Barcelona Marathon 2018

For my fifth marathon I again ventured overseas to the sunny climbs of Barcelona. Travelling overseas for running events adds a little more adventure to your trip and it’s also a good way to explore new countries.

I picked up my spot for the 2018 Barcelona Marathon through Disfruta Sports Tours, a small company based out of Cape Town, South Africa, who specialise in running and cycling tours. It also happened to be the 40th anniversary of the event, which to me showed that it is a popular event for runners from all across Europe and the world.

I arrived in Barcelona early on the Friday morning. Not being able to check into my hotel until 2pm, I left my bag and headed to the Expo at Fira Barcelona, which wasn’t too far from the hotel.

I try to choose my hotel based on proximity to the start/finish and luckily for me in this instance this was the same place. Instead of using public transport, which would probably have resulted in me getting lost, I decided to walk and use Google maps – at least I got to stretch my legs and explore a little.

The Expo was very well organised and it was very easy to pick up my race pack. As with any expo, there was plenty going on and it was a hive of activity but still easy for me to navigate my way around. The final stop was to collect the event tee, which every runner gets. They had me down for a medium which made me chuckle and they were kind enough to change the size for me.

 

 

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Expo done, I headed back to the hotel to check in and then went out for a bite to eat. Having been awake since 4am (even though I’d set my alarm for 5.30am), I was starting to feel tired. Time for bed.

For Saturday morning I set my alarm for the time I was going to wake for Sunday’s marathon and headed out for a little shake out run. I also chose to run back to the expo so I knew the route I needed to take on Sunday morning – don’t want to be running around like a headless chicken before the main event. I also hate being late.

Run done, I had a shower, ate some breakfast and headed out to explore. There was only one real place that interested me and that was La Sagrada Famila.

 

 

 

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It was a long walk, probably far too long a walk to do the day before a marathon, but it was worth it. What an amazing building! Even though it has been going through construction since 1882 (and it’s still not finished) it is a sight to behold. On the way back to the hotel I stopped of at Las Ramblas, stated as Barcelona’s most famous street. I also had a wonder around La Boqueria, a food market just off Las Ramblas, that houses lots little stalls selling food of all varieties. I wasn’t adventurous at all and opted for some fruit. I was tempted to try some tapas, and I know it would have been fine, but I didn’t want to try something different just in case ‘Delhi Belly’ struck! I headed back to the hotel, checking out some sports shops on the way. There were a few bits that I could have purchased had the Euro prices not been so much higher than the UK’s.

By the time I had got back to the hotel I was ready for bed – tomorrow was the big day,

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11th March 2018 Barcelona Marathon.

As always, my body clock beat my alarm clock. It has a knack of waking me up around 10-15 minutes before I set my alarm for. My final kit check was done. Remembering to take my pre-made electrolyte drink and gels from the fridge, I made my way to the start line.

There was a buzz of excitement building as the crowds grew, although I’m fairly sure a lot of it was nervous excitement. I don’t think that it matters if it’s your first or 50th marathon, there will be some nerves. If there weren’t any by the time 8.30am came then there definitely were when ‘Barcelona’ by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Cabellé blasted out of the sound systems as each wave started. It certainly woke me up and was a great way to get going. Other marathons should follow suit, and indeed others might have, just not the ones I’ve done.

 

My goal was to run 3:25-3:30 for this marathon, how did I get on? Read on a you’ll find out.

As I have learnt from previous marathons it is wise to let the field spread naturally and to avoid weaving in and out of other runners, this not only uses energy unwisely but also adds to the distance you run, a marathon is long enough already so why add to it?

Im not going to bore you with loads of split for the first half of the race as everything should be going to plan, ultimately I was aiming for 8 minute miles for the entire run to get under 3:30 which every mile was for the first half, crossing half way in 1:41:48 which according to my pace band was 2m 10 seconds ahead of the time, but we all know the its what happens around 20 miles and onwards that will define the rest of the race.

Water stations were in plenty of supply, every 2.5k after 10k so the organisers had planned it very well.

The next milestone in the race was 30k and I passed through there in a time of 2:25:48 leaving me a minimum of an hour to get my gold goal for the race, 8 miles in the remaining time was going to take effort but I hadn’t come all this way not to try.

The next mile (19) passed ok but then I began to feel sick. In past marathons I had used 4 gels but today I had 6 with me as I thought that seeing that I was pushing myself more than before I would benefit from adding a couple. I had just taken my 5 gel when I felt sick so when the next water station came I took my time and walked through to slowly sip water and to pour some over my head, it was starting to get a little warm, not that warm that it wasn’t bearable but warm enough to make sure I had to hydrate well to see me through I also ate some orange and bananas that they were giving out.

Mile 20 was my slowest of the day at 9.18, not a disaster but an indicator that the remainder of the race would be much about mental strength as it was about physical.

Each time my watch vibrated it meant that I was nearing the end, the remaining miles were a matter of making sure I just kept moving. It was those last 5 miles where the sub 3:30 time went but ultimately I was still way ahead of my PB of 3:40:07 set in Edinburgh in 2017.

