My participation in official events has dropped off dramatically in recent years, here’s the full list to date:

2014 Events

2013 Events

2012 Events

2010 Events

2009 Events

2008 Events

2007 Events

2006 Events

A Soggy First for Janathon Day 4

The alarm went off at 6.30 this morning so we could get across London for Lynn’s first parkrun. It needn’t have bothered, I’d been laying awake for hours listening to the rain drumming on the velux and the bin lid bouncing around the garden.

If we hadn’t arranged to meet Suzan at Bushy Park I can shamefully confirm that we would have stayed in bed and failed Janathon.

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But we had planned a meet up, so at 8.55 we were hovering round the start line trying to get close enough to the bodies in front to afford a little protection from the driving rain. At 9, on the dot, the starting horn sounded and the rain stopped.

We hadn’t spotted Suzan in amongst the 567 starters so Lynn and I set off down the long straight and focused on staying upright for the duration of the course

Lynn was quite interested in our positioning within the crowd, obviously keen not to be last in her first event. It’s best not to worry about these thing in the first heady km, there is much more ebb and flo later in the race as pacing plans begin to unravel. We were however, very close to the back and could survey the slips and slides of the runners ahead of us.

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As we started the 2nd km I spotted a rather dishevelled 250 club member hugging a tree. As we got closer I realised it was Suzan, covered head to toe in mud, having come a cropper in the mud fest.

Despite being bruised and bloody she picked up our pace and talked us around the course. I’m not much of a conversationalist when I’m out on a run. My heart rate hovers about 2 beats below my theoretical maximum and that doesn’t leave room for non essential activities like talking, it barely copes with breathing. That left Lynn and Suzan to natter away while I tried not collapse.

With 1k left to run, Suzan started to push Lynn. I didn’t have anything left in reserve but I didn’t want Lynn to finish her first event with enough breath to natter across the finish line. Luckily Suzan, even in her injured state, has a killer competitive attitude. I could see them picking runners off one by one. If the field hadn’t been quite so slippery I’m sure the race for the line would have been worthy of chariots of fire. My final straight was much closer to dancers on ice.

London 2 Brighton Challenge: The Debrief

20130526-164409.jpgIn running events I very quickly find myself in an enforced solitude, I start in the pack but within yards of the start the group have spread thin and my mind is free to wander. As a reformed antisocial loner I’m quite a fan of solitude. With mass participation walking events you have the same adrenaline fuelled pre-race nerves as you huddle behind the line, waiting for the call to arms, but when the gun fires the pack ambles off as an anti-climactic herd that can take miles to disperse.

As a slow walker in the first wave of the 100k London 2 Brighton Challenge, I was passed by hundreds of faster hikers many of whom were pleasant enough to offer a wave or say hi. Despite wishing to while away the hours listening to a good yarn on my iPod, it seemed too rude to just zone out and tune into my latest audiobook so I stayed unwired.

I’m ashamed to say that I had to adopt a “tying my shoelace” strategy to avoid the loudest and most irritating walker in my vicinity. I’d tried the speeding up option first but the overtaking manoeuvre was one of those painfully slow ordeals that would have seen us battling side by side for 10 minutes. In the end it was much easier to sacrifice a minute to my shoelace.

After the first rest stop at 12.5k the pack did start to disperse and I was joined by another slowish walker who had started in the same wave as me. We gelled in a fairly peaceful way and spent the next 25k in each others company. That level of companionship was really appreciated, it lifted my spirits and spurred me on. Unfortunately Ellie succumbed to the cold she had been trying to ignore and her spirit broke around the 27k mark. She decide to quit at the next rest stop which led to a fairly slow trog towards that point.

20130526-164422.jpgI was alone again for the 4th stage which would take me up to the 47k mark. I was seizing up and I felt terribly low. I was shuffling dejectedly across the downs and every time I saw another stile a small piece of me died inside. The downs are riddled with a series of rickety and almost insurmountable stiles, some were dug into ditches with the first step hovering some way above my waist, others had the step at a manageable height but the step over was 2 inches higher than my crotch, which led to an uncomfortable dangle. I wasn’t the only one to struggle with the stiles, the obstacles led to bottlenecks with folk offering assistance with stiff limbs and apologising for the hold ups.

