Morning runs, Thames and Boats

At 51 miles, last week was probably the most training miles I have run in a week and all in my Luna Sandals!

Monday – I continued my early morning runs through Bushy Park and along The Thames which I really enjoy and will miss once I find some gainful employment again. That 10 miles for the day increased by another 8 miles as later that evening my friend Phil stayed over (we are running Bristol Half on Sunday though he will beat me by at least 5 minutes!) and we went for an 8 mile headtorch run round Bushy, which can be a bit unsettling seeing lots of pairs of eyes reflecting your light back at you and knowing their are very pointy antlers a few inches above those eyes!

Wednesday – Another 10 mile morning run via Bushy and The Thames.

Friday – A 9 mile run via Bushy and the Thames due to starting from Fulwell station rather than home as I walked Oliver to the station first.

After crossing Kingston Bridge and heading along the Thames towards Teddington Lock I saw the following barge towing another barge carrying large pieces of wood. I was trying to work out what they were but finally realised they were lock gates. Probably to replace some further up the river, and what better way to transport them. You get an idea of scale by the 2 guys sat on the 2nd one in Hi-Vis jackets.

 

Sunday – As I was taking Sam to judo at Budokwai in Chelsea and would have 2.5 hours to spare I decided to pass the time running from Chelsea to Barnes & back along the Thames Path which is 14 miles.

The weather forecast was rain so I threw on a jacket (which proved useful later). It was a good run and I had just reached my turnaround point at Barnes when it started to rain. But the path was fairly well protected from the rain as the trees still had a lot of leaves on. Having run the path in the winter parts get get very muddy which can be a challenge running in sandals.

I made good time and got back early so I had time for a wonderful vanilla latte whilst waiting for Sam to finish. The Starbucks staff looked very glad this sweaty, muddy runner wanted his latte to go!

 

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Bushy parkrun, training experiments and Caballo Blanco Ultra Marathon

Well its been an interesting few days on the running front.

I did a couple of 9 mile morning runs, not fast averaging around 9:30 min/mile. But what was different was that the 2nd run was on Friday morning, the day before parkrun. Now normally I would always leave the Friday free of running (to avoid feeling stiff & tired) as parkrun is my speed session as the rest of my runs (as you can see) are fairly slow as I tend to follow MAF so run to heart rate, rather than speed. Basic principle is as your aerobic system improves you go faster at the same heart rate.

So there I was at parkrun on the usual beautiful Saturday morning (along with 955 other people apparently), having run 9 miles the day before, wondering how I would get on, and I was pleasantly surprised. Although I was nowhere near a PB (which is no surprise as my speed has taken second place to endurance recently, aside from the finishing sprint) but I felt great during the run, legs lungs everything. I came in at 23:10 after a good sprint where I hit 4:08 min/mile pace in the last 100 yards.

This needs further exploring I thought, so on Monday morning I went for a 10 mile run and in the evening I went for an 8 mile run with Phil who was staying over (and I normally do Bath & Bristol Half marathons with every year).

10 Mile Run

8 Mile Run

Again usual speed, no aches left over from the morning run, felt great (even though it was dark, needing headtorches and it rained).

I’m starting to wonder if it is time to start adding extra runs as no sign of any injuries appearing, my Luna’s are still great, feet and legs strong as ever.

I’m now about 6 months away from my “Bucket List” race Caballo Blanco Ultra Marathon (CBUM) in Mexico, so I am conscious of the need to start increasing the mileage and particularly adding some hills, as the 50 mile course includes 10,000ft of ascent / descent. This is twice what I had to cope with during “The Wall” Ultra I did last June. I also need to lose at least 1 hour as I took 13 hours to reach 50 miles then as well, and the CBUM cutoff is 12 hours (but not that strictly enforced I am told, but you start to miss the awards and evening celebrations which would be a real shame).

I’d better get back to booking some accommodation and transport to get to the bottom of this 6,000ft canyon  in Urique, Chihuahua, Mexico or else I’ll be sleeping on someone’s floor!

Training, River Relay and Bushy parkrun

What a great 7 days weather for running. I managed to get in 37 miles of running, most of which was even in sunshine (alas a few more weeks and I’l be glad if it is in daylight)!

A couple of 9 mile morning runs last week, no running at Bushy parkrun http://www.parkrun.org.uk/bushy/home on Saturday (more on that later) a 5 mile run on Sunday to the start of my 5 mile river relay (and the 5 mile race back in the midday sun and 29 degrees C) and this morning’s 9 mile run (where the photos are from) after walking Oliver to the train station (which is not far from the entrance gate to Bushy park).

