Thursday, 30 September 2010

Pushed for time

Things have been a bit hectic this week so I have not been able to update posts. In brief, this week so far has gone like this:

Monday - legs heavy and knees sore so a nice easy recovery run of 4 miles

Tuesday - 9 miles with 4 x 7 mins, with 2 mins jog recovery.

Wednesday - Gym, for weights session and 5 miles on treadmill. Since I am not a big fan of treadmills (getting bored very quickly) I decided to keep things interesting by starting off at a 2% incline and keeping the pace steady, increasing the incline by a further 2% every 2 minutes up to 14% then 2 minutes at 15% (the highest setting for the machine) before reducing the incline by 2% every two minutes until back to 1%. I followed this with a 6 minute mile and then a nice easy jog to make it up to 5 miles.

As promised, here a some photographs from Run Preston, from last Sunday

The Elite Mile:

Helen Clitheroe on her last outing before leaving for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi

The 10 km:

Just keeping ahead of first lady - Gemma Adams

"I used to be able to run up hills"

photos courtesy of Francescsa

Monday, 27 September 2010

Preston 10km

The pre-race information stated that this was not a pb course. A fact I will support for two reasons, firstly the course itself which is undulating and twisty in parts, and secondly, from a personal point of view, the state of my fitness. Having said that it did feel good to be racing, especially after having raced on Wednesday evening also.

The race was won by Gary Pennington of Preston Harriers in a time of 32.33, with Danny Parkinson of Kendal AC, second in 32.40.

After errors in the initial results, there was a pleasant surprise when it turned out that my 39th position in a time of 39.10 was good enough for second M50 place. First M50 was David Baker of Preston Harriers in 36.40. So I am still, however, a long way of the pace.

First lady home was Gemma Adams of Preston Harriers, who pushed me all the way and finished 40th in 39.11.

The 10km race was preceded by a fun run and followed by a 5km race and an elite mile race, which along with the nice sunny weather made for a great day out.

Hopefully I will have some pictures of the day to follow.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Warm and Wet

A balmy 16C and rain met the field of 17 runners as we toed the start line for the North East Vets (Masters to the rest of the world) 10000m championships at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow. As the gun sounded, Stewy Bell of Chester le Street hit the front in his usual, take no prisoners, style.

I had decided to start steady and see how it went. At the end of the fourth lap, as I moved up into 6th position, it soon became an exercise in concentration as I splashed my way around the next 21 laps. With those in front, to far in front to catch and those behind, far enough behind not to threaten.

I managed to keep the pace fairly even and finished in 39.03, 6th overall and 1st M50. Stewy Bell won the race and was 1st M45 in 34.49.

Although this was my first track race this year, this was the last track meeting in the area this season, so will now have to wait until next year for another outing on the track. I am determined to race more though and Sunday will see me travel over to the North West for the Preston 10km

Monday, 20 September 2010

Fashion faux pas

Following the publication of the picture of Nell Mc Andrew and myself (see yesterdays post) I have received a number of comments regarding the 'ancient' top I am wearing. Comments such as "Tell me you were wearing it in honour of 30 years of the Great North Run" - thanks Simon, or "You must not have picked up any prizes lately" - thanks John.

Yes, this is a bite from me - This is not my normal sartorial elegance - I was only wearing an old top to keep warm and I dumped it before the start of the race.

Below are more images from Saturdays Great North City Challenge:

For more photos of the Great North Run checkout AMcDs Running Commentary and for further comments on the GNR see Terry Lonergans Running on empty and Francesca's Journalism blogs.

Great North Run

Photo courtesy of BBC

Well I had the pleasure of Nell Mc Andrew's company for most of the race. Before the race started I asked Nell what time she was aiming for. The answer to which was just to see how it goes.

We went through the first mile in 6 minutes and then settled at 6.30 mile pace, passing 3 miles in 19 mins. At 6 miles when I checked that she was ok, she told me that she had been feeling sluggish but now felt she could pick it up slightly, which we duly did. My problem is that I am not quite in that shape at the moment so when just after 10 miles, Nell pushed on again a small gap opened between us, which try as I might stubbornly remained through to the finish. Nell got her pb in 1.26.30 and finished first celebrity - Great run Nell!. I crossed the line in 1.27.00.

If I want to accompany Nell next year I will have to get myself sorted as she has already told me that she wants to do 1.25.

