Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Robin Hood 100

Although this was my focus race of the year, and my first ever attempt at a 100 miler after two 24 hour races and a number of shorter distance events, I entered race week and the day itself with an amazing calmness for someone who is usually just a little excitable. I felt ready for it and there was certainly no consideration at all that I wouldn’t finish it and with time to spare (30 hour cut off). On first reflection, and I don’t think 60 hours is enough to fully digest everything that happened, I think I was right to have that confidence but the story has so much more to tell. If you just want to know the result I finished in 23 hours and 25 minutes, if you want to know more about the journey read on… Me, Laura, Robert and Caitlin travelled up after work on Friday, a 240 mile journey, and if I had any concerns it was that after the first full week back teaching, which always takes its toll, plus the journey and a possible late arrival at the hotel as we would have to stop for tea on route I may be tired going in to race day. Thankfully though the journey was clear and we were booked into the hotel before 10pm and we were all in bed settled by half past. An early start Saturday morning to get from Rotherham to race HQ in South Wheatley and having eaten my porridge we arrived with 45 minutes to spare which gave me time to meet the RD and my coach, Ronnie, get kitted out, collect tracker etc and listen to the race briefing before we assembled on the start line ready for the off. The first 6 miles of the event were around farmland with some rough churned up terrain which actually suited me fine as I didn’t have to concentrate too hard on keeping my pace down with my first plan being to maintain 5mph for as long as possible which would give me time to play with for a sub 24 result at worst. After the first 6 miles you go through aid station 1 where I grabbed a cup of water but nothing else as I knew what my fueling strategy was and it didn’t involve what was supplied although I must admit it was an ample spread as it was at all stations. Miles 6 to 18 were along the Chesterfield Canal and I must admit that even on the outward leg I found this a little monotonous and uninspiring but there were still enough participants about to keep the mind occupied and I settled into a run 17 minute walk 3 minute strategy and came off the canal, past the third aid station and onto the drop bag station at mile 22 for the for the first of two laps around Sherwood Forest and surrounding areas. The marshalls were most impressed/amused with my Lidl carrier bag with three sandwich bags of energy bars and bottle of undiluted squash in amongst all the other full rucksacks and holdalls. I’m guessing lots of runners didn’t have the benefit of crew on route with spare clothes etc if needed though? Leaving mile 22 and onto the next aid station at 27 miles was a good period as the miles were ticking by easily including running right through pathways made, it seemed just for us, through the very middle of fields of corn. I enjoyed it but was not sure whether I would later if it was dark when I went back through as was all just a little to 1970s horror film for my liking. The other good thing about this section was that I knew it was at mile 27 that I would see my family for the first time which is always nice although I was a little embarrassed by the hero’s welcome from all at the station ;-) The next 13 miles were probably the toughest I had of the race mentally as I suffered a little with the heat, nausea and the ten mile loop from mile 30 to 40 with no aid station but as I arrived at mile 40 with my family waiting again I was still well on sub 20 pace and still feeling comfortable with only ten miles to go until getting back to the drop bags and starting the second half of the race. Apparently in that last ten mile loop I passed The Great Oak of Robin Hood fame and also through the caves of Sherwood Forest, someone correct me if I’m wrong but I noticed neither. Surely I’d have known if I was in a cave? I enjoyed the next ten miles to the drop bags especially the discovery of an unexpected aid station at Creswell Crags where I discovered the delight that was watermelon, very refreshing and something I will consider again in the future. I had lots of nice things through the race, for instance I had a 50 mile love affair with the Sainsbury’s (other supermarkets are available) summer fruits squash that was being supplied at the aid stations but would now be happy if I never encountered it again. I do not feel the same about water melon. More, more, more…. I’ve read and heard a lot over the years about the benefits of course familiarity and doing at least one recce but it was not until leaving the drop bag point for this second time that I began to realise how it would help. Ronnie has said in the briefing that they would try their very best to ensure that the tape moving bastards didn’t put anyone off route