16 October 2016

An interesting race weekend. Curry and beer on Friday night, Dad’s taxi all day Saturday (sleepover, gymnastics, birthday party #1, birthday party #2), interspersed with an outstanding sports massage, care of my better half, and a bowl (ok two bowls…) of pre-race pasta. Who knew all of that would add up to a great race on Sunday.



Race morning. Met up with Ed and Dan before the start and we agreed on 3:30 per kay as a good pace to set off at. Dan was in the elite start and I was in the sub-elite start about 20m back. I needed to close the gap asap after the gun.



Soon it was go time and we poured over the line. I tried to stay relaxed and get into my running, not going too quickly or too slowly. Both easily achievable mistakes I make at the start of a race. I’m rubbish with pacing from the off, but once I find a pace, I can settle into it and run fairly even.


Dan was about 50m ahead of me in a pack of 5 with Peter, Joe, Orlando and Richard White. First kay clicked off in 3:21. I wasn’t concerned about them being ahead because the first kay has a decent downhill so figures are skewed. I just kept with what I was doing. Second kay in 3:24 and I was no closer to them. This was more of a concern because I was running solo and had to make a decision to put my foot down and catch them, but in doing so risk going too fast too early, or run my current pace effectively on my own with 19 of the 21 kays remaining. If I settled into the 3:30s as planned there was no way I would catch them, so in a snap decision, based on my legs feeling ok, I stuck in 2 further kays of 3:21 and 3:21.


This pulled me up to the group just as we were hitting the first water point around 3 miles, manned by the BRATs, and shortly after that the spot my support crew were waiting to cheer me on. The thought of seeing them gave me a little boost and without noticing it I edged to the front the group and led them through the next few minutes. Seeing Cath, Lal, Zac, Talullah and Abby was awesome. I gave Abs a high five as I passed. I was feeling good, I was in a tight group, we were running quick, things were going well.




At this point the route turns off Pershore road to take in a small triangle consisting of an incline out and then a downhill return to Pershore. Going up the hill, with the excitement of seeing the family now passed, the pace immediately felt too quick. Fact is it was too quick. I was digging in more than I should to stay with the group. I drifted off the back to reassess. Dan slowed to pull alongside me and said let’s just relax until we get to Bournville. I agreed and said the pack was moving too quick now anyway. Orlando, Joe, Peter and Richard pulled away from us and Dan and I ran side by side for the next few miles.



We kept things under control and turned at the uphill next to Rowheath Pavilion to begin the journey back towards the city centre. As we passed the 6 mile mark the route was starting to flatten out with a slight downhill toward Pershore. I was feeling good, being sensible for those few miles had paid off, and subconsciously I pressed the accelerator a bit. Dan told me to go if I wanted to press on, as he was struggling with his breathing.


I pulled away and set off after the group which was still in sight but a fair way ahead. Orlando had drifted off the back but was still running well and the rest of them, now down to a trio, were tightly grouped and looking strong.


Running down the other side of Pershore road is a great part of the course. You’re heading back towards town, it’s a slight downhill and there is lots of support on both sides of the road. I saw my crew shouting at me again at around the 7-8 mile mark. I was feeling good and let them know with some waving and hand gestures. Then I settled into the business of trying to bridge the gap to Orlando. I pulled alongside him as we hit the last bit of Pershore and turned towards the Edgbaston Cricket ground.



A crazy loop around the grandstands of the cricket ground and then out and into cannon hill park. Running through the cricket ground was a strange affair. The last time I ran the race this wasn’t in it, so it was my first taste. Usually when I’m here I’m a few pints to the good on a lazy summer afternoon soaking up some cricket, beer and burger in hand. Now I was trying to maintain pace, 8 and a half miles into a half marathon, and starting to suffer. Talk about mixed messages.


I found myself a few strides ahead of Orlando as we headed into cannon hill park. I figured it was all or nothing. There was no-one left to chase, the guys ahead were out of sight, and the only people I would see would be any passing me, so may as well empty the tank. Ran through Cannon Hill park, got a cheer from Hannah England on her bike, and headed out of the top gate. 10 miles came and went and still the kays were ticking by at 3:20 or thereabouts. I was hurting, but needed to maintain the pace until The Hill.


The Hill was looming and I had nothing in my legs. I had worked flat out to this point and had time on my side. I figured I would lose time but as long as I had more in the bank than I lost climbing this monster, it was all gravy. I hit the bastard and started climbing.


Leaning into it, just trying to keep the legs turning over. It was heavy going. I looked up the hill and saw the pack of three had finally been undone. Explosions on the hill. Richard was coming back to me. I didn’t know if there was enough time left in the race to reach him. I couldn’t work anything out at this point and just put my foot down when we hit Hagley road in the final mile. Whatever is in the tank gets used now.


I did catch Rich and passed him and mumbled something about digging in. Then I pinned my ears back and just went for it as hard as I could down the hill through the Fiveways underpass out and up the other side. The 400m to go sign board came and went, then the 200m board which seemed impossibly far away. I could see the finish line and the clock. It was 1hr12 something. Couldn’t make out the seconds. Let it be a low number I thought as I still had about 20 seconds to go. Sprinted across the line and stopped my watch.




