Windermere Marks Halfway Point

Only two weeks after completing the Marathon of the North, Langley and I were back on a marathon start line again, this time at a very sunny Brathay Hall in Ambleside – the home of The Brathay Windermere Marathon.

Windermere Lake

After three consecutive city road races we approached this event with a little more excitement and positivity. Langley had previously run this race in 2010 and again in 2011 and holds the course in very high regard. This was to be my first attempt.

We arrived early and were joined by Paula, Dave, Hayley, Sharpie and Zach. It’s always good to know you have a support team waiting for you at the end – it’s this that keeps you going, as well as them who grant your every wish after the race is over.

Support Team

Unlike other marathons, runners at Windermere collect their goody bag at registration, with only the medal to look forward to at the finish line. To my disappointment there was no race t-shirt included, as here runners were encouraged to buy this on the day. We decided against purchasing one, knowing yellow didn’t suit our complexion… In truth, we are just cheap skates!

We explored the event base where the race would start and finish. Here we bathed in the glorious sunshine before the starting cry for runners came. We were marched down the long driveway towards the start line by a local drumming band. It was a nice way to start the day and something different from other race starts.

To the start Men ... and ladies!

It was at this point we left our support crew. Zach now had the chance to master his football skills, the girls could top up their sun tans and Dave got to catch up with his reading.

The organisers brand the race as ‘Britain’s Toughest Marathon’ but we knew it would have to go someway to contend with brutal Anglesey and energy sapping South Devon, but approach with caution we did.

To our surprise we found ourselves amongst the front runners and we joked that this was the first time we would ever be positioned inside the first 200 runners. Of course this very quickly changed and we gradually slipped back into the crowd of ‘slower’ runners.

And we're off!

The start was deceptively steep and the roads were windy which meant you could rarely see more than 200 yards ahead. This was a nice change to the recent long stretches of road we’d become accustomed to at recent city runs. It felt great to be twisting and turning around the edges of the lake and the scenery was breathtaking. I can see why so many people descend on the Lake District throughout the year – it really is beautiful.

Very pretty :o)

So beautiful in fact it would appear Edward Scissorhands has decided to swap his haunted mansion for a cottage in the lakes. Evidence below:

Edwards House!

We past Edward’s garden at mile ten and both Langley and I were feeling fresh and loving every minute of the race to this point. We were trundling along at a comfortable sub-four hour pace and our t-shirts and head cam were attracting some attention from other runners, as well as spectators. People were full of praise for our efforts and this spurred us on. So much so that we found ourselves scurrying through our tenth mile at 8min 30sec pace without even noticing.

A little later Langley had to stop with cramp and he encouraged me to keep going. A mile or so had passed and there was no sign of Langley catching so I began to people watch. As I ran I’d observe the other runners surrounding me. I questioned how men and women twice my weight were keeping speed with me, how women with supersize bottoms were travelling along at four hour marathon pace and most impressively how a man clearly in his 70s was pulling away from me by my twelfth mile.

It was at this exact point that I set myself three simple targets:

1) Pass and under no circumstances allow myself to be beaten by any of the fat bottomed girls.

2) Catch the old grey haired dude who was only just visible in the distance.

3) Allow myself to slow, but never allow myself to walk during the remainder of the race.

So with these three simple targets now in place I set off on my quest to achieve a respectable time and more importantly the pride of beating these ‘how can you run a marathon’ folk surrounding me.

Target one was briskly completed as I passsed the fat bottomed ladies, albeit taking a wide berth in passing, before the next hill.

urgh the road ahead

I then began my hunt to catch the old dude, who to my frustration was pulling away even more than before. This was a goal I really wanted to achieve – my pride was at stake here!!

Finally I caught up with him and we ran alongside for a little while without either of us exchanging words. I admired his awesome endurance and he simply gave a few quizzical looks as if to say what are you looking at.

By mile thirteen he upped his pace even more and tried to pull away from me. It was at this point I thought I best strike up a conversation before I get reported to the organisers for stalking fellow runners. I started with the usual conversation starters – I’d ask him how he was feeling, comment on the weather and even had a conversation on Kendal mint cake. I was dying to ask how a man of his age was beetling along a such a rate of knots. So I did, I think I said something like, ‘god you’ll end up with the front runners if you can keep this pace up’.

He told me that his aim was to finish as the fastest runner of the 65+ vet category entrants and that he has completed more Park Runs than any other person (all ages) in the whole world. Impressive I thought as I slowed my pace and let him trot off into the distance for me never to catch up with him again. I guess you can never judge a runner by his or her cover.

At various stages of the race we had to contend with passing traffic, many of whom were courteous and respectful towards the runners, others took it upon themselves to scare the living daylights out of us as they flew past us at breakneck speeds.

eek ... cars!

Regardless of your fitness level, marathon background or mental state the latter stages of a marathon are a brutal challenge. Your head tells you to keep going (as do the supporters) whilst your legs are ready to give up. Windermere was no different and in some cases felt harder than previous marathon endings. My legs were screaming at me to slow or stop for a much needed rest and I succumbed to their cries at mile twenty meaning I had failed to achieve my target of not walking. Damn it!

