Some photos from the day... More to follow!

Celebration Day

3 hours 43 minutes 44 seconds - can't quite believe it's all over! What an amazing experience... I have to go and sleep but I promise a full report tomorrow. Needless to say I'm very pleased with my time - I really wanted to beat four hours. And surprisingly I feel quite good.

I Can't Quit you Baby

Heading off to London soon to stay with a friend so I'm ready for the off.

Not much more to say - if you're coming to watch thank you very much. If you've got the right sort of phone you can follow my progress via the chip in my shoe - you can also do this on Facebook and I've sent everyone on my Facebook Marathon site a link - you basically just need to put adidas marathon tracker 2010 into the search box and it does the rest!

You need to know my number, which is 14453

I'm hoping to see some of you in Trafalgar Square afterwards - I'll be by the lion on the left if you have your back to the National Gallery and I'm offering: a kiss and a chance to wear my medal to the first person who can bring me a cup of tea, now there's an offer you don't get everyday!

Moby Dick

Moby Dick turned out to be one of the best books I ever read - at the time I was trapped in Russia, the claustraphobia of the novel translated into my situation, the sailors trapped on a voyage of over 2 years searching for the whales. But Moby Dick is a novel of obsession so the link is with marathon running...

Tomorrow... I feel I haven't kept this blog up lately, so where have we been?
The epic of 20 miles with Dr Phil was repeated the following Sunday, but this time 22 miles on my own, the furthest I did in training. There was also an accident with a dog lead a few days later which readers of my Facebook page may well be aware of; that left me pretty shaken.
There was the great Christian Aid Raffle, which was amazing and raised £324 - basically the sponsorship has gone over the £2,000 mark; thank you all so very much! Photos from the raffle will follow.
The next long run was 18 miles and since then it's all been tapering down... 12 miles on sunday, 4 miles on Monday, sprint session on Tuesday and...nothing! Just pasta and sleep and sitting in the sauna. 2 miles tonight round Battersea Park in race kit and then the big day - feeling quite excited really!
So today is just a restful day of listening to Led Zeppelin (did anyone get the link?) and making sure all my kit is ready. Went to the marathon Expo at the Excel Centre yesterday to pick up my race number and chip etc... I was there for hours, there were some amazing deals!

Over the Hills and Far Away

Dr Phil's and Rev. Broom's Awfully Big Adventure!

20 miles... too tired to write very much and I can't seem to upload the photos! I'll be back again!

Worked it out - the GPS does not lie... though the route looks slightly crazy!

Your Time is Gonna Come

Desultory thoughts of the lonely long distance runner

Early twilight, and by the canal again. The lights of the boats start to glow as the first stars appear in the darkening sky. So many miles along this path and still so far to go.

A heron in shadow, vast, sharp beaked, prehistoric, lifts from the bank; wide wings beating the evening air.

Ancient eyes gaze down:

‘O foolish man why do you labour so?

I have lived for so long and you will for such a short time. I have seen nations rise and fall. I have heard the call of battle, seen victory and loss and heard the prayers of the saint. I have seen what you, trapped in your small world cannot: you are but a handful of dust.’

And yet here, along this bank the path goes on and on as if there was no other place, no other time just the sound of regular breathing and footfall on stony ground.

Dust, yes; but dust that for one brief moment can feel the gold of glory.

Got my race number for London this week – I’m 14453...

The Battle of Evermore

To Hastings then I came...

From the build up I'd dreaded this and it turned out to be my best half marathon yet!
Hastings, it has to be said, is a great place. I hadn't been there for years but it's got a lovely pebbly beach, the old town is really interesting and quirky and I think the night-life is pretty good if you're looking for that sort of thing (marathon runners have to go to bed at about 7pm ;o)). But don't just take my word for it - go and visit, make a weekend of it (I know some good B&Bs I can recommend!), if it's the weekend of the half marathon I might just see you there...
So, rather than building up the stress this time, I'll just tell you my times and then you can sit back and enjoy the rest of this blog! As you know, 'if you're a frequent listener to this programme', in previous blogs we've seen how my PB had gone from 1.47 set in Japan to 1.40 at both Watford and Berkhamstead; well on this occasion as the home straight loomed into view we managed to put down the pedal on the gas and knock off a further 2 minutes, coming in at 1.38.02! So overall we're 9 minutes faster since this whole exercise began.

