Saturday, 28 January 2012

The University of Birmingham

UPDATE ** My room mate for most of last year Edwin Kipyego today won the 2012 Discovery Half Marathon in Eldoret beating a world class field including Emmanuel Mutai, the 2011 London Marathon Champion! Definitely the biggest win of his career so far, read about it here: **

Coming to the end of a really positive week of training which included a good 30km run down in Torquay and my best track session for ages on a chilly evening in Braintree. As the life of a full time athlete consists of not much else apart from training, eating and sleeping I haven't got much to talk about so thought I would continue the theme of my last post and publish some photos of my running days at University.

When I arrived at University I was an 800m runner but after my first British University Champs I decided to have a bit of a break from athletics to live the "University life", after a year of this I returned as a steeplechaser with some decent success including 2 silver medals at the British Universities, a UK inter-counties championship, 4th place in the AAA's and a best ranking of 7th in the UK in 2007 with a best time of 8.47.

A good team effort at one of the BUSA cross country championships.
On my way to a 2nd place finish in the BUSA 3000m S/C behind the winner Nick Talbot. You can just see Andrew Lemoncello behind in the green vest.
Another 2nd place at the BUSA's, behind me you can see Frank Tickner, Chris Warburton and Luke Gunn
Next on the agenda is the Chichester 10km on the 5th February, after this it's Portugal for a months training before a real test at the Bath Half Marathon on the 11th March.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Good Old Days....

As my training is progressing quite nicely and I have no gossip to report from the streets of Tiptree, I thought I would post some old photos I found recently.

There is one photo that I have been searching for that I can't find anywhere and my mum is starting to think it only exists in my imagination, but as I recall my Grandad took a photo of me having a crazy sprint finish with a guy twice my height in my first non-school race, the Tiptree fun run (which was about 4miles?), it was a few years before I joined Colchester & Tendering Athletics Club so I must have been about eight years old. If I ever find it I will be sure to post it here.

Here is a small selection of the ones I have found.

Tiptree Fun Run
This is possibly my first non school race, it's the Tiptree Fun Run around 1989, I'm not sure if I had done it the year before? In this picture I'm running with my dad.

Colchester 5km Fun Run 1991
This one is definitely 1991 so I was eleven years old.

These three are from my multi-eventing days in which I am competing for Essex as an under 15 in a pentathlon. I am quite impressed with my technique over the hurdles and high jump!

Essex Cross Country Championships 1995
Winning the Essex Cross Country Championships as an under 17, I love the expression on my face in this one.

With Eamonn Martin after the Essex XC Champs
I think Eamonn had won the senior title that year but can't remember for sure. The other two guys are Scott Sterling and Neil Heppel, both were good rivals and friends throughout my younger years.

I'm off to Torquay tomorrow for three or four days, hopefully I will have time to catch up with the Torbay AC guys and maybe join in with one of their sessions, it's always nice for a bit of company!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ultramarathon Runner

The day after my disastrous race at the Stubbington 10km I had possibly my best steady run ever, I don't think I have ever felt so good, shame it was a day late!!

Yesterday my training had me down for an "easy" 40km run. I roped my dad in to come with me on his bike and we started just as the sun was rising oven a very picturesque frost covered Essex countryside. It was freezing to start with and both of us had very numb hands but these soon began to thaw as the sun came up. We had a rough route planned but a few wrong turns early on turned an initial small loop into quite a large one, but when your running so far it doesn't really make much difference! When I'm doing a long run I try and run for as long as possible before looking at my watch and told my dad not to let me know how long we had been going, the first time I had a look I had been running for a little over 2 hours and more than 20miles, I wish my dad had told me now! This was good in one way as I thought it would be a lot less than this, but bad in another as the shortest route back was going to be at least 7 miles! I ended up covering 28miles feeling great the whole way even picking up the pace over the last few miles. I think my dad suffered more than me as he is still recovering from recent surgery to one of his legs meaning he only really had the use of one leg and cycling up some of the hills near the end was a bit of a struggle! This was my longest run ever in time and distance and as it was longer than a marathon I guess I can call myself an ultra marathon runner!!

Frosty Morning
A good few well earned easy days now until my next hard session later this week.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Not a Good Start

My first race of 2012 ended up being a complete disaster. I was really confident going into the race after some good training sessions out in Iten. My track session earlier in the week had been a little slow but I put this down to the travel and cold weather.

As soon as the gun went in the Stubbington 10km I knew my legs weren't firing on all cylinders as the pace felt too quick, even though it wasn't particularly fast. I managed to stay with Chris Powner and Andy Greenleaf for about 4km but knew I couldn't run any quicker as my legs just felt jaded and heavy. After half way the course turned onto the seafront and in to the wind and when you are already struggling a stiff wind is not a good thing!! I held onto the third position but was not a happy boy at the finish, a week before I had run 10km at 2400m altitude quicker than I ran this race at sea level!?!

The only thing I can put it down to is the return from altitude effect. Quite a few people have told me that you feel great for a few days and then quite heavy for the next few weeks which is exactly how I am feeling right now. Hopefully my legs will return during this week. If anyone else has had this feeling after returning from altitude I would love to hear your experiences.

Not feeling good in the Stubbington 10km

Saturday, 14 January 2012

First Race of 2012

Tomorrow I will have been back from Kenya for one week and it will also be my first race of the big 2012. Hopefully I can start how I mean to go on but the first race for a while is always a bit of an unknown.

