Tag Archive for Andy Ratcliffe

Day 358 – Getting very lost

After yesterday’s horror of a run, I wasn’t too sure if was up to a long one this evening. Target was 11 miles or more. Ideally 13 if I felt ok, but I accepted that I’d have to run them slowly to protect the legs a bit. They have been sore all day and particularly so this morning when I awoke in pain!

I decided that the only way forward was an interesting run, something that I enjoy and that would keep me going. I decided to head out over the ranges, do the normal uphill start, a loop around the Ash side and then some of the cool little trails around the firing ranges themselves, particularly No.3 range.

It didn’t quite pan out that way.

I headed up to the ranges to the normal gate start point. Then up the hill, get to the next gate, turn left, down the big hill, round past the little hut and back to my start point.

I stopped momentarily to decide what to do next. Another lap of the ranges would be 4 miles, then some messing about on the trails, then home. Could be about 11. Or I could go round the Pirbright side of the ranges. Not sure how far, but can’t be any bigger than the Ash side can it?

Well, yes it can. Much.

At 9 miles (that’s about 3.5 miles into the ‘how far can it possibly be?’ test run) I began to think I wasn’t going in the direction of where I would pick up the normal circuit trail, I was just getting farther and farther away from Ash. By 11 miles the light was starting to fade, my anxiety started to rise as I still didn’t have a clue where I was and my pace had picked up to try and cover more ground. At 13 I finally picked up the trail I knew but with little light left I figured I’d better take the shortest route and cut the loop short by heading directly across and out of the ranges. This bit wasn’t much fun. I know the trail to be full of holes and areas of loose and large stones that I struggle with in daylight! I tentatively stumbled along until I reached the familiar gate where I started. Once across the ranges I headed down the hill in the woods. Immediately it’s pitch black, my eyes struggle to adjust. The trail has a pair of concrete tank tracks that I am barely able to discern with my eyes in such darkness, but my feet can tell when I stray from them. I follow this track down. Repeatedly the trail drops steeply, something you don’t notice when you see it coming, but without the benefit of advance warning, it takes me by surprise more than once. After what seems like an age of temporary blindness, I see the road ahead.

Home. 16.25 miles covered today. I’m later than I wanted to be, I have a busy evening ahead.

I have a surprise for you all tomorrow. In the dying days of my year long challenge, the opportunity of an exciting event has appeared and I’m going for it.

More tomorrow…

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Lime/Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 16.25
Target: 1074
Miles to date: 1639.95
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Thomas A. Edison

Day 357 – It hasn’t hurt like this for quite some time!

I had in mind to run around 4 or 5 miles today. The legs had other ideas. The first quarter mile felt really good. Seven minute miles now seem to suit me quite well and I figured the body was good for it. A half a mile in, it was feeling somewhat weary. By a mile and a half at my turning point, I couldn’t wait to get home and sit down. The legs were screaming. Having essentially run about 95% of a marathon distance yesterday, I’m not really surprised, but I can’t afford to back off now. I’ll chalk this one up as a rest day and see how we go tomorrow. I need to clock up a lot of miles this week and make sure it’s front heavy so I can take a day or two off for the Great North on Sunday. I’d ideally taper for a week for a half marathon, it looks like the taper will end up being 24-48 hours which is effectively nothing, but it’ll just have to do. I’ve got targets to reach 😉

More tomorrow. More running, but hope fully also more mileage tomorrow. I have a way to go yet and only eight more days to play with…

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Blue/White Kayano 17s
Miles today: 3.00
Target: 1071
Miles to date: 1623.70
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
George S. Patton

Day 356 – Sunday’s 20 miler…and a little jaunt round the block to make sure

I’d like to start by saying thanks to Dave, Paddy and Bill for devising a route for a 20 miler and running it this morning. Without you guys to try and keep up with I’d have quit some considerable miles earlier! I’m glad I joined a club finally and in particular the Blackwater Valley Runners because they’re such great people. For me personally, they have been immensely supportive and I’m very glad to have made their acquaintance. Thank you all.

I’m coming to the end of an interesting adventure and to the end of having to write about it every day. I’m struggling a bit with that concept as you know. Having this little corner of the internet revolve around my every move has actually turned out to be a really important aspect of my motivation to run. Soon enough you will not automatically know where I’ve been every day of my life and we may have to revert to some ‘old school’ medium of communication to keep in touch. At first it was a bit like big brother was watching me specifically. Nowadays I’m good with it and it’s just part of how life is. I’m more open than I used to be in many, many ways.

