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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Digging in

Pink Spade - lomo stylee by ultraBobban
Pink Spade - lomo stylee, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Not for winter, but just for my 14.5 miles today. A squally wind whipped up every which way I ran this morning. I bimbled down about 4 miles to Eric's in Dulwich and we had a chit-chat for 5 and-a-bit-miles prepping for new year and discussing targets for the short and medium term. Happily Eric and Cheryl are joining us for new year along with 8 others as we sample an around the word gustation as the clock strikes each hour before midnight.

Chinese, Aussie, Greek and French are on the cards so far. We will be ending with mini-Cornish pasties and apple pie with custard.......toasted with high quality cider, for midnight. This will be my last cider for a few months as I link myself into some sort of shape for the arduousness ahead.

As a technocrat of the running fraternity, I welcomed the box that was on the dining room table when I returned from the hilly 14.5. I waded through Dulwich and Sydenham Woods after Brockwell Park, Herne Hill and Dulwich Park (although we forgot to see the Barbara Hepworth missing bronze sculpture stole by metal thieves last week) up Crystal Palace and back home. The box was my Salomon XT S-LAB Hyreation system........

Wearing it, it fits like a glove (albeit a tight one) and running around the lounge and dining room it feels like nothing I have worn before. Comfortable, smooth against the skin, no chafing points. The hydration system is a click-fit quick release. It has built in first aid kit, whistle, velcro removable pockets that will stick anywhere. It also looks shit hot.


There are 4 problems with this.

1. It is slightly too small. I have a 40 inch chest and this would fit well round a 36 inch or smaller frame.

2. The zip pockets around the back are not reachable when wearing it. Why are they there?

3. Now this is my biggest gripe. The straps that stretch across the chest and clip into the body of the system are rubbish. Very small, hard to clip in and fiddly. Fine in the comfort of your own home but imagine on a cold day? Fingers don't work. Imagine in gloves? Too small and fiddly. Imagine in the wet? Too small and slippy. Now imagine the last 30 miles of a 100 mile race. Fingers become stubs that cease too work. Brain ceases to work.......Even for a dexterous king like me, totally unworkable.

This was my ummmmm, arrrrhhhh, do I send it back?

Then the amazing Mrs UB came to look. "you like to carry your bottles on the they fit?" (this is why we are getting married as she Mrs Utility)

Conventional bottles do not fit in the straps. When smaller bottles (Lucozade/Powerade size) then you cannot run unless you hold your arms out at armpit level.

So it's going back. I am gutted as this was the best fitting back I have had since my Salomon Raidlight. I am still using this, despite it being on its last legs. The OMM bag is too small across the shoulders, although for shorter runs I use a Lowe Alpine Waist Pouch. I'm going to mail Salomon the news.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Round the Island at Xmas

high tide floods road by ultraBobban
high tide floods road, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Xmas eve was a great morning to get out. The higher than normal tide had been caused by strong winds in the night and this had led to the tide being higher and in for longer. I've run round Mersea Island more times than I can remember. Each time is different and I can't recall a more beautiful and fulfilling run than on the eve of Xmas.

With the tide high and the wind strong, I opted for the clockwise circumnavigation of the Island. It is of course, the coast path which totals exactly 13.1 miles forming the Round the Island Half which Mrs UB has delighted in completing on 2 occasions. The clockwise route takes in West Mersea first and I needed a stop off to pick up much needed hydration at the post office en route. In all of my circumnavigations, I have never seen a true high tide. It was awesome. A real deep blue clay-like hue to the normally turbid estuarine flow. The water overtopped my feet on numerous occasions as I dipped close under the cliff, un-Cnut-like in my Trabucos. Note to self....sort out the laces as I am getting a toebox problem when they gently loosen across the tongue.

Around past the world famous Company Shed where I paused to check closing time (to pick up oysers and cockles later!) and round to the bleakest and my favourite part of the Island, punctuated only by the idiots that attempt to cross the saline filled Strood at high tide. Now along the coast path from West to East along the Pyefleet Channel. It looked more stunning than I had ever seen. Moody sky, wind and light drizzle, low sun and deep shimmering sea. I passed 2 people in 8 miles. "What are you doing, running round....?" "Yeah the whole Island...great isn't it!? I replied....."Nutter...." and then they were out of earshot.

I finished off my lap with a bit extra to take me up to 14.5 miles and could have (and should have) done another couple...but dinner needed to be prepped.

Xmas day was less boozy than ever before. I am going totally dry come New Year for the foreseeable future and it didn't bother me too much. Mrs UB is joining me for boxing day tomorrow and I'm not sure she has her runners with her, although I have her other kit here. I know she would have loved the experience yesterday and I hope that I can enjoy it again when I brave the ankle deep mud, then sand, then mud (more layers than a cake) to view the wonders of coast Essex again. Running with Mrs UB is amazing and I can't wait to spend every Xmas running with her from now on. Merry Xmas all ye plodders and sprinters

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab Pack - RacingThePlanet

Wow! It's early Xmas for me I hope! I have just purchased a Salomon XT Advanced Skin S-Lab pack for £92!!! It's £120 everywhere else

300g in mass. I shall be selling my Salomon Raidlight and OMM bag on Ebay if this is a winner. I'll be checking it out first time at the Winter Tanners 30 mile race

Not exactly Spielberg!

