Spitfire 10k Run - Jaguar

RAF Cosford – Spitfire 10K

Ever since a child I’ve had a love of aircraft and as you can probably tell I like a bit of a challenge, so it’s not surprising that a single character tweet is all it took to convince me to enter a run called the “Spitfire 10K” at an RAF museum.

@ACERunningclub Tweet

In the days of ultra marathons and Ironman triathlons some may say that 10k (6.2 miles) isn’t that much of challenge, but as someone with a heart condition and predominately being a cyclist I find running considerably difficult. When I am running my heart rate goes up much quicker and higher, so to maintain a rate that I am comfortable with I have to run at a slower pace or at times even walk. The important thing for me is taking part and that it doesn’t stop me from getting outside.

As per usual it was an early start on Sunday morning as I wanted to get to RAF Cosford early in order to be able to park on the site, rather than use the park and ride service.  It was shortly after 8am that I met up with Roland and Sara from ACE (After Cardiac Event) Runners in the museum cafe, we had previously spoken a lot on twitter but this was the first time we had actually met. A little while later after tea/coffee and with cardiac histories exchanged we headed for the safety briefing and the start line by Hangar One.

Preparing for the start and the safety briefing in Hanger One
Preparing for the start and the safety briefing in Hanger One – Photo ⓒ RAF Museum Cosford

With the briefing complete it was only a couple of minutes later that we were away and running.

RAF Cosford - Spitfire 10K Runners
Running up to the Visitors Entrance in the first kilometre – Photo ⓒ RAF Museum Cosford

I got carried away with a large group at the start (I’m in the red t-shirt towards the back of the group in the photo above) and as a result set off at far quicker pace than I should have done.

Having run past the museums outdoor exhibits and completing a lap of the hangers it was down onto the airfield past several Jaguars, including Cosford’s “Spotty Jag”.

With the quick pace, for me at least, I completed the first mile in just over 10 minutes, my normal mile pace is closer to 13 minutes.

Spitfire 10k Run - Jaguar

Sepecat Jaguar

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I was about a third of the way (2 miles) into the run when the race leader passed me coming back the other way (he was at 5 miles!). Rather appropriately for an RAF based event he was runner number 633 and went on to win with a time of just over 36 minutes.

Once onto the airfield the route followed the taxi way to the far end of the runway, up and back down the runway before returning along the taxi ways back to the start/finish line.

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The Spitfire 10k Route – Map Image Crown Copyright Ordnance Survey / OS Maps

This is only my second ever running event and I was hoping to complete it in 1 hour 20 minutes, my first mile paced caused me to slow towards the end and I crossed the line in 1 hour 27 minutes 33 seconds.

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My reward for finishing – One of the best medals I’ve seen.

It was also a chance to meet up with my brother Andy, who lives close to Cosford. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a look around the rest of the museum and of course take a photo of the Vulcan in the Cold War exhibit.
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Whilst I’m disappointed with my time I enjoyed every step and I’m looking forward to beating 1 hour 20 mins next year!

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L2P24

London to Paris 24 Hour Sportive – Stage One, England

What did you do for the Bank Holiday weekend? I joined 49 other cyclists for the adventure of a lifetime by cycling from London to Paris in just 24 hours, just over five years to the day after my heart attack and raising funds for the Pumping Marvellous foundation. I had entered the London to Paris 24 hour sportive organised by Sophie Radcliffe and the team at Cycling Friendly.

The adventure began at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park. I had arrived an hour early, having cycled there from a local hotel that I had stayed at the night before. I wasn’t expecting the view from the start, as I reached a statue at the end of a tree lined avenue the view opened up to a one hundred and eighty degree panorama of the park and London beyond, topped off with the skyscrapers of Central London and Canary Wharf on the horizon – I’d only just arrived and the views were fantastic!

L2P24
London and Canary Wharf Skyline from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Other riders started to arrive and soon a small group had started to form around the benches opposite a van selling coffee. I was a little worried as I entered by myself and therefore would not know anyone, I needn’t have worried as everyone was extremely friendly. Introductions were being made along with the normal questions in this type of scenario, such as have you travelled far to get here etc?

London 2 Paris 24hr cycle sportive. Photo credit : Chris Winter
Riders arriving in Greenwich – Photo by Chris Winter

The record distance travelled goes to Milton, he had flown into London the day before from Brisbane, Australia just for this ride and another rider had come from America. It was turning out to be a truly international event before a pedal had even been turned. With the introductions, registration and rider briefing complete it was time for the official group photo in front of the iconic Canary Wharf skyline before heading off on stage one and the ferry at Newhaven.

Rider briefing at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London
Rider briefing at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich
London 2 Paris 24hr cycle sportive. Photo credit : Chris Winter
Riders of the 2016 London to Paris 24hr Sportive – Photo by Chris Winter

Stage 1 – London to Newhaven (58 miles / 93 km)

With the riders all assembled we set off for Paris, I started my Garmin at 3:29 pm (UK time) making the goal for the Eiffel Tower 4:29pm (French Time).

