Monday, 25 June 2012

Its all about the Vets !

I enjoyed my first ever taste of Vets Track and Field on Saturday as I ventured to the track at Monkton for an afternoon of racing.  Having entered three races (1500m, 800m then a 5000m) I decided after the way my legs were post 3000m on Tuesday that I would stick to the 5000m only.

When I arrived at the track I picked my number up and was easily persuaded to enter the open mile at 2.15pm (an hour at least before my main event the 5000m).   Thinking this would be an opportunity to post a time for the mile (my first ever race over that distance on the track) and a chance for a decent warm up pre 5000m.  
In the end quite a competitive field was assembled with Sparrow Morley of Tyne Bridge and Jason Stobbs of Gateshead leading out the first three of the four laps.   Kenny Mcpherson of Tyne Bridge made a bold move on the final lap and opened up a gap between us and then promptly chased Stobbs down to move into 2nd.  I found a final push to grab 3rd on the final straight having somehow found a sprint finish from somewhere!   My mind then switched to the next event the 5000m. 

Having experienced the wind on the track properly during the mile I decided that times and pbs were not going to be easy today so I decided (literally at the last minute) to have a go at the 800m as well.   In the end I finished 3rd in 2:26.5 after a competitive race which was won by 800m specialist Norman De Bruin of NSP in 2:15.3 followed by George Harden of Sunderland who held on for 2nd in 2:24.6.  As both athletes in front were in different age groups I ended up with the Gold Medal for vet 40's!   Who would have guessed that one in only my 3rd ever outing over 800m!   Is there a future in that distance for me...maybe not!

Onto the final event (legs feeling pretty tired now!) I led the 5000m from about two laps out to 11 and a half laps before Tim Field of Sunderland Harriers showed me a clean pair of spikes and took the win in 16.42.  I came 2nd in 16.49 which under the circumstances (2 races in the bag already) and the weather I was very pleased with.   A solid run!  Again the athlete in front of me was in a different age group so by default I became the Gold Medal winner in the Vet 40 age category.   Happy days!

All in all a great afternoon of racing, good company and everything about the event was well organised with excellent officials, results coming out very quickly and bags of enthusiasm from all involved - well worth the journey!  Well done to Vicki Thompson for putting on a great event!

It was great to see lots of athletics on the television over the weekend and for me the highlights were Laura Weightman's domination of the women's 1500m , the gutsy performance by the young Jessica Judd in the women's 800m final and Jo Pavey's finishing sprint in the 5000m.  A couple of other notable performances were Kenenisa Bekele's 27.02.59 in the 10,000m and the amazing 50 year old Roald Bradstock throwing an amazing 72.78 meters to finish 2nd in the javelin.   He is ranked 5th on the all time list and is still producing the goods!

  Go Ro!

I would like to wish fellow blogger Alan Dent a swift recovery having fallen ill during the 1500m race on Saturday.   Get well soon Alan!  You can read Alans Blog at:

I certainly enjoyed the weekends athletics far more than the weekends football.....enough said! 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

NYSD 3000m

A dilemma...stay in and watch the football or go to Darlington for the NYSD 3000m?   No contest for me as I swapped Rooney and Co for the tartan track!  

What if England played a blinder and I missed it?
What if I have a stinker of a run?
What if everyone stays at home and watches the footy and I end up running seven and a half laps on my own?

In the end there was a decent field for the 3000m with Marc Scott of Richmond and Zetland taking the honours in 8.57.5.  An early lead group of five soon established themselves and I was running off the back of them for most of the race.  I ended up in 6th in a new vet 40 pb of 9.39.8.  

An improvement of close to 3 seconds over my last 3000m in April.   Could be a combination of spikes and less marathon miles in my legs or it could be my effort to sort out my footstrike...hopefully there will be more pbs to come over the summer!

Even managed to catch the second half......

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Track Test

Last nights track session gave me lots of food for thought....
In a bid to get some pre-marathon build up speed I have bought myself  a pair of spikes.  Nothing flash but a pair of middle distance spikes that will do the job! 

Having only just recovered from Blaydon I wasnt sure how the legs would react so decided on a mixed bag session of 3 x 300m (after a decent warm up of course!) and then a 15 minute effort.   This was to be followed up by a set of 4 x 400m @ 3km speed.

I read a great article by the late Frank Horwill about how to improve VO2 Max which gave me some great ideas.  It starts with a BALKE test which is 15 minutes of sustained running on a track where the aim is to try and run as many 400m laps as possible.  It is then possible (with a certain degree of accuracy it seems) to be able to calculate VO2 max.  

