JCP Swansea Half 2016

swansea 2016 before
Before. Was I the only Half fanatic at Swansea?
Swansea Half Marathon, 26th June 2016. Swansea.
During. “Come on Sponge Bob”


I started this review by looking at my notes from last year and noted that I was really impressed with four holes in the bib number to aid pinning to your vest – unfortunately missing this year – but was also impressed with our names printed above the numbers which was great as spectators urged you on.

As can be seen from the “During” photo I wore my quiet, subdued, disappear into the background running vest which stopped everyone shouting “Come on Clive” and had everyone shouting “Keep going Sponge Bob”. Spectators were excellent, by the way, this year – along the whole course again and very vocal.

Tapered well this year and the weather was a lot cooler but still humid under the cloud cover. I made the basic beginner error of starting at the front of my pen, going out to quick, feeling ok so keeping the same pace for ten miles, having heavy and tired legs for the last three point one. A week later the stiffness is just coming out of those tired legs.

One benefit of going out too quick is that I took 12 minutes off last years time (not bad over 13 miles) finishing in 2 hrs 19 min. The downside of the race getting bigger each year is the fact that in spite of going quicker, I dropped from 45th to 55th in the Male Vet 60+ category.

said last year that the goody bag was average but would get better as sponsors came on board and that is exactly what happened. Drinks, banana, energy bars, joint tablets, joint ache cream (used on left knee) and other stuff. Said last year I would do it again and say the same this year. Good and flat with lots of support.

swansea 2016 after
After. Yet another nice quiet tee shirt.









Over Reliance On Gadgets


These thoughts inspired by reading over an old blog and realising how easy it is to over rely on a gadget!

The old blog was titled “A non-programmed too scared to run week.” To cut a long blog short – I pulled out of a very cold and wet half marathon after about 4 miles because of a hugely increased heart rate that scared me rigid at the time and made me seek medical advice the following day. After a normal ECG and normal bloods my GP advised me to carry on running.

After about a month I was out on a HR zone 2 training run and looked at my heart rate and was shocked that it was showing over 200, shocked mainly because I was running down hill. As I started up the other side of the hill and started puffing, my heart rate dropped to 72 according to my Garmin, something was obviously amiss.

Ignoring my Garmin I trundled on and started thinking about the half that I had dropped out of. A couple of days later I was going to give the Garmin another chance. It would not start and had died. I placed it on charge and went for my run and on return, took the Garmin off charge – it was still dead.

Happy that it was the Garmin at fault and not my heart, happy that it was the Garmin that was dead and not me, it was confined to the back of a drawer.

Did it put me off gadgets? Did it put me off Garmin? No to both. The photo is my 310XT which I love. I think I might think twice about receiving a dodgy message from this monitor though. (note the photo is from the catalogue, I do not run 10 miles in 52 minutes)

One message I did get from my 310XT shook me a bit. I strapped it on for my first run in Cape Verde while on holiday (see below) and, after trying to find satellites for a minute or two a message appeared on the screen “Have you traveled hundreds of miles since your last run?”

I told it yes and all was well with the world.


Running on Sal, Cape Verde

Did a “Tripadvisor” review of the hotel where we stayed and the island recently which had a bit on running from the hotel. Thought it might be worth cutting and pasting the ‘running’ section into my WordPress blog and tagging names in case anyone else is looking for advice before leaving on a holiday there.

The hotel was the Riu Garopa but the notes refer just as well to the Riu Funana which is next door (same hotel, complicated, refer to Tripadvisor reviews) on the island of Sal in the Cape Verde Islands just off Senegal, Africa. The cut and paste went thus;-

I am a lark so run in the mornings and usually started about 5 to 5.30 in the dark and watched the sunrise as I ran, the sun coming up at around 6.00 (this is in November). All the local runners are out at this time in the morning, before the heat and before work. Even so, I added one minute to my usual miles per minute pace, at the start of runs as the breeze disguises the humidity levels as you run. It is only when you stop that the sweat drops off you like a waterfall.

