Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Qualified for 2011 London Marathon!

For once I got some welcome post through the letterbox yesterday morning. It was my entry form for the London Marathon, and confirmation that I qualify for a guaranteed place through ‘Good for Age’ as a result of my Edinburgh Marathon time. All I have to do now is send my form and entry fee away and I’ll be lining up in April!

I’ve applied through the ballot the last couple of years and been unsuccessful as there are so many people applying – there are about 125,000 applications for only 20,000 places so not great odds. But I stumbled across the Good for Age entry which allows people who have met a certain time standard for their age and gender group in another marathon to qualify. Fortunately for the male over 18-40 age group this was changed this year from under 3 hours to under 3 hours and 10 mins, otherwise I’d have missed out by 13 seconds! Just had to send away evidence of my Edinburgh result and age for the ‘scrutineers’ to check.

Quite excited as I’ve been desperate to do it for a while, especially with me living in London now.  I went down and watched the race in 2009 but could only bear to watch on the telly this year because I was so gutted I wasn’t actually running it! Also from speaking to a guy I met at a recent race, running in the good for age category also means I get to start from the 3rd ‘pen’ (after the elite athletes and UK Championship entries) and don’t have to fight for a position in the ‘mass start’.  BRING IT ON!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

NEW 5K PB – A whole 3 seconds shaved off at parkrun

Last week I discovered a great event for my weekly schedule called Parkrun. There are timed 5K runs/races all over the country every Saturday morning and it’s completely free to enter. You can find out more here.

The easiest one for me to get to is Finsbury Park. So I went along last week to give it a go as I’ve never actually timed myself at 5K distance. I ended up coming 3rd in 17 mins and 32 seconds.  There are a couple of hills on the course but I managed a sprint finish at the end almost crossing the line before Simon Freeman in second but he just held on.

My new racing trainers - light as a feather!

I was confident I could do better next time having experienced the course so I ran again this morning. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and I was breaking a sweat just walking up to the start area. Like last week there was a few of us who sped ahead at the start. I quickly settled into 3rd place though overtaking a couple of guys who started a bit too quickly. I was on my own  for the rest of the race until I came across the guy in front of me who had just stopped. So I sped past him and was well on my way. Until I had a complete brain freeze and didn’t know what direction to go in! I eventually worked it out from the marshal but must have lost a few seconds. I made up for it though with another sprint finish which took me over the line in 2nd place in 17:29, under  17 and a half minutes for the first time! I should mention that the guy who won finished in 16:02!!!

I would highly recommend Parkrun to anyone. Great way to test yourself at 5K distance, a great way to meet other people and a great start to a Saturday morning! For my Scottish friends there are events at Strathclyde Park, Pollok Park in Glasgow and in Edinburgh. There are several events in London.

Position: 2nd / 61
Time: 17:29 (PB)

Position: 3rd /79
Time: 17:32 (PB)

Click here for results

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

First Taste of Victory in the Crags Race!

The Crags race is an annual event held as part of the Strathaven Gala Week. It’s approximately 3.4 miles long and is mainly contested by locals. I have to admit I was quite confident going into this race as I came 3rd last year and have done a lot of serious training since then for the marathon. The course is fairly undulating and starts uphill but there is plenty downhill parts towards the end as well.

Photo from the Strathaven Echoes

As planned, I started in the leading pack. I let two runners keep going a bit ahead of me, as they seemed to be going at a fair old pace that I wasn’t prepared to copy. However the 2nd bloke must have set off a bit too quickly as it wasn’t long before I caught him and got a decent distance between us. The guy ahead of me was off like a shot and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever catch him. But I could still see him, and see him I did until the end of the race. After approximately 2.5 miles the gap began to narrow to the point that I had confidence again that maybe I did have a chance. I could see that he was struggling and I was managing to maintain my pace, if not increase it. Then we came onto Lethame Road, with about half a mile to go, and I took my chance! I knew he was struggling so I just kept going to get a bit of distance between him. He did make a valiant effort to keep in touch but before too long I sped off into the park and through to the finish line.

There was even a prize giving at the end where I was presented with my winner’s shield! Only disappointment was that there wasn’t a finishing line ribbon for me to breach!

Position: 1st
Time: 19:31 (PB)

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Decent showing in a challenging hilly half marathon course

Chris Moon Half Marathon 

Running a half marathon exactly 2 weeks after a full marathon that you’ve collapsed at the end of probably doesn’t sound like the wisest of ideas. And well to be quite frank, it isn’t, but the temptation of a half marathon on my doorstep, in far more favourable conditions than that scorching day in Edinburgh was just too much for me.

The race is named after Chris Moon, a former soldier who was badly injured while on duty in Africa. A whole tenner of the £14 entry fee went straight to the Erskine Hospital which looks after ex-servicemen so it is very honest event.

The race route takes in the Whitelees Forest and some quite stunning views of the Clyde Valley and Ayrshire. It was a very undulating course, with plenty of intimidating inclines but also a lot of downhill. We were bussed out to Whitelees from the centre of Strathaven as this is where the race started.  We then ran through the forest and back down to Strathaven.

I started off very well, probably too well again! Two racers sped ahead quite quickly and left me and another bloke to run together. Had a good chat with him but eventually I just couldn’t keep up the pace with him. The hills just kept coming! I kept thinking it must be flat or downhill from now on and then another massive incline would pop up. It was great training though. Another two runners took over me within the last few miles but I managed to hold on for a respectable 6th place. I had my dad cheering me on for the final straight and my mum and the finish line.

This was without the doubt one of the most challenging events I have taken part in and was never going to be a PB, but the sense of accomplishment afterwards made up for this.

The highlight of the day was definitely being given a Scotch pie and a pint of ale back at race HQ. Only in Scotland!

All in all a great event, a decent performance given the circumstances and I will definitely be taking part again next year. In the meantime back to some flat 10Ks for a while I think!

Time: 1:23:29
Position: 6/68