Amsterdam man, 2013

Just like 2011 or 2012 but faster! TL;DR: 3:43:06. Just 5 minutes faster and I’ll only be an hour slower than Maz. This post is mostly for my records. Transport and accommodation just like before, except I had Miranda with me.

2013-10-20 18.02.58 As you can see, Amsterdam has some exciting architecture.

My GPS track is here, or at least a bit of it is. Turning it on as I went in to the stadium I realised I hadn’t bothered to charge up the battery. Oops, though its perhaps nice that I’m getting rather casual about things I’d once have obsessed over. So the track contains the first ~16k, and the last ~4k. The official record is here (oh, but you need my name or 7126, my bib number) and that gets you the splits every 5k. Compare to 2012 (bib 2852) and the obvious difference is that I don’t fall off a cliff in the last 12k. This time the splits are 5:10 / 5:11 / 5:12 / 5:18 / 5:20 / 5:20 / 5:23 / 5:29 and then 5:0x to the end. My target is 3:30, which will require 5:00 splits. Perhaps next year.

Having the GPS for the first 16k let me get my pace in, and left me running with a group at about the right speed. So losing the GPS after then didn’t matter much, and was actually quite unexpectedly liberating, giving me more time to think about my toenails.

I wasn’t too hopeful about this race – I hadn’t done much training beforehand, so was mostly hoping to roughly equal my PB of 3:46 set in Brighton this year. However, I did significantly better than that, and also came out of it feeling much better – which probably means I could have run it faster, so perhaps I did lose something from not having the GPS. I did slightly suffer from not knowing what pace to run it at – I settled for ~5:15, which would have got me 3:40, and lost a bit off that in the second half, which is acceptable. In retrospect, I should have pushed 35-40 somewhat harder.

And rowing

Since I’m posting sport (again; I promised not to) I’ll point to:

* We won IM2 VIII’s at the Boston marathon
* I got my point at Peterborough
* We went up 3 in bumps. Did I mention that before ;-?

Brighton, again

DSCN2479-james-and-w_crop The follow-up to Amsterdam and Brighton part 1. Again, if you lack interest in running, the answer is 3:54.28.

The photo is me and James Edgoose after the finish. By this point we’ve gone through the phases of collapsed in a heap for a bit, drunk some water, eaten a banana, just about got up, walked a bit, sat down again, got up and are capable of smiling… well you get the idea. And I can only speak for my own collapse, James finished 15+ mins ahead of me so may have been all sparkly at the finish for all I know.

This year was much better than Brighton last year, but only a bit (3 mins) better than Amsterdam. I’m a bit disappointed by that, but not much; over the last couple of months there has been too much rowing and stuff for me to really concentrate on the running properly. More long runs are required. I came 2068th, of about 8900 finishers, which is well in the top 25%. James, at 3:37 was 1205th.

I’ll put up the graph of the GPS track at some point, but broadly… the first 21k followed the 5:15 (=1:50) plan from Amsterdam, then the rest tapers, a bit more gradually, and didn’t fall quite so far down around 35k. So the plan for sub-3:45 has to be holding 5:15 up to 30k, perhaps, and then stopping the fall-off from going to 6:15. At least that’s what I hope for. James E ran a far more steady race than me, and came past me at about 22k; the 3:45 pacers came past at about 25k,and while I kept them in sight for a while I lost them at maybe 28k and certainly didn’t have the heart to try to keep up. From 21k to mid-30’s I had a pain in my lower left calf that was worryingly-possibly like the beginnings of a strain, so formed an excuse to not push which I gladly seized on. I used up 5 energy gels during the race, and drank some-of 3 energy-drink bottles that they had at the stops. My stomach got a bit queasy at one point – settled by sipping some gel.

DSCN2477-dino-box Brighton is a funny old town: fairly downmarket though I’d say. Last year Mike (doing his one-marathon-before-I-die) stayed in a decent-ish hotel, but near the seafront, and commented next day that it was quite noisy at night, due to drunken stag-party types along the front. This year I stayed in a low dive hostel (St Christopher’s) just near the pier – oh, how convenient I thought – and I too was disturbed by traffic noise in the small hours. Until about 3 am that is, when I was woken up by the stag party people who were sharing my dormitory room, just returning from a night at a strip club looking at “cludge”, oh what joy. Next year I’m going to stay inland a bit.

Here (update) is the promised graph:


Weeelll… yes. More work required!

DSCN2478-alice-dreams Other stuff.

* This year, the water at the stops was in little plastic bags that you just had to squeeze, and in small quantity. This was much better than the usual water bottles, or plastic cups.
* The goody bags were rubbish.
* There still weren’t nearly enough loos.
* They completely stuffed up labelling the start areas, but I got a good start anyway.
* Other pix I took, on Flickr.
* The winners, taken by someone else.

