Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 targets

Just a very quick post to document my targets for 2008. I'll need to be quick or the bells will ring before I get there...
1. West Highland Way race - to set a new PB, which means beating my 2007 time of 21 hours 11 minutes.
2. Marathon - to beat 3 hours 10 minutes. Last year's 2.59 was great, but it was probably a bit of a "one-off" (he says hoping that it wasn't a 'one-off'). I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself by setting a sub 3 hour target, so anything under 3.10 would be a good result.
3. Half marathon - to beat 1 hour 26 minutes. That will be tough, but should give me a focus in the early part of the year leading up to Inverness.
4. 10k - to beat 38 minutes. I didn't achieve this one in 2007, so it needs to be carried forward to 2008.
5. National XC - to finish in the top half - same reason as 4 above.
6. To run 2,000 miles. I accept that this target doesn't mean very much, but it helps me get my running shoes on when it's a cold and dark November evening. For that reason, it stays as a target.

10 other running related things I'd like to do in 2008 but which aren't formal targets:
1. To beat John K in every race we do.
2. To beat Kim T in every race we do.
3. To finish in the top 20 in the WHW race - haven't been outside it so far, but it's getting harder and harder as the field gets bigger.
4. To win the Strathearn Harriers club championship.
5. To run at least 5 marathons and ultras.
6. To run at least 25 races in total.
7. To run at least 5 'new' races, i.e. races I haven't done before.
8. To persuade enough Strathearn Harriers to enter a team for the Round Arran Relay in July (come on guys, great event, we could make a weekend of it - only needs me plus another 5 - can even be a mixed team).
9. To learn how to navigate properly, so I can do some of the fantastic hill races that are on the fixture list.
10. To try a few new malt whiskies (possibly not running related, but I was struggling for a 10th...)

Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 targets - how did I get on?

Last December I set myself 6 running targets for 2007. The idea was that by telling people what my targets were, I would then be more likely to go out and do the training needed to achieve them. So was it a successful strategy? Read on and find out - my original comments from December 2006 are in italics.

Target No 1. West Highland Way: anything under 21 hours 39 mins. While I would love to beat 21 hours, I think that is probably a bit too aspirational to be my target. So I'll settle for beating my pb. Having said that anything under 22 hours would be great and under 23 hours would be pretty good as well.
My time in this year's WHW race was 21 hours 11 minutes, so my most important target for the year was achieved!!!!! Perhaps sub 21 is possible after all? It might have happened this year without the diversion just after Drymen, so who knows...

Target No 2. National XC championship: to make the top half of the field. Although it may not sound it, this will be quite a hard one to do.
Prophetic words indeed. On 10th February I ran as hard as I could round the 3 lap Falkirk course, then was gutted to see the results the following day and find out I had finished 210th from the 413 finishers. If I had been 4 places further up the field I would have made it - 5 seconds was the margin between success and failure. So near and yet so far.

Target No 3. Marathon: under 3 hours 10 mins. Call me a dreamer, but I actually believe that I still have another sub 3 hour marathon in me, although only if I give up all the ultra running and make a sub 3 hour marathon my main goal for the year. Realistically, that isn't going to happen, so I would be delighted with anything under 3.10.
My dream came true, at Zurich on 1 April, and it came true without giving up all the ultra running. I ran a near perfect marathon to finish in 2 hours 59 minutes and 41 seconds. My pacing was perfect, the weather was perfect, the organisation was perfect, the course was perfect - in fact everything about the day was perfect. I thought a sub 3 hour time was slipping away from me at 39k, but I managed to rally over the last 3k and finished with 19 seconds to spare. In my other marathon I also beat my 3.10 target, finishing Loch Ness at the beginning of October in 3 hours 5 minutes. All in all, an excellent year for my marathon performances, and it looks as though I will finish 104th in the Scottish rankings for 2007.

Target No 4. Half marathon: 1.26 or better. My best chance is probably at Inverness in March, as the WHW training tends to take over after that. I achieved this target on 11th March when I ran 1.24.45 at Inverness. I was pleased with all my half marathon perfomances this year - comfortably under the hour and a half in all of them, with 1.28 at Islay in August (and a prize for being 2nd MV40), 1.28 at Glasgow in September (when I was just coming back from an injury), and then 1.27 at Aviemore in October (a week after the Loch Ness marathon).

Target No 5. 10k: sub 38 minutes. A secondary target here is to beat 40 minutes in all races.
Failed this one. I didn't manage to get under 38 minutes, and I finished Irvine in a disappointing 41.40 after picking up a hamstring injury at the 8k mark. Best perfomances were 38.40 at the Nigel Barge in early January, then 38.37 (2nd overall and first vet) on a hilly Auchterarder course in May. I was a bit unfortunate to miss the Troon 10k with an injury and then miss the Strathaven 10k with a heavy cold - both of these courses presented opportunities for fast times.

