Thursday, 29 October 2009

Club run

Met up with fellow LBAC runners last night for the wednesday evening run. So very dark now so it was a case of sticking to lit areas only. The club seems to be doing very well with over 20 runners in tow. Good run and my longest since ACC... 7.79 miles. Feel ok today. Went for short recovery run at lunchtime. Ankles are fine. Hip is still a cause of some concern but i hope not so serious! Fingers crossed. Only 2 weeks til Muir Beach 50km in San Francisco :-)

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Tread-tastic

I've completed 3 sessions this week in the gym on Monday, Wednesday and today (Thursday). To fit these sessions in to my working week I've being getting up at 5am so I'm in the gym for 6am, do 1.5hr workout (give or take) and then sitting at my desk by 7:30. Now there's commitment!!! ;-)

Monday - 60 mins bike / 15 mins treadmill / 1000's of squats ;-) ...ok thats a lie but about 10mins worth...

Wednesday - 48 min bike / 30 mins treadmill / 10mins squats. bike session was mega tough with the bike set on a 3 peaks rolling mountain session. The resistance on each peak and indeed the lead up to the peak and after was hard core but my little legs coped admirably! :-) 30 mins on the treadmill felt great with all signals from the ankle being positive! hooray

Thursday - yesterdays bike sessions was hardcore so took a break from bike today (knees were feeling it a little!). But I ran for 1 hour!! yes thats right, disco stu is back and running again!! I had set myself the goal of running for 45mins today but it felt good so I carried on and hit the 1hr mark! this was about 1/2 hour ago hence I sit here now in my office feeling very good about myself :-D The RIGHT ankle is absolutely fine now with no ill-effects but. Now for the slightly odd thing... with all the focus on the right ankle it seems my left ankle has been feeling a little left out so it sent a few signals on the treadmill that it too needs some care and attention. really don't think it is too much to worry about, but as a precaution I have wrapped it with the compression bandage.

I know... a pretty dull post but it feels like a real turning point and reckon I will hit the trails this weekend for a proper run!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

life in the slow lane...

so its over 2 weeks since ACC which also means 2 weeks since my last run (dont count the run last week which lasted all of 10 minutes)! I have stayed positive about things despite the ankle sprain and see it as enforced rest which may actually do me good in the long run...especially taking into account the ACC mileage! Am using the exercise bike in the work gym to give the quads a good workout at lunchtimes which will hopefully help for the undulating terrain of the marin headlands in san fran! Cant wait for that race... :-D intend to get on the treadmill next week so will report back then!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

dodgy ankle

went for first run today since ACC which lasted all of 10 minutes! Ankle clearly still wasnt right so i didnt want to risk any further damage to it so but short and walked back. Did 30 mins on exercise bike at work gym instead which was a good work out and felt good. So intend to use that now for next few weeks to build leg strength whilst not running which strangley looking forward to! Only just over a month til muir beach 50km in San Francisco :-)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

AAC tumble caught on video...

On Day 2 of the Atlantic Coast Challenge I was shooting a video clip along the coastal path and took a bit of a tumble... here is the result! The reason for the tumble... a combination of talking to a passing walker who asked how far I had run, and obviously not paying any attention to where I was going! lol

video

Friday, 2 October 2009

ACC DAY 3 - Lelant to Lands End

My finishing position on Days 1 and 2 came as a complete surprise to me. I had wanted to finish in the top half (as I consider myself a midpacker) so to be finishing so high up was unbelievable. Despite this though I never went into the following day thinking about my positioning or where I wanted to finish. The goal was always far simpler than this, just to finish and give it my all.
It was always known that the final day was going to be different to the first two days. The terrain from Lelant to Lands End was going to be far more challenging by a factor of 10+. It was also the longest day at 28 miles partly due to an additional diversion caused by a land slide which closed the coastal path at Zennor Head.

I started Day 3 with the same routine. Getting up at 7am and polishing off two bowls of ready brek, some toast, and a coffee. Then around 9am, two hours before the start a banana and Luzocade energy drink. This kept my carb stores loaded for the rest of the day meaning I never had to worry about food whilst running, which helped a lot. After the final day course briefing where we were reminded in no uncertain terms to expect a tough time out there. We were loaded onto the mini-buses for the last time and driven to the start point in Lelant where we disembarked outside a church at 11am on a Sunday! The parishioners were somewhat taken back by the presence of 100 or so runners descending on their quiet hamlet. Yet some clapped and spoke words of great encouragement which was nice. I should add that this was the same reception we got whenever we were out on the coastal path. The locals and non-locals alike were a pleasure to meet on route so thank you to everyone who encouraged me forward.

