Saturday, 25 April 2009

London Marathon

Hello from advance base camp in Chelsea. I'm just back from the London Marathon Expo at the ExCel Arena in Docklands, where I checked-in and collected my running number and ChampionChip. There was so much to see at the Expo. I visited our friends at Hilly running equipment on their stand, as well as Christies and Macmillan. I also hooked up with two university mates of mine, Shanley and Andy, who now run the successful triathlon website www.tri247.com. It was great to catch up with them both. Shanley actually ran the New York Marathon in 2004, the same year as me. He ran dressed as Sponge Bob Squarepants, which undoubtedly reinforced the Americans' view that the British are a very eccentric bunch. Andy is building up to his first Iron Man race, which would be an unbelievable achievement.

The Expo also had the all-important pasta party, where you can load up on carbs, ready for the race tomorrow. While most international marathons have pasta parties, London is the only one I've been to where they charge. While Barcelona served up some great food, absolutely free, London manages to charge £7 per head! Not a bad income stream, given there's 36,000 runners taking part, each of which is likely to have a support team with them.

In tomorrow's ladies' race, Britain's best hope for success is Mara Yamauchi. Born Mara Myers, she worked for the British Embassy in Tokyo, where she met her Japanese husband. While she is a household name in Japan, until the last Olympics she had been comparatively unknown in the UK. Before she married, Mara briefly dated a good friend of mine. Probably until she got to know him. If he's tuning in, I'm just kidding. If he's not, I mean it.

I'm lucky to have a great support team in London with me. Six members of my family have made the trip from Ireland (seven, if you include Eoghain the dog). In addition, my good friend, Mandy, is coming down for the race to cheer on her cousin and me. Everyone will be wearing my spare fivemarathons' running tops, so they should be easy to spot along the route.

Alan and Alison at Harris and Ross worked very hard this week to get me ready to run. As well as working on my right plantar fascia, Alan convinced me to let him loose with three acupuncture needles on my troublesome piriformis. Fortunately, I didn't see the size of the needles before they went into my rear. As Alan rightly predicted, if I'd known that it was about 9 centimetres' worth, I'd almost certainly have refused. As it turned out, it was completely pain-free and my piriformis isn't tight at all. Alan certainly knows his stuff.

Less orthodox preparation came in the form of the fivemarathons Road To London Party in Manchester on Tuesday night. It turned out to be a great event. The high point for me was receiving some sage marathon-running advice from the great Ron Hill, followed closely by one of the party organisers, Claire, singing "All That Jazz", with accompanying dance routine, with her sister, Jen. While tomorrow's 26.2 miles meant that I couldn't have a particularly heavy night, I did get talked into singing "It Had To Be You". Funnily enough, after that, nobody pestered me to sing again.

Many thanks to everyone who has called, sent emails or texts to wish me good luck. As in Barca, your support has been fantastic! Right, I need to get some sleep. Important appointment in Greenwich, first thing in the morning. Talk to you after the race.

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

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 20 April 2009   Return from London
Tuesday, 21 April 2009   Rest
Wednesday, 22 April 2009   Rest
Thursday, 23 April 2009   Rest
Friday, 24 April 2009   Rest
Saturday, 25 April 2009  20 mins easy
Sunday, 26 April 2009 30 mins easy

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see http://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

Sign the Manchester Evening News' petition at: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/health/s/1101538_cash_back_for_christie_campaign

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

Join the Facebook fivemarathons group

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Dr Ron Hill MBE

When I was 10 years old, I ran for my local running club, Sutton Harriers. One of the other kids there had a set of waterproof warm-up kit, made by Ron Hill Sports. The maroon and grey outfit looked fantastic, and I was sure that my life would be complete once I owned some similar kit. You can therefore imagine how thrilled I was when a large envelope arrived for me this week, containing a signed print from Dr Ron Hill himself. It's a rare picture of Dr Ron winning the 1969 Maxol Manchester Marathon. The inscription reads: "To Duncan, Best of luck in London '09, Dr Ron Hill". I was speechless – Dr Ron Hill is a genuine living legend. Arguably the first person to ever run a marathon in less than 2 hours 10 minutes (less than 5 minute miles for the entire 26.2 miles), he represented Great Britain at the Tokyo, Mexico and Munich Olympics, held world records over 4 different distances, and has run every single day since December 1964. Dr Ron founded the ground-breaking athletics kit brands, Ron Hill Sports, and subsequently Hilly, which is one of fivemarathons’ principal supporters (see www.hillyclothing.co.uk/News/Hilly-proud-to-support-Duncan-Vaughan-/).

