Book Review: 26 Miles to the Moon

Not the kind of book that I usually read, however a number of my running friends had read 26 Miles to the Moon by Andrew Males and they had all given it a good account.  Word of mouth always goes a long way in my mind, so I picked up a copy and began reading.

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It took me about a week to read this book, which is usually a good indication on how much I am enjoying the story.  Such was my enjoyment that I even read a few chapters whilst sat on the bike in the gym.  Thankfully the gym was empty otherwise I may have received some pretty disapproving looks!

The book quickly develops and you soon start to build up an attachment to the lead character, Jon Dunn, especially when he is being lead astray by the mischievous Summer! Before you realise it the story has developed and moved to New York, where marathon training begins.  I suppose this is where I find myself being a little disappointed. As a runner I was rather hoping the story would go into more detail with the mental and physical side of preparations that a marathon would incur.  Instead more emphasis was placed on developing the relationship between Jon and Summer.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed reading this story, it is a page turner and the fact I read this whilst on an exercise bike is testament to this. It has a certain amount of adventure, some cracking humour that actually made me laugh out aloud, a villainous ice maiden, a visionary risk taker and of course your Mr average who could easily be you or I.

This is certainly a feel good book, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. The author not only knows about the highs and unbelievable lows or running a marathon, he also knows in detail the route of the New York marathon.  Something that can only be achieved if you have been there, bled, hobbled, cried, doubted yourself, persevered, celebrated, worn the T-shirt and praised the medal!

Is this a runners book? I would say not quite.  It certainly has running in it and the author obviously knows about running marathons.  Does that actually make a difference?  Not at all.  This is a great read by this first time author.

I now find myself quietly anticipating his next book.

Virtual Ultra Triathlon: March Update

March didn’t quite go as planned as I made one slight omission in my planning, I forgot about Easter!  As I do the majority of my exercise whilst at work or on the way to work, it meant my stats were going to take a slight hit over these two weeks.  I still managed to get out and do some running, so my running stats remain pretty good.

Some of the highlights of the month are:

  1.  On the 1 March I broke my PB for 5km, getting down to 20 mins 22 Secs.  Still aiming to get under 20 mins.
  2. On the 3 March I broke my PB for 10 miles for the second time in the space of a week.  I am now down to 1hr 12 min 25 secs for 10 miles.
  3. On the 16 March I went and broke a long standing PB, in that I broke my HM PB by 3 mins finally taking me below 100mins.  My new PB is now 1hr 39min 49 Secs.

An interesting highlight in my virtual ultra marathon is that my cycle route from John O’Groats caught up with and passed by run route from Ardnamurchen Lighthouse. The exact point is hard to say but on the 18 Mar I believe the cross over was on the A702 in the village of Crawford.

Even though I had not run as far in March, my knees have felt a little sore but nothing I am not used to.  I think this was only as a result of me pushing myself so hard on my HM when I realised at about the halfway point that I was on for a PB.  The other thing that I have noticed is that my fitness levels have really jumped a level in the last month.  This would explain the amount of PBs that I have been setting.  My comfortable running pace was always around 5 min to 5min 10 sec pace for a km.  I now find that I am comfortable running at around 4min 30 sec pace.  Last year I would find that I could run at this pace for maybe a km or two, yet now I find I can run at this new pace for 20km+.

I have also found that I am eating much more.  One night my wife looked at me in utter disgust when I cam back from the Fish and Chip shop with her small chips and a sausage, yet I had a large chips, large fish, large sausage and a curry sauce.  I could barely fit it all on my plate, not only did I eat the lot but I also ate a bag of mini eggs afterwards.  I was full after that, but didn’t feel bloated at all!

After three months here are the stats:

Running – Ardnamurchen Lighthouse to Lowestoft.

According to my tracker I managed to run a total of 127km this month.  My total distance so far is therefore 372km, which means I have completed about 43.5% of my challenge.  The good news is that I am approximately 158.25km ahead of schedule.

My mileage wasn’t too bad this month as I managed to get out for a couple of long runs during the Easter break.  My left knee has felt a little sore, but nothing that a good nights sleep doesn’t resolve.  My fitness levels continue to improve and as already mentioned above I set a number of PBs this month.  As with the cycling my mileage is sufficiently high enough that I am now over a month ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is now on the B7076 just about to approach Gretna Green. During the month I have passed through Hamilton, Crawford, Elvanfoot and Lockerbie. Being only a km short of Gretna Green now means that I am going to run into England before a cycle in.

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Cycling – John O’Groats to Lands End.

According to my tracker I managed to cycle a total of 144km this month.  My total distance so far is therefore 533km, which means I have completed about 34.39% of my challenge.  The really good news is that I am approximately 145.5km ahead of schedule.

I continue to cycle to and from work however as with the other events, cycling took a slight knock as I was off work for Easter. My milage is sufficiently high enough when I am at work that I could easily afford to have two weeks off for Easter without it affecting my totals.  In fact I am still an entire month ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is still on the A701 just approaching the town of Beattock.  During this month I passed through or by towns such as Elvanfoot, Crawford, Abington, Lesmahagow, Boghead, Hamilton, Cumbernauld, Bonnybridge, Stirling and Dunblane.  The next big target will be the town of Gretna Green when I will say goodbye to Scotland and hello to England.

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Rowing – The length of the Thames

According to my tracker I managed to row a meagre 25km this month.  My total distance so far is therefore 91.55km, which means I have completed about 26.46% of my challenge. The good news is that I am approximately 5.05km ahead of schedule.

My virtual location is now just passed Kennington and Little London having passed through historic Oxford and also through the villages of Godford and Swinford.

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Due to Easter and being away from the gym at work meant that my rowing suffered this month, only completing an unimpressive 25km.  The good news is that I am still ahead of schedule, but the lesson learnt here is that I need to work harder on my rowing when I have the opportunity.  There will be other months when I am not able to get to the gym and I must ensure I am sufficiently ahead of schedule to cover these quieter months. Both my running and cycling continue to progress at a good rate as I am over a month ahead of schedule in both.  Given the days are getting longer my aim for April is to run rather than cycle to work more often.  I would love to reach the target of running 100 miles in a month.

Bring on April and the journey through England.