would have thought that tapping away my thoughts at home would bring me to London !!

DSC00328

On arrival I was given my yellow wrist band that signified I was a blogging shortlisted candidate, this also meant I received a Bloggers goody bag. The Running Awards red kit bag in itself was quite cool and this photo shows you what was inside. The 500ml soft flask will come in very handy, all the gels and the Hi5 nutrition pack will definitely be used and I hope not to need the rock tape but it will be useful to carry as a precaution. The battery free Million mile lights were a great idea especially for those early/late trail runs where there’s no street lighting. I will definitely try the Totum Sports hydration drinks sachets after listening to Alice their rep and I’ll drink it from my Camelbak soft flask that has a clever open and shut valve, so there are no spillages. Thanks one and all for these gifts.

DSC00340With the advantage of these bright red kit bags and his distinct Scottish ascent the first person I bumped into in the VIP Lounge was shortlisted Mark Gallacher. Mark has a great sense of humour and is a bundle of energy so the conversation flowed easily considering we have never met in person, only through twitter. On sitting down we were then joined by fellow blogger Paul Addicott and his wife, then not long after Liam Martin and his wife Judy. Liam’s Ginger Running man blog along with Mark’s are a couple of my favourites. Liam is fresh from his success in the recent runultra blogging awards.

We chatted about a wide range of blogging topics including Paul and Mark’s London marathons on the Sunday. As more people arrived I was pleased to see Darren (@Runnersknees) and his fellow @ukrunchat group. I borrowed this photo so that I could include Matt , Jen, Pip, Darren, Kaya, Clare & Big Carl in my blog.

ukr

Darren and I met last year when Strava took the bloggers for a run. Darren may not have been shortlisted but his RunnersKnees blog defiantly deserves it both in terms of numbers and content “next year” 🙂

By 9.45pm we made our way down to be escorted into the main arena for the awards themselves were the more corporate guests were finishing their three course meals. Sam and Rachael from the Running Awards have been emailing us in recent weeks so again it was great to meet them in person. We settled at our table, with the free drinks !! ( bottles of cold larger to follow on from my cider in the VIP bar) and Mike Bushell from the BBC set off the presenting proceedings by entering the stage on a space hopper. Guest presenters also included Susie Chan, Martin Yelling, Dame Kelly Holmes and 401 Ben.

My local Gosport running shop Absolute Running had been shortlisted  but unfortunately didn’t figure in the top three of their categories. However, it’s a great achievement for a relatively small shop to have made it that far. A testament to their success is that they have recently opened at second shop in Southsea.

So, the time came for the top three bloggers to be named. Third, Gemma‘s marathongirl, second Mark Gallacher and first 401 Ben. With Mark sitting next to me it was fantastic to see the unparalleled joy in his face. I was both excited and pleased for him. Ben has had an amazing two years and deserves every award that he is nominated for and with a nice touch Gemma came over to congratulate Mark . I popped over to see if they were all posing for photos, Ben and Gemma were there, either side of the PR Breath Unity lady.

DSC00333

markaward2

Naturally only three people can figure in the Gold, silver and bronze positions but I think I can speak for our remaining nine bloggers that we all felt privileged to have been voted into the shortlisted top twelve out of more than eighty blogs that put themselves forward. I borrowed the official photo of Mark in his moment of glory 🙂

Once the announcements had all been made I said congratulations and goodnight to Mark and then mingled for a while to see who was around now that we’d stood up from our tables. Bumping into Darren and Jen again I also got to chat with ultra man Shaun Marsden who’d also been on last years pre awards Strava run. When I chatted to him last year he’d just finished his Artic Ultra !! I briefly chatted with Ben and offered my congratulations and then had a quick chat with Big Carl who is an interesting character and I take my hat off to him as his “Big Carl” relates to him once being 30 stone.

So in summary a great evening catching up with old friends and making new ones. Could the Bloggers Forum have been more constructive, probably yes, but then again the informal chatting did work. Could I have taken more photos, definitely, but sometimes it’s good to take in what’s going on rather than keep snapping away 🙂

As I strolled back towards the pub and my accommodation I bumped into Liam and Judy who I’d sadly missed saying goodbye to so this was a perfect end to the evening as I shared a quick lift up the road in their taxi and got to say goodbye too. See you at Race to the King Liam 🙂

I was waiting for the official “photo on arrival” before I posted this blog because if nothing else it proves I was there …. ha ha 🙂

Roll on 2018 ….. maybe 3 shortlistings in a row ???

