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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Valentine's Challenge - Marathon #80

Not a great deal to say. Too much DOMS from running hills. A tarmac course that was windy and pretty unforgiving.This was a training run that if I could get my head around the laps, would have been OK, but I hate the laps...what can I say.

Slower than average time. 7.50s for first 15, then capitulated and 9s'd in the rest like a rat holding onto a mouldy crisp. Felt like quitting after 15 miles. Felt better at 24....but too late to think about the 2 laps beyond the marathon which would've won it.

I love Traviss and Rachel for heir excellent organisation but I need to get my head around the laps. I just can't do it anymore. Give me the trail again please.....

Marathon #80 ticked off

training in the Peak District

2 days 2 x 2.5 hour runs. I wish I had gone further and had longer on my feet but I knew I had a marathon on the Tuesday. Well below freezing and lots of snow. Perfect for exploration, following the hills and trails and trying not to fall over and die on the remote hills. I did not see a soul for 2.5 hours each time and thank the grips on my shoes and someone watching over me that I did not trip, slip of break something.

I ran up to Solomon's Temple to begin my run. Having lived just 17 miles away as a little Northern Scoundrel, I knew this 1200ft hill well. From here it was Nav out into snow country.

Despite the deeper snow, it was a much easier run on saturday as there were not 60mph winds that were almost impossible to stand, let alone run. This was a good explore and plenty of vistas.

Axe Edge Moor and Burbage edge were my faves.

Sunday I had developed a little but of DOMS and took it easy for a while. I ran much further than I did on the Saturday although had to keep off the peaks to some extent, heading for Cloughs and gulleys as the wind was too hard to stand up in.

I headed down the Goyt Valley which was cold and deserted. My mum and dad's favourite place. I can see why.....I loved it as a kid and I still love it now.

Shining Tor, Hoo Moor, Stakeside and then back down and up Burbage. Legs battered. Cold and filled with DOMS. Time for a warm bath and remove the black mud from those hidden geothermal pools beneath the snow.....

Winter Tanners 2017

I love this race. What can I is fairly local, fairly nuts in terms of cold and wet as is early January. It is self-nav and in the 50km, only 3 CPs and this year a totally new and very challenging course.....4000ft of hills

The plan was to start out with my good Tanners buddy Mark Thronberry. He had brought along a few friends including Paul T who I had run with on the first 7 miles of the Winter Midnight Ultra......thanks Paul as if it wasn't for you I would have gone off course and potentially not won the race!! I also bumped into the sexy young Hampshire scamp, Kelvin Gower and had a catch up. This type of race is the business and my kind of territory. Wet, muddy, hard to nav and cold. We ran together for about 15 mins then I realised that I was on form for the day so in the first of 6 hours of constant rain and sleet, waded through puddles and hit the uphills like a wet antelope. After a while I caught up with 100 mile winner and legend Jenny Cox and her entourage and we on and off chatted for a bit. We meet up for our once a year date with mud and beastly hills and have a chat.....then off she went. 

CP 1 came and went and off towards CP2, which included the hilliest section of the run. I began a conversation with Martyn Turner who I had been overtaken by at SPW on the last mile and had been a marshall at the ill-fated Thames Gateway 60 in 2013. We ran and chatted for all but the last 3 miles of the race. There was a good bit of nav between us and we didn't see another runner until CP2, where we caught and overtook a bunch of good quality runners. Leading through the forests of the Surrey Hills and through plenty of mud, Martyn and I had a good old chat. We went at a steady but fast clip and caught up again with Jenny. As a group of about 7 we went through mud and snow, slipping all over the place to now about 4 hours in the rain and sleet. My waterproof was not waterproof anymore, everything was soaked and now heavy.

CP3 came and that was the signal to hit again hard. Martyn and I ran and left the group, taking a couple with us who eventually caught and then I ran with Jenny's mate and Martyn ran behind. I knew the last 3 miles like the back of my hand. Cold wet legs and 7.30s down the hill for the cameo was manageable. 6.19 was the slowest I have ever done the race, but 19th place and it felt like the fastest? There were some seriously good runners in the top few and also some seriously good runners in the next hour behind me. I really enjoyed this race....more than any other tanners and probably in my top 10 of all time races. 