At the sharp end of the race Haile Gebrselassie won in 59.33, with fellow Ethiopian Berhane Adere first lady in 68.49

But one of the performances of the day must go to Sir Chris Chatterway who crossed the line in 1.51. For anyone who does not know Chris Chatterway was one of the pacemakers when Roger Bannister first broke the 4 minute mile in 1954 and won Commonwealth gold at 3 miles and European silver at 5000m during the 50's and is now approaching his 80th birthday.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Great North City Games

We were blessed today with warm and sunny weather, so Anita and I headed down to Newcastle for the Great North City Games. An athletics match between England and Australia held in city streets rather than an athletics track.

There were great performances from Andy Turner, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis -Frances. With England running out match winners 5 - 4.

Newcastle Quayside also hosted the mini and Junior North Runs, as the Great North Run weekend got off to a great start.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Wet but not so windy

Last nights session of 6 x 3 mins with 2 min jog recovery saw our group back along Scotswood Road. Scotswood Road is ideal for these types of session, fairly flat, good surface, very few pedestrians, well lit, and as such is a good winter route. So the fact that that is where we were last night definitely signals the end of summer. Add to that the fact that it was cold and wet, though not as windy as past couple of days and despite managing to pick up a cold! It was a very enjoyable session.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Goodbye George

Received some sad news today - George Ogle, who was a coach at Blaydon Harriers when I joined in 1981 has died from cancer. George was also former president of the North East Harrier League.

George was the Army mile champion in 1959 and ran against the greatPeter Snell at Gateshead in 1961.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Under the streetlights and thought for today

As the dark nights continue to draw in, last nights session was back to running on the roads by streetlight. At 4 x 7 mins with 3 mins easy jog recovery, the session went well despite having to contend with strong winds and as the session progressed, driving rain. Autumn is definitely fast approaching. However with 9 miles in it was a good night. The knees continue to be a little tender but should be ok for the GNR on Sunday (sorry Terry).

Talking of which I received my race number and instructions as to my duties for accompanying a celebrity last night. It looks as though I will be having the pleasure of Nell McAndrews company again. I read recently that she had just completed a half marathon in 1.26, so she is obviously in good form.

As this weekend and the Great North Run draw closer so then does the publicity and hype that surround it grow. On Monday evening I watched a TV programme on the BBC hosted by Michael Johnson where he looked at the history of the run and talked to a variety of runners, fun runners and fundraisers about their experiences and about the pleasure of taking part.

No longer is the great North Run a single race but it has now grown to a whole weekend event culminating in the half marathon. Saturday sees a mini and Junior north run for younger runners and a city games, where elite athletes from GB compete against an Australian team in events normally held on an athletics track, in a town environment.

Surrounding the weekend are a series of art projects and events which celebrate and explore sport and art. Such as the recently refurbished and re-opened Hancock (now named Great North ) museum which is hosting an exhibition looking at the history of the GNR. Or the film 'Girl Blue Running Shoe'

As for the thought for today:

There is no such thing as over training - just under recovery

Monday, 13 September 2010

Slow and steady

Sunday was a steady 15 miles on the Derwent Walk. This was my longest run since returning from holiday and took my weekly mileage up to the 50 miles I had planned and was a reasonable increase on last weeks mileage. Unfortunately it also saw the recurrence of my recent knee problems, with my right knee swelling up. As a result I headed for the Gym tonight and did an easy 3 miles on the treadmill. Thankfully there were no problems so I intend to get back to some speed work tomorrow.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Hill reps and the results are in

Last night a group of 9 of us did a hill session in Derwenthaugh Park. The path through the park splits into two just after the lake at the foot of a hill, with one path becoming a short steep route to the top (about 200m) where it rejoins the other path which is a longer and more gradual route around the hill and up to the top.

So the session was for 8 hill reps, alternating between the long and short route, with the short hill jog back recovery. I felt a bit lethargic during the warm up but thanks to Eric keeping the pace up I was forced to shake off the lethargy and get in what turned out to be a good and enjoyable session.

As there is no lighting in the park, both the efforts and the recoveries got progressively faster as the night grew darker. So with a warm-up and warm-down it was a good 8 miles for the night. The knees are a little tender this morning - so a easy/steady run will be the order of the day tonight.

Finally all the results of the tests I have been having at Hospital are in and....... I am fit and healthy - no heart problems. It would seem that the problems I have been having are down to a virus and me not listening to my body and pushing on through it. I have been recommended not to do another marathon for a while to give my body a chance and to concentrate on half's and shorter distances in the mean time - at least they did not suggest I stop altogether. I must admit both my doctor and the consultant I have been seeing have been very sympathetic to my running, which has not always been the case in the past - the last time I had a problem (about 12 years ago) the only suggestion the doctor would make was stop running - needless to say I changed doctors.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Knuckling back down

A combination of easing back into it, following holiday, and family commitments led to a very modest 35 miles for last week, with two hilly fartlek sessions providing the quality.