A PB by 56 seconds. 15th overall and 1st V40. I couldn’t be happier, but right now was too tired to think of anything.


I collected my bag and got reunited with the crew, who had just missed me over the line in their mad rush back from the 7 mile mark. Guys you were fantastic – it was so awesome seeing you on the road. Thank you.


Dan, Orlando, Richard, Peter. We worked hard out there. Job done. Well done all.



Ps Old Father Time – you will have to wait for another race to catch me…. my legs aren’t done yet🙂.





Front of the start line this time. I wasn’t getting caught like DanR and I did last time. We had a previous sub16 attempt go wrong at this race getting boxed in around the 400m lap of the track that the race takes before heading out onto the walkways and roads of Wythenshawe Park.


The gun went I took off. Don’t get boxed in, don’t get boxed in. 300m into the race and I realised I wasn’t going to get boxed in – I was tucked in right behind the leaders. A pack of about 10. Whoa tiger, being in the company of quality runners like Jonny Mellor was not on the program and was a sure way to ruin my race. But I felt good, so no need to panic. I felt smooth, I focused on not being stupid in either direction pace-wise. This was quick and that was fine.



the finish line



We turned out of the stadium and set off on the first of the two big loops. The group ahead was gone but a thinner group of runners was all around me. What a change from my recent 5000 track exploits (pre-amble below refers) where not only was I at the back of the field but I was separated within the first km, effectively time trialling the rest of the way in last place. Humbling but a damn good way to condition yourself. Not tonight Josephine. There were runners with me and they were moving quickly. I latched onto one who seemed controlled at speed. Hang onto him for another km and see.


First kay marker loomed large. I looked at my watch. 3:07. Excellent. Not suicidal but not giving myself loads to do later on. Anything under 3:12 would get me close enough to do what was needed in the final km. The first km is always for free so I knew the second split meant a lot more.


Second kay marker. 6:18. A 3:11 km. Worrying. But I still had lots of running in me. Use it now I told myself. Don’t wait for the final km and find you have tons left. Another runner passed me and my unofficial pacer. In a snap decision I moved wide and followed him. We moved smoothly past the pacer. Now it felt fast. It felt like I was burning matches here. This would cost me later on. But fuck it I wasn’t going to be fucked by the middle kilometres of a 5k yet again.


We barrelled through the 3km marker in 9:22. Haysus. That was a 3:04. Now this shit was real. I had in the palm of my hand not only a sub16 but something significantly quicker. Don’t spew this opportunity all over the place you big sissy. The guy I was hanging onto was moving too quickly now. Don’t let him go yet. Get another km, fuck, half a km, whatever you can.


We hurtled back into the park now, deep into the second lap. Lapping people I noticed Cath up ahead. I was catching her earlier than I normally do on this route. It confirmed I was running quick because I suspected she was on a good one too (she was – 27:56 for her first sub28 since the accident. Well done babe!). I heard her shout encouragement as we passed. It gave me a boost. Don’t lose this guy while she can still see me I thought, how embarrassing.


We hit 4k in 12:34. 34! I had 26 seconds to spare going into the final km to get under 16 minutes. 16 was a done deal. Could I break 15:50? Shit could I break 15:40?? I know this final kilometre backwards. I know when to open the throttle, when to conserve the tiniest bit. I was going to do this. But things were also getting tough now. Really tough. My pacer was too strong, a gap was appearing. I couldn’t close it but we were catching a group of 3 or 4 who were tying up. I got a boost passing them, my guy was long gone. Now back into the stadium and onto the track for the final 200m. I heard someone closing me down, I picked up my pace. Hurting like fuck we hit the final 100, I could see the clock. Jeez it was in the 15:teens, then 15:20’s. I had less than a hundred to go. The guy behind was closing, I told myself he was an M40 too and was about to pass me for the win. That was all I needed to kick even harder and hold him off. Turns out the M40 winner was 3 seconds ahead of both of us, but hey ho, needs must to get a sprint out of the legs.


Threw myself over the line at full pelt, forgetting momentarily to stop my watch. When I did it said 15:41.


I knew the official time would be quicker but this was enough. I had done it. not only done it but destroyed it.


Fifteen Thirty Seven




Without a shadow of doubt the best performance of my life. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.


Official Results



The pre-amble. Aka Where did this run come from?


No one likes a pre amble when you’re waiting to get to the good stuff so I’ve moved it down here for anyone who still wants to read. So where did this race come from? I want to jot down some thoughts, most especially for my own benefit when years from now I’m thinking how exactly did I get into that shape…?

First thing – injuries.

Not an obvious training tool I’ll grant you, but bear with me. If you do come back it can mean fresh legs.

I was out for a good chunk of early 2016. February, March and April were right-offs with a piriformis injury on my left side (caused by drastically sidestepping to avoid smashing into the back of a youngster who stopped dead during a track session in late Jan or early Feb).

All those weeks of no running (probably 10 of them) gave my body a chance to recover from years and years of fairly continuous training.

I’ve been lucky with injuries most of my career, i.e. not having many, which of course means not too many long layoffs. Now I was having one and my body was taking full advantage. Unbeknownst to me at the time obviously.

