Portland Oregon, London Landmarks Half and finally a decent run




The London Landmarks Half marathon: Finally! No howling gale! Sunshine! Hooray! 


Well, it's been quite a week since my last post. On Monday I headed to Portland, Oregon, to visit the home of Nike. Portland (unofficial motto: "Keep Portland weird!") is set in the most beautiful valley, surrounded by unfeasibly tall trees and rolling hills. We visited the Nike campus - and it really is a campus. It's a mystery to me how anyone gets any actual work done what with the football fields, gyms, running track in the woods, full size swimming pool, multiple restaurants, lake to relax by, and so on. We also did a glorious hour of trail running up and down the hills in NW Portland and - in my case at least - drank a lot of delicious coffee. There will be more on this trip anon.

The coffee, though, was definitely needed - two long haul flights in four days probably isn't the ideal prep for a half marathon. However, it did mean my mileage dropped a bit for the week - no bad thing, given how I've been feeling. After the dreary trudge that was the Big Half a few weeks ago, I was slightly apprehensive about another race. But London Landmarks Half was different in every way.

The weather, finally, was lovely. In fact positively warm by the end - a joyous change from every race I've done so far this year which seem to have, without exception, taken place in howling winds.

Then, the course: yes, it looks like someone sat a child down, gave them a multipack of Haribo and a 2 litre bottle of cola and instructed them to draw on an Etch-a-Sketch. But, I loved it! Sure, there were bends and turns galore, but most of them were relatively smooth, and at least at my portion of the field, we were pretty stretched out so there was no issue whatsoever with crowds navigating them. A good six miles or so of the course takes place in a sort of vortex around St Pauls, where you run miles and miles yet always remain within eyeshot of it. Again, I rather liked this. When a long, long stretch of road opens up in front of you and you realise you'll be running down it for miles, it can be a bit of a mental blow. With the race in bite-sized chunks, I felt a lot happier about it. No incline was ever long, no windy bit lasted more than a minute or two.

The support was also more vocal and colourful than at Big Half, and there were even placards with facts en route (sorry, didn't take any of them in) about the landmarks themselves. My favourite bit was running, right near the finish and by Downing Street, past a small group of supporters dressed in full Suffragette garb complete with "Votes for Women" sashes.

Rehydration #aperolseason
I was also lucky enough to be invited to the extremely luxurious Equinox gym before and after to prepare - and have a truly blissful shower afterwards. You guys are all runners, so you will appreciate how lovely it is to finish a race and within minutes be standing in hot water for those aching muscles, rather than the usual attempt at changing into non-sweaty gear in a road or a field in full view of all.  If I win the lottery I am totally joining that gym. 

So, all in all a lovely race experience, and I was delighted to finally hit some kind of form, finishing in just over 87 minutes. Was it Asta last week who was doing "runners maths"? Where you calculate "well, if I'd had a decent sleep, that would have been a minute off.. then the niggle was worth 40 seconds..."  On that basis, if you consider the twisty course, add in a couple of long haul flights and a 10 mile day the day before, it was basically a PB, right?

Anyway, finally, over to you. Anyone else at London Landmarks? I ran a good chunk of it with a nice chap running for his brother, whose name I have, of course, forgotten - but if you are reading this, it was great to run with you! As always, weekend triumphs and woes below the line.

Comments

  1. Isn’t it funny how being in a reduced week of training leads to an injury, or maybe it was the intensity of the previous week just playing itself out? Anyway, more of that later.
    This week saw me training in Clitheroe and Colchester. I now know not to believe weather forecasts for Clitheroe, because apparently it didn’t rain whilst we were there. However, water fell from the skies regularly, completely unaware that it was doing the wrong thing! Colchester, however, stayed dry, which was good because I was down there for a football weekend. England v Czech Republic (win) at Wembley on Friday night, Tranmere Rovers V Colchester United (win) on Saturday, then watching the grandsons play for their Stanway Rovers age related teams on Sunday (one win/one loss).
    On Friday I did a 75 minute run, and if you want to go nice and steady, Colchester is the place as it is pretty flat! Everything was going fine, though I was feeling a little tired, until I got to about 6 miles and my left hip, that has been niggly, decided it wanted to complain a bit. I had to slow down and just take it easy, knowing that this would need some looking after. The problem had started over a week ago with left knee knee pain when cycling, but had continued to ride in Clitheroe and did a bike/run at home. I also had a 3 hour ride planned for Saturday morning, after a late night at Wembley. Logically, I should have not gone, or reduced the time, but as I’d set it up with my son-in-law and his friends I didn’t have the bottle to cut it short. So, by the time the ride was finished both my knee and hip were very uncomfortable and have been since then. I’m eight weeks out from the triathlon, so my plan is to review both joints daily but look at taking about 5/7 days off riding and running to see if there is an improvement. I’m a bit pissed off because everything has gone really well up to now but I rationalise that I won’t lose much if anything by taking a slight break, though the swimming continues!