London 2 Paris 24hr cycle sportive. Photo credit : Chris Winter
Starting the adventure of a lifetime, Greenwich Park. Photo by Chris Winter

The busy streets of London were soon replaced with quiet country lanes as we made our way out of the capital towards Orpington, by chance the route passed my sister-in-law’s mother’s house and they had very kindly made a banner for me, encouraging me up the first main climb of the day.

Val and Ken's Banner
Val and Ken’s Banner
London 2 Paris 24hr cycle sportive. Photo credit : Chris Winter
Hawley’s Corner before the descent into Westerham – Photo by Chris Winter

After Westerham, the route climbed up onto the High Weald skirting Five Hundred Acre Wood, the scenery and views across East Sussex were stunning.

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Riding with Sophie over the High Weald in East Sussex. Photo by Sophie Radcliffe

I had hired a small GPS tracker for the ride from Open Tracking, this was sending my current position to a website every ninety seconds and displaying it on a map of the route for family and friends to track my progress. For UK based events Open Tracking use the detailed 1:25000 Ordnance Survey mapping, however as my event left the UK I had to use an alternative mapping partner.

Pumping Marvellous, the heart charity I was cycling in aid of, had also tweeted the tracking link to it’s followers before the start and was tweeting updates along the way, each one was appearing as a notification on my bar mounted Garmin. This was providing me with an excellent source of encouragement, knowing that others were following and supporting me along the way.

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By this stage I had been cycling with a group of seven other similar paced riders and we were making steady progress towards our final stop of the evening. The sun was getting low in the sky, as it dipped behind the clouds and the horizon to leave us for the night we were rewarded with a fantastic sunset, unfortunately the photo below does not do it justice.

The setting sun on the approach to Newhaven
Sunset in Newhaven

We arrived in Newhaven at 8:11pm, having covered the 58 miles at an average speed of 13.5 mph with 3,570 feet of climbing, to be rewarded with a two course meal and the opportunity for drinks in a local hotel before riding to the ferry at 9:30pm. Whilst waiting to board the ferry I got talking to a couple of French cyclists who were on their return leg having cycled from Paris to London, on mountain bikes and mainly off road by the sounds of it – Chapeau!

Continued on the side of the channel in the next post

 

#Run366 – A mile a day

Something strange happened on All Hallows’ Eve, I’m not quite sure what really occurred but somehow I was seduced by the “dark” side and I entered a challenge that does not involve a bike…

I’ve been following the UKSportsChat community on Twitter, which is made up of four fitness groups UKRunChat, UKCycleChat, UKSwimChat and UKTriChat. A separate hour of the week is put aside for each group in which related topics are discussed.  These vary from upcoming events, nutrition, fitness, goals, advice, etc. in fact you can ask any question you like, just add the relevant hashtag i.e #UKRunChat to your tweet.  Although, you might want to turn your twitter notifications off in advance as you are likely to get a lot of responses.

You will be surprised at what gets discussed, last week it was peanut butter of all things, we even had the peanut butter manufacturer Whole Earth Foods join the conversation – whilst I’m sidetracked by peanut butter – have a look at this recipe for Peanut Butter and Banana Ice Cream. I will leave the debate about whether peanut butter is good or bad for heart disease to a later date and/or the comments section, all I will say is I need to consider fuelling for the exercise I’m going to be doing that day and everything in moderation… I think the occasional spoonful of peanut butter will be ok for me, I just need to keep an eye on my salt intake.

Sorry, I digress… back to running.  It was on Halloween night that I read about #Run366 on UKRunChat.  Several of the run chat team had met up with the runner Ron Hill, who has run at least one mile every day for the last 50 years! Following that meeting they were inspired to challenge themselves to run every day for the next year. 2016 is a leap year so #Run366 was born and they invited the run chat community to join them with the tag line “no pressure, no prizes, just a bit of fun”

I thought it sounded like an excellent challenge, one that I should be able to achieve around work commitments and would motivate me to get out regardless of the weather.

So on Sunday the 1st November I became a runner and started my #Run366 streak with an easy mile.  I’m not the fastest by any stretch of the imagination, with an average pace of 12 minute miles but its early days and I need to watch my heart rate.  Like cycling up hills, if my heart rate gets too high I need to walk for a short period.  I’m hoping that as the seasons change I will progress and the distance will increase whilst the walking decreases.

Autumn Two Mile Run
Autumn, the first of my four seasons, hopefully the pace will be faster in the winter.

I’m now nine days into my RunStreak and have covered 13 miles so far, not bad for a cyclist! To help me with the motivation and to run whatever the weather, I announced my intentions on Twitter and added it to my charity fund-raising page. This has resulted in some very kind donations, now when the snow starts falling and its minus something degrees outside it’s the thought of these donations that will ensure I’m out the door and running.

Please consider supporting me in this challenge by donating to Pumping Marvellous on my JustGiving page. It would be very much appreciated by Pumping Marvellous,  the heart patients they support across the country and myself.

Now should I follow @UKTriChat and where’s the best place to buy a wetsuit?