National Get Outside Day Sept 30th

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To quote those enthusiastic people from Ordnance Survey (OS) Leisure …… On 30 September 2018, they want you to get active outdoors. Join in with a National or Regional event near you, or create your own adventure outside with family and friends.

For more information, just follow this LINK

I’ve long been a convert to the Great British countryside, it’s out there just waiting for you …. take in the fresh air, the scenery, the sights and sounds and you’ll be hooked, just like me 🙂

 

 

Goodwood Marathon

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Goodwood motor racing circuit was the venue for my first race in three months. OK, I realise that 26.2 miles of tarmac don’t exactly amount to off road but the location is only 35 minutes away and the track is such an iconic venue.

This initial photo is my favourite from the day. The historic Goodwood start/finish straight, Stig (possibly not the real Stig), Paul from Fareham Crusaders and Gosport road runners Steve, Catherine, Claire, Lisa, Katrina and Hayley.

With numerous other RunThrough uk races scheduled for the day our marathon started at 9am in pleasant conditions. The pre race warm up set the tone for a light hearted day running within a fairly small field, but a very supportive one.

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This photo from the warm up shows my friend Hayley adopting the New Zealand hakka, me clinging onto an imaginary bar above my head (for what ever reason) and Paul (the Brad Pitt lookalike) talking on his imaginary phone to his imaginary PR agent 🙂 Yes we were all raring to get started !!

Before the off there was just time for mine and Paul’s trademark photo with the motor racing pits behind us.

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The prospect of 11 laps might have put some people off, however, I was keen to use it as a good mental test. I spotted local blogger Anna who eventually placed as first lady in 3.26 and radio/running personality Vassos Alexander who finished in 3.22, the checked flag dropped and we were off.

Each lap of the track was about 2.4 miles and it varied with some gradual inclines and declines as well as the wind direction blowing across, in front and behind you. What I hadn’t considered previously was that there’s an aerodrome in the middle of the track !!

A good thirty or so light aircraft and helicopters were parked up with quite frequent arrivals and departures. I have to say the first time a plane landed above our heads it was quite amusing and quite close !!

With 11 laps there was only the need for one feed station but I was impressed with the number of marshals around the course who offered continued support on every lap. RunThrough had placed speakers to play uplifting music and then totally out of the blue two gentlemen in Mexican attire, complete with guitar and trumpet, added to our entertainment.

With there being a number of races held through the day we were regularly lapped or saw runners coming towards us. This did break up the day and it was great to see Andy Paton from Liss Runners charging along on his 10K.

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There were various motivational signs around Goodwood, with one that read “keep to the racing line” which I wasn’t totally sure was for us but again it made you think as we ran the twists and turns of the track.

I chatted with Hayley on my first lap and then later with Claire and Joanne. The support from the grandstand was a real boost but for the remainder of the time it was largely “you and your thoughts”.

One of the joys of running for me is to completely switch off and simply observe what’s around you. The South Downs in the distance, the aircraft and even the wind on your face or the sun on your back. Running is definitely my mindfulness.

Pace wise I stayed around ten minute miles but drifted slightly once past 20 miles. The mile markers were dotted around the track in reverse order which personally I wasn’t sure about but it did motivate me when it said 5,4,3,2,1 miles left !!

Both Paul and Hayley were a lap ahead of me and Anna must have lapped me twice but I only remember seeing her once 🙂 #oldage !!

I have to say I walked a few times on lap eleven due to a lack of training but with the marshals encouragement, the sight of the finish line and the ever supportive Gosport ladies, this was enough to carry me home in 4.42 which ultimately was a fair time for the day.

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Yes, I do look quite knackered but I achieved what I came for i.e. to get back on track and Goodwood was certainly a great place to do it.

One thought for the future …. the water came in the form of endless single use plastic bottles. It seemed such a waste with piles of them, some only half empty, scattered around the course. Naturally that also meant they needed picking up as well as going against the single use of plastic that’s becoming more frowned upon #savetheplanet.

