2) Where is the northernmost place you've traveled? The southernmost?
Southernmost: Somewhere just S of Mt Taranaki, North I, New Zealand (Opunake, say, at about 40 deg N)
Depends on how you define place.
Last location would be the Montagne de Thiey etc. on this hike last weekend - http://www.stepwhere.com/maps/route/P
Last location visited where I'm more than say 30km/20miles from anywhere I've been before would be Hwy 1 between Santa Barbera and Malibu in August this year
4) Of all the places you've traveled, which is your favorite?
2. Macchu Pichu
3. Porto, Portugal
4. New Zealand
5. Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania
5) Where would you most like to travel to next?
This is a great set of questions that made me relaly think about the answers - epseically the "Where's your favourite?"). Many thanks to fajrdrako for doing it first
- Current Location:France, Riviera
Unfortunately I didn't run as well as I expected. I started off fine but sometime after 30km - I'd say perhaps 33km I started having a problem with my groin and was unable to stride the way I wanted to. As a result I slowed down a lot and instead of reaching my goal of 3h0x I did 03:14:53 gross and 03:14:18 net. That is a minute faster than I ran PRague a year ago but I really should have been about 5 minutes faster.
I ran the firts half in 1:32 so that means I ran the second half in the abysmal time (for me) of 1:42. Well these things happen and the next few races are all going to be trail races and half marathons, so I'm not going to have a chance to improve on this for a while but I hope that on my return to Oki to run the 50km in June I will not suffer from the same problem...
The race itself was pretty well organized with about 7000 participants - I think it was 7000? - some of whome were doing the half marathon. We started out in the sticks at the Rho Fiera and ran in to the middle and then basically did a big loop around before finishing at the Castello Sforza. It was a very pleasant course and we hit most of the tourist attractions in Milan on the way - from the San Siro football stadium to the Duomo. It was pretty well organized too, the start was not particularly chaotic and there were frequent refreshment stops (every 5km). The last two ro three stops (30km and 35km) had energy goo as well as the more standard bananas, raisins, biscuits etc. That definitely helped me but even with goo I couldn't push my legs enough to maintain the desired pace.... Tant pis as they say in France.
- Current Mood:accomplished
Normally this event is a marathon not a half-marathon and the course goes from Monaco all the way to Ventimiglia, Italy and back. However they are having French regional elections today and apparently having a marathon on French soil might have caused even fewer people to go and vote. Hence the course was changed to be just a half marathon, and one that was entirely withing the Principality of Monaco. Given that Monaco is less than 5km long and basically on the side of a cliff actually finding a 21.1km course was pretty good going so it would be churlish to complain about the (relatively minor in the grand scheme of things) ascents, but I will say that they certainly contributed to the fact that I didn't run my best time.
What also didn't help were the tunnels and tall buildings which caused my GPS to not work well - in particualar for some unknown reason it failed to note most of the first kilometer (it decided I wasn't moving) and hence both distance and time were off thereafter. It turns out that in races I really rely on checking my GPS to verifiy my pace and so when I can't trust it I tend to slack off now and again.
However the race was excellently organized and it was not a very large race - 619 finishers in the half marathon, about the same for the 10k - and there were no international superstar Kenyans there. Also it was quiet scenic and definitely fun to run part of the Grand Prix circuit so over all this is a race I'd recommend for people who want to have some fun. Indeed I suspect a lot of people did exactly that since - although there were a lot of French, Italians and Monagasques there were plenty of people from all over Europe as well - I saw Germans, Swiss, Poles, Hungarians and Romanians and according to the results PDF there were also Japanese, Americans, Finns and others.
Talking of results - I came 86th in a time of 1:29:25 (chip)/1:29:36 (gun). I was the first British person home and apart from the first 5km (20:04) I ran pretty consistently at 4:20-4:30 or so per km for the whole race. This is pretty much exactly the pace I want for Milano - though there I have to maintain it for another 21km. I think I can do that, especially since in Milan I do not expect my watch to misbehave quite so much - at one point it claimed I was at an altitude of -35m which was clearly wrong
- Current Mood:accomplished
Anyway since my last post about the Course du Trophée we've run about one race a month or so though there were 2 in October and none in December. The races were the "Courir pour une Fleur" race in Antibes, the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London, the Nakaumi (Half) Marathon in Shimane, Japan in 2009 and then in 2010 we ran the "Trail Blanc" in January and on Sunday we did the Semi Marathon de Cannes for the second year.
