Mad Dog ’18 Race Recap


In Which I Go Back AGAIN

Mad Dog. One of my first 10k races ever and the one that I always say means that my running year has started properly. (York marathon in October signalling that I can take it easy over the winter. As though I’ve been pounding the pavements all summer..!)

The main concern with this years Mad Dog (Sixth year in a row I’ve been there!) was getting there. (Floo powder?) For the five years previous I’ve been living in Yorkshire and so a little over an hour drive and you’re there. At the end of last Summer we moved up to just outside Edinburgh and so the commute to the race got a bit longer. Four hours to be exact. (Not too exact. Four and a bit hours. Four hours 15 minutes. And 17 seconds. Not counting stopping off.)

(Four hours 37 minutes and 32 seconds in total to be exact.)

(Roughly.)

There was also the matter of staying over to take into account as it was too much driving (For Hayley) to go there and back in the same day (lazy) so we decided to make a weekend of it. (In Southport. In Winter.)

I had a hotel booked (Ramada Plaza) with payment on arrival, which was £90 for room only so we decided to stay Friday and Saturday nights. A few days before race day however, I got an email from the (excellent) organisers of the Mad Dog 10k saying that you could get Bed and Breakfast for £90 a night and organise late check out if you mentioned Mad Dog but only at the hotel… Ramada Plaza!

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Straight on to the phone was I, and the nice lady at the other end changed my booking. Same price as before but now with late checkout and breakfast for us both? Magic!

I won’t bore you with the Friday and Saturday details because you’re here for the race recap and not a holiday recap. But we ate plenty, had a good wand-around, Hayley spilled my beer all down me on the Friday, and we played in loads of Amusements and won a baby Groot after spending a few quid(ditch).

Sunday Morning 

Getting up nice and early (nope, snoozed my alarm loads) we went down for breakfast. I took it easy and had bacon (x2) sausage (x2) hash brown (x2) and coffee (x2 and a bit.) We then walked the 15 minutes to the car park where the coaches were lined up shuttling runners and spectators to the start of the race. Only takes five minutes or so on the transfer buses and its free for everyone.

Every year there’s a movie/tv theme to the Mad Dog 10k with a canine connection. This year was Hairy Potter and The Half Bred Pup and as such there were plenty of Harry Potter costumes going on. We saw a few wizards, plenty of HP scarves, a woman dressed as a broomstick and, oddly, five blokes dressed as the Spice Girls. (It’s not Leviosah, it’s Levi-Zigga-ZiggAH.)

A nice touch and to save time at the end, you can get your t-shirt and goody bag before the run. (Medals at the end still.) It means that if people want to run in that years themed tshirt they can, and also reduces congestion at the end of the race. The goody bag is BRILLIANT. You can wait til the end though.

Time to line up so went and lined up. Must’ve got giddy with my predicted time because I was right at the front. The race was started by Jo Pavey (an ACTUAL Olympian) and after a countdown and some barking, we were off. The course is an out-loop-back kinda set up. The first and last 2.5k are on the same stretch of road with a 5k loop in the middle.

There’s plenty of bands/singers/entertainment going on and the middle loop is always well supported. You run alongside the coast for a lot of the run and even though the day had started off icy, it was very nice running weather.

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Now the thing is, starting too far forward means that there’s fast people around you. From the start. And because they are fast you feel you have to go fast too as otherwise they all overtake you. Which is why, after planning to start off around 8m15s a mile, I clocked my first mile at 7m15s. WAY too quick. I actually did the first two miles in 15 minutes which is probably where the (golden) stitch came from to slow me down.

Running towards the Pier and by the Elvis impersonator (think he lives under that Pier, he’s always there) I made myself slow down because I knew I couldn’t keep that pace for long without messing up the second half of the race. Still, first 5km done in bang on 24 minutes.

Water station coming up so allowed myself to walk through it to get some energy back before tackling the second half (blood prince) of the course. I was nowhere near the speed that I had before and that was fine by me. Sub 50 was ebbing away but figured I can still get under 51 minutes. Before I knew it I was back on the main road and then turning towards the finish line, keep going keep going annnnnnnddd…… finished. 50:41.

Chuffed.

So that’s that! Mad Dog 10k done for six years in a row now. Will I make it back for next years race? Always. (Especially seeing as though it’s called “Bark To The Future”!)

Oh wait! Before you go!

LOOK AT THE GOODY BAG!

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Backpack, Running hat, Racebelt (THAT HAS A FLASHING LIGHT) Water Bottle, Fridge Magnet Picture Frame, Snood, Fruit, Energy Drinks, Number Clips, loads of snacks PLUS the Medal and TShirt! (The bar just above the bag is a doggy treat bar. I’ve seen a few people on facebook that didn’t realise it wasn’t an energy bar til too late… Mongrels!)