but I followed the tape at a left turn 400m past the check point and went about half a mile to a junction before I started questioning my direction and thinking I had missed something. Going back to the turning point I got even more confused as it seemed I had definitely gone the right way according to the tape and was about to return to the check point when a local participant, Malc (more on him later), came past and let me know that the tape must have been moved and pointed my in the right direction. So a quick move of the tape so other runners didn’t make the same mistake and a few expletives aimed at the phantom tape movers and I was on my way again. Over the next twenty miles things were pretty uneventful, because of my dip on the same section on the previous lap I was not particularly looking forward to it but kept on moving forward, despite a few aches and pains in my left foot, right ankle and both hips, but had changed to an 8 minute 2 minute run walk strategy. Leaving the family at the 70 miles aid station I wasn’t planning to see them until the last ten miles and in hindsight I think the unfamiliarity with the course started to take its toll here too as although I didn’t get lost it was tougher mentally in the dark to concentrate on going in the right direction. However there were 30 miles to go after 14.5 hours so if I could maintain pace I was still well under 21 hour pace which in honesty would have been a dream result but I left with full confidence. So I hit the canal again with 15 miles to go and still running happily at the 8-2 strategy as far as I remember but it wasn’t long until for whatever reason that I couldn’t get myself running again. I’m not sure not if it was just mental exhaustion and I should have manned up but the longer it went the more I stiffened up and the more painful my hips became. I was still cracking on at around 4 miles an hour but boy did that canal drag even with the knowledge that I would be seeing my Laura and it seemed to take forever to get to the end and the last aid station. I got to this aid station with 3.5 miles to go and 50 minutes to spare for a 100 mile pb fairly confident that I would be able to get finished in time but things didn’t go to plan. Now I was tired so I’m not going to say I was at fault but I’m convinced that the volunteers, who were all marvellous and undoubtably tired themselves, told me to go left over the bridge and then right at the pub which I obviously did. I’m not certain exactly how far along the road I went before contacting race HQ as I felt it wasn’t right and sure enough I soon had a text to go back the way I had come and by the time I got back to the checkpoint I only had twenty minutes to get through the last 3.5 miles for a PB so it was definitely not going to happen. It was obvious now that if I had just glanced left when crossing the bridge I would have seen the directional tape but such is life. I still had time to go a little off route again in the last 3.5 miles as I was too busy texting Laura to tell her of my woes but I’m actually, in a perverse way, glad these issues occurred as I bumped into Malc again and was happy to return the favour from earlier on as after a fall earlier on he was struggling at this point, was bent double and struggling to stay upright so we moved on together with me leading the way and him holding on to my shoulders so I could bear his weight. To be fair to him he urged me not to sacrifice my race for him but my PB was gone, a sub 24 hour was definitely going to happen which was, apart from just finishing, one of my targets but I would like to think that even it had meant sacrificing a bigger goal that I would have still done the same thing. It was lovely to meet him anyway and he now owes me a beer so all is good ;-) Anyway I was finished in 23 hours and 25 minutes with, thanks to my detours, 104 miles on the clock so all in all a favourable result and a lovely cup of soup and roll waiting for me at race HQ along with my family to help me change. I still can’t pinpoint, apart from the benefit of having course familiarity, how I could have improved my performance on race day as I still don’t think I could have maintained the pace for that last 15 miles so need to look more at my preparation and how that could improve if at all. Reality is that in June 2016 I struggled to do 85 miles in 24 hours at Endure and this June I did 100 miles comfortably at the same event in under 23 hours and I would have beaten that time in a physically and mentally harder event this time without the diversions so it could just be a case of carrying on as I am and the improvements will keep coming. For now I just need to be proud of my achievement, results aren’t out yet but I’m pretty sure I finished in the top 20% of the field pending results, and in the next few weeks have a chat with Ronnie and Laura and between us we will devise a plan to keep progressing in the future. Sorry if is long and boring but it will help me when I look back. Peace x

