Monthly Archives: August 2014

Tonbridge Parkrun #36 – 23/08/2014

After receiving my text last week from Dartford Parkrun with my result and confirmation of my PB, I started to look through all my text results and compared my time to other Parkrun courses.  My Dartford Parkrun PB (27:15) is very similar to my PB’s at Shorne Woods (27:17), Great Lines (27:13) and Orpington (27:23).  

Then I noticed my time for Tonbridge Parkrun 28:49, which I did on the inaugural event, since then I’ve always wanted to go back and have a crack of a PB. During the week I saw on social media that Tonbridge AC were going to provide marshals and pacers, so I thought this maybe a good week to go and have the opportunity to achieve a PB.  So on Parkrun morning I travelled along the A227 from my house in Gravesend all the way to Tonbridge.

(For a detailed description of the inaugural event I recommend you read Steve Stockwell’s Blog http://www.blog7t.com/2013/11/tonbridge-parkrun-inaugural.html)

Tonbridge AC runners with Pacing times on their backs.

Tonbridge AC runners with Pacing times on their backs.

The start area is in the park behind the Swimming Pool and very near to the castle, this has changed since the inaugural event due to problems with flooding of the rugby fields earlier in the year.  There is a public car park near the Swimming Pool, which is £1 for 1hr or £1.40 for 2hrs on a Saturday, from the car park you walk over the bridge which takes you right by the start area.

Entrance to park from Swimming Pool Car Park.

Entrance to park from Swimming Pool Car Park.

Bridge to start area.

Bridge to start area.

 

When I arrived I noticed that they had a gazebo up selling cakes for after the run and there were many people dressed up.  The event Director then stood up and welcomed everyone and explained the reason why they had dressed up, due to Tonbridge AC were giving there support they decided to have a black and white theme to show their appreciation. Due to the race director had quite a few announcements make and protocols to follow, the event started a few minutes late.   

Cake Stall

Cake Stall

 

The course follows a narrow path around the edge of the park and alongside the River Medway, which surrounds the whole parimeter of the park, there were a few bottle necks at the beginning, but once we had crossed over the first of many bridges the field started to spread out.  Initially I was sticking close to the 28 min pacer, but I soon passed him and then saw the 27 min pacer and I thought to myself I wonder if I can keep with him,  so I moved through the field and then kept the pacer in sight.

We were soon onto the path of the original route,  the route ducks under the railway line (I literally did have to duck) and follows the footpath and many bridges towards Haysden Country Park.  We went through a small trail section and then crossed over a wooden bridge to Barden Lake.  We had to loop clockwise round the whole lake and then follow the same route back to the start.  

Barden Lake.  Photo courtesy of N. Chadwick. © Copyright N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Barden Lake. Photo courtesy of N. Chadwick.
© Copyright N Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

 

As we reached the lake I was fairly close to the pacer and thought I’m not going to attempt to overtake him, I thought If I can keep close to him my time will be similar or better than some my other parkrun PB’s.  Once round the lake the pacer said well done guys we are only 2 seconds off our target, so I started to think could it be possible that I could get a sub 27.  We continued to follow the route back and after ducking under the railway line the pacer seemed to speed up a bit and I couldn’t quite keep up with him.  At this point I remember I was running alongside a girl who was also trying to keep up the same pace, but she also slowed up and was breathing heavily, I tried to give her some encouragement and said ‘keep going and try breathing through your nose and out your mouth’ and she replied ‘Thanks, are you aiming for 27 mins too’ and the I replied ‘Yeah, I’m trying too’.

We now went over the final bridge and were back in the main park and I could see the gazebo in the distance.  The pacer seemed to speed up even more and I couldn’t keep up with him, so now I just thought keep him in your sights. I knew if I kept him in sight I will still get a course PB and my time would be similar to my other Parkrun PB’s.  Finally we got close to the line and I managed to increase my pace for the last few metres.  Once I crossed the line I stopped my watch at 27:17, which I was happy with because it was a big course PB and it is consistent with my other Parkrun PB’s, but I was slightly disappointed that could keep up with the Pacer and get a sub 27mins.

