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Oxford half marathon……my own Mini adventure

Apart from my Disney half marathon next January this was probably my most anticipated race and as sods law would have it I hurt my knee on my Wednesday run this week, I had planned to do a 13 mile run but after 3 miles my knee hurt like hell and I headed for home eventually running/walking and limping to about 6.5 miles and after reviewing things I put my knee injury down to overuse because last week I almost hit the 50 mile mark !  So I saw my Physio on Thursday for a massage and I got taped up so on Friday I decided to try again and sadly after 3 miles it hurt again only thankfully nowhere near as bad and I continued my run and got home just under 6 miles, suffice to say for the last couple of days I have been pooping myself at the thought of not finishing the Oxford half or even worse not being able to start it and the worst part is that I would not know until I started racing !

This morning I set the alarm for 05:30 thinking we would leave here at 06:15 to arrive at our designated Unipart car park by around 07:30.  After a fab trip up we arrived on time having stopped for a paper and a snicker bar for after the race 🙂  well a bloke’s gotta have something to look forward to !!!  the parking marshals were a brilliant and friendly bunch as were the waiting bus drivers,  We travelled the couple of miles on the bus which I might add along with the parking was free (take note Bournemouth) and also very frequent in fact there were 4 busses waiting behind ours.  We were soon at the Kassam Stadium and the race buzz had started,  actually thats a big fat lie,  the race buzz started about 10 miles out of Oxford when our traffic alert came on the radio and it said “Half marathon radio brought to you by Mini”  haha needless to say the nerves kicked in then !  anyway back to the stadium, we had a walk around and found our feet, the start and finish lines were very close and there was an amazing selection of food and drink on offer including a huge stand from Lidl offering free bananas and bottles of water, what a fab touch 🙂  after numerous visits to the bathroom we were told to head to the start so I stripped off and popped on my black bin bag whilst I waited the 10 minutes to the start,  it was pissing down with rain at this point and again I was pooping myself worrying about my knee !

a few minutes later I kissed Sue goodbye and settled into the 1:35 section albeit hopefully because I thought I could hit 1:35 if my knee had not played up, soon after the siren sounded and off we went, OMG it was slow for the first 200-300 yrds but I ripped off my bin bag (very macho I know) and off I went.  My knee felt fine although it was then I realised that in all the pre race buzz I had forgotten to put any ibuprofen gel on 🙂  BUGGER !!!  anyway off I ran alongside the 1:35 pacer and as I said it felt pretty good, I kept up a pretty decent pace for the first 3 miles in my head counting off 10% done 20% done haha anyway my pace was  06:53  07:11 and 07:18 but then as I hit 3.2 miles my blooming knee starting hurting and at that point I thought I was destined to run parkrun’s forever 🙂 despite this I pressed on and surprisingly it never got any worse so I started to feel confident and start concentrating on my technique and race plan,  we then ran through the Mini plant which was my main reason for choosing this race bearing in mind up until 2 weeks ago we has a super little John Cooper Works Mini and I saw a few cars and was cheered on my lots of Mini workers, not petite workers rather those employed by Mini (that was my attempt at humour so please laugh) after that re ran over a flyover which was the highlight of the race for me because looking back to my left I could see runners weaving through the streets as far as the eye could see which made me feel pretty good and it made me realise that I was a pretty fast runner after all 🙂

Onwards I ran staying with the 1:35 pacer and mostly the going was good despite the rain, we then moved to the towpaths and they were wet and wetter ! this went on for about 2-3 miles and I could not help thinking that I should have worn my Brookes ASR’s but none the less it eventually ended and we came out on the high street and it was at this point that I glanced through squinty eyes to see we were at mile 9 and I mentioned to the chap next to me that we only had a parkrun and a warm down to go, he burst out laughing and said “god I love the way you think”  well that drove me on and I picked up the pace and overtook the 1:35 pacer and for the next 3 miles I settled in and enjoyed the race although its fair to say the last 3 miles were the hilly 3 miles so it was a little tough although I honestly think I perform better on the undulating courses so no complaints.

It was not long before I passed the 11 mile marker and thought to myself for the first time “I might just finish, not just finish but finish with a respectable time too” and this kept me buzzing for the last couple of miles, as I passed the start line which was about half a mile from the finish I could hear the bands and the buzz of the finish and I picked up my pace although at this point this young American lad passed me like I was sat still 🙂  haha I am pleased to say he was the only person to pass me since mile 10 !  as I ran around and entered the Kassam stadium it felt brilliant and turning the last corner I saw the best sight in the world,  no not the finish line but my amazing wife Sue with her camera and even more important her smile, this gave me goosebumps and I was quite emotional running the last 100 yards to the finish trying to emulate Kevin Yates with my bounding 🙂   Over the finish line I went in 1 second over 1:35 but a good bit in front of the 1:35 pacer 🙂  I ran on through the stadium and the fast American chap asked me how we did coz his Garmin had failed 🙂

I was then given my medal OMG its beautiful and I know Di my running buddy will love it 🙂  then I got a banana and a drink before being handed a goodie bag with a running magazine and loads of treats and a lovely brookes water bottle and then a lovely technical t-shirt to rival any that I already have.

