Making progress

Today I ran the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon for the second time. Last year it was my first attempt at the distance – my longest run ever at that time – and I completed it in just under 2 hours. This year I ran it with a friend (his half marathon debut) and was pleased with a finishing time of 2:06:34.

Why was I pleased with a slower time? Well, this time last year I was running 4 times a week and had a rest day prior to the half marathon. This year, as I build towards the NDW50 in May, I’m running 5 times per week. I ran 9 hilly miles yesterday followed by a half marathon today. Although I ran slower than last year it was a training run and I was disciplined enough not to push too hard and risk disrupting my training but managed to maintain a steady pace and complete the race in what I consider to be a respectable finishing time.

12 months ago I could run 13.1 miles but couldn’t have run it the day after a 9 mile run. I am moving forward, feeling good and determined to complete my first ultra marathon. It’s just dawned on me that the NDW50 is 3 months from tomorrow and I’m enjoying the journey.

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Back on the road again

This week has been a recovery week, thankfully. I was working away in Sunderland earlier this week and managed to get out for an 8 mile run alomg the coast, which was fun (but with a brisk North Sea breeze). I had scheduled runs on Tuesday and Wednesday but, for the first time this year, I decided to skip these as a) the hotel bed was more appealing than the freezing cold morning outside (Tuesday) and b) it seemed selfish to get back from Sunderland in the early evening, have a bite to eat then say “I’m off out for a run” when my wife and son hadn’t seen me for 4 days. Then again, maybe they were disapointed I didn’t get out for a run that night as they might have had some peace while I was away…

Anyhow, I’m determined that I’ll still get the mileage done this week so I’ve rejigged my training plan so I run Thursday – Sunday, with 2 runs on Sunday. This will be my first attempt at 2 runs in 1 day but I’m going to get the planned 5 runs in this week, especially as I’m on a Jantastic mission to get 100% in February (for more details, check out the highly recommended running podcast Marathon Talk and their Spring running challenge Jantastic).

This morning I set off early for a 9 mile run on the road. All of my long runs since my solo Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in December 2012 have been through the woods and forest and on trails so I wondered how I’d fare on the road and thought I’d better give it a go as I have the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon to run next Sunday. It felt good but I missed the trails. I enjoyed some amazing views (shame the photo doesn’t do it justice) and a very flooded road. Given that I’m going for a mystery cross country run in the same area tomorrow morning with a new running friend I think it’s going to be muddy, hard going and fun. I can’t wait to get back off the road. Running the trails is such a blast.

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Mud, sunshine and buffalo

This morning I set off for an early(ish) 12 mile run.  Having spent at least an hour last night pouring over the OS Explorer map (which I recently bought to help me plan my trail runs so as to avoid angry farmers with shotguns) and deciding upon  a route I promptly decided to …. go a completely different way. 

One of the things I love about trail running is the feeling of freedom and the ability to head off in new directions just to see what’s out there.  So I headed up and through the forest in a direction I’d never been before and had a marvellous time. On this out and back 12 miler I ran up hills (well, a few inclines anyway), met some buffalo, ran through lots of mud and had a ball. Looking at my Garmin stats afterwards I managed to maintain a fairly steady pace and I’m feeling great as I write this.

This morning’s run was a truly glorious long run, with the sun shining,  through the forest. I’m enjoying the journey as #projectultra progresses and although I was dreading the prospect of back to back long runs at the weekend before I began my training it’s these I look forward to every week.

I also used my ICE tag for the first time. I’m acutely aware that I’m running alone in remote places on most of my long runs and these are such a simple but effective solution to the dilemma we face: What happens if I injure myself/fall over/or worse? How will people know who I am? At least now I feel like I’m being a little more responsible as I charge through the muddy puddles on a long run…

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