Running isn’t my Hobby, it’s my Passion

 



The aim of this Blog is to hopefully paint a picture of the enjoyment I get from running off road. Running is my mindfulness and really adds to my well-being. 

2017 : QE Spring Marathon, 3 Forts Challenge 27.2 miles, Race to the King Double Marathon, Purbeck Marathon, Portsmouth Coastal 50K challenge 

2018 : R.E.D. (Run every day) January for MIND, Dorchester Marathon, South Downs Marathon, Goodwood Marathon & Isle Of Wight marathon run so far.

2019 : To blog about “why” I run as well as “where” I run

Race to the King : June 22nd, 41 miles completed. Portsmouth Coastal marathon December : entered

“Your legs achieve what your mind believes” pcm2014b

 Me in my element !!

Full Steam Ahead !! 14 miler

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After last weekends eighteen mile run I decided to drop back to fourteen this week and prepare myself for a twenty / twenty one miler next weekend.

With HMS Prince of Wales being in dock at the moment this was a perfect excuse to run down and take a photo, after all its not everyday you see an aircraft carrier !!

My mood has been buoyant after the success of a three hour stint last week and coupled with this I’m into my third week of eating better too. I’m convinced its having an effect as I definitely feel that I have more energy.

I’m taking full advantage of the vegetarian options at work and alternating this with jacket potatoes and side salads. After recently watching the Game Changers Netflix film meat consumption and a plant based diet are topics I’m looking into both for my general health as well as supporting my running.

These small steps I’ve outlined, when combined with taking three pieces of fruit to work as well, can only help !! When I saw a vegan sausage roll in Greggs while picking something up for my daughter I couldn’t resist buying one and I’m pleased to report it was quite tasty. I saw this week that Chris Froome is the latest high profile athlete to follow this route. I’ll keep you posted.

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Todays run featured a mile or so of muddy field running and then after that it was flat and tarmac. Now, flat and tarmac aren’t my preferred option but I decided I couldn’t miss the aircraft carrier. My pace was good initially and I was pleased not to drop below ten minute mileing for all fourteen.

After all, ten minute miles will give you a 4.22 marathon and at this stage I’d take that. The early chill meant I ran with my egloves and as the sun began to appear it was one of those bright and cold mornings that keep you focused.

The six miles down to my viewing point were even paced and I saw a number of people driving through Gosport on route to the Gosport Half marathon which, as usual, was fully booked. Congratulations to everyone who ran it.

The return leg of my run meant heading for Stubbington and avoiding the fields because quite frankly I was moving well so I decided to work on maintaining my pace.

It’s gratifying when your pervious weeks efforts seem to be paying off and I kept a steady pace.

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As you look at my Strava photo you may wonder why I’ve added the phrase “Jolly Roger” , well I was pleased with my run and as coincidence would have it I’d passed a pub near Priddy’s Hard with just that name. Fait …. ha ha !!

ship2With five weeks to the Portsmouth Coastal marathon I’m pleased with my progress and with the Naval aspect from today the phrase “Full Steam Ahead” seemed quite apt for my blog.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone that read my “Life Affirming” blog from last week. I had a lot of positive feedback which is both pleasing and hopefully may have inspired others to #getoutside and experience the joys of exercise in the fresh air 🙂

Thanks for reading

Roger

 

A Life Affirming run

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The definition of life affirming is, quite simply, an emotional uplifting effect. My eighteen miles on Saturday were just that. This run was my longest in four months, both in terms of distance and time and it helped me to answer some questions that have been nagging me.

“Why do I run” might sound peculiar as I’ve been running for over thirty years but perhaps its only when you are questioning yourself that you truly come up with the answer that’s in your heart of hearts.

I’m in the later stages of training for the Portsmouth Coastal marathon and with six weeks to go I needed a three hour run. That’s exactly my point, “needed”, not wanted to or was looking forward to, more that it was necessary.

However, by the time I finished I’d achieved much more than eighteen miles and three hours on my feet, I’d tapped into my self belief, self confidence and self esteem. In short I’d improved both my mental and physical health.

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Our bird bath with a thin covering of ice.

