Monthly Archives: October 2013

Inspire me Wednesday #12

“The doctor told me ‘Man, if you don’t stop this lifestyle you will die‘. So I started running, and it changed my life.”

In 1987, Christian Schiester was a 20-year-old weighing 100 kilos, smoking 40 cigarettes a day and drinking a lot. But after a sobering message from his family doctor he suddenly turned his back on that life and set out on the road that would lead to his becoming one of the greatest extreme runners in history…

  • First run – 3 minutes before a walk break.
  • First 10km run – ended at eight kilometres exhausted by the roadside.
  • First race – 7km, completed,  but beaten in the sprint finish by a 72 year old.
  • First Marathon – 1990. New York Marathon: 952nd in 3:02:36.
  • Three years later – 1993. Graz marathon: 5th in 2:29:07.
  • 10 years later – 2003. Marathon des Sable 250km: 12th place.
  • 1 year after that – 2004. 100mile Himalayan Stage Race. 1st place.
  • And it continues…

Anyone can change their life. 

How are you changing your life this fine Wednesday?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Autumn finally arrives in Southern England!

I’ve been seeing so many posts from people who are enjoying the autumn/fall change in the trees while out on their walks/runs, but here in southern England we’ve had a beautiful extended summer (I’m not complaining!) and autumn has been delayed.

Finally however it looks to have arrived in force! Some stormy weather over the weekend has brought with it cool, crisp and fresh air and a nip in the air that means the real start of winter running.

I went for a run this morning through Hampstead Heath in the autumnal sunshine (thanks to the end of daylight saving) – crisp air, dewy grass, Garmin on silent – and was greeted with this vibrant display of colours. Autumn is finally here!

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Are you enjoying the change in season where you are? I hope so!

Happy running everyone.

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Motivate Monday! #11

running-inspiration-the-future-depends-on-today

What are you planning to do today?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Post Marathon : Where to next?

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.”
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

The marathon is over, and running-wise I’m a little adrift. I wouldn’t really call it the post-marathon blues; I just feel like the wind has gone from my sails. Goals wise, I’m boxing the compass with different ideas and suggestions coming from all corners. A 50km here, another marathon there, a half-marathon on yonder horizon. OK, OK. I’ll drop anchor on the nautical theme (sorry, just could not resist one more!) and get on with it.

I’m sure this lull is just temporary, they almost always are, but the loss of a target in front of me has let the momentum fall away. To be honest, I’m enjoying it. With the pressure of the marathon released I’m coasting along, taking time enjoying not running (sleeping in on a Tuesday and Thursday is awesome!) and pondering what’s next. In retort to Seneca: “As I have no port to which to sail, no wind is needed”.

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Image credit

Now, to be fair, I’m not completely without a goal. Not having anything to look forward too after the marathon is truly a recipe for the post-marathon blues, a horrible condition afflicted upon runners who have focussed solely on completing a marathon and suddenly find themselves deflated, depressed and wondering “what’s next?” as they find themselves without a goal after so many months of building up.

To ensure I don’t fall pray to the PMBs I’ve set myself some mini-goals to cover the next month. They don’t take much effort, and are designed to ensure I recover physically and mentally from the marathon fully before embarking on the next challenge.

Mini-goal 1 : Recover

It was Frank Shorter, American running great who said “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming” and I think that is a really good piece of advice. If you can still remember those tedious pre-dawn starts to go running in the rain, or that 20 mile run you moved to Saturday morning so you could go to your friends birthday party on Saturday night, then your mind isn’t yet ready to embark on the next build-up phase. You’ll just burn out.

With that in mind I’m following a Hal Higdon post-marathon recovery trick – the reverse taper. Put simply I’m reversing my taper for the next three weeks – I.e. go from basically nothing for a week, to two or three runs in the second week, back to three-to-four runs in the third week, adding back in my cross training. This way I can ensure I recover and don’t push to hard to run before I’m mentally and physically ready to be running that much.

Mini-goal 2 : Recharge

I’m going to use the next few weeks or month to recharge. Recharge my body and my mind. Let any body stressors calm down. Let my Achilles heel niggle settle, get my ITB to relax, my 2nd toe joint to stop being inflamed. All those little chinks in my armour that will develop into full-on rents if I push back into running too quickly. I also want to do some of those things I had to postpone due to marathon training, like going to a theatre show on a Thursday night instead of doing a 10 mile run, spending some quality couch time with my girlfriend watching a movie without falling asleep because I did 26km earlier in the day, and drinking that extra glass of wine with dinner because, well, I want too.