If Carlsberg did races!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I promised myself that I would not swear on my blog but this race was “insert swear word here” AMAZING and I can honestly say it was without a single doubt my favourite race so far and I LOVED every single mile of it,  to be fair I have only been running 6 months and 21 days (not that I am counting) so my experience is limited but I do seem to like the half marathon distance although I went for a half mile run after I finished and it felt great and another runner I passed said to me “jesus christ mate where do you get the energy”  which now has me thinking…………..

This was a fab day and the organisation was just perfect no complaints at all and the course was fab, interesting and I am sure scenic for those who look at anything other than the arse your trying to pass 🙂  and the marshals were all so bubbly and friendly in what was possibly the worse day of 2013 so far so hats off to you all for a GREAT job, I will be back next year and thats a promise.  Now onto the supporters,  well what can I say it was cold and very wet yet you lined the streets and clapped along to the Battle of the bands and cheered us on and I can honestly say it was very much appreciated buy all us runners 🙂 it makes such a difference that I cant start to tell you.

I finished today in 1:35:01 and I genuinely felt as if I was running rather than racing,  this is a good thing because I was able to put all my RunCamp and Hiller training into my run and concentrate on my technique and the best part is I know I have better in me so hopefully I have a sub 1:30 in me sometime soon and hopefully early next year 🙂

I crossed the line today in an amazing 1:35:01 and in position 313 out of 3507 finishers which is another top 10% placement 🙂

Here are the starts from my Polar GPS but also check out my mile splits below 🙂 I am dead chuffed !

If you are local to Southampton check out my amazing running club the Hiller’s

If you want to improve your running technique and speed check out RunCamp

 

 

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Richmond Running Festival 10k

Well after a fantastic but long wedding on Saturday Sue and I got up just before 5am on Sunday to travel to Richmond in Greater London to race in the inaugural Richmond Running Festival 10k race which I have been looking forward to since it was announced and I booked it.  I have been following them on facebook since they launched and have often said if the race was half as good as the pre race hype then its going to be amazing.  Sadly it was not close to perfection but it was good.

We started our day good and early because the 10k race started at 08:30 and because of the 75 mile trip its good to arrive in London early, well after breakfast and a coffee we headed off, incidentally it was the last trip in our beloved Mini cooper before it gets traded on Tuesday, we arrived after a services stop at about 7:05 and parked in a driveway close by thanks to “park at my house” which worked out brilliant and only cost £8. Anyway we wandered over to the race starting place which was Kew Gardens and at that point I had my reservations because there were a load of marshals who could not get in 🙂 bearing in  ind it was an hour until race start it did not bode well. As soon as they opened the gates we all went in and the starting area looked much more promising and it was not long before I was lined up on the start, yes on the start I was with 5 other chaps on the starting line which was pretty cool, to be fair I go off quite quick and never hold anyone up so its as good a place as any to start from. After a brief talk from the local MP and introductions from a few Olympic runners we were off !  out off the starting coral and into Kew following its windy paths for just over 2 miles and keeping a pretty good pace,  I soon settled into a good pace and position within the field which after the first mile I managed to keep apart from the occasional place a little later both for and against,  our of Kew then along a small stretch of road before picking up the Thames towpath for about 3 miles which despite the location was uninteresting at best,  I was hoping for more flatter consistent tarmac but it wasn’t t be 🙂  then after than we entered Richmond park for the last three quarter’s of a mile which was flatter faster grass and the very welcome sight of the finish line. I knew I was close to a PB but alas not close enough but I am very happy with my times all things considered.

Looking back now I don’t think I could have given this race anymore than I did, I ran hard and fast and my mile splits are amongst the best so far but we had an 11 hour wedding yesterday and I was on my feet all day and we got up at 5am and I drove to London so as I said all things considered I am a very happy runner. I crossed the line and collected my beautiful medal which really is smart as well as my favourite Tech T-shirt yet both of which made this race very worth while and although not a PB today it would be on almost any other weekend I am sure.