Carrying water is a must. (I wrote that as sound advice that I, myself, ignored). To put your position in the world into perspective, travel due east and you would reach Senegal in Africa, travel due west and you would reach Mexico. We always take oral re- hydration with us on holiday in the shape of two tubes of ORS hydration tablets that you dissolve in bottled water – one of these after a run works wonders.

Unless you want to loop around and around the hotel gardens (possible, safe and observed being done while we were there) then you must venture out onto the roads. Please avoid the beaches to the east of the hotel – you do not want to be responsible for disturbing turtle nests! All the pavements outside the hotel area are of cobbles cut from volcanic rock, but not impossible to run on, not a trip factor, more a decent exercise for the ankles (note, us runners emphasise the positives in life and banish the negatives).

Watch out for roads being slippery though as a build up of oil, diesel and tyre rubber will not have been washed away with the rain as there is no rain.

Run number one was going to be to the old port of Santa Maria and back but was curtailed before the end and ended as a three mile jog. The reason? On reaching the town it was obviously kicking out time (dawn) at the Pirate night club and I didn’t fancy running through the drunks. Lone female (or male for that matter) runners note this was a Sunday morning after Saturday night celebrations. This run was out of the hotel, turn right, turn left at the massive palm tree (radio mast in disguise) and keep going until you reach the Pirate Nightclub. Three miles round trip approximately.

After confirming that I had been on the right route for Santa Maria with the Thomson rep, I tried again and it was well worth it. I got one of those early morning runner smug feelings as I stood on the end of the working pier near the Old Harbour, watched the sun come up, watched the colourful boats return with their catch – knowing that I was the only tourist there and everyone else had missed the moment. I then explored the whole town by jogging every street and backstreet and watching the town wake and its citizens walk to work. There was very little sound except for cock crowing. The odd lorry, two cars and a scooter were all I saw as motorised transport.  Every time I took out my map, someone approached to guide me on my way.

Next run was a five and a half mile loop. Out of the hotel and this time turn left towards the town in the distance where all is painted white. Pass one Melia Hotel and when you get to the Melia Dunas your road forces you to turn right. The next roundabout directs you right towards Santa Maria. A long straight road where you have constant vision of the giant radio palm tree mast, this is a dual carriageway but is unlit so try to hit it after dawn.

As you enter the outskirts of Santa Maria, go straight over the roundabout and you will find a petrol station next to the Pirate Nightclub. You will then know where you are from the runs described above. I did, one morning, attempt this loop in reverse but the long straight road between the garage and the Hotel Dunas was too dark and as there is no pavement (you run on the cycle track divided from the road by a white line) I turned around and did intervals between lamposts back to the hotel.

Further runs were a combination of all of the above. After every run, after first discovering a mess on the floor of the hotel room and corridor, I removed running shoes before entering the hotel block. Your shoes will be covered in an odd mixture of sand and tyre rubber!

Death Of A Treadmill

treadmillSadly, after a short illness, my treadmill died this morning at 6.4 miles into a 10 mile run. Things had not been right lately with the need to hold down buttons to get the display to change but I suppose I had more than my moneys worth from this trusty machine.

Endorsed by Carl Lewis (Sprint and long jump at Olympic meets between 1984 and 1996) this running / walking machine had seen many miles completed on cold dark mornings when a look out of the window at the weather meant either the treadmill or a trip back to bed. Lately this trusty machine saw me through walks of two miles through a flu bug (note tissues on window sill) and, as can be seen in the photo, was helping me run today while snow lay on the ground outside. In detail, what happened is that at 6.4 miles there was a loud bang, a smell of burning electrics and a need to reset the tripswitch so that the ground floor electric sockets could be used again.

My last run outside in bad weather was a pre-dawn run where I was in a cold, dark lonely spot and suddenly found myself “surfing” about thirty feet over icy ground. All that was going through my mind was “If I fall and break my hip, will I be able to reach my mobile and how will I describe where I am?” I have been a bit wary of cold weather running ever since.