Mile 25 had a nice downhill section and the legs started moving again going through that mile in 8.09. The final full mile in the race had a sting in its tail in the from of a 79ft ascent, not what you really want when you’ve been running for so long, that mile split was 8:29, not bad considering.

The finish line is in sight and I muster what I can to finish in some sort of flourish.

I crossed line in 3:32:16 and new shiny PB by just under 8 minutes, it may not be what I went for but still immensely happy and proud to achieve what I did. according to strava I ran the 26.2 in 3:30:15 just a shame I ran 26.4 miles.

I reunited myself with my bag and saw others soaking their feet, I decided to join them, it was freezing but there were so many other parts of me aching the temperature of the water soon faded.

 

 

 

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It was an enjoyable marathon to take part in and was very, very well organised. There were two out and backs on the route which I didn’t particularly like but it must be a logistical nightmare to plan a run of this length and to have the start and finish in the same area so I will let the team off and give them a pat on the back for a great day!

Next stop for me on my marathon journey is Manchester on April 8th a month after running Barcelona but in two weeks of writing this. I also have London 2 weeks later making 3 marathons in 7 weeks.

I thought I am crazy for doing that amount of running in such a short amount of time but seeing others doing 2 in 2 weeks I don’t feel so bad!

Hope you’ve enjoyed my Barcelona Marathon experience, until next time its adios from me,

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adidas PureBOOST DPR Product review

I have been procrastinating for so long about writing this review, I have no idea why I haven’t done it sooner. Well, I have been a running a fair bit since last year and also serving the fabulous runners of Clapham Junction, I guess that’s a reason?

The PureBOOST DPR is one of the shoes I’ve been running in since June last year and after initial thoughts of them not feeling like I thought they would I have to say that the are one of my favourites right now, I underrated them big time.

When seeing them for the first time I though that they would feel much like the UltraBOOST, a whole mid-sole of boost- surely they would feel the same? I was wrong, I  learnt that only 75% of the mid-sole was boost, later learning that the rubber in the out-sole was included and part of the mid-sole. I now understood why it didn’t have the same soft underfoot feeling of the UltraBOOST. However, I still didn’t really like how they felt.

Then at our Run Club I was given the opportunity to run in a pair as we had adidas along for the night with some various shoes for our running family to try, the DPR being one of them. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tech Sheet (taken from adidas.com)

  • Runner type: Neutral shoes offer flexibility and ground feel with minimal cushioning
  • Boost is our most responsive cushioning ever: The more energy you give, the more you get
  • Knit upper with engineered zones for adaptive fit and premium natural feel
  • Wider platform for natural support during versatile city runs
  • Fitcounter moulded heel counter provides a natural fit that allows optimal movement of the Achilles
  • Weight: 258 g (size UK 8.5)(Nick’s Size)
  • Midsole drop: 8 mm (heel: 24 mm / forefoot: 16 mm)
  • Product code: BB6291

My Thoughts (the important stuff)

As I’ve already said, I got it wrong with this shoe. You really do need to run in a shoe to really get to know it. I’ve run in the DPR so much that i’m on my third pair, so I think I’m in a good position to review them, with both pro’s and cons.

I’ll start with the out-sole. The flexible stretchweb out-sole keeps you firmly on the ground, I found it to have great traction in both wet and dry conditions, a shoe can have all bells and whistles but if you not on your feet the features and there benefits become pretty redundant. You will also find two outriggers for lateral support. ‘Why would a running shoe have lateral support?’ I hear you cry!

The DPR is designed to be an urban running shoe. Maybe you go for runs on your lunch break and have the need to cut in between people walking blinkered to the world around them, heads down looking at their mobile phones, cutting in between lampposts, post boxes and various other obstacles the lunch hour throws at you. The outrigger also gives you a bit of an intro to basketball ball shoes, when on the court your foot needs that lateral support to cope with all the cuts at speed. Virtually all running shoes are designed for forward motion, so if you try and make a cut, your foot isn’t going to be held in place on the mid-sole. This would probably push your foot to overlap the side of the shoe, in terms of performance this takes time and probably isn’t great for you foot either.

Midsole.

Boost. Enough said!

I will say a bit more though just to get geeky with you:

I mentioned that I didn’t initially like the feel of the DPR to stand in nor did I feel was as comfortable as the UltraBOOST. So I did some digging and found that there is a 5mm difference in the heel height between the DPR and UB. The UB has the height advantage. There is also 2mm more boost in the forefoot so its no real surprise that is doesn’t feel as nice. There is a 2mm difference in the stack height between the two race shoes I use (Adidas Adios 3 and Boston 6) and you can really feel the difference in feel between them. I guess every little counts when it comes to comfort and not just when you shop at Asda.

Upper.

This is the only part of the shoe where I have had just a minor issue, I’ll come back to that.

Firstly I love the wide forefoot, this allows my feet to be able to splay out and not be restricted in any way shape or form. I mid/forefoot strike when I run and these work just fine.

