Saturday, 21 August 2010
Disregard the fact that the y-axis scale is in feet, meaning I scaled an impressive 80 vertical feet or so every rep, totalling around 930' in all, and you have some idea of what the Family members doing the UTMB / TDS / CCC will be tackling next weekend. Texts have confirmed the random Scottish punters have arrived in Chamonix although I understand George Reid's plane was 2 hours late so he'd used the time sensibly to carbo load via beer.For the UTMB'ers there will essentially be 10 munros to climb and descend in a row spread over 103 miles of the most spectacular mountain scenery one could imagine. Half of them in the dark (unless you are really fast). The CCC'ers and TDS'ers will have essentially half the climbing and descending and about two thirds of the distance.
How I wish I could be there. Emigration to Australia has taken its toll financially and time wise so I wisely pulled out about 4 weeks ago, but the memories of the race last year still stir within me. What an event. Come on the Family, you'll have a ball. :-)))
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Highland Fling (53 miles, April)
The race was going great. A bit hot and sweaty but good conditions. 10 minutes ahead of my sub-9:40 time when I hit Beinn Glas farm, feeling a little odd. I'd passed a few folk I knew near the top of the Loch including Ian B and had mentioned I was feeling a bit off but I was running well. I drank a can of coke and ate something at Beinn Glas then headed off, feeling increasingly rough. A mile out my legs seized up in a double spasm forcing me to clutch them in serious pain.. The spasm lasted for 10 minutes, me unable to move. Salt! SALT! DOH! I b****y forgotten to take any salt pills so far in the race. What a school boy error. My legs eased as I stuffed 3 tablets down with water but they spasmed again for 5 minutes then again for a further 5 minutes. I toyed with giving up but settled myself into just finishing. People overtook me as I went as fast as I could without incurring more cramping spasms. DOH! I came in rather slower than desired at 10:26. Oh well lesson learned. Other than that I had a great time.
Coming over Conic Hill
Grand Union Canal Race (145 miles, May)
My next ultra racing outing was the GUCR at the end of May. This has to be the hardest race in the UK - mentally it is draining and physically the homogeneous flat terrain really batter your calves and feet to bits. I learned a lot from doing it. Or rather DNF'ing at ~94 miles (Leighton Buzzard) despite the best efforts of Drew Sheffield to convince me otherwise (thanks Drew). I struggled with motivation from 6 hours in and knew I'd be running within 0.5 miles of my house at 87 miles into the race. I pushed on beyond this but at ~1am after 94 miles and 19 hours of flat canal running I decided I didn't want to finish enough to do the further 13 odd hours that it would take me to finish. Physically I was fine and could have gone further but mentally I just didn't want to. Why? I've mulled this over lots both during the race and afterwards and have come to 3 conclusions:
(1) I am not interested in running ultras simply for the distance challenge. There have to be mountains or some kind rugged landscape for me to run across. I found canal running just drained my motivation. It was tough.
(2) Don't run a very long, mentally hard race that goes within 0.5 miles of your house. It has to be easier to finish than to simply stop, call your wife and go home to bed.
(3) I got into ultra running to do the UTMB. Now that I've done this race I think my motivation for the very long (100 mile or so) races has waned a bit. I need to refresh my mojo. I just didn't have the necessary desire to complete as I found out.
No regrets though. It's all a learning experience. Maybe I'll come back another year, don't know.
Me somewhere north of Milton Keynes on the GUCR, I think around mile 60
I've been on holiday in France camping with our daughter near Marennes, just south of La Rochelle. It was great. She stayed up late and we all went to bed together in the same tent. Given that she sleeps for 10-12 hours a night we ended up with more sleep than we've had since she was born. I'd do it again at a drop of a hat.
And our big news is that we are emigrating as a family to Australia, to Brisbane more specifically. It wasn't on our plan but Kirstin's folks need some support so we've moved quickly and I've got a good job sorted out (at http://www.watercentre.org/). We're waiting for my visa to come through ad our house to sell but it looks like the start of November will be our leaving date. I'll be sad to leave the UK ultra running scene behind but there's a decent enough ultra and trail running scene in Queensland and northern New South Wales so I'll be OK. Thinking of taking up triathlon for a bit to spice things up as well ... :-)
If any Family members find themselves in that bit of the world then make sure you give me a shout.