Cheers ….. Rog

Me

 

 

16 miles : Running with the sun & moon

DSC00302

My long steady runs aren’t usually in the evening but with the changing of the hour I thought I’d mix things up a bit by running later and taking my head torch too. A 6pm start meant a rethink on what to have for tea. Porridge was the obvious slow burning energy answer. This evening I was also trying a 100g bar of Bakewell flapjack as a complement to my usual gels. This energy boost of carbohydrate is another product on my list of “what to eat on an ultra”. I chose 3 from Holland and Barrett after helpful advice from a member of staff, last week I also picking up cod liver oil tablets for a general “oiling” of my joints, from them too 🙂

DSC00285

The evening sun was a joy to run in as I left the streets and houses behind and made my way along the deviation line, under the motorway and out towards Knowle woods. The detour to the woods was to see if the bluebells were out yet because once in full bloom they carpet the woods with a beautiful vivid purple blue display. It maybe needs another week or two yet as they are traditionally at there best around London Marathon week. Even three miles into my run the sun was starting to lower in the sky so I was glad I’d brought my head torch as insurance !! Naturally being in amongst the trees it blocked out the sun’s rays.

DSC00289Once out onto Mayes Lane the sun returned and as I ran through Wickham at 5 miles there were more signs of bluebells. I had my first mouthful of flapjack at 45 minutes and even though running and eating isn’t necessarily that easy it wasn’t an effort to swallow. Out onto the Meon Valley trail the tall trees and bushes that line it cast unusual sized shapes and shadows and with nothing better to do I looked for shadows that resembled animals and faces, like you do with clouds 🙂

By the eight mile half way stage the sun definitely was dropping in the sky and with the gradual incline now in my favour on the return leg I attempted to increase my pace. You know the evening is approaching when you get mouthfuls of insects and a small drop in temperature. The sun was now dropping rapidly and I stopped briefly to take the photo at the start of my blog. The golden circle of light was trying in vain to keep my attention as it disappeared. The return to Wickham meant another 1/3 of flapjack, 11 miles and the onset of darkness. As dusk took over I swung my waistband around and finished off the last of my flapjack along with my second gel.

With the two hour mark passing by I now had a decision to make, should I run through the woods or take the road. I’m pleased to say my choice was rewarded with this photo. I love the fact that the moon can been seen just above the trees line.

DSC00303By now the temperature had fallen further and as I joined the deviation line trail I needed my head torch to see the tree roots. Care was needed at this stage because you have to concentrate on branches as well as roots but it only lasted for a mile or so. Finally I came back out onto the streets and enjoyed a mile downhill along Gudge Heath Lane where I was pleased to pick up the pace. So, 16 miles and 27 for the week. As I’m writing this I aim to add 5 miles around the local roads to meet my 32 mile target for the week. Double runs over the weekend will now be a feature of my preparations.

The lighter evenings give us all much more scope to get out on longer training runs so I intend to use them again. The flapjack was defiantly a winner so I will be adding it to my list.  Happy running 🙂

3 weeks until the : 3 Forts Challenge

3fThe 3 Forts marathon is on April 30th and it’s a great addition to my RTTK preparation. The race is 27.2 miles and has 3,450 feet elevation. Starting north of Worthing it has all the classic South Downs Way features ….. hills & views.

My trail running buddy Paul and I will be joined by numerous other runners as this race is one of the classic trail running events of the year.

Really looking forward to a great day out. Taxing, but great training !!

 

Recovery 9 miler including Titchfield Canal

DSC00269

With my first marathon of the year completed last Sunday I’ve been using my cycle commute to work as “therapy” for my legs. Each day has brought “looser legs” after all the hills and the 26.6 (as it turned out) miles. We were told there’d be on extra charge, so those 0.4 miles were free !!

Today’s plan was quite simply 4.5 miles down to the coast and back. A beautiful sunny morning welcomed me back into the world of running and as the initial couple of miles passed by I felt it had been the right decision to take a week off running.

Once I reached the sleepy village of Titchfield the sun was casting its shadows and even though April has only just arrived I’d used sun block on my forehead. The village was quiet as I ran through and without any car in sight you could almost imagine yourself transported back in time.

DSC00276The canal isn’t very wide but it does make an interesting and scenic route as it winds its way toward the sea. The initial track has been flattened and compressed so as to give an all year round surface, however, mud and tree roots add an element of interest the further you travel away from the village. I was in the company of walkers, cyclists and nature watchers what with Titchfield Haven being a nature reserve. The grasslands, lakes and open spaces mean photographers with huge lenses are also a feature of this area.

