An easy hour’s run on Sunday

There were a few days earlier in the week when I experienced what it might be like to try to walk when I’m older.  This encompassed walking straight legged on the level, using my hands to help me get up stairs and coming down stairs sideways, ensuring that both feet were on a given step before tackling the next step.  This was allied to a constant low level of pain, with occasional bright points which would elicit a gasp or loud wince.

It was Thursday before I felt like a gentle jog, although I didn’t have the time to get out.

Yesterday we spent in the garden so I had a general light workout and 8.30am today finally found me at Falmer, meeting Andy and Cliff for my first post-marathon run.

After yesterday’s glorious weather I was concerned that the day might be a hot one (not good for the London Marathon), but after a warm start there was a deluge of rain and the temperature lowered to a manageable level.  Andy and I both started off in shorts and rain jackets, losing the latter after 15 minutes, whilst Cliff opted for pedal-pushing three-quarter length longs.

We ran to the north to Balmer Hill, then south through Balmer Farm to the A27 and, having crossed the road, continued to Newmarket Copse, the Falmer Road and back down into Falmer.  It was 7.15 miles and our 1.08 time gave us an average speed of 6.3mph.  Thankfully this slow speed was due largely to the stoppages, of which there were several… and whilst I won’t dwell here on the various excuses, it must surely be a sign of the advancing years of my comrades!


Broken: Well this was how I felt as I ran the last few miles to the finish line, knowing full well that not only was I going to miss my target time for the day, but that I was also going to be slower than my previous marathon time, by a full twelve minutes. And broken is also a good description for my Blackberry, which apparently objected to some combination of heat, humidity or movement, although I’m hopeful that it might sort itself out.

Overall though, it was a GREAT day!

Strangely, for such a beautifully warm spring morning, it started with Kim having to scrape the frost from the car… and me having to drive back from the top of the road to get my forgotten Blackberry.

The day proper got underway at Clive & Nat’s house, a stones throw from the start line, where Andy Adams & Cliff had stayed overnight. We then picked up Andy Pumphrey and Nikki from outside the pub at the end of the road, Andy sporting the Scooby Doo costume that someone had sponsored him to wear.  We met the rest of the ensemble in the park, our collective mood light and frivolous, like you would expect from a bunch of folk in their mid-forties.

Mark Johnson & I slotted into the starting queue and just after 9.15 we were off… for what turned out for me to be a race of two halves, although sadly not split in the normal 20/6.2 way.

The day was gorgeous, the crowds were out in force along the route and the early miles nearly flew by, certainly as far as Ovingdean where I got a welcome cheer from Caraline Marsh. Then my knees started to hurt and by the time we reached the marina again I was more than a few paces behind Mark. I managed to hold on to his shirt-tales and was not far behind at the half way mark, but then I started to fall apart.

By the dogleg into Hove, after I had stopped to stretch, he passed me going the other way around half a mile ahead, shouting words of encouragement.

Cliff, wearing his prosthetic kayak and resplendent with split paddles for waving at the crowd, caught up with me as we headed out onto Shoreham harbour, but despite his most valiant attempts to keep me going, I just couldn’t hold his pace.  This was all the more galling as he was tagging along behind the 4-hour pace-man.

Mark then passed me again, going the other way on the Shoreham harbour road, probably a good mile ahead, this time shouting more urgent words of encouragement, probably realising how much work I had to do to get under 4-hours.  But I was already a broken man, with legs that were just shy of cramping up and only enough time to get to the finish line before 4 hours if I were fresh and those were the only five miles I had to run today.

Despite the pain and the disappointment, the final three-mile drag was truly awesome, with the crowds that had been cheering all the way now being several deep.  I’ve lived in and around this city all my life and this was Brighton at it’s very best.  Beautiful sultry spring day, calm sea, true camaraderie.

