Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Tring Ridgeway 2013 - a wet and muddy affair.

Look Ma, I am on the internet!

It was a wet day for the 2013 Tring Ridgeway but I had already signed up and had no excuse. It is a 15K run and it was wet and muddy and glorious.

Decent time and I am proud of it.

Last distance run:15.0 km
Duration: 98 minutes 24 seconds
Pace: 5.1 min/km
Total run so far: 358.86 km

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A 'fun' run? LOL

Not my picture - Aldeburgh Carnival
Over the month of August, I visited the lovely town of Aldeburgh and was roped into a 'fun' run - this was part of the Aldeburgh carnival that has been running for a while; they called the run a the 'fun mini-marathon'. I think that should have been a clue. So I signed up thinking it would be a fun run with kids around the Thorpeness Mere etc. etc.

Nope, the Aldeburgh 'mini-marathon' turned out to be a 10K - not too much of a shock but I wasn't really prepared for this! Over 200 runners eventually turned up - I was there early and managed to get number 5 (!)

So I lined up with my brother in law and away we went. We kept up a decent pace but we were slightly perturbed when a 10 year old over took us and kept on going to the end! The course was challenging as it involved a run through the shingle and sandy beach. Both very tiring for the calf muscles and feet.

We both finished at the same time, keeping each other company and chatting away throughout the run. Oddly, I beat me Bearbrook time from a week ago. Another PB for 2013!

My finish time was 00:51:35
97th overall position (brother in law was 96th)

Last distance run:10.0 km
Duration: 51 minutes 35 seconds
Pace: 5.1 min/km
Total run so far: 343.86 km

Monday, 26 August 2013

Bearbrook 10K - completed

Me and a friend before the run...
With little training (no football during the week and DIY takes up some of my weekends) I had signed up to run the Bearbrook 10K and without really noticing; the weekend rushed up to me. havong not done much training meant that I was a little bit apprehensive. However, it was a beautiful day - cool and bright. I had a banana, a decent night's sleep and felt quite hydrated. I assume that a single banana probably wasn't enough.

Anyway, my wife was there to cheer me on and I assembled at the start (alongside the 45-50 minute crowd) and off we went. The pace was faster than I expected but I wanted to get a decent pace and then throttle it down, at least that is what I told myself!

By the second kilometre, the pace (around the 4.5 minute / kilometre) was beginning to tell and I started to slow down to something that I was happier with; I had another 8 kilometres of this so I had to finish in good order.

I reckon that I should think 'run faster' to actually get faster but that's between races! The rest of the race was a sedate affair. I took on water around the 7.5 km mark and continued through to the end. The last 1 km was a fast run, with me chasing two runners who I managed to catch up and beat to the finish line.

Best time in 2013 so far.

Not bad.

My finish time was 00:52:27
My chip time was 00:52:06
93rd in the men's senior category
281st overall position

Last distance run:10.0 km
Duration: 52 minutes 06 seconds
Pace: 5.2 min/km
Total run so far: 333.86 km

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Completed Thame 10K

Need more energy....
Not the best preparation for the Thame 10K - the day before I was out with friends eating and drinking and more eating and since most of them were Spanish; it meant a lot of food. All good food mind, especially the evening's tortilla: it was divine.

So getting to Thame for a 09:30 start (09:00 arrival to park up and collect numbers etc) was to prove a challenge but my wife was up to it and took me to the start line with five minutes to spare. I grabbed my number, a few stretches and met up with two work colleagues.

The lads are ready to rock and roll!

The weather was almost perfect: sunny and bright but not too hot. The starting gun went off and we were off.

My strategy was to keep to a sub 60-minute pace and keep something back for the last 2 km or so. The first kilometre had me moving up the pack and I found my rythm easy enough. Plenty of runners and I felt relaxed with myself.

The first bit took the runners through beautiful Thame and then out into the rural area along a number of paths. It started to get a bit narrower so I decided to maintain my relative position, taking my chances to move past some runners where I could. By the 5 km mark, I was running for 27 minutes, so not bad - I was hoping to beat my St. Albans 10K time but I was just a shade off the target. Had to speed up.

Took on some water around the 7km mark and I decided to speed up a bit and move past my group of runners. I could see another bunch about 1 km ahead and this would have made a good target for me to catch up with. Injecting a bit more pace I soon caught up and was now just under 2 km from the finish line. We were also coming into Thame itself, the paths giving way to concrete/asphalt pavement.  I decided to start to kick and kick hard to upped my pace; over taking runners as I sped past them. By the time I was 500m away from the finish, I was running the fastest pace - zipping past the finishing runners. My legs were burning, lungs working hard and heart pounding but I crossed the finish line almost at a sprint.

My finish time was 00:54:28
My chip time was 00:53:44
146th in the men's senior category
301st overall position

Last distance run:10.0 km
Duration: 53 minutes 44 seconds
Pace: 5.3 min/km
Total run so far: 323.86 km

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

COMPLETED St. Albans 10K

My first competitive run since the marathon was the St. Albans 10K this weekend. A lovely sunny morning had me turn up and grab my number and racing chip. With another 10 minutes, I performed some simple stretching exercises and got ready. There were about 400 runners, so quite well attended and there was a certain energy in the crowd as they waited for the start. With 5 minutes to go, the organiser got his megaphone and announced that all runners to advance to the start line with the fastest runners to the front: those expecting to finishing below 38 minutes for the 10K run.

I quickly moved my way to the middle of the pack!

Not having trained since the marathon, I was a bit nervous and my right knee and right shoulder was hurting, due to a mid-week football injury while my left knee ached ever so slightly, not quite right since the haribo-induced knee twist. The clock ticked down and the gun went off and we were away!

I wanted to get sub-59 minutes; something I know that I am capable of. My best time I think was 48 minutes but that was about 26 years old and I am doubtful if I will beat this time. The irony is that at that time, I didn't do as much training as I am doing now!

However, I am not disappointed; just more motivated to do better. Here's a youtube video that a friend linked to me. It is safe for work and very cool. I spent time trying to figure the movies and speeches it came from.

