Sunday, 29 April 2012
I have been lucky enough to be chosen for the fast team, although have relinquished my usual responsibilities of running the hardest and longest stages on each day to one of the faster boys. I am going to bury the ghost of getting lost on Tatsfield-Merstham leg on day 2 and have yet to be decided upon for day 1.
After the big breakfast it was up to Harpenden to celebrate running club Lily's birthday at her families fantastic restaurant, Charlies with the rest of DPR.
With a belly full of lashings of Chinese food and fizzy pop, the drive home and a tiring weekend, I had to don my gear for a quick run. All I wanted to do was to go out and run fast....so I did. I only ran 4 miles but the idea, after a warm up mile up Crystal Palace hill was to run fast and flat and I did, at 6.18s. Felt much better afterwards!
Saturday, 28 April 2012
Well as birthday weeks go, it has been pretty hard work. I've found running a real challenge with some stressful and long days at work, late evenings returning home. Usually a splash around the mean streets of South London is just the tonic to liven my spirits and put a spring in my step but this week it was too much to pull on the waterproofs and get out.
In actual fact I should look on the bright side. More time at home in the evenings and a bit of recovery time before the double marathon next weekend. But it's never like that is it? I feel like I am putting on weight, I feel slow and lethargic.
Having said that, a 17 mile wet plod this morning started to lighten up at about mile 14 and I felt better. I should have stayed out another 5-6 miles but with chores to do and then a birthday lunch to go to in a mo, I need ed to curtain the run. The first 3 with Mrs UB to the running club and to run the beginners course, Eric joining us and then dropping the beautiful Mrs UB back at the house and then off to do more miles with Eric. I still managed 40 for the week though.
So its off for a drinking session now. Cider O'clock! Next week will need to see a change of priorities and I need to commit to a better training and eating schedule and importantly.....leave work on time!
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
It was a calculated purchase. I have been running in the same pair of Asics for 1000 miles. The green Asics Cumulus 13 were no match for the 12s. In fact.....I had the same problem about 4 years ago when I ran in Saucony and they evolved.....and I didn't like the feel.
But what you say.....has this boy forgotten about the minimalist zero drop revolution? No! Flat, minimal trail shoes are still in use....heavily! The road zero drops are in use, perhaps 3 days a week, but there are times when one needs to slip into something more comfortable. I mean, I wouldn't be sat in my suit on a weekend.......so why not a pair of cushioned shoes for a recovery run?!
I've been chatting to Eric about scales and posh electronic devices that hook up to the ANT+ to give you a readout of all things bodily. He told me to not waste my money.....there is a wedding coming up! So I had a good look at my bathroom scales and they also measure fat mass and water mass using an electric current. Add this to the sphygmomanometer, digital sat02 and pulsemeter, peak flow meter and vital capacity spirometer and I can keep a regular check of my stats. Not that I'll need that sort of jazz.......it's nice to know, but I would rather go with the flow.
So, 37 tomorrow and with work taking over for the next couple of weeks, this is the calm before the storm. Wet weather doesn't stop me but coming home from work at 7.30pm every day does. I've signed up for a bank holiday double: Bewl Marathon on Saturday and 3 Forts 27 on the Sunday. I'll need the monday off! But at least I can do a recovery run and imagine I am Dorothy!
Sunday, 22 April 2012
Rich hit top speed and was going for a sub 3. Nearly, nearly as we saw him at 21 and was gunning for that until he hit an 8.55 mile that scuppered him somewhat. By the finish, a 3.05 was in the bag! Amazing work.
Tom whizzed past next. Woolly is in the midst of transcontinental flights, stag parties, house buying and as such, states that his training is off pace. 2.59 last year and this year taking it easy and really enjoying himself, the "dude" runs in a relaxed 3.19
Where do I go from here? Tom H ran a 4.09, Di ran a world record in a Bernie Clifton fancy dress. John Clarke didn't get arrested and Nathalie finished her first marathon.......amazing!
So. Back to training for me and a hard fast 80-90k this week. Rock on!
Monday, 16 April 2012
After the Black Dog marathon yesterday and an internal fuel shortage, I have been looking forward to dinner tonight for a refuel. Not that I want to eat pies....it will be fish, quinoa, bughur wheat and a big salad. Not even a cider will touch my palate!
