Its very easy to get carried away with enthusiasm, and this time of year structure becomers tricky with holidays weirdly falling midweek. If you read the top tips blog I did recently you will see one of them is not to run two hard sessions back to back (on consecutive days). Another (and if its not there it should be!) is “Don’t up your mileage too quickly”.

About halfway round Bushy Park last night chasing a small pack of quicker runners from the Stragglers as they receeded into the darkness, pushing hard so as not to lose sight of them altogether, I found myself reflecting on these nuggets of running wisdom.

Not long back from an injury which was causing concern, this was now my third consecutive day’s running in the first week of marathon training. Yesterday was a 4 mile race and today will be getting on for six and I must be at around race pace! The calf is not niggling but a slight ache lets me know its there. I definitely should have more sense!

Fortunately all ends well. I catch the runners stretching outside Mark’s House in Wick Road which is conveniently located opposite the Lion, a good if marginally expensive Gastro pub buried in the side streets of Hampton Wick. We cool down and change before heading over the road for a good selection of ales. Mark likes Naked Ladies; I stick to a more traditional London Pride.

The conversation is varied and not all about running. Arthur is talking to me about time. Not in the sense of how long it takes to run a mile, but on a cosmic scale. If the Universe began x billion years ago, then what preceeded the big bang? Was there still time or did time start then? I suggested maybe looking for a start and finish was perhaps too limiting. Is looking for the start of time like trying to find the beginning of a circle (or more interestingly a sphere?)

Having forgotton the cardinal rules of running I at least remembered those of drinking and made a point of leaving after the third pint, probably just as well judging by a slightly erratic cycle back through Kingston, although in fairness not helped by my trouser let catching in the chain at various inopportune moments!

Rules are there to be broken and runners achiever personalities may push us to do so, but its wise to heed the Cardinal’s rules, particularly at this time of year.

A little slow to start after a very pleasant Christmas afternoon eating and drinking with the family. Today I was heading over to Twickenham for the club annual boxing day race – the Cabbage Patch 4. Registration was at the famous Cabbage Patch Pub near Twickenham station. Setting out later than planned I had a fairly brisk 4 mile cycle ride before arriving a10.50 for an 11 oclock start. I was not alone in setting out late and there was a queue for race numbers. Eventually everyone was registered and we jogged down to the river front at Twickenham just beside the Church. The good news was it was not raining and quite mild.

A field of around 85 runners took off and we were soon following the swollen waters of the Thames downstream towards Richmond Bridge. I got into a stride and overtook a few people and had a few come past me. Then the race settled and i don’t think there were any changes to my position in the second half, although I was running really hard over the last mile, convinced I would be caught and outsprinted on the run up to the finish. The course came up short on my watch at around 3.8 miles.

Afterwards I had a pleasant warm down run with Dave Olsen, probably .75 miles, so about 4.5 miles in total. We went back to the Cabbage Patch and had a pint and a chat. One of the traditions of the race is that everyone brings a wrapped present of approximately £3 value, which goes into a tub. I donated a large bar of Toblerone and came out with Ferrera Rochez, so a pretty fair swap. Then the four miles cycle back for lunch. Getting in some reasonable miles towards the first weeks marathon training tally. Entries continue to move steadily for the Richmond 13.1 with another 6 today making 161 to date. How many by March 31st?

No results available for the race, but my Garmin stats were 3.83 miles in 31.40. Average pace 8.15, with last 0.83 miles run at 7.53 pace.

Runners at start Bushy parkrun Christmas Day

Runners at start Bushy parkrun Christmas Day

Woke up around 7am while still pitch dark outside,but Stella said it was raining when she brought up a tray of tea. I had already decided to do the Christmas day park run in Bushy Park which is a real essential if you are in the area, so it was really a question of what to wear. By 8.37 when I left the house the rain had stopped but a steady stream of water was running down Kingston Hill. I was on my mountain bike with off road knobblies and no mubguards and was pretty soon wet with roadspray.

The centre of Kingston is quiet, although approaching the bridge the pealing bells from Kingston Church by the marketplace herald Chistmas morning. Over the bridge and into Bushy Park by St Johns Gate. I notice that the leaves have long gone along the avenue leading into the park proper, but beside the skatepark many pairs of shoes knotted together dangle from the bare winter branches.

As soon as I leave the path and start following tracks towards the Heron ponds I am cycling through mud and puddles and clean leggings become spattered with the wet earth. The sky turns ominously dark and the rain begins. By the time I reach the meeting point by the Diana Fountain car park it is raining heavily.. I park and lock the bike and stuff my jacket into the small rucksack I have carried, just in time to join the exodus across to the start by Chesnut Avenue.