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Finish Area, with one of many youngsters finishing.

After catching my breath I queued up to get my bar code scanned and whilst in the queue I was encouraging other fellow parkrunners’ across the finish.  It was then I noticed that there was a huge turnout of runners, 260 in total, and many of them were juniors, which is so great to see.  A lot of people were taking advantage of the cake stall, sadly I left my money in my car so I didn’t get a chance to sample the delicious looking cakes.

Queue for Barcode scanning, mostly in Black & White.

Queue for Barcode scanning, mostly in Black & White.

 

On the way home following the A227, I stopped off a Camer Park in Meopham for a breakfast roll and a cup of tea, whilst sitting outside enjoying my breakfast I thought to myself ‘what a nice way to start the day’.  By the time I got home I received my text message with my official results,  my position was 113 and my time was 27:18.

I recommend everyone trying this course,  it has everything, footpaths, trails, bridges and the best part is running round the very picturesque Barden Lakes.  I really enjoyed the run today, the scenery is great and the sun even made an appearance, hopefully I won’t leave it too long before returning again.  Thank you to all the Volunteers and pacers who did a great job and made today’s experience a pleasant one. 

 

 

 

 

Prudential Ride London – 10/08/2014

On Saturday, the day before the big day, I spent a lot of time checking over my bike and making sure it was ready for our journey together.  I previously had a problem with the back wheel due to a hitting a pot hole, so I spent a lot of time truing up the wheel, for any cyclists, they would know how difficult and time consuming this job is.

Once I had finished fiddling about with my bike, I then put on my numbers on my bike and jersey and then got my bag ready for the morning.  We were given stickers to put on our helmets and official baggage bag.  I put a sticker on my helmet and thought ‘this is a large helmet sticker’ then when I went to put the sticker on my bag and thought ‘this is a bit small’ and then I realised I had put my baggage label on my helmet, Lol.  Luckily I managed to peel off the sticker from my helmet, without ripping it and managed to stick it to my baggage bag.

My machine ready for our adventure.

My machine ready for our adventure.

 

Getting jersey ready night before

Getting jersey ready night before

 

I set my alarm for 4.30 on the Sunday morning as Mat Woolsten was due to pick me up at 5.15am and then Kelly Standley at 5.30am before making our way to the O2, where Mat had booked the official car parking.  Once at the O2 we had a choice of cycling through the Blackwall Tunnel, as this was closed for traffic, or use the Emirates Air Line cable cars over the Thames to the Excel Centre. The cable cars were free for all riders and their bikes, so we thought we take the opportunity for a free ride. At the Emirates Air Line station we saw Laura queueing waiting for the lift, but myself and Kelly decided to carry our bikes up the stairs and then Mat and Laura followed behind.

Myself and Kelly got in one cable car, which was quite difficult to maneuver our bikes into whilst they were moving. Then whilst airborne, over the Thames, I wondered if the cars could be rocked, so I tried and it actually did.  I’m not sure why I did this because I’m not the best with heights and soon stopped and then held onto the hand rail, meanwhile Kelly was in fits of laughter.

Once we landed on the other side we all slowly cycled to the start following all the signs.  We knew we were getting closer and closer because the number of cyclists riding along with us grew and the car drivers were getting more and more frustrated due to all the road closures.  When we arrived at the Olympic park Mat and Laura went off to their starting area and myself and Kelly had the same starting block and after dropping off our bags we made our way to our pen.

We were in the pen for about half an hour before we started moving and then joined the rest of the queues for the start, with all the other starting colours. They seemed to allow a block from each colour take in turn to move forward and reach the start line.  After about another 30 mins we eventually made it to the start line.

 

Nearly there!!!

Only 86 miles to go!!!

