Monday, 12 October 2015

Half Marathon number 38 - The Vantaan Half Marathon, Helsinki, Finland 10th October 2015.

First trip to Finland, and hopefully not my last. The trip to Stockholm and this one to Helsinki have certainly made Scandinavia one of my favourite places to visit.

Early 5am alarm Friday morning to drive to Manchester to catch a direct flight to Helsinki. The plane was surprisingly busy, but it turns out Northern Ireland played Finland on the Sunday in the Euro qualifiers, so majority of passengers had strong Irish accents and a belly full of Guinness for breakfast.

Decided to walk from the hotel to the race HQ to register and pick up my number after arriving Friday afternoon. The receptionist did question why I was doing this, but I was insistent and set off map in hand to walk. It was shortly after this I realised how cold Finland is. Just over an hour later I found race HQ, luckily surviving almost certain hypothermia. An expensive taxi took me back to the hotel, sod walking.

One thing I quickly discovered about Finland is that very few people speak English, not a bad thing but when compared to most other European countries it is unusual. I also discovered that I was the only English person in the race, it was very much a local event, although it claims to be the 2nd biggest running event in Finland (there must be some tiny ones elsewhere). I eventually figured out where the start was and after a couple of failed attempts to find out if it was a multiple or single lap race I gave up and joined the warm up at the start (warm up is essential as otherwise your running shoes would freeze to the ground).

Overall there was about 800 entries for the Half Marathon, but there was also a Marathon and a Quarter Marathon, starting at different times. The race turned out to be 2 laps of a flat course, ran almost entirely on pavements, roads and cycle paths. About 2/3 of the run was through the streets of Vantaan, the remainder in parks and a small amount of woodland.

Really enjoyed the event, which was well organised and marshalled. My Garmin showed a mileage of 13.3miles in 2:09:30. Which very happy with, especially as every mile was ran in under 10 minute mile pace.

No t’shirt at the end, just a yoghurt, apple juice and dried Finnish bread and a cheese slice (plus a free coffee). You did get a sort of medal but it had no ribbon or means to attach a ribbon to.

After a visit to the hotel sauna (not mixed, before you ask), jumped on the train to Helsinki and with a quick bit of TripAdvisor research had a fantastic meal of smoked fish, Elk meatballs and local beer.

The 4:30am alarm on Sunday morning was a bit of a shock to the system, but meant back in the UK in time for Sunday lunch.

38 races now complete, next race is booked for March in Paris. Will definitely be heading back to Finland and Scandinavia sometime in the future.

Some things I found out about Finland in my brief visit (not necessarily all true):
  • -          It is cold, very cold
  • -          The biggest export is trees (well forest products)
  • -          You only have to so much as look at a Zebra crossing and cars will screech to a halt
  • -          At Pedestrian crossings, the pedestrians will patiently wait for the green man, even if there is not a car in sight for miles
  • -          Finland doesn’t make many cars, in 2013 they produced in a year about the same number as Nissan Washington produce in 2 days
  • -          For a country so cold there are hardly any 4x4’s
  • -          Skiwear is the national dress
  • -          They serve Gin and Tonic on draft (true fact)
  • -          Every waitress under 30 is either a Goth, has a full covering of Tattoo’s or more often than not both.
  • -          Beards are a practical face warmer not a fashion item
  • -          Where the rest of the world shuns fur sales, in Finland if it can keep you warm kill it and make clothing out of it.
  • -          There seems to be more cycle paths than actual roads
  • -          No one puts their coat on the back of their chair in restaurants, everyone is religiously hung up
  • -          Every female has blond hair, the ones that don’t have dyed theirs
  • -          The trains are ultra clean and efficient. When you get a notification that your train is delayed by 1 minute you know they take timeliness seriously
  • -          There is hardly any graffiti
  • -          Moped riders think they are cyclist and often drive along not only the cycle lanes but also the paths.
  • -          Rudolph is not just for Xmas, it is food and clothing all year round
  • -          There seems to be no correlation between the written word and the spoken word. “a” is pronounced “r” and “o” is pronounced “a” as far as I can tell
  • -          If there is a baldness or obesity problem, no one would know as everyone wears so many clothes to keep warm (did I tell you it was cold)
  • -          Spotlights are mandatory on all cars
  • -          Hardly anyone smokes and no one has introduced Vaping to Finland
  • -          Hats, Gloves and Scarfs are the biggest selling clothing items after fur coats and fur lined boots
  • -          There is no public debate in Finland on the wearing of Burka’s as most inhabitants are covered up even more.
  • -          The beer is a lot cheaper than Sweden – only 6 euro a pint
  • -          The Finnish for Start is “lähtö”, the Finnish for finish is “maali” I had to google them to find out where to go
  • -          It gets dark early and when it gets dark it gets even colder.

