The ‘2018 Tour of Britain’ – Leg Two – Berwick-upon-Tweed

Berwick-upon-Tweed panorama.

Berwick-upon-Tweed is the northernmost town in England, so close to the border with Scotland that it has changed country allegiance on more than one occasion (The football team plays in the Scottish Second Division) and has been fortified to protect itself from attack over the generations.

Spittal taken from the Caravan Park.

Famous for its castle, its walls and its impressive railway bridge, we didn’t actually spend any time in Berwick itself, staying at the Caravan Site in the town of Spittal (across the Tweed from Berwick).

Seahouses harbour.

We spent our leisure time south of Berwick itself, enjoying the famous Barter Book Shop in Alnwick, the beach at Seahouses and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

The multiple benches configuration at Seahouses harbour.

Having stayed near Alnwick on our previous visit we passed on the opportunity to revisit the impressive Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles.

Seahouses beach.

Day 4 – Sunday 5th August 2018 – Exploring Berwick

Spittal Beach

Sunday morning saw us travel north along the A1 to Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is just about as far north as you can get in England before entering Scotland. I expected a tough run on tired legs but, surprisingly, I felt pretty fresh and blissfully free of Achilles pain after a calf stretch on some railings early in the run at Spittal promenade.

Berwick-on Tweed – inspired by Lowry.

I headed to the historic town of Berwick, stopping frequently to take photos, some of which inspired (poorly) by the work of Lowry, who apparently loved the place and painted numerous scenes around the town.

The Royal Border Bridge

I found the viewpoint for the spectacular River Border Bridge, which carries the same trains that run through Grantham, albeit more grandly than the all too low bridges that are the curse of Grantham lorry drivers. From there I found a shared cycle path (Route 1 if I remember correctly – a favourite from my 2016 holiday, which runs from Dover to Shetland) and headed along the riverside for a mile or so before heading on more dedicated cycle lanes which brought me tantalisingly close to, but not quite at, the Scottish border.

At the top of the main climb for the day I checked Google Maps in the hope of  making a loop of the run rather than an out and back. There were a couple of options but as they included running alongside the A1 I decided to play it safe and returned the way I came to Berwick. Feeling good I picked up the pace quite a bit back along the river path where I felt sure there would be a Strava segment to contest. To my disappointment there wasn’t, but I made a mental note that this would be one of many segments that I would have to create when I returned home and had access to a computer (And some decent internet). Alas I was only 4th.

From there it was a continued tempo effort back to the Spittal promenade and along that for a segment attempt (This did have an existing segment – only 9th best for me) before returning back to the caravan site – 10.6 miles bagged.

Split Summary
1) 1m – 7:35(7:35/m) 119/136bpm 78cal 7.91/8.97mph
2) 1m – 7:16(7:16/m) 133/146bpm 92cal 8.25/8.93mph
3) 1m – 7:40(7:40/m) 131/155bpm 84cal 7.83/10.08mph
4) 1m – 7:12(7:12/m) 144/156bpm 99cal 8.33/10.29mph
5) 1m – 7:03(7:03/m) 144/163bpm 90cal 8.52/9.37mph
6) 1m – 6:41(6:41/m) 137/159bpm 73cal 8.99/10.42mph
7) 1m – 6:12(6:12/m) 143/156bpm 74cal 9.67/12.33mph
8) 1m – 6:12(6:12/m) 152/165bpm 88cal 9.68/10.9mph
9) 1m – 6:31(6:31/m) 151/158bpm 93cal 9.2/9.81mph
10) 1m – 6:33(6:33/m) 146/154bpm 79cal 9.15/9.54mph
11) 0.59m – 3:59(6:48/m) 146/158bpm 49cal 8.83/9.23mph

Best Strava Segment Performance:  Just a Climb – 1st/7*

* A segment I created.

Day 5 – Monday 6 August 2018 – Cows and Cliffs

I’d spotted on Sunday’s run that  Cycle Path Route 1 continued its way past Spittal promenade and along the coast southwards. On Monday morning I decided to run along this path on a straightforward out and back – making it just past the small village of Cheswick before turning around and returning.

The cycle path looking to Spittal.

