Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Ultra no 4 Yorkshire Ultra Recce

Ultra no 4 was due to be a training run or recce after missing out of a place in the 'Hebden'.
 My first choice was to run from Osmotherley following the Cleveland Way to Blowarth Crossing and back, a 30 mile route with a decent amount of climb and only a 45 minute drive away from home. I had done this route several times throughout Oct and November. Then it dawned on me, I should take advantage of having the time to recce an upcoming race for once. Ultra no 5 would be the 50 mile  'Yorkshire Ultra' and I knew the first and last bits (out from Whitby to Ravenscar and Ravenscar back to Whitby) but I hadn't a clue about the inland section of the route, I checked the route on memory map software and the section I needed to recce added up to 28.5 miles give or take, all I needed to do was to add 2 miles onto the route then I would have my 30 miler. Saturday 21st I drove over to Ravenscar on a very sunny morning, correction... a very very windy sunny morning and so not to bore you too much ill wrap this up in a nutshell!!! Very strong winds, legs had nothing in them, shoes had stilts of mud on the bottom of them making me 12 feet tall, more mud, more wind, even more mud, even stronger wind...Trashed quads, dramatic fall over a stile departing me from my shoe momentarily. Beautiful waterfall, more wind, walking not running, crawling not walking, sitting not crawling...  The day was tough, the wind took a lot out of me and my legs where heavy and tired. No adrenaline in my system which is fuelled by the element of competition to motivate me to push harder!!! Got round, did my 30 miles, took forever and made me feel like dropping down to the marathon at the Yorkshire Ultra. Well I thought that for 5 Min's anyway!!! The highlight of the day was descending into Ravenscar in the dark with the lights of Robin Hoods Bay flickering to my left and over to my right Ravenscar Hotel lit up and the only sounds being the wind and the sea.

A couple of people have asked me if I run during the week as well as the weekly Ultra, well I do. My routine for the next few months and has been recently is,:

2 x 10 miles  on  weeks when the Ultra is 30 miles or less (making the total weeks mileage 50 miles) one of the 10 mile runs will be at  a steady pace. The second 10 miler will be treadmill based and if the Ultra is a hilly race (4000ft +) , then the treadmill will be flat and the first 4 miles will be taken steady, leaving the last 6 miles to be taken at 10k race pace. If the Ultra is flat, then the first 90 Min's will be at full incline leaving whatever distance left to be made up on the flat.

1 x 6 miles on weeks when the Ultra is 50 miles plus. The run will be done on the treadmill and rather then relying on the Treadmills odometer, I will run for 45 Min's.

Monday I teach Kickboxercise (predominately circuit work, focus mitt work, core work etc)
Tuesday and Thursday I hit the weights for 60 Min's and stretch. Leaving Friday and Sunday night to recover. I'm sure some will or would say I should just rest through the week in preparation for the weekend and yes maybe they are right but this is what I love to do and in past years I have run high mileage on a weekly basis (70 - 80 miles) year in year out. So my body is used to years of overtraining abuse whether it has been Martial Arts, Boxing training, Bodybuilding (a long time ago) or ultra-running.

Nest week is the 'Yorkshire Ultra', followed by  'Rombalds Stride' following that I jet off to Abu Dhabi for a weeks holiday with my fiancee Shirley who is currently working in Saudi Arabia (initially this would of resulted in missing an ultra on that week, hence creating 2 to do in one week, but Shirley spotted a race in Oman called the 'Wadi Bih Run' the race is a trail 45 mile relay with over 1100 metres of climb and is organised and entered by Ex Pats based in the Middle East. The race is also open to solo runners  who can run the full 45 miles ;0) . The journey will involve hiring a car and driving from Abu Dhabi to Oman then camping the Thursday night before the race with other competitors ( a race tradition including a barbecue etc) 

Following is a scattering of events I have entered so far this year

GOLDEN FLEECE CIRCUIT         26.5 miles  March 3rd
WUTHERING HIKE                       33 miles     March 10th
HARDMOORS 55                           55 miles     March 17th
CLEVELAND SURVIVAL              26 miles     March 24th
COMPTON DOWNLAND              40 miles      April 7th  (entry to be sent)
CALDERDALE HIKE                     37 miles      April 14th
WOLDSMAN                                  50 miles      April 28
BOB GRAHAM ROUND                72 miles      May
DUKERIES ULTRA                        40 miles       May 26
HARDMOORS 110                         30 miles       June 1-2nd (as race director I will hopefully sweep 30 miles of  110)
WEST HIGHLAND WAY RACE    95 miles      June 22-24th (will run extra 5 miles to make it up to 100 miles)
OSMOTHERLEY PHOENIX           33 miles      July 7th
LAKELAND 100                              103 miles     July 27-29th
GLENMORE 24                                24hr race     Sept 2nd   (Hopefully achieve 100 miles minimum)

