Wings For Life World Run (Cambridge) – Race Report

I think it shows what a unique concept and race the Wings for Life World Run is when at the end of it I felt such strong mixed emotions……both ecstatic and deeply disappointed!

I’m not going to lie, going into the weekend I was SUPER confident. My recovery from the London Marathon and win at the Milton Keynes half in the preceding two weeks made me think I had a really special performance in me. The training stats from the Garmin had shown me that my effort levels for paces just under 6 min/mile were on a par with my Gravesend 100km record run and I had aspirations of fighting for the Global win. I’d told most people that asked that I was aiming for 80km but in reality I was actually planning to head out at a pace that would get me closer to 90km as I suspected that there would be some stand out performances around the world since the event is growing in popularity by the year.

The morning of the race it was obvious that it was going to be a scorcher of a day but my mind was set on global domination! I’d had a couple of text conversations with best mate Trev and physio/support buddy Tim and I basically told them that I wasn’t going to let the weather stop me and that I was just going to go for it…… very cocky and as it turned out……very STUPID!

So off we went and I felt great!!

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As expected a few runners went off the front but I settled into my planned pace just under 6m/m with the company of Robbie Britton who had said previously that he’d run a few miles with me before dropping back as he was still recovering from the Highland Fling the week before! It felt really good but I was aware that my heart rate was REALLY high compared to training runs.

Within about 10 miles I had taken the lead and from there on I had the company of two fantastic lead bike support guys and a camera crew on a motorbike which was pretty cool. My heart rate by this stage had already drifted up to around 150bpm (85% Max) which to put that into perspective is about the same as I was running at the London Marathon which was around 40 seconds per mile faster!
My thoughts at this time were that if I wanted to be in with a chance with a Global position I needed to stick at this pace and I rather stupidly thought that even if things didn’t go quite so well and I slowed down I would still be able to maintain a respectable pace and be okay for the local win, how wrong I was!

Things went quite smoothly for the next 15 miles and I was being fed updates from my support crew that I was still hovering around 6-8th place globally less than 1km behind the leader. Unfortunately though as we got close to the marathon distance (went through in about 2:37) I was starting to really feel the heat and on some of the small inclines (generally the course was very flat, if a bit windy) my heart rate was actually getting close to anaerobic threshold level! A not particularly steep hill (but reasonably long) at around 27 miles just stopped me in my tracks and I dropped to a walk…..it dawned on me right then that my disrespect to the weather was about to ensure I had one of the most painful 90min of my life.

One of my only moments of coverage on the global feed is me dropping to a walk and pulling off my HR monitors as I got stitch!

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The next 13 miles were a new experience for me, parts of my body started to fail on me that have never let me down before! First was a nasty stitch which would not leave me and then the calf cramps started, first the left and then the right. Every time I tried to pick up the pace they went again and from there I was having to implement a run/walk strategy. My support crew were shoving anything they could get their hands on down me….Redbull, electrolyte drinks, gels, water and trying to get updates about where the 2nd place male was.
When I finally got confirmation at around 38 miles that I was the last man standing I dropped down to a shuffle and was glued to my Garmin which was telling exactly how many seconds I had until the catcher car was going to get me.

I have never been so happy to see David Coulthard in all my life!

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The adrenaline of winning gave me about 5min where I was able to do a quick interview and have some photos taken but then within about a minute of having this selfie taken with David my body had had enough and shutdown.

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I then proceeded to have a vomiting fit and had to be put in an ambulance as my blood pressure dropped to 90 over 46 and my oxygen levels dropped. With the help of a very kind medic and an oxygen mask, by the time the ambulance had got us back to the start I had managed to rejoin the land of the living and was able to be reunited with Sarah for a much needed hug.

Big thanks as usual first off to Sarah for all her support and passion for my running adventures, my sponsors Garmin UK (See below for all the gory details of my race splits!) and my physio and good friend Tim Cruise-Drew.

