Tuesday 27 February 2007

Page 7 fella

On page 7 of today's Evening Chronicle was none other than my good self. The Chronicle did a canny little article (with a couple of spelling mistakes I might add!) explaining what I'd be doing in July/August.

The picture was taken yesterday while I was on a 5 mile run up to the race course (48:12). I followed this up today with a 6 mile run round the Town Moor in 57:12. Gone are the days of taking over 10 minutes to run a mile.

Hopefully, the newspaper article will attract a couple of new sponsors. I've been stuck on £1857 for a few days now and really need to be getting the fund up to £3000 by the end of March.

Monday 26 February 2007

The Route (Week 3 of 6)

The 3rd week of the run, in my opinion, is the easiest. I use the word "easiest" loosely mind! As with any ultra long run, I find that you have to overcome the mental battle as well as the physical one. And with that in mind, I think there will be many plus points to be taken from this week. First of all, I will cross the half way point at approximately 10 miles past Kirby Stephen. Prior to that though, I will hopefully have had a few comfortable nights at home. I wonder how luxurious my own bed will feel after sleeping in a tent/camper van or Travelodge. Finally, on the 22nd July I will be joined by 10 or so Northern Rock staff for a day. The crack should be good as we take on a hilly 21.9 mile route from Castleside to Middleton in Teesdale.

Sunday 25 February 2007

Training Summary (Week ending 25/02/2007)

Monday 19th February - Gym (60 minutes).
Tuesday 20th February - 13 miles. Gosforth - Hamsterley Mill (02:15:10)
Thursday 22nd February - 11 miles. Race course and Town Moor (01:51:23).
Sunday 25th February - Tennis (singles). (90 minutes, 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 defeat).

Friday 23 February 2007

Accommodation problem eases slightly

One of the major logistical problems associated with organising this big run has been finding somewhere to stay for 6 weeks! Numerous letters have been sent to local camper van sales and hire companies begging for the use of a van for a few weeks. Unfortunately no replies have been received to date.

It's not all bad news though. After a brilliant bit of thinking by Keith (one of my support drivers), a few £15 rooms have been booked at various Travelodges up and down the country. This has managed to fill in a few gaps. Also, thanks to the generosity of a few friends/colleagues/family/friends and family of colleagues etc etc, I have been offered a few night's accommodation at various points on the run. Again, more gaps filled! These offers are very much appreciated.

So far, I have somewhere to stay for 14 out of 42 nights. The slight concern I have at present is finding somewhere to stay during the first and last week of the run. i.e. In the Highlands of Scotland and Devon/Cornwall. At present, given the very limited budget I have, the plan is to stay in a tent! This won't be ideal after a 20 something mile run each day. So, if any of my readers have long lost relatives with a spare bed for the night please get in touch.

Thursday 22 February 2007

11 miles of complaints

Ian "the Coach" and I decided to combine 2 familiar runs into 1 to make an 11 mile course. The only problem with this was having to pass the finish line after 5 miles and run a further 6 miles to get back to the finish line. This concept just messed with my mind and resulted in 1 hour and 51 minutes of me complaining. My main complaint was having to run past Gosforth Chippy without stopping to buy anything!

I decided to have a day's rest on Wednesday after Tuesday's problems and I'm glad to report that I felt no pain after today's run.

Tuesday 20 February 2007

The threat of an injury cuts short a run home

I had planned to run 17 miles home tonight from Gosforth to Shotley Bridge. I only made it to the 13 mile point (Hamsterley Mill) when I felt some slight pain in my groin. With 4 miles left and energy levels very high I felt that I had nothing to gain or indeed prove by risking an injury and attempting to complete the course. So a quick phone call to Katy was made and she arrived within 10 minutes to take me the rest of the way home.

My previous attempt at this run (pictured to the right and a stone heavier than today!) was in June last year where I stopped off at the chippy and used my emergency pound for a bag of chips. This time round, though, I ate a couple of bananas to give me a boost.

I was due to have a rest day from running tomorrow and just do a gym session. However, I'm keen to see if I get any reaction to tonight's run and in particular I want to give my groin a bit of a test. So it'll be 11 miles along the Derwent Walk Path for me tomorrow after work.

Monday 19 February 2007

The Route (Week 2 of 6)

This week I'm letting you see the route for the 2nd week of the run. The day I'm really dreading is the 19th July. This is the day that I have to climb over Carter Bar (338 miles) in order to reach England. Pictured is the descent from Carter Bar. I'll be pleased to see this sight, I can tell you!

Earlier highlights include the run over the Forth Road Bridge at approximately 270 miles. Incidentally, I've been trying to attract a significant one off sum of sponsorship to run over that bridge naked. There are no takers at present but I'll keep trying. So if any reader has at least £500 to spare, why not pledge it for a good cause with the potential of seeing me arrested in Scotland or at worst totally embarrassed. The bridge is 1006 metres long! I bet it would be the fastest 1006 metres I have ever ran.

