Thursday, 26 December 2013

Thames Trot pre recce

I'm up on 27th Dec 13 at 6:30. The plan is to get a train from Reading to Oxford then run back to Reading.  The is one Red flood warning and lots of Amber so my feet are going to be wet all day. The plan is to take my time and get to know the course ready for the big day, 1st Feb 2014, Thames Trot 50 miler.  I'm a little bit scared of getting lost but with the route on my Garmin and a map I should be fine. I'll report back later.  

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Welsh Cross Countries Inter Regional - Builth Wells

Just a note:
2012: 8th 6:03 pace
2011: 13th 5:50 pace

2013 13th. Strong field today.

  It started to rain near the end. Bex and Karla were getting wet. Hail a bit Too! ce opposite way around again. I think Andrew Davies won it. He's quick, North Wales.

I've now seen the results and it's difficult to judge how well I've done. Been onto The Power of 10 and can see that Nathaniel Lane, who was ahead of me by 40 seconds, wis a better runner than me but other than that the other runners are hard to compare against because they're young or they only do X country.

Other news, the weekend was great, usually I f read the long drive down to Builth Wells but this time I took my wife and daughter down. We had a stop on the way down and drove slowly. Then after the race I'd booked a b and b, The Three Wells in a village called Howey. It was really nice, the decor was a bit old but the staff, food were great. Also it was a quite with no main roads or dogs. I might do the same next year.

On the Sunday I christened my new off road shoes and ran through open fields around my house.  Descovered new paths through agolf ccourse and to a village called Holt. Usually I run on roads to Holt.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Running in the most beautiful place on earth...

... is something that I haven't done this week.

Most of my runs are on a pavement whilst running into work next to cars. Gritty and dirty and dark and, normal. But I've recently really felt thankful for the beauty found in my regular route:

- the clouds;
- the moon;
- the podcasts I listen to whilst running;
- the way I chase slow moving traffic.

What beauty can you be thankful for today in the normal?

Saturday, 7 December 2013

How to transfer / get / put a GPX file onto your Garmin

This took me hours to work out and I don't want others out there to go through the nightmare I did so please share it to whomever you think may benefit!

First download the gpx from wherever it is (usually from the organisor’s website)
Remember where it’s saved (download folder usually)
THis gpx won’t go straight into the connect.garmin website because it need time points in, here’s how to do that...
Go to
Click Convert 
then go to 
Upload from … chose the file gpx file you downloaded
then from the drop down menu on choose 
GPX Track 
then and this is important clock (Show Options) 
then only change the 
Speed (mph) set your speed (remember 10mps is 6 mins per mile etc)
Click convert (again remember where it’s saved)
THen go to
click the upload botton 
then the manual upload button 
the choose the new gpx file 
Once downloaded go to activities in connect garmin 
click the activity
then click save as course. 
then go to the course details and click save to device. 
make sure your garmin is on 
then it should be saved on your garmin. 
on the watch it should be under / training / courses

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

It's the small things

When you're into a heavy training plan have you noticed that it's the small things that can break you. The next run, even if it's a nasty one, can take care of itself but if something small is not in place it is that small thing that you can't cope with!

For example, I have a routine for commuting to and from work by running or cycling. Yesterday part of the routine failed in that I forgot my key pass so I'll have to ring the doorbell when I get to work. This is stressing me out more than the 12 mile progression run I'm doing first!

I've noticed that it's like this in life too. I can cope with my Grandma passing away and so too, I believe, my Dad can cope. But it's the small things like stopping the junk mail from being delivered to my deceased Grandma which is stressful.

I think I know why this happens, but still the mind can seem to be a strange thing.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Runners as Street Guardians

As runners we often run the same routes around our local area. We see the same people and we notice what is normal.

On my run commute to work I see the same cyclists / runners / pedestrians each day and I notice their normal behaviours. Today I saw a large builder's bag out on the road causing a hazard and I knew which house it had come from because I'd noticed they were having work done to the house. On other days I've picked up wheelie bins and cut back hazardous branches because I feel like the ground I cover is my patch! It almost feels as though I part own the streets I run on. Therefore I should look after the streets any street sharer person (unknown to them) I see if something does go wrong.

Has anyone else had this same feeling?

Saturday, 23 November 2013

North Wales Cross Country - Wrexham

The distance for this race has changed each year, depending on how far into the corners the race goes.

This year my Garmin logged it at 5.64 miles and the corners did feel tight. My average pace was my fastest, 5m24s compared to 5m36s which I did last year.


