Monday, 29 March 2010

Two new challenges

We're almost a quarter through 2010 - how has your running been going? I hope that you've managed to stay injury free and get out on the roads and trails as much as you wanted.

I'm doing not-too-badly on my running new years resolution. By today, I should have run 120 miles of my 500 annual total. I've managed 98 miles. So a little behind, but still a lot better than I did last year. In fact, last year it was the end of August by the time I got to 98 miles... I'm hoping that as the summer comes I'll be able to put in a few more miles per week to catch up with my target.

The cycling target has had to take a bit of a back seat for now, with me having cycled only 88 miles out of a 1000 mile annual target. I should be up to around 240 miles by now. Cycling, however, is much more possible in the summer so hopefully this will pick up too...

So - what are my two new challenges to follow on from my successful half marathon?

Firstly, I have entered myself in the Timex Eton SuperSprint Triathlon on May 15th.

It's a 400m open water swim, 20km bike and a 5k run. I'm not too worried about the bike and run, but I think I will be one of the slowest on the swim... I'm going to stick my neck out with a race time prediction - 12 mins for swim, 40 mins for bike and 30 mins for run. Add in a few minutes for transitions gives me a total time of 1 hour 25 mins. That compares to a fastest time last year of 56 mins. My predicted time would have placed me 550th out of 868 finishers which sounds like an achievable target.

Secondly, I want to (still) be quite a bit lighter by the time I do the triathlon (now in a little less than 7 weeks' time).

For those who have read this blog for a while, you'll know that I was successful in losing quite a bit of weight last year, going down from 102kg to 90kg at my very lightest. In reality, I think that my more 'natural' weight at the time as aroun 92kg (food in the system, fully hydrated etc.). Over Christmas, I went up to around 95kg and now I'm at 94kg. My target is to get down well below 90kg by the time I do the triathlon - so around 1kg per week to get me down to around 87kg. That will be the lightest I have been (and hopefully the fittest I have been) since I was at university almost 20 years ago...

So from tomorrow I'm going to reinstate my box in the right hand column which tracks my daily weight - check in regularly (or subscribe through a reader) to keep up to date with how I get on!

I still owe you a post about my home made energy drinks and gels which I'll give you next time. I'll also show you how I got a cadence meter for my bike for less than £2 - a lot cheaper than Garmin wanted!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Sunday Silverstone success!

Following on from my last post, Sunday was the day of my first half marathon race, held on the Silverstone Grand Prix track. Overall, I would say it was a big success all around, and I finished in 2:08:15, placing me 3,286 out of almost 6,000 runners. Another way of thinking about this is that I beat 42% of the field, which I find rather surprising!

So, what was it like to haul my 95 kilograms around the course?

In a word, shattering...

The day started well. One of my friends was also running the race, and we planned to meet at the car park, but to go the 'back road' to Silverstone (I'm not giving away the route!) which probably saved us about 20 minutes in the queue to get into the car park.

Once in, we walked over to the paddock area where there were plenty of toilets (apparently not always provided at every race...) and a few trade stands, but we just headed for the cafe to have a drink, pin our numbers on and clip our timing tags to our shoes.

Before long, it was time to head out to the track. One last "pit stop" and then we head out onto the start/finish straight of one of the oldest motor racing venues in the world. My friend went through the "less than 2 hours" entrance and I went into the "greater than 2 hours" entrance.

Only another 15 minutes to wait and the race was underway! Well, actually it was a bit of a walk to the start line - I eventually crossed it about 4 minutes later, but not to worry because the timing tag would give me my own personal time...

The first few miles went rather well, other than having to overtake a lot of people who either (a) had overestimated their speed, so lined up closer to the front than they should have done, (b) didn't understand where they should have started given their speed, or (c) simply didn't care that they were a mobile road block in front of faster runners.

Funnily enough, down the first straight there were quite a few men standing against the crash barriers "lightening the load" if you know what I mean... I waited for a few more miles and then ran past a toilet block just off the track which I dashed into (all the time looking at my watch and saying to myself "pee faster!").

Things seemed to be going well until about 10 miles in when I started to slow and eventually put in a couple of walk breaks before crossing the line a few miles later...

Once my timing chip had been taken off, I felt broken. There was no other word to describe it. My knees, legs and hips were screaming in unison. Loudly.

I hobbled back to the exit of the track and walked through the tunnel where a very large crowd of supporters were welcoming their friends and loved ones. I now understand why people cry when they finish marathons - it was all extremely emotional and I wished that my wife had been able to make it.

The drive home was also painful, with my right leg in a constant cramp - I now know to take a lot more salt/electrolytes through a race like that (and afterwards).

Just a quick note on the organisation of the race. If you're in the UK and interested in doing a half-marathon, I can't recommend the Silverstone half marathon strongly enough. It's cheap (£15), has accurate timing, an iconic traffic free (and flat) course, a "big event" feel, lots of water and sports drink around the course, and a pretty good finishers bag (water, sports drink, chocolate milk, medal, t-shirt and a few other bits and bobs).