Now for a couple of niggles, there is no point in me doing this blog without honestly. As I said at the start this race was well hyped on facebook so I expected BIG things,  We were told that there would be water at the 3 mile point as well as sport drinks and we were instructed not to throw our empties in the Thames 🙂  sadly there was no water stop and although I can cope fine with a 10k and no water it was messing with my mind to think I was still not at the 3  mile water stop !  no idea what happened there !!!!

Second and IMO the biggest thing was the absolute monumental cockup with regards to spectators, I asked several marshals how Sue would get from the start to the finish which was 1 mile as the crow flies and each one said leave Kew and walk to 2 miles or so along the main road and that she was not allowed to walk through Kew to the parks.  I was proper pissed but sadly to late to do anything apart from not run, eventually she did walk thankfully with a lovely family we met but this is something that needs addressing for next year !!!!  spectators should have been allowed to leave Kew at the same gate as the runners and pop over the road into the park. most runners bring a spectator along and IMO they all make the race atmosphere and they need to be looked after.

The starting area was buzzing as was the finish, the marshals were all enthusiastic and fun and the course was superb and like I said a potential pb course, I really enjoyed it today and unusually I am still sporting the t-shirt 🙂 The Richmond Running Festival was a great race, but it could have been EPIC !  I am pretty sure it will be next year, I will let you know 😉

I crossed the finishing line feeling strong in 42:37 and came in 49th out of 855 and 2nd in my age category 🙂  Although not a PB this is am amazing position for me especially bearing in mind there were several professional runners running, I am so chuffed 🙂

Here are the stats from my GPS watch

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Wolf Run 2013 intrigued ? then read on :-)

After an awesome weekend today got even better thanks to a mad bunch of hiller’s who allowed me to join them at the 2013 wolf run, my first but not my last.  It all started a few months ago when I saw a few of the hiller girls posting about the wolf run on facebook so I pipped in and asked if I could join them and they were happy to let me join them and to be honest I have been looking forward to it ever since.

The Wolf Run is Wild Running – a unique combination of three kinds of off-road running: mud runs, trail runs and obstacle runs. The only Wild Run in the UK, it’s a hardcore 10k run across raw natural terrain, including open ground, woodland, lakes & thick mud Running in a pack like us, or as a lone wolf, you’ll tackle a series of tough obstacles – both man-made and natural – designed to test your mental & physical strength, skill and stamina. You’ll run, climb, jump, wade, crawl and swim through a course designed to challenge you on every level. Awesome and so much fun!

Sue and I woke this morning about 05:30 to have breckie and coffee ready to meet everyone in Southampton at 7am and the 120 mile drive to the wolf run venue which we arrived at just before 10am after a coffee stop. There were 9 of us, Me, Aurelio, Pete, Lou, Mel, Natalie, Jo, Rebecca, Rhiannon and of course my amazing support crew Sue.

On arrival I was instantly impressed with the organisation of the run, the parking was hassle free and although it cost a fiver it was for charity mate 🙂  Firstly we registered quickly and then had a wander around the race village and had a few photos courtesy of the lovely Sue. we were then ushered into our starting warmup and in true hiller style we ignored the group warmup and did our own thing 🙂  to be honest as you know I take my warmups very seriously but I knew today would be a “walk in the park” with regards to the running so I was not bothered about warming up after the epic day I had on saturday !  We were then led to the start and after a fun briefing we were off, from the start we were running blind, no GPS watches so we never had a bloody clue how fast or how far we had gone but that in itself was fun 🙂

The first obstacle was a tyre run which was fairly easy and we all ran comfortably past it but they got progressively harder and/or higher which was fun, it was not long before we crossed a lake about 100M waist deep in murky shitty water slipping and sliding all over the place, Lou with her bouncing style and Mel falling all over the place thanks to her “road” shoes 🙂 but we all survived and had a blast !  we ran on through the obstacle’s and eventually onto or into the lake which for me was the hardest, a 60M deepwater swim, I was so NOT prepared for that and swimming in open water is blooming hard !  after the swim we moved to the remaining obstacle’s and eventually the last couple which were fun and the last was a 10′ wall which was muddy, wet and very slippery much like the previous 6.2 miles really 🙂 but we had finished our EPIC run and celebrated by jumping hand in hand all 9 of us into the last water obstacle whilst Sue took our photos !

As we finished we queued up for a photo which was the one part I regret,  I got so cold and it pretty ,much spoiled the next hour for me, I should have skipped the photo and gone on to the cold showers and changed into my warm dry cloths but when with a team you have to go along with the majority 🙂  thats one of the problems with my diabetes, my blood sugars were low and I was cold which for me is a bad combo but hey ho I survived 🙂 next time I will ask Sue to give me a solar blanket to keep me warm whilst I wait, a few people had them and they seem a good idea to me, that and maybe a hot cuppa whilst I waited.