Now I’ve had time to reflect on what happened, I went into the race thinking I would just “cope” with the heat but in hindsight the previous occasions where I have done well in hot temperatures (Stockholm 100km for example) I have been able to do a significant amount of my training in similar conditions. This mini heatwave we had started only a few days back during my taper so I had not really run at all at these temperatures and really should have known better!
I’m already looking forward to next year’s event, just got to decide which location to do. There were some fantastic performances out there yesterday including the overall male winner (Italian Super Vet Giorgio) and my friend Paul Martelletti who smashed out 73km for the win in Ireland on a hilly hot course so I’m sure the standards will only be even harder next year!

……..I’m now going to have a rest for a couple of weeks before I start training for my next adventure – Ultravasan 2016 – The rematch!

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VLM2016 – Taper Week and Post Race Week (including MK Half)

Mon – REST
Tue – 6 miles (5:41m/m)
Wed – 7 miles (5:23m/m) with 2 miles flat out (4:57m/m)
Thu – 6 miles (5:44m/m)
Fri – 5 miles (5:23m/m)
Sat – 3 miles (5:39m/m)
Sun – VERY AM 1.8 miles (6:39m/m) AM VLM2016 (29th – 2:20:50 – 5:22m/m)

Total Mileage – 55.24 miles (5:29m/m)

Mon – REST
Tue – 6 miles (6:41m/m)
Wed – AM 8.28 miles (7:36m/m) PM 6 miles progressive (5:47m/m)
Thu – 10 miles (5:59m/m)
Fri – 10 miles (5:29m/m) incl 24min Farlek PM 6 miles (6:05m/m)
Sat – 8 miles (6:08m/m)
Sun – 6 miles (6:21m/m)

Total Mileage – 60.34 miles (6:14m/m)

Sorry for the delayed blog, busy Bank Holiday weekend!

2 week training summary for the days surrounding the London Marathon. The taper week is now pretty much the same for all my marathons and consists of lots of short but fast runs. The Tuesday – Thursday runs were all done during my carb depletion phase and then the Friday and Saturday ones were carb fuelled. The difference between Thursday and Fridays run in terms of effort required and speed returned was absolutely massive. Similar every time I do the deplete/load phase but it always amazes me!!

The recovery week went really well and I’ve been very happy with how my legs have got over London. They were a little tender on Monday but quite happy by the time I did my first easy run on Tuesday. By Friday I was happy enough the legs were in shape for a small bit of speed work and so did a 24min fartlek session where I alternated every 3min between 5k and threshold pace. Pretty pleased with how both the legs felt and the pace I hit (see Garmin link above for full details).

The rest of the weekend was just a couple of easy short runs as I’d got a late entry into the Milton Keynes half marathon on BH Monday as we were in the area camping!

I thought the MK Half marathon would be a good “sharpener” to take me through into the Wings for Life race and it went really well. I must thank the organisers for allowing me a late entry (Thanks Andy and Sarah!) and for putting on such a great race. Great local support and some great marshals gave the race a really good buzz.

My plan was to go off at course record pace (high 68) and see if the legs had forgotten about last weeks exploits at London!

Leading out MK Half

Things went really well for the first 7-8 miles and I was still on course for a low 68min run but then we hit the twists, turns and wind in the last 4-5 miles and I struggled to maintain pace not helped by the fact that I was running solo.
With a great stadium finish though, I was still happy to dip under 70min (first one this year apart from my London split!) and take the win in 69:50.

(Thanks Kassia Gardner for the great photo!)
Winning MK Half

Full race results can be found HERE

With now only 5 days until the Redbull World Run I’m not going to follow my standard deplete/load routine for a couple of reasons. I don’t think my body will appreciate going through the process so soon after London and my schedule is also different this time due to racing the half on the Monday. I will therefore just be tapering again over the next 5 days with some short runs and increasing my carb intake a little on Saturday.

Really looking forward to Sunday now before having a couple of easy weeks to ensure I don’t have another “burn out” like last year!
Speaking of burning……take a look at the weather forecast for the race on Sunday in Cambridge -SCORCHIO!!! (23 Degrees)

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Virgin Money London Marathon 2016 – Race Report

Having a marathon race plan that involves going through halfway in 69min when you haven’t even managed to break 70min for a half so far this year is always going to be a little scary!