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

How I didn't nearly die during a 24 hour race

All I’ve got in my head as I start this race report is to keep it as short as possible, in reality I’m not sure I can though so please feel free to read it in sections, skip to the end or ignore it all together but you are here now so am guessing you must be a tinsy winsy bit interested? The race in question was Endure 24, a 24 hour race around 5 mile loops on mixed terrain with around 380ft of elevation per lap. The event was open to solo runners, pairs and teams. The majority of you reading this are, I’m sure, probably aware that I did the event as a solo runner last year and although I managed 85 miles it was 15 miles short of my goal and is probably important I share just a little information with you as to why I feel I didn’t succeed. In truth at the time I wasn’t overly unhappy, 85 miles is 85 miles right?, but as I have made changes over the last year I’ve come to appreciate that a lot of my preparation was far from ideal. So what did I change that in retrospect contributed to my ‘failure’ last year? Well to start with I am eating much more healthily so am over two stone lighter and not carrying that weight around makes you more efficient immediately? I also, for the first time ever, had a focused running specific strength and mobility routine which I do 5-7 times a week, for anything between 15 and 30 minutes a time. Lastly I put a lot more focus on ensuring my easy and recovery runs were exactly what they said on the tin by concentrating on heart rate zones rather than arbitrarily running to feel. Mileage wise though I had done 950 miles since the start of the year, which was exactly the same as last year in the build up, although the focus of the sessions were different as I had changed coaches. I really enjoyed the training this time around bar the three lost weeks on a treadmill in Beijing (a completely different story and definitely not short). Lots of changes made then and lots of positivity from all the people around me that I was going to ‘smash it’ although they all said the same last year too. I tried to be a little more pragmatic but knew how well I was running in the build-up, through training and the events I have done, since the turn of the year. Those closest to me knew I was hell bent on hitting the magical ‘100’ this year but for a lot of people I refused to divulge my target. First rule of fight club…… I could easily bang on now about the arriving at the campsite, the setting up, the food and drink (although that will be mentioned again later), how I slept in the build up with election fever to deal with as well etc etc but let’s skip to Saturday morning and the race itself. I can almost hear your sigh of relief….. The strategy for race day was to take a little food on every lap and I had a huge choice of paleo and vegan energy bars along with pringles, pot noodles and salami sticks, drink regularly and try to never stop for longer than 20 minutes for food and only do that after laps 8 and 16. I could eat the snack items walking on the hills or have a five minute break at base camp which was, due to our early Friday arrival, at the side of the course. I should have mentioned this previously, when looking back, but last year there was way too much food and stopping, 2 or 3 hours in all, which could obviously have made all the difference and probably contributed to my body shutting down in the way it did which meant I could not have continued even if I had wanted to. Otherwise I set off looking to walk the three steep sections named the hill of no return, little steep and heartbreak hill, and keep my HR in zone 2 for the rest of the time for the first 8 laps in order to ensure I had enough in the tank later on. To be honest I was only really hoping to average one lap an hour for as long as possible, which would give me 4 hours to play with later on so as you can imagine these first 8 lap times were a bonus but still gave me a little concern, although sticking to HR strategy, that I was at risk of burn out. There is a clear slowing down though which was obviously going to happen at same HR effort but they are pretty consistent with lap 8 including a pot noodle stop which was a little over 20 minutes. I felt strong though at this point and my only issue was around the right hip area on both the inside and outside of the leg. I am still convinced that this was partly, if not all, down to a fall I had on lap 5 though as I somehow twisted on the way down and landed on my back on the right hand side, on a tree stump. Still there were reasons to be confident and happy as I was going to set off on lap 9, 40 miles in, in around 7 hours 45 minutes. 