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Wide forefoot

The knitted upper removes all possible areas of irritation that traditional shoes can give when using stitched overlays and give a nice plush fit, granted stiched overlays are fast becoming a thing of the past but there are still some shoes that use them. Stiched overlays aren’t a bad thing it just slows production a bit, more components and time are needed during manufacture. Using Aramis technology they are able to adapt the knit in places where some structure is needed.  I’ve not always been the biggest fan of knitted uppers and I feel that they wont hold my foot in place on the upper and/or stretch quickly. I wear the UB for work and for casual use but find the upper too stretchy to run in. That doesn’t stop me from owning numerous pairs though nor does it make it a bad shoe.

The one thing that sometimes bothers me but probably shouldn’t is that I feel that there should be another eyelet. I feel that sometimes my foot isn’t being held in place unless I really pull the laces tight and then I feel restricted and I do have to play around a bit when I put them on to run it but I get there in the end. I usually have to miss the penultimate eyelet or do the loopy thing to bring the collar of the shoe around my ankle a bit tighter, the problem then is that the lace is a bit short, strangly though just on one pair.

Final Thoughts (no I’m not Jerry Springer)

Overall I really enjoy running in the DPR, I have run anything from 5k at my shops Run Club to a half marathon training runs and I have never had any issue with them. I have found them to be a good alternative my normal race shoes when I want a little more cushioning and when its not always about speed. Despite my moans about the upper it works after a bit of lace trickery.

So if you have a neutral gait and want something different to try then I would give these a go. You, like me, could realise that they really are a nice shoe.

All the above are my opinions, naturally some will disagree and some will agree, feel free to ask any questions that you may have.

I have added hyperlinks to all the shoes mentioned so you can have a closer look at them or buy if your tempted!!

Hope you have enjoyed this post, I will try and make them a bit more frequent.

Happy running!

Nick

Paris Marathon 2017

After the disappointment of the Berlin Marathon last year. I looked back at the mileage I had done in training leading up to it, I was actually shocked to see that I hadn’t done the amount of miles I thought I had done, nowhere near! So that was the first point I had to address. The other was hydration, I became so dehydrated in Berlin that it took me an hour to run the last 4 miles and I nearly quit. If the route had gone past my hotel, and my wallet and phone were not at the finish line, I may have had the dreaded DNF!

My training for Paris really began in December, I decided not to follow a typical plan. Instead, I ran according to how I was feeling – if I felt good then I ran, fairly simple really. I also swam a lot more to work my leg muscles without the impact of running. I also found that swimming helped with my hips, as they can get quite tight at times. There is not much that I can really tell you about the running side of training other than the miles I clocked up each month, after all it would be a pretty monotonous post if I told you about each one.

December 89 miles

January 131 miles

February 157 miles

March 111 miles

Not including the miles I did in April the 4 months prior totalled 488, over 150 miles more than what I did before Berlin.  These miles also included me doing track sessions, something that I didn’t see myself doing but I am glad that I did as they helped me run at increased speed for longer distances.

The second thing I had to address was hydration leading up to the race and the day itself, I knew that it was going to be a warm day so I contacted Ian from SOS Rehydrate who not only gave me the advice on quantity to take but was also kind enough to send me some samples to try before the race and enough get me through the event, luckily I convinced him to send me the citrus flavour over the coconut.

I try to drink at least 2 litres of water a day anyway but in the week leading up to Paris I was also taking one sachet of SOS per day to make sure that was ready for running the distance in what was forecasted warm weather. I also had a bottle of water with SOS before I went to bed the night before.

The final addition to my preparation for the day was weekly massages at Oeshi Vitality Centre in Clapham Junction. I found Judith through my manager at work and not ever having had a massage before I didn’t really know what to expect. Having played sport for most of my life I have read that all professional sportsman and women have regular massages, some daily so there must be a benefit to them. I have been having massages for the last 7 weeks and can say hand on heart that they make a huge difference, not only for the runs themselves but also as an aid to help recovery. Seriously, my legs have never felt so good, they feel like they belong on a 20-year-old not someone who is 42. I think that my legs probably belong more to Judith than they do me.

I also feel so relaxed whilst getting the massages, maybe not when she is working on area where she can feel issues, I swear her hands have built-in knot detectors but overall I leave there like I have had a leg transplant.

I have cramp issues in both my previous marathons, Judith also gave me advice for my diet in a bid to help cramp to be a thing of the past and for me to become a better runner. Advice can always be heard but not always followed but such is Judith’s dedication  I would be a fool not to listen, not just for me but also out of respect for her, she has always found ways to fit my massages in around her other clients even if it meant her meeting me early in the morning before her first client of the day.

The other BIG plus to this trip was having a fan club travel with me, my Mum and Dad were joining me for the 5 days I was in Paris, another reason why I had to get things right, my Mum would have been probably more disappointed than me if things didn’t go to plan. It must be at least 20 years since I’ve been away with my parents so it was down to me to make sure it ended well.