After a late finish at work it was time for a recovery run following the marathon. After a creaky start I was pleasantly surprised with an 8.30s, as I had expected to hobble around in 10s for a couple of miles. After Crystal Palace park I decided to pop in some quicker miles and further surprised myself with a couple of 7.30s and after a really hot bath.....the legs are all fine. This confirms my running out of energy theory from yesterday, particularly on the back of a 140km week.
Work now permits me only 60-80k this week so it will be good to get in some recovery time. Ace!
Sunday, 15 April 2012
Off to a conservative but exploratory pace (it is my first road marathon in 3 years), marathon 27 quickly settled into a metronomic pace of 7.37s, despite the early undulations and squally winds, as well as a 100km week with a 20 hour taper. Stopping at mile 3, to tie a loose lace, I was pleasantly surprised to meet up with Master JS, as we had not agreed any race strategy and he had gone off quickly. At this point I must give praise for the hypo-corpuscular gent that I think has lost about 3 stone since the Gatliff?! (only he will know! - Men, as you know, do not inquire about such trivialities, although I do hope his suits have been adjusted accordingly for my wedding!)
Lace tied, I laid down 12 miles of 7.37s but returned to aforementioned stash on to find.....nothing. I hunted about, believe me! Like an urban mange-inflicted fox searching for carrion.........but nothing. Either the tree that I was sure I hid my quarry in was so nondescript or some bar steward had claimed the tasty sugary treats for themselves.......
So, to return to Race Focus Energy.....mine went for an utter Burton as with only one Jerry Can of industrial orange juice for the whole course at mile 23 and no bottles....my reliance on water for the second lap was now a reality dawning in my grey matter. Going out a good pace, although luckily suicidal, I had to revert to DLF (Damage Limitation Focus) to prevent a DNF. I dropped my pace right down to 8.10s for a couple of miles and then at mile 19, had to revert to the strategy known as "Oh shit, I might not finish".......so quickly scanned any checkpoint for anything other than water...to no avail. Switching to a slower pace, I was able to keep going at a sedentary pace but was entering the land of being dizzy. The furthest I have run with no fuel whatsoever is 17 miles. I was at mile 20, a usual cheeky 10k to go and time to turn on the afterburners and hit 7.30s for the last few.........but there was nothing in the tank. My thoughts quickly turned to the half bottle of Lucozade in the grass verge, the almost empty gel packets on the floor around checkpoints.....NO! I must carry on under my own steam. Who knows what manner of micro-organism one could ingest! So to mile 24 and a shout of "C'mon fat bastard" or something equally derogatory pierced my ears and woke me from a hypoglycemic slumber. Jezza motored past with his notorious ultra shuffle.....beaming from ear to ear (unbeknown to me that he was heading for a PB!). I knew if I could get to the checkpoint 500m from the finish where the only supply of juice on the course lay, then I could at least finish the race. And then the hail began!
I trotted over the line thinking of the fella that I had overtaken early on in the race with 8-10 gels in a belt around his waist with intense jealousy and had I been able to access such sugary gems, I would have felt a whole load better. Save to say, a 3.43 was a crumb of comfort, snatched from the jaws of defeat at the Black Dog. I immediately summoned a Cheshire Cat, aka Jerry to get the bags, as I had a can of Coke in there. Luckily an old lady gave me a can of Sprite at the finish...which was so very needed as I was very very dizzy. Medal around neck, sunburnt of face, Sprite and a banana later, it was time to pick up a gargantuan Darrel Burger (?!) (mushroom, beef, onions and bacon.......incidentally named in honour of the last man to eat it and not have a coronary bypass. Once Jezza had changed his free water bottle.........Sponsored by Norfolk and Suffolk Water.......it had a leak (!), it was off back to the car for much frivolity and japery and once I had quaffed 2 more sugary cans of soft drink, a recount of tales from the belated JS and a recount of the race, it was time to turn our energies towards taking the piss out of the world again.
Gutted not to get a PB? I was for about 5 mins. Then, just pleased to have not ended up in hospital like so many of my friends who have marathon DNF'd. As it goes.....it is the fastest marathon since braking my leg....not bad after a total week of 140km running?
Saturday, 14 April 2012
Well, it may not be as it seems. I had planned to run the Essex Trail Challenge Event this weekend....but was thwarted by an over zealous obstreperous official.....