So back to the race. I went off with a decent pace, probably a sub-6.5 min / km pace. Mentally, I knew that I will finish, I completed the marathon two weeks damn it! However, this time I had a target in mind. Complete the 10KM below an hour with enough puff at the end to do a sprint finish.

I moved along the pack, weaving my way through slower runners. I didn't want to be overtaken in this race - I wanted to over take and maintain my position. So I did.

The first three KMs came and went, I was at a good pace around the 6.0 min / km pace and feeling good. I went past runners and didn't have anyone blast past me. The sun was shining, the breeze was cool and the heaviness in my legs that I initially felt was gone. Felt good and confident.

Kept up with two runners for the next three KMs but couldn't overtake them. One chap, on my right and always two or three paces in front, kept me at bay and continued to do so. The other chap, we both left behind around the 6KM mark.

However, you know I mentioned that I didn't want to be overtaken this time? Well, I did and my 'running partner' also started to pull away and I didn't want to catch up; wasn't too confident that I had enough in the tank to finish strongly. I did spy another club runner who was running solo and made a point of catching and going past her. Well, she obviously detected my attempt and upped her speed. Sensing a challenge, I kept up and overtook her only for her to respond in kind. So I settled down a pace or two behind and waited. I knew that a hill was coming up (we went down it on the way out) and I am normally quite steady running up hill. My pace drops only slightly on inclines and that was where I would beat her. Along came the hill and my 'rival' slowed down and I pushed past, she tried to respond (I could hear her breathing become more ragged) but I sensed an opening and actually pushed the pace and the small slither became a larger gap.

I felt good. Running is about small victories, inch by inch, beating the person to your side, and in front. Definitely felt good - I saw my next objective: two runners, 25 and 35 metres ahead of me and we were in the last 1.5 km. Once the 9km marker flashed by, I kicked hard. So did everyone ahead of me and the race was on!

Run Ming Run!
Did I have enough in the tank to beat these two? The stronger of the two stretched ahead as she kicked hard. Going past the penultimate marker and we all had 400m to go. Am sure my pace here was around the sub-4.0 min / km mark. With 200m to go, I was within touching distance of the first of my runners. I went past him with the crowd cheering me on; I had 100m left to go and my legs felt like they were burning but I pushed and pushed. I was within 10m of catching the other runner but she was racing to the end, eager to get a good time.

I didn't catch her but if I had another 50m.....

Got beat...

My time was 52 minutes 10 seconds. Not bad at all.

Oh, I have been keeping to a decent diet: low meat, high fruit and veg but I did do a carbo load before the race.
No meat here.

Last distance run:10.0 km
Duration: 52 minutes 10 seconds
Pace: 5.2 min/km
Total run so far: 313.86 km

Monday, 13 May 2013

St Albans 10K coming up


Well, I am fully recovered from the marathon, even my left knee feels ok but I did hurt myself playing five-a-side this week: a diving save to my right and I hurt my (already weakened) right shoulder. You use your arms to help you run, so it will definitely be an impediment to my running. I have signed up for the St. Albans 10K this weekend and I am quietly confident about it. I know that I will finish (come on, I finished the marathon!) but I do need to take things easy even if I feel fully recovered. Building back up to a half-marathon later this year.

My target time is 60 minutes - though my fastest has been 44 minutes but I was 15 years younger and I think 10 lbs lighter. No injuries and I want to be able to walk away from the event. 10K are my favourite event as they are relatively fast runs and a challenge in terms of speed.

All my kit is now ready but I have done no running since the completion of the marathon two weeks ago. This is my first run and it will be a useful gauge on where I am in terms of fitness, pace and overall ability.

The same preparatory rules apply to any running: get hydrated, stay hydrated, carbo load and plenty of sleep. All of which I should do this weekend, barring more garden maintenance work.

Should be fun...

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

It's been a week - and I feel great!

Hi all,

It has been a week since the Marathon - and I feel great. Well, I do feel great now - the monday and tuesday after the marathon, I was in a bit of discomfort. Here's a picture of me the morning after with my cats on top of me trying to wake me up....

Wake up! I need to be fed...!!
I was in no state to do anything. I was still asleep and my wife thought is was funny to take the pictures. No cats were hurt in the taking of the pictures.

So, what do I have in store?

The blog was set up to record my training preparation as I got myself ready for the London Marathon. Now I have done it, I am going to continue this blog as I continue to train and run. Oh yes, there's more running in Ming's legs that's for sure. Luckily I named my blog 'Run Ming, Run!' so it is perfect to record the further adventures of Ming. Yes, I will continue to run as you never know when the Zombie Apocalypse might require quick feet.....

My next training run will be a slow run at work this week but am considering signing up for the St. Albans 10K on the 12th May. Definitely going for the Tring Ridgeway, a great 15km cross-country this October 2013. I have also my eye on the 10K Thame and the St Albans half-marathon too. So many choices but with the training I have completed so far, it is a shame to let the hard work go to waste. You never know, I might be secretly planning on re-entering the London Marathon 2014 in order to beat my time.

Anyway, the 'offical' photos from the London Marathon are now out. Here they are on my flickr photostream: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjEW8HKS (link is SFW) so enjoy and post comments as you see fit.

I do like this one though:

Yup, Ming keeping the Pig at bay!
My running adventure continues. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

I did it! - completed the London Marathon 2013

Here it is - not made from gold but to me, as valuable as one.
This blog post is a long (and fun) account of my marathon day - it is one of the reasons why I started this blog so allow me to indulge. However, for those who want a quick summary, read the section marked 'TLDR' below. If you need to know what the four-letter anagram means, google it.


