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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Back to square one

One of the most annoying things is that as my cold has now cleared up and I have a casual glance at myself in the mirror, I am as fit as I have ever been. Proprioception when running or even chillaxing tells me that everything feels just fine. Except one thing. This blasted knee. I am endeavouring to use Andrew and Chris's physio this week as this is doing my head right in. Lovely crisp -1 degree morning, called on Tom at just after 9 and we had a backstreets run to Greenwich and around the park. Care was taken as there was pelnty of ice around still but there were lots of runners out, some far too serious looking, (although that is another story) to say hello to and lots of post-industrial scenery as we chatted and ran along the low-tided Thames Path through to loop the Dome and come back through Blackheath. Not a sharp pain but as we trotted along at between 7.45s and just under 8s, there it went. A numbness followed by an almost grinding pain. A short stretch and another attempt at 8s ended in abject failure as I decided to say goodbye to Tom, who was probably happy to cruise at 7s and hobbled, toe running on my right, under the grim A2 flyover and through the backstreets of Maze Hill towards Greenwich. Searching the high road for a cab came to no avail and a cheeky 3 stops on the DLR to Lewisham and a hobble, run walk.....kind of limp to a cab firm and something I had never contemplated in my life took over. I took a cab the reemaining 3-4 miles home. Still, I consoled myself in the back of a grubby Toyota that it was cheaper per mile that the Great North Run. So it is now back to Square One. Physio. Lots of low impact cardio down the gym and some swimming. Funny as I had changed my mind to do the Lakeland 50 with Mr Immune, rather than the Grimsthorpe, as a little voice iside said "a point for Lakeland and 3 points for Ridgeway" will get me to the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc Championships next year. Rest and recouperate UltraBobban. There are big things ahead!!!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

A start...

Well after a few days off to let the ITB and some knee cartilage issues clear up, not 10 but 6 good miles with some hills in. Knee held up fine so feeling much more positive. An earlier dinner and a bath was all that prevented me from doing another 4. Patience I am finding... is a virtue!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A bit of time off.......pondering the Bob Graham Round

Well I feel like I have spent more time blogging than running in the last few weeks. I have racked up the long miles but not the short daily runs, which has felt a bit odd. Having said that it has been time to have a little spring clean and clear out some much un-used running gear which will find its way onto ebay in the next week or so. This will definitely be including the now infamous Salomon tights. All proceeds are going towards my summer holiday in China which will be a welcome break of sightseeing (and a little running) from the 2 big summer projects of Grimsthorpe 70 miler (23rd July) and The Ridgeway 85 Mile trail run (28th August). The Lakeland 100/50 does clash with this so I am not sure on what to do. That said, it has also given me a cold and unusually a day off work. Having spent most of the day in bed asleep, I now have the strength to tackle some of the reading that I have accumulated over the past few months. There is a veritable mountain of books under the bed. These include; To the end of the earth by Tom Avery, a fantastic diary recreating Robert Peary widely criticized claim to be the first to the North Pole which is nearly finished and has been an excellent read. I left the book at the Rhownair Country House in Snowdonia this new year and had to get another copy from Amazon so I could finish it. I have to say that it is an inspirational and aspirational book. Can I now think about completing a polar marathon? Also to finish is a book called Jungle Ultramarathon; a Mark Hines diary of the reputedly toughest footrace on earth. He wrote the Marathon des Sables diary which was a good read. There are some work books to read also; Good to Great by Jim Collins. Not a bedtime read to accompany the massive cup of Milo I can tell you.

Hopefully tomorrow the running plans take back over when I get back from work. It would be nice to get a gentle 10-12 miler in the bag and try to get to the running club too. If I feel that I have shifted this cold I have had for 5 days now. Work on saturday will prevent me from a long run so instead I shall get up early on sunday and see if I can get some quality miles in. Eric has entered the London Ultra, a 50k following the Capital Ring from Streatham to Wembley. Even though the £40 entry fee is steep, it might be worth running this inaugrual event. There is entry into an Expo at Wembley afterwards and it is on the first day of the half term break so plenty of time for recovery for the Steyning Stinger on 7th March. The plan is a minimum of 10 marathons and ultras this year. I have done 10 in the last 18 months, including 7 last year. The plan is to complete another 10 this year. That way, I will be 1/5 of the way to 100 marathons... a target before my 40th birthday and undoubtedly a lot of miles to prepare me for the ultimate challenge... The Bob Graham Round. This would be something I would like to do in the next 3 years. I think this year to get some fairly serious miles in my legs, next year to spend on recce missions and building a team of supporters to run the legs towards the end and the following year to attempt the race. End of July 2013 is the mission.