250 Consecutive Weeks of Running 10 miles per Week

Week commencing 27th December 2010 I ran 15 miles in the week, last week I ran 18 mile, every week in between those dates I have never ran less than 10 miles. 250 weeks consecutive running at least 10 miles. In those 250 weeks I have ran 754 times covering 4015 miles including 1 marathon and 28 half marathons. The longest run was the London Marathon, the shortest carrying the Olympic Torch (not bad extremes)

Think I may be slightly obsessed with this running lark and a little OCD with statistics.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Coast to Coast Bike Ride - September 2015

Not a running challenge, but 3 great days spent cycling from Whitehaven on the West Coast to Tynemouth on the East Coast with 50 other great blokes

140miles, 9000 feet of climbing, over 10,000 calories burned and several units of alcohol consumed. I was over the moon to make it up the 4 big climbs without having to get off the bike. Winnlatter, Hartside Pass, Gallowgill and Crawley Side all conquered. Next year looks like a ride from Edinburgh to Newcastle.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Barnard Castle Triathlon 20/09/15

Second year taking part in the Barnard Castle Triathlon, a great event with a 400m pool swim, a hilly 17 mile road bike and a 5k cross country run. Time was slower than last year as taking it easy after last weeks Stockholm 1/2 Marathon and in advance of this weeks Coast to Coast Bike ride.

I obviously saw the camera on the bike ride, as i am very obviously over smiling!!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Stockholm Half Marathon - 12/9/2015 - Number 37 complete

First visit to Stockholm, in fact first visit to Sweden. A great city, now up there with the best I have visited. Only downside was how expensive the city was (£10 per pint is enough to make you consider being teetotal). We even managed to stumble on a Gregory Porter Concert the night before the race.

The race started below the grand palace and headed through the city centre, along the river banks, through parks and over bridges. A really enjoyable race although it was a lot hillier that expected. There were very few negatives about the event and organisation other than some of the paths in the parks were a little too narrow and even though the event was partially sponsored by Garmin, a 1km tunnel near the start made the data on my Garmin watch all wrong. 

I managed to start next to the 2:10 pacers and stayed with them for the whole race, finishing off in 2:08:41. A celebratory meal of pickled herring and Elk meat balls followed, with a couple of very expensive beers. 

No T'shirt at the end of the race, only a water bottle, medal and assorted sweets etc. Definately a city worth visiting. Next stop Helsinki in October for Half Marathon number 38

Monday, 3 August 2015

Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon 2nd August 2015

A brief 36 hours in Dublin for the Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon. The Rock and Roll races are a series of races, mainly in America, but a few further a field, Dublin been one.

After a really warm Saturday registering and looking around the city (including some Carb loading in a Temple Bar Pub), it was an early night before a 6am alarm. The start was on the North bank of the Liffey towards the East of the city. The race had competitors from all around the world (42 countries I recall) and with cool slightly damp weather it was ideal running weather.

The first 3 miles followed the river, crossing it part way to the South side before heading passed the Guinness Factory at 3 miles. It then headed briefly towards the city centre with the addition of a small hill before heading West again. Mile 3 to 8 were through some residential and industrial areas of the city before entering Pheonix Park, the biggest walled park in Europe.

Smiling at 3 Miles

The first mile of the park was uphill followed by a narrow path (possibly the only criticism of the route, as the volume of runners made it difficult to make up any ground). The route then followed the wider roads of the park undulating up and down until reaching the finish.

Still Smiling at 8 miles

Live bands played throughout the route at approximately mile intervals to keep everyone motivated. It was not a race that saw many spectators, but those who did come and watch were very supportive. This was a shame as it was a route that allowed for seeing runners at multiple times quite easily (Mrs C, managed to see me at 3, 8 and the finish).

I managed to keep a steady pace, covering every mile in under 10 minutes, except mile 13 which was a done in 10:16 (one hill too many). My Garmin clocked up the half marathon in around 2:09, however the official time was 2:11 due to my route covering 13.3 miles. This may be due to a brief toilet stop at around 2.5 miles.

There was even free beer at the end, although it turned out to be alcohol free.

The Rock and Roll Half Marathon also provides the biggest bling of a medal you are likely to receive, which did manage to get the attention of the customs at Dublin Airport on the way home.

May not contain Alcohol, but it was free

36 Half Marathons completed, only 14 to go. Next stop Stockholm in September....

Monday, 27 July 2015

Tour T-Shirt has arrived

New Running Man Tour shirt has arrived, thanks Diane and Rebecca from DTW for adding the lettering. Now just got to get to Dublin and run a half marathon this weekend to try it out.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Mrs Running Man - First Parkrun with Mrs C in Aldenham

First Parkrun for Mrs C in Aldenham, North London. Great route around the lake and lovely to run it together.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Angel View Race - 09 07 2015

According to my watch this was the quickest 6 miles I have ever run, unfortunately the race was significantly shortened due to an error by one of the marshals misdirecting the runners. A shame given it was a great venue for a race taking a run around the Angel of the North as part of the route.