Okay, now I've done it, one final request for you to dig your hands into your pockets and sponsor me. I went through huge amounts of pain on Sunday. I'm also doubling the sponsorship of anyone that has already sponsored me (and will also double new sponsorship for a limited time) out of my own pocket. This is all worthwhile because I throughly believe in the work that my chosen charity (Save the Children) does, and the way it does it - it's one of the most efficient charities at making sure that the maximum proportion of donations goes directly to improving lives. That's why I ran, and that's why I'm doubling your sponsorship. Please do something great today and help the world's most vulnerable children.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Half Marathon tomorrow

I'm about to do the longest race I've ever done. Tomorrow, I'll race a half marathon. This is the half marathon I mentioned that I'd entered back in September last year. 13.1 miles. 21.1 kilometres. Over 20,000 foot strikes, each one compressing my feet, ankles, knees, hips...

In some ways, it's quite fitting that my first half marathon will be on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, on the same day that the 2010 Formula One season gets going again.

My training has gone relatively well, with comparatively little injury this time. As you know, I rested the last two months of 2009 to make sure my achilles healed. While frustrating, I now feel that this was time very well spent. And since that break I've been able to run fairly consistently. In fact, two weeks ago, I ran over 40 kilometres in one week - a much higher total than I've ever managed.

And in that week, I did the fastest 10k I've ever run (58:08) and at the end of the week, I ran the half marathon distance (in 2:09:31). A very positive week, and not something I could even have contemplated a year ago...

So just two more things to say.

Firstly, I'd be REALLY grateful if you could sponsor me. I'm running for Save the Children, the world's independent children's charity. This is surely all of us can get behind. And me in particular, given that my wife is now expecting twins (thanks to all of you who have sent your good wishes). Wherever you are in the world, if you have a credit card you can sponsor me (even though the website where my sponsor page is hosted is denominated in UK pounds). I know that any additional sponsorship I get between now and when I run (even if it's only a few pounds), will make the miles that much easier to run...

Secondly, I'm going to try a "home-brew" energy gel to help get me around the course. I looked at commercial energy gels but was completely shocked by the price, as well as the difficulty in getting everything I wanted from a gel. So I'm making my own. More details in my next post (as well as a report on the half marathon and how my DIY energy gels worked)!

So, I'm signing off for now to go and pack my race bag. Please wish me luck, and if you are able to then please sponsor me and support Save the Children's work.

Many thanks.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

2009 round up

How's that for procrastination? I originally wrote this on 1st Jan 2010, but am only now editing it to publish... From some of the emails I've received, I know you've been on the edge of your seats to hear how I'm getting on!

Well, 2009 has been quite a year for many reasons!

The biggest thing to happen this year, however, has nothing to do with running nor weight loss - the two principle subjects of this blog.

No, the biggest success of 2009 is that, after many years of trying, my wife is now pregnant. In fact, she's now 23 weeks pregnant with twins (the best "buy one get one free" deal there is!)

But you don't want to hear about that, you want to hear about weight loss and running. So how did I do over 2009 and what are my plans for 2010?

2009 new year resolutions

At the start of 2009 I set three simple new year resolutions around running, cycling and going to the gym, and hopefully weight loss would be the result...

Unfortunately I failed them all for no good reason. There were a few things which made them more difficult, but even taking those factors into account I would still have failed...

I planned to run 300 miles but only ran 140. Ok, so I've been injured for the whole of November and December with an achilles strain but that doesn't account for the difference between the resolution and what I did.

I planned to cycle 1000 miles but I only managed just over 300 (pitiful). On that front, my bike was off the road for 2 months while I had to fabricate a part which is no longer available off the shelf. And I also had 2 months during which my doctor said I couldn't ride - this was to maximise the chances of making my wife pregnant. As it has worked, I can hardly be bitter...

I also planned to go to the gym 100 times but only went 40 times instead. Perhaps just a bit too much given the amount of travelling I do?

Weight loss

Much better news on the weight loss front. Using intermittent fasting I lost around 10kg (or 12kg if you take peak to trough results). Here are afew posts about this...

Losing weight through intermittent fasting
Rapid weight loss success

Running performance

As you may know, I was quite consistent at doing the Wimbledon Common 5k each Saturday (at least until the start of November when I got injured). Weight loss and some specific speed work in the autumn helped bring my time down from around 30 mins to 26:51. So that was definitely a success.

New resolutions for 2010

Although we're already over 10% into 2010, let me share with you my resolutions...

Running - 500 miles (vs 300 target/140 achieved in 2009)
Cycling - 1000 miles (vs 1000 target/304 achieved in 2009)
Gym - 50 times (vs 100 target/38 achieved in 2009)

So far, things have been going quite well against these goals.

I'm particularly pleased on the running front where I've managed to incorporate a true "long run" into my training. In fact on Sunday I ran 15k (which for me is a very long run!! But as you may remember, I need to get up to 21k to complete the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon. By the way, sponsorship for this endeavour is still appreciated!!!

Running in January was a bit of a nervous affair. The streets in London were covered in wet slippery ice, and it was the first time I had run in 2 months, having taken that much time off in order to try to let my achilles heal.