20130526-164948.jpgComing in to the 47k rest stop I was so emotional I had to wipe away tears before I gathered the hugely appreciated mugs of tea on offer. I sat down and finished off the peanut butter baguette that Lynn had prepared and started to feel a bit more human. I stretched, gathered my resources, took strength from the support on facebook and twitter and headed off. I started wobbly and then pulled myself together. A quick assessment of my aching body led me to believe I was moaning about nothing much. I plugged in my headphones, tuned into Amy MacDonald and focussed on the 57k stop where Lynn would be waiting.

I was overtaken by a second wind and powered my poles back and forth. I felt like a cross country skier sliding across the countryside and when I became frustrated by the lack of speed I started running. At first it was just the downhills but than I ran past 50k and felt great so I ran on. I felt free and I had bounce in my legs and I was just so damn chuffed and eager to see Lynn that I kept running. At the back of my mind I knew this second wind was going to end and the winds of depression would soon sweep in, I had the adrenaline of the finish line and the lure of hot jacket potato to spur me on.

Lynn was there to meet me and we sat down for a hot meal and another cuppa. By the time I was ready to prepare for the night stage I was in a bad way physically. It took an hour to hobble a few hundred yards to the car and to change in to dry clothing. I couldn’t squeeze my feet back into my shoes as my toes had swollen so much and the tips were covered in blisters. I could barely stand and the thought of another 4+ hours trying to cover the next 12.5k in the pitch black just seemed impossible.

It was a reluctant but probably sensible decision to retire at this point. My heroic (foolhardy) final stage felt like a satisfactory end to one hell of a challenge. I’m sad that I didn’t finish and walk across the downs and see the dawn appear but I am happy with the achievement and so grateful to everyone who supported me through the event.

And there’s always next year….

Packing my Bags

I’m in to the final taper week for London2Brighton.

I was scheduled for a gentle 10-miler but due to the actions of rogue trader, Russell Hollick we were rather pre-occupied attempting to clear up his mess. We were unfortunately introduced to this serial scam artist (aka Russ Hollick Heating Engineer) some months ago and recently allowed him into our home to fit us a nice new kitchen. He chose to take our money, rip out our kitchen and then clear off to enjoy the spoils.

So its been an interesting weekend but not quite as planned.

I don’t think the missed 10 miles will make a jot of difference to my ability to finish the 62 mile course next weekend; the years of overeating and regular Stella indulgence may though.

London2BrightonWe’ve been poring over the stage details this evening and I’m panicking again. I’m not sure if the discovery in the small print of a 33 hour cut off point is a good or bad thing. On the one hand I don’t want to feel the sweeper truck nipping at my heels all the way to Brighton but at the same time, if I’m threatening to be walking for more than 30 hours I would love someone to carry me off the course and put me out of my misery.

ActionChallenge have just released the checkpoint menus and I see that if I can make it as far as Ardingley I will be treated to the Vintage Fudge and Toffee stop. I could almost kill for a good fudge so I’m sure I can walk 67.5k for a chunk.

Lynn is able to meet me at 3 points (25k, 52k and 87k) before the finish so I’ve spent the evening assembling checkpoint packs filled with ever warmer clothes, stronger pain killers and most importantly, fresh bags of fruit sherberts. I am of course sworn off fruit sherberts for my 12 week Julia Buckley Transformation program but I’m having a 33 hour window of sin next weekend where anything that will tempt me to take another step is considered fair game.

If you want to send me a message of support here’s the link to my Samaritan’s charity page.

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Operation Surgical Spirit

Grantham Canal at CotgraveThis weekend was going to be epic.

Mileage to the max plus a curry with Rach.

We ticked the curry off no bother, which just left the miles to deal with themselves. The plan was for Lynn to drop me close to the start of the Grantham canal which happens to be in Nottingham, she’d then drive off, spend an extremely long day with her mother and wait for me to pop out 33 miles later at the Grantham end.

I set off in fairly good spirits, a little hungover and a bit intimidated by the wiggly, windy road ahead but mostly #upforit.

I might have mentioned previously (here or here for example) that I haven’t been much taken with the concept of walking but the long distance trail really does appeal to me. Cutting swathes across the countryside leaving a breadcrumb or GPS trail that would actually show up an aerial shot of the UK is rather satisfying.

Grantham Canal - with actual waterThe Grantham canal seems to be a lesser spotted variety of long distance trail. There was a tiny stretch where I was assailed by manic dogs and a couple of joggers but mostly I was alone, admiring the birds and longing, longingly for a bench to appear. It deserves to be more popular and I recommend it to anyone in search of a peaceful walk/bike/run through the lush lincolnshire countryside.