Whilst preparing myself for the start I looked over and I recognised a couple of friendly faces, Dawn and Peter Grainger, who had volunteered to help on the baggage trucks.  As I said hello to them both, Dawn quickly whipped out her camera from under her rain poncho to take a couple of quick snaps.  Then the countdown begun for us to go and was soon off.  Once we got over the timing mats, after a few seconds of clicking from all the riders clipping into their pedals, we said ‘good luck’ to each other and then cycled along our own pace.

Photo courtesy of Dawn Grainger

Photo courtesy of Dawn Grainger

It was a great feeling to cycle along the closed roads of London, it was a unique experience.  The route took us along the wrong side of the dual carriage way on the A12 towards the docklands area and then we through the lime house link tunnel onto the highway and towards Tower Hill.  It was nice going through the tunnels to get a break from the rain and to ride on dry roads.

After whizzing past the poppy display at the Tower of London the route took us onto the embankment and then through central London passing many London Landmarks.  The rain continued to get worse and the wind starting to pick up, despite the bad weather I was going along at quite a quick pace, for myself, and was averaging about 18 miles an hours.  After crossing the Thames via Chiswick we headed towards Richmond Park and then Big Bertha hit, the rain was torrential and the road through Richmond Park quickly turned into a river.

I was halfway through the park and then the dreaded puncture fairy struck, it looked like so many other participates were also struck down by her, I passed so many unlucky riders and we was only into the first 20 miles of the ride.  I pulled over to the side and tried to get some shelter under the trees whilst replacing the inner tube, however the rain was so heavy I didn’t get any respite from it.  It took me an age to take off the tyre, replace the inner tube and try to pump up the tyre to a reasonable pressure whilst using a tiny hand-pump. It’s times like these that I wish I could put my arm out like the pros’ and someone comes along with a new wheel in hand,  replaces the wheel in seconds and then push you on your way.

After eventually fixing my puncture I re-joined the race and within minutes of getting back on my bike everyone came to a halt.  Due to the adverse weather conditions the roads were completely flooded and we were asked to dismount and walk for a short distance.  Once we left Richmond Park most of the roads on the route were flooded, so we had to be cautious along these roads because many times we all came to stand still.

At 36 miles we had crossed over the M25 and found the rolling countryside of Surrey.  After about 10 miles of undulations we then endured the biggest climb of the route, being Newlands Corner.  It may have not been Leith Hill or Box Hill but it was still a challenging climb, which maxes out at 570ft and it was on this climb that a fellow participant suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away, which was such sad news.

View from top of Newlands Corner.

View from top of Newlands Corner.

At the summit of the climb there was a welcome sight of the official food hub, where I stopped to consume my Jam sandwiches and to fill up my water bottles. After my pit stop I made my decent along the A25 heading towards Dorking, it was along this stretch I reached my maximum speed of 39.9 mph.  The next 13 miles flew by and were soon making our way to Leatherhead reaching the 60 mile marker.

By now the rain had stopped, the sun started to come out, I was starting to dry out and I was enjoying this part of the ride.  We soon passed through Esher and through the very picturesque Kingston Upon Thames, I was really enjoying the scenery.  Not long after passing through the market town I stopped at the last official drink stop.  I stopped for a few moments to take in extra fluids and some carbs for the final push to the finish.

After a few minutes at the drink station I saw Kelly again, we had a quick chat and as Kelly was keen to get going again before her legs seized up, so she left me at the stop.  I continued to drink some more fluids, then I topped up my bottle, send Jo a text giving her an update of my progress and took off my jacket, as I was starting to get quite warm.  I was now ready to take on the last 13 miles of the  challenge.

Within a few minutes after getting back on the bike the heavens opened again, many riders were pulling over to put on their waterproofs, as I just took mine off I couldn’t be bothered to put it back on again.  It came down so hard it felt like hail stones which made the final climb up towards wimbledon, a little bit tougher.  This was the final time I saw Kelly until the finish as I slowly passed her. Whilst concentrating on the hill I didn’t get much chance to look out see the common and see if Great Uncle Bulgaria and the rest of the Wombles were at home.

