Posts Tagged ‘Ashby20’

Well that was an eventful weekend.

Warning: This is a long(ish) one.

I will get on to the review part of this post in just a second so please don’t get put off by the next paragraph – it’s not as depressing at it may at first sound. 

(I’ll include side headings in this post so you can skip to the bits you came here for if you like. I won’t take offence)

PERSONAL

So, a little personal news.  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my Grandmother (‘Granny’ to me) had had a stroke.  Up until that point she was living independently at her own home at the age of 92. She recovered partially from that stroke and she was able to see and talk to my dad and his brothers over the next few days… but while still in hospital she suffered another stroke and never regained consciousness, dying on Saturday morning. We will all miss her and her random Christmas presents (though, I have to admit they were actually disappointingly very appropriate just recently) but we are grateful for her full and active life.  

She didn’t even read my blog while she was here so I’m doubtful she’ll see this next bit now… but… ‘Goodbye Granny’.

TENNIS 

At the point I heard the news, I was dropping child 1 (aged 9) at his 10:00am tennis coaching. I parked up at the club and then helped out there for a couple of hours. I then was due to play in a match an hour later so after a quick lunch, I then served at my child for half an hour while he attempted to return them.

The mixed doubles match I was in started at 1pm and all seemed to be going well. Child 1 was in the clubhouse listening to the football match on the radio and… …and then I noticed play had stopped on the adjacent court. One of our men had got injured two games in and couldn’t continue. As it was so early in the match, our opponents graciously allowed a substitution to take place. Step up Child 1.

So after two hours of coaching that morning he then very much steps up to the mark and plays the ten remaining games of the first match… then 12 games in the second match and a further 12 in the third – helping his partner to win just enough games for our club to win overall. Nice one, son.

ASHBY 20 (pre-race)

So although nearly 5 hours of tennis is not normal preparation the day before a 20 mile road race, there was a part of me that was happy not to expect too much of myself at this event. I would try to run the whole way round, take it slow from the start, NOT run a half marathon PB by over five minutes and then slow massively in the final few miles (like last year!); I would enjoy it. Secretly, I would have loved a time below 3 hours but I accepted that this was unlikely as it would mean averaging 9 minute miles for the whole 20, and it’s officially ‘undulating’. Anything around 3:10:00 and I’d be happy.

My hard-working wife had decided to come along with with the kids too so they would drop me at race HQ and then camp out on the course somewhere to offer support…

NEW BALANCE LITE PACKABLE 

  
This was THE perfect jacket for the start line today. There was no rain but it was cold and it kept the wind chill right off while doing that thing where you hang around and decide whether you can really be bothered enough to queue for the portaloos. A much more stylish alternative to the 1980s Karate Kid bad man look courtesy of an adapted bin bag…
  
  
  
I wore it for the first 4 miles, packed it into its own pocket and carried it for the next two and then chucked it at my family when I passed them at mile 6. It was so light though that it flew over their heads and onto a random person’s drive. Sorry about that, random person. In a moment of instant payback though, I wasn’t looking where I was going and ran straight into a traffic cone. The pain in my toe thankfully only lasted for about a mile.

Now I think I’ve said, I like the jacket. It’s proper light, so portable and so functional BUT  there’s this thing…

…the zip.

 It works and everything…very smooth…well made, etc…

…but it’s on the wrong side isn’t it?

My other jackets…

   
    
   

…always with the moveable zippy bit on the left (as I look at it when wearing).

Then there’s the New Balance Lite Packable… zipper on the right.

  
This should not be a tricky thing for a moderately intelligent human being, you would think. But can my brain get around this?… no. It’s like one of those trick bikes that steers the wrong way at a fair. Have you seen them? No matter. They exist, and it’s like that. My brain just cannot do the switch. It has been the undoing of me…. or not, as the case may be.

Just thought – Do women’s jackets zip the other way? This is officially a men’s one… 

 
…see.

So there you go, anyway…

Summary = Great jacket. Weird brain-boggling zip.

Disclaimer: This is not the most important thing in the world.

