Thursday 27 December 2012

Sunrise Sunset Marathon 27 Dec

The tide came in

It wasn't actually so dark

Proudly supported by 9 bar.
 The Sunrise Sunset challenge organised by Denzil and Lucy and the crew. A good Christmas catch up with some friendly faces!

First of all post race food was GREAT! That went down a treat, some soup and chili mince on a spud. I have another finisher medal and pint glass to my collection! The route is the same as last years race which I did a blog on too. Nothing too eventful, I had decided to go for the marathon option rather than running all day and rolled in around 3.25 ish pretty slow going but left myself fresh to get straight back into some quality training the following day. December was quite a heavy month in terms of miles run, Christmas week mounted up a bit with 65km a 40km and 42km and normal days (20k ish) between. Ready for some faster shorter distances to kick off 2013

Jump on for more info!

Saturday 22 December 2012

Tour de Hellvellyn Dec

Tour de Hellvellyn 
A great way to spend the last Saturday before Xmas!! The previous 2 years have seen some pretty  cool snowy conditions, this year it rained. We did get a bit of a dry spell for an hour or so but on the whole was a bit damp. The course has a bit of climbing in and takes in some cool views and plenty of good trails.

The route starts at Askham and runs around Helvellyn, predominately on trails and bridleways, but climbing to a height of nearly 600m, and a distance of around 38miles

Here are a few piccies of the route and also a bit of a description on the map photos. I had a nice steady day out no crazy paces just enjoyed the day. Great to see lots of friendly faces! The post race soup was brilliant too! 

Between Howtown and Patterdale

Heading to sticks pass beyond Glenridding

A bit of snow high up but nothing much on our route.

Looking into Patterdale

Timing dibbers, you swipe these on the electronic boxes placed at checkpoints.

These poor excuses for socks were on their first day out. Both got holes in ! Wrapping them up in a nice jiffy bag and post back to the manufacturer, mud and all, that will brighten someones day ;)

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Home made chin up bar!

In July I decided to construct my own bar park in the back garden! I wanted to write a how to rough guide but thought I would test them out for a month or 2 first! I had a little look around at a local(ish) park that had some parallel bars and some chin up bars and made a bit of a plan from there!

For the pull up bar, I have the 2 up right posts 7ft out of the ground and about 3.5 ft in the ground. The actual bar is about 40 inches long and is flush on the outer edge of both upright posts. I have a piece of pipe for a second pull up bar to attach and expand to the side, when I can psyche myself up enough for more digging through rocks and clay!

£££££wise I already had the tools, pipe, gravel, bolts, all I bought was a bit of concrete and the wood.
Concrete £4 per bag at B&Q x4 = £16
Wood was about £20-25 ish in total.

Materials For the Pull up bar

  • Wood 2 posts, 10.5 ft long I used 100mm by 45mm which is fine but if I was building again I would try to get a square post that would perhaps be a bit more resistant to any flex in the future.
  • Pipe, some old water pipe of some sort it's an ideal diameter and there is no flex in the pipe. If I join the tip of my thumb with the tip of my index finger, it's that kind of diameter.
  • Postcrete , keep those posts stuck in the ground, ready mixed stuff, just tip the powder into the hole and add water. Piece of cake. Same as HERE
  • Gravel, a couple of handfuls in the bottom of each hole before putting the concrete in
  • 2x long bolts + nuts + washers, I drilled through the post and the bar and put a long bolt through so it would be impossible for the bar to turn.

  • Spade-dig those holes
  • Barrow/Bucket - I didn't have anywhere to throw the dirt so needed to move it away
  • Saw - for wood to cut the posts but maybe you will need a hack saw if you need to trim the pipe to length. I used an angle grinder.
  • Drill - I used a good cordless one, as long as it makes holes you should be sweet as!
  • Drill attachment for holes, I used a big attachment for drilling the holes to slide the pipe into. Handy to have! Don't know what it's called! LIKE THIS 
  • Spanner for tightening the bolts that prevent bar spin-age
  • Spirit Level, check stuff's level!
  • Ladder
  • Hammer - Just in case.