To give you some background on this, it was an "entries in advance" event. I got my cheque and entry form in the post on Tuesday first thing, 5 days before the event. I followed this up by an email on Friday, stating if I could pick up my entry details on the day as it may be possible I would not receive my SAE back in time. This, dear reader......was the response.......
The event closing date was the 7th April. Because of the holiday I kept the
list open until Tuesday when I had to close. We do not take entries on the day. I can say that your entry was not in by Tuesday. I am sorry but the event has been "live" since Christmas and all advertising mentions the closing date and also to look for confirmation of receipt of entry on the website."
(There was no closing date on the website!!! In fact, this un-named man gave me a non-LDWA event website that had a different entry cost to the LDWA (official) website and virtually no details of the event other than to "check the LDWA" for details.)
and then......"On the website you will find an article on challenge events and what to expect because I feel you are probably new to the game. All events have their own rules which you need to read carefully."
So as you might expect.....I blew my top! I do love running the LDWA events as they are such a different challenge with the crazy-arse directions to keep you on your toes, amazing checkpoints full of food and friendly people. I can only hope that in this society, there are people like this few and far between as this sort of behaviour can only be detrimental to self-navigate marathons.
However, after some conflab with my dear running buddy, Jezza...it transpires that there may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We may go and run the Black Dog in Bungay. I will decide by tonight.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
The trail from Otford to Wrotham was very wet after nearly 48 hours of rain. I did not see a soul for the first 8 miles of the run, which was nice to be able to have a little personal sing song and chat to oneself! After Wrotham the NDW joins the Pilgrim's Way and it was at this point that a good pair of road shoes would have sufficed. The trail was hard, compacted, not even a feeling that it had rained at all, no puddles or anything. Hard trail gave way to road and a possibility of a lack of signposting led me up a huge hill with amazing views.....but it was the wrong way methinks! I headed down the other side of the Down to Trowsley Park, where I recall part of the Harvel Hash House Harriers 5 is run on. This was the fastest run I have done....5 miles XC in 31 mins....famous! Anyway, I was trundling along in about 8.45s, rucksack on, self sufficient on this day. If the signs were poor over the last couple of miles, they were non-existent here.
Unless I was off track, I was following the contour of the Downs and not letting myself be distracted by the steep footpaths to my right.
Out of the end of the park was a huge pile of rubbish.Nice, I thought.....but out of the corner of my eye I spotted a small concrete stump with the words North Downs Way imprinted. Great.
The NDW has a few things to learn from the SDW. The acorn is easy to follow on the fingerposts. However, there are a plethora of different signs.....White acorn fingerposts, yellow acorn signs, purple acorn signs, restricted byway (with and without acorns), wooden posts with NDW and Pilgrims way posts and signs. Please stay generic as it is hard enough without a map!
So through Vigo and Meopham and onto another wood. These original pilgrims (I guess) wanted to travel clandestine.....Green Hill Wood, Platts Hill Wood, Hognore Wood, Downs Wood, Hawsdown wood (?!) Great Park Wood, Crookhorn Wood and so on......made it hard to see the lie of the land and led me to feel that without good signage and a couple of trig points, I could be going anywhere.....especially when I jumped out of my skin as 3 motorbike scramblers came blasting along the path at about 40 mph and nearly took me out! That was not clandestine!
So, coming out of miles of woodland I note a sign to Snodland. I don't know what "snod" is but a whole land of it...? This is what happens when you are on the trail for a few hours on your own! My mind averted to the large lakes that I summised could be water-filled quarries of such vivid blue. The largest and most aquamarine in colour was about 1km in length, from Pilgrims Rest to the start of what I assume was a quarry/cement factory. What a place for a swim! But not now......
I was quite disappointed with the next part of the run, as the route left the Pilgrims Way and joined the busy Rochester Road. If there was another way to go then I missed the markers.....this was quite disappointing but I know that the hills ended at the Medway and that huge M20 Bridge. I saw the rise of the chalk Downs on the other side of the River...that was for another day. I ended up getting the train from Strood. Stood is an odd place full of odd people. I must admit, a sweaty backpacked runner down industrial-estated-stone-cladded streets is probably odd, but it did look a bit "Norfolk" in terms of the size of gene-pool. Funny looks aside, it was back to Maidstone and then to Bromley South, where I decided that running the last 4 miles home was a better idea than waiting another 20 mins for a train.
A map would have given me huge confidence but all in all, a good day out.
