Sunday, 15 November 2015

14/11/2015

MOVEMBER

There have been only two races that I have run every year, without fail, since taking up the sport in 2012. The first was my first, the BUPA London 10K and I am already signed up for the 2016 event, and look forward to my 5th medal. Mainly because they have been getting better every year.

Westminster Mile included

The other, and one where medals haven't actually changed in the last two and I know that tradition is being kept for this year, are the MOVEMBER races.


MOVEMBER is the male cancer awareness movement and their races are held across the country in the month of November and I run it every year partly because it is an amazing cause, partly because I can switch between venues (Greenwich or Battersea), partly because you get to dress up, but mostly because it was the first race I ran with a group. This was before I was active on Twitter and part of the #ukrunchat community, and I have happy memories of the day despite me running with a heavy leg brace, as was injured in 2012, and Corky's calves going so badly he had to limp to the pub.

2012 Vintage
2012 and 2013 I ran in Greenwich, with me ninjaing the second year despite wearing my RUNNING SUCKS tee for the only time in public. Last year I ran in Battesea for a 50/50 split reason. 1. Greenwich is hilly while Battersea is flat as a pancake and 2. It is only a 5K. (Does the happiness dance)

Battersea
I have, as you will all know too well, been injured since Berlin. I have run thrice in 7 weeks and that includes a slow Parkrun. This is/was/shall be my comeback. All I want is to make it around in one piece, no injuries. Hang the time. I just want to not hurt at the end of it.

THE COSTUME
I do like Tom Hardy. He is a good actor. I wouldn't say he is the best actor in the world, I am not in the position to make such a call, but what I know is that he makes movies I like to watch. As an homage to the man I have put together a costume based on his movie Bronson, where the epinimous central character sports a fine set of moustaches and in one scene is dressed like this.


I have also been expanding in size since injured. The timing coinciding with mince pie season and I have been eating like I am going to the chair. Suffice to say, I may well have ballooned out enough to look a lil like that, just not with the bald head.

TEAM KNEES
I have been raising a lot of money this year for Pancreatic Cancer UK and Parkinsons (£3000 or there abouts) and I couldn't ask friends and family to dip once more into their pockets this late in the year so I did something different. I decided that each of the three months leading up to November I would choose a RTer at random and pay for their race entry. And so the four members of Team Knees are @FlamingCopper @Gemboc1 and @Baltav, along with yours truly, racing in three cities across the country.

  
THE BATTERSEA 5K

Barry and I were signed up to run the Battersea 5K, my first race since attending physio and an osteopath for a knee injury that has sidelined me pretty much since Berlin. I limped around as tail runner at Parkrun, and haven't run it since, I was in pain for the whole of Petts Wood 10K and for half of the Cambridge Town and Gown I limped. Today was going to be a test, to see how my knee would hold up.

Channelling my inner Bronson
It is a run I have completed before, several times, most recently in August and it would show how much fitness I had lost since Berlin.

HOW I DID
Badly. In short I did pretty badly. It started badly when my stupid Nike+ GPS watch would not get a signal. Even though it was fully charged, even though it was in London, even though I did what Nike tell you to do and connect it to a computer beforehand to get it synching. Hence there will be no Nike map of my run. This effectively made it a naked run, as I had no frame of reference for how I was doing other than the KM markers. 

My knee was holding out, which I was glad of but the fitness, oh my, I was taken back to the earliest runs in my running life. I couldn't get my stride right, the music was not loud enough to drown out my wheezing and I felt fat and out of shape, which is actually how I am at the moment.

I grinned and tried to enjoy it. This was the first race back after a lay off and all I needed to do was finish. I walked a bit on the second lap between KM 3 and 4 as I had cramp and shin spints because I could not get my stride pattern right. I was not landing on my right foot correctly as I didn't want to aggravate my knee.

So huffing and puffing, sweating and in pain I ran to the line, only for my moustache to blow off my face in the wind at the end on the final straight.

