Lots of running, some chilly weather and preparations for Mexico begin

I really seemed to have settled in to a bit of a running routine of late as I try to maintain a decent mileage (by my standards that is) in the remaining months before Mexico, so a normal week is generally looking like this::

Tuesday – 10 or 14 mile run through Bushy Park, along the Thames to Teddington Lock and home via Teddington (10 mile route) or continue to Richmond Bridge and back along the Thames to Twickenham and then home (14 mile route). Although I did get carried away last Tuesday as it was such a gorgeous wintery day I just carried on and did a loop of Richmond Park as well taking the distance up to 21 miles!

Thursday – 10 or 14 mile run through Bushy Park, along the Thames to Teddington Lock and home via Teddington (10 mile route) or continue to Richmond Bridge and back along the Thames to Twickenham and then home (14 mile route)

Saturday – Bushy parkrun 5k

Sunday – 17 mile run from Chelsea along the Thames path to Chiswick Bridge and back whilst Sam is doing judo @ the Budokwai

So generally I’m running around 40-45 miles per week in my Luna Sandals (Leadville model) unless on days when the trails are really muddy which is when I have to resort to my Vibram KSO Treks.

I was fortunate to win a competition at Luna a few weeks back that resulted in me receiving a free pair of their Tabi Socks which have been great for keeping my feet warm when it got down to -5C (23F) recently.

Here are some photos from my runs in Bushy Park over the last few weeks during the cold spell which was great for both running and photos:

The Bushy Pom Pom tree (Mistletoe)

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Toasty feet (thanks Luna)

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A quick play with the Panorama feature on my iPhone

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A few photos from my Sunday morning Chelsea to Chiswick Bridge runs before the cold spell:

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I think I was definitely warmer than this guy!

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and one from the Saturday morning 5k parkrun in Bushy Park where the wildlife can get a bit close at times:

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Mexico & Ultramarathon Caballo Blanco

I’ve had a Hepatitis A & Typhoid jab and I’m due for a Tetanus jab in January which will be all my innoculations over with. I’m now starting to think about what stuff I need during the trip and items like water purification.

In my next blog I’ll probably go into a bit more detail on how I will be getting down there, and hopefully I’ll be able to blog as I travel down and upload anytime I reach free wifi but we’ll see. I can see that my Powermonkey & solar panels are going to get a lot of use keeping my iPhone charged up.

Thames Path 100 (Richmond to Oxford along the Thames Path)

3 weeks after Mexico I’ll be pacing my neighbour James for the last 30 miles of the Thames Path 100, so sometime in early February we’ll probably run the last 30 miles of the course into Oxford to familiarise ourselves (well me anyway) with the course, as it will probably be dark when I’ll be running it in the early hours of the morning (unless James is really really fast!).

A Roman Camp in snow and mist, a 62 mile week, autumn runs along the Thames and yes more deer!

I can’t believe its almost a month since my last blog post.

I’ve been busy with a friends 50th birthday weekend in North Yorkshire where I was able to fit in a morning run “in snow” (Saturday morning) and in mist (Sunday morning) running through a Roman Camp (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawthorne_Camp) on the North Yorkshire Moors! It was definitely time to start running in socks with my Luna Sandals

I’ve had a quite a number of early morning 10 and 14 mile runs through Bushy Park and along the Thames to Richmond with the obligatory deer of course.

My highest mileage week was 62 miles, partly due to a 23 mile Sunday morning run (6:30am start!) with my neighbour James where we ran through Bushy, Kingston, along the river to Richmond Park, where we did a lap and then ran back along the river to Teddington Lock and back home via Teddington. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain for most of it so we ran through an awful lot of mud which can be pretty challenging in Huaraches.

Finally my run last Sunday was a beautiful autumn 15 miles along the Thames from Chelsea to Barnes and back whilst my Son Sam was doing his usual Sunday Judo training at The Budokwai.

Oh, and here’s one from Saturdays Bushy parkrun where one of the course marshall’s looked a bit more fierce than usual.

Goodbye Man-flu, 10 mile training run, Misty parkrun, and 20 miles along the Thames

At last it seems that my cold has almost gone, so to celebrate I went for a 10 mile run on Friday morning, taking advantage of some sunshine. It was my usual circuit through Bushy Park over the Thames and along to Teddington Lock where I head home through Teddington High St and past all the coffee bars with people sat outside eating breakfast. Oooh the coffee smells good!