Ok, we’d better talk about the run hadn’t we? Well it was an 08:30 start at the club. There were quite a few of us initially including Alan, Nick, Lawrence and Big John who all left us at about 7 miles to turn round and make it a 14 miler. Nick had spent the preceding couple of miles splashing in every puddle on the towpath and I’d been right behind him at the time. Thanks for the wet feet Nick 😆

The remaining four of us carried on getting further and further from home. At 8 miles I remember Dave saying “I can’t believe you’re still doing this 20 mile run, given you took 23rd place in the race yesterday…” closely followed by “…but I probably shouldn’t be saying that to you, should I?!?” with a grin! He was right, but I needed this 20 miles more than I needed the 23rd place yesterday. I had to complete it.

I’d like to just say at this point, Bill is unbelievable. He’s a man of a good few years greater than myself, likes a pint (and I hope he won’t mind me saying either of those things) but he’s really very fit. He was telling me he’d been out for a 30 mile road ride yesterday and now this! He’s been running for years and I’m now sure that experience counts for everything. It’s still got to be said though, Bill you’re an inspiration to ‘us young pretenders’.

At 12 miles, it started to hurt. I said nothing and ploughed on. At 13 miles I started to announce the mile markers as they passed. By 16 miles I wanted to go home – and passing within a quarter mile of my house just about then didn’t help matters! We trudged on, getting progressively slower. I know I was on the limit of what I can do. 39 miles in 3 days isn’t fun for me, it’s very hard going.

Chatting to Paddy I revealed how much I was regretting the effort of yesterday’s 10k now and how I should have just taken it easy and made the long run the priority. He was feeling it as well, saying it felt like a marathon finish for him too. We also spoke about how important it is to hit the target you set. 19.9 miles wouldn’t do today and we were both agreed on that! I recounted the conversation I had with Damian yesterday about our training run in Brighton this March, ahead of the marathon. I tried to convince Damian to run the extra few hundred yards to hit 19 miles, rather than just going for 30km, but he wouldn’t. He was adamant and angry about it. To this day, months later, he’s still annoyed he didn’t go that extra minute or two and hit 19 miles, which of course I find hilarious every time he mentions it!

We arrived back at the club about a mile short of target and ran around the football and rugby pitches a couple of times to avoid any of us having to think about where to go to clock up the mileage. I was broken and tired, yet incredibly happy that we’d covered the target mileage. Thanks once again gents!

That’s the best part of 61.5 miles covered this week. My longest week ever – previously just 54.5 so quite an achievement. I did good for once 😉

Lots more tomorrow I guess…

And this is where I got to with writing the blog by 21:00. Then I decided I couldn’t really leave it there. I never can, can I? :roll:

I went out again. Intending to run 2.62 miles, I would make it 64 miles this week, then I’d be happy.

Then I decided I could do a bit more.

I’m back home. I ran 4.62 miles this evening. Let’s just tot up again…
24.62 miles today
42.7 over the last three days
56.39 in the last five days
and 66 miles in the last week! 😀

I think the qotd is appropriate.

I’m off to bed.

See you again tomorrow…if I can still walk!

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Lime/Blue Kayano 17s (20 miles) / Blue/White Kayano 17s (4.62 miles)
Miles today: 24.62
Target: 1068
Miles to date: 1620.70
“To exercise at or near capacity is the best way I know of reaching a true introspective state. If you do it right, it can open all kinds of inner doors.”
Al Oerter

Day 355 – Alice Holt 10k Race Report

At 9am the weather forecast showed a large blue mass crossing over the SW London area around 2pm today. This doesn’t bode well.

Breakfast, bumble about the house for a while, grab the running gear and get ready to go. Damian arrives strangely around 7 minutes before the absolute latest arrival time I told him we could manage. Something must be wrong with him, he’s never on time.

Off we went to Bentley to go and collect David, then onwards to the Alice Holt Forestry Centre. We collected our race numbers very quickly and efficiently, a very well organised event it seems!

I spotted Steve Low from the club and asked him how the course was. He said “Undulating!” (He wasn’t wrong as we soon found out!)

The sky went grey around 2pm (right on schedule!) and James arrived with the now essential umbrella as the downpour we’d been waiting for commenced.

The youngsters went off for their 1k and 3k races. We had a bit of a sweepstake going on how fast the top 3k runner would reappear. Guesses ranged from 15 minutes to my own 13. The first one crossed the line in 11m23s! Wow. The first 1k runner (bearing in mind they were all about 3ft tall) came in just under 5 minutes in the 5-8 years age group!

