Bupa Great Birmingham Run

Birmingham Half Marathon Round 2

This year’s Great Birmingham Run had a record breaking 20,000 make Birmingham’s half marathon a record breaker on Sunday 21st October.

The Great Birmingham Run 2013, formerly known as Birmingham half marathon, was started by Walsall golden girl Ellie Simmonds, so I went along for my 2nd half marathon hoping to beat last years’ time of 2 hours and 17 minutes as I’m now armed with a little more experience and slightly faster stats.

On a downside, I probably haven’t run enough miles as I have been mainly running 5-8 miles so expected dig deep and let my heart to push me over the finish line.

It turns out this was my single biggest mistake, as soon as I hit the 10 mile mark and the infamous uphill section of the half marathon, I experienced my first ever bout of crippling cramp which was so bad, I simply could not even walk and thought I would have to exit the race.

I have heard tales from people locking up with cramp but I can honestly say I have never felt pain like it, but I hobbled foe a few minutes to the top of the hill and it was time to make the choice that you don’t get too often in life as race helpers offered Jelly Babies and Vaseline for sore nipples, I opted for jelly babies for that extra boost.

I found that I could run for 2-3 minutes before the cramp began to niggle again, but knew if I took it steady, I will make it past the finish line. In hindsight, drinking Jack Daniels the night before the race combined with not running longer than 10 miles in training was never going to end in a good way, but I remembered the old mantra of running being 99% mental and 1% physical and somehow finished with a time of 02:18 and in 10388th place out of 20,000 runners.

Neil

Slow and steady might not win the race, but despite my setbacks, my time was only 1 minute slower than last year and finishing around the halfway mark is still a million miles better than 3 years ago when I couldn’t even run for a bus.

I may never be an athlete but as the old saying goes “No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping everyone sitting on the couch

My next challenge will be to stay motivated through the harsh winter weather to maintain enough fitness to start again in spring.

The plan is to try and keep up  a couple of 3-5 mile runs a week, but this will be much harder as it sounds. When the central heating gets turned up, the comfort eating begins and the next generation of consoles arrive in the shops things could get tricky but watch this space…

 

Advertisements

First Half Marathon Completed…So What’s Next?

Nearly two weeks after I completed my first ever race which also happened to be a half marathon and I must admit that my motivation has been on the decline since my goal was achieved. One of the biggest lessons I have learned since I started running is the power of your mind and how it will do it’s best to fool you into what you can and cannot do

For example during training for the half marathon, I found myself stopping for a 30 second walk every 3-4 miles but suddenly on race day I ran for 10 miles before taking a cheeky quick walk but someone much wiser than myself probably put it best with the quote “running is 90% mental and 10% physical”.

Since finishing the race, I have had a few issues with my left heal hurting when any weight was put onto it, which could be caused by me increasingly my mileage to quickly or time to look for some new running shoes as my first pair have now knocked up over 300 miles.

Maybe this could also be a good opportunity to have my running gait checked which involves the following.

Gait analysis is the study of human movement and locomotion. Certain types of foot motion have the potential to cause symptoms in the lower back, hips, knees, lower legs and of course feet.
There is a normal posture for the feet, knees and hips at any point during walking or running. Video gait analysis enables us to evaluate normal and abnormal movements of the joints of the lower limbs as the body moves.

Video gait analysis is an important part of the assessment; by filming you walking and/or running the practitioner is able to observe any misalignments or unusual movements during the gait cycle.
Video gait analysis is used to capture your walking/running motion to aid diagnosis and treatment of any problems, and to formulate a treatment plan.

Video gait analysis is also a great way to demonstrate what happens when you walk/run, which helps to provide you with a greater understanding as to why you are getting injured, and how to prevent it from happening.

Enough me rambling on about my ageing aching limbs, my biggest problem is tricking my mind into running again.

In the last 2 weeks my mind has conveniently offered me the following excuses.

  • Think I have early stages of Plantar fasciitis (Since the marathon, my left heal hurts if any weight placed on it)
  • Its dark when I wake up and dark when I come home.
  • Too busy with work.
  • It’s raining, cold, and windy or even all three.
  • You deserve a rest after completing the half marathon.
  • All of the above.

However my mind finally offered a helpful and timely kick up the arse in the form of making me aware that if I don’t get back on the road, the fitness that I have worked so hard to achieve will start to deteriorate, so early Saturday morning I hit the cold wet road and enjoyed a 5 mile run.

I’m not going to lie, this 5 mile run was bloody hard work and in many ways tougher than the half marathon itself, but again I think this is probably more a mental issue than anything else because there is currently no goal to aim for so I guess , it might be time to book another race to keep my interest.

A nice steady 5 mile race called the “Turkey Trot” in December seems quite appealing, anything that has a tag line of “A Turkey presentation pack for all finishers of the 5 mile race.” Not only captures my imagination but is also quite intriguing with a hint of randomness thrown in, which it the perfect recipe as far as I’m concerned.

This might be just what I need to keep me running for a few short runs a week during the crappy November weather so this might be just what I need but I will keep you posted.

First of all, I guess I need to concentrate on getting at least two small runs a week completed, so enough talk for now and lets get running again.

Birmingham Half Marathon – Race Day

Everyone told me not to change my normal routine, so I ensured I still enjoyed a few Jack Daniels and Coke on Saturday night and woke up this morning ready for action, but will admit to feeling  a little daunted at the prospect of running over 13 miles.