Though I had covered the halfway distance in 1.51.26, which is as fast as I’ve ever run a half marathon, I crossed the finish line in 4.13.36 in 2514th place.  Disappointed, sure, but elated also, especially after a walk into the sea to cool my legs down!

Martlet Kayak Club hosted drinks & a barbecue, where Debbie helped me get out of the sea, physio Martina kindly massaged everyone’s legs and Chris plied me with beer.  Then we caught the bus back to the start and had Chili back at Clive & Nat’s, our thoughts with Pete & Jacqui, whose son Adam had been taken into hospital.

I know there are some great photos floating around, for example of Cliff demonstrating that he could actually paddle his kayak in the sea, and I’ll try to put some on the site over the coming days.

In the meantime, thank you for your support and kind words!

Ah thank you!

We often don’t get the opportunity to give credit where it’s due… particularly for the really simple stuff in life!

So this is a really quick thank you, in no particular order, to a few of the people who have encouraged me to run over the years.

My dearly departed friend Mike Spencer and the rest of the PE department at Falmer, who forced us to go out cross country running through the winters 1976 to 82.

John Burke, sadly also departed, who was a Scout leader at the 19th Brighton and as a Police Diver was the first to explain to me how to breathe efficiently whilst running.

Scott Desborough who circa 1994/5, prompted me to go out and buy a new pair of trainers to run around Kensington Gardens after work in the evenings and later joined me each morning on the running machines at the Hogarth Health Club in Chiswick.

Barnett Fletcher (strange as it is for me to mention his name) whose work ethic inspired me and a whole generation of his employees, later to become the bosses of a large number of Brand Experience agencies, to spend time in the gym as part of their working day.

Grant Finney, who in addition to being my gym-buddy for several years, famously goaded me into running the Berlin Marathon with him in 2004 before pulling a sickie to get out of it!  I really do hope that you manage to shake that thing sometime soon Grant!

Dai Thomas, who cajoled me into leaving the safety of the London sidewalks for the beauty (and the mud) of the Downs and was also highly instrumental in the foundation of the Foster Runs blog site.  And also for introducing me to Tom, Kurt & Fred at The Run Shop (see below).

Kim Storey for being constantly supportive in so many, many ways, but in this context as the person who pushed me to run on the Downs each week through the Spring of 2004, patiently dragging me along in the early weeks and then being magnanimous once I finally gained enough stamina to run on ahead.  Also, more recently, for investing in a running machine that allowed me to train right through our last snowy, icy winter in the comfort of our own home and for generally pushing me to run even when my inclination is otherwise!

Andrea Wright, my amazing physiotherapist, who sorted out my aches and pains and also showed me how to run efficiently and to stretch properly.  If ever there was a case of teaching a man to fish…

Cliff Dargonne for, well it’s difficult to know where to start, but let’s say a constant source of inspiration and a valuable grounding influence.  We’ve run so many miles together and I hope that we’ll run many more… and if you ever need someone to pull you up a steep hill with icy wind driven hail in your face, I guess I owe you one!

Kurt and Fred at Run in Hove (and Tom who is now one of the organisers at the Brighton Marathon) who have faithfully supplied Kim and I with our running gear for the last six years.  You have a brilliant business there guys and it’s a REAL pleasure to shop with you!

Nick Broom, the Bok himself, who forced me to run outside at 7am every week through an entire winter (and more) and drove me to be faster… and more sadistic:  On the few occasions when his heart rate monitor beeped to indicate that he was overdoing it, I would gently up the pace to see how many more times I could get it to beep!

Daren Packham, who kindly introduced me to Nick and whose own adventures have driven me to push myself to the limits on more than one occasion (for example, the Sussex Grouse Grind).  I love running with you man!

My Mum and Dad, again for many, many, MANY reasons, but most recently for allowing me to use their place as a training base and thus allowing my smelly, sweaty body back in through their front door after my numerous 14-23 mile training runs!  You are both totally FAB!