Mini-goal 3 : Focus on others

Running, especially marathoning, is a selfish endeavour. It requires dedicated hours of self-focus every week as you churn miles and make sure you get in your complimentary exercises. For me, this is all solitary, excepting my (newly joined) yoga class with my girlfriend.

Luckily, the start of the Running Group that myself and my friend Matt have started has coincided with the completion of the marathon. Yesterday was the first run of the group, taking about 12 people on a 5km circuit around Regents Park. This was also my first run since the marathon, and it felt good to be able to run with others, and without a time pressure. The running group also takes the focus of running away from my own running, and allows me to concentrate on others.

Mini-goal 4 : Back to basics

Over the next month my goal is to get back to a base level of running of three times per week, covering about 30km. Without any races in the close future I’m in no hurry to get back into a training schedule where every run has a purpose. I’m looking forward to a few weeks/months where I can run for enjoyment and self satisfaction only, without any overriding performance targets. Though judging by my ‘boxing the compass’ comment above it’s likely to be weeks, not months…

 

With my four mini-goals above I hope to be able to recover mentally and physically from the marathon while at the same time rejuvenating my running by removing the pressures of distances and pace. And hopefully I’ll keep the post-marathon blues at bay!

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon Palma de Mallorca 2013 : Race Recap

Only 600 metres!“, “Only 500 metres!“, “Only 400 metres. Come on! You can do this!!!“. You get the idea. There was A LOT of positive self-motivation required in the last stages of the Marathon Palma de Mallorca on Sunday. A lot. More than I’ve ever needed to finish any race.

Pre race:

Jumping back to the beginning – my pre-race was not optimum. Both myself and my running buddy Mark had colds. Sunday morning’s pre-race routine had to be amended to include a very hot shower with lots of coughing to loosen the phlegm off my chest and (gross-out alert) blow out some serious amounts of sticky yellow/green snot, along with adding a double dose of both Ibuprofen and Sudafed to my usual pre-race meal of oatmeal bars, Gatorade and two energy gels.

Our accommodation was 3km from the race start, giving us a perfect opportunity to warm up with some walking and jogging (plus more coughing and snot). Mark and I noticed it felt really warm – a temperature display en route was showing 22 C (72 F), and that it was pretty humid as well.

At the race centre we were able to swiftly complete bag check, have our last toilet break, complete our warmup and make our way to the corral, arriving with about 8 minutes to spare. I turned on my Garmin and this also showed me my heart rate was high. Just standing around it was already higher than my recovery run HR. Hoping it was just nerves and caffeine on top of the cold I yelled out the ten-second countdown with everyone and cheered as the gun sounded and the music started.

First 10km:

The race was crowded but the first wave thinned quickly enough that we were able to hit our pace with very little zig-zagging. The race took us south-west out of the city centre and along the marina. Very nice but the port turned to ‘industrial’ about the 4km mark and the view wasn’t great until about 7km when we returned to the yacht moorings on the way into the old city. Seeing our girlfriends twice along the route was however a big bonus and we pushed to the 10km point in high spirits, and with a target to run 5’32″/km the first 10km were covered at perfect pace coming in at 5’31” average.

Still feeling good at the 11km mark, with the La Seu Cathedral in the background

Still feeling good just after the 10km mark, with the La Seu Cathedral in the background

10km – 21.095km

Feeling good after the first 10km we pushed into the hilly portion of the race with a plan to maintain that same pace. This part of the race was the most scenic as we climbed from the port into the old town, past designer shops, great restaurants and fantastic buildings. There was the odd 180 degree turn which felt like the course organisers were having to make up the distance, but overall it was very enjoyable. Especially at around the 18km mark when you pop out from a very tight cobbled street onto the piazza in front of the cathedral. The girls had also made their way here so that was a highlight point of the race.

