Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Want to stalk some deer?

I am basically not racing this season.  As you probably know from my recent complaining and morose tone of self-pity, I’m a bit broken so more or less all of my racing plans have been shelved in favour of gentle runs and occasional swims.

However, there is one race that I’m going to attempt even if I have to crawl most of it: The Mighty Deerstalker.

Rooted in the principles of organised chaos, and creating a winning combination of mud-running, fell-running, beer, obstacles, river-crossing, hill climbing, more beer, tweed, tartan and live music, The Deerstalker and The Mighty Deerstalker offer either 5k (and a bit) or 10k (and the rest) run over mad terrain on an estate in Peebles. Plus it’s on St Patrick’s Day (17th March)... I am going to bust out my new Innov8 Mudclaws and my best drinking face. Yes.

Last year's Deerstalker. Hahahahaha.
I’m telling you now because, unusually for this blog, I’m actually inviting you to participate.  As you may know, I work for a charity called Venture Trust, which is one of just two charities teaming up with the Deerstalker this year, and offering discounted places in exchange for a tiny bit of fundraising (40% off the normal entry price, for just a £100 fundraising target). We’ve already got a big team from Venture Trust running and a crew of supporters and friends of the charity along for the craic – you could be there too. Check out the official website here.

I’m thinking you probably want in. Email me at work here and I’ll get your entry sorted. Your face will probably end up on this blog – you’ve been warned...

Happy stalking,


2012 to date:
miles run - 5.7, miles biked: 6.4, metres swum: 750  

P.S. Off to hospital tomorrow for a scan on suspected hernia. Will let you know how I get on...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

1087 miles: my 2011 in running shoes

What started with a broken promise ended with mixed emotions. I knew that my 2011 in running shoes would be the biggest, toughest and hopefully the most rewarding yet, but I wasn’t ready for how it would finish.

Pivoting on the San Francisco Marathon, all my training, racing and writing was focussed on getting into the best possible shape to run one of the most brutal road marathons in the world. My madly overambitious plans to start with the Lochaber Marathon were sensibly sidelined in favour of the usual crop of half-marathons and parkruns in the first half of the year, including a brilliant weekend in Campbeltown for the MoKRun.

My annual tradition of PB’ing in Alloa despite (or perhaps because of) being violently sick entered its third year, modified only slightly this year by a rather more exciting end to the day. But before both of those was the last-minute slapdash effort at the Meadows ‘Marathon’ in Edinburgh, which of course was only really a half marathon, run over seven laps of the Meadows in Edinburgh.  It may interest you to know that the organisers are planning a full length-marathon for 2012, covering a soul-sucking fourteen lap course (details here). You won’t be seeing me there.

San Francisco loomed large and arrived on my doorstep at the end of July. With the miles in the bank, hills in my legs and a Union Jack on my chest I was ready to run the best race of my life, and was rewarded with a hugely satisfying 3:49 PB. I’ve wasted enough of your time already on eulogising about this incredible race – go back and read it all again if you’re interested.

I came back from the USA with an enormous medal and two more goals on the horizon. My commitment to run the Great North Run for the Alzheimer’s Society, coupled with my wild over-commitment to run it barefoot, made for a superb combination of a world-class event and another tough challenge complete. Two weeks later I toed my final start-line of the year, accompanying the one and only Ben A. Nicholson around the Loch Ness Marathon, to complete my fourth lifetime 26.2.

 It was a good year for meeting heroes. I met round-the-world runner and adventurer Rosie Swale Pope in Campbeltown before the MokRun, then elite ultramarathoner Michael Wardian and prolific marathoner Dane Rauschenberg in San Francisco, and finally world 5,000m champion and British Olympic hopeful Mo Farah in Newcastle before the Great North Run.  If you’re interested, Michael and Dane were the friendliest. Rosie was busy at a book signing but very kind. I think I might have annoyed Mo – he was out for a drink with some mates. Sorry Mo.

Mike Wardian (after winning the SF Marathon)
Mo Farah

I was delighted to publish articles in Runner’s World UK again this year, reviewing the Alloa Half Marathon, the MoKRun and the San Francisco Marathon.  RW has a readership of almost 400,000, which, as I’ve said before, is almost as many people as read this blog (pfft!).  I very much look forward to publishing more in future. It was also a joy to watch this blog's readership grow and diversify - thank you for sharing it as widely as you have, it means a great deal to me.

Perhaps best of all was watching others achieve and succeed. It was a pleasure to run with my brother the day of his wedding, a delight to see that my sister completed her first 10k, an honour to accompany (and eventually be beaten by) Ben Nicholson in his first marathon. I took a Dalmatian and her owner to the top of Arthur’s Seat. I trained with future marathon world champ Megan Crawford, when she slowed down enough for me to keep up. I even coaxed the Crew Chief out on one or two occasions. I ran in Scotland, England, Portugal, California and New York, covering a total of 1087 miles and wearing out two-and-a-half pairs of running shoes. Here are the final stats:

miles run: 1087, parkruns: 6, races: 6, 
miles biked: 159, metres swum: 1225

I had a great year.

Except the hernia bit. That was shit, and still is.  Not long after the Loch Ness Marathon I started experiencing a great deal of pain whilst running.  By early November it had become unbearable, so I hastened to my GP. She thought it was probably a hernia, and ordered a surgical consultation (which still hasn’t happened, by the way).  In the meantime my running has dwindled to almost nothing, and at times it seems genuinely impossible to think that I have trained for and completed two marathons and four half marathons this year, as well as a few hundred miles on the bike. At times, genuinely, I can barely walk.

Swings and roundabouts, eh?

Happy New Year


2012 to date: miles - 3 (painfully)