Grunty man

grunty-fen-DSC_0203_crop [Warning: more boring fitness-related content. This is the penultimate post on such, before moving the misc trivia over to The science will stay here.]

Saturday-before-last James E said that the Grunty Fen half marathon was on the 12th; and being a little unsober I signed up online an hour later. Next morning I thought I'd better check that I could actually run the distance, and it turned out that I could. Or at least, nearly. I accidentally ran 20 km instead of 21.1, because I forgot the true distance. Oops. Anyway, that took me 1:51, which seemed fair enough (less than 2h) though it included one bit where I stopped to ask the way, and a couple of gates, and suchlike. The real thing took me 1:51 again, but with an extra 1.1 km thrown in. And here is the track. Notice corporate-man style running vest, but I had to pay for it.

Pix of other people I know:

* Ollie Crabb (1:57)
* Chris Smith (1:25, #15)
* James Edgoose (1:42)
* Maz (1:15 2009, #6)

Race thoughts: this was my first proper long race, so I was a bit unsure about pacing. I'd settled beforehand on 5:30 min/km as being good-enough on average, and managed to average 5:15, though it drifts up during the race. On the long straight there was a moderate/stiff wind against us; otherwise the weather was fine. The course is very flat. There were 3 or 4 water stations round the course. I hadn't practiced drinking-while-running before, and as the books all say, you need to practice or it goes horribly wrong. So I'd guess I managed to drink about 1/3 of a cup at each station, which adds up to a near-negligible amount over the course (what was fun about the drinks stations was that they had kids holding out the cups, who were competing with each other to be the one that the runners actually picked). The sponges were nice too - next time, I'll probably try drinking from those instead. Quite a few people actually stopped to drink, which seems quite wrong - I'd guess you lose more by doing that than you gain. I didn't carry any food / gel / whatever and didn't obviously lack it; I think the splits support that. Injuries: none, apart from a minor blister on one toe that I didn't notice.

My top tip for enjoying running more, apart from finding someone to train with, is to get a GPS watch. At least for me, running is so much more fun if you get a pace out as you go along (one of the things that makes erging tolerable) and then you have something to pore over afterwards. Which throws up a serious shortcoming of the garmin connect website: you can't compare two runs.

Photo original at (second in that group) by Charlie Barker.

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Injuries: none, apart from a minor blister on one toe that I didn't notice.

Where's this new toe been hiding hitherto then? :-)

I always ran faster and better when I stopped to drink. I was never going to win, but my personal bests were done stopping drinking while walking and then starting. The 10 seconds or so I might have lost in a 3:45 marathon race was negligible.

"you can't compare two runs." Export to KML would be my guess.

By Bill O'Slatter (not verified) on 13 Sep 2010 #permalink

How many different blogs can a grown man possibly need?

By carrot eater (not verified) on 14 Sep 2010 #permalink

I stop (running that is, I do keep walking) to drink, which saves me a lot of time. If I didn't, I'd be inhaling some of the water and the subsequent choking/coughing costs a lot of time. Plus, I once worked the mile 21 water stop of a marathon, and saw the 3rd place finisher (among others) walk through while drinking. Getting enough water in a long race makes a huge difference in finish times.

[Informed opinion seems to be against me -W]

The GPS is one of those things that if it works for you, great. Some people like to play with numbers, and some find them oppressive.

[When mine start going down again I'll probably find it oppresive :-) -W]

My running tip is listening to podcasts until I'm getting tired, and then blasting music to bring it home. Also, run in beautiful places like redwood forests.

Hopefully I'll recover enough from injuries to get a little more consistent.

[I haven't tried running with pods yet. The Grunty Fen race forbade audio devices for safety reasnos, though I saw a few people using then discretely -W]

I quite like running through the drink station in a half at full pace snatching a cup and trying to toss it down - all part of the fun. I But I'm not convinced there is much benefit in swallowing the water rather than tossing it over you head particularly in the last 20 minutes when its probably too late for it to traverse your gut anyway.

Longer races or warmer conditions I worry about fluid intake.

I'm a big fan of the iPod Nike plus system which does a great job of tracking your runs on the iPod and website. (Though the distance calibration can be a few % off and tricked me into thinking 9.75 miles was 10 a few days ago). GPS watch would be nice.

By D. Robinson (not verified) on 15 Sep 2010 #permalink

Oh no! Half the reason I read your blog is for the rowing/running asides (or main topic, it's all a little blurry). Glad you've started running. I like it and XC skiing and absolutely hate erging. You can actually go somewhere while exercising.

[Well, if enough people say that, I'll leave them here. But you can always subscribe to the "new" blog -W]

For pure unsolicited opinion, I fall against the listening-to-music-while-running side of things. While running for fun, it's time to think and experience the world. While racing, music is irritating and distracts me from my focus. But to each his/her own!

[I tend to agree with you. For ergs music is a great help; for running as you say -W]

Well, now I'll have to pay lots of attention to your science-y posts. I really should be more observant of current events in climate-land.

By Andy Wickert (not verified) on 15 Sep 2010 #permalink

Since I can't leave witty inline quips, I'll have to say this in its own comment:

Erging is death without music.

By Andy Wickert (not verified) on 16 Sep 2010 #permalink

I ran the Damloop in Amsterdam this past weekend (with 35,000 others). 10 English mile (=16.1 km) in 1:13:36.
I'm the one in the funky yellow shirt:…

I'm not a big runner, but it was fun with all the music and festive atmosphere around it.

[Ah, good for you: but you're faster than me, grrrr. And now we know what you look like :-). I see that your race numbers are just a little bigger than ours. I've never run in a really big race, Peterborough should be about 7 thousand I think -W]