Finished the marathon in 05:19:40 - my first ever marathon, really chuffed. I had two races: one before my knee injury at mile 14 and one after. Was in pain for the last 12 miles but the crowd and the supporters made a huge difference. The injury was silly: I went to grab some Haribo sweets being offered by the crowd, I spotted a young lad with a bowl of sugary goodness and bent down to grab some, while still running. He was quite short and didn't push the box towards me; I missed first time so dug into the box a second time, still running and I twisted round. You can guess the rest: my left knee went 'crunch'. What made it even worse? I didn't even get a Haribo coca-cola bottle but ended up with a couple of Haribo 'fried-egg' sweets. I hate them.
This is what I wanted!
With me now running on a damaged knee, my race changed. Everything changed: my pace, my planning and most importantly, my confidence. I was now running in pain and worried if I could complete the remaining 12 miles without long-lasting damage. Considering I was planning on the 'hard' bit of the race to be around mile 20, hitting this milestone 6 miles early with a painful knee was a bit of a blow. 

So I gritted my teeth and moved along. The support was fantastic and the MapAction crew at Mile 22 made a massive difference, really picked me up. I took two more toilet stops, partly to give my knee a relief from the grinding but each restart from the break was harder than the last one. I managed to get to mile 23 in a lot of discomfort but the next stretch was super hard. I knew that my enforced pee-breaks had cost me around 30 minutes, about 3 miles in distance so part of me felt that, without these breaks, I would be 3 miles ahead and actually finishing at this moment. The mind plays funny tricks on you. At no point did I think of giving up, but this was the closest.

Stumbling towards mile 25 and the crowd cheering propelled me to the final 1.2 miles and towards the Palace. I was not overtaken by a womble, or a pink panther and managed to keep pepper pig at bay.
No way is a pig getting ahead of me....
However, I was racing a rooster (going by the name of 'Freddy') and he managed to pull away from me at mile 25. I finished in a daze but elated when the medal was put around my neck. 

Hoo ya. See you next year?

Now to those who want a more comprehensive account of my day, get a tea and pull a chair up and get comfortable.

The start of the day

Woke up around 05:45 on Sunday morning having gone to bed at 21:00 after my final pasta meal and 500ml of water. I slept quite soundly and woke up in some excitement. My wife and friend would be accompanying me to the start of the race but would be 15 minutes late. I was planning on leaving for Greenwich at 08:00 but decided to wait. Supporters would play a big part of the day. I re-checked my kit and made sure everything was prepared: compeed anti-blister plasters applied, my nipples taped up (yes, seriously - thanks to Andy K for the tip), and racing bag sorted. Once all was ready, my close support team in tow, we hit the London Underground and then switched to the DLR.
My personal support team on the DLR en route to the start!
Already it was full of runners and their supporters. There was an air of excitement and apprehension.

I also had an overwhelming urge to pee. Not a good start but I put it down to nerves.

We arrived and it was another 10-15 minute walk to the start and I had to pick up the pace, it was already 09:20 and I had some of the running tops for the other members of the MapAction running team.

The start of the race

I think at this point, I should introduce the other members of the MapAction Virgin London Marathon 2013 team:
  • Mark Jarman
  • John Lyon
  • Christopher Edgerton-Warburton
  • Chris Holcroft
  • Ian Holt (deferred to 2014)
  • Ming Lee (of course)
I met up with them and we all posed for a team photo:
MapAction Team Photo - thanks to Mark Jarman. Check out the 'invisible man' behind and right of Chris Edge!
I was allocated to red 7 starting group and the team wished each other the best of luck. We watched the introduction of the elite runners and their start as we made our way through the throng of runners all assembling together. There was a 30-second silence before our start, in remembrance for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing a week before and then we were off. Well, group 7 didn't actually start the run until 10:15 due to the size of the groups ahead but my first ever marathon was now underway! I deliberately slowed my pace down as the temptation to race ahead was almost overwhelming. I felt good, full of energy and was excited. It was a beautiful day for a run: bright, warm with a slight breeze. Perfect.

The crowds were great: cheering and clapping and shouting encouragements to all the runners. The kids especially loved it. The first mile marker loomed overhead and I glanced at my pace band - I was aiming for a 04:40:00 run and the pace band has a time for each mile marker. I checked and I was 23 seconds slow. No matter, I intended to catch up and was confident and relaxed. All the months of running in the snow, rain and generally unpleasant weather meant that the Sunday run in the sun was a blessing.

The miles went by easily enough. Highlights in the first 10km included the deafening disco music around mile 4 (some chap with his speakers hanging out of his window!), the cheering (and slightly tipsy pub crowds), Alan Mills actually seeing me around mile 7, the Cutty Sark and the well wishers all the way round.

This is Alan, he wasn't wearing a Pith Helmet but he did have a hat on.


Approaching 10km

I entered the 10km (milestones were split between mile and kilometre distances) check-point in a little over 60 minutes, still a bit off pace but no problem. I was keeping pace with a couple of runners who looked strong and steady, sticking with them was my short-term tactic as I slowly found my rhythm. I felt fine, fresh with plenty left in the tank. I was in the groove as I approached and went past mile 8. One third of the race completed and I felt great!

As I approached mile 12, the crowds were building up again and I had the urge to pee. Since mile 1, I had either a bottle of either water or lucozade in hand and had been sipping steadily throughout the race, grabbing a new bottle at every opportunity. By the time I was hitting the mile 12 marker, I probably had about 4 litres of water in me and needed to go. OK, I knew this wasn't ideal - one rule I had learnt during training was never stop running until the finish. Slow down if you have to but don't stop.

However, I had little choice - I couldn't nip over to a bush or anything as we were in the middle of a street (Jamaica Road I think) and Paula Radcliffe's 'peeing-on-the-run' technique was something I hadn't mastered.

Cute kittens always relieve tension and introduce humour I find...

So, I made a bee-line to the portaloos set up for runners-in-need. I joined a queue of runners, all either running on the spot, stretching or generally trying to keep their limbs loose. The wait was horrible: 6 cubicles with one 'broken', and an ever increasing length of runners. I finally managed to get into one, did my business, washed my hands and back into the marathon.

I had incurred a 10:02 penalty! What, it took that long?

A bit miffed, I realised that I was also struggling to get my pace back up. Legs felt a bit heavy at this point (remember the rule about not stopping?) - and I really had to relax and focus to get back into the rhythm of the race. Approaching Tower Bridge was an experience however, the crowds were full, the cheering deafening and the view, spectacular. Many runners slowed right down to take a picture, I even had one lady, performing a self-interview / video-blog as she went over the bridge. Brilliant.
A great view and exciting...