Training since coming back from altitude has been interesting, at times I have felt great, floating along not even noticing any hills, at other times my legs have felt a little heavy and a bit jaded but all in all I'm happy with how I feel. I did a decent track session on Wednesday of 8 x 1200m and although I was a few seconds slower per rep than I would have wanted, as much as I pushed I couldn't get out of breath which was a great feeling and a definite advantage of training at 2400m altitude.

It will also be good to be back racing in a Winchester vest! I will update my blog with my result on Monday.

Racing in the Black & Gold of Winchester & District AC

Monday, 9 January 2012


After a really good couple of months out in Iten I'm now back home in the UK. I finished my training in Iten with a mega positive 10km tempo run, nearly 3 minutes quicker than I have ever run 10km at altitude and I think quicker than I have ever run a 10km tempo in training anywhere, so I'm really excited about racing now!!

As always with the Kenyans it was a rush to Eldoret airport to catch my flight as Edwin and myself took a detour on route to say goodbye to Ken Kibet and family and Mary Keitany and family. I took the opportunity to get Mary to sign an Adidas vest for Toby Lambert at Alton Sports.

Mary with the vest
I did my first run back at sea level this morning and it was an absolute joy! My friend oxygen was readily available and it just felt so nice not to struggle on an easy run!! The only problem was I couldn't feel my hands by the end of the run, far too cold!!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Usain Bolt Spotted in Eldoret, Kenya...

I was in Eldoret last week with coach fantastic Gavin Smith buying some bits and pieces and we spotted this guy driving a Jamaica coloured matatu and he was the spitting image of Usain Bolt (although the photo below doesn't do him justice). I'm not sure what Usain was doing in Eldoret driving a matatu and unfortunately didn't get chance to ask him (too fast I guess)!!

Usain Bolt in Eldoret???
After a good Christmas and New Year I now have less than a week left in Iten before my return to the UK. Training has been very good and today I did my last track session at altitude (for a while anyway) of 10 x 1000m. It went really well, definitely one of my best at altitude. Only one more tough session left. I trained at the Chepkoilel track in Eldoret which was remarkanly quiet for a Tuesday morning but I still spotted Asbel Kiprop (World & Olympic 1500m Champion), Florence Kiplagat (Berlin Marathon 2011 Champion) and Saif Saaeed Shaheen (3000m S/C World Record Holder)!

I tried out a new place for lunch today and it was a good choice. I ordered Giteri and two ndazi, coming to a total of 30KSH (about 20pence). and got two chapatis thrown in for free, not sure why but I didn't complain. I will definitely be going back there again!! If anyone is ever in Iten, the "cafe" is called "Nest Cafe" and it is very near the Runners Point shop.

The Generous Nest Cafe

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The Wedding of Charles Koech and Mary Keitany

As the wedding started at 8a.m. I had to make sure I was up nice and early to get training in beforehand. Luckily my training for the day was just two easy runs so I didn't have to rush too much to get ready. As anyone who has been to a wedding in the UK knows, if the wedding starts at 8a.m. you have to make sure you are there before 8a.m. I arrived at the Catholic Church in Iten at about 7.55 and although I wasn't the first there, there weren't many people around, then I remembered that I'm in Kenya!! At about 8.30 the wedding cars started to arrive with Edwin Kipyego given the job of official driver of the wedding car.

Photos in the Church Gardens
We then made our way into the Church and for some reason I seemed to get seated right in the middle of the choir! Not sure why, as if any of them had every heard me sing they would have made me sit as far away from the choir as possible! The Church service was fairly standard if not a bit longer than the weddings I've been to in the UK. At just after 10a.m we made our way out of the Church to be confronted by quite a few people turning up thinking the wedding was meant to start at 10 (the invite did say 10a.m. But was changed at a later date), this general chaos seemed to be quite a theme of the day and very in keeping with the way Kenyans live their lives so I wasn't that surprised, in fact I would have been more surprised if everything had run smoothly! We then took some photos in the Church gardens before more chaotic events trying to fit everyone Into cars for the next part of the wedding.

From L to R, Ken Kibet, Charles Koech, Lillian Rotich, Mary Keitnay and Helen Kimutai

Once allotted a seat in a car we did a strange convoy tour of Iten, from St-Patricks (where the Church was) down to the viewpoint and then back up through Iten to Kerio View for the official photos. By the time all the photos had been done it was time to go to Charles and Mary’s house for the reception. Edwin had told me that there would be a lot of people at the wedding but at the Church there was less than one hundred, now the reception was a different story, half of Iten must have been there! They had a number of Marque style tents set up around a field with a stage in the middle, each tent had a different group of people in, i.e. friends, family etc. and I sat in the athletes tent along with many of the top Kenyan runners including, Geoffrey Mutai (Boston and New York Marathon Champion 2011), Emmanuel Mutai (London Marathon Champion 2011), Wilson Kipsang (Frankfurt Marathon 2011), Edna Kiplagat (World Marathon Champion), Janet Jepkosgei (Former World 800m Champion) and probably many more that I didn't recognise! There was a huge feast of really good Kenyan food put on with more than enough to feed the 500+ people that had turned up. After eating we were treated to some live Kalenjin music by the famous Kalenjin singer Lillian Rotich, this was followed by the traditional cutting of the cake which was distributed amongst the crowds. After the cake we moved on to the speeches, and anyone who has been to any sort of event in Kenya knows that Kenyans love a good speech! These must have gone on for about an hour or so before we had some more live music from Lillian.

Edna Kiplagat handing out the wedding cake

After some more food I said my good byes and took a slow walk back to my place, ready for a good night sleep after a long but thoroughly enjoyable last day of 2011.