By the time I got to Putney Bridge the rain had stopped and I was now at mile 80, only 6 miles to go.  I felt pretty good at this stage and I could see that my average speed was increasing.  I was going along at a steady pace along with few other riders and it was a great cycling along the closed roads and it was felt unusual to cycle through red lights.  We were soon on the embankment and passed Battersea Bridge, now I knew I was very close to the finish.  I was counting down the Bridges as I passed them, Albert Bridge, Chelsea Bridge, Vauxhall Bridge, Lambeth Bridge and then Westminster Bridge.

Once we passed Westminster Bridge we went round Parliament Square onto Whitehall, pass David Cameron’s house, towards Nelson’s column and then turned left under Admiralty Arch on to the home straight on the Mall.  Whilst cycling down the Mall I quickly saw my army of fans, my wife Jo, my father-in-law Rod, my sister-in-law Amanda and my brother-in-law Nick,  cheering me on.  Once I past my fan club, I thought I’d stick the bike in a higher gear and pretend I’m Mark Cavendish and sprint to the line.  As I crossed the line I punched the air in delight and then collected my medal.

Admiralty Arch

Admiralty Arch

Finally - the finish line!!

Finally – the finish line!!

At the finish we continued down the mall pass the Victoria Memorial and down the side of Buckingham Palace, to the baggage area.  Many of my friends volunteered to work on the baggage trucks with Swanley A/C so I went over to say hello to them all.  They were telling me what a tough day that they’ve had and some of them looked more knackered than me.  Mathew was also here as his wife and daughter also volunteered, this was the first time I saw him since we left each other at the Olympic Park.  Typically Mat’s first words were ‘where have you been?’, as he finished before me and then congratulated for finishing.  Then only a few minutes later Kelly arrived and came to see her partner Steve, who also helped on the baggage.

Showing off my medal

Showing off my medal

After speaking to my friends I went to find my wife and her family.  They had walked down towards Buckingham Palace to meet me and were sitting near the gardens.  Jo’s sister, Amanda, had made a packed lunch for me, which I was so grateful for and scoffed it down.  We sat there for a while, whilst I shared my experience with them before we slowly walked to Charing Cross station and got the train back to Dartford.

Here are my results for any cycling stat fans;

  • Total Time: 6:43:59
  • Riding Time: 5:45:47
  • Average Speed: 15.12 mph
  • Max Speed: 39.9 mph
  • Elevation: 2,185 ft
Ride London 86 mile route and profile.

Ride London 86 mile route and profile.

On Saturday I was doubting whether I could actually ride 100 miles, which I didn’t, but to no fault of my own.  However, I still felt pretty good when I finished and felt that I would have been ok completing the other 14 miles, despite probably being the hardest part of the route.  I feel slightly disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to complete the full 100 mile route, however I was still pleased with myself as this was still the furthest I’ve ever cycled in one day and I was more please about that I managed to keep my average speed above 15 mph.  Before I started training for the event I struggled to keep my pace above this for a 13 mile ride.

The whole day was a great experience and Big Bertha didn’t dampen the riders spirits, it just added to the adventure.  I enjoyed the route, it was great to cycle along the closed roads of London and to finish on the iconic Mall.  All of the volunteers did an amazing job and were so cheerful, despite the weather not giving them much to cheer about.  They all have my up-most respect for giving up their day in order to make the race possible.

Don’t forget, for those who may be interested, the ballot opens for the 2015 event on Monday 18th August. So who is up for a challenge?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I really ride 100 Miles???

On 4th August 2013 I had volunteered to work on the baggage trucks at the start of the Ride London 100 along with 9 other members from Swanley & District AC.  It was great to be part of the very 1st ever event, this was event set up in the legacy of the London Olympics, which followed the Olympic road race route.  It was interesting to see how the participates were coping with the nerves, as it was the unknown for everyone.  Some were shaking with fear whilst others took it in there stride.

SDAC Baggge Team (Photo Courtesy of Mat Woolston)

SDAC Baggage Team

We could hear Boris Johnson give a some what inspiring speech and the race was soon started.  Once we finished I remember looking at a large map on display thinking that looks are rather long way, then I thought I wonder if I could do that??