As I left the house it was a cold morning and on reflection I should probably have started with gloves but in a funny way being cold heightens your senses. I’d made one concession to the cold and that was to wear my favourite Helly Hansen long sleeve base layer. This one garment says “long cold run” as soon as I put it on. It’s a comfort blanket in many ways because I know I’ll be warm and protected from the elements.

As I left the tarmac pavements at a mile and a half I was presented with an Autumnal pallet of coloured leaves laid out in front of me. Natures gold, yellow, brown, green and copper patchwork once again heightened my senses as I took it all in.

In recently weeks I’ve been working on increasing my miles and its days like this that make you appreciate why you commit yourself to marathon training, you feel alive !!

With each passing season I realise I’m closer to sixty than fifty and that maybe my most athletic years are behind me but in distance terms there’s no reason why I can’t improve. Having running as both your hobby and your passion means fitness, health and even longevity are all being given a helping hand.

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With it being Remembrance Sunday the tree lined old railway track, that heads out of Wickham, almost looked like soldiers standing on parade either side of me. The wind picked up briefly and shook the branches. I had multi-coloured leaves falling down on me as I ran through, it was beautiful.

The smile on my face lasted for the rest of my run, through fifteen miles which had been my longest recent run and through the rain that met me in the last two miles. That rain didn’t dampen my spirits and my abiding memory from this run, along with the falling leaves, was what crossed my mind in the rain.

“You’ve still got it Rog”, was what I said to myself out loud. This may sound a little arrogant but trust me I wasn’t running fast enough to be showing off !! This wasn’t a mojo moment this was emotional. I connected with my running 🙂

I was living my running, I was uplifted and it was life affirming.

Go for a run and find your positive place !!

Thanks for reading

Rog

Knott Kinetics : Run & Injury Prevention talk

kkGroupI recently attended a talk given by Knott Kinetics of Gosport. The phrase “prevention is better than cure” was their topic. The evenings venue and hosts were Knott Kinetics and more specifically Lawrence Knott, the managing director and owner, who was accompanied by two other guest speakers, Edyta Sikorska – Sports Therapy & Chas Staines – Exercise Rehabilitation, both of whom work with Lawrence.

The evening was a joint venture with Nick Carters 545 RunClub that’s a free Wednesday night organised run in and around Gosport. The choice of a 5K or 3K run meaning all abilities are catered for, it’s free and it’s most definitely all inclusive. Sadly I couldn’t make the 5.45 start time but plenty did, as can be seen in the photo above, with Lawrence front and centre of the predominantly Gosport Road Runners !!

Naturally as a running blogger I’m an interest observer and clearly not qualified in this field but I’m going to try my best to pass on some of the great advice we listened to. I have attempted to fill the odd gap here and there as I simply couldn’t remember all of the advice we heard. If I’ve got anything wrong, bear with me !!

As a quick background Knott Kinetics treat beginners through to elite athletics with sports therapy, massage, exercise rehabilitation, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, osteopathy and acupuncture. Complementing this they offer yoga and palates too.

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The main reasons I was draw to come along this evening was after reading on their website that they wanted to promote pro active healthcare i.e. “you” becoming a better version of you and secondly the phrase, I’m sure you will agree that we can all do more to help ourselves. This kind of self help encouragement strikes me as very forward thinking.

Now, ask any runner what their biggest fear / annoyance / frustration is and invariably they will say, being injured !! But, we can minimise the risks by taking “ownership” of our actions, after all it’s better to prevent an injury than have to recover from one. Being injured affects quite a wide circle of our friends and family because they have to put up with us ….. ha ha !!!

I made sure I was right at the front of their exercise studio to get the best possible seat as the presentations started.

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Pictured above is Edyta talking to us about the Achilles tendon, how it worked and what could be done to strengthen it. The talk combined some serious and some amusing demonstrations by her fellow contributor Chas, as she used him to illustrate her talk. Naturally this topic was quite specific were as Lawrence and Chas had wider ranging subjects which I’ve decided to concentrate on. Thank you Edyta I now know considerably more about my Achilles and its function.

Lawrence was up next and he underlined the nature of what the business was trying to achieve with some of the principals that I’ve already mentioned. At this point I have to say the combination of a welcoming reception, a good sized studio, weights, cardio machines and  naturally the treatment rooms all make for a very professional combination.

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Lawrence concentrated on the core principle of running form and what can be done around optimising the best foot position. Naturally as runners we all bring different attributes, some helpful, others not son much but everything is correctable.

