Saturday, 28 March 2009

It's a looooong way...

No, not to Tipperraree (sp?), but 26.2 miles... I always knew it was a long way, but I ran 20 miles today, and I thought that was pretty darn far, not to mention exhausting, tiring, aching... I can't believe in a month I have to do that again, PLUS another 6.2 miles!

Aicarumba, what have I signed up for?!?!?!

In my recent half-marathon I felt pretty good after 13.1 miles. Last weekend I felt good after 15 miles. Today, I was feeling good up until about 17 miles, then I started to get a bit tired. Fortunately I was running with my new running buddy, and fellow marathon runner, Ang. She has run 20 miles beforehand so was a good encouragement and kept me running right until the end. Well, except for when we came to a hill - there's only so much we could do... ;o)

I'm glad that I managed to run the full 20 miles, but boy oh boy was I sore afterwards! And still am sore! All over! But no rest was to be had - Mel's folks arrive at 7:20am Sunday morning, so after an hour of R&R is was cleaning and clearing and moving boxes and furniture around. It was probably a good thing though as it didn't give my body a chance to go into freeze-frame, but still, was looking forward to veging out on the couch all afternoon...

Not looking forward to tomorrow or Monday - I'm gonna hurt I reckon!

Next weekend I'm doing another 20 mile run, so will try and do that a bit quicker - today we ran it in about 3:55, so to be under 4:30 for the marathon need to be doing the first 20 miles a bit quicker. Will be doing a few runs during the week - only 6 - 8 miles each, but at a much faster pace. Hopefully that will help.

If there's any runners in the East London area that want to run part or all of my 20 miles of fun on Sunday 5th April, send me an email.

Will let you know how I get on with my training and recovery! That said, going to be difficult with Mel's mum in town - quite possibly one of the best cooks on the planet!! You haven't had chicken satay until you've had Mel's mum's satay! Anyway, must focus on running... Not food... Running...

Mmmmmm, saaaataaaaaay....

Monday, 23 March 2009

Silverstone – My Third Half Marathon

15th March 2009 – Silverstone Grand Prix Track, England

The adidas Silverstone Half Marathon was my big pre-marathon event and was an awesome race to run – well, at least for Formula 1 fans anyway! The race is run on the Grand Prix track at Silverstone, so if you enjoy F1, then it’s pretty exciting being on the actual track, overtaking on the outside or the inside, running over the curbs, down the straights, through pit lane... I felt like a cross between Lewis Hamilton (although not as aggressive in my over-taking), Kimi Raikkonen (without crashing into any walls) and Mark Webber (i.e. an Aussie, but with more of a chance of finishing the race). If you’re not an F1 fan though, the circuit would be reasonably boring as there’s not a lot of scenery to look at…

There were over 10,000 running the race this year, and due to traffic problems they delayed the start by about 15 minutes. Not an ideal start, but it was a beautiful day, sunny, blue skies, about 15 degrees, so no one really minded. Well, except for the 40 or so guys (and 2 women!) that 5 minutes before the start all jumped the barrier and went over to the wall to go to the toilet before the start!! Very odd behaviour…

I was aiming for a sub-2 hour, but whereas previously my fitness had let me down, this time I woke up with a sore right foot! Not sure how or why, as it was perfectly fine when I went to bed… Maybe Mel kicked me during her sleep… :o) Alas, I finished in a time of 2:03:14. Just outside my target, but the time bodes well for a 4:30 finish in the marathon. Anyway, as for the race…

I started off the run at a good pace (for me), and after cutting across the curb for some over-taking manoeuvres of the back-markers, a la Lewis Hamilton, I found myself keeping 1:00 – 1:30 minutes ahead of the 2 hour time. I kept this up for the first 9.5 miles, when I started to feel a bit tired in the legs and by the time the 10 mile marker came by, I was pretty much right on the 2 hour time. I really felt like walking, but I pushed on – helped hugely by seeing Mel at this point which lifted my spirits a lot!! By about 11.5 miles though, I’d been compensating for my sore foot and the pain moved up to my right knee. It was pretty sore so I put pride aside and walked for 30 strides, really stretching out my knees. This seemed to do the trick and my knee felt fine, so I started running again. Unfortunately though the sore knee and the walking meant I’d blown the 2 hour finishing time, but I pushed on to do the best time I could.