After the first couple of runs, my achilles felt a little sore, and I worried that I'd come back too soon. However, if I hadn't come back in January, then I'd never have been in shape to do the half marathon in March. Definitely a case of being caught between the rock and a hard place / devil and the deep blue sea...

Anyway, this soreness appears to have now gone, even after the 15k run after which I just suffered the normal aches and pains of going further and longer than I'd gone before.

That's if for this post (it's been a long one hasn't it?!?!)

Just one final reminder - please sponsor me for the half marathon - everything is very much appreciated and it's for a very good cause!!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Another week, another 5k personal best

Someone told me that personal bests are like buses - you wait for one, and then three come along simultaneously.

That gave me some comfort when I hadn't had a PB in over two years of running... But a bit of weight loss and a bit more training has helped me to get EIGHT PB's in a row!!

My previous 5k PB before the summer was 29:14, set way back in March 2008.

After the summer, I started losing weight and getting fitter, and within 7 weeks of getting back from vacation, I got my first PB in over a year - 28:30. Wow I was chuffed with myself!

The next week I took another 17 seconds off, then 14, then 24, then 12, then 8, then 0 (we'll come back to that...), then 11, and last week I took another 25 seconds off the Fat Runner's 5k PB time to get to 26:56 - quite a drop in only eight weeks!

So, should I count the 'same time' result from 17 October as a PB? The reason I am doing so is as follows. The batteries in my Garmin Forerunner died within a few minutes so I had no idea how fast I was running. If I'd known that I was destined for the exact same time as I'd run the week before, then I'd definitely have pushed just a little more to get another second off... Is that fair?

We'll see how next week goes. Another PB may be tricky for two reasons.

Firstly, I took 25 seconds off last week, so I think that I was right at the limit of what I was capable of.

Secondly, I've got a sore achilles tendon 3 days after the run which might not fix in time, and I'm certainly not running on it this week so I'll be relying on gym work, swimming and cycling for any fitness gains this week.

Other news - as well as the half marathon I'll be doing in March next year (by the way - I'm still very eager for sponsorship - please support me!), I'm also signed up for a triathlon in May. Am I mad? Possibly...

Monday, 12 October 2009

Ups and downs...

In this post, read:

  1. How I got on at last weekend's Wimbledon Common Time Trial

  2. Current success at asking people to sponsor me for the Silverstone Half Marathon

  3. Recent weight loss progress

Wimbledon Common Time Trial
Another personal best! Admittedly, this time by only 8 seconds, but it's still a PB! And not bad given I'd had far too many glasses of wine the night before and I was very close to decided to have a lie-in on Saturday morning. So that's five personal bests in five weeks!

Sponsorship for Silverstone Half Marathon
So far, two fellow bloggers have been kind enough to sponsor me. Very kind, in fact, as they've never met me. And in fact, the first email I have ever received from the Virtual Runner was to say that he had sponsored me - what a star!
I'm still hoping for a lot more sponsorship, however. And any amount is helpful. Remember it's going to help children around the world. Give up your Starbucks for a day and sponsor me instead! The world's children and your waistline will thank you!

Recent weight loss progress
Not such a good story here unfortunately... I think I might have hit a weight loss plateau and I'm losing minimal amounts of weight per week at the moment.
I think, however, I know the reasons:

  1. Looking back at my exercise diary, I have not been working out as regularly as I was when I started this weight loss push a few months ago - time to get back to 5 sessions a week!

  2. I've also let myself start drinking again - not a lot, but I think it's still having an effect. And not just with the calories in the drink - I think it also has had an effect on the amount I've been working out, as well as the amount/type of food I've been eating

  3. Finally, I'm not eating as well as I used to. I'm still following Intermittent Fasting, but when I do eat, I'm not eating anywhere near as healthily as I was. Not helped by the fact that my wife had two birthday parties in the last week, both with three different cakes...

So, I'm going to have a good week this week - working out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, not drinking and getting back to the good way of eating I used to. I even made a large ratatouille last night which will be my vegetables for the next week or so.
Let's see if I can break this plateau!!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

First Sponsorship for my Half Marathon

Just a quick post - Susan from Catapult Fitness Blog has been kind enough to sponsor me for the Half Marathon I am doing next year.

I've been an avid reader of Susan's blog for a while now - her frequent articles about health, fitness and nutrition are always interesting, thought-provoking, well-researched and well-written. It's definitely worth a look! And as well as sponsoring me, she has even put up a post ("Running for a cause") on her website highlighting what I'm up to - what a star she is!

I wrote more about the half marathon as well as the charity I'm running for in my Half Marathon Madness post a week or so ago.

If you wish to donate, please follow this link to the Fat Runner's sponsorship page - it's all run by a third party who handles the money side so it doesn't flow through my hands (i.e., you can be sure the charity gets it!).

As someone who has sponsored me, Susan's blog now goes into the Sponsors box at the top right of this blog - if you wish to join her, while supporting a great international charity focused on child welfare, then click here.

Many thanks once again to Susan for getting the ball rolling!