Let the fun times roll

I ran over 500km in the first 2 months of this year as I trained for the quadzilla, then after a short break picked it up again training for the Milton Keynes marathon. Significantly higher than last year and an awful lot of running to fit in around work and family. Plus marathon training can all get a little bit intense can’t it? You focus on every run and how it contributes towards achieving that big time goal, so right now I’m trying to have a little fun.

I’m triathlon training, something which I think I’m going to try and do every year at some point having enjoyed it so much last year. I’m doing another half ironman which I know is a little crazy seeing as my objective is to have some fun but I genuinely enjoy the longer races. I like the challenge of endurance and actually the longer you race the more relaxed the event gets in my experience.

Ridgeway run in the mist

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The litter fairy

Have you done a race recently? Have you seen the litter fairy that follows behind the runners picking up the litter and making the course look like no runner has been there? A fabulous person, making the difference, ensuring the good name of our sport continues. Except kids I’ve got some bad news, and you might want to sit down for this, the litter fairy does not exist.

Yet just like Christmas where we all keep up the charade that Father Christmas is real, at races we seem to all carry on not noticing that someone has just thrown a gel wrapper on the ground or has decided to wait until a mile past the water station to throw away their bottle. We carry on in the belief that the litter fairy will pick it up and so our conscience can rest easy. Besides even if the litter fairy doesn’t exist I’m sure these big road races can use some of the massive fee they charge us to pay a team of litter pickers right? Don’t think so.

At the Milton Keynes marathon I saw a guy about 50m in front of me very gently bend over a lay a bottle and gel wrapper on some grass, right in the middle of a beautiful park on the edges of a lake, nowhere near a marshal or an aid station. At that moment I decided the next person I saw dropping litter who was within shouting range was going to get called out on it. So it was that I found myself shouting at a woman at around mile 15 who’d decided that it was ok to dispose of the bottle she no longer wanted by throwing it on some grass which was actually someone’s front garden (incidentally if you ever need to pick yourself up mid race I thoroughly recommend a bit of a rant). Her excuse was that she thought it was near enough a marshal that they’d collect it and besides ‘she’d seen people doing it at other road races so must be fine, but maybe those were main roads and that was the difference’.

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Milton Keynes marathon race review

Milton Keynes marathon was my big goal race of the year, a PB attempt and an attempt to crack 3.20 for the first time. The theory being that training for the Quadzilla gave me a great base to work from in the 10 weeks leading up to the race. All was going well until 5 weeks before the race when we went on holiday to Cornwall, a great week with the kids and some nice running on the coastal path but I lost my focus and momentum and quite honestly never got it back. The final few weeks of training were ok but I missed a few sessions for various reasons and then a week before the race got ill. Somehow the stresses of life and work often seem to peak close to a race, Murphy’s law I guess, but it quickly derails your running.

Ultimately this meant a change in goal for the race from a PB attempt to just being happy to be well enough to be on the start line.  And what a start line it is, lining up outside the beautiful Stadium MK (which I know sounds a bit odd but it really is a great stadium inside and out) and to top it all the clouds cleared and the sun put his hat on. While it may have been a nice start line it was most definitely not an organised one, in fact I’d go as far as to say it was chaos. The kids superhero run lining up at the front didn’t help things but there was also close to zero control of people entering the pens and the signage was crap.

There also appeared to be a confusion amongst the pacers who seemed to be standing in quite random spots, not helped by having both marathon and half marathon starters and pacers in the pens. I’d love to know whose bright idea it was to stick balloons to the pacers backs with their time goal written in felt tip on them also. Maybe the budget wouldn’t stretch to the normal flags that pacers wear? The strings were getting tangled up and then when actually running the balloons kept hitting people in the face.

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Race day bullshit

There are 2 types of people at the start of a race; first there are those like me who get quite nervous and deal with it by finding a bit of peace and calm to focus and prepare themselves for the challenge ahead. We fidget a little, do some pointless half arsed stretching and remind ourselves that we’re ready. Then there those people who’s nerves get too much to contain and they fight their way out of the persons mouth in the form of mainly pointless chatter.  This chatter is normally fairly harmless “what you aiming for today” “is this your first time doing this race” “where are you from”, but it inevitably descends into a self depreciating competition of who is going to do the worst. Maybe it’s a British thing, we don’t like to shout about ourselves so why would we be as bold as to say we think we’re going to be awesome? Whatever the reason the bullshit you hear in a starting pen would have a lie detector test flashing red very quickly

It doesn’t matter how big or small the race is either but there is definitely a correlation between the distance being run and the amount of bullshit you hear with a multisport race adding an extra bonus level because the bullshit has more than one sport to cover. With it being peak spring marathon season I thought I’d share my top 3 bullshit phrases you’re bound to hear. If you’re nervous like me at the start of a race why not play your own game of bullshit bingo and see if you can tick them all off.

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eGlove Sport review

I run at 6am 5 or 6 days a week all year around which means I spend at least 5 months of the year running in the dark and cold, it also means that 2 of my most essential bits of kit are a head torch and a pair of gloves. If you can see where you are going and keep your hands warm then you’re half way to enjoying a run no matter what the weather.

I’ve always used Petzl head torches and have a Tikka that has served me well for a few years now although I realised doing the Sleepwalker night race in November that there are some much brighter head torches out there and I shall be treating myself to an upgrade before the dark mornings begin again in the autumn.

Gloves are a much simpler bit of kit of course but they do need to fulfill 3 very important criteria and I’ve been putting the eGlove Sport running gloves to the test over the past few weeks to see how they fared when judged against them.

1 – Keep your hands warm – obvious I know but also the raison detre of a running glove. But unless you run in particularly mountainous conditions you also don’t want gloves that make your hands too warm. Having to choose between hot throbbing hands and bare numb ones is not good so the gloves need to be relatively thin and of course good at wicking the moisture away. The eGlove’s have performed well in this beautiful spring weather we’ve been experiencing, it’s made for some glorious sun rises but not so glorious temperatures. Keeping my hands warm in temperatures close to or below zero but not too hot.

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Parenthood is the perfect training for ultra running