The atmosphere finishing was amazing. All the supporting families etc were alongside the running track cheering everybody on as we made our way from the outer service track back onto the GP track. We finished with a run down the home straight and I had a real burst of energy so with a final surge I finished the last 0.1 miles with a bit of pace and finished in 2:03:14 with the chequered flag waving me in! That’s about 5.5 minutes off my Cardiff time and about 8 minutes off my Dartford time.

It was a great race and anyone into F1 and running I’d recommend doing this in 2010!

On a better note though, thanks to all the gym work and weight-loss, at the end I felt like I could run another couple of miles. I didn’t have enough to go faster, but I could go further. All bodes very well for the marathon!! And unlike Dartford and Cardiff, my legs felt pretty good and I could walk without any pain the next few days as well. Wahoo!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Donating to My Chosen Charities

Hi all

Just thought I'd put another post with the details of how you can donate to my charities - namely to update of new info for the charity in Australia.

IN THE UK - Please don't forget to tick the Gift Aid box if you're a UK taxpayer

Please donate to Crisis via my JustGiving page:

IN AUSTRALIA - All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

Please donate to Friends of Brain Injured Children as follows:

1. Please send a cheque made out to “Friends of Brain Injured Children (ACT) Inc” to

Friends of Brain Injured Children
SHOUT Office
PO Box 717
Mawson ACT 2607

Please let them know you are supporting my marathon run so we know how much we’ve raised, plus your return details so they can send/email you a receipt.

2. Payments can be made electronically to their Commonwealth Bank account at:

Friends of Brain Injured Children
BSB: 062 902
Account number: 00903646

Please email Libby Steeper at with your name and address, date & amount donated and receipt number (if known) so they can send/email you a receipt.

Thanks again everyone for your support!! It's a massive encouragement to me and also those at Crisis and FBIC!!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

To burn or not to burn, that is now the question!!

So, there are a few views out there on the topic of my previous article. Do I carbo-load? Do I use sports drinks/gels? Do I rely on my body to burn fat?

Turns out that 1g of body fat can be used by the body to burn 9 calories. Whereas 1g of carbs only burns 4-5 calories. So the body is much more efficient at using its own fat as a source of energy than it is at using carbs for energy. Seems logical I guess... If you’re used to loading on carbs before a big event, then apparently once your body has utilised all the energy from the carbs, that's when you ‘hit the wall’ – the body then won’t be trained to switch to burning fat, so you don't get any new source of energy coming through - hence the use of the sports gels and drinks etc.

If you train the body to use its own fat as a source of energy, then you’ve an endless supply coming through (no comments necessary!). I have pretty much been on a no-carb diet for 4 weeks now so am going to continue along these lines. My diet will include fats that the body can easily break down for energy (nuts are good for this), so hopefully that should be all I need to get through the marathon.

This has been based on the research of (lots of people, but in particular here) a guy that ran across America and holds the world record – something like 11.5 days!! He ran the equivalent of 2 marathons a day, so I think he’s probably worth listening to… Of course he’s not the norm, but my trainer at the gym said for us regular folk if the activity is under 2 or so hours then it doesn’t matter if you carb-load as you won’t run out of energy from the carbs, and if you exercise for over 5 or 6 hours then it will be different, but for those in the middle (about 3 – 6 hours), then it’s better for your body to burn fat than carbs as you’ll run out of carbs when there’s still a loooooooooong way to go… I’ll see how I go over the next 3 or 4 weeks and whether I can see any results as I increase the distances run.

The first test will be the Adidas Half Marathon this Sunday - where we run around the Silverstone Grand Prix track!! Hopefully I'll be more like Hamilton (i.e fast!) than Webber (never sure if I'll finish...). Watch this space...

Monday, 9 March 2009

To carbo-gel or not to carbo-gel, that is the question...

Whenever I do a long run I try to take one or two of the carbo-gels, but have never taken the amount they say as to do so would mean for the marathon I'd have to carry a backpack to fit them all in. In trying to find out a bit more about them, I came across this article which was quite interesting.

It basically says the performance results from energy gels are much better than if you just drink water, but not as good as if you drink the sports drinks. His reasoning was that the sports drinks are already mixed to the right concentration, whereas if you mix the gels with water, you can alter the concentration and thus the effectiveness - too much water and you reduce the carb intake, too little and your body doesn't break it down as quickly...

So, sports drinks the way to go?? Well, where does one fit several bottles of sports drinks to drink during a marathon??? At least you can store a few gels using the elastic of your shorts, so maybe they are the answer.