DSC00268I’m no expert but the mornings bird song certainly came in a variety of different tunes !! As I approached the coast I could see fellow runners heading towards me and within a brief moment Dave, Ed and Kate from our running club passed by with smiles and a “morning Rog” as they progressed on their 16 miler.

The tide was out as I reached the sea and the Isle of White beckoned in the distance. Quick questions, what’s missing from this photo ? Clouds !! There was hardly one in sight 🙂 April the 2nd and 15 degrees …. the first sight of Summer !!

DSC00273Retracing my steps back along the canal it was also evident that work has be done on fencing off both the water and the fields were sheep and cows occasionally graze. Ultimately fencing has to be practical but it was great to see some more traditional features with the weaved look that had been used to the right hand side. With the bright sun and the dappled effect this was giving through the shade of the trees you did have to be mindful of the tree roots on the sections of the path which weren’t as compressed.

DSC00274 That said, who wants a path with no variation, it’s always good to be thinking and having to choose your line of direction. Running this path does take me back a couple of years when Mark Greenfield and I ran it in February with head torches and ice in the puddles. I thought I could see a wide stretch of ice ahead of us that night but the river had overflown the banks and our reward was to run through freezing cold water 🙂

These kind of quirks are what make running off road unpredictable and enjoyable. All that remained was to join the tarmac pavements for a couple of miles and that was my recovery run done.

The plan now is to ramp up the miles, run both days at the weekend and generally move up a notch for Race to the Kings double marathon in twelve weeks time.

QE Spring marathon : 1,000m elevation in the 26.2 miles !!

 

DSC00260

Today’s marathon was one of those days were it was a pleasure to take part. Second Wind Running  (SWR) always put on a great race (I’ll let Phil off with the 26.6 miles as everything else was spot on). The combination of a challenging course (1,000 metres elevation), lots of trail running friends and the March sunshine made it a day to remember.

With the marathon setting off at 9.30 and the half at 10.15 there was a lot of activity in the race HQ area. I bumped into Mark from the New Forest as well as Paul, Allie and Richard from Fareham and Ian from Chichester. Paul Jeffrey, a fellow runner & blogger was there as well as Ros, Dean & Kiernan who were out on the course marshalling. It was also great to get a shout out from Fareham’s Mel and Trevor who were just arriving as the marathon set off. Ironically within a mile I was chatting with Thom from Fareham Crusaders who I’d seen on the race entries but didn’t know. We chatted briefly and agreed to train in the future. This pre marathon photo of the two Pauls and Allie shows you what a scenic location we were in.

DSC00250

The first 2 miles are largely uphill so the initial banter soon went quiet as we all pondered that this would be the same for miles 13 to 15 with today being a two lap course. Regardless of the incline I could hear lots of people saying how beautiful the trail and trees were as we threaded our way through the forestry commission woods.

A group of about ten of us had joined up and as we passed marshal Dean the pace was in line with a 5 hour marathon due to the frequent hills. I chatted with Ian from twitter/Chichester and he mentioned he had a 100 miler in five weeks !! By the 4.5 mile mark we had our first aid station. The group largely stopped on mass so I couldn’t resist running straight through so as to get a head start on the steep incline back out of the park. Today I had two 250ml and one new Osprey 500ml soft flask in my waist belt, these take up less room and work well for me. With five feed stations I only needed to stop at three so it saves a certain amount of time but more importantly you keep on the move !!

DSC00237

By the top of the climb I seemed to have distanced myself but I figured it would only be a matter of time before they caught me up. With us still relatively early in the run I spotted Stuart March ahead taking the official photos. As he appeared to be taking a long shot and a close up I had time to ponder on what pose I’d go for, as it was, I think the smile on my face summed up the whole day. Trail running with friends …. “it’s simply the best” 🙂

SWRUN-17-qespring-maracourse-136

I thanked Ros for marshalling when I passed her and this took us down a welcome decent for a while. The sun was becoming stronger now and I exchanged places with brothers Simon and Jonny from Pompey Joggers for a number of miles. The Staunton Way took us back into the park with a long drag across the fields as we headed for the forested area. While I took a gel I snapped this photo to give a sense of the long drag.

DSC00252The second lap started with a slap in the face of realism, this was going to need some concentration. My legs were feeling good but I chose to progress steadily seeing as I haven’t run more than 17 miles this year 🙂 The Pompey brothers appeared again and we had some banter. It’s funny how we chose different sections of the hills to take short walks, so we kept on overtaking and reovertaking (made up word !!)

