Archive for January, 2016

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.

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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.

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