Sunday, June 28, 2015

Black Math

It's funny the things you think of as you are running a marathon, the title of your next blog post for instance. I thought of this one when the White Stripes song Black Math came on, and it got me thinking about all the calculations we do when we are looking for a time, the pace we want to hold at the start, the pace we wish for during the last 10k and then the miraculous chute pace, where does that come from?

I knew the Perth Marathon would be special, obviously returning to the place I did my first marathon(albeit a different course) would mean something, but also the huge number of people I knew who were running the event, along with the number of spectators and the added benefit of running so close to home. I didn't realise exactly how special it would be.

Once again I elected to run in the batshirt with the bat hat, I honestly believe I will never run a marathon in anything but, you'll see why.

We stood around at the start, a quick chat to Alicia Harris and Dan Baldwin while we waited for the start. Tracy wished me luck one last time, she was running the relay so would be taking off a little later. We're off, like Bunbury I wanted to be careful about taking off too quickly. I was on the right side of the path but I managed to move myself across to the left side before I hit the Rogue/parkrun village. The support from these two groups was awesome and I didn't want to miss one bit of it, I didn't start any music until I couldn't hear them anymore.

My early pace was good, like Goldilocks it felt not too fast and not too slow. I was still amongst plenty of people, and was getting plenty of smiles, waves and go Batman's. I knew that Michelle, Didi, Natalie & Ben would be hanging around Mends St ringing cowbells and cheering people on so I looked forward to seeing them all, they have all encouraged me so much. When I got there it was great, the signs were hilarious, the cowbells loud and the cheers hit the spot, the best bit was I knew I'd pass that spot a few more times before I was done. Jason Nelson from the rogues was there too, and later I heard him name the crew there the Mends St Massive. Totally.

I kept going and immediately got another boost as I ran through the relay changeover point, once again so many people shouting and cheering for Batman. BEST. SHIRT. EVER.

Onwards I went towards the narrows, I looked up at the bridge and the I saw it: The Bat signal. At this point I became a little maramotional, I wasn't sure who did it, I had some ideas, but I was totally overwhelmed by it. As I ran under the bridge, a marshall said to me:"I think that's for you". Needless to say my pace stayed strong for a fair while after that and every time I passed under the bridge I got a boost.

The turnaround for the first lap seemed to come pretty quickly, looking at my pace I was on target for a half marathon PB, while I was pretty happy I knew if I hit half way on a PB pace I'd spend the next 21 km's telling myself what I dickhead I was for going out too fast. I resolved to slow up a bit. It didn't happen straight away.

Once again I came back under the narrows, checked the sign and ran towards the relay changeover, once again it was full of people I knew, this time including Tracy waiting for her next relay leg. We had a quick chat, I told her about the sign and then I saw Paul Van der May and asked him to take a photo of the sign. After all the best sign deserves the best photographer.

Soon I was approaching the Mends St massive, their cowbells and shouts lifted me up again. I asked them if they were responsible for the sign, the smiles on their faces gave it away straight up. I love these guys, I hope they know that.

Straight after that Sasha Dowson is running with me, fortunately she let me set the pace. She had spent the day running along with and supporting her PT clients and ran with me for a fair while before running back with somebody else. I saw her Strava later and she put in some serious k's.

The great part about an out and back marathon is the fact that your never really alone and you never go too far without spotting someone you know, no sooner had Sasha left than I spotted Michelle Brown taking my photo. "Did you see it?" she shouted, it took me a while to register, what with my marathon brain and all, then the penny dropped. "Yes, Yes it's amazing, thanks". At least that's what I think I said. Really it could have been anything. Once again Thanks Michelle.

Once more past the parkrun tent and the Rogues tent and through the turnaround in 2.38, very happy with that. A shout out from the course commentator for Batman. BEST. SHIRT. EVER. I set out again, past the tents again, wanting to stay a little longer and soak up more of the support but knowing that I have to get going. It also helps to know I only need to run a half marathon now, and I must be able to do that, because I just did one.

The crowds a little thinner now, the winner has already finished but there is still a constant stream of people coming back towards me, the encouragement comes form everywhere. My pace is slower but I still feel pretty good, I'm taking more walk breaks but there is no doubt in my mind that I'll make it and at this stage I still think I can do 5.30.

