Wednesday, 29 September 2010

JW Ultra

JW Ultra.

I`ve been looking forward to this one for ages as heard many a good things about this one - it`s put on for a good reason plus it`s a 30 miler - which after 10 mile races is my favourite running distance (must be from where my first 2 marathons - let alone ultra marathons (Caesar`s Camp Midnight 30 & Doyen of the Downs) were 30 milers plus it`s easy it`s a heck of a lot easier to work out on the gel situation - every 5 miles - simples).

So come race week...and I get a sore throat - great!

Drove up to Birmingham and found the hotel (Etap) without problems - alas didn`t find the kettle in the room so easily thou so after a quick shopping trip a kettle was purchased meaning I could have my breakfast when I wanted (6.00 am) * Next morning I packed up & checked out nice and early (the sore throat had eased) - saw a mass of Yellow & Black covered pirates at the hotel. We had bright blue skies - OK the man got it wrong at the Great North but redeemed myself very well for this one.

I was leaving my car at the Pavilion & catching the coach to the start. Have to say when I went past `Cadbury World` I was rather disappointed that it`s not made of chocolate. Anyway parked up, fluffed around for a bit said hello to GF & LJB1 and got onto the coach. It was quite `odd` seeing actual faces of forums people - none of which looked anything like their aviators or how I imagined they would be. Coached trip, despite very pleasant conversation it did seem to take a while to get there (hope I didn`t bore you too much Lalli). Disembarked and was met with even more Fetchies & Pirates - not many had names on but at least I knew a couple. Soon enough it was bags away, race numbers in place & route cards into hands and off to the starting area (Rail Carriage cafe) we went.

One thing I have learnt & look forward to is that the starts are normally all very causal & a bit of a laugh - which is great. After some type of count down we were off. The first bit was all very jolly - along the track cutting back along the side of a field, down through a wooded section - down some steps (thank goodness we ran that way rather than running up them) and unto the canal. Saw a man doing Tai chi in the sun on the opposite canal bank - made me think of chi running points & relaxed a bit more. Went past the food show - all very cruel running past freshly cooked bacon. Before we knew it we had run just over 2 miles already (mind you I had already lost count of the number of swans). Stafford seems a very nice place - esp in the sun. Went passed a pirate cheering point - they have everything - balloons, banners, headbands - all the clothing you will every need.

At this stage I could see GF & Gritts a little way ahead so I increased my pace a fraction & caught up - I don`t mind running by myself but company is always nice. The miles ticked past - 5 miles down & first gel down - blooming heck 45 mins in :-O ...still feeling OK.. I had aimed for 5 hrs (6 miles per hour) - so just under 10 mins ahead. It was nice to run with the sun on your back. The canals boats, locks & aqueduct did make a nice distraction to just running along the towpath, some nice houses too.

Coming up to the first checkpoint - it was touch & go - I think if we `stopped` for 10 seconds then I`m over stating things (10 miles down in 1 hr 30 mins). Still with GF & Gritts - really good company but I knew that GF had run a trillion miles this year already & was running very well recently & Gritts seemed a very fast runner so I knew at some stage I would bail out from the back but I was OK with that. We went through the `13.1M` stage at around 1 hrs 57 mins - OK I know my 26.2M PB is fairly weak (3:59:68) but still I don`t think you are meant to get a marathon PB during an ultra - bit concerned when I thought of it like that!

I think it was half way at 2 hrs 16 mins ---- mmmmm --- but from the photos I didn`t look too bad (even if I say so myself)

As it happened at around 16.6M at one of the locks where you cross over I had to clear my shoe of stones by the time I looked up the dust from GF & Gritts had settled - they were long gone. That was ok, time for a little walk break plus some running repairs - legs & feet were fine but my nips were getting very warm so out came the vaseline - bliss. A quick update on FB and off I went again.

Pushed on - only a few miles till the second checkpoint (breaking the distances down seems to be the way - gel every 5, then a couple of miles to a checkpoint etc). Ironically when I set off by myself I was too fast ! Saw another runner in front & we swopped places a number of times - through the muddy section. Saw the second checkpoint - massive cheers from there plus the from the pub & from Pestomum (thanks) - collected my Lucozade and off I went. Another trigged point came shortly up - 3 hrs 15 mins - roughly 21 miles down. Only a few miles left now but my long run completed. Played `leap frog` with a few more runners now - saw a couple of very fresh looking relay runners go zooming past....