Back past the La Seu Cathedral, feeling 'two thumbs up' at the 19km mark

Back past the La Seu Cathedral, feeling ‘two thumbs up’ at the 19km mark

Pacing wise, we both have Garmins but the buildings and narrow streets of the old town were affecting our satellite link and the watches went crazy. One time my watch was reporting that we were busting along at 4’45” pace, while Mark’s was saying 6’05”. There was a bit of confusion so we figured we’d just average our watches and see what happened. Overall we came out of the old town section in 5’25” average, a little fast, but feeling strong.

21.095km – 30km

Into the third section of the race and at about 23km Mark started to tighten up and our pace dropped. We stuck together however I acted as the pacer and pushed out a bit (keeping about 30m in front) so Mark had a ‘chasing’ target to keep up with. We had a quick catch up at the aid stations and push out again. This was also the most boring part of the marathon. Running out of the city, with the sun in your face and into a 19kph headwind at times, we spent most of the time on a major road which was open to (slow moving) traffic in the other lane. In terms of scenery there wasn’t really any of note, though the people in cars were blasting out music, honking horns and being really supportive which helped.

When we passed the 30km timing check there was only a 15 second split between us and although our pace for the last section had dropped to 5’54″/km, as we made the turn-around back towards Palma we were still on pace for a 3:53 finish.

30km – 42.2km

We were both flagging as we pressed on into the last section of the race, and while a sub-4:00 marathon still looked possible, it was certainly looking very hard. At our little powwow at the 31km point Mark told me to go ahead as he was bonking badly and needed to walk.

Feeling OK at this point I pushed on and increased my pace to 5’45″/km to see if I could go for a 3:51 and sneak a few seconds off my PB. And that was the singular worst decision I made all day…

Up to this point my heart rate had been high, sitting close to my threshold. While I had been strong up to 30k and pushed through the 20mile barrier without issues, as I turned into the dunes at 34km, with the hot sun on my back and strangely no wind to cool me, the going got tough. Quickly. Out the window went the PB, with a reset to a 4:00 target.

I don't seem to be having much fun in this photo! Hard yakka running at this point!

I don’t seem to be having much fun in this photo! Hard yakka running at this point!

I kept pushing on but at 36km I learned a valuable lesson – what I thought was ‘the wall’ in my previous marathons was merely a bonk and a corresponding drop in pace. At 36km I suffered a spectacular blowout complete with dizziness, goosebumps, inability to focus, numb hands, tingling arms and a slow down to a staggering walk. At this point I got seriously worried about a DNF but I ‘got my shit together’ and decided to just walk to the next aid station and regroup there. Once there I drank sports drink, took another energy gel, as well as some sport beans and half a banana from the refreshment table. After downing this lot I grabbed two water bottles and started walking, slowly but steadily trying to get the water into me. I had a look at my situation and figured out that if I walked all the way to the end I would still be able to beat 4:30, and revised my goal again.

On a downhill section around 37km I was able to start running again, but walked up the next hill. Run, walk, try and sort myself out mentally (easier this time thanks to tips I learnt from Grateful Running), run, walk. Doing this I figured I actually had a shot at 4:15 if I kept it up, so revised my goal again.

And that was basically how it went until Mark managed to catch up with me at the 38km point and we (he) decided we would finish together. From then it was a ‘run to the next km marker‘ plan, from where we walked for about 200 or 300m before running on to the next km marker.

42km point. Mark looks fresh. Me not so much...

42km point. Mark looks fresh. Me not so much…

As we entered the final stages of the race the crowds picked up again which provided a boost and as we ran past the 41km marker we saw the girls cheering us again. Much as I would have liked a hug and a kiss, I couldn’t stop. If I stopped I wouldn’t start again and I wasn’t past the finish line yet. It was nice to hear the yell from my girlfriend “Don’t stop! Keep going, you’re almost there!” and this kept me going, with me counting down each 100 metres as we went, crossing the line in 4:09:30.

751/1488 overall : 142/190 age group

751/1488 overall : 142/190 age group

Mile 26.3

After the race I needed a couple of minutes to take stock and re-group, but I quickly recovered and found my energy returning. By the time the girlfriends met up with us Mark and I were (half-heartedly) doing our post-race stretch session so we called it a day and walked through to the race entertainment area, got some free Gatorade, Coke, beer (alcohol free – yuk!) and more fruit. Bags retrieved, showers had, it was time to head into the city and begin the recovery, but more on that in another post…

Later that day I had a look at the weather report. Turned out that at race start the humidity was 94%, staying really high for the first half of the race, until the temperature began rising to the max of 26 C (79 F) and 74% humidity at the end of the race. No wonder we couldn’t get cool out on the course and certainly part of the reason I so spectacularly ‘lost it’ near the end!

