August 2019

Firstly apologies for going missing for a while, it’s been some time since I’ve written, life gets busy with a family, career and passion for running, it has been playing on my mind to update my blog but when time is short you just have to prioritise. Anyway I’m here now, let’s give you a quick review of what I’ve been up to in the last 4 months including a marathon, an ultra marathon, a marathon challenge, a 100 k bike ride and a 100 mile bike ride to name a few! I also managed to fit in a guest blog for The Mental Health Foundation that can be found here.

Firstly, if you read my race review you will know that early in May I completed my first marathon in MK, in the leading weeks I ended up on crutches and it was touch and go whether I would actually make the start line, I did, I completed in 5h29m and it was epic! I really must do this race again next year!

A few weeks later I attempted to run the Shires and Spires Ultra Marathon, a 35 mile slog through the Northamptonshire countryside, it was a crazily hot day and unfortunately I pulled out at 28 miles after possibly not getting my hydration right, there is more about this here.

A week after this I crazily attempted a Long Distance Walkers Association Marathon, I was advised not to by my running friends due to what happened a week before but my addictive and stubborn nature meant that I just had to get out there again, I didn’t want to be beaten. I did however promise to fast walk it and not run it and I kept to my promise, well after the first three miles and a telling off from my friend Kev! Luckily really I got lost on my way out of a checkpoint where there was a figure of 8 section and went the wrong way so ended up doing just 18 miles, I maybe should have listened more to my friends. I did however still manage the 18 miles at an average pace of 13:15 minute miles, by the end of it I had really got the hang of the fast walk, it probably didn’t look pretty but i had promised not to run.

Due to the hydration issues and after taking some advice from my friend Tracey I decided to do a ‘sweat test’, yes sounds gross doesn’t it! It involved me weighing myself, then running at an average pace for an hour and then weighing myself again, I then calculated the weight I had lost and converted that into millilitres of fluid. I lost an astonishingly gross 850 millilitres in an hour! this now gives me a base on which to work on to ensure I am taking on enough fluids.

Two weeks later, if I hadn’t been doing enough I took part in the annual Colworth Marathon Challenge, I had run this the previous year and really enjoyed the weekend. It consists of 3 races over 3 days with gradually increasing distances that culminate in 26.2 miles. On the Friday evening there is a 5 mile race, on the Saturday an 8.1 mile race and on the Sunday the grand finale, a half marathon, all held on trails in the Bedfordshire countryside. Given what I had done the past few weeks my results were astounding, I was over the moon! I completed the 5 mile race in 45:43, 7 minutes faster than the previous year, the 8.1 mile race I completed in 1:24:54, 16 minutes faster than the previous year and the half marathon was completed in 2:34:04, a whole 38 minutes faster than the previous year, I really couldn’t have wished for a better result with the miles I had in my legs from the previous couple of months!

Fast forward 4 weeks with plenty of swimming, running and cycling practice in between and I was in the saddle for a great event I had again completed the previous year. This was the Ups and Downs 100 k charity bike ride which raises money for local children with Downs Syndrome to help pay for extra tuition, speech therapy etc to help them get the most out of life, a fantastic charity! What I really like about this one is the food stop where you get to meet the children you are raising money for with high fives and selfies all round, they really are great kids and seeing them so happy for us raising money for them really warms the heart. I not only completed the 63 mile ride with 2277 ft of elevation I actually completed it in 3:54:02 with an average speed of 16.1 mph, again I was over the moon with that result.

Less than a week later I was running the annual WDAC social run, this year around Sywell Reservoir, it’s an event where we invite other local running clubs to join us. I completed that in 44:14 and got my second fastest 5 k time during that race.

Fast forward again through lots of training and I was now sat on my bike at the start line of the Prudential Ride London 100 mile sportive at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in London. I was doing this one for charity, a charity called NC TLC, a children’s cancer charity and a charity that had helped one of our club member’s son. I managed to raise £237 for them, not as much as I wanted to but it’s hard doing so many events and then keep asking people for money when I want to do these events anyway, none the less the charity were over the moon with that amount and very pleased that I had offered to ride for them. It was an epic ride, well for the first 40 miles, I was averaging 19 mph, I was flying and felt really good, then we hit traffic when we got out into the Surrey countryside and a few times we had to get off and walk. Due to the hold ups and queues for food at the 50 mile checkpoint I very nearly got caught out by the halfway cut off as did many who were on the later start wave such as myself, I left the checkpoint with under a minute to spare!! From there I got going again but unfortunately when I can to the two big hills in the event, Leith Hill and Box Hill both were closed with diversions in place due to accidents, I was pretty gutted as I wanted to do the whole experience but hoped that everyone involved was OK. I also hoped it didn’t mean that I wouldn’t get my medal as I wanted this to count towards the London Classics medal which you get for completing this event, Swim serpentine 2 mile swim and the London Marathon, luckily as it was a forced diversion I was OK. With the diversions I completed 86 miles and an elevation of 2507 ft in a time of 7:32:47 and an average speed of 14.9 mph, not bad with the amount of forced walking we did. The feeling of finishing down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace was absolutely epic, although it was quite a dangerous event with 30,000 cyclists of varying abilities all on the road, closed roads I might add I would still recommend anyone to take this on at least once as it is an amazing experience.

Well just reading about all this has worn me out, it’s amazing looking back at just what I have achieved although I always want more, I just want to push and see what I really am capable of. Having said that since Ride London I have had a rest, I decided that all the swimming biking and running training together wasn’t doing me any favours, although I have a dream of one day completing an Iron Man Triathlon I need to reign it back. There is plenty of time yet hopefully, I need to remind myself that less than 3 years ago I was a 16 and a half stone couch potato that couldn’t run for 30 seconds! On the other hand for my mental health I need to ensure I am running or getting some sort of exercise consistently, if I don’t those close to me certainly see the difference. It really is a balancing act that I have to get right so for now I shall drop the swimming and the cycling apart from doing it just for a bit of fun and I shall concentrate on my running.

Well that’s about it for now and I promise not to leave it so long next time, I have also added some great resources for help if you or somebody you know is having a hard time with their mental health, please see the ‘Help and Advice’ section on the menu above.

Keep running from that black dog and above all keep smiling!

All the best,

Gav.

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