Injuries are unbelievably frustrating and tough to deal with psychologically, emotionally, in every way basically. So it’s good to understand with hindsight that, at least physically, there were some gains happening.


A far more obvious way to run well. But this was not a normal return to training once the hip (and subsequent back) issues had cleared.

For one thing I was in no hurry to get back to track work. This was partly psychological as I really didn’t want to risk agitating the injury with interval work, but also because I had lost a fair bit of fitness and our track group is a high level (for me). I need to be on my game to get the gains from running in the group. When I turn up in bad shape I’m running solo anyway. So I didn’t want that.

So I had a few weeks of just jogging. Getting the body used to the routine again. I remember how damn good it felt to be able to run again and I didn’t want to jeopardise that in any way.

After a few weeks of that, I felt like I could use a hard aerobic effort, like a parkrun or similar. So I did a few of those types of runs. Hard on the lungs but not murder on the legs.

I added another element to my training shortly after this, which was the marathon-pace run. Tried to do it at least once a week, sometimes failed but most weeks fitted it in there. Running 6 to 10 miles at 6-minute pace was a new kind of training to me. Introduced in part by running buddy Karl and his infamous TMR sessions, which he used to great effect to smash the Manchester marathon in 2015. And in part by another running buddy, Simon, who believes you should run a quarter of your target race distance at target race pace each week. Between 6 and 7 miles at 6-minute pace in my case.

I’ve not done these before and I think they probably brought my aerobic engine on in leaps and bounds. Not to mention some mental toughness, banging out that pace on my own, or mostly on my own, on a Sunday morning.

This was also helping the weekly mileage and I hit a sequence of 5+ weeks where I had averaged as much as I ever had (70+). That sequence is more like 10 weeks and counting now.


Around the same time, mid-June, I made a conscious decision to use races to get back to fitness rather than speedwork. The reasons are mostly outlined in the previous point.

I also had in my head the story about our former university club mate – warning: name drop ahead – Hendrick Ramaala – not doing any trackwork leading into the season he broke the SA 10,000m record, choosing instead to race the European cross country circuit as conditioning. There are other stories like this too, and it felt like it fitted my needs quite well. If it works for elites it should be ok for the rest of us.

I’m not advocating ditching trackwork completely. Definitely not. In fact over the years it is probably the single biggest reason for my improved running. But a short-term sabbatical when it feels right, and replacing it with steady to hard continuous runs, is no bad thing.

So I lined up a relatively gentle return to racing. Gentle in terms of the quality of the track meeting and competition (a midlands veterans league) rather than the race itself, which was quite a sharp return, a 1500m. I ran 4:28 in the race, very happy to break 4:30 at that stage, and it felt good to race again.

The following week I raced a 3000m (9:28) and a 10k on the road (34:11). They certainly weren’t barnstorming performances but they were fulfilling the objective nicely.

We headed into July and I kept the races coming. Another 3000 (9:32), disappointing time, but feeling a lot more comfortable at that speed. The race quality ramped up at this point as I entered a BMC Grand Prix 5000m. I had no business trying to get into the race. The automatic standard is 14:55 and even the slow race at this meeting has guys all capable of sub 15:30. But I needed races, this was local (Solihull) and anyway it seemed quite exciting to be in a race of that calibre. The race went off and sure enough I was on my own, 100m behind second last from about a lap in. No need to bore you with splits, I ended with 16:22 which I was happy enough with.

Ten days later I had another BMC 5000m. This was where I got the first indication that the training was working. I was hoping to improve on the 16:22 but didn’t know by how much. Something in the 16:teens would do. Off we went and I was last (again) and separated from the pack (again). But this time I hung onto to my own pace better and ran 16:01. I was genuinely surprised. The race conditions were less than ideal. 29 degrees and a 9pm start time. It showed me that, given a more suitable field and better conditions, I could probably take a chunk off it.

But of course you never really know. Beauty of running and all that. Inspired by the 16:01, I travelled to Oxford 4 days later for another BMC 5000. This proved too soon after the previous one, was also in the heat, worse heat this time, and the field was even stronger. Before we had completed a single lap I was well behind second last. I grafted my way around in 16:21. Disappointing time but again I knew I had banked some invaluable training.

My ability to grind out 3:15 per kay had never been better. I could do it on my own and in the heat. Roll on a proper race. Proper inasmuch I would have people to race. The Sale Sizzler, in Manchester, provided that. In addition it was a course I knew well, and a ratified course used for the Northern Road 5km championships.

As mentioned above I had tried previously with DanR to break 16 (running 16:03 that day after being horrendously boxed in on the first km). I knew I was fitter now than I was that day, and I figured if I didn’t get boxed in, the rest would take care of itself. Cue the start of this post above… the rest is history.


Time to come clean. My name is Mark Ince and I use MyFitnessPal. The guy I sit next to at work talked me into it. A sporty youngster who plays football and rugby to a relatively high level, and also goes to gym and runs occasionally. He convinced me to download the app. I was fed up with the weight I had gained from the time off and was looking to get back to racing weight as soon as I could. This seemed like a useful tool for doing that. And it was.