My aim was to have a nice run for around 90 minutes so getting home around 9:30, I had a water bottle (as the sun was already quite strong) and set off running from Fulwell rail station in my Luna’s. For some reason the gate I was going to enter the park was closed so I carried on through Hampton Hill to the next gate (alas having to pass bakers and coffee shops with people sat outside eating pastries….the bas***ds!) which was open and entered the park.

The deer were hiding in the long grass & bracken but I disturbed them as I went past and got glared at by at least one of them.

It was a glorious morning to be running in the park, which alas my photography skills and an iPhone just can’t capture, but I have a go anyway.

On reaching Kingston bridge I crossed, looking upriver towards Hampton Court with the Thames Path on the right of the picture.

After crossing at Kingston I headed downriver along the Thames Path towards Teddington Lock (the only river crossing between Kingston and Richmond bridges, and pedestrian only) where the Thames becomes tidal. The photo is looking from Teddington Lock back towards Kingston.

After running past some of those river boats wafting the smell of bacon & eggs onto the towpath I finally got back home hungry after a great 9 mile run.

As for Bushy parkrun http://www.parkrun.org.uk/bushy/home, as I had a race on the Sunday I volunteered for Funnel on Saturday (my usual practice when I have a race the next day). Rodney McCulloch and I had decided to be on Funnel together (along with many other volunteers needed to run such events) as we expected to have a large field, with the combination of Olympic fever, sunshine and the fact it was pacers (people running with the time they will finish held aloft on flags for people to try and keep up with!) this week.

Well we were right, we had 981 runners (2nd largest field ever) so after an hour of directing tired runners into the correct lane (more like herding exhausted cats) I had almost lost my voice.

Although I must admit I almost get as much of a buzz from “funnelling” the large fields at Bushy as I do running it myself! I think Rodney feels the same.

Next Saturday I’ll be running, though I’ll probably jump into the funnel to help after I finish, just for a 2nd buzz!

Canada, Colds and Mo-Box

After looking forward to lots of trail running in Canada I managed 2 runs before then going down with a chest cold that kept the children entertained as I sounded like Darth Vader!

My first run was in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver a couple of days after we arrived.

I went out early and after running past some large (non human) footprints I acquired a large pointed staff that I used to contain my paranoia over the 2 hour run through the forest and canyons. The scenery was amazing and so were the trails. My staff even made it into the picture as well.

My second run was in Whistler.

I took the cable car and chairlift to the top of the mountain 6,000ft and intended to hike the trails down to the ‘Peak to Peak’ gondola.

I was wearing my Trail running gear (but with toesocks on to keep my feet warm in my Luna Leadville sandals).

Once at the top I found a good trail and ran for 90 minutes gradually working my way back to the gondola. The views were fantastic and my Leadvilles smoothed out pretty much anything underfoot.

My first run back in England had to swing by a special post box in Teddington. In particular the one painted gold in celebration of Mo Farah’s amazing 5k and 10k gold medals in the Olympics.

As I’m currently unemployed having been made redundant I’m trying to run 10k every morning before I sit down at the laptop for the rest of the day looking for my next role.

Injury, recovery and looking forward to Canada – 9th August 2012

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog for a couple of weeks due to a calf strain I received whilst out on a run with James.

It took me 2 weeks if ice, massage and ‘the stick’ to work the sore lump in my calf out of my muscles. Having done that I did a slow and careful (listening to how my body was working) run for 10 miles along the river last week, a 5k parkrun in Brighton last Saturday and a 10 mile run to Richmond and back via Crane Park yesterday morning (the photo below).

20120810-073959.jpg

I’m now getting my running gear together for the family holiday in British Columbia, Canada where I hope to get in quite a few trail training runs (whilst everyone is asleep) and hiking in my Luna’s. My only concern is the wild animals they have over there (bears, mountain lions) as the most I am used to in the UK is angry squirrels!

I have my usual half marathon in Bristol, UK at the end of September with my friend Phil, and I would like to break my long standing PB/PR with something nearer to 1:45 so I must remember to go easy on the pancakes and maple syrup!

Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, The Wall Ultra Marathon, Thames Path 100, parkrun, Richmond – Teddington loop – 11th July 2012

Well I’ve done it, I’ve entered my “Bucket List” race in Mexico, the Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon!