Although this was not a “race”  and not timed we finished in about 1 hour 45 which was painfully slow but a whole lot of fun, I loved it so much that I am considering the “WinterWolf” in November 🙂  so watch this space ! scratch that!!!!!!!  we have booked the WinterWolf so its ON !

After the photos we walked into the finishers tent and collected our beautiful technical t-shirt which I love and will be wearing often, or at least until I upgrade to the WinterWolf 🙂

The organisation was top notch, absolutely amazing in fact, my only critique would be the photographer needed to get a shift on or have 2 walls to photograph to, being a pro tog myself I know the importance of faffing and this was NOT the time or the place to faff 🙂

Great team and great race 🙂

I hope you enjoy these photos, the one of me is my favourite ever photo, I am 51 years old and i felt like I was 10 🙂

A massive thanks to my team mates today especially Aurelio who single handedly brought us commemorative plates and medals to celebrate our day, thanks buddy its much appreciated and we all love you.

I am shopping for a camera now that I can carry with me next time, something small and waterproof and rugged because snaps on the way around would be awesome, can you imagine a team photo at the obstacles how cool would that be 🙂

See you all at WinterWolf in November 🙂

Jules

Wolfrun website 

WinterWolf website

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope rising charity 10k

This morning I ran the Hope Rising Cross country run which started at the scenic Avon Tyrrell Youth Centre with my team mate Lee.

Sue and I arrived good and early and met with Lee and the registered and went for a walk around some of the route, I think Lee and I quickly realised that there was a reason that the course record was nearly 44 minutes it was a very challenging route with numerous (and I mean numerous) obstacles and hills both up and down which made even out toughest RR10 look like a walk in the park 🙂  but I knew it would be a fun race and very scenic run too.

After a warmup we took our places on the front line and after a very un-motivational “if you don’t fancy doing the whole 10k just stop at 5”  hahaha  chat we were off….. Lee and I were running well in the top 6 or 7 runners as we entered the woods and both had a great pace, it was soon clear to me that Lee was on fire today and started leaving me in his wake but I was happy running well and enjoying the race,  that was until after about 1 mile I came upon about 70 or so back runners,  bearing in mind here I was in the top 10 something had gone seriously wrong, at first I thought I had taken a wrong turn but as it was later explained a marshal had sent all those behind me on a serious shortcut so it completely screwed up the race and never did much for moral.For the next mile or so I was dodging past the slower runners which given the tracks was not easy but eventually I passed most of them but it was tough and disappointing so at that point I decided that it was pointless trying to push myself to my limits and settled back to enjoy the rest of the run. Speaking to a marshal afterwards it seems somebody just send all of the runners behind us on a completely separate route which must have cut out some serious distance and was a real shame for those of us doing well before it happened but hey ho it does not happen very often and this race was run by a charity so all good 🙂

The course was amazing, interesting and very tough,  a challenge for any runner and  a 2 lapper but fun with lots of little bridges and crossings as well as little hills and some big ones but it all made for a very enjoyable race if you take out the course screwup 🙂

Lee came in an amazing 46:12 and I came in 49:22 which just goes to show how tough the course was bearing in mind last weeks tough race and we both finished under 44 minutes but I am so pleased I ran this today and helped raise a few quid for Hope Rising.

As we came over the line we were given a very nice medal and a bottle of much needed water and then Sue and I had to shoot off home to a portrait shoot.

All in all a great saturday morning race.

I finished this race in 49:23 and in 15th position overall

 

Bournemouth’s inaugural parkrun with the hiller’s

This morning Sue and I travelled down to Bournemouth to run the inaugural parkrun and it was a fantastic race and occasion,  I was lucky to be joined by quite a few lordshiller’s which simply made it amazing for me and like I said quite an occasion for me.

After a quick warm up we had a run brief from the race director and were shown to the start line where I headed towards the front of the 300 or so runners although it felt like many more and shortly afterwards we were off at quite a reasonable pace.   The course was mostly flat and good for a parkrun although there were a couple smaller hills and a few rough patches and one quite messy area which was a shame but no fault of parkrun’s.

Once I was about 1k in I settled into a pace that I was happy with given my overindulgence this past 2 weeks and the fact that I am racing tomorrow and I really enjoyed the race.

After the race Sue and I went for a coffee with the rest of the hiller’s and then headed off to the beach for a walk and picnic which was a perfect way to finish a great morning.

I am really enjoying the whole “parkrun tourism” and have a few more to visit over the next few weeks.

I ran this parkrun in 21:50 and came in 57th out of over 300 runners and 3rd in my age category and the 4th Lordshiller over the line :-).

Here are the stats from my polar GPS