Approaching mile 13 marker was great. This was the half-way point and I would be seeing the MapAction supporters section soon. On the other side of the road, we could see the elite runners heading towards mile 23. They were so fast! Many runners on my side, approaching mile 13 cheered the elite runners thundering their way to the finish line. We would be on that side of the road in a couple of hours too! Impressive stuff. 

The all-important mile 13.1 mile-mark was reached and completed. Half-way there and I will be counting down the distance now! I felt very good, despite the pee-break-induced delay; I was in control and thoroughly enjoying myself. I almost missed the MapAction support crew on my right but I could definitely hear them and waved at them as I streaked past. Well done chaps!

Well, the MapAction team were also in blue...

Anyway, a friend of mine told me that a marathon was actually two races: 1-20 miles and then the remaining 6 miles. I needed to concentrate to get through the first 'race'. 

Mile 14 and Haribo sweets

As I ran through Limehouse, there were plenty of crowds all lining the streets cheering away. They were offering all sorts of refreshments from orange slices, oreo cookies, hard boiled sweets, sandwiches (no really) and beer. The latter am sure was a joke and surely there would be no takers? At this point I was behind a chap running in a bagpus outfit (no, really) - poor git must have been sweating buckets! As I turned right and down Westferry Circus and along the road, I noticed a dad giving his young son a right bollicking in public. It went along the lines of:

Irate Dad: Son, don't eat those sweets! 
Young son: But...
Irate Dad: They are not for you! They are for the runners! Put them back!
Young son: But...
Irate Dad: ENOUGH!!
Young son: (now crying)

I felt sorry for the kid, as you're seven years old, you're holding a tub of Haribo sweets (oh the temptation) and you're expected NOT to eat them? Also, most of the runners were taking refreshments off the adults and I noticed that the most successful 'givers' were all young, pretty things:
I have candies, come to me....

So, I was feeling good and why not make a kid's day, a little bit better and make him feel involved? I vowed to take some sweets off the next child offering a bag/bowl to any runner on my side of the road. Give the evil-candy-giving-women a run for their money! So I spotted a potential donor, made eye contact and held out my hand, palm up (as opposed to the open cup hold when you're running towards a water station) - the kid eye's lit up but he didn't lift his bowl of sweets up. He was quite low down so, I bent down and reached, I missed and tried again and managed to grab something. All the time, I was still running. Just as my fingers closed on a couple chunks of sugary goodness, my left knee (with my body, twised almost all the way round to my left) finally obeyed the laws of physics and human anatomy and went 'crunch'.
Actually, pictures of kids giving sweets are remarkably rare....

I hobbled a few steps, grimaced in pain and then continued running.

With me now running on a damaged knee, my race changed. Everything changed: my pace, my planning and most importantly, my confidence. I was now running in some pain and worried if I could complete the remaining 12 miles without long-lasting damage. Considering I was planning on the 'hard' bit of the race to be around mile 20, hitting this milestone 6 miles early with a painful knee was a bit of a blow.

Lesson: don't take sweets off little kids, even when they are offered!

What made it even worse? I didn't even get a Haribo coca-cola bottle but ended up with a couple of Haribo 'fried-egg' sweets. I hate them.

This cost me most of my pace, a hurt left knee and a horrible taste in my mouth...most expensive egg ever.

I then started to over-compensate with my right knee and after a mile, my right knee started to hurt too. At mile 15, the marathon route goes under a tunnel. It is the Westferry Road going underneath another main road. I have no idea what the tunnel is called, but I will call it 'Pee Valley'. Yes, at this junction, all the male (and some female) runners ducked to the side and answered the call of nature. There were no crowds here. All the runners ran through a very large human made puddle. I stopped here too, and massaged my knee as well as answering the call of nature. Not too sure whether stopping was just an excuse to give me knee a rest but I also knew that restarting would be hard. I also incurred a 4-5 minute penalty, slowing me down even further but at this stage, I just wanted to finish.

I was right, the slog to Mile 16 was difficult, I am in the Isle of Dogs and you have 10 more miles to go. The crowds have thinned out here and it was tough going. At mile 17 onwards, the crowds seem to pick up once more, the roads twisting quite a lot. I finally made it to mile 21 (after yet another pee break/knee massage) and knew that the MapAction cheering team would be there once more - somewhere between mile 21 and 22. I really needed the boost. My left knee felt it was on fire, my right knee was complaining that it felt it was doing all the work and my concentration was slipping.
However, at the optimum moment, I saw Matt, Alan and Clare with an energetic Chris Ewing running along side me (on the otherside of the barrier) cheering me on.

Sorry MapAction, I just can't seem to find a suitable picture of you guys....
I needed that boost and my knees both started to complain less as I told them both to 'shut up and keep working'.

Mile 23 - the final slog

People say that at mile 23, things get crazy. You're approaching Tower Hill, the end is (almost) in sight, the landmarks become familiar and the crowds get deep and noisy. Well, for me, the last 3.2 miles was agony. I gritted my teeth and moved along. I knew that my enforced pee-breaks had cost me around 30 minutes, about 3 miles in distance so part of me felt that, without these breaks, I would be 3 miles ahead and actually finishing at this very moment. The mind plays funny tricks on you. At no point did I think of giving up, but this was the most negative thought of the entire run. 

Mile 24 approached and it felt like I had been running a day to get there. I was on the Victoria Embankment and had the river to my left, passing Blackfriars Bridge and towards Westminster. I was trailing a chap wearing a cockerel outfit. People were cheering him on, I think he was called 'Freddy' and there was a postie as well, delivering his rounds and speedwalking to the finish. I could see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and knew that, so long as I kept moving, I would reach the penultimate milestone at mile 25. The marathon, is not the task of Sisyphus, as it does end...eventually.

Stumbling towards mile 25 I found myself in a race with a womble, pepper pig and the aforementioned, Freddy the cockerel in amongst dozens of other runners.