And in the end...

This was very slow for me. It was a good 5 minutes slower than normal. But hey! I did it, and I will run Tuesday on the next steps along the road to recovery.

THE BLING


Is it the same as every year? No. No. Not at all. There is a blue outline to the wording.

IN SUMMARY

Only one person recognised my costume, the Nike+ did not connect and so I had to run blind, my tache flew off on the home straight and I felt terribly out of condition. BUT!!!! I did run, and my knee did not hurt. It only felt a little twangy. As you scroll up you will remember me saying "All I want is to make it around in one piece, no injuries. Hang the time. I just want to not hurt at the end of it." Well, guess what?

Would I recommend running a Movember Mo Run? Of course.

Would I run it again? Yes! I have unfinished business.

NEXT UP:

The Wimbledon 10K

Saturday, 14 November 2015

11/11/2015

THE GREAT BRITISH PANTS OFF
 #GBPO

Readers of the blog will be all too familiar with my quest for the correct running kit for me. When everything feels right and you are comfortable, it makes a difference to how far you can run. I tried dozens of pairs of running shoes before focusing on and finally sticking with the On Cloudracers. I have completed the same voyage of discovery with socks (I prefer Hilly Twin Skins), shorts (Adidas Climacool), caps (again Adidas Climacool), underarmour (Tommy Copper or Nike Pro Combat), headphones (Monster Beats by Dr Dre and Yurbuds) and running bags (OMM).
 


When training for Berlin the hours running 20-30K LSRs would cause some rubbing but there was one particular run in the torrential rain that caused the worst chafing I have experienced. Honestly, it looked as if my junk had been attacked by a rabid wolverine (the animal not Hugh Jackman) and the top of my inner thighs were left resembling patchwork corned beef.

Gis a kiss
So I decided to investigate alternatives to slathering your nethers with cupped handfuls of Vaseline, or trying to rub the Glide stick onto parts of your anatomy that aren't, by default, an easy surface to cover and the obvious option was to look at underwear designed specifically to stop the chafe from happening in the first place.

Runderwear is the brainchild of the guys who brought us Runbreeze anti-blister socks and they are very both very active on social media (a bonus for any organisation wishing to interact more with its consumer base) and visible (inasmuch as you can buy Runderwear from any Runners Need store. I do, from the lovely Rasa at their Monument Store. Twice Lithuanian national Olympic distance triathlon champion no less). 

They throw around marketing claims like they produce "the most comfortable running underwear in the world" and are incredibly popular amongst my running communities both online and in the real world. Colours? Black with a blue trim, or just plain blue and as a boxer shorts/trunk or briefs for men.


I have both styles and have worn them on long runs and in races. To be honest the briefs are not really my thing. They are a little too skimpy and much like a Union Jack umbrella in a nuclear attack, they are no good in stopping fallout. The trunk/shorts however are the real deal, comfortable and do everything stated on the box.


Runderwear boasts an ergonomic design, moisture wicking material, microperforations to make them breathable, seamless design and a functional flatlock, and it is this final feature that is my favourite. Along the seam that comes into contact with the leg is a thin strip of very high grade elastane. This holds onto the leg and stops the shorts from moving about and irritating the the skin. 

6 Boxes of Mince Pies and I still got it...

Runderwear comes in sizes small to XXL and I am comfortable in the Medium bracket as always, are available online and from all Runners Need stores. They cost £18 for the boxer shorts/trunk and £16 for the briefs.

Would I recommend them? Absolutely.



Oddly, given a side by side comparison between the Runderwear and Chaffree boxer, you would think that it is the latter that is the specially designed sports underwear, but this is not the case. Chaffree underwear was not originally designed as sports underwear at all, apparently runners discovering them and loving them is a bonus for Amanda Whaley, the company founder, who just wanted to create underwear to stop the chafing due to her shape and size.


