Archive for June, 2010

It was such a lovely summer evening I couldn’t resist getting down to the track to watch a bit of the inter-uni track and field match between birmingham (UK), cornell (US) and penn state (US) teams. with a few invited guests in each event.

herewith the full 3k  from one location (sorry).


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Yesterday I found a £5 note on my jog home from work.

It brings the total for “money found whilst running” in the past two months to £35. I found a tenner about 6 weeks ago, followed by a nice crisp £20 note about a month ago, and then yesterday, the fiver.

By contrast, in the past 12 months I have managed to secure a paltry £39 worth of prize vouchers from races (£15 for second, £12 for third, twice).

I’m no mathematician but it seems from a “financial returns” perspective, my time may be better spent scouring the countryside for loose change; rather than driving the countryside to far flung races.

Or perhaps I should run faster and stop staring at the ground ahead of me.

You think this is a barrel-scraper of a blog post? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

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2000 miles to Graceland

Born to Run made barefoot running cool. It made some people turf out their shoes in favour of anti-shoe shoes (Vibram, minimalist-type shoes. Or occasionally a home-made sandal). I wasn’t one of those people.

It also made some people realise you may be able to get a lot more mileage out of your shoes than you had been led to believe by the shoe companies. I was one of those people.

I decided to experiment with my then new pair of Asics Cumulus. I resolved to not recycle them when they reached their usual end-of-life mileage. Common thinking on shoe mileage has been that a training shoe can be used for somewhere between 500 and 800 miles. Being light on my shoes I have usually managed to squeeze more than that out of mine. I have tended to average just over 1000 miles out of my shoes before they give up the ghost (or indeed before I thought they’d given up the ghost). My previous pair of Cumulus had got around 1150 miles in them when I replaced them.

So onto my current pair. Asics Cumulus 10’s. New, they look like this.

Rest assured mine don’t…

They began by aging very quickly, which was ironic I thought, as they were the pair I had selected to try and keep a long long time. So, 500 miles in and they were looking like they had twice that in them. I noted the deterioration, but didn’t falter. I stuck with the plan.

We broached the 1000 mile mark around Christmas and the normal-upgrade time arrived shortly thereafter. As planned this was the point to cast conventional wisdom aside. It was time to call the long-standing shoe company bluff.


In the weeks that followed we headed into unknown shoe territory. At the crossover from known into unknown, I was overly sensitive to any changes in the shoes. I don’t know what I expected, maybe that the soles would suddenly disintegrate under my feet, or that the stitching would magically unstitch and the shoe upper would fall apart. Obviously none of this happened and they just showed more wear and tear in an entirely normal and predictable fashion as the miles went on. Another interesting side effect was that they became more and more comfortable. I promise I’m not making this up. I didn’t really believe it at first and convinced myself I was imagining it, but eventually I had to concede. The darn things were getting more comfy by the day, and were like a lovely old pair of slippers by the time we broached 1500 miles together.

There was no looking back now. We forged on, my Asics and I. We plunged into the unknown territory together. Mapping out new ground, setting constant new benchmarks. Striding large where before we had treaded lightly. There was no stopping us.

Up ahead the 2000 mile mark loomed large.

Pffft. We leapt across that threshold without a moment’s hesitation and by mid-June (i.e. now) we are sitting pretty at around the 2200 mile mark.

Any good journey leaves its scars and the shoes are showing their fair share.  But, the fact is, they are still performing their function MORE than adequately. They are running shoes and I can run in them.

So the next time someone starts whimpering about a piece of rubber that has peeled off their shoes or a bit of padding that has ripped, or the worst of all, that the cushioning has collapsed (what the hell does that shoe company bullshit phrase actually even mean) tell them to man up and get running. Or man down and go golfing.

Next stop… who knows. This journey may just be getting going.

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A racing summary

Summer means races. Short races, fast races, lots of races.

The European track season must be one of the athletics highlights of the year. This year’s newly launched diamond league has been producing some great times. Notably in the 5k (Kipchoge’s 12:51 in Doha) and the 800m (Rudisha and Kaki), the race of the season to date, both men running low 1:42s. Wow!

But enough about greatness… lets look midpack again. My post-London racing has gone well enough. Here’s the lowdown.

I got stuck into a 1500m just a week after the marathon and managed 4:36 on some tired legs.

A week later, in my first veterans only meeting I took a few seconds off that, running 4:32 for 2nd place. Here’s my “Once a Runner”-styled race report. I got to the track about an hour before the race. I went and met the team manager and got my vest and numbers for the night. Then I headed back to my car, got into my warm-up kit and jogged out of the car park. Not knowing the area I didn’t want to venture too far out and settled on a simple mile-out-mile-back warm-up. I got back to my car, stretched, and checked my watch. Twenty minutes to go. Perfect. There were some nerves no question, but more in excitement than the usual feeling of dread that precedes a 1500. I got into my racing kit and laced up my spikes. I went over to the 1500 start line and dropped my jacket on the outfield. There were a number of other obvious middle-distance types milling about not talking to each other. Some were in pairs and by contrast chatted loudly to each about their season to date or what they planned to do tonight.