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Mum
I arrived in Paris on the Thursday before the marathon so I could acclimatise to the warmer weather but also to get used to a strange bed, I rarely sleep well the first night in a different bed to my own. Once checked in we went on a wander around the local area which was just over a mile from the Arc de Triomphe, during this walk my parents were scoping out the local restaurant’s, having a Dad who was a chef for such a long time I knew that I would be eating well during my stay. We stumbled across Le Petit Villiers on Avenue de Villiers which is where we ended up eating every night, other than the food it was also handily located about 5 minutes walk from the hotel.

I have decided that I would go to the expo to collect my race number first thing on the Friday when the expo would be at its quietest. Map in hand, I have a very bad sense of direction I chose to run there. I estimated it was around 5 miles which wasn’t far off. After collecting my number I didn’t hang around long and the save the risk of me getting lost on the Metro I also ran back to the hotel to grab a shower and then meet my parents for a coffee at the local bar.

Fast forward 2 days and it is Marathon day. I woke early as per usual and checked the time on my phone, it was 5am so got up and started getting things in order. I also had a message from Judith, she knew I was worried about the temperature that was forecast for the day. In short she said not to focus on something that I couldn’t control, words I carried with me through the run. I also received numerous other messages wishing me good luck, I am thankful for every single one of them.

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The complusery kit lay out
The Goal:  Breaking 4. (not quite the same ring as breaking 2 but as important)

The 2 main objectives for this marathon was to get under 4 hours for the first time and also to have negative splits.

With the staggered starts, I was due to start at 9.40am which I wasn’t too happy with I followed the lead of others and jumped the fence and got into the back of the pen that had already started, naughty me!!

I double-check that I happy that I’ve laced up my adidas Adizero Boston 6 to my liking and set off.

For the first mile the road downhill along the Champs Elseyee was clear and yup you guessed it, it was my quickest mile, not how it should be done. I needed to have the runners around me to slow me down otherwise things would go wrong.

I settled into a nice rhythm and went through the first 5k in 28:13 which was pretty much around what I was looking for, I wanted to be half way in around 2 hours. The first water station approached and I got my first sachet of SOS ready, I grabbed 2 bottles, took a few sips of the first and poured the rest over my head, making sure my cap was soaked all this whilst trying to navigate my way over the cobbles and hoards of runners attempting to get water, it was already getting warm so the water station chaos continued at every station for the entire day. Once clear of the station I poured the hydration powder into the second bottle, lid back on it got mixed up as I was running, all this without stopping deserved a medal in it own right. The water stations also carried other hazards as well, volunteers  also handed out orange and banana’s which was great to have BUT the down side to this is the peel went on the floor making all the water stations that had fruit like a game on “It’s a Knockout” No surprise that all my slowest miles were at water stations.

The next two 5k splits were pretty much perfect for me with 5-10k in 28:58 and 10-15k in 28:12, every thing was going to plan but I couldn’t get carried away as a marathon only begins to start way past half way.

Kilometres 15-20 were completed in my second fastest 5k split so far which then had me cross the half way point in 1:59:45 bang on target now the mission  to see if I could do the second half quicker.

I had numerous friends running as well and I wondered if I would see anyone, I did. I know Fallas from my time playing Indoor cricket and although we’ve chatted on social media it must have been 4 or 5 years since I last saw him. I spotted his Disfruta Sports Running top and shouted “HOWZIT BOET”  he turned around and said something unprintable. We put our arms over each others shoulders and had a chat and a selfie, again while still running. It was good to catch up but I was on a mission, he wished me all the best and I continued on my merry way, yes I was merry.

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Selfie Time
The next 10k seemed to pass quickly with 20-25km in 28:27 and then 25-30km in 27:53. With 30km’s done, the race had truly begun, a lot of people say that a marathon is a 21 mile run with a 5 mile race at the end, this is where you find out if the training you did was enough. We were heading along the river now and various tunnels which meant a few undulating kilometres along the River Seine. To some, hills aren’t friends but I actually enjoy running up hills, I live in Crystal Palace and I  have no chance of avoiding them in my training runs. 30-35km was done in 27:58 just 5 seconds slower than the previous 5k split.

It was beginning to dawn on me that if I continued in the same way my mission was going to be accomplished, feeling good with absolutely no sign of cramp I pushed forward with more effort, as I kept passing other runners I kept feeling better and better this showed with my final 5K split 35-40 being my fastest in 27:46.

As I head around the cobbled roundabout at the top of Avenue Foch, the location of the finish line I see what everyone who starts a marathon is waiting for, the finish line and finish line that was downhill!!!

One last look at my watch and I knew it was job done, a huge smile appeared on my face, one that remained for quite a while. I leapt in the air as I crossed the line in what I thought would have looked great, I’ve seen the video, it didn’t but honestly I couldn’t care less, I’d just run a marathon in under 4 hours.

5k Splits:
0-5k 28:135
10k 28:58
10-15k 28:12
15-20k 27:5
Half-way 1:59:45
20-25k 28:27
25-30k 27:53
30-35k 27:58
35-40k 27:46

Finish 3:56:57 ( Strava says 3:56:05)

I also started in 24,360 place and finished in 14,270, not a bad days work!