The BG is 42 peaks (ranging between 2,000-3,000 ft) in the Lake Ditrict and approximately 65 miles that must be completed in 24 hours. To this date, 1529 people have completed it in just under 80 years. 2 in 3 attempts fail as the climbing 30,00ft in the process. What a challenge!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Bank of England XC - tea and cake

well I was looking forward to the recovery run to see how the body was faring up since the ultra and to be honest, it felt good until 11 miles in. George, Eric and me donned backpacks and ran up to the river at Battersea. Everything was good until Wandsworth when I had some recurring ITB issue. Note to is every time I run in the Salomon EXo II tights. So perhaps they might find there way onto ebay and be better for soemone else. I can't help thinking that they are not right for my running gait. Anyway, after a coffee and a stretch we carried on to be met at Roehampton Gate of Richmond park by a field that was at least twice least years. I was on form last year and came 9th, running at about 6.50s. This year I ran round with Susie and supported her, and in the process managed a total of 21 miles. Bank of England XC is a great fixture in anyones calendar and 2 cups of tea, 4 beef and horseradish sandwiches, 2 carrot cakes and a scone later, I felt that I had refueled sufficiently for the car journey home. Early concerns about the knee are no more than a bit of rest, a massage and no Salomon running tights again. Ever!


If always does knock the stuffing out of you when you wake up with a sore throat and a blocked nose. It was to be expected; immunocompromise after the ultra. Plodding through today and an afternoon nap after the race methinks.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Back to the grind

Well it's been a full-on week at work and just chance now to reflect on the week. The C2C was amazing and have just now started to feel a bit flat so have started to plan the newest challenges.

I concur with Jerry (magic forest) that there are lots of "New Year Resolution" runners out there. It seems to busy around Dulwich and Forest Hill; a rhapsody in day-glo. Hopefully they keep it up!

Managed a recovery 2k on Monday and ran to the club and back (5km) to deliver medals for the Dartford 10 club champs, of which everyone was pleased with. The mileage might seem paultry but despite 45 miles....72km in new money, does take it out of your body and recovery is imperative to the ultra runner.

Saturday will see the Bank of England XC race in Richmond Park. Google maps tells me that I am only looking at about 10 miles there so me, Eric and George are heading up to Battersea and along the river which should take us to about 17 miles. The race is only 4.9 miles but the promise of the superb spread of tea and Victoria Sponge, clotted cream and scones is too much to resist. Of late I have become somewhat of a sponge officionado and it will certainly aid my recovery pace progress to a more than sedentary 8.20s

L2B now seems to have hit a back burner as I am investigating other options. Mr Immune and I have discussed the Ridgeway 85 miler on August BHW Day-night races are a new thing to me. The other challenge is the Grimsthorpe 70 which looks to be a trail 10 mile lap. 23rd July and glowsticks at night. Jerry said the 50 miler in Kent was quite good and I like the idea of leaving your wardrobe (!) and supplies at a point. It will be good training for the Ridgeway anyway. It does clash with Lakeland 50 and Malvern 54 but I think it looks a goer.

It will all pan out in due course. Time now to chillax

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Approach to CP3;GB Country to Capital 45

Approach to CP3, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

After 23 miles we hit the canal and I was stuck with what to do, about 3 mins behind me were the 3 amigos. I stopped for 10 mins for a chat with the organisers....well that is a lie, I stopped to stuff anything that I could down my face. Undettered by the crisp war on that had erupted, I signed UN resolution 49 and vowed never to mention spicy nik naks as long as I could have that packet of salt and vinegar discos. Jerry had spooked me with his "salt-warning" which was a crooping cough and I get a strange throat feeling when I feel salt low, so the crisps were like manna from heaven.

Unfortunately I got so cold at CP3 I had to set off and it was at a fast clip. The garmin shows a few miles of sub 8.00s between 26.00 and 31.00 miles. Crackin'! I got chatting to Claire from Serpentine and apart from a 7 hour LDWA winter tanners, this was her first ultra. Seen as it was my longest we were in good company. After CP4, I stretched the ITB and calves and ran on my own from 33.00 miles to the finish, occasionally stopping to will on the 17 fellow runners that I overtook in the process. After such a long time running there are many things to do to while away the time, talking to others was the part that made me feel the most sane. Singing to myself, shouting at ducks, moorhens, coots, magpies, cyclists; reading grafitti out loud in coloquial accents, counting up, counting down, calculating mileage and pace from my garmin.......and smiling, I think I did a lot of that.

So, arm Skins went on and Gore Windstopper came off as I attempted to get some serious arm swinging in the stage from CP5 to the finish, just 6 miles away. Just an orange glow of sodium street lamps and the warm feeling of iminent success bathed my vision ahead. Cat and mouse with 3 guys and a chat about a marathon in the Falklands and all of a sudden I hear a chap shout that the finish is around the was my brilliant running buddy George who had come to suprise me at the finish, along with his wife Astrid. Unbeknown to me, they had been on the phone to Mrs UltraBobban and had come to see me. Great.

And how do I feel now? Great still. Read to tackle L2B and possibly (after a chat with Carlos at CP2) Lakeland 100 in the summer. No really?

Feeding frenzy

Feeding frenzy, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

stopping on an ultra is not an issue for us hardy souls. OK, there are these Dean Karnazes type characters that can run and run and run, but mere mortals require tasty morsels.