Anyone had any experience before I go and buy a bunch of gels in the strive to reduce dead-legs?

Friday, 6 March 2009

A promise by me, a runner, to you, a walker...

After going for a good run the other night it occurred to me on several occasions that people really don't like to walk in straight lines. If you're a crooked walker, why is that?? What is it about straight lines that is so difficult when walking?

As a relatively recent convert to running it is difficult sometimes to overtake walkers because you don't know where they're going. Usually it's ok and only happens a couple of times per run, but the other night it happened loads of times. Very frustrating... Fortunately it was at night and not much traffic and I could run on the road for stretches, but on weekends it's a different story. I know some people get annoyed at me when I'm running and give me looks like I don't have a right to use the footpath if I'm running, but if I'm not on a bike, I'm a pedestrian just like you...

So, my promise, as a runner, to all those that walk, is that I won't run right behind you, all sweaty and smelly and breathing down your neck, if you promise to walk in a straight line and give me jusat a little bit of space on the footpath so I can overtake you without having to use the road.

Does that sound fair?

Running Muzak!

What music gets your toes tapping??

I've got my playlist for when I'm running, but have had the same songs for a while now so thinking of getting a few more to keep my mind entertained whilst I'm pounding the pavement.

So, thoughts on some good songs??

Here's a sample of what I have at the moment:

* Rocky soundtrack (nothing better!)
* Guns n Roses (suprisingly great to run to)
* Bruce Springsteen
* Michael Jackson
* John Denver - Thank God I'm a Country Boy
* Smashmouth
* Good Morning Vietnam soundtrack
* Um, there's more but can't think of them right now...

Any suggestions gladly welcomed! The key to a good running song is a good beat (reasonably fast) and upbeat lyrics - so no love songs and no songs that just groan on and on and on and on...

So suggest away please! :o)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

PLEASE SPONSOR ME!! My Charity in the Australia – Friends of Brain Injured Children

Although principally raising funds for a charity in the UK, I thought whilst I’m at it I would try and raise as much as possible for the above charity in Australia as well.

As many of you know, my Godson in Australia, Ryan, had a few ‘complications’ (I’ll leave out the details) when he was born which resulted in him being born with brain damage. You can see from the below photo what Ryan went through for the first few months of his life, and I can’t even begin to think what it must have been like for Cara & Jeff (Ryan’s parents) and their family – it was difficult enough for me to come to accept, let alone them!!

When I emailed Cara and said I’d like to raise some funds if I could for one of the charities that helped Ryan out, she immediately said the charity Friends of Brain Injured Children – you can find out a bit more about the charity on their website. They are currently helping 21 children with brain injuries by encouraging their families to seek a range of therapies and to go for early intensive therapy. FBIC help them pay for this and provide information and support. Most of the children are severely disabled, but their fantastic parents are making a big difference in their long-term outcomes. 8 of them are now in mainstream schools and going pretty well.

Early Therapy – early identification and intervention are critical to how well a child with brain injury develops.

Programs and treatments include:

* Conductive Education (recognised as a world leading program)
* Osteopathy
* Point Percussion Therapy (acupressure)
* Speech Therapy
* Botox program
* Applied Behaviour Analysis Program
* Bowen Therapy
* Nutrition Therapy/ Naturopathy
* Physiotherapy and therapeutic massage

Conductive Education is a multidisciplinary systematic and holistic approach which enhances the child’s physical, cognitive and social skills and emotional well-being. Basically, it is learning how to learn using a variety of techniques and activities.

“Conductive Education is one of the main reasons why my little girl can now walk.”

The therapy sessions cost $50 each for a 1 hour session. How great would it be to be able to provide a number of therapy sessions for families that either can’t afford them or are still struggling with circumstances that they just don’t know what to do?? That’s my aim!!

If you would like to support FBIC, please send a cheque made out to “Friends of Brain Injured Children (ACT) Inc” to the below address. All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. Please let them know you are supporting my marathon run so we know how much we’ve raised.

Friends of Brain Injured Children
SHOUT Office
PO Box 717
Mawson ACT 2607

Or alternatively payments can be made electronically to their Commonwealth Bank account at:

Friends of Brain Injured Children
BSB: 062 902
Account number: 00903646

Please email Libby Steeper at with your name and address, date & amount donated and receipt number (if known) so they can send/email you a receipt.

Thanks for your support!!

Ryan in his chair – this is his smile which wins all the girls!!

Ryan with his little brother Jack and his funky wheelchair