Friday, 27 February 2009

BBC Radio Manchester



Tune into BBC Radio Manchester at 9.30am on Monday, 2 March 2009, when Dunk will be interviewed about fivemarathons, the Barcelona Marathon and Mount Kilimanjaro!

The feature is part of Radio Manchester´s coverage of Comic Relief 2009, which features a celebrity adventure up Kili.

You can also listen online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/local_radio/ or catch the programme on BBC iPlayer (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer) for 24 hours after the broadcast.


Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009


Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see www.christies.org). Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see http://www.macmillan.org.uk/).









Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Vaughan Identity


I’m delighted to confirm that top Manchester barristers, Byrom Street Chambers (www.byromstreet.com), have become a fivemarathons corporate sponsor. Their logo will be on my running top for each of the marathons, and on TEAM fivemarathons’ tops for the Great Manchester Run and the Coniston 14. The money which Byrom Street Chambers have kindly donated will help Christies and Macmillan in their invaluable work.

It's been another busy week at fivemarathons HQ. We've just taken delivery of the first batch of promotional t-shirts for fivemarathons. They look absolutely great, except the printers had a bit of a spelling crisis and have managed to write "maratahons". Fortunately, on the same day that the t-shirts arrived, so did several boxes of Macmillan cloth badges. With impressive ingenuity, Kirsten realised that the Macmillan badges were exactly the same size as the unnecessary "a" in maratahons and got sewing the badges into place. Well done, Kirst! Perhaps she can take in the waist in some of my suit trousers next. The Macmillan badge now looks like the tag on pair of Levi's - very impressive. The imperfection in the initial t-shirts is bound to make them a collector's item. Ahem.

The t-shirts have also had another unexpected benefit. TEAM fivemarathons' Martin said he felt vaguely fraudulent wearing a t-shirt with dates for marathons he wasn't going to run. As a result, he's seriously considering signing up for the Berlin marathon. That's the spirit, Martin! It's particularly commendable considering he'll be running the Reykjavik marathon barely a month before Berlin. If he goes off and registers www.twomarathons.com, just ignore him.

Our running tops also arrived yesterday, and we're really pleased with them. That said, they are on the large side. The added wind resistance from my top flapping in the wind could easily add an hour or so onto my time for the marathon.



I've picked up an annoying niggle in my hip. It felt the same way the day after the New York marathon, but that only lasted for a couple of days and was easily attributed to the 26.2 miles which I'd just run. This time, I've had it for about 10 days, and it isn't showing much sign of clearing up. I even missed my 10 mile run on Sunday to give it a chance to improve. That's the first training session I've missed in two months, so I must be a little nervous about it. My physio has been hard at work, and I'm back over there later today for a final session before I fly to Barcelona tomorrow.

Apparently, the muscle which is causing the trouble is called the piriformis (which, ironically, is from the Latin for “pear-shaped”). The physio told me that she thought she'd identified the problem area and pressed it to confirm. Crikey, I felt like the chap in the game “Operation” - the jolt of pain sent me skywards (although, to be fair, my nose didn't light up. Nor did I make a buzzing sound). The good news is that my 6 mile run last night went without incident, so fingers crossed. I was beginning to think that my preparation was going piriformis.

To add to the above tale of woe, I was fighting off a bug at the weekend. Fortunately, I seemed to sweat it out within 48 hours. The friend who kindly donated it to me has been largely confined to bed for nearly two weeks, so I had a lucky escape. Although, it didn't feel like that at the time. First I couldn't get warm, next thing I was overheating. When I woke up at 1am on Sunday night, it felt like somebody had emptied a bucket on me. Given that I was feeling pretty grim, I simply moved into the spare room, only to wake up an hour later in the same situation. Fortunately, things started to improve. With only one spare bed left, the bedroom burn rate was getting unsustainable. I'm convinced that the exercise and good diet have contributed to my immune system working well at the moment, which helped me to deal with the bug quickly. Still, hobbling around the house with a pain in my piriformis, sweating buckets, was hardly the perfect start to marathon week. As a result, I'll take it easy in Barca. After all, I've got four more cracks at the world record before the year is out.