The Queen Elizabeth Country park was now full of visitors seeing as we’d moved into the afternoon. I’d kept my snood twisted around my wrist and this was very useful to wipe away the sweat from my eyes. After passing Ros & Kiernan marshalling at 19 miles the South Downs Way becomes a narrow tarmac (hilly) road that then gave way to a downhill section which meant my gps watch alarm went off for 20 miles (deep joy)

DSC00253

The drinks station at about 22 miles couldn’t come soon enough and I have to say I slowed down as we rejoined the Staunton Way for a second time. The final mile and a half through QECP was quite emotional because I knew I’d had a good run and shared the experience with lots of friends. The sound of a woodpecker echoed through the trees and the smile on my face was getting bigger each hundred metres.

My time was 5.07 which I was happy with considering the hills, heat and lack of 20 mile training runs. For a bargain £3 there was chilli con carnie & a roll on offer so I scoffed those down as I chatted with lots of the people I have mentioned. As you saw at the start of my blog the medal and T Shirt were eye catchers and I finished off the day with some photos of the people involved.

DSC00256This is my trail running best buddy Paul, then below me, Ros & Richard.

DSC00257And finally I owe a debt of thanks to Simon and Jonny who kept me on my toes for quite some time, thanks lads.

DSC00258 Last but no least thanks to Phil & Teresa from Second Wind Running for hosting a great race and a great day. Lots of complements, I recommend if you are in Hampshire, look them up 🙂 Yes trail running can be challenging but it is also very rewarding.

Roger

Free trainers for a year !!

sics

I had some really unexpected and exciting news on Monday. This twitter post seemed too good to be true but sure enough, after replying, I found I’d won 4 pairs of Asics trainers. I’m not gloating, in fact I’m still in shock but tomorrow I’m off to Gosport to try on a selection of road and trail Asics running shoes at Absolute Running .

The random thing is that all I had to do was follow Asics (8,000 twitter followers) and retweet that they were celebrating their 1,000th tweet.

The moral of the story is, “you have to be in it to win it”, don’t delay, enter a competition today 🙂

I will post again as the story unfolds ……. Needless to say, thank you very much to Asics

#tobecontinued #luckylad

DSC00280

Gel-FujiTrabuco on the left (road/trail) good for the Spring Summer with firmer trails.

Gel- Kayano on the right, road shoe

Look forward to testing them 🙂

A 10 mile windy taper run, down to the Coast

DSC00217

With the Second Wind Running QE marathon a week away I chose a 10 miler down to the coast and back for my taper run. Generally speaking I try to avoid tarmac pavements but today it was worth it to witness the sight of the swell on a windy day. The combination of running against the wind for the first half and watching the kite surfers made for an interesting change in scenery.

Today, I also made the decision not to run with a watch. It’s funny how liberating this experience can be, no pace guide, no mileage guide. Naturally I had a fair idea of the miles I was running but it certainly added to the taper mentality by running how I felt and just listening to my breathing. I’d recommend this now and then because you relax into your run and find your natural rhythm.

The outward miles were against the wind which suited me perfectly knowing I would get the benefit on the way home. I ran past an old friend, Andy Rogers, on the way out. He was running in his Southampton FC top and no doubt had a few comments from passing Pompey supporting car drivers !!

The wind was certainly getting amongst the road side daffodils which meant they looked like they were dancing from side to side, all they needed was some music. Also the tall trees on the outskirts of Stubbington looked like the wind was trying to shake the very last of the leaves that Autumn & Winter hadn’t dislodged.

DSC00212

Once down at the coast I ran along Hill Head to try and get some photos of the kite surfers who were revelling in the windy conditions. In a way they were a little too far out to sea to get a good photo but at the same time they looked like colourful seagulls flying to ad fro. I ran down onto the beach and could taste the salt water that in the air.

I’ve always lived near the coast and days like today make you feel privileged to have it only 5 miles away.

DSC00227 Heading down Lee On Solent seafront there were numerous runners, cyclists and simply people out enjoying a mornings walk in the “fresh” air. I reached the half way point and noticed an immediate difference when running with the wind behind me. These seaweed covered boulders help with the beach erosion but also make a great contrast photo wise !! The Absolute Running breakfast club runners would have passed this way at 8am today, I was closer to lunch time 🙂

The second half of my run was pleasant with the supporting wind and my mind turned to the coming week. I’ll be keeping up my liquid intake up (no cider) stretching whenever possible and then hitting the pasta towards the end of the week. Am I prepared for 26.2 miles, probably not, am I going to let it worry me, probably not. I’ll start at a steady pace and use my local knowledge to spread out my efforts. I’m really looking forward to both the race and the challenge. The thousand metres elevation will be #hilltastic 🙂