Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

OMM De-Lite

Monday, May 7th, 2018

We enjoyed last year’s OMM Lite sufficiently that we signed up again this year. The venue had shifted to the Forest of Dean, another area we know reasonably well through orienteering and its proximity to Christine’s parents. In a repeat of my marathon weekend, it was set to be a scorcher and we were grateful that the organisers took the decision to drop waterproofs from the kit to be carried!

This time we had a much better idea about the distance that we were likely to have to cover to fill seven hours on Saturday although that didn’t stop us re-planning continuously. Things didn’t start well with a run along the road, a detour down a dead-end, followed by hacking through the forest past the wild boar. That, at least, taught us the extent to which we should trust all the tracks on the map!

We headed out of the forest to pick up a 50-pointer out at Symonds Yat but decided not to go further afield and, after picking up a few more checkpoints, headed back into the forest again. At that point, there wasn’t much for it but to sweep around the bottom of the map and back up the eastern edge. Christine was definitely fading towards the end and wasn’t best pleased with my suggestion to squeeze in one extra checkpoint before the finish. The unexpected lap of the camping field meant that we were docked one point for being 19 seconds late back. Much to our surprise, this still left us 49 points clear of the next pair! (My watch began to die so our efforts are spread across part 1 and part 2 on Strava.)

Christine switched to trainers for the Sunday in an attempt to pacify a rather angry looking blister on her feet but, otherwise, we didn’t feel too bad setting out for a further five hours. The map was centred on the forest this time which provided some much-needed shade. We didn’t have to think a great deal initially with the first three checkpoints being ones we had visited on Saturday. Christine accepted that we needed to cross the valley to the controls on the eastern edge of the map but the climb back out of Soudley was pretty unpleasant, particularly as the path we were on disappeared amongst fallen trees.

We made it back in time and, although we didn’t clock the biggest total for the day (guest ultra-runner Markus Scotney sped past us at the end having knocked off another 100 points), it was enough to secure a victory. Winning prizes for the first mixed pair, as well as first place, certainly meant we had a tidy haul of OMM vouchers to show for our efforts! The 23 miles covered on Sunday brought the total for the weekend to over 55 miles, very similar to last year and only with around 200m less climb.

The podium photo also shows off our cheer squad with all but two of the children in the front row being relatives (the other two were a reunion from last year’s event). Sarah and Sue, in particular, had done a wonderful job of keeping them all amused whilst we were out running. Our two had done the orienteering on Sunday. Duncan secured a second on M10 whilst Emma had an absolute epic, spending nearly an hour and a half on her orange course! To round off an excellent weekend, they also ran in a sweltering children’s race at Devauden on Bank Holiday Monday.

Southampton Marathon

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

The day of the Southampton Marathon finally dawned today. Training hadn’t quite gone to plan. I’d largely managed to keep running on my three trips to the US but the time zone changes and flights do take it out of me (Christine claims I’m grumpy for a week after I get back). The biggest issue turned out to be back pain which meant two weeks off running and then another two weeks getting back up to speed. That meant that, although I had a reasonable base, I missed out on a lot of the longer runs and started today still without a clear idea what pace was feasible. On top of that, it was going to be warm (14-19ºC), another factor for which I wasn’t quite sure of the impact.

Preparation on the day was also a bit lacking. After a long queue, I exited the toilets five minutes before the start and, given the layout, had to try and force my way through from the back. When the pace flags eventually appeared I followed someone who was determined to push their way through so I didn’t start too far back. I still spent the first couple of kilometres weaving through slower runners and we had crossed the Itchen Bridge and were halfway around the Wolston loop before I found the 1:30 Half Marathon pacers.

On the whole, the first half felt pretty good, reflected in a split of 1:28:48. There was lots of support on the course, cool water and the occasional mister. When the half marathon runners peeled off though it was a different story. As they make up at least a fifth of the entry, all of a sudden I was pretty much running alone, my feet were sore, my legs tired, and keeping the pace up was starting to become a real effort. Suddenly the idea of a two-lap course and having to do it all again didn’t seem that great anymore!

It was around the 22-mile mark that things really started to slow down and, for the drag up Highfield Lane, my pace dropped below 5 min/k. I was determined to keep going and the downhill through the shade on the common was a chance to pull myself together again. I eventually crossed the line with a chip time of 3:03:46 with which I am more than satisfied.

Now I started out this journey talking about London Marathon good for age times. Sadly, a week before the race they announced new times for 2019 and my target dropped from 3:15 to 3:05. Whilst I did finish in under that time, the numbers are also to be capped so this time still doesn’t guarantee me a place. How I feel as I write this (sore legs and a headache from too much sun) I’m going to let them decide whether I should run another road marathon but, maybe in a week or twos time, I’ll feel differently…

I should end by thanking my family for their support, not only on the day (where they managed to cheer me on in no less than seven locations!) but also for putting up with me disappearing out for long runs and generally being inflexible with my training.

West Midlands JK

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

As is often the case, our Easter involved orienteering at the JK but, for the first time, both the children were entered. We headed up on Friday to the Sprint event at MOD Stafford. As with all days, the children had timed starts and we had open starts which were very convenient. Duncan flew round his course but Emma disappeared. I guess we’d failed to explain to her that she needed to make sure that she was on the right side of a feature: something that you don’t experience on your average orange course. She’d wandered off for 20 minutes before returning to the other side of the wall!

We were staying in Lichfield which seems like a pleasant enough town: the cathedral is certainly impressive and there was a good selection of places to eat out even taking into account the children’s (ok, Emma’s) preferences. I had a particularly bad run at the medium event: I just shouldn’t be allowed out with contours. The rest of the family did better with Emma first on W12B, Duncan second on M10B and Christine fifth. We decamped to the nearby Cannock Chase Go Ape afterwards where the children enjoyed racing around with their second cousins.

