Running – the peaks I reached

Now I’m not saying that I’m giving up running, but I am absolutely sure that I will never run as quickly as I used to. Therefore, I want to note here the personal bests I achieved in the (roughly) 10 years I’ve been a runner.

The reason I can cite these as a peak with reasonable confidence is that the past two years of niggles around my hip area have now settled down to a consistently annoying pain that is fine to jog around on for 40-50 minutes but no longer, and certainly not at speed.

So here are my personal bests. They are well good and I am properly chuffed with them. As someone who was rubbish at sport at school and effectively did no exercise at all throughout my twenties, I feel proud of these times.

5km – 17:54 – Sandhurst, Gloucester, July 2007

10km – 37:54 – Market Drayton, Shropshire, May 2007

10 miles – 1:07:39 – Walsall, December 2005

Half Marathon – 1:23:21 – Telford, March 2009 (I won money for this one!)

20 miles – 2:17:26 – Bury St. Edmunds, February 2008

Marathon – 3:01:22 – London, April 2008

You can understand how gutting that last time is, knowing I won’t go under 3 hours yet got so close. Ah well, never mind.

Of course running shorter distances, at a slower pace, is actually quite nice. I’ll still try to turn out for my club‘s competitive events from time to time, and, inevitably, I’ll still make some reference to running and the data it generates when I talk about digital/social media stuff in public. As I did last week in a talk in Toledo near Madrid:

EPC 2.012

Running the Eleven Bus Route

Well that’s that done then. You’ll need to see my previous post for the context but I’ve now run both halves of the number 11 bus route in Birmingham.

The map below takes the raw track data (separated from lap data via Google Earth) from both halves and uses GPS Visualiser to map the routes on to Open Street Map. What looks like a single line in the middle is two lines, one for each time I ran it.

Click here for the map on a page of its own

About the Left Half
It surprised me that it was a shorter run. From the start point in Bournville round to the point I got to last time in Stockland Green, was only 12 miles (I realise now that I should have turned at Erdington last time).

That resulted in a 20.5 run overall which makes the number 11 bus route 25.5 miles in total if you’re running it. I didn’t cut corners but didn’t religiously stick to one side of the pavement and always took the inside route at the bigger junctions.

I was a bit head down when I ran it as I was trying for a good pace so I can’t offer a commentary on the visual highlights of this side of the route. There was a prison and a very long, straight road (City Road in Rotton park which is also the highest point on the route at 625ft, Kings Heath is second at 526ft).

Training update
In general the marathon training is going well. I run a 20 mile race this coming Sunday and I’m hoping the undulations on the 11 route will help me put in a good time (again, thanks for the idea Pete). The marathon is under five weeks away so for at least three of those I’ve still got lots of mileage to do. For the most part I’m enjoying it, even though my right leg still hurts a bit and it is sometimes boring as hell. It is though, terrific thinking time. I have thought a lot, about lots of stuff.

Half a Number 11 – the right half

So he was probably just joking, but in response to me saying I might run the 27-mile number 11 bus route in Birmingham (and then realising I shouldn’t, cos it’s too long for marathon training) I took an idea Pete Ashton had and, erm, ran with it.

Running long distances is very boring indeed, so having a focus is good. I live close to the 11 route so the starting point was near to home and my only plan was to run anti-clockwise from Bournville for approximately 13.5 miles and then turn left towards the City Centre and home.

In my mind I didn’t really want to run more than 20-22 miles but I did no pre-planning to see where the 13.5 mark would be or how long it would take from there back to Bournville.

As it turns out, my fancy GPS watch told me Stockland Green is 13.5 miles from Bournville on the 11 route and a straightish line back to home is 8.5 miles. A lovely 22 mile run overall then in 2 hours 51 minutes.

So we’ve got one half of Birmingham encompassed by my run – the right brain of Brum if you like, or the Yang (or Yin?). Next Sunday I go clockwise from home to the same point – I only hope it’s no more than 13.5 to Stockland Green miles by going that way round.

Here’s the raw data if you fancy it (KML format or GPX format).

And here’s a movie-like, Google Earth, run-through (may take a while to load) of the run via the Run Saturday site.

By the way, the elevation profile tells me the fascinating fact that Kings Heath is the highest point on the right hand side of the 11 route – fascinating.