As it was a cycle path – off road in parts, the terrain was never particularly demanding and not at all technical, which made for a pleasant, mostly trouble free run, where the emphasis was on recovering from the hard efforts of the previous two days. The coast line was at times stunning, other times obscured by the grass in the dunes of Cheswick Sands. I thankfully had a side wind for the entirety of the run – when I met it briefly head on near the turnaround point, it certainly did its best to stop me in its tracks!

Cows on the cliff!

The only drama of the run came in the form of a fairly large herd of cows who had made themselves comfortable by the cliff’s edge on the cycle path fairly early on in the run and later on when I returned. I’m not a huge fan of cows and not at my best by the edge of cliffs – so the two combined made for rather interesting moments as I briefly stopped the Garmin and walked through the herd as unobtrusively as possible. Thankfully the cows seemed largely disinterested in me and more concerned with gorging themselves on the grass, and I was able to continue on my run, which ended just as the Garmin accumulated 10 miles entering the Caravan Park. I was disappointed to see there were no meaningful Strava Segments created so, once again, a note was made to, at a later point, create some of my own.

The coast line.

Split Summary
1) 1m – 7:46(7:46/m) 119/133bpm 81cal 7.73/8.35mph
2) 1m – 7:42(7:42/m) 132/147bpm 93cal 7.8/9.85mph
3) 1m – 6:58(6:58/m) 133/146bpm 84cal 8.62/9.16mph
4) 1m – 7:08(7:08/m) 138/145bpm 91cal 8.41/9.18mph
5) 1m – 7:25(7:25/m) 143/153bpm 99cal 8.1/9.02mph
6) 1m – 6:54(6:54/m) 138/149bpm 80cal 8.69/9.27mph
7) 1m – 6:57(6:57/m) 141/146bpm 85cal 8.64/9.2mph
8) 1m – 6:54(6:54/m) 145/154bpm 92cal 8.69/9.08mph
9) 1m – 7:09(7:09/m) 143/150bpm 89cal 8.38/9.16mph
10) 1m – 7:00(7:00/m) 141/147bpm 80cal 8.58/9.25mph
11) 0.08m – 39(8:05/m) 150/154bpm 9cal 7.42/8.5mph

Best Strava Segment Performance:  Quiet beaches to be found* – 4th/87

* A segment I created.

Day 6 – Tuesday 7 August 2018 – A Bit of Everything in Berwick-upon-Tweed

A Lowry Rip Off!

On a very overcast morning for the last run in Berwick, I was in the mood for exploring! Back it was into Berwick, running along the castle wall and ramparts; mimicking the work of Lowry and generally trying to see as much of the town as possible.

Cliffs In Berwick – a bit too much for me!

This exploration took me on a path around the back of the golf course and a holiday path. This was all well and good and I opted at a footpath junction to try and head to Marshall Meadows Bay. The path became increasingly technical, increasingly narrow and increasingly closer to the cliff’s edge. This was the explanation behind the slowest mile of the holiday at 10:09! – It wasn’t long before I abandoned this increasingly perilous idea and returned to the safety of the A1167 and the less scenic, but more comforting sights of a McDonalds drive thru and a Morrisions. This slow mile and the stop-start affair of the opening miles meant that this would be the slowest run, on average, of the Tour at 7:41 per mile.

Returning to Spittal it was clear I had to make up some miles to get to and beyond 10. So it was then a climb up the old A1, down Cow Road, over a Level Crossing, back through Spittal and a lap and an extension of the Caravan Park to bring it home in a smidge over 10 miles.

Split Summary
1) 1m – 7:45(7:45/m) 122/133bpm 88cal 7.75/9mph
2) 1m – 7:56(7:56/m) 129/143bpm 93cal 7.56/10.02mph
3) 1m – 8:22(8:22/m) 122/139bpm 81cal 7.17/9.87mph
4) 1m – 7:35(7:35/m) 132/145bpm 86cal 7.91/8.93mph
5) 1m – 10:09(10:09/m) 127/143bpm 94cal 5.91/8.06mph
6) 1m – 7:07(7:07/m) 134/144bpm 81cal 8.44/9.1mph
7) 1m – 6:55(6:55/m) 129/138bpm 66cal 8.68/9.5mph
8) 1m – 7:11(7:11/m) 141/154bpm 90cal 8.35/9.02mph
9) 1m – 6:58(6:58/m) 141/154bpm 84cal 8.6/9.35mph
10) 1m – 6:59(6:59/m) 135/153bpm 72cal 8.6/9.81mph
11) 0.03m – 11(6:42/m) 136/137bpm 1cal 8.95/8.18mph

Best Strava Segment Performance:  Old A1 Climb* 3rd/78

* A segment I created.