Step by step - How I did it (Just the pull up bar ((tall bit)) first, parallel bars to follow!)
  1. Decide on width of bar
  2. Dig 2 holes for vertical posts 3.5 feet deep , I would have gone to 4 if it wasn't rock and clay beneath my yard! Centre of holes the width of your pipe apart
  3. Put post in hole
  4. Fill with postcrete mix
  5. Add water, straighten up quickly if needed.It sets pretty quick.
  6. Repeat with other post
  7. Once set measure and drill hole for the bar.
  8. Repeat on other post
  9. Drill hole through the bar for the long bolt.
  10. Drill hole through post into bar to secure the bar and prevent spinning!
  11. Push the bar in the holes, push the long bolts through to anchor
  12. Nut and washer on the end, tighten them up!
  13. I then added a bit more Postcrete just to fill the holes up
You could by all means make up the bar on the ground, and drill the posts and assemble it all before putting it into the ground if you like, sinking both vertical legs at the same time. You choose! 

Blank Canvas? The Wooden archway was already here when I moved,
 I screwed the finger board to it  and it's still holding up fine!

Insert holes here. I just lifted the paving and cut away the liner and dug down.

One post in, secured by a box of dirt whilst the concrete set

A Levelling tool is handy to check your set up is straight!

Of all the places for there to be a pipe underground! Right in my hole. I dug around it.

There was barely any good soil bellow my yard, clay or rock it seems!

Both posts in, I added more concrete on top once the bar was in place

Drilled out the big hole about 4 inches down from the top then
drilled in from both sides and my holes lined up!

Nice and flush

The back, Perfect length bolt.

Not sure what this is called but use one to drill out the holes for the bar.

So the bar has been up since early August and is still strong as ever. I added the following week the parallel bars which were also fairly straight forward. Will do a similar blog for those sometime soon!
If you have any questions or want some more specific details drop me a comment I'll do my best to answer.

Once you've built your bar you'll be wanting to know what workouts to do on there right?
Whilst my focus now is on coaching runners you can get the best body weight and calisthenic training advice from either BarStarzz or Progressive Calisthenics . The other option I've looked at and could recommend is the Pull up Solution You're welcome =)

Sunday 28 October 2012

Dusk 'til Dawn 50 mile 2012

Here's an interesting one! I'm writing this now to help me stay awake until tonight so I don't end up 'jet lagged' as I didn't sleep after finishing the race at 1.47 this morning, sleep didn't appeal.

A 50 mile circular route from Castleton in the Peak District with Checkpoints every 10 miles and intermediate vehicle marshalls between those. Also 4 token buckets (We had 4 tokens with our race number to drop into 4 buckets strategically placed around the course to prevent any short cutting)

This weekends run began at 'dusk' on Saturday. Which meant we had maybe 20 mins before we needed torches. I don't have much idea on my timings during the race as I didn't check the GPS I just ran at what felt appropriate. The goals for the race were 1. Stay on course, 2. Keep moving forwards and 3. Make the most of easy terrain the time limit was 14 hours 6min until dawn.

The race was organised by Richard and Wendy from Beyond Marathon and their team of excellent marshals and crew who looked after us throughout the night! Massive thank you to them from me and the rest of the competitors! We began with the most detailed and precise pre race briefing I have ever witnessed! At the end of it I felt like I had already run around the course and knew the location of every bit of mud and loose rock in the Peak District! Thanks Rich! Hope this happens again and get your entries in guys well worth it!

The start was a few minutes walk from Loosehill Hall YHA in Castleton and began with a moderate ascent  at 17.42 then a small loop back down to Hope and back to Castleton and onto Cave Dale. I started at a steady pace and quickly found myself at the front. It took me a couple of miles to adjust to the scale of the map and I took a few wrong turns which were quickly rectified allowing 2nd position to catch me briefly before we got the torches on and headed back into Castleton. It was a great sight to see all the head torches descending down from Loosehill as the darkness fell.

