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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Downland 30 Challenge; Race Report

Downland 30 Challenge by ultraBobban
Downland 30 Challenge, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
I had what you could call a hangover. Not of the cider or wine variety, but a running one. 60 miles in the last week including the Fairlands Valley 50km plus getting lost. The weird thing is that I woke up this morning with DOMS. Having legged it around Dirty South at 6.30s, Saturday was fine, Sunday was ouch. Quads and calves.

So I met Johnny Mac and Helen at the start line with some trepidation. JMac introduced me to Allan Rhumbles, who I had run with some 3 years earlier at Doyen.

The first hill is what can only be described as silly. 0-500ft in about a mile. Quad and lung bursting and I was sweating like the proverbial after a conservative start. Hot weather and warm winds prevailed and I ran the first 4 with JMac, swapping stories and contemplating his 100 marathons (this was #97). I made my excuses as he was on 8.20s pace, too quick for me for a 30miler, especially near the start so I ran alone for an hour or so, in awe at the steep escarpments and relentless hills around Ditchling Beacon which at 814ft is the 3rd highest Down. Clayton at the start is not far of sea level. Black Cap was somewhere on this stage at 676ft.

It was back down to about 40ft above sea level and then up 713ft Firle Beacon, a long, relentless climb. I got to running a good clip but conscious of the second half being the tough one. At CP1, I discovered that there was only water. Shit! A problem. I have never come across an ultra that didn't at least have some bananas, cheap biscuits or orange juice. This was just 2 moody old geezers with water. I was going to be in trouble here with only a buzz bar (300cal) a jordans bar (100cal) and a gel. (100cal)

I slowed to accomodate my concerns and found myself caught by Steve, running his first ultra, although he had run 4 marathons. We chatted, in fact we chatted lots and I ran with him towards the turning point near Southease, about 15ft above sea level. Reaching the one marshall with just water at CP2 was a chance to fill bottles and realise that I had just my gel left for the next 15 miles. I decided that although our conversation was good, the going was too slow and at 2.37 at the turnaround, I had to get a move on.

The next part of the course is hard. Back up to Firle from sea level is a tough, into the wind climb. I started to wobble at mile 17. I thought that I was going to hit the wall, something I had never ever done before. Transition from carbs and glycogen to fat burning was a worry, but the transition was short and by mile 19, I was sub 10ing up Firle and reached CP3 (or CP1 for the second time)

Quafing the gel was my only joy here and I know that 2 years ago, running with Immune, I told him to go on and run as I hit a bad patch. Last year with Helen and Flynn I felt pretty much the same and we walked vast swathes of the return leg. This time I dropped my pace to 10s and stayed there for the duration. With only a couple of walk breaks, 10s was what I hit, mile after mile after mile, all the way to the top of Ditchling. 1 gel, 15-30 miles. I overtook 20-30 people so hopefully would get to about 30th place

Met Jez in the last 5 miles and we chatted on the downhills but my leg injury prevented me from going brain off, brakes off mode. I rolled in to a 5.14 finish, only which was unbelievably 3 mins faster than last year!! However, unlike last year, my back half was the same as my out half, which I was over the moon about. Ultra number 20.....done!

An hour later, fish, chips, curry sauce and mushy peas in Brighton with Mrs UB, Simi, Anouck and all this I forgot to praise Mrs UB who ran the Jack and Jill 5 miler up Ditchling Beacon and back. She is a true running legend and I am so lucky.

Friday, 22 July 2011

I'm in NDW50

I'm in by ultraBobban
I'm in, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

I am a prat. A bottle of wine later and am in the NDW50. Nice shoes.....indeed. I ran 8 tonight, 2 warm up, 2 at 7.30s and 4 at 6.30s in these new hotties.

I then got drunk and entered the NDW 50


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Fairlands Valley 50km. Back to Ultra racing....a race report

UB is back. Not really with a bang, but the boy returns to Ultra Racing. I did FW Marathon last year and is my slowest marathon to date. Whichever crazy fool writes the directions uses the most random points of reference that have an out of date quality to them. Having knocked out a B2B 2 weeks previous, I had a fairly sedentary week, owing to the 12 days without a day off and so much going on at work.

Having said that, I got to the start line with heavy legs. The first 2 miles through Stevenage must rate as the worst new town planning nightmare known to humankind. I pity the people that see that every day. Then open fairly flat and occasionally rolling countryside more than makes up for the cack that is new-town-ville.