A week later the ballot opened and I entered it, thinking that I’ve no chance of getting in and didn’t give it any more thought.  Then on 5th February 2014 I received my congratulations magazine, the first thought through my head was ‘OMG what have I done??’

What have I let myself in for!!!

What have I let myself in for!!!

Since then I was trying to get out on my bike more and was trying to integrate with my running so I would cycle to training or local park runs or races.  I would also try and commute to work, when possible, to increase my mileage.

Due to having to study for exams in early June I wasn’t able to get out much in May and once my exam was over I was able to concentrate on my training, in fact on the afternoon of my exam I went out for a 30 mile ride.

As part of my training I organised a long ride with some fellow participates, Mathew Woolston and Kelly Standley and her partner Steve Sutherley came along just for fun!!! I took them along a circuit that went out to Braisted and Ide Hill and took them up some challenging hills, such as Chart Hill (nr Toys Hill) and Ide HIll.  Hopefully this will put us in good stead for Box Hill and Leith Hill.

It all seemed real on Friday 8th August when I picked up my rider number at the Expo, My wife, Jo and my Father-in-Law, Rod, came along with me.  We had a good afternoon at the Expo, we had a few pics taken and got to see two of the stars from the London 2012 Olympics and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell, who had her Commonwealth Gold Medal with her.  They gave some great advice, with the rest of the Honda Wiggle Team on the stage and it was interesting listening to them all.

A great free photo from Expo with my Wife.

A great free photo from Expo with my Wife.

This brings us to now, the morning of Saturday 9th August 2014, Due to the advice I received yesterday I’m sitting up bed, drinking water out of my new SIS bottle, whilst typing this.  For those who know me know that it is unusual for me to be in bed at time of the morning as I’m usually up and out early riding to the Bluewater 4k or local Parkrun or in some case Both.  But if it helps me get round tomorrow, its a small sacrifice to make.

So now the day is near and less than 24hrs to my start time, do I think I can I really ride 100 miles, the answer is ‘YES I CAN’,  I didn’t think I could run a Marathon but I did and I know that I would never give regardless how tough it gets.  The only thing I’m nervous about is the cut-off times, where if you don’t reach certain points within the time you will be taken off the course.  I’ve signed up to cycle 100 miles and I want to complete the 100 miles, so watch this space for the result.

My Be One Storm that's going to get me round!!

My Be One Storm that’s going to get me round!!

#LoveRunning

Why I Love Running?

There are many reasons why people run, mostly are for health reasons such as ‘keep fit’ or ‘Lose Weight’ but for me my reasons are greater than that.  Below is a list of reasons why I #LoveRunning.

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1. Helps to relieve stress

I find If I don’t run for a few days I find myself getting agitated and restless.  I find running helps to clear the mind and I can relax much better afterwards.

2. Accessible to All

Running doesn’t discriminate against anyone, it’s great to see people of all different ages and all shapes and sizes who run at different speeds, all taking part and getting involved. Anyone can get into running, there are really no excuses, there are many local free running groups or events to participate in.   A great example of this are Park Runs, which offer free, weekly, 5k timed runs.

3. Personal Achievements

It is an amazing feeling when you achieve a Personal Best or reach a personal milestone. I never forget the sense of achievement when I finished my first (and only marathon to date). The best thing about running is that everyone has their own personal targets and the only person you compete against is yourself.

 4. Running Buddies

I have met so many amazing people and made some great friends through running.  I love to hear about their own running stories and experiences.  It’s great to catch up with my running buddies after a run or race over a tea/coffee.  However, my wife does wonder why I’m out of the house for over 2hrs when I go and run a 5k, which takes me less than 30 mins.

5. The Bling

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It’s great when you get across that finish line and then you get handed a nice medal, for some people ‘it’s only a medal’, it may only be a medal but it’s a medal that I have earned and I will wear it with pride for the rest of the day, with exception to my London Marathon Medal which I wore for the best part of a week.