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I liked this board …..”You will never win, if you never begin” it might not have been a quick time compared to the Berlin world record but I think all of us that entered should be proud of completing what is still the benchmark of distance running.

Thanks to RunThrough uk for a well organised day in a great location and an impressive t-shirt and medal.

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Happy Running everyone …………. thanks for reading and see you at the Isle of White marathon in four weeks.

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meon Valley Trail training

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Over the last month I’ve been using the Meon Valley Trail for my training. In its basic format the trail is a ten mile stretch of disused railway line that starts in Wickham and heads north to West Meon.

The trains may be long gone but this local gem has been resurfaced and now provides access for runners, cyclists, walkers, horse riders etc etc. The tree lined track gives shade from the sun but at the same time creates dappled sunshine markings ahead of you.

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Numerous bridges break up the essentially straight pathway and you are constantly reminded that you’re in the countryside with the birds in the trees, the occasional squirrel and sights of the surrounding fields.

You really can switch off as your miles tick by because with the exception of only a couple of road crossings the horizon in front of you is one long tunnel of green.

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Seven miles into the trail you’ll come across the South Downs Way signs to Exton and Eastbourne in their West and East direction. You pass old sidings that have laid asleep for decades as well as a privately owned station at Soberton.

Whats at the end of the trail I hear you ask ??? The remains of the West Meon station and a car park.

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All in all if you are in the Southampton / Winchester area I’d recommend it as a great route to run. There’s a gradual incline as you head North but naturally you benefit from this on your return.

Whether you are starting out on your running journey with a couple of miles or you use it as I’ve been doing for marathon training, the Meon Valley Trail offers something for everyone.

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For lots more information just follow this link MVT

Happy Running !!!

10 miles & an Air Traffic Control Tower #history

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I only had 90 minutes to play with today so I decided to take in an historic sight which has now been modernised. I do enjoy exploring the past, taking in the surrounding area and imagining what was taking place years ago. One such place locally to me is the Solent airport.

The airport was previously HMS Daedalus and the vast expanse of land is gradually being developed with new businesses, potential housing and an engineering college.

What I was really interested in was the runway that RAF planes had used in WW2 and the iconic control tower which would have masterminded all the comings and goings of British and other nationalities aircraft. In fact on June 6th D Day, 435 sorties were flown, the most by far of any UK airfield.

The recently modernised control tower also now has a café and they have done an excellent job of charting the airfields history and significance. If you are local you’ll need to approach the CEMAST college turn off and then turn left along the perimeter fence, past the new driving test centre and businesses.

Image-12 The helicopter straight ahead was an impressive sight but the boards that commemorated the sites history were even better.

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Image-15I’ve run past the outer perimeter fencing numerous times so now that the site has been opened up commercially it made a great detour but still meant I could gauge my ten mile run. My mile splits were all pretty even so I’m looking forward to pushing up the mileage.

Two cyclists were just arriving as I turned back on my return leg and with the café being open seven days a week as well as it having patio benches outside, a small slice of history can be taken in along with a slice of cake !!

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My aim for today was 10 miles at a steady 9 minute per mile pace which I was spot on. Its good to appreciate what the RAF and many others did for our country in desperate times. You could almost imagine the spitfires taking off.

Running isn’t always about pace and time, it can be about discovery and appreciation too. Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Goodwood Running Grand Prix : Marathon

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Goodwood’s famous motor racing circuit is the venue for a Running Grand Prix held by RunThrough . Yes it’s only 5 weeks away, however, its flat and I’m really excited to be lapping this historic course, even if a little slower than the drivers.

The venue is fairly close to me and I decided that before I amerce myself in Autumn trail running I’d have a pop at a tarmac surface that’s also in the countryside. So, it’s a case of packing in the miles and fine tuning my engine … ha ha … I’m more of a family saloon than a racing car 🙂 ……………and with quite a few miles on the clock !!

