Running

Guest Blogger

Nikki's Guest Blog - The end of road marathons for me?

Bournemouth - is this the end of the road marathons for me?

Long distance running is what I do, it is what I love and the challenge that I set myself physically and mentally. Marathon running is a strange beast; some can go completely to plan while others can take you on a journey that seems far longer than half a day! It is the varied nature of these runs that keeps me going back for more and pushing myself each time with different goals. Sometimes my goal is to finish, other times it is to be a bit faster and this year at the start of Bournemouth marathon it was not to be sick! 

I ran two lovely trail marathons earlier in the year and enjoyed them both then April saw me at the start line for both Paris and London and both involved sickness which was particularly bad in Paris due to a combination of heat and fuel.  I then ran a 50-mile trail race and a 62-mile race with no issues. So with Bournemouth the aim of finishing marathon number 20 without the sickness that hits me on a road marathon.

The morning started well with sunshine and a light breeze and I chatted with a couple of friendly faces in the starting pen. Once we got going it kept getting hotter and hotter and I was glad of my visor and the fact that I was wearing my race vest with my own water with electrolytes and fuel. 

The route is really nice and the crowd support is great especially when you approach Bournemouth Pier for one of the out and back sections and you seem to hit a wall of sound.  This gave me a boost as I had just seen Mr eGlove and team and then my friend and her running club buddies.  I ran towards Boscombe Pier and was beginning to feel very hot and noticed I was covered in salt! I had a bit of a walk break along the pier and then ran back towards Bournemouth Pier.  By this time, I was seriously wondering what I was doing and whether the best thing to do would be to pull out. The hill after the pier found me having a slight retch over the side but I am not classing that as sick! I poured water over my head from the next stop and headed along the route.

Mile 18 or was it 19 and I sat down on the curb next to a brilliant marshal and had a cry! He asked me if I wanted transport and had I done a marathon before and I asked him how long was left so that I could work out if I could walk the rest! His encouragement and the sit down gave me a boost. A quick phone call to James with a cry and another offer of support from another marshal this one was on a bike and I was ready to go.

I zipped up the man/woman suit and got on with it and actually enjoyed the rest of the race. I started to incorporate a walk break for each mile which gave me a focus and I picked out people ahead of me to try and catch! Both of these things worked despite the sight of three runners needing pretty serious medical help along a section in front of some beach huts which is always a sobering sight.  I found myself actually smiling and singing along to the music playing in one of my headphones.  The steel band were fantastic and the sight of the pier was encouraging.  I found a runner in the last mile who is the daughter of my friend at work. She was having a bit of a moment so I said let’s run together to the end, it was a lovely way to finish the race as we saw James and her Mum and the sight of the finish was fantastic.

I have some lovely tan lines which is incredible for an October marathon, the beach was full of people having fun and swimming in the sea! We headed back to the car and a quick change and we were on our way home, job done, marathon 20 complete. The medal and the finishers shirt are great and I will wear the shirt as a little reminder to myself!

I found this marathon made me realise that my heart is in trail running and that tarmac is not for me! I enjoy seeing the fast runners and the crowds and the atmosphere of a road marathon is really special but I missed the varied terrain and the scenery and the quietness of a trail run.

Thanks for reading! 

Nikki x

Editors note - links for the Bournemouth Marathon are here

Running

Running Shoes - Never Assume!

There is a saying, never assume - because it makes an ass out of U and me...

Who'd have thought that would be true of running shoes?

About a year ago, I puchased some Saucony ISO Hurricane 2 running shoes - and I LOVED them! They were recommended to me by my friends at Absolute Running in Gosport - my local running shop (and stockist of eGlove running gloves). I do think they were probably a tiny bit small - they told me this, but I felt comfortable in them, and this didn't ever cause me major problems.

Anyway, I got to about 350 - 400 miles in them, and decided it was time for a change. By this time Saucony had brought out the Hurricane series 3 - and they came in eGlove colours!! Woohoo!! So, all I needed to do was order a 43 rather than a 42.5 and my love affair would grow... Right??

....WRONG!!!

I've found them adequate, but not great, nothing like my old ones - they have changed! I am sure that Saucony would argue that they are improved, but that's not how it feels! I wanted to be a convert, I wanted to say that I am a Saucony runner - but alas I cannot.

Turns out, this happens a lot - Hoka One One recently changed the Clifton and Challenger ATR - to improve it more padding in the tongue - which is great, but what happens if the previous padding was PERFECT for you?? A nightmare is what happens!!

So, what this means is that you really should go back to the treadmill in store EVERY time and look at the options available to you at the time... Maybe brand loyalty has to go out of the window??

What are your experiences of this?

Running

Festive parkrun

Festive parkrun

Regular readers will know that I am fairly new to parkrun - although my wife Nikki has been a regular park runner for years. It all started for me in the summer - I had talked myself into the Great South Run and knew I needed to make sure I got out more - parkrun was the sort of commitment I was looking for.