I push on knowing that before too long I'll be back amongst the Mends St Massive and the relay changeover crew, at some point Richard Back has started running alongside me, smiling and encouraging me towards the massive, past the cowbells and through to the relay changeover, I spoke with a few people at the changeover and kept going. Once more under the sign I go,  and I've started counting down the km's, ticking off the landmarks that I will only pass once more.

The course is getting lonelier, but I'm completely prepared for that, I run on my own a lot at these events. I'm still doing the black math, trying to work out my times, how fast my kilometres need to be  to keep me under 6 hours, I was pretty sure 5.30 was well gone but I still felt a PB was realistic.  As I came past the brewery I spotted a family taking photos of the water, some dolphins were swimming past, it seems everyone comes out to see the Batman Run.

At the turnaround I tell myself its only 10 km to go, knowing full well its going to be well tougher than the first 10, but these are the stories we tell ourselves to finish marathons. It's getting quite lonely now but I push on back past the brewery and towards the narrows. As I go under the narrows a guy on a bike comes alongside to chat, to be fair I'm not up for much conversation and he soon moves on. I think about Colin, Jeremy & Kelly coming down and riding in with me in 2011 and wished they where with me right then as I suddenly felt a bit lonely.

As I crossed the narrows for the last time, Julie Storey passed me, this in itself is not surprising as Julie is a great runner, what surprised me was that I'd stayed ahead of her for so long. I kept her in sight and we went through the drink station under the narrows not far apart, as we kept going she got further away and there was no keeping up.

The relay changeover was gone, the Mends St massive had relocated to the finish but I only had about a parkrun to go, Suzanne was there on her bike though, and it was once again nice to see a familiar face.

The last five kilometres wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, I can only put it down to the familiarity of the course, I knew I had run along the river here dozens of times and I just had to keep going. I got another boost when I saw fellow fitfan David Rose, he had been running all day in support of others and he spent a few minutes running and chatting with me, once again it was so great to speak to someone and get some encouragement.

I finally came to the Causeway and knew it was nearly done, the marshall from the causeway rode in with me for a bit, until we caught up to fellow rogues Katie & John. Katie was having a tough time, and I could relate to her plight, recalling my cramps from Bunbury. I pushed on , knowing I could still get under 6 hours if I just kept moving.

I knew I just had to get to the tents, that once I was there I would be fine. They must have seen me coming, I turned off my music, and could hear everyone shouting and cheering, as I moved through it seemed like about a thousand people, high fives everywhere, it was amazing. My legs forgot they were tired, I felt fresh and new again, ready to push through the last little bit. I've no idea how long it was, or how long it took me, I felt like I was flying. I saw Roberto Busi taking my photo, thats right, he took MY photo. Down the chute I went, the announcer calling my name as I spotted Tracy and Abbey and then it was done.  A new PB to boot, net time of 5.57.27. It's hard to describe the feeling of finishing a marathon, euphoria, tiredness and a combination of never again with how soon can I go again. I can't recommend it highly enough.

They say every runner should run a marathon at least once in their life, I fully agree, it is one of the great feelings, an amazing sense of achievement,  the camaraderie is amazing. Just try stopping at one.

