22 Dec 2013

1010.37 - 1043.2KM: With a Trot, Gallop and a Run (Turkey Trot, Gaddesby Gallop and Lincoln Santa Run)

With the dust now having finally settled on my 1000km, the past few weeks have been all about the continuation of my own personal quest of running 52 races in a calendar year. 

1010.37 - 1031.40KM: Turkey Trot

The first race of December was the Keyworth Turkey Trot, a race that had been pencilled in to my calendar much earlier in the year. When the race registration opened at the end of September there was a lot of buzz on Twitter about the race and whether people would be lucky enough to get in. For what I deemed a low key race, albeit a relatively popular one, this seemed like hyperbole, but I made sure to set my alarm early that morning. Sure enough within 12 hours of registration opening the race had sold out. Roll on a couple of months and I would get to see what all the fuss was about.

On the way to the race I began to worry about whether eating a curry the night before would prove to be a big mistake. If there is one vital piece of 'kit' that I bring with me to every race it is a pack of Immodium instants, whilst I have never had to rely on them, there has been a few occasions where it has been reassuring to have them on stand by. I can't think of anything worse than having to squat behind a hedge mid race. Some ominous noises from down below on the drive to the race aside I needn't have been overly concerned. 

It's hard to say whether or not the race lived up to the hype, as much of it was spent anxiously waiting for my knee to inevitably fall apart and then dealing with it when it happened. The pain from the past few weeks was pretty much constant from the start of the race, but it wasn't until the 10th mile that it became an issue. The majority of the course was undulating, in particular a big climb around the 2 1/2 mile point, but it would be the final big push with 3 miles to go that proved too much. For those last few miles my pace would drop over a minute slower than the rest of the race, but still crossed the line in a decent enough time. 

Next year when I have use of both my knees, my jaw doesn't hurt when I run and I'm nowhere near the fatigue levels I've reached this year I imagine I'll give the race another go. From the little I can remember the race seemed to have a great atmosphere, a nice challenging course and Jelly Babies on route, meaning it has all the makings of a great race. 

Distance: 21.03km | 13.07 miles
Time: 01:43:25
Official Time: 01:43:24
Average Pace: 04:55 min/km | 07:55 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: Mug, Bottle of Water


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1031.40 - 1039.64KM: Gaddesby Gallop

On the 24th November I reached the 1000KM at the Norwich Half Marathon, a few weeks on and I'm still entering every race I can find every weekend as my own personal quest to run 52 races in a year continues. On the 8th December my tally for the year would reach 50 with the Gaddesby Gallop, a 5 and a bit mile cross country run in a village in Leicestershire. 

Having had nightmares about running across soaked, freshly ploughed fields after the Spires & Steeples earlier in the year, I was relieved when the week before the race was relatively dry. A smallish crowd of around 100 competitors gathered in the field for the start, many appearing to be veterans of the race, fully aware of what was to come. After a few hundred metres we came to the first of many stiles, and the tailback was pretty bad but thankfully a broken fence allowed runners to cross five at a time. This was soon put into perspective as after crossing the next field it took at least a minute to get from the back of the horrific queue, over the stile and into the next field. The reward for doing so would be the first of three water crossings, the 'Dew Pond' a relatively simple 2ft deep crossing, and just a taste of what was to come.

Crawling through your pipes
While a lot was made of the race's three water crossings, it would be the 'dry' parts that would prove to be the most challenging. More often than not diving in to the water would feel like a welcome respite, if for no reason other than to clean all the mud off my trainers. Thankfully the dry weather made these uneven surfaces as passable as they could be, but the fields soon churned up.

Next up would be the 'Drainage Pipe', as I approached this section you could see runners disappearing underground only to re-emerge some moments later. Fortunately this section was much drier than I was anticipating and the challenge became whether or not I could get down and then back up the bank without slipping on my arse. With the 'Brook Crossing' the best would definitely be saved until last. After some bitterly cold mornings the previous month I was relieved for a reasonably mild morning as it could have made this section rather unpleasant. Instead I rather enjoyed wading though the waist high water, I imagine I looked like the Creature from the Black Lagoon when I emerged at the other end.

Once out of the water there would be a couple more fields to cross before reaching the finish. It's a shame this race wasn't closer to home as it could soon turn into a yearly race for me. As it stands it's definitely on my 'Probably' list for races I'd do again, I just need to remember to bring a spare pair of socks.

Distance: 8.24km | 5.12 miles
Time: 00:45:46
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 05:33 min/km | 08:57 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: N/A


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1039.64 - 1043.20KM: Lincoln Santa Run

I had always intended to run at least one race this year in fancy dress in an attempt to raise more money for charity, but ultimately any plans I tried to make fell through. Instead the opportunity was eventually forced upon me with the Lincoln Santa Run. Walking to the start of the race from the bottom of Lincoln already in 'costume' caused a few strange looks, but thankfully there were one or two others doing the same thing.