For both the Antibes and London races I took photos - lots of photos in the case of London, a few in the case of Antibes. Courir pour une Fleur was a 20km race and we only entered it because of the price - free. Since it was a week before the Royal Parks I didn't really want to push and treated this as mostly a training run, however I did push a little at the end and finished just inside 1:30 - official time of 1:29:12 putting me in 207th position out of over 1500. Actually I believe I was 206th but they marked down the lady at 206 as ahead of me which she wasn't quite, but since I wasn't really trying it would be churlish to complain too much. Anyway it was a pleasant day and the course was hilly enough to be good training. The last km or so was a real push though as I was with a group of people and we kind of inspired each other to keep going for it. If I had been pushing it the whole way around I'm sure I could have knocked a good few minutes off my time as I know I slowed down in places even when I wasn't taking photos.
The Royal Parks was a much bigger race - just over 10,000 people finished and I believe close to 12,000 entered though presumably not all showed up on the day. While this was a race of similar size to Rome - and is basically as big a race as I ever wish to participate it - it was far better organized. And also, despite the band, rather more informal.
This was not a race where the world's best were competing. Indeed most of the world's best were in Birmingham that day for some world championship or other, so the whole event had a rather pleasant amateur nature to it. As a result of the fairly slow field my 1:30 half marathon times got me a preferential start pretty close to the front which helped a lot in some stages.
The course was mostly in Hyde Park although about a third of it was on the roads in the vicinity. This, like the Rome Marathon, was a tourism race for me and I took a lot photos. Still I decided that I was going to do my very best not to finish over 1h30 even taking photos. I hit the half way point right on schedule and didn't suffer the sort of mid-race flagging that I have on other occasions. Fortunately in the latter stages there were a couple of fairly fast women around me to keep me inspired. Yes it's probably sexist demeaning etc. but in a race you're down below the level of intellect and lizard brain (or maybe caveman brain) thinks
a) look at that nice rear must get closer regarding the ones in front and
b) not going to get beaten by a girlie when they try to overtake
I made it. On the clock it was 1:30:04. Chip time was 1:29:52. This put me 232nd out of the total of 10000+ in chip times (because of my start position I finished 177th in gross times). This was, you note, a position mighty similar to the one I achieved a week earlier when I ran just 1km less in about the same time, but in a field one sixth the size.
I was overall very pleased with the two races and I felt that I was in for a good chance at a personal best in the Nakaumi Half Marathon. Unfortunately for a whole variety of reasons I actually ran my worst time of the last 18 months in Nakaumi.
One reason why I did badly was that I managed to catch a slight cold during the previous week. I was pretty much over it but I don't think that really helped. More critically I also managed to get a twinge in my right Achilles tendon in a training run about a week earlier. I thought it had recovered but I also felt it during the race. Adding to these internal physical issues were two external ones - one geographic and the other meteorological. The geographic one was that the race course had a mean little hill in the middle of it that we had to climb twice. The meteorological was the wind for the entire course and the driving rain that hit about half way around (just after the first passage over the hill). I was more or less on schedule (despite the hill) for a 1:28ish time when the rain hit. I lost a few dozen seconds every kilometer thereafter. The rain and wind slowed me down, the hill slowed me down. My right shoelace came undone and I spent valuable seconds tying it up (and probably strained my Achilles some more in the strides before I noticed the problem). Finally we got near to the end and I thought I would just make a sub 1:30 time, but my shoelace came undone again and since it was literally a few hundred meters to the line I kept running. This definitely hurt my Achilles and I couldn't quite run fast enough either. I finished in 1:30:30 or so (lost the pdf with the official time), damp, injured and basically glad it was all over. We spent the next night in a very nice Onsen Ryokan so my misery didn't last but the injury unfortunately did. I gave it a good rest for most of November and December and that seems to have cured the problem.
2010 started with the "Trail Blanc" in the Briançon/Serre Chevalier ski area of the Hautes Alpes. This is a very beautiful area which, in theory, is only three or four hours drive from the Riviera. When the weather is extremely snowy however another hour must be added to the time as we discovered on the drive over. Still we got there safe and sound and ready to run in the piles of fresh snow that had fallen as we were driving up.
