Last saturday we marked the spring equinox with a run. An ultra in fact. Due to pandemics etc I hadn’t run one since the 50 miler back in 2019 so I figured it was time to get back on the horse and why not do it by marking the beginning of my favourite season. I’ve learned that a bit of preperation goes a long way in running ultras even in your own local area so although I didn’t plan a route I left a drop bag at my parents and left gear and food at home so I had two “aid stations” to visit when I needed.
Now I was pretty sure Murph could do the whole 32 miles but I didn’t want him to. After all I get the choice to stop if I have to, I can call it quits but he can’t or won’t. I know he will just go as long as he can and that may be too far, he has no real way of communicating that. So the plan was to drop him off for a few hours rest and then I could pick him up for the end.
We set off at 6.30 on our adventure!
As usual the first miles fly by. Murph did his usual run about like a lunatic thing, probably covering twice the distance I do. We raced the tide along the beach and were having a whale of a time.
Our plan went perfectly, as we looped back into Wick at around 9 miles we met our friends who go walking their dogs every morning. Murph loves a blast with his friends so it works out perfectly if we hit the field at the right time. It was also a chance to grab some food and water from my parents
After a while spent playing with his pals we set off again in the opposite direction making up the route as we went along. We found ourselves in the woods around Atlantic College and followed the new footpath through the college and back around toward home.
By the time we hit home for the first time it was 17 miles in and after a quick break for sustenance it was time to distract Murph with some treats and set up on my own for a few hours. He was probably doing better than me at this point as the legs were finally showing signs of tireness but he seemed raring to go still. The next 11 miles were …. ok I guess. I was at that point where things were starting to hurt so it was a case of grinding out miles plus I was missing Murphs company. Although its easier and faster to run without him as you dont have to constantly monitor him it was kinda sad to not have him there for part of the journey. But part of ultrarunning is just the mentality of “getting it done” and I certainly was going to get it done no matter what.
It was odd to run an ultra without the normal race setting, no people, no other runners, no defined course, no finishing line and I admit there were “why am I doing this to myself moments?” but I knew there would be those moments and I had prepared myself for them. You get them in every ultra but it’s just easier to drop out when there’s no-one else around. So if I thought about dropping I thought about something else instead. Like picking up Murph at 28 miles!
Although things were certainly starting to fall apart in the legs (and oddly back spasms) releasing the hound certainly gave me a boost for the final miles. As did stopping briefly at my parents house a few times where I could have a chat and get some food and water down me. Where would we be witout aid stations!
As we trotted home I checked my watch (I actually wore one for once) and realised I could still break 8 hours which considering the terrain, dog minding and various stops. But to break 8 we would have to put a final charge on. So after 31.5 miles it was time for a sprint – Sprint being a relative term but we gave it all we had down the road and hit our original starting point and 32 miles later in 7′ 59′ 30
All in all the whole day was a success. As with all ultras I’ve run there are parts I hate while im out there and then I look back and say I loved every minute. It was certainly different to run one with just Murph for company and I was so happy that I could motivate myself to stick at it. I wonder if there will be more …
Firstly I apologise – I havent been here for months. Then again I havent really run properly for months. As some of you know when you cant run its easier to not be involved in running things at all, so thats where I’ve been – its nothing personal! I had the Eddum 50 miler planned for August the 3rd and I also had this niggling butt injury that wouldnt go away. So all I’ve done over the past few months in preperation is a lot of walking with murph and the odd jog here and there. Hardly ideal for my first 50 miler.
But as I was doing it for charity and had already raised money not starting the race wasn’t an option so last friday my friend Claire, the two dogs Murph and Tilly and I packed up the car and went on a camping/ultrarunning trip! Yes the leg still hurt but there was absolutely nothing I could do at that point it was to be sink or swim.
The campsite was perfect, just a quiet farm with few people to freak murph out. Didn’t have the greatest nights sleep before the race but we were up at 5 to get ready and drive to the start.
The usual registration stuff, kit checks (thankfully we didnt have to take waterproof trousers, I need a lightweight pair) and lots of nerves, But eventually at 7AM we were underway. The Epynt way runs around the edge of the Sennybridge MOD training area so were were warned about gunfire and explosions and told not to touch any ordanance left lying around. We were also given the MOD number as they were aware we were out there and would be able to reach us in event of an emergency much faster than the race organisers. A nice touch from the MOD really. Its a permissive route that they have created by placing yellow topped posts every few hundred metres or so for the whole 50 miles.