ASHBY 20 REVIEW (cntd)

I’ve done plenty of 6 mile runs recently and some of them at faster than 9 minute miles so keeping this going to mile 10 seemed straight-forward.
When I got to half-marathon distance at just under the 2-hour mark, I partly thought, “Well done. That’s sticking to the pacing plan.” And another part of me thought, “mmm… I was here last year about 8 minutes earlier and still finished the whole race at 3 hours 4 mins”.

The plan then became to try and keep steady pace until mile 17 and then do maths.

At mile 17 I did maths. All I needed to do was a parkrun distance in 26 mins to break the 3-hour mark. This might be tough, but do-able!

Then something strange happened.

Something that has never happened before towards the end of a race.

I started overtaking people instead of getting overtaken.

That was a weird feeling.

My breathing got a bit strained and loud but I kept going to the end where I could see my lovely family waiting and cheering me on.
There was a little sprint finish which resulted in me just nipping over the line with 18 seconds to spare! I could have taken it easy! (I could have looked a darn sight better in the race-photos too – shocking!)

I even got a £5 spot prize when I picked up my goody bag, just like last year. And just like last year it went straight to the Rainbows charity pot at the cricket pavilion area where I received a decent sports massage.

I didn’t even get cramp. That’s a first too! I think I’m a fan of this pacing lark.
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My heart looks like it enjoyed it.

Many thanks to the organisers, volunteers, locals, supporters and other runners for making this an absolutely cracking event. It’s a perfect spring marathon build-up event…But I’m not doing a marathon this year, so I can also say it’s just a brilliant event in its own right. And instead of a medal at the end (which doesn’t keep you warm) you get a hoodie (which does).

  

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This weekend it is the Ashby20 – a twenty mile road race against a Gorilla.

I’m not quite sure what the whole gorilla thing is about to be honest. I guess it’s just a little side show.

 

The Ashby20 – Because nobody lokes the last 6 miles of a marathon, anyway.

 
I did this race last year in preparation for my Huddersfield marathon because it too has a few hills. I can’t remember much about it actually – MY REVIEW IS LINKED HERE – so I might read it again myself before the weekend. Or I could just read part 2 of this post (but that’s some kind of weird existential stuff going on there as I won’t have written it until after I’ve done it). 

Mmmm… Now I have just read the initial review and I don’t think I’m in anywhere near the same kind of shape. Sunday could be interesting :-/

I would probably be even more interesting if I was playing in a competitive tennis match on Saturaday – tomorrow – the day before this twenty miler.

So… tomorrow, Saturday, the day before the Ashby20 I shall be playing in a competitive tennis match – approximately three hours in a league match at my local club :-/

This could have a couple of unexpected (though because I am identifying them, they are possibly a little bit expected) advantages:

1) I won’t set off like a mad thing like I normally do at the beginning of races.

2) I’ll have a fairly reasonable pre-prepared excuse for when it all goes a bit belly-up! Yay – that’s what it’s all about folks – “Go hard…or at least have a reasonable excuse lined up“.

Because of this hightened level of physical activity this weekend I’ve been eating super-healthily   ‘carb loading’ (and we all know that that basically means beer and doughnuts).  Sunday really could be very interesting.

It’s not that I haven’t done any training for this, by the way. I ran a lot of miles last week, I’ll have you know. I seemed to do a lot of 6 to 10 mile runs as part of a challenge to win a swanky new running watch. I completed the challenge but didn’t win the watch. 

My disappointment at this was lifted slightly when the lovely people behind the PR for New Balance sent me a snazzy Lite Packable Jacket to try. 

   
Here is the official New Balance link to the Lite Packable Jacket.

Now at no point does it explain why the word ‘lite‘ is used in place of ‘light‘ because it is proper light.

It has been constructed by sewing together the wings of ten thousand butterflies using the thread of a silkworm…and it weighs about the same… 99 grammes by my reckoning.

 That’s less the weight of the flour required by Delia Smith to make 2 large pancakes before even adding the milk and egg.  That’s right – I eat pancakes even after pancake day!

