Events

Running, Events

Mass Participation Events - A Newbie's Guide!

Yesterday I (eGlove James) did the Great South Run. This run forms part of the Great Run Series and is (I believe) the biggest 10 mile race in the world! There were 25000 runners pounding the streets of Portsmouth on Sunday, passing through the Historic Dockyard (home of HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum) before running into Portsmouth, then Southsea and finishing on the Seafront... For more information visit  http://www.greatrun.org/great-south-run

Anyway, 25000 people is a LOT! If you have not been to a big event like this as I hadn't. here are some things you may want to think about:

  • There are NEVER enough toilets. EVER. You will be hydrated, and nervous with the inevitable consequence of needing the loo. Then you will queue and queue and queue (especially if you are female).
  • Parking will be horrendous, often a fair distance from the start, which means a walk, so give yourself time to get to the start.
  • Options for food and drink for participants will be limited (unless a bacon bap has been part of your training routine!). There will be water though - loads of it, but see point 1!
  • Sort yourself an extra layer - and / or a wearable bin liner to keep you warm & dry while you line up in the start pens - this should be something you are happy to discard as you start. You can be waiting in there for 30 odd minutes so you may need something if the weather is bad. Anything you discard is normally donated to charity. Silver space blankets that you may have picked up from previous races are also good for this. Rain ponchos from Poundland etc also work - just need to be prepared! This time of year, you will always need eGloves - the world's pre-eminent touchscreen run gloves! I needed mine for the first 5 miles yesterday - albeit with a t-shirt.
  • Go to the loo even if you don't need it just before you go to the pen. Queue.
  • Arrange where to meet friends and family post race and if possible work out where they will be on the course - nothing worse for both runners and spectators if they miss each other during the run, then can't find each other at the end!! 
  • Don't get caught up in the emotion of the day and go off too fast! There is a saying "first half for pacing, second half for racing". Go with your plan...
  • ENJOY IT!!!!
  • Oh and go for another wee! Queue AGAIN!!!

So, how did I get on?

I finished in 1:38.00 - which I was very happy with - there were areas where it was very congested, and myself and my running buddy Dan decided we needed a wee after 0.5 miles (now you know why I am going on about TOILETS!!). We had negative splits all the way round, so we got faster as we went on. Happy days, but room for improvement!! There's £10 off for the 1st 1000 runners too... tempting...

Final thoughts? Loved it! 2 months ago I wasn't sure I could even run that far, so better than 10 min miles for a fat bloke approaching 50 ain't bad!!

 

 

Guest Blogger, Events

Anna the Apple - Guest Blog - Boston Marathon

When I finished the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon last year with a time of 3:24:06 I was over the moon because not only had I succeeded my expectations but I’d also earned myself a Boston Qualifier....

The very popular US marathon requires a certain marathon time in order to get a place and happily the time I needed was sub 3:35 for my age group. So I decided to apply to Boston for 2016 and bagged myself a place.

April 2016 swung by really fast and suddenly I was off to Boston with my mum for a girlie holiday…and the small matter of a marathon to do on day three. Over the weekend it was clear just how much of a big deal the Boston Marathon is to the city. Several people we spoke to – most of them non-runners – reiterated the fact that the city loved getting behind it, and even more so after the terrible bombings of 2013.It certainly felt like the entire city was buzzing with excitement. And just so many runners, easily identified by Garmin watches, trainers, Lycra and Boston Marathon merchandise.

On the day of the marathon, fondly called “Marathon Monday”, I got up super early, got my kit on, and headed out of the door with my mum waving sleepily to me and wishing me luck.

 

I wore throwaway clothes to keep me warm in the race village and had prepared porridge to take with me

I wore throwaway clothes to keep me warm in the race village and had prepared porridge to take with me

Transport to the start was provided for by the race and we were convoyed to Hopkins (some 26 miles away from the centre of Boston – the race is a point to point course) in yellow school buses. We arrived about an hour later… I had about two hours to kill before the race began.

It was nice and sunny but still quite cool. There were free bagels, bananas, Clif products and Gatorade It was quite the buffet. This was like no other race I’ve been to in that everyone looked fast. Everyone was lean, prepared and focused. The vibe of the place was very different to other races. There were no fun runners here. Everyone had run a marathon before in order to qualify. I felt so out of place. I know this sounds ridiculous as I earnt my place there like everyone else, but I honestly felt like I didn’t belong.