The first few miles were the usual adrenaline fuelled thing, probably going a little too fast but not as bad as usual. I knew I was injured and probably relying on base fitness from the last few years and so I had decided that my best chance of finishing was to have a plan and stick to it. I was going to walk everything uphill apart from smaller inclines and run from aid station to aid station and take them one at a time. Experience told me I had to do better with hydration and so I was planning to drink both bottles between each station and eat something between too. I stuck to that all day until I couldnt eat the last 6 or so.
The injury hurt after a few miles and I could feel the rising panic that it was going to go south and I was going to be done much sooner than even I thought. The trick was to just run through it, fight the mental side of it off and simply ignore it until other things started hurting too. It’s something I’m learning – pain isnt necessarily catastrophic, every niggle , every ache doesnt mean that the race is done. They come and go, and come back … and go again. After a while you stop noticing them so much and the panic subsides. I cramped around 12 or 13 miles in which was early but again managed to calm the panic, accept it and limped on for a while until it cleared.
I was lucky and fell into a group of 5 runners and we all seemed to have a similar plan and pace. And I was grateful for that as the navigation at times was hard, it was like it all day, although the route is marked by the yellow posts and some signs they can be very hard to spot and I was thankful for the extra eyes. Although i usually like to run alone the company in this case was nice as we clicked off miles slowly and steadily.
The course itself is a brute – as described by the race director (who it turns out has run Badwater) Its got 8000 feet of ascent and descent but it feels like so much more, apparently this this the 3 peaks total. Or so someone told me halfway around. As it turns out for much of the route there is no path at all, just the marker posts to navigate to, one to another and picking the best route. It means that on the climbs and descents youre beating your own path through the grass which adds to the …. fun? We didnt pass a single walker all day in either direction – It really does seem barely used which is amazing as its so beautiful but also understandable as the terrain is such a bitch.
But I love running the hard stuff as its always more interesting than the gravel paths and I was enjoying myself despite the growing heat and aches and pains. I was growing in confidence and that was helped knowing I had a crew out there. For the first time I had an official crew! I was so so so lucky to have Claire following me around all day with the dogs in the car, she would stop, walk them and chill with them until I reappeared and I could pick up whatever I needed from them (I also had a dropbag at mile 28) so I changed shoes and socks at halfway and that felt great! I also had a few blisters but they neve got much worse and im grateful for that.
We were down to three of us now, one guy had gone ahead and one had dropped behind. I know we all felt bad about him dropping off the back but it’s just one of those things in ultras I guess, he wasnt keeping up on the hills and stopped catching us on the downhills and so we had to stop waiting for him. That felt odd as it almost felt like we were letting him down but he knew the game well enough and it’s one of those things.
I hadnt run more than 32 miles before so this was new territory, we were still running well on flats and downhills but it was so attritional. The hill going up to the 5th aid station was utterly brutal. But claire and the dogs were at the top and with 10 miles to go there was no way she was letting me drop. As I ran from that station I could hear Murph crying (the only time he did it) which broke my heart and almost broke me but I managed to not turna around and just ran on.
That last 10 miles will stay with me a while. It was hard, physically I was pretty shot, climbing was just an intense effort which just went on and on, my quads were blown out so downhills were incredibly painful but we still found we could run whatever flats we could find – simply because somehow it was less painful than walking. Mentally I was very low by this point, looking back its easy to say I should have tried to be more positive but all I could think of was the end and why weren’t the miles going by quick enough. 10 miles sounds nothing, Ive knocked it off in training so many times. But when at the end of a race you realise 10 miles is pretty much 3 hours more of suffering its hard to take in.
But as dusk fell we climbed a final fence (literally had to haul ourselves over it) and hit the road which would lead to the end. 4 of us finished together as we had caught and passed a few people in the final miles including the guy who dropped us 30 miles before.
As we rounded the corner to the finish it was such a fantastic feeling, mainly so the pain would stop, I passed claire and the dogs and finally finished in 14.09 in 29th place. I’m not usually emotional at the end of races but this one felt like it had meant a lot to me.
It had also meant a lot to others. Claire had crewed me and been up supporting me from 5 that morning – 16 hours plus and she still had to drive me to the campsite. I had turned live tracking on my phone and the village back home had been watching my progress all day in the local pub as had my mum and dad at home (keep getting well dad!)