Leg 2 Summary

Distance Run: 30.7 miles. Average Pace: 7:15 per mile. Accumulated Time: 3:42:35. Average HR: 136. Total Ascent: 495 meters.

Trainer Obituary – Nike Pegasus 30 (Green) – 18 August 2014 – 5 September 2015.

Nike Pegasus 30 (Green)
Nike Pegasus 30 (Green)

The green pair of Nike Pegasus 30 replaced the Nike Pegasus 29 and the numerous incarnations of the Pegasus that have been worn over the years. As usual they were the every day trainer worn for a variety of sessions, from recovery runs to longer efforts and even the odd interval session.

They were used at the first ever Melton Mowbray parkrun in January 2015 and they were worn when I won the Maverick Original Somerset Trail Race in August 2015. They therefore own the honourable distinction of being the only pair of trainers thus far I’ve owned that have actually carried me to victory.

Like most pairs of Pegasus’ I’ve owned they died a rapid death not long after reaching 500 miles. They battled on to 562 miles but after a 10 mile training run on Saturday 5th September left my right Achilles somewhat sore they were declared knackered and deceased.

With new Pegasus costing a veritable arm and leg (And apparently not feeling the same as old Pegasus’) they were replaced by a pair of Nike Vomero 9, which feel very much like old Pegasus’ and not at all like old Vomeros. They are though currently on sabbatical having allegedly caused an ankle injury shortly before the Chester Marathon.

From London to Langtoft For Their 10k

Running is an amazing pastime, perhaps unique in that one weekend you can be racing in one of sport’s most famous and iconic events – the London Marathon – and the very next weekend you can find yourself competing in the Langtoft 10K – a race that last year had 207 finishers and this year around 27 spectators (Some of those being marshals). When I pulled up with my travel companion Scott, we both were singing what the hell / f**k am I doing here (I was singing the Radio Edit). This is in no way disrespectful to Langtoft, a fine example of a fens village, it’s just that the weather was pretty terrible. Very wet and decidedly windy. The wet we could just about cope with. A windy race is not usually a fun race, especially when it’s taking place on the Fens – a part of the world where the wind speeds feel doubly strong thanks to the flat (some may say featureless) terrain.

What made it even worse was that just a few days ago I’d barely even heard of the race, let alone intended to run it. I heard Scott was planning to run on Wednesday, then on Thursday another club member offered up his race number as he was unable to take part. I let him know I was tempted but wanted to see how our club run went in respect to how the legs were after Sunday’s London Marathon. The 12 miles were fairly tortuous, with the upper glute area (In the right leg especially) which had cramped first in the marathon, aching enough for me to beg Scott for a lift home from the club rather than jog the mile or so back. During the course of the run and the lift home, I went from yes, I am running it,  to no, back to yes, then no, then I left it at maybe.

Friday morning and I struggled out of bed with stiffness but managed the elliptical trainer for ninety minutes. I saw no effects from that and although the right quad ached a fair bit I committed myself to racing on the Sunday afternoon. I took Saturday off entirely to let the leg rest up some more. Come Saturday night and a fair amount of massaging and stretching, the leg felt at around 80%. Sunday morning however saw the right leg feel fine, but the left hamstring near the groin aching, in a manner not dissimilar to how the right leg felt before the Notts AC Five Mile Race.

Coincidentally it was at that race in July last year where I last wore my Nike Lunar Racer 2 trainers (Save for an aborted warm up at the Lincs 5k the following week and at the club handicap race a few weeks after that). They were undoubtedly fast but they wreaked havoc to my Achilles, leaving them with literally bloody blisters. They had been consigned to the great trainer rack in the sky but for some reason or another I decided to give them another chance – albeit with a modification performed by my talented wife, who made several incisions to the Achilles tab with the intention of reducing the pressure it applied.

The Achilles Tab Surgery Applied To My Nike Lunar Racer 2 Trainers.