I started my stride-throughs, the same old routine, 100m steady, in the direction of the race, 100m jog/walk back along the along the back straight. Three sets of these, some more stretching and I was ready to roll.

I looked at the other competitors; some looked very ready and sharp enough to sprint at a moment’s notice. Others, particularly those wearing racing flats instead of spikes, looked less threatening. Stick with the plan I reminded myself. The plan was 4:30 pace, which meant splits of 72, 2:24 and 3:18 at the bell.

The starter called us to the line. This was it. Once more into the breach. There was a big group – 24 runners. Biggest track race I’ve raced in. Don’t worry I thought, your speed will get you clear of trouble. (I hoped). The gun went and we set off. A runner burst clear over the first hundred metres. I sprinted the first 50m or so to get some space and then settled in behind the guy in 4th. There was a lot of bustling going through the first lap, “69…70…71” called the timer as we went through 400m. Bit fast but ok. The first lap is for free anyway. The guy I was shadowing started to falter so I passed him and latched onto the guy in third. Still too slow I thought, so I moved past him onto the second-placed guy’s shoulder. He seemed strong and was getting lots of support. Local guy I thought. He’ll be tough to pass. The leading guy now had about 60m on us so there was no race on there. 800 in 2:24 exactly. I had lost time but was now on pace. The next 300m to the bell were slower but didn’t feel slower. With 500 to go I moved into lane 2 and passed local-guy. The chips are down now I thought as I took the bell in 3:22. I had lost too much time to break 4:30 but I had my hands full with local-guy who would not let go. 300 to go, Maintain maintain maintain. 200 to go. Push now. Go. Sprint, leave nothing in the tank. I had been redlining for at least a lap but now I needed even more. My lungs were burning and I was aching everywhere but I had confidence that I could raise a sprint. I didn’t want local-guy coming past me in the last 15m. I took off and sprinted with everything I had down the home straight. His steps got fainter and I knew he wouldn’t catch me. I crossed the line in 4:32.2 for 2nd place. Handshakes to the winner (4:25ish) and to local-guy when he finished. The familiar taste of blood in the back of my mouth.

Minor chit-chat as we walked slowly back to where we dropped our kit. I managed a one-lap cooldown and that was it. I got into my tracksuit, sent a text to the missus to let her know how I had gotten on, and drove home. The End.

A few days after that I ran in the national masters road champs. My second veteran’s only event, this time on the road. It was a three mile course and I was blasted off the park by the depth of the competition. I got dragged along to a 16:16 which, as I’ve never raced 3 miles before, was a PB :-).

Three weeks after that I raced a 3k at a local meeting hosted by our club. I was targeting 9:30 and managed 9:25, after some help through the middle sections of the race by a friend from one of our local rival clubs.

The day after that I competed in the next meeting in the veterans only track league, trying an 800 this time and getting 2nd place again (losing to the same guy who won the 1500 last time). I was handed a massive rude awakening into how unprepared I am for racing 800m! I was targeting 2:10, and got nowhere near, running 2:14.4.

A few days after that I ran a local fun run that I’ve been meaning to run for years. 6000 runners take part, and many more try to enter but get turned away. This year we were organised and managed to enter in time. The wife, father-in-law and a couple of friends were all running as well, so it promised to be a good day out. Being a fun run, the quality runners were not really there and I somehow stole third place. It was 8.5 miles which I covered in 49:40. I got interviewed afterwards and got my picture in the local paper. Pretty cool – and not something that really happens to people my speed. Imagine a big race environment, fenced off areas in the city centre, TV cameras, pace cars, officials everywhere. And then for some reason everyone is much slower than real elite athletes. It really felt like a once in a lifetime experience. Crowds lining the place from start to finish. Once the race got going, there were huge open stretches of coned-off tarmac for the throngs of runners about to get there, but completely clear, except for the two runners ahead of me and the a pace car. I could read the running time on the pace car clock all the way through the race, which was a rare treat. I had gone out pretty hard and was in 3rd place before the second mile. From that point on I was mostly running scared and hanging on as best as I could. I was convinced someone or a group of people even, was going to come storming past me all race long. But it didn’t happen and I held on for third.

In the following week I ran the first of the 5k road races hosted by our club. Probably too much racing in the previous week had taken the zip out of my legs and I struggled to get going, especially when the going got tough. I tried to dig in on the second of the two laps but found the well was dry. It happens. I finished in 16:58 for 13th place. I suppose a positive spin on that is that it ties my best time on that course, but I’d really love to have found another 5-10 seconds. Maybe next time!

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