The Trail Blanc is a 30 km race (it was supposed to be 28km but they added 2km to avoid a section with high avalanche risk) with quite a lot of ascent/descent. None of the hills are that high (I think the highest point was about 1650m which is nothing considering the start was ~1350m and the total climb well over 700m. The start and the first climb, where we discovered the joys of "running" in fresh snow, were fairly crowded but that hill split the competitors up pretty well and the subsequent descent taught most of us all we really needed to know about mushy powder snow and how easy it is to go knee deep in the stuff if you aren't careful and stay on the most pressed down bits.
The day was cold (as a few degrees in below freezing) but mostly sunny after though it started off gray and clouded over at the end too. The trail was, according to the organizers, the toughest one they'd ever set (out of 9) and I can well believe it, but it was well organized and fun - in a masochistic sort of way. I finished the course in 4h20 (position 148 out of 390 finishers) which seems pretty poor on paper, but is, I hope, rather more understandable when you look at the pictures.
Finally on Valentines day I did another half marathon - the Cannes Semi that I also ran last year. This is definitely a race for PBs and, unlike at Nakaumi, I was able to get one. I finished in a net time of 1:26:22 which is some 30 seconds off my previous PB - set one year earlier. This gave me an overall position of 95th out of 2^32 runners. I'm medium impressed with myself but I know I can do better. According to the official times at 2.8km and 12.5km I was bang on a 4mins/km time up to 12.5km (0:49:35). Unfortunately I lost it thereafter as I could only manage a pace of between 4:15 and 4:20 per km for the remaining 8.6.
I expected to lose some time in the later stages but losing that much is annoying and about half of it occurred between 12.5km and 15km which is extremely annoying. I should not have lost as much at that point and in the next half marathon (Monaco in 3 weeks) I'm going to do my very best to maintain that 4m/km pace for the full hour (= 15km) and not zone out at some point.
The course (map here) was 19.1km long - allegedly - and included in that distance 330m of climb and 330m of descent. Hence, even without photo stops, I was not going to be looking at some kind of record breaking time. As it happened I finished in 1h34 which is definitely on the relatively slow side for me but since I treated it more as a training run than a race I don't feel that there is much to complain about. And I got to take lots of photos as well, which may have irritated some of the people around me
( Read more tedios Marathon stuff...Collapse )
Helsinki is one of those places that are pleasant but have no real "must see" reason to visit so unless I go there for business I doubt I'll be back for a whie. I kind of hope I'll be back more frequently than the 17 year delay since the last time I visited (Jan 1993 IIRC)
If you go to the trail website you learn that this is just the second year that the race has been run, though since there were some 300 participants I suspect it's not going to go away. Maybe they'll start charging the racers next year...
On our drive up the weather turned nasty and rainy which made us a little nervous. A week ago the "Grand Raid de la Mercontour", which was run not far from Colmiane, had 3 fatalities and we didn't want to end up dead. However the weather cleared up considerably as we arrived at the hotel in St Dalmas Valdeblore and the waitress reassured us that the forecast was for good weather on the morrow.
She was right. The sun was shining brightly as we arose and breakfasted. After that we checked out and drove around the corner to the sports field where the run started and retrieved our run numbers etc. Then we stood around for half an hour while the organizers got everything else sorted out. ( Read more...Collapse )
- Current Location:Alpes Maritimes
- Current Mood:accomplished
The weather was beautiful but the rain that had fallen over the previous week or two meant that the course was very wet in parts. If you click on the images you'll see they go to a flickr set of all the photos I took during this umm "unique" and very British event. As the official website explains:
The Man v Horse Marathon began in June 1980 following a chat over a pint in the Neuadd Arms Hotel. The then Landlord, Gordon Green overheard two men discussing the relative merits of men and horses. The enterprising Gordon, never one to miss an opportunity to promote Llanwrtyd Wells and improve business at his hotel, decided to put it to the test. And so began Green Events and its first, longest standing and now internationally acclaimed event, The Man versus Horse Marathon.
The course was changed in 1982 to provide a more even match between the man and the horse resulting year on year in very close finishes - sometimes with the horse winning by only a few seconds. It took 25 years before a man finally beat a horse, Huw Lobb won in 2hrs and 5mins beating the fastest horse by 2 minutes.
The race starts in the Town Square and is run over a 22 mile course through some of the finest scenery in Mid Wales using a mixture of farm tracks, footpaths, forestry roads and open moorland. There are a few short distances over tarmac. It is very hilly with a total ascent of 3000ft. [...]