The pubs are a little sparse though and I missed the planned stop at Hose where I was supposed to meet my folks for a burger and Stella shandy. Hose has the greatest concentration of Grantham canal ale houses but it has an inconsequential bridge (n0 39) that is easy to pass, make a note of it if you want to complete the route in style as you’ll need to exit the towpath and head right in search of the Rose and Crown.

This map from the Grantham Canal Society is worth reviewing.

Grantham Canal

I did meet my mum and dad and they ferried me off for a cup a tea, a bacon butty and supplied me with emergency plasters for a pair of evil blisters starting to burn on both of my heels. They then joined me for a short stroll, timed to perfection with a peculiar hailstorm.

The blisters started at mile 8 so the moment I found a bench I whipped off my socks and changed them for my spare pair which unfortunately felt like a sisal door mat. I was limping by lunchtime, then the plasters offered some relief for a few miles.

Collapsed by Grantham CanalFrom mile 18 onwards I was completely taken over by the pain from my blisters. It is amazing how crippling an inch long bubble of tissue fluid can be. I tried everything available to me – switching socks again, having another fruit sherbert, re-applying plasters, walking barefoot and then I laid down. That was marvellously effective. It was so warm and peaceful and I could have stayed there all afternoon. I very nearly had to as well, it was a complete bugger to get back up again and my poles are no use under 16 stone (+) pressure – they just concertina back to packed size.

I did make it back to vertical without pitching myself into the canal and the hobbling continued, one bench to the next.

Despite all the support from the facebook sidelines I decided at 22 miles that I ought to save the crippling heroics for the big London2Brighton day and so called for my carriage home.

It had felt quite important to get this 30-miler under my belt. I’ve been incredibly concerned about my ability to complete the 100k route and this half distance trek would have given me a psychological boost. I still feel fairly positive though. My feet let me down but I was mentally strong and the rest of the body is willing.

Puncture Repair KitI need to go away, reassess footwear, buy lining socks, compeed, heavy duty zinc tape and embark on a twice daily application of surgical spirit. I might even consider some Nightgear Military Magnum boots to go with my military twin layer socks.

It’s easily going to be the hardest challenge I’ve ever set myself. Driving back to London last night after a warm bath and a roast chicken dinner I was aware that if I were doing the 100k I would still be walking – barely half way to Brighton, easing my painful feet into bed at midnight I would still be walking and when the darn cat woke me at 7 am, I’d still be walking/crawling into Brighton.

If any of you would like to donate to the Samaritans on the back of my painful London2Brighton attempt I’d be very grateful – here’s the link.

GPX of the full canal available here.

Long Walks and Gadget Melt Down

I’m still struggling with the temporary transition from running to walking and yesterdays outing with multiple gadget failure just hammered another nail in the coffin. Today’s gadget doesn’t support the long drawn out monotony of a distance walk and if I can’t play with technology I’m just not that bothered.

Walking is too pure for my liking, it’s designed for the rugged “at one with nature” types who aren’t scared by the hours of silence and EMF solitude.

Yesterday’s program started with a slow yet painful parkrun at Bushy Park, followed by a planned hike along the Thames Path from Hampton Court to the Embankment. I was gadget free for the parkrun due to a late arrival at an extremely packed venue which meant I was bundled out of the car without the usual accoutrements of hydration packs, Garmin, jelly babies and iPhone.

I survived.

Leaving the park after a short interlude for champagne and the collection of gadgetry, I realised I had become disorientated and needed to engage the google maps app. The iPhone was at 97% and all was well. I spun in circles trying to orientate myself before following a bus heading in the direction of Kingston. I engaged the Runmeter app to record my GPS and submit my whereabouts and pace to my standby rescue vehicle (Lynn) and pressed play on the latest Audio book (The Art of Fielding).

Thames Path ice cream2 hours later I paused for an ice-cream and noticed that the battery life had shrunk to 27%. That’s pretty drastic when you are miles from home and feeling weary. At that rate I’d have barely managed 10 miles before being cast into a telecommunication black hole.

I sent out a single text with my last known location (Richmond) and my intended direction (East along the Thames), then switched the phone off.

That’s it, radio silence.

Just me and the rowers and the occasional kamikaze cyclist. It wasn’t long before I started my own entertainment, humming along to the pulsing in my throbbing toenails. My spirits were flagging as fast as the crappy iPhone battery.

