Out Run 2013

Happy 2014

It’s a new year, so that means new years resolutions.

My running related ones are:

Keep a Running Diary
Quite a lot of people have recommended keeping a running diary as it helps you keep focus…and It will hopefully mean I’ll update this blog more often.
I plan on using DayOne which is a great journaling application

Actually Follow A Training Plan
With a marathon coming up, I need to pull my finger out and start training properly. I’ve also started having some coaching with The Running School - apparently my form is all off and my muscles aren’t firing…I don’t know what it means, what I do know is that there’s going to be more strength work and the introduction of the dreaded foam roller.

Watch What I Eat
I’ll be honest, I eat crap constantly. If I want to improve my times and stamina I need to see about shift the blubber so I stop looking like a shaved panda.
I’m not talking about going on a diet, more taking steps like cooking more at home, packed lunch at work, and not having those expensive, greedy and unsatisfying bacon butties from the train station for breakfast.

My Goals for 2014 are

Complete A Marathon In Under 4 Hours
The aim is to do this in Paris…better start training.

Run 2,014km in 2014
I ran 675km last year, so it’s going to be a hell of a challenge.

Now the challenge is to keep these resolutions and meet my goals.

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What A Year

I think it’s safe to say that 2013 was insane. 11 running events done, met some amazing people though RunDemCrew and got a chance to visiting some of the places on my Bucket list. A win all round I think.

My highlight has to be visiting Copenhagen, such an amazing city and the experience of doing the Copenhagen Half Marathon with RunDemCrew and all the other international crews is one I’ll cherish for a long time.

But now 2014 is almost here, it’s time to look ahead. I’m planning to not do as many events this year, and concentrate on some big events.

Currently planned are:
- Richmond Half Marathon (23 March)…in preparation for..
- Paris Full Marathon (6 April)…*gulp*
- Rat Race Dirty Weekend (10-11 May)…loved it last year.
- Bupa 10k (25 May)…of course

I’ve also put my name on the ballot for the New York Marathon (2 November), If I don’t get it I’m looking at the Istanbul Marathon (17 November) to round off the year and cross another city off my bucket list. I might also look at another half marathon of the second half of the year, maybe Man Vs Mountain (http://www.ratracemanvsmountain.com)..a gallivant around Snowdonia would be rather cool.

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Mission Accomplished

Mad May was awesome fun, doing three things I wouldn’t have dreamt of doing a year ago…Going to Berlin to complete an event (an event that was longer than a half marathon…a year ago I couldn’t imagine doing another 10k), completing an assault course run (the world’s largest), and finally revisiting the one that started it all – the Bupa 10k.

The month has definitely been draining, preparing for each event without much down-time in between, the final bruises and cuts from the Dirty Weekend have only now finally faded. But it was worth it.

I did the month to show to myself that I can survive outside my comfort zone and to help raise some money for Save The Children. If you haven’t already sponsored me, please visit http://virginmoneygiving.com/martynthomassci and throw a few pennies my way. Thanks

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Bupa 10k – The Home Coming

My very first running event was the Bupa 10k 2012, back then the thought of doing 10k still seemed impossible and the race itself was a serious struggle – almost giving in at 7km. It was a hot difficult race, but I managed to get over the line in 1 hour 9 minutes.

One year on and I’m back standing at the start line and it feels like coming home in a way. It was definitely a warm run, not as hot as last year but still sunny enough to give me some sun burn, and despite the nice route, which snakes past many of London’s landmarks – it’s riddled will bottle necks – which meant that it was difficult to get a good stride on. Despite the warm weather I tried to gun for a sub 50min, sadly the weather slowed me down a little but I got round in 52.10, which I’m more than happy with.

It’s great to see what I’ve achieved in a year, the run felt like it flew by, and because of the heat and traffic jam of runners preventing me from picking up any real pace I felt like I cruised my way round, even laughing to myself as I remembered how I felt at the 7km point last year. It has made me think about what I could achieve if I improved my training – so in June, the real fun is going to begin.

