Deferring my first marathon

Over the last couple of months, injury, holiday and workload has meant that I’ve not had the opportunity to train as much as I’d like or as much as is needed for what was going to be my first marathon – Brighton Marathon on 6th April and I’ve struggled to run anything more than 6 miles without the niggles in my left hip area. Given several more weeks of high workloads on the run up to Mothers Day, I can see little opportunity to get out and run long (up to 20 miles) and therefore I have, very reluctantly, deferred my entry to Brighton. I plan to try a 10-12 mile run tomorrow to assess whether to run the Reading Half next weekend

Deferring Brighton certainly eases some pressure and means that I can focus on completing the Eastleigh 10K before aiming for a decent race at Blenheim Tri at the start of June and then the big one; Challenge Weymouth Half Distance Triathlon.

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A new year to focus on

A few weeks back I looked back at 2013 and the challenges I’d set and how well I’d got on. It’s now time to look forward again. I know I’ve done this a couple of times already but my goals are now set in stone.

I started the new year after being ill for several days. That meant that I was unable to be very active and that combined with festive excesses meant that getting the scales yesterday provided bad news!! Over 13 stone again! Darn!! Have no one to blame but myself though and hopefully over the next month or so I can get back down to my target weight of around 12 1/2 stone.

In terms of races and events in 2014, I’ve decided to stick to 8 for the year. This is partly so that I don’t overdo things but also so that I don’t miss many Junior parkruns through the year.

Here are the events I’ve got on my plan:

March 2014:

  • Reading Half Marathon (2nd March)
  • Eastleigh 10K (23rd March) – going for a PB although could be a challenge the day after my 45th birthday!

April 2014:

  • Brighton Marathon (6th April) – eek

June 2014:

  • Blenheim Sprint Triathlon (8 June)

July 2014:

  • Thunder Run (26/27 July)

September 2014:

  • Challenge Weymouth Half Triathlon (14th September)
  • HOWSC Olympic Triathlon (28th September)

November 2014:

  • Gosport Half Marathon (November)

Will also do as many of the TryTri aquathlons at Lakeside as I can and as many parkruns as possible! Hoping to get to 100 parkruns at some point in 2014.

Although there are some old favourites in the mix (Eastleigh 10K and Gosport Half), there are some big challenges (notably Brighton Marathon, Thunder Run and Challenge Weymouth Half Triathlon) ahead.

Is there a value in race mementos?

At many races you receive a goodie bag which can contain flyers, cereal bars, food, drink or all manner of goodies. Some goodie bags are better than others and receiving a poor goodie bag can often be more annoying that not receiving one at all.

Many races offer medals. However, these are normally not of the best quality and, in my view, can simply come across as cheap and tacky. Some races offer T-shirts. These are often cheap cotton T-shirts which are of little use other than gardening, decorating or vegging around the house. A few races offer technical T-shirts and these tend to be well received (as long as their colours aren’t too extreme!)

When we were organising the Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race, the topic of race mementos came up and the committee agreed to offer a good quality technical T-shirt. One of the committee, Irene, designed the artwork as well as liaised with suppliers to get a good deal. However, the T-shirts were expensive compared to cheaper mementos but the decision was made on a number of factors:

  • we wanted to put on a good event and have a good memento
  • a technical t-shirt was much more likely to be worn than a cotton T-shirt
  • we could use the availability of the technical t-shirt when promoting the race – it’s true that many might have entered without the t-shirt on offer but if you include such a ‘useful’ memento, the race could be seen to be ‘better value’ because you walk away with something you can use (assuming you wouldn’t want to be seen in such a garment!)
  • each time a race entrant wore the technical t-shirt it would (hopefully) remind them of our event and entice them to enter next year
  • with 500+ t-shirts being worn at training runs, club training sessions, parkruns and other races, the event and club are being promoted to 10s and 100s of other people who may not have heard of the event or club
  • LRR club members may feel proud of their club if they see the technical t-shirt being worn

Not only was the T-shirt something that was practical but it offered a great way to promote the club potentially for several years (I’m ashamed to admit that I have technical T-shirts of 4+ years old that I still wear regularly).