Relay teams run 3 almost equal stages. Horses are required to pass a vet check at the mid-way point.One suspects that "chat over a pint" is a slightly sanitized version of the true course of events which probably involved considerably more than one pint and some vocierous acohol inspired arguing. One of the attractions of the race for me is that the Neuadd Arms is a microbrewery that makes some very excellent beers so I can quite understand how it could happen that drinkers in the pub might get a little carried away under their influence.
This year there were about 250 individual runners, 100 relay teams and 49 horses (and riders). The number of horses involved makes this one of the biggest horse races in the UK if not the world in terms of numbers of participants and it is also of course one of the longer ones too. Up until a few years back the race was sponsored by William Hill the betting company and during that period there was a prize only awarded if the man beat the horse. The value went up each year until in 2005 or so a man won it and collected a serious amount of cash in doing so. When the sun is shining, as it was this year the event is really a pleasure to take part in, although if we do it again we'll be sure to bring some food with us on the course as none was provided at any of the water stops. The countryside is beautiful and I think I saw at least one, if not two, red kites
However the "chat" which sparked the race is as based on a very interesting question for people interested in history and related fields such as (medieval) fantasy. Namely the question of how far and how fast could people travel in the days before cars, trains or even perhaps roads. Elizabeth Moon talks about this with regards to her "Paksenarrion" books in this blog post, and it is something that any number of authors have struggled with over time. Of course there are plenty of authors who have written tales where the horses are effectively like cars only with 4 legs who can gallop for days at at time and so on, but a good author will try to be realistic even if he (or she) does not always succeed. This doesn't necessarily mean that one should automatically discount those writers who seem to be a bit overoptimistic; one can question some of Tolkein's marches in the Lord of the Rings, such as the Uruk-hai trek across Rohan for example, but that need not invalidate the whole tale. Especially when, as in the Lord of the Rings, much of the tale is very much based on real speeds and realistic choices such as the decisions to take boats when possible.
The Man vs Horse race provides a fairly good indicator of what humans can do, and what horses can do, at the top end of the range on mixed terrain. The man on foot can beat a horse if he's fit and smart and the rider doesn't want to ruin his animal. The 22 miles and 3000 foot of ascent (and just under 3000 foot of descent) took the best rider 2 hours and nine minutes. The faster runner did it in much the same time (2h15) which works out at some 6% slower. Both of these times equate to around 10 mph. Some other numbers: the fastest woman took (IIRC) a shade under 3 hours to finish (2h50 ish). I took about 3 hours and 22 minutes. I'm not sure precisely how many horses were slower than me but I'd guess that between 15-20 were behind me. I also believe I was comfortably in the top 25% or so of runners (ignoring the relay teams). I think even the slowest competitors had finished in under 6 hours.
Some lessons. One key point here is that there is no sexual equality when it comes to athletic speed. Women can do the same distances but they cannot generally do them as fast. This is something that authors often forget but that anyone who competes in distance races knows. Now it is true that the peasant girl is likely to outrun the town bravo and the young womaner beat the older man but in a like-for-like comparison the female will almost certainly be slower. On horseback, however, this is not the case. The fastest rider was male, the second and third both female and there was quite a variety in ages in the 49. Afoot the faster runners were mostly under forty and in a rural low tech environment where people work much harder than they do in today's urban world the drop off with age would be even faster (and for women again the impact of childbirth is likely to worsen that drop off). A handful of grizzled centurions of 45 are quite plausible, entire armies of such are not.
However that last point brings us back again to the dangers of statistics. On average does not mean the same as every. On average a 40 year old man will be slightly slower than a 30 year old woman who will be a lot slower than a 20 year old man but with a plausible story any one particular woman or older man could be far faster than many young men. But the chances that many such exist becomes progressively less plausible the more you need.
Another lesson. Hills are a killer. Horses seem to manage to walk up hills faster than humans can but neither can maintain the speeds that they can do on the flat. I ran most of the course at an average pace of about 5min30/km = 9min/mile = 11km/h = 7 mph. But on a number of ascents my speed was less than half that - i.e. I was going at a speed of 11min/km or worse. My best downhill speed on the other hand was no more than 16km/h (3m45/km = 10 mph = 6min/mile). On normal predominantly flat road or track I can maintain a pace of better 5min/km (12km/h) for at least 50km. So as Elizabeth Moon notes, contours really slow you down.
