Tuesday, 22 February 2011

"35 Green Bottles sitting on the wall........"

It is amazing how time comes around so quickly. It felt like ages away when I entered the SIS Lightning 12 hr run and here we are with less than a month to go (or as I write this 608 hrs 55 mins 15 sec ). I knew this Moonlight Challenge had to be a part of my training plans.

I would treat the Moonlight Challenge as a mini rehearsal. Set on a 6.55 mile course, which I knew (& know how confusing it gets), running on mixed terrain with the full 5 laps in darkness being my goal - still very odd to treat a 32.75M run as a training run but needs must.

Last week I had decided that (just to make it difficult) I would run in the morning at Basingstoke parkrun seeing as it was Alan from the club 100th parkrun. Aim was 28 / 29 mins - I managed 28:06 so not bad. After that I drove down to the hotel - which was only 2 miles from the race HQ. Relaxed for a bit - watched Mo doing this thing...also watched the rain coming down outside :-/ I got changed & made my way to the HQ. I knew where to park - I wanted to use my car as a base, so I parked 200 metres from the start at the side of the road. I laid out my 4 sets of kit in the back seat - planned for the worse. I had my food & drinks in a cooler in the front. The plan was that on each lap I would stop my the car & have something to eat or drink, maybe change kit (or shoes).

Like normal I got there early, I checked in & looked around (yes the great shoe debate was going on) - I decided to go with road shoes in the end (complete with gel heel) as I wanted to protect the Achilles tendon really but of coarse the advantage of being a lapper I could change shoes after 6.5 miles.

We had the race briefing - one of the best things about these ultras is the relaxed briefing but shortly later & with a bang & cheers (starts with a firework) we were off. There was a good 100 or so runners and with head torches lighting up the darkness it must of looked a good sight. Soon enough we came off the road & unto a broken farm track - we were already being to string out in the darkness. Unlike last year where I raced off and completed the 1st four laps in just over 4.5 hrs (OK was better conditions then) the plan this year was steady slow burn pacing - maybe sneak a PB (06:04:56). The first few miles it was quite social - finding out about what fellow runners were doing, had done, number of laps planned etc. From about 2 miles I found myself in-between two groups of runners - I was happy with that. Just over the halfway stage at the drinks station I passed the group in front. Apart from a few single runners in front no-one else was around. Soon enough I got to the `Jelly Baby corner` and onto the finishing straight & into race HQ to check in.

The conditions didn`t warrant a change of kit so I had something to eat & drink (Muller Rice & water) and updated my status on FB - I thought I was quick but saw quite a few runners go sailing past. Finished off & got running again - I past them about 1.5 miles in. They recognised me from my flashing back light. The second lap seemed to go very quickly and soon enough I was back at the race HQ checking in. I thought I better not have another rice but I did drink & more updating on FB - noticing a similar lap time even with the extended food stop which was pleasing. Lap 3 and this is where it all got confusing - runners come at you from all directions - you think you know where you are but no, you think runners are in front of you but really half a lap behind . I think I may have been lapped too.... At the start of lap 4 it was food time again...another Muller Rice (Strawberry flavour), a quick change of jacket - now a gilet and off I went again... Lap 4 was really the same as the previous laps - running by myself in the peace and quiet occasionally passing a runner in front. A couple of runner I had recognised from other events - esp one who passed me at mile 27 at last year`s JW Ultra - not that I remember things like that.......

At this stage I knew the PB was out of my reach esp as the conditions underfoot was getting worse - as Jerry (a fellow runner who I saw a number of times esp at the same watering hole) put it has having the "consistency of wet concrete"

At the start of the day & for inspiration I used the mantra of "Green Bottles sitting on the wall...." and I imagined myself knocking the bottles or miles down as I went along.....I started the day with 35 Green bottles on that wall ... 3.1M + 32.75M

By the start of lap 5 I started to count down "6 Green Bottles sitting on the wall" which boasted my energy levels, then "5 Green bottles....." I also decided to walk through the muddiest of sections - I really didn`t want to twist an ankle or make the tendon even worse (not that I was aware of any pain there :-) ), "4 Green Bottles...", "3 Green Bottles....", "2 Green Bottles...." - I was down to the final "One Green Bottle........"

I was on a high - I had managed 35 miles in a single day (& a very rare 60 miles per week) plus I managed to get around the course without falling over....opps - with just 10 metres of off-road section left & over I went in the mud - gutted AND in front of the marshal & it was in the same place as I saw another runner (one of the speedier runners too) fall in my previous lap. What a prune - I picked myself up & was cursing to myself for the remaining mile of the event.

By the time I turned the last corner & saw the pub it was all forgotten about. I signed in & shook Mike`s hand (the RD, who you often saw out on the course like a shepherd looking after his flock) & congratulated him & his team on a brilliant event, chatted to a few runners who were still about & off I went..