I get my bag and take my shoes and compression socks of to let my feet breath and to let them start to recover. As I leave the finishers enclosure I head to the pre-arranged meeting with my parents when I hear “Nicholas”, there are only 2 people who call me Nicholas and they are my parents, with this being a female voice I turn around and give my Mum a huge sweaty hug. We then walk to meet my Dad, he doesn’t do crowds so stayed well away, after a few photos we make our way to another of the eateries that my Dad had sniffed out, this is where I started my recovery!

After an hour I needed to get out of my running kit so left Mum and Dad and headed to hotel to get a shower and put try feet up for a while, not before agreeing a time to meet for my victory dinner which was to be had back at “Le Petit Villiers”. I was needing a hearty meal and I wasn’t let down.

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Victory Dinner
After demolishing this rather nice Cote Du Boeuf with some red wine, my meal was finished off with a rather tasty Creme Brûlée, wish it was double the size!!

Time for bed!

 

Finally a few thank you’s and some more photo’s.

Have to firstly thank my parents for coming with me and for covering all the cost for my trip, its noted that my Dad said that its my Christmas and birthday present for the next 10 years. So nice to have my angel of a Mum waiting for me at the finish line. Thanks to Mark, my manager for being constant source of advice, he’s not bad to work with either.

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Thanks to James, Ben and Richard from adidas for keeping me laced with the great footwear from the adizero range of running product, shoes play such a part in running it’s so nice to be looked after with product.

Thanks to Ian from SOS for the hydration advice and product, my race day strategy will remain the same.

Lastly I have to say a huge thank you to Judith, the amount of time she invested in me to give me every opportunity to achieve my goal was invaluable. I even received a message from her on the morning of the day, a message I carried with me the whole race. I think she quite possibly wanted me to succeed more than I did which shows her dedication.

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this, maybe it will inspire you to start running?

Berlin Marathon 2016

2016 has without a doubt been the best year I’ve had as a runner, not only have I ticked off my first ever marathon, the London Marathon, but a few months later I completed my second, in Berlin! This post is all about my Berlin Marathon experience.

Having run the 2016 London Marathon, I think it’s fair to say that I got the bug and straight away went hunting for number 2, with the Berlin Half Marathon in 2014 being my first ever half I knew that I had to return to race the full. When my search for a place begun I fell at the first hurdle by finding out that it had in fact already sold out, scheisse!

All was not lost however! I found out that a friend of mine works for a Sports Tour company called Disfruta Sports Tours – I saw that they were doing a tour to Berlin, and a few messages later, I was IN!!

Having not really stopped running after VLM, training couldn’t have gone better. No injuries, no niggles, nothing! What could go wrong in my quest for a sub 4hr marathon?!

I got a surprise phone call from Adidas, asking if I would like to attend the Berlin Marathon as a ‘Friend of Adidas Running’… all expenses paid. No prizes for guessing my answer! My excitement levels went off the scale, everything was falling into place.

Fast forward to race weekend! After checking into my hotel, I opened the door to my room to find an Adidas wheelie bag on my bed! Christmas had come early for me, and within a minute I had it all unpacked and all laid out on the bed in my room for the inevitable Instagram posts!

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Goodie Bag
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Goodie bag unpacked!

As a Friend of Adidas Running “FoaR” I was invited to take part in workshops where we had a sneak-peek at future product, and a chance to give the designers and category leads some feedback in what Adidas are doing right, and more importantly what they are doing wrong. We spoke about what we as runners and retailers think that they can do to improve the customers experience when purchasing their products, something that I really enjoyed, and will go into more detail about in another post. There is one moment that I have to mention though and that was meetin Wilson Kipsang and Emmanuel Mutai, the picture below was taken just after I’d ask them in they would pace, Wilson replied “If you can keep up I’ll pace you” that made everyone other than Emmanuel laugh. A shame I left my signed pictures behind.

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L-R Emmanuel Mutai, Nick Newman, Wilson Kipsang

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Saturday had arrived and it was time for me to got to the Expo with the rest of my Adidas running friends to collect my race number, and to have a look around. Having recently been to the London Expo, I was interested to see what, if anything, was different. To be honest, there wasn’t much different other than some of the companies that were on show. With our race numbers collected, we then went to a basketball match to rest our legs! I found that being overseas turned it into a completely different experience for me, the crowds couldn’t have been more different to the UK and there was very much a football match atmosphere in the arena. The match finished and it was time for the final supper before race day. We were treated to a delicious Italian meal, introduced to us on adidas’ branded menus… naturally one came home with me.

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With dinner finished, we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep… but not before my kit lay down, with my newly acquired kit!

On race day, I looked out of the window and the conditions looked perfect – on going outside, they were. There was a nice chill in the air as Sam and I made our way to the starting pens and placed our race bags into the holding bays. I was still nice and relaxed thinking everything was going to plan, Sam and I split up and made our way to our respective starting areas. I was a bundle of nervous energy and all I wanted to do was start but there was still 30 mins to go, there were big screens showing highlights of previous starts in Berlin.