Working from the initial thought that each running stride is sending a shock wave of four times your body weight up your frame then this will inevitably have implications for your ankles, tendons, muscles, knees, hips, back and even neck !!

The talk lead us through having the correct footwear for our running as well as the possibility of using orthotics to correct flat feet. Your feet will both propel you forward as well as take the impact of every running stride. Naturally shoe choices are a huge factor in staying injury free.

Do you pronate, if so you’ll need shoes that have flexible soles and padding for the areas of impact. Are you an over pronator ? you’ll need support for your arches or maybe you’re a supinator then you’ll need cushioning on the rigid outer edge of your foot. Finally, if you are a terminator you probably wont even wear shoes but you’ll make return trips to the clinic …. “I’ll be back” !!

We discussed that balance and strength are key to good form and this was a pre runner to what Chas would talk about later.

Lawrence also included the audience by challenging us to stand on one leg and test our stability. I liked the humorous side of his delivery as he overemphasised bad habits and the effects of poor form.

Listening to the mechanics of running certainly made me consider my posture and it’s easy to see how as we increase mileage then overuse of any incorrect element will eventually lead to injuries. Stand tall, chest open and keep your upper body and pelvis stable.

Warm up, have stability, strength and balance, combine this with the correct running posture and then economy and efficiency will follow on, leading to faster times and longer periods of uninterrupted running.

Finally I think its fair to say that we all run forwards !! This naturally means that we work some muscles more than others and this can lead to muscle imbalance and an increased risk of injury. This imbalance was were Lawrence lead onto Chas as the final speaker.

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Chas gave a compelling talk as to the necessity of building a good foundation of strength and conditioning as the cornerstone to success. One of his opening comments was that given a choice would we run for half an hour or use strengthening exercises ? He knew we’d all be running but he then tried to convince us otherwise.

How many of us have lost our running form in the later stages of a race because we are tired. Strengthening your core and conditioning can help both improve and maintain your running form, which in turn, makes you more efficient. Increasing your strength increases your endurance and will prevent injuries.

Chas mentioned that both people new to running as well as seasoned runners should view strength training as part of your total running package and if you don’t then you could be missing out on various gains that improve your technique and lower the risk of injury.

Strength training or resistance can be achieved with free weights, rubber bands, general gym machines and bodyweight exercise. The good stress that this puts our body under forces it to adapt and boost its ability to take on extra loads.

Stronger legs, arms and shoulders will all contribute to a stronger core and as mentioned earlier an imbalance of the muscles can also be worked on. Chas takes a Monday evening class at 6.30pm and is also available to be booked for individual assessments.

Strength training our muscles and bones will naturally help fight off stress fractures which are a common overuse injury. The training doesn’t all need to be in the gym and it doesn’t need to take up hours. Naturally advice from an expert like Chas is recommended as to which exercises suit you the best.

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Chas was keen to underline that every top athlete uses strength training so if it helps them then there’s every chance it can help us. That concluded the talks and we finished with “any questions” which actually went on for nearly ten minutes and was a testament to all the speakers being eager to help.

The audience was mainly Gosport Road Runners but I do hope my blog will be of interest to all the runners in our local area as well as further afield.

Huge thanks to Lawrence and Nick for organising this run/talk night as well as Edyta and Chas for their thought provoking talks.

I was impressed with future possible talks that Knott Kinetics are looking to host such as mental wellbeing, nutrition and multisport training so keep your eyes peeled !!

Thanks for reading

Roger

 

Langstone Harbour running

Image-13The coastal path that follows Langstone Harbour makes up a large proportion of the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside marathon. This event is in its tenth year now and has built up quite a cult status what with the race being the weekend before Christmas.

My training had to be put on hold last week due to a back twinge so the aim of todays run was to get back to double figures.

This blog isn’t so much about the ten miles of running but more about my observations of the area with its tidal mudflats and seabirds.

Over the recent years I’ve looked at my running from a different viewpoint. Yes, I run to the best of my ability but, no I don’t beat myself up over my pace.

Running gives me a sense of wellbeing and mindfulness purely due to the locations that I pass through and the sights that I take in. Photography also allows me to express the enjoyment that I experience while I’m out running. Stopping for a moment to take a photo means that I can both look back on my adventures as well as share them with others.