As you can see there are still a lot of races I need to enter, and some months where races are thin on the ground (February) These gaps will be filled with more events or Bob Graham recces, Runs in the Peaks, Dales, Moors or Lakes. Still quite a few to enter in Sept/Oct IE Round Rotherham, High Peak 40 etc etc
As you can imagine entering all these races in one month wouldn't leave me much to live on, so I will enter races nearer the time to help  budget on a monthly basis, risking the chance of the race becoming full though!!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Country to capital 45

I guess the race really started on the day before the event, with the event starting in Wendover near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, driving the 200 plus mile journey in the morning before the event would of meant leaving home at 3am, so stopping the night before would make a lot more sense.  I finished work on the Friday night drove back home to feed 'Timmy' the cat and oovooed Shirley (similar to skype) then drove through to Knaresborough to pick up David Cremmins (friend and fellow ultrarunner whose current aim is to complete 100 marathons.) Three plus hours later we were in High Wycombe searching for the Travelodge I had booked the week before. The next day the alarm went of at 6 am we ate and set off for the Shoulder of Mutton, not for a pint but for the race registration. Arriving at the pub I recognised Drew Sheffield but no one else ( too far south!!) Drew I knew from the UTMB and the Highland Fling plus other events. After collecting our race number and dropping our bags in the van (the van was going to the finish, and in our bags were warm clothing, car keys etc) The race start was delayed by 20 minutes as we waited for runners who would be arriving by the delayed London train. After a race brief that I never heard any of (to be honest I wouldn't of taken anything in of it anyway) We started, some set off at a blistering pace, I took it steady, mainly because of the dozens of lunges I had done on the Monday night class I teach ( I had been feeling pretty sadistic with my students and put them through a big leg workout ) on the Tuesday  a Friend at the gym showing me a kettlebell exercise, which of course I had to do twice as many reps as he did, ego?? stupidity?? probably both!! well I suppose they are really the same?? So my hamstrings and inner thighs were very very sore and wouldn't allow me to run fast. The route took us along footpaths, bridle paths gentle undulations over fields and woods, all very pleasant reminding me of the flatter parts of the Yorkshire Wolds. The scenery was very charming just as I had expected but we could of been anywhere in Britain. The checkpoints were stocked with water, jelly babies and fruit cake ( can't eat due to being a coeliac) NO COKE!! With hindsight I was carrying 10 hammer gels and some naked bars ( made from fruit puree ) plus a bag of nuts, seeds and berries. Did I mention I was really missing the coke though!! My plan was a gel on the hour every hour. The pace was good, gradually overtaking several runners easily, I was still keeping some back in reserve for 20 odd miles of canal running. My target was 8 hours, 7 - 7.30 would be  too quick, didn't want to blitz my legs for the next few ultras!! Ive chosen a few Ultras I want to race and this wasn't one of them! The route for the first 10 to 15 miles was easy to navigate with so many people running the event but there is always a point where everyone eventually spreads out and you seem to have no one to follow and no one behind you to let pass on the pretence of tying your shoelace then follow. So out came the map and minutes we where back on course. 20 or so miles later I found myself running over the M25 obviously over a bridge, not dodging the traffic. I found this quite unique, but also reminded me of the Round Rotherham. We followed a single track path several fields away from the M25 for a bit, this kind of made me realise 'I was down sarrf' not up in Yorkshire. We ran through a very pretty little village called Denham, with some pretty thatch roofed cottages. A short while later we were running alongside the 'Grand Union Canal' 20 odd very flat miles to go!! The first few miles of the GUC we had joined were pretty interesting, with canal barges, workshops etc etc to look at, several miles later it became a bit less interesting, several more miles later it became a bit less interesting, several miles later I was going to throw myself into the canal to put myself out of my misery, then realised it wasn't deep enough and some hero would bloody rescue me anyway!! Hats off to the runners of the 145 mile GUCR, 145 MILES OF THIS!!!! No seriously it wasn't as bad as that. I just couldn't switch off or speed up. I had great joy in overtaking runners who had obviously started too fast and were trying to run but couldn't. Several where cramping up, I offered electrolytes but they refused. My own pace was slow, I just ran, didn't stop to walk (as my walking pace on ultras is incredibly slow compared to others, I blame it on my short stocky legs that fill up with lactic acid with a drop of a hat) David would run then walk a bit, when I would catch him up on his walking bit he would just run off. I wanted to push him and his long slim legs into the canal!! No matter what I tried to do I couldn't up the pace. I seemed to be playing a yo yo game with other runners too, I would jog along non stop at my 6 miles an hour pace, they would fly by me then walk a while, I would run past them and so on. After what seemed an eternity Little Venice and the race end came into site!! I had encountered shifty looking hoodies, dead foxes, the local homeless hotel ( under one of the bridges on the other side of the canal there were several old battered duvets, a washing line with clothes hanging from it and plenty of bin bags full of I guess old clothes etc. To add the temperature must of been minus 1 when I passed this, and would of been a damn site colder when they would of been sleeping there the night before. Its crazy in this day and age people have to live like this, and no I'm pretty confident its not where they want to be either!!) The race end was a brief affair, it was outside next to the canal, I was presented a medal and a cup of tea. I grabbed my bag from the van and changed my top layers and my shoes quickly and put a down jacket on as I was starting to shiver. I think a race in January really needs to finish indoors, after running 45 miles, the body soon cools down and possible minus temperatures with exhaustion could lead to hypothermia. If the race was circular and you could jump into your car to warm up that would be fine but most runners would need to head off to the nearest train station to get back to their cars, 40 odd miles away. I was fine as I had packed correctly, but for others who had never run more than a marathon this could of been a problem. Yes us ultrarunners are hardy souls but we need to be careful. I was pleased to find out we had finished in under 8 hours, but a lot more pleased when I saw a runner come in after me wearing a Royal Marine
 t-shirt. I had seen him at the 'Rosedale Rumble 40' a month or so ago running with a Bergen on his back, myself being an ex-Para decided he wasn't allowed to beat me to the finish, he did! Now I had beaten him. 1 all! (If anyone knows him, please don't tell him I'm an ex Para or he will speed up when he sees me behind him at another event!!!)