We arrived at Langtoft an hour before the off. We stumbled upon fellow club runner Stuart and proceeded to collect our numbers from a gazebo which was leaking water at an alarming rate, not only for the well being of the inhabitants but because it was also meant to be doubling up as the baggage area. We opted to use the boots of our cars…

Around half an hour before the off at 11:15 we set off for a warm up  / late fitness test. The left groin / hamstring was stiff and quite sore, but was manageable and didn’t hinder my gait. Happily too my right quad was pain free and the trainers felt great. So the race was on, but I didn’t think that I was quite up for giving it a full out attack. I’d mentioned on Thursday I would be happy to pace some of our runners. We met another club runner Anna on our warm up. She is a relative novice to the sport but has bags of potential to her already considerable ability, as she demonstrated when she seemingly waltzed around to a 3:13 clocking at her debut marathon at Manchester two weeks ago. She had no idea what she could run, but I think she could run around 39 minutes currently. Stuart fancied a sub 38 stab, his best around a minute slower than this.

I was in my usual last minute queue for the Portaloo, making it to the start with a fairly safe three minutes to spare. I hooked up with Anna and Stuart and made a final decision to aim for a 38 minute target, but planned a 6:30 clocking for the opening mile. As the klaxon was fired for the start of the race however this time seemed a little slow for however hard I / we tried, we couldn’t run any slower that 6:05 pace. There’s always a little exuberance at the start, but it seemed that the planned 6:30 mile was going to be thrown out of the window.

Also thrown out of the equation was the much feared bad weather. The rain had stopped shortly before the start, and with the cessation of precipitation also seemingly came a ceasefire in the strong winds. We were faced with a cross wind for the opening kilometre or so and it barely registered, much to the relief surely of every runner.

We went through the first mile in 6:10. Anna was just behind what we thought was the lead lady and fellow club member Will was way up the road seemingly in the first half dozen runners. Anna made it to around 10k but declared the pace a little too hot. We wished her well, she struggled with what is hopefully just cramp in her calf but ran a great debut road 10k in 40:24 to take third position in the women’s race. Stuart looked set to try and stick with the pace, we went through two miles in 6:07 and I tried my best to keep the pace consistent, which was happily relatively easy thanks to the flat terrain and relative non-presence of the wind.

The first inclination of Stuart struggling a touch was at the first water station where he needed to pour a fair amount of water to cool himself down. We went through the third mile in 6:11 and past halfway in around 19:10. 38 minutes was just about on if we could negative split the second 5k. This however was beginning to look doubtful as we hit the only significant climb of note – barely more than a 1% drag, but it was into the wind and slowed us to around 6:55 pace for the first quarter of the fourth mile.

Happily there was a descent to follow that helped us make up some lost time but, for the first time, Stuart was struggling to stick to my tail. We went through the fourth mile in 6:13 and began the opening tenth of the fifth mile in around 6:20 pace, me having to slow a touch to keep Stuart on board my train. I then made a decision ,as we made a turn that saw us head back to the start and enjoy a breeze on our backs for the return, to pick up the pace to what I thought we would need to break 38 minutes. I did this for a couple of minutes, looked around and saw that Stuart had no response.

I then looked ahead and saw Will, who had at one point been well over a minute ahead of us but now was just about within eyeshot and seemingly fading. This, I thought, was hardly surprising as he had run 17:02 at Peterborough parkrun the day before and had completed two speed sessions during the week. Tough going for a seasoned pro, let alone a raw 19 year old.

Feeling like I had a bit of running left in the legs. I began to pick up the pace. I passed a couple of runners as I went through the fifth mile in 5:56 and recognised the road to be the one we began the race on. Knowing we were in the final stages of the race with a fast flat run to the finish, I poured on the coals, running with an abandon I rarely allow myself. I caught and passed the lead lady, who totally unseen by us at the start, had opened a sizeable gap on her rivals. Will was now just 30 meters or so up the road and I doubled my efforts to catch him which I did just as we passed the 9km marker.

The sight of another GRC vest certainly spurred Will on, for he instantly matched my pace and, for a while, increased it. On another day I would have buckled and let him go ahead, but today I was having none of it, and just as I felt he was beginning to slow, I pushed again. The sixth mile was covered just as we turned left into the final twisty section at the finish HQ at Langtoft Primary School. It was a 5:22, one of the fastest miles I’ve ever clocked in a race.