I am delighted to announce that Dr Ron will be joining us at fivemarathons’ Road To London party this Tuesday, 21 April 2009, at The Press Club in Manchester. Final arrangements are now in place for the party. The Press Club has kindly agreed to open at 6pm, with free red and white wine for the first 100 guests. The one and only Tim Hayes will be our compere for the evening, introducing entertainment from top Manchester DJ, Marco Giannini (www.myspace.com/djgiannini) and a great karaoke act. Volunteering to sing costs only £2, while, more interestingly, nominating someone else to sing costs just £5!





I hope you can join us for what will be a great evening, with all monies raised going to Christies and Macmillan. To pre-purchase your ticket, simply e-mail Kirsten (kirsten.arnold@pannone.co.uk). Your name will be added to the guest list and your ticket will cost just £7 (tickets purchased on the door will be £10).


My colleagues, Ayse Ince and Stephen Buckton, will also be running in this year’s London Marathon and Pannone has over 130 runners in the Great Manchester Run, many of whom will be at The Press Club on Tuesday. While a night on the town may not seem like ideal preparation for a big race, there’ll be a wealth of running talent and support on hand: as well as Dr Ron Hill, there’ll be guests from Hilly Running Equipment (www.hillyclothing.co.uk), Harris & Ross sports physiotherapists (www.harrisandross.co.uk) and Marc Laithwaite and Joanna Lee from The Endurance Coach (www.theendurancecoach.com).


As part of my final preparations for London, I’ve spent time this week at both Harris & Ross' clinic and The Endurance Coach’s testing facility. On Wednesday, H&R’s Alan Raw continued his good work on my niggling piriformis issue and the plantar fasciitis, which I appear to have developed in my right foot. The plantar fasciitis is potentially serious and, if left untreated, could stop me running. It’s a painful inflammation of the plantar fascia, which supports the arch of the foot. As well as massage and manipulation, Alan has developed a series of exercises to help cure the problem. It’s likely that the piriformis issue is related to the over-pronation in my running gait, which H&R’s Josh Cheng detected. In turn, the over-pronation is likely to be the major cause of the plantar fasciitis. It’s precisely these issues which make Harris & Ross’ support so invaluable in keeping me on the road for the fivemarathons.


Alan did mention that, if the plantar fasciitis doesn’t respond properly to the exercises and the massage / manipulation, we could consider acupuncture. Funnily enough, I can feel it getting better already! Alan has suggested that I take the anti inflammatory, Voltarol, for the marathon, to ensure that the plantar fascia doesn't become a problem during the race. After London, there's three months until the San Francisco Marathon, which gives Alan plenty of time to get to work.

On Friday, I was at The Endurance Coach for the tests I mentioned in last week’s blog. As well as testing my heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, I took my first VO2 max test. I was pretty pleased with the results: resting heart rate of 52 beats per minutes (72 bpm is normal) and VO2 max of 58.2 (the bands are Very Poor(<35.3), Poor (35.3 – 38.9), Fair (38.9 – 42.4), Good (42.4 – 46.8), Excellent (46.8 – 52.5), Superior (>52.5)). Amazingly, my VO2 max is better than Paula Radcliffe’s. The difference is, her economy is far, far better than mine, which means that she can work extremely hard without ever getting anywhere near her VO2 max.