Motto for the day "completion, not competition"

Shoe change

Shoe change, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Ok, so this was a bit extravagant but most definitely needed. Not that I mind wet feet and seen as I left my socks on, there was not much change. However, I felt that my research had proved quite good in that switching to road shoes for more cushioning would help reduce my ITB issue that had flared up after the Doyen and was starting to niggle me between Checkpoint 1 and 2. Not that I didn't get a lot of ribbing from Immune, George and in particular, Jerry. So, I'm thinking of changing my name by deedpoll to WardRob, in acceptance that I can't decide what to wear when running. These shoes got a thorough soaking to tone down the vizi-pro orange over the next 5 miles until we hit the canal.

8.30am start; in the rain

8.30am start; in the rain, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Flanked by Jezza, George and Mr (David) Immune take to the wind and rain. Great to see so many familiar faces and some brilliant new people, including Claire from Serpentine who was running only her second ultra. Hope to see you at the next one

Jerry me and George at the shoulder of mutton

Jerry me and George, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Dry January took a new meaning when I entered the shoulder of mutton at 7.30am......for 2 bacon butties and 3 coffees, absolutely bloody excited about running to London, just like Dick Whittington. South East London's finest ultra-boys.

DPR at Dartford 10

DPR startline, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

stepping back from the ultra and taking the time to support all of the club who turned out for the Les Witton memorial Dartford 10 this morning. Such a great day and time to spend with people from the club and also great to see so many familiar friends from clubs across the South East over the last few years.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

and hopefully it won't be this muddy on saturday

Doyen2009 Me adjusting shoes, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

This is the bit I always hate but should enjoy

95km of snow running around south london, aided by the fact that school was shut for 3 days owing to the depth of snow, quality of roads and general health and safetyness. After a few hours of paperwork each day, it was time to run. Nevertheless, I donned the spikes and went for a good old bimble with other folks who were not working and then defrosted in the sauna at the gym for a long stretch and a chin wag with other gym-ites.

As a scientist I am aware of the importance of the taper, particularly for ultra events. I have tried and tested lots of different theories.....but am particularly indecisive as to what to do. My best performance to date was a gradual carb-load throughout the week prior to my top 20 finish in the 3FM. The day preceeding this was an exhausting 30 mins of silliness on the Dulwich track and then straight to the gym for a stretch, a sauna and a 1.5 litre bottle of lucozade in a bid to replenish stripped carbs and trick my body into loading glycogen.

This time, a long slow feed adding carbs and essential vits and mins throughout the week. Reading Michel Roux Jnr (a marathoning chef no less) I am adding in nuts, pulses, basmati rice and snacking lots on dried fruit. That and a dry January so far leads me to feel really good....although how can you ever be ready for a 45 mile race? Never mind. To cheer myself up I managed speedwork of an intensity never completed before....5km in 19 min 06 seconds, with a 2km warm up and 2km warm down. Now the snow is subsiding, we should be ready for saturday. Looking forward to seeing the ultra crew from Doyen and the rest of the races last year. Then, a quick recovery snooze and the dartford 10 the next day. Brilliant!

Friday, 8 January 2010

New Challenges

OK, so the snow is dissapating and just before dinner in Battersea I am contemplating the challenges for the year. ITB doesn't hurt after 75k of snow running in xc boots over the last 5 days. hopefully if we have a good turnout at the club tomorrow morning I can make it my first 100k week in a couple of months.

The challenges are London to Brighton 56 miles XC on 5th Spetember, that is if I can get a place......which should be in order seen as I am the runner on Doyen of the Downs page advertising their great race!!

The more interesting challenge is a birthday one.....3 Marathons in 3 weeks. Bungay Black Dog; a road marathon which, all being well might see a PB (I don't ofen run road marathons) of sub 3.20. Then, a new race for me, the South Downs Marathon on the same day as London Marathon. Finally the 3 Forts Marathon (a pocket ultra XC 27.1 miles) to finish it off. I gained 21st place here last year and that is my best finish....but also a lovely lovely race where my friends Simi and Anouck came to meet me at the finish with a cider! Can't wait for this again.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow, Snow and more Snow

While the weather forecast has been doom and gloom, I have never seen so much snow in London in the 12 years I have lived here, nor can I remember it being this prolonged or cold. Some might say that this inclement cold front is enough to put off the street pounders but NO! Back into the swing of things after New Year and it's extravagances, it is back to no red meat, no alcohol, plenty of fruit and veg and low GI carbs. The energy has come back and I have been out and run 60km in the last few days, almost all in the snow.

Although school was closed and I spent most of the day catching up on admin, I met up with George and Chris (not until the final England v SA ball had been bowled and England; Onions and Swann, rescued us against the Yarpies) and after donning the Roclite 312 GTX XC shoes, we were cruising through the streets of London faster than all other pedestrians and also cars! An 18km snow run felt like 18 miles and new muscles were used to gain motion through frozen climes. Brilliant!!!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

snow and cold

managed to get some low quality miles in Snowdonia, although great to get out in the cold windy weather. A January of austerity in the cider and wine department and a focus on the finer arts of running ultramarathons.

11 days to go until the GB country to capital. If the cold weather continues it will be road shoes, a thaw will mean inov-8s are cleaned and ready to go.

DPR club handicap tonight so will be glad of a bit of speedwork in -2 conditions