Heading to the race all Incognito...kinda
I headed to the start of the race, outside the Castle wilfully ignorant of how big the event was. When I arrived and I was shocked to be greeted by a crowd of a couple thousand Santas. I slowly tried to wriggle my way to as close as I could get to the front, past the crowds of walkers.

It would be a common theme throughout the race as the majority opted to walk the course, meaning I would have to be alert to gaps as they opened up. As the course bent round past the castle on the second lap hordes of competitors were still crossing the start line, which led to big hold up later on as the two laps merged. The majority of the second lap would be spent squeezing past walkers where possible until finishing back in the castle to collect my Santa themed medal. There were only handful of competitors in the castle grounds as I finished and if I'm feeling generous I could boast a top 20 finish. With, to my knowledge, no official results and no one to claim otherwise, I think that's what I'll do.

Running with a cheap, fake beard soon proved to be more difficult than I could have imagined. Being a mouth breather I had to split open the mouth slip wide enough to allow me to breathe, but instead this just allowed me to breathe in clumps of the beard, which then found a way up my nose after I tried to spit them out. Rather unpleasant. 

Where's Wally?
At the time of writing this in a few moments I will be off to the Lincoln & District Runners' Charity Christmas Cross Country (Longest Race name ever?). It also wins the prize of having the best race entry of the year, asking instead for a donation of toys or selection boxes for a local children's charity. With my total currently standing at 51 and with today's race and the Liverbird New Year's Eve Marathon little over a week away it looks like somehow I'll reach the unprecedented total of running 52(53) races in 52 weeks. 

If you're feeling generous in this season of giving my JustGiving page is still open, so please visit http://justgiving.com/shanes1000km


Distance: 3.56km | 2.21 miles
Time: 00:15:51
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 04:27 min/km | 07:10 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: Medal, Bottle of Water


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12 Dec 2013

November Review (900.92 - 1010.37KM)

In November, for the second time this year (August), I ran a total of 7 races in just one month. After 47 long weeks it would also see me finally reach my target 1000KM a whole month and a bit ahead of schedule. Not that I would let myself hang my trainers up and simply enjoy the rest of the year off though.

3 River Challenge
The first race of November was about as impromptu as they come, 16 hours before the race started I was planning a race free weekend, then after doing tidying up I happened across a flyer for the 3 River Challenge and all my plans changed. Taking place only 20 minutes away from my house it seemed like a missed opportunity if I didn't go, but I would still have to wait until 90 minutes or so before the race started before I knew whether or not I would be able to make it. In hindsight I probably wished I hadn't, my body was feeling the effects of running 3 marathons in quick succession and both the weather and the course's conditions made for a tricky morning. I was soon won round by the sight of cake at the finish line mind.

Robin Hood Trail 10K
The following week I would continue a common trend this year of running multiple races in a weekend and first up on the Saturday was the Robin Hood Trail 10K. As the first of two races I opted to run at a reasonably relaxed pace, but as with most races this month I would feel like I was running with very heavy legs after a year of running was slowly coming to an end. 

Boston Poppy Run
The next day I would run the Boston Poppy Run, held every year in support of the Royal British Legion on Remembrance Sunday. After trying to run at a reasonably relaxed pace the day before, I intended to try and set a fast time, on the nice, flat course. A strong head wind and general fatigue would put paid to this however but it was another race down, another step closer to 1000km and more importantly another medal.

Lincoln Park Run
After moving to Lincoln in 2008, running went from something I would occasionally do if I needed the toilet or I was being chased to a full time hobby. I soon then became aware of the 'Parkrun', a 5km free timed run every Saturday held at various spots around the country (and world). A long, long 5 years later and the Parkrun would finally come to Lincoln. Despite waiting half a decade I wasn't prepared for it and after some issues with trying to print out my barcode I nearly ended up missing it. After a frantic 5km dash to the start I arrived with a few minutes to spare, but barely enough to catch my breath back.

Stilton Stumble 24K
I was originally scheduled to run the Rother Valley Half Marathon on the 17th November, but earlier that week I learnt that the race had been cancelled for unforeseen (and undisclosed) reasons. Fortunately I already had a good replacement race in mind, the Stilton Stumble, as it was the race that I was originally planning to run that weekend instead. The race felt like a throwback to some of the races earlier in the year as it had more than a one challenging hill but even with my legs feeling empty it would still make for an enjoyable race.