I made it as far as Hammersmith before joining the prostrate sun seekers in a riverside park. I’d completed a total of 17 miles including the preliminary parkrun. I’d learnt a lot, not least that this 100k London2Brighton walk is going to be a killer. As we currently stand, I think I’ll be ready to quit at 50k and ready to be airlifted out at 75k. I need an endurance boost over the next 5 weeks and I also need to find a solution to the technical blackouts.

I have a kit bag that PC World would be proud of, including iPhone 5, iPod Nano (2nd Gen from the bottom of a very old drawer), an ancient Nokia N82, assorted car chargers and a plan to switch my iPhone with Lynns every 25k. The fact that the phone died before 15k is a bit of shock. I’m terrified of hitting the wooded areas of the South Downs sometime post midnight and losing all contact with my hope of escape.

Power Monkey ExtremeTwitter has been extremely useful on the subject of expedition style battery sources. The ideal power replacement for the hike would be these impact driven piezoelectric boots which would give my iPhone a boost with every step but unfortunately they don’t seem to have hit the manufacturing stage yet and besides I have just bought a new pair of boots for the occasion.

I am now coveting this expedition ready solar charger from powertraveller. The power monkey extreme holds enough juice to charge an iPhone 6 times over which ought to do the trick. At £120 its probably a bit too much gadget for one single day and I may have to sign up for another crazy challenge just to get my money’s worth.

www.rvops.co.uk has become my latest go to website for gadget ideas to help me cross the downs. It is a military themed site but has stacks of top notch kit that I might be able to find a little more space in my kit bag for. They have everything I need including lighting, map cases, solar iphone chargers, protein snacks, rain gear and a Bergen to squeeze it all in to.

 

Sophisticated Ladies Run for Bolly

Back in 2007, at my first Bushy Park Run I was introduced to two women who exposed me to the joys of sophisticated running. I’ve never been a stranger to the pleasure of a post run Stella but these two raised the bar with their post run champagne and canapes.

Surrey Housewives run for Bolly

When you get invited to a Surrey Housewife (SHS) event, I strongly recommend you make an effort to attend – even if it involves a disturbingly early start and a gruelling run.

SHS 250Today’s event was the Bushy parkrun. A quick scan through my running logs reveals that I have attended the sum total of 19 parkruns over the last 6 years.

Today’s event was not about my 19th run but Suzan and Carol’s 250th parkrun.

Thats 250 5k’s each and 250 missed lie ins.

An amazing 1006 other runners joined them for the run and were rewarded at the end with a celebratory glass of fizz and a cream bun. I was a teeny bit slow for the cream bun stall but I’ll settle for champagne any day.

Congratulations Carol and Suzan – and don’t think I didn’t notice the pre-race cocktail, I reckon I could be persuaded to add that to my usual run routine.

London Loop – Hamsey Green to Banstead and Back?

london loopI wheezed my way to the top of Hamsey Common and then paused, teetering on my hiking poles and steaming like the bagged cheese sandwich crushed at the bottom of my rucksac. I felt ready to reward my efforts with a picnic atop the chalk downs and call a taxi for the homeward journey but unfortunately I’d only covered 2 of the planned 18 miles for the day. This section of the London Loop was already threatening  to take its toll.

The London Loop forms a 140 mile circuit of the capital, covering an unexpectedly rural corridor that still offers glimpses of London’s highrise skyline. It’s an ideal training ground for long distance walkers enclosed within the confines of the M25. Today I was planning on hiking from Hamsey Green (close to Sanderstead in Croydon) across to Banstead and then back as far as required to hit my distance/time requirements.

The schedule for the 100km London2Brighton Challenge has been escalating rapidly and I’m struggling with the time demands required. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not a big fan of walking. The transition from running to long distance walking has not been entirely satisfactory – the walks although beautiful, tend to be so flipping slow and are devoid of the natural running highs and the post run satisfaction and glee. I think I will happily fall back into my weekend run routine as soon as I’ve walked across the finish line in Brighton next month.

Today’s route was inspiring even at my walking pace. Crossing assorted commons, the Happy Valley and Farthing Downs I was spoilt by undulating countryside and the signs of a rich history written into the landscape. Battle of Britain bunkers and observatories still stood on the edge of Kenley Airfield hinting at a time when Spitfires would have ruled the skies and I spent much of the next hour pondering whether I would have enjoyed life in the Land Army.

London Loop - The Happy ValleyIt was a glorious day, one of the few nice days of the year, and so I took an extra-specially relaxed pace, punctuated by hillside rests to admire the view. It’s perhaps not surprising that I ran out of time long before I had finished the desired 18 miles. I called a weary halt to the proceedings about 14 miles along the loop and called for my welcome chariot home.