 

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I haven’t settled on my next trail race yet but I’m hoping it will be the Beachy Head marathon as its at the other end of the South Downs Way and I’m keen to explore that neck of the woods.

That’s it for this update, thanks for reading and enjoy your running 🙂

Me being interviewed by Alton Sports !!

Thanks very much to Nick from Alton Sports and Gosvegas Running for asking me to sit for one of the #redsofa interviews. The shop that’s located in Gosport caters for all of your running requirements along with Wednesday evening and Saturday morning free runs.

The Alton Sports shop and Nick are at the hub of our local running community.

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I’ve been running for 30 years now so the 7 & 1/2 minutes chat covered quite a few topics as well as my blogging. The shop offers Nick’s years of experience and a wide selection of shoes, clothing and accessories.

Image-10 The Gosport shop is Alton Sports fifth and I’m sure there will be a sixth and seventh in time to come !!

I feel privileged to have been asked and I hope you find it as entertaining as I did making it 🙂 Whether you are an experienced runner or someone setting out on your parkrun journey there’s great advice and stock just waiting for you.

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Have a great weekend and happy running 🙂

P.S. I’m chuffed to say that as of this evening the video has had 400 views on facebook and 80+ on twitter. Thanks for watching today.

 

 

 

Lanzarote Run

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My Strava account may suggest I ran considerably more than five miles but unless there was a hidden treadmill on the plane I can only take credit for the shorter journey. I think we owe it to our families to take breaks from our sport but when my wife said “why don’t you go for a run” I seized the opportunity.

An average week in the UK consists of a 9.5 mile round trip cycle commute Monday to Friday, a long run at the weekend and fitting in a couple of cheeky short runs when I can.

In comparison with an all inclusive week of glorious food and alcohol, on tap (literally) it was a relief to be lacing up my trainers. Don’t get me wrong I’m as good at overindulgence as the next runners …. for example, when you can’t make up your mind between vodka and orange or vodka and lemon …. have them both 🙂

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I left the complex at around 6.30 pm on a balmy evening with the every present Lanzarote breeze in my face and the seafront ahead of me. The breeze can fool you into thinking it’s cooler than it is but the fact that I could wring out my t shirt when I got back just proved how warm it still was.

The volcanic nature of the island made for contrasting views on my run, lush green palm trees on the one hand and dark colour sand in comparison.

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Before taking on the seafront and its hurly burly I couldn’t resist planting my footsteps on the sand nearest to me. If the dark sand looked like it could have come from the moon then my solitary steps must have been like “Neil Armstrongs”.

I weaved my way between the locals and tourists and took note that the two meter wide cycle lane was also a popular alternative. Yes that’s right a cyclist shouted at me to get out of his lane … well I guess that was what he said judging by his hand gestures.

One feature that reoccurred a number of times along my route were these heart shaped padlocks. The various messages were interesting to read but I decided to press on 🙂

20180716_164647 I ran at a comfortable pace and made mental notes of interesting places I’d like to return to, on our walks into town. The coast may have been immediately to my left but a glance over to the right revealed the towering reminders of this volcanic island.

375BB3BE-B5A0-4DC6-A9B2-07B582A37FB0 Suffice to say I could have kept on running and exploring but I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything for well over an hour … ha ha …. so I turned around near the giraffe, yes you read that correctly, the giraffe and headed for home.

18564789-1FBE-4867-964D-B975A62CBF2BRunning literally broadens your horizons and even though I’d only been out for three quarters of an hour I’d thoroughly enjoyed my trot. OK a number of people had looked at me with questioning expressions, like … “running”, on holiday, really ?? but as you’ll know when it’s part of your life its a habit that’s hard to break.

All that was left to do was to concentrate on some hydration ….. holiday style 🙂

Cheers.