Image-14The two photos that I’ve used so far really capture just why I chose to enter the Believe and Achieve marathon. Naturally the event has a Christmas buzz with many people wearing fancy dress and with rum and mince pies on offer over the previous years these are also reasons for me to return having run the marathon and ultra options before.

The weather conditions this morning were perfect with no wind and the water was as flat as a mill pond. Race day may well be a different matter !! It will definitely be colder in December but extra layers and gloves can remedy that. I love running on the “South Downs” but it’s also good to visit the coast on occasions.

Running next to the water offers a completely different experience to the hilly trails inland. There’s something relaxing and hypnotic about running next to the sea.

My route took me along trails close to the seawall and with the mud flats to your right, the yachts moored out in the deeper channels and wading birds to watch you get a sense that you’re travelling through daily coastal life.

The trail is fairly narrow with the exception of a tarmac section near Farlington marshes but the majority of the time there’s the smell of seaweed, occasional shingle and the lapping of the water onto green algae covered rocks.

Virtually the only people I saw were fishermen who were out early morning bait digging and it struck me that this was probably something they’d been doing for years. I do like to run through areas with some natural history and the old Hayling railway bridge at half way is a great example of this.

Image-15The clear water was a perfect mirror to the yachts masts and the individual supports of the long gone railway bridge were a reminder of times gone by. The low tide certainly brought in various birds that feast on the rich offerings. Their calls and chirping was a constant feature of my run.

Some sections of the coastal path are rough underfoot so it’s important not to get too distracted with your sight seeing but overall the conditions underfoot were good.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to a longer run along the coast path next week and as an added bonus I aim run earlier in an attempt to catch the sunrise.

 

Commit to get fit : 10 miles

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My 2019 running has been quite hit and miss due to a number of factors which I won’t bore you with. Todays ten miles were fantastic !! I really connected with my running, my surroundings and my desire to commit. So, after a number of false starts I feel it’s time to focus on the remainder of the year.

I currently only have one race booked and that’s the Portsmouth Coastal marathon which is the weekend before Christmas. I may well enter some other races but the PCM is currently my goal.

Today was a game changer !! After a much better weeks sleep I woke at 7am, half an hour before the alarm and I said to myself, “lets make the most of it” and get up !!

Driving out to Meonstoke only takes about twenty minutes but I used this time to ask myself what did I want to achieve. My conclusion was that I needed ten miles with as few distractions as possible and quite simply to soak up the sights and sounds of a relatively early countryside run.

I decided to run the three miles to West Meon village, follow the High Street up and down and then return to Exton for Beacon Hill. The secondary aim of today was to run past where I dropped out of Race to the King. My feelings were predominantly of frustration the last time I was there and I wanted to replace this with positivity.

Pace wasn’t a factor for today, I decided a sense of reconnecting was my main goal. As I joined the Meon Valley trail I immediately felt relaxed, almost as if I was leaving the old 2019 behind me and embracing the remainder of the year.

I didn’t feel I was running away from the stresses of my life, more that I was heading towards a better way of dealing with them. Being in a good place really is the best way to deal with whatever life challenges you with. Running hasn’t 100% been my happy place this year but I was determined to change this today.

I decided not to look at my gps stats but just to accept whatever came my way and take a photo if I thought it was a good reference point. My first photo was at about two miles in.

“Sheep”

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It always strikes me that the animals I see on my travels look happy. It’s a bright sunny day and they are grazing outdoors. A simple existence and yet that’s all I was aspiring to on my run, just to co exist with my surroundings.

As I reached the end of the trail (it’s an old railway line) the remnants of West Meon station’s platform can be seen and I passed through a narrow footpath that takes you to the High Street. This path can’t be more than four feet wide and the walls look like the original stonework from the railway which opened around 1903.

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I do enjoy running through history because I like to try and imagine what it would have looked like. My trip up and down the High Street took in the stores, the old post office, a butchers and a pub.

Returning towards Meonstoke I had Exton in my thoughts. I’d clocked up about five miles and was in a good steady rhythm. With few distractions the countryside allows you to listen to your body. This might sound a little self indulgent but I find it motivates me.