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    1. That's a bugger that, Pete. I'm no expert, but the combination of knee and hip pain makes it sound like it could be an ITB issue. I had it last year, but seemed to nip it in the bud by doing a lot of the exercises here:-

      https://www.pogophysio.com.au/blog/part-5-the-top-corrective-exercises-for-itb-friction-syndrome/

      I found the hip external rotations particularly good.

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    2. I agree with Mark.

      Do some swimming and some foam rolling. Take care of those old joints mate 🤣🤣

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    3. Cheers Mark. I'll have a look at the exercises. The knee pain is a familiar thing from years of cycling and knee surgery but the hip is a new phenomenon. I'm determined to be "right" for the tri.

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    4. 2.6km this morning Asta! And less of the old joints, they've served me man and boy for almost 64 years and they're still under guarantee!

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    5. Ah Pete, channel your inner Yoda on this one and stay zen. Swim, don't stress, be patient. I would hate more than anything for you to not Do the Right Thing and have to crash out now. Remember all you said to me while I was impatiently waiting for my ankle to heal!

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    6. What Ruby said! Good luck with your hip Pete.

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    7. No idea about Yoda, ruby! But the plan has me doing more swimming anyway and only 2 runs and rides a week though one is quite an intense brick session. So I'm not too disheartened at the moment. I just see what I'll do this week as a variation on the training and it'll allow me to recover. The target date is 19 May, not before!

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    8. Cheers kyd! Hopefully some of the exercises Mark has highlighted will work well for my hip. It was a really strange sensation when it started going "funny" whilst running on Friday

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  2. Just shy of 120 km with 3,000 m of ascents last week. The longest run was 45 km, which I did yesterday in some glorious weather. I went east along the Ridgeway from Watlington in Oxfordshire to Wendover in Buckinghamshire. I'd arranged to meet the family for a picnic in Wendover Woods and had about five hours to get there. I simply took my time, appreciating the warming spring sunshine, the views and the trails underfoot. I also took this opportunity to explore the myriad of footpaths and bridleways the branch off from the Ridgeway. I almost had to call it quits after 3 km, however, when I went over on my ankle when coming down a steep hill (-25% gradient). After a bit of loud cussing, the ankle felt sufficiently OK for me not to abort and it managed to hold up until the last 90 minutes of the run when it did start to hurt. There's a tiny bit of swelling this morning, but not enough to concern me.

    In terms of fueling, I went through two litres of Tailwind, which I chugged on little and often, and also experimented for the first time with pouches of savoury energy food (sweet potato and turmeric) from a company called Long Haul. Taste wise, they're not entirely unpleasant without being entirely pleasant: the turmeric flavour was a bit overpowering. But, more importantly, they seemed to do the trick.

    Life is getting in the way a bit this coming weekend, so I'm going to try to cram in about 80 km between tomorrow and Friday before giving myself a few days off after a tough couple of weeks.

    Happy running!

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    1. I'd need something that actually tastes good Mark! Great running and glad that your ankle held up to finish the run. Hope that it responds well this coming week.

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    2. Cheers, Pete! I decided to ditch gels a few years ago and now mainly use energy bars, such as Clif, and even flapjacks. However, you do crave savoury things when you are out all day. In the past, I took along a small tub of homemade sweet potato mash with parmesan cheese. Along with being very nice tasting, it always did the trick when I had it around the halfway point of races. Carrying the tub in a pocket of my hydration vest made it incredibly inconvenient, though. The Long Haul pouches are convenient, but lack the taste. If I can just find a way to make my homemade concoction more portable, I'll be on to a winner!

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    3. Would a soft flask and slightly looser mash wotk? Though now i say that, it sounds a bit horrible!

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    4. Yeah, 'loose mash' doesn't exactly make you want to rush to eat! Look after that ankle Mark!