Bang! The gun goes and the elites were off, it wasn’t long before the start line was in sight, I had begun! Full of confidence I tried to set off a the pace I needed to hit the sub-four time. The first 5k went to plan, well if you looked at the time it did, but what my stats dont tell you is the toilet stop- so in reality I was probably two minutes too quick over the first 5k. I felt that good and confident I continued at what felt like a similar pace, in fact in I was quicker. The third 5K was only 14 seconds slower than the second, I knew I had to slow down but I had to push myself to try and possibly get a quicker time than what I set out for. What an idiot I was. One highlight from the first 5k was  a loud “Howzit Bru” from Fallas from Disfruta who was amongst the crowd near the start of the race, I hadn’t seen him for a fair few years since our Indoor Cricket playing days.

The half way point had come and I was still feeling good with a first half time of 1:54:47. Everything was still in working order as far as my body was concerned but one thing that I had noticed was that the morning clouds had disappeared and it was getting warmer, I was hoping that it wouldn’t get much warmer but unfortunately for me it did. 30k had arrived in a time of 2:52:49, surely I would get my my target time of a sub four hour marathon? I wish I was right, around 32k my right quad turned to concrete with the worst dose of cramp I had ever encountered. Luckily for me it was by one of the on-course massage areas, the guy looked at me and I knew by the look on his face that what he was about to do was going to hurt. It did, but it also managed to kick start me again. I had thought about calling it quits with how much the cramp hurt but the fact that my belongings were at the finish I knew that I had to go there anyway so I continued. This is when it became really hard. Having just checked what the temperature was in Berlin on the day, Google shows that it reached 23 degrees, but I can tell you it felt much hotter than that. The last 10k was mental torture for me, I was so dehydrated that I was feeling nauseous and I had a banging headache like I’d been on the wobbly juice the night before. Every water station became a finish line for me and the only way I was going to finish was to break the final 10k into mini segments. I chose every water station as my next goal as I knew I would be rewarded with liquids and fruit. It didn’t get any easier, any shade I could find I ran in. I was very lucky that the route didn’t go past my hotel as I fear I would had stopped at that point and given up, BUT, I wanted that medal and wanted to finish my second marathon. The crowd were willing me on which helped immensely, if you’re reading this and preparing for your first marathon, get your name printed on your shirt!

The picture below shows my splits, not the best way to run a marathon, learn from my mistakes!

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Very negative splits, not the way you want them though.
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The finishing straight the day before.

I could finally see the Brandenburg gate and beyond that the finish line, music playing and crowd cheering I mustered the energy to go for what felt like a Usain Bolt sprint in the last 100m but more than likely looked like I was going backwards. None the less, I had finished my second marathon in 4 hours 26 minutes.

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For a day or two afterwards I was disappointed  with my time. My training had gone to plan and I was fully fit unlike when I ran the London Marathon earlier in the year. However, fully fit I go and run Berlin 10 minutes slower. On reflection, I know I should have run slower in the earlier stages but I didn’t. Control the controllable and you should be OK. However, you can’t control the weather so should I be so hard on myself? One big thing I have learnt from running Berlin is that I probably need to start taking on board energy drinks and electrolytes at every water station. My problem here was I was too far gone before I started taking them, I took water but not energy. To be honest, I had gone to 20 miles+ in training without taking on fluids so I thought I would be OK, but I was definitely wrong. You live and learn, I will take my errors on board as I train to run the Paris Marathon on the 9th April.

A final thank you for those of you that ran with me on those long training runs, and a huge thank you for the good folk at Adidas Running for the invitation to join you and your other running friends from across the globe. It was a great experience and I am truly grateful to have been given the opportunity to run with you.

Next stop on my marathon journey is Paris Marathon on the 9th of April.

Thanks for reading and happy running!

Product Review: adidas Adizero Boston 6

If you read my last review on the adidas Adizero Adios 3 you would know that they are the shoe that I do most of my miles in and to be honest it probably wouldn’t be the shoe adidas would recommend that I run in all the time but it works for me so I do. What most normal people do is have a more durable, more cushioned and possibly a more structured shoe for logging the long and possibly slower training miles to give themself a bit more protection, one of the other reasons behind this is the overall durability of the shoe but I’m not overly bothered if a shoe that works well for me wears out quicker than others as performance is more important for me over durability.

You will find that racing shoes across all brands will have a lower profile which in turn means that the shoe will not be as cushioned. A race shoe as the name gives away is for racing and when you want a quicker shoe, a shoe becomes quicker when it has a lower profile which doesn’t compress as much as a trainer therefore the transition from heel to toe (if a heel striker) is quicker, there are other elements which I will cover in another post, but overall with the shoe having less to it it will be less durable.

There are a number of shoes in the adidas running range which can be found here, but when I’m not in the Adios 3 I’m in the Boston 6 from the same Adizero Range.