Nottingham Mo Run
Last year when I was trying to work out just exactly 'what' my big fundraising challenge would be this year one of the ideas that I had was to run 52 races in a year. Eventually this was dismissed as financially and practically it seemed impossible and I opted for the 1000KM challenge instead. As the year went on I began to find more and more races and it began to seem a little more possible, one of these races was the Nottingham Mo Run. The bright orange headband and moustache shaped medal drew my attention and when I realised that running it would mean finishing the challenge back 'home' in Norfolk it was a no-brainer.

Norwich Half Marathon
After 47 long weeks the 1000KM challenge was finally brought to an end at the City of Norwich Half Marathon. More often than not every year this race came round I would be running it injured, or running it having just recovered from injury. This year was no different, having banged my knee badly at work, whilst initially appearing to be fine, it would rear its ugly head and turn the race into one of the toughest of the year. You only have to look at the best/worst photo of me running this year to see just how much pain I was in when I crossed the finish line.

Silkstone Shuffle
So I had reached the 1000KM target the weekend before and I was suffering with a niggling knee injury, so what was I doing running another race? Surely I should have been resting up, enjoying the weekend off and allowing myself to recover? Well I should, but instead I ran the Silkstone Shuffle on one knee as my 48th race of the year as my attention now turned to running an unprecedented 52 races in 52 weeks.

As always, please visit my JustGiving page and donate what you can. If you can't donate then please share my JustGiving page and news of what I'm doing with others, in case they can. The only way we can end the suffering that Jenny and millions of others go through on a daily basis is with your help.

November Stats:

1000KM Challenge Distance: 109.45KM

Time Running Total: 08:14:57
Total Running Distance: 188.17KM
Bananas Eaten: 43
Races: 7
T-Shirts: 1
Medals: 3

1000km Challenge Stats:

1000KM Challenge Distance: 1010.37KM
Time Running Total: 86:22:46
Total Running Distance: 2046.47KM
Bananas Eaten: 466
Races: 48
T-Shirts: 23
Medals: 23


A look ahead to November

Confirmed Races

08/12 - Turkey Trot
14/12 - Gaddesby Gallop

15/12 - Lincoln Santa Run
22/12 - Lincoln South Common Cross Country
31/12 - Liverbird New Year's Eve Marathon

7 Dec 2013

1003.35 - 1010.37KM: Ascension (Silkstone Shuffle)

On Sunday 24th November I completed the 1000KM Challenge at the City of Norwich Half Marathon. So what was I doing in the middle of a field outside Barnsley last Saturday morning in my shorts and a vest? Well there is still the small matter of my personal quest to run 52 races this year, starting with the Silkstone Shuffle.

The race was the fourth and final event in a series hosted by the Barnsley Harriers running club. After a little bit of confusion with finding the place and then where to park, I eventually made my way across to the registration to grab my number. The field seemed to be made up almost entirely from local running clubs, with myself being one of a few mad enough to spend their morning on a cold, November day in a field without being invited.

Geography has never been a strong point of mine, so whilst I was fully aware of where the race was, the course took me a little bit by surprise. With it being in Pennine country I really should have expected a hill or two as I knew enough to being my trail trainers with me, but any hope of an easy race was just wishful thinking. The race started with an immediate big 400ft climb for the first couple of miles, though thankfully it was only a short race so the remainder would be spent slowly making our way back down.

Desperately trying to not look saggy

Although I have completed the 1000KM challenge I still have a few more races left in the year to get through, including the Marathon on New Year's Eve, so I took a slower pace and hoped to reduce the impact on my knee. After running the City of Norwich Half Marathon on one knee, the Shuffle was a good test to see just how much it had recovered in the 5 days I had taken off from running. Not just because of the hills, but also the uneven, off road terrain would be sure to seek out any weakness it still had and for the most part it held firm. Whilst the other week I took the reckless approach of trying to finish the race as fast as my body would allow to bring the quickest possible end to the pain, I was a bit more careful this time round.

Coming back with the finish in sight
The good news is that my knee survived, there were a few twinges around the course, but that was to be expected and it was certainly much better than the weekend before. Just because my body likes to troll me, for the past couple of weeks I've been suffering from a persistent pain on the left side of the jaw. Numerous trips back and forth between the dentist and hospital, complete with a full facial X-Ray has left me none the wiser as to what the issue is. All I know is that it hurts to eat, which naturally is a biggie, and the other morning it was a touch painful on the run into work. Not bad enough to stop me running, but with Christmas looming round the corner being in pain for the season of eating is far from ideal.

If you're feeling generous in this season of giving my JustGiving page is still open, so please visit http://justgiving.com/shanes1000km

Distance: 7.02km | 4.36 miles
Time: 00:34:57
Official Time: 00:34:59
Average Pace: 04:59 min/km | 08:01 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: N/A


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