Wearing trail shoes again proved a good shout. The grass is inundated after days of heavy rain and there is much mud on and alongside the path. Despite the weather and it being Christmas day (or I suppose for some of us that’s a really good reason to be there!) its a very well attended run with a crowd of 500 or so participants (actual confirmed figure was 670 finishers!). I go off well but lose places on the second half. Have I slowed down or are a lot of people just running negative splits?

The rain at 4k is now so hard I can barely see. Probably the worst conditions I have ever run in. At the finish chat to a few people but it’s not a day to hang around. I get the bike and cycle back to the Ham side of Teddington Lock where I left the People Carrier last night. Load the bike into the cavernous space of the Galaxy and drive home for a hot shower and an excellent breakfast. of scambled eggs on toast, crisp bacon and salmon.

I am then taken aback when the family decide that they do after all want to go for a swim at Hampton Open Air pool. This, along with the Carol service, is another Wedderburn family tradition. Liv plays a sick card but offers to clean and prepare for dinner. Alex asks to drive and weaves us down to Hampton Court. and on to the pool. Does he always drive like this or is he still pissed from last night? I am glad no breath tests are involved.

The pool is great. Pretty warm in the water, lots of people, good vibe. I haven’t swum in ages and feel pretty rusty, but put together five lenghts then chill with Alex and Vix.

So overall, by the time Alex has sketchily chauffered us back home in the Jag (does he have to steer the car with just one hand?) I am able to claim all three tri disciplines (Running, cycling and swimming) on Christmas morning, although its got to be said, not in full on race conditions. And a very merry Tri-Christmas to you too!

Bushy parkrun stats 25.12.12. My 175th parkrun in a time of 25.41. I cam 264th out of a field of 670 park runners and was 10th out of 20 V60 men.

The mountain bike is a fairly decent Marin I bought second hand after a season at club Vass windsurfing club, Lefkas, Greece. Great bike, but need to get the brakes looked at again despite a service at Evans earlier this year.

The people Carrier is an average Ford Galaxy, 2.3litre petrol engine, 5 speed manual, seven years old and 90,000 miles. Great workhorse and has done sterling service on the Welsh Castles, Green Belt Relay, Joggle 2011, Skye Cuillins expedition and River Relay.

The Jag is a 2001 Jaguar XJ8 with a 3.2 litre turbocharged petrol engine, auto box, and 118,000 on the clock. Beautiful car to drive. Not frugal on petrol but I bought it cheap and have had a great year with it to date.

Christmas day and still runners out there sorting out spring races. Five entries so far today, bringing total field at Richmond 13.1 Half Marathon to 155 to date!

Fortunately, being a Monday, Christmas Eve coincided with a rest day on my programme, so I didn’t have any running planned. Just as well because plenty of last minute preps for Christmas Day (Admit it, Christmas day really needs to be brilliant for all the effort that goes into it!)

In the evening the whole family (thats me, wife Stella and children Alex, Victoria and Olivia) all drove down to Ham and walked over the footbridge at Teddington Lock to the Parish Church of St Mary with St Alban for the five oclock crib service. We are not regular churchgoers but have been attending this service for 25 years since the birth of our first child Alex, and all three children were christened here. Its a very pretty church with a lot of history and worth taking a look regardless of faith.

Suitably uplifted, we then took a short walk to the nearby Anglers pub which sits on the river alongside the bridge. A large pub and very popular, with a big garden which fills up in the summmer. Next door is the smaller but also very worthwhile Tide End, a regular Thursday haunt for dissident Stragglers.

A couple of pints of London pride and then a bus to Teddington where our friends the Pages were hosting a Christmas Even drinks party. Very well attended, Interesting to see though how the dynamic changes. The “kids” are now all young adults,. The parents and all definitely into “middle age”. Stella and I left about 9pm and walked over Kingston Bridge and through the shopping centre past Bentalls to the bus stop, where we picked up an 85 which whisked us up Kingston Hill to home. Kingston was pretty quiet. A few lary youths having some sort of altercation at the bus stop but that was it.

Fell asleep on the sofa watching “The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo”. Read the books but not seen the movies. So all in all a good run up to Christmas and excellent rest day.

 

 

First days always mark important events in our calendars. First Day of Spring , first day of summer both have positeve connotations. First day of Autumn perhaps less so, and we rarely talk about the first day of winter because well winter just takes over from Autumn some time in November. The first day of the new year (January first) is rather overshadowed by New Years Eve, December 31st, when all the resolutions for the coming year are made. Although in London’s East End they used to prefer celebarting “Old Years Night”. Theres something to be said for having a knees up for the old year before setting out on the New.

For me though Sunday 23 December is an important first day, and one on which certainly the first four months of the year are planned and the great running resolutions are made. Today is the start of my training programme for the Brighton Marathon on April 14th.