1 00:51:36 2 00:51:41 3 00:54:07 4 00:53:11 5 00:54:07 6 00:56:04 7 00:57:38 8 01:28:13 (Pot noodle lap) Now it was at this point heading into the evening and night that I was telling my support team, Laura basically, but also a friend who had to pull out on 30 miles after a fall of his own  that I was going to be doing more walking and I did but I was feeling so strong the laps kept ticking by without needing to walk as much as I feared. After lap 14 I was intent on my support team having some sleep as I was still thinking that from 2 to 6AM I would be walking and they needed some rest but some lovely cups of tea and custard creams seemed to do the job and the pace and amount of time running continued to be pretty consistent although I was having a sit down every lap. 9 01:06:17 10 01:04:21 11 01:05:10 12 01:15:26 13 01:10:51 14 01:17:55 6 laps to go to meet my target and although I was feeling strong physically and mentally heading out on lap 15 my major meltdown was about to begin. Now I was aware that I hadn’t passed water for the duration of the race, and trust me it was warm even over night when we had 4 laps of relatively heavy rain, but I felt that I had been taking on enough fluid, I’d say an average of 500ml per hour whether it be water, cherry pepsi or tea. As I got to the station on lap 15 though and had my cup of water I immediately need a pee. Heading into the bushes and with my headtorch on I was more than a little disturbed to see it was a dark brown, coke like colour. I went straight to the medics at the water station and after a bit of chat they were the first to tell me that I hadn’t drunk enough and needed more electrolytes but said I should go to see the team in the medical centre back at race HQ to be tested for sugar levels etc. They offered me a lift back but said I’d be fine to finish the lap if I wished so I said I would do so. Now in my head this was the end of my race, I’m not good with medical stuff, and I was convinced that my kidneys had given up and I was about to be rushed off to hospital  Like I said I don’t do medical stuff and I had been awake for a long time so wasn’t completely compos mentis. At the medical centre they didn’t even let me in and just told me the same thing as the medics on the course, not drinking enough, need more electrolytes, dehydrated, don’t worry about it. Pfft what did they know? I was dying and they didn’t care  At this point I went back to the tent base and am not quite sure what I did other than mooch around and wonder about waking Laura to explain what was happening. I wish I had to be honest as she would have convinced me all was fine but another friend came through at the end of a lap who had his base with us, someone with no medical expertise as far as I know, and also told me it was just dehydration, to start taking some S-caps man up and go and get those final laps done. Did I listen to him, for sure, although I was still a little freaked out. At no point did it occur to me that the fact that I had passed water meant my kidneys must be working and that I was just dehydrated, if only someone had told me. Anyway all this faffing meant that laps 15 and 16 were my slowest of the race but that I still had 6 hours in which to cover the last 20 miles, worst case scenario to cover 15 miles because as long as I began lap 20 before the 24 hours were up it would still count. Doable? 15 01:19:15 16 01:58:55 The next 4 laps just sort of went, there was a little pain but not too much, I said to Laura that I didn’t want food at the end of lap 18 but still managed to inhale a bowl of frosties with not much convincing but I really had my eyes on finishing as I had been craving an ice cream ever seeing the kids eating one on lap 6. So after 22 hours 51 minutes and 36 seconds I finished lap 20 and had reached my Holy Grail (for now). 25 minutes quicker than I did 85 miles last year. I could have done another two laps possibly but that can wait for another time. 17 01:14:15 18 01:13:00 19 01:07:28 20 01:12:05 After the end of the race I pretty much sat and watched Laura pack everything up, which was lazy of me, and we were about to make our escape when I was told that 100 mile club t-shirts were being presented at the awards ceremony so was happy to wait around for that and have time to have a last bacon bap from the caterers too. Don’t get me wrong completing the sub 24 hour 100 miles is brilliant and I am extremely happy with the consistency of my splits, how I felt despite nearly dying and my recovery, is 48 hours after the race now and I have very few aches or pains but still feel tired you know?, but at the same time is very much a case of job done, what is next? I know I have had the best year I’ve had running since I started in 2009 but feel there are still a lot more improvements to come and look forward to reaching new goals over the next few years. I would tell you what they are but first rule of fight club…. Lastly and possibly unnecessary it is important to me to acknowledge again how important the support I get from my family, friends and coach is in allowing me to do these things to the best of my ability. Certainly in terms of race day I have often said that Laura and the kids have a harder job than me so I am eternally grateful for that and the belief, motivation and advice I get from all quarters. Oh and if anyone wants to sponsor me I still have another two marathons and another 100 miler to go this year before a return to my IAPL challenge next July. More information on my challenges and the cause here http://www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/theendurancechallenge Thanks for listening. Peace x

