Three Peaks Challenge

My last ‘biggie’ of the ‘Big Four Oh Charity Challenges’ is the Three Peaks Challenge.

For those of you that don’t know what the Three Peaks Challenge is – it’s climbing the three highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales… all within 24 hours.

This challenge is being organised through some cool folks at work – all Sandwell Housing dudes – and we’ve chosen to do it for charity and raise money for Sandwell Women’s Aid.

The charity, which is based in West Bromwich, offers refuge, support and counselling to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Sandwell.

The Three Peaks is a big challenge and I’m really looking forward to it – I wish I could’ve completed more training for this one though, but loads of other stuff going on recently, I’ve not really had much time for walking/hiking.

If you want to suppoer me, Adrian, Jeanette, Jim, Julie, Manesa, Richard and Sue you can do it sponsor us online via Virgin Money. It’s safe and easy and all that. Or you can hand over some spare cash if you see us – all donations and messages of support are gratefully received.

For info, the three peaks are:

  • Ben Nevis (1,344 m or 4,409 ft), the highest mountain in Scotland
  • Scafell Pike (978 m or 3,209 ft), the highest mountain in England
  • Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa (1,085 m or 3,560 ft), the highest mountain in Wales

I’m sure the weekend will have it’s ups and downs but if all goes according to plan our itenary is:

  • Saturday 5pm- start walking up Ben Nevis (Scotland)
  • Saturday 10pm – finish Ben Nevis and start drive to Scafell Pike (Lake District, England)
  • Sunday 4am – start walking up Scafell Pike
  • Sunday 8am – finish Scafell Pike and start drive to Snowdon (Wales)
  • Sunday 1pm – start up Snowdon
  • Sunday 5pm (or hopefully before !) finish Snowdon
  • Sunday 5.01pm beer :)

Best marathon ever!

Sunday 13 April will definitely go down as one of the best days of my life. Taking part in the 2014 London Marathon and completing the 26.2 miles was amazing. I still feel on a high from it 6 days later.

After months of training, the day finally arrived. I was nervous but excited too. The weather was good in London – a bit too sunny for running a marathon but with the sun out it meant the crowds were out too – and it was the crowds that made the experience a truly memorable one for me.

The sun made sure that everyone  was in a good mood and the city looked fantastic.

I’ve ran one other marathon before – London in 2012. I found that hard – and two years ago after 20 miles I said to myself never again. I was never going to be stupid enough to sign up for another marathon and put myself through that pain ever again.

But…. I’m so glad I did it. I came back to the nation’s capital and had a fantastic time. I want to run it every year now!

Post marathon beer

Having a celebratory ale

It was an amazing day and I’m so thankful to my own personal support crew with me to share it with me. With Sophie coming to the start and cheering me on from Miles 0, 7 and 19 and Harry, my mom Jane, nieces Ellie and Emilie and Harry’s grandparents Val and Mike all waiting for me along with Sophie at Mile 25.

The support from friends and family back home was brilliant too – with messages of support flooding in – and it was great to read these before the race and afterwards when we were all having a celebratory drink and a bite to eat.

I want to say a big thanks to everyone who has sponsored me – I’m at over £1,800 now which is fantastic!! There’s still money coming in so I’ll post a final update in a few weeks time.

I finished in 4 hours and 14 minutes which is 27 minutes faster than last time so that’s a personal best for me. I’m really pleased to have finished under four and a half hours but now I’m thinking… ‘Could I do it in under 4??’. That’s for next time!

I’ve got a few ideas why I found it easier this time which I’ll elaborate on in another post soon.

I could write loads about the experience but I think I’ve wrote enough for now – the best way to find out about it is by doing it.

The ballot is open next week for next year’s London Marathon on 22 April so if you want one of the best days of your life sign up. I’m going to – and I really hope I get in again (fingers crossed!).

Hopefully I’ll see you in London in 2015.

Photo credits:

 

End of marathon training

Today is the end of marathon training. And I’m quite glad. The past few weeks have been pretty hectic for me and trying to fit in long runs has been pretty stressful. But it’s all over now. I can relax – well, for a few days anyway.