The mechanics of the VO2 test is interesting (honestly). While running progressively harder on a treadmill, you wear a mask, which measures your breathing and the oxygen / carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air. VO2 max is reached when your oxygen consumption remains at a steady rate despite the increased workload. To increase the workload, the speed of the treadmill is increased each minute by one kilometre per hour, up to 14 k/ph, after which the incline of the treadmill gets higher and higher until you reach your VO2 max. VO2 max is closely related to the point at which you reach your anaerobic threshold (the point at which you can’t absorb any additional oxygen). At your anaerobic threshold, your breathing increases sharply. At first, this appears strange – if you can’t absorb any additional oxygen, why are you breathing harder? My limited grasp on the science is this: your breathing rate is dictated by the amount of carbon dioxide you need to expel, not the amount of oxygen you need to take onboard; when you reach your anaerobic limit, you need more oxygen than you can absorb and, as a result, your body starts to produce lactic acid; the lactic acid reacts with the bicarbonates in the bloodstream, which creates excess carbon dioxide; to expel the excess carbon dioxide, your breathing gets harder and harder. At the end of test, I was breathing very hard, and it was quite obvious when it was time to stop!


Laith and I have had some initial discussions about upping the intensity of my training regime after London, so it looks like I’ve got plenty more hard work to come. For now, we’re working on core stability exercises to try to eliminate the causes of my ongoing piriformis issue.


Finally, many thanks to Kirsten, Claire Smith, Tim Hayes, Lucy Dawson, Kyle Blackburn and Ally Dacey who have worked really hard to ensure that this week’s party is a big success. Good luck to Ayse and Stephen in Sunday’s marathon - they’ll be showered and in the pub by the time I’m crossing the finish line!


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


This week’s training schedule:


Monday, 20 April 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 21 April 2009 5 miles steady, plus 6 x 1 min efforts / Fivemarathons Party
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 Rest or 2 – 3 miles easy
Thursday, 23 April 2009 20 mins easy
Friday, 24 April 2009 Rest / travel to London
Saturday, 25 April 2009 15 mins jog
Sunday, 26 April 2009 London Marathon




Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see http://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


Sign the Manchester Evening News' petition at: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/health/s/1101538_cash_back_for_christie_campaign


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


Join the Facebook fivemarathons group


Come to the fivemarathons "Road to London" party on 21 April 2009 at The Press Club, 2-10 St. Johns House, Queen Street, Manchester, M2 5JB.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Pain and Certain Death

Only a week to go to the fivemarathons party at The Press Club in Manchester. I’m delighted to confirm that the one and only Tim Hayes will be our compere for the evening. While Kirsten is off ski-ing, please contact Kyle Blackburn for tickets on 0161 909 3000 or kyle.blackburn@pannone.co.uk.

Chasing my shadow


This week I've sorted out some new trainers. My last pair of New Balance 1023s has finally given up, so I've had to find a replacement. Despite my best efforts, I'm just not getting along with the New Balance 1224s. You may recall that Harris and Ross' Josh Cheng had recommended my NB 1224s, based on the analysis at H&R's Wilmslow clinic. Unfortunately, I find the trainers a little uncomfortable over longer distances, which isn't ideal for marathon running. I need some stability trainers to correct the over-pronation which was revealed during my session with Josh, so Harris and Ross arranged for me to get on the treadmill at Manchester's Up And Running shop (www.upandrunning.co.uk) for some more video analysis in various trainers. I had considered some Asics Gel Kayano XVs - I bought a pair of Kayano XIIs in New York three years ago, and I loved them. Unfortunately, the video showed that they weren’t properly correcting the over-pronation. Some Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9 worked best (TEAM fivemarathons’ Martin will no doubt hate my disloyalty to New Balance). Anyway, fingers crossed for the new Brooks shoes - I'd like to get them run in and working well in time for London. With less than two weeks to go, there's not much time left for alternative arrangements, but after five training sessions, they’re shaping up well.

Up And Running


Coincidentally, Up And Running’s Ben Fish was my fellow guest on BBC Radio Manchester’s Becky Want Show on Saturday morning. Ben and I were on the show to discuss running, and give some tips on what to look for when buying new running trainers. In addition, Becky interviewed me about fivemarathons, which was a great opportunity to promote our fundraising efforts. You can listen online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/local_radio/ or catch the programme on BBC iPlayer (http:// www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer).