If you are looking for your first 10k event you can’t got wrong with the Bupa 10k, it’s so well organised and mostly flawless – the only thing letting them down is the bottlenecks, but they could resolve that by spacing out the waves of runners a little more.

I’ve already signed up for 2014′s race, lets see if I can improve more before then.

Edit: I forgot to mention seeing Mo Farah glide past us at our 3k, his 7k mark. The guy is amazing to watch, making it look so easy as he completed the course in 29.13 – Legend

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Rat Race Dirty Weekend – Done!

Well I survived, a few bruises and still finding mud everywhere, but I survived.

The Rat Race Dirty Weekend sounded a challenge on paper, a 20 mile run with 200 obstacles between me and the finish line, and it was a serious challenge in practice. Luckily I ran with some friends from Covent Garden Nike which made the event bare-able and do-able. The obstacles were split into 20 zones, which were spaced out every mile or so, this meant we were able to have a recovery jog before facing the next group of challenge. Each zone was themed, including:

- Mud Run – Crawling and wading through mud (at least I hope it was mud), at one point everyone was so caked in mud it was hard to tell everyone apart.
- Trail Blazer – A run along a dirt track in a wood, which I really enjoyed and now seriously tempted to invest in some trail shoes and hit some trails
- Ewok Village – A wood full of wooden balance beams, cargo nets and A-frames.
- Men’s Health Survival Of The Fitness – Lots of obstacles used in Men’s Health Survival Of The Fitness (which Rat Race also organises) – More A-Frames, crawl spaces and scaling large walls.

Sadly not all the obstacle were available, part of the water zone was closed because some of the large inflatables had lost their moorings and could be seen embedded in the trees at the other side of the lake looking sorry for itself. Also due to a healthy dose of rain the monkey bars ,a world record attempt for the worlds longest, was closed. ‘Luckily’ Rat Race had arranged extra obstacles so we didn’t feel left out – erm, thanks(!).

At the bail-out point at 13 miles some of the group dropped out leaving only 3 of us to complete the full 20 miles in 5:37.42.

Loved the event, there were a few teething issues with the event – not enough toilets and showers at the camp site, bottlenecks at some obstacles and apparently the beer tent ran out of booze early during the after party…doh! – but I think Rat Race can easily iron them out before next year. Needless to say, I’ve already signed up for next year.

Edit: Someone with a GoPro recorded the highlights of the event, his efforts is up on youtube to ‘enjoy’ - http://youtu.be/ql3FQ3hy-Y8

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Berlin 25k or The One Where The Weather Made Me It’s B*tch

I spent last weekend in Berlin, and it was definitely an interesting time (if you define interesting as ‘oh god, oh god, I’m going to die’).

Berlin is an odd city, a mixture of old, war-damaged, 60s and modern buildings. The city is definitely in a transition phase with lots of building work going on – there were construction cranes in every direction and seemingly random industrial tubes looping over roads. But despite this, the city is beautiful from the people (who were all lovely, even when I inflicted my poor attempts of German on them), the places (some of the landmarks and museums are beautiful), the awesome graffiti art and the general vibe. I’m already planning on heading back to see more of Berlin, as I only scratched the surface and would love to see more, especially to check out the nightlife. I also found out on the last day that there’s a hostel call the ‘Heart Of Gold’ with a mural of the Whale turning into a pot plant and ‘Don’t Panic’ towels, I’d come back just to stay there.

I’d highly recommend that if you visit to take a walking tour, I did one by Brewers and it was great to get a feel for the city and it’s history (and how it and the country is dealing with the past).

On to race day…let me get this out of the way, oh-dear-god it was hot. With not a cloud in the sky the sun was full-on, making the day a very toasty bright 19oC – peew!

