Sunday, 26 October 2014


Today marked the end of my 2014 racing season of 22 events at the Fleet 10k with Debs and 4 other Sherfield Park Runners club members.  A nice, undulating two-lap triangular course (used for one lap as part of the Fleet half marathon each March) that had great PB potential...except that I have been unable to shift a sore throat and head cold for a week and a half.  Debs was VERY keen that I didn't run today, but I did with the promise that "I won't run too fast".  In the end I managed a reasonable, for me, half marathon style pace and landed a 51:15 at an average of 8:16 mins per mile. 

Not shabby, but not what I wanted....a PB better than my 49:07.  Wasn't to be, but I did it, enjoyed it and got another "gong".  A good day, especially with Debs getting her mojo back and really enjoying parkrun and this 10k this weekend.

Which gets me thinking.  What was I trying to do this year in my targets?  Actually, when I step back I am pleased with the way the year has gone.  In psychometric tests with work over the years a consistent trait is that I achieve with drive, bloody mindedness and a belief that I will achieve.  The problem, as such, is I don't celebrate success when it comes because I expect to do well.  So, please excuse me stopping for a second and being chuffed at how my three targets have turned out...5 mile, 10k and Half Marathon:

5 mile: To get below 40 mins. Down to 39:24 by 3:10 from 42:34
10k: To get below 50 mins. Down by 2:20 to 49:07 by way of an interesting 50:00!
Half-M: To get below 1:50:00.  Down by 3:20 to 1:48:31 at Edinburgh HM

So, I am happy at 2014 in an overall mix of pace, style, learnings and results.

So, what of 2015?  A mix of evolution and new challenges awaits after a winter of club cross country events and much training laying down my base.  I am still running every day and stand at 107 on this streak having got to 179 on my previous one in June before illness knock running on the head for 2-3 very frustrating weeks.  My new training plan has a weird concept of "rest days" as I build towards my big double act of running firsts:
April: Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 (my first marathon)
June: Endure 24 SOLO (my first ultra over 24 hours of 5 mile trail loops)

On the way there will still be 5k, 10k and Half Marathon races but with more specific selection to get quality over already in 4 HMs at Reading, Edinburgh, Bristol and Basingstoke.  Note:  I ALWAYS enter races early so I don't miss out, unlike some local runners who wait till the last minute and find races closed!  Targets are still developing for the new challenges but a couple that I am clear about already are 10k at sub 45 and Half-M at sub 1:45

All this training and the races and ambitions mean changes and sacrifices in 2015 to give time for the right amount of quality training, especially with the mileages I plan to do.  Since I was 15 I have almost continuously raced either radio controlled model cars or karts, racing karts with a great organisation called Club100 for the last 11 years.  I have hardly raced this year and really can't see me doing much at all next year which has come a quite a shock but what I must do to dedicate myself on my 2015 plans.

A time of change.  Really pleased with this year's progress now to lay down the hard yards/ miles to be ready for 2015's challenges.  Meanwhile, bring on the mud of cross country races!  ttfn, mark

Monday, 13 October 2014


Yesterday saw the first round of the Southern Cross Country League which has 22 running clubs and we, Sherfield Park Runners, joined this year to compete in 7 multi-terrain, 5 mile events held between October and March on a mixture of woodland trails and parkland sometimes with a little but more often a lot of mud!  The league has gone from strength to strength and now has approximately 400 runners at each event, with friendly competition and making sure every participant enjoys it.  

Races are held on a Sunday morning starting at 11.00am. Men and women compete in the same race with the first 5 men and first 3 women from each club scoring points. All abilities take part and the non-scorers from each club have a big effect on the results by getting ahead of scorers from other clubs, so every runner counts.
A, err THE, really good feature of the Southern Cross Country League is that the host club provides refreshments (read this as mainly cakes) at minimal cost after each event while the results are prepared and presented. Most venues are very family friendly, so whilst you run, friends and family can be enjoying themselves elsewhere in the parks before they cheer you in at the finish and then share the cakes with you.