Monday, April 13, 2015

When I Hear my Name- Bunbury 3 Waters Race Report

A year ago today, my family and I went to Bunbury to see my good mate Jeremy Savage run a marathon, while we were there I ran the 10km event, Tracy & Abbey ran the 5km. We had such a good weekend, with a great bunch of people that we decided to come back the next year. Yesterday the time came to go back, and this time I was headed for the marathon. Anyone who has done a marathon will tell you that the week before the event is terrible, your plan says don't run much, every minor niggle is life threatening and you feel like you should be wearing a bubble wrap tracksuit. The night before is just as bad, get some rest people say, when you are as excited as a kid on Christmas eve how do you do that?
 The morning finally arrives, I set about getting ready and it seemed that I'd allowed myself plenty of time as I had a few minutes to sit and listen to some music until it was time to head down to the start. Walking down to the start from the hotel was a short walk but freezing, I chatted with Danielle & Peter, stalwarts of Pioneer parkrun and some other people also doing the marathon. When I arrived at the running club there were so many familiar faces, a nervous energy rippling around the place and a great vibe. The race briefing came and went and we wandered over to the start, a quick photo of parkrunners, a few nervous jokes, well wishes and we are off. The marathon start line is around the other side of the park from the finish line and the runners run round in a loop before going through the finish line area and setting off into the course proper. I realised at that point how good a decision my shirt had been, already people were shouting out cheers for "Batman".
 I had decided to try and stick on a pace of around 7min/km for as long as I could, knowing that I would slow down a bit later but might have some time in the bank. Faster runners moved off ahead of me but I kept telling myself to run my own race, stick with comfortable pacing and don't get involved in any secret racing. I pretty much managed to hold that pace for most of the first 10k's partly because I kept seeing people I knew approaching me, its bloody hard to slow down when a tsunami of high 5's is coming towards you.
 I slowed a bit as I went past the runners club, partly because of the uphill towards the lighthouse, partly because I'd picked up my tailwind bottle and partly because I didn't know this part of the course. There is certainly something to be said for having run a course before. Although I was now going a bit slower and starting to take some walk breaks I still felt that I was very much on track. Plenty of people where still coming the other way, so encouragement was plentiful. I was amazed when Roberto Busi came past, giving me a high 5(delivered down low for aerodynamic purposes I assume), the speed he was travelling nearly spun me around, and I spent the next 15 minutes marvelling at the mans speed, I don't recall him passing me on the way out(though he must have) but I'll always remember him coming back towards me.
I'd been keeping Ann & Theresa in sight but was determined not to waste energy trying to catch them if I couldn't keep pace with them, we came together in the suburbs of Bunbury, I think they had stopped for some reason, immediately I knew that I couldn't keep their pace, so I let them go. I kept them within sight most of the way back to the runners club, but never really got close again.
As I approached the halfway point I heard cowbells, even over my headphones, Natalie & Didi showing the support in true parkrun style. I came back through the halfway point with the clock showing 2 hours and 40 minutes, a half time I'd be happy with on any day. I saw Abbey, stopped for a hug and ran on. As I went back out I passed the parkrun tent, and Shuggy & Kelly gave more support and encouragement.
The second half got a bit more rugged, less people on the course and my pace was slowing,I battled around the Big Swamp and started telling myself stories that the hard part was done though at no point did I feel defeated. Once more into the headwind, convinced that it would blow be back to the runners club when I turned around, as everybody knows it does nothing of the sort. Passing the Runners Club for the last time was tough, about three quarters done and knowing that all my friends and family were over the road, I really just wanted to go in and finish. The last 10km was a grind, one foot in front of the other, my left hamstring started cramping about 36km,stopped to stretch it out and kept on. By this stage my 5.30 finish was gone but I was still pretty confident of being under 6 hours. I kept pushing to run, the walk breaks became more frequent but I didn't get despondent. I knew I had less than an hours work to do as long as I kept going. The last hour is honestly a blur, one foot in front of the other, Emma Luscombe passed me, encouraging me on as she went, I saw Gary just near the Dome, more encouragement, then just around the corner one of my clients is having fish & chips at Aristos, I'd love to have stopped for some snapper and a beer but unfinished business you know.

My cramps return just after that, near the playground, it's frustrating because I know I'm close. I limp on for a bit trying to stretch out and walk, there's no panic but my pace has just about come to a standstill. By this stage I'm not running at all, just walking with periodic stops to stretch. The cramps subside enough for me to try a bit more running, I manage to get on the path that leads up to the lighthouse, I know it's mostly downhill from there. My cramps strike again and I'm pushing up against a wall trying to stretch my hamstrings they loosen a little and it's around the lighthouse and down the hill. I know I'm close now and I take out my headphones, I want to hear people, the volunteers at the road barrier encourage me to run into the chute. I hear someone yell out "Here come's Batman" and I feel the energy of the finish chute, my cramps are gone and I'm getting high 5's all the way along, I suddenly feel like I could do it all again as I cross the mat in 6hours and 1 minute. Tracy & Abbey are there along with my parents. Then it's like a blur, catching up with everyone, photos & congratulations, hugs, handshakes and backslapping. It's hard to beat the feeling of finishing a marathon, it's also very hard to describe the level of satisfaction that you feel, but it's a feeling I want to have again and again. Next up Perth Marathon. I cannot wait.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Milestone Man