On Friday, I’ll be at The Endurance Coach’s clinic (http://www.theendurancecoach.com/) for various tests and exercises aimed at improving my performance. Based on the results of those tests, my coach, Marc Laithwaite, will be better able to plan my training regime for the remaining marathons. The main indicator will be the VO2 max test to accurately determine my cardiovascular fitness. VO2 max (V = volume per time, O2 = Oxygen, max = maximum), also known as maximal oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity, is the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and utilise oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual. My test at The Endurance Coach will involve me running progressively harder on a treadmill (to fully tax my aerobic energy system), while Laith measures my breathing and the oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air. VO2 max is reached when my oxygen consumption remains at a steady rate despite the increased workload. The higher my VO2 max, the fitter I am. I’m actually nervous to find out the result. Knowing Laith, it will probably show that I’m technically dead.

The American middle and long distance runner, Steve Prefontaine, once said "Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts". Marathon running certainly takes guts, not least between miles 20 and 26. While preparing for the London Marathon 2004, I was advised to write on my palms the name of somebody who would be proud to see me complete the distance. When you get to 20 miles, and it’s starting to hurt, seeing the name of your loved one will hopefully inspire you to keep moving, and run through the pain. During the New York Marathon in 2004, I ran in gloves, keeping my hands covered for the first 3 hours of the race. At 21 miles, the gloves came off, and I managed to grit my teeth and grind out the last few miles. In each of my races, I have had "Moll" written on my palms.

When I was young, my brother, sister and I used to really look forward to visits from my Uncle Son, my Dad's elder brother. He was a larger than life character who was great fun, especially when it came to fooling around with us kids. He'd sit us on his knee and present two clenched fists, explaining that one was "Pain" and the other was "Certain Death". This inevitably preceded a mock fight, which would have him losing in dramatically comedic fashion. Throughout my life, Uncle Son took a keen interest in my hobbies and, often limited, achievements. He encouraged my running by accompanying me to my local running track and setting off with me for a 400 metre lap. He undoubtedly still holds the track record for the slowest ever lap, but the fact that he was there, running with me, meant everything. Sadly, Uncle Son passed away last year, but I know he'd have supported me throughout the fivemarathons. In London, which would have been his home marathon, I'll have "Pain" and "Certain Death" written on the inside of my fists. Thanks for everything Uncle Son. This one's for you.


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



This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 13 April 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 14 April 2009 6 miles easy
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 6 miles, incl 8 x 1 mins fast, 1 min slow
Thursday, 16 April 2009 5 miles steady
Friday, 17 April 2009 Rest
Saturday, 18 April 2009 Warm up, then 3 miles at marathon pace, timed, then warm down
Sunday, 19 April 2009 10 miles steady


Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see http://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


Sign the Manchester Evening News' petition at: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/health/s/1101538_cash_back_for_christie_campaign

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


Join the Facebook fivemarathons group


Come to the fivemarathons "Road to London" party on 21 April 2009 at The Press Club, 2-10 St. Johns House, Queen Street, Manchester, M2 5JB.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Air Energi

I'm delighted to announce that the international oil and gas recruitment agency, Air Energi (www.airenergi.com), will be fivemarathons' Gold Sponsor for the London Marathon. Even as we speak, Air Energi's logos are being applied to my running top for London and TEAM fivemarathons' tops for The Great Manchester Run. Many thanks to Air Energi's Duncan Gregson for his help in arranging their sponsorship. The money which Air Energi has kindly donated will help Christies and Macmillan in their invaluable work.

Tune into the BBC Radio Manchester from 9.20am Saturday, 11 April 2009, when I’ll be interviewed on the Becky Want show about running and fivemarathons. 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.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Be Sure To Wear A Flower In Your Hair...

The fivemarathons “Road to London” party is looking better every day and tickets are selling really well. As well as Manchester’s DJ Marco Giannini, Kirsten has arranged one of Manchester’s foremost karaoke shows. While I’m assured that it’ll be great fun, my own experiences of karaoke haven’t always been entirely positive. A prime example was the time I was prevailed upon to sing “Puff The Magic Dragon” in a Tokyo karaoke bar, with the words only available in Japanese. That raised a few eyebrows, but admittedly not as many as when a close friend of mine ill-advisedly chose to sing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” at his wedding. There will also be a silent auction for some great prizes: a signed picture of World Light Welterweight Boxing Champion (and The Pride of Hyde), Ricky Hatton; some fantastic luxury items, kindly donated by Hermѐs in Manchester (visit www.hermes.com/index_uk.html); a spectacular 4x4 off-road expedition in the Lake District; and a day high in the mountains with your very own mountain guides, from our friends at North Doodle (see http://www.northdoodle.com/); to name but a few.