A nice steady run near the back (it was a very competitive field), with some great support by the other Blackhill Bounders and especially the Juniors who pushed me home to the finish.

Only just over 3 weeks to Dublin so panic starting to set in.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A Couple of Challenging Weekends

Last 2 weekends have seen some extremes of running and sport.

27th and 28th May I took part in the Blackhill Bounders Coast to Consett challenge. 110 miles from Whitehaven to Consett non-stop over night relay. Overall I ran 10 miles, cycled 25 and drove the support van for the rest (a very tiring experience)

Another early start this last weekend, Haven Point Triathlon in South Shields, 5am alarm to get to the start before 6:30 when the roads close. This was my 5th Tri since starting last year and the quickest yet. I finally broke the exclusive 1:30 barrier with a time of 1:23:47. Training now starts for the Coast to Coast bike ride in September and the 2 half marathons I need to complete before then.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Weardale Triathlon - 14th June 2015

A very wet day in Stanhope but a great event completed. Went for safety on the bike and took my hybrid rather than the slicks on the road bike, so a little slower than last year, but still managed to beat last year’s swim and run times.
Although not half marathons, the triathlons are great fun and good all round training.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Momentum is gathering - 3 races booked already

It’s been a busy week, over 200 new followers on the Facebook Page and 3 races booked.
2nd August – Dublin Rock and Roll Half Marathon
12th September – Stockholm Half Marathon
10th October – Vantaa (Helsinki) Half Marathon
That leaves 12 races to do which need to include
The momentum is certainly starting to increase

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Running Western Europe

The Running Man is back….
I have decided to try and Run Western Europe by the time I reach 50 (not in an Adolf Hitler or Angela Merkel Way, but in a half marathon way). This will hopefully end up as 50 half marathons, in 20 different countries by January 2018 finishing with frozen Half Marathon in the Arctic Circle. The map shows completed countries in green, races booked in Orange and still to sort in Red. Have booked Stockholm Half Marathon in September and Helsinki in October this year to kick start it.
That just leaves Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Denmark, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria and Iceland to run in.
Going to give it a good go, time and fitness permitting. May even do the last year for charity.
Any one fancy a trip away you are more than welcome to join me on tour.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

3 More Half Marathons and only 3 days until first Marathon

The first 3 months of 2014 have involved a lot of running in training for my first Marathon, The Virgin London Marathon on 13th April. 425 miles to be precise from 1st January to date. That has included Half Marathon 27, 28 and 29.

19th January was the Brass Monkey Race in York, which was flat and fast, not quite a PB, but second quickest time ever and 3rd time under 2 hours, finishing 1:59:36. 16th March, I took place in a slightly hillier Northumberland Half Marathon, which as a marathon training run was taken fairly easy in a steady 2:03:54. Final half marathon (ish) took place 29th March around lake Coniston, an “undulating” 14 miles in a respectable 2:13:15 followed by a nice few drinks in the Lakes.

Sunday is the big one, first ever Marathon and one of the biggest races on the planet. Will post an update if and when I survive it. Nigel

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Race number 26 - Coniston 14

Saturday 12th October I completed Half Marathon number 26 (well actually slightly more than a half marathon), 14 miles around Lake Coniston. This is the 3rd year running I have completed this run and I managed to knock 14 minutes of last years’ time, so another PB in 2013. It was a lovely run in, relatively warm weather for the time of year, followed by a number of pints of Coniston Bluebird to ensure I rehydrated at the end. The photo is a few of the Blackhill Bounders enjoying a beer at the end.
Next Half will be in the new year, 6 done this year, target for 6 more in 2014


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

25 Half Marathons Done, only 25 more to go

2 more half marathons completed since my last post and 2 PB’s achieved.
I took part in the Northumberland Coastal Run on 14th July, which is a tough run from Beadnall to Alnmouth on a mixture of beach, coastal tracks and some roads. Back in 2011 it took me 2:26 to complete this tough route, this year I managed to get this down to 2:18. A great run and one I will definitely do again.
To follow this I took part with 56,000 other people in last weekend’s Great North Run. This was my 6th attempt at the biggest half marathon and my previous best was 2:09:56 back in 2010. This year proved to be my best yet with a finishing time of 1:59:57, a full 10 minutes faster than my previous best and my second fastest half marathon to date. A happy day out. One more half marathon left this year which is the Coniston 14 next month

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

23rd Half Marathon Completed - 13.1 miles across Morecambe Bay.