Road side support during this week will be supplied by one of my colleagues, Keith. Imagine a Jag driving, train spotting, James May from Top Gear and you've pretty much got the idea of what Keith is like. He usually has many an interesting tale to tell so the crack should be good.

Sunday 18 February 2007

Training Summary (Week ending 18/02/2007)

Monday 12th February - 4.5 miles (00:45:30).
Tuesday 13th February - 6 miles. Town Moor Memorial. (00:54:30).
Wednesday 14th February - 8.4 miles. Havannah. (01:31:37).
Thursday 15th February - 5 miles. Race course (00:46:13).
Friday 16th February - Gym (60 minutes).
Saturday 17th February - Gym (55 minutes).

Saturday 17 February 2007

Another sponsorship landmark acheived

There has been a flurry of pledges in the latter half of this week and the total now stands at £1807. I'm over a third of the way there now. I'm always on the lookout for new sponsors and Alan, one of the trainers at the Gateshead Marriott gym, has started to pass a sponsor form round for me. Hopefully, it will yield a few more and help me on the way to my £5000 target.

Thursday 15 February 2007

A pacy race course run

Today saw me and Ian "The Coach" run 5 miles up to Newcastle Race Course and back. The first 2 miles were both at a very fast (for me) 08:30 pace with the whole run taking a PB of 45:13. This was a good way to end my running week. I hope I can continue the good work in the gym tomorrow and Saturday.

Wednesday 14 February 2007

A sunny one up to Havannah Nature Reserve

Today's 8.5 miles to the Havannah Nature Reserve was accompanied by an unexpected bit of sunshine. Pictured right is me just before I almost collided with John taking the photo. The path in the photo was covered in snow this time last week. What a welcome difference a week has made!

Some new sponsorship has been pledged today and, as a result, the target has crept up to 32%. I can almost say that I've acheived a third of the sponsorship target. Almost!

Tuesday 13 February 2007

As good as it gets (at 17 stone!)

Tuesday is the day when I run with a few of the fit lads from the gym. Today, we ran round the so called "Mark Allison Memorial Town Moor 6 miles" (pictured left). I thought I wouldn't beat last week's time of 55:30 so I decided just to take it easy and aim for a sub 58 minute time. The lads; Ian (aka The Coach), Pete, Michael and Mike, sporting a pair of baggy pants and a baggy top 3 sizes too big for him, set off at a good pace and it wasn't long before they were just dots on the horizon. That said, I knocked the first 2 miles off in only 18 minutes. The conditions were excellent for running today and when I passed my birthplace (3.75 miles) on 34 minutes, I knew I was on for a good time.

I ran the last 2.25 miles virtually flat out and finished, while trying not to sound like I was giving birth to triplets, in 54:30. This was a minute quicker than last week and not too far off my all time PB of 52:52. I doubt I'll beat that time at my current weight so as the pounds fall off over the coming months I'll be having a crack at a new PB before the big run in July. Meanwhile, the other lads finished in times ranging from 44 - 48 minutes!

I must say, I'm looking forward to the lighter nights when I can switch these longer runs from lunchtime to after work. From mid March, my aim is to be running home 3 times a week (17 miles), with 2 fast 6 - 8 mile sessions (a bit like today) and a couple of sessions in the Gym. This means that the next 4 weeks are the calm before the storm. I'll use this time to continue to fine tune my diet and get as much running in as work and family life allows. After that, it is all about the running!

Monday 12 February 2007

The Route (Week 1 of 6)

I'll be publishing details of the John O'Groats to Land's End route over the next 6 Mondays. This week details the 1st week through the highlands of Scotland.

The only place names I recognise are John O'Groats and Dalwhinnie. And I must admit I've only heard of the latter because of the Dalwhinnie whiskey I've drank in the past.

Sponsorship landmark acheived

This year's fund has passed the £1500 mark, all thanks to a few new sponsors. There is still a lot of pestering, canvassing, begging and pleading to do before I reach the magic total of £5000. I'm quietly confident of reaching that total with 4 and a half months left before the big run. The aim now is £2000 before the end of February.

It is not until you remind yourself about the services that Hospices like St Benedict's provides, that you realise how important these types of establishments are and how important the funds raised are that go to support them. They have a very informative website (http://www.hospice.co.uk/) that gives an overview of the many services offered. The following is an extract from my old website. I wrote this a few years ago but it still holds true.

The staff and services provided by St Benedict's Hospice made my Mam's final days battling cancer more dignified and taught us both how to, what she and I called, "live with cancer".

My Mam attended the day care unit at the Hospice on a weekly basis for many months. It was during this time that the assessment and management of her treatment was undertaken by the specialist Hospice staff. It was certainly a bit of respite and relief for me, knowing my Mam was in good hands for a day receiving the kind of care and attention that I know she really appreciated. She often talked about the staff as if they were a bunch of her good friends. And it was through my Mam that I got to know Anne Oliver, the fund raising co-ordinator.