The rain held of to a mild drizzle for the first 5 miles and CP1 was upon us quickly. It wasn't particularly chatty in the middle of the pack. I ran the race with Johnny Mac last year and we talked gibberish last time round. This time, I focused on me, my self talk dragging me up from heaviness and into a clip that would see me enjoy the first round of bread pudding. having not trained on the famed coconut water for 9 months, I found it particularly hard to stomach and the bitterness sent my iron stomach into convulsions. Happy to trot along for the first 10 miles, I passed CP2 and on to CP3. The CPs were very close together on the front 16 miles and 9 miles apart on the back of the course......very weird. Feeling more lively from CP2+ and now on cordial OJ, I had a bit of a punt at going faster. Catching up and running with a chap who had run the Houseman 100 a few weeks ago, we had a good quality LDWA conversation and chatted about the Jubilee 100 next year. Irritatingly, we got caught up with a group of guys who were running relying on one for map work. They tagged along and followed through CP4 at 16.6 and then to an issue.......There was a discrepancy in the instructions and a fair few went wrong. The more eagle-eyed spotted the WM point that I think the organisers did not spot and made a turn. about 15 mins of conflab, compasses out and 1.4 miles off track, we returned to see the rest of the field coming at us..... pants.

Quickly removing myself from this group I made a pace towards CP5, filled both bottles and a quick face-full of wonderful bread pudding and off again. Which idiot made us run though the middle of a field that was rutted and 6 ft high in oilseed rape? No one could run! I went wrong twice more and then increased pace to catch up. I bumped into Helen who was fresh of the GUCR as second lady overall and SDW100 run. We had a good old catch up as I hadn't seen her since the Ridgeway. after about 4 miles, on I went. The instructions were increasingly annoying me....more like LDWA events but on acid "on veering left across the field with a dead tree in the distance, take the second nettle patch to the left. If there are no nettles, look for a house in the distance!!" bonkers!!

Last 15 km was enjoyable, passing 50 or so running in various states of wellbeing. The rain was driving at this point and this made the running through the open farmland slippy in the clay and filled every groove with claggy mud, reducing the peleton to a slide/walk. Thank goodess for the sight of the metalled track!

A nice run into the finish, but with slightly over 7km over the 50k, a slow 5.40 finish. Would have been good to go under 5 but I can't complain, sat here with a cider and with legs feeling utterly fine. I am hoping recovery will be fine for the Dowland next sunday. Welcome home! It has been a long time coming but it is good to be back

Sunday, 3 July 2011

B2B weekend. Day 2. Relentless Forward Progress

The first BIG weekend and test for my body and mind came today where I woke up, very tired from the 23 miles yesterday. As my first day off in a couple of weeks I duly ran for all could yesterday. 3 crumpets and 2 coffees later; I was on my way to Forest Hill Station to meet Susie Wood who is training for the San Francisco marathon on 31st July.

Our route is an old favourite of with plenty of vistas, old and new, industrial and post-industrial. Along the waterlink way (River Ravensbourne) to Deptford, which I absolutely love as you can run 5 miles in London and have to cross one road! Then on to Greenwich and the oppressive foot tunnel. Once out on the North side, a cut across Canary Wharf and join the Regent's canal at the lovely Limehouse Basin and traverse the locks uphill through Mile End, Victoria Park, Hackney and then Islington. Once at Islington, a left (south) turn through Old St, Moorgate, The City and over London Bridge and 5 miles south taking in every park and traffic free byway possible.

London can be a great place to run and we saw plenty of wildlife along the canal and beyond. A great run and great chat that puts my sunday run to 21 miles with a weekend total of 44 miles. This is the first B2B since Ridgeway training. If I was not already going on holiday that week, I would be chompining at the bit to achieve the impossible for the year. However, relentless forward progress is my aim and when the 50ks are behind me next month, the plans are to get to a 50 miler some time soon. Any suggestions are welcomed!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Gods are smiling

The Gardening Gods by ultraBobban
The Gardening Gods, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

day 1 of my back to back weekender. I had planned to run 20 miles with Eric from the club but secretly knew in the back of my mind that with 12 days working without a day off and a few ciders on a friday night, that this might not come off. A saunter upo to Parkrun this morning with Mrs UB and we bumped into Glen, Beardo and Tom P. I ran a conservative lap 1 but as I approached the lead up the hill to lap 2, something strange breathing, arms and legs hit a sweet spot and I began to get quicker. The final mile was 6.16s and I knocked 41 secs of my Parkrun PB. Still 2.20 off my flat 5k time but CP park is very hilly indeed. After a warmdown, I ran round Docklands with Eric and made my miles up to 22 for the morning. Feeling quite good now and am up for a 20 mile run with Susie Wood in the morning to peak my training for the Fairlands Valley 50km in 2 weeks.