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.


A running post I’m afraid. I don’t think I promised to move them all across.


Courtesy of the generous Maz the Merciless I have a pair of “footgloves” wot am all de rage, or at least they were all de rage a year ago or somesuch. Naturally, I’m late to the party. Today I gave them my first try-out, a 5 km run round the local “countryside reserve”. They are really called “five fingers” (of VFF’s, as the hip cats say); as they say: we recommend wearing Vibram FiveFingers for exercise, play, and for fun. Stimulating the muscles in your feet and lower legs will not only make you stronger and healthier, it improves your balance, agility and proprioception and I’m sure you can read the rest of their PR if you want to. I didn’t bother. In a token attempt at balance on the issue, I also point you to The Dangers of Foot Gloves like Vibram FiveFingers but! Please remember that I don’t really care.

Starting off, it did feel very much like running with bare feet, surprisingly so. The soles are very thin and the feel of feeling the surface comes through (incidentally James T says that one problem with them, for longer races over cold or wet ground, can be your feet getting too cold, because there is also little thermal protection). You have to run on your toes, this is the entire point, and a few steps trying heel-striking convinced me it was too jarring. Therefore, this puts a lot of strain on your calves. I cycle a lot, and run a bit, and row, but still after 1.5 km it was hurting, and I was happy to get onto the Reserve where I had the choice of running on the concrete track on my toes or switching to the slightly soggy grass verge on my heels to give my calves a rest. I gratefully did the latter. That gave me 2 km rest, and when I came back to the road and my calves still hurt I compromised between toe and heel a bit. So clearly, extending this out to even 5 km is going to take some practice, let alone 10 km or longer.

I was a minute below my 5 km best, but then I wasn’t racing anyone (though I did overtake that James E on the spine route, which was nice, though I suspect he was on the last leg of a longer run so I won’t count my chickens yet). I think they definitely slowed me down. I believe that the True Believers will tell you that ultimately they can speed you up – the theory being, as I understand it, that instead of losing energy as your heel strikes the ground the energy is retained elastically in the muscles/tendons/ligaments/whatever. But I’m clearly not there yet. After a little warm-down I came in, sat down on the sofa, and broswed the web for 5-10 mins in a fairly static position. I then tried to get up and nearly collapsed – my calves had set solid like rocks, or that was how it felt, briefly.

all in all an interesting experiment. I’ll try them again. But at least for now, if trying for my best pace, I’ll go back to the Mazuno’s (which also, by not-quite-coincidence, came from “Imelda”).

[Update: one week later (when my calves had nearly recovered), I went for a 1 km run instead. Felt like lots of stress in the calves, still, and probably as well not to go further.]


* My running injuries – how exciting.
* NEW BALANCE MINIMUS TRAIL REVIEW from the shouty Barefoot Running University (also a review of Merrell Trail Glove). This clearly answers one of my questions: when will people start doing knock-offs. Though those both look more like “real shoes” than the VFF’s.

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”

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.