The gap behind me began to open once again as we had a couple of miles following Cave dale along the Limestone way which was difficult to get wrong. I got a glimpse back as I went over a style and could see 2nd position in the distance and nothing beyond him. I felt like I had started pretty comfortably but resisted the urge to check the watch. Approaching about 10 miles I hit the first checkpoint and there was no sign of 2nd behind me which I was surprised about. I had expected to be in a group for at least the first few miles. The recent speed orientated training must be working!

From here to Earl Sterndale and CP 2 passed rather quick with some good ground on the whole, a few fields to cross between the tracks and minor roads. I think it was a short sharp climb at Priestcliffe which had a sign part way up saying 'Nearly there' and then as I jogged past around the corner another saying 'Just kidding' the Grim Sweeper clearly has a sense of humour! As I reached the CP I caught them off guard as the building was still locked I popped in to get my time card stamped and moved straight out and carried on. You  can spend a lot of time at CP's if you mess around, I prefer to get in and get out! At this point I was apparently around 10 min ahead.

The next section of the course felt the longest to me for some reason. I was still moving well and was really enjoying the silence running alone through the night with no wind and a clear sky. There was bits of ice forming on the high points of the course. After a couple of field crossings and some long tracks I made it to a road section and heard a car coming in the distance. This would be Richard the race organiser who just missed a gymnastic display as I was looking at the map tripped over something and ninja rolled into a pile of grass that had been through a sheep and digested into a beautiful smelling end product. 'Your going to fast' 'I'm having to open the checkpoints early to keep up with you' Richard shouted. He was on his way up the course to lay out some extra glow sticks and reflective tape that guided us around the route! It was actually very well marked which was a bonus! There was a highish section running close to the road passing Cat and Fiddle pub and I could see the light from there in the distance as I edged closer to...CP3!

I arrived, topped up my water and got back to it after a quick photo. Still no sign of any lights behind me which I thought was strange with some long open sections there were some good runners on the start line and I was surprised I hadn't been caught up.

I was feeling fine and kept the pace on up to Shining Tor (?) where there was a bucket for our tokens, to prove we went here. The stretch from here along the paved track would probably have great views during the day time as the course headed for Taxal where the Grim Sweeper aka James and Wendy were waiting in the lay by. From here the route was similar to the High Peak 40 so I recognised parts of the course and moved quite well along the course. I got a text a few miles later saying 2nd place had reached the cp 29 mins behind me which told me I was pulling away despite maintaining a similar effort.

Some decent climbs popped up in the last section as I made my way to Chinley to the final CP where I had a quick chat to some more awesome crew and a drink before making my way up along and down the valley. I knew I was closing in on the final section which I knew well and could motor along to the end. The cloud began to close in and the temperature dropped as I climbed towards the final vehicle marshal I was pretty confident if I just went steady and didn't do anything silly I knew the course and had plenty in the tank. Visibility became pretty limited as I headed for Mam Tor. My hands were going numb with the cold, at this point I still had shorts and t shirt on but I knew I would be sheltered and descending into the finish within a couple of km and so just powered on. I wouldn't like to spend much time up there on a night like that! I knew it was incredibly unlikely anyone had gained any time on me during the last section as I didn't hang around and kept a steady run without doing anything too risky like flying down a hill.

I spotted the last bucket for tokens and popped it in and made my way down from Hollins Cross, comfortable with the route from there I plodded down to the road section and then let the legs go with a pretty speedy final couple of km to Castleton and around to the YHA. As I hit the long driveway I gave Richard a quick call to make sure I didn't catch them by surprise and ran up to the finish. I rolled in 8 hours 57 according to the Garmin with 50.1 miles,  second place ending around 1 hour behind that.