And as we drove back I had the news from the pub that I had topped £1000 in my charity fundraising for the dog sanctuary I adopted Murph from.
So although the racing between start and finish was I guess all about me, the day taken as a whole was more about a lot of people who got me there one way or another. I couldnt have done it without them.
The race itself is superbly organised, I cant recommend the races run by Pegasus Ultrarunning enough. Rhys the race direction is a lovely guy and the whole thing is so professional. The aid stations were amazing and the volunteers manning them were so supportive. They really made for a great day.
The next day we walked the dogs a lot, I was sore and stiff but it did me good to keep moving, looks like I didnt even aggravate the injury – So who knows whats going on there but its not worrying me anymore lets put it that way.
So thats the story of my first 50 miler. It’s a bit of a long report but I wanted to get it written down as memories inevitably fade. Everytime I run an ultra I learn something new. I learned a hell of a lot from this one. I learned not to give up even before you start. I learned that not all pain is significant (I stole that line from somewhere) I learned that fitness is great but a plan and executing that plan is just as important. I learned that I have the mental strength to overcome my physical weaknesses.
But most of all I learned that with belief and the help of your friends you can achieve things you’d never have thought possible. Summer 4 years ago I couldnt run 200 yards. This summer I ran 50 miles.
Trainings picking up very slowly but very surely which is a good thing because on the 3rd August I’m running my first 50 miler! Been planning it a while and it’s one of the reasons I didnt start the Preseli Ultra last month. The injury has been a knockback on the trianing front but I’ve still been walking Murph 30 odd miles a week and now back to running.
The raace is around the Epynt Way in Mid Wales and as I say is 50 miels with around 8000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Its a big challenge for me but one to look forward to. There will be plenty of walking the ups no doubt! Link to race details is here https://www.pegasusultrarunning.com/the-eddum/
Plus here is the good bit there is extra motivation – I’m doing it to raise money for charity – specifically the dog sanctuary I got Murph from. Its a really special place that homes dogs no-one else will take, sometimes for life – they call these “the forgotten ones” which breaks my heart. They rehome dogs like Murph that people generally don’t want because they are emotionally scarred – Murph is still very scared of people (but improving slowly with lots of love). They always need funds as it’s privately run and recently they’ve suffered terrible flooding so need money to repair and strengthen flood defences.
Any donation is appreciated, much of my fundraising will be done in the local village and in all my schools that i work in but with the kindness of everyone off and online I hope to raise £500. It’ll actually be odd not running purely for myself, Im expecting to feel some sort of extra pressure to finish but I’m also expecting it to act as an extra spur to get to that finish line no matter how long it takes. If I have to walk it I will. Luckily I have a friend coming to crew me and she will also be bringing Murph and his little pal Tilly so I’m sure seeing them at aid stations will be a great boost.
So for now I’ll leave you with some pictures of the reason i’m doing this… If it wasnt for lizzies Barn this little monster wouldn’t have a life like this
Well today I should be running the Preseli Ultrabeast as I did last year. Sadly I won’t be. The last few months have been a race in themselves in an attempt to rehab the left leg. It’s been a process thats been tortuous with good days and bad days, I honestly believed I could run it up until the middle of this week. I did a 7 mile test run on tuesday and it felt ok. And thats the kicker it didn’t feel good it felt ok and I knew I was favouring the right leg instead. It felt a bit like running on a glass leg – I was expecting it to break at any point.
So really then on wednesday when it was aching badly I knew deep down it was over for this year. I was going to give it a go but I knew deep down that it was going to cause much more damage, 7 miles is not 32 and not 32 over extreme terrain. Not going to lie I’m gutted. I love the Preseli races and look forward to it so much every year. I told a friend a while ago it’s like my late christmas day seeing as I dont like the real one much. And now I sit here writing this instead of running out on the hills all day. Sometimes I feel like saying to hell with it I dont need to run anyway, I have Murph I can walk with him and its as good, it would remove all the disappointment and frustration of not running and racing.
But you know what, that’s feeling sorry for myself, thats giving up, thats taking the easy route and this whole thing was never about taking the easy route. It’s been a long journey and I need to remember there are lows as well as the highs. Otherwise the highs would be meaningless.
So I’m going to finish off this post with some photos of the walks we’ve done recently. I’m going to walk back out the door and start again. I’m not giving up, this was always the long haul.