This was my first ever race and what overwhelmed me whilst we were waiting, was the sheer amount of people who were wearing tops containing photo’s, names, or quotes about loved ones that have been lost. The fact that so many people were clearly dealing with the pain of losing somebody but were trying their hardest to turn a negative into a positive and to make a difference.

We often hear about how bad people can be, but right here in from of me was living proof of the beautiful side of the human race and how people can triumph through tragedy.  Elsewhere the streets were lined by people and whole families who had got up early on a Sunday morning to cheer these strangers running through the streets and you really are left thinking maybe this world isn’t such a bad place after all, where whole communities were joined together to motivate people running.

I had to check in the early stages when I heard a few people from the crowd shouting “Good luck Neil, keep at it” etc. I finally realised that my name was displayed on my chest but what a lovely gesture and it really did keep me running and not have a cheeky rest.

As I approached the 12 mile mark, my body was starting to feel the pressure and I stopped for a little walk, but two men tapped me on my shoulder and said “Come on mate, we are nearly there, you can do it.” Again a fantastic feeling that someone takes the time to keep you motivated and it was just the kick up the arse that I needed.

I ran until I could see the finish line on the horizon and suddenly there was a huge crowd on each side cheering all the runners onto the final stage and suddenly it was all over, sure my legs hurt like hell but I just completed my first ever race and it was a bloody half marathon in 2 hours 17 minutes.

Birmingham Half Marathon, got the t-shirt and a medal too.

Soaking up the whole atmosphere around this event, and enjoying every second is what this race is all about for me, and much more important than chasing after a super quick time, but I am not a numbers kind of person, maybe Johnny Cash put it best when he sang “I went out there in search of experience, to taste and to touch and to feel’s as much as a man can before he repents

Possibly my biggest motivation was my Spotify Running Playlist which kept me going with an endless selection of great tunes to me smiling and singing the whole way.

To be greeted by my beautiful wife and step daughter at the finish line, was the perfect icing on the cake, making it a day that I will never forget. My Run Keeper app tells me I have just burned 2,000 calories, which I think gives me a license to eat whatever the hell I like for the rest of the day.

All in all, I ticked a half marathon off my bucket list, but I loved the whole experience and would highly recommend it to anyone. I can now be seen walking like John Wayne with sore nipples but before anybody else says it, there is nothing new there.

Couch Potato Running Birmingham Half Marathon Tomorrow

The story so far…

Let’s get something straight here, I am no athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but just a guy who suddenly found himself overweight and unfit after years of good times and contentment caught up with me. With the big 40 on the horizon and after hearing many a tale about the risks of entering “heart Attack alley” I figured maybe I should do something about it.

Back in March I downloaded the Get Running (Couch to 5K) App on my phone which promised to take me from being a couch potato to running for 5k in 9 weeks which was just the nice steady approach that I was looking for.

Gym memberships or direct debits as I prefer to call them are not my thing, so I armed myself with the following.

  • Old pair of trainers
  • Get Running C25K App
  • Run Keeper App (to map where I am and save stats etc to view on website later)
  • Spotify App with a running Playlist

The first week was really tough and was shocked that even running for 1 minute was bloody hard work but it just reinforced my opinion that I was doing the right thing. Each week I was presented with a longer run and began with me thinking “how the hell am I going to do this?” but although they were tough goals they were equally realistic and achievable.

In 9 weeks I went from being unable to run across the road without getting out of breath to running for 30 minutes without stopping.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

Once I had completed the program, I needed something to aim for before I got bored and drifted back into old habits, so decided to enter the Birmingham half marathon because it was in October and will give me something to aim for.

After working away from home for much of the summer at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, suddenly I found myself in September and a need to increase mileage sooner rather than later.

Although, I have left it a little late, I have been able to get six 8-10 mile runs under my belt and I have seen a few nice sights along the way so hoping this will be enough to get me across the finish line tomorrow morning.

Don’t worry, I’m not turning into a fitness bore, to be honest all this pointless willy waving of bragging rights about being faster than anyone else is just one big ‘who can piss higher than the other’ and something which is quite uninteresting to me. You just got to run your own race for your own reasons and to hell with everything else.

On the eve of my big run, a quick browse through some running magazines tells me to eat almonds, pasta, bananas, oatmeal porridge, rice, fish, fruit, vegetables and fish but I am not foolish enough to class myself as an athlete so decided to treat myself a JD and coke with some fajitas.

For me this whole running thing is not about competing with everyone else but about getting out in the great outdoors listening to great tunes and taking your surroundings so more than happy to stop my run and take a few impromptu photos to record the moment.

A recent 8am run from Croyde Bay to Baggy Point and back again.

This is what makes running interesting to me, but I think the secret to making this work, is to find what interests and motivates you as an individual. This is why so many diet and keep fit plans fail because we are all individuals and unique, so a one size fits all solution simply does not exist.

Sorry I went a little deep there, but you know what I’m trying to say so I guess it’s time to ease of the Jack Daniels and coke and get some rest ready for the big race tomorrow. I won’t get the best time, but I am determined to enjoy every second and will be sure to take a few photos along the way.

I will be running for the Help the Heroes charity and feel free to drop by the sponsorship page.