The Giant’s Tooth

I was recently sent a copy of the fine paean to fell running, “Feet in the Clouds”, to review for the Caught By The River website.

Within minutes I found myself reading about the Giant’s Tooth fell race, which is not the most significant rumble in the calendar, it just happens to be where I haul my sorry 49 year old, 15 stone carcass two or three times a week in futile effort to turn the clock to back to my “proper athlete” days. Unfortunately for my poor body, which has suffered some fairly torrid abuse since the halcyon days when I would turn out to run for Birmingham University back in the early 80s, Richard Askwith’s writing on the torture, privation and sheer lunacy of fell running was perversely persuasive. I found myself resolving to get up on New Year’s Day morning 2012 and compete in this winter’s Giant’s Tooth race.

It’s not really a Giant’s Tooth you know. It’s a big lump of millstone grit, painted white and plonked at the summit of an arbitrary path at a Pennine beauty spot called Ogden Water. There’s some yarn attached to the stone, a giant called a Boggart lost his tooth whilst rampaging across the moor…or something. Whatever the tall story, it’s only marginally less plausible than the notion that I’ll be able to run this race in anything like a respectable time….by which lofty heights of ambition, I mean “mid-division”. This will mean a target of 25 minutes, when the winner will stroll home in around 16 minutes and the octogenarian plodder will manage about 35.

The good news is that I don’t weigh 17 stone, as I did about a year ago, before resolving to run a bit and cut down on the wine calories. I actually look and feel reasonably trim at just under 15 stone. However, my racing weight used to be under 11 and my target is to shift as many pounds as I can before the race, whilst improving my VO2 Max and anaerobic fitness. Carrying 15 stones up a naggingly steep incline for 5 minutes is, I promise you skinny readers, no fun at all.

As some sort of treat to myself and knowing that I have that boyish, “have new toy, will play” mentality, I bought some Inov 8 X Talon 212s (a review of those to follow separately). They have done the job in terms of motivating me to get out and run more, as has the Endomondo app on my phone.

So, you can have a peek at the route. It’s short, about 3 miles, not an especially hard climb (though it does feature some smaller slogs to kick you when you are down later in the race). I’ll relay the glorious tale of my progress over the coming weeks as the pounds evaporate, the wings on my heels emerge and the glory of an improbable top half finish beckons. Hollywood will want this story. You watch.


Jedburgh Half Marathon

breakfast of champions

It is strange having to set alarms for the first day after the clocks change – my two watches are radio sync watches so wasn’t sure if the time was going to change automatically or not. In the end I set about 3 alarms to make sure I didn’t end up leaving an hour early for the race. Initially Findlay said he would drive – saving me the 2hr car trip – but as he was doing gigs up in Perthshire he decided to head straight there. So my routine on race day was wake at 7am … tactical ablution then the breakfast of champions, raw porridge oats, banana and a bit of honey. Clif Bar was for eating in the car. Picked up Douglas at 8am and hit the motorway for a quick stop an hour later for an espresso hit. Registration at 10am (the roads were also closing at 10:30am so had to be inside the cordon for then. Then tog up – stay hydrated and slight warm up (at this distance I don’t think a long warm up is needed in the same way as you do for a 5km race)

The weather was actually pretty good about 11C degrees, no rain as forecast earlier in the week – think that passed over on Saturday night … but there was a bit of wind which would change the second half of the race.

Race headed out and I got to see the leaders leg away into the distance …. in Fact when I was at the 9.5km mark I could see the leaders coming back at around the 12km mark … Winner Male – Robert Gilroy – 1 hour 12.04 minutes

Had a gel pack with me on the run that Fin had bought me … used on bike before but never running – had it just before half way – then picked up a water as well to wash it down and wash my hands which got covered in gloop …. quite good – should maybe have saved it a bit for later but who knows what the effect really was.

The course is great – although it won’t be the quickest as it is quite hilly and on the return we battled into a headwind of around 15mph. I got together with 2 other guys to push the pace up – figuring out on taking turns at the front to set a better pace … I had my brother in laws time in mind (he is 10 years younger but did a 1H31m time in the Glasgow Half) this worked well although the one chap dropped off about 3 miles from the end  and the other about a mile from the end. Was running then with Fiona who had a Glasgow Traithlon top on and her coach / hubby who was heckling encouraging her around the course. The last big hill he was going ‘c’mon the hills are your friend’ So i said out loud ‘they are not my friend so don’t worry if you don’t like them’ …. the other runners laughed, she grimaced and the coach didn’t express anything ….

Footpod out slightly laps are about 1.05km long ... 11sec less /km

Last push over the hill and saw the 1H31s tick over on my watch … the 6 miles into a headwind had sapped my last effort to break 1H30. Still only my second half marathon and 10minutes quicker than my first ….. I am going to train properly for the next one and smash 1H30.

elevation profile

Douglas got a 1H48 and Findlay a 1H51 PB’s all around – did you run – if so how did it go ……?