During the race I actually had very little food a handful of jb's, a slice of banana and a handful of crisps, I started with 2 600ml bottles 1 with ORBANA (I am trailing their new electrolyte energy drink and will be reviewing soon) and one with water, I drank both of those by 30 miles and filled one up here and also again at 40miles and added another sachet of Orbana. Post race I had about 5 cups of tea and 3 or 4 pints of water which did the trick. I had a scoop of soy protein along with a few snacks while breakfast was being prepared. Recently I have been using a few other things from Natures Sunshine which I feel have helped keep the training intensity up with minimal soreness such as omega 3 fish oil tabs and SynerProTein. If you have any questions about these or want some yourself pop me an email or you can order them through the link.

1.47am finished 50 miles! RESULTS

Some thoughts... more reminders for me but they may help you plan to do a similar race.
The start time was a little different to normal and I didn't eat all that much during the day of the race after lunch but grazed through a few 9 bars during the afternoon. If I was planning to charge round as fast as physically possible I would have needed a bit more food on the go.
The Duracell batteries I used although they were new at the start didn't perform too well and were fading rapidly in the final 5 miles. I have used this same brand before and been fine maybe I had a bad batch?
Shoe wise I ran in Saucony xodus 2 which were about right, on the whole the ground was pretty good, a few slippery descents here and there but nothing all that bad, a large amount of track/road so wouldn't have liked to wear any of the real gnarly fell shoes!
Hills felt pretty comfortable and the speed felt fine suggesting training is going well despite a reduction in the long runs over the past month.
For some reason the data cleared off my watch between finishing the race and getting home so I can't see what my pace was like over parts of the course which is a shame. Will look into this.
Running entirely on feel and without constantly checking pace, on this occasion worked very well and time passed quickly.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Standish Autumn 10k 20 Oct 2012

Race starts just after lunch at 2.30, there is an Autumn run and a Spring run (February 23rd 2013) of the 10k course. Although no big hills as such there are some gentle gradients which feel a bit more difficult at 10k pace! A lot of the course is on a farm track which is pretty fast going and part of the course is through the woods with some tracks over roots and a bit of mud. The most difficult part of the course is probably the slippery footpath just after the woods which is, well, slippery. Route follows a kind of 2 lap figure 8 route.
After registering at the Britannia hotel 2/3min jog away everybody gathered around the end of the track on the minor road where the race starts and there was a friendly atmosphere. As it got nearer the time one of the organisers called everyone to line up and within 5 seconds it was 3 , 2 , 1, GO! I got caught out here as I was towards the back end of the field and had to weave around a number of runners over the first km to even get a sight of the leading pack and one lone runner at the front. The first little bit of an incline and the pack spread out a little and I moved my way up into the top 10. I seemed to make a bit of ground over the single track wood section and caught Rick from Southport. After that I had 3 runners in front and just as we hit the set of steps out of the wood I saw 3rd place who looked to have slowed down a lot. during the steady and slippery incline up to the top end of the course I reeled him right in and moved past as we hit around the halfway point. I don't think I made up much ground on him until the woods again as I accelerated around the twisty tracks which were great fun.

Pushing on through the woods and back onto the last km of the course there was no sign of anyone apart from a few runners from the back of the field who were on their first lap and a glimpse of 2nd position in the distance.I glanced at my watch as he made a turn towards the finish and made up around 20 seconds on him before the finish I made it 3rd out of 121 runners in 41.03. I previously did the race 2 years ago in just under 48mins so a big improvement although I wasn't especially regular at running back then and not even close to the current fitness. Lots of friendly people around the course both spectators and marshals. One of my clients Diane managed to scoop up a prize for 2nd in her category and her husband too so between us we had a good haul of prizes!
500m ish in getting closer to the top 10

Hunting down a podium spot!
Slightly muddy Diane and Charlie

New website is up and running too! Check it out and let me know if  you have any feedback! 

Monday 8 October 2012

Typical days food?


I get asked this quite a lot... so here are some pictures.