My Mam was admitted to the Hospice on the 27th December 1994. She spent a week there having her medication regulated and trying to get better and returned home with a renewed confidence to battle the cancer that she had and also support me while I did my 3rd year University exams. I passed with flying colours thanks to her support.

The 20th February 1995 saw her return to the Hospice. Her condition had worsened and there she stayed until her passing away on the 9th March 1995.

I feel I owe St Benedict's Hospice a huge debt of gratitude. If I can help them, in any small way, to continue to provide the kind of services to other terminally ill people in the region, then I will. This isn't just something I intend to do for a short time. I'd like to think I'll always try and raise funds for St Benedict's Hospice. Indeed, 2004 will be the 10th year of fundraising activities. I hope, in years to come, my son Jack will also have a part to play in this. And hopefully the support of my family and friends will continue. It's their money that is going to the Hospice after all.

Sunday 11 February 2007

Training Summary (Week ending 11/02/2007)

Monday 5th February - Gym (90 minutes).
Tuesday 6th February - 6 miles. Town Moor Memorial. (00:55:30).
Wednesday 7th February - 8.4 miles. Havannah. (01:24:32).
Thursday 8th February - 5 miles. Race course (00:48:12).
Friday 9th February - 4 miles. Bridle Path (00:36:12).
Sunday 11th February - Tennis (singles). (90 minutes, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 defeat).

Friday 9 February 2007

A fast one up to Newcastle Race Course with "The Coach"!

What better way to spend a lunch break than to chase Ian (aka The Coach) up to the race course and back for 5 miles. Ian doesn't believe in a gentle jog. He instead chooses to run at a pace just outside my comfort zone. I'm not complaining because, during the last few months, he has managed to help me run at my fastest pace for about 3 years.

During the last couple of weeks, Ian has started to ask, on a daily basis, about my diet (or lack of one!). Only this week I was tucking into a packet of chocolate peanuts thinking "Ian is going to kill me when he finds out!". As a result, The Coach has recommended a nutritional plan which I'm going to follow next week. I'll also be doing the same runs as this week with a view to seeing how a better diet could be of benefit to me. I think the biggest miss will be my 2 regular 08:00 teacakes. I get these from the canteen at work. They've just started a "serve yourself" system. And lets just say, I've been a little bit too generous with the butter!

Wednesday 7 February 2007

A cold one up to Havannah Nature Reserve

I was accompanied on today's sunny yet cold 8.5 mile run by Patrick and a tired John (who had ran the Torremolinos half marathon at the weekend). The route took us from Gosforth, up the Great North Road, along Brunton Lane and around the Havannah Nature Reserve (pictured right) before returning back via the same route. There was a small amount of snow on the ground and I surprising nearly fell only once.

This route has been one of my favourites this year. It's quite flat, allowing for a steady pace all the way round. Despite the distance, I never feel too tired afterwards.

There has been little sign of bird or wild life this winter in the reserve. In fact, the only "nature" I've experienced here lately was an impromptu toilet stop the other week. I'd like to say that it's quite embarrassing, but after 15 years of running it's something that I'm very much used to!

Pictured left, is me at the 4.3 mile point. The only thing I could think of at this point was the jacket potato I'd be eating an hour later. I'd bought one before the run and left it next to my PC to keep warm!

Tomorrow's run is a 5 mile route up to Newcastle Racecourse and back. Hopefully, the heavy snow, that is forecast to fall overnight, won't hamper my plans too much.

Tuesday 6 February 2007

Getting better all the time!

Today's run in new shoes was done in very cold temperatures. I smashed last week's time of 58:30 with a best this year of 55:38. Not bad at all for 6 miles. I feel like I'm back to the fitness levels of 2003. With another 5 months of training left, there's no reason why I can't wind the fitness clock back even further. It's one thing talking about it though. Actions must speak louder than words. Roll on tomorrow's 8.5 mile run up to the Havannah Nature Reserve.

Monday 5 February 2007

Could these be the trainers that carry me 900 miles?

After 600 miles or so, I've decided to get a new pair of trainers - Asics Gel Nimbus VIII. These should last me until June. If all goes well, these will be the trainers that I use to run from John O'Groats to Lands End.

The good thing about Asics shoes, in my experience, are the fact that they take no time at all to break in. They'll be making their debut tomorrow around what people now call the "Mark Allison Memorial 6 mile run". This is a route from Gosforth, through Fawdown, all the way around the Town Moor and back to Gosforth up the Great North Road. The 4 mile point actually goes past my birth place (the former Princess Mary's hospital). I bet my parents, back in 1971, would never imagine that I'd run past the place a few times a week while training for such an event.

The aim for tomorrow's run is to break an hour again and moreover try to get under 58:30 (This year's PB). I'll be running with the quite pacy Ian and Michael so I stand a good chance. Watch this space!