Category: Uncategorized

New Year, Older Me.

We made it through another xmas. The rest of the year is gravy now. I’m on countdown to Blackpool marathon now. Because I have Sunday/ Monday as my weekend I do my long run on Monday then have Tuesday as my rest day. Which means I’ll be starting my 16 week training plan properly on Wednesday. Today I went for a long run. I wanted to run to Carr Mill Dam then back to Widnes. A full circuit of the two ends of the canal. It’s about 31 miles. Because it was New Year’s day, a Monday when everyone was off, full of mince pie lardiness and fitness resolutions, it was heaving. I had to stop a few times, slow down a bunch of times and weave in and out of herds of ambling pedestrians waddling along. That didn’t improve the run, but I was suffering. It was slutchy underfoot, and I was wearing un-plated, ploddy, trainers, but that’s no excuse. I lost my mojo after the Carr Mill Dam loop and didn’t do the other loop. I ended doing a 20 mile run at 8.29m/m average pace. It shouldn’t have been so hard or painful. Worrying. I’ve been having calf cramps and pains in the back of my quads on the runs lately. I’m wondering if running is mainly a quad based activity. I’ve not been cycling for a year now, and my calves are playing up. I suppose I’m going to have to set up my turbo trainer again. Maybe start cycling to work. It’s only 2.2 miles each way, but it’s better than nothing. Maybe sell my motorbike. I’m also looking at getting a rowing machine. That’s good for a bunch of muscles, particularly your glutes and core strength, but it does work your calves as well. I’ve been putting off strength training for years. A rowing machine would tick a lot of the strength training boxes, and it’s something I don’t mind doing. Now I have to dig in and commit to every run on my training plan for Blackpool marathon. Then I’ll have a few months of maintenance runs, then start again for Frankfurt. I’ve booked the flights and accommodation and started learning German. The accommodation was a pain. We’ve been scammed again. Two marathons I’ve booked a pad through Booking.com, (this one had 4 different reviews so I thought it was alright). They ask for the money up front, no worries, then a few days later you get a message off Booking.com saying the reservation is cancelled. The business renting the property don’t reply and don’t refund. Last time I contacted Booking.com, and although they hadn’t taken the money or had anything to do with that side of it, they covered it. That was really good of them and I’m hoping it’s policy. However, you have to wait until after the booking date before they cough up. So 10 months, in this instance. There’s been no reply to my emails to the renter, I’ll […]

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Fails

I saw a random tweet saying it was the last day to enter the ballot for the Berlin marathon, so on a whim I thought I’d give it a go. It’s one I fancy and the Good For Age (GFA) qualifying time is ridiculously tough. Most other marathons have it in 5 year brackets, so I’d be in 55-59 year old bracket, which for London is 3.20, and for Boston it’s a leisurely 3.25 for us old dodders (so I already qualify with my 3.17 PB). Berlin GFA is 45-59 year old (!) 2.55! I was planning on waiting until I qualify for Berlin GFA, to earn a place, but that’s a long wait for a train that ain’t coming. So I entered the draw. Nope. Sorry you were unsuccessful this time. It was a long shot. They have something like ten times more applications than they have places. That got me thinking about marathons I’d like to do. I read a Runner’s World article on the fastest marathons in the world. There’s the Majors, London (meh), Boston (nope), Valencia (too late this year, lottery again for next year), Blackpool… Well, they didn’t actually call it a Major, or mention it at all, but I’m sure they were all thinking it. Then they mentioned two others, Seville, Spain, in February, that’s sold out for this year, but I’ve put my name on the waiting list in case anyone drops out. I don’t expect to get in, but hopefully they will email me as soon as 2025 places go live. That one’s not a ballot, just first come first served. And Frankfurt, Germany. That’s on the 27th of October, and there were still places available. I’m in! SQUEEEEEEEE! My first foreign marathon! I’m excited but a bit anxious. The logistics of the thing. The bad news is I’ve failed at a bunch of runs lately. I wanted to see what pace I was actually good for over a full marathon distance, but I was useless. I started at 6.50 pace but just couldn’t hold it. I think I’d already failed before I set out, my mental attitude was “This is so going to hurt, I don’t think I can do it”,etc. I should have been thinking “Call that pain? HA! YOU CAN’T BREAK ME!” Anyway, I struggled to hold it to 7.15 pace for 12 miles. Today the plan said an easy run of 8 miles at 8.15 pace, then 6x 100m strides at 85% effort. Fine and dandy. An easy trot. Then at 2 miles the plague weakness suddenly smashed me. I made it to 3 miles but then had to turn around. 6 miles at 8.06, but I was in such a mess I ended up going to bed for an hour. After an easy 6 mile run. I’m wondering if that was in any way a contributory factor to my long run fail. The bright side is my watch remains relentlessly chipper. It’s upgraded my fitness to 90.6% […]

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Surprise Result!