Another half marathon completed on Sunday, The Cross Bay Challenge for the 2nd year running. The conditions were much improved this year with better weather and a tail wind rather than a head wind all of the way. It is still one of the most unusual runs in that it is all on sand and water. 2 major river crossing, one of which is ¼ of a mile wide and over knee deep, this tends to slow your pace down. I still managed to scrape in under 2hrs 7 minutes, which was 32 minutes faster than last year. Made the right choice using an old pair of trainers that are now off to be recycled! Next long race is the Northumbria Coastal run in July

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Half Marathon of the North - my 22nd Half Marathon.

Another day another half Marathon, this time the Half Marathon of The North around Sunderland. After a heavy week of entertaining, I wasn't expecting a great run but managed a credible 2hrs 6minutes. This was partly due to fear that my trainers would be pinched in Hendon if I didn't speed up.

The next question is can I do another 28 half marathons in the next 4 1/2 years thus achieving 50 half marathons before my 50th Birthday. Got to be worth a go. Watch this space....

Saturday, 23 March 2013

2 snowy events in March

It has been a while since I last updated the Runningman blog, since the Great North Run last September I have kept running, but no half marathons to talk about. I had planned to do the Brass Monkey Half in York in January but it was cancelled due to snow.

2 weeks ago I ran the Northumberland half marathon in Ponteland, a really enjoyable run through the Northumberland countryside, made slightly harder by snow and hailstones. Still management under 10 minute miles throughout to complete it in around 2:08.

Ponteland was a walk in the park compared to today's Cumbrian Commotion in Grizedale forest. According to Cumbria Police you shouldn't travel to the Lakes unless absolutely necessary, so ignoring this advice the Elddis Off Road Truckers, myself, Mark and Richard set off for an extreme triathlon. The weather was certainly challenging, even the trusty Land Rover got a modified wing when it went off the road in the ice trying to get to Grizedale start. For safety reasons the biking section was slightly reduced, but the race still involved a 1.5 mile run, mostly up hill and all on snow and ice, followed by 1 1/2 hours mountain bike through Grizedale, a 3 mile trail run over the mount to Coniston, a 3 man kayak around a course on Coniston water, a run back over the mountain back to Grizedale to finish with an assault course. Easy?

I stopped counting how many times I fell off the bike after I got to ten, I face planted in the snow running, slipped over in a river, waded in freezing water in Coniston, but the team still managed a respectable 3:22. Now enjoying several pints in my favourite pub in the Lakes to rehydrate...

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Cross Bay Half Marathon - The Most Bonkers Race I Have Ever Done

Another day another Half Marathon. Ran the Cross Bay Half Marathon, which is one of the most unusual races, and has been voted one of the best runs in the UK. It basically runs across Morecambe Bay when the tide goes out. I should have known there was an issue, when the pre-race briefing mentioned the quick-sand if you veer off the course.

First couple of miles went well, on sand but quite hard packed, so not to bad to run on. Then at around 3.5 miles the water started, the routes became slightly wet, around 1 inch to 2 inch of water for the next mile and a half. This was compounded by a head wind that lasted the full race and rain that felt like hail coming straight at your face. That was fine, then it got slightly more difficult when we had a ¼ mile wade through water that was at times almost waist deep, not what you normally expect on a half marathon. Another 7 miles and another couple of rivers to wade through and finally made it to the end 2:39 minutes after starting. The slowest half marathon too date, but ran every yard it was possible to run and felt that was a pretty good time considering the conditions.

I now have a case of trench foot but thought it was a brilliant event. Maybe next year again?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Greatest Run Ever.

16th June 2012 – 4:11pm Cutlers Hall Road, Shotley Bridge. One of the proudest moments of my life, carrying the Olympic Flame as part of the Torch Relay. Thousands of well wishers including family, friends and most of the Blackhill Bounders Running Club. Amazing Day, one I will never forget

Monday, 9 April 2012

Coniston 14 - 31st March 2012

Another Half Marathon completed, this time slightly longer on a hilly course around Coniston.

Joined by another dozen Blackhill Bounders on one of the best runs in the North. Steady run of 2hrs 26 minutes, which more than happy with.

What to do next?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Cumbrian Commotion Completed

3hrs 50 minutes of Hill Running, Mountain Biking, More Hill Running, Kayaking, More Hill Running and finally a couple of challenges to finish the day off.

Although the hot weather proved a bit of a hindrance we managed to complete the event in a respectable time (thanks to some pushing from Mark) and didn’t tip the Kayak – I have officially decided that Kayaking is not a hobby I will be taking up, but I do make a good passenger. The winners must have cheated as they made it in 2hrs 15 minutes, the last team home was a little over 6 hours…

We’ll be looking to beat the time next year if anyone fancies the challenge!!

Thank again for your support, our madness made another £1000 for Willow Burn, so quiet happy about that.

I am now going to attempt the Coniston 14 next Saturday, because I haven’t ran enough last weekend…