Tag Archives: racing

Running update

I resolved, at the start of this year, to manage the relatively modest target of 10k per week run – a minimum of two 3 mile runs or so a weekend. Before the sabbatical, I was struggling a bit with that; despite a good january (65k run), February had seen me slow to a miserly 40k. Maybe just on target, but not much more than that.

The sabbatical saw a bit of a refresh; 53.5km in March and 60k in April. Progress, or so it would seem – but I continued eating at sabbatical rates, so my weight hasn’t gone down and that’s contributing to my persisting slowness.

May, to date, has also been a bit better – 30km run so far and its not even midway through the month yet. I’m trying to stick to a routine of two-three 10k runs a week, which is non-trivial as I’m not as limber, fit or light as I was when I was last doing this distance, but the only way to get there is to push along!

So, YTD I’m actually ahead of my target, modestly – 270km odd run. I’m hoping that the newly revised target, as well as the more regimented ITB rolling and stretching routine will see my overall distance rise more significantly. My speed is still poor; the weight affects everything and whilst I’m not ludicrously heavy the extra few kilos feels significant on me at the moment. I haven’t found the will to start the obsessive compulsive diet tracking yet – maybe that should be on my agenda? {sigh}.

Race plans remain thin on the ground. I’ve entered the the Basingstoke half-marathon but I’m still hopeful Ill do a second one at some point this year. Maybe a Northern summer half marathon? We’ll see…

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…

Burnout: Paradise – updated with PY’s point of view

Charlie Brooker:

A bewildering combination of utterly compelling car-smashing gameplay and infuriating design decisions, which means that playing it is simultaneously fun and irritating, like eating a delicious cake with the occasional drawing pin in it.

Yes (thanks, Gil, for the pointer).

I too, have been spending more time than I have on this game on Xbox 360, courtesy of EA (they send me review copies). On this occasion, they sent me a PS3 version as well, which Patrick will guest-review soon and I’ll add to the blog.

It is an absolutely beautiful and very entertaining game; the Xbox Live action is smooth, seamless and instantaneous (but won’t work if you don’t have a hard drive in your 360), the graphics amazing and the race modes as fun as they’ve ever been in Burnout. But…

…there’s no splitscreen option, that I can find. Which is half the way I enjoyed the game in the past, so its an annoying design decision, as Charlie points out.

…there’s no way to immediately ‘restart’ a race.

…free-roaming is all well and good, but it makes ‘instant action’ of the kind you might be inclined to have hard to come by (I used to spend more time than was healthy on ‘crash’ modes, or whatever it was called, when you had to cause lots of damage to passing vehicles).

Other than those – significant issues – this game is flawlessly executed. If you were ever a fan of Burnout, you’ll enjoy the visit. If you thought Burnout was a bit to linear and formulaic, you’ll love it. If you need split screen action… you’ll be disappointed.

Update: My Xbox copy crashes frequently and has caused red-rings (but the Xbox then works fine with Halo3). All a bit weird. Don’t know if this is a bug in the game, or anyone else has seen this? “Burnout Paradise Red Rings of Death” to help people looking up the problem find me… SEOtastic.

Update 2: This wasn’t a problem with Burnout Paradise. I was just experiencing the same hardware faults that plague so many Xbox owners. Second replacement Xbox (or repaired Xbox, rather), here I come. C’mon Microsoft! Sort it out!

Patrick says:

There are times when it rocks to be Armo’s mate – getting a free copy of Burnout on PS3 is definitely one of them. I’ve chatted with Armo about the game and can understand his annoyance at lack of split-screen, but IMO this is simply the best racing game out there. It’s so good I actually question whether I need to buy another ever again (probably a good thing) – and I’d be suprised if a slew of Paradise City-alike copycat games didn’t appear over the next 12 months.

Some don’t like it but I think the free-roaming aspect of the game, which once you’ve started doesn’t have any loading times or menus screens at all, is awesome. Do any event whenever you want, nomatter whether you’ve managed to complete earlier events. Yes, there’s no crash mode, but instead you have the similarly crazy Showtime mode available at any time, with records to be broken on every road in the city. Got to mention the online mode as well. I’m not a big online gamer at all, and generally can’t really be bothered to leave games to go through lobbies and find a decent (and non-abusive) opponent – it just takes too long and I don’t know that many people with a PS3 to make it worthwhile. But the online in Burnout is a revelation – totally integrated into the main game and available at the touch of a button. The first time you play eight-player Burnout is an insane experience. So basically it’s great. A shame about the lack of restarts and no split-screen, but in its place you can lure an unsuspecting newbie to the roof of a car park and then push him off, which for me, more than makes up for it.