I went off really fast again and felt like it didn't slow me down too much but I felt like a bit of a wally doing it. I think next time I won't go off as fast even though I like to, because I look silly.

Wrexham had a strong team today. Sophie and Bex Paxton came 2nd and 1st respectively in their races.  in the senior race James came 2nd, Darren 8th and I came 10th

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Borders League Tattenhall

Today I ran the first of seven of the Borders League. It was forecast to be a wet day but the weather turned out OK. Rebecca and K came along to support me which always makes me happy. I know it must be boring for them but I really like the support.

I ran my fastest race again today. How do I know it was my fastest?   Well, from my calculations fromlast year using a calculator converter for the altitude,  the race is the same as a flat, road, 10k less 7 seconds. Very nerdy on the stats but I like to know whether I'm getting faster since I spend everyday training.  My current 10k PB is 33m09s. My time today was  33m11s, so that's a 33m4s equivalent flat 10k time.

My splits were:

5.08 5.29 6.20 5.26 5.01 5.28 5.15 (the last one being my pace for 18 seconds)

Guess where the hills were!

I started off fast which was the plan, but even my fast pace was not fast enough to place me at the front at 1 mile. I planned to try and lead the race for the first mile, just for a bit of fun really, and because from experience I tend to do better overall.  Going fast to begin with is a decision that is right for me but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone else. I feel I have spare energy at the beginning of a race that's wasted if not used as I can't get it back later. I also don't seem to suffer too much from going out too fast. It's still a work in progress so I'll adjust if necessary. Also my Dad who was a very good runner always went the first half mile leading the race. It suited him. Like father, like son!

I also had a fast mile between miles 4 to 5. This was mostly due to it being downhill but also because I was very determined.

In the race there was a runner in front of me whose shoe lace came undone at about 1.5 miles into the race. I thought that would be the end of his race but he kept going, and going, and going and went all the way to the end. Unbelievable. I didn't run right behind him because I thought he might trip.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Running gloves Making my own

After years of running in the winter I've not found a pair of running gloves that suit me. I know what I want but it's not out there on the market.

So I'm going to make my own this year. I usually just wear socks over my hands because they allow me to keep my hands in a fist and go up my arm. The problem though with socks is that they take ages to take off when I want to fiddle with my mp3 player or watch.  Normal finger gloves don't keep my hands warm because they isolate each finger. I'm thinking also of having a see through bit for my watch. And they'll be layered with a layer of waterproof material. And have a reflective bit on and ... o this is exciting. I must find a life!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

"Now or never" v. reservedly

I saw this sprayed onto a road around the Great Orme which is a narrow road around a large peninsular at Llandudno, North Wales this morning. The message was for the rally car drivers who used the road the day before but it made me think about yesterday's cross country race. 

I had the best cross country race of my running career so far. I've judged that on my pace for the course which was an average of 5m43s. I also based it on my position. I approached the race slightly different in mental terms; almost a "now or never" mentality. When running around I kept trying to focus on speed, I was trying to go fast in the moment and not reserve anything for later because I needed to trust and have faith in my endurance. It's tough to convince myself to run fast, I managed to do it for the first mile and then lost focus, then regained focus then lost focus again. I wonder what makes me loose my focus? Is it being not fast enough or fit enough? I don't know. 
What I would like to try one day is a real "now or never" race. To not reserve anything for the miles ahead and just to run at 5m/m for as far as I can without having the finish in mind. I somehow trick the mind into thinking each 100metres of the race is the only 100metres. Is it possible; no it isn't because we all run reservedly because we don't want people to say "he went off too fast". 
Maybe I will go too fast and take a chance at my next race. We'll see. Has anyone else gone off without holding back and had a pleasant surprise? Is it worth doing once in a while?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Chester Marathon 2013

April 2013 I ran 2h33m at Manchester Marathon, my ninth marathon.  My battle with 2h30m was continuing. I was confident of beating that time at Chester today and would have if it weren't for x.y.z.

The normal excuses are not needed you've heard them all before but it is widely known, even recorded in Roman documents, that around Chester there is a space time warp.  It is unknown why time slows on the Cheshire plains but there are many theories. Time seems normal when passing over but is slows relative to one point staying in the same place. The most common theory is that the sandstone rocks are more dense in certain areas around the Chester Marathon course thus creating a stronge gravitational force on space time. I therefore did run sub 2h30m but not relative to the fixed timer based at the start and finish point.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Cheddar Gorge Marathon

I found this.    1000 marathons.