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

VLM 2014 moany blog!

And yes i have entered again for 2015 but having been promising myself that I would do it again even if on a Golden Bond place think I will probably go for Manchester instead if unsuccessful. So the race? I honestly can't think of any moment in the race I thought I'm enjoying this except maybe passing Mo and then Laura, Meggy and Boo at around halfway. That isn't right in London is it? The rest of the weekend was magnificent though, thoroughly enjoyed. So I will take you on a whistlestop tour through the weekend without trying to make too many excuses for my performance. As always it was depart Llanelli early Saturday morning for the expo and that went ok apart from the driving down the bus lane in Central London. Laura was not happy with my directions and wasn't helped by Meggy saying don't worry if the police stop us we will just tell them we are Welsh. Made me laugh though :-) Didn't spend anything in the expo but had loads of flapjack and the obligatory London Pride taster. Saturday evening was then spent in the charming company of Jon and his wife in Pizza Express Westfield Stratford for some carb loading. I guess it was when we got back to the hotel that I started to think all may not go to PB plan. Jon mentioned that he was in pen 3 I think and had put down for a sub 3.20 finish. Now I was pretty sure that I had put down sub 3, yes a little optimistic but I didn't want to get caught up in the congestion. When I checked my number though I was in pen 6 :-0 Nothing I could do though so got my head down for a half decent nights kip. Had a pretty uneventful journey across London in the morning apart from noticing half way to Blackheath that I had porridge all dow nmy hoody, big lumps of the stuff. I had been eating a porridge pot when I left the hotel, obviously missed my little mouth. Doh! Nice to meet some more friends before the start but disappointed that I missed others and then off to pen 6, with hindsight I should have tried to get in to a better pen, but didn't want to upset the apple cart. Was more than slightly perturbed by being behind the 4.45 pacers. In a nutshell the race was a nightmare, I am pretty convinced that I worked harder, stopping and starting ducking and diving, getting just to 8mm pace by mile 18 than I would have worked if I had been in pen 2 or 3 and managed to get into a regular 7.30mm pace for the corresponding distance. Truth is I may still have crashed and burnt then, possibly even worse than I did, I do not want to make excuses, but I would have liked to have tried. I did phone VLM but they assured me I put 4 hours down to finish and it wasn't their error so will leave it there and move on. Is a shame I was a mess at mile 22 to see Laura and kids again (didn't even nice Laura) and had such a horrible last 4 miles but must take consolation that it was a London PB and I have still managed to sub 4 in all my marathons, a feat I am aware and that many have reminded me that many would kill for. Post race drinks and food, Harrods and Hyde park the next day were amazing. I was quite drunk by all accounts and saw lots of friendly faces, new and old. It really was a pleasure. I always feel good the next day when I see all the other victims limping around when my legs always recover very quickly. I was out running aorund the Olympic Park by 7AM on the Monday. I have been inspired by the whole occasion again to be honest, some great performances happening whether they be by Mo, Steve Way (read this is you haven't already) or other elite/fast runners or anyone just doing the best they can. Despite what may seem like me moaning given everything I do believe I did the best I could and am now even more determined to improve myself as a runner. I wont go into just how I plan to do that but am already making changes. I know a lot of people say I shouldn't take it all so seriously but although I do enjoy my running I have decided that I don't want to look back in 10,15 or 20+ years and think I could have done more. Yes sacrifices will have to be made but as long as they don't affect Laura and the kids is not a problem is it?

Friday, 27 December 2013

2013 - Some Year

I'm not going to go over it all again but am going to say thanks once again to all of you who supported my madness, offering advice, support of all kinds and at the times the shit hit the fan many words of kindness. Hopefully 2014 will be just as much fun with a PB attempt at London and my first 24 hour race (as part of a pair) to look forward to in the first half of the year and then (and I must discuss this with Laura) maybe Loch Ness or Brecon Ultra in the 2nd half of the year. I am really going to cop out though and leave Ol' Blue Eyes to put the year into words. I am sure that any of you who know my 2013 running story even slightly will see the truth in the lyrics: And now, the end is here And so I face the final curtain My friend, I'll say it clear I'll state my case, of which I'm certain I've lived a life that's full I travelled each and ev'ry highway And more, much more than this, I did it my way Regrets, I've had a few But then again, too few to mention I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway And more, much more than this, I did it my way Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew When I bit off more than I could chew But through it all, when there was doubt I ate it up and spit it out I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way I've loved, I've laughed and cried I've had my fill, my share of losing And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing To think I did all that And may I say, not in a shy way, "Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way" For what is a man, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels The record shows I took the blows and did it my way! Yes, it was my way

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Forgotten garmins, navigational issues and custard slices.