So, with a slick and neatly created Women's team and a Men's team that was, eventually, strong but in the days leading up looked like a pub team with Dave Dee, Dozey, Beaky, Mick and Titch in the frame we set off.  Boy, were we "green"!  Lots of lessons learnt for future round like having the club sailbanner with us as a focal point, taking some warm clothes to the finish area rather than a cold walk back to race HQ (aka The Village Hall) and the biggie...if 400 runners are facing towards you then you are (a) at the front not the back and (b) facing the wrong direction!  But, great to see so many running friends and make new friendships.

Loved the day even if the first mile was at club "magic mile" pace.  Our Training Sec is all for "starting fast and hanging on" but this was barmy, so a little bit of throttling back saw me stay as an "overtaker" rather than being overtaken.  Enjoyed that!

Overall, a great event, with a really nice mixed 5.1 mile course except for a bummer of a 0.2mile finish up a hill!  Another lesson...don't bust a gut to pass a female runner as she is, in effect, in a separate race!  We did alright though for our first go...coming 16th overall of 22 teams.  Can't wait for Round 2 in November.

It was a beautiful running day on Sunday with a bit of mud and some muddy puddles.  BUT, tonight's run was just slog!  Get the legs going again, but in the rain, the dark, the cold it was all just banking miles and moving on. 

Shame I am going to miss out on our club "Hills Training" session but I am away with work.  Still, that was Day 94 tonight of my latest run streak (last one was 179 days that was stopped by illness in June) so chuffed with that...big 100 on Sunday, with parkrun #47 the day before so edging to that big 5-0! :)

ttfn, mark


Thursday, 2 October 2014


OK, so I knew that maths didn't work out well with 125,000 runners entered into the 2015 Virgin Money London Marathon ballot this April going for just 10,000 available places.  But, that didn't stop over 5 months of hope, anticipation and planning.

If you read my earlier blog, EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT IN THE LONG RUN, you'll know my plans for 2015 events have taken a few knocks recently with date changes taking plans out of alignment.

Well, the big disappointment came yesterday...not just for me but for some 114,999 others with just 10,000 entrants going "woo hoo!!". Rather than a natty "You're In" magazine, I got the one I really, really didn't want to get. The one saying "Sorry" with the yellow costumed runner...the pesky yellow costumed runner who I have come, overnight to hate vehemently as the personification of my disappointment.

Yes, I know, the maths didn't work!
Yes, I know, I shouldn't have been surprised!
Yes, I know, I shouldn't have been as excited and anticipated a positive outcome so much!

But, that..doesn'!!!

That's even with knowing that there are runners out there who have entered the London Marathon ballot since Noah thought the weather looked like a bit of precipitation. One runner I know well has got "Sorry!" in the ballot 13 times BUT has managed to run the event 6 times through one competition win, two entries through the old rules of 5 rejections leading to a guaranteed place, and also three times running in charity places. But, never through the ballot

So, what's next? Plan B, it is! Our brilliant running club, Sherfield Park Runners, is registered with UK Athletics / england athletics and through the UKA/ea "British Running Club Entries" scheme should get two places allocated in VMLM2015 as the club's membership is now up over 70 registered members. This will all come clear in the next 6 weeks. Our Committee thought ahead in May and devised our first set of selection criteria for use in 2015 and sustainably thereafter in selecting which runners get those coveted places. The first is obvious - that a runner has to have entered and been unsuccessful in the ballot. Others, aligned with what other local running clubs use as their criteria, include what that individual has done for the club; raising sponsorship; running in the club colours in past events and at VMLM2015, etc. Cases are being developed and our selection will be made. Fingers are crossed for better luck in this stage!

There has been SPR success in the ballot though with, at least, two members getting the "You're In" pack and that is just absolutely fabulous news for them and the club. I hope to be working/ running through a marathon training plan with one of them who I already run a lot with anyway. That reminds me, better go and set up Friday's pre-dawn run (I was also out at 0540 this morning - funny how I didn't see any other runners!!!).

ttfn, Mark