Both David and myself decided we needed hot food and we were in London, so we hopped on a Tube at 'Duffy's' Warwick Avenue and went to Piccadilly Circus, several minutes later we were walking round Soho in running tights. David was getting the eye from many a gay man on the streets, ha ha ha, luckily they couldn't smell him!!(I advised him to keep his race number attached to his leg so people would realise we where runners not some kind of kinky Lycra fetish rent boys looking for trade!!!

Next stop.. A 30 mile training run as no events to run on my 4th week of the challenge, possibly the Cleveland Hills?... Then Week 5 will see the 'Yorkshire Ultra' a 50 miler starting at Whitby.

A couple of people I respect a lot, both as people and runners gave me some sound advice about the Challenge.. Thank you.. I will pick a few of the Ultras to race but the majority of ultras will be all about pace, and finishing in good condition. Which Ultras will I race?? I have a few in mind, and will see how I feel on the day, but these are top secret!!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Country to capital

I finished the 45 mile race in about 80th place in a time of 7hrs 47 mins. Full race report to follow.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Glenmore 24

This 50 in 52 is an expensive challenge!! Luckily there are some reasonably priced 100 milers.
 Part of my challenge was to complete 3x100 milers, Lakeland 100, west highland way (95 miles, but will add an extra 5 miles to the route!! ) and the third was going to be the utmb, but the utmb alas is not to be! I have been out there for the last 5 years and a week is really needed to make the most of the event. Its an expensive week,  the travel, entry,  hotel, transfers, food etc etc  so I needed to look for another option. The north downs way looked interesting but I thought two weeks after the Lakeland 100 was probably pushing it. Caesars camp looked a good option. Cheap no support needed and a return to Aldershot!! ( a place I haven't seen in 17 odd years since my Parachute Reg days) then I saw the date. Same bloody date as the round Rotherham aaargghh. Everything clashes this year!!. I have unfinished business at the round Rotherham ( felt pretty rough on my 2011 run of this course and believe I should of been an hour quicker) plus it's a runfurther race so the Rotherham is my preferred choice. Searching through various websites everything seemed to clash then I remembered the Glenmore 24, a few of the west highland way family had run it in 2011, I fancied it then but it was a week after the Tds (alpine race) too soon to recover. So there it was my 3rd 100 miler for the challenge. Well when I say 100 miler it's actually a 24 hour race so I'm presuming (hoping) that I'll run at least  100 miles in the 24 hours!?! the course is held at Glenmore in the Cairngorms national park the race consists of laps of a 4 mile circuit. So no support driver needed and with the route being only a 4 mile loop plenty of opportunity to refuel on the way and not having to carry anything! No tricky navigation either!! So entry is in and I'm reallyy looking forward to it!!!!
Plus I've just talked Shirley into running the 12hr Race!!!!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Filey Flyer (no 49)

