Sunday, November 4, 2012

A well earned Guinness!

Clapham Runners' excellent 2012 achievements have included marathons completed in London, Edinburgh, Cork and Berlin.  Last Monday (29/10), Dublin was the latest venue in our international series.

In a moment of pre-Olympic madness I’d entered with my friend Angelina, figuring it had good PB potential given its likely temperature range and largely flat course.  I also thought training mainly in the summer would make a pleasant change from the VLM and it wouldn’t require me to tap up my friends and family for sponsorship yet again!

My marathon training proper started during the Olympics and then averaged c.50-60km a week, with more emphasis on interval training than longer runs compared to my previous build ups.  This built on a reasonable base from training fairly consistently this year with many of you at club sessions and doing several parkruns, etc.
My rough race plan was to keep at a little under 5 min/km pace for as long as possible and then hang on in there such that the time I'd “bank” below 5 min/km would not all be eroded in the latter stages.

Conditions on the day proved ideal; around 80c, overcast and little wind.  As I was just about to cross the start line my concern for my race plan not being thwarted by my temperamental Garmin, was quickly overtaken by a realisation that my gel belt was heading south (schoolboy error in not compensating enough for the weight of my extra gels!) - so a hastily improvised knot in the belt and I was off.

I felt pretty good early on and was on plan as I negotiated the attractive Phoenix Park (4-8 miles) where I was first cheered on by our resourceful support crew, Annie and Peter.  They'd hired Dublin's equivalent of Boris bikes which enabled Annie to see me at an impressive five different points on the course loop!

Although this was my first marathon in an anonymous T-shirt, on several occasions the crowd were nevertheless shouting my name.  I soon realised that I'd been running close to my namesakes at various stages..... the Irish must be keen on their Steves!

I was still going strong in the middle of the race, completing the 1st half in 1:38:40 (av. 4:41 m/km) - giving me c.6.5 mins “in the bank"- possibly a bit too fast in hindsight…  The next phase is where I'd struggled most in previous marathons but this time an improved carb-loading and gel strategy seemed to help me better maintain my form.  So for the next 10k or so I managed to keep on track by averaging just on 5m/km.

As I reached the top of the hill around the edge of University College’s grounds at c.21 miles I knew a decent time was within reach as it was mainly downhill or flat from there.  However, this last stretch proved far from plain sailing - I really had to dig deep to keep some sort of rhythm going in the last few miles and whilst I was obviously slowing up it was a question of whether I had enough in the bank and in my tank to still reach my goal.  Rather than looking ahead longingly for the last few mile markers to come and go, I was now head down “in the zone” counting up repeatedly to 400 as my estimate for each mile, with far too many runners now passing me…

Having been enthusiastically screamed on yet again by Annie at both 24 and 25 miles, I took one final look at my watch at the 25 mile flag and with almost 3:16 gone I knew a final effort to hang on in there would now be enough join the sub 3.30 club.  I was mightily relieved to manage this and crossed the finish in 3:28:41 (averaging 5.27 m/km for the last 10k) – thankfully my Garmin did behave but unfortunately not for long enough for me to retrieve my km splits afterwards.

So a PB by some 18 mins, which I was very chuffed with and subsequently celebrated with a most welcome cold pint of Guinness followed by a fun slap up boozy meal with my much appreciated support crew and the unfortunately injured Angelina.  All in all a great day and I’d thoroughly recommend others to have a crack at the Dublin marathon, not least for the craic!

Cheers, Steve.

PS My efforts, however, were not a patch on the chap who propelled his son around in his buggy in 3.05!  So, with Krysia’s permission, therein may lie a challenge for Martin and Clapham Runners’ latest recruit Seth!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Berlin marathon

Dearest Clapham Runners,

Here is my report from Berlin marathon that I managed to complete last Sunday.

This was a race I genuinly did not expect to finish as I was feeling really unwell in my last couple of long runs. I would have pulled out if it hadn't been for a non-refundable hotel booking...No choice then but to give it a shot and see how far I could get.