No way is a pig getting ahead of me....
The crowd was cheering me on, with 'Go Ming, Go' and 'Run Ming, Run' (I wonder if they read this blog?) and this propelled me to the final mile 26 mark.  I had St. James park on my right and I was in Birdcage Walk. I was here bearing the olympic torch just before last year's Olympics. Little did I know that my short 300-yard amble towards the Palace, with a lit torch and enjoying the cheers of the crowd would be repeated a year later but in a different outfit, no torch and man-sized pig next to me!

A year from now I will be running with Pepper Pig!
I went around the roundabout, Buckingham Palace being on my left and into the mall. 200m to go and I was almost there. I didn't feel the pain in the knee, just an elation that I was about to finish. The crowd was amazing, the announcer urging the runners onwards. Even telling us that some of the celebrities were still miles behind us. As I finally crossed the finish line, I could still smile. I had done it, regardless of the hurt knee, the pee-break 'penalty' and being chased by a man-sized pig. I had given myself the objective to finish the London Marathon, and I did.

Was this worth it? Hell yes.

I had done it.

An added bonus: was not overtaken by a womble, a kettle or a pink panther and managed to keep pepper pig at bay. I was overtaken by two apples and what looked like a rhino.

The Aftermath - fainting and massages

All the runners were processed through the styles and given a medal. I stopped and posed for an offical photo and then stumbled towards the dozens of trucks that had my bags. Many, runners were collapsing and there were calls of 'Medic!' or 'I need help from someone!' from around the rest area. The medics were quite busy as many runners finally realised that they could now stop and observe the damage to their legs (or lungs or mind).

I got my race-bag and sat down (another no-no) but I needed to eat something. I started to get a tingling sensation starting from my finger tips and lips and it began to spread. I took some water, and nibbled on a 'recovery bar' that I had stashed away. The tingling was worse, so I got up and walked around, feeling a bit faint. I splashed some water on my face and tried to shake my legs loose. From what I could remember, it would be another 15-30 minutes before I could get out and meet up with the other members of my team, MapAction and the support team. I had to make my way to the 'Rag' (traditional Army and Navy club) on Pall Mall. However, there were so many people that I had trouble getting out of the assembly area. I also had to keep walking, briskly to aid in my legs' recovery. So, I struck out along the Mall and then went left along the A4 before joining Pall Mall at around 200 Pall Mall. I limped my way there, flexing as many muscles as best as I could. I was tired but on a high and after a minute of walking, I started to feel better.

Finding the Rag, I met my darling wife who took me to the reception area where MapAction was kindly given a spot by the Child Bereavement UK. My father in law was there, along with the MapAction team with Roy our chairman (and his wife), Liz (our CEO), Mim (our fundraiser) and Matt Sims (a key part of the logistics and support team). The Child Bereavement UK team were also welcoming their runners too.

Yeah, check out ma bling!
There was an added bonus: all runners could get a 10 minute massage from masseurs, two of 'em at the same time. One to each leg! Unfortunately, the ladies could only do my calves and feet as to get to my thighs, they needed to remove my trousers and since I was going 'commando' (hey, I run light and there was NO chaffing) - I couldn't embarras the poor ladies. They did a fantastic job however, and walking was so much more comfortable after the session. After some food, I then headed home - I still had a long journey home. We walked another kilometre, which was good to stretch my legs and made it back to where my car was parked. My wife drove me and father-in-law home. Back at home, I had a luxiourious bubble bath, first one in about six years. I hung the medal up, which immediately got the interest of the cats and I tried to get some sleep. Despite knowing that I would have trouble walking in the next couple of days, I didn't care.

Personal thanks

My marathon success would not be complete with thanks to a bunch of people:

  • Everyone at MapAction for being the super charity that it is, full of the most altrusitic, intelligent and supportive people that I know of and also making a difference every time they deploy. Your support made a huge difference to me and I am proud, as ever, to be associated with you all.
  • Especial thanks to Chloe and Mim and Matt from MapAction for doing a massive chunk of  putting the whole experience together and for taking care of the smallest details.
  • Mike Sims for organising the 'Marathon reporting and monitoring centre'.
    Mike keeping everyone up to date on the day
  • My fellow runners (Chris, Edge, John and Mark) who all completed - well done. Sorry I wasn't there for a family team picture, but - knees, you know?
  • Child Bereavement UK charity - for the excellent reception and the masseurs.
  • Everyone who has donated something this year - check out my 'Bro Hugs' post.
  • The crowds who cheered me and everyone else along. 
  • My family and close friends who wished me well or told me I was mad but wished me luck anyway. I love you all.
  • Finally, thanks to my wife Shena for putting up with the winter running and the smelly kit strewn around the house as well as my generally decepit state in the hours (and days) post-race. I love you loads.

Am going to take a wee break but will I continue running?  Yes, there's a couple of half-marathons I want to tackle as well as the Tring Ridgeway (cross country) in October.

London Marathon 2014? Hoo ya. See you next year?

Some interesting and completely random statistics and observations

Fastest pace: 9.12 km/h or 6.55min/km
Slowest pace: 7.04 km/h or 8.32min/km

Water drunk before the run: 500ml
Water drunk during the run (380ml) x10 drink stations: - 3.8 liters
Lucozade drunk during the run (380ml bottles) x10 drink stations: - 3.8 liters
Total liquid intake during the entire run: 7.6 liters (really?)
Toilet breaks: x4
Time lost to toilet breaks (total): 28 minutes
Number of times peeing in a ditch: 1
Estimated number of male runners peeing alongside the ditch: 45
Number of times peeing in a tunnel: 0
Estimated number of runners peeing in a tunnel: 30
Blisters on both feet: 0
Chaffed nipples: 0
Chaffed, 'other' bits: 0
Gel packs consumed during the run: 7 packs (x2 Lucozade and x5 SiS gels)
Gel packs lost during the run: 2 packs
Number of times people shouted 'Run Ming, Run!' : Too many to count
Number of idiots who crossed the road as marathon runners were thundering along: dozens
Jelly babies consumed from donations from the crowd: 12
Haribo sweets consumed from donations from the crowd: 9
Estimated number of costumed characters that overtook me: 5
Number of times I thought of quitting the race: 0
Most impressive competitor(s): a runner dressed as bagpuss or the soldiers in their 40lb rucksacks
Most eye-catching competitor: a lady dressed in a tight (and I mean tight), fuchsia coloured sports leotard with hair curlers! (on her head obviously)
Charity that seemed to have the most runners: VICTA or SHELTER
Amount of pasta/rice eaten in the carbo-loading period: 3 kgs

My final thoughts....
Hmmmmmm.....I have already gotten the medal..

