Wednesday 30 December 2015

Phoenix River

Phoenix River Marathon  3:56:51

Views great
This was with Phoenix Running in Walton-Upon-Thames on their long course. I did this course before in Nov 2014 and the weather was some of the worst I have ever seen and the whole course was waterlogged. It was a real slog fest.

Sky on the way in
Today however it was the opposite and on the 27th of December we had
Sun, Dry, Mud-Free, Puddle-Free, 13 degrees with very little wind. Near perfect conditions. On the drive into London the sky was amazing and red from early.

At 6.6 miles out and backs 4 laps was a marathon. Around 100 were here for the race. As a nice addition to this race series the local leisure center was open for registration, toilets and showers afterwards.

There were 2 fully stocked aid stations at each end of the course with
Registration in the leisure center
further toilets at the turn around. The last time I was here it was a disappointing 4:43. Today was going to be different.
And home

I started off steady enough breaking the race into 8 sections. 30 minutes each would be a 4 hr marathon. I was tracking Michael and the Fox for most of the race and there were a few that went off fast. I was only lapped by the winner though who came in with a very impressive 2:53.

Splits were pretty even and as I came through half way in 1:54 a sub 4 was on.

1   28:40
2   57:27      (29:13)
3   1:25:48   (28:39)
4   1:54:59   (29:11)
5   2:24:36   (29:47)
6   2:54:37   (29:59)
7   3:25:04   (30:27)
8   3:56:51   (31:47)

I felt good today and ran very steady especially the last couple of sections which were very steady and a 2:02 second half was pretty good.

Rik and the crew from Phoenix running put on a great event today and was faultless.

The weather was absolutely extraordinary for the time of year and it was like being on a different
course compared to the previous outing. I much preferred today. i was absolutely delighted with the time today and it puts me in a much better place than where I started last year. Focus now is Donadea in Feb followed by Seville a week later. The hard 5hr cut-off in Donadea now gets my attention and if I manage a marathon in sub 4 there I should be OK.

Nice video of the day:

Polar stats for the day Click Here

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Usual Suspects

Usual Suspects Ultra   50K  5:27:15

Portsmouth Trail  marathon   4:53:16

Medal of the year

Saturday seen us all off to Folkestown for the Usual Suspects 6 hr challenge. This was on the Samphire Hoe course underneath the white cliffs. I was last here for the Alice ultra. It was 16 degrees in December but a stiff enough wind off the sea made the out portion of the 3.85 mile loop tough enough. It was also hillier than I remembered.

Detail was incredible
Stefan and Susie
This was really the Brenda show today. Not only was she doing her 100th marathon of 2015 she also received her 200 badge from the marathon club.

7 loops was a marathon and 8 was an ultra. There was a great atmosphere around with quite a bit of fancy dress and good wishes.

Mulled wine fudge (the best)
The outbound half of the loop was tough but you got the benefit of the wind on the way back which was nice. The hills back up from the sea front was tough. I ran all of this at the Alice run but decided to hike the steep bit today (its only 100m).

I didnt kill myself today but wanted a steady run.  2:10 seen me through half marathon and I kept a steady pace in the second half passing many. Everyone seemed to be finding it tough today and out of 120 starters there was only 3 sub 4 marathons posted.

Brenda on her 100th for 2015
Coming up to 6 1/2 loops I came across Brenda and Anna who were chatting their way round and stayed with them to the marathon distance. This was about 4:25 and I decided to go out for one more loop and stayed with them for this loop. This brought me in with an Ultra in 5:28 which could have been a lot better if I wanted. This was good enough for 9th place overall.

We were rewarded with the most amazing medal which included the names of all the entrants as part of the medal. One for the collectors.

1Km to go on the prom
Sunday saw me off to Portsmouth for a b2b attempt. Portsmouth isn't my favorite. The weather was worse and the course was sure to be muddy and over contested. This is exactly what happened. In addition this year we had a 50K and 1/2 marathon on the course at the same time.

And Home

The wind was strong, very strong and was into our faces pretty much for the second half. It was muddy, vey muddy and a lot of people fell often. I nearly went myself despite having trail shoes at a boardwalk section.

The beach sections were slow and congested and the narrow trail section was even worse that I remember with the leaders in the 50K coming against us on a track that was only single file at best.

The aid stations were great and the company was great and Anna's Santa
Nice medal
was great. There was a nice buff and medal but it was slow and my time was rubbish. I wont do this one again.

Seaside series

Oyster Bay    4:07:21

Medals for the weeks work

This was part of the SVN seaside series of marathons that was a 5 in 5 in and around the Kent Coastline in Later November. We were lucky enough with the weather as it was relatively mild, dry with wind being the only real challenge.

All the courses were flat and mud free. The series was sold out with about 120 running every day.

Oyster Bay was a new course and was 4 laps around Oyster Bay (at Herne Bay). The weather was pretty bad or more accurately the wind was pretty bad with the out section of each lap into a gale and the backward section quite pleasant. There was also a nasty small pier section at the end of each lap that was very exposed.

I decided today that I would try and push things and went out reasonably fast. I decided to wear my old Asics as I didn't want to risk the Hoka's on a full race. The wind was penal as we went out on the prom and followed the coast into  the wilderness.  3 guys went out very fast with the winner coming in at 2:57 (I just managed to not get lapped).  At the first turnaround I was busting to goto the loo and luckily there were toilets adjacent but this always takes a couple of minutes off. It was a relief to turn with the wind in the back and it was a lot easier and you could enjoy the many beach huts and small marsh sections. The surface was concrete or tarmac which wasn't a problem. I came through the first lap in 57 minutes and turned into the second. It was much of the same and the half marathon came up in 1:55. I knew at this stage that 4 hrs would be a big ask but stuck with the task.

Lap 3 and the wind really took its toll and 1 hr 2 minutes brought me through in 2:57 just in front of the winner finishing.  On the 4th lap the wind got me and I had a slow outward section having to walk into a ever stiffening wind at times. By the time I turned in 3:33 I new that 4 hrs was gone and took the pedal off.

I was really delighted to come home still full of running in 4:07 for 22 place and day 1 complete.

The medal was great and rest was the order of the day.

Day 2 was the at the familiar Viking Marathon trail. It was thanksgiving day in the US and there was a special American theme today including a US Viking medal.

At the Viking
I arrived late and started a couple of minutes down from the rest of the field. This was a 4 lap 10.5km loop out to Reculver castle and back.

I actually didnt feel too bad today. The wind was a lot better though still helped on one 5K and into the face on the second. But nowhere near as tough as day 1.

A nice steady pace brought me through the first half  in just over 2 hrs including a good 5K with Anna Hatton who was ever present.

This was a very uneventful race and an even pace brought me home in 4:28:13. There was lots of American candy at the aid station which was very well appreciated.

Medal collection
Day 3 was the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt and there was the promise of a massive bespoke medal for this one. Arriving very much on time with Brenda and Collette it was very very very breezy on the sea front. The course was a T shape with first a short section downhill  from the aid station to the sea wall. We followed the prom into Margate right through the center of town turning at the far end. We then retraced our steps, bypassed the aid station and kept going for another 3K to the turn around point. This section weaved its way along the coast with the sea on one side and some interesting cliffs on the other. We turned and made our way back to the aid station.

And we are done
Not surprisingly we were a little slower today and I turned after 2 laps in 2:20. The next 2 laps involved  some walking particularly into the tough breeze but managed to do very well inthe last 5K taking about 10 places for a 4:50:59 finish over all.

The medal was truly awesome and up there with my favorites.