Adizero Boston 6

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adidas Adizero Boston

 

Specifications

  • Weight: 244 g (size UK 8.5); Runner type: neutral; Midsole drop: 10 mm (heel: 29 mm / forefoot: 19 mm)
  • boost™ is their most responsive cushioning ever: The more energy you give, the more you get
  • Textile upper; Engineered mesh in forefoot is a lightweight, breathable second skin providing a supportive, comfortable fit
  • Breathable and supportive zones; Soft material for less chafing
  • TORSION® SYSTEM between the heel and forefoot for a stable ride; Wide fit
  • Continental™ Rubber outsole for extraordinary grip in wet and dry conditions

 

Although the Boston 6 is also a race shoe the boost tooling is softer than I found in the adios, there is also a 2mm height difference in the heel as well, I would have said more if I’d not done a little research, perhaps the softer feeling midsole gives the impression that the midsole height is higher than it is.

I’ve done a handful of runs in the Boston most of which were over 10k and they are a nicely cushioned softer option over the adios. The fit is nice and snug at the heel so the heel lock down is spot on and the soft engineered mesh and textile upper makes for a nice plush fit, the soft upper also takes away areas of irritation that may cause friction and the dreaded blister. The only stiching on the upper is where the famous 3 stripes are stitched around the midfoot, this branding also adds a little bit of structure to the upper, I think the upper would be too soft without them. I do prefer the more structured upper of the Adios but thats not to take away from the Boston, every shoe cannot be the same.

Another feature that you more commonly see on trail shoes is the stiched tongue, although when road running you don’t often get much debris flying about this does aid the fit and comfort of the shoe, the tongue also stays in one place, the old crooked tongue can annoy some runners.

The price point is also great, in an industry where we are seeing more and more running shoes above £120 these at £99.95 are a steal.

The overall simplicity of the adizero range appeals to me a great deal, I do think that there are a lot of running shoes available that are over engineered, this range couldn’t get much simpler. Upper, midsole and outsole is all you need and to quote a famous Meerkat it really is “Simples”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product Review: adidas Adizero Adios 3

Having run my first marathon this year in the adidas Ultra Boost ST I was looking at ways in which I could improve my performance for my 2nd marathon in Berlin on the 25th September. Training for such an event shouldn’t just contain miles of running, it should also contain other elements to help with overall strength and flexibility, I’ve added swimming and hot yoga to my training, the hot yoga which I do at Fierce Grace in the City has been a godsend!.

As you know your shoes are probably the most important part of your kit so getting them right is key. Although I couldn’t have been happier with the Ultra Boost ST I wonder if a different shoe would aid my drive to improve my marathon time. I had already bought the Adizero Prime for my 5 & 10k runs so I thought that 2 weeks after running the London Marathon I would tackle the Hackney Half in them, maybe a bit daring as they are pretty much opposite to what I was used to, but knowing the work I had done to improve my glute strength I knew that I would be fine, with it being nearly 30 degrees I knew it wouldn’t be a quick run, I finished with my feet intact and with no effects of using a different shoe, wish I could say that for the rest of me, the heat had taken its toll and that’s the polite way of putting it.

Having been out of work for a while I wasn’t in a position to be able to afford another pair of Prime’s so I reached out to the buying director of the company I now work for to see if he could help in any way, the next week I received a phone call from James from adidas, the call was about seeing how they could help me in the lead up to Berlin, they had no stock of the Primes but after chatting for a bit James said that he would send me some pairs to try, I received the Adizero Boston 6 and the Adizero Adios 3.

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adidas Adizero Boston 6
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adidas Adizero Adios 3

 

From the title of this post there are no prizes for guessing what shoe I’ve used the most and what will be my go to shoe for the Berlin Marathon.

adidas Adizero Adios 3

 

Tech info

  • Weight: 230 g (size UK 8.5)
  • boost™’s energy-returning properties keep every step charged with an endless supply of light, fast energy
  • Open mesh upper for maximum breathability; Synthetic overlays for durable support
  • Coolever mesh lining for superior moisture and heat exchange between the foot and the outside air; TORSION® SYSTEM for midfoot integrity
  • ADIWEAR™ outsole offers the ultimate in high-wear durability; Continental™ Rubber outsole for extraordinary grip in wet and dry conditions
  • Runner type: neutral; Stack height: 27 mm / 18 mm (9 mm differential)
  • Art No AQ2430
  • Sizing: Depending on what you currently use then you would need to go up half a size if you’re already in a adidas shoe and possibly a full size if in another brand . The Adizero range comes up smaller due to the Japanese Focus when creating the range. The fit is snug which minimises any unwanted movement of the foot which can cause irritation through friction and potential energy loss.

 

Review

Already being a fan of the Boost midsole I had half an idea what to expect from the adios and I wasn’t disappointed, with it being a whopping 98 grams lighter than the Ultra Boost ST I was immediately struck with how light they were on foot, don’t get me wrong lightweight is not always the right weight but in this instance for me it was. Comparing to the Prime which has the exact same tooling I was familiar to how the shoe felt underfoot, the main difference is that the upper of the Prime was Primeknit which I found stretched far too soon and after around 100k’s the upper was pretty much out of shape, Im not saying this a design flaw as I know these are race shoes and not shoes to do most of your miles in, I generally go for performance over durability.