At 2:20pm they called for the 10k and 5k runners to assemble. We were asked to arrange ourselves in order of how fast we thought we’d complete the run. I spotted Steve Low again, about 4 feet from the start line. I guessed that another 4 or 5 feet behind him would be appropriate for me! There were probably 30 or so others ahead of me when the gun went and a good few more passed me within the first quarter mile. I don’t tend to go out fast nowadays and today was no exception. I was running on tired legs, having run 12 yesterday and knew I wouldn’t set the world alight this afternoon.

Soon enough I began to see what Steve had been talking about. This was far from flat! At 4k you’re faced with the biggest climb so far and it’s actually pretty steep. As you arrive at the top, the 5k runners branch right to finish and the 10k runners bear left and onwards steeply downhill before another steep climb back up. This is torture, having struggled up a hill, you immediately lose most of the height and have to climb back up again.

As I rounded the bend to see the 9k marker I had a strange sense of deja-vu. It’s the 4k hill again! I’m not sure who devised the route, but it’s quite a downer to see the same big hill twice. On the plus side, I passed the marshall with ‘Last Runner’ on her fluorescent vest walking up this hill with the last runner. I suggested they should swap tops 😆

I crossed the line soon after in a time of 41m39s and 23rd place (of 388 runners who finished). I am incredibly happy with that. On tired legs and a muddy, hilly off road route, that’s a damn good time for me. I also notice I actually beat the last 5k runner to the finish line (that may be who I passed) by about a minute and a half! Unsurprisingly Steve was already beyond the finish when I arrived, having finished in a little over 39 minutes and claiming 7th position! Well done Steve and congrats on scooping the winning place in your age category.

I grabbed a water bottle from the finish and wandered back down the hill to see if I could see any of the other three. Damian was the first to come through and he was looking very comfortable, posting a time of around 56 minutes. David crossed the line less than a minute later, closely followed by James around 45 seconds later. It turns out the three of them had run together for much of the route and they all seemed to have enjoyed it.

A few celebratory beers and a barbecue later and I’m now contemplating how to slow everyone down tomorrow for the 20 mile club run. I think I’m going to struggle, I’ve now covered over 41 miles this week already, 32 of which were in the last 4 days!

The daily average has today hit 4.50 miles for the first time this year! I’m going to keep it there now.

Just 10 days more left. I’m both excited and apprehensive about what lies beyond the end of the 1095miles challenge for me. Watch this space, my brain is buzzing with ideas…

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Lime/Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 5.96
Target: 1065
Miles to date: 1596.08
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Mark Twain

Day 354 – 11 days and counting. We’ve been on a recruitment drive ;-)

With a mere 11 days until my 365th day, it seems only right to reveal what happens next…I’m quite excited by it all!

The following list of people; Neil, Helen, Jamie and Irene have all volunteered to take on the 1095 miles challenge! I’m going to leave it to each of them individually to introduce themselves, but I’d like to personally welcome them to the challenge and, as James put it, to the 1095miles challenge hall of fame! The very best of luck from me. You’ll be hearing from each member of our new group of runners over the next few days. Like I promised, the blog will be buzzing with activity in just a few days time…

Anyway, the quote of the day is for each of our new recruits. And for me, a bit. Taking on a challenge (and I mean a real challenge, one that actually challenges you) does change you. (That’s why I need to find something else to have a bash at now!)

And now to the run…I went out today using the Mizunos I’ve recently bought. I’ve been struggling with them because the heel-toe delta is so small compared with the Kayano’s I’m used to (heel-toe delta is the height difference between the heel and toe sections of the shoe). I’ve put a 2mm gel heel insert in there now and they’re much better.

I went out with the intention of a minimum of four mile (and if possible a five mile) run at lunchtime. I ended up running nine miles. Not sure why. I just felt like I was having a good running day and figured I’d keep going. I took in Gun Hill again, a tour of Aldershot and a bit of Caesar’s camp for some off roading!

Then I sat down to some more work., experienced my PC explode on me (genuinely, the video card blew four capacitors!), had a spot of lunch and then decided to go for a run :-)

I donned some Kayanos this time and covered another three miles this evening.

Needless to say, tomorrow I’m not racing, just taking part. I’m very tempted to run with my workmates and try and push them a bit, see how fast they can go. All depends on who is going to be there though I suppose. If there’s anyone from the club, I’ll be duty bound to try and keep up!

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Mizuno Wave Alchemy 10s (9.05m) / Blue/White Kayano 17s (3.07m)
Miles today: 9.05+3.07=12.12
Target: 1062
Miles to date: 1590.12
“You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.”
Percy Cerutty

Day 353 – Run hard, be strong, think big…

…especially when it hurts!

I’m making it difficult again today. It’s a rest day. So I ran 5, including a couple of fast half miles.

