Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Race Report: Xavier's Royal Berkshire Mini Mile

The phrase "do as I say and not as I do" has never applied so much as it did last Sunday when my 4 year old son Xavier and I ran the Royal Berkshire event at Greenpark, Reading. Xavier was entered into the Mini Mile whereas I ran the 10k, and although his race was only 1 mile (1.6km) he controlled the pace perfectly and finished strong. The less said about my race the better, although it will be covered in a separate blog report. Not only did he enjoy running it but he also completed it in a very respectable 10:31.

This was only Xav's second race. He ran a 700m event when he was 2 years old at the Hursely 10k. He loved running the event and, more importantly, he loved getting a banana and medal at the end. He was so small then that his bib number was almost as big as him! Since then we've discussed running another event but never actually got round to it. However when I entered the Royal Berkshire 10k this year I noticed they were offering a Mini Mile and Mini Marathon (3 km) for the younger ones. I signed Xax up for the Mini Mile, which is basically 1 mile (1.6 km).

As it had been such a long time since I signed Xav up to the 1 mile event, I went and confused myself by thinking it was a 2 km race! That meant training for Xav would entail 2 km. Now I didn't want to push him too hard nor do it in such a way that would him off, so I planned to take him out for just a couple of gentle training runs.

The first run was to see whether at a slow pace he could actually make the distance. So one Sunday we set off from our house and ran 1 km down a straight road and then ran back. It was hard trying to stop him from shooting off. I was trying to explain that he needed to run slower so he wouldn't get too tired to the end (something I'm still trying to learn!). Even though it wasn't hot I realised that the next time we run I'd need to carry a small water bottle for him.

Posing a couple of days before the race
A couple of weeks later I took him out for another run. Very similar in nature but in a different direction. This time I made sure he didn't shoot off, and I took water for him to drink. After a km he kept stopping and wanting a drink. In fact he stopped more times than the first run. I promised him that I'd be running next to him in the race and should he need any help then I'd hold his hand and run together.

Both of these 2 km runs were ran with an average pace of just over 8 min/km (so completing the 2 km in 16:xx). I felt confident he could run the distance. Time wasn't important - he'd enjoy himself so much.

The Monday before the race I took him out for a very short 600m leg stretcher, which he did no problems and we chatted as we ran. He did it with a pace of 6.34 min/km.

However later that week we got our race packs and I only then did I realise that I'd entered him into the mile event...D'OH!

Pre-Race Activities
We arrived at the event with about 15 minutes to spare until the kids taking part in the Mini Mile were asked to walk to the start line. Xav and I walked on and chatted. He was mega excited. Then began the warm-up exercises. Xav seemed to enjoy these but they did go on quite a bit and in the end I told him to relax or he'd tire himself out. So with Xav warmed up and ready to go, the hooter sounded and he was off!

The Race

Xav bolted out and although he was being overtaken by a few older runners he managed to hold his own. Once we'd cleared the initial surge I looked to try and control his pace. The route was a "there and back" with the outbound journey slightly up hill / flat. He overtook a number of runners. As he ran we chatted, went round a roundabout and he was getting some cheers. He started to overtake more and more runners. He didn't seem to be puffing and was actually enjoying it. The first 500m flew past and up in the distance we could see the turning point. By 700m we could see some of the faster runs on the loop back. Xav was doing really well and his pace showed. He got to the turning point and I gave him some water to drink, with a marshal encouraging him and telling him he was a good boy for drinking. Now for the journey back!

We looped round and Xav was off again. No stopping the lad. We passed the 1km mark and my watched beeped to indicate he'd covered it in 6.23 min/km. That was his quickest 1km thus far!

As he passed more runners he was getting huge cheers from some of the crowd. By around 1.3km he started to slow a little but didn't stop. A few runners overtook him but he didn't like that and "kicked in". We were going slightly down hill at this time. In the crowd a young woman has a huge foam hand for the kids to high-five. When Xav approached her he jumped in the air and high-fived! He loved it!

We could then start to see the finish line and I asked Xav if he wanted to sprint to the finish. Of course he wanted to - and off he went. My little 4 year old storming to a personal victory with a very proud dad behind him! He crossed the line for a total time of 10:31, with the last 600m ran at an even quicker 6:15 min/km. 

I gave him a huge hug and kiss and then we headed over to get his medal, Teddy Bear (which that evening he called Pluto) and chocolate. Then he saw mummy and his sister in the crowd. Mummy gave him a huge hug and kiss. We are both so very proud of our little man. He told us he wanted to run more races..... I can't wait!

Photos from the Race
Here are some photos from the race....


Monday, 18 May 2015

June - Dec 2015 Race Schedule

So with 2015 almost 50% done and with only 3 races under my belt, I've decided to sit down and map out my remaining year. Here's what I have lined up. I don't expect any additions to the list, but depending on what happens outside of running I may have to miss a few.

