Sunday, 28 April 2013

Hoka Highland Fling 27 April 2013 - West Highland Way

Post race, post shower, post soup! Thanks RRSRT UK!

New 9 bar gear! Thanks 9bar!!
The Fling race follows the West Highland Way for 53 miles from Milngavie (just outside Glasgow) to Tyndrum, perhaps famous for the Green Welly Stop, or the acres of tarmac, Between Loch Lomond and Glencoe. The race is a linear route with water at the following distances and you can have a 'drop bag' transported to the final 4 distances. (Fill a bag with any supplies/food you want then it's there waiting for you)
I put 2 drop bags 44km and 66km although I had my Salomon waist pack with a few supplies.

Water stations/drop bags distances
The 6am start is quite an early one but the sun was out by then. I got up at 4.30 and had a couple of 9bars with some yoghurt and a banana and strawberry smoothie yum yum. That is all I actually ate until the finish (delicious soup!) A strong field and quite a popular race meant a decent paced start, the first 10 miles is pretty easy going on good trails and bits of country lane, infact the only bit that becomes a little  technical is along part of Loch Lomond towards the Northern end which is a bit rocky and has a few tree roots.

Start line
 After the start there was the lead pack staying quite close initially and then a smaller pack just behind then a decent few minutes gap. Running through the various check points there was quite a lot of support which was great and saw a few familiar faces which is always nice!

Running towards Conic Hill (25ish km in)
Conic Hill has a nice path up it, when I recced about a month ago this was all under snow and I was leaning at a crazy angle into the wind to prevent being blown over towards the top. On the descent of Conic Hill I felt a bit of a burning feeling under the ball of my foot which felt like a stone so slid the shoe off quick but nothing there. I wore my old Brooks which had been great shoes although have well and truly expired. I had spent a couple of weeks ordering some Mizunos (1 shop closed, 2nd shop turned out not to have my size, 3rd time lucky they arrived on the Monday with 5 days to the race) I decided not to gamble on wearing the new ones having only done 30-40 miles in them during the week in short runs. Sadly the Brooks chewed my foot up pretty good with their worn insides, so i'm missing a good big of skin on the ball of my left foot (this got very painful just under 40km in and caused me to adopt a funny stride which wasn't too good!)

Loch Lomond
Some great views to be had, the weather was ideal, in March on the recce run I couldn't actually see across the Loch most of the day! I got to the 44km Checkpoint and grabbed my drop bag, I didn't really want anything from it but thought I'd grab a  few Jbs. I didn't want to eat any and binned them before long. I didn't actually eat anything during the race but did have some sort of electrolyte sachet at 66km and had a Nuun tab in 2 bottles of water. In total I had those 3x 600ml and 1x 600ml of stream water. Energy levels were great throughout and I didn't need any of the snacks I had in my pack after all.

Heading into Tyndrum
 I was quite slow through the more technical bits after 50km any small movement of my foot was incredibly painful on the growing hole in the skin but after it opened back out on to good wide trails it became easier to manage. There is a section that takes a slightly muddy farm track leading up to the 75km mark but despite that the shoes were still cleaner at the finish than the start. The final 10k is mostly flat again through the trees then out along the river to the finish at the ByTheWay Hostel in Tyndrum where a bag piper and lots of enthusiastic supporters awaited!
Finish Straight
Although a few silly things made the race pretty uncomfortable (once my foot got cut up) I enjoyed the day and would love to go back and show what I can do there next time! Considering I took only 3 minutes longer when I did a practice run in the snow on the same course (at some points knee deep) last month I'm pretty disappointed with the time, but at the same time I am super happy with my fitness (a pity it didn't get really tested) and I'm happy that a few better decisions will create a massive improvement in a short space of time!

Finish line
 Eventually finishing in 8.37 14th place. I think there were 600 entrants, not sure how many finished. A really great race you should consider putting on your calendar! Thanks to 9bar for the race kit and Reverse Rett Syndrome Research Trust UK for the support!
Starting Tunnel at Milgavie Station approx 5.40am

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Bolton Hilly Marathon 10 March 13

Ideal for those who want to run a road marathon with a little bit more added challenge perhaps? I think the organisation was great ( unlike my organisation on the day which was poor) and by the sounds of it people really enjoyed the day. Weather was ideal for running got a little warm for the long sleeve t shirt around mid way but the breeze was welcome on the last few miles. Must have been cold for those standing marshaling and supporting so massive thanks to them!!

I decided to enter this because it was pretty local and it sounded like 'my sort of thing' I also quite like the area and to give me a break from the mega weekend training sessions I have been doing as much as possible this year also good to get an idea on how recent training has been going without destroying myself for the coming training weeks.