Andy Swan, the Remedial and Sports Massage Therapist, who has patiently worked over my legs (and my psyche) in the last couple of weeks to get me ready for the big day.

Mark Johnson for being the most engaging of all the folk I have bumped into on the Downs over the years and for hopefully dragging me around sub 3.45 today!

There are many many more, for example the irrepressible Pete Brett (where do you get all your energy man?), Andy Pumphrey and the other runners from Martlet Kayak (soon to be Running?) Club, Phil Stupples (who I’m also grateful for selling me 31 Valebridge Drive in 1990), the people (from here and around the world) who have given me a constant buzz over the last two and a half years by spending time reading my musings on FosterRuns, and so on.

And if there is one person to thank for my baring my soul to the world in this way, it is my dear friend Richard Marsh who died tragically on the 22nd April 2009.  I grew up with Richard from day one and shared many formative adventures which became a joyous thread of folklore through our lives.  More recently I toast him, with a glass of Hepworth’s Old Ale and a tear in my eye, whenever I make Spaghetti Bolognese… don’t know why, it just seems appropriate.  Long may he remain in my thoughts!

May we each have the opportunity to thank the people who cajole, support and inspire us, while they can still derive a quiet pleasure and sense of satisfaction from knowing what they have done!

And as far as my running is concerned and all the fun that surrounds this aspect of my life, I really do thank each and every one of you!

Good Luck Marathoners

Well now!  This time tomorrow, we will all hopefully be in the closing stages of the inaugural Brighton Marathon and if the weather is a facsimile of today, it’s going to be a fantastic run!

I thought I would unveil my running gear (my thanks to Matt Ingram at Sussex Sign Centre) in advance in case anyone wants to encourage FosterRuns with a cheer!

And if you’re running along looking at this ahead of you, you really do need to increase your pace a little!

I will hopefully be running with Mark Johnson, but also worth looking out for are Cliff and Pete who should be obvious as they are each running in a kayak (size really is NOT important, boys!) and Andy Pumphrey in a Scooby Doo costume.  These guys are running for a really great cause, so please be really generous by donating a few pounds at

Daren made an excellent suggestion, which is that the rankings of the Sussex Men’s Fitness League should reflect the finishing order of the marathon.  Of course this is an inherently risky play, as it means that Claire (Mrs Daren to you!) will end up with either a higher or a lower place… and I’m not certain which is of more concern to Daren!  Go Girl Guides! Go!

Overall I reckon I’ll know more people who are running than are cheering from the sidewalk, but whichever side of the barriers you are, have a FANTASTIC day!


Having had eight days off running, hoping that my ankle problem would go away, I finally gave in and went to see Remedial & Sports Massage Therapist Andy Swan yesterday.  He identified and explained the reason for my pain, before giving my legs a really good stretch-out and thorough massage.  I can highly recommend him for both a pre- and post-marathon treatment.  His email address is and his phone number 07533 406004.

As a result of his work yesterday, I finally had the confidence to get back out there again this morning and go for a run with the big man, Daren… and what a stunning morning it was!

We met at Jack and Jill and it was like Spring had finally arrived with the bright sun in a crystal clear sky… even though it was still too chillsome for shorts!

We headed East, with Daren getting in an early excuse in to stop (to adjust his shoelaces, although they looked okay to me!)…

… before we paused again at Ditchling Beacon for a photo call.

Then we just ran on, chatting and laughing, until Daren’s Garmin bleeped to say that we had covered 4 miles… at which point we turned around and ran back again.

I’m slowly coming around to the whole Garmin thang and if you take a look at the output, which is at, I think that you’ll see what I mean!  Allied of course to the fact that it’s now a sleek, contemporary unit as opposed to the previous brick-like design.

We ended up running 8 miles in about 1.15 (or 1.13 according to Garmin, which was on pause while we took photos at Ditchling Beacon).

Sat at the traffic lights on the way home afterwards, I took this sneaky shot of the relaxed guy in the smart open-top Merc behind me…