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    5. Bite size flapjacks and bite size millionair's shortbread from the supermarket stashed in the strap pockets of my hydration vest....top up from the main compartment as needed....mmmm. Cheap too, at £3 for both packs.

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    6. Mark, what about the smallest size Zip Locks and just turn the contents out into your mouth? You could take a few : )

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    7. Mark. I make a sort of slop from oats, flax, banana, sultanas, salt, coconut water all whizzed up and left to swell up like bircher muesli in fridge overnight. You can fill the corners of small sandwich bags with this, tie them off and rip off the corner with teeth and suck out like s gel. No mess. Easy.

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  3. I ran (well, run + XT combo) for over 2 hours yesterday. I haven’t done that since 2016.

    Then I consumed 150g of crisps and 2/3 of a pizza. Plus three beers.

    A good day.

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    1. Nice one Asta!

      Though I am scratching my head at what 150g of crisps looks like!

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    2. Family size pack. I feel a bit sick thinking about it now.

      I also wish I’d saved some pizza for lunch!

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    3. Who inconsiderately denied you 1/3 pizza after a 2 hour session?!

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    4. Probably the person whose share of a family bag of crisps he scoffed.

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    5. Actually Ms GeeGee, I foresaw a situation where I wouldn’t get enough crisps so I bought two packets 🤣🤣🤣

      But yes, ‘twas she. *and she left the crusts*

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  4. As someone who has had Portland, Oregon, and the PNW in general on their bucket list for years, I was very very jealous during the week. I'm assuming the more on the trip will be shoe related?

    First week of taper done, and it's odd to walk into work on a Monday without aching all over. Reduced everything by about 1/4 this week, and had a steadier long run yesterday with some of the others from our running club (The wind, I'm sad to report, has not left the North East just yet). It was quite nice to go out for a run without having to worry about my pace or check my watch every couple of minutes; just enjoying it and having a little chat about races, training, and shoes.
    Knocking another 1/4 off this week and I'll likely be restless by next Monday, but I've got quite a few races coming up having not ran one for the last 5 months, so I should probably enjoy it while I can.

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  5. PB klaxon please, extra loud for it being unexpected!
    HM PB at RunGarioch yesterday, by a might 40 seconds. A fairly hilly course and a howling wind so I’m not sure how. Hopefully bodes well for Stirling marathon, also an undulating course.
    Nice to see some of the injured regulars getting some good runs in this week!

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    1. Brilliant. Love the unexpected PBs - they feel very sweet.

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    2. Confidence booster and a lovely surprise!

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    3. Great run McWhirr! I'm told it was a very windy one too.

      I was sorry to miss Garioch, as I had a funeral on Mull on Saturday afternoon and no prospect of getting back in time. But I had a cracking run whilst over there - 14 miles, nearly all either up or down hills, blue skies, glorious views and birds singing. A good to be alive day, before saying goodbye to a dear friend. Puts things in perspective.

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    4. Sorry to hear that R&R, glad you had a good Mull run. Lovely place.
      I think anyone finishing Garioch in about 1:55 or over might not have enjoyed the end! Horrible heavy squally rain shower with a bit of hail thrown in too. Nasty stuff.

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  6. Well I ran a total of 17 miles last week which is my longest weekly mileage since tearing my ankle ligaments. It included 7.5 miles on Friday evening which I'm very pleased with indeed. This week I'll build up to four sessions and hopefully by next week will be back in the routine again. So lovely to be back out there and making plans in my head. At the moment the plans are to build up the speedwork again, focus on a couple of 10ks and 10 milers, then start some serious autumn marathon training in the summer when I've decided which autumn marathon that might be. I'm leading my first club run tonight as a coach, so I'm alternately anxious and excited about that.

    I didn't run over the weekend itself as I was on the Brexit march on Saturday. Just for fun I put my Garmin on and discovered by the end that we'd walked a total of 4.23 miles in 5.09 hours! My legs though, that night and on Sunday, behaved as if I'd run the marathon again - boy did they hurt and boy was I wacked. Spend Sunday feeling exhausted but satisfied dismantling a greenhouse on the allotment and feeling better than if I'd stayed at home and shouted at the tele.

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    1. If your on your feet for 5+ hours, you might have expected to run a marathon! Time on feet is the tiring part, and well done for your 27k week : )

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    2. Yes, time on feet it most definitely was! Marching for the cause should definitely be on marathon training plans.