At this rate I will need to reassess my estimated time to complete the 100km. I’m beginning to think that 27hrs will be much closer to the truth than my initial 18-24 hr estimate. This is going to one heck of a gruelling challenge.

One of the unexpected bonuses of my new “hobby” is that its opened up a whole new world of gadgets and technical outdoor walking gear. Today I was sporting a new pair of Meindl hiking boots and a Paramo Velez Adventure Lite Smock. The latter was bought for its highly breathable and waterproof fabric, but it also sports a bonus array of zips and pockets. Today the huge chest pocket housed my London Loop guidebook and iPhone but on the big day I will ensure it is filled with a multitude of penny sweets. I reckon I can walk for 24 hours providing I never run short of fruit sherberts.

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Best Laid Plans

While a number of Janathoners were embarking on their first park runs (jogblog and femmerun), and others were trying new park runs (Travelling Hopefully), I’m afraid to admit I was still lying in bed. I was awake enough to witness the pre-parkrun hubbub on twitter but not sufficiently awake to do anything about it. By the time I stirred into action it was 11:30 and we were close to missing the first badminton match of the year.

We speed marched down to the Brixton Rec, rubbing sleep from our eyes and clutching our brand new Xmas rackets.

On the court I stripped down to my court gear, and released my pro racket from its sheath, only to discover a great big security tag slap bang in the middle of the strings. Nothing screams Looter like a security tag in the middle of Brixton.

We went home dejected, with one speed walk and one sulky walk notched up for Janathon.

20130112-233141.jpgThings were looking up though as Sports Direct decided we looked honest enough to release the tag without a receipt and we popped into the local retro junk store to find the worlds best seed/map drawer which will revolutionise my allotment life.

I was so inspired by my bargain find that we managed to squeeze in a trip to the gym to rattle off a 5k on the treadmill. Hardly a scenic parkrun but it gives me an excuse for a beer so who’s complaining?

Today’s stout was a can of Murphys complete with widget in the can. It gave a perfect creamy head and an interesting bubble action so its a shame the taste is rather flat and nondescript.

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New Year Planning of Ultra Proportions

I’ve never been a great fan of New Year’s eve, the social pressures generally make me quake with inadequacy. In recent years though I have discovered the joys of New Year planning, preferably to be conducted with a glass of wine and a credit card in hand. You need to be puffed with bravado and uninhibited by sense and reason and then you set to with an event calendar and an internet connection.

highlight running eventsI’ve been ahead of the game this year and have been creating a list of must-do events to draw upon. I started the eve, circling events of interest and then as the excitement built I moved on to panic purchasing places before other New Year planners had a chance to nick my spot.

Of course it will soon be the day after the night before and I will have to take stock of the damage, assess the implications and start all over again with the planning. I’ll have training programs to organise and mammoth weekend run/walks to schedule. I’ll have months ahead to panic and wonder whatever possessed me to click the “register here” button.

For now I am still excited.

In 2013 I shall become an ultra runner or at least an ultra run/walker. I have entered the 100k London2Brighton to take place in May. I cycled it a few years back and remember thinking the congestion was so great I could probably walk it faster than cycle – here is my chance to prove myself. So far the intention is to do it solo, so I’m going to have to psych myself up for running across the downs by the light of the silvery moon. I’ll be re-reading Moire O’Sullivan’s fabulous book, Mud, Sweat and Tears, to get some night time tips and perhaps start by conducting most of my Janathon runs after sundown.

The plans don’t stop there though, here’s a sample of the most inspiring events for 2013:

  • Feb – Thames Meander 54mile ultra: this is too soon for me but I hope I’ll be up for it in 2014.
  • March – Hastings Half (committed)
  • April – Coastal Trail Series in Exmoor: just noticed that this one is graded extreme so I may try and find a more sedate option.
  • May – London2Brighton 100k Ultra (committed)
  • June – Keswick Great Trail Run: Ran last year and re-registered but unlikely to be recovered from L2B.
  • June – Nightrider: 100k night time ride around London. I’ll be doing this if it’s possible to recover from the L2B in 2 weeks.
  • July – Para’s 10: I’m doing this one just for t-shirt!
  • August – (RAT) Roseland August Trail, 64, 32, 20 or 11 mile options across the Cornish coast.
  • August – Thames Meander Half through Richmond Park. I’d did this last year and will undoubtedly be back, I love the mixed distances races as its a great way to ensure I’m not last over the finish line.
  • September – Farnham Pilgrim, half marathon.
  • September – Thames Path Challenge 100k Ultra – depending how I fair with the L2B in May.
  • September – RideLondon 100m cycle along the Olympic bike course (registered)
  • October – Loads of choice in October, maybe the Great North run again or perhaps the more scenic Royal Parks Half. However, following a conversation with my 72 year old mother who may have just suggested she’ll try a half with me next year, I may have to do the Bridlington Half.