Not only that, it also folds neatly into itself so that you can have that special ‘crumpled’ look when you eventually want to wear it again… 

 
Seriously though, this is so packable and so light that I wouldn’t think twice about taking it with me on a long run and tucking it into a running belt.  It will definitely be coming with me to the Ashby20 on Sunday and while everyone else is there keeping warm at the start line in their black bin-liners with holes cut out for the head and neck like some kind of evil 1980s karate henchman, I shall be ready to strut my stuff on the catwalk of running style with my Lite (light) Packable offering. Oh yes.

Have a good weekend folks. I’ll (eventually) get round to part 2 some time soon after.

I wasn’t intending to post again before the weekend but on Thursday, I found myself worrying that I hadn’t done a proper long run for a while (giving the ankle a bit of a rest) and was concerned that I had lost some fitness ahead of this weekend’s Ashby20 road race.

So with approximately two and a half hours to dedicate to a run after I had taken the children to school/nursery, I headed off on an out-and-back run along the canal path.  I figured if I kept the pace up, I could easily manage a half-marathon distance with time to sort myself out before needing to collect my youngest from nursery again.

I felt like I was flying. 

At about 6 miles or so, I passed a big open field and felt a sudden urge to do some StravaArt. If you are reading this and have no idea what I’m on about, you are probably my parents… So predominantly for their benefit… It is where you use the GPS tracking of your run/cycle to ‘draw’ an image on a map.  With the bird’s eye view of your whole route effectively providing you with your image.

By far the best examples of which I’ve seen can be seen >>>here<<< , but I’ve included an example below in case you haven’t got the time or inclination to click…



Well, don’t expect anything like that from me.

I had been listening to Marathon Talk during my run, (a running podcast with news, stories, funnies, interviews, etc from the running world – worth a listen if you don’t already) and the presenters, Martin Yelling and Tom Williams had referenced this activity in one of their conversations, deciding that they would, before next week, create some Strava Art each in a competition with each other to see who could produce the best piece.

So there I am feeling like I’m flying through my run, and reckoning I’m well below 2 hour half-marathon pace when I decide to go into this field and make the various dog-walkers there think I had gone barmy by running up and down, backwards, in circles, etc – like I had repeatedly remembered that I had left the iron on at home and was indecisive as to whether or not I should return to turn it off.

Here’s what I did…
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Ok… To be fair, that’s a bit far away…
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Can you see it yet? A bit closer perhaps…
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And finally… properly zoomed in and flipped…
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Ok…Perhaps that was too close…revealing my poor form, but in my defence, apart from the lower, straight-ish line, which was the footpath running along the edge, the field itself had no lines or markings at all, and the dodgy-looking initial ‘M’ aside, I’m pretty pleased how that came out.

What’s more, despite this little folly (which I subsequently shared with Martin and Tom themselves) I still made it back to nursery just in time to collect my little girl.
Better than ‘just in time’, in fact…
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PBs (Personal Records) galore.
Thank you very much!

I didn’t need to worry about losing fitness at all…

…Now I’m worried that I’ve peaked to soon though, of course!

It’s the law of running that a few weeks before a big race/event something will go wrong. 

This includes (but is not restricted to…):

Broken bones. 

Getting a cold.

Mojo deficiency syndrome.

Slightly poorly ankle.

…and it is the most serious of the above ailments with which I am currently suffering.

Yes. The slightly poorly ankle.

I played tennis yesterday and picked up another mystery injury. The random arm bruise from last week is still colourful, by the way…



(I shall be providing weekly bruise updates because I know that’s what you want.)

The new injury was a hurty-ankle but I couldn’t work out if it was an outside (oh-dear-I-must-have-hit-myself-in-the-ankle-with-my-racquet-without-realising-at-the-time) sort of pain, or an internal (oh-dear-I-have-inadvertently-placed-excessive-strain-on-the-already-overused-and-under-recovered-soft-tissues-of-an-unstable-joint) sort of pain.

So… to assist in diagnosis, I went for a 9 mile run this morning.  It was supposed to be 16 miles, but prudence suggested otherwise. 

(I normally don’t listen to prudence, she can be a bit bossy and boring, but it’s important to hear people out sometimes, I think).