One of the key things that keeps things rolling here at Seven Nation Army HQ is parkrun(and vodka), the whole thing of turning up at 8am on Saturday and running with friends(including those I haven't met yet) over a 5km course has a special feeling that I struggle to describe. This Saturday just gone the magic went up a notch when I finally reached the milestone of 50 parkruns. For somebody who never reached 50 games of footy or any other sporting milestone this was a pretty big thing, I've admired the other parkrunners who have hit their 50 & 100 milestones, I've been encouraged by them,run with them and looked up to them. On Saturday I finally became one of them, somebody who had run 50 parkruns, being a little bit less than the shy and retiring type I'd mentioned my upcoming 50th to a couple of people, namely Dan Baldwin, runner & run director extraordinaire and Ben Harris, organiser of darkruns, extreme trail runner, supplier of eggs and super pacer. Ben wasted no time in offering to pace me to a PB on my 50th, and I wasted even less time accepting. I'd also mentioned my upcoming 50th to the wider park run community and was amazed when I arrived on Saturday at the number of people who had decided to visit Canning River for my big day. I was even more amazed and humbled when Dan started his run briefing, his summary of my park run journey made me so proud(and a little embarrassed), and the pressure was put on when Dan advised all assembled that I was running a 30 minute PB and anyone keen for that should get on the bus. Being so keen for a PB, Ben suggested we should start towards the front, before I know it I've been pushed to the front, the absolute pointy end, and we are off, and off I went like a cork leaving a champagne bottle. I think I had gone about 300 metres before Ben caught me and suggested I should just ease off a bit, possibly 500 metres in and the bus catches up and things settle down, by about 600 metres Ben, like Keanu Reeves in Speed finally has control of the bus, such is Ben's control that he manages to turn off my Garmin using only his elbow, Jedi or what? The mood on the bus is good, as much as I am struggling to talk and breathe there is conversation ebbing and flowing about me, Adrian has brought along some tunes on a reasonably un portable speaker system but he carries it with good cheer and announces every tune like the DJ from your favourite FM station, Didi runs ahead at every chance for photo & video and opportunities and there are reports that the bus has reached 300 people strong but I don't dare turn around to check because running and breathing is my only focus.I have Ben on my left and Andrew Shugg on my right and all I have to do is run,seems so simple. We reach the turtle bridge and Ben tells me to wave at digger the dog as we go over, I've seen digger on 20 odd parkruns but never been this far along, it's comforting to see things that tell you your ahead of the game, digger is a constant at Canning River park run and one day I'll stop and talk to him and his owner about the important job they do. We turn onto the boardwalk and I sneak a look at my watch, I think I'm a little behind time but Ben is still lying seductively in my ear, so I carry on as DJ AK drops another banging tune as we head into Canning Rivers hardest segment, the concrete. Amazingly the hard bits of Canning River appear to be colour coded(or I've completely made this up) but running around the back along the street and around rubbish bin corner on that concrete tends to get a bit tough(or maybe its me) but we press on knowing that a mini challenge awaits us, Canning River's Everest, a rise so small that regular Hill climbers barely note the elevation, but enough to trouble a downhill specialist like myself. At this point I remember that I'm not the only one chasing a PB, I know Amanda Dear shares the same goal of a sub 30 parkrun, I can only hope she is on the bus. We go up the hill, it seems harder than normal but it provides some Pshycological relief when we hit the top, mainly in the form of a bit of downhill action, my favourite way to run. At this point Ben is more important than ever because I'll be honest I want to walk the rest, PB or not. I'm vaguely aware of everyone else around me but I feel a little bit outside of it all, I realise for a brief moment that 30 minutes is gone but nobody has said it's gone so I keep running, we approach the last boardwalk before the bridge and I allow myself a brief look up at the bat boxes in the trees and remember John telling me about them earlier in the day, like a lifetime ago, I come back into the moment when I see Amanda go past me and my oxygen deprived brain does the maths again, maybe sub 30 is still possible, Amanda obviously thinks so, I get onto the bridge and push with everything, I feel like my speed has doubled but who the hell knows, Amanda is disappearing over the bridge and I try and chase, I'm on the bridge and making a huge noise on the checkerplate but my noise is soon replaced by people clapping and cheering, I still want to stop but I figure it really is only a little to go, I cross the line and stop my watch wishing that holding your arms in the air would stop Garmins because let's face it nobody wants to cross the finish line pressing a button, they want to be waving their hands in the air like they just don't care. The next 10 minutes is quite honestly a blur, if I spoke to you and was at all vague I apologise as I really don't know where I was at. I recall Thanking Ben for being a great pacer(If I imagined that then : Thankyou Ben, you are the best)I've seen some great photos since, and it's clear it's me in them but that's all I've got. It turns out that I crossed the line in 30.22, not quite under 30 minutes but a decent sized PB. I also recall Andrew presenting me with a bat cape, this is awesome and as I write it is still around my neck, wearing ot to work tomorrow may present some challenges but I'm willing to face them head on. I love the fact that I PB'd on s milestone event, I also love that a few people cracked a PB by riding the bus, but most of all I loved the atmosphere on the day, maybe because it was all about me for a day or maybe because it was proof that parkrun could take an unfit 41 year old and turn him into a fitter, faster running 42 year old, 30 kgs lighter but filled right up with positive feelings. Most of all I love the fact that next Saturday we will do it all again, supporting everyone who wants to get a bit fitter, go a little faster or even get around to corner x without stopping. The journey continues, onwards to more parkruns, and also to make sure I introduce as many people as I can to this fantastic environment as possible, not forgetting to repay some of the help and encouragement I've had from so many parkrunners. There are so many to thank and so many to help, so let's keep it simple, THANKYOU EVERYBODY. So many people have helped me it's beyond amazing, and I dont wish to diminish anybody's contribution by not naming them. A Seven Nation Army Couldnt hold us back.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Something that couldn't hold me back