So far typical weeks mileage have been between 170km and 80km and during;
Jan 400 - 600m elevation each week
Feb and March between about 2500 and 7000m each week with as often as possible trips to the Lake District and anywhere with a hill in between. Not surprisingly I am feeling pretty strong on hills...

Although I didn't recce the course beforehand I was familiar with parts of it from past runs in the area and had a general idea where the course went. Some great views to be had of exotic surrounding towns such as Bolton. The course isn't especially hilly, although that would depend entirely on what you are used to running on, compared to London marathon YES it is hilly, compared to a couple of legs of the Bob Graham Round it's fairly gentle...

The first climb from the start location towards the 'mast' is pretty gradual, I stopped to use the gents towards the top whilst 2nd place caught up, we ran across a good path with a light dusting of snow until we reached the road that leads down from the mast. This is quite a fast part, downhill on tarmac I was sat just behind the eventual 2nd place until we turned onto Georges lane (a track more than a road) to reach the first CP, quick swig of water and I decided to push on a bit and from there I ran alone, the track continues towards but below The Pike on Belmont road which is a cobbled track leading around to Rivington Road which we cross and head down towards Anglezarke on a farm track through fields which is ideal for running and pretty fast going.

After a brief spell on the road coming up to the cp around 12 ish miles there is a loop up along one side of a river/canal for a mile or 2 before turning around and heading back along the other side on good tracks and paths back to the same checkpoint which confused me a little, I took a handful of jelly babies although I only actually ate 4 or 5 and a quick gulp of water. (I never managed to figure out how those sports bottle caps worked? I just kind of chewed the lid open with my teeth, anybody else find that?)

Due to a bit of a mishap on my part (didn't bring any socks to run in just had some thin ones on that I put on in the morning) I started to feel the inside of a foot burning as the sock had worn through but decided to ignore and carry on as usual with a slightly modified gait it seems. The following part of the course is along the reservoirs before cutting over to Rivington lane towards the school before the gentle climb up the side of the school and up the road heading towards the Pike, from there it was about 4 miles to the finish, by now the foot was burning quite nicely and the thought of running on one leg didn't seem all that ideal for a couple more miles so I steadied off doing a couple of quick stretches every so often to keep things moving as they should. I briefly chatted to a few spectators on the way down towards the park who were incredibly supportive. I jogged in to the line for a very nice trophy and a cup of soup, washed down with a 9bar and banana smoothie!. Perfect!

Great to see lots of familiar faces as always and nice to be in the excitement of a race again as mostly this year has just been training runs.

Will have to go back next year now to put a decent time in, I would love to do it again such a great bunch of people behind the organisation, everything seemed to run smoothly. If you're up for a more challenging marathon or like to get a bit off road from time to time you should definitely have a look at this race in the future!

Here are this years results. I think next years winner will be nibbling on the 3 hour mark with similar conditions!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Dusk til Dawn 50 mile/ 12 Labours of Hercules Ultra Test event

For the weekend I headed over to the Peak District as Sundays mission was to test out a short (18 mile) course set out by Richard and Wendy at Beyond Marathon, to test the chip timing system before the big races coming up this year (Dusk til dawn 50 miler in October, the Sunlight version in May and also 12 Labours of Hercules in July!)

I cycled over from Warrington to Edale and stayed in the YHA which was pretty much your standard hostel. Dinner was great value £8 for 3 courses! Good bike storage shed there too! Coincidentally Rich and Wendy were also staying here so we caught up for a couple of hours in the evening!

Sunday we nipped over to Castleton after breaki to the YHA Losehill hall which is the base and start finish area during the race.

Basically myself and 2 other runners were guinea pigs. Heading out to find 4 controls that were placed a within a couple of miles from there. Run out, find the control box, swipe your timing chip, run back and repeat x4. We had the freedom to choose any order and any route (minor variations if you want or you can stick on the 'recommended' route. The 12 Labours of Hercules will be similar to this only 12 control points in varying distances! Should be an extremely exciting race as everyone scatters in various directions at the start line, the main HQ will be an interesting place for the 24 hours of the race!!

Leaving Losehill hall YHA via the back road

Your looking for boxes like this to swipe into

Name that hill anyone?

The paths were easily distinguishable in places such as this simply the wet bit,
A good day for it pretty warm weather with a little bit of snow in pockets on the hills. Can't wait for the Events later this year! Last year I ran the Dusk til Dawn in October (a surprisingly comfortable win) and will be very keen to go back should the calendar permit.

I am entered into the Scafell Marathon by High Terrain Events in May so I don't think i'll fancy running the 50 mile sunlight edition on the same day!

3 Months until 12 Labours Of Hercules. My next race will be the Highland Fling on the
th April so let's see how we go.