Lunch bag, I eat within every 3 hours normally.
A smoothie at the back, fruit and milk
Yoghurt to go on my home made 'muesli'
A Pitta with chicken and salad, don't really eat these very often though
A salad with some meat, in the long compartment.
Home made peanut butter, protein ball and some fruit on the mid right.
Some sardines and a 9 bar for a snack
A spare tin of tuna just in case.
                                                                              This would typically last until 4pm ish I would eat when home and then again about 20.30ish

Muesli again in the left part,
chicken in the right part more chicken in the bag, bag of cabbage and leek chopped up
a smoothie at the back
juiced  carrot, beetroot and oranges on the left
home made spag bol minus the spag and some sweet potato and courgette in there too,
This was gone by lunch time.

Typical dinner, often salmon, various veg, avocado etc.

 Lamb Steaks another possible dinner

 Olives, spinach, chicken, sundried tomatoes and some funny baby cucumber things added for good measure.

 Muesli before I mixed it up

 scrambled eggs, with a few veggies mixed in!

There we go. So it's essentially around 6-8 feeds during the day roughly like so. Someone said eating healthy was boring I am not claiming to have the perfect diet, I would say it's far from boring.
 I would welcome any suggestions you may have! 

Smoothie or 2
Chicken + veggies
Beef + veggies
Fruit + 9bar etc
Milk + fruit post resistance training
Scrambled eggs and veggies
Salad + fish

New Website!

New Website is under construction and will be live very soon!
I had a weekend away in Nottingham for the Ultra race UK championship finale where I picked up the WINNERs trophy for 2012! Blog update coming soon too!

Monday 3 September 2012

Bullock smithy 56mile, Peak District

Bullock Smithy a 56mile loop starting from Hazel Grove nr Stockport with 14 checkpoints. Basically route choice is up to you provided you visit CP's in order and get your timing card stamped. Local knowledge can play a big part in this race knowing just the right routes to take to avoid wading through a boggy field and up a hill when there is a far easier route on a track to take instead. This year I stayed on course much more than last year. Partly because I could remember quite a bit, partly because a lot of the route crossed other runs I had done in the area and partly because I ran with a chap called Toby for much of the 2nd half. I ran at a comfortable pace throughout and took my time through cps never really planning to burn round the course as fast as possible. There are a few hills here and there with elevation for the route coming in at 2300m on my watch, and 59miles distance.

 The start is interesting. Basically everybody is gathered in a park with a hammer used to start the race and everybody shoots off in different directions picking their own route to the first checkpoint, I led the group that took 'my road' and then there was maybe 30 runners piling onto the track in front having come over a golf course. This happens a lot, people will pass you and then you will pass them, I wonder what the optimum route actually is?

 The route loosely goes in a clockwise direction with Buxton being the centre of the loop, heading towards Furness Vale, Edale, Castleton, Cave Dale, Peak forest, Taddington, Earl Sterndale, Macc forest, Bollington and back to the start. It amused Toby the fact I could remember sections of the course and cps by the food that they had there and what I had eaten the year before. He was perhaps slightly less conditioned but had a great idea of the best routes to take so together we made a good team and I was glad of the company!
The day as a whole was warm with some nice weather and the route underfoot quite dry considering. I ran in road shoes (as I nearly always do) and had no problems.

 We rolled in around 11 hours 40 something inside the top 20 finishers with many continuing until the following morning to get round I believe there was 280 on the start line.

Overall my time was slightly slower than last year although I was by no means 'pushing it' and enjoyed the day! Getting in to a cooked breakfast at 11pm is a strange concept but I would probably eat anything at that point. I drove back home and was probably around 3 by the time I got to sleep on the Sunday morning before packing my bag and heading to the train station for Conwy - I had secured myself as a marshal for the Dragons Back Race and had to arrive in Conwy for the briefings on Sunday afternoon. I had a nice jog around Conwy and along the castle walls and around the harbour in the sunshine on Sunday too. More about that on the next blog!