The race is early March 2013 so I’ve plenty of time to train, though I’ll have to modify my training as the race is 50 miles, has 10,000 ft of ascent / descent and is likely to be pretty warm. Lots of running up and down Richmond Hill in the winter wearing 10 sweaters I suspect!

It is a 50 mile Trail Ultra marathon that was made famous in Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run”. The following film, though a couple of years old will give you an idea of the people and the area.

Some of the footwear may look familiar too!

http://youtu.be/YIyEvomUz14

Sadly the main character in the book and the founder and race director of the Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon, Caballo Blanco (Micah True) died earlier this year after going out for a run in New Mexico.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17600061

I think it may turn into a celebration of his life and the event he started. Maybe I should start tequila training as well?

The Wall Ultra Marathon

Below is a link to an excellent video taken by a runner who did the run in 2 days (camping overnight). Ah seeing all that water brings back memories, plus I get to see what I ran past in the dark!

http://youtu.be/_LTY4g9KkEw

Thames Path 100

My neighbour, fellow runner and Ring O’Fire Ultra http://www.ringofire.co.uk/ Race Director James has registered for his next challenge, The Thames Path 100 http://www.centurionrunning.com/thames-path-100-2013/. This is a 100 mile foot race along the Thames from Richmond to Oxford. He kindly invited me to join him but as it is only 3 weeks after Copper Canyons Ultra I had to decline. However I have offered to pace him for the last 30 miles (Streatley – Oxford), which will probably be during the night. Hopefully he will have slowed down by then so I can keep up!

parkrun

It was good to start my regular parkruns every Saturday having stopped for a month prior to “The Wall” to avoid picking up an injury in my customary 100 metre sprint finish each week.

We are still getting fields of mid 800+ and so far the “double funnels” are holding up.

Richmond to Teddington Lock 10 miles

It was good to get out on Wednesday as the weather has been very wet. I took a chance on my normal circuit, but hedged my bets and wore my VFF KSO Trek as if if got very muddy they would be better than my Luna’s.

Rain did hold off but the path got pretty muddy once I crossed over at Richmond and reached the overground section.

But it was worth it for the occasional break in the tree cover to look across the river and the sunshine, it was raining but you can’t see it on the photo.

A good and refreshing run.

Alas a few more months and I’ll be back to running it in the dark with a headtorch again!

Richmond – Teddington Lock 9.5 mile circuit – 4th July 2012

Having failed to go for a run on Tuesday I was definitely going on Wednesday night and arranged with my neighbour James (Race Director of www.ringofire.co.uk) to meet up around 8pm and fit in a run.

I intended to do my my usual 9.5 / 10 mile river circuit (but maybe I should have told James first ….oops)

We started a few minutes late but wearing my Luna’s and carrying  a water bottle we headed into Crane Park. Having been training alone for months I’d normally settle into my comfortable 10:15 min/mile “ultra” speed but with James I know it will be faster so we settled into around 9:30 min/mile.

It was nice when we finally cut through Twickenham and reached the Thames, where we ran along to Richmond Bridge. Once over the bridge we turned right and headed past a few restaurants on the river, Gaucho’s always smells wonderful (http://www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk/restaurants/restaurant.php?id=richmond), before reaching Petersham meadows.

The path is quite rocky and muddy on this section so we hopped over the wall into the meadows and ran along the grassy path that runs parallel, before joining the river path again a few hundred metres later.

We passed a few people walking, but the light was starting to fade, and we had to do a fair bit of navigating mud and puddles at times where the tree canopy above is quite dense so it is pretty dark. Much later and I would be wishing I had my headtorch as it is far too easy to kick a rock, and in sandals that hurts a lot!

It was a fairly warm evening but having neglected to tell James exactly how far we were going (else he would have brought water as well) meant we shared my water bottle as we got quite thirsty.

We discussed “The Wall”, how beneficial my kettle bell training was for hill climbing and and how some of the race arrangements that I viewed as successful may be relevant to James’s event. We also talked about me having to make a decision soon about running the 50 mile Copper Canyons Ultra Marathon (CCUM) in Mexico in early March 2013 as entries have now opened.

We reached Teddington Lock, crossed the river, and headed back through Teddington to home. Running on pavement is always a real “downer” after the trails along the river.

It was a good run and nice to be able to chat with James as we ran, which is also a good check that we were running aerobically!

Thanks James.