Tag Archives: Ultra

North Downs Way 100: Just over 2 weeks to go


Arghhhhhhh!!

Suffice to say I am nervous, this is quite simply going to be the toughest run of my life and is completely unknown territory. That said with the 7 P’s in mind (Proper Planning & Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance) I have been preparing my race plan, more on that a but further down.

Training:

Ankle still isn’t right and I have accepted that it won’t be 100% before the Ultra, so strapping it up with tape and being careful will be the order of the day. I have managed to get a long run in (well longish) a couple of weeks ago, running 30 miles on and around the North Downs. With the heat  we are getting at the moment I set off nice and early leaving the house around 5am, already by 9 it had become uncomfortably warm. Given I would need to carry a lot of water I had a hydration bladder in my UD Scott Jurek pack as well as the 2 600ml bottles, even with that I set my house as a checkpoint and ran a 16 mile out and back east bound on the downs, re-filled my fluids and headed out again for a 9 mile out and back west bound on the downs, then back again, re-filled and a further 5 miles.

From Runkeeper, shows my total time and elevation
From Runkeeper, shows my total time and elevation
Good run guide stats
Taken from GRG and shows the pace excluding stops, quite pleased with this overall. Also shows the shoes run in, New Balance Minimus Amp (My first run in them)

Another positive of this run was the  fact that this was the first run in my new New Balance Minimus Amp (MT1010) trainers and they performed admirably, no sore points at all. To run this distance in a new shoe and come out unscathed is a big plus and these are the trainers I will be tackling the 100 in.

The day after was a rest day and then it was back on the bike to and from work with a run at lunch on the Monday. Despite not doing a huge amount of running my recovery times seem to be coming right down and I can only assume its the cycling which is helping with this. Normal cycle commute for the rest of the week with another lunchtime run on the Friday and a 6.6 mile run on Sunday 21st.

The Pacing Plan
This is my planned paces for the different sections of the race
This is my planned paces for the different sections of the race

I am approaching this one differently than the 50 last year, where as that I was looking for an average pace across the whole distance, with the 100 I have broken each aid station down into a stage and pace each as needed.

You can see that from the start to Aid 1 I am aiming for 13:14/mi average then Aid 1 to Aid 2 a 14:06/mi and so on. With my Garmin at each checkpoint I will stop, save and reset for the next stage breaking it all down while keeping overall track of time on my normal watch. This way it keeps the event more mentally bearable, thinking of the next checkpoint and when there just thinking “only 10 miles to the next one” and so on.

Also I have a minimum pace, what is needed to keep within the 30 hour cut off. This is to help if things don’t go to plan and ensure I won’t be left wondering what to do if plan A goes out the window.

Nutrition

I haven’t finalised this aspect yet although I have most of my gels, electrolytes. I will be using the checkpoints for food as well as replenishing fluids and having bottles instead of a bladder (as in the 50) will make things easier.

Equipement

Got my shoes, got the clothing sorted, backpack and bottles all done. I have all the items for the minimum mandatory kit barring the Harveys East Map of the NDW (getting in a few days) and battery’s for my Headtorches.

In terms of planning, kit and nutrition I am pretty confident I have (and will) get it right, the unknown is if my body holds up and if I am mentally tough enough to push through the hurt and keep plodding forth.

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2 days to go….Trail Marathon Wales


With 2 days to go, I am hopeful. My ankle has been steadily improving and although it is probably a bit silly to run a marathon I need to do it, I need to know that I can still run a reasonable distance if I am going to keep with the planned 100 in August.

We are heading up tomorrow morning so packing has started tonight and the picture below may look like a bit overkill (I hope I don’t end up needing a compass!) but the plan for this marathon is to run it Ultra Equipped, in fact the only thing I don’t have with me is the headtorch, back up light and maps.

Getting my kit ready for the Trail Marathon Wales
Getting my kit ready for the Trail Marathon Wales

The place we are staying has WiFi if I remember correctly so hopefully I will be able to upload some pictures that night. The forecast is for heavy rain so my new Montane jacket is going to get a thorough test.

Injury Update: It’s not all doom and gloom


With just over 2 weeks since I rolled my ankle I am now walking unaided, albeit with some Kinesiology tape strapping it up and cycling again. Running is not on the cards yet but I am hopeful that I will be able to get some running in prior to the Trail Marathon Wales on the 22nd June.

Regarding the TMW, I am going into it in the mind-set of “it’s a training run” to the point where I will be using my SJ pack (still need to review it!!) along with the majority of my NDW100 min kit list, simply to test equipment, test hydration and all the things I was hoping to achieve on the NDW50. Also, I want to enjoy the views and the atmosphere, time is not a concern (although under any appropriate cut-offs is a must) and I plan on taking my camera to get some snaps while on the run.

So if you are running the TMW and see a guy kitted out like he is running a 100 miles, that’s me

Trail Marathon Wales website: www.trailmarathonwales.com

Trail Marathon Wales Sat 22nd June
Trail Marathon Wales Sat 22nd June

It’s all gone wrong!


Gutted, that’s the only way to describe it.

It had been a fairly good month, with the NDW50 coming up I had run 10 miles on the 1st, cycled a total of 23 miles on the 2nd, a 2.25 mile running speed session on the 3rd and a reasonably paced trail run of 5.5 miles on the 5th. The plan had been to run a 10 miler on the 6th and continue to cycle for the rest of the week, tapering down for the 50.