On reflection the walk did me good and after a brisk march up the hill and momentary drinks stop I was on my way again in pursuit of the finish line.

Drinks anyone?

We past through Bowness where the tourists were out in force to cheer us along the lakeside and through the streets. It was a long slog from here on in and I adopted the walk-run-walk strategy all the way to the end – slow but effective!

Oh so close to home!

I could not be happier to have reached the home straight and hear our support team cheering as I appeared at the final bend. Always the showman I decided to treat the spectators to a sprint finish. The first words I heard on completing the race were ‘you’d have won if you ran it all at that pace’. I will remember this sound advice at our next race.

I think my closing words were ‘kill me now’…

Kill Me!!

As I lay in a heap Langley also treated the crowd to a sprint finish as he raced his son Zach over the finish line. I must add that it was Zach who crossed the line first, but in Langley’s defence Zach had not completed the 26.2 miles previous.

Racing to the line!

We’d both completed our sixth marathon in the space of just four months. My time was 4hours 18minutes, 41seconds and only a short distance behind was Langley who completed the course in a time of 4hours 23minutes, 38seconds.

The races are certainly not getting any easier, but we are gradually making our way through the twelve daunting challenges we set out to complete back in January.

It feels great to have reached the halfway point!

Done!

Brighton Marathon Video

Hi All,

This is the fourth of the 12 marathons Jamie and I (the marathon men!) will be running this year. This is the Brighton Marathon which was held on 15th April 2012. It was an similar run to Blackpool, however the views, route and support was far superior. Multiple trips up and down the promenade made for easy running, we even passed the Grand Hotel but there wasn’t time for tea!!

Next stop the Sunderland Marathon on 6th May!

Fashion Police on Alert!

It’s been a busy week this week, in addition to the running we’ve been putting the finishing touches to our tea shirts which are now with printers in Sunderland.  Fingers crossed we should be seen stepping out around Northumberland in these glorious creations in a week or two.

As I’m sure you all wait with baited breath I’ve included a sneak peak below, we’ve gone for a variety of colours so that just like the ‘Where’s Wally’ book you can have hours of fun finding us in those marathon crowds!   Hope you like 😮 …

Marathon Men Shirts

Help is on hand!

David OsgathorpFantastic News, we’ve only gone and got ourselves someone to keep us on the straight and narrow over the next 12 months!!  Yes we have ourselves our very own personal trainer in the form of David Osgathorp.

In his opening address to us both, a motivational speach if you will he proudly announced that “if the training doesn’t kill us, he probably will.”  Now you can’t say fairer than that can you!

On a serious note it’s fantastic to have him aboard, David has been at the forefront of the UK health and fitness industry for several years and holds certifications from some of the most prestigious personal training, sports medicine and therapy academies around the world.

For the past 10 years David has set about achieving excellence in the field of fitness training and corrective exercise. His multi-disciplinary approach has attracted clients from all walks of life and all backgrounds including athletes, actors, medical professionals and disabled individuals. He now divides his time writing, speaking, teaching and training and as the owner of All About You Personal Training.

All About YouDavid created All About You Personal Training with the aim of providing a unique holistic approach to health and fitness with a service that surpasses all other Personal Training services. He now has a team of trainers, therapists, nutritionists and physiologists that rival any other health and fitness professional in the world.

David writes regularly for his own in house publications as well as local press and has worked on a consultancy basis for numerous corporate businesses. If you’d like to find out more about David’s business and ideas on health and fitness you can visit his website www.aayoutraining.com.

Stepping out in style!

We are in the process of putting together some groovy running tops that we can wear during training and whilst running the marathons.

We’ve mocked up a couple of initial ideas which I thought I’d share below, however, this is now in the hands of the experts. (nice one Hayley!! :0)  So hopefully once complete we’ll truly step out in style!

I’ll update the blog with a pic once they’re done and on our backs!  For those in and around Northumberland keep your eyes peeled for us out and about training.

Tea shirt Options

Best foot forward

I’ve done quite a bit of road running over the last few years, not to any great standard you understand, but I’ve done my fair share of miles!  During that time I have refined my road shoe choice and find that for me the best option is the Asics Gel Kayano range.  My good friends at Start Fitness have helped evaluate my running pattern and whilst I’m a heavy heel striker due to having one leg longer than the other, the wear generally on the Kayano’s is very even which is what I believe one should be looking for!

Kayano ShoesSo when it comes to road running I have a shoe that works well for me, and has just become a disposable item (granted an expensive disposable item).  When my current shoes wear out I just pop along to the shop and get another pair of the same size, don’t really need to try them on anymore I just know what I’m getting.