Finally, I'm pleased to announce that we've confirmed Manchester's exclusive Press Club for the fivemarathons party on Tuesday, 21 April 2009 (the week leading up to the London Marathon). Further details to follow, or contact Kirsten on kirsten.arnold@pannone.co.uk

Right, I'm off to Barcelona. Speak to you after the race.


This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 2 March 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 3 March 2009 Return from Barcelona
Wednesday, 4 March 2009 Rest
Thursday, 5 March 2009 Rest
Friday, 6 March 2009 Rest
Saturday, 7 March 2009 Rest
Sunday, 8 March 2009 Rest


Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009


Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see www.christies.org). Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see www.macmillan.org.uk).


www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonschristies
www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonsmacmillan
Visit us at www.fivemarathons.com









Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Run Fatboy Run


I'm delighted to announce that the international accountancy firm, Mazars (www.mazars.co.uk), will be fivemarathons' Gold Sponsor for Barcelona. Even as we speak, Mazars' logos are being applied to my running top for Barca and TEAM fivemarathons' tops for The Great Manchester Run and the Coniston 14. Many thanks to Mazars' Richard Garrod for his help in arranging their sponsorship. The money which Mazars has kindly donated will help Christies and Macmillan in their invaluable work.

If you take a look at each week's training schedule, you'll notice that there's almost always a a tempo run in the middle of the week, where I concentrate on speed work. These runs help to increase your lactate threshold (the point at which lactic acid builds up in the blood, and slows you down). By raising this threshold, your muscles learn to use oxygen more efficiently and you become a stronger, faster and less-fatigued runner. To get the most out of the tempo runs, you've got to put in enough time at the right intensity. I aim to run at my half-marathon race pace, or, using my heart rate monitor, at 85 per cent of my maximum heart rate. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. So my maximum heart rate would be 220 – 36 = 184 bpm (beats per minute); 85 per cent of that would be about 157bpm. Tempting as it is, I try to avoid more than one tempo run per week. Although it's one of the most important sessions in your training schedule, running regularly at your lactate threshold will tire out your muscles and could leave you vulnerable to injury.

At last, the weather appears to be getting marginally warmer. Coupled with the increased daylight hours, conditions are definitely improving for early morning training runs. Having said that, I was prepared for pre-dawn missions in the freezing cold from an early age. In the mid-1980s, the boiler at my parents' house had a bad habit of refusing to fire up on particularly cold and windy mornings. The wind would blow out the pilot light overnight, and at approximately 5am each morning, my Dad would call upon me to stand outside in the blistering cold and whipping rain, holding an old sleeping bag over the boiler flu to keep out a howling gale. While I stood outside in all weathers, Dad would sit in the relative warm of the house, taking his sweet time over trying to re-light the pilot light. The leisurely clicking from the ignition led me to believe that he couldn't possibly be anywhere near as cold or wet as I was. As it happened, a valuable lesson in getting on with the job in hand wasn't far away. One evening, while I was out running, my Dad made a solo attempt at re-lighting the boiler. He turned on the gas and arguably waited a little too long before clicking the ignition. The large build-up of gas only required one click to start an explosion of which Red Adair would have been justly proud. As the boiler disappeared through one wall, my Dad flew through the air with the greatest of ease towards the other. Had I not been out training, I'd have been on the other side of what was left of the wall, clinging to the other side of an exploding boiler which my Dad had so expertly detonated only moments earlier. I always said running was good for you.

Only one week now until I fly to Barcelona. The marathon is shaping up to be a fantastic event. This year, there will be a record 10,000 entrants. The previous record was set at last year’s event, with 9,230 runners. Check out the official website at http://www.barcelonamarato.es On this week’s rest day, I went to the cinema to watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona. While the film itself was a shade bizarre, it did remind me of some of the great sights on the route of the marathon. Can't wait to get started!


