Category Archives: Racing

Beat the Banana 2011

I can’t do BTB this year – otherwise engaged at work. But people who like running and hate cancer should consider supporting WCRF’s efforts to promote awareness of healthy eating and lifestyle as key prongs in cancer prevention. Try to get a place via here. I suspect my friend Jimbo will be involved, possibly wearing a banana outfit.

I ran last year – here’s the proof. It’s a fun race where you chase after a man in a banana costume – who runs fast! Well, faster than me, anyway, completing the 5k circuit in about 23-4 minutes.

It’s Cancer Prevention Week so there’s all sorts going on – you can read more about it over on the WCRF blog.

The routine continues

Days 2 and 3 of running with the new shoes went well, although gathering the willpower to make it out this weekend was properly hard – for a few reasons.

1. It’s still cold enough to be miserable and cause me to completely misjudge what to wear. “Sweat runs” as Sensei Paul calls them are a regular appearance.

2. My fitness is still down after my September heights, although the ITB rolls at least are getting easier.

3. I’m still eating like a mentalist, far too much, and am heavy and not feeling the grace of my earlier lightness

Hoping to resolve this in the weeks ahead… But still ahead of my distance target and hoping to continue this into the month ahead. Wish me luck…

Weekend running

Just one 10k this weekend, but in 60 minutes (more or less dead-on) and the first semi-distance run I’ve done since the half marathon. Winter, as well as having Emily around, is making this a much tougher challenge to take on.

Am in London one night this weekend ahead of my sister’s registry wedding. Wonder if I can squeeze in a canal run on my old route for old times’ sake!

Haven’t found a race to aim for yet. Thinking of another local Hampshire one of seeing if I can persuade Sensei Paul to take on another race with me and find a location either nearer him in North Somerset or somewhere between us. Will keep you posted…

Post race plans

I had vaguely expected to be debilitated by the race- too broken to contemplate a run for some time- but four days later I’m itching to get on the road again.

The worst of the aches passed after day two with two exceptions (turn away now if you’re squeamish):

1. My nipples took a pounding, despite Vaseline. I probably should have reapplied midway through the race but didn’t want to lose the time. It’s the same reason that I needed a wee for 3 hours on a stretch. Healing, though, and with more Vaseline I’ll be fine to resume my casual runs.

2. A weird skin fold on my right foot that hurts like a bad bruise. This is the thing that’s got me slightly concerned as it’s causing a limp. Hoping more moisturiser will sort me out here – ah, Vaseline- truly you are the WD40 of the human body. Doctors should prescribe this miracle stuff.

I’m going to try to establish a new routine, post first half marathon, going into winter and with a baby and a country commuter lifestyle to take into account:

1. Two, longer weekend runs a week, peaking out at about 25k over two days

2. Building up my speed towards a sub 2 hour half – I need as Sensei P says to get to 9 minute miles over a long distance – so have a way to go.

However, might take this weekend off as I celebrate my 30th birthday and will probably need to acquire some fresh / winter running gear (not to mention get the washing machine installed!

Still buzzing from the half. Keen to enter a 10k just for the fun of it. Thinking good thoughts in Sheila’s direction as she does her first race (a 10k) on Sunday and Arvind and Heather’s as they prep for the London Parks marathon (or whatever it’s called!). This running bug is infectious!!!

In any case, the Long Slow Run is here to stay. I’ve got a huge amount of satisfaction from interacting with y’all on here and hope you’re enjoying it too. Not quite sure where my coauthor has got to but here’s hoping @jimbocoyle’s GNR went well too!

The long quick run – New Forest half marathon race report

Sorry for the lack of updates. This has been for a number of reasons:

1) We’ve just moved house and I now have a commute
2) We’re less than three weeks away from having a baby
3) Work has been manic

This does mean that I had a two week “taper” period and that the last run I did before today’s half marathon was the 11.5 miler a couple of weeks ago.