Here are some new photos that Sophie took the other day at the local park with me modelling my sexy yellow CF Trust running vest which I’ll be wearing on Sunday. I think she’s found a new vocation. Me too – if you want me to model any vest for you in a park – just say (my costs are very competitive).

I finished my preparation for this Sunday’s London Marathon with a nice quiet 3 mile run along the canal in Oldbury at lunchtime. Canal running is my favourite training. Most canals are pretty flat, there aren’t that many hilly ones – and there aren’t many cars about too so less pollution and chance of getting hit. The ground is also better for my knees than the tarmac of footpaths and roads in the Black Country.

On Sunday the organisers are letting people follow the progress of runners on the official Virgin Money London Marathon website. You just need to enter the name of the runner and/or their number to see where they on the route. So you can see how I’m getting on by putting in my race number 12571 and my name Matt Johnson.

If you’re on Twitter please give feel free to give me shout out on the day @mafjohnson.

So now with no more training I just need to relax and ‘carb load’ and be ready for Sunday, I’m getting quite excited by it all now. I’m sure that will turn to nerves as we get nearer to Sunday.

Oh, one last thing, well… two last things actually. Thanks to everyone who has watched and shared my video – it’s had over 300 views and helped me raise an extra £600. And – there’s still time to sponsor me if you haven;t aleady – just go to my Just Giving webpage or text MJLM74 followed by either £1, £2, £5 or £10 to 70070.

My Marathon Video

I’ve made a short video to help with the fundraising. I really enjoyed making it, it was loads of fun and I got Harry involved – which I think he liked, even though in the video it looks like he hated it – that’s good acting that is!

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, or whatever there is about these days (can you share links on Candy Crush??) I’d be really chuffed if you shared the video to help spread the word and hopefully add a few more pounds to the fundraising pot.

Here is the video if you haven’t seen it yet>>>

I’d like to thank a few people for their help in making the video. First up – Steve for assistance in filming and editing, if you’re ever making a video and need any help I can highly recommend Steve – he knows his stuff.

Tracie and Rich really enjoyed chucking buckets of water over me, I’m sure they’d have liked to do more than one take but lucky for me it all worked out first time – I was waiting for Steve to say at the end ‘Oh, I forgot to press record!’. It was Tracie’s idea to throw water over me, I’m sure she’d been planning it for ages. I’m not sure that the polystyrene snow was very effective though!

Rich and Trace also showed off their acting skills, along with Amy in the ‘Meeting Scene’. I’m sorry though girls, Rich really stole the scene here. Gary got in on the act too with his walk on part – going to the Wetherspoons.

I’m sure Russ, Hoppy and Mark are a bit peeved that their scene didn’t making the final cut. It was a tough directorial decision to leave it on the cutting room floor but I really wanted to make the film under 4 minutes. Maybe their scenes will make the Extended Director’s Cut in a few years time.

I’d like to thank (bloomin’ heck – this is getting like an Oscar’s acceptance speech now) Sophie and Harry for putting up with having to watch loads of footage of me out running – must’ve been really boring for them. And Sophie for taking some really great photos of me and Harry for use by the BBC (I’ll upload them in another blog post soon).

Last but not least I need to thank my lad Harry – for being the star of the show. It sounds like I should’ve just made a video with him in from all the comments I’ve had. I’m sure he’d love to be a TV film star now, he’s quite a natural in front of the camera. My favourite is the bit at the end… ‘Dad, can I go now…’. This was unscripted, as well as the ‘Yippee!!!’.

I hope people like the video, I really enjoyed making it – and hopefully it will help raise a bit of cash – which will be a major boost for me while I’m running the marathon next week.

SPONSOR ME NOW

London Marathon update

Marathon News 2014

Marathon News 2014

It’s just two weeks on Sunday until the London Marathon. A few weeks back I upped my training and have been out running a lot more – but not as much as I should have been though to be honest.

I got a bit scared last week when I received my race pack through the post from the organisers which included a magazine with lots of useful info about the event like registering before the day, where to go, where to meet up with friends and family when you’ve finished and a whole section on training.