Last nights session was the start of knuckling back down, with an 8 miler which included 20 mins tempo, with a further 10 mins tempo, following 10 mins jog recovery. Last night will probably be the last evening session on the Derwent Walk for this year, as the nights are now drawing in and it was quite dark by the time the session was over.

I also intend to get back to racing regularly as my racing this year has been very sporadic so far.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

It's that time of year again - GNR (out sprinting King Kev)

Since returning from holiday there is a noticeable increase in the number of people out running on the streets, paths and trails. This seems to be a bi-annual phenomena in this area, Firstly at the end of May / beginning of June as the Blaydon Race approaches (the second largest race in the area in terms of entries) and now, as the worlds largest half marathon, The Great North Run, looms large on the horizon.

The 30th running of the Great North Run takes place in a couple of weeks on the 19th September, when 54,000 people will make their way from Newcastle to South Shields. The GNR has a mixed press among local club runners. I am among those who support the event, as it was the very first GNR, in 1981, that started me off running.

I ran to raise funds for Pendower School and had no intentions of carrying on running following the event. I remember the day well, it was very warm (the first run was held in June) and the crowds were massive. Mike McLoed, the winner is quoted as saying that he had to run in the middle of the road as the noise from the crowds on either side was so great. I ran steadily and was surprised to catch up with Kevin Keegan (before his Newcastle United days) with about a mile and a half to go.

Approaching the finish Keegan took off and I instinctively chased after him, catching and passing him just before the finish. As a result I must be the only person to make all the newspapers, both locally and nationally, for finishing 495th in a race.

This year will be the 26th time I have ran the GNR, with my all time best position being 22nd. I must admit though for the last 5 years and again this year I have not 'raced' the event but have accompanied one of the celebrity runners.

As you are probably aware the GNR, like other mass participation events attract a number of celebrity runners, raising funds for various charities. In the GNR each celebrity is accompanied by a 'regular' runner to help things to run smoothly by ensuring they get through the race ok and access the correct finish funnel etc. (and find the VIP tent) at the end.

I have been one of those who accompany a celebrity over the last 5 years and its fun. A (slightly) easier (depending upon the celebrity) Sunday morning run with different and interesting company. I have accompanied in 2005, 2008 and 2009, Nell McAndrew in times of 1.39 (Nell was pregnant at the time and taking it easy), 1.29.30 and 1.27.58. In 2006 with actor Ben Price (1.36), and James Cracknell in 2007 with a time of 1.20 ( where I ran with a video camera to record possible footage for a documentary he was making about his race to Antartica - having since seen the documentary I can confirm that none of my camera work was used).

Photos courtesy of The Daily Telegraph, South Shields Gazette and Newcastle Journal

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Two weeks in the Sun - Palaiokastrista, Corfu

Well I am back from 14 days R&R in the sun. I covered only 34 miles over the 14 days (good for the knees), however, it was a hilly 34 miles (not so god for the knees, particularly the steep down hills), I did though finish each run with a swim in the sea (good for the knees) and as you can see from the photos the scenery was fantastic.

One problem I did encounter though was dogs. I have had problems with dogs in the past, while running (been bitten twice) and inconsiderate dog owners (another story), but unaccompanied dogs in foreign countries always make me wary. The first occasion, this time, was following a long climb up from Palaiokastrista to Lakones, a climb of 830ft. As I crested the top of the hill and followed the track around a bend, there in the middle of the track about 30 yards ahead was a bunch of dogs ( I Know the collective noun for dogs is a pack - but I am not sure if 3 dogs constitutes a pack). At first It did not seem that they had spotted me and I did not fancy being bothered by them, so I decided to retreat back down the hill. There was no barking so I thought I had gotten away with it. The next I heard was not barking, but the sound of them running in hot pursuit, as I looked around the distance between us was quickly evaporating. Luckily there was no snapping at my heels etc but they did insist in running between my legs and cutting just in front of me which made negotiating the long descent quite hazardous. The next morning I picked two of the dogs up again, even though following a different route and I saw them a third time, when happily for me, they were more interested in chasing a delivery van along the road.

Dogs aside though had a great time.

Since returning I broke myself in 'gently' with a hilly 8 mile fartlek last night - and boy - can I feel it this morning.