The race started at the amazing Olympiastadion. Unlike every other event I’ve been too, which were full of people in charity or novelty running vests, the Berlin 25k crowd looked like mostly running clubs..which didn’t make me feel out of my depth..much. Even when getting ready at the stadium I could feel the heat affecting me, despite trying to hydrate the day before and having (what I thought was) plenty to drink at the apartment before heading to the stadium, I was parched. I intended on grabbing a bottle of water at the start to take with me round the course, but sadly the water was served in plastic cups – bugger. After gulping down a cup of water I headed to the start line to find the pacer. The plan was to stick with the 2:17 (1:55 half marathon pace) pacer until midway and then decide to pull away or not and to mentality treat the event as a Half Marathon with a little extra on the end for luck.

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Needless to say as soon as we started all plans when to hell. As soon as I started moving I boiled and became badly dehydrated very quickly. The 2:17 pacer was long gone and the event became hard 5ks to each water station which made the route drag. As soon as I had some water I was able to pick up the pace by it didn’t last long, this got frustrating was I knew I had the power in my legs, but I just wasn’t able to function enough move them.

The route itself was flat and (mostly) straight, annoying this meant that there was little shade and the sun was on me the whole way. Running through Tiergarten (an urban park larger than Hyde Park in central Berlin), past the Victory Column and running towards the Brandenburg Gate was fantastic (even though I was on the constant hunt of more water). Just before the end of Tiergarten the Half Marathon runners turned off to head back, leaving only the 25km runners to be able to run through the Brandenburg Gate – considering the gate is such a Berlin landmark and could be seen for several km before reaching it, I felt sorry for the HMers missing it out.

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After the Gate the route curled back towards the stadium, passing along a road full of Embassies before rejoining the rest of the runners on HM route. The route finished with a run inside the stadium via the athlete tunnel which was very cool, but a little mean – the only way out of the stadium was up several flights of stairs, it was worth it though – plenty of water (thank you!), fruit (om nom nom!) and free beer (get in!!) was on offer.

Overall the event was great, it well organised and the route was nice (even if the last half was a little dull compared to the first). However there wasn’t much support around the route, it was almost as if the organisers forgot to tell Berliners that the event was happening, and the water stations were a mess – the volunteers clearly overwhelmed by the wall of thirsty runners struggled to keep up with demand.

My final time was 2:30:39 (half marathon time – 2:05:29) which I’m more than a little gutted about. The event has taught me to be better prepared, and not the expect the event to provide things like water bottles – if I had water with me I’d like to think I would have been much closer to the 2:15 I was hoping for, also it has taught me how unprepared I am for hot weather. More training runs in the sun is needed.

I’m definitely going to come back to Berlin, but I’m not sure if it would be for the Berlin 25k again…I’m already eyeing up the Berlin Marathon.

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Mad May Cometh

May is going to be a mad month for me, I’m doing 3 events in aid of Save The Children. I’ve got a horrible habit where I’m game for a challenge and tend to jump in feet first without thinking things through. Next month is a perfect example, 3 big challenges in one month, I’m doing:

  • A 25k (15 mile) run around Berlin, It’ll be my first time in Germany and I’m really excited to be exploring Berlin. I’ve not ran more than 21k (half marathon) before, so 25km is going to be interesting (I need to learn the german for ‘Which way to the hospital?’, just in case)
  • The weekend after Berlin I’m doing Rat Race’s Dirty Weekend. Dirty Weekend is an attempt to create the world’s largest assault course, it’s 20 miles long with 200 obstacles – including the world’s largest monkey bars (210m long), world’s largest cargo net crawl and many other pain-inducing obstacles. Their website has loads of youtube videos of some of the challenges ahead, each one makes me weep a little. It’s been billed as the equivalent of 2 Tough Mudders back to back. I feel wholly unprepared, I lack any form of upper body strength (serves me right for not training).  In the words of one of my very supportive ‘friends’ “You’re going to die a wet and muddy death out there Mart” – eek!
  • At the end of the month (providing I survive the Dirty Weekend) I’ll be running the Bupa 10k. Last year’s Bupa 10k was my first ever serious running event, It’s going to be fantastic to tackle it again this year – hopefully it won’t be as hot as 2012′s

I’ll of course blog about my progress and bruises – Just so you lot can laugh at my expense. If you want to help soften the pain and make it all seem worthwhile, please sponsor me at http://virginmoneygiving.com/martynthomassci

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London Marathon – Watching Others Achieve Greatness

Ever since I can remember there were two events I always watch on TV, the London Marathon and The Great North Run.