So, it was with some nerves, Sensei Paul, and a pain-free drive down to the New Forest that we braced for the half marathon. It was a beautiful autumn morning – cool, crisp, bright sunshine and blue skies. The crowds were out in force. We had had a light breakfast and I’d had a bonus rice krispie bar before the race, but was otherwise running as I had trained – mostly on empty. I took my place with the ‘120+’ minute finish time staggered staring place as Paul dodged up to find the 80 minuter starting point (!), fired up RunKeeper and Mumford & Sons… and sooner than I thought possible, we were off.

The race was ‘chip-timed’ but only at the start and finish, so RunKeeper and my trusty £8 digital watch were providing the split information and helping me manage my pace. I’d said to Sensei that I wanted to maintain a pace between 6m and 6m15 per km for the race duration – which would see me hit my 2h20minute target. Of course, in the headiness of the actual race conditions, I fired on much quicker – managing a 5.36 pace through to 5k, 5.46 through to 10k, 5.56 through to 15k and 5.58 through to 16k – the 10 mile mark. All of these translated to personal bests for me! Which was fantastic, but also slightly misjudged… and of course the final 5k felt reasonably gruelling.

The race split into three broad phases for me:

The first 10k – exhilirating,fast, passing lots of people and maintaining reasonable pace.

The next 6k – starting to get passed by the runners that had paced themselves better and struggling a bit with endurance

The last 5k – gruelling endurance, fuelled by determination and a handful of jelly babies at mile 10, and filled with the satisfaction of overtaking the people who had mis-paced themselves and were now walking

Of particulate note was the last 500m – marked as the last 0.1 of a mile – should have been 160m! But managed a sprint finish at the end, which was particularly satisfying.

Time was 2h09.39 – you can find me on this site, race number 1555 at the New Forest Half Marathon. Full RunKeeper stats available here, but include splits below too.

GunPos No GunTime Surname Forename Gender Cat Team/Club Chip Pos Chip Time
1250 1555 2:10:33 David Armand M 1261 2:09:29

Sub 2h10!! A full 10 minutes better than hoped for at my most optimistic! About 2/3rds down the pecking order (about 1,800 ran), so a lot of room for improvement, but pretty pleased with myself.


mi Pace (min/mi) Elevation (ft)
1 9:20 36
2 8:40 30
3 8:50 -12
4 9:09 28
5 9:19 -18
6 9:41 -1
7 9:30 -44
8 9:59 -46
9 10:51 89
10 10:48 1
11 10:58 3
12 10:50 -43
13 10:00 -24

Paul, of course, came third with a new personal best of 1h17.06 – and so was waiting for me at the finish – and got a very nice trophy.

I was pleased to finish without stopping, amazed with my time, and to be honest spent the whole day thinking I missed 2h10 by 33 seconds because I misread the charts. Sub 2h10 – woohoo! Next stop, sub 2h – which will be a target for next year, depending on how the baby and my running routine play together.

Thanks to all who have supported me, from my lovely wife, my reliable physio, my friends, extremely generous family, my colleagues at Brands2Life and all the people who sponsored, supported, encouraged, cajoled and otherwise helped me through this. Especial thanks to Mr and Mrs Sensei Paul for the challenge, encouragement, mentoring and a fantastic race weekend. It feels a fantastic achievement for me and I definitely have the race bug now (although we’ll see how I feel about that when the aches set in proper tomorrow).

Next time – more stretching, more training, setting up a playlist for the run in advance (much as I love Mumford, the album repeating three times was a bit much), and perhaps a bit more gentle pace at the start…

If you were waiting to see if I’d manage it to sponsor me, I have now – so chuck the cash in over here! Thanks again all.

p.s. I’m knackered now so reserve the right to edit this when I’m a bit more copus mentis…

Race report: beat the banana

So: my first ever “competitive” run. I say competitive in the sense that, whilst no aspect of the race was professionally timed there was a binary win/loss condition and one man (banana) we were competing with – you either beat the banana, or you didn’t. The banana in question: a 50-something Kiwi runner called Rhys, decked out in full banana regalia. He was quick. But more on that shortly.