It was reading the training bit that worried me – apparently I should have already been on my longest training run and should be ‘tapering’ now in the countdown to the big day (tapering is basically running less after doing your biggest run so that you’re not fatigued by the time you run the event). But… on the day I received the pack I was preparing to go for a 9 mile run so I upped it a bit and completed 16 miles. Last week was my longest run – 20 miles from home to Dudley then to Birmingham and onto the canal at the NIA for a quieter route home.

Getting the 20 miles out of the way has made me feel a lot better, I didn’t feel too bad at the end of it. My old knees hurt but I think the advice of taking painkillers before my run helped and maybe the introduction of energy gels every 4 miles played a part too.

So now I’m feeling a bit more upbeat about it and I’m really looking forward to Sunday 13th April. I’ve still got to put in the miles before then – I’ve done a 7 miler today at lunchtime and I’m planning on something over 10 miles again this weekend – but the hard bits are over. It’s just the 26 miles to do on the day.

I’m eating well too – most of the time and I’ve cut down on the beer. All what I should be doing anyway really so signing up for the marathon has made me realise that I need to change my lifestyle – a little. I’m looking forward though to a couple of fine ales and a big massive pizza after the marathon.

I know I’ve got to do another six miles on top of my longest run but I know on the day with the crowds and adrenaline pumping that will get me over the finish line – that and knowing that my own personal support crew will be there waiting for me at Mile 25 and knowing that really make me push harder for the last few miles.

Sponsorship

Sexy new vest

Sexy new vest

I haven’t done much in terms of asking for sponsorship for this… yet but expect that to ramp up a little in the next couple of weeks. Again I’ll be raising money for the CF Trust.

If you’ve already sponsored me for Tough Guy – please don’t feel like you have to sponsor me again. Unless you’re mega rich.

I’ve now got a sexy yellow vest to run in – courtesy of the CF Trust. If you’re watching on the telly look out for me. I think I might have my name printed on the vest – it’s good when you get random strangers calling out your name and spurring you on.

I’ve also set up a text code thingy so that you can donate via text message.

If you want to donate by text just send a message to 70070 saying MJLM74 £3

That’s it! It is both easy and peasy.

If you want to donate a different amount to £3 change the number to whatever you want :)

For example-  say you wanted to donate a tenner you’d get your phone out put 70070 as the number to send a text message to and then type in MJLM74 £10 and click the send button.

You got it? No, OK – let’s say you thought what I was doing was so amazing that you wanted to sponsor me twenty of your hard earned English pounds – what would you do? Yes, that’s right – you’d text MJLM74 £20 to 70070 – clever eh! Glad you’ve got is sussed now :)

I really hope I don’t cheese everyone off with asking for sponsorship but it’s a cause very close to my heart and knowing that there’s a big pot of money to give towards research for a cure and treatment after I’ve finished the marathon really, really helps when my legs are aching and I’m thinking of reasons to give up. Every penny and every pound is very much appreciated by me, the charity and all the people affected by CF.

Oh – I nearly forgot to say…. A big WELL DONE to my mom Jane, my son Harry and nieces Ellie and Emilie for taking part in the Sport Relief mile last weekend at Sandwell Valley in West Bromwich. Go Team Johnson!

‘Major’ event

The Major3Well, last Saturday I took part in ‘The Major Series’ Midlands event at the Merevale Estate in Atherstone. I’d never heard of the event until my mate Russ asked me to do it with him. Russ wanted to do it as prep for the Summer Tough Guy so I agreed to do it with him – and I’m really glad I did.

The event was a 10km(ish) run with a few obstacles – lots of crawling; under cargo nets, under barbwire, across a bed of ice, through a tunnel made from bales of hay. There was also a lot of up and down hills. And plenty of mud.

There’s a skill to running in/through mud – well I say ‘running’ there wasn’t much running. If you left your foot there in the mud for more than a second you were stuck. We used to play ‘Stuck in the Mud’ as kids, this was like a bit like that but with no-one coming under your held-out arms to unstick you. Instead you had to try to free yourself or get help from another muddy participant.

Major Series Midlands Spring 2014

Russ (left) and me (far right) tackling one of the tyre obstacles

When it’s the sticky kind of mud – as opposed to wet/slidy mud the trick is to get your foot out and over the mud as quick as you can. I forgot to tell Russ this and he got a bit stuck at one point. For any potential mud running enthusiasts the key is to think of the mud as a ladder and to climb it rather than wade through it – keeping your feet above the mud and not leaving your foot in for too long.