Has taken me a week to get round to writing about my '30' miler last Sunday as I have been a very busy bee what with taking the students to London for three days, catching up with everything on my return and Llanelli Carnival and fireworks last night. As regular viewers will already know my club, Sospan Road Runners, were hosting their annual Multi Terrain 10 miler last Sunday in Pembrey Woods and along Cefn Sidan beach. I however had decided many months ago to run the event three times, it would give more opportunity to raise some cash for charidee and also give me a goal as I came back to fitness from the injury. On the morning of the run Laura was working nights so basically me and Meggy were going to be leaving as soon as she got home from work as Meggy had volunteered (or been coerced into) marshalling the event so that I could be free to run. As I waited to leave I mentioned to Laura that I was not my usual worked up self before such an event. This made me appreciate why people keep doing crazier and crazier things to maintain the buzz, I'd like to think I wasn't complacent but the run certainly didn't worry me as it once would have, why should it?, I had run 30+ miles a day 6 days in a row earlier in the year. I had to come back to the house a few time when leaving because I had forgotten my drinks bottle and banana. Laura did say at this point that she was worried I was being to blase. Maybe she was right. It wasn't however that I was nearly at the start line that I realised I had also forgotten my garmin. Now I wasn't too worried about pace but was keen on keeping track of distance as I knew that I did have the potential to get lost and this would help give me an idea of whether I was in the right place. Thankfully one of my lovely clubmates, Jenny, had a garmin I could borrow although it was clear from the charge that it probably wouldn't see me through the whole race. And so it was at 0920hrs, 1hr 40mins before the official start and with my clubmates and Meggy shouting encouragement I set off for lap 1. I had hoped to complete the 3 laps in 4 and a half hours, 9mm pace, but was basically happy to run to feel and the miles soon started ticking off. In my mind navigation was going to be ok as the course was marked already so the first two laps would be fine and although the signs would be down by lap 3 I should know it by then, ahem! The course is basically a mixture of tarmac, grass, shingle, hard dirt track, soft sandy/soil and a mile along the sandy beach with many short undualtions and 2 harder climbs on the soft sandy/soil terrain. First lap went pretty much to plan except for an extra half mile added on just after the 5 mile mark, a part of the course I knew wasn't going to be marked until later on. Nothing too much to worry about though as I knew the general direction to the beach and soon recognised the path I was supposed to follow. I completed lap 1 in 1hr 35mins which with 10.6 miles on the clock meant I was faster than 9mm pace but due to the longer distance was possibly not going to get in under 4 and a half hours. Lap 2 begun at the same time as the official race which was nice as it meant that as well as making contact and stocking up on flapjacks from Meggy I could talk to a few familiar faces, talk to some new ones and get carried along by everyone else for a while. So lap 2 went ok, I worked out where I had gone wrong on lap 1 and banked the knowledge for lap 3 and the support from the marshalls was obviously very personal for me and helped me along. I was on 3 hours and 10 minutes at the end of the lap so still below 9 minute mile pace with 20.6 miles on the clock. Then it started to go wrong. Here I am still looking as if I am enjoying myself at mile 12ish. Don't get me wrong I already felt as tired as anyone would having run such a course 2 times but was happy enough as I went through the 'finish' line for the second time with the race announcer introducing me to the crowd and questioning my sanity. Lots of smiley, familiar and friendly faces here though which is always nice. The first two miles of the race basically take in a lap of the country park on the road and then enter the forest. Unfortunately the garmin had died at mile 21 so was not longer really aware of distance although had switched endomondo on, not sure if that was a blessing or a curse. I was aware however, after re-entering the forest, that now the signs had gone I had taken nothing in on the first two laps and had no idea what way to go. After a mile or so of faffing about and returning to the same place I had to phone, Karen, another one of my clubmates who I knew could run the course in her sleep. I'm not sure whether she really was but she gave the impression that she would rather be