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Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE talks Parkrun

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Solent University’s huge lecture theatre screen gave the 100 + guests attending an evening with Mr Parkrun himself, Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE the opportunity to watch and hear from a man who has realised his running vision. Hosting the evening was Mathew Fleet (who’d invited me) a lecturer at Solent, a fellow Fareham Crusader and an avid parkrun enthusiast.

Mathew underlined just how parkrun Southsea has had a huge positive effect on his family with photos of him running with his daughters and his brother, a nice personal touch when introducing Paul. The photo below is of our host, our speaker and the funky Solent University.

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The running community were out in force this evening, bloggers, parkrun directors, junior parkrun directors, running event organisers, dedicated parkrun volunteers and park runners. I recognised a good ten people from our local area.

What I liked most about the evening was that Paul Sinton-Hewitt (lets go with PSH) charted the emergence of parkrun right up to its current position of potential world domination with frequent references to the many contributors that make up the slices of  a parkrun pie.

Naturally a large slice is PSH himself, he currently holds the title of Founder which seems to suits him very well in that he can spend time talking to audiences such as ours, while still having an influence on the wider activities of this ever expanding phenomenon.

The parkrun pie first came out of the oven on October 2nd 2004 with 13 runners attending the Bushy Park time trial. This free, timed, 5K run with results and coffee to follow was pretty much the same as it is today. It expanded through the London suburbs, spread to Leeds via Marathon Talks Tom Williams, through the UK and around the world.

The ingredients for the parkrun pie haven’t really changed from the list PSH cooked up in 2014. Community running for absolutely anyone in the community, no charges and an open invite to return whenever it suits you.

From listening to PSH he talked with both affection and pride regarding probably the biggest slice of the parkrun pie, the volunteers. After all the runs quite simply wouldn’t function without these guys. When he said parkruns were free in every sense of the word ultimately I guess volunteers are free to come and go but they appear to have built up their own separate community. Paul used the phrase “giving something back” which sums up the volunteers contribution.

He mentioned the fact that naturally runners volunteered but many of the people who contribute never run themselves.

With PSH developing the registration system from his IT background then this really did enable him to keep everything at the grass roots level. Paul also acknowledged that the post run coffee and conversations were as much a part of the volunteering as the encouragement.

I’ve only volunteered once but I must admit but they certainly were “giving” me all I needed.

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Finally the runners, walkers and joggers slice of the pie comes in all sorts of flavours . PSH noted the positives, female participation is higher in parkruns than club races, families run together, Dads cheer on their wives and kids, both parents look on with pride at the junior parkruns, buggy and dog runners are welcome, disabled runners are catered for and the list goes on and on.

The nature of a weekly event means progress can be measured from walking to jogging to running. Whether this translates into entering races is more of an invitation than an expected consequence.

Most importantly a parkrun is just that, a run, through pleasant surroundings and not a race. PSH clearly felt this was a major key to its success.

With parkruns in prisons, parkruns in less advantaged areas and doctors being urged to prescribe the running social engagement of parkruns rather than pills the future looks bright.

So in summary his audience listened with 100% attention and followed it up with a variety of interesting questions. I intend to post this blog to as many non running social media outlets as running ones because parkrun has so much to offer the people that haven’t discovered it. Thanks for reading.

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Generally speaking pies are frowned upon were healthy living is concerned but the parkrun pie has changed lives, probably extended lives and developed a community that’s free to access at 9am every Saturday.

An inspiring evening from an inspiring man.

PSH …….Mr Parkrun, thank you.

 

 

South Downs Marathon #hills

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When you set your alarm call for 5.15am you know it’s going to be a long day but more importantly you know you’ve committed yourself to a challenging day. What’s life without challenges ….. boring !!

Running along the South Downs Way guarantees you amazing views of the countryside that haven’t changed a great deal for decades. Time stands still on the Downs and that’s why trail runners love it, what you can’t avoid are the hills. Some 3,000 feet of elevation awaited us. This will be my second marathon in three weeks after the great Dorchester marathon.