Splits -

10:15, 11:23, 11:13, 10:49, 11:09, 11:38, 14:32* (01:12)
10:25, 11:29, 10:24, 10:05, 10:58, 10:27, 14:37* (02:26),
12:09, 10:47, 10:12, 10:29, 11:27, 15:43* (03:43),
11:13, 12:27, 11:01, 10:42, 11:35, 11:59, 14:18* (05:04),
10:46, 13:42, 12:41, 13:31, 14:16, 11:25, 00:51(10:27/m@ 0.08m) (06:30)

Finishing time - 06:30:38

No PB, tired, muddy but very pleased - I had learnt some valuable information too.

I would like to say same time & place next year but after now running 10 laps in the dark I would like to think it`s about time to do a couple of laps in the daylight......the only trouble is that the only other two events held is either the 52.4 Miler (8 laps) or the 24 hour event....... ;-)

The next morning I was out of hotel fairly early as I wanted to watch the folks running around the Bramley 10 / 20 - which is a really (and I do mean really) good event. I was at the 9.25M / 19.25M point with Jon, having a right laugh, watching & cheering loads of folks I knew. Why was I at the point....because I jogged from the car & that`s all I could manage - a 2 mile recovery run. Said a quick hello to Marc & Sarah - who again had very successful trip down South. Then it was back to Sue`s for a very quick chat with fellow parkrunners & a few nibbles before driving back home to enjoy some quality time with the sofa. zzzzzzzzz

Next up - an easy week and then the Mad March 20 on the 6th March - a new event to me but a two lapped 20 miler - nice :)

Some other reports about the race -



Wednesday, 16 February 2011

"He that can have patience can have what he will" - Benjamin Franklin

I hope so - as when I said at the beginning of the year that I would run slower in training it would work out that way! Ok the tight achilles tendon has very much helped but I have (I think) shown more patience than normal.

So a bit of a round up since the Lakeside Canal Run.

Tendon wise - still tighter than normal so still doing the stretching exercises, self massage, wearing the big bouncy shoes, dropping the odd session here & there. Oddly enough the amount of miles is about the same, maybe 20 down in Jan but about right so far this month but much, much slower. I have been building the longer miles up - 11M, 15M, 20M - not ideal as most have been combined runs rather than one long run but quite pleasing - I would have liked to go into this weekend with a couple more longer runs logged but these things happen.

The weekend just gone was one of my favourite races - Wokingham Half - why I don`t know as it`s normally cold, wet & often wind swept but I like it. As I couldn`t really race it I made it the last part of a 20 miler with the other 7 going to & from Wokingham Train station - also meant I could have a beer or two afterwards - a travel plan for the future

The plan was 2:05 - 2:10. I wrapped up warmly - still had my bin bag at the 2 mile sign (Rant time - why do runners throw away bin bags & gel wrappers down unto the road or at the side rather than keeping hold of them till they see a marshals or at a water station or better still carry them with you - I guess it easy for me to tuck things inside my race number belt - anyway rant over - "Keep the countryside tide" - ok now the rant is over). During the run I kept the pace steady - slowing down a bit when passing through the drinks stations seeing as it wasn`t a half but a 20M. It was interesting seeing the course from a new perspective.............it was much longer & more open !!!

Splits 09:21, 09:15, 09:18, 09:19, 09:17, 09:27, 09:17, 09:23, 09:15, 09:10, 09:01, 08:53, 08:43, 0:54 (08:12 @ 0.11M) - Race clock time = 02:00:05 - Garmin time = 02:00:33

Not quite a 02:05 but close enough. Good to see loads of folks I know. My tendon that night was very tight but on Monday was a lot better, I mean a lot better. The local physio was pleased with progress anyway but still have a massage & zapped the tendon.

So to the weekend - a busy weekend ahead. Saturday morning a trip back to Basingstoke parkrun & then a drive to Kent for the `Moonlight Challenge` - a 32.75M event on a 6.55M course for more steady & patience miles. Yes I would like to a) finish, if I do then b) get a sub 6 but not at the expense of my tendon & more of a steadier run. As last year I completed 4 laps in just over 4 1/2 hrs and walked the last lap as a cool down and finished in a time of 06:04:56 - interesting enough looking back to last year I was doing similar length runs but less total mileage (was 180 in 2010 v 120 in Jan 2011 - 180 was my highest ever month). Then in the morning I`m rushing back to Bramley.......NOT TO RUN but to watch & support the 10 & 20 milers (Shame I not do this one again as I had a cracker of a race there last year).

Forthcoming event - the focus and the big timer is set for the SIS Lightning Run - as we write it`s 758 hrs 56 mins 36 secs to go - 6.00am 20th March). Before that I have Mad March 20 (a new event to me) and maybe the Surrey Spitfire - all steady running, however if tendon allows then I may sneak in a bit of an effort at the St Patrick 5M Scurry on the 12th March :-/