I managed 11 full laps and about 160m of a 12th lap in the 15 minutes.    The pace I ran for the effort was about 5-16 pace average which would work out to be a sub 16-30 effort.  Very pleasing considering a sub 16-30 is something I have been aiming for this season.
Using the site above this works out to be a VO2 Max of 62.71mls/kg/min.   For a 40 - 49 year old male this works out to be Superior!  I will be repeating the test again in about 4 to 6 weeks and see if I can improve.    Nowhere near the VO2 max reported for the legendary Dave Bedford reported to be 85 mls/kg/min!   Its likely that people will say that this test cannot be that accurate but as long as it is repeated under similar conditions it is worth a go to see how you are progressing.

The 400s that followed were all hitting target times and the spikes worked a treat!

We also used a bit of video analysis using my new IPAD App (Coach's Eye).  With footage of me running the 15 minute effort at the start, mid point and end I had the opportunity to use a bit of freeze frame analysis and have a good look at my running technique.  I know I don't have the best running style but it has always been fairly effective in getting me from A to B.  What I noticed most of all was my foot strike was bit too far forward of my centre of gravity and may be acting as a bit of a brake - it may also explain some of my hamstring injuries over the years!  
What I need to work out now is what to do about it...How much can I change my technique and do i risk injury by making changes at this stage of my life to something as fundamental as the way I run.
My morning run today I consciously thought about where I planted my foot and it did feel a bit different - considering I was tired from the session last night I felt quite bouncy and light trying to mid foot strike rather than heel striking.  

There will be plenty of opportunities to test these things out in the next few weeks as I tackle a few more track races.

Time to attack those targets I talked about a few weeks ago!

800m = Under 2.21
1500m = Under 4.37
5000m = Under 16.12

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Going to a race that is as big as Blaydon for the first time is a bit of a learning experience...having decided to drive to Blaydon and get a bus into Newcastle for the start nice and early everything seemed to be going ok.   The long queues for the ladies portaloos (not sure why there were no mens but everyone was using them anyway!) was able to be accomodated into the timetable, as was getting my kit onto the Blaydon baggage bus and warming up in the hustle and bustle of Newcastle.  What a strange mix of shoppers, masses of runners and people starting hen nights, stag nights and general partying...not to mention the can can girls!  All part of the Blaydon experience. 

The race info said to get to the start nice and early as we would need to be lined up by about 5.35.  Conscious that a good start was needed I decided to do my homework.  First I asked a marshall where the best place to be to get a good start.  This side of the fence he assured me and close to this area pointing to the traffic lights.   Which direction do we go..."West!" he replied....Thanks...

Ok so far...then the masses descended on the area and I was in what I thought was a prime area for the start when I saw a couple of North Shields Poly lads.   Local knowledge I thought and followed them as they worked their way up the road to get to the "prime spot to get a good start!"   so after a lot of winding through the crowd I thought right that's great I am sorted.    After a couple of minutes there was a bit of movement from all angles and suddenly the race was off......surely not 15 minutes early where was the famous bell ringing, the sing song come to think of it any kind of warning that the race was underway.   This was just the race to the start line.  I found myself probably in the middle of something like the 15th row from the start with no chance of moving.   In front of me must have been a couple of hundred runners.   I decided to accept fate and stick to where I was rather than try and improve my position.  

First mile was a mass of bodies a bit like the frenzy of an open water swim where everyone wants a good start and goes off like crazy only so slow after a couple of hundred metres and become a moving obstacle to everyone else.   In the end the 5.31 mile wasn't too bad but I dread to think what that would have been like if I had a better start.   Then the rain came !  

I don't think I have ever run in such torrential rain with rivers of water crossing the carriageway - the sight probably makes for great action shots if anyone had been brave enough.  Actually the support along the route was unbelievable considering the weather.

Splits were:  Mile 1 - 5.31, Mile 2- 5.13, Mile 3 - 5.17, Mile 4 - 5.29, Mile 5 - 5-37.  Ended up finishing the 5.75 (Garmin distance !) in 31.20.  

Not sure of my finishing position but in the last mile caught Rosie Smith (4th lady) and Les Smith (fellow Vet 40).   Les had a bit more in his legs and took me down in the last half mile.  I have seen a photo on facebook of Les on the front row at the start now I'm not making excuses or anything but.....  Well done Les on a great run!  

Just in front of me were 3rd lady (Alyson Dixon - 2.35 Marathon runner) and local lad Andy Chadfield of Billingham Marsh House.  

So i survived the Blaydon Race...probably be back next year a little bit wiser and a bit more race savvy - hopefully I wont need to get past a couple of hundred of runners in the first mile although it made for an interesting experience!   It reminded me of a recurring dream I used to have where I missed the start of a race and started from the back....I did actually do that in the Nottingham Half Marathon a long time ago which is another story! 

Results below:

There are some great photos here from Runner Wanderings.