Saturday, 23 January 2010

Ultra race 45

Well I'm fresh from my ramblings down the Grand Union Canal today. This was the first running of this new ultra event - Ultra Race 45 organised by rory coleman And what an efficient well organised race it was. And great value to at £28 which include a v nice technical t shirt and finisher medal. It started in Northampton and following the GU canal path south finishing at Tring (47.22 miles later - measured by my garmin).

This race report isn't going to go into so much detail about the route itself as to be honest what can you say other than I ran for 47 miles with the water to my right and fields to my left :-) with the occasional slice of civilisation along route, namely Milton Keynes, Bletchley and Leighton Buzzard (my home town). However this description does not do the route justice as its very scenic weaving through the open countryside.

I don't think I have been quite so relaxed about a race in my life. And whilst I'm not one anyway to get too anxious over such things my relaxed state really helped me to put in a performance that I'm mighty pleased with. My plan was to run 10min/miles and keep this going til the end. But as they say in the best laid plans..... As it was I got into a very comfortable rhythm early on running 9:30m/m and so decided that I would just keep it steady and relaxed at this pace and see what happens. I did expect at somepoint to get a reaction from my body but as the miles passed it didn't grumble. I even put in three sub 9's in a row at 31 miles.

What really helped is that i knew 2/3 of the course as its a local training ground so this familiarity allowed me to focus on the next few miles and pick off known landmarks most of these being pubs :-) Arriving at Leighton Buzzard (34miles in) I had arranged for my dad to accompany me for what turned out to be the final 13 miles. And with the rest of my family there too to cheer me on this gave me a boost. With my dad acting as my pacer and keeping me in check and on target for total avg pace of 9:30m/m this worked out really well . As the miles wore on things inevitably got a little harder with my legs starting to feel the miles and the constant pace. However with my dads great pacing I was able to push through and finish in the light in a time of 7 hours 29 minutes and 50 seconds. I was pleasantly surprised with this effort finishing I think in 10th place from the 75 starters. Its my fastest Ultra to date so all those miles in training are paying back :-)

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Yesterday saw the first Chiltern League cross country fixture of 2010 held at Shuttleworth in Bedfordshire. And doning my new Leighton Buzzard AC team shirt for the first time I had to give it my all and not let the team down. It was a fresh afternoon but not so cold as to require anything more than the standard vest and shorts which its seems is a strict requirement of any XC fixture. My warm up consisted of a nice cup of coffee and a 10 minutes reccie around the course. The race was 3 laps around a 1.7 mile circuit that was muddy underfoot but very runnable. It also included a long climb in the first half which certainly pushed up the heart rate!

Wearing my garmin and heart rate monitor would give me instant feedback on my pace and how hard I was pushing to ensure I didn't blow out at the beginning of the race. It also meant that I could analyse my effort post race.

There were 15 LBAC mens runners so a good turn out with some encouraging words spoken at the beginning to fire me up. In short go out fast, get in position and hold on for the rest of the race! It really is that simple. There are no hiers or graces with this kind of racing. Everyone is honest and genuine and runs with a grit and determination to do their best and run themselves into the ground.

We were on the start line and I was feeling good (the coffee did the trick) and with a shout of GO we were off. I found a comfortable yet hard pace and settled into my stride early. On the first lap you are very much aware of all the runners around you... just infront and right behind. No room for letting up on the pace of you will be overtaken. I was actually looking forward to the long climb as I felt this could be my strength with all the endurance running I had been doing. And so it was that I used this opportunity to steadily pick off 1, 2, 3 runners infront of me. After the long climb it plateaued and then dropped off with a nice steady downhill section to recover. Lengthening the stride on the downhill and letting go also allows one to pick up a good pace, and the opportunity to past a few cautious runners.