However, as Jamie and I are quickly coming to realise the first two marathons in this challenge are going to be very much ‘trail runs’ with very little in the way of tarmac.  This puts us into unfamiliar territory when it comes to what to put on our feet!  I have to confess trail shoes are not something I’ve ever really considered.  I have a pair of Inov8 Roclite 318 GTX’s which I bought to use in a previous ‘adventure’, but to be honest I’ve done very little mileage in them.  The reason for that particular shoe choice was down to the large amount of cushioning they have.  Four triangles on the inov8 scale … I believe that is a lot! This was perfect as I was planning to do a significant amount of off-road mileage in one session. Now it could well be that these shoes still fit my need as I believe they are a reasonable all purpose shoe.

So if anyone has a recommendation in terms of a ‘trail shoe’ for a coastal marathon which will have a mix of conditions, mud, sand, rock and shale, I would appreciate any advice which will be welcomed with open arms! 😮

Challenge Summary

2 Men, 12 Marathons, 10 Months … This is the list of marathons we are currently planning to enter as part of our challenge in 2012.  We have places secured for most of the races, however a few of the marathons have yet to open for entrants.  Check out the details of each of the marathons further down this page.

Marathon Map

 

Marathon Race Date
Endurancelife CTS Anglesey 21/01/2012
Endurancelife South Devon Marathon 18/02/2012
Blackpool Marathon 11/03/2012
Brighton Marathon 15/04/2012
Marathon of the North 06/05/2012
Brathey Windermere Marathon 20/05/2012
South Downs Marathon 09/06/2012
Isle of Man Marathon 22/07/2012
Guernsey Marathon 26/08/2012
Cheddar Gorge Marathon 09/09/2012
Loch Ness Marathon 30/09/2012
Kielder Marathon 07/10/2012

Anglesey Marathon – 21st Jan 2012

  Marathon 1  COMPLETED

Anglesey Pic

The Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Mon) is situated off the north-west coast of Wales near the beautiful Snowdonia mountain range. It is separated from the mainland by the Menai Strait. Anglesey has a dedicated coastal path running around the whole island. The cliffs have been shaped by the bracing Irish Sea and it’s the ideal setting for the start to our 12 marathons in 10 months challenge.

This marathon is actually the fourth stage in the Endurancelife CTS trail series; they describe the terrain as grass, rocks and mud.  Jamie and I will certainly have to have our wits about us!  More worryingly the difficulty level is 3 – Strenuous, although to be honest every marathon I’ve taken part in has been strenuous!

To add to our enjoyment the course is actually slightly longer than a standard marathon at 27.59 miles with an ascent of 2,264 feet over the distance.  Nothing like starting with an easy one; and this is nothing like starting with an easy one!  If I don’t feel forty yet I will do by the time we hit March.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this particular race you can do so via the following link: http://www.endurancelife.com/event.asp?series=54&location=135

South Devon Marathon – 18th Feb 2012

  Marathon 2 COMPLETED

South Devon Pic

The South Devon stage of the Coastal Trail Series (Stage 5 this year) has become a cult classic. The course is contained within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is simultaneously picturesque and punishing. With its blend of jagged rocks interspersed with idyllic sandy coves, this coastline is jaw droppingly beautiful and hugely inspiring.
The event is extremely popular, and you can see why from the video below as the course weaves in and around the technical coastline, before heading inland to tackle a few of the infamous Devon hills!

Now in my previous post on the Anglesey Marathon I noted that it was a very difficult start to our challenge. However when I’ve come to look at the stats it is this marathon that stands clear of all the others in terms of technical difficulty and shear terror.

I guess you know you’re in for a treat when the organisers specify that the following items are mandatory to wear or carry for all those participating in the Marathon.

Windproof Jacket – Marathon: long sleeves
Water Bottle or Hydration System – 750ml capacity
Basic First Aid Kitwound dressing
Emergency Foil Blanket
Energy Bar / Snacks
Mobile Phone
Hat or Buff
Whistle

As part of the same Trial series as the Anglesey marathon the organisors rate this particular run as difficulty level is 4 – Severe, a step up from Anglesey!

To add to our enjoyment the course is actually slightly longer than a standard marathon and Anglesey for that matter at 28.1 miles with an ascent of 4,375 feet over the distance. If there is a marathon that we fear next year it is this one!  On the upside it really does look truly stunning and for your enjoyment I’ve linked the video of this years race below.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this particular race you can do so via the following link: http://www.endurancelife.com/event.asp?series=54&location=128

Blackpool Marathon – 11th Mar 2012

  Marathon 3 COMPLETED

Blackpool Marathon

Blackpool is a coastal resort town in the north west of England. It is the most popular resort in the country with approximately ten million visitors annually.  Well in April that figure will grow by another few thousand as we and many others descend upon the town to take part in the 2012 marathon.  At last this one looks like a traditional marathon with plenty of black stuff beneath our feet from the first to the last of the 26.2 miles.

I’m sure Jamie and I will consider one of the places in the calendar that we may get a PB (we haven’t quite decided what that would be, I’m guessing somewhere under 4 hours!) with an ascent of only 344 feet over the distance. A collective hoorah from Jamie and I … I hope you don’t mind!

If you’re interested in finding out more about this particular race and maybe even joining us, you can do so via the following link: http://www.fyldecoastrunning.com/blackpool-mainpage.html