That was my plan though and with the last couple of weeks training suggesting I was starting to gain a little bit more speed I thought it was worth a shot with a top end goal of holding on and dipping under 2:20 if I had a perfect day. The weather didn’t look like it was going to be too helpful though with a North Westerly wind (exact opposite of what you want in London) of over 10mph so this would mean it would be important to get in a good group.

Here’s me on the start line trying to do my bit for Marathon Talk / Xempo head gear advertising….minimal coverage I’m afraid boys making a brief appearance :-)

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So off we went and after around a mile an obvious group formed which contained Kojo (my main V40 rival) and a number of familiar faces and friends who I knew where all targeting somewhere between 68:30 and 69:00 for halfway.
The group was going a little faster than I’d planned with a 15:59 first 5km but that did include the fast downhill mile 3 and as my heart rate showed me that aerobically I was going to have a good day (it was settling nicely in the low 150’s) I thought I’d better go with it as there wasn’t really much option of a slower group forming.
Things thankfully seemed to settle down around mile 5 with the pace dropping a little closer to my original target and we knocked out 5km splits of 16:18,16:32 and 16:37 on our way to halfway.

The group running well together including Kojo, Aaron Scott, Tom Payne, Mike Kallenburg and Lee Grantham
(Thanks Manol for the photos)
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We went through halfway almost bang on my target in 69:02 but it wasn’t that long after that my legs started to remind me that I’d just gone a minute faster than my best half marathon time this year! (70:01 in Bath last month) The 20-25km split came in on target in 16:25 as I tried to stay with the group but it wasn’t that long after this that I had to let Aaron, Tom and Kojo drift off the front leaving just myself and Mike to work together.
I found that even though my legs had gone very heavy and the pace had dropped a little I was still aerobically very strong and so after an initial panic that things were going to get very messy very quickly I was able to sustain that slightly slower pace with 5km splits between 25 & 35km of 17:06 and 17:20.

From about 20 miles onwards I was basically on my own and I really started to notice that North Westerly breeze which was picking up a treat just at the wrong time.

Some tough miles on my own – Even a race of 40000 can get lonely at times!
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It was around mile 23 that I could see that I was starting to catch some of the guys who had left me at halfway with what I thought was Kojo and Tom in the distance. It was however a little tricky to tell as a couple of miles earlier the wind had managed to blow my right contact lens out of my eye so I was struggling to see anything!

At this time I thought that Kojo was currently in the 1st Vet 40 spot and this gave me a real mental boost to try and maintain a solid pace to catch him and within a couple of miles I’d managed to pull back in and pass both Kojo and Tom. I’d managed to pick my pace back up a little with my final 7km coming in back under 5:30 mile pace.

I crossed the line in 2:20:50 for 29th place overall (including the elites) and 2nd Vet behind Serhiy Lebid who I didn’t realise was running off the elite start. Oh well, 1st Brit Vet and a small consolation is that Serhiy is a year younger than me so I can still say that no-one older than me beat me in the London Marathon 😉

So even though I didn’t quite get that 2:19 to add to the collection, I’m more than happy with that performance as it’s so much better than anything I managed in 2015 and shows me that there may still be life in the old dog yet! I’ve now just got to try and recover as quickly as possible for the Wings for Life race in two weeks so I’ve limited myself to just a couple of Stella/Cigar combos 😉

Kojo and I at the end – Big smiles and big PB for Kojo!
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Another great performance on the day was my 10 month old Ridgeback puppy Obi who coped really well with a day out in London on one of its most hectic and crowded days….. much to the relief of Sarah!
(Thanks cousin Helen for the photo and the Pitman family for there hospitality over the weekend!)

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All the stats below including the official 5km splits, my Garmin upload and the Full results link.

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Full Results HERE

Another great year at London, lots of fantastic performances by my friends and club mates (we have an anxious wait to see if BAC has managed to place in the team competitions), had a great time on Friday afternoon with the Garmin guys at the Expo where I got to meet and do some promo stuff with Kelly Holmes (who smashed London on her debut with a 3:11!) and always good to catch up with everyone at the Red Lion afterwards…… I’ll be surprised if I’m not back in 2017!

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