I’d like to thank those people who have visited my blog as a result of a little local “press release” – all being well, there will be some press coverage of the Stewart Milne fundraising in the next week or so. In terms of my own fundraising challenge, I am continuing to cover the kilometres at a decent pace. A 5km on Friday, a further 5km on Saturday followed by a long run on Sunday that has stretched me a little further that recent runs.
For those of you who are here for the cake, please read on!
Following last weekend’s unofficial 10k personal best time, I decided to push the distance rather than pace on Sunday.
As I cover more ground and run more regularly I feel more comfortable with not only my favoured distance of 10k but further distances too. Especially after finding an article recommending running long runs at 1 minute per kilometre slower than race pace. I really feel I can get into a metronomic rhythm now and just keep going like the proverbial Forrest Gump!
The furthest I have ever run is 21km and I have done so on at least 3 occasions. I should clarify a couple of things before we continue. Firstly, when I say “run” what I really mean is “run-for-a-bit-walk-for-a-bit”. And secondly, you might be wondering why I’m a little vague on the frequency of covering such a distance.
While at University in Newcastle (Tyne not Lyme) I was convinced to enter the Great North Run for the first time in 2000. It was the dawn of a new millennium and in those days you didn’t have to enter a ballot to get a place so why not; 13 miles isn’t that far. With ridiculously small amounts of training I managed to cover the distance in 2 hours 20 and went on to enter the Great North Run a further two times.
Or so I thought until I was clearing out a drawer and found my running memorabilia. As I untangled the ribbons I counted not 3, but 4 Great North Run medals! Wow, was it that bad that I had blanked it from my memory? I’m just not sure. What I do remember is that on my last time of trying, in 2005, the race was hotter and harder than it had been before. The sad memory, that I think made me put my running to one side, is of running past not one but two male runners, prostrate, being attended to by paramedics. Tragically, one of those fellow runners didn’t make it to the finish line, or to see another race. It certainly shocked me into realising that I had woefully underestimated and under-prepared for what, ultimately, is not a fun run but a tough half marathon.
Fortunately for me it did not put me off for good and I am now covering more distance than I would have ever imagined back in those student days. The body may be older but it is certainly more run-ready and much fitter thanks to my recent challenge.
Since 2005 I have got nowhere close to the 21km. I have however, been able to extend outside my comfort zone of 10k in recent weeks to 12 kilometres. In the last month I have managed to cover 13 and 14 kilometres so this Sunday I set out wondering how far I could get.
Despite it being hotter than I had expected I felt good. I felt confident. I twisted and turned around the streets of Witney to clock up as many metres as possible, knowing that my previous long runs had already virtually circumnavigated the town. The legs were starting to feel it as I reached my recent best of 14km and had to force myself to lift my knees in a highly exaggerated fashion to stretch my legs on the go. It seemed to work but now I was closing in on home so was frantically doing the maths in my head as to just where I needed to run to clock up my new goal. The 16 kilometre mark was where I was heading: 10 whole miles.
My knowledge of the roads close to home is now at a level where I know how ar it is to home from the key junctions so I was able to tailor the end of my route to ensure I didn’t have to run round in circles to clock up the distance! Looking back at my kilometre splits I am also pleasantly surprised at my consistency, especially considering that I wasn’t monitoring my pace. Other than my first kilometre of 6m16 and my last kilometre of 5m30, my splits were within 8 seconds either side of 6 mins/km.
The runs over the weekend put me just 5km away from the England/Scotland border of my virtual 800km run between the proposed Maggie’s Centres at Oxford and Aberdeen. Thanks to Kirsty, my Scottish teammate rewarding me 5km early (she was only going to sponsor me once I had crossed the border) my fundraising total is now £573.
Amongst my running this weekend, The Wife and I managed to spend some time in the kitchen with our joint passion: food! As some of my Twitter followers will have already seen, we baked a lovely chocolate cake with a difference, the secret ingredient being courgette.
Yes, I said courgette. Yes, in chocolate cake. And yes, it tastes A-MAY-ZING!
A big thanks go out to good friend Rich Sills who suggested we try the BBC Good Food recipe. Other than leaving out the nuts, we followed the recipe to the letter and were not disappointed. It was really simple – effectively mix the dry ingredients (apart from the sugar) in one bowl, mix the wet ingredients (including the sugar) in another and then mix the two together and shove in the oven. It took 10 minutes longer than the recipe said but that could be our oven.
If you like chocolate, or cake, or have a glut of courgette then give it a go.