With Slindon college being our starting point 209 Events had organised coaches to drive us from the finish at Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP) to the start. I boarded our coach with Fran and Rachel from Fareham Crusaders who also ran the Dorchester marathon three weeks previously. I offered a few thoughts from running the race in 2015 and as we arrived there were menacing clouds above the college.

We quickly bumped into Hayley from Gosport Road runners and Emma Bird from Pompey Joggers. Emma has reached the dizzy hights of a 100 mile run and Hayley has been accumulations a few marathons recently. Completing the line up was Mark Highland who I’d met for the first time last week.

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Hayley’s GRR yellow kit was a contrast to the black clouds above the college 🙂

The first task of the day is to work your way up onto the top of the Downs, this combines four miles and nearly 500 feet of climbing. I spotted both Hayley and Emma ahead of me on the initial country lane but as we started the climb they eased away. The contrasting open field tracks and oppressive humid woods meant for an interesting introduction to the day.

I’ve learned that if you need to walk three miles into a marathon it doesn’t mean you’ve failed it means you are spreading out your energy.

Once onto the Downs the familiar chalky trail with flint stones poking out at random intervals meant you do need to keep half an eye on where you’re running as well as marvelling at the views for miles.

Talking of views the South Downs don’t need arrows to signpost a hill, you quite simply can’t miss them. This beauty just kept giving and giving at around 7 & half miles.

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I couldn’t resist stopping for a second to take this photo. Runners disappearing over the horizon as far as the eye can see. The camera may not show the gradient quite so well but this is another 300 feet or so. Hill two on the profile below.

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With ten miles fast approaching my drinks strategy of 500ml an hour was going well due to the humidity as much as the sunshine. The half way drinks station offers a bitter sweet mixture of refilling your drinks and the prospect of the third big hill in the distance. I took this photo a little too early but the trail ahead winds its way up the lighter green fields towards the horizon that isn’t forested.

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Setting off on this third hill I knew half of it was tarmac and the remainder harder going rougher trail. Course knowledge can be invaluable on these occasions. I made the most of the tarmac and used fast walking where appropriate.

At this point I think its worth pointing out that walking can actually be quite constructive. I eat my energy bar and collected my thoughts as to what remained, as well as the pace I’d need to finish under five hours.

The next section between 17.5 and 20 miles has a steep grassy hill followed by a shorter chalk hill that’s very rough underfoot. These 2 1/2 miles would go a long way to what my final average time was. These are hills where everyone around you is walking, everyone is grimacing and there’s very little talking. A fast walk can be quite effective and I overtook a few runners.

Leaving the 20 mile National Trust Harting Down feed station I had again used the walk to calculate what I’d needed to do on the undulating smaller “cheeky” hills that remained. Timing wise I was ahead of schedule and there was still the bonus of the last mile being largely downhill.

The last 6,5,4,3 miles did hurt but I was gaining in confidence and emotion because 2015’s 4.58 looked very achievable. At mile 25 we reached the glorious downhill into QECP !!

I crossed the line in 4 hours 52 minutes which I was very pleased with. My SKINS socks had done me proud on my first marathon wearing them. For a full write up on SKINS take a look on the menu of my blog.

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Marathons are a metaphor for life …. it’s testing, you are in it for the long haul but ultimately you get out of it what you put in. Thank you 209 Events for an emotional, hard and rewarding experience.

Thanks to Emma who cheered me in after her amazing 4.19 time and to Nick from Alton Sports who I also chatted to after the finish. A huge well done to Mark with his fabulous 3.43 and Hayley with 4.37 . Equally well done to Fran and Rachel for their heroic 5.48’s on a tough course were on the brave actually entered never mind finished.

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It was all smiles after my second marathon in three weeks. Running off road is scenic, exhilarating and challenging but most of all it’s so rewarding. The sense of achievement to take on mother nature and come out smiling is what its all about.

And finally ……….. free race photos are always a bonus !!

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Happy trail running, I run off road, we run off road 🙂