What a great race though and what amazing support. I'd woken up in my B&B that morning feeling nervous only to tune in the radio to find Howard Jones telling me not to: 'crack up or bend my brain' it was good advice and at that point I decided to just enjoy the experience even if was going to be like running up the side of Everest!
Lining up at the start just seemed so different from the other half marathons: people seemed relaxed, cheerful, chatting to each-other, it was a bit of a carnival atmosphere with all the stalls at the start and the runners dressed as ghost busters or teenage mutant ninja turtles! The whole of Hastings seemed to have come out to support the race. There was music, DJs, bands and people handing out half-time oranges. The kids lined the roads to high-five any runner they could get to respond. One church seemed to have adopted the approach of 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' and had simply moved its service outside, waving to the runners as they sang their hymns; nice.
There were about 5000 or more runners and yes for most of the way it was one long steep hill but of course as we know, 'what goes up must come down' and on the downward slopes I really managed to pick up some speed, which I think helped my time overall. So here's the breakdown: Mile one - 8.38 (it was a slow start and there were a lot of people to get past. I think the placing had broken down a bit), mile two - 8.23, mile three - 7.22, mile four - 8.14, mile five - 8.07, mile six - 7.32, mile seven - 7.23, mile eight - 7.00, mile nine - 7.21, mile ten - 6.26, mile eleven - 6.41 (you can see how the down hill helped!), mile twelve - 7.14 (along the sea front now feeling a zen moment of unconnectedness and total connectedness - now there's a paradox), mile thirteen (and the .1 bit) - 7.33 - total time 1 hour 38 mins 2 seconds.
Thanks very much to Rachel and her folks for food, hospitality, a roaring fire and for looking after a wandering marathon runner. When you make your trip to Hastings go and check out gallery 53 in the High Street (this is also a B&B). Thanks also to Rachel for further attempts to lead me astray onto the Guiness as well as her photography skills - more pictures of the half marathon to follow.
Hastings gets the thumbs up from me. The battle of Hastings was not quite the rout I feared though doubtless running remains the Battle of Evermore...

Black Mountain Side

Hills... hills... and more hills; and I thought Hastings was going to be bad!

Wasn't sure how this one was going to go as I deliberately hadn't tapered down as I felt this was a training run and I'd trained pretty hard in the last two weeks. Having run 7 miles with my good friend Dr Phil through the lanes of Hitchin yesterday this was going to push up my weekend mileage to 20 miles, which is good for the marathon but perhaps not for my half marathon PB!
I also seem to have pulled a muscle a bit in my right leg, nothing too serious but I can feel a nagging pain there.
This was a great run and through some beautiful countryside; if one was able to stop and appreciate the surroundings it really would be very pleasant, as it is one just groans as yet another hill approaches!
A strange race in some ways - there was also a 5 mile fun run, which started just before the half marathon and then apparently (according to my correspondents on the spot) stuffed up the half marathon front runners! Certainly by the time I got there, there were still a fair few fun runners to trip over.
I really didn't think I could keep my PB on this one as it seemed so hilly and the morning seemed so cold and icy but I managed to 'dig deep' and also had the support of my comrades James and Gary (Gary had come all the way from Edinburgh).
So... how did it go? Here's the times - the annoying thing is that there was no mile 1 marker, which really threw me - so miles 1 and 2: 14.26 (so 7.13 each, I guess); mile 3: 8.24 (hills!); mile 4: 7.50; mile 5: 7.20; mile 6: 7.11; mile 7: 7.57; mile 8: 8.28; mile 9: 7.44; mile 10: 7.56; mile 11: 7.37; mile 12: 7.55; mile 13: 6.45 (I could see my PB slipping away; I was practically sprinting for the finish by this point!) 0.1 of a mile: 0.50 - Final time: 1 hour 40 minutes, made it! Kept the PB I had set at Watford and on a much harder course and not feeling as good as I did at Watford so really pleased. Hastings beckons... and that's a mountain!
Thanks again to Gary and James for turning out in support and thanks to Matt for the running kit.