Cheddar Gorge Marathon

I won the Cheddar Gorge Marathon today which is one of the toughest ones in the South West of the UK. It was very hilly and off road. Here's the course profile
I also beat the course record which was set last year at the first event. Admittedly last year when the record was set the conditions were a lot wetter but I did take the record down from 4h11 to 3h29. (I'm blowing my own trumpet, but why not I train hard).

The marshals were great and the directions on route were very easy to follow with arrows on the floor and plenty of tape. If you're thinking of doing this don't make the same shoe mistake I made.  Wear trail shoes not flats! 
The race is the most scenic I've done. 
I would have liked to have gone faster at the beginning but knew it was a demanding course so kept to a steady pace. Then later on I just picked up the pace and managed to do a faster second half by about 5 mins.
A good day out.

Another thing happened today. I met a competitor before the race who's name was John. He wouldn't tell me his surname because, well I'm not really sure why but I think it was because he didn't want to show off. I asked him more questions to try and find out what he meant. After much digging and probing it turns out that he has done 800 to 900 marathons and is aiming for 1000. Now I told him that was a great achievement and he shouldn't hide it or be embarrassed. But then he started to get defensive and said he would sell me a copy of his portfolio for a pound after the race if I wanted. He seemed to be a little bit mad and concerned that I didn't believed him but I think I would be even madder if I did that many marathons too.  John if you're reading this please don't be so worried about what others think of you and celebrate your achievements. Also tell people your full name, don't get frustrated that they want proof by looking you up on the internet because it is an achievement that not many people can do. Did I believe you? Yes I think I did but I'm probably mad too.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Great Warford 10

It was hilly but not too hilly. I decided not to run with a watch which has it's pros and cons.

Part of me thinks I may have run faster with a watch but I liked the pure racing today. I was trying to catch 4th and 5th placers most of the race who were Brendan Rothery and Matt Smith. Once I caught them at 7.5 milers I had a battle with ? Nicholas ? For third /second place. He got the better of me and so I finished third.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Running and acupuncture

"Impossible is not a fact. Its an opinion." -Muhammad Ali

Yesterday I went for a session of acupuncture,  my first ever session. I went partly because a work colleague recommended it and also because I could claim back the cost. It felt strange and I'm not sure if it made any difference. 

Does anyone have any experience of using acupuncture? I didn't really have anything to cure but just went for a relaxation and maybe to release tension or chi to maybe help recovery between runs. If it helps by taking full advantage of rest then I'll maybe go fortnightly.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Wenlock Olympic Walk article at work

Someone in work wrote this about me, very kind indeed.

Daniel Weston is 52-mile Olympian Games ChampionThe first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896. Few people realise that the International Olympic Committee was founded by Pierre de Coubertin after he visited the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, which had been holding its own version of the Olympian Games since 1850.

This year, on Saturday 20 July, the Wenlock Olympian Games drew to a climax with a 52-mile race. In the absence of a running track - there isn’t anywhere flat enough around Much Wenlock - the solution is race up and down the Shropshire hills. Most people would restrict their association with a 52-mile race to merely spectating.

The less sane amongst us might decide to get their maps out and orienteer their way round the course in the way it was intended, as a long-distance hiking route. Commercial underwriter Daniel Weston however, ran it! Not only did he run it. He won the event in a time of 10 hours 25 minutes, and that was after he sportingly waited at the last checkpoint for over twenty minutes, allowing his nearest competitor to catch up, so they could run the last fifteen miles together!This was no ordinary race.

It was 52 miles up and down the Shropshire hills, on the hottest day of the year so far, using a map and compass to orienteer around the course and find various check points on the way. The four checkpoints are worth stopping for - they offer cups of tea, cake and flapjack, as well as having gallons of water on hand to top up racers’ water bottles. Not that Daniel wasted too much time snacking on flapjack!Less than half of those who entered completed the course at all.

Daniel ran a fantastic time and became the 2013, 52-Mile Wenlock Olympian Games Champion.Congratulations to Daniel!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Wenlock Olympian Walk

Wenlock Olympian Walk 


57 miles 6600 ft ascent 10hours 28mins.
Joint first place with Andy Samson.

20th July 2013

Best bits

Having the grit to keep going and finish even though I had 100s of reasons to stop. 
Seeing the wildlife, five foxes altogether, falcons, pheasants, cows and sheep. 
Volunteers supplying me with food and water.
Grit in psychology is a positive, non-cognitive trait, based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or endstate coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.

Detailed Account 

Start to Check Point (CP1)

I arrived with one hour to go to the start. I was provided with a sheet to stamp at certain points but had to ask what the self clips looked like and how clip. The organisor looked a bit worried that I was just about to start a 50 mile race without knowing basic orienteering stuff! As I found out during the day my fast running had to make up for my poor navigation skills. The whole point of this race was to learn from mistakes for later "serious" Ultra races.