I was explaining to Ed last night at the club run that I’m going to finish on about 1,650 miles. I’d rather end on a big number like 1700. In fact, I’d rather finish on 1600 having just managed it, but as it is, I’m likely to finish the 365 days in a mileage no man’s land. To hit 1700 is an average of 10 miles a day for 12 days. I don’t think so! Sixteen hundred and something will have to do…

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: White/Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 5.01
Target: 1059
Miles to date: 1578.00
“Run hard, be strong, think big.”
Percy Cerutty

Day 352 – In many ways, today has not been my day. Result: A naked runner

I arrived at the club flustered, annoyed and having forgotten several things. I’m a ‘routine’ runner. What I mean is I’m a creature of habit, I need to go through a series of pre-run stages (rituals, some may say!) before I’m comfortable and ready to run. One of them is putting my running cap on. Dave arrived at the club and said “Andy, you’ve forgotten something!” I knew, I’d realised a minute before. No running cap. I feel a bit naked without it, I have to say. It’s become the way to spot me in a crowd of similar looking runners. It’s a target for some serious mickey taking at work. It looks terrible but serves several functions so I don’t care! I’m not comfortable without it and now I know that for sure.

This evening was a club training/get to know new people session before the group split into pace groups and went off to do a bit more. The warm-up session consisted of several laps of run-jog-run-jog changes over about 50-70 metres, paired with other runners. It’s fun to chat to other people and run at a more relaxed pace. You only really usually meet people in your own pace group so it’s nice to have an excuse to meet the others.

I then went out with a few of the usual suspects for a few miles more. Dave managed to lead us down more alleyways than I thought existed. Repeatedly I realised where we’d ended up, but had no clue how we’d got there. Thanks for the superb navigation Dave! The seventh mile pacing was taken on by Nick and he pushed us to a 6:30 ish mile. The final half a mile was over in no time due to a sub 6 min pace. Quite some finish by Nick and I tried my best to chase him down to the finish, but just couldn’t catch him! Good run guys, thanks.

Something someone said to me earlier today made me think of the appropriate subject for today’s qotd. I needed something that suggested that giving up on your target, just because someone made a comment that unsettled you, would be silly. So I won’t. Plough on…

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: White/Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 7.55+1.13=8.68
Target: 1056
Miles to date: 1572.99
“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”
Rosalynn Carter

Day 351 – What a wet day!

It’s a Tuesday and we’re in Westminster tonight. I arrived at Waterloo this morning to find it hammering down with rain. It’s been raining heavily all day. David and I dodged the rain showers to manage 5 miles around Westminster/Lambeth Bridge/Battersea.

I received the following email from Michelle last night, in response to mine suggesting that they could easily make me sound like a drama queen when they say the 3 miles a day challenge is easy!

Hey Andy – no worries about the donation – just putting money where our feet are…

Here’s a MapMyRun link to what will be our standard run from home – David will get bored and do various tangents, and probably do some at the gym too, but I’m more likely to just pound the same route for most of the time. We generally do the Bay Run on Sundays, which is a 7km local run, as it says, around a bay – as busy as Piccadilly some days! I’ll do a map of that another time so you can load it.

Yes, I’ll be setting the clock nice and early for tomorrow and we’ll be off. And I’ll try to do some pics too.

At least we are nearly light at 5.30am, which will help, as I am going to try to do it in the morning. Usually I run after work, but the consistency of this makes the mornings a better option. Like you, we have a planned run in the middle of it – David is doing a half, and I am doing a 9km on the 18th in the Sydney Running Festival.

Of course you will sound like a drama queen! Like we are going to complain about a little trot around the block? The cupboard is loaded with ibuprofen, aspirin and glucosamine, and David is swearing by the benefits of porridge. Stay tuned.



Looking forward to being proved wrong on how difficult this is 😉

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: White/Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 5.00
Target: 1053
Miles to date: 1564.31
“Nothing’s better than the wind to your back, the sun in front of you, and your friends beside you.”
Aaron Douglas Trimble

Day 350 – And then there were fifteen

Well, fifteen days left. But we’re working on the 1095miles team. Give us some time, we may have a surprise for you 😉

That means tomorrow the blog will suddenly be three daily bloggers/runners strong. I would like to wholeheartedly welcome, and wish the best of luck, to Michelle and David on their fourteen days of the 3 miles a day challenge. M&D are good friends of mine, good friends of my chosen charity Sense and above all, very lovely people. Have fun with it guys and let us all know how you get on. Welcome to a tough forty two miles and enjoy being famous for it 😉 Anyway, you’ll be hearing from M&D regularly over the next fortnight, which will hopefully get you all ready for what is to come…this site is going to start buzzing with activity soon!