The weight soon came off from when I started in early June, and over the next few weeks I got back to a good weight. I found that I was paying more attention to what I was eating (an obvious objective of the app) and was getting a better idea of what was good nutrition and what wasn’t. You’d think after all these years I would know these things…… ok let’s move on. So some more weight came off. And then a bit more. The change wasn’t enough to be noticeable to the eye but was definitely helping the running.


I’ll ramble no more.

In summary, I ran more, ran more at a good pace, ran lots of hard races, and weigh less.


Mince out






2015 precis

As the dust settles on 2015 it is time for the annual midpack slacker running year review.



Comrades 2015 – pre-race bravado




Starting with the usual roundup of numbers.


Total mileage for the year was 2,728, at an average of 52.5 miles per week (or 84.4km).


How does that stack up against recent years?

Looking back over the last 5 years sees 2015 is sitting mid-table. Two years I’ve run more (11 and 13) and two years I’ve run less (12 and 14).

Year Mileage
11 3178
13 3016
15 2728
12 2708
14 2596


What to make of this? Not much I think. I’ve had my two best years, 2013 and 2014 on either side of this year’s mileage. And 2011, in spite of being the biggest mileage by some way, didn’t really produce the best performances. I think the message is, just keep running. The actual numbers don’t mean much in isolation, it is consistency and year-on-year training that push performances on.


For most of 2015 I didn’t really feel like I was hitting my straps. I always seemed to be coming back from something or other. For sure there have been good pockets of fitness, firstly around April/May (from the London build-up) and reflected in London itself and the Master Road relays (3mi hilly 15:37), and then a second pocket in July and early August for summer road and track. The second patch had a premature end as I got injured (Psoas Bursitis) just as I was getting into some good shape for a sub16 5k attempt (the week before I got injured I ran 16:04 on the track).



I think I will look on 2015 as being high on experiences and less high on out-and-out performances. And I’m very comfortable with that. Must be old age.


So, the best runs of the year in terms of out-and-out performance are probably the 12 stage long leg (29:38) and BMAF 5000m champs 4th place in 16:04.


One step behind them, London marathon (2:43 something) and the BMAF road relays (3mi 15:37).



Experience-wise it has been an amazing year. Turning 40 and celebrating by running Comrades (a 54 mile race in South Africa) was undoubtedly the pinnacle. E03B2BC3-F5EC-4080-BD50-1E121E6DFDE7A fantastic present organised (as a surprise) by the amazing Catherine, Dan, Anna and Riaan and the Joburg and Durban running crew. The run itself was tough going, in as much as I was not well on the day. These things happen. Finishing that race however, is and always will be the prime element of any Comrades attempt. As fellow “tough day out there” finisher Dan said “it is probably the only race where you say I just want to get around – and honestly mean it”. Digging in for the second half of the race (44km) when my legs were already spent, and involved getting to the finish through a combination of painful shuffling in between walks, was an achievement I will savour with some satisfaction for years to come.


Fast forward to October and Dublin Marathon. It was great. Any chance to race it had gone out the window after losing all of August and a good chunk of September through injury. I became the pacemaker for a legendary 4some of sub3 attempters, all of which were successful. And one of whom I offered virtually no pace making to a5368711A-CEB2-4F71-A97A-AD34E5E7FA44s he insisted on running 50 meters ahead of us (Riaan!). Seeing the SA gang again and being involved in that momentous (and successful) attempt was very special. The beers afterwards and the celebrations that continued long into the night and for the rest of the trip will stay with me forever. A detailed report on the day can be found here.


In terms of fitness, I was the fittest this year at the end of August, just after a series of summer races (5k’s in 16:20-30 zone and then a 16:04). I was geared up for a big attempt on a sub16 on the road when Psoas Bursitis struck. The worst injury I’ve ever experienced by some margin. Six weeks of no running, and then a gentle return with a few attempts on a stationary bike (bloody hard work). I got back into regular running after Dublin at the end of October but didn’t really get my teeth into it and didn’t enter any races.


To end the year I did a succession of fairly hard parkruns, to see if I could continue my trend of increasing the number of sub17 5k’s achieved each year since 2012. I managed it by 1! (it took a 16:49 boxing Day effort at CHP – cutting it fine). There were some near misses in those final 6 weeks too though, a 17:00 at CHP and a 17:02 at Cambridge parkrun.


Total per year Grand Total
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015  
3 2 2 8 6 16 17 18  72


The sub17 challenge gave me a reason to put in race efforts even though I wasn’t 100% race fit. There will probably be more of these kinds of side-tracked goals as the years tick by🙂🙂. I’ll need to do 19 in 2016 to keep it going… gulp.

What will 2016 bring? I don’t know, I may PB I may not. But I do know I will continue training, racing, and getting runs done as and where I can fit them in. That’s what this sport is all about and I love it.

Roll on Spring marathon build-up.

26 October 2015


Injury, hello psoas my old friend, had put paid to my marathon preparation. Nuff said about that. With racing aspirations out the window, my Dublin goal became simple and in a way, more special. I was going to run 4:10 per km for the sub3 gang for as long as I could and as evenly as the course would allow, and hope that Barrow, Barnyard, Bron and Boy would stick with me for as long as possible, ideally all the way.