This week’s training schedule:


Monday, 23 February 2009

Rest

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

5 miles steady, plus 6 x 1 min efforts

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Rest or 2 – 3 miles easy

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Fly to Barcelona / 20 mins easy

Friday, 27 February 2009

Rest

Saturday, 28 February 2009

15 mins jog

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Barcelona Marathon


Barcelona, 1 March 2009

London, 26 April 2009

San Francisco, 26 July 2009

Berlin, 20 September 2009

New York, 1 November 2009


Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see www.christies.org). Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see www.macmillan.org.uk).


www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonschristies

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonsmacmillan

Visit us at www.fivemarathons.com




Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Manchester Evening News

Today's Manchester Evening News features an article on fivemarathons. Check out page 5 of the Business Section.






Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009



Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see www.christies.org). Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see http://www.macmillan.org.uk/).







www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonschristies



www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonsmacmillan



Visit us at http://www.fivemarathons.com/

Saturday, 14 February 2009

For Moll


Many thanks to Rob Ainscough, PR Manager for fivemarathons - not only for his fantastic work in promoting fivemarathons, but also for writing today's blog:

When Duncan runs his five marathons, alongside the sponsors’ names on his vest, he will have two words that say, ‘For Moll’. A look at this blog will tell you that Moll is Duncan’s Aunty Moll who he lost to cancer when he was young, but who was a big influence on him as he grew up.

There is though another ‘Moll’ he’s running for – my wife Barbara, who died from breast cancer in 2006. My two girls, Natalie and Ruth, called Barbara ‘Moll’ from being little girls; don’t ask me why, they just did. It was a nickname that stuck and even I would find myself saying things like, “Come on Moll, get your coat we’re off to the pub,” or “Moll, don’t tell anyone but I love you more than life itself.”

Well life, my friends, sometimes kicks you in the teeth, but Barbara was just about the last person on earth to let something like cancer get in the way of living her own life to the full. After surgery and horrid chemotherapy in 1996 and early ’97, she got on with work as a primary school teacher and a fabulous one at that – just ask her colleagues and the kids she enthused with her subject areas of biology and science) and the everyday stuff of being a wife, a mum and a fabulous friend to so many people.

We thought we’d beaten the ‘Big C’, but we hadn’t. Her cancer returned almost 5 years to the day after it was diagnosed and this time it was terminal. My Moll fought for five more years – how she hated that word, ‘fought’. “Don’t let them say I fought,” she’d say, “You don’t fight or battle; you just get on with getting on because you’ve no bloody choice.” Well sorry, love, but I don’t know what else to say because it looked like you fought to me and you put up one hell of a fight. She worked right up until just a few of months before she died and we travelled to our apartment near Madrid for the last time in the May of 2007 before she died in the August. She adored it there and it’s where her ashes were scattered, on a hillside overlooking the village and where I return as often as possible to see my ‘Moll’.

Time does heal bit by bit, but there still remains a deep wound that will never heal and a burning sense of wanting to do something that will help prevent other families from having to watch their loved ones die from this pernicious disease. As a family we raised money for ‘Christies against Cancer’ and, after Barbara died, we raised money for St Anns Hospice, where she spent her last few weeks.

Moll with her grandson, Jacob


When Duncan approached me, in my capacity at Pannone as PR Manager, to see if we could let local press know what he was going to do, I was obviously only too happy to help. When he said he was running for his ‘Aunty Moll’, I swallowed hard and said, “What a coincidence, my kids called their mum Moll and she died from cancer.” I then offered to support Duncan and asked if he’d put ‘Moll’ on his vest. Duncan said, “Mate, let’s put ‘For Moll’ on my vest and you, me and your girls will know who it’s for.”

So there you have it – there are two ‘Molls’, but really there are thousands and thousands and my friend Duncan is running for them all. He’s a bloody fool and a bloody great bloke at the same time. Support him generously, please. For your Moll.

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009

San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009

New York, 1 November 2009


Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see www.christies.org). Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see www.macmillan.org.uk).

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Cool Runnings

Sunday's 20 mile training run in Ireland went well. Inside 3 hours, which was my target. It can be hard to hold back and run slower than your normal pace, but it's important not to push too hard and be running on empty for the last few miles. Today I aimed to run 9 minute miles, and run a negative split, where you run faster in the second half than you did in the first. Being able to comfortably run harder in the second half is a big psychological boost - it confirms to you that you're not tying up. I enjoyed the last 6 miles most today; before that, I spent most of the time over-analysing whether or not I was getting tired, whether I was on schedule, whether or not I'd drunk enough, were my legs about to go bang?

