Run through the woods

September, Newcastle and the Great North Run feels like a long way off at this time of year.

Today was another difficult run. After having done a good 4.5 miles on Wednesday my run this lunchtime felt like a step backwards.  The temperature was around the zero mark; for some stupid reason I’d packed only shorts and a short sleeved running top, and I couldn’t find my running gloves anywhere before leaving the house.  The first mile was uphill and into a fairly stuff chill breeze and the cold air started hurting the lungs.

So why bother in February?  There is plenty of year left to prepare myself. Do I really need to be start training now?  Well yes I do.  Each year as I start training I find the first couple of months to be quite difficult and invariably a niggle at some point in the summer stops training for a few weeks (something I’m even more paranoid about with the ankle just about finally repaired). Getting a good start in the winter and early spring months therefore is vital in order to be able to ‘hit the ground running’ when it comes to the serious summer training.

In 2011 the Hastings Half Marathon was a great late winter run but after a year off there is no chance I’d be ready for that in a months time.  So instead I’ve signed up for a 10km run on 16th March.  Primarily I’m doing this as a definite staging point on the way to the start line on the Newcastle Central Motorway.

However this is a charity element!

The race is the British Heart Foundation Bedgebury Pinetum run.  Bedgebury, just on the Kent side of the Kent/Sussex border off the A21, is Forestry Commission Land and houses the national conifer collection.  Its a lovely site and should make for a great circuit; although if weather is not good the tracks can get very muddy.

The Great North Run, which I will be running for the RNLI and Hastings Lifeboat in particular, will be the main thing that I will be asking people to sponsor me for. However anyone who might be able to encourage me in March by sponsoring me and the BHF will be doing me a great favour by encouraging me through the pine forest.

If you would be so good as to consider sponsoring me in this event it would be greatly appreciated.  You can do so by visiting the below web page.

Many thanks all.

On Yer Bike

So then – now that I have a half marathon to start preparing for what to do I choose for my first serious training session?  A bike ride of course.

During my ‘year off’ last year, as my ankle slowly started to recover I started to dig out my bike a bit.  For five years it had stood unloved locked up and barely touched.  However I figured that it would make a good alternative training device – good fitness and good for the leg strength without putting so much strain on the swollen Achilles – and I started to vary my morning commute by occasionally cycling to Bexhill station and getting the train from there.

It worked well and I started to sometimes venture to Cooden Beach (another 2.5 miles along the coast) and occasionally when I had meetings there, into our office in Eastbourne (18+ miles from home).  Today I thought I’d go one better and carted the bike on the train from Bexhill to Lewes and left it there for the day ready to return to collect it this evening.

Setting off a little before 5 I made my way through Lewes and out along the new cycle path that runs alongside the main Lewes to Eastbourne road.  Unfortunately it only runs the first and last few miles leaving a dangerous gap along the middle stretch (the bit where all the road accidents happen) so a diversion through the country lanes towards Ripe, Berwick and Arlington were called for.  By the time I reached Berwick (10 miles) its fair to say that afternoon had definitely turned into evening and things almost took a turn for the worse as a 4×4 decided to pull out on me.  I’d seen him coming and managed to just take evasive action.  We both stopped and the driver kindly got out in order to best hear my forceful, but generally polite, remonstrations.  He apologised.  He hadn’t seen me.  I pointed out my bright flashing light and hi-vis vest and informed him that I’d been watching him pull out.  He’d not, not seen me; he’d just not looked.  Still all was well and we both went safely on our ways (he overtook me giving me a very wide berth another 100 yards down the road).

The country lanes around Arlington are lovely.  I know this as I’ve driven them in daylight.  By now I was just seeing the little illuminated section of road in front but was still enjoying the ride.  Just as I was preparing to head back to the A27 at Wilmington I came across a ‘National Cycle Route 2’ sign.  Knowing that would take me back to Hastings I duly followed it off road and into a forest where I got lost and ended up coming out at Hailsham – a few miles further north than planned and well off the cycle route.  Still, I knew the way from there and headed back towards Pevensey where, after 20+ miles and a bottle of Lucozade I decided I still had just about enough reserves to carry on rather than pick up the train which I always had thought I might end up doing.

And so to the final stretch.  As I passed into Bexhill and along the familiar coast cycle path (back on route 2 by now) the legs started giving in and I watched the average speed on the cycle computer slowly drop (from 13.3 to 12.6 mph).  By the time I made it onto Hastings Prom I knew there was no way I’d make it up the steep climb from the seafront to the top of the West Hill and so made the decision to stop the official timing at the bottom of Castle Hill Road and walk the bike up from there – a wise move – that was more than hard enough.

And so here I am.  Absolutely shattered but 35 miles to the good and feeling suitably stiff but smug.  This link gives an idea of the route – minus the diversion through the forest which was not the straight line shown on the map.

Now if only they’d let me cycle the Great North Run…

Running again…

Hi – this is my first blog entry.  I’m setting this page up to record some thoughts initially based around my training for the Great North Run in 2013.

Last night I received the email from the event organisers that my name had been picked out of the ballot for the half marathon on Tyneside in November.

This will be (fingers crossed) the fourth time that I have entered the event having run in 2006,7 and 8. Since then I have been running the shorter (but more local) Great South Run instead.

However, having done something nasty to my Achilles in training for the 2011 event I spent almost all of last year slowly gaining weight and losing fitness.

Thanks to the magic hands of Reza; a Hastings based Iranian Body-building sports masseur, I’m now ready to start again.

Having had a year with no events at all I was keen to make a return to the biggest and best mass participation run in the world. (I’ll explain why I agree with that in a later blog).

And here I am. I wasn’t really expecting to get in on the ballot and thought I’d need to get a guaranteed charity place instead. But here i am, straight in and accepted. That doesn’t mean I’ll not be pressing you for donations though (my WordPress avatar might give you a hint…)

Watch this space!