On racing trains and being 40

The train pre-race
I spent Saturday racing against a train. To those not familiar with the weird and wonderful world of running this involves what it says on the tin – racing against a train. It’s simple really. Pack the 2.05pm departure of the Talyllyn Railway full of friends and family and start a race at the same time. Run as parallel as you can to the train for the 7 miles there and 7 miles back and the see who wins. On this occasion I’m pleased to say I won (along with quite a few others) – but only by about 10 seconds, coming in at circa 1:47:30 – official results to follow.

What a race though. You get to run through fields, people’s backyards, up the side of steep hills, through muddy streams – anywhere as long as it’s close to the railway track. I fell over a couple of times, wore the wrong trainers and generally had a tough time of it. My legs were so tired towards the end I walked a few times just to recover – something I only do if I’m really, really suffering. The train did go past me near the end (but then foolishly stopped at a station allowing me to just beat it back) with my family sticking their heads out of the window and yelling advice and encouragement at me – or at least I think they were, I couldn’t hear a thing over the noise of the train. Overall, a great race for which I woefully under-trained and suffered as a result. Oh and despite it being cloudy and rainy I still got sunburnt.

Dave in pain

It’s not the first race I ran this week. That was the Rowheath 5k on Thursday. I suffered there as well. Almost a full minute behind my PB. What’s going on? I turned 40 in July so I’m now in the veteran category. I should be relishing putting down some great times yet instead I’m running badly in any distance you care to set me. What’s that you say? Why don’t I just start training properly? Instead of moaning maybe I could show my face on Saturday morning training sessions? Maybe run more than twice a week? Oh come on you’re just being silly now.

Running to stand still

I spend too much time on this blog telling you about my gardening exploits. You’d have thought I’d given up running completely so this is a brief post to update you on where I am with that aspect of my life at the moment:

Training – in case you didn’t know I ran the London Marathon in 3hrs 1 minute in April and since then I’ve eased off training (compunded by a light ankle niggle in the weeks just after the race). I’ve been a bit half-hearted about it actually but I plan to step it up with the aim of getting a personal best half-marathon time at the year’s Birmingham half-marathon. Colleagues in my running club are even getting me to think about my spring 2009 marathon (maybe London, maybe somewhere else) and how I should be training for it now – yikes!

I’ve started running home from work a couple of times a week which is good for the soul, and on the pocket given the price of fuel. It’s only about 4 miles or more if I take the scenic route via Cannon Hill park (more again via the canals) but overall I doubt I’m running more than 25 miles a week at the moment, often less.

Racing – My last race was the Malvern half-marathon on June 22nd in which I came in the top 30 and recorded a good time in windy conditions of under 1hr 29mins. I was however a little dissapointed as it felt harder than any race I’d done for a while and I tailed off very badly in the second half. I should have paced myself for a more sensible run. I’ve much to do ahead of Birmingham in October if I’m to hit 1hr 26mins.

In mid-August, for fun more than competition, I race against a train across fields in Wales. Beating the train there and back along the route is quite difficult apparently but it should be fun. I’d like to squeeze in a 10k race at some point over the summer or early Autumn but I should wait until I’m at least a little fitter.

So overall this post is to let you know that I’m running less (I was doing 5-6 days a week during marathon training and up to 50 miles) but still enjoying it. In fact I’m probably enjoying it precisely because I’m running less.