Marathon-Palma-de-Mallorca-weather

Going forwards

Overall not my fastest race, however given the fact I had a cold and was popping Sudafed throughout the race (shhh – don’t tell my doctor), I’m really happy that I managed to pull it together to complete after hitting ‘the wall’ big time. In fact, having had a few days recuperation I would say it was my best marathon of three, despite being 18 minutes off my PB – in this race I was able to pace well, follow a plan, and do all this while ill. And the most important part, when the wheels fell off I was able to regroup physically and mentally, revise my goal and keep going.

The race itself is also a good one, held in a beautiful city. I will put up a race review soon for anyone thinking of taking a race-cation to Spain next year.

In the meantime,

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Blogging and Running

Today I was going to post a recap of my marathon, however when I opened my dashboard in WordPress I noticed an interesting fact.

99 posts. 

99 posts. That got me thinking. The next post would be 100 posts. Did that mean anything? I decided it did. Not really the number itself, but what the number represents. I see it as a milestone, a marker point along a journey, one I didn’t know where I was being taken, nor who I would meet along the way. And I think that’s the crux of it, really.

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Some 6 months ago I started this blog, when I was injured. I’d been off running for several weeks already and I figured that if I couldn’t be running, I may as well be talking about running. Maybe that’s a puerile thing to say but I embarked on the blog anyway. With absolutely no clue about what I was doing or how to do it – I figured I would learn along the way. So here I am, 100 posts later still without much of a clue, but thankfully free of injury!

Anyway, I digress. What this post is really about is not about what started me blogging, but why I keep blogging. And the answer really is simple. You. I didn’t know what to expect when I started blogging, however the one big thing I hadn’t even imagined when I started blogging was the people that *make* blogging. You guys. I had no idea that out there is a fantastic group of bloggers who run, all with their own amazing blogs, all part of a real community. And you all welcomed me into to the fold, shared your story, and joined in mine.

Ok, this is turning into a schmaltz-fest reminiscent of a late-90s Oscars award speech so I’ll wrap it up here with a “Thanks everyone for reading!” and a list of some of my favourite blogs that I’ve come across to date. These people have all got amazing stories, sometimes funny, almost always inspiring, and they are top people to boot, and they have become an important part of my blog world. Unfortunately, I can’t list everyone on my reading list, because, well, I’d be here until it was time to be writing my 200th post…

In no particular order:

  1. Tom from 278toBoston. Tom’s story about why he started running is just great; he is a prolific poster and a thoughtful and frequent commenter.
  2. Anne-Marie from Unsporty Women Can Run. Anne-Marie, who is now a SportyWoman by the way, has progressed from self-confessed ‘unsporty’ to being about to run the world’s toughest half marathon.
  3. Maybe Marathoner. Always insightful, and always hilarious. And she has a bad dog who’s actually a good dog in disguise.
  4. Relentless Forward Commotion. Interested in OCR? Get your fill here with some great race recaps, reviews and a super story along the way.
  5. Andy from Imarunnerandsocanyou. Andy has a great blog, and is quite the authority on racing in and around the North East of the US, not to mention a pretty handy marathoner as well.
  6. CJ from One Day at a Time. About to embark on her NYC marathon adventure, CJ has been taking it one day at a time as she gets back into running.
  7. Mind Margins. Angela is a runner and outdoor enthusiast who just happens to have a very different goal for the time being.
  8. Miss.Onceuponamarathon. An avid cook who happens to like the odd marathon. Or is it the other way around? Now she is recovering from injury, she’s also become a handy distance swimmer too!
  9. From Snickers to Marathon. A self confessed couch potato turned fitness fanatic, OCR devotee and marathoner.
  10. Laura from Lazy Girl Running. Laura has taken herself off the sofa and into running, then swimming and cycling. With marathons and other things along the way, Laura recently completed her first Ironman 70.3. Laura is also the inspiration behind the Running Group my friend and I have started – my girlfriend is a member of Laura’s running group!
  11. Tartan Jogger. Much to love about the adventures in slow running of this Scottish lass, who doesn’t mind a bit of fancy dress while running some of her (not so slow) untimed runs she squeezes between her altogether more competitive endeavours.
  12. Angry Jogger. There is nothing like reading a post by Matt to split your sides. And this guy doesn’t shy away from telling some home truths about how it is to be an Angry Jogger. The most valuable thing I’ve learnt from Matt is to always check what I’m wiping with…