I now had a sizeable gap on Will, which was just as well for I misheard a marshal’s cry of Well Done Grantham! for Hold On Grantham! at a left hand turn just before the finish. Luckily no damage was done for I soon realised the error of my ways and took the correct route to the finish line, clocking a pleasing, given the circumstances, 37:23, and finishing in a respectable thirteenth position. Happily too the modified trainers had been a resounding success, the Achilles unstressed by the modifications and the trainers still structurally sound despite being having several incisions.

Will came home not long after, as did Stuart, who had slipped a touch to finish in 38:54, but this was good enough to claim a new 10k PB. Anna came home not long after and then Scott, who was not that happy with his time, but the year is still young and there is plenty of time to come back into form.

There was no thought of a warm down, the left groin really tight as soon as the race had finished. We hung around to see Anna claim her third place prize, she was in esteemed company as Aaron Scott, who finished third in the Championship race at the London Marathon (with a 2:20 clocking), collected his winner’s prize having just missed out on the course record.

In terms of size, prestige and importance, it was a million miles away from the London Marathon. But, as I mentioned at the top of the report, this is what makes running such a great and unique sport. From ultra professional to grass roots in the blinking of an eye, but with a similar spread of quality and enthusiasm at both events. A very good little event is the Langtoft 10k. 

Langtoft 10k Grantham Running Club Post Race Photo.

Matthew Kingston-Lee: My Journey to My Latest London Marathon

It’s time for do or die. Matthew Kingston-Lee will carry his broken body another time this Sunday, praying to a perhaps non-existent God that this distance, that shouldn’t really pose too many issues for a fit and healthy athlete, will be tolerable for one who is totally under prepared for the demands running a fair long way presents. Like all slightly stupid ideas, his latest London Marathon adventure is bound to be painful and probably soul destroying as he sets out to do what surely every other average athlete is hoping to do and that is beat Paula Radcliffe.

Here I ramble on pretending I am being interviewed when it is just the figment of my bored imagination. I make a mountain out of a molehill and reminisce on events that are significant probably only to myself and of little or no interest to anyone.

April 2010 – The Last Time I Ran (The London Marathon).

A Blister I Once Had

2010 was the last time Matthew ran the London Marathon. It was an event he really shouldn’t have made. In great shape (But with a bad hip…) he found himself stuck in Shanghai after the Grand Prix there because of the Icelandic ash cloud.

Via an unplanned visit to a Vietnamese prison, the seemingly impossible mission to make it to Blackheath in time culminated in a last minute rescue trip courtesy of a (very expensive and paid for) first class trip home via Moscow with Aeroflot. Fourty eight hours earlier he was being told by a jobsworth at Hanoi airport there was no way he was flying until Monday at the earliest. Now he stood (a little way behind) the start line of the only marathon anyone really cares about.

His story of how he got to the London marathon could be the stuff of a (really bad) Hollywood movie. At the very least it should have filled some airtime on one of those BBC life story clips that interrupt the pictures of people running in the race itself. Instead his marathon became better known for the infamous trip to the blue portaloo at 14 miles, from which he reappeared 88 seconds later and a couple of pounds lighter. Now one of the most unwatched athletics clips not available on YouTube, his brave battle to the finish with a hip that really wasn’t happy in a time of 2:55 was largely forgotten. What was not forgotten by his wife was being unable to walk for the next four days, especially as they were meant to be on a walking holiday.

Little did Matthew know that he wouldn’t be able to run London again for another five years – a combination of injury, clashes with F1 races or simply not bothering to enter put pay to that fun day out on the streets of the capital.

October 2014 – Whoops! How Did That Happen?

The end of September 2014 saw him in the running form of Matthew’s life clocking 1:15:29 at the Robin Hood Half Marathon, as frustratingly close to just missing out on securing an elite start at the London Marathon as it was when he ran 2:46 at Rotterdam earlier in the year. Still, he had the knowledge that his entry to the 2015 London Marathon was secured, and as it didn’t clash with an F1 event, sub 2:45 looked a formality.