David and I arrived in Berlin late Friday night and went around the city on a beautiful Saturday morning, giggling at all runners dressed already in full running gear going around Berlin in excitment and anticipation.We had a lovely lunch by the river and off we went to pick up my number.There I found the medical unit and asked them what to do in case I wanted to stop (i know it's obvious but I needed some reassurance) and the lady said to me, I hope you won't need us, see you at the finish.

On the morning of the race I was up at 6 to make it for breakfast at 6.30. By 6.25 we were downstairs waiting for the dining room doors to open. By 6.35 me and many other fellow runners were attacking the buffet and devouring our food. Everyone looked really fast, determined and confident. I also noticed the beautiful site at the table next to us, a  father and son, two generations running together, eating in silence, the tension and concentration written on their faces.

When David and I reached the park at the start, he was not allowed to come in with me and I got a little bit tearful kissing him goodbye on the other side of the fence. My first marathon where I was going to the start line on my own. I kept going though as I was there and had to dance. Found my bag drop and my starting position and soon we were off.

The first kilometer was really fast but was followed by a loo stop (yes, that soon) that calmed things down. The first half of the race went ok but I kept thinking what a long way I still had to go, lacking a bit in mojo. I passed the half point at the slow time of 2.09 or something, 10 minutes later than at last year's race. Oh well, I kept reminding myslef that this was a race I was not after getting the time I wanted, but to getting through. However, from around mile 17-22, I felt on top of the world. I found it the nicest part of the way, I had loads and loads of energy, I high fived all the kids and waved at the people of Berlin and they shouted my name. It was absolutely great. And while at the beginning I felt that most people were overtaking me, by now I was leaving them behind. After mile 22 I did start getting a bit tired, but I have to say, not that much really, my legs were fine. I was just getting mentally tired more than physically. It was also a bit frustrating that by that point when every meter counts, although my garmin was showing I had covered a certain distance, the race marks were saying I was 800m behind. Must remember to follow the blue line better next time.
Finally, the Bradenbourg gate appeared and I passed under it-the end was now near!

This was a race of 3 loo and 16 refuelling stops-it was a cloudless day and every time I was offered water and isotonic I took it, which was every 2 km after the 10k point, while walking everytime I had a drink in my hand as they were in cups. This is something I need to watch out for next time. This is not an opportunity for me to eat and drink!!Get on with it woman.

I once again made it, 13 minutes further away from the 4 hour goal than I was last year (finish time was 4.33). The finish line video sums up my feelings. Happines when crossing the line and shaking my head in disappointment when looking at my watch. But surely the fact that I went around this race in absolute comfort must count for something. Sometimes we should remember to be grateful for what we have and for the fact that we can run and try to enjoy it.

The taxi driver that took us to our hotel on Friday night, was very sympathetic about what my country is going through and at the end of the ride shook my hand and said: Lady, good luck on Sunday. I hope you get to the end. I am so happy I did not dissappoint.

See you all in a couple of weeks.

Monday, August 27, 2012

'Clapham Runners' does the Alps

Unfortunately I have no epic tales of heroic marathon feats to share with you, just a simple advert for the 'Clapham Runners' proving the brand has made it as far as the Matterhorn in Switzerland.

Several mountains were summited before childish enthusiasm got the better of me on a bad weather day which led to a minor scooter accident; if Jon asks, no, I hadn't been drinking!

My running adventures should recommence in the near future, could you let me know if you know of any short distance (5k or 10k) off road races from October onwards...

Cheers, Rob

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cork City marathon June 4 2012

Seems like and age ago now so I`ll have to see if I can remember all the gory details.

Well when I got to week 7 in Jon`s training plan my body was starting to complain and by week 8 I was starting to break down, my plantar fascia to be precise. So with very little running over the next two weeks and a few visits to the buthcer of pimlico(who`s a physio in case you were wondering!) I was hopefully going to make it to the start line. On the evening before the race I was walking round the city with my parents and with my foot feeling slightly sore, I was beginning to question my sanity and wondering if I would make it round the 26 miles the next day! and that if I did I would be retiring from marathon running because my body wasn`t up to this malarky.