Something different for this year as I’ve joined the WFRA (Welsh Rell Running Assocaiation) and decided to run some fell races this year. Not just the long ones I’ve already done such as Preseli but the short ones too. To see what it’s like as much as anything. i’ve never run a race less than 11 miles so I have no idea how to pace myself in races such as the one I did yesterday up in the Brecon Beacons near Llangorse. It was 3 miles and pretty much straight up and down – around 1000ft of climbing and descent.
As seems to be the case with races when you turn up everyone looks extremely fit and serious and in the majority of cases younger. Everyones got the kit and does stretching and stuff and looks like they know what theyre doing so instead I went and bought a coffee and sat with Murph (Everyone needs a co-pilot for map reading) in the van until the start time.
Lining up I considered my options (never plan too early it brings on self doubts) and as the start was literally stright uphill through fields at some crazy angle I decided the best plan was to go full gas until the wheels came off. I figured that 3 miles is a short run for me and it would be worth going nuts to see what happened. So off we went and to my surprise I found myself able to hang with the lead group as they charged off at some suicidal pace straight up. After a while it levelled out into a flatter climb and I found I could hang on there too. Then came a bastard of the main climb as per the image above and I dropped back a bit as eventually the wheels started to come off and although the legs felt really good I simply couldnt get enough oxygen in to keep up full speed. This is what comes of long long training with little speedwork I guess.
Up at the top it was foggy, windy and mercifully not as steep, we hit the trig point (kudos to the marshall up there!) and started the steep and in places slippery descent. By now I was running alone and was guessing the best lines to take (fell running allows you to pick a route in many sections) but made it down as fast as I could without blowing out my ankles. I did miss one turn slightly which cost me 20 seconds or so and 2 places but finally the line was in sight and its a joyous (yeah right) bound through the line.
I didnt really have a clue what time I’d done or where I’d placed, there were the serious looking runners milling around the finish so more coffee, went to watch the presentations and then off out with Murph to give him some time.
And here’s the mad bit – when I saw the results later on their website – I was 17th in a time of 28′ 06′ – Which I’m utterly astounded by. I had no idea how to run the race and out of 70 odd runners came in the top 20.
So what did I learn about short races – go full gas and redline it until the wheels fall off and then pray that no-one catches you on the descent. I really enjoyed it as a change to the longer stuff, less time to think and more time to really hurt – for a shorter time. Mynydd Ddu who organised it did a superb job and it was a great event to kick off the year, I’ll see what happenes next – Might even do some speedwork in training …. or not
I was down in West Wales yesterday and as you do figured I could add an hour or two to my journey to get to the Preselis and have a bit of a practice ready for the Ultra there in May. I know most of the course and only intended on running the Beast Bach course which is around 11 miles and I was fairly sure I could navigate that. By the time I got there around half two I noticed that the clouds were covering the peaks. Ah well let’s go up and see what happens.
I’ll do both. The best thing about christmas is the 2 week break coming up which means I can get out and begin to train properly for next year. When I say train I mean enjoy myself outside and by properly I mean pretend I know what i’m doing. Thoughts are turning towards what I want to achieve next year. Well to be fair they turned a while ago and my plans are coming together. What I will need more of in 18 is altitude. Time to get up in them that hills and get used to ascents (and descents – damn you quads we WILL get along)
Why the high life? Well this is the plan. In May its the Preseli Beast again, so having done the 11 miler 2 years ago and the 24 last year I’ll give the hat-trick a go and try the 32 mile ultrabeast. So 4 months or so to get ready for that.
Then I’ve actually already signed up for another race in July – bear with me here it’s all part of the bigger plan. So I get 2 months between Preseli and the Scafell Pike marathon which looks horrendously fun and painful.
And this is where it gets a little more complicated – The Scafell race provides 2 qualifying points for UTMB – the OCC race not the 100 miler!
So assuming I finish Scafell I need another 2 points to go into the draw for 2019. So I’m looking at a “holiday” in the summer to run abroad and snaffle a few more points. The beauty of this plan to me is that I’m holding distances at around 30 miles but upping the climbing as running longer flat ultras doesn’t really appeal at the moment.
As you’ll know if you follow the blog I did indeed finish as I posted just afterwards so this post contains a little more detail for those interested.
I travelled down on the friday afternoon early to beat the notorious M5 weekend traffic and so got to spend a few hours reading and chilling on Porthpean beach before heading up to the campsite to set up my tent. The weather turned from sun to drizzle and I wasn’t envious of the Plague runners who were starting the 64 mile run at midnight from the site. I vaguely heard them starting off as I tried to get a few hours sleep as we were having our pre race briefing at half six!