After lap 1 I knew that I was pushing hard but not so hard that I didn't think I could keep up the pace. If anything I got more comfortable as the race progressed picking off more runners on the uphill section, and basically hauling ass throughout! Lap 2 came and went. In Lap 3 I knew that my breathing was heavier and I was needing ever more oxygen to pump the blood to my rapidly beating heart. The stats really do tell the story of this one. My average heart rate for the race was 187 BPB. My avg mile heart rate splits for each mile were 179, 185, 188, 192, and 194BPM, and a max of 198. So there is no doubt that I was certainly pushing myself all the way.
I crossed the finished line in 31:47, which I was well happy with. I think I would have to say my best ever 5 mile run (in training or racing), not that I do many over this distance ;-)
And now that I'm running London again this year I think this type of racing can only aid with increasing my fitness and speed. Both of which I will need to run better than last year and get a time that I think I'm capable of.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Devon 100 cancelled! GUTTED!

My whole world has been thrown upside down today with the news that the Race Director of the Devon 100 has had to cancel the race due to family commitments. What a blow for my ultra 100 aspirations! I was so looking forward to this race and my first attempt at this distance. But I can't dwell on what might have been and must look forward and keep 2010 on track (or should that be on trail or road as it turns out).

The fall back to the D100 was the London Marathon as I got a place through the ballot not actully thinking that I would be running it this year. But this is now the plan, so out go the ultra long training runs and in come the speed sessions, half marathons and 10km! I think I'm now more scared training for and running London than I was the D100. Oh how I long for long slow miles but they will have to be put on hold if I am to break through last years London disappointment of 3:43, and go under 3:30! So lets get this show on the road...

Saturday, 9 January 2010

2010 - Week 1 (Saucony's arrived!)

Well that's Week 1 complete of my 16 week training schedule before the Devon 100 on 24th April. All in all a very good week of training especially considering the arctic conditions out there, and I have really enjoyed running in the snow despite the biting cold.
I ran 11.5 miles last Saturday (2nd January), rested sunday, 8 miles Monday at a good pace (7:45m/m avg), 5m interval run Tuesday (blew away the cobwebs!), 10m on Wednesday in the deep snow and dark. Tested out my new head torch too - Pretzl Myo XP which was absolutely superb and will be ideal for the D100. Rested Thursday. 7m hills on Friday (in snow) which was tough going compounded my a dodgy stomach which made me feel none to good. And today - 20.5m LSR along the grand union canal between Leighton Buzzard and Tring reservoir (9.40m/m avg). Felt good for the most part and stunning scenery along this part of the GUC. Unfortunately my right ankle evidently STILL isn't 100% which is annoying. However must train around it and not over do it. Iced it in ice cold water, and will continue to do so.

Anyway a 50 mile week for Week 1 of my training programme is nicely satisifying. But in hindsight perhaps a little too much too early. However there was a reason for the miles with the Ultra45 race on 23rd January. However after today's 20m it is apparent that to try and run 45m in two weeks time would do far more damage than good. So I have to reside myself to fact that if I do run (which I plan to do) it will be the first ultra that I don't finish. Alternatively I pull out the race all together and keep that record intact.

The highlight of the week has to be the arrival of my Saucony Progrid Hurricane 11's which I won from Runners World for my Letter of the Month (see previous post). And here they are...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

RW Letter of the month

There was my copy of Runners World sitting on the doormat when I got home from work on Tuesday, and as I flicked to the letters page with eagar anticipation, but not really thinking for one second that my letter (which I wrote about 3 weeks ago) would appear in print... and there it was in full technocolour glory!!! And not only that but it was Letter of the month to boot!!!! :-D HAHA... I couldn't believe it. And the cherry on a very tasty cake was winning a pair of £95 Saucony Progrid Hurricane 11 trainers! Nice.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

1st long run in 2010

I waited 2 days to get in my first run of 2010 but the time off from running since before Christmas has helped to ease any discomfort experienced in my right ankle (touch wood). Today I felt fresh and ready to take on the challenges that lay before me in 2010.

What also helped today's 12 mile long slow run were my shiny new pair of Adidas Supernova Sequence 2 trainers. I couldn't help but admire them as they glistened in the morning winter sun as I trod the fresh frost along the Grand Union and enjoyed the crunching sensation underfoot. They fitted like a glove and I hope they will help to banish the discomfort in my ankle as the miles rack up. I'm confident they will help as I've probably made the mistake for a large part of 2009 of only running in off road trainers on all surfaces, providing less protection from the pounding on harder surfaces. We shall see....

My shiny new trainers.... they smell so good