Speaking of the end, and I don’t wish to labour the point but my year is so very nearly up, it’s time for a celebration (of sorts). Given I’ll have run about 1600 miles by Tuesday 20th September the only appropriate thing to do would be to run the final three miles with a few of the people I’ve met along the way, maybe a few of those who have joined me in support (for which I am eternally grateful, this has been hell at times and you’ve kept me sane throughout!) and hopefully the next intrepid 1095miler to take up the challenge. I suspect there may need to be some geographical link-up with all of these people and the possibility of a synchronised run at around 18:30 on 20/9/2011 is as close as we may get to being together, but hey, that suits me fine!

So, stick it in your diary. We’ll be at Hyde Park Corner for the final run in my year and hopefully the first of someone else’s.

18:30 20/09/2011.

Anyone know where I can buy a posh silver baton from? 😉

Today I ran 3 miles. Actually I ran 4.61 because I could. I hurt a lot after yesterday’s fast mileage and have this odd pain in my right buttock of all places which has been plaguing me all day. I ache, I’m knackered, but with the end in sight, it seems only right to make it hurt a bit for the last few dying days. Given my average daily mileage is now 4.47 miles, I’m going to try and keep it up there, in fact 4.5 would be better wouldn’t it!

I went out for my usual 1.5 miles out and 1.5 miles back run, decided to extend that to 2 miles each way and then realised that got me to Gun Hill which is where a few of the guys from the club do hill reps. I figured I’d better check how steep it was while I was there. It’s pretty steep!

And finally for today, I’ll leave you with a 1095miles.com conversation. One that only the two guys who’ve done it could possibly have (hopefully there will be a few more of us in the future)
Last night, James and I were talking about where the blog could go next.
I (jokingly) suggested for the third year we should triple the mileage and organise some way to share the target between the two of us.
James’ reply:
Dont – I’m having palpitations thinking about that first post:
distance today: 3 miles
miles to go 1092

Brilliantly put. But I know how he felt too!

Tomorrow’s Tuesday run will be in the Westminster area. If you would like to join us, just shout!

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: White/Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 4.61
Target: 1050
Miles to date: 1559.31
“Everyone in life is looking for a certain rush. Racing is where I get mine.”
John Trautmann

Day 349 – Gold it is…and I had an okay day too

A Gold for Mo Farah. Well done Mo. I was all for an early run today until I realised the 5000m was on at 11:30 ish. I had to wait.

For a short while I though Mo was out of sorts, he seemed to spend the first couple of laps at the very back of the group. Something that didn’t look right. All was well by the last couple though as he took the front and held it right to the line.

In true football fan style, when they suddenly believe they’re Beckham, off I went for a run.

For the first mile or two I just couldn’t decide what to aim for. I had 17 miles in mind and I had 7 min/mile as a target too. The two don’t necessarily go together in my world though. I resolved to try and run a sub seven pace for as long as I could hold it and managed 7 miles, including the now traditional first mile with a short steep climb.

At 7 miles I found myself at the petrol station of a certain big supermarket chain in Macclesfield and spent a few minutes buying a drink to help me further on the way. It appears the idea of customer service, or even of a smile is lost on this particular pocket of the empire. Lovely. I can recommend it in the event you find yourself having too good a day. Just pop in and I’m sure they’ll do all they can to make you feel rubbish by the time you leave 😉

Anyway, a couple of minutes finishing off another bottle and stretching and off I went for the return journey.

The first mile of the return was quite an uphill stretch and this is where I dropped my prior consecutive sub 7 mile record with a 7:02. I worked out that a sevens, a half marathon comes in around 1h31 so it seemed a good target to go for. I also reckoned I’d gained a few seconds on each mile, bar the last one, and could be closer to 1h30 if I got a move on.

13.1 miles ticked over at… would you believe it… 1h30m00s on the button.

I decided to stop and walk the last mile home. I wimped out, yes, but given the twelfth mile was a 6m39s and the thirteenth mile was an amazing 6m19s I figured I’d do myself no favours by trying to carry on. I’m happy with that.

More tomorrow…

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: White/Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 13.10
Target: 1047
Miles to date: 1554.70
“No one competes with the reckless abandon they should. What is a race? A race is a complete all out effort. With a few exceptions, runners run hard, (or think they are running hard) but the races are too controlled. When was the last time you saw an American distance runner finish a race and then collapse on the ground? Ten, fifteen years? I’d personally rather watch someone who runs his guts out, throws his breakfast up and passes out at the end of the race.”
John Schiefer