It’s true that the T-shirts cost significantly more than an inferior cotton T-shirt that would rarely be worn (and therefore offer few promotional opportunities) or a medal that may never leave the box it’s tossed in after receipt and that the race entry fee increase imposed this year didn’t cover the entire additional cost of the t-shirt but, in my honest opinion, the t-shirt provided (a great deal of?) value in terms of maintaining or even enhancing the prestige of the event as well as the post-event promotional opportunities it provided. The cost was also offset to a small degree by sponsors who had their logo on the back. In reality, we had hoped for more sponsorship but it wasn’t to be.

Although we didn’t formally ask participants whether having a technical t-shirt would make them decide to sign up, we did survey them after and there was a lot of love for the t-shirt! A couple of participants wanted t-shirts and medals but you can’t please everyone. Well, we could, but we’d have to raise the entry fees to do so!

Had we decided to stick with a cheaper medal and sold as many entries, we’d have made more money but would we have received the same longer term benefits? Of course, it’s difficult to say. However, in my view (and these are only my views expressed in this post) the club isn’t setting out to make a load of money and a club’s bank balance isn’t a sign of how good that club is.

Note that the cost of the t-shirts was budgeted from day 1 along with ever other cost (road closures, UKA licence, entry form printing, online entry commission, food, drink, etc, etc which were all funded from entry fees) and the event team set out to make a surplus from race entries that could be re-invested into the club for equipment, training, etc, etc. The actual budgeted surplus became a reality so, IMHO, we had a win-win situation.

A year of achievements

It’s customary to look back at the end of a year at achievements (and what you wish you’d achieved) but with December fast approaching, I haven’t got many more goals for the year so thought I’d look now. It’s probably been my most achievement-laden year to date particularly with regards fitness and related goals.

Here’s a quick list with links to related posts:

March 2013 – Ran the Eastleigh 10K and almost achieved a PB but gained an age-graded PB

April 2013 – Winchester parkrun opened. This was an event I had quite a lot of involvement in behind the scenes until its inaugural event when Tansy and Dave Gill took the reins. Also helped organise the first ever Lordshill Mile Series Event and created the magic-mile.co.uk website to help administer the results for the series

May 2013Swam in the lake in a Lakeside for the first time and continued to swim there regularly through the summer and autumn

June 2013 – Completed my first Triathlon, the Eastleigh Open Water Triathlon. I loved it and went on to complete another 2 triathlons. I was also fairly active behind the scenes on the LRR 10K committee which was held on the same day. A great event. Also, held the 2nd Lordshill Mile Series event.

July 2013 – Ran in the National Lottery Anniversary Run (not once but twice) and got to cross the finishing line in the Olympic Stadium for my 2nd and 3rd time. The 3rd time was extra special because I ran it with Daniel and Denise.

September 2013 – Completed my 2nd Triathlon, the Valley Leisure Tri, and helped organise the 3rd LRR Mile Series event and got a mile PB. BOOM! Also, organised a Magic Mile singlehanded at Southampton Sports Centre and did my 30 day ‘cut the cr@p challenge‘. Also, became Vice Chairman of Lordshill Road Runners and joined a triathlon club, Southampton Tri Club. Finally, I completed my final triathlon of the year, the HOWSC 100 Sprint Triathlon.

October 2013 – Completing my longest cycle ride in the 70 mile New Forest Sportive

November 2013 – Race Director for the Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race, the Southampton Juniors parkrun trial, a PB at the Gosport Half Marathon and Southampton Juniors parkrun opened

Add to all that about 1130km of running, 740km of cycling and 140km of swimming as part of the training for the events above (roughly 200 hours) and also helping to start Winchester, Queen Elizabeth and Brockenhurst parkruns (and now helping with 3 – 4 more in the local area – more about those in early 2014), it’s been a busy year.