Eventually my wave was called. Everything was super organised. And the place was full of police, military and sniffer dogs (and snipers on the roof!). As I waited to start the nerves intensified as I looked around at all the lean, mean running machines next to me. And then we were off.

Miles 1-3: It was very crowded at the start but I didn’t really mind this as it kept my pace in order. There weren’t a huge number of supporters but there were sprinklings of people cheering and on their front lawns, set up for the day with chairs and drinks. It was downhill right from the start and I felt comfortable. But there were a few rolling hills as the initial miles tick by.

Miles 4-7: So far I’d been keeping nicely to my plan. I kept looking at my pace band that I had with me and felt on track but it was starting to feel really tough. It wasn’t supposed to feel as tough as this; my goal had always been to run easy and enjoy the race. I grabbed water from the aid stations and poured one over my head and sipped the other. Annoyingly they were cups which meant drinking was tricky but I squeezed the top together so I could create a spout. I also had to dodge the Gatorades as they were always first (could you imagine if I accidentally dumped one of those on my head?? #sticky).

The course was fairly dull. As a non-American I wasn’t sure what was significant and what wasn’t. As the course is pretty much a straight line to Boston you could occasionally see straight out in front of you and the 1,000s of runners ahead. It was mentally tough to see that.

Miles 8-12: At this point I knew things weren’t going well. I was struggling. I was losing motivation fast. The heat was really getting to me and I was struggling with the pace. I heard a girl next to me say to someone else, “It shouldn’t feel this hard this early”.

Annoyingly a gust of wind blew my trusty pace band away as I tried to read it – I kid you not. I watched it fly over my shoulder and gave a little scream which scared a nearby runner. I briefly contemplated going back for it but realised it was for the best. My 3:40 (and definitely 3:35) goal weren’t going to happen. Now I just wanted to finish. I stopped looking at my watch.

I was in marathon hell. Nothing about the course was helping, there was no shade and I was quickly spiraling into a dark, dark place. I took my gel early in the hopes that it would perk me up and then decided “sod it” and put a podcast on. I needed something to take my mind off the race. I wasn’t enjoying the race and was having a mental battle with myself about stopping. But stopping would be a) embarrassing and b) I’d have no idea where the hell to go or what to do.

We then came into the Wesley area. Suddenly there was a long (and I mean LONG) line of girls hanging over the barriers with bright red lipstick on screaming to be kissed. They had signs with funny messages and it took my mind off the race completely reading them. I’d heard about this before the race so it was fun seeing it live.

Just a small section of the legendary supporters!

Just a small section of the legendary supporters!

Their screaming was deafening. I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Some runners went over to have a quick peck and I even saw one guy get a selfie. It hugely lifted my mood.

Miles 13-16: Suddenly I was back in the groove. I was back in race mode and pulled myself together. This is BOSTON, I told myself. Don’t waste it. I saw a girl in the crowd handing out bottles of Vita Coco coconut water and I decided to grab one. Hands down this probably saved the race for me. The water was deliciously cold and tasty, and it perked me right up. I kept pouring water on my head at each water station but I kept that coconut water with me to sip on as I went on. Now I was just ticking the miles down until the hills would begin at Newton (mile 16).

Miles 17-21: I hit the first hill after a sharp decline and it was a long slog. It was tough but there was lots of support and I just remembered that after every hill there was a decline. I could do this. I remember reading a sign saying “May the course be with you” with a picture of Yoda and this made me smile. Another said “Motivational message for people I don’t know”. Random but funny. And my personal favourite “If Trump can run, so can you”.

When I was at the race village my mum had text me saying she was on the left next to a fire station (I do love my mum’s vagueness). I had no idea where that was. I assumed it wouldn’t be early in the race but at best 17 miles onward. So I now spent lots of time searching the supporters for my mum and any fire stations (thankfully I wasn’t aware that she was actually about 800m from the finish…).

The hills kept coming but I didn’t really notice them. It broke the race up nicely and I found myself overtaking people who were walking or struggling. Amusingly I was only aware of Heartbreak Hill after I’d climbed it and saw a huge sign saying I’d conquered it. I suddenly felt giddy that I’d gotten past the worst of the race.

22-26 miles: I was running strong and was happy. There was a gentle breeze which had a lovely cooling effect. The crowds were thick. I finished the coconut water and ditched it. I raised my hands and smiled and this made the crowds louder (other people were doing this too, I wasn’t the only loon).