This weekend was supposed to be a return to long runs after that flu bug with 10 today (Saturday) followed by 20 tomorrow. I guess if I want to do the 20 tomorrow then it will be outside, whatever the weather.

Will I purchase another treadmill? At the moment I am thinking – no. I have membership of a gym so that I can cross train with weights and they have running machines if I need them. Also I think I will benefit from being in a position of either get outside or don’t run at all. What I will miss though is the sprint / fartlek work knowing my exact speed and the fact that I could run at any time of day and in any weather.

My biggest problem now is not only how to dispose of said treadmill but how to unbolt it into manageable segments as the base will not now lift into a vertical position without power!

Twenty mile run in the rain – why it reminded me of Greece.

If the previous Sunday’s pre-dawn, thirteen miles, on the flat, around Roath Park Lake, saw the sun rise into a clear blue sky to burn off the lake-mist and burn my face to load up my vitamin D, then today’s local Sunday hilly run was the complete and absolute opposite.

Stepping out of the house at 5am with the familiar “what on earth am I doing” thing going through my head, I was grateful for my running jacket and also a peaked cap to keep the driving rain off my glasses, allowing me to see my Garmin by the light of the street lamps. Luckily, as the sun emerged at dawn, two hours later, the rain stopped and the wind eased. This made the run slightly more palatable and I got on with the very, very slow running in heart rate zone 2 (more on becoming fat adapted in a later blog) over the twenty miles with a total combined ascent of 1,600 feet.
Strangely perhaps, this training run reminded me of the holiday destination of Greece and a long weekend taking in the Athens Marathon.

Leaving the Athens hotel bedroom I kissed Pat on the head and she mumbled something about another few hours sleep then going down to the restaurant for a full breakfast and that would take her to around the time I would be starting the marathon. This would give her four and a half hours of shopping before making her way to the finish line where she would meet me – nice.
Walking out of the hotel lobby I turned the corner and crossed Syntagma Square, weaving my way through the riot police – this was the time when Syntagma Square was the focal point for any Athenian who wanted to get rid of Papandreou and his austerity measures. Skirting the Greek Parliament building and buses of more riot police I found the street full of buses ready to transport the runners 26 miles to the seaside town of Marathon – I didn’t come by the buses by chance of course, I had searched out the street on the previous day.
There are advantages and disadvantages to driving the course as we did, backwards, on those buses. Advantage – you know every inch of the course beforehand. Disadvantage – you are totally aware that as soon as you leave Athens you are driving down hill and down hill and more down hill, which can only mean one thing. This is where I was thankful for all of my training runs on hilly courses giving me the race tactic of run slowly uphill for twenty miles and then hang on for the final six miles through Athens. This is one of the reasons that my hilly training run was reminding me of Athens.
The other reason is a little weirder. Whenever I mention the Athens Marathon to anyone, their initial reaction is usually “Oh my God, how hot was it?” The truth is we were all standing around at the start wearing bin bags and trying to find shelter, behind any available wall, from the wind and rain. We runners are always trying to pull a positive out of a situation and mine was “All these runners, especially all the Greeks, are used to running in hot dry conditions. I am thankful for my hilly 20 mile training runs in the wet and wind.”

So, now you know what was going through my head on Sunday, while running 20 miles. I was pleased with my Heart Rate Zone 2 running and, even though the local course was hilly, managed to keep an average heart rate of 137 with a target of 130 to 140. Fuel was a protein drink and 10 small individually wrapped cheeses. I have only recently started fueling on long runs. I had tried gels (liquid sugar) during marathons but found the downer after the sugar spike difficult to contend with and also got upset stomachs. As I said earlier, more on becoming fat adapted in a later blog but for now I am happy with a no sugar no grains lifestyle and refueling with cheese and olives on my long run.crying with pain