Available in black (tick), blue (tick) and white (really?) you can tell why they were created, with wide waistbands and the leg and gusset stitching the Chaffree long legged boxers (no briefs here) are designed to stick to you and stop anything rubbing together and they remind me of the shorts worn by Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner.

All those bad moments chafing will disappear like teardrops in the rain
 The Marketing Promises
  • Seamless, Stretchy, Lightweight and Quick Drying
  • Keeps skin cool and dry as made in the performance wicking fabric COOLMAX®
  • Latex Free with Anti Bacterial properties giving relief from sweating and chafing
And the cost? The price of allowing you to run around your house with the lights off, street noises coming through the blinds, chasing an imaginary Harrison Ford? £17. 


Downsides: Nothing to do with the apparel, the shorts are incredibly comfortable and stop all chafing as far as I can tell, but their website is a little sucky, especially the drop down that appears whenever you move the cursor to the top of the screen and the zoom feature on the images of the goods. You also have to buy them online  on the Chaffree site, eBay and Amazon.co.uk. However I actually like to see something like this before I buy it because I have purchased my fair share of crap online in the past.

What I would add is that the boxers are long legged, the 7 inch version are very long legged indeed. But I would not go as far as saying they are too long. I am wearing them as I type this and not only are they supremely comfortable, I have had a few walking, jogging around the flat moments where thighs have met, and material stopped any rubbing from occurring.

For those of you who wear shorter shorts to run in, I think the 5 inch boxers are perfect for this role and I would recommend them for those long runs when you do not want to end up looking like the remnants of a wolverine's breakfast.
 
This first Great British Pants Off is a tie. Buying Chaffree Online only is a downside for me, as is having no alternative to boxers. However the product is superb with both long and medium legged options. Runderwear wins on the purchase options (online and in-store), and having two options of briefs and boxers is good, although I am not a fan of the briefs myself, and the boxers are too short legged. Some of us need a little more coverage.

So in summary, stick with what works, rather than stick to what doesn't. I will enjoy both. Let me know what you think.

See ya later, sexy
 

Sunday, 8 November 2015

08/11/2015

You Always Need a Good Backpack or...

 



For a while now I have been looking for a decent sized backpack that I can take on those weekend trips to run somewhere outside of London. Yes, it is true that I like to book foreign races, but I also do race a lot in the UK. Next year, with the Gods of Health and Injury Prevention willing, I shall be enjoying overnight stays in Brighton, Gloucester, Manchester, Shrewsbury (wherever that is) to name but four, and for those trips I need more than my OMM and Inov-8 running backpacks, I need something up to the job of housing:
  1. My clean running kit
  2. My running kit when it is a soggy ball of mud, sweat and polyester
  3. My clean running shoes
  4. My shoes after the race, when they are a clump of muddy mess that resembles the kind of thing Time Team would enjoy finding
  5. Drinks, including a water bottle
  6. Race pack, instructions, printed maps to the hotel from the station, from the hotel to the start, hotel booking confirmation, reading book for the journey
  7. Phone and charger
  8. Ipod and charger
  9. Nike+ Watch and charger
  10. Clothes for dinner the night before the race, including a pressed shirt if meeting people
  11. Clothes for after the race for the journey home and probably Sunday lunch
  12. Bananas, snacks, gels, Jelly Babies, and all other manner of snack
  13. Toiletries of all manner, toothpaste and brush, deoderant, Glide etc
I have researched this to a degree, and found plenty of candidates out there that are just larger versions of my other running backpacks, but nothing that really does allow you to take everything with you, in it's own zipped compartment, allowing you to cram everything in, including the proverbial...
Entering the fray from way off my radar is French brand Karkoa, described on their blog as being "L’accessoire idoine pour les sportifs du quotidien" or the approproate accessory for everyday athletes. And you cannot get more "everyday" than me. If it had said professional athletes, I would have had to shy away, but no, I am happy to be classed as everyday.