I purchased a mini-DV camera a few weeks ago. It is tiny. It has a mass of about 30g. The buttons are so tiny, an ant would feel comfortable operating it. Having said that, in a pair of gloves and on the Gatliff 50km ultra in November, what could be better than capturing Jezza and George along with Bazza. Caged animals released into the wild to run!

Upon reflection as the year draws to an end, it has not exactly been a vintage year, but when I think back to the consultant at King's who said; "When you are fit you will be able to go jogging, but forget about doing another marathon" I haven't done too bad.

No running owing to a triple break (tib/fib) until April
4 Ultras
1500 miles in just under 8 months

It's not all bad.

Happy Xmas

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

I'm getting ready for run 2 of the day. This is the Xmas Turkey Trot at DPR which will feature a run there and possibly a run home. Note to self; after run, do not consume too much mulled wine!

I was browsing through some Ultra Youtube videos and found a shot of me and Immune climbing strongly up the 814ft Ditchling Beacon.

Monday, 19 December 2011

After the Xmas parties.....

Trollied by ultraBobban
Trollied, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
I've survived 5 Xmas parties and am in the mood to commence "Operation SDW100".

The 2 weeks of 1) illness and 2) parties has allowed me to take a break from pounding the streets of South London. Although I never have a hard and fast training plan that I stick to the letter (rather read........let's see how my body feels), I have grown to like a plan I put together myself.

Week 1: Long slow mileage. Lots of slow hill repeats (1/2 to 1 mile hills). Back to back 10-12 milers on Sun/Mon/Tues

Week 2: Building.....long slow miles, hill reps, long slow hills, some fartlek and a long weekend run followed by a medium weekend run and something faster, say at the running club.

Week 3. Back to back long weekend runs, hill reps, Monday and Tuesday hard and tempo runs later in the week.

Week 4. Drop back. Long slow miles and long hills.

I interspersed this will Core Stability work at the gym, 3 x 1 mile swims a week and elliptical training and plenty of leg drains in the gym sauna.

I managed this in the build up to the 2010 88 mile Ridgeway event, peaking at 100 miles a week.

The difference this time around is that I am far busier, far more committed at work and won't have the added bonus of the summer holidays and 2 training sessions per day.

Base mileage is at 50 miles a week 2 or 3 weeks per month and after Gatliff, feel that the base training is paying off.

Health-wise, all good. The cold weather does make the pain from the broken leg show itself more often that I would have anticipated, one year one. I have lost 7.4kg since September and am not feeling too bad apart from that.

Next events:

Serpentine 10k New years day (hungover?!)

Winter Tanners 30 - 15th Jan
Thames Trot 50 - 4th Feb
Steyning Stinger 4th March
South Downs Marathon LDWA 1st Apr
3Forts Marathon 27 6th May
Chiltern Challenge -26th May
South Downs Marathon 9th June
South Downs Way 100 (103 miles - 13620ft ascent) - 30th June

At the moment I am struggling to find back to back marathons in late April and May. I've never done a B2B but I am really excited at the prospect.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Keep Clear - A Bah Humbug Xmas Virus

Keep Clear Garage by ultraBobban
Keep Clear Garage, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Sniff sniff. Cough...(hacking) cough. Yuk! it's at this time of the year when a productive, positive week at work is dampened down by a snotty tissue and a husky voice. I managed 24 miles in 2 runs on Monday and Tuesday and have done nothing since. Leaving work at least 2 hours earlier than I normally do on a Friday was the right thing to do. Even a pumping, searing, blistering chilli last night barely registered on my own Scoville scale. Me and Mrs UB have an X daubed across the door (no entry) and its hot baths, early nights and plenty of vit C.

I hope that the filth will pass over and I will wake up right as rain and ready for a 15 mile run in the morning......but I'm not putting any cold hard cash on it.

Ho ho f'kin ho!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Wet and windy recovery

Central Park pathway by ultraBobban
Central Park pathway, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Whilst Jezza is off running the 40 mile Brecon Beacons ultra, I thought I would have a leisurely weekend after last week's shenanigans at Gatliff 50km. I had run Monday through to Thursday so had not had a day off running, even though the miles were fairly short; due to in part by lateness from work and tiredness from the ultra. I cut short the club run on Tuesday as despite my internal protestations, decided publicly that there was little stored energy in my muscles and pulled off the "fish and chip" route and had a gentle 8.45s back to the club.

Saturday morning I felt good again and hit 8 miles hard continuous hills around Palace, Forest Hill, Gypsy Hill and Dulwich Woods. i think that means back to normal and ready for the week ahead. No aches and pains and 95km for the week.

Xmas approaches and I am in 2 minds for Portsmouth Coastal marathon. The prep leading up to it includes 3 Xmas dinners and a number of late evenings out. Ho Ho ho.