Last distance run: 42.19 km
Duration: 5 hours 19 minutes 40 seconds
Pace: 7:56 min/km
Total run so far: 303.86 km

You can still sponsor me for the London 2013 Marathon,benefitting MapAction so click here.
Here are my bro-hugs for all my wonderful sponsors, click here to see them.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

1 day to go - D-DAY tomorrow!!

Well, after over 250KM of distance, hours and hours of training and lots of fun and donations, I am less than 12 hours away from the start of what I am sure will be an unforgetable experience: London Marathon 2013. I sit here, tapping away on the keyboard, the sun is now setting and it's been a great day. In fact, it has been a great week!

I collected my number on friday, just to give myself the extra time to queue up and sort myself out and was very pleased at how quickly I was processed; getting my number and running chip in a matter of minutes. I then went into the expo itself where I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of 'stuff' available to test, to buy and to experience. I grabbed the lucozade goodie bag, an extra gel holding belt and  some more energy gels.

I am, after all a number...
There were a few talks and stuff on nutrition and hydration, so I sat in on them as well as getting a pasta meal to keep up the carbohydrate loading. The meal was disappointing and expensive but I can't complain, the Expo is an experience for sure.

So, after relaxing, collecting my gear and checking that I had indeed, packed everything I am now sitting here relaxed and reflecting on the time when I started the training and where it has led me - to here. The big day is tomorrow, am going to bed at 21:00 to ensure a good night's sleep but I doubt I will be able to get anything more than a few winks. I am quite excited.

Lots and lots of emails and texts from friends and colleagues wishing me well and the donations have been coming in - all fantastic!

The weather is meant to be quite nice too:
So I can't complain, cool but sunny to start so ideal really.

I hope to finish in five hours. Having never done a marathon, I am hopeful of finishing and it is half and hour faster than Ed Balls (MP) I believe. So long as I don't get overtaken by a hippo (not a real one, just someone dressed as one!) then I will be happy.

Here's my kit for the day.

Going to go to bed soon - thank you everyone for their support. It will be fab. The MapAction cheerleaders have arranged to set up between mile 13 and mile 22 markers and my friends and family will also be making their way there. I should be ambling around mile 13 around 12:00 with a 10:00 start, I reckong it will be around two hours before I get there. The fabulous MapAction logistics team are also keeping in touch with everyone via frequent updates. All I need to do is to finish.

Need to hydrate, keep focused and calm and enjoy the day.

Good night all - see you on the other side!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Five days to go - Sad and Outraged at the Boston Marathon Bombing

Like everyone I am outraged and saddened by the events in Boston.

My thoughts are with the families of all those who suffered through this and I am sure that the perpetrators will be found. Any violence to innocent people is unjustified. There has been many a counter argument that drone strikes in Afghanistan is unjustified and I agree as well. I condemn those attacks too but one outrage doesn't justify another. I hope that common sense prevails and the goodness of humanity will overcome all.

So, the London Marathon will run albeit with enhanced security. This is the right thing to do and the best response is to run and compete and complete and cheer everyone on. There will be a 30-second silence before each of the races; something that I will be proud to perform.

I will need to collect my running number in person (55042) and also collecting my MapAction running top. A bit late in terms of delivery this time round but the logistical excellent of Messrs Sims and Sims will see us through. I haven't had a chance to introduce the other marathon runners for MapAction but it is about time to. They are:

Chris Holcroft
Mark Jarman
John Lyon
Ian Holt
Chris Edgeton-Warbuton

These chaps will start more or less with me but over time, am sure that we will be split up as the race progresses. I hope to finish before the sweep up bus - that's my target!

The preparations have been a slow run over the weekend and then plenty of rest, sleep and eating the right foods. I have been going to bed early and trying to get 9-10 hours sleep each night. I hope that this gives me the extra energy to complete the final miles. Eating the right foods has been a fun exercise though I had to avoid some lovely cakes and muffins brought in by my forever-cooking-baking-foodie colleagues. Just check out the baked goodness on offer:

Ming can't have me.....

Also, today we had more collegues put together their 'midweek muffin' special that included Cheese and Chilli muffins or Red Leicester & Chorizo muffins! They are culinary wizards and sorcerors for sure....take a bow: James, Beth and Anna.

Eat me....

However, I have to stick to a carbohydrate rich diet to ensure that I am topped up with the right amount of energy to last me through most of the run. It won't be enough of course, I will need to top up during the race through the drinks and gels that I will be carrying but I hope to have enough in the tank to go almost the entire distance. So plenty of brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, berries, bananas, 'natural' fruit bars ('eatnaked.com') and lean proteins.

My dinner, and my lunch and....my dinner again.
So am sort of ready, I do wish I ran more and more regularly or started earlier, got better shoes; earlier but you know what? I doubt that I will be 100% happy with my prep. I am a bit more confident that's for sure but there's more that always can be done.

Some stretching exercise over the next few days - maybe a light run on friday but that's about it. More eating of course. That isn't going to stop!

Last distance run: 5.55 km
Duration: 41.24 min
Pace: 7:16 min/km
Total run so far: 261.67 km

Please sponsor me for the London 2013 Marathon, click here.

Here are my bro-hugs for all my wonderful sponsors, click here to see them.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

8 Days to go! - here we go...

My last week and I have been working hard....doing not much. There's some running to be done, some stretching and some eating but I just need to relax a bit and wait for the big day.