I knew that Yeti would be somewhere soon - 25 or 26 Miles. Soon enough just after the bridge at 25 miles I saw her - which was really great. Stopped and had a chat - I did see a couple of runners sneak past - never mind. After a few minutes I carried on as I didn`t want too get cold. I only had just over 4 miles left plus I tend to take a walk break just after the 26.2M point away (which I did - around 4 hrs 22 mins or so - still a sub 4:30 marathon).

At 27 M I found myself walking up slope - a runner came along side & I asked how she was and she swore at me :-O well it turns out she had never run this far before (see there are others who run ultras before marathons - OK maybe not 3 of them but still I am normal). Helpful & cheerful marshal at the top who directed us down towards the canal. We only had a couple of miles left. I was thinking I could just about sneak at sub 5 & over take 4 runners who were just in front of me.....

As it happened I left it a bit late & the finish came into view - tied to pose for the camera and with a huge cheer I went passed the balloons (I don`t recall being told to stop running) but anyway ultra number 4 completed (& 6th marathon). It is amazing that you don`t feel all those miles when you have finished.

Split Summary
1) - 1m - 8:49(8:49/m) - 139cal
2) - 1m - 9:44(9:44/m) - 135cal
3) - 1m - 8:54(8:54/m) - 142cal
4) - 1m - 8:54(8:54/m) - 140cal
5) - 1m - 8:51(8:51/m) - 139cal
6) - 1m - 8:55(8:55/m) - 141cal
7) - 1m - 9:20(9:20/m) - 141cal
8) - 1m - 8:49(8:49/m) - 142cal
9) - 1m - 9:05(9:05/m) - 141cal
10) - 1m - 8:39(8:39/m) - 141cal
11) - 1m - 8:53(8:53/m) - 140cal
12) - 1m - 8:47(8:47/m) - 140cal
13) - 1m - 8:48(8:48/m) - 141cal
14) - 1m - 8:45(8:45/m) - 140cal
15) - 1m - 8:49(8:49/m) - 138cal
16) - 1m - 9:23(9:23/m) - 139cal
17) - 1m - 11:46(11:46/m) - 130cal (WB)
18) - 1m - 8:54(8:54/m) - 141cal
19) - 1m - 9:22(9:22/m) - 142cal
20) - 1m - 10:20(10:20/m) - 141cal
21) - 1m - 10:22(10:22/m) - 140cal
22) - 1m - 13:56(13:56/m) - 147cal (WB)
23) - 1m - 11:16(11:16/m) - 136cal
24) - 1m - 11:47(11:47/m) - 130cal
25) - 1m - 10:55(10:55/m) - 134cal
26) - 1m - 15:59(15:59/m) - 140cal (Chatting)
27) - 1m - 13:51(13:51/m) - 126cal (WB)
28) - 1m - 10:16(10:16/m) - 139cal
29) - 1m - 10:05(10:05/m) - 136cal
30) - 0.22m - 1:53(8:35/m) - 28cal

Final time - 4:54:08 - so managed to sneak under the wanted 5 hrs plus graped a 28 mins PB

A personalised goody bag was given to me - how cool is that - and the conversation turned towards the energy drink inside "Pussy" - what a good idea as it certainly kept the sprits up, also a nice running `JW Ultra` vest.

It was good to see Yeti at the finish and we waited till the last runner came home. I wander back to car at the Pavilions & in time for the prize giving - I do love this part esp at the smaller event where you can feel how much personal pride, passion & commitment the RD`s have got for their event rather than the huge business run events if you know what I mean. The speeches had not disappointed me - quite moving for me knowing what`s coming up.

I do my fair share of events and I`m struggling to think of a better one so well done to Sharon, Ed, Mark & LJB1, all the marshals & helpers, the `other Mr K` on the camera & the other runners - this is a truly wonderful event & MUST DO event - even if you do the relay but don`t tell everyone as it hard enough already to get a place.