I said that after the 10K run, then the fitness test based on it, my watch had set a bunch of predictions for my times. The heart rate is pre-chest strap, so wildly inaccurate. My Normal maximum heart rate is about 166. Maybe a beat or two more. I was worried the predictions were all a bit optimistic so I set to testing them. It’s a flat out effort so I did one last week, one this week. Last week I did a 5K, hoping to beat the 20 minute barrier. I got a 19.52 and was made up. Today I went out to test myself on a half marathon. That has all kinds of problems. There’s the speed, obviously, but then there’s the mental toughness to hang in when it’s hurting and you’ve got miles to go at your best effort. My Coros watch had predicted 1.32:11. After the 5K it updated the prediction to 1.31:54. Obviously if I’m going to try and go flat out I’m going to try to beat the benchmark time of 1.30. That’s 6.51 m/m pace for 13.1 miles (I’ve just checked). I’m a 57 year old duffer, give me a break! It was tough, but not “I can’t hold this pace” tough. I was working really hard but not gasping and ragged. My usual run route was blocked off so I found a mile and a bit circuit, which worked nicely because I was only into the wind for half the circuit, so I could make up my time on the other half. I was finding it so do-able I broke up the boredom of mile laps with a long circuit that had a bit of a hill and and a mile or so into the wind. Which was kind of stupid. But I did it. 13.11 miles in 1.29;09! That is exactly equal to my PB (but that was with my Garmin watch and I’m pretty sure it was suspect). A (at the very least, joint) PB at 57! Not too shabby. I was kept honest on the last few miles, the last 1.1 miles (into the wind) in particular, because I hadn’t bothered to check the pace chart before setting off, and about 8 or 9 miles in I suddenly thought “is it 6.50 (the target pace I’d been holding for the run) or 6.48?” I knew I had some seconds in the bag for 6.50 but had to keep pushing in case I was going to miss out if it was 6.48. I finished and sat on a fence bar, gasping for air. I must have looked rough because a young couple asked me if I was alright. Jogged around the corner to home, then coughed my lungs up non-stop for 2 minutes solid. Worth it! My watch has amended it’s predictions My VO2 max is back in the very best (48.9 VO2) for my age group (50 – 59) my heart rate is more realistic, but look at my […]

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Back To Form

I was talking to a noob runner years ago and I had to explain that she shouldn’t be worried about the miles I was doing, “After a while it’s just another mile. But starting out, and getting faster, is always hard as nails.” Last year, when I was training 5 and 6 days a week for 10 months, I managed to get quick enough to do a 5K (3.1 miles) in under 20 minutes. It’s a bit of a benchmark. Not for the young and fast people, but for old duffers like me, running 3.1 miles at 6.27 m/m is pretty damn tough. Then I blew my target fast marathon and my training went out of the window. I’ve been back to fairly regular (about 50 miles a week) training for the last few months, but going fast is still the hard bit. I’ve not actually completed a 5K in ages. I’ve started a bunch of them, but on some of them my Garmin was totally inaccurate so I quit, others I’ve gone fast enough in the first mile but then dropped off the pace so much in the second mile that I was on for a lousy time so I quit. I had a moment of revelation on that ‘fast 10K assessment ‘ run last week. I’m out of mental practice at accepting the pain, ignoring my brain screaming to stop, and pushing on. You have to accept it and push through. After the test my watch revised my race time predictions. It said I was good for a 20.04 5K, 1.32 half marathon, and 3.12 marathon. I’m only a few months into the training plan again, and it’s not been adhering strictly, so I thought that was a bit optimistic. I thought I’d best test the claims, perhaps sneak one a week into my training. This week I started with the 5K, It was the day after doing half an hour of hill repeats on an 8 mile run, so I was a bit dubious. To help myself out I cunningly changed my race route. Normally I jog out 4.1 miles. Stop. Then sprint back for 3.1 miles. Stop. Jog home a mile when I’ve put my lungs back in. This time I jogged out 2.5 miles. Stopped. Then ran 1.55 miles ‘out’, turned around and ran 1.55 miles ‘back’. Died. Then jogged home 2.5 miles. That way, psychologically, I was only doing half a mile to my first know mile marker. Then it was just a mile to half way. A mile back. then just around the corner for the last half mile. The watch predicted 20.04, obviously I was going to try to go a second or so faster per mile to break the 20 minutes barrier. I was wearing my Coros (accurate) watch with the footpod as well to be a precise as is possible. I did it in 19.52! Believe me when I say the difference that 12 seconds makes is * IMMENSE!* It […]

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There’s More.

After blogging the other day about how my bike just wasn’t doing it for me, I got into a situation. I was going to town, to get some new veggie meat substitute when some cars got behind me at the lights. They were being bolshy and trying to race each other. One of them beeped their horn. As soon as the lights changed I set off in earnest. I had the front end trying to come up as I shot off. I take back all I said. That bike is a hoot if you throw the throttle open. I think the problem is I’m only doing a few miles each way to work. By the time I’ve got the tyres warmed up enough to start throwing it around, I’m parking up. If I ever want to go for a blast or need to commute, my little Honda is more than enough. The meat substitute I just mentioned is called Fable. It’s a mushroom based product. Someone on twitter recommended it. We are seeing a lot more “not for sale in EU” on the supermarket meats now, so god knows what crap they are flogging off. Another Brexit benefit, food not fit for human consumption in the EU. The point being, I’m looking to reduce/ stop my meat intake. I know it’s what I should do for the planet, the animals, and such, but meat is such an easy food source. Anywho, I thought I’d give it a go. The Fable website has recipes so I tried their spaghetti bolognese. I can’t say definitively, because of my fickle taste buds, but on this occasion it was the best spag bol I’ve ever tasted. I think it was mainly due to the homemade sauce. That took 2 hours to make. Wendy, who has fully functioning taste buds, thought the sauce was delicious but the ‘meat’ had a bit of a tang to it. I will be working through their online recipes. Definitely the way to go for me. It’s £4.59 for a 250g box, but the spag bol could easily do 4 meals. I’ve had another search today for where I bought my Garmin watch, to try and get a refund. I still haven’t found out where I bought it, but whilst looking for clues I found out I bought it at the end of July, 2022. I could have sworn I bought it a few months ago. I didn’t buy it from Garmin directly, so I’ve given up looking. I doubt I’ll get a refund on a watch over a year after buying it. I’m not getting much work lately but at least it’s giving me plenty of time to train. And I’m doing it. So that’s good. Someone mentioned today was the last day to enter the draw for the Berlin marathon. Why the devil not? I’ve put my name in the hat. It’s a dear do for a marathon, but it’s an event. If I get in I’ll have […]

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