out showing me the way than dealing with the finishing line faffage and proceeded to run the next mile and a half or so with me to meet up with another clubmate, Jenny who had lent me the garmin, and who had always going to be running the last 6 miles with me. Unfortunately and to further add to my guilt my navigational saviour, Karen, went arse over tit whilst showing me the way but was thankfully unhurt and more importantly, at least according to her, so was her iPhone. It was only after starting to run with Jenny and with about 5 miles to go that my troubles really began. First of all I started suffering cramps, severe cramps at that, in my right leg in the general area of the hip flexor and adductors. This was coming and going and I needed to stop and stretch a few times. I was now, because of this, walking more than I was running and although I kept setting myself landmark targets to aim for was actually managing to complete them running less and less frequently. Energywise I was ok and the legs weren't too tired apart from this cramp. Anyway I got to the beach where Jenny took this photo of me looking better than I was feeling and knew there were only 3 miles to go. A continued run walk strategy and donations of fruit loaf and energy jelly beans kept me moving as well as possible until about a mile or so from the finish when both calfs kept cramping every time I tried to run too. I did manage, with much encouragement, to run the final 400 metres or so out of the forest and to the finish line where Laura, Rob, Meggy and Caitlin were waiting in all their glory along with a few hardy clubmates, thanks Arwel, Karen and Beth. It was great to see them but as I collapsed over the line I will not lie to you and say that seeing them all was better than the custard slice they had waiting for me. Beautiful. So 31.5 miles done and in the space of 10.9 miles I had gone from just below 9mm pace to finishing in 5hrs 20 mins at an average pace of 10.19mm. I would hardly say I was satisfied with the overall result but I did manage to dig in and complete when I would have, at times, been quite happy to sit down, stamp my feet and refuse to go a step further. The main questions for me to ask now are regards why I cramped so bad, I can honestly say that it has never happened before in all my years running. There are however a few things that I know I will change next time I undertake such a challenge. 1. I walked/jogged about 6 miles helping set up the course the day before the race and also cycled there and back which was just under 20 miles. Nothing huge in the general scheme of things but probably not to be recommended. 2. I had a pack of original hula hoops at around mile 14 which I had never done before. A schoolboy error trying something new I know, a contributing factor to my problems I don't know? 3. I did some strong training but very very little on this type of terrain. Is surprising how much it takes out of you. Maybe my biggest mistake. I am however glad I did it and that Meggy got involved, she was fantastically looked after by the guys from the club and is going to come to beginners night with me on Wednesday so I am sure she will be kicking my arse before I know it :-) It also made me realise what a special running club I am a member of. It is an honour and privilege to run with them and be classed as one of their resident nutters. I actually didn't feel too bad getting up at 3AM on Monday morning then to take the students to London (I wasn't driving the coach thankfully) and although I ached a little I got through the day ok, it was more uncomfortable sitting on the coach, through the enterprise conference and Mamma Mia (which was marvellous entertainment) than it was traipsing about. Was up early Tuesday morning for a recovery run from Russell Square through to Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Regent Street, Oxford Street and back. This got rid of the last bit of stiffness fine. Wednesday mornings run, which veered left at The Savoy and took in Embankment and Whitehall too, and Thursdays were however not so good. I just didn't feel right, fatigued is the best way to describe it so yesterday just consisted of a cycle commute and today is a complete rest day. No it wont help me reach my last target of the year, 2000 miles, but that is just a number. I will go out tomorrow morning and may go as far as 12 miles but if I don't feel right will turn right on round and come home. I will finish off by giving you another picture, this time from last nights firework display where I got to use the firework setting on my camera for the first time, let me tell you I was suitably excited :-)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Feeling blessed, dedicated to you all!