I knew with it being the final day that I could give it my all and leave nothing in the bank, but at the same time it was going to be a long day ahead so I still had to pace it right. The start was low key just like the previous two days. No big fan fare, or a horn... not even a Ready, Steady, Go. I think there was perhaps just a GO... as we were set off on our way.

The beginning section was nice and flat as it hugged alongside the local train track. I kept my pace steady and found myself in common company with other runners that I had met and run with in the previous days. I chatted to a few which always helps to relax. Half an hour in and we soon found ourselves on the first beach of the day - Porthmin Beach in St Ives before running along the narrow cobbled streets around St Ives harbour.
Porthmin Beach

I took a call from my wife who gave me words of encouragement and then it was up to the top of St Ives watch tower before a short descent onto Porthmeor Beach and then a longer climb up onto the coast path ‘proper’. This is where the fun really began! The terrain changed from nice runnable surfaces to broken trails strewn with rocks of all shapes and sizes which made footing particularly interesting.

At this point I was running with another runner Marcus who I got speaking to around the harbour. Conversation always helps to make the miles go by faster, not that there was too much time to talk as one had to concentrate quite a lot on footing to avoid an easy slip and twisted ankle or worst. I had actually noticed Marcus towards the end of the previous day (he was the guy on the horizon I was chasing but never caught!). Marcus finished a few places ahead of me on Day 2 so I knew our pace was similar. So the game plan was to stick with him for as long as possible today. This worked a treat as we worked together to increase the gap between us and the runners behind us and reduce the gap of those in front making pretty light work of the rock strewn paths.

We followed the official diversion around Zennor Head off the coastal path and to the first check point of the day. We didn’t hang around, and followed the diversion signs back towards the coastal path. However the signs disappeared and we found ourselves trekking across rutted farm fields. We could see the Atlantic in front of us though, so despite going off course it was just a matter of time before we hit the path again, which we did dipping under a barb wire fence much to the surprise of the competing walkers that we bumped into on the path.

From here the terrain got pretty tough as the path twisted and turned, with short sharp climbs and awkward footing around the randomly placed rocks. You couldn’t run it all as it was just a maze with the path also extremely narrow in places. Despite this I was really enjoying the challenge. It was around here that we caught up with a group of four runners. These guys were obviously working very well as a team, and whilst they were slightly slower than us I was more than happy to stick behind them for a while and let them pick their way around the rocks. Eventually when there was enough room to pass, they commented that we could get past, which we politely accepted and we were once again on our way.

The miles were flying by and before long we had arrived at the 2nd checkpoint of the day which was at around 15 miles. This checkpoint jutted out over Trevean Cliff and was an impressive point to stop and get a photo taken for the album!
The sun was beating down again so I reapplied the sun lotion and got my camelback filled up to the brim. I probably spent more time at this check point than on any other on the challenge, and because of this Marcus had obviously run on as he wasn’t going to hang around on my behalf. I spent the next 5 miles trying to catch up which certainly helped to focus the mind and keep me moving forward with reason. I did get the occasional glimpse of Marcus in the distance but he was too strong a runner to be caught.
This didn’t stop me enjoying the scenery though and if anything now that I was on my own again I was able to take a few more photos than I had done in the first half of the race. Including the lighthouse at Pendeen Watch, The Enys, Pendeen New Cliff, the old Levant tin mine, and De Narrow Zawn, all of which were on the same stretch of the coastal path.
Lighthouse at Pendeen Watch
The Enys (big rock in middle of picture with Pendeen New Cliff in the background
Levant tin mine
De Narrow Zawn
Once done with the sightseeing I pressed on towards Cape Cornwall and down to the last check point of the day. I caught another glimpse of Marcus before he disappeared over the next hill. From here you could see Lands End in the far distance but despite what the check point marshall said about it being 5 or so miles left to go I estimated it must have been nearer 7 or 8.

I kept telling myself that it wasn’t far to go. I would normally cruise such a distance in my lunch hour, but this wasn’t my lunch hour and with 22 miles already in the legs not to mention the 50 or so miles from the previous two days I was obviously starting to feel it. The terrain didn’t let up either and involved a lot more up and down especially around Carn Leskys and Carn Gribba which I took slow and steady. Despite being so close now to the finish line my morale was the lowest it had been throughout the Challenge. I don’t know exactly why... I should have been overjoyed having got so far, especially after learning from a competing walker on the path that I was in 6th place for the day, but somehow at the time this didn’t matter. All I could do was just to keep going however much I wanted to stop.
Smiling through the pain... Lands End in the background