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  7. I ate too many peanut butter brownies in one day. I felt so guilty afterwards that I went and did a 5k and then still feeling guilty I did another one, quite quickly, and then a couple of ks warm down. What this taught me is that in middle age I still have no self control and also that peanut butter brownies make you run fast. In non-brownie news, my Strava told me that I didn't run the Wilmslow Half yesterday and that I didn't run the Cheshire 10k on Saturday. Serious weekend FOMO although kilometreage for the week was good.

    In the female half of the house "The Kraken" has moved on from 5k to 8k and is now threatening to find Paula Radcliffe and challenge her to a race. I'm quite scared of her. My daughter has also finished c25k and returns home from University in a couple of weeks and has promised to go running with me. I said she could go with her mother but she's refused on the grounds that she'd rather be chased by a tiger. Happy running, everyone.

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    1. Peanut butter brownie guilt and a John Wyndham creation living in the same house.....interesting times GJ, interesting indeed!

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    2. Never a dull moment, BHP. Both the brownie and Mrs GJ are on the IOC banned list.

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  8. Just parkrun, but at least getting faster again. Lovely sunny trail run this morning... not really the weekend, but a good way to start the week.

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  9. Determined, on Sunday, to see if I could run 15k. I have never managed this distance without having to walk a fair bit of it after 11 which felt as if I'd never really done it at all. Also, I could never find a route that didn't involve going round and round which I found pretty boring. Enter the River Lea. I ran from the door of my house 10k all the way past Stratford and the lucky people Sunday-lunching on boats. Then turned round and ran 5k back. Glorious day, not too hot or too windy. Walked to Tesco for a lettuce and chocolate raisins and caught the bus home. This plan avoided having to run up Stamford Hill in the last 5k which has always done for me before. Average k was 6.58. I'm not going to win any prizes with that but I was dead chuffed to be under 7. My prize was a big fat Millefeuille in my caff.
    Found new place to hurt though: the bottom of my foot really ached at the end. It's fine this morning so don't know what that was. It wasn't a muscular ache; more of an impact one. Dunno. Will try again in my extra-large trainers next time and see if that is easier.

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    1. Rachel, well done on the 15k. Did your foot pain feel like you've trodden on a drawing pin? Others far more qualified than me will know better but if you've upped your distance you may have plantar fasciitis. Probably best to get it checked properly. I suffer from this occasionally but have found orthotic insoles do the trick as prevention. As a relief roll a tennis ball around with a bare foot. Make sure you stretch too as tightening calves can bring it on as the tendons in the foot are connected. Plenty on line about PF.

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    2. Nice one, Rachel! Though I do now have visions of someone on a bus wearing running gear munching a lettuce...

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    3. G J - thanks but it wasn't my heel that hurt, it was the ball of my foot - I'm not much of a heel-striker - I'm not sure they're related. I'll keep an eye on it though.

      Rosie - I am a bit of a lettuce-head, I like the bitterness, but this time it was all about the chocolate raisins - Tesco pick 'n' mix. They used to have jelly babies. .. I crave jelly babies. Where did they go?

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    4. Could be metatarsalitis...... I suffer from it, due to bad foot conformation. Rest up a couple of days and it should improve. I go for shoes with as much padding as possible on the ball of my foot.

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  10. We had a mate staying with us on Saturday ahead of his London Landmarks run - just looking at the route map almost gave me motion sickness, so I'm glad it made for an enjoyable route.

    For me it was the final long run before Manchester on a semi-regular 16 mile route. Some quality physio care seems to have got my calf back into reasonable shape and it mostly felt comfortable, though a few twinges of cramp in the last mile was a little ominous. Much as before my last marathon, interruptions to my training plan leave me pretty uncertain as to what a sensible goal time is, but I'm at least sure of making it to the start line which was by no means a certainty 10 days ago.

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    1. Great news LB and some good running from you these past 2 weekends despite your latent injuries!

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  11. I've had a tough weekend of running. A hard session on Friday afternoon (7 mile HM-tempo) resulted in extremely sore abdominal muscles. As it was my wife's turn to do parkrun I was able to postpone my Saturday run until the late afternoon, a rather painful and slow run around my local park - I skipped the planned 8x100m strides. During the run I played with the idea of moving Sunday's 22 mile run to Monday. The last time I moved a 22 mile run to a weekday I made myself ill so, on Sunday I woke up fairly early and did the 22 mile run, without any expectation of running fast. I survived the run at about 15s/mile slower than the last three attempts. Not too bad given how I was feeling. In parts, the run was good - I enjoyed the middle section around Richmond Park, but got that awful end-of-marathon feeling for most of the 7 miles home.