*flies off on his broomstick for butterbeer*

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Great Edinburgh Winter 5k Run


In Which I Wasn’t Expecting To Go So Far Up

Saturday morning. Odd day for a race, a Saturday. I think every other race I’ve taken part in has been on a Sunday. Probably because there was a televised cross country run around the same area later on in the day, but still. A Saturday. 

We woke up around 7am then snoozed til around 7:20, as is the tradition. I got up and made myself and Hayley a wonderful home made breakfast (microwave burger to share, I normally have one to myself but as it was only a 5k that felt greedy.)

Got to the bus stop a few minutes before the bus arrived (handy) and stayed on it for around 40 minutes before getting off quite near Holyrood park where the run was taking place. (Which is obviously why we got off there…)

Ten minutes steady walk and a quick look around then it was pretty much time to line up for the warm up. I don’t usually take part in the warm up for two reasons:

1. I use the first mile as my warm up, and:

2. I don’t want to look like a knob.

However! I took part this time for two reasons:

1. It was a 5km run so not long enough to use a mile as a warm up, and:

2. It was chuffing freezing.

Warm up done, it was go time. I’ve not been around this area so much but figured that it would be a lap of Arthur’s Seat and so nice and steady. Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano and popular with climbers, it’s not too hard to get to the top. (Been there, done that.) The views from the top of Edinburgh are amazing. 

Back to the run! Started off easy enough, nice and flat route for a few minutes then we turned a corner and… hill. Big hill. BIG hill! Should’ve checked the route.

Turns out the first mile included 200ft of climb. And I felt every foot. In my feet. And legs. But the views from the top were amazing. There was a bloke playing bagpipes at the top and he must’ve had a lift up because otherwise he would’ve not had enough air in his lungs to play. 

The down hill section was fun though. Not done many 5k races and so it seemed over very quick. Especially the last mile. Before I knew it I was over the line and getting my goody bag with a brand new medal and t-shirt. 

Found Hayley easy enough and we watched a few of the runners finishing before heading off to Wetherspoons for a breakfast and to recover. 

I love food. Normally, right around now I’d show you the medal draped over a cool, refreshing pint of lager. Unfortunately I’m still doing Dry January so here’s my medal with diet coke instead. 

Looks just as good, right?

Next Up: Mad Dog 10k on Feb 4th. Can’t WAIT!

Mapping Out 2018


In Which I Try Organise My Race Year

Where I’m At Now:

2018 is over a week old and I’m still feeling positive about my New Years Resolutions. I decided to take on Dry January (No alcohol for the whole month) and I’m pleased to say I’m still going strong. Not had a beer since New Years Eve and for someone that used to drink almost every night after work, I feel that’s a great achievement. Tomorrow is a third of the month gone! I’ve stuck a calendar for January on my fridge to cross off the days and put the beer that was still in the fridge in the pan cupboard behind the old pans we don’t use. Hardly hear it calling out to me anymore…

I’ve always said though that once you get through the first three days of something then you’re good for the rest of the time. (Just read an article that says it takes 66 days to make a new habit but mine gets it done in three days so we’ll stick with that.)

Also, I’ve been healthy eating as much as I can. (As in, sticking to healthy eating as much as I can. Not eating as much as I can of healthy food.) Apart from one meal at a chinese restaurant and one unhealthy-ish meal at home, I’m doing ok.

I’ve been out for a couple runs too but only 5k’s. Easing myself back into it. Weighing myself every Monday morning and the first week weigh in said that I’d lost 5lbs. In a week! Chuffed with that!

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Where I’m At Later On:

This Saturday (13th January) is the Edinburgh Winter 5k run. I don’t really enter 5km races but think doing the run and getting the medal and t-shirt at the end will be a good boost to my motivation.

Then in a few weeks it’s down to Southport for my SIXTH time running in the Mad Dog 10k race. I wasn’t going to do it this year (what with now living in Scotland and it being a 4hr drive away) but we’re using it as an excuse to have a weekend away from home. (To Southport. In winter. Logic.)

Plus I’m a Harry Potter geek and when the race is called this, how could I say no?

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After that the next run I’ve got booked is the Edinburgh Marathon in May. Looking to get a new PB at that one (and no sunburn, not like LAST year…)

July might see us having a trip down to Yorkshire and doing the Leeds 10k. Depends on travel costs though, train tickets for that weekend at the moment are just over £100… EACH! Hoping they bring out some cheaper ones closer to the time.

Then October is the Yorkshire Marathon. That’ll be the sixth time I run it (every year its been going) and all things going well, will be my 10th marathon overall. I love that run.