2013 mindmapSo now, I’m in time to crack open a bottle a champers to greet the new year with the loved one’s.

I can save the rest of the planning for the morning, after I’ve ticked off the first Janathon run of the year. Perhaps then I can concern myself with finding time for the other schemes and challenges I’ve set aside 2013 to complete.

Happy new year everyone and good running.

The Great North Run and the ABC Plan

It’s always good to have a plan B but why stop there?

The A plan would have seen romping home at the Bupa Great North Run in a new personal best of somewhere shy of 2:56:14 but when I failed to lose the 2 stone accumulated since the last PB I knew it was unlikely.

Plan B was somewhat of a compromise and had the 3 hour mark as the line in the South Shields sand. Plan C was a must and would see me finishing ahead of Gladys, the unsuspecting 80-year-old I have been stalking since the 2010 Great North Run. It may be considered unsporting to race against someone who is completely unaware of the wager but I need every legal advantage.

20120917-184210.jpgIt was a grim start to the day. We took rather too long in the hotel room considering whether to join in Dan’s impromptu warm up session and that meant a rather tardy arrival at the start. I had secured a place in the green pen (one up from the end) and although Dan and Michael were supposed to start in super speedy orange zone, they hung back with me. I know they regretted that when we were refused entry at every opening due to overcrowding. We had to join the back – behind the sweep van.

The race started some kilometres ahead of us and the clouds opened in celebration. 45 minutes later we shuffled our soggy bodies over the start line and so began the relentless weaving.

I’m sure this year’s event must have been bigger than ever. I just couldn’t get into a zone that enabled me to run free. I was surrounded by walkers 3 or 4 abreast and veered this way and that trying to find space to put one foot in front of the other.

I’m afraid to say I didn’t really feel the joy of GNR for much of this year’s race. I don’t know if it was the weather dampening spirits all round or the overcrowding on the course. I overheard some spectators in the bar at the end of the day saying they thought the runners were a bit flat this year and weren’t so appreciative of the support. That’s a shame as we all feed off each other and I was genuinely grateful for everyone who gave me a cheer down that last gruelling mile of coast.

I might not have looked so jolly from miles 8-11 though. From mile 8 onward, my Garmin’s virtual partner overtook me and started kicking sand in my face. I was sure I’d programmed him to pace me to the 3hr mark and I felt miserable to be failing on my plan B. I pushed on but my heart wasn’t really in it.

The steel bands and the Bupa Boost Zone complete with Jelly Babies, raised a hint of a smile but that was a tough section.

At some way past 11 miles I looked at my watch and noticed I was at 2hrs 40mins and decided that I surely had a chance to rattle off less than 2 miles in 20 mins and just then the sea appeared – that wondrous apparition that appears like a beacon and melts away the gloom of sodden pounding along dreary dual carriageways.

That sight has brought me to tears on each of the last 4 runs. It figuratively marks the end of the pain – we’ve reached lands end and can surely go no further. Although it seems we can as it actually marks the start of an extremely steep descent on to an extraordinarily cruel mile-long stretch up to the finish line.

I had a target to beat though so couldn’t weep and philosophise for long. I took full advantage of my Hoka One One’s superhuman descending properties and fair sprinted down the slope. I had to call out for a path to be cleared as I was a little wayward and my arms might have been wind-milling.

Then I pushed on and on up that coast. I felt I was going to come a cropper some way short of the finish line but I was prepared for the worst and pushed on. Here the supporters helped me along and each calling of my name sprung me forward at least a centimetre.

20120917-181834.jpgI gave one of those sprint finishes that remains imperceptible to the human eye but it was there and I stopped to read the Garmin at ………. 3:01:25.

Thank god for Plan Cs.

I didn’t actually see Gladys but I’m reading her stats now and I’m glad to say she was there and a good few minutes behind me. Ah the joy of beating 80-year-old speed walkers.

I don’t think I can rest on my laurels though, Gladys was 5 minutes faster than her 2010 time and at that rate will be breaking my PB next year. Bring it on.