I set out on my run on the Monday, with the weather perfect and feeling good. I had run out to a 5 mile point, taking in a section of the North Downs Way and was heading back to complete my run.

Such a good day for a run
Such a good day for a run

At about 6.5 miles I rolled my ankle, when I say rolled my ankle I mean ROLLED it. I was floored instantly, but I have rolled my ankles before and the pain subsided to allow me to jog slowly on. A few yards down the trail it rolled again and if the first time hurt, this was something else. I had to sit down, physically shaking with the pain and I knew that I had to call it a day and walk (the 3 miles) home.

Floored after the second time
Floored after the second time

Like buses these things come in three’s and about a mile into my trudge home it went for a third time and again I was floored. I eventually picked myself up again and grabbed a nearby stick and slowly got home.

My makeshift crutch to get me home
My makeshift crutch to get me home
The Damage:

Below is a sequence of photos showing the progression of the swelling and bruising on my ankle

The swelling can be seen straight after it happened, but no bruising
The swelling can be seen straight after it happened, but no bruising
Waking up in the morning and being presented with this was not good
Waking up in the morning and being presented with this was not good
Heavy bruising and still swollen, a trip to the doctors and hospital for an X-Ray was in order
Heavy bruising and still swollen, a trip to the doctors and hospital for an X-Ray was in order

I went to the hospital today and had an X-Ray and my ankle prodded and poked. The good (great) news is that it’s not broken, which is a huge plus. The nurse said there was a lot of tissue damage and was prodding to find any pain points but other than a little twinge it was pretty painless. She was moving the ankle through its range of motion and was pretty surprised that something which looked this bad didn’t cause more pain, hopefully indicating that the damage is not as severe as it could have been.

I have been given some crutches to keep the weight off it but I am actually able to walk on it, hold my foot flat on the ground and stand with weight on it. Despite these positives it’s not going to be a quick fix and will take 4-6 weeks before I can run again. Knowing this I had to withdraw from the NDW50 (hence being gutted).

It’s not all doom and gloom though, I have more desire than ever to get that 100 miles under my belt in August and am going to make sure I do everything to help me achieve that. So it’s now a full course of RICE then when able to some re-habilitation exercises and cycling and swimming.

I will be back up and running in no time!

Training this week – Things are going much better


The last post I wrote on my training I was a little down on the lack of running and worried about the ultra in May, as of today I am feeling much better in myself.

This week I have done something (either cycling or running) every day and despite feeling a little sore as I sit here and type, am feeling in good shape. Monday through to Thursday it was the usual cycle commute to and from work, with me covering a total of 94.66 miles for the week. The wind throughout the week added to the challenge of this, in the mornings it was behind me on an essentially down hill route but in the afternoon it would be blowing in my face the whole, uphill return journey (by Thursday evening my legs were battered)

Friday saw me try out running in my lunch break. As time is limited I opted to do a 2 mile speed session, running this in 14:41 with an average pace of 7:16/mi which for me is quick and given my lack of any speed training so far something I was pleased with, this set me up well for the long run on Saturday.

My long run started early with me getting up around 06:30 to get my kit ready and head out as soon as possible. My plan for the day was to run around 20 miles with the minimum kit required for the NDW100 in August. My reasoning for this was in part to get used to the weight of the stuff needed, but also to test out the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Race Vest that I would be using for the event (and the NDW50)

This picture shows how much stuff the pack can carry
This picture shows how much stuff the pack can carry

I will go into more detail on the race vest in a separate review, but suffice to say after the unimpressive first run in it last week, I am sold on it now (why in my review)

Setting out at around 07:25 I headed out to join the North Downs Way following my usual route, picking up the NDW just before Gravelly Hill.

Me at Gravelly Hill wearing the SJ Vest
Me at Gravelly Hill wearing the SJ Vest

From Gravelly Hill I headed East along the North Downs Way, stopping as and when to grab some photos not worrying too much on the timing, just enjoying being outside in the sun.

Spring is most certainly here
Spring is most certainly here
Great views, this is why I trail run
Great views, this is why I trail run
Not a cloud in the sky, you could see for miles
Not a cloud in the sky, you could see for miles
Just a phot of some cows
Just a photo of some cows

I carried on east just past what would be Botley Hill checkpoint on the NDW50/100 until I reached just over 10 miles (around Tatsfield), turned around and reversed my route to bring me in a nice 20.

Positives

  • Pace wasn’t terrible
  • North Downs Way has dried out significantly
  • SJ pack with a full load in it is awesome
  • Hoka’s didn’t give me blisters on my insteps since taking out the insoles
  • I wasn’t completely shattered at the end

Negatives

  • Hokas gave me blisters on my big toes instead
  • Could have done with more gels or some solid food
Sore toes from the HokaOneOne Mafate
Sore toes from the HokaOneOne Mafate
With stops excluded the pace was 12:02/mi and a time of 4:04:34
With stops excluded the pace was 12:02/mi and a time of 4:04:34

Wanting to finish the week on a high and get another run in, I went for an easy paced 7 mile run in the mid morning which although still a bit achy from the Saturday wasn’t too bad

Despite not doing a massive amount of running it seems that the cycling and shorter runs have allowed me to maintain the capacity to still do the longer runs, which is comforting. I am not going to rest on my laurels and realise that the 50 in 27 days is still going to be a challenge, but one I am going to give my all to.