Grunty man

grunty-fen-DSC_0203_crop [Warning: more boring fitness-related content. This is the penultimate post on such, before moving the misc trivia over to The science will stay here.]

Saturday-before-last James E said that the Grunty Fen half marathon was on the 12th; and being a little unsober I signed up online an hour later. Next morning I thought I’d better check that I could actually run the distance, and it turned out that I could. Or at least, nearly. I accidentally ran 20 km instead of 21.1, because I forgot the true distance. Oops. Anyway, that took me 1:51, which seemed fair enough (less than 2h) though it included one bit where I stopped to ask the way, and a couple of gates, and suchlike. The real thing took me 1:51 again, but with an extra 1.1 km thrown in. And here is the track. Notice corporate-man style running vest, but I had to pay for it.
Continue reading “Grunty man”


i-92fab05280335bc7b4c98285f874f37d-BlurParklife.jpg Or rather, Parkrun which D+A introduced me to. Thats me, the one on the right: I wanted to be that dog, at least for the race. It looks so focussed and determined, even if it is just chasing a stuffed electric hare.

And the running is good, so I’ll tell you all about it so you can play too. It is a series of regular free 5km runs at various places in the UK. You have to pre-register a tag, but from then on you just turn up at the start and run. The Cambridge one is in Milton Country Park which is where I run at lunchtime, though on a different course.

The results are now up: I came an unimpressive 69th, and in fact totally misestimated the field, starting far too near the front. Which meant I found myself running at 3:05/km at one point, not a pace I can sustain. I dropped back to 4:45 fairly soon, which meant I spent the race beng overtaken, argh. Time: 22:45. That is my first timed run of 5km, let alone race. The full gory details are (probably; I think you’re allowed to see) here, but happily I forgot my heart-rate monitor. Note that my GPS thinks the course was only 4:86; I;m sure it is wrong, because they measure the course carefully, so it has lost 140m in corner-cutting of my deduced track.
Continue reading “Parklife”

Rowing and running (again)

Bumps is over, so tis the season for off-the-river exercise again. Yes, I know that no-one but me cares about this but it is *my* blog.


30 minute erg, heart rate. Split varying from 1:56 to 2:00 for most of it, down to 1:39 just before the line (yes I know: it means I should have pusehed earlier), distance 7582, so overall split around 1:59. Sadly no speeds on this – the watch got confused since I was wiggling back and forth in place.


Lunchtime run with Ian. 3 laps of Milton Country Park, last lap alone and faster (note it is plotting pace not speed), peak heart rate on the “sprint” coming up the A14 bridge. Total distance 7 km.

As I said before my rowing is “better” than my running. But with practice my running is getting better (plus of course I have Maz’s Shoes of Speed). And it is clear from the graphs above that I’m working far harder in the rowing, so all I now need to do is xfer that into running.

New watch

I have a funky new watch, a Garmin Forerunner 110. It lets me do kewl stuff like:


although you only get that after post-processing, of course. In fact I haven’t even worked out how to make it work like a GPS when running, i.e. display lat/long or grid refs. Nor have I worked out how to persuade the stupid post-processing software to give me mph instead of mins/mile like all the hard-core runners want, pah. But the upload-from-watch (via the provided nipple clamp) to-web-and-graph is impressively smooth and painless.

You’re fascinated – I know – so let me tell you that we did two laps: the first, slow, included the lake. The second was faster. And then at the red line I ran a bit faster back to the mothership. The heartrate peak of ~180 is when I sprinted up the A14 bridge.

[Update: give me mph instead of mins/mile – well, it has now swapped to mph, which is good, but I don’t know why, which is less good -W]

[Update: twice now the watch has frozen / locked up on me, both times when attaching it to the computer: I think it happens when you don’t get the clamp on quite correctly and it briefly connects / disconnects. If that happens, you have to reset it by pressing the “light” button for ~7 secs. But you lose all your data. Others have the same problem. Possibly press and hold Lap/Reset and the Light buttons simultaneously may be a better way of resetting.

Update on that: the problem mostly occurs if you *haven’t* “reset” the activity before trying to upload – somehow it can’t cope. So always remember to do that first.]

[Update: I’ve realised something about the tracking / recording, prompted by DHW: that although the max sample rate appears to be every-5-sec (and this isn’t configurable), it will drop samples that are “uninteresting” if it wants to. In particular, if you are erging, so the position is constant, it will quite likely not record many heart rate samples. The only solution I’ve found it to keep the watch on your wrist to generate movement and hence more logging.

Another whinge while I’m here: there is no “turn the light on and keep it on” mode, which would be useful for night time outings.]