Even breathing means I’m pacing my effort, the sound of my footsteps becomes a beat to tune into and you really are living every second because its what you are concentrating on. The simple process of following one stride after another.

Mindfulness and Wellbeing are important to me and I feel I’ve drifted away from them in recent months. Today I felt connected with what I wanted to achieve.

Heading through Exton and up Beacon Hill I wasn’t even really thinking about when I dropped out of Race to The King in June. I was too busy taking in what was around me. The stream that flows through the village, the flint walls, the birds song and the upcoming hill !!

I was pleased to keep a steady pace to the trig point at the top of Beacon Hill which is were my first blog photo was taken. The South Downs Way was made for blue skies and sunshine !! I can definitely say that the effort it took to reach the top of the hill was well rewarded.

The downhill return meant I could speed up and let myself go !! After a number of measured miles due to fitness restraints it’s good to just “run free” downhill.

So, what did I set out to achieve ?

A ten mile run (Tick), inspiration (Tick), mindfulness and wellbeing (Tick) but most of all the sense that I’d thoroughly enjoyed and hour and three quarters of “me time”. Running makes me happy and it has a positive effect on the rest of my life.

I’m ready to commit to get fit with more training and deal better with what every the rest of 2019 has in store. I promise future posts will be less about me and more about running …. ha ha !!

Thanks for reading

Roger

Hydration for Runners : Dr Dan

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From right to left this photo shows Dr Dan, myself and Neil Jarrett along with a number of Gosport Road runners. The reason/excuse for us meeting in a pub was a talk by Dr Dan on hydration, hosted by Alton Sports, the 5.45 running club and the Four Ale Tap Room.

The 5.45 club is a Gosport running community initiative set up by Nick Carter. All are welcome to the Wednesday “quarter to six” run, whether you’re a club runner or not its an all inclusive invite. Additional to these runs are occasional visits to drinking establishments and talks that are arranged.

Gosport Road Runners (GRR) naturally form the majority of the group but I’ve always felt welcome as a visiting Fareham Crusader runner. Doctor Daniel Roiz De Sa is the Senior Medical Officer at the Institute of Naval Medicine in Gosport as well as a GRR runner. Hayley Sparshott (another GRR runner I know) was also there.

Unfortunately travel commitments ( I caught the bus) meant I couldn’t arrive early enough for the run but a good number of runners had set off from the Alton Sports shop (just up the road). So, a run, talk, real ales/cider and sandwiches …. “yes”, that’s my kind of night 🙂 !!

Our venue for the evening was the Four Ale Tap Room which had numerous beverages on offer considering its relatively small size. The atmosphere is friendly and the chap in charge was as knowledgeable and passionate about his ale as we are about our running. I had two pints of berry cider which went down very well 🙂

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Now that I’ve set the scene I’ll try to summarise some of the points Dan made. Naturally Dr Dan is an expert in his field and has years of analysis to call on, I’m simply going on what I remember so please bear this in mind while reading !!

Summer running is a curious and ever changing sport. One week the temperatures can sore into the thirties and then another week the humidity can be just as sapping even if the temperatures are ten degrees less.

So, what’s the best way of coping ?? This depends on your age, height, sex, weight and conditions so bear this in mind too and just remember even the best athletes don’t always get it right … we’ll never forget Jonny Brownlee staggering towards the finish line in Mexico due to his heat exhaustion.

Running when the air temperature his hot will increase your core body temperature. The body sends more blood to circulate through your skin, this leaves less blood for your muscles which then increases your heart rate. If humidity is added to this, then sweat doesn’t easily evaporate and you’ll need to take action against dehydrating.

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This photo from Race to the King shows the kind of hot Summers day that’s beautiful to look at but needs quite a lot of planning and thought hydration wise.

Water not only makes up 60% of body weight in men and 50-55% in women but also regulates temperature. Water is lost in urine and sweat, so, to avoid dehydration you need to replace it regularly with both fluid and food. Water, sports drinks, soft drinks, tea and coffee are your obvious starting points and as a measure six to eight glasses of fluid are needed each day.

What I hadn’t considered was that you take in water from the food you eat. Some 20% of your total daily water intake comes from food with fruit and vegetables being 80% water, so eating “real food” on longer runs becomes important as well as on a daily basis.