So, onwards to the 101st post. I really need to get my race recap written…

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Inspire me Wednesday #11

Wednesday. Hump Day. Time to find some inspiration…

“The truth is, greatness is for all of us. This is not about lowering expectations, it’s about raising every last one of us…”

What makes you great?

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Motivate Monday! #10

imageHappy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon Palma de Mallorca 2013

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D.O.N.E.

Now that was a tough one!
I learnt today that my ‘hitting the wall’ in my previous two marathons were in fact merely bonks and a drop in pace.

In today’s race kilometre 36 included a spectacular blowout complete with dizziness, goosebumps, loss of focus, numb hands and tingling arms and a slow down to a staggering walk. The last 6km was a run-walk affair, but I got there in the end.

Not my best race however given the fact I had a cold and was popping Sudafed throughout the race (shhh – don’t tell my doctor), I’m really happy that I managed to pull it together after ‘the wall’ to complete.

I’ll put up a proper race recap and a race review once I get back to London, but for now I’m going to enjoy the post race tapas, some Cava, and beers. Many beers…

I hope everyone else’s races went well this weekend, and for those who did, I really hope you avoided the wall. Because now I know what ‘the wall’ really is I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!

Happy running everyone!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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Marathon Palma de Mallorca : The Final Countdown

“Daahhhh, da duh duh duh…dah daahhhh daahhhh…dadadahhh…”

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It’s in your head now too, isn’t it? Sorry about that.

There’s a bit less than 16 hours to go until race time. And I still haven’t shaken this stupid cold. Last night I barely slept, due to the coughing and sniffling. This also meant my girlfriend didn’t sleep much either, so there were two grumpy heads this morning.

Still, onwards and upwards. My race buddy is over from the USA for this race with his girlfriend, so the four of us went for a walk through the old town of Palma de Mallorca to do some sightseeing in between breakfast and lunch, along the way doing our race-pack pickup and timing chip scanning.

As it turns out my friend also has a cold, which started one day earlier than mine. We figure it’s the stress on our bodies from the marathon buildup that weakened our immune system, but I think it’s probably more coincidental. He lives in NYC, I live in London. Two places with less-than-sparkling-clean underground systems, and it is well and truly the start of cold and flue season. We were just unlucky, that’s all.

So, 15 hours and 16 minutes to go until the start. I have between now and then to sort out this cold. I’ve been hydrating and carb-loading so that’s OK. I’ve skipped my shakedown run that I would normally have done in favour of rest – our apartment is about 3km from the start line so we’ll jog 1-2km of that tomorrow morning to combine our shakedown and warm-up. And then we’ll run…

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We’ve had a good chat about strategy and as we’re lacking a bit of conditioning due to illness we’ve decided to play-it-by-ear with regards to goal time. The first 10km we will run at 4-hour pace (about 5’32″/km) and decide from there how we feel and whether we push for sub-4 hours or take the foot off the gas and aim for 4:15 (or worst case we are knackered and simply go for a ‘completion’).

We’ve also agreed that after the half-way point we’ll decide if we stay together or split up, depending on how we are individually feeling. Ideally we’d like to cross the line together at 3:59, but it’s important that we’ve discussed and agreed our strategy so that there is no confusion in the race. A marathon is an intensely personal experience, which will change from mile to mile, so agreeing that we will split up if one can’t hang with other BEFORE the race eliminates possible disagreements during the race. The last thing either of us want is feeling like we need to stay with the other, or the other feeling like they are holding the other back. Racing with friends is complicated at the best of times, but the marathon kicks it up a notch…

Now for a siesta, and hopefully I’ll wake up feeling a bit better than I do now!

Has anyone else run a marathon with/just after a cold before? What am I getting myself into?

Happy running everyone! And big ‘ups to everyone else who is racing this weekend!

Bernie

Get Going, Get Running!

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