The Great North Run is world’s second largest half marathon (the largest is in Gothenburg, Sweden), held in Newcastle in September where the London Marathon is the world’s largest marathon, which took place on Sunday.

Both events are huge (over 37,000 runners ran London this year), and the majority of the runners are running for charity (74% of entrants at London ran for charity, raising £52million). Unlike most athletic events, where trained professionals make us feel guilty for slouching on the sofa, the Great North and London Marathon is about the everyman (and everywomen). Watching the events you see the ambition, struggle, determination and raw emotion of the runners, many who have hardly ran in their lives before taking up the challenge. It’s the most inspiring event you’ll ever see, it fills you with pride seeing everyone succeeded. It also caused me to spend the whole say with a childish grin on my face from seeing the streets packed full of crowds showing their support, making ear-ringing noise. Run Dem Crew went all out and invaded Mile 21 to show their support for the members of the crew who ran. You can check out some of the amazing photos and videos at mile21.co.uk.

Even with the sad events in Boston, the marathon felt larger than ever like everyone was determined not to let the bastards spoil it. Most runners ran with a ribbon to show that our thoughts were with the victims of mindless act, and it felt fitting that Tatyana McFadden (who won the Women’s Elite Wheelchair event in Boston 6 days before) won the Women’s wheelchair event.

Needless to say, as soon as the ballot opens on Monday I’ll be trying to get a place, fingers crossed everyone.

A group pic of the Murder Milers

Crazy Start And Challenge Smashed

What a crazy start to the year.

Work has ramped up, Uni has ramped up and running has started to get a little more serious than I expected, not that I’m complaining.

Back in January I started a running course called ‘Murder Mile” which is ran by an East London running group called RunDem Crew.

The course was 6 weeks for heavy training, from interval work on the Millennium Bridge (St Paul’s and the Tate Modern at night are stunning), races around The Barbican and chasing a runner who does marathons in 3hrs (I still question if he’s human). On more than one occasion I did think I had broken myself, I have never ran so hard in my life.

It was amazing fun, the chance to run with such a great group around London at night is an experience I’m not going to forget.

One of the perks of the course, along with making some new friends who share a passion for running, was being able to join RunDem Crew.

RunDem Crew is a huge (seriously huge) running group in East London, ran by Charlie Dark. Charlie is an amazing person, his passion for the sport is infectious. You can find out more about the Crew and Charlie online, including some videos by Nike Running – http://youtu.be/VPkol15weuQ

I hope to blog more about my adventures with RunDem, as I can already tell that there are going to be a few.

My challenge for this year was to run a sub 1:50 half marathon, and a sub 50 minute 10k…well, that now has to change.

A week ago, I ran the Silverstone Half Marathon with a mate from Murder Mile. My first half marathon of the year…and it was hard going. My mate and I thought it would be a good idea to try and follow the 1:45 pacer for as long as we could…that lasted till 10k, at which point we were both knackered. Luckily we recovered and made it round the course, which was the Formula 1 race track…long, bleak and full of tarmac (It was like running round an empty car park).
Despite the uninspiring course I managed to get round the track in 1:49:13, and also managed to do the first 10k in 49:30. Which is amazing.

My next run is Reading Half in a week’s time. I hope to try and repeat my performance at Silverstone, but maybe be a little smarter and not knacker myself out at the first half.

Sadly I didn’t get a ballot place on the Great North Run, or Royal Parks. However I managed to get a charity place for Royal Parks, which I loved last year.
So please sponsor me at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/martynthomassci to raise much needed funds for Save The Children.

As I hit my challenge for this year, my new challenge is going to be doing the Royal Parks half in sub 1:45..eek!