It's a relief that my last long run before Barca has gone well. For one thing, it's a real confidence boost and, hopefully, it confirms that the training is working. The route for the run was fantastic. Along the Irish coast from County Meath into County Dublin: from Stamullen, through Balbriggan, on to Skerries and then back along the same route. As I followed the beach, there was heavy snowfall, which made it really atmospheric, even if the visibility was awful at times.

The ferry journey back was a trial. The sea was so rough that the old tub was pitching from side to side at quite ridiculous angles. Try walking straight when you've just run 20 miles and the floor won't sit still. The look of disgust which I received from an old dear in the bar prompted me to explain, "I'm not drunk, I just can't walk straight right now". She kindly reassured me that she'd heard it all before. She must have been horrified when she saw me driving off the car deck. Hopefully the floor won't be moving under my feet in 3 weeks' time in Barcelona.

I'm completely sick of the cold weather right now. In 2004, training for London was far harder than for New York. At least the training for New York is through the warm summer months, whereas for London, you're out in all weathers, freezing yourself, which is where I am right now. Still, it's not as bad as trying to summon the enthusiasm to run through the German winter. When I lived in Germany, I learned a new definition of cold. The temperature got so low that I overcame some sartorial misgivings and purchased some long-johns. Matters finally came to a head when it was so cold I could hear my knees squeaking. On particularly cold days, the local radio station would broadcast warnings not to have hot drinks straight after coming in from the cold – for fear of cracking the enamel on your teeth! If I can find the motivation to run through that, perhaps the current bad weather isn't such a problem after all.

This week, we confirmed the final designs for the running tops (see below). The bottom half of the back is blank for the logos of fivemarathons' principal sponsors. Each gold sponsor will get its logo on the top for one of the marathons, so those will change from race to race. The platinum sponsor will get its logo on the tops for all 5 of the races (plus The Great Manchester Run and the Coniston 14). There's also space on the front of the tops for our names. While it may seem a little egocentric to have your name on your top, a lot of marathon runners do it, and you shouldn't underestimate the lift that it gives you in the last 6 miles to have the crowd calling your name to urge you on to the finish line.



The closer I get to the first marathon, the more "motivational" platitudes I receive. Some crackers this week include, "Pain is just weakness leaving the body". If that's true, I must have had more than my fair share of weakness, because I've been feeling it leave my body for months now. Another good one is "Pain is temporary, pride is forever". If the pride has half the staying power of the pain, I'll be unbearable for several months after New York.


This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 16 February 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 17 February 2009 6 miles easy
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 6 miles, incl 8 x 1 mins fast, 1 min slow
Thursday, 19 February 2009 5 miles steady
Friday, 20 February 2009 Rest
Saturday, 21 February 2009 Warm up, then 3 miles at marathon pace, timed, then warm down
Sunday, 22 February 2009 10 miles steady

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see www.christies.org). Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see www.macmillan.org.uk).

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Family Guy

Preparation and fundraising continue to progress well. After last week’s interview on BBC Radio Manchester, I’ve just finished a photo shoot for the Manchester Evening News. Once I know the publication date, I’ll post it on the blog. Both of these have been fantastic publicity for fivemarathons. Many thanks to Rob Ainscough for setting them up.


Canoeing on Ullswater. Friday, 23 January 2009.

This weekend, I'm off to Ireland to see my family, so Sunday's 20 mile run will be in Dublin. After that, my training starts to taper down to the big day. This will be the first of my long runs for fivemarathons which has been outside of the Lakes. Ironically, I prepared for the 2005 Dublin marathon, only to get a bad cold two weeks before the race. Not being able to run was incredibly frustrating, so Sunday's 20 miles through Dublin will be satisfying, even if it is four years late. I did consider Dublin for one of the fivemarathons, not least because I'd have my family there to support me. Unfortunately, the date of the race is too close to the New York marathon, which is too good to miss. My Mum and sister spent last weekend planning a suitable 20 mile route for me. The support which I've had from my family for fivemarathons has been fantastic.