And that’s it so far! That’s what I have organised for the year. I’ve been looking into a running club near home to get my arse in gear so when I get chance will have a wander down and see what the set up is. Think it’ll be good motivation!

Next Race:

Edinburgh Winter 5k – 13th January 2018

Instagram: @Zepalm 

Strava: Marc Hemingway

(Amazingly) Delayed Yorkshire Marathon 2017 Recap


In Which I’m Not Even Joking, It’s Almost Time For 2018 Yorkshire Marathon It’s THAT Delayed

Good evening! (I’m guessing. Evening here, but I don’t know where you are. Or when you’ll read this. Or IF! Oh my.)

Finally got around to writing my race recap for York Marathon 2017 (as written in the title. So this sentence is pretty much just filler. I’d skip it if I were you.)

We (myself and Hayley) drove down from lovely Edinburgh to equally lovely York on the Saturday morning. We arrived at an Airbnb (how modern of us) at around 3pm after a 4hr car journey. (Making sure you know it’s a car we drove and not a train.)

The host of the Airbnb had been in touch to tell us that she wouldn’t be there and had left details on where the keys to the house were, which meant that instead of just a room for the night we had access to a whole house the the bargain price of £35. It was a lovely house too, but I’m not telling you where because even after I left a 5* review and we left the house as we found it, the host didn’t leave me ANY review and yeah, I’m THAT petty sometimes.

We were planning on doing a Ghost Walk around York (theres a few that go on every night but the one you want starts from outside the front of the Minster. Best one.) But as it was a Saturday night York was heaving with Stag and Hen parties so didn’t fancy being heckled from people more interested in spirits rather than spirits.

Instead we had a bit of a wander around by ourselves (I think? Wooooooooo…..) and then made our way back to the house. We ordered take-away (carbs for the next mornings marathon.) I can’t remember what I ordered (Chips? Rice?) but Hayley ordered a Viking Pizza and it arrived like this and OHMYLIFE was it good!

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And then, to bed!

Before too long my alarm was going off and it was time to get up and at ’em.

The start of the marathon was (as is always) up at York university. You can pay on a transfer bus that takes you from York train station to the start, and back again at the end. As the uni is a few miles out, it always makes sense.

The marathon then makes its way from the Uni into York city centre (just before mile 2 on the handy map below) and then out towards little towns and villages dotted around the place. We had a chat and it made more sense for Hayley to cheer on from the city centre then make her way to the University for the end, rather than be stuck at the Uni all day. (Handily gave herself an extra hour in bed there. Convenient!)

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Breakfast was the standard coffee and a crappy microwave burger. (It works for me!) Then I was off on my way for the bus which was around a 30 minute walk. (Nice warm up.)

Huge queue to get on but they put on loadsa buses so didn’t have to wait long.

Arriving at the start I messaged Paul to see where he was at. It was his first marathon today and so I said I’d run it with him for support and general niceness. He found me in the toilet queue (I needed to go, wasn’t just there for the fun) and then (after) we made our way to the start to line up.

JUST realised I didn’t take many pics for this post so you’ll have to imagine. No wait, I did art at school I’m sure I can do the scene justice! Give your thoughts a break, stop imagining and start VISUALISING!

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Now, don’t let the picture fool you. First: That’s actually a drawing and not a photo. Second: There were more people than that.

Before we knew it, it was go time. It’s always a very well organised start and this year was the same. No waiting around to get to the start line, just a nice steady walk.

We started at a nice steady pace and the plan was to keep to that and walk through each water station (which are roughly 5k apart.) 15mins in and we’re approaching the town centre and I started looking for the missus. Saw her at the side, ran over to give her a kiss (Awwwwhhhhhh) and then we ran by the minster. (Me and Paul, not me and Hayley. That’d be against the rules.)

5k: First water station. All good.

10k: Just over an hour. All good.

Carried on a bit further and then felt a slight pain in my knee. Got steadily worse until around mile 11 where I told Paul that he should bugger off on alone so he doesn’t miss out on a decent time for his first marathon, and from then on it was painful.

1/2 Marathon in 2hr 12minutes.

Mile 13 is downhill to the turn around at mile 14 and I saw Paul coming up the opposite side so stopped for a little talk and told him I was in pain and not to expect me to be at the end anytime soon after him. From here to the end is a combination of slow running and hobbling. Few minutes run, more minutes hobble.

Mile 14-16 is steadily slightly uphill so that hurt.

Mile 16 to 18 is nicely steadily downhill so that was better, but still hurt. Mile 18 turn around and go back up. You shit.

Saw the archbishop of York on the way up high-fiving the runners. He was decked out in his traditional purple robes and I honestly thought it was someone in a Magneto fancy dress costume.