London Marathon 2011 – training and stuff

Not done a running update on here for a while so here goes. Having skipped a year last year I’m now training for another go at the London Marathon on April 17th 2011. Here’s some info:

I keep a spreadhseet of my training, I’m that sad. This year I’m trying to be a bit stricter with myself and commit to run 6 days a week. The plan is as follows:

  • Mondays – 10 miles race pace
  • Tuesday – easy run from work (about 8 miles)
  • Wednesday – easy run to work
  • Thursday – hills or speed training
  • Friday – rest
  • Saturday – long run, sometimes with a Parkrun in the middle of it
  • Sundays – slow 4 – 6 miles

Overall this will take me to about 50-60 miles a week maximum once I’m at full stretch with the long runs. The run to/from work is going well. I found where the showers are at work and have a locker so can sneak in lunchtime runs if I want.

I don’t want your money. Really, no thanks. You gave before and were generous, let’s skip a year. However, my Brother-in-law Steve is looking for donations for a very worthy cause so if you were thinking of sponsoring me then please put the money his way instead – tell him Dave sent you.

Digital stuff
Other than the spreadsheet, I track my runs via a GPS enabled watch (Garmin Forerunner 405) which then feeds a twitter account @daveharteruns. A link to the data gets tweeted every time I upload a run or you can subscribe to an RSS feed of the runs.

As usual I shall be eating more chips.


I’ve been a bit hampered by an aching buttock/hip for about 18 months so it was with some relief that just before Christmas I finally had a name put to it. According to my physio I have Piriformis Syndrome. To alleviate it I do some focused stretching and at the distances I’m running right now it’s an annoying niggle and no more. When I get into the 20 mile long runs that may not be the case; we’ll see.

Other running blogs I’m reading at the moment.

Countdown to London Marathon 2010

Another year, another marathon. After missing out last year I’ll be running London once again on the 25th April 2010. Which is great as it’s a wonderful race to be part of, amazing crowds and a lovely flat route.

My training has kind of started. Well, having been off running for about five weeks I’m now back on it again but the thigh strain (or whatever it is) that kept me off is still niggling. Oh, and I’m running like an old man – much fitness to regain.

I’ll make no secret of the fact that I’m trying to run under three hours this year. I came close to that in London 2008 and still think it’s possible but I really do have to focus this time around (both in training and in the race itself).

If you want to keep track of my progress I’ll be recording every run with my Garmin. You can glance at the Garmin website or follow daveharteruns on twitter.

Countdown clock stolen from official London Marathon homepage.

My Birmingham Half Marathon 2009

First off, what a well-organised race this was. All the various races (elite men, women, wheelchair, mass) started on time, the baggage drop-off was managed well enough and I didn’t have to queue for a portaloo. Support along the route was great, especially around Bournville where obviously it helps to have Bournville written on your running vest

I came 251st in 1:27:21. A full four minutes off my best but I was pleased enough as my training drifted a little in recent weeks. A full season of cross-country over the winter should see me posting better times in the new year hopefully.

Well done to everyone that took part and especially to the masses of colleagues from Bournville Harriers. Some really impressive times amongst club members but Mel James’ 1:23:04 and 6th woman back (first in her age category) was the stand out. I think it was actually Mel’s first ever half marathon.

Here’s the map from my Garmin if you want to see how my race panned out:

(pic: Pete Ashton)

Almost there – Birmingham Half Marathon 2009

It’s almost here. This year’s Birmingham Half Marathon has over 12,000 entrants and one Paula Radcliffe. The numbers have been sent out (well mine has anyway) and letters have gone to residents along the route telling them to shift their cars the night before the race. They’re even re-tarmacing the race route within Cannon Hill Park.

My training has been a bit lacklustre. If you follow my updates on twitter then you’ll have noticed that I’ve done about 3 or 4 runs a week with a recent tail-off due to a recurring hip injury that for once buying a new expensive pair of trainers didn’t cure – it usually does, honest. It’s not bad enough to pull out of the race (lots of ibuprofen gel will help) but it means that I’m not able to push my training just ahead of having to taper.

They haven’t sent out a race guide this year in an effort to be a bit greener presumably. You can download it (PDF link) and it gives you all the details you need about baggage arrangements and start times for the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships.

Paula and the rest of the women start at 9am so they’ll be close to finishing by the time the rest of us start at 10am. As I said to my family, if they want to see Paula they’ll have to be loitering around Maryvale road in Bournville at about 9.30am. They’ll then have plenty of time to pop home, get a cup of tea, some toast, watch some telly, before I appear at the same point about 10.40am. They should actually hang around for the elite men at about 10am as that line-up is impressive.