Monday, 9 April 2012
I have just packed a bag for tomorrow. The only day that looks OK in terms of weather and I am off on a self supported expedition.
Run down to Bromley South
Train to Otford.
Run along the North Downs Way through Kemsing, Wrotham, Vigo and down to either Rochester or Chatham and then run the next leg on my next mission.
Train back to Bromley and then a run home from the station.
The idea is to get in 20+ miles of hard cross country running with hopefully about 2-3000ft of gradients to traverse. It is definitely a trail shoes day as it has been raining here all day today so let us see what the day holds in store. Add in the run from Bromley and back and I feel 30 or so miles should be in the bag if all goes well.
Sunday, 8 April 2012
NDW Easter Sunday morning run - Mrs UB on the trails, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
We parked up in Otford and headed past the station and up, up up the big climb onto the Downs, settling into a nice pace. Unlike our night run when company was our own, we frequently passed walkers and ramblers, eagerly perambulating towards Sunday lunch. Rich was the carpet of flora that brightened up our damp and drizzly day. Anemone blanda, Myosotis, Bluebell and the start of the smell of wild garlic interspersed with the sting of good old friend; Urtica, the nettle.
The ridge from Otford to Kemsing soon gave way to an undulating path towards Wrotham, we accidentally went off course owing to a lack of finger post and a large group of walkers heading up the hill from imposing St Clere House, built by the father of Anne Boleyn. It was a grand vista, but back on track we headed down towards Wrotham, traversing down the steep slope and onto the Pilgrim's Way. I do like this part of the downs but would prefer to stay up on the top for the views.
As an out and back course, we solemnly turned to retrace our steps and aside, from a brain-off-brakes-off whizz down Kemsing Down, scaring the shit out of some walkers, it was off to the Crown in Otford for a quick pint of bitter to re-energise and then off for Mrs UBs legendary home made Cornish Pasty for lunch. Heavy legs again as near on 2,000ft of ascent and plenty of mud too!
Saturday, 7 April 2012
I was feeling rather lethargic this morning as the alarm went off on a bank holiday Saturday. It was one of those times when I wasn't really sure what day it was. Although I had been into work Monday, Tuesday and Weds, the gorgeous Mrs UB and I have been busy socialising over the last two days.
Bank holiday aside, we pulled on our running gear and decided on Parkrun, Crystal Palace. Those regular followers will know that CP Parkrun is very hilly; Essentially up to the top of the hill and back down. Twice. Lap 2 is challenging if you went out hard on lap 1. So with some dehydration following a couple of ciders in the Porterhouse and a few glugs of wine last night, I thought that I would take it easy. Part way through lap 1 I was running in about 12th I think. I felt quite good so attacked hard on the downhill. I haven't done this since breaking my leg as this has caused the most risk to injury. I then ran hard on the next uphill and felt pretty good, despite the previous days shenanigans.
I think CP Parkrun takes about a minute longer than a flat 5k owing to the hills. I was pleasantly surprised to have run a PB for the course, 20 mins 43 secs. Only 49 secs off my flat PB, 4 years ago. So I left feeling SUPER! A nice jog home with Mrs UB, who forgot her Parkrun pass but had a good run, then a 5 mile warmdown and chillax.
I was contemplating a marathon tomorrow but price + distance + the idea of a multi-lap course x lie in......So a long run on the North Downs Way instead!
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
So after nearly 4 weeks of no rain, the heavens opened tonight as I was rounding Brockwell Park and towards Brixton. Having only run in my (fairly) new Inov8s in the dry, I have learned to avoid manhole covers!
I had a brief catch up with Spenser who I spied on the SDW100 entrants this morning.....cheeky fella! In the back on my mind I had a feeling that he would be going for it! Now I see he is! I must make plans to have a joint run over the next few weeks to discuss the event at length.
My legs had, like Jerry's, taken a pounding after running well in excess of 26 miles on Saturday so a Sunday off relaxing, eating and drinking was good tonic. Although I am on Easter hols this week and next, I am at work for only 6 hours a day this week, giving me plenty of time to catch up with friends and go for some runs. Having said that, last night was wedding ring shopping so no running allowed!