Here is the spiel:

The blurb does read very well, and I like the idea that this was a collaborative effort rather than the brainchild of some maniac at a sports company who has wacky ideas about what people actually need. And the "afterwork athlete" idea rings true for a lot of people I know.

The Line Up


Non offensive colours are good, neutral colours I guess you would call them in a smart grey or blue, that would look fine on your shoulder for your commute and under your desk. There would be no need to hide your day-glo backpack from view, over-stuffed like an American sandwich to get everything in, when your CEO walks by.

The Karkoa backpack, sorry! smartbag,  also comes in two sizes, 25L and 40L. Which I guess equates to medium and large and, given my list of items needed for a 2 night stay at the MacDonald Spa and Hotel Bath for the Two Tunnels 10k etc, I went for the latter. 

So, let's put it to the test...

Very exciting for me, or maybe sad as I have been injured since Berlin and have only made it out 3 times in 6 weeks, I am packing for a race weekend. The Karkoa needs to handle this lot to keep me happy.

  1. Running shoes
  2. Running socks
  3. Calf sleeves
  4. Shorts
  5. Shirt
  6. Runderwear
  7. Sweatshirt
  8. Jogging bottoms
  9. Jeans
  10. Tshirt
  11. Spare Tshirt
  12. Socks
  13. Underwear
  14. Sweater
  15. Smart shirt
  16. Smart trousers
  17. Books x 2
  18. Bottle of water
  19. Bottle of Lucozade
  20. Toothpaste
  21. Toothbrush
  22. Deoderant
  23. Cologne
  24. Ipod
  25. Charger
  26. Phone
  27. Charger
  28. Sunglasses
  29. Bananas
  30. Bag of Jelly Babies
  31. Bounce
  32. Glide
  33. Energy powders
  34. Tub of CrampFix
  35. Rock Tape 
  36. Pump It Up
  37. Waterbottle
  38. Race number clips
  39. Assorted Paperwork (hotel, race etc)
  40. GPS Watch 
  41. Wallet 
  42. Keys
This may seem a lot, but it is pretty representative of what I may take for a big race weekend away. So come on crammers, let's get cramming. First the smart clothes for the great dinner the night before the race.

Compartment comes with straps to hold it flat

Job Done

Then rest of weekends civvies added
Next to put the kit in. Now these go in one of two compartments on the front that... Hold on, can you hear it? "All above the streets and houses Rainbow climbing high..."

Zippez La Separation



This is one of the many clever features. As it comes the front two compartments are joined, allowing you to really stuff it like a Christmas turkey. But, in the scenarios where you have a wet running kit, you can separate the two by zipping the seam closed.

Kit in the bottom section

Whilst everything else goes in here
Voila!
Note, there is even an in-built toiletries back and a dirty clothes bag there so no need to pack your own.

THE DEEP POCKET

On the at the bottom is a round zipped pocket.

And inside is silver heat/cold preserving material for your drink. Big enough easily to fit my litre bottle of water.



 I can't possibly think why, but this reminded me of my childhood and a particular TV show.





Hmm?

Can't think why

And then finally you have the secret money, wallet, keys compartment. Just for safe measure.

Under the seam

Keeping your valuables safe

SUMMING UP

First thing to note it this is not a running backpack, not like the smaller OMM and Inov-8 backpacks. The 40L is a monster, it is a 18-wheeler of a juggernaut and I am sure that the smaller 25L will be better suited to run to work with. It is, as they have dubbed it, the smartbag, and with all the pockets and separations, in-built zips, bags and waterpoofing.

Full but not to bursting

Would I recommend it? After the total disaster of the I AM RUNBOX, where I wanted it to be great, to be the be all end all of running backpack-garmet carrier crossover, I was sceptical. But this backpack blew me away. 

All the little touches and designs, no doubt from the 400 people giving the designers input are superb. I will probably get the 25L too for day to day usage, but the 40L is more than enough for a weekend away running or not.

For the Karkoa Smartbag I give it a solid two thumbs up. Exellent work guys. Great product.

