Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Five in a day!

I think this may be some kind of record. On Saturday, I am going to do five different races in five different places, starting with a 5k parkrun in Ilford and finishing with the British Heart Foundation Midnight Half-Marathon in Brighton. In between, I’m going to do the Brentwood Running Festival 10k, South London Harriers’ five-mile Gibb cross country and the 8.5k Night Fright event over the Surrey Hills. All this will be bookended by the Woolwich Tunnel marathon on Friday and a return to Brentwood for Go Beyond’s marathon there on Sunday – which I’m sure will be absolute torture.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Return to Orgreave

Three races in five days took me under the psychological 400-mile barrier last week, and although I wasn't fast in any of them there was more life in the legs than I've felt for a good few weeks. The 30th Rowbotham's Round Rotherham 50 (actually, it's 81.1km and I'm claiming the extra km) found every niggle, ache, injury and weakness from my bunioned toe to my arthritic neck. But I got round in a little over 11 hours, making it back for cottage pie and peas before it got dark - something I wouldn't have managed to do before 2009, when they ran this event in December, everyone but the regular diehards got lost at least once and the mud was legendary. I've done it three times now; this one was in pleasant sunshine and the mud was nothing compared with what I've seen on other events during this sodden summer that don't have reputation of Rotherham.

The circuit takes you through the opencast wasteland that is Orgreave, scene of the biggest confrontation between miners and police during the 1984-85 miners' strike. The same police force that fabricated statements, lied and tried to cover up the truth about Hillsborough was involved in exactly the same activities over Orgreave. I remember interviewing miners at the time who had been beaten senseless by the police and subsequently charged with riot and other offences (one joked bitterly about 'criminal damage to a truncheon'). They were all acquitted because the police evidence was found to be, at best, 'unreliable'.

The other two races were both 10-milers: the RAF Henlow road race, celebrating its 60th anniversary, and the Daventry Road Runners inaugural event. Given the way I've felt lately, times of 77.38 and 84.31 respectively felt positively pacy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Three-quarters there

With the Lakeland 100, the Trans Britain stage race, the Run24 24-hour event, the LDWA 100 and the Great Barrow Challenge all out of the way, things should have been getting easier. Instead, I'm struggling to find the physical and mental stamina to keep going at the moment. Apart from anything else, this is all so damn time-consuming!

I've learnt that it's a lot less difficult motivating yourself for the big ones than it is to keep on going, clocking up the miles week after week - particularly when, instead of getting fitter and faster, I'm getting more fatigued and slower because there's not enough rest and recuperation time. Yesterday's LDWA Founders Challenge, on a beautiful autumn day in the Surrey Hills, was a case in point. I'd tried to run a fast parkrun the day before - in an attempt to prove to myself that I still can, as much as anything else - and I paid for it in my legs and overall weariness levels. By the time I reached the first checkpoint after eight miles, I felt shattered.

My mental tiredness was reflected in the fact that I'd managed to forget both my watch and my phone. The phone at least would have come in handy to let people know that I was running late when it took me more than two hours to drive the 16 miles across London from Sutton to Holloway on my way back. I could have run it in less time.

Still, I have knocked another 95 miles off the 2012 since I last wrote here: the Round Ripon 35, the Nottingham Ultra 50k, Saturday's parkrun and the Founders Challenge. More than three-quarters of the way there: 460 miles to go.

Monday, October 1, 2012

2012 miles done, 555 still to go

I blame my cousin, Jean Philip. As well as being faster than me at the Paris marathon in April – his first – he asked me if the 2012 miles I was planning on running in 2012 was just in events. In a sudden rush of blood to the head (this was in Paris, after all) I said yes. If I’d answered no, I’d have hit my target on Sunday, on the penultimate mile of the Ealing half marathon, the day after my birthday and with three months to spare. As it is, I still have 555 miles worth of events to go.

At the moment, these comprise four ultras, nine marathons, one 25-miler, two half marathons, three 10-milers, one 10k, one 6k (dressed as Santa Claus) and 12 5ks. That still leaves me almost a marathon short of the full distance despite taking up every weekend (both days) and a fair sprinkling of weekdays besides between now and 2013. 

And if that isn’t worth a couple of quid in my charity collecting tin, I don’t know what is.

Many thanks to everyone who has donated already.