Nike Free 4.0 V2 (Grey and Yellow)
Some Nike trainers, placed into the article, in no way trying to endorse Nike

Two weeks later and he was almost literally unable to walk with what transpired to be a fractured sacrum. Matthew, a man who is happy to not have gravel in his guts, was as stubborn as ever when it came to resting up. He took all of three days off, reuniting himself with the bicycle he had ridden on other occasions when he was too injured to run, and taking up a second residence in the shed – home of his faithful elliptical trainer.

December 2014 – Hitting the Pavement For a Sixty Second Hobble

Eight weeks after the sacrum fracture occurred and bored witless by the hours spent on the elliptical trainer, Matthew headed nervously out on Christmas Eve for a one minute jog. Forever the rebel he defied the recommendation of his physiotherapist and ran for one minute and four seconds. “It felt great!” said Matthew, “the best early Christmas present ever… Well except for the 42″ TV I bought myself a few years back as an early Christmas present. And the Garmin 910XT I bought myself too as an an early combined birthday and Christmas present. It was the third best early Christmas present ever.”

The rest of December was an embarrassment as far as running was concerned. Drinking too much alcohol, he could barely muster more than a couple of miles before repeatedly doubling up in agony with cramp. “I was scared I’d never be able to drink again. Luckily I can!” confided Matthew candidly. Every night after the kids had gone to bed, Matthew’s wife, Emily, would serve up a large glass of white wine, which he would drink in about five minutes or so. “It did nothing for my running, but it tasted fantastic.”

January 2015 – Four Months to Go – Back on the Streets.

With memories of a Christmas spent travelling from one set of relatives to another, Matthew winces as he remembers he only actually ran for two minutes on Christmas Day.

January though was another matter and enjoying the freedom of being able to run and not hobbling like someone very, very overweight, Matthew got back into the regular routine of sometimes picking the kids up from school and getting out for a run whenever he could. He found a new training partner in the form of former Latvian international Janis, who soon had Matthew running far faster than he should have. Rejuvenated by his new training partner, who spoke not much in the way of coherent English but could happily communicate in the language of running, Matthew found time to talk to his daughter.

Nike Air Pegasus 29 (Turquoise)
Some more Nike trainers, almost subliminally selling the swoosh to you.

“I said to my daughter ‘this might be the last time I can train to try and beat 2:45 over the marathon, a time that holds little significance to anyone other than those who understand it to be the qualifying time for the national marathon championships, which are actually just the London Marathon, but you get to start somewhere a bit posher,’ and she said ‘Dad, can I play games on the tablet?’ I hope to God London won’t be my last marathon, but it will be the last London Marathon I will run in 2015.

February 2015 – Heartbreak (Nearly on) Valentine’s Day.

Things were looking so promising for Matthew, he actually began running with his club mates again. Disaster would strike though on a (nearly) Valentine’s Day club run when an ominous pain crept up and through deep into his left glute. Barely able to walk by the run’s end, the pain was all too familiar. “I didn’t need any X-Rays or MRI scans to tell me I’d gone and fractured my sacrum again – albeit this time on the left side.”

Despite this boast of not needing an X-Ray or MRI, Matthew called upon the stretched resources of the NHS with firstly a an X-ray and then an MRI scan to confirm it was indeed a near mirror image fracture of the left sacrum. Whilst running on the potholed streets of Grantham his sacrum had again become the first port of call to surrender.

And with ten weeks to go until he was set to run the streets of London, Matthew went from running about 51.3 miles a week to none. His Latvian training partner, with no-one to run with, left for Norway. The lure of a better paying job with better working conditions and hours had nothing to do with it.

With no miles being run for seven weeks, help was sought from his GP who, after establishing it could be a Vitamin D deficiency causing the unwelcome fractures, suggested reserving a large patch of skin on his back to become permanently burnt to a crisp to help get his Vitamin D dose.

Finishing the 2008 London Marathon

April 2015 – One Week to Go – Disaster, Shit!

After waiting precisely seven weeks to allow the fracture to heal and with not that much help from anyone really, Matthew takes his daughter to a park in the near redundant village of Manthorpe, on the outskirts of Grantham. He doesn’t manage to run a step – his daughter is two and cannot be left alone whilst he galavants across the grass. He heads home, dumps her with her mother, and heads out for a run which lasts all of three minutes before he is forced to stop in agony.