Another key point is to make sure your shoes are tied on well – really well. I had to help one girl retrieve both her shoes from a muddy bog at one point.

There was quite a bit of water involved too and weather reports of 15 degrees Celsius were a bit optimistic – not sure of the temp but it was a bit colder than than that – but not as cold as Tough Guy – but still pretty cold – especially when the water is up to your waist and you’re in and out of it every 10 minutes.

The best bit was a slide down one of the hills – a big massive piece of plastic that is hosed down with water to keep it wet and slidy appeared three quarters of the way through the course. A welcome bit of fun, it was really enjoyable – I want to do it again! The water was a bit soapy too so by the time I got to the bottom I was a bit lathery and a lot cleaner.

Thumbs up from Russ

Russ at The Major Series (Midlands)

I want to say a big well done to @Russbags1 – his first event like this and we finished it in just under two hours (1 hour, 59 minutes and 50 seconds – so only just!). And thanks to Mrs Russbags for chauffeuring (again).

Really glad I did this event and glad we both finished in one piece – no major *ahem* injuries – just a few cuts and bruises on the legs from all the crawling.

We’ve got another event planned for the end of April – Hell in the Middle at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. This event will be less obstacley – no slides :( but more running (somewhere between 10 and 12 miles). I’m sure there will be plenty more mud and water. And, if previous Hellrunners are anything to go by, there will be some extreme hill running.

‘Hell’ is over six weeks away so plenty of time for me to perfect my Frankie Goes To Hollywood Two Tribes riff which seems to help Russ in the absence of an iPod – “dugger, dugger, durn, ged-denk-a-denker durn…”

Next up for me is London Marathon – proper training now begins. I’ve got me a plan now with the aim to get to 20 miles in the four few weeks. I did a 7.5 mile run yesterday and plan on doing an 8.5 tomorrow at lunch time along the canals, then a 10 miler on Saturday.

Marathon training – 37 days to go

Bloomin’ eck! It’s just five weeks on Sunday until the London Marathon. That is really scary. I haven’t been training as much as I should and I now worry that I’ve left it too late.

The last week before the marathon is when I won’t be doing much running so I’ve got four weeks from now to get up to over 20 miles. If I can get to 20 to 22 miles I reckon I’ll be fine as I’ll leave the full 26 miles til the day itself.

londo-marathon

It’s not as though I’m starting from scratch as I’ve been doing a regular seven and a half mile run at work with Tom. I just need to increase the miles in the next four weeks to get to the early twenties. Finding time at the moment is proving difficult and after a bit of a disastrous attempt at 13 miles the other day I realise I need to gradually increase the distance.

So what I’m going to do is this, and hopefully writing it here will make me do it more – even if it’s it’s raining/I’m tired/there’s stuff on the telly I want to watch etc.:

  • Week 1 (10 – 16 March): 7 miles and 10 miles
  • Week 2 (17 – 23 March): 13 miles, 7 miles and 8.5 miles
  • Week 3 (24 – 30 March): 17 miles, 10 miles and 7 miles
  • Week 4 (31 March – 6 April): 20 – 22 miles and 7 miles
  • Week 5 (7 – 13 April): 3 miles and 26 miles (London)

I really want to beat my time from a couple of years ago which was 4 hours 41 minutes and wish I’d have ramped up my training earlier but there’s been loads going on recently and I’ve not given it as much importance as I should.

From now on I’m also going to watch what I eat and drink and my girlfriend Sophie will be on hand to keep me on the straight and narrow – I’m hoping to get her into running but no luck yet.

Also, I’m doing the Major Series: Midlands event this Saturday in Atherstone with my mate Russ – this is a 6 mile run with water, mud and obstacles. It’s sort of a mini Tough Guy from what I’ve seen and hopefully shouldn’t nearly kill me as much as Tough Guy did. It will be Russ’s first real event like this and good prep for the summer Tough Guy (Nettle Warrior). It looks fun so I’m quite looking forward to it.