Some cracking photos on here thou ( ) Should have taken some photos too - I guess there is always next year for that plus I think I could go say 15 to 20 mins quicker.

Edit - From RW....

"Well done Sharon and Mark. it took my 5 minutes longer than last year must be my age! still I think 4:58:05 for an over 70 isn't to bad and my 158th marathon/ultra. think I will be around to do it next year. hope to see you in January!! "

Remarkable running - good for him.

Next up - Autumn Surrey Spitfire 20 this Sunday (maybe 3:15 - 3:20) then maybe a little taper for Abingdon....I still know what time I shall aim for at Abingdon - would not mind a PB - but I know I have Athens at the end of October too.

PS I wore road shoes for this one.

PPS Anybody want to buy a kettle?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Another `great` weekend.

The Great North Run weekend.

To me this is where my running all started. A quick re-cap - I entered the GNR 2008 via a MIND charity place in March 2008 - 1st half marathon, now I need to start running & training. On the 5th October 2008 I went through the finish line at South Shields in a time of 1:57:19. Last year (GNR 2009) it was my 13th Half Marathon (& 1st in fancy dress - ran as Asterix) and finished in 1:48:04. This year it seemed a bit special that I would be running my 21st Half Marathon at Newcastle.

So the weekend. Like last year I flew up from T5, and again I ran the Bedfont parkrun before the flight - well would be rude not to. We got there to Bedfont early (I was with my cousin who had managed to get a ballot place in the GNR but dogged by injury), saw a couple of ex-club runners beforehand. I do like Bedfont as the corners seem to work for me. While I didn`t feel like I went for it I managed to beat last year`s time by 11 seconds;

Splits - 7:07, 7:23, 7:27, 0:42 (0.1M @ 7:00/m) - final time 22:39

Pleased with run and course PB. A quick chat afterwards & jumped in the car for the short drive to T5. No problems with the flight except for my Cousin, Colin, posing for the full-body scanner :-)

Arrived at Newcastle via the Metro from the Airport (great service that), and wandered down to where they were holding the Great North Games & a walk around the expo. Race morning woke early - not as early as some thou - looked out of the window to see rain pouring down - a wet run then! Breakfast done & out the door nice and early. Met up with Colin under the footpath bridge. Shortly afterwards, as I`ve just been reminded, the `usual RW suspects` arrived in shifts - Shielsy, Mick the Mackem, Dasher Dart, Shrek, Spongecake, Vicki GW with her amazing outfit, Mandie & Steve in fancy dress complete with bike :-) , WTS, Rtg, RLTW, Stringy, Old Shawdowfax....I`m sure there was a couple more but I`ve done well remembering that little lot! Stayed till about 10.15, did a short warm up as I made my way to my zone (Left hand zone B and on the left). Didn`t see Vicki GW or Jovi Runner.

Soon the hooter went and we were off. I had a rough plan 1:45 + /- 5 mins . Crossed the start line within 3 mins - saw Minnie & Mickey Mouse (30 GNR Club) & wished them well. Almost silently we made our way under the carriageways but soon enough the cheers & shouts were heard and we were off. The crowds looking down is still very much amazing. A quick check at the mile one marker - a fraction fast but ok. Saw Floella Benjamin, saw another 30 GNR club- Geordie Nick in his Buzz Lightyear outfit - shook his hand. I was a little earlier for the Red Arrows at the Tyne Bridge (around 12:xx) - I didn`t wait around so I carried on. Saw Vicki with her pink dress at I think around the 3M marker - just after the water station - I graped a bottle as I thought she might be a bit warm.

Even though the course is undulating I didn`t find too much a problem, the only thing that caused me `concern` was that I was caught in two camps - Shall I race it (@ 7.30/m - sub 100) or steady as she goes @ 8.00/m - so I did a bit of both. Also I ran through a few more Chi Running drills than I guess I would normally - column, lean, feet moving in circles, heels up, elongate the neck & bar through the ankle (like the kids robots) which lead to short strides.