Ok I know I haven't posted the Hardmoors 30 race report yet but the Filey Flyer is fresh in my mind.

I arrived at St Johns Church Filey for the East Yorkshire LDWA 22 mile event an hour before the run was to start to catch up with a few friends knowing I wouldn't have anytime to chat to them later due to the  extra 5-6 miles I would have to run to turn the event into an ultra. I spent some time chatting to friends Sarah Booth and Andy Norman who have just entered the 'Copper Canyons Ultra' in Mexico, made famous by the book 'Born to Run'. The usual suspects where kicking about, Neil Risdale, Martin Dietrich, Jim Rogers, Sian and John Morgan, Mark Dalton, Daniel Aldus and quite a few recognisable faces.  Just past 0830 the Race briefing started in the carpark and a few minutes later we where off, I found myself running shoulder to shoulder with Neil Risdale and Jim Rogers! this was worrying, was my pace too fast?? checked my watch we where running 7.30 minute miling, fast but still not as fast as these guys usually start, then the penny dropped... we where all following someone who had a clue where the first bucket drop was!!!. The route followed the seafront and then picked up the Cleveland way along the clifftops. The conditions where great, sun in the sky, no rain but a pretty strong wind to battle against. After several miles the runners started to disperse into groups, With Neil and Jim in front closely followed by Sian and John Morgan. I calculated there where about 19 runners in front of me and decided if I could stay at this pace I could finish in the top 20. Martin Dietrich pulled alongside me and we had a good chat. The route left the Cleveland way at Lebbertson Cliffs and veered inland towards the Wolds via several country lanes and bridle paths. The  route flirted with the Wolds Way route and  took on a few steep short climbs and super fast descents. Anyone who knows the Wolds will know the many steep climbs which are short in height but much steeper then you seem to find in hillier areas, hidden from the roadside. A  group of runners seemed to be slightly out of my reach and in the distance I saw the occasional glimpse of Sian. The final manned checkpoint was reached and 4 flat miles where left to negotiate, I had managed to pass  several runners and I had estimated I was in the top 10, this was were I wanted to stay so I upped the pace occasionally glancing behind me to check    no-one was closing in on me. I reached the finish in 3hrs 12 by my garmin, 3hrs15 by Filey Flyer certificate time.
  I gave myself 5 minutes and set off on one of the hardest 5 miles I have done in a long time!! I headed back to the seafront and to the Brigg, every step was an effort, I stopped and put on my ipod, back on the cliffs the wind hit me square on and I continued against it for 2 or so miles, turned round and headed back to St Johns Church and the event finish, even with the wind behind me I had nothing in me. I had raced the 22 miles putting everything into it, if the race had been 27 miles I would of paced myself accordingly, for the extra miles I had already used up my reserves. Lesson learned!!!
 Mileage before the event and a little afterwards would be the key. Say 3 miles before while fresh at a slow pace as a warm up, then 2 miles afterwards as a cool down could possibly be the answer for shorter events. The extra 5 miles took me over an hour to complete! A Friend asked  me after the event how I would be running half way into this challenge? that is the question I'm interested in answering. At the moment there seems to be 3 possible answers.. 1. My running times/speed gradually decline.
2. They improve.   3. Some Ultras I run well, others I run badly, some I run averagely.
 At this moment I believe the answer to be number 3, no 2 would be nice of course :0) 

No 48 the 45 mile Country to Capital next week.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

No 1 down. 49 to go

Hardmoors 30 completed back end of man flu and a hangover created a mega tough 30 miles and a time of 6hrs 38 mins opposed to a target time of 5hrs 15 mins

Full report to follow. Hopefully before ultra no 2 in 2 days lol