Here's part of my training before I 'carbo-load'...

Yum, yummy!
Spent some 'exercise' time sorting out some very old stuff from my mum's antic and discovered some gems: star wars figures and old copies of Viz..... Moving boxes most of the night definitely got my sweat up! Also, working hard on getting the last donations in - am close to reaching my target too so come on people, donate a fiver for a super charity (MapAction) and also ensuring that I turn up!

I need to get my running number next week as well as picking up some of my drinks and energy bars from the London Marathon Expo. I will take photos and give everyone a report but for now, I am exhausted. Going to get some rest, have a short 5 mile run tomorrow.....

Last distance run: 5.55 km
Duration: 41.24
Pace: 7:16 min/km
Total run so far: 261.67 km

Please sponsor me for the London 2013 Marathon, click here.

Here are my bro-hugs for all my wonderful sponsors, click here to see them.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

14 days to go - some last minute training

Training can be a chore...he said
Well, this is the beach outside of my hotel. Running in the sun has its advantages for sure but it sure can be distracting. After months of training and over 250km over road and track, I am now two weeks away from the starting line. A little bit nervous but very excited.

Still, I have been maintaining my running, albeit with a lot of sauna and jacuzzi 'training' thrown in! My training plan does include a lot of stretching and relaxation so I think they count. I have also been getting plenty of sleep too - which is great.

I did do a short run (above marathon pace) on Friday and in the heat, it was a bit of a chore but once I turned onto the beach and had the blue sea with it her crashing waves, it was easy. This entire holiday has been about relaxation and I have certainly achieved that goal. Mentally and physically relaxed.

Last distance run: 5.55 km
Duration: 41.24
Pace: 7:16 min/km
Total run so far: 261.67 km

Please sponsor me for the London 2013 Marathon, click here.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

26 days to go - four week training plan kicking in...

This is how I see myself in four weeks.
The four week training plan now needs to kick in as the London Marathon is but a month away. I have recieved my confirmation letter, a magazine and some other bits. Looks like I will be going to collect my number and a Lucozade goodie bag (need to pay for it) that has drinks and snacks appropriate for the run a day before the run. The sports drink of choice during the London Marathon is Lucozade, the staple of any liquid diet when one is ill (at least that's how I remember it!) - but they have expanded their range to include a whole load of other potentially, useful stuff. I am especially intrigued with the cherry flavoured drink.

However, I have been using the System In Sport (SIS) range of products since my training started so will be switching to Lucozade and I hope it doesn't cause me any problems! Either way, I need to keep my fluid intake up.

Or so I have been told.....

Still not at 100% but am confident that the last four weeks' training will get me there.

Looking at the published London Marathon magazine, my final 4-week plan is something like this:

4 weeks to go
Mon - Rest
Tue - 30 mins easy run
Wed - Rest
Thu - 1 mile easy run, 4 miles half-marathon-pace, 1-mile easy run
Fri - Stretching
Sat or Sun - 20 miles long run (my final long run)

3 weeks to go
Mon - Rest
Tue - 30 mins easy run
Wed - Rest
Thu - 2 miles easy run, 4 miles half-marathon-pace, 2-mile easy run
Fri - Stretching
Sat or Sun - 13 miles long run (practise marathon pace)

2 weeks to go
Mon - Rest
Tue - 30 mins easy run
Wed - Rest
Thu - 1 mile easy run, 5x (2 mins intermediate running, 2 mins easy run), 1 mile easy run
Fri - Stretching
Sat or Sun - 8 miles easy run

Race week
Mon - 10 mins easy run, 20 mins half-marathon-pace, 10 mins marathon pace
Tue - Rest
Wed - 20 mins easy run
Thu - Rest
Fri - 20 mins easy run
Sat - Gentle stretching

Getting my gear prepped for tomorrow's final long run - some choice tracks on my new Nexus 4 and a bottle of two of lucozade and I should be good to go. Just hope it doesn't snow, tomorrow! Still, many thanks to all the support I have recieved so far. They have been very encouraging and makes the whole project worthwhile. Keep the donations coming, talk to friends and family and anyone else who would be interested!

Run Ming Run!
Last distance run: 6.55 km
Duration: 41.24
Pace: 7:16 min/km
Total run so far: 256.12 km

Please sponsor me for the London 2013 Marathon, click here.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Bro-Hugs. Shout outs to all who have donated.

You guys are amazing. I will update this post with details and thanks to all those who have sponsored me so far....I still need more donations but it's been great so far.

You guys deserve this - no, really.
Thank you all for the sponsorship so far. I just wanted to give people a shout out, a mention and a virtual hug for the monies donated. Each and everyone, I thank you all and if you're reading this and haven't yet donated - please do so, I am running for Mapaction - a unique, high-impact humanitarian mapping charity.

To some special bro-hugs:

  • The first bro-hug goes to George Kearney who sponsored me first. Thanks George, you're a star and I will come over to visit!
  • The biggest bro-hug goes to, well my brother, Hung who anted up £100 the highest single donation so far. Cheers Bro!
  • Recently joined by Karl Hennerman from MapAction who also anted up £100!

To the roll call of cool people so far

Kong yau £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
21.04.13 Good luck for today

Nikki & Damian Hoath £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
19.04.13 Good luck Ming! :)

Michelle Morgan £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
19.04.13 Best of luck Ming, no easy task I am sure, but you will do great! Hopefully spot you in the crowds from the comforf of my sofa ;-)

Peter Dean £20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)
19.04.13 Very best wishes Ming

Cecily £20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)
19.04.13 I guess it's a little more strenuous than the torch relay - but far more worthwhile. Well done.

Anonymous £5.00 (+ £1.25 giftaid)

£20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)
18.04.13 Good luck mate

Anonymous £30.00 (+ £7.50 giftaid)

Scott Boyd £20.00

Dave H £25.00 (+ £6.25 giftaid)
17.04.13 Go Ming Go!

Ollie & Alex Coleman £50.00 (+ £12.50 giftaid)
17.04.13 Best luck for Sunday for Sir Mingus of the Torch, we'll be cheering you on!

