Sunday, April 27, 2014


Last weekend I visited Burton Mere Wetlands and managed to see a few new species for my year list including Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. But the highlight was a pair of Garganey seen from the Marsh Covert hide. Over the years I have seem this small migrant duck at this site on a number of occasions but they have never been close enough for decent photography; and this visit was no different. But despite the secretive nature of this attractive species they can occasionally provide excellent views. The following photos were taken at Cley Norfolk a couple of years ago; if only the Burton birds were as showy.


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Red-flanked Bluetail

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Virgin London Marathon 2014

To be honest I didn't think I would be running a marathon this year. After being laid up with a debilitating virus from November through to January, my overall fitness had taken a massive hit. Getting back to training was a struggle, and there was no chance of me improving on my time of  3 hours 3 minutes achieved at last year's Manchester marathon.
My main aim was to just to be fit enough to finish the marathon, my finishing time was of secondary importance. Just under 3 months of training for 26.2 miles is far from ideal, and the lack of fitness made it doubly difficult. But I concentrated on completing my long slow runs, no matter how much I struggled as these are the key sessions for completing the distance. I managed three 20 milers and two 22 milers before the big day; but only one of these was completed non-stop. I ran/walked the other four; and there was a lot of walking! A 3 week taper is also recommended but my lack of training forced me to try a much shorter taper; I ran my last long run only two weeks before the race.
Race-day dawned cool and bright, but I was more apprehensive about this, my 17th marathon, than any I have run before. I was later than usual arriving at Blackheath but at least I didn't have to hang around too long before the start. My plan was to take it easy and enjoy the event, which is really a 26 mile carnival, and to use the fabulous crowd support to my advantage. Starting from the "Fast Good for Age" start I took the first few miles quite easily, and let the guy dressed as the Gherkin zip off into the distance. Not unexpectedly, my legs were aching a bit by mile 6, but I kept on at a reasonable pace. A cheer from my supporters at mile 9 gave me a welcome boost and for once I let myself enjoy the crowds on Tower Bridge; its amazing the response you can get from a smile and a wave!
As my aim was just to finish, my only plan was not to stop and walk as I had done so often in training. A high-five from my girlfriend Jane at mile 17 was another boost. As I entered Canary Wharf I slowed considerably but I was determined not to walk. My mantra was the line from the Rudimental song "Not giving in", and despite slowing to no more than a jog at times, I managed to keep going; even though my brain was playing tricks on me - at the 30 Km marker I somehow managed to calculate that I only had 10K to go!
My next rendezvous with my supporters was at Big Ben, where I picked up a compact camera and filmed the final mile. It's very shaky footage, but what the hell, I'd just run 25 tough miles. At this point my finishing time was immaterial, so I wasn't bothered about the other runners streaming past me, I just wanted to finish. I crossed the finish line in a time of 3 hours and 17 minutes exactly.
After lunch and a few beers with my friends my legs had totally seized up, but I was overjoyed to have finished. And of course I will be back next year, hopefully fitter and faster; I have unfinished business with the marathon!

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