I was in the elite pen (whoop whoop pretentious knob) so separated from the others on race morning and lined up under the start banner. Rubbing shoulders with Kiptoo and Sonia o Sullivan in the separate warm up area was a very cool experience. Starting this high up the field meant the first few kays would be jogging while the gang latched on. Standing on the start line was an interesting mix of emotions. I was among the serious boys and felt frustrated that I wasn’t going to be racing. I said out loud, at one point “I wish I was racing this” to no one in particular. But the other emotion was relaxation. Something I don’t associate with the start of marathons. I could really soak it up and enjoy the final 10 minutes to the gun. The guys around me were fidgety and nervous.



The gun went and we were off. I moved to the left of the road as per the plan agreed with Barrow. First kay in about 4:30. No sign of them. Second kay and suddenly some recognisable voices! I looked over my shoulder and there they were. The gang was altogether. We exchanged pleasantries and got on with the business.


We lost Riaan as he got a short way ahead of us after the first water point. We didn’t know that would be the last we saw of him for a long long way into the race. The first 5k came and went in 20:59. A touch slow but fine. The road was crowded and finding room for the 4 of us to get a groove on was tricky. I called each kay split as we went through. Next 5k in 20:40. Perfect. Somewhere around this point we caught and passed the 3 hour pacers with balloons. Once we got ahead of them the road got a bit clearer and our pace edged up slightly. The course also had some sweeping downs through the back of the awesome Phoenix Park. Next 5k included this and was 19:59. Touch too fast, even with the downs. So I tried to take the foot off the gas slightly. Still calling every split out and the group of Boy, Bron, Barrow and me were running nicely now. Next 5k in 20:40. Bang on. Somewhere in that 5k there was a bit of an incline, the first inkling that there was work to be done today. First 20 kay done.


As we approached halfway the wind and rain came down more heavily and we tucked into a tight formation. Bron was stride for stride next to me and every time I looked over my shoulder barrow was clipping my heels. All good. We saw our support crew at halfway and Snowy gave boy his fat shake or whatever it was. I guess Riaan was about 200m ahead at this point. We could sometimes make him out when the road straightened. Within the first kay after halfway during a standard shoulder check I noticed Barrow wasn’t there, he was 5m back. Oh no. A few minutes later 20m back. The next split in 4:07. I said to Bron, let’s keep running the pace and give them a chance to latch back on. Next time I looked around I couldn’t see them. I was gutted. All the work Barrow had done to get into this shape and his race (I assumed) was now going to be a painful shuffle to the finish somewhere outside 3 hours. I didn’t know what to do for a while. Bron had no watch and was relying on me for pace and wind break and encouragement. And she was sticking to the task with such determination as I have never seen. I couldn’t peel off now to find Phil and leave her solo, watchless and metric in a mile world. It was getting really windy now and Bron asked if she could tuck in behind me for a while. Truth be told I thought she was very close to being spent. And yet. And yet. And yet. Somehow the kays continued to tick past in 4:07-4:11. This girl was tough. Something you all know obviously but I was finding out.


My plan became to get her as deep into the race, on pace, as possible, so hopefully when she did blow we would have some cushion. Kudos to R and Barrow for deciding all those months ago that 2:55 was the target, not sub3. On a windy rainy day like today, that 5min cushion was the difference.


We were closing on Riaan now but he was staying tantalising out of reach and the final 50m to catch him took us over 10km. We caught up with him at about 37k. “5k to go guys”, I said to them. “you’ve done the hard work, now bring it home”. Another kay passed but it was suddenly catching up with us. I had worked out that even if the 4:10s became 4:50s we would still get under 3 and told as much as Bron. “Don’t worry about the blow” I said, “we are going to do this either way”.


At 40k Riaan the flipping ox had trotted off ahead of us again, after all that time trying to close him down, simply by maintaining his pace. We were slowing and there was nothing I or Bron could do. The 2 kays from 39k-41k were 4:25 and 4:29. I said to her if she wanted to chase him down in the final 2k she should go for it. But she wasn’t having it. we were purely in survival mode now. “Tell me when it is 1k exactly to go” she said. So I did. The finish was great, a long straight road right past the front of our hotel.


About 600m from home we saw Cheryl and she was screaming “go on Phil”. My first thought was oh no she doesn’t know he isn’t with us. Then I looked over my shoulder and the bugger was right there!! I have never been so surprised and so happy in a race in my life! I actually threw an arm around him and hugged him, which in hindsight could have ended badly on 41k legs. He moved alongside Bron and the 2 of them crossed the line hand in hand with me a step or 2 behind, with tears of happiness (and fatigue – three weeks of training after 6 weeks off meant this was a long long way on the legs).


R was about 20 seconds ahead of us, and Boy, the wildcard of the sub3 group, only went and did it too! With pure guts and stubbornness the diesel engine yet again punched above his training weight. Well done Boy.


Well done everyone on the day – Mashudu making a 3:11 look ridiculously easy and Jamie relatively happy with his comeback of 3:23. Martin had a tough day in the wind, his 2:25 target ended with a still mind-boggling fast 2:32.


We retired to the hotel for a shower, dry clothes, and lots of Guinness in the hotel bar. A great great GREAT day.🙂


And to dwarf all of this into insignificance, Adam only went and became a dad that day!


