Reluctant decision

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A bit like making the decision to DNF in an event – I have very very reluctantly, and then only after much thought, made the decision to cancel Chapter 3. More later as to the “why’s” and “what’s”…………sorry ūüė¶

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A two fold absence

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I haven’t really written much this month. I sometimes wonder to myself “who actually reads this anyway?”. This is often quickly followed by “Does that matter?” and then “You enjoy writing it. So just bloody get on with it then!!”

I also haven’t ran much since Target run #2 either so here is a quick summary to bring me and my legion of adoring readers up to date:

17 Aug – a short sharp 39 min Fartlek session

22 Aug -Target run #3, which was supposed to be a 10 hour run, didn’t happen. ¬†Life¬†stepped in (yet again) to foil my plans and I never even got my trainers out of the cupboard!!!!!

23 Aug – a 31 min Tempo run (doesn’t even come close to making amends for side stepping Target run #3 in it’s entirety)

27 Aug – A 2hr 5 min Hill session at my favourite hill. 6 reps and 3,708 ft of elevation. I enjoyed this one ūüôā

Today is the last day of Aug and there is no plan to stick my running clobber on and go for a run of any description, be that short or long, fast or slow. So that is that for the not so sunny month of August.

My next and final long run is due on Sat 5 Sept. This is Target run #4 – 12 hours at Long Run in The Meadow. Another event organised by Dave Urwin from Albion Running so is bound be original, perhaps a tad eccentric, and lots of fun ūüôā

After that, and with only 2 weeks at that point until Chapter 2, it will be time to taper. TAPER!! That is pretty much what the month of August has already been.

C’est la vie¬†

Target run #2 – still learning

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I began Target Run #2 at just before 7.25 am. Shear Water was pretty quiet and subdued to begin with, the only other people present being the rows of fisherman sat along the embankment of the lake. It was early on Sunday morning, and only those of us that were dedicated ( mad enough) to our respective sports felt the need to be out of our cozy beds at that time.

The target for the day was to run for 8 hours. My aim of the day was to continue in my quest for a sustainable pace. I set off at a nice leisurely pace as I made my way past the bemused looks from a selection of the fisherman, and around the by now very very familiar route. In fact, as much as I love to run at Shear Water, I was not particularly looking forward to 8 hours of solo laps. Visually speaking there is nothing new for me on “The” route and the thought of 8 hours by myself did not excite me. ¬†However, as an exercise in finding the best pacing strategy, I felt that it was ¬†necessary for this run to be on the same route as the actual event. That coupled with the fact that most of my running buddies were already doing other runs that day ¬†(Salisbury 54321 being one of them – a fantastic event – not jealous!) ¬†– I found myself plodding along on my lonesome. Taking the point one fraction further now – come the day of Chapter 2 then running for 24 hours on the same, already highly familiar route, somehow adds to the challenge for me too.

Anyhow, whilst making my way around the maiden lap of the day, I formulated a plan for the days efforts. I decided that I would only stop at my car every second lap. I had enough food and water on me that meant I wouldn’t really require any pit-stops outside of that time frame. So after the first lap I immediately commenced on to the second.

The sun materialised on the second lap and became a permanent fixture for the rest of the day. It wasn’t very hot at this point……… but that was to change as the day marched on though! I finished the second lap after 2 and a half hours and stopped at my car. Water bottles refilled, a few mouthful’s of spaghetti with chicken & cheese, and I was on my way again after 5 mins.

Lap 3 went well and I was still feeling good as I yet again made my way through the copious amount of jaggy nettles that adorned the trail . It was hot, but I wasn’t feeling depleted by it in any way. I had soaked my buff with water when I stopped and this was helping to keep the back of my neck cool. In fact I was still feeling full of energy and capable of taking the whole world on as I bounded along this lap.

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Lap 4 ¬†had the temperature turned up by Him and within several minutes of starting I found myself emptying one of my water bottles over my head and neck as well as pouring some in to my cap. It didn’t really work in my cap though. It’s a moisture wicking cap so it just allowed all the water to pass straight through leaving the inside bone dry. Doh!!! I felt it on this lap…. whatever¬†it is. It started to bite a little bit – I wasn’t struggling by any stretch of the imagination, but I did have to work a bit now.

I finished lap 4 and got back to my car after a total time of about 5 hours and 30 mins. I took 10 mins to fill my water bottles again, soak my buff again, scoff some sandwiches, and sit in the shade offered from the open boot door of my car.