I was wide awake by 5 and took my time to get ready and recheck my kit. We did the briefing and got on buses which were to take us to St Anthonys head which was our start and halfway turnaround for the Plague (64 mile) runners. We were to set off at half eight so there was some waiting around to get going which added to the nerves. No matter how ready you think you are there are always nerves when you haven’t attempted the distance before. It had also dawned on me just how hilly the Cornish coast is ….
We had a last minute briefing on the line and words of advice from the resident cheif paramedic dude, apparently around 25 plague runners had dropped during the night due to the weather and conditions underfoot. Some had fallen into rabbit and badger holes in the dark. Some hadn’t hydrated properly it seems as that was the main message he had to give us – and I quote “I really thought this would be teaching you lot to suck eggs but keep drinking” It was good advice because the drizzle had gone but it was getting so so humid already.
Finally we were off and everyone settled into follow the leader. Its pretty much single track at the beginning so it was a case of settling into groups and knocking out a few miles while the terrain was reasonably flat. The views of the coastline were fantastic but the trail was difficult enough to mean you couldn’t really take a good look for fear of being a rabbit hole casualty.
I won’t do the mile by mile account as it’ll bore you to tears but everything was clicking nicely for the first section of around 12 miles. I was sweating heavily due to the humidity but I kept on top of the hydration nicely and refilled at the 12 mile aidstation where the 20 mile race was about to begin – about 5 minutes after I passed through! It was kinda nice though as we had to run through the runners waiting there to start and so got a lot of support and applause as we hit the aid station which was a nice boost.
The next issue was that we were now about to be overtaken by the faster 20 mile runners so the next few miles were spent keeping an eye out behind and letting fresher runners through. The course was starting to get seriously hilly now and most of the climbs were requiring a powerwalk. Every now and again I’d run past a Plague runner who had covered 32 miles more than me! I take my hat off to these guys and gals, each one got encouragement from all the other runners going past which I hope gave them small boosts as they were going to need it.
Somewhere between 12 and 20 miles the left ankle started nagging and I knew it wasnt going to go away so it was time to start sucking it up and learning to manage the pain. Everything else felt pretty fine but I was finding descending trickier due to the impacts plus as its a coastal ultra the paths on hillsides tend to leave one foot higher than the other and angled which wasn’t helping.
The next aid station at around mile 20 was awesome – mainly as it had so much food! I ate everything I could stomach, mainly anything covered in salt as I knew I was losing loads through sweat. There were medics with massage tables and the back of teh hall looked a little like a hospital. It seemed that there were quite a few struggling more than me. I was glad to see two ladies I’d talked to earlier arrive as they were struggling with the climbs especially. One was helped out by a medic and I encouraged the other to get help now to see if they could get her moving properly again.
It was after mile 20 things started to get really tricky, from here on in it just seemed like hill after hill after hill. There was nowhere to pick up any sort of rythym. These hills were seriously steep too, many of them having steps cut into them which soon became an issue as the legs started to tire I could feel the first twinges of cramps. Somewhere around 25 miles I had a massive cramp attack in my thighs on a downhill section dropping into a town harbour. I clung to the rail at the top of a steep flight of steps and tried to stretch out. This was the only point where I seriously thought I might not make it. I was scared I couldn’t fix the cramps, I’d had calf cramps before but upper leg cramps are truly scary. After a few minutes though they faded and I hobbled down the steps. Thankfully there was a flat section through the harbour and I recovered a little.
The support from the public was fantastic all the way, through every village and from walkers on the path everyone shouted and cheered and clapped encouragement. It really is a boost when you’re in pain to have support and it was so appreciated. The same from the marshalls who must have been out there for ages considering the Plague runners had set uot 8 hours prior to us!
The last 8 miles of so are a blur of agonies, hope, hills and sheer fuck this, get it done and die later mentality. I was sort of comforted that it wasnt just me. It was easy to tell that the group of us together at that point were in the same boat. Everyone cursed the steps, everyone creaked over stiles trying not to cramp their legs. We kind of stuck together in a loose rolling ball of pain for those last miles. Maybe half a dozen or so of us, all within a few hundred metres and drifting back and forth together and all encouraging each other. One of the ladies I mentioned earlier was with us and I really admired her efforts on the steps. Despite her obvious pain she shuffled up every step and just kept going.