I eventually got to Whitesand Bay in Lands End where the coastal path continued on sand for a short stretch before winding down into the town. From there it was another climb back up above the town where I took this photo before the final mile marker for Lands End.
Upon reaching the top of the last ascent and getting more words of encouragement from a local I finally saw the finish banner. I would normally sprint finish most races but not this one... I picked up the pace slightly and crossed the finish line!! YES!! I’d finished in a time of 5hrs 46mins (6th fastest of the day) and completed 27.97miles in the process. My photo was taken with Ben Mason – Race Director and I got my Cornish pasty and trophy. Hooray I did it!
My family arrived only minutes later just missing my finish as I couldn’t get a mobile signal on my approach to Lands End to inform them of my earlier than predicted arrival. But all that mattered was that they were here now.
A very proud daddy and daughter

My aims when starting out on the Challenge were to complete it, enjoy the journey along the way, take in the amazing scenery, meet new people, and test myself to my limits running further in three days than I had ever done before. I managed to do all these things, and the icing on an extremely tasty cake (‘Rocky Road’ flavour!) was that I finished in 9th position overall on the Challenge with a total time of 14hrs 56minutes. I have to be mighty happy with that!!

Thanks to the Mad Dog for all his wisdom whilst in training for this, and to Coach Ken for his continued support across the other side of the Atlantic on his podcast show Running Stupid. And to my wife for her continued support and understanding of my crazy running stunts.

So what next?? Well I received confirmation only this week of my place in first Virgin London Marathon next year. However I have bigger plans than this and have entered the Devon 100 ultra run (North coast of Devon to South coast) which falls on the same weekend as the London Marathon next April. So my training now begins for that but not before I put my feet up (and my swollen ankle) for a week or two first :-D
Lands End

Thursday, 1 October 2009

ACC DAY 2 - Perranporth to Hayle

Day 2 promised more of the same just tougher, steeper, more steps and more sand! My recovery from Day 1 had gone well as I stood on the start line at Perranporth feeling fresh and up for the new challenge that lay ahead. There was a definite buzz today after yesterdays run as everyone seemed well into their groove and up for giving it a good go.

Just after we started the gentle climb up from the start line I bumped into Danny from the RW forum - good to meet you finally!
The organisers had warned of a gate shortly after the start which as predicted caused a major bottleneck as you can see... Damn! This played havoc with my average pace meaning that I was playing catch up for most of the day. This probably worked out well though as I pressed forward with extra vigour.
The scenery throughout the Challenge was stunning but particularly on the 2nd day, although you never had too much time to fully appreciate it, something I told a passing walker much to their amusement.
The ascents on Day 2 were shorter but far steeper. One captured here is the sharp climb up from Saily’s Bottom with Gullyn Rock on the left hand side. This climb was a real killer which was definitely not for running as one needed to conserve as much energy as possible to be capable of running again once reaching the top!

Once at the top the route levelled out and I could pick up the pace again. The scenery was fantastic on this stretch near Portreath including this structure pictured below (any guessers for its use??)

Towards the end of this part of the costal path was the biggest staircase on the whole challenge which went straight up to the top of Gooden Heane Point. On approach to it certainly looked very daunting!

But as with all these things... slow and steady was the order of the day. Once at the top the view was well worth it across Gooden Heane Cove with Horse Rock (middle of picture) and Gull Rock (far right). Impressive stuff!

From here the path flattened out and so speed was again the order of the day taking in Western Cove and going along the Reskajeage Downs and the North Cliffs.

Western cove

North Cliffs

This stretch was the best surface on the entire path so I gave it my all, and tried to keep a runner who I had seen on the horizon along this entire stretch in my sights to keep me going. By this point the sun was beating down and it was getting extremely hot. I’d failed to pack any sun tan lotion but got lucky as I passed some competing walkers on the challenge and asked if they had any. They did, so thank you very much whoever you are!

Then it was around Navaz Point with Godrevy Island in the background with the lighthouse. The couple who took this photo asked in bemusement what was going on and why there were so many runners about. I’m not sure they quite believed my answer when I told them what we were doing.

Just after this was the final main checkpoint of the day before the descent on to St Ives Bay sands which was a 3 mile stretch of golden sands to pretty much complete the day. I had been looking forward to this part all day as the beach which lies just in front of where we were staying for the weekend was stunning. And so despite my tired legs I enjoyed every second of it soaking up the sun (and sweat).

St Ives Bay sands

After the beach there was just the small matter of navigating around Hayle Towans to the final checkpoint, and back through the town (where I mistakenly added an additional hill I didn't have to! doh...) I then finally reached the finished at St Ives Holiday Bay in a time of 4hrs26mins completing 24.55miles and placing 11th for the day. Result!

I treated myself to a massage straight after which I figured was well deserved and would help recovery for the final big push on Day 3 from Lelant to Lands End.... gulp...