Marathon #79 done

Monday, 2 January 2017

End of 2016 and the start of 2017

Ending the year with a much better footing than the start of 2016, there are some challenges ahead. Most notably to get the work-life-kids balance right and this will allow me to get to grips with the increased focus on training both from running and from strength and conditioning. Utilising the run home from work is key to early base miles. Strength and conditioning work and a better diet and no alcohol in weeks leading up to key challenges is critical to this. Physical effort is part of the plan. Mental conditioning is equally important.  A big DNF in the summer with the Samphire 100 was a critical blow to my year, after winning the Midnight Challenge Ultra. It felt as bleak as the top of Dunkery Beacon on new year's day yesterday......

.....but that positive mindset needs to be nurtured back and a strong end to 2016 with 2nd place at Ranscombe and nearly 90 mins quicker than my 4 previous Gatliff marathons has got me focused on 2017. 2016 looked like this (Tanners certificate missing) and I want 2017 to be even better.

 I have my first 3 races in the diary and paid for. Next is the plans for getting to the lakes for 4 sessions this year for BGR preparation, but I also want to take on some personal challenges - including the Welsh 3000ft peaks in a day, plus a few other ideas that I have in my head that are not races but personal running challenges. Boosting my navigation skills and time on feet is important to this.

I'm 42 this spring and want to ensure that I keep my good health as I get older. I am lucky not to have had any significant injuries since breaking my leg in 2011. I want to build strength and a mindset to be able to go back to the Ridgeway 85 and smash it, then an 100 again and the Bob Graham in 2018. 

No pathway is ever an easy one when you build in physical and mental goals, especially when failure has happened in the past. Turning this into a positive mental mindset and physical approach is the key to peaking at the right time.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


As one approached the end of the year there comes that natural time for reflection. An excellent start to the year with the Tanners, Dymchurch and then my very first ever Ultramarathon win at the Midnight Ultra 33 mile race down in Kent. An exceptionally muddy course and an awesome course record by 21 never to be beaten as RD Mike Inkster has hung up his boots and the race no longer exists in this format........Followed by a sketchy 45miler the following week at St Peters Way, where I blew up in the last 4 miles...then it was a down hill trail all the way through the summer with a drop down to 6 hour challenge from the 100. That was the low point of the year, even though I technically won the 6 hour challenge. At the end of the summer after the worst marathon I have ever done (organisation and boredom) at the Not the Rio Marathon, it was time for a change.

Mid September I opted for a coach and who better than ulramarathoner and women's 100k National team runner and professional coach, Gemma Carter Since then I have had a steady increase in form and a removal of almost all 'junk miles'. Working a 50-60 hour wek in school and with a toddler and a new baby, training has been tough, so I have had to make it count. Diet has significantly improved and the training is starting to pay off. The mental toughness is coming back after a couple of lousy DNFs and a loss of mojo.

I am looking forward to 2017 already. Stronger and faster and more mentally prepared I am already looking forward to a few races:

  • Winter Tanners 30 mile
  • St Peters Way 45 mile
  • Liverpool to Manchester 50 mile
  • UK ultra championships 85 mile - Ridgeway (to vanquish the demons of 2015)
  • High Weald 50k
  • Welsh 3000s (15 3000 ft peaks in Snowdonia in one round)
but the key focus is the planning and preparation for 2018 which will be the Bob Graham Round which I am aiming to attempt in late July 2018. 

Base miles with strength and conditioning work whilst enjoying my training is the key to early season success. I think I will post a deeper review of the highs and lows of the year along with my stats towards Xmas. 

Bring on 2017!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Behind with my blogging

I'm a little behind with my blog.....

At some point in the near future I want to spend some time writing about the difference coaching is making to my training, my performance, positive metal attitude and overall good feeling about running. I have refound my mojo!

In the last 8 weeks or so I have run:

High Weald 50km (got seriously lost but had a good day out running and enjoyed the dace)
Ranscombe Challenge on the NDW - 2nd place in the marathon
Gatliff 50k (56 actually) - I ran a PB on the course by 1 hour and 21 mins, also 1 hr 38 mins faster than last I love this muddy race!

Updates and images to follow in the near future. 2 kids, lots on at work and a million other things to do before I update this.

78 marathons or beyond now.....

I have a bucket list for 2017 and then the big one in 2018......all will be revealed!