Well it's finally done, the change that I have planned for months is finally in place. I have changed the name of my blog to the Seven Nation Army Running Team. I must admit, it was hard to let go of the old and bring in the new, and even harder to find a way that it fitted right. I hope I've done that, but I'm sure I'll work it out as I go along. In the meantime, what is the Seven Nation Army Running Team, well it's me trying to let nothing hold me back, but anyone is welcome to join, to run along humming that familiar riff. Full length arm tattoos are completely optional of course, what isn't optional is backing yourself in, striving for better. Welcome to the Seven Nation Army Running Team.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Do you know my name?

So before you know it 7 weeks have gone by and there has been no update by the fatboy, well I'm pleased to report that I am still alive and still knocking out the odd run. Things still proceed and thoughts and ideas belt around by head like particles in a Hadron collider, as usual none of them make the page, but I've thought of a way to make some improvement in that area. The decision to run a marathon has started to crystallise into a plan, a plan that gets wilder by the day as I keep thinking, Why Not? As nobody has said it's not possible I'll assume that it is possible, if anyone says it's not possible then that probably means I'll do it just to be contrary. That's how it goes. So I guess it's happening regardless. So what's the plan? Well, first up, it's back to Bunbury in April for the 3 waters Marathon. This event seems so special in so many ways, firstly this year it was the first 10k I'd run in about 3 years, secondly it felt like a dawn of something special in parkrun, so many people came down for that event that it felt like parkrun on steroids. Now here's where the plan gets a bit ambitious, assuming I recover from Bunbury and still like to run(both a bit iffy given my first marathon effort) I'll run the Perth Marathon. I don't need to tell you how special this event is to me, and I'm sure it's pretty special to a lot of others. The hometown marathon, running along the river, it doesn't get much better, or does it? Of course there is one more iconic event, about the end of August, the City to Surf, an event that I can't really work out my feelings about. On one hand I hated the 12km but loved the half, regardless of the feelings about the runs they have been two of my proudest finishes, so assuming the first two don't put me off or kill me I'll be having a crack at 42.2 in August, also the medals are the size of dinner plates and I love my bling. Well there it is, the fatboys ambitious plan to run 3 marathons in a calendar year,it seems like a big task, but I'm inspired by the Tony Smith's and Ben Harris's of my world who are doing this and more, I know I'm not in their league, not even close, but I'm still inspired by their example of hard work and consistent efforts. I hope I can be even 25% of the runners that they are, that should cover it. While I plan to up the distance in 2015, I also plan to up the communication. It's been suggested to me that a Facebook page would be useful, and I think it might, with an opportunity to throw out some of the smaller random, daily thoughts that come through my mind. Before I start a Facebook page though, I need to sort out the name of this blog(and probably the facebook page), although Run Fatboy Run has served me well, I'm not sure it represents me accurately anymore, don't get me wrong I'm still fat, but I'm thinking there's a bit more to it, something else to be talked about. I still want to tell my story, I want to inspire others to lace up and go, and I definitely want to keep sharing. I just feel it needs something new name wise, suggestions are welcome as I have absolutely no idea. If anyone can find a way to make a White Stripes song fit with the name that's double points. GO.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Final Results & Measurements