Becoming dehydrated usually includes a dry mouth, the start of a headache and worsening concentration. One other clear sign is when the colour of your urine becomes darker !!

So, keep well hydrated in the build up to your race, stop drinking alcohol 48 hours before and don’t forget to have a drink as soon as you wake up on race day as well as an hour beforehand. Sipping on a regular basis while running is much more effective than drinking a large amount in one go and you are far less likely to need to go to the toilet !!

At this point I’d also like to mention reducing your single use plastic when drinking. I now take my cup and soft flasks whenever I run. I carry two 500ml flasks and refill them. Help save the planet too !!

 

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Another factor to consider is where will you source your fluids from ? Races have feed stations but while out training include garages and shops for your top ups.

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I’ve considered my fluids : Water – No calories, Low Fat Milk – nutrients & protein, Hot drinks – drink to suit and Sports drinks – for activity beyond an hour, I personally use SIS hydro tablets that you dissolve in 500ml of water and these include electrolyte.

Other practicalities that were also discussed were, avoid the mid day sun if possible, always wear suntan lotion, it’s personal choice but a visor or a cap can help and finally wear loose fitting wicked material shorts and top to prevent heat building up under your clothes.

Dan mentioned a number of athletes and personalities he’s help and to bring his experiences right up to date he told us he’d be working with celebrity SAS winner Wayne Bridge as he prepares for the 2020 Marathon Des Sables. Wayne will be able to acclimatise in Dan’s heat chambers and be monitored but we can also acclimatise to the heat by running progressively longer each time during the build up to our chosen race.

The last time I listen to Dan was after his own personal 2017 MDS race and a talk that he gave on it. Dan raised sponsorship for Walking With the Wounded in 2017, Wayne will be in 2020 and I did for my Race to the King 2017 focus event so in a small way we have something in common.

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So, it’s a huge thank you to Dan for the talk and the various people that helped to make it happen. Typically August seems to have settled into a cloudy 19 degrees but that’s still no excuse not to stay hydrated for your best efforts when running !!

Thanks for reading …. Roger

RTTK : My first DNF but 41 miles covered

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Forest Gump once famously said “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. As I stood on the Race to the King (RTTK) start line this phrase crossed my mine.

The last six months have been a mixed bag with no races, varied training, occasional injuries and then the prospect of running from Slindon to Winchester, or at least the possibility !!

I ran RTTK in 2017 and finished in a respectable 12.06, that time clearly wasn’t realistic this year but you only live once so I decided “what the hell” lets go for it.

In the end I called time at 41.5 miles and Exton village, it was both a hard and an easy decision, in that I knew, enough was enough. The remainder of this blog charts how the day panned out. The race was emotional but most of all it was full of the great people that trail running attracts.

After a 4.45am alarm call and a 6.05am departure from Fareham train station myself, Paul, Jamie and Mark were taxi bound heading for Slindon. The sun was out and anticipation filled the air.

Once at the start venue we saw a number of familiar faces, Tracey, Zoe and Sabrina from Fareham Crusaders, then Lee and Neil from Gosport and I was particularly pleased to meet Deborah who I talk to on twitter but hadn’t actually met.

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Paul, Jamie, Neil and I set off at 7.45am with Lee and Mark already fast disappearing into the distance.

The initial mile and a half allowed for some overtaking so the field largely found its pace quite early on. The temperature was already warm and as Paul and Jamie eased away from me (not intentionally) I decided not to chase them but to run my own race at my own pace.

For regular readers you’ll know I like to take photos to show where I’ve been, the two photos above plus one more from the start were the only three I took through the whole day. Why ? Because I decided I had to give 100% concentration on this attempt. Thanks to Paul Coates FCRC and Su Baldock from Gosport RR for the remaining photos 🙂

As I approached the first pit stop at about 8 miles the scenery was breath taking, classic South Downs Way. It had been a long and gradual climb to reach the top of the Downs.

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Each aid station has an amazing choice on offer and great marshals. I filled my 500ml soft flasks, grabbed a couple of energy bars and set out (they even had portaloos ).

By mile ten I was into a rhythum and was starting to contemplate what the rest of the day would hold. The sky was blue, the grass was a lush green and the white chalky paths made for a scenic contrast.