Every now and again you’d find someone sat and cramping. You’d stop and check on them and they would always do the same thing. Smile and say I’ll be ok in a minute you go on. And you would indeed go on hoping it wouldnt be you going down next.
Looking back now I know those last few miles seemed to take forever but clearly didn’t I ran when I could though it was more of a shuffle. I was determined that I wouldn’t walk it in until I could do nothing but. The last hill was a cruel one, from the beach I’d spent the previous afternoon on relaxing up an incredibly steep road to the campsite. It was like a deathmarch going up there. With less than a mile to go noone was celebrating, everyone was utterly spent. And then it was over, we could hear the clapping and cheering ahead and suddenly we ran onto the campsite and the finish line was there, 50 metres away. The crowds cheered and clapped and I even put on a normal run for a few metres over the line, they dropped a medal over my neck and I prompty wandered off and collapsed in a world of hurt.
It took an hour or so to be able to move without instant cramps, I’m not sure how muich further I could have gone if it hadn’t ended there. I don’t think very far. I felt pretty unwell for that hour but rehydration and some solid foods helped and I was ok enough to go out and clap some people through. There were so many people finishing after me I was astonished including lots from the 20 mile run who never managed to catch and pass me. I guess I wasn’t going that slow after all. The biggest cheers were reserved for the plague runners. Some of them had been out there for 19 hours, its hard to comprehend that, I finished in 8 hours and 7 minutes … another 11 hours out there? Not me thanks .. not yet
The whole event was superbly organised, I’ve emailed them to congratulate them on a superb effort. Everything was thought of, the aid stations were well stocked, they had medics and massages at each station. It was well marshalled and signed. I’d definitely recommened it if you want a weekend away in Cornwall with a race included. Just be warned the course is brutal.
So yeah that was my first ultra. It’s kinda hard to digest what I’ve achieved in two years. I made a promise to Soaky and I kept it. I ran the whole thing carrying her collar with me. Might have been a little extra weight but it was a whole lot of inspiration. Two years ago I couldnt run a single field on the way back from the beach. Last weekend I ran my first ultramarathon. Go figure. It does go to show if you’re willing to put in the hard yards, keep going despite setbacks, ignore the doubters and trust in yourself for once you can achieve your goals no matter what they are.
Christ this is sounding like an Oscars speech now but bear with me, I need to thank my parents, not for the first time for all the love and support they’ve given me, not just through my running but for my entire life, I certainly got lucky there.
I’d also like to thank you lot that read this blog and comment and provide me with inspiration and support. It really is appreciated. Even the bits where you tell me off and make me see sense 😉
Oh yeah and I guess there is finally a photo of me!
It’s been a long journey and its only just beginnning ….
Warning! This post is about internal musings not a run! No photos (Well I might sneak one or two in)
Last week I read this post on the excellent ultrarunning blog by James Stewart which got me thinking about not just how I run but why. As the winner of the Rocky Raccoon 100 in Texas last month I think its definitely worth a read from someone who’s “done it” and a great jumping off point if you want to get started but have doubts.
I checked with James and he was happy for me to basically scavenge his post in order to present my thoughts – well I said reference but i’m using it as a template. Theft is the highest form of flattery or something.
James uses 4 tips to set his goals. When reading these it made me wonder why I’m running. I kinda know but its not something thats straight in my head. My eventual goal is one that i hope to complete this year – an ultra. The one I have planned is a 32 miler along the Cornish coastal path in August
Which means I will have gone from unfit non-runner who literally couldnt run a tenth of a mile without dying to running an ultra in two years. Thats my goal.
OK I have a goal after all – I just didnt really realise I had arranegd this part without knowing.
James says “Firstly, I determine why it is important enough to be a personal goal.” Well I have this cracked too. I’m not doing it for bragging rights or as an end it really kind of boils down to a promise I made to a small dying dog two years ago ….
After 16 years I knew losing her would be a huge wrench so I promised her I wouldnt mope about and would do something to get outside and keep my head clear. I still dont know why I picked running but it seemed a good way of continuing to visit the beach where we spent so many happy hours chewing wood.
As I improved fitness-wise the goal of an ultra just slowly worked its way into my head as the miles ticked by – You gotta have something to think about!
2. So next up James says ““Soon” and “One day” and “I’ll need to do that” and allthatshittypassivelanguage needs to be eradicated from your vocabulary.”