    Plodded into work this morning, with a short sprint up the east side of Trafalgar Square - to beat a traffic light change. The sprint confirmed that the abdominals were still not happy. Ugh. Hopefully this will resolve itself in the next couple of days.

    Nice HM Kate, looking good for your marathon(s).

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    1. ooh not nice, sorry to hear that. I hope it clears up for you soon .. have you seen a physio yet?

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    2. Thanks, no plans to see a physio yet. I've had worse abdominal issues before - DOMS about 3 or 4 days after the San Sebastian marathon springs to mind.

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    3. You talk about it being tough David, but you managed to ignore the fact that you've clocked up over 1000 miles for the year already! That's seriously tough!

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  12. On the subject of 'and finally a decent run' - I had an amazing 38k run yesterday, in perfect conditions, I loved every minute of it. I was aiming to keep the majority of it on the easy side of steady but felt good enough to step on the gas at 30 and do the final 8k at c. MP. Felt absolutely fine on finishing and also for the rest of the day, didn’t feel like I’d run it at all! What a difference to the 30k slog last weekend, 2 completely polarised experiences.

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    1. Excellent kid! A nice little pointer for Brighton.

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    2. Lovely when that happens. And you even saw ponies!

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  13. I ran my first official Half Marathon this weekend. As mentioned last week, my training was limited to one run as I only signed up for the HM 10 days ago, but I did manage to not drink most of that 10-day period (with a good old binge in the middle, as one does!). I was aiming for 2:06 but in the glorious Coventry sunshine, I came in just over 2:03 so I'm pleased with that. It's the first time I've run this sort of race with the support and I loved it.

    I learned a few things: running while drinking from a bottle is difficult! It all went up my nose and went rather badly. Jelly Babies are better than other chewy sweets because chewing while running really messes up the breathing. I am rubbish at pacing myself, especially when I get a bit carried away with those around me. I smashed 90 seconds off my best 10k pace for the first 10km, but thankfully was then powered by sweets and water and didn't tail off too badly. Getting the route confused in your head in advance can have advantages: I thought the main hill was due to be at mile 10 but after running up a hilly bit at about mile 8, thinking I'd overcooked it and wouldn't manage to run up the next big hill, that hill never actually materialised!

    I got a blister on one foot but otherwise came away relatively unharmed. Now to find a nice route for later this year and train and see if I can improve on my time...

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    1. Amazing, well done! These little lessons we learn during races are invaluable and stay with us as if they've been heat stamped!

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    2. Well done Rosie! Lovely to beat your target. That'll stay with you, the blister will go!

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    3. Well done! Cov was one I had to pull out of but it looked like perfect conditions and a fabulous day all round. If you're looking for another local one Leamington half is in July, although likely to be a whole lot hotter and hillier!

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    4. Thanks, all.

      RGG: I lived in Leamington for a few years a while back but not sure I will be nearby for the HM... I'm in the middle of buying a house in Wales so once that is sorted, I should be able to plan ahead and get some training lined up.

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    5. Great result, well done. My first HM time was about 2:15.

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  14. Tell me about howling winds! The Fylde owns the patent. And it's been bloody horrible for me as not used to it. Last week I tried to show some backbone and did a muddy wet cold park run and was just miserable. Ended up walking bits. This week was sunny and I flew round... am only 54 seconds from my target. If weather stays nice and I feel perky.. it's all doable.
    But cold wet mud and me are never going to be friends. Ever.

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  15. After a light week involving a trip back to Scotland for a conferenc and to see family I started earnest (ish) training for my next half marathon at the beginning of June.
    Park ran (or parked run) on Saturday, posting my fastest time of the year so far and being second in my age group - when I checked the full results I discovered I had the exact same the as my age group leader so I really should have kept going after crossing the line so I could have got to the finish tokens first (that said as I only caught him by sprinting for the line by any reasonable measure he was the faster runner). Sunday was then a gentler (though harder than it should have been) 11.5 km as I continue extending my long runs

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  16. Just parkrun for me on Saturday. My time was 27:39 which was the fastest I'd run in the last 6 months, so I was pleased. I also signed up for a winter trail run series around Auckland starting in May.

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    1. Congrats on the parkrun! Look forward to hearing how you get on with the winter trail series.

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