My Sunday 23rd training entry, calls for a 4 mile run in 38 minutes (9.30 pace). In the event the small groups of us who met at the Pheasantry in Bushy Park ran 6.7 miles at around this pace, with a few stops to regroup. It was a great winter day for running with a temperature of around 10 degrees and a weak sun in evidence from time to time. Although a number of regulars from our group had not made it there were certainly plenty of runners out in Bushy Park and on the Thames path between Hampton Court and Kingson Bridge. I said a good morning to “Mr Park Run” Paul Sinton-Hewitt who was out for a run on his own towards Hampton Court, and also bumped into Tony Page and Jorg, both non club running friends, and also Sarah Winter, a regular team member for Stragglers XC races.

This years marathon training will be even more interesting because in tandem I will be organising the Richmond 13.1 which takes place 2 weeks earlier and is just 14 weeks away. Fortunately the heavy part of the schedule should be done and dusted by the time Richmond comes around, and I will be into my taper, although it would have been an ideal final long run otherwise.

So here’s to the First Day of Marathon Training. If only they were all as painless and pleasant!

The four hour training programme I am using is based on an old Runners World programme adapted slightly over the years. It runs over 16 weeks and cumulates with the Brighton Marathon on April 14th. Today I ran a slow 6.7 miles, a bit further than the schedule called for but in line with current training and fitness. The Richmond Half Marathon takes place in 14 weeks and we currently have 140 entrants and building nicely!

If you are familiar with the parkrun concept you will know that the basics are a 5k run in a park. Some courses though are not actually in parks. The Aberdeen course for example runs along the seafront and I am sure there are many others following this format. The Kingston park run was originally planned to run along the river Thames starting in Canbury gardens, about half a mile downstream from Kingston Bridge. As it turned out the organisers had not realised that on the first event there was also a major regatta based at Kingston Rowing Club and the whol;e area was a chaos of crews and boats. As a tempory measure the start was moved further downstream to a grassy area near the Hawker centre. The temporary area became permament and the course now starts from here and runs East along the Thames on the towpath for about half its length, before following a loop into the hamlands and back. Commonly referred to as a “P” shape.

This Saturday was a struggle for me. Having gone down with some bug the night before I woke at around seven feeling distinctly out of sorts.I’m not running today I told my wife, I’m going to take it easy. After a few cups of tea I felt marginally better and decided to go for it. A run always speeds up the metabolism, so whatever you’ve got, you get it through the system faste,r is one of my motto’s.

It was raining fairly steadily when I drove down to Ham. A slightly smaller group than usual were gathered. We walked/jogged a couple of hundred metres to the start. The Thames was muddy brown and flowing fast, the water high on the banks.We set off into a grey gloom.

I thought I was running OK in the circs, and could see a number of marker runners just ahead. Julie Garner, Keving Furlong of 26.2 and Warren Hardcastle were all in range. After we left the tamac at Teddington Lock we hit mud and puddles all along the unmade pathway. I was wearing trail shoes and didn’t bother to try and skirt the edges, heading cross country style straight through the water. Passed a few people in the process. Over the last mile I could hear someone right on me and couldn’t shake them off. Eventually Paul Dunn came alongside. I gave a kick and pulled back slightly in front and eventually came in a couple of seconds ahead. All in all quite a satisfactory run. Then I went home and slept most of the day!

174th park run to date!

The Stragglers have an in joke that they are a drinking club with a running problem. While its fair to say that normally drinking and running are not mixed (the exception being the “Beating Bushy Bounds” event which involved a circuit of Bushy Park with seven miles running and seven pubs visited!) it is true that a number of us like a drink after the club runs.

During the summer our club HQ, the Hawker centre in Ham, decided to change the internal layout of the building, a consequence of which is that there is no bar area, although drinks can be purchased from a servery and brought in to tables in a cafeteria area. This has been the subject of much angst, with many members breaking ranks and going on to pubs after the training sessions. This years annual Christmas pub crawl was therefore particularly welcome as a chance for the keen pub goers to get together for a night of conviviality in Twickenham.

I was looking forward to it and planned to finish work early to arrive at seven at the Prince Albert. Unfortunately a electrical fault blew the office power and I spent a frustrating afternoon trying to get hold of an electrician and access computers. Problem sorted but I was now late, so I decided to cycle the four miles or so to the pub. On the way there I started to feel slightly ill, but figured after a couple of drinks I’d be OK. Unfortunately not. By the time we arrived at the Old Goat I knew I had some sort of bug and had to bid adieu to an increasingly jolly party. Just about made the cycle home and was in bed before 9.30.

Judging by the look of Nigel this morning, a 24 hour flu bug was let off against the hangover I might have had!