My first parkrun was in Naas (near Dublin, Ireland) in August - Nikki and I were there for the weekend and it seemed like as good a place as any to get started! We turned up there early - Irish parkrun starts later - and the atmosphere was great! We were treated like royalty!! Naas parkrun is a lovely parkrun - it’s smallish (there were 54 runners when Nikki and I did it) but we would recommend… Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I was hooked…

Since then, I have run another 18 and volunteered once. My home parkrun is Fareham, which is a lovely course - out and back along the bank of the creek, but as Nikki is something of a parkrun uber tourist we tend to travel a bit… I’ve done Eastleigh, Southsea, Portsmouth Lakeside, Brockwell Park Herne Hill, Netley Abbey and most recently Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

Which brings me on to the festive element. This year was a bumper year for park runners - the ONLY time that parkrun is allowed on any other day than a Saturday is Christmas Day and New Years Day - AND the only time you can run at anything other than 9am is New Years Day… So, New Years Day is the ONLY day it is possible to “double up!” 

We kicked off the festive period with Christmas Eve at Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun (nice and flat - mainly pathed) - it was cold that morning, but a great turnout. Then we went for Christmas Day - I decided that I would take a load of gloves and hand them out to all the Volunteers (who are always magnificent and ANY parkrun) plus any youngsters who turned up (there were quite a few which surprised me!!) Nikki and I met a friend, Ros, and ran in duly festive hats!! 2 parkruns / 2 days!!

Next up, after a fantastic Christmas and a few runs in between, we got to another bumper parkrun weekend! We started off in Southsea on New Years Eve. Southsea is one of my favourite parkruns - it's always busy, and it's flat - New Years Eve was even busier than usual, but the atmosphere was great! Afterward it was onto the festivities of New Years Eve and an alarm call for New Years Day (much to the amusement of non runners!!). Our plan was to do Fareham at 9am as it is the closest and then onto Queen Elizabeth Country Park. We met with some friends who did both with us (Dean and Debbie) and Ros also made the QECP parkrun. All I have to say about this is that if there is a WORSE course as the second in a day I'd be surprised! QE is HILLY and MUDDY (very muddy!!) so it was a real challenge - but a lot of fun!!

So there you have it - 5 parkruns done in 8 days! 

I really can't recommend parkrun enough to anyone who's yet to experience it - there is no pressure, all standards are catered for, and it is free forever! Find your local one here www.parkrun.com

Guest Blogger, Running

Nikki's Guest Blog - Even for Runners, Rest is Best Sometimes!

After abstaining from running for 9 days (see previous blog) I was chomping at the bit and laced up my trainers (new Hoka One One) for a chatty parkrun with my friend Ros. Ros and I chatted our way around the friendly Fareham parkrun, at one point she asked if we were running fast and glancing at my watch I lied and said not especially! Think it was a course pb for her, she is on fire at the moment and I love running with her.  I was on a runners’ high for the rest of the day basically boring everyone with how happy I was.

The next day I was up and heading over to race HQ for my duty as Sweeper for the Meon Valley Marathon. In my kit I had various essentials for myself and any runners that may need a little help – mainly sweets, gloves (eGlove of course!) and ibugel  - oh, and tissues!  It was a glorious day as the runners met in the hall and Phil Hoy gave the runners the final brief and asked us all to make a note of his mobile for the duration of the race.  This is a tough course and he wanted the assurance that we would all look out for each other and if things got desperate we could contact him or the medic.

The start of the race is on the Meon Valley Trail for a few hundred metres before we take a right hand turn and head up towards Old Winchester Hill.  There had been some rain the day before but the ground was perfect and the weather was pretty good in the early stages. Myself and Dean had the role of taking down lots of orange ribbon that had been placed on the course the day before (by Dean!) and scrubbing off the markings on the trail and taking signs along to drop off at each marshal station. This meant that we were going along at a steady pace and ended up covered in orange ribbon. Dean was also having to use pliers to remove some of the signs that had been tacked to posts – our eGloves came in handy for this task – no cold hands and no splinters either.

The route winds through many shared paths and as sweepers we also had to ensure that every gate was closed behind us. Sometimes this meant that we ended up in a field way up high above the church of East Meon full of cows and bulls! Luckily they weren’t that bothered about us and our neon signs. Bearing in mind that I had had 9 days rest my legs were totally fine, especially the knee. I can only think that the rest and yoga etc paid dividends. Some runners were struggling in the second half of the race and made the decision to stop and get taken back to base by the marshals. We had instructions to encourage the runners to get back to race HQ by 4:30 – effectively before it got dark. This meant we had to have a pace of at least 15 min miles and with the hills that this run has that can be a challenge.

The second half of the run has some pretty challenging ups but some great downs too and the views as the sun was setting were just fabulous. There was a chilly wind too, so I was particularly glad that I had chosen to run with the eGlove Winter Elite – nice and warm! All the marshals were brilliant, lots of them popping up in two places throughout the day and yet they were always smiling and wrapped up warm. The light was starting to fade as we made our way along a track towards Meonstoke and then suddenly there is the field and the finish, we made it! The medal was an unexpected bonus and it is a pretty sizeable one too. The post run chilli and chat was great, everyone pleased to have finished and comparing notes. The rain started as we left and the temperature dropped. I love trail running and love this part of the world, just being out there in such a spectacular Autumn is uplifting and that together with completing the run with no pain made for a brilliant day. I am looking forward to running this route again.