I was pleased with my 22 miles this evening. I had planned to run about 15 but felt that the weekend needed driving from my quads. Minimalist flats on, I ran out into Kent briefly, returning to quaff a can of coke and run with DPR. I was intending to run the handicap but got into good conversation with Chris and Richard; the former returning well from injury, the latter looking for a recovery run following his 1.24 half marathon PB at Paddock Wood on Sunday. The proposed 8s was soon broken and at 7.23s found myself at the back, hanging on but not out of breath. I think that I need a bit of mind over matter when running with my 6.30s running buddies. I used to be that fast......I need now to regain it!
Anyway I said to the guys that I would drop off the back and 8.30s it back to the club as I was feeling tired. 2 mins of running at 8s and I returned to catch the group and felt better.
22 miles in the legs on a Tuesday is an odd feeling, as usually I have too much work. I need to make a mental note that I should do more of this.
Up for debate this weekend is the Compton Downland 40....hmmmm not sure as might take a while to get there and back and even longer to recover. I might choose to run local and back to back over the weekend to get in some big miles over the weekend, or there is a Go Beyond Marathon in Northampton......however too far to travel when weddings have to be paid for.
What I am loving is the conversion to minimalist shoes.......I might even get a pair of MT100s!
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Having run in the morning with the beautiful Mrs UB and good running friend Lily, I was on course for a BIG day. I'm not sure how much the oysters, 2 glasses of dry fruity white and a big lunch at Borough Market helped the cause but at 6.30pm, I picked up the legendary Jerry from his country pile on the way to Knockholt.
After finding petrol at the third filling station we passed, the car refueled for our return journey and it was off for the run. Unfortunately for Jerry, I was not able to provide him with the ammunition he required for comments of a sartorial nature as I had come as lightly attired as he had, save for my ultra light Haglofs windproof.
Setting out from Knockholt for a stiff climb and then pummeling descent over the Downs set us off at a quick clip. Staring up at the sky in the twilight we made out Venus, but not yet Jupiter; whilst on the ground Jezza pointed out Saturn and Uranus (part of the scale model solar system near Shoreham)
I had run parts of the NDW but not for about 3 or 4 years. I had a habit of escaping for the day on a weekend, occasionally running with Sue or George but mostly on my own. I was surprised (as was Jerry) that I knew my way around Jerry's playground. I had forgotten that the early parts contained stretches of road although as soon as we crossed the M25 and past the Best Western Hotel, it was back to hard, compacted trail, so unusually dry for this time of year)
The time had come to don headtorches for technical twists from Otford to Kemsing, tree roots scheming to unseat us, whilst low branches equally indefatigable in their decapitation mode. Never without fear, we soldiered on and made the turn at the halfway point, down a tiny narrow path and out onto a small road. "There is the pub!" exclaimed Jerry. "Where?" "That's not a pub.....is it?"
As we entered what could only be described as Crow Crag, infamous pub of Withnail and I fame, we entered a world rarely seen by modern man. The first living thing that met us was a yappy dog, then a cat, then a parrot. Finally, as our eyes became accustomed to the light, a neanderthal witch rose from her slumber and hauled herself to the bar. To describe her as a witch sounds brutally unfair....but totally justified in my mind. She had the aroma of cat urine, a shock of white hair running through a jet black shoulder length nest. The teeth were like tombstones and her flattened but wizened face bore resemblance to Cor-Magnon man. Perhaps Mathhew Hopkins; Witchfinder General had not been able to find this watering hole to rid it of potential witchcraft.
In our rest period at 630ft above sea level in the Rising Sun, we noted the nicotine stained lung that we had entered......memories of a faded past adorned the walls whilst smells permeated our nostrils of an incontinent array of animalia.
Quaffing our Dark Star and Moonlight bitters, we bid goodnight to Goody herself and were bid adieu by the parrot in the fireplace who let out a grand "MIEOW!!" as we left the establishment. To state that we were laughing uncontrollably would be an understatement. Never in all my life had I heard a bird-cat!
Off we went, the cold wind biting into our sweaty skin, although soon to warm up. Tired legs were soon scuffling over loose debris and tree roots, partly at times at a good clip, often at an ultra-shuffle. The journey uphill on the return was a tough climb, but with 1800ft of ascent completed and 16 miles of night run, we arrived back at the car, living to tell tales of the day.
An excellent outing to top off a 30 mile day of training. 100km for the week which I am very pleased about. I'm tired as I write this on Sunday morning but am now happy to be part of the Downs NRG group and can't wait for the next installment.