When running on your own it’s very easy to talk to yourself !! I commented out loud, “the heat is certainly building” !! As I crossed the road at Cocking there’s a steep hill and three quarters up it I noticed Mel from our running club. Yes, she’d run past me and not noticed and likewise I hadn’t initially twigged it was her.

The ironman tattoo on her calf and the Crusaders t shirt caught my eye, we discussed how these 12 miles or so had gone and then as the theme of the day would develop, she moved on ahead.

Around mile 13 I had my second wake up call of the day with a pain in my hip. I ignored it for a while and then decided to use some deep heat. The second pit stop at 16 miles appeared and after a quick chat with Aaron from FCRC, refills and some spectacular Tuna sandwiches I set off again on the long uphill country lane opposite. It was also good to chat again to DiscoDeb as her twitter name says 🙂

As with all climbs you may be walking (no one was running) but you can still be productive. I took my cap, sun tan lotion and more food out of my rucksack while walking with purpose !!

Once up on the Downs again a refreshing slight breeze helped but I decided to blast the hip pain with a double whammy. Paracetamol and more deep heat. By the woods up ahead and 18 miles I was hot and getting even more heated with the pain in my hip.

Granted the tablets hadn’t kicked in yet but my frustrations were heightened when I couldn’t find were I’d put the deep heat. I had a paddy, emptied virtually all my rucksack onto the trail and there it was. A couple of passing runners asked if they could help but I assured them I was fine, I was lying, I was annoyed.

In situations like these, in the middle of no where, there isn’t much choice but to press on so I used a combination of running and walking. The irony of being pissed off is that passing runners sense your frustrations and pass with either a knowing “I’ve been there” nod or they genuinely want to help.

Around this time Sabriana and her husband overtook me and I wished them well.

The kindness of total strangers immediately brought me down to earth 🙂 I knew the remaining thirty odd miles well from this point as we approached the first of the two Beacon Hills so I offered as much course knowledge advice as I could to everyone that enquired after my wellbeing. Trail runners are great people.

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With Beacon Hill staring us in the face this also meant basecamp wasn’t too far away and even though we had a series of hills to master with Harting Down the 2.5 miles or so to the camp are largely shaded and downhill or flat, all of which I knew would lift my spirits.

Running into basecamp at about 23 miles it dawned on me I’d been running for over five hours and was on the verge of only the second marathon distance I’ve run in 2019. These facts gave me a boost and I left the camp with a renewed approach. I think I saw Tracey from FCRC here but I’m a little cloudy on that one ?? The multi-coloured flags were waving in a slight breeze which was very welcome.

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The next coupe of miles were shaded which helped immensely as it was about 1pm by then and I was starting to get a headache. This could have been the heat or dehydration or stress with my hip but either way I needed a distraction to take my mind of it. My saviour was Su Baldock from Gosport Road Runners.

I’ve never met Su before, I just noticed she had a Gosport RR t shirt on. I know lots of GRR runners and without exception they are all friendly. We initially chatted in general terms and then when I mentioned I had a blog she told me my 2017 RTTK write up had been essential reading for a number of her fellow club mates which was very gratifying to hear.

As was the case for the whole race Su headed on in front of me and I set myself for the long gradual climb up New Barn Lane and the steep incline through Queen Elizabeth Country Park. I kept my sense of humour by imagining the many times I’ve run this lane but in the opposite direction. I tried to recall all my running friends that have accompanied me in this area and again the trail running community spirit spurred me on.

Once through QECP the legendary Butser Hill presented itself.

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Again I used the hill walk to eat and text my family to ensure they knew I was still alive even though it wasn’t all going to plan. Butser really hurt my hip, I was starting to suffer with the heat and to be honest I wasn’t in a good place. I knew the 31 mile pit stop was on top of the hill and I pondered on dropping out.

I’ve never DNF’d (Did not finish) so I refilled with liquids, flat diet coke and peanut butter sandwiches (which I hate) but it was good to get proper food inside me as well as gels and snacks. I must mention another positive from this race in that there were no single use plastic cups so my refill bendy cup came into its own. Well done RTTK for tackling plastic issues.

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I soldered on past the Sustainability Centre and down Salt Hill. The tough undulating downhill played havoc with two sore toes I’d largely been ignoring and for the first time in perhaps nine hours I actually stopped, sat down and contemplated what was my next step.