Thanks to modern technology, Matthew was able to make this run literally not happen by making it a Private Run on Strava. There is pain, he can barely walk, let alone run. But the marathon has been paid for and the train tickets already bought. Someone has even gone and got his number for him. Deferring his entry is tactically not a good idea as he can guarantee entry until 2017 by not doing so. The marathon is on.

April 22 – Three Days To Go – Irrelavent Filler

In the shadow of the valley of death, Kingston-Lee walks towards a bunch of kids shouting what he now recognises as his name. “Dad! Dad!” they cry, in a variety of voices that confirm 90% of the children are not actually his.

He scowls back at them, ignoring their requests for sweets, ice cream, money and drugs. If his barely healed sacrum isn’t filling his mind with fear, he must just be permanently miserable.

Kingston-Lee’s wife, children, 1 & 2, and Mum and Dad, will not be watching Kingston-Lee run on Sunday

“It definitely better than it was a few weeks ago, but then again it couldn’t get much worse. I’ve run a few times since Easter but every time I’ve thought, bugger this, it’s too painful, and got back on the bike or the elliptical trainer instead. I’m ill prepared to run a marathon, but chances are if I make it I’ll likely finish in the top 25% of the field, which doesn’t say much for the state of running nowadays. I better had anyway as I’ve booked my train back to Grantham for 3pm”

As he runs walks hobbles around the course for what he sincerely hopes will not be the final time, some random memories may or may not flash before him. His father, who never carried any desire to run a marathon; failing miserably in 1998; definitely not running it under an assumed name in 2000; failing again in 2005; doing quite well in 2006; and 2007; and 2008; and 2010; and the stench from that blue portaloo which probably hung around for quite a few runners after him.

“I’ll just be trying to finish, in one piece” he says, “I’ve paid up for the Woodhall Spa Triathlon and I don’t want to lose my entry fee money again.”


Project Sub 1:16:47 – Last Week of Training

With the last post ending on a sore throat developing, Friday was a scheduled rest day when I felt pretty rubbish. Saturday morning I awoke, still the throat was rasping, but not feeling any worse, so I headed out for a very easy six mile run. The first mile felt terrible, thereafter I felt okay, but fairly weak. The hours after the run I felt no worse so I agreed with the guys at Grantham Running Club taking part in the Equinox 24 hour race that I would help them out with a last minute appearance on the Sunday morning to substitute for an injured runner. Assuming I was healthy all parties would benefit, I’d get an early morning long run at reasonable pace in the bag before working on the Singapore GP and they’d get a couple of hours of rest having run through the day and night whist I put in a triple stint.

Up at 6am on the Sunday morning, I headed to the Belvoir Estate where the sun was rising after a night of rain then mist and fog. I set off for 3 laps of the approximately 10k course – a multi terrain affair with one long drag, one steep downhill section and one steeper,  but shorter, uphill section. The first lap I took easy as I let the legs wake up, made sure the sore throat wasn’t turning into a chest infection, and got the lie of the course.

The first lap run in around 40:04 (the self created Strava segment clips the start and end of the lap) I slowly wound the pace up over the next two laps, trying my best to make it an honest run without losing sight that it was just a long run with the half in a week’s time the goal. The second lap was 38:45 and feeling better by the mile, I completed the third lap in 37:32, averaging a healthy 6:38 for the 18 mile run.

An easy 7 miles on Monday was followed on Tuesday by the final hard session before the big race. It being my birthday and not wanting to run in the evening, I went out in the morning for an eight mile run where the final three miles were run at my planned half marathon HR of around 172. The splits: 5:49; 5:34; and 5:43 were pleasing as I rarely run that fast in training. The Nike Frees, which I’d decided to race in on Sunday rather than the lighter, but troublesome with blisters, Lunar Racers, were knackered however and Wednesday’s easy paced 10 mile run and the Thursday club jog were used to bed in the replacement Nike Frees, which were slightly different than the old ones but ran just the same.

The Thursday night run was the last before Sunday, a slow steady affair, a little off-road in the dark to bring some unnecessary pre-race stress, but the legs felt good, the sore throat and cold a now distant memory. Everything looked rosy, but on Saturday morning I awoke with sciatica in the right leg, and I spent most of the day trying to massage it away. Surely I wouldn’t be hindered by this last minute problem now!