Target No 6. Overall - to run 2,000 miles in the year.
This is a pretty meaningless target, to be honest, but I'm glad to say I have achieved it - I have already run 2,038 miles with a few days still to go.

So in summary I achieved 4 of my 6 running targets. As the main 3 targets were the WHW, the marathon and the half marathon, I think it is fair to say that it was a very satisfactory year. In total I have run 27 races: 2 ultras (the West Highland Way and the Highland Fling), 2 marathons (Zurich and Loch Ness), 4 half marathons (Inverness, Islay, Glasgow and Aviemore), 3 10ks (Nigel Barge, Auchterarder, Irvine), 1 5k (Broadwood), 4 other road races (the Brig Bash, the Round Arran Relay first leg north, the Sheriffmuir Challenge, and the Allan Scally) and 11 other 'off road' races (7 cross countries, the Comrie Hills relay, the Comrie fun run, the Knock hill race and the Lairig Mor race). 11 of the 27 have been 'new' races, i.e. races I haven't done before, which is a much higher percentage than normal - definitely one of the advantages of moving house and joining a new running club!

I hope to bring the year's racing to an end with the Kilbarchan Hogmanay handicap on 31 December. Before then, I'll try and set my targets for 2008.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Another great run on the West Highland Way

Today is the 22nd December - less than 6 months to the 2008 West Highland Way race. And today the training for the 2008 race started in earnest. 22 of us met at Milngavie Station earlier this morning for the traditional pre Christmas run to Drymen and back (with of course a stop in Drymen for a coffee and scone). It was a great day out - fantastic to meet up with so many old faces, plus quite a few new ones. On the way out the conditions were really icy, which made running very difficult in quite a few place, and caused quite a few potentially nasty falls -thankfully no-one was badly hurt, apart from a bit of bruised pride.

We reached the cafe in Drymen in a fast 1.59, then came back in an even faster 1.52. 25 and a half miles in total. All in all a great session.

John K has already posted an excellent report and video clips:
and I'm sure Marco and Debbie will have something to say in due course:
and maybe even Tim, but he hasn't blogged for ages :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

No time to blog

You may have noticed that there hasn't been a lot of action on this blog site. I've just been too busy. I started a new job a few weeks ago and haven't had time. However I didn't want to lose my regular readers, so thought I would give a very quick update:

1. I'm on holiday now for the next 2 weeks, so should have a bit more time to blog, run and generally relax.
2. Tomorrow is the traditional West Highland Way pre Christmas run from Milngavie to Drymen. It's about 25 miles all in, with a stop at Drymen for a coffee and a scone. I'm looking forward to it. I think there will be about 20 people there so should be a good day out. The forecast isn't great, but that doesn't really matter. I'll report later.
3. If all goes well I'll reach 2,000 running miles tomorrow. It should happen in the muddy field just before the road at Drymen. I've done 1,988 miles so far, so 12 to go.
4. I had an interesting run on Wednesday night. Had a dinner in South Queensferry and was staying there overnight, so before the dinner went out a run over the Forth Road Bridge to Fife, under the bridge, back along the other side, round South Quensferry and back to the hotel. I hadn't run over the bridge since the 1999 Edinburgh marathon, so it was a bit different. It was also absolutely freezing.
5. I have a heavy cold (probably as a result of 4 above). Hopefully tomorrow's run will help it go away.
6. I was walking through Edinburgh about 5pm tonight. Think I was the only person in the city who hadn't been out at a Christmas lunch.
7. Last weekend I fixed a fence to stop a horse coming in to our garden. More details on allybea's blog
8. I plan to write a review of 2007 soon, including details of whether I met my targets or not. Look out for it. I'll also have to set my 2008 targets, so that's something to look forward to as well.
9. I've only one more race in 2007, which is the Kilbarchan AC 11 mile Hogmanay handicap. I've been invited along as a guest by John K. I'm hoping to thank him for his kind invitation by beating him convincingly. I used to live in Kilbarchan so it will bring back some memories.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

East District Cross Country Championships at Stirling Uni

Yesterday was the East District XC champs at Stirling Uni. After my awful performance at the previous cross country at Kirkcaldy, I was determined to perform a bit better at this one. I tried to do the right things: didn't run on Thursday or Friday to make sure I felt fresh; didn't have alcohol on Friday night (at least didn't have very much alcohol - a small G&T and a glass of wine hardly count, do they?); then did a full and proper warm up before the race started.

It was a cold, wet and windy day. I felt sorry for the spectators and marshalls, but most of them seemed to be very experienced cross country watchers and were well wrapped up. By the time our race was due, at 2.30, the weather had become even worse. I set off at a good pace and managed to keep it going for most of the route, passing one of the Central runners I had been chasing with a couple of hundred metres to go. I finished in just under 40 minutes (official time of 39.53), in 130th position out of 247 finishers - a much improved performance. It was my 27th race of the year. Strathearn Harriers finished 15th team overall and 13th masters team.