So after a good nights sleep I was as ready as I was ever going to be. We took the park and ride into the city centre as the main roads would be closed off  for the marathon and  also this would ensure us a quick getaway back up the rocky road to Dublin. So we lined up at the start line with blue skies above, which was the last thing I had expected. At 9am we set off, 1500 marathon runners along with 600 relay teams and would be joined 2 hours later halfway round by about 2000 half marathoners.

Cork is quite a hilly city but they`ve managed to route the course in a way that avoids any serious ones. So I bedded in with the 3.30 pace makers running quite comfortably but every now and then would feel a twinge in my foot which was a bit of a worry. Around mile 4 we started to head out of town running alongside the river Lee with the sun beaming down. At this stage it got quite congested around the pacemakers so I went ahead a little bit. After about 7 miles in I was starting to feel quite comfortable and this was also the stage where it got quite boring running on a duel carriageway and then through an underpass going under the river.

 A few miles later we were runing  near the river mouth with the sun still shining and was thinking I should have put some sunscreen on before. The forecast was for a dry day and in Ireland a dry day and a sunny day are  usually worlds apart! So taking care to take on enough fluids and chomping on a nak`d bar I made it to the halfway point in 1.44.54 and at this stage had forgotten that there`d been anything wrong with my foot.

So now I was flying and started to up the pace slightly which I would pay the price for in the last few miles. We started heading back into the city centre and apart from the crowds getting bigger it was pretty uneventful up until mile 20 when about 15m after a water station two young whipper snappers racing each other on their relay leg, clattered into me knocking my water cup out of my hand but at this stage there was only one direction I was going in! This is one of the reasons I don`t like marathons which have relay teams but I guess it has to be done to make it viable for the smaller races.

So about mile 23 I was starting to pay the price of my cockiness earlier as my legs turned to lead and I just wanted it over with. Another disheartening thing at this stage is that I was starting to get overtaken, even if it was mainly by half marathoners. Then at the start of mile 26 the pacemakers passed me and I thought I`d blown my chances of a sub 3.30. I just gritted my teeth and plodded on oblivious to the crowds that were quite big as we approached the finish. So with the finish line in sight I had a quick glance at my watch and clocked 3.28 and for the last couple of hundred metres I tried to sprint which at the time probably looked like a gentle jog. I crossed the line in 3.29.36, exhausted, sunburnt but chuffed.

As soon as I got my breath back I knew I`d be doing another one, definitely not this year and where? to be decided. London? See you down the track!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Crystal Palace Sprint Triathlon - Laura's Race Report

I did the Crystal Palace Sprint Triathon on Sunday May 20th.
It was great fun and made a nice change from straight running!  I trained for 8 weeks going for a half hour swim once a week, doing a weekly spin class and running home, doing our track sessions and a 3-6 mile slow run on Sundays.   Here's how it all went down:

Pool swim.
Breaststroke as it's all I've got! I gave them a predicted time of 16:30 (guesstimate after trying to time myself in an empty pool a few weeks ago) and ended up swimming 17:34.  Apparently quite good for breaststoke.  Not wanting to slow down the next person when you're slightly in over your head is a great incentive to get a move on!
20K Bike
OK this was on my 1980s-vintage 5-speed Raleigh ladies racer bought unseen off ebay with no toe clips or cleats. The course was 9 laps and hilly, but it was the down hills and bends that threw me off -- not literally, though -- as I did most of my training at spin class.  I was just too chicken to freewheel down them at top speed. I was stronger on flat and uphills.  So a bit of a slow bike at 53:43, but given my lack of experience and funky equipment, not bad either.
5K Run
Well, I expected to run the slowest 5K of my life looking at the pained faces of other runners while I was on the bike. It started with a horrible hill which you negotiated on 2 laps, followed by some nice downhill and a lap and a half of the track finishing in the National Athletics Stadium (whoo hoo).   Surprised myself with 23:04 for the run.  Probably thanks to Jon's track sessions!