My only annoyance was a painful stitch in my side. I tried stabbing my side, breathing differently, putting hands on hips, stretching upwards…nothing shifted it. My only relief was bending over as I ran – this, I know, looked weird but it provided me with minutes of relief after I did it. At this point in the race you do whatever you can to stay comfortable. I saw that famous Citgo sign in the horizon and smiled – finally another landmark I recognised.

We went under a bridge where the words “Boston Strong” were painted.

I took this photo on our last day when we drove back to the airport

I took this photo on our last day when we drove back to the airport

And then it was time for the only two turns in the entire race, the famous: “Left on Hereford, right on Boylston” (I’d only heard about that the day before). And then the crowds were crazy. I pumped my arms and smiled and smiled. I could see the finish in the distance. Still so bloody far away but within my grasp. I felt strong and overtook people as I headed to the finish. And then it was done.

Finish: My time was 3:38:46. I am fully shocked by this – somehow I managed to get my goal despite giving up earlier and ignoring my watch.

I stumbled to the medal collection point. My dad rung me almost immediately (he’d been tracking me from home in the UK). I was just blissfully happy to have survived.

I met up with my mum and we sat in a quiet Starbucks. It was the perfect location to decompress. And the goody bag had an APPLE. A GLORIOUSLY CRUNCHY TASTY APPLE. It was absolute bliss. No apple has ever tasted that good. Big words.

It was definitely the hardest road marathon I’ve done, despite going into it without a time goal. My easy pace I’d planned didn’t feel easy – I’m assuming because of training through winter and then having a very sunny and warm race. It was definitely a fantastic experience.

EDITORS NOTE:

What an awesome achievement Anna, and a fabulous blog! Thanks!!

You can find out more about Anna over on her blog (it's a favourite of ours, which is why we asked her for a contribution!), which also includes her fantastic review of the eGlove Sport Running Gloves. She's also on Twitter as @annatheapple

http://www.annatheapple.com/eglove-review-and-comparison/

 

 

 

Events

To Tri, or not to Tri, that is the question...

Last night I was out for dinner with some friends. I must have had a few beers, because I found myself agreeing to do a Sprint Triathlon next May.

I run regularly (in fact it was the frustration of trying to use my original iPhone in winter with run gloves on that in part led to the Birth of eGlove!), so a 5K really doesn't worry me. The bike ride of 24K will be a breeze - although I recently sold my road bike, so that's something I need to replace.... BUT.... The swim (only 200m) TERRIFIES ME!!

My eGlove partner Neil does Triathlon, and he speaks of being pushed under the water, a mass of bodies, finding it hard to get clear air to breathe due to all the splashing. Like I said, TERRIFYING!!!

In fact, when I have spoken to runners and bikers over the years the one thing that seems to put everyone off is the swim. I can understand why:

  • Technique - Now I don't know about you, but I struggle with front crawl - I can do it, and was a reasonable swimmer when I was at school, but that was over 30 years ago! I suspect it's because I try and swim too fast, so maybe I can conquer this, but the utter humiliation of poorly constructed breast stroke for 8 of the 9 lengths is too much!
  • Other swimmers - This is the scariest thing! Does it really resemble all in wrestling? I know enough about life to know wrestling and water are not a good mix. Brrrr... I'm shuddering at the thought!!
  • Kit - Like most men of my age (late 40's) I don't look great in budgie smugglers (by that I mean hideous), so they are OUT. I deeply suspect that as this event is in May and indoors, a tri wetsuit will look ridiculous... Can I get away with a bright pink pair of Ralph Lauren Polo swim shorts? They, like me however, are not built for speed...
  • Swim cap. Erm... Must I?

So, there you have it. All the reasons I am bricking it - but I have said yes now... Damn. 

Oh no, TRANSITION has just occurred to me... Transition... 

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?

Luckily through contacts I have via eGlove, there are a few people I might be able to get some help from. eGlove Neil of course, plus on Twitter the amazing @Rhalou who recently went through this journey, and @Susie__Chan (the legend). I've mentioned on here before about the great support groups that can be found on social media - this is definitely one for my friends at @uksportchat vis their triathlon themed group @uktrichat.

So, people of the Southern Home Counties come May 2016 if you see a bloke in his late 40's, carrying a bit of timber, looking ridiculous 'cos he's got it all wrong, and he is currently racing a Tri course on a mountain bike wearing nothing but a pair of the aforementioned pink swim shorts, that'll be me!! 

Until next time,

eGlove James