Posts Tagged ‘Running’


I have been on a project for work in Boston for the last two months. It has been cold, and it has been snowy. Coming from warmer climes, I didn’t know about driving in snow storms, not using high-beams in blizzards and how important it is to clear the snow on the car roof and bonnet. I am now versed in the ways of the New England winter. Now it is time for the spring – and then the summer – and my big cycle trip.. Yay!

I saw the first sign of spring during my Easter in the Adinrondack Mountains in up-state New York. I was there with some friends (Candice and Sarah), staying in a beautiful log cabin in Peasleeville. On Easter Saturday the sun came out and the mercury rose. The white winter landscape twinkled in the sun as it slowly prepared to melt – over the coming two months. But, for me, the white would remain and I breathed in the beauty.

I saw the blue of my cabin window and jumped out of bed. Such a morning could not be wasted. A jogging loop through the hills was in order. On the map it didn’t look too far. In practice it was further than it looked. (I didn’t check the scale.) Through charming farming land, and through wooded hills.

Peasleeville barn

Peasleeville barn

Strackville Road

Strackville Road

25 km and a big breakfast later, Candice, Sarah and I took out the bikes. This was my first bike trip in the USA. It was a short one (21 km), to a little iced over lake. We had visions of a longer trip, but, as we had more planned for the day, we cut it short to make alternative use of the brilliant sun.

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Lake in Macomb Park

Lake in Macomb Park

And then, keen to see the amazing views on a clear day that I seen from mountain tops on cloudy days, we decided to scale the local mountain out the back of the cabin.

The sun was really shining brightly now, and it was actually quite warm.

On the way up Mt Terry.

On the way up Mt Terry.

It was a steep, snowy climb up a four-wheel track to a communications tower at the top of the mountain. In fact, the tower was not at the highest point. This, however, was not reachable in the winter. I tried my best, bush-bashing cross-country. The snow was deep and, being warm, unstable. I ended my hike in a frozen but thawing bog near the summit. It was beautiful, tranquil, and utterly silent.

Bog at Mt. Terry.

Bog at Mt. Terry.

So, without planning it before-hand, I had done 3 different activities outdoors. 25km running, 21km cycling and 9km mountain hiking. And then a big dinner in the wood cabin with the fire burning.


With Apple maps being horrible for tracking my cycling trips (half the roads are missing), I am on the verge of switching to a Samsung galaxy smart phone. My friend Autri has one, so I did a test run tracking a trail and writing a blog entry on wordpress.

I must say it is quite easy doing everything on the galaxy. I am getting close to being convinced. I’ll do some research on recharging batteries and mounting it on my bike. The battery usage seems to be ok. We’ll see.

So, here is my test photo to see how uploading photos goes.

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Eindhoven Marathon 2012

Posted: October 14, 2012 in Running
Tags: , , ,

The marathon is a 42 km mind game. After 35 km, when the carbohydrates in the body are gone, the body is screaming out to stop. And you need to go on. You have come this far. This happens every time. The end is murder. And the finish line is sweet.

Route of the Eindhoven Marathon

Route of the Eindhoven Marathon

I enrolled for the Eindhoven marathon at the start of the year when it was far away on a distant horizon. My training was a bit patchy. I went on lots of very long runs on the weekends (between 25 and 37km), but didn’t do enough basis training during the week. I hardly ran at all in the last two weeks, pausing to let some back pain get better. I had a bit of a stomach bug for the last few days, too. So: for the first time I went to run in the marathon without expecting to run under 4 hours. I would run at the speed that felt right. I was prepared to stop if it was clear that the stomach bug hadn’t gone. This lack of self-imposed stress meant that I slept well. The weather was fantastic for a marathon: 13C and cloudy. The stage was set.

The famous lumberjack jacket as my mascot.

The famous lumberjack jacket as my mascot.

Before the start.

Before the start.

km 4: The start was not crowded and I had the space to run at my speed. I soon found it to be 5:46 per km. Fine. I passed a building with the temperature indicated. 11C. And it was cloudy. Perfect.

km 10: The mind starts making big plans for what the final time is going to be. At this rate I will be a tick over 4 hours, but might make my best time of 4:03:57. My heart rate monitor is not working so I run on feeling. I feel fine! No sign of the stomach bug.

km 16: The sun has come out, but I am running in the green leafy shade on the dead straight Oirschotsedijk. Keeping the speed of 5:46. Looking good. I dance with the music as I pass the music stands.

km 18: Zwaanstraat. Everyone is pushed to the left of the road. A Kenyan was going to lap us. A thin stick figure sprints past. I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to run with him for 50m or so. I didn’t. A complete waste of energy, and I probably wouldn’t be able to anyway. He was amazingly fast. He ended up running the marathon in 2:05.

km 21: Half marathon in just over 2 hours. Feeling good to run the second half. I start thinking: if I could just run at 5:30 per km I could make the marathon in under 4 hours. Maybe this time I could run the second half faster than the first. Now that I didn’t push too much at the beginning. I decide to wait until about km 30 to see how I feel then. The speed of 5:46 per km is maintained.

km 25: The sun is out. I pass the building with the thermometer. 14C. The first signs of people starting to walk. I still feel fine.