At 10 we started next to the grave of the founder of the Olympics. There was an official gun fired and the sound of the Church Bells right next to the grave. It was an odd start for me, I've never started a race at such a slow pace. For the next 5 miles or so I kept moving to the front and wanting to go off fast but thought I'd better not because I had a long way to go.

Luckily there was a local guy running at the start whom we followed. At the start I tried a couple of times to go off on my own but quickly got lost, then had to catch the leaders again.

I got to CP1 first and at this point I was starting to get the hang of navigating on my Garmin 310XT. I'd not stopped in races before and thought everyone would stop for a while so I took my rucksack off, relaxed, got some coffee, BUT then the other guys came in and didn't stop. They just had a quick fill up with water and they were off again. This surprised me so I quickly put some vaseline on my toes got up and ran fast again to catch up the leaders.

CP1 to Self Clip.

It's hard to remember what happened but I think this part of the race had just one path so it was not hard to get lost. I was running with Andy. We were passing a lot of walkers at this point, who started at 8am. There was a massive climb up to Brown Clee hill (Mountain). At mile 10 I was at an altitude of 450ft and at mile 14 I was at 1758ft. Andy and I made a large gap here on the 3rd, 4th, 5th placers and didn't see them again.

CP2 to CP3 

Somewhere at this point I had lost Andy and started to navigate on my own. I did mostly OK but I remember at one point near a pond I just really couldn't figure out which way to go. I had passed the pond three times already so I sat down on a style and just took a breather. I might have cried if it wasn't for the beauty of the golden corn field I saw next to and the fact that I knew I was nearly on track and there was only one track left I hadn't tried so that must be the way. I took it and my Garmin was happy, the screen said "Found Course". At that point I decided to focus on those positive words and repeat them, "Course Found, Course Found, Course Found". This positive energy kept me going at a good pace. 

CP3 to CP4 

I was first in to CP3 which was in Cleavley Arms. I stopped to ask two teenagers where the community centre was. I had to explain that I was in a "Crazey 50 mile race" they didn't question it and didn't even look as though it was a surprise. They told me the centre was just up the road on the left, I could have kissed them. I took my time at the CP, no one was behind me and there was no pressure. I was offered a baked potato, it was tempting but I knew if I stayed longer I would be caught up and I liked being chased, it kept me going. So off I went again keeping a real close tab on where I was going, this slowed me down a bit. The countryside was beautiful but I was beginning to make up excuses to give up at CP4 but focussed instead on what it would be like to finish. I did a DNF (Did Not Finish) in a marathon last year and the weeks afterwards nearly killed me. Bye the way if you've read up to this point, I'm impressed, more endurance than me!

At about mile 33 my foot hit a stone and I fell over. After that my foot hurt only when I thought about it. Maybe this is a psychological thing? Should you ignore pain so that it doesn't hurt, or should you listen to it to cure or prevent further damage? There's a sense in which it depends on whether or not you can prevent it. In my case I was in the middle of nowhere and if I did call the emergency number on my mobile it would take ages for them to find me, so I had no choice. I had to ignore it. Today (the day after) it looks very bruised but I can move it so it can't be broken. 

CP4 to the end

At CP4 I was a bit out of it. I kept repeating and mumbling stuff to the volunteers but they were great with me and got me sorted: water, food, blister taped up etc... Then, just as I was leaving, trying not to think of how much further I had to go and how much I could get lost, Andy turned up. This was the best part of my day, especially when I asked Andy 'shall we run together' and he said 'yes'. I waited a little bit for him to refresh and we heard news of other runners dropping out at CP2/CP3 so we knew we had done well. There was no talk between us of dropping out but we both must have thought about it at some point. 

We worked well together again, Andy had his map, I had my electronic Garmin. Andy had also run a fell race (hilly race) over the terrain so we didn't get lost too much. We found the Lawley (see picture at the top of the page) and had to SC (self clip) here to prove we had been there. I threatened to throw Andy's SC sheet away so that I could take the win! Just joking though. We had to back track at one section about 1/2mile because of a wrong turn but other than that we managed to keep running. I think I had, slightly stronger legs, but Andy was mentally stronger and kept positive when the hilly and tough terrain (brambles and rocks) meant the miles were making us slow. 

We finally heard traffic in the distance and knew we must be hear civilisation, and thus the end in Much Wenlock. I said to Andy "I've never been so glad to hear cars". Then at the end we had a good cheer from the organisors who were waiting in anticipation. In the last section we saw the organisors in a few different points, keeping an eye out for us which was encouraging. 

