Week 13: Underestimate 1/2 Marathons at Your Peril

Monday 28th March

The last 1/2 marathon of Quarter 1 of my challenge delivered yet another lesson like a massive slap around my face… and both my knees, hips and feet! After the big events of the Bath 1/2 and Forest of Dean 1/2 I’ve seen this week as a ‘break’. A break from travel, organised start times and full half day outings to do the run. Over the Easter Weekend we hosted friends and family and made a start on landscaping the garden on Friday Saturday. Sunday night arrived and I decided that I’d do the run on Monday AM. Just get up and go. Feed up Sunday night and head out fasted in the morning. Done it before, I’ll do it again, cruise along and take in some sights of Bristol. 60mins in and the effects of 2 days of labouring and half-arsed carb loading really began to pinch! 90mins in and I was crawling back home- hips screaming and both knees on fire I must have looked like Eddie Izzard on the last day of his epic 27 days marathons in 27 days (minus the nail polish but close to tears). His journey heroic, mine just pathetic! This was my slowest 1/2 marathon yet, the bottom completely fell out in the last 5km.

I’ve got some serious work to do on my body before my next run. Right knee pain is manageable but becoming all too familiar in the days between runs and on the runs its definitely a problem now that it subtly affects the way I run and is abnormally loading the other leg, hence the pain there too. Lesson learnt…

1) nail down a day and prepare for it

2) each run needs a goal-goals give structure & targets to achieve

3) gym gym gym gym get in the gym!

Thanks to everyone who’s sponsored me his week, 1/4 of the way through the year we’re currently at £3400. A massive thank you to everyone who’s supported me so far in this journey. If you haven’t supported The Bristol Children’s Hosptial yet but would like to please go to justgiving.com/bobsm100

Week 12: Naked & Alone in The Forest of Dean

Sunday 20th March

This week I ran naked: no watch, no heart rate monitor, no phone to track Km speeds or IMG_0421.JPG10km paces. No music and no family to cheer me on. Katie was on full baby duty looking after Autumn and also her cousin Georgina as well. I arrived at the Forest alone, ran alone, finished and jumped in the car alone. Today was an experiment to see if I could get myself to just float around a course in the style of the running classic, Born to Run. I’d say I had moderate success:

IMG_0123When I plotted out my 12 months of 1/2 marathons back in January I punched “top 5 UK 1/2 marathons” into Google and The Forest of Dean 1/2 was one of those that popped right up. The course info read “mix of mostly trail and some tarmac on an undulating course” this is one I’ve been looking forward to. Had this been another tarmac city course I may have pulled out and opted instead for a training run instead- my body is suffering!

After 1 mile of tarmac we moved onto track and the course dropped steeply down into the forest. I hadn’t really had time to warm up by this point and the steep downhill left my  patella tendons humming.

So I set about calmly getting into my own rhythm letting people pass and passing others by while I maintained my efforts, twisting through the forest, up gentle inclines and back down again. After the initial descent I tried to maintain a decent pace just on the edge of my comfort zone throughout drawing my mind back from the distance to go and focussing on the 100m in front of me. A big mindfulness exercise. I’d notice my attention drift to what how others were running or extending to disect the run into sections but each time I’d try to bring it back to breathing steadily and focussing on the next 100m. I only let this focus go to look around and admire the scenery or notice small things in the landscape. The last 5km is usually when I try to push on and suffer the last 20-odd minutes as my head seems IMG_0124to be able to tolerate that. Today I just tried to run tall with shoulders back,  up my pace and let the finish line come to me.
Your body in discomfort for 100mins is a constant distraction to this focus but when I got to the end I felt relatively calm and relaxed all things considered. I passed the finish line in something around 1hr42mins30secs… I think. I’m sure I’ll check the online results later on when they are published but whatever it is I’m happy with something around that with a slow start and quite an undulating course.

Thanks to everyone for their support this week. For Barry Edwards doing his best to fix my

Screenshot 2016-03-21 08.30.25
Armchair Coaching from @tomdrowley

knee and to Tom Drowley for his armchair advice. Back to the gym this morning to try and sort my knees out and stop the rot! Running total at present is £3285. Please find my sponsorship page at justgiving.com/bobsm100. Thanks for reading and please pledge whatever you can.


Week 11: Runner’s High at The Bath Half

Sunday 13th March

It feels like all the work and experiences of the last 2 and half months came together today. Such a turn around from Droitwhich 7 days ago. I can only presume it was the ridiculous amount of carbohydrate that I consumed before and during the race but I felt like I could have motored along for as long as was required today. 1hr40mins39secs is my new PB around 20.1km. My head was in it all the way but my legs just wouldn’t go faster. Is this runners high or just a sugar rush?

It’s been a fantastic day, the weather was perfect. A cool Spring morning without a cloud in the sky. Bath is an amazingly beautiful city with the start line on the grand Great Pulteney Street. Katie, Autumn and I met up with friendsDavid and Ros Ralph and after a brief interview with the BBC Points West I set up on the start line with David. Th
e crowds were huge and so supportive for 2 laps of the course. Right from the start I knew it was going to be a good day. I left my phone with Katie, ignoring times and paces and just pushed and pushed with nothing but the aim of turning the last corner to see 1hr39mins

on the clock. Alas I was just 40 seconds away but really pleased with a 3min PB on a flat course. Goes to show that all the grinding up hills, bonking in Droitwich and suffering of the last 10 weeks is having a good effect on my fitness. At times over the last month I’ve felt like I was going backwards with injury and my times nearer 1hr 50min than 1hr40min but today just goes to show that no hard work goes to waste!

At week 11 were at £3,193. If you haven’t and you feel this journey merits your money then please do it this week. We need to keep the money coming to The Bristol Children’s Hospital at JustGiving.com/bobsm100. If you’ve not seen enough yet then just watch this space ;-).



Week 10: Bonking in Droitwich

Sunday 7th March

Valentine’s Day at the Liversedge 1/2, Mother’s Day took the family to Droitwich 1/2 Marathon near Worcester. Today was a tale of poor race day nutrition and I suffered for it…badly! Saturday’s carb loading was good but this morning brekkie of eggs & toast just wasn’t enough. The race guide said “race sponsors Cotswolds will be supplying Carb gels to all runners” so with that I took on my only gel pre-race to top up breakfast. What I didn’t quite know is that the free gels would be given out at the finish line approximately 5miles after I bonked (technical term for arse falling out/ running out of glycogen). What accompanies bonking is a psychosomatic reaction including a reduction in speed, increased perceived effort… Oh and misery!

Droitwich was a beautiful, deceptively hilly course through the countryside of Worcester with a double loop of Jacob’s ladder, a warren of country roads that completely disorientates at miles 6-9 before heading back to the finish. Great to have Katie and Autumn at the end to look forwards to seeing.

It’s been a massive week for the campaign. An interview on BBC radio Bristol on Saturday and a shortlisting for the Bath Pride Awards 2016. Really exciting and humbling. At week 10 we’ve hit £3200. More sponsors and more excitement required- today I suffered more so than usual for the cause: Onwards to £4000!