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
I've got a 10 mile hilly trail run today, a hill repeat session tomorrow, a 13 mile canal / trail run on Friday and an 8 mile 6:45 pace tempo run on Sunday left to do this week. I'll then taper next week with a speed session on Monday and a 7 mile trail run on Wednesday.
Woohoo, getting excited about stoating down this hill already!
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
Monday, 5 April 2010
My verdict? A superbly well organised race over nice runnable chalky downland terrain. A fair amount of sticky mud in places, quite some potential for navigational errors going into and out of small villages en route, but overall a good, nicely undulating course.
View across Compton Downs (from http://www.geograph.org.uk/)
Race profile (my Garmin gave 2429' +/- rather than the advertised 3900' +/-)
The race is combined with a 20 mile option so has a fast start and you never quite know who is running what race until the peel off point back at Compton for the 40 milers. I had decided before the race started to stick to my run fast at the start plan, and ended up doing round about 8:30 min / miles at the start. I ran along by myself, chatting to the odd person until somewhere around mile 10ish Drew caught up wth me.
My pace against total elevation change for each mile
Drew, along with Mark Cobain and a lad called Steve from Northampton's Wootton running club had done the 78 mile ~16,000' +/- ONER race along the jurassic coast the weekend before so I assumed they'd all be creaking round together, just getting the miles done. But no, they all gave it a great shot. I ran with Drew until around mile 14 and gradually peeled away as his legs just didn't have anywhere near his normal strength on the ascents. Not suprising really - 16,000' of climbing 1 week previously. Superb effort by all 3 of them, and all finished the race in under 7 hours. Don't think I'd have been capable of that.
Lough Down, one of the hills we climbed and descended in the first half (from http://www.geograph.org.uk/)
I chatted to a few other folk and gradually fell in around miles 20-25 with a Bob Graham club member called Pete who is running the WHWR this year, and David, a chap who, along with Mark and Steve is running the JOGLE on 30th April - 16 days back to back of ~50 miles each day, what a challenge. David was struggling a bit with a sore back but was relatively easily running alongside me. I kept my pace as near to 9:30 as I could except when climbing, when wading through oozing mud or when reading my map. We stayed together chatting until we reached the top of the last big ascent when I stopped to put on my gloves (yes, memories of the HM55 DNF were fresh) and windproof as the weather coldly closed in. He peeled away and had a good run down into West Ilsley where I caught him after overtaking a few other folk, and we ambled our way out, Pete joining us and helping with the navigation.
I wasn't really fussed about putting in the best time I could, and neither of them seemed to be either so we trotted along chatting at a reasonably relaxed pace up and then down the slope into East Ilsley (where Pete fell back) then up and out of the village, up and down a few last downs and onto the finish. I could have ran the last 4 miles a good bit faster, and I suspect David could have too, but there seemed to be no rush as we ran along sharing stories and views. If you are reading this David then thanks for the company and all the best for the JOGLE (same to you Mark, Steve and Robert).
So, how'd I do? I came in 22nd out of 105 finishers with a time of 6:38:51 so pleased about that. I kept a reasonable average pace of 9:58 min/miles so also pleased about that. My legs were stiff yesterday and a little sore today but not bad. I'll take this week easyish then have a more intense week next week before tapering off a bit for the Fling where I'm out to beat my PB of 9:56, hopefully by a decent 10-15 minutes or so.
Monday, 29 March 2010
Picture this man, the svelte gazelle like Andy Cole:
Wearing this kind of cap as he runs boldly across the North York moors in wet and windy conditions:
What a paragon of athletic sartorial elegance. The best dressed ultra runner in Britain without doubt.
I expect he will up his game as we all seek to emulate. It'll plus fours, tweed and brogues for Andy next. A tough game to follow. :-))))