Yup, like it.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

25/10/2015

The Cambridge Town and Gown 10K or...

There Goes my Knee again  

Something Lycra'd This Way Comes
Things have not been going to plan as of late. A post Berlin Marathon knee injury has meant no training for a month. Add on that a two week head cold that went to my chest and then arguably the worst stomach bug I have had in an age and the Cambridge Town and Gown 10K for Muscular Dystrophy seemed to be a NO-GO right up to the day.


But with those things all ganging up against me maybe it was a twist of fate, or rather the end of British Summer Time, and that extra hour in bed to recover changed it all. I was pretty ill last night, something to do with chicken, my insides wanting to be outside like a slumbering demon wanting to break out of it's ancient crypt and start destroying the world and I really thought it was game over for my second post marathon race.

It wanted out, whatever it was.
The only other race I have completed since Berlin was the Petts Wood 10K with Berlin #ukrunchat team mate Jenni Morris. So, as I limped up to the start of the Cambridge Town and Gown 10K, of course it was fate that one of the Fassbender and Rausch mob would be there. Fortunately Chris Holt was not wearing his Berlin shirt, or it could have been embarrassing.


But seeing the boys was the shot I needed to focus myself on the race and not my knee, or my cold, or my rotten guts and so I took my spot near the 55 minute marker of the 1500 strong crowd and decided to do my best on a looping closed loop that took in the park, the River Cam and the Kings Way by the colleges.

How Did I do? 

Pretty abysmally I thought initially. My knee was taped up with K-Tape, even though I did have a knee brace in my bag. I ran without pain for perhaps the first 3K before my knee niggle started. The niggle was replaced with discomfort as I reached 5K and the water table, and 500 yards later I was in pain and walking (that is the red bit in the middle of the map). What should have been an easy amble around Cambridge was turning into a disaster. And, hold on, I was in Cambridge? Why the Hell was I in Cambridge, surely I had booked the Swiss City Marathon in Lucerne for this weekend? Well, yes, I had but with the cost of Berlin and subsequent injury I decided a pricey long weekend for Europe's most beautiful race would wait another year, and so I deferred.


From the moment I started walking I knew something was not right with my knee and so I kept going but slowed down to almost a jog. I let swathes of people pass me, after all, I would never see them again, or I may, but under different/better circumstances. I did see Pan Can runner Phil Gray though, which was good, we had a chat early on as I started to discover that with no training or running for a month, and post-cold I felt utterly out of shape.

And so as I rounded the park for the last time and crossed the line in 56 minutes I was actually pretty surprised. I had walked, I had stopped to take water on at both water tables, and I had slowed down to a limping jog for the second half of the race. Goodness knows how well I would have done if I was fit, healthy and paying attention.

The Bling

Is cheap, and looks like a name tag (which for some reason I think is cool)

I think this is medal number 90!
And there was a T-shirt in the goody bag too, that was very welcome on the trip home.


In Summary

I have lost virtually all my fitness from the marathon training and need to get on it as soon as I can. I have booked four marathons for 2016, and may well do 5 if I can get my body working again. And that has been the issue for me of late. I have just been injured or sick, and have not been enjoying myself. So, finishing in 56 and knowing I could have knocked 10 mins off that did me good. I am glad, despite being ill until late into the night that I made the effort and went to Cambridge.

The race was tough and I am hurt but I am glad I did it. I am glad to have caught up with Phil and Chris and the bling is already on the rack. I just need to decide if I am running next weekend at the Mile Challenge and the Richmond Trick Or Treat 10K. And if I do run them, if I drop down to the 5K for the latter.

Would I run the Cambridge Town and Gown 10K again? Actually I probably would. I would like to run it without the impairments of the day, and to post a far far better time.

Would I recommend it? I would, if you can get there.

NEXT UP:


The Mile Challenge, at the Olympic Park Velodrome

The Richmond Trick or Treat 10K