So the result 1H31m 26seconds (chip time)  66th out of 527 finishers and 19th out of semi old over 40 farts. ave pace 6:59/mile or 4m20/km and lastly but not least a medal for effort (which we like)

Traffic justice: Jury Applies No Penalty to Speeding Driver For Killing Cyclist Jake McDonaugh

A Brooklyn jury has found defendant Michael Oxley not guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the 2010 death of Jake McDonaugh, the Post reports.

Image: NY1

Oxley was speeding behind the wheel of a Dodge Caravan when he ran down cyclist McDonaugh at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Duryea Place last April. The investigation and prosecution were unusual for a vehicular violence case — police followed up with witnesses, and the Brooklyn District Attorney applied a felony charge. But the jury cleared Oxley of homicide as well as reckless driving, a misdemeanor. A closer look at the case is in order.

At 9:20 a.m. on the morning of April 14, Oxley was driving on Flatbush when he struck and killed McDonaugh, who was bicycling eastbound on Duryea. Oxley, 28 at the time, was observed traveling at an excessive speed, and a witness saw him run a red before killing McDonaugh, according to court documents [PDF]. He was driving with a suspended license and according to the Daily News had racked up three license suspensions for failing to pay fines for speeding and improper turns.

McDonaugh was 18. He was dragged for half a block after impact and pronounced dead at the scene.

In their verdict, the jury convicted Oxley of speeding and driving with a suspended license, while clearing him of the two charges stemming from McDonaugh’s death — the felony homicide charge and the misdemeanor reckless driving charge. The sentence from Judge Raymond Guzman: an $800 fine and 10 days in jail.

According to the Post, a key factor in the jury’s decision was a surveillance tape from a nearby restaurant that indicated Oxley didn’t run the red. (They also cleared him of a red light running infraction.)

Accepting that explanation, the following facts are still not in dispute: Oxley was speeding, and he was violating the law just by driving. If he had obeyed the law, Jake McDonaugh would still be alive. Yet the jury did not even find that his conduct met the standard for reckless driving, defined in state law as operating a vehicle “in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.”

What led the 12 men and women on the jury to this verdict? The analysis of Bob Mionske, an attorney who writes the “Road Rights” columnfor Bicycling Magazine, comes to mind.

Based on his experiences with cases in the Portland area, Mionske says that public perception of cyclist fatalities is inseparable from the way such cases are treated by police and the media. Police tend to leak information about crashes that faults cyclists, and those are the details that get into the news cycle. When information later surfaces that indicates motorist culpability, the press has lost interest and the public never hears about it.

The Oxley case, on its own, doesn’t fit the pattern — police shared information from witness interviews and coverage reflected Oxley’s misconduct. But overall, the coverage of bike and pedestrian fatalities in New York is saturated with police statements that blame the victim.

“This just poisons the mind of the public, and the public is who is empaneled in juries,” Mionsketold an audience at the National Bike Summit a few years back. “What you see is, anti-cycling bias starts with cops, is reinforced by the media, and is perpetuated in the courts.”

The run Commute

This is pretty inspiring

This is my daily exercise routine; my run to work is my run to keep my health!

I live 15 miles from my office in Midtown New York City. Each day I get to work by foot – I run to work! Exercise is one of the most important parts of my life, if I don’t exercise daily I just don’t feel good.

Having a tangible reason and benefit to running to work takes the mental pressure out of my mind on whether I will make time for exercise or not each day. I have to get to work, so I have to run, it’s simple, it’s routine, it’s a better life and lifestyle.

When I’m training for ultra marathons I run home too! Running ‘double’ workouts is another secret to my success in staying injury free, being accomplished in the ultra distance races, and keeping mental burnout at bay.

If you can work your exercise into your daily routine so it has a tangible use and benefit then you’ll have developed an important lifestyle habit that will improve all other areas of your life.

No excuses! You can commute to work too! Instal a shower at your office. Take a sponge bath in the bathroom. Shower and change at a local gym. Run home from work at the end of the day and shower at home, do it, you can make it happen!

“Exercise each day as if your life depends on it” – Dr. Douglas Graham

When the rain and mud cant put you off line

Incentive for the half marathon in the rain and wind – if Danny Hart can do this in downhill – a little jog shouldn’t put me off

Great Britain’s Danny Hart gave us a master class in downhill racing as he demolished the wet Champéry track in a show of dominance not seen here since Hill’s infamous run of 2007.

Coming off the back of an amazing 2nd place at the last round of the World Cup in Val di Sole, Hart went one better to cut more than 11 seconds off the time set by silver medalist Damien Spagnolo (FRA)… even finding time to showboat over the last jumps.

A defining moment in Downhill racing, the 2011 World Championships are sure to go down in history. Roll on the 2012 season…