Steep descents are also potentially tricky. You don't want to twist (or break) ankles knees etc. There is a lot of technique involved in fast descents and this is not something that is learned in a single lesson. Any fictional character who ends up in the mountains and tries running down them at full tillf for the first time had better either twist an ankle, trip, take a tumble or similar. If he does trip he'll at best scrape knees and hands, and quite likely break an arm, rib or collarbone. I've done this. You can keep going if its only a crack but it wil impede your mobilty for a month or more. If you (for example) crack an upper arm bone you won't be able to lift your arm above the shoulder or hold any weight on it for two or threee weeks AND no matter what bone you break, you'll probably end up sleeping poorly because no matter how you start off at ome point you'll roll over into a bad position. Now having said that someone who has grown up in the hills probably will be able to go down them like a bat out of hell.
It isn't just humans. Horses also really slow down on steep downhills or uphills where the going is tricky because they cannot jump and dodge the way experienced humans can. They also have the problem of greater mass and hence greater momentum. If a horse puts a hoof wrong there's a lot more mass to leverage that error. Idiotic nobles with more money than sense or the emperor's messengers may choose to charge down a slope but the chances of them falling off the horse or it being temporarily or permenantly injured means that the average horseowner isn't going to risk it.
Another lesson. 22 miles without food in the hot sun is a recipe for cramping. I got a cramp in the last couple of miles. So did a number of other competitors - such as the gentleman in the stream. SWMBO didn't cramp but did run out of energy to the extent that she started feeling chills despite the heat. I suspect others did similarly. And it must be noted that we drank plenty and had (well SWMBO and I had) a hearty breakfast before as well as lots of food the night before. Your average medieval person will not have had such a good meal before and so will slow down earlier. Cramps can be walked off - but it hurts and still slows you down significantly. A cramp can also cause a nasty tumble. I was lucky in that no one was around me to trip over me and I was able to tumble into grass but in the wrong place a cramp could easily lead to serious injuries such as broken bones. Fortunately for our putative medieval traveller his travel food is likely to be bread and salted stuff so he ought not to get cramp that much unless he hasn't got any food. But without food he'll probaly cramp on a hot day after three hours in the sun unless the effort ends up causing him to collapse from exhaustion.
If he doesn't drink either then the good news is he won't cramp, the bad news is he'll simply collapse with heatstroke if he pushes too hard. You can figure that two or three hours of hard exercise in the sun will cause a person to sweat a litre or two (2-4 pints) of water so it's a really good idea to drink from streams and take waterskins/bottles as getting this dehydrated is extremely dangerous. I don't know enough about horses but I'm pretty sure they sweat just as much - seeing two of them sucking the water out of one of the streams we crossed made that clear...
- Current Mood: cheerful
There is a facebook group (created by me), there may be a webpage coming, there will probably be LJ, DW and other groups - but as far as I know there aren't yet.
Get the word out. And think of something special to do on that day.
- Current Mood: cheerful
I had a couple of problems. The first was that my garmin forerunner decided to crash hard and so I had little or no idea of the time. I used my cellphone as a watch but I was a minute or so wrong at the start so it only gave me rather rough times. It also didn't display the seconds so times were always to the nearest minute. I suspect I would have been a good deal more consistent if I'd had the watch to track my actual speed. It didn't help that the 3h15 pace balloon ended up running a bit slow. I was always ahead of him by a couple of minutes or so which I figued was a decent buffer to put me at about 3:12 or so. Unfortunately I was wrong.
The second problem was that I ran out of energy after about 30km. They gave us an energy sachet then and if I'd known there wasn't another one on offer at 35km I'd have taken two because the sachet really helped while it lasted. I was more or less right on target all the way upto 30km as the table below shows but I dropped 5 or 6 minutes in the last 12 km. because the pace dropped from 4.30/km to nearly 5min/km. I expect to drop a bit but that was more of a drop than anticipated.
Next time I will run slightly faster in the first half (1h32 instead of 1h34) and I'll keep a couple of ghu packs of my own to swallow later on in the race if none are provided.
Overall though I'm quite satisfied with the result and the race. The course was pretty flat and quite interesting as one got to see slower/faster runners quite a few places in the run from about 15km to 30 km. I wouldn't class the last 12km as "fun" but it was quite enjoyable before that and everything was very well organized.
Beyond the marathon, as a weekend though this was definitely a good vacation. Prague is a great city and the people are reasonably helpful and friendly. In fact we met a nice Czech guy at the airport and later on a guy from Costa Rica. On the Sunday evening we all hooked up and went on a food and beer crawl through Prague old town which was fun. We ended up in a Chilean bar in the Jewish "quarter" which was pretty cool.