 

Bushy parkrun

On Saturday it was off to Bushy parkrun as usual, though I was just going for a run rather than a race (oops sorry, I mistakenly said “parkrun” and “race” in the same sentence so I’ll be expecting a knock at the door any time now from the parkrun police!) as having done 10 miles the day before and possibly a long run the next day with James.

It was the first of many misty mornings to come in Bushy as the temperature starts to drop.

Sunday run with James

So Sunday morning and James Bingham (my neighbour, mountaineer and RD of RingO’Fire Ultra) and I met up at 7am to go for a longish run as part of our aim of increasing our mileage in preparation for my 50 mile Ultra and James’s 100 mile Ultra  in March next year. As I’ll also be pacing James (in the dark) for the last 30 miles of his event it is good that we get used to running with each other.

We headed down to Bushy Park, along one of the West side perimeter paths and out Hampton Court Gate and over the Thames. We then turned right and continued along the South side of the Thames West towards Walton. It was a chilly morning, but the clear skies held promise of sunshine later. We were travelling pretty light a few energy bars and some water and a jacket in case the weather turned bad (plus I had a surprise in my Camelbak for later). I was wearing my Luna’s but had put on Toe Sox as my toes took 2 miles to warm up on parkrun yesterday

We were early enough to miss most of the rowing clubs getting their boats into the water, but we’d have that obstacle course of dodging around “eights” as they are lifted out of the water on our way back.

We got to our 10 mile and halfway stop at Weybridge Ferry (photo below) where a small flask of tea (the surprise) helped the Clif bars go down and after a quick break at our improvised “Aid station” we turned round and started to head back along the Thames Path.

 

We got home after a great 20 mile run in (mainly) sunshine with no ill effects on either of our legs (James ran 19 miles home from The City on Friday night as well) and I can see it being a regular run, when we are allowed to disappear for 3.5 hours early on a Sunday morning.

 

It was ironic that one of the conversations on the run was the breakfast we would have when we got back, particularly as James was locked out (family at gym) when he got home, so his breakfast consisted of a large mug of tea and 2 slices of toast and jam I took over to him as he sat on his doorstep in the sunshine.

It was still a great morning run and I look forward to next time!

 

 

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!

 

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!

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!

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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.

Barefoot Ted, parkrun and Richmond – Teddington Lock 10 mile circuit – 1st July 2012

After my 69 mile ultra last Saturday (www.thewalllrun.com) I’d taken it easy with no running until I attended Barefoot Ted’s talk at the London “Run and Become” running store on Friday. Barefoot Ted will be known to many runners as the character in Chris McDougall’s best-selling book “Born to Run”.

I met Ted last year at his talk and it was good to go for a short run with him around Green Park. even my son Sam came with us, making it the furthest he has run in a long time. I must get him to buy his own Luna Sandals and stop borrowing mine!

I did my usual parkrun at Bushy Park on Saturday morning (along with 819 others) and was pleased to finish in 23:09. Topped it off by joining a parkrun volunteer photo with Paul Sinton-Hewitt (parkrun CEO & Founder).

I awoke to brilliant sunshine on Sunday morning, grabbed my gear, tied on my Luna’s and set out at 8am for a 10 mile circuit along the Thames.

It was hard to believe that 1 week earlier I was just gingerly climbing into bed having completed my 69 mile run.

The river at Richmond was quite busy but not enough to spoil the view along the river from Richmond towards Ham House.

I saw a few runners on the river path, but not as many as I would have thought on such a pleasant morning.

The photo below shows the trail that continues all the way to Kingston and beyond. Its a bit rocky in places but good practice for careful foot placement in sandals. Practice that came in very useful a week ago. I consider myself very lucky to be able to run in places like this.

The legs felt good, with no traces of tiredness so as long as I don’t wake up tomorrow with sore legs it looks like the post-ultra repair work is complete, enabling me to get back into my normal running schedule. That said, the only race I have got coming up is Bristol half Marathon on 30th September and the Cabbage Patch 10 mile in mid October.

At Teddington Lock I crossed over the river (I’d have loved to carry on to Kingston but wanted to get home before everyone wakes up) and headed back through Teddington towards home.