By the time I had showered and changed, the rain had turned into snow and I had to drive home in a blizzard. Within an hour there was quite thick snow lying on our driveway. Winter has definitely arrived.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What a poor year for British sport

Sunday night sees this year's showing of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. I've just had a look at the BBC website and have to say that I'm particularly unimpressed by the shortlist:

Joe Calzaghe Age: 35 Nationality: Welsh Sport: Boxing
2007 highlight: Becoming undisputed world champion

Lewis Hamilton Age: 22 Nationality: English Sport: Formula One
2007 highlight: World titlerunner-up in rookie season

Ricky Hatton Age: 29 Nationality: English Sport: Boxing
2007 highlight: Las Vegas showdown v Floyd Mayweather

Andy Murray Age: 20 Nationality: Scottish Sport: Tennis
2007 highlight: Breaking into the world top 10

Christine Ohuruogu Age: 23 Nationality: English Sport: Athletics
2007 highlight: World 400m champion

Paula Radcliffe Age: 33 Nationality: English Sport: Athletics
2007 highlight: Mother of all wins

Jason Robinson Age: 33 Nationality: English Sport: Rugby union
2007 highlight: Helping England to Rugby World Cup final

Justin Rose Age: 27 Nationality: English Sport: Golf
2007 highlight: European Order of Merit winner

James Toseland Age: 27 Nationality: English Sport: Motorcycling
2007 highlight: Second World Superbikes title

Jonny WilkinsonAge: 27 Nationality: English Sport: Rugby union
2007 highlight: Helping England to Rugby World Cup final.

Now, I don't want to appear critical of any of the individuals on the list, all of whom are outstanding athletes in their own right. My complaint is more about the lack of depth in the nominations. For example, 2 English rugby players, members of a team which finished second in the world cup; a Scottish tennis player who has been injured for a large part of the year (but admittedly does have great potential); a motorcyclist who I have to admit I haven't heard of; a racing driver who finished 2nd in the world championship, despite looking odds on to win with 2 races left; a golfer who shows a lot of promise and won the European Order of Merit, but hasn't really made the big breakthrough yet; and 2 boxers, one of whom is fighting on Saturday night for a world title. And that only leaves the 2 athletes. I think Paula Radcliffe is great. Her New York marathon win was outstanding. I'm sure she would be the first to agree, however, that winning a New York marathon is not nearly the same as winning an Olympic title - with that in mind I really hope Paula wins the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Which leaves Christine Ohuruogu. She won the 400m at the World Championships, only a month after completing a year long suspension for missing 3 drugs tests. She has been given a hammering in the press, who view her with great suspicion. But let look at the facts. The UK triathlete, Tim Don, committed the same offence and was given a 3 month ban. Like Ohuruogu, the BOA decided that on appeal they would not apply their lifetime Olympic ban because of the circumstances. There has been very little in the press about Tim Don, but a hell of a lot about Christine Ohurougu. I am completely against drugs in sport, but Ohurougu has never failed a drugs test - she did not comply with the drug testing procedures, and paid a heavy penalty.

At the end of the day, I think that Christine Ohurougu is the only one of the nominees who deserves to win the 2007 award. It will not happen, however. The British public, fueled by a hostile press, are not convinced by her. Unfortunately it will be awarded to a rookie motor racing driver who is a great prospect, but who couldn't quite hold his nerve to win the world championship when he was in pole position. The fact that his team were fined $100m during the season for cheating will be ignored. Hypocrisy or what?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bridge of Allan time trial

A new running shop has opened in Bridge of Allan, quite close to where I live, and one of the things they arrange is a Saturday morning time trial. I decided to go along this morning and see what it was like - part of my thinking was that it would get my run over with early in the day, without having to think too much about it. I turned up at the shop just before 9am, jogged the half mile down to the start, and got ready to go. The course is a fairly flat 3 and a half miles (3.54 miles according to my GPS). This morning there was quite a strong wind which was into our faces on the way out and probably behind us on the way back, but as usual I didn't really notice it when it was in my favour.

About 20 runners turned up. After being reminded by the organiser that it was a time trial and not a race (yeah right), we set off. I was in second place in the early stages, but was finding it quite hard and a couple of people came past me after a mile or so. I was through 2 miles in 12.58, just under 6.30 pace, then speeded up a bit as we got the benefit of the wind on the way back in. I caught one of the guys in front with about half a mile to go - he had stopped and was walking - and finished 3rd in 22.43. That worked out at an average pace of 6.25 - not a bad workout for a Saturday morning. I'll try and go back, and would recommend it to others as a worthwhile training session. Maybe we can get a few from the club to go along? After all it is a time trial, not a race :)