Lekker boet.

WMM trophyYep it is. Sorry about that.

Last year I had a very sporadic build up to London, not many miles and almost no long runs (one). On the day I ran out of my skin. Felt like I was running on a cloud for 2:43. This year I had a text book build-up, lots of good miles, lots of long runs, and I had a very mediocre day out for…  2:43.

What conclusions can be drawn from this? Clearly training is a waste of time. But let’s move on.


One thing seems obvious – going in with fresh legs is very important. I don’t mean final week tapering. Taper Schmaper ™. I mean building light weeks into the final 8 to 10 weeks of training. Seems obvious, but I’ve never paid any attention to it before.

Two miles into this year’s race I was feeling flat and heavy legged. Whilst my legs were strong, they weren’t feeling

light and full of running. My fitness was good though, and allowed me to tick off the kays in metronomic fashion in a newly formed window of safety between 3:48 and 3:56 per km. Nothing faster than that was possible it see

Ezekial Kemboi warmup routine

Ezekial Kemboi warmup

med, with a few exceptions here and there. I had hoped and expected for low 3:40’s but couldn’t get there. I knew early on that a 2:30something goal was out, and shortly after that that 2:40 was out as well. The added seconds each kay were accumulating and had become a couple of minutes by 15k. At 20k my split was 77:37, a number which the night before Dan and I had discussed as a possible halfway target. Now here I was a full kilometre behind schedule. Nothing for it but to keep on keeping on.

Halfway in 81:51. I wasn’t disappointed. The writing had been on the wall from a few miles in and the disappointing realisation of the day I was on had settled back then and mostly dissipated by now. So 81:51 was just what it was. I had verbalised my 2:45 adjusted target to someone who recognised the vest and asked me what I was aiming for. Each 5k timing mate was ticking over in 19:15-19:30 when what I had hoped for pre-race was 18:45. I imagined what my mates following the splits would be thinking. “Why doesn’t he get onto pace?” “Is he saving it for a big second half” “if he is really struggling surely he’d be slower”. Stuff like that.

why doesn't he get on pace?

why doesn’t he get on pace?

As it was I just clicking even paced miles off, one after the other, trying to coax my legs through with minimal damage. I settled in as part of a trio of guys who were visibly strong enough to keep the pace honest without any of us needing to shoulder all pacing the work. We took turns at the front and it worked pretty well. At about 20 miles I said to them, we’ve worked well up to this point guys. Let’s keep it going and bag the sub2:45. I had realised from their race numbers they were both Fast-Good-for-age entries which meant they hadn’t run under 2:45 before (or they’d have been in the championship start with different numbers etc.) so this was unchartered territory. We banked a few more miles in the zone, and as we drew into the final few miles I started picking it up, conscious that I really didn’t want to mess up the pacing now and not get inside 2:45. One of them came with me and one dropped off.

The final stretch is always tough and always memorable. Running alongside the Thames, and over the 40k timing mat. The end is almost in sight and the crowds who had been bonkers all race anyway, seem even louder. A wall of noise. Right hander past Big Ben, then Birdcage Walk, Buckingham Palace and the mall. What a location to finish. Like Tower Bridge, the novelty of running in these locations never wears off.mid race?

I turned into the home straight and saw the clock on 2:43. Phew the 2:45 was safe. It was only a good while after I’d crossed the line that I realised I had just missed a PB. How on earth I never thought of that during the race escapes me. I can only think my focus was so much on the 2:40 pace that once the splits were outside that I hadn’t considered any middle ground.

Some post-race thoughts. Disappointing not to achieve what I’d hoped. But these things can seldom be planned with any degree of confidence.

refuelingPositives I take are that I now know I can run 2:43 when I’m not having a particularly good day, and that’s reassuring. I also learnt a bit more about what I need to do in the weeks leading into the race. This is never an exact science but small building blocks of knowledge gained from each outing.

Last year it took an outstanding day for me to run 2:43. This year it took a very average day to run 2:43. Surely that’s progress of a sort.

Some shout outs to friends. Martin – you absolutely smashed it buddy. Your marathon class is unrivalled. Breaking 2:30 (again, after 6 years) is amazing. Dan – thanks for the pacing, sorry I couldn’t make better (or any) use of it. Next time it’ll be different (that’s never been said before). Nick – well done on the championship qualifier, so pleased for you. Kevin – 2:48 – brilliant. Well deserved. Long run training partner Ed – 2:52. Great PB and more to come I have no doubt. To Cath and Anna supporting us like stars around the course, thanks guys. To the Hajj in SA (and Cambridge) – we have a special group, lets never take it for granted.

Onwards to bigger (and longer) things.

5 weeks to Comrades. Watch this space.