James (my friend who works for WCRF, part-time running sensei and full time awesome dude) tells me it was their best year for registration – with over 500 people registering for the ‘fun run.’ I arrived at the Serpentine bandstand about 45 minutes before race time and helped him at the bag drop tent… well, I say “helped”, what I really did was ask people why they thought their bag was safer with James than in the bin, and whether they could guess why his middle name was “bag thief”, so perhaps “helped” is a bit strong.

The start eventually came, more or less on time, following a brief but nonetheless too-long-and-too-ridiculous warm-up from the sponsoring Fitness First banana-dressed coach. Having never been in a competitive run before, and indeed rarely been in any kind of race where I didn’t come last, it was a strange experience; fun-runs attract all types, from the casual runner to the completely indolent, so the keener ones who made it to the front of the starting inflatable post bounded off with (and in some cases, beyond) the banana, whilst I, stuck firmly in the middle of the pack, dodged a bunch of slow moving but well-meaning folk.

Eventually, after about 1.5km, I managed to clear my way of the (rear of the) pack. Thankfully the muscle stiffness that had hit me a couple of days previously was nowhere to be seen and I felt I was getting a reasonable pace on. The feeling that came from overtaking people was pretty heady; I was probably going a little quicker than was sensible but kept pushing on through. Soon after this, however, the more accomplished runners who had just been dandying around the back chatting to friends started to apply themselves, and between 2-3km marks people kept overtaking me… But I didn’t lose spirit and kept plodding along. Runkeeper was giving me some data but I was resolutely ignoring it; I just needed to forge ahead and do my best.

Whilst there were moments (as you’ll see if you check my Runkeeper race log) when I flagged, I managed to find my stride and had a good run to the end, finding brief moments of competition with random other runners. The final 300m became a sprint finish as a fellow-runner decided she wanted to beat me… she ran faster, I ran faster, until it was a hell-for-leather dash for the finish line… …and then she beat me too, jeering me triumphantly (but good naturedly – it was a fun-run after all!) at the end, when I collected my medal and goody bag (containing a banana, no less).

It was a lot of fun and I think I may have something of a racing bug – will look for a 10k now before the half-marathon (I think that distance might suit me better) and see how I do. The scary thing is that this is the pace I’ll need to maintain for FOUR TIMES AS LONG if I’m to break 2 hours on the half-marathon – that’s a way away. Lots of training needs to happen first. And I need to raise more dosh – my sister is my sole sponsor to date!

For the curious, the winner (who had won a similar run with WCRF in Hong Kong) came in at around 15m for the circuit (which GPS tracked as 4.7k), and the banana came in 3-4 minutes before me (around 22m). I came in at about 25m30, which is a new personal best. Big thanks to all the lovely WCRF people for a fun afternoon in Hyde Park.

Here are my (banana? sorry…) splits:

mi pace climb (ft)
1 8:48 6
2 9:01 17
3 7:51 -7

Pre-race jitters

I’ve entered my first ever competitive running event – man vs. banana in WRCF’s ‘Beat the Banana’ 5k run through Hyde Park. It’s tomorrow and I went on my first run post-half-marathon session on Sunday this morning — and it HURT. A 32 minute 5k is not going to beat the banana and I’m pretty anxious about it. Will do some deep stretching tonight, take the morning off running tomorrow and keep fingers crossed…

Wish me luck and watch out for a race report late tomorrow or Friday. Any tips on pacing myself? Or just sprint the whole way?

The day after the run before

I can walk again! Only took a day’s rest from yesterday’s ridiculous run.

I will probably run again tomorrow after the mammoth 20-ker yesterday, taking on a gentle-ish 5k as I consider entering for Thursday’s race. Should I run against banana-man in my first ever race event?

I don’t know how I’ve got to a point where I think of a 5k race as a ‘short run’ but it is definitely a good feeling. That said, the banana I’m told finishes in under 24 minutes, and my best ever time for a 5k is about 28… so the run for me will be more along the lines of “defeated by the banana…”


Shake and bake…