Mile 20 arrived (not soon enough) and it looked like I was going to record a PW (Personal Worst) time, I was estimating that due to the speed I was going and the amount I was slowing I’d be around 5hr 20mins. Ugh. Ah well, goonies never say die and all that!

Digging deep I started to count my steps. Run for 100, walk for 100. Keep the rhythm, feel the rhyme. The crowds at Yorkshire marathon are always fantastic and the support is brilliant. The cheers of the crowd really do motivate you on. (Looking back, that is. Not at the time. At the time you want to shout “No I will NOT run faster and I am NOT almost there!” But you don’t, because it’s hard enough to breathe as it is.)

Before long the end was in sight, and so was a nice sit down.

Amazingly, I finished in 04:51:47! (Paul finished in 04:22:32 but no one likes a show off.)

Total number of Yorkshire Marathons I’ve completed: 5

Total number of Marathons I’ve completed: EIGHT!

Met Hayley at the end and also Paul and his missus were waiting too. (He’d been sick after finishing. Serves him right.)

Congratulated each other then made our separate ways. Myself and Hayley got to the pub for beer and recovery chips and then a four hour drive back up to Scotland. (I had a shower first otherwise that’d be an interesting scent to take!)

Already entered Yorkshire Marathon 2018. Standard.

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100 Mile In June


In Which I Try Run 1… Just Read The Title Again

So I managed to finish May on 75 miles, which is a lot more than I expected as I’ve been a lazy bugger lately. Looking back over my stats since I started running and it seems its my second best month for miles EVER (since I started running in 2012.)

The best month I ever had was last year when I managed 100 mile one month. That month being last June…

…ooooo thats like a YEARLY JUNE CHALLENGE!

I got so giddy I made this to keep a visual motivational paper pen notebook drawing representation of my miles:

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Obviously one box equals one mile. Don’t need a comment like housemate Rob when he said “there aren’t 100 days in June”….

June 1st

I worked a 12 hour shift, 6-6. So obviously you’re thinking that I didn’t run much, and honestly I was only planning on 10k at most, but ended up (no idea how) running 10 MILES.

June 2nd

Figured a short, 3.1 mile recovery run. Chuffing hurt that did though.

June 4th

A guy at work, Paul, has started running. He’s only fine treadmill runs up till now though, so I convinced him to come out on the road with me. His fastest treadmill 5km was 38 mins. We did a 5km on the road in 30:45. OooooAHHHHH!

June 6th

My day off so planned on running 15 miles. Slept in though, and stupid hot (for England) so put off my run for a day. Instead, I sat in the back garden and got sunburnt.

June 7th

Woke up around half 7. Didn’t fancy running and considered putting it off again but I’ve been reading Unbroken (about Louis Zamperini) and the things he went through with running and everything else made me realise I was being a bit sawft, so got my kit on and got out the door.

0830 and it was already 16 degrees. My plan was to run uphill for 5 miles to a reservoir called Ogden Water, lap it a few times (four) for another 5 miles then run 5 miles home to get a total of 15.

Honestly, I considered turning around at two miles. My breathing was off, both my shins hurt and I was dripping with sweat. In my head I told myself I’ll get to 5k, then I can turn and end up on 10k. Got there, and figured I’d try push on to 4 miles. Got there, then thought if I get to Ogden Water I’ll do a lap to see what its like and then go home.

God it hurt. Hardest 5 miles I’ve ever done. Got there though. The laps of the reservoir are around 1.2 miles so figured I’d struggle through one then bugger off home.

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Water selfie, then got going. And you know what? The lap was amazing. Breathing sorted itself out, plenty of shaded areas, beautiful scenery and hardly anyone there. I flew round it. Decided I’d do the full four laps after all. I seriously enjoyed each and everyone. The best bit was when I ran by a mother and son (around 5 year old) and I heard the kid say “Mummy, does that man know he’s allowed to walk?”

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Four laps done, ready for 5 miles home. Figured ‘sod it’, do two more. So I did. If I went home now I’d finish on 17.5 miles, 2.5 more than I thought I’d get.

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But then, THEN, that voice came into my head…

“Two more laps would get you home with 20 miles…”

Looked at my drink situation, looked at the time, looked at the temperature (24 degrees) and made the sensible choice.

TWO MORE LAPS.

And I still enjoyed it. Finished those, then ran the 5 miles downhill home. God it was chuffing hot…

Dunno what happened with my camera but this is me after 20 miles, looking quite fresh!

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“Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, not to mention Englishmen in Mad Dogs running shirts”

In case you don’t believe me, here: (look at that elevation!!)

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Didn’t realise how dusty the run was until I got undressed and thought I still had trousers on

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So yeah! 36 miles so far for June, very chuffed with that!

Next Up

Hull 10k on June 19th