...don't make a whole!

The first weekend of October included a school reunion - the first I have ever attended, marking 30 years since I left. It was great to reminisce and reconnect with about a dozen of my contemporaries, plus all of my A level subject teachers, along with my Headmaster and Deputy. I think it is fair to say that none of them would have envisaged the schoolboy Bob ever running a marathon, so there were some surprised and amused faces at the lunch when they learned of my recent (and planned) running exploits! It's true to say that I was never particularly sporty as a child, and am probably fitter now than I ever have been.

The Chichester Half Marathon took place the following morning. Having tracked the forecast in the days leading up to the event, it was a relief to the 900+ runners that the rain actually cleared before the start. The ground was still wet - and therefore slippery - underfoot for the mixed terrain course, but the clear skies meant that the views from the top of The Trundle were a spectacular reward for the effort of almost 200m climbing! Live music from the Littlehampton Concert Band was an added bonus, and the Montezuma's chocolate buttons in the finisher's goody bag were a nice touch too. I was relieved to feel that I still had some energy left as I crossed the line in 2:16:40.

I enjoy running off road but regular trainers simply don't cope well with wet conditions - as I found out during the Chichester half, so I visited the Run Company for some expert advice and invested in some hybrid road/trail shoes. Their first outing was to the Angmering Park Estate for a very muddy woodland run, and I was really delighted by the way they dealt with the mixed terrain including gravel paths, rutted bridleways, long grass, expansive puddles, and gnarly roots. A whole new range of winter routes has just been opened up!

The results of the main London Marathon public ballot were announced in the second week of October - the end of many months' waiting for thousands of runners eager to compete in the flagship event. The demand is so great (a staggering total of 457,861 people applied through this year's ballot) that the probability of gaining a place from the ballot is low, meaning that each year a great many people are left disappointed. It made me realise how much I cherished the place Feba had secured through the separate charity ballot earlier in the year, and how much I am looking forward to it. (Did I really just say that?!)

I am under no illusion, however, that there remains an awful lot of training required to make the leap from a half marathon to the full distance of 26.2 miles.

A trip to North America provided an opportunity to take part in another half marathon later in the month, as part of the Okanagan Marathon Weekend. Starting in Kelowna, the course included stretches along the shore of beautiful Okanagan Lake, in the heart of the wine region of British Columbia. The autumn (or 'fall') colours were spectacular, and it was a really well organised and very friendly event. It was a cool, dry Sunday morning, and the flat route was entirely on roads / footpaths - great running conditions; I was very pleased with a finish time of 2:03:08.

Aside from running the distance, one of the challenges of the Okanagan event was my body having to adjust to a significant time difference after a lengthy flight. That was quite deliberate, as I will have to do something fairly similar in April when I return from an immovable work commitment in the Philippines just 36 hours before the London Marathon! In Canada, I found that a good bowl of porridge before the run and a supply of Jelly Babies to eat during it kept me going - even after a poor night's sleep of just four hours.

Aside from the two races, I basically continued with the pattern of three runs per week, trying to include a mix of endurance / speed / hill training. In total, I clocked up 115km in October, with a cumulative climb of 775m. Aside from my new best time for a half marathon, there were also new PBs during October for 10 miles (1:31:48) and 10km (53:54).

My motivation for doing all this is to raise funds for Feba's ministry, so it was a great encouragement to pass the £500 mark in October. I'd like to say another big 'Thank You!' to everyone who has supported me to date - I really do appreciate it.

Whilst both October's half marathons were testing and enjoyable, sadly two halves do not make a whole, and I now have less than six months to prepare for the far more gruelling full marathon on 26th April 2020.

We press on...!

If you would like to sponsor me, please see my fundraising page.

To read more about my marathon efforts, please click here.

Thank you!

Photos: Trail Shoes and Chichester Half Finish © Bob Chambers; Kelowna Waterfront © Charl Beaumont