The race is again billed as the ‘Race Against Climate Change’. Shame then that the public transport arrangements for runners seem ill thought through. There are no early local trains on the Sunday and I can’t see evidence of extra buses being laid on. In fact, where I live all the buses will presumably be diverted due to closures on the race route. The race information that goes out for the London Marathon makes it clear that taking the car is pointless and then lists all the train times to get you to the start from various points of the capital. If the race grows in numbers again then we’ll really have to address this issue. If you do go by car then there’s a document about car park closures (PDF).

If you are travelling by public transport here are some useful links:

Best of luck to all the runners.

Tweeting my running

I’ve got a new GPS watch thing. It rocks. It records distance/elevation/pace etc. and then by the magic of technology uploads my route to a website where the runs are mapped onto google maps and I can set goals (this week’s goal is to run more than 40 miles by next Sunday – I probably won’t manage it).

Naturally enough I want to share my wonderful running exploits with the world – who wouldn’t. I want to tweet my athleticism. In fact I want to tweet it automatically so that you get to hear about every single run I do.

So I’ve created a twitter account for doing just that. daveharteruns sends a tweet every time a new route is completed on my watch and is uploaded to the Garmin website. The RSS feed from this is then fed to Twitter Feed which spits out the tweet when it detects new content.

It works seamlessly. In fact all I have to do is put my watch next to the laptop and while I’m in the shower it transfers the data and does the rest of the business. I can tweak the title of the run but other than that there’s no intervention needed.

So if you want to see where I’m running the go follow daveharteruns on twitter.

Birmingham Half Marathon 2009 is go

Entries are now open for this year’s Birmingham Half Marathon taking place on Sunday October 11th. The route is changed to a flatter south Birmingham one (from last year’s undulating north/west Birmingham one) that happens to go very close to my house in Bournville. There are some undulations as you come into Bournville and it looks like the last half mile is a bit uphill but other than that it’s relatively flat. I’ve mapped an approximation of the route in g-maps:

Birmingham Half Marathon 2009 route

This year’s event incorporates the World half-marathon championships so there’ll be an elite field competing for quarter of a million dollars in prize money. I still have a vague hope that Paula Radcliffe will squeeze it into her schedule as it would form the perfect build up to the New York marathon in November.

Even if she doesn’t show then rest assured I will – my entry is already in. Online entry attracts a hefty booking fee of £3.10 so it may be worth just printing out the form and putting it in the post. The race may well fill up early this year so do get your entries in ASAP.

Edinburgh Marathon 2009 – race review

Well at least I was smiling by the end of the 2009 Edinburgh Marathon. But then I did have a beer in my hand and unlike many of the runners I passed in the last couple of miles I was still walking unaided and without the need for additional oxygen.

This was a race of two halves for me, a quick first one and a much slower, way more painful second one. By the time I’d done a 1hr 27min first half it was getting hot. That’s always going to be a potential issue with a marathon this late in the year but hey, this was Scotland, I didn’t realise they had temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius. Even on the start line at 9am it felt warm. The first few miles are shaded so it wasn’t until we hit the coast that it was obvious the sea breeze would be slight at best.

So great, a quick first half and then immediate tiredness. Miles 13-19 were really tough going and I struggled to maintain a sub 7 minute/mile pace. Any hope of the target I’d set myself, a sub 3 hour marathon, was ebbing away and I realised that to cope with the heat and not end up a wreck I needed to slow down. In fact at three separate points I walked for a short distance to compose myself. It worked as I felt fine for the last couple of miles and even managed a sprint finish on the home straight as I noticed the clock nearing 3hrs 10 minutes.

In reflection I ran a bad marathon. If I eased up in the first half I might well have been nearer the 3 hour mark. But I was heartened at the end by the knowledge that I now run ‘bad’ marathons in under 3hrs 10mins – not bad I think. Plus the crowds at the end were great (I was virtually alone down the finish straight and got huge cheers) and then I spotted some ladies serving beer – how could I refuse.

Many thanks to all who sent messages of support on Twitter and donated to the charity I was supporting. Unfortunately those finishing later in the race had a rough time with some of the water stations running out. That aside (and I realise that’s a big thing to put aside) I thought this a well-organised race in a great city. Great to see so many Bournville Harriers there as well – thanks for the company at dinner the night before.

David Harte (Male 40) (301) 228th 03:09:47

Split times:
10k: 00:39:21
Half: 01:26:47
30k: 02:06:35
Marathon: 03:09:47