So will I do another Ultra Race? The answer is YES, if I can fit one in. Next time I'll choose an easier one. 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Llandegla to Moel Famau

Today's run was a hilly 20.5 miles from Llandegla to Moel Famau and back.  It was about 800 to 900 metres of ascent.

The reason for the run was to prepare myself for the WOW 50 mile race I'm doing in two weeks time. This run has given me confidence for the race because I ran it with tired legs and it was hillier than the big race.

When running up these hills today I thought that the hills were like other things in life, hard but worth the effort.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What does the world need?

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes U come alive & go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive~Thurman

I can see what Thurman is getting at here, I think; that people can be too occupied trying to do what's best for the world. And so it's a relief when we realise that we can be a little bit self-indulgent because it ehlps us become more alive, happy, content, easygoing, joyful.

The question this quote leads to is what makes us come alive? Well I think it's an easier question than what does the world need, because we know ourselves better. For example, most of you reading this will be runners and therefore you probably don't have a problem with knowing that running makes you come alive. BUT I can't help thinking sometimes that is it selfish? At the moment I don't think it is because I know what I'm like when I don't run, a bit miserable, no sense of purpose, etc Any comments or thoughts on this will be interesting.

Thanks Daniel

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Quote and running

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill CopelandI find with running that you can have lots of goals and not just race goals. For example in trai ing you may want to nail a paced 5 mile or do intervals ina certain time. These goals ensure thi gs get done. I n life all too often we don't have goals because it's reactive to the problems. That's why I need running. It's easier than the other things I have to do.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Sandstone Trail

At the start in Whitchurch

I completed the SST today (30th May 2013).  I got lost a few times so didn't get the course record which I was secretly hoping for but now that I know the course I'll hopefully smash it next time. The course record is 4hrs10mins (fastest I can find) by Duncan Harris from Chester Tri. I did it in 4hrs 40mins. 

For future reference or for anyone else running it note the following:  

- Route goes left at Greenfield Rise Road (first mile!) 
- Go under the bridge on Shropshire Union Canal and not to the A41.
- At about 5 miles when the course goes onto the farm go right straight away and don't wander through the Farm yard :) for five minutes dodging dead rats.
- Running up the lane out of Bickerton it almost goes straight on at the end of the first road across the A534.
- Just before 29 miles, when on the Road, bear left onto New Pale Road.
- On Manley Road it goes left after the Pylon.
- Practice the bit after the War Memorial.  I went completely wrong, exasperated by fatigue!  It goes down around the front of the Memorial; and 
- Go all the way down Church Street and not into the dead end Car Park!

My wife and daughter supported me and met me along the course with, fresh socks, food and drinks. Superb. 

The route is recorded on Garmin
Link (roll over me to see where I go) 

The highlights of the day were seeing so much of the countryside without roads and traffic, feeling good all the way, hearing the real noises of the Countryside. 

At the end in Frodsham

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Manchester Marathon

Hal Higdon, running writer and coach:
"The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals."
28th April 2013. 9am start. 5:15 Woke up, Shreddies and Weetabix for breakfast. Got picked up and chauffeured to Old Trafford. The car park marshalls were great and directing the traffic. Half of the cars were there for the Marathon and the other half for X-Factor auditions. I considered auditioning but then remembered I can’t sing. 
Waiting around for the marathon to start was cold. I had a bit of coffee and flap jack. Because of the cold I went for a wee 4 times before the race started. 
For some reason I lost track of the time and I had to work my way to the front of the crowd saying excuse me a million trillion times. I just about got to the front with ½ minute to spare then the race start. 
The wind was hard for the first half of the race. I was in a group going just too slow to shelter behind but I did shelter behind then for a little while. Then I decided to catch the person in front and shelter behind him but when I left the group I just couldn’t seem to catch him and so ran into a 10mph head wind for a couple of miles. Still 10 mph is not too bad. 
Once I caught up to John he was quick and so we kept each other company for a few miles but after about 14 miles I was running on my own until the end. 
Mentally I was trying to feel comfortable in the first half because I just wanted to get a PB today (under 2h34m59s). I knew that I might have been able to get a sub 2h30m but didn’t want to go for it and drop out or blow up. I executed that plan perfectly. Once I got up to 20 miles I thought “right no more feeling comfortable it’s time to run until it feels hard”. I did this but actually kept to about the same sort of pace, maybe a bit quicker. 
I’m now looking forward to the next one and hope to achieve 2h30m.