Lap 5 was a bummer. It was really hot now and the sun was relentless in it’s pursuit of attempting to fry me. I developed a slight pain on the inside of my left knee. I took the decision not to take any pain killers based on the principle that I wanted to know if this was just a minor niggle or something more sinister that I should be concerned about. Pain killers would have only masked the pain leaving me none the wiser so I bumbled on regardless. Macho eh (my knee feels fine right now as I sit in the comfort of my front room typing this). I was working a lot harder now just to maintain a comfy pace, the up hill sections took me longer to negotiate, I tripped a couple of times, and I banged the toes on both feet a couple of times too (it annoyed me when I banged my big left toe. My big right toe has an ingrown toe nail. It annoyed and¬† really hurt when I banged this one). I was also starting to feel a bit nauseous too

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Lap 6 was no better. Surprisingly (not) it was still very hot, I was still working hard for a relatively mediocre pace, my left knee still hurt – especially on the up hills, my quads were also feeling the effort on the up hills too, I was still feeling nauseous, and I took my first and only salt bomb of the day after feeling my calve muscles beginning to cramp up. The salt bomb done the trick though and the cramp disappeared very quickly never to be seen again (that is not until my next long run I’m sure). But I felt good. I was safe in the knowledge that this would be my last lap of the day and that made the lap all the more manageable.

So I made it back to my car after a total of 8 hrs 4 mins, 6 laps, and an elevation gain of 2,898 ft.

I think that had I more laps to do then I may be better served if I take slightly longer pit stops. Nothing astronomical – just perhaps an extra 5 mins or so each stop. ūüôā

Like a line from The A Team

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Anyone who has only even loosely been following my training will know that the consistency/frequency of my running could only be described as sporadic at best. There are many legitimate reasons for this, but rather roll out a long list of my personal mishaps and commitments, it is suffice to say I will wrap them all up under the one heading of Life. And Life does have the nastiest habit of jumping out in front of us and scuppering the best laid plans of any of us.

This penchant for Life¬†to get in the way has left me feeling that my long runs are nowhere near where I believe they should be at this point. When I think of how long my long runs should be – then my ¬†“time on feet” is lacking somewhat I feel. To date this year my longest run in mileage was 50k and the longest time ¬†I have spent on a single run is 6 hrs 40 mins. And they were both¬† way back in early March on the Imber Ultra. Since then I have managed a few runs of between 3 and 4 hours, but when I consider that Chapter 2 is now only a matter of 2 months away, then 3-4 hours¬†now, this close to the event,¬†just doesn’t cut the mustard I’m afraid!

So rather than go daft and attempt to build up my long runs by hugely increasing the hours of them (that won’t work – overtraining and injury can be the only result in that situation) – I have set myself “target” runs. I have calendered 4 ¬†specific runs over the next 7 weeks, each with an increase in hours than it’s predecessor. This will allow me to build my “time on feet” up to 12 hours, and affording a 2 week taper period prior to Chapter 2 commencing.

As Col John “Hannibal” Smith would say – “I love it when a plan comes together” ūüôā

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Shorter than expected

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Today’s run was a bit like when you meet Tom Cruise in the flesh – ¬†a bit shorter than expected.

My aim for today was to have “time on my feet” with a bit of elevation for good measure. So I had planned to do nothing more than a long slow hill session up and down my favourite hill for between 4 and 5 hours.That didn’t happen though.¬†From the moment I set off I felt lethargic and sluggish. Now, any of us who run know that we can, more often or not, push past this point and start to feel good again. So I kept on going.

After an hour I still had no sign that a purple patch was awaiting me any time soon and I continued to struggle somewhat. The walking up hill bits, whilst still being methodical were also very laboured as well. The running downhill bits offered no respite as I never quite gained any comfortable momentum.

After 2 hours nothing had improved. The entire session to this point had just felt awkward and uncomfortable with each and every step. I took stock and made the decision that as this was only a training run that I would call it a day there. I was not willing to push myself and risk jeopardising the training runs that I have planned for around the corner. So after only at least half of my original intended “time on my feet” ¬†I had completed 5 reps which equals an overall total climb of 3,090 feet.

So I came home, drank coffee, and blogged instead ūüôā

Ham & Lyme

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I debated with myself where I should publish this post. Should I put it on the “Home” page along with all of my non specific posts? Or ¬†should I stick it on the “Events” page? It was an event after all – it’s just that I didn’t do it. That is if you think of “do it” in the typical sense of “running it”. However I was there. In fact I was there for almost 13 hours. I just didn’t run. I “did it” in an alternative way as I had volunteered to help out behind the scenes. So I chewed this over in my mind for a short while. It wasn’t a massive, long winded, and protracted mental battle, and I quickly settled on the “Home” page. I will save the “Events” page as the preserve for when I do actually run.

I had the pleasure, and pleasure is the right word, of volunteering at The Ham & Lyme 50/100k on Sat 11 July. This event¬†follows the Liberty trail beginning at Ham Hill in Somerset and culminating at Lyme Regis in Dorset. This is the inaugural year of the ¬†event¬†which has been organised by Dave Urwin and Natanya Joy of ¬†Albion Running. Now Dave is an interesting character – a tad off centre, intelligent, humorous, articulate, and visually not unlike Rasputin in appearance. He is also a published author having chronicled his journey into the world of ultra running in his book “Everything will work out in the long run”. If I had to restrict myself to two descriptive words for Dave they would be¬†interesting¬†and quirky.