Much stretching and elevation of my legs when I returned home. I am continuing with the Glucosamine with Chondritin – it could be a placebo who knows! The biggest thing for me was that after a 9 or 10 day break I didn’t lose anything major in terms of fitness, it didn’t hurt and if anything, it made me love running even more.

Sometimes rest is best!

 

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, Running

Nikki's Guest Blog - Purbeck Marathon

The one with hills and cows!

After a completely manic few days involving work, of course, and a trip to Luton to an old friend’s wedding reception on Friday evening, we found ourselves in Swanage in the early afternoon on Saturday. The day had begun with an enjoyable parkrun at Eastleigh, a nice little stretch of the legs in preparation for the little bit more than a marathon on Sunday. Swanage was a bit grey when we arrived and pottered about but the bay is so gorgeous and the ice cream a delicious way to carb load and the weather was forgotten.

There was a walk and a ride going on as a part of the Purbeck Marathon Festival and wandering along to the finish line to collect my number I felt the first wave of butterflies and excitement about the marathon. I did the marathon last year with my friend Martin, it was his first ever marathon and a sort of baptism by fire!! He ran the 16 mile this year and I went back for more of the marathon!

Sunday morning and the alarm went off and the pre marathon fussing started: kit check, breakfast, coffee, kit check, kit on, hydration pack filled, trainers on, pack checked again, Vaseline on, banana eaten and at least three trips to the loo and I was ready to walk the 5 mins to the start.  The sun was shining and it was warm already. Runners were milling about drinking coffee and using the toilets and chattering away. I met up with Martin and his wife Yasmin and we headed to the start area where I met fellow Fareham Crusader runners Mel, Paul and Trevor as well as our friend Ros. Numbers pinned on, bags dropped and the run brief held and the race started with the Town Crier ringing his bell and the marathon runners set off uphill at exactly 9:30am.

This marathon has the most spectacular scenery and after a mile we were on the South West Coast Path heading past Durdle Door towards Dancing Ledge and Kimmeridge.  This section is pretty much single file on track with a small piece of wire separating the runners and the cliff!! I try not to give it much thought and focus on where to place my feet although I did fall over about two and a half miles in!.  I was running this marathon alone and listened to the chatter around me and joined in when I felt the need! There are plenty of styles to climb over and gates to open and shut in this run and in particular this section. The views are just stunning that you just can’t help looking and smiling, it feels like a privilege to be running along these paths with cows and sheep for company.

The route turns in land for a bit and goes through the village of Kingston.  There were a few people cheering us on here which was a great boost.  It is here that the 16milers take a right turn and head towards Corfe, the marathon runners head back to the coast road and Tyneham.  This section is where the ups really are quite steep in places, a great opportunity to top up on fuel as it was really very hot and fuel was essential.

At the top of one of these sections was a herd of cows, literally in the middle of the route. Cows and me are a bit of an interesting thing and I have had the odd melt down when faced with them on a run (cried like a baby!) I let a few others walk through them first before very bravely having a go myself. Despite the fact that they seemed to stop chewing the grass and look at me, I made it! I had to take a photo to prove it to myself and others.

A few more ups and downs on the route and we headed into Tyneham a village that has been deserted since the second world war. This was a check point and also the point at which I got cramp in my quads, never had it before so was not great.  Knowing the route helped me from here on in as I knew the hills and where I could walk up them and manage my cramp.  Fellow runners were also complaining of cramp and the heat so I wasn’t alone. Heading up and over the hills towards to Corfe you pass lots of people walking and cycling and admiring the views and the sunny September sunshine. At one point you can see the tank tracks at Bovington and across to Brownsea Island one way and the Isle of Wight in the distance and back across to Kimmeridge that is a wow moment for sure! Corfe Castle looks majestic in the sunshine and again there were families looking around. We pass through a pub garden with enticing smells of lunch, luckily there was a drinks stop here. I took on my flat coke as we walked across the steam railway and headed up for the final albeit long climb!

By this time cramp was in my quads and hamstrings and I was quite grumpy about it! After the final bit of trail that sees you emerge onto the road at Ulwell I was dragging and hopping along the road to the seafront at Swanage and the finish line. The sun was string and there was still heat, think it was 21 when we got in the car at 4pm to come home. My wonderful support crew Mr eGlove was there at the end to take care of me at the finish and also to laugh at me and my cramp faces!!

This marathon is such a challenge and can be hard work but it is so lovely and one of my favourite runs. The scenery is second to none, the marshals are fab, the finish team are great and you get ice cream and cider! I felt wrecked and had cramp for ages afterwards, not great! Chips and tea and a paddle on the sea is a brilliant way to end a run. Well done to each and every person involved on the day, thank you, I will be back.

Editors note: If you are inspired by this brutal, but beautiful run, you can find more details HERE