I’m pretty proud of all that I’ve achieved to date this year and don’t have any more hard goals for the rest of the year. Time for a month off 😉

A quick look back and forward

It’s almost 9 months through the year and it’s been a good one. I’ve done 2 out of 3 triathlons, multiple lake swims, a handful of aquathlons, got close to PBs at various distances (and PB’d at the mile), upped my game with regards to training, attended RunCamp, got myself a decent training plan and some coaching, joined a triathlon club, helped set up some more parkruns (Queen Elizabeth, Brockenhurst and Winchester), organised (and helped organise) several Mile events and got more involved behind the scenes in Lordshill Road Runners.

The year is by no means over though. I still have several other events to look forward to including the HOWSC Triathlon, a long distance cycling sportive (70 miles 6th October), the Great South Run (23rd October) and the Gosport Half Marathon (17th November). As well as that, I’ll be Race Directing the Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race (3rd November) and (hopefully) getting the Southampton Junior parkrun started.

Who knows what 2014 will bring. Already booked are the Stubbington 10K (19th January), Reading Half (2nd March), Blenheim Triathlon (8th June) and Brighton Marathon (6th April). Hoping to add Eastleigh 10K (23rd March) and another mass participation Triathlon (maybe the Virgin London Triathlon in early August). My plan is to train well to do well (by my standards) in these events.

All those are challenges I’ve set myself which will require a fair amount of training and dedication. Looking forward to it!

Quick summary:

2013:

  • HOWSC Sprint Triathlon (29th September)
  • Wiggle New Forest Sportive (70 miles 6th October)
  • Great South Run (23rd October)
  • Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race (3rd November) – Race Directing
  • Gosport Half Marathon (17th November).
  • Southampton Junior parkrun (November)

2014:

  • Stubbington 10K (19th January)
  • Reading Half Marathon (2nd March)
  • Eastleigh 10K (23rd March)
  • Brighton Marathon (6th April)
  • Blenheim Triathlon (8th June)
  • Virgin London Triathlon (2/3rd August)

Quick update – muscle cramps, planks and PSA results

After my muscle cramp issues in yesterday’s Valley Leisure Triathlon, I got some good advice about how to deal with the issue. More hydration and a drink to supplement the lost electrolytics. Thanks to John Grant, I’ve ordered some High 5 Zero tablets which are added to water. Once received, I’ll try these in water and see how I get on.

I’ve also had the results of my PSA test back. It came back normal which means that prostate cancer is very unlikely. That’s obviously great news. Just need to work out what the problem actually is though.

I’ve started a new challenge. This one’s a plank challenge and other than for one day, I’ve been trying it for almost a week.

Here’s how I’m getting on so far:

3/9/2013: 00:50
4/9/2013: 01:05
5/9/2013: 01:25
6/9/2013: 01:35
8/9/2013: 01:30

Nothing much else to report at the moment.

I’m trying to add about 10 seconds per day.

Cutting out the cr@p with a 30-day challenge

At the end of last month, I decided that my intake of crisps, biscuits and sweets was getting a little extreme. I was trying to justify the consumption by offsetting it against the calories burnt during exercise. The issue was that my weight was increasing. Something had to change.

It was then that I was reminded of 30 day challenges. There’s hardly a reason to explain the concept. Basically you set yourself a challenge that you stick to for 30 days. The benefit is that it’s much easier to stick to something if the timescale is quite short. You can see the end of the tunnel.

There are a whole heap of 30 day fitness challenges online. These include the 30 day squat challenge, the 30 day plank challenge, etc, etc.

My challenge is to not eat crisps, sweets, cakes, biscuits or other junk snack food for the whole of September which conveniently has 30 days. Surely a sign!!

I’m keeping the hunger pangs at bay by eating nuts. No, not dry roasted peanuts but almonds and other ‘healthy’ nuts.

I’m now 3 days into the challenge and, in reality, it’s not been plain sailing but I’m managing it and, if my scales are to be believed, it’s already starting to make a positive difference. Fingers crossed for the next 27 days.

There’s definitely scope for different challenges each month. Cycle every day for 30 days, do core work for 30 days etc etc.