You gotta pick a date – Well I have that! I actually signed up when injured in a moment of cabin fever induced madness last year but this years date is perfect!
3. James says “Then, I tell people about it” Ok so this one is a little trickier. Most of my friends feign an interest in what I’m doing but don’t really comprehend it. I’m fine with that, it’s my journey not thers anyway and I like having it. My parents are incredibly cool about it, they read the blog and enjoy my progress and I know they are rooting for me in whatever I do. So the other peeople who get the sharing are you guys – I find writing the blog does two things – It helps me log my training records and photos so there are always reference points. It also gets me communicating with other like minded people. I have 128 followers now – who knew! And some of you I feel I know really well just through the blog. Your support is incredible, I get advice and a sense of community which is important as I am most definitely an anti-social runner out on the trails!
4. James – “In the words of MC Hammer (and many much better rappers) I then break it down.” break things down into smaller manageable chunks. This I’ve already done naturally without even knowing it. I’ve seen myself go from nothing, 1 mile, 2, 3 etc I remember when 8 was a huge deal, 13, 15 and now 20. I know I can keep adding and pushing a little bit til I get there. I have one big race in a few weeks – The Preseli Beast which is 24 miles of fell running which is going to be a huge test as its going to be a lot of steeeeeeeep climbing over a distance Ive not covered yet. I’ll give it my best and remember its just a bitesize step – Just a huge chewy painful bite.
Just as they say pick your fights carefully then pick your goals carefully – but pick them. Get off yo ass and pick them!
As I said at the start of this post (and well done if you waded this far) many thanks to James for his motivational post which got me putting all this into words. And again congrats on the Rocky Racoon win – I guess youre an elite now!
Haven’t posted in a while – Then again I haven’t been running in a while! Well I have but only just got round to posting about it – Bank holidays and all that jazz.
So last week I didn’t run from monday until sunday as I was signed up for the Narberth Nobbler trail half marathon – Narberth being a small town in West Wales. This meant I had to get up at 6.30 on a bank holiday sunday – I mean really?
But I did and tootled on down there. There was a half marathon and 10k going on similtaneously so there were plenty of people about. The whole thing seemed well organised – red bibs for half runners and blue for 10k. 2 courses that joined for a while.
I wont bore you with too many details, just the things I need to remember really. And sadly the problem with races is that it’s kinda hard to stop to take photos – And we all love photos.
Of course at the start everyone went out way faster than I would dream of normally – However I tried my very best to not get caught up in the first mile madness – Which was mainly downhill so I still ended up with an 8 minute mile – I was happy though letting myself drift right to the back of the pack as I had a plan. It’s not much fun mentally knowing you’re behind pretty much everyone and watching people huff and puff past you. But as the miles ticked by at around 10-11 minutes pace I was feeling fine and the foot was giving me hardly any trouble at all – My main concern.
After maybe 4 or 5 miles I started to slowly reel people in and then started passing them. From this point the course got more technical. I didn’t know West Wales had so many hills – And after rain the night before – So much mud. Slidy, sticky glorious mud.
And this is where I knew I could then make up ground. While people picked their way through the mud and took the downhills cautiously I ploughed straight through and virtually sprinted the downhills. I was running alongside a lovely lady for much of the latter part of the race who could easily pull away from me on road sections on hills but as soon as we returned to the forest I could easily catch back up much to both our amusement. Its the little things that keep you going. I also enjoyed sections where the half and 10k met – particulary because I was actually overtaking 10k runners.
In the end I ran a 2.20 ish – I forgot to stop my watch at the line again which I’m pretty happy with on a humid day on a tough course with very little flat and plenty of mud.
My foot didn’t play up at all while running but was swollen and painful yesterday as were my hamstrings – Unusual
Things I learned
Hydration pack is a must for me – People were really suffering with lack of water. I think the first aid station was around 7 miles in. I sweat a lot and need the fluids even if carrying a pack is a pain.
Don’t be afraid to be at the back. People will come back to you and for me this is endurance not speed. I have to remember a year ago I could run nowhere near 13 miles.
Altras worked really well – the cushioning helped and they did remarkably well in mud. Quick tip for road runners – If you’re running a race advertised as a trail race then wear trail shoes or you’re gonna have issues.
I probably won’t do another half for a while unless the course really takes my fancy – Preferably one with no road whatsoever. I think I’ll prefer training at my own pace for a longer distance now. We shall see.