It was always a bad sign when cars were being towed into the car park field on Sunday. The course was no less muddy but at least it had some longer legs and I scraped a top ten. The children repeated their positions from Saturday and Christine moved up to fourth. These were also their overall positions. We stayed around for the prize giving but it turned out there were no prizes for B-courses: so much for encouraging juniors! At least it meant we could take a more direct line to escape the now largely empty car park field unaided.

The relays were back at Beaudesert only now with the addition of an overnight dusting of snow. Thankfully the car park field had been abandoned but the assembly area was a complete mud bath. Despite running alone, I must have still visited every other gaffle on my course (and wandered into an out-of-bounds marsh by mistake!) Emma was running but not Duncan. She went out in the mini-mass start which meant that Christine was back in time to shadow her round. Just as well given that the course took in tracks that had only been created by the previous day’s event!

Half Term Action

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Although we had no particular plans, I had the whole of the February half term off work. We went over to Wales for the first few days. I had a lovely long run in the Forest of Dean on Sunday whilst the others went around the sculpture trail. Christine drew the short straw as she got to run back to Monmouth just as the Arctic conditions arrived.

The next day we had to shovel the snow off the driveway before heading over to Llangorse Activity Centre. Christine wanted to cement the skills she’d learnt on her rope handling course whilst her Dad was around. Sue and I went for a short walk up a snowy hill!

Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated again as we headed back to Southampton. Not surprisingly, therefore, we weren’t the only ones to have the idea of going to the Winchester Science Centre and it was Thursday before I could actually book a ticket. By this time we had blue skies but it made a nice change to actually be able to sit outside and eat our lunch. The children enjoyed the special ‘Secret World of Gases’ show even if only for the loud bangs. I was less sure about the ‘We Are Aliens!‘ film in the planetarium but you could always just lie back and close your eyes… The same was true of our rather belated trip to see Paddington 2 the following day!

Christine took up the reigns again at the weekend with a trip to Mottisfont. I only made it as far as the car park, running back home instead.

Marathon training begins

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

I finally cashed in my prize from the Hursley 10K for an entry in the ABP Southampton Marathon on 22 April. The entry may come free but sadly the training does not! This week I embarked on a training plan. My starting point is one from the London Marathon site. For me, it primarily means running one more day a week than I typically average and mixing things up a little with intervals and, of course, ever longer runs. On the few occasions in the past where I’ve followed a training plan, I’ve quite enjoyed the variety as, left to my own devices, I’m prone to just churning out the same old runs at the same pace.

Sticking to the plan is unlikely to plain sailing. There was already some flexibility needed this week with visiting colleagues disrupting my normal lunchtime routine. There are already a couple of overseas trips in the calendar for the coming months and the weekend of what is supposed to be my longest run, I’ll be racing four days at the JK! Sadly I’m also not entirely injury free, with a long-term problem with my left hamstring and my right knee never having quite recovered from the jar it took in the long grass at the Caddihoe Chase. Stretching and strength training therefore also form part of the plan and they’re probably the part that I’ll find hardest to keep going!

All of this begs the question “So do you have a target time?”. That’s a tricky one. Having finished the Clarendon Marathon in 3:26 at the end of last year, aiming under 3:15 for a London Marathon good-for-age time seems like a reasonable start. Back in the dim and distant past the power of 10 claims that I completed the distance in under three hours but I’m somewhat dubious about the course measurement. That was also over 10 years ago but this will be the first time I’ve run a road marathon so should I be aiming for something a bit more ambitious? Let’s just see how the training pans out…

First orienteering of 2018

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Some years seem to go by where we don’t make it to a single SCOA league event; this year there’s only been one Sunday so far and we already have one in the bag! As we pulled up at a sunny but windswept Cadnam’s Pool we certainly weren’t the only ones (there were over 90 entrants on the blue course).

Emma and Duncan zipped round the yellow and white courses respectively. (Kieran had been quite generous with the smiley faces on their courses given the difficulty of following paths buried in mountains of damp leaves.) Christine ran the blue and I tackled the brown (which if nothing else meant no queueing at the start). My legs were certainly tired from the previous day’s exertions but I suspect at least half of my eleven-minute deficit behind the winner was simply due to lack of concentration. I regularly run through the area (sometimes at night) without a map but I can’t claim that helped one iota. It was just nice being out in a lovely runnable bit of the forest though.

Hants XC

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

The Hampshire Cross-Country Champs were back at Fairthorne Manor again this year. With some heavy rain over the preceding few days, it was a return to the conditions of two years ago: mud and more mud. It could have been worse though as the route of the course steadily evolved over the day as the tapes were adjusted to avoid some of the stickiest spots.

As is customary, the ladies race went first and the children and I flitted from one part of the course to another to catch sight of Christine as many times as we could. I then left them to meet her at the finish whilst I stripped off more layers than felt advisable and had a quick warm up trying to find the toilets (they had been right behind me!). I started fairly steadily but, for a change, after the first two laps I was still overtaking people and wasn’t experiencing any heaviness in my legs or nausea. I finished in a fairly respectable 56th place, fourth V40 and, together with my Eastleigh teammates, we bagged third place in the veteran team competition.

(Photos are Copyright hammy8241)

Run some Pubs

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Just to record the event for posterity, “Run the Pubs” did take place in 2017. As in the past few years, we deviated somewhat from the original format in that the pubs we visited on the run weren’t all those that we visited during our Tuesday night runs in the summer. This year,
we even went to one pub that we hadn’t been to earlier in the year but it made a nice loop of around 15 miles. Unfortunately, the heavens opened towards the end of the run but it made warming ourselves by the fire at the New Forest Inn all the more pleasant!

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