As you all know I had my final measurements today, I thought I would post the results in here rather and then link to them through Facebook & twitter. So at the beginning they tested me across a range of factors relating to certain health measures. I've tried to pick out the most relevant ones. I'll comment on any I'm not happy with, no comment you can assume I'm happy. Cholesterol Level; Start 4.7 Finish 4.16. Blood Pressure; Start 136/90 Finish 126/82 Aerobic Fitness Test; Start 1.64 Watts/Kg Finish 1.64 Watts/Kg(I'll admit I'm surprised not to have improved this) GIRTH Measurements Right Arm;Start 42cm Finish 37cm Left Arm; Start 43.5cm Finish 39cm Chest; Start 136.5cm Finish 123cm Waist; Start 147cm Finish 117.5cm(quite disappointed about that 0.5 there just quietly) Hips;Start 134cm Finish 127cm Right Leg; Start 73cm Finish 68cm Left Leg; Start 70.5 Finish 67cm Right Calf; Start 50.5cm Finish 48cm Left Calf;51cm Finish 47cm SKINFOLDS Bicep; Start 21mm Finish 9.6mm Tricep;Start 28mm Finish 24mm Subscapular;Start 25mm Finish 23mm Supralliac; Start 41mm Finish 31mm I don't actually know how to convert this number into body fat, but I guess it was lots now its less. On core stability I went from being able to hold a plank for 16 seconds to holding it for 90 seconds(they stop you at 90 because thats the maximum score and clearly they didn't have all day). I also went from 14 sit ups in a minute to exceeding 26(once again they stop you at the top score). Finally, my weight loss, I weighed in at the first session at 152kg(though I had been as high as 156 in the weeks prior), today I was 130.9kg. All in all, I'm really happy with my results. I've got an excellent base to keep going to the next level and feel this has been excellent reward for the hard work I've done. Now I just need some new clothes.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Running Long

As most people know, tomorrow is my final assessment for fitfans, the end of a long journey that I am certain has changed me physically and mentally. Physically I've lost about 25 kilos, reached a level of fitness that has me running regular half marathons and have shaved about 5 minutes off my parkrun PB. I've also not had a drink in almost 6 months, avoided fast food and a range of other salty fatty snacks. In short I've maintained focus over 23 weeks at a level I didn't believe was possible. I know tomorrow there will be a slight relief that it's over but I'm also bracing for the disappointment that comes form finishing any event, the feeling of what's next? I also have an overwhelming concern that a couple of days of relaxing the intensity will turn into a few weeks and my good work will be undone. So I have a three pronged approach to this, firstly to give myself a lighter more relaxing week staring tomorrow, secondly to ask all of my friends to keep me accountable, to pull me up if they think I'm not trying hard enough, not striving for the best I can do, not pushing myself as if a trip to the grand final was on the line. I can handle it, I'm a big boy, so feel free to give me a tap if I get out of line. And the third thing is to replace this long term project with another one, it's time to train for another marathon. So on top of the goals I put up here last week there is another one, to finish another marathon, this time in under 5 and a half hours. I haven't decided yet whether to aim for Bunbury or to go for Perth, either way that's the rough timing. As always you'll hear about how I go tomorrow, and I'll keep you posted on the progress of my new goals. Don't feel bad for me if I don't win the trip, I'm very happy with what I have achieved.