Yet again, the sound of a friendly trail running companion asking the way meant I could offer my local knowledge and consequently my mood was lifted. I told a few runners about the cold water tap at Meon Springs and their eyes lit up !! I poured more over my head than I drank 🙂

Old Winchester Hill was a slow walk and I entered the pitstops with a resigned demeanour, I was close to packing it all in. Zoe from FCRC passed me and we said hello briefly but I knew the end was in sight. I could have asked to be signed out there and then but I felt I owed it to myself to reach 40 miles. I plodded on.

The trig point on Old Wincheter Hill is a favourite location of mine but it wasn’t today, I was getting moody and the day was catching up with me. On the descent my hips and toes hurt but more than anything I knew I wasn’t enjoying it.

I’ve mentioned before that I sing to myself when running and as I contemplated my situation The Clash “Should I stay or should I go” came to mind. It was time to go.

I rang my wife and she came out to pick me up near Exton. So, 41.5 mile in approaching eleven hours with various stops and it was all over. My first DNF in 30 years.

The final irony was we still needed to go to Winchester to pick up my kit bag and at the same time I could officially register dropping out.

It was the right decision and I haven’t changed my mind. I still love trail running 🙂

Huge congratulations to everyone that finished. I managed 3/4’s of the distance on not enough training, a hot day and pain, others may have finished with a similar scenario but enough was enough for me.

I really appreciate the supportive comments that I’ve had on twitter, facebook and instagram from friends. I appreciate that they respected my decision and not one person offered sympathy because it wasn’t needed. I made the decision.

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I’m proud of the 41.5 miles that I covered and yes, “I’ll be back” !!

5,000 calories and all but one of the big hills covered meant my appetite has gone crazy. A Harvester breakfast was the only answer on Monday #dayoff .

Thanks for reading. Rog 🙂

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Winchester to Wickham 19 miles & 1 video

Saturdays run started by catching the 7.30am train to Winchester so this was the exact reverse of last week. After covering 25 miles a week ago I decided to cut my run short to 19 today and save my strength for Race to the King in three weeks time.

Videos are a new addition to my irunoffroad social media and I’ve had great fun experimenting with the two I’ve made so far. I’ve created a YouTube channel so feel free to subscribe for future running adventures, cheers.

After bumping into Jamie, Paul, Zoe and Tracey from Fareham Crusaders who were on route to Eastleigh for their own “train-ing” run I left Winchester in bright sunshine and good spirits.

The video above shows you Winchester Cathedral where Race to the King finishes, I then followed the South Downs Way up towards Cheeseford Head with fields of glorious poppies to the right and left of me.

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Once I’d passed the tank experience (also video’d) it was noticeable the trail was becoming busier with mountain bikers but to be fair they were all considerate by announcing their presence.

I chatted with Lidya from Winchester who’d caught me up. This is the beauty of trail running when you can chat with someone you’ve never met before but the conversation flows about why and where you are running.

Not long after I bumped into my good friend Paul Coates who was running in the opposite direction. We stopped for some banter which again is on the video.

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I pressed on towards Exton and then Meonstock Post Office for liquid refills. The temperature had increased during the morning and must have been around 20 degrees so I bought Lucozade as well as water.

Joining the Meon Valley trail I had seven miles to Wickham were I’d decided to cut my run shorter to 19 miles and my wife picked me up. Something she rarely needs to do.  I think its really important to listen to your body when you know you’ve pushed yourself but are still within your limits. I also had a quick chat with Karen Jenkins from the Crusaders along the old railway line.

My double marathon isn’t far away now so it’s taper time and flexibility work. Arriving at the start line uninjured and having flushed out the stiffness of long runs means you start with a degree of confidence even if I haven’t done the volume of training I’d liked to of due to issues earlier in the year.

Thanks for reading and watching 🙂

Roger

Fareham to Winchester 25 miles : RTTK video too

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I ran with my friend Jamie from Fareham to Wickham (5 miles), then along the Meon Valley Trail (7 more miles) to arrive at what will be the 40 mile point of Race to the Kings 53 miles.

I recorded a video to show the last 13 miles of RTTK i.e. the last quarter.

Please take a watch and maybe even subscribe to my YouTube channel. Thanks very much

Videos are fairly new to me so all comments are welcome 🙂 Thanks Roger