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Rasputin/Dave

Having made my decision not to run in this event, with my thought process being based on not being aware of how “match fit” I would be¬†post op , I contacted Dave and offered my assistance to help out instead. He very kindly accepted my offer. As the day of the event neared I was surprisingly excited about it. I was genuinely looking forward to helping as opposed to running. All events, no matter how big or how small, rely very much on volunteers. The equation is an extraordinarily easy one: ¬†No volunteers = no event. I run in events and fully intend to continue in doing so. Time for me to give something back then eh

I awoke on the morning of 11 July at 0445 hrs. A quick wash, coffee made, and departed for the journey south. I arrived at 0615 hrs at the start point in Ham Hill Country Park and met up with Dave. We chatted for a bit before setting up the registration room and awaiting the arrival of the runners. Dave had individual cards that were hand written by Natanya containing inspirational quotes for each and every runner. These were handed to each runner as they collected their race numbers – which added a very¬†nice personal touch I believe. This set the tone and was very much in line with the entire spirit of this event. As registration became busy some runners unfortunately did not receive their cards but Dave assured me that he will post them on. I did joke with a few of the participants that they had the carry the card with them and show it when they collected their medals at the end – “Failure” I stated “to have your card will result in a DNF”…………..I hope they didn’t take me seriously………….. They laughed, or grimaced, or just thought to themselves “daft bugger!……… so I don’t think they did!

0900 hrs arrived remarkably quickly, and after a quirky race brief from Dave, the runners set off. At this point I often enter in to my usual waffle as I describe the route and ¬†–¬†I would love to be able to describe the route – I understand from those that did run that some of the views were outstanding – but I am not capable of doing so I’m afraid. I now had a bit of hanging around to do as Dave had told me that I didn’t have to be at the 50k point until about 1130 hrs as that would ¬†give us be plenty of time to set up. So after I had loaded my car with all the drop bags and the gazebo, I grabbed myself another coffee and sat in the now still after quiet.

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There is a gazebo under that lot somewhere!

Dave departed Ham Hill before me as he was collecting a few friends from Taunton, and I made my way down to Lyme Regis, arriving at The Marine Theatre some 50 minutes later at 1100 hrs. At 1215 hrs I was still awaiting the arrival of Dave, as also were the sports massage ladies. I now began to worry a bit (I am actually playing it down a bit now – I was worried a lot in truth) that perhaps (A) we were in the wrong place as perhaps Dave had to change the end point after we had been informed, or (B) Dave was just well behind schedule. I had images in my head of the first runners arriving and nothing being in place for them – no food, no drinks, no drop bags! In theory it was possible that the first runners could run the 50k between 0900 and 1230 hrs. I needn’t have worried though – the route and the topography of it meant that a 3 hr 30 min 50k was unlikely. I just didn’t know the route however so was entering in to “flap mode”. I fired a quick text to Dave, who at that exact moment, walked around the corner in his neon yellow RD’s vest and blue shorts, reading my text as he did so.

We ¬†quickly mastered the skill of erecting a gazebo whilst battling with the sea breeze at the same time. Another of Dave’s friends Luci had brought along some large batches of home made soups – vegetable minestrone or spicy lentil. I of course tried both and can testify that they were both sensational. Between Dave, Natanya, Luci, and myself, all the food was laid out, all the drinks were laid out, and we chatted, and we waited, and Dave received regular updates on his mobile as to the current location of the lead runners.

We didn’t have too long to wait as the first 2 runners,¬† Michael Robinson and¬†Shane Nesbitt arrived in that order. Michael is now the current course record holder with a time of¬†4:46:48. This time itself is testimony to the difficulty of the course (a 3 hr 30 min 50k – what was I thinking!!!) Third past the post – well no post really – third past Dave in his neon yellow high viz vest was Nick Sale. Runners continued to arrive in singles, in pairs or trios, or one batch arrived in a group of 8. First lady to finish was¬†Jane Allison, with¬†Sarah Baker and¬†Sarah Frost grabbing the 2nd and 3rd places respectively. Luke Elliott breezed in, had a few gulps of ginger beer, a handful of pretzels, a couple of mouthfuls of soup………….and shot off back the way he had come. One word for him – machine.¬†Ultimately he went on to win the 100k overall. I topped up water bottles, fetched food and drink, handed a few medals out, shook the hands of runners, gave words of congratulation, and gave words of encouragement when I thought needed.

I met up with two friends of mine who had been running, Rich Corp and Steve Carroll, both of whom professed to me how hard they found it as well as how much they enjoyed it. I spent the entire afternoon speaking to ¬†runners who all without fail, only had positive things to say about the entire day. Listening to these runners made me believe that Dave has not only put on a successful race……. he has also provided an unique experience¬†too that has been enhanced by also managing to capture the quirkiness of his personality as well.

Do I wanna run this next year? That my friends is a resounding “YES” ūüôā