  • Wed 3 June - Yateley 10k
  • Thurs 11 June - Dinton Pastures 10k
  • Wed 8 July OR Thurs 9 July - Yateley 10k or Dinton Pastures 10k
  • Wed 5 Aug - Yateley 10k
  • Thurs 13 Aug - Dinton Pastures 10k
  • Sun 6 Sept - Maidenhead Half (Entered)
  • Sun 18 Oct - Abingdon Marathon (Entered)
  • Sun XX Nov - Swindon 10k
  • Sun 29 Nov - Eynsham 10k
  • Sun 13 Dec - Andy Reading 10k
  • Sun 27 Dec - Gut Buster

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Race Report: Newbury Duathlon 2015

I never thought I'd see the day when I'd entered a bike race, but here I am just about to write a blog about that first experience. Of course being a runner means I couldn't just be a bike race but it also had to include running; and so it was, and my first experience of a duathlon was born!

I'd decided to break by duathlon virginity at the Newbury Duathlon. It was relatively cheap to enter and very local. I went there with no real expectations; and although I'd being doing quite a bit of running of late but cycling was poor. Prior to the race I hadn't been out on the bike for 3 weeks and even before then I hadn't trained. I see the bike as a means to an end - i.e., to help prevent and/or get me through running injuries. So to enter a race where the bike forms the bulk of the distance was going to be interesting to say the least.

The Newbury Duathlon (my home town) is made up of a 5km run, 25km bike, 5km run - all runs take place off road along tracks and fields surround the lovely village of Chieveley (just north of Newbury). After arriving at the venue having forgotten my helment and then having to drive home to pick it up, I entered the main waiting area of the race and spotted and awful lot of very posh (not to mention expensive) bikes. I stood there with my cheap and cheerful Cylcocross from Halfords and tried to forget the competition. I was there just to have fun and experience my first duathlon. I had no idea I'd fair. What I did notice however was the strong wind; and readers will know how much I hate wind! 

After registering and attaching all the numbered stickers on my bike and helmet I then briefly caught up with Jason Tillen on the start line, where the wind was mentioned again. The countdown began and before we knew it we were off....

First 5km Run

The first part of the run was around a playing field before then hitting a road for a couple of hundred metres. Before I knew it we were off-road. My pace was good and pretty much the first couple of kms were downhill along tracks boardering fields. With such a short distance there isn't really much to report. I kept the pace solid and quick but without being too quick. In actual fact it felt comfortable. There was a hill half way through which although I flew up knew deep down that after the bike it would be much harder. 

I eventually cam out onto a road and with about 1km left I entered the transition. I completed the first run in a time of 22.35. For me that was a quick run but made sure I didn't push myself too hard. I entered first Transition content with my performance thus far.

Transition 1 (T1)
What a balls-up I made of this!!! It started so well. I ran to to my bike and quickly unracked it and ran to the exist. Just as I was about to get on it I was told I'd forgotten my helmet! I therefore had to run back into Transition and pick it up. That cost me dearly. The extra time I spent in Transition was added to the Bike time. My T1 time was a very quick 38 seconds! If you ignore the cock-up then I was very pleased with that.

Bike (25km)
I was dreading the bike. I'd really not trained for it. That said I jumped on and peddled at a controlled but steady pace. Along the straights and downhill I felt fine; managing to get some pace. However the hills really got me. For pretty much 3/4 of the bike only a handful of people over took me. There was a killer hill though and I was so glad I was on my own when I hit it. I went so slow up it that I felt like getting off and pushing. I didn't but it was embarrassing to watch (but thankfully nobody was). Once at the top it was much easier to the finish. I'd messed up the settings on my watch during the mess that was the Transition so I didn't actually record my bike activity. This means I had no idea how far I'd cycled or more importantly, how much distance I had left. 

I continued to plod long and before I knew it I was entering the village again and the Transition. With crowds cheering I got off the bike and pushed it into Transition 2. I'd completed the bike in 1:02:59 - a rather disappointing achievement I must say. Would like to have come at least mid-50s; but that's what I get for not training for it. Alas I had no idea of my time due to the watch not recording it.

Transition 2 (T2)
This was another quick transition - I hooked the bike on the rack, took my helment off and put my running cap on and then quickly existed (stopping briefly for some water). T2 was done in 47 seconds - another quick transition!

Second 5km Run

As I exited the Transition and hit the road my legs felt a little wobbly. I knew this feel due to what little training I had done, but to be honest it had never had an impact on my running performance. Back onto the tracks and it felt like I was running slowly when it actual fact I was running sub-5 min/km. The first part of the run was good as it was slightly downhill / on the flat. However I then hit the hills. 

My legs really did not like the hills at all and I had to walk a little part of them. They  felt so heavy from the bike. As a result my heart rate was really climbing. In order to combat this I pulled behind a fellow running who was running at a pace I wanted to run at and just stuck behind her and focused on both her and getting my heart rate down. This worked. I followed her all the way to the Transition area and by the time we hit it I'd recovered. I was then able to overtake her and sprint around the field before finishing strong. It was a controlled run and I was relatively happy. I'd done the second 5km in 25:12. Ideally I'd have liked to gone sub-25 mins but was still content as it was my first experience of off-road running in a duathlon.


Given I'd never done a duathlon I was very happy with my performance and I actually enjoyed it. It was very different from just running; although it's obvious from looking at the times that I'm more a runner than a cyclist. I was particularly happy with my Transition time.

I would most certainly do another one, but whereas with running I'd be looking for specific times, I think with the duathlon I'll just enter them for fun and try to forget about times - especially the bike times.