Nothing went wrong and even the weather wasn't tooo bad. No rain, anyway. Great event. Might do another sometime, but would obviously need a better bike if I ever wanted to take it seriously. Aside from a handful of mountain bikes I didn't spot ANY OTHER BIKES that weren't totally awesome looking. So don't believe what you read about people turning up to race on granny bikes with baskets on the front.

I came 15th out of about 50 in the FV40-49 age group and was 73rd female out of not sure how many but about 650 people raced. 

TOTAL 1:38:51
750 Swim 17:34 (breaststroke)
T1 3:21
20K Cycle 53:43 (hilly slightly scary 9 laps, and on 1980s 5-speed with no toe clips, mind you)
T2 1:07
5K Run 23:04 (same hilly, but some downhill so v. pleased with my run split)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Newquay Airport 10k

Yes, you read that right - Newquay, Cornwall! Krysh and I were in Cornwall for our anniversary, spotted this event and decided it sounded pretty unique and better than just a training run.

It was billed as a flat 10k on the 'Airside' of RAF St Mawgan and Newquay Airport. It was in aid of the Cornish Air Ambulance and the route went in and out of their new hangar and all over the airport.

It was the first time they'd organised a race and as a consequence it started 45mins late. We registered on the day and had no queue to do so. Everyone who had pre-entered had to queue up to collect their race numbers and that took ages.

It certainly wasn't flat and there was a pretty serious headwind to contend with from 1-3k. They had a lead off bike and one very fast runner. As gaps grew a few runners took meandering routes across the runways as they didn't know where the best line was.

After the first couple of kilometres I settled in to 7th place with a couple of guys on my shoulder. One of them snook past at 7k but I managed to hold off the other guy to finish in 8th place, just dipping under 40mins. Krysh made it round (slowly). I had to contend with nearly getting taken out by a hand glider with 500m to go (a group were carrying it round the 4k fun run)?

They've promised results will be up in the week, so we'll see how far ahead the speedy first guy was then! Apparently they had 550 runners, which for a new race they'll be very happy about and raised funds for a very worthy cause.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Janie's Argus Ride 2012

ARGUS 2012 - after the fact I'm afraid
The 2012 Argus Cycle Race took place on 11 March – despite the slight set back to her health in 2011 Janie rode in 2012 (See below.)
We now have 48 disadvantaged children in 11 schools each with an individual sponsor. The sponsorship pays for the school fees, basic uniform, stationery and outings, thus making the children the “same” as their peers. However, there are always other pressing needs outwith the sponsorship funds, which is why I ride the Argus! These include transport costs for some of the children who are “moved” out of the school area, snacks each school day for those unable to afford them, supplementary uniform apart from the basics etc. If a sponsor feels unable to continue with the financial support, we never withdraw the funding – another reason why we need financial back up.
Please help this enormously rewarding initiative by sponsoring me and my bike!
UK donations either cheque/cash/bank transfer: FJ Caesar CAHOOT sort code: 090640 a/c: 20363780
SA donations either cash or bank transfer: SM Charles STANDARD BANK Ref: Argus Branch: 025609 a/c: 270033068
22 of our sponsored children are at Chapel Street Primary School in District 6. Chapel Street Primary is celebrating its centenary this year. Here are JANIE’S GIRLS – Lebagong, Tshepang, Shanice, Sibulele, Anastazia, Elizabeth, Liyabona, Gemima and Ishrat with medals from my many races and little Mable with my cycling helmet!
Dear everyone
My bike is now resting after its 110km journey round the beautiful Cape Peninsula along with 35,000 friends. Sunday was my fifth Argus Cycle Tour and the second hottest on record with temperatures topping 42 degrees. Thanks to your wonderful support I managed to complete the course in 5 hours and 27 minutes, an hour longer than last year.
To date we have raised over R10,000 with more coming in all the time. These funds will be used to supplement the needs of the 51 children who currently have an individual sponsor and also unsponsored children who apply to us for a genuine “one off” request for financial assistance.
We thank you enormously for your support in giving these needy children an opportunity to better their lives through education which we firmly believe is the path out of poverty. It is a privilege for us, the difference is tangible and the rewards are immense.
Till next year!