Only 3 weeks on Sunday to Barcelona. I'm looking forward to getting underway and chalking one up on the scoreboard. I'm also looking forward to a nice week-long break in training after the race. Certainly, my recuperation can't go much worse than after London in 2004. After the race, I flew to Beijing to spend a fortnight relaxing with friends. While there, I naively agreed to go for a Chinese massage. Although the masseuse was tiny and only 4'10” tall, it felt like a gorilla was trying to tear me limb from limb. Once the excruciating agony was over, my legs actually felt great. So much so, I did the same thing again in New York's Chinatown after the NY marathon later that year. As long as you wait at least four days after the race, it's a big help. Getting a massage before day four risks exacerbating the inevitable muscle damage in your legs.



Mike Howlett, canoeing down the River Annan. Saturday, 31 January 2009


As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my Dad is 70 later this month. Dad reaching 70 in fine fettle gives me some hope that I may have a few years of long distance running in me yet. Not that he hasn't had a few close, and often comedic, calls. A particular highlight was his ill-advised mission to lay fibreglass in my parents' loft, which culminated in him disappearing through the loft floor and reappearing through the lounge ceiling. On arrival in the lounge, he promptly removed his footwear, on the basis that my Mum wouldn't appreciate him wearing his shoes in the lounge. Given the man-sized hole he'd just created in the ceiling, I suspected he might have missed the point. He's still routinely reminded of his prodigious speed-reading prowess, based on an ability to go through two storeys in a matter of seconds.


Sunday's long run will be a useful rehearsal for Barcelona. It's important to have everything tried and tested before the big day. You don't want to be risking anything new on race day. For example, New York only provides Gatorade isotonic drinks (while London only provides Lucozade) – it's a bit late at mile 10 of the race to find out that you can't stomach Gatorade. Hopefully, I've got everything pretty much locked down – High 5 EnergyGels, New Balance 1023s, Skins compression tights, and Hilly twin-skin socks.

The High 5 gels work well for me: they're not too heavy on the stomach, and they go down much easier than the competitor SIS gels. Similarly, I'm sold on the New Balance 1023s. I trained for, and ran, New York in 1023s and I'm a big fan. When New Balance stopped making them, I stockpiled 5 pairs, which should get me through to the end of fivemarathons. Fortunately for me, New Balance has a factory shop in my home village of Shap. Not only are the trainers very competitively priced, the ladies in the shop are very knowledgeable and helpful. While New Balance is a well known brand amongst runners in the UK, it's huge in the US. In the starting pens for New York, every second runner was wearing NBs.

The fivemarathons running tops are still in production, but I'll have a few extended test runs in them before Barcelona. Thanks to Kyle Blackburn for his hard work in tracking down a manufacturer who can prepare suitable tops incorporating the logos of Christies, Macmillan and fivemarathons' principal sponsors. The tops we've chosen have the logos dyed directly into the material, rather than screen printed on. This makes the top more comfortable and breathable.

Kirsten (kirsten.arnold@pannone.co.uk) has full details of the corporate sponsorship opportunities which are still available for fivemarathons. For a bargain £500, your company could have its logo on the fivemarathons running top (coming soon to a marathon near you), along with a host of other benefits. Personal donations couldn't be easier: simply click on the Christies or Macmillan logos on the left hand side of this blog and you'll go straight to fivemarathons' pages on Justgiving.com.

Finally, many thanks to Pannone LLP, one of fivemarathons' principal sponsors. Pannone's help has been superb. Staff recently made donations in return for the right to finish work an hour early, or take an extended lunch break. In addition, the firm auctioned tickets to a top theatre production, the proceeds of which benefited fivemarathons.

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonschristies

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonsmacmillan


Visit us at http://www.fivemarathons.com/




This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 9 February 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 10 February 2009 4 miles very easy off-road
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 6 miles steady
Thursday, 12 February 2009 6 miles, incl 6 x 2 mins fast, with warm-up and warm down
Friday, 13 February 2009 Rest
Saturday, 14 February 2009 4 – 5 miles steady
Sunday, 15 February 2009 Race 6 – 10 miles, with long warm up and warm down


Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009




Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see www.christies.org). Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see www.macmillan.org.uk).

NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004