Saw the chuckle brothers which was so funny - well done them. The miles ticked away, no Powerade, just water & a gel @ 9M, soon enough mile 10 came round & the Fetchpoint - looking forward to this point. Thanks guys esp Lisrun. Soon enough the final incline - kept it steady. The sea seem to appear from no-where, down the hill which I have to say was the most painful part of the race & along and into the never-ending but fantastic final mile. Through the finish and pleased with the result - two course PB`s in two days :-)

After a quick chat with Dave B (storming run) & HOD I made my way to the pub to meet with the `usual suspects` - I do love the buzz of post race chatter. Waited for my cousin to finish & made our way to the South Shields Metro station, should have caught the ferry to North Shields but we would not have raced Vixx76 for the metro (which I think was a draw in the end)

Splits from this year & 2009 in brackets.

Mile 1 - 7:24 (8:01)
Mile 2 - 7:52 (7:59)
Mile 3 - 7:46 (7:57)
Mile 4 - 8:01 (8:08)
Mile 5 - 8:08 (8:29)
Mile 6 - 7:35 (7:57)
Mile 7 - 7:33 (7:46)
Mile 8 - 7:45 (8:09)
Mile 9 - 8:03 (8:23)
Mile 10 - 7:56 (8:26)
Mile 11 - 8:00 (8:34)
Mile 12 - 8:03 (8:37)
Mile 13 - 7:32 (7:59)
Last Bit - 1:38 (1:33)

Final Time - 01:43:15 (01:48:04)

5 Km - 00:24:19 (00:25:08)
10 Km - 00:48:57 (00:50:36)
15 Km - 01:13:25 (01:16:15)

Overall Position - 3,313rd (4,926th)

(* Didn`t record 2008 stats)

Overall a pleasing run (3rd fastest half of the year behind Brass Monkey & Bracknell) and I know I can go faster on this course.

Out with friends on Sunday which is just so fantastic as it just finishes the weekend off perfectly. It was a wet weekend but certainly didn`t damper my enjoyment – roll on next year.

Next up is the JW Ultra this Saturday, then the `silly season`.

Friday, 3 September 2010

You know it, I knew it - who was I kidding.....

A bit of a catch up...

You know it, I knew it - who was I kidding - I did enter those two events I mentioned - Trial Challenge & Burnham Beeches Half

Trail Challenge an interesting evening`s run - given a electronic finger & a map with check points. Ran it with a non-runner friend in a very respectful time of 48:12(was a little short @ 5.46M) - Nice to finish it esp after last year`s `issues`

Burnham Beeches Half - Superb event (as most Championship events are). Basically from my feedback on RW it is a well organised, very scenic race with lots of shade from over hanging trees. Plenty of off-site parking. Can make use of the free swimming pool afterwards. I was looking forward to this year`s event ever since finishing last years race - basically I ran like a muppet - such a poor race last year where I started off with one of our fastest club runners & we increased the pace until I fell off the train at the 6 mile point - well it was 12 months ago. Please to say I had a far better run this year. Great to see a few faces before & afterwards too :-)

This year`s splits

1) - 1m - 8:47 (9:34)
2) - 1m - 8:41(8:46)
3) - 1m - 8:33(8:18)
4) - 1m - 7:46(7:39)
5) - 1m - 7:46(7:40)
6) - 1m - 8:19(8:05)
7) - 1m - 8:31(8:18)
8) - 1m - 8:39(8:51)
9) - 1m - 8:45(9:01)
10) - 1m - 7:52(8:48)
11) - 1m - 7:50(7:55)
12) - 1m - 9:00(9:25)
13) - 0.75M - 6:09(8:12/m) (9:16)
14) - - (0:43)


Last year`s splits in bracket the finish time of 1:52:20.

Other news - Managed a week away. Started to up the mileage a little in preparation to the forthcoming Great North Run & JW Ultra and then the few marathons I`ve got lined up (Abingdon, Athens & Benidorm). No real target / racing times in mind just prep work for next year. Talking of which - plans have started to take shape as I`ve entered the Moonlight Challenge & Dartmoor Discovery (both 32 Milers), with thoughts on entering the County to Capital (45 miles in January) soon.

* I`m not really working through the alphabet - Abingdon, Athens, Benidorm, County to Capital.....

Next up - Great North Run. The scene of my first half marathon in October
2008 so it brings back so many really good memories - it`s a cracking weekend.