And the revised diagnosis is…

A hurty and slightly swollen ankle.



I seemed to run on it ok, but I don’t want to push it. Next weekend is a big tennis match again, and the week after that is the Ashby20, a hilly 20-mile road race. So I think I might just take things down a notch running-wise before then. If that then goes well, I shall just keep myself ticking over until the marathon a month later.

Prudence and I are chilling out together this week. I’ve decided to get to know her better.  I’ve been a bit hard on her in the past.

In (less than*) three weeks, I shall be running the Ashby20 road race.

‘Race’ is a bit grand, really. I shall perhaps instead be running the ‘Ashby20 road get-round-in-one-piece’.

When I entered, I saw it was very close to its limit and I got pretty much the last place. I didn’t even have time to check that the ’20’ in the title related to the number of miles and not something else like kilometres…or the number of hours in this endurance race… Or… (And here’s an idea) that runners set off and then every 20 minutes, the last 20 runners get run over by the sweep vehicle and are eliminated from the race, which then goes on for as long as it takes to get a winner/survivor.

Disappointingly, I was right in my first assumption – it is indeed a 20 mile event. The Ashby20 is also apparently quite hilly and in a rare moment of planning and preparation I thought it would be the ideal pre-marathon event to help motivate, test and inspire me before Huddersfield’s hilly 26.2 miles in April.

I have been building up my miles over the past few weeks in conjunction with the jantastic challenge.  Over the past four weekends I have done 15 miles, 16 miles, 17 miles and then (the day before the day before the day before the day before*) yesterday, I did 18 miles. I have managed each of these runs before breakfast having woken at stupid o’clock in the morning and the best bit about that is that I’ve covered a half-marathon before I’ve even woken up properly and become consciously aware of what I’m doing.  Bonus.

You’d think I’d be confident of managing 20 miles in (less than*) 3 weeks time but  there’s nothing like a long run to make you realise that running even further is going to feel horrible.  I think this is very normal, though… right?

I am still targeting four runs a week with one of those weekly outings being a ‘long run’ but I’m not sure whether to taper before the Ashby20 or not. 

On further reflection, I may not have much choice… I’m off early to go and  see the England/Scotland 6 nations match in (less than*) a couple of weeks and then the day after that I’m playing in our final league tennis match of the winter season… Win, and we stay up… Draw or lose and we’re likely to be going down a division . So I have to be on form for that one – DOMS free! Given that I will not end up seeing my family all weekend, and especially as it’s mother’s day on the Sunday, I don’t really think that a long run is on the cards that week.

Motivation has been strangely wavering. I think I’ve been a bit fed up at the lack of significant weight loss despite massively increased output and massively reduced  sensible input … to the point where I end up thinking ‘stuff it’ (healthy eating) and so I stuff it (unhealthy eating) all in my mouth in very short space of time.

Not so sensible after all.

In other news I bought a nearly new pair of my currently favorite running shoes on eBay a few weeks ago, paid on the day, heard nothing, sent message, was told they’d be posting the next day but have received no shoes and no further contact since then. I’ll get a refund, no problem…but I’d rather have the bargain shoes!
On a more positive note I have been to my favorite place for quality clothing – my local charity shop….these three beauties, as good as new for £11. Thank you very much. 



Changing the subject, while not wanting to compete with my injured co-bloggers, Plustenner and Shazruns, I have assumed for the past few days that I had a splinter/thorn in my right arm, acquired (so I thought) when hunting out lost tennis balls from the pine trees last weekend. I even attempted extraction of the imaginary thorn with now unsurprising failure.  You see, this morning, it was as though someone had painted it lots of pretty colours…



…and at that point only, I remembered running into the metal fence post at the back of the tennis courts mid-way through my match last week.  I don’t recall who won the point**.

So there we have it. I’m still running. I’m not injured (well not running-halting injured), I’m not ill and my mileage has been steadily increasing.

Put like that, things are pretty good really.

*I started writing this post on Sunday and have only just got round to finishing/publishing it today (Thursday). Hence some time edits.

**That is generally accepted code for ‘I lost it’.