John, Emma & Robert
17.04.13 runmingrun!

Peter S £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
17.04.13 Good luck Ming, I can't wait to hear all about it.

Anna £15.00 (+ £3.75 giftaid)

Beth Cox £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
17.04.13 Good luck!! Hope you get the time you want :-)

Ivor £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
16.04.13 Go Ming!

Lynne Merrington £20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)
15.04.13 Good luck Ming, hope you enjoy it!

David McLean £25.00 (+ £6.25 giftaid)
15.04.13 Better late than never! Good luck Ming - if the weather's nice i'll be near Rotherhithe tube station cheering you on!

Spilla £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
15.04.13 Have a good one Ming.

Kamay Li
£10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
14.04.13 So proud of you cousin Ming! :D Best of luck with your race and your fundraising! Lots of love, Kamay

Ken £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
14.04.13 Good Luck Ming

Ant £20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)
14.04.13 Good luck Ming, rather you than me :-)

Karl £100.00 (+ £25.00 giftaid)

James Light £20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)
11/04/2013 Best of luck Ming.

Pete and Mo
 £20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)     
07/04/2013 Good effort Ming - good luck on the day.
Vickie White
£20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)
07/04/2013 Mingle, can't be any worse than that run into the palace, can it?! All the best, Vickie, Mark and Mungo XX    

£10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
02/04/2013 Good luck Ming!

Vicky Stipetic £10.00 (+ £2.50 giftaid)
28/03/2013 Good luck Ming! You can do it!!!

Joe Davison
£20.00 (+ £5.00 giftaid)
25/03/2013 Go Ming! Pretend you're running away from one of my (on target) shots - ok, more realistically, just keep running!
Ming says: No football for me for a week at least!

25.03.13 Great work Ming. Best of luck on training and completing the race.

25.03.13 I hope this is enough for an XL engine and additional heatsinks
Ming says: I need to feed the C-Bill/MC monster!

25.03.13 Good luck Ming!

24.03.13 Good luck. Sure all your training will pay off.

23.03.13 Go Ming Go

23.03.13 Good luck, Ming! When the going gets tough remember that pain is temporary but pride lasts forever.
22.03.13 Run, Ming, Run!
Ming says: Fellow geek, Linux fan and all round cool guy. Cheers!

20.03.13 Gio Ming! You crazy man. We'll be cheering/chuckling. Girls can't wait. Keep up the training x
Ming says: my family from my mother's side. Includes my God daughter. Lovely people. Joel beat me in the Berko half-marathon and he started 10 minutes after me. Cheers!
15.03.13 Good luck!
Ming says: Thank you Pete! 
16.02.13 Very best of luck Ming, for a very special cause
Ming says: Thanks T and S. S: we'll take good care of Tony in MapAction! He'll be put to good use. 
04.02.13 Good Luck Mate!
Ming says: Thanks Iain - I will finish even if it means walking!
14.01.13 Best of luck. Hope you enjoy it !?!
Ming says: Cheers Pete, I will enjoy it, rain or shine. 
19.12.12 Go bro
Ming says: Cheers a bunch bro!!!!
16.12.12 Good luck with the training and have fun!
Ming says: Thanks Anh, you're a star. 
06.12.12 Go cousin! From Auntie, Nick, Wing, Brandon, Jason&Lily xxxx
Ming says: I love my cousins!

03.12.12 Best of luck Ming!!!!
Ming say: I need that and energy too!
02.12.12 Fly Ming, Fly!
Ming Says: I will Mr Forde, I will fly, like the wind. 
01.12.12 Well done Ming - a fantastic Charity to be slogging this out for!
Ming says: Thank you and yes, I am very proud of representing them. 
 28.11.12 Good luck matey!
Ming says: Thank you Matt, can't wait. 
27.11.12 Good Luck
Ming says: Cheers Rowena. 
27.11.12 Good luck with the training Ming

26.11.12 Enjoy the challenge Ming! (I think I'd rather cycle it myself ...)

26.11.12 £1 a mile seems fair. Joel normally does the Berkhamsted Half Marathon where I'm usually a marshal. It's an official warm up event for the London Marathon and might be worth thinking about it.

26.11.12 Good luck Ming

26.11.12 Good luck!

26.11.12 Good luck from all at Esri UK!

25.11.12 Proud of you cous xx

23.11.12 Good luck Ming!

23.11.12 Good Luck

19.11.12 What a guy you are you got bitten once with those feet of yours walking now you are back for more running. Wow-Well done! Regards George

Sunday, 17 March 2013

34 days to go and new shoes

Oh yeah....
Right, after my antics with my knee and the half-marathon, I decided it was time to get some new shoes. My Saucony trail shoes have been great but anything more than a half-marathon and they show their limitations. So, I went into our local running shop, 'Up and Running' and asked for some new shoes. On the machine I go to check my stride, gait and whatever.

Yes, indeedy - new shoes with some support:

Here's the science bit:
I am mild to moderate overpronator. This means the my arch will collapse through the gait cycle and the foot will roll inwards excessively. 60-80% of all runners overpronate. Support shoes are characterised by additional support features on the inside of the shoe.

At £80.00 a go, they better be worth it.

Finally, decided to give 'RunKeeper' a twirl on my new Nexus 4. I like the new phone as its performance is superb with the JellyBean edition of Android. I decided on a slightly different route, one that I estimated to be about 15 km. The Nexus 4 fitted into the iPod pouch snugly and I had a 500 ml bottle strapped to my side. Off I went on my sunday run. It rained and it was wet and I took it slow. There was some messing about as I need to sort out the cats, the laundry and other things but I was finally out and on my run by 08:15 am.

Didn't run with music this time, just RunKeeper giving me an update every 90 seconds on my pace and time. Quite useful to help me develop a better and a more sustainable pace. I had to make a couple of detours as the path / road was flooded.

Last distance run: 14.88 km
Duration: 01:44.06
Pace: 8.4 km /hr
Total run so far: 249.97 km

Please sponsor me for the London 2013 Marathon, click here.