This week, I've confirmed my flight for San Francisco, so everything is now in place for the remaining four marathons. I'll be over there for a week either side of the race, which should give plenty of time for acclimatisation and a relaxed recovery. The plan is to hire a house on San Francisco bay, from where I can train and get ready. Another benefit is the ability to cook my own food. When you're away from home, getting the carbs you need in the run up to a race can be difficult. For this very reason, most of the major international races have a "pasta party" the day before the race, where you can load up on pasta and bagels and ensure that you're fully fuelled for the 26.2 mile battle ahead.

I checked the course map for San Fran and it looks like a great route, although the gradient profile does look pretty hilly. Nobody need expect a quick time from me in San Fran! My Mum and Dad have also confirmed their flights for San Fran, and my Auntie June will be joining us from Vancouver, so my travelling support marches on.

Training continues to progress well, with confidence high after the Coniston 14. Running shorter races, like 10k or half marathon, provides some light relief from the marathon schedule. The shorter distances allow you to let rip and push harder, whereas the marathon is more like a game of chess. Constant calculation and re-calculation over pace, distance to go, water intake, carb intake, and trying to stick to a strategy, which inevitably has to evolve to take account of how you're feeling as the race develops. Roll on the 10k Great Manchester Run on 17 May 2009.

TEAM fivemarathons' Lucy was obviously suitably inspired by her personal best in last week's Coniston 14 - she has signed up for this year's Great North Run on 20 September 2009. While Lucy is taming the streets of Gateshead, TEAM fivemarathons’ Martin and I will be in Germany, tackling the Berlin Marathon. A truly international performance from the team.

Today’s 20 mile run in Ireland was mixed. At 2 hours 53 minutes, I was 4 minutes quicker than last time, but a quick time wasn’t the objective today. I got my strategy wrong and struggled to run slowly enough in the first 10 miles. I certainly paid for that in the second half of the run, which was slower than the first half, as I started to tie up in the last few miles. It also reinforced my concern that my weekly mileage may be higher than I really need. Given that I’ve already got the fitness, and the conditioning in my legs, the extra miles aren’t necessarily achieving anything, other than tiring me out for the long runs, like today. I need to be fully rested and fuelled when I arrive in Greenwich on 26 April. More importantly, as far as I possibly can, I need to stick to my race plan. It worked in Barca, so I just need to remember what I’ve learned. I’m just really relieved that I can learn these lessons in training, and not on race day.

Less than three weeks now until London. From now on, my training starts to taper down to the big day. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that everything holds together until London - after that I've got three months to recover and rebuild before San Fran on 26 July. This week, I received an email from the organisers of the London Marathon to confirm the details of the charities which I'm supporting. They'll then use those details, along with one of the official photos of me running the race, for a press release about fivemarathons to my local papers at home in Cumbria: The Westmorland Gazette, and The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald. It will great to spread the word about fivemarathons up there.

Finally, check out the new fivemarathons page on the website of Hilly running equipment, one of fivemarathons' principal supporters: www.hillyclothing.co.uk/News/Hilly-proud-to-support-Duncan-Vaughan-/. What a fantastic page! Many thanks to Hilly for spreading the word about fivemarathons.

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

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 6 April 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 7 April 2009 4 miles very easy off-road
Wednesday, 8 April 2009 6 miles steady
Thursday, 9 April 2009 6 miles, incl 6 x 2 mins fast, with warm-up and warm down
Friday, 10 April 2009 Rest
Saturday, 11 April 2009 4 – 5 miles steady
Sunday, 12 April 2009 Race 6 – 10 miles, with long warm up and warm down

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see http://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

Sign the Manchester Evening News' petition at: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/health/s/1101538_cash_back_for_christie_campaign

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

NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004