km 30: I am not going to increase the speed. But, the 5:46 per km is still possible. Just 12 km to go. I can start to feel the energy seeping away, but still feel ok. I start calculating what is needed to run under 4:03:57. I can’t do too precise calculations, though. The brain is switching off, as is the rest of the body. All energy is going into running.

km 35: Oirschotsedijk: Energy gone. The speed has slipped to 6:30 per km. I’m still OK, but a record is not going to happen. No worries. That wasn’t what I expected anyway. Let’s just finish this in a reasonable time.

km 38: Man, this is awful. What am I doing here? I shuffle along at 7:00 per km and stop for the odd walk. Walking is not much slower than running. People start to pass me. I am approaching the centre of Eindhoven where the masses are watching. I stop at the drink stops and drink and drink. And then I shuffle forward. Only 4 km to go. It feels like an eternity.

km 40: In the centre. I have run through the gauntlet of people cheering. I try to find the quieter places to walk. My body needs to stop, and it feigns it needs a toilet break. Desperately. There is a bar with the door opened wide. Welcoming. All tricks of the mind. I shuffle forward. The 4:15 pace setters have past me. My time will be slower than 4:15. I’m not bothered. Let’s just finish this.

The Matthew shuffle.

The Matthew shuffle.

km 42: The last km is signposted 1000m, 750m, 500m, 100m. Each of those signposts feels like they are a whole km apart. I can’t even shuffle forward without stopping between them. Then the finish comes. I stop. I have made it. The time was 4:19:47. And I am content.


It was all pointing towards a record time under 4 hours for me at the Amersfoort marathon. The Saturday before I had run my ‘standard’ long route along the Belgian canals in a record time of 3:22 for 36 km. And I wasn’t even dead like I always am after a marathon. Surely this was going to be the time.

The day before the marathon was cold and wet. A little too cold perhaps. The marathon day was a stark contrast. Quite warm (over 20) and bright sun. Some clouds drifted across the sun occasionally, but we were destined to run in the sun.

Before the start of the Amersfoort marathon

Before the start of the Amersfoort marathon

The 2000 odd runners in the half marathon and full marathon started at the same time in one big block. I would guess 80% were running in the half marathon. Most people were not as crazy as me.

I had no idea how fast I was running. It hardly mattered as I was running with the crowd with little chance to overtake. The km markers were well hidden. I saw my first one at km 4, and then the next at km 7. I was running about the right tempo for a 4 hour marathon, but I knew it was more tiring that it should be. I was not going to be able to keep this up.

We then ran through the animal park and then disappeared into the forest. A revelation: there are hills in the middle of the Netherlands. We went up and up in the bright sun. But then we went down and down for ever: right back to Amersfoort and the finish of the half marathon.

I ran the half marathon in exactly 2 hours and was quite close to stopping there with the 80% of the clever runners. I knew I didn’t have the energy to run under 4 hours. Well, I went on. In the blink of an eye the field thinned out and there was a runner every 50 metres or so. And it was a slog: already by km 22, but really around km 25. I stopped at the drink stands and drank one, two, three beakers of water, and then dragged myself on. And then we went up and up again. I was miles from the finish and could see no way of stopping here. There was no other way back other than running/walking it. I walked a bit, ran a bit. The kilometres crawled along. It was a beautiful sunny forest, but you don’t notice that when you’re absolutely exhausted.

I felt some twinges of cramp around 37 km and was given a beaker of broth with lots of salt by a nice first aid women on the side of the road. There were lots of others around me finding it hard too. Walking a bit, running a bit. I seemed to be keeping pace with a guy all painted up in green, running barefoot. Ouch.

I am crazy. I am mad. Why do I do this to myself? Walk. Jog at a plod. Walk. Man. I have hit the wall this time. Last week I was nowhere near the wall and was whizzing along at km 36. Not today. Even though it was downhill.

I run through the town after km 40. Lots of enthusiastic people on the side. ‘Only a little but further..’ I heard that many many times. Grit the teeth and go on.

My name was announced as I rounded the last turn to the finish line. 4:35:25. A dreadful time. Almost my worst. Nowhere near 4 hours. Still, my first marathon in 3 years, and on a hot sunny day. There will be another chance to crack the 4 hours. Maybe I can do it in Eindhoven in October. Still, you never know until you have passed the finish line.

No free refreshments at the finish line, and I had my money in my back at the changing area. I plodded there, and then plodded home. Now I need to recover.


Luyksgestel – Weert

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The second time round for the run from Luyksgestel to Weert. A pleasant bus ride through the green countryside with the sun shining and the blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds. A train trip back from Weert with the dark looming clouds threatening overhead. In between 35 km along beautiful canals in Belgium. Tree-lined paths, fishermen whiling away the hours in the peaceful greenery, joggers and cyclists plying the paths.

I left the canal and made the dash to Weert. Having learnt from last time, I crossed over to the right hand side of the canal before the Dutch-Belgian border. This way I didn’t have to run along a main road with no bike or footpath. I increased my speed and was thrilled that I could maintain a pace of 5:20 per kilometre. I averaged just a tick under 10km/h. Not bad for 35km.

This is an experimental blog post from my iPhone. This is how I will have to post on my bike trip.. I hope it works out.. 🙂