Official results here

first half 81:51, second half 81:54

Kilometre splits

Projected finish
1 00:03:55 02:45:17
2 00:03:49 02:43:10
3 00:03:50 02:42:42
4 00:03:51 02:42:39
5 00:03:45 02:41:46
6 00:03:46 02:41:18
7 00:03:49 02:41:16
8 00:03:56 02:41:51
9 00:03:54 02:42:09
10 00:03:56 02:42:32
11 00:03:55 02:42:47
12 00:03:56 02:43:03
13 00:03:52 02:43:04
14 00:03:53 02:43:07
15 00:03:57 02:43:22
16 00:03:54 02:43:26
17 00:03:54 02:43:30
18 00:03:52 02:43:29
19 00:03:53 02:43:30
20 00:03:59 02:43:44
21 00:03:59 02:43:57
22 00:03:52 02:43:55
23 00:03:54 02:43:56
24 00:03:49 02:43:49
25 00:03:59 02:43:59
26 00:03:54 02:44:01
27 00:03:47 02:43:51
28 00:04:01 02:44:03
29 00:03:49 02:43:57
30 00:03:59 02:44:05
31 00:03:46 02:43:55
32 00:03:42 02:43:41
33 00:03:58 02:43:47
34 00:03:54 02:43:49
35 00:03:52 02:43:48
36 00:03:49 02:43:43
37 00:03:54 02:43:45
38 00:03:59 02:43:51
39 00:03:45 02:43:43
40 00:03:57 02:43:47
41 00:03:59 02:43:54
42 00:03:44 02:43:45
42.2 00:00:47 02:43:45
Total 2:43:45
Ave/km 0:03:53
Ave/mi 0:06:15

Twenty Fourteen

How best to sum up this year in running?


In terms of miles pounded out on the roads, paths and tracks it was 2,596 miles (or 4,177km).

This works out to 49.9 miles per week (aaarrgh why can’t it work out to 50??) or 80.3km per week.

Remember this is relative. Numbers stacked up against other people have limited value. It’s how much you can and want to get done. Looking back over previous years reveals this to be the lowest total I’ve racked up since 2010.  But there’s more to life than numbers, right? Right?


In terms of performances it has been a pretty solid year. On the road I achieved a full house of PB’s over the standard distances of 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon. On the track I didn’t tick off too many but came within a whisker over 3,000m, running 9:07.1 to my 9:06 set back in 1996. On the track I did PB over 10,000m but does it really count when you’ve not run the distance before?


Ok onto some highlights of the year.


IMG_9609The first was undoubtedly London Marathon in April. I love this race more every year. This year was particularly sweet as I had almost no expectations going into it. The first few months of the year had been pretty topsy turvey with various injuries and niggles getting in the way. Running was even more on the back burner as I flew back to SA to visit my Dad and sister and her family who were looking after my dad who had taken seriously ill in February. Thankfully it wasn’t as serious as first diagnosed and I am happy to report he is recovering well, thanks to the incredible support of my sister and her husband and family. Back to the running, I wasn’t sure I’d even run London given the build-up but I decided to travel down, seeing as I had already booked all the accommodation, train tickets and so on. The weekend was brilliant and the race went very well. I blogged about it previously (2:43 PB) so won’t go into any more detail here.


The Highgate Harriers 10,000m race was another highlight. My first attempt at a 10k on the track. The conditions made it memorable for reasons other than performance. Windy and rainy, it was certainly an experience Mr Carter and I won’t soon forget.


My 5k road PB came at the Sale Sizzler series of races in Manchester. I was toying with a sub16 attempt and trusty all-or-nothing pacemaker Dan had stepped in to pace me to at least 4k on target. Although things went awry early on due to getting boxed in (a lesson we failed to learn from, Leeds 10k refers), we soon got back on track and although I never got under the 16 minute mark I was pretty happy with 16:03.


The next highlight also features Daniel in a pace making role and was the Birmingham Half Marathon. I didn’t have huge time targets on this as I just didn’t think I was fit enough. Dan thought otherwise and dragged my ass around to a 20 second PB in 73:29.


The final highlight of the year came in December and was probably the most satisfying of all. The Telford 10k in 32:44. I knew I had a chance of breaking 33 if all the pieces fell into place. They hadn’t at Leeds a month earlier when we got boxed in and ran 33:15. At Telford I was determined to fix that. I don’t remember concentrating as hard or hurting as much in this race as in any race since the 15:51 on the track in 2013. Telford had that sort of feel about it. I was bloody well determined to stay on pace no matter what.


So even though I’ve not run as much as previous years, I had pockets of good training and produced some good results from them. Running is a continual learning experience and this year has taught me that breaks in training, even unpleasantly long ones, need not derail you and you can still keep things going even when you think you can’t. Scale back, keep ticking over, all those clichés come out and in my opinion they come out for good reason – they make sense and they are the truth.


Thank you to all my support crew. Everyone I run with, my family, kids and loved ones. Thank you.


Keep running guys, let’s have an awesome 2015 and just enjoy working towards whatever we are working towards. Times, distances, challenges, health, whatever.

Running will fix you.


PB List

Distance Time Year
Track 800m 2:04 1996
1500m 4:11 1994
3000m 9:06 1996 9:07.1 in 2014
5000m 15:51 2013
10000m 33:18 2014
Road 3mi 15:24 2014
5k 16:03 2014
10k 32:44 2014
HM 1:13:29 2014
Marathon 2:43:27 2014



The kitchen sink

Telford 10k race report


The die was cast a month ago when I committed to one more 10k for the year. I’ve tackled it a fair bit in 2014. Five times including Telford. One of those was a steady effort but the other four were all going full guns to break 33 minutes.