Don't worry I am going to try my best not to post a load of old spirtual claptrap but am feeling extremely positive about where I am with my running and life in general at the moment so am going to share the reasons why with you my loyal followers :-) I have my 30 mile race tomorrow, is actually a 10 mile multi terrain race organised by my club but I am running it three times. At the time I suggested doing it it was partly to give me something to aim for and partly to try and keep peopple interested in my fundraising effort. The fact that I am actually going to be starting it tomorrow though, after some strong training over the last few months, has allowed me to take stock a little over the last few weeks of my 2013 journey. Unless you are a complete newbie, in which case Hi *waves* :-) , you will know it is only 7 months since I landed on the bench and the challenge that had consumed my life for 18 months so unceremoniously and abruptly unravelled. Now I read with, unfortunately, regularity about other peoples trials and tribulations with injuries and other problems that stops them doing the thing we all love running and this makes me appreciate even more where I have come from and where I am today. if you are one of those who isn't able to run at the moment it probably wont help but I will in part run tomorrows race for you guys and gals. Stay strong, be patient, it will, as the old going says, all come out in the wash! I'm sure If I read back through my infrequent blogs I will see that I have mentioned this point time and time again but with the aforementioned challenge there was always a very fine line between whether I was doing it more for me or for the sake of the charities I support. Well over the last few weeks I have made a half baked attempt at getting this years fundraising total up to £5000 before gift aid, I am going to fall a couple of hundred pound short I think but hey who is counting (lots of people I'm sure but you get my drift). Again though I feel blessed that I have managed to raise this amount and what must be close to £10000 since I started pounding the tarmac. This is solely down to you lovely lovely people who have made the kind donations, whether you be Fetchies, FB friends, Twitter followers or one of the normal people ;-) such as friends, friends of friends or one of my wonderful students past or present. So the race tomorrow will also be for you, there are more than one of you that I know for a fact gave to the cause when times were hard, again including students who spent their very own beer tokens supporting me *cheers *pint* Lastly I keep on remembering small details of the levels people went to to support me during the challenge in addition to the kind donations. I can't even begin to list what all this support consisted of but I will always be in your debt, every last one of you, and will be back asking for help again in 2015 x There is however one person who stands out today who offered incredible support with route planning, offers of accommodation and general advice and encouragement. That I haven't met this guy for over 20 years since we both uncermoniously dropped out of Liverpool University after 1 year (we didn't have a choice really, attending some lectures may have helped) makes his level of support even more incredible. Unfortunately this friend lost his wife, and I don't know the ins and outs, what seemed extremely suddenly this week. Certainly again this is something that, I'm sure, makes many of us appreciate what we have even more and I know for many of you will get you thinking of what you have lost. So I am also going to be running the 30 miles for all you guys who have made this year so much easier for me in so many ways but mainly in memory of my friends wife and all you other people who still miss departed loved ones. So I don't want your donations this time just for you to keep on being you and at some point between 9 and 2 tomorrow spare a thought for those a little less unfortunate than yourselves at the moment, unfortunately it can only take a split second for the shoe to be on the other foot. So thanks again, whatever happens in the race tomorrow, and it at the very least looks like being dry which is good, it will be you guys that are pushing me on when, for instance, I get to the killer hill for the last time. Cheers! Peaceout!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

2014 Plans Mk3

Another change of plans for 2014. laura was, rightly, not overly impressed that I had booked the Joust 24HR race the weekend of her 40th Birthday. I't wasn't intentional you know, I don't think of these sort of things, one look and I soon realised my error though :-) So it will be a nice relaxing time away that weekend in September instead. I did suggest we could do the Joust together but, err well, no! In its place I have booked for me and Joint Ear Knee to run as a pair at Endure24 in June instead. Is only 2 months after VLM so decided against taking the solo plunge then, just don't think I would do myself justice regards what I would hope to get out od such an event and the preparation I would require. In addition to these still plan to enter Likey's Beacons Ultra next November too. Looking forward to tomorrows run with club which will be a recce of the MT10 course I am going to attempt to run three times in a row in 4 weeks time. Hopefully along with helping to mark out the course the day before the race this will get me over my concern of going off course. Trip to the flicks last night to see Sunshine on Leith, thoroughly enjoyed, can think of a million and one worse ways to spend two hours of my life. Catch it if you can, good entertainment.