A nice run, at around 10:30 min/mile pace a great start to a sunny Sunday, alas it rained later (but I had already had the best bit of the day).

Richmond – Kingston 12 mile circuit run – 17th June 2012

Well it’s Fathers Day today and after what seems like days of non stop rain and high winds we have sunshine this morning, so I’m off for a run.

I decided on my usual midweek run of Twickenham to Richmond along the Thames, cross the river and back along the other bank to Teddington Lock, except this time I’ll carry on to Kingston bridge, cross the river and return home via Bushy Park. Should be around 12-13 miles.

I tied on my Luna’s as usual, grabbed shot bloks and a bottle of Nuun and set off.

The view across to Richmond Hill was impressive.

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I reached Richmond Bridge, crossed over the river and turned right and started along the other bank towards Kingston.

The rowers were out in force and You can see a 4 just in front of Marble Hill house, an 18th century villa in 66 acres built by King George II for his mistress Henrietta Howard.

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I carried on along the path running easily at around 10:15 min/ mile before reaching Ham House a 17th century house supposedly haunted.

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I had run this path several days earlier in the dark so was surprised to see a tree had fallen and been cut up to clear the path. It shows how windy it had been.

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As you can see by my Camelbak bottle on top it was a fair sized tree and a real shame.

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I crossed back over Kingston bridge and joined the parkrun course in Bushy park at about half way, but running it in reverse taking me round to Teddington Gate.

The last few miles along streets were a poor substitute for the great trails I had been running along the river.

One more training run left before ‘The Wall’ ultra on Saturday.

Richmond – Teddington Lock circuit 10 mile run – 13th June 2012

It was 9pm last night before I got out of the house for a run, so it was back to using my head torch again. Oh well I may end up having to use it on my ultra if I slow up too much in the latter stages, anyway so good practice.

I wore my Camelbak, more to carry my waterproof as the sky still looked like it could decide to rain at some time in the next 2 hours. Stuck some tape on the top of my feet (to prevent knot rubbing), tied on my Luna’s grabbed a bottle of Nuun and set out.

I was doing my 10 mile circuit, through Crane Park, along the river to Richmond, over the bridge and back along the river to Teddington Lock where I cross back again and then head back home through Teddington.

I was aiming for around 10:00 – 10:20 min/mile pace which I seem to settle into almost without thinking these days. That level of “autopilot”  is what I’m going to need a week on Saturday if I’m to run farther than I have ever run before, 69 miles!

As it was starting to get dark I wasn’t listening to my usual diet of running podcasts (UltraRunnerPodcast, Trail Runner Nation, Talk Ultra) , though I reckon I can recite Sunny Blende’s (from Chris McDougall’s “Born to Run” book) nutrition interviews (http://www.eat4fitness.com/) on running Ultra’s from memory!

I saw a couple of runners on the way to Richmond, but none after that point as it was getting dark and the path to Teddington is very dark in places and wooded. I was grateful for the incredible light from my headtorch (http://silva.se/products/sport/trail-runner) which gives a powerful central beam and 2 wide side beams which is very useful when you need to see outside of the usual “light tunnel” you get with some lights.

Alas the river had been high recently (and we’ve had lots of rain) so I was having to negotiate my way round lots of mud & puddles, trying to keep from getting mud between my feet and my sandals, as it is the one thing that makes running in them nigh on impossible, as you just slip and slide around on top of the sandal. It is the one reason I will be doing the ultra with my pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek in my pack, just as a backup in case my Luna Sandals become unwearable due to mud.

Don’t get me wrong I love my Luna’s, and have done trail runs where I have had to run through mud, but I’ve been able to wash off the mud quickly by standing in a puddle (boy do you get some funny looks) or using cups at a water station to wash your feet clean (funny looks there too), but if it is just miles of muddy trails then I’ll switch to VFFs.

I finally got home at 10:45pm, hungry (only had 2 shot bloks) but feeling like I could keep on running.

One week tomorrow I’ll be on the train to Carlisle (I’m taking the slow scenic route over what is considered the most scenic railway in england, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settle-Carlisle_Line), starting The Wall 69 mile Ultra at 7:00am the next day.

Only a week to go, almost time to start laying out my running gear!