I noticed straight away that the upper of the adios 3 had far more structure to it with the synthetic overlays and my foot felt totally locked onto the midsole, if your foot isn’t locked onto the midsole the shoe pretty much becomes redundant as your foot is not feeling the benefits of what is housed in the midsole and in this case it is the marvel that is Boost which in my eyes is probably the best new innovation that has been released in a long time. With the midsole height being 5mm lower  to the Ultra Boost ST I felt more stable and balanced as I was lower to the ground, the boost midsole was also firmer than the ST which made for a quicker runs. The lower midsole also aided my mission to strike on my mid to forefoot, the difference that has made to my running is bonkers, even after my 20 mile run at the weekend I felt that I had more energy to continue. The shoes that have a higher midsole seem to make me heel strike which is something that I do not want to do as I strive for injury free running(as I said earlier it’s not just about the shoes if you want  to stay injury free, there is a lot of hard work to build up strength where you need it)

Last but not least is the outsole, after all if you don’t have decent traction you’re not going to running very far nor smoothly. The Adiwear outsole  working in conjunction with the Continental™ rubber worked a treat, my run on Saturday has sun and then torrential showers, the outsole performance did not change during the rain as I found out when trying to beat the lights and having to apply the brakes before I ended up imprinted on a car bonnet.

Overall I am very impressed with the Adios 3 and a shoe that I would highly recommend for those that are looking for a lighter shoe for quicker runs, I would also add that I do pronate to some degree and wouldn’t say that everyone who has a similar gait could use this shoe, I have worked hard on my glute, quad and hamstring strength to enable me to change the way I run. BUT if you’re neutral than fill your boots these shoes are great for quicker runs and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.

My feet and Adios getting a breather on the bus home.

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If you fancy giving these ago you can try the following places.

Runnersneed

adidas

 

Running Books

I’ve  never been a big reader of books, but when I do read, it’s usually a biography,  more often than not about a sportsman or woman. Ever since I have been running, I have seen many people recommend various running books. So I thought I would go out and buy the books most people were talking about which was, at the time, “Born To Run”.

Ever since reading “Born to Run”, I have probably read more books, running books in particular, in the last year than I have in the last 10.

WHY?

Now that I am runner, I have been drawn to reading running books for these 3 simple reasons:

  • I can relate to a lot of what’s written
  • I use them as a source of inspiration
  • I can learn from them

The following are 3 running books that I’ve read with a brief snippet of what I took from them.

“Born to Run”

Born to Run was the very first running book which I read, possibly even before I started running, and putting it simply, it is a very well written, flowing book. It showed me that you don’t really need anything to run, just a bit of determination.  You don’t have to spend a fortune on running shoes and clothing and the latest GPS watch.

The author travelled to Mexico’s Copper Canyons to seek out the legendary Tera Humara  (a possible inspiration to Nike’s off road running shoe Terra Humara from the mid 90’s?) to find out whether what he had heard was true. He heard that this running tribe would happily run all day, virtually barefoot, across some of the worlds most barren landscape. It seemed that no distance was an issue for the Tera Humara regardless with what’s on their feet.

Born To Run by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run is Available here

“Tread Lightly”

This is the book that will bring out the inner geek in you. I think that most runners are geeks, they just don’t admit it! This is my favourite book to date as it focuses mainly on footwear and running form. Probably the most technical running book which I have read, and does take some concentration to understand what has been written, but it’s very worth reading if you have struggled with injuries through running. Just ask fellow Pavement Bound contributor, Mirka, who recommended the book to me after a conversation about footwear on Facebook. Mirka was plagued by injuries but since reading Tread Lightly, she is now clocking up the miles injury free.

Having sold running shoes for years, this book got me thinking about whether some running brands over engineer their shoes. I look at tech sheets and often wonder whether I’ve picked up one for the next Ferrari super car. Simplicity could well be the key!

Tread Lightly, Co Authored by Peter Larson and Bill Katovsky

Tread Lightly is available here

“Pre”

Putting it very bluntly, Steve Prefontain was an arrogant and bullish runner on the track and was rarely beaten. This book focuses on Pre’s, as he was known, sheer desire to win. He lives by the following mantra:

“To give anything less than your best is a sacrifice to the gift”

Unfortunately, Steve Prefontaine isn’t a name that is as well known as it possibly should have been, well, outside the US anyway. Pre’s life was cut short by a car crash which ended his life just  before his dream to complete for the USATF in the Olymipcs was about to become a reality.

If you need to be inspired, if you need to understand  that nothing comes easy when it comes to sports, especially running, then read this book and it will give you the kick up the backside you need!

Pre by Tom Jordan

Below is a list of other running books that I have bought but not yet got round to reading, all of these have been recommended by fellow runners.

Click the book title to buy.

What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami Running With The Pack by Mark RowlandsEat & Run by Scott JurekWhy We Run by Robin HarvieRunning by Thor GotaasRunning With The Kenyans by Adharanand Finn

Lots of aspects to everyday life can be compared to running,obstacles will appear but with some determination these can be hurdled. Whether you’re reading the above books or out on the road, running can certainly open your eyes to how to overcome problems.