Last year in November I ran a break through PB of 33:06 at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k. It was over 90 seconds quicker than I’d gone before. I was over the moon. But the feeling soon settled into a “if I can knock such a big chunk off my time surely I can find 7 seconds more?” mood.


Thus 2014 became, as far as the 10k is concerned, the year to break 33 minutes.


It started in May with an attempt on the track at the Highgate 10,000. Unbelievably windy conditions (blowing tents and things over around the track) meant that attempt was put paid to before it even got started. I got around in 33:41 and couldn’t have found 1 second more.


The next attempt was sometime later. Also on the track, at the Trafford 10,000, in September. This race was inconsiderate enough to place itself the first weekend after our family summer break to Lanzarote. Needless to say my shape wasn’t razor sharp. I had kept the fitness up but didn’t have the edge required to turn 33:20 into 32:55 form. I laboured around for a very evenly paced 33:18.


Then came the first road attempt of the year, the Leeds Abbey Dash. The same race I had had the big breakthrough the previous year. I lined up with Dan, personal pacemaker (a seasoned veteran having bested the pesky barrier at the aforementioned Trafford race with a gutsy 32:50). Sadly the challenge never got off the ground, due to starting too far back, a schoolboy error, and being caught in a very congested field moving just a touch too slow. The quality is very high at the Leeds race and the road was wall-to-wall with guys running 3:25 kays when we wanted 3:18s. The cumulative difference took its toll and by halfway in 17:04 there was no chance of breaking 33. I pinned my ears back and buried myself coming home for a second half of 16:11. Partly frustration and partly just wanting to not give up on the goal. The resulting 33:15 was not what I wanted but the 16:11 told me I still had a shot if I paced it better. Commit more you fool.


Onto the 4th and final attempt, another road race, this time the Telford 10k in December. It has a mineshaft first km and gentle ups and downs after that. I was determined to get out fast enough to be in the game. I was sick of 3:25 openers and trying to claw back deficits. But I was equally cautious of selling my goat before 3k and ending with the opposite of Leeds, a fast start and a slow finish. That was not on the Christmas list.


With that bubbling away in my mind, the gun went and we were off. Thankfully temperatures the night before hadn’t gone below zero so the paths were ice free, a deal breaker if they weren’t and a common danger in December.


A reminder: I needed 3:18 per km to run 33:00.


Anything under was good, anything over meant I’d need to drag it back somewhere.


First kay 3:13. Factoring in the downhill start this was not fast, but was fast enough to get me in the game. Just what I wanted. I settled in. Passed a few groups trying to find a gang moving at a pace I felt was right. Second km in 3:17, still good. Third in 3:13, more of the same. I was starting to feel it now and decided to sit with a trio I had caught. 4th km in 3:22. Panic. Is this the start of a blow? I needed a good halfway split to motivate myself for the pain coming on the second lap of the two lap course.

Telford 10k 2014

I pushed on past them and found another trio but I had worked hard to get to them, 5th km in 3:12 and halfway in 16:17.


Excellent this was where I wanted it to be. But I was hurting now and needed to consolidate for the next few kays. I stuck with the group for a 3:23 and 3:18 6th and 7th km. They were slowing I could feel it. I’m not giving up on this now. I went wide and went past them. Keep the tap fully open Ince, keep the pace going.


It was hurting too much now. It had been hurting too much for too long and the fight was ebbing out of me. I want to stop fighting, I want to back off and let the pain subside. Come on. Keep going. No I need this to ease.


The 8th kay was a 3:27 as a result of this internal argument. That fired me up. What the fuck are you doing?! I’m not binning this after all the work I’ve done. Come on man. Two more kays to go.


We turned at the traffic cone somewhere around this point and I noticed Ed was much closer to me than he should be. Is he ok? Shortly afterwards I passed him walking. Clearly not. A viral infection had not cleared his system in time and sadly his race ended there.


Right, refocus you big girl. Two more km’s. Empty the tank. Give it everything. Do not let this slip through your fingers. 9th in 3:16. A good split. Was it enough? Had I lost too much with the 3:27?? I couldn’t work it out anymore. Just throw the works at it. No matter what. Even if you don’t break it, give it horns. Maybe a PB is on the cards if not a sub33. Thoughts just churning around in my foggy head.


I hammered the final km. I was hurting so much but I was thinking in minutes not distance. Suffer for 2 more minutes, it can’t be more than 600m now, suffer for 1 more minute. Come on. Dig in. Push harder. Someone was passing me. Go with him. Let him drag you until you can’t go anymore. I rounded the bend, less than 100m to go. The finish clock was on low 32’s. I could do this. I was going to do this. I sprinted with every fibre shouting its displeasure at me. Get over that line! I did it. Crossed the  line with the clock still on 32 something. I don’t even know what.




Yes. Yes. Yes.


1 00:03:13
2 00:03:17
3 00:03:13
4 00:03:22
5 00:03:12 00:16:17 1st 5k
6 00:03:23
7 00:03:18
8 00:03:27
9 00:03:16
10 00:03:03 00:16:27 2nd 5k
Ave 0:03:16 per km
78.4 s per lap


That right there was the 33-minute dragon slain.

Full results here