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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Feckin' cold!

Craig-y-llyn reflection by ultraBobban
Craig-y-llyn reflection, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

I don't normally feel the cold but the last day or so has been a nice -2 degrees and it has really got to my bones. I'm finishing Janathon on a bit of a running low as I have decided that work priorities far outweigh the running and with being away at the weekend with work at the National College for School Leadership, the running has tapered for no other reason than I am snowed under with paperwork and the like.

Dearest readers who believe in a taper will be more than happy that I am winding down before the Thames Trot 50 mile this weekend but I plan to get out and do 10 tomorrow, similar thursday and have friday evening with a nice dinner to celebrate Mrs UB's birthday and some mapwork for the big event.

Mrs UB is getting the full treatment on sunday with luncheon with her 3 sisters and their BFs down in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Fantastic food in a fab little pub! Not only that, but they do have the best cider known to man.....Chiddingstone Bone Dry.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

DPR Annual Awards and dinner

After a heavy week at work and also up to Nottingham for 2 days, getting the miles in was an onerous task. Here, there and everywhere. I jumped off the train from Nottingham on Saturday evening, having been suited and booted all day, raced across London with my case and so to pick up Mrs UB from a party later, picked up the car and whizzed to the DPR dinner and awards at Dulwich College.

The opulence of South London's finest independent school did the finely clad runners a good service. I arrived fashionably late so was treated to a microwaved version of the earlier dinner and a couple of large lemonades. I picked up a couple of medals for club championships; 3rd in the 1 mile and 3rd in the cross country. All was grand and it was great to see lycra and fluo-clad runners in dresses, tuxedos and the like.

A nice long lie in followed by hot cross buns and a long Colombian coffee and it was out to log some hilly morning miles. I took every route I could over the hills of the area; One Tree Hill, Canonbie Road (18% gradient!) Forest hill, Sydenham Hill and Crystal Palace. I'd not charged my Garmin for a week so whizzed home for a bit of food and then went out a bit later in the day, on a less hilly route out into Kent where I could gawp at houses that were just gargantuan, wondering how many millions each one cost. One day after a lottery win maybe.

I've developed a small but not insignificant niggle in my left knee which comes and goes but with logging 60+ miles a week, need to keep an eye on my intake of vitamins, minerals, omega 3s and fish oils. I'm going to have a micro-taper from Weds to Friday in preparation for the TT50 mile race on Saturday. No hotel booked, just an ultra-early start that will allow bacon butty quaffing time!

Tuesday is the last day of Janathon and I am pleased with the progress but feel that I might be about 15-20 miles short of the 300 miles that I decided that I might aim for. Not to worry as I was originally aiming for 200!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Rock Solid

Bleak Brickwork matrix by ultraBobban
Bleak Brickwork matrix, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

I'm feeling fine. Dearest Reader....I am feeling fine! I don't know why? I am putting the miles in at work and on the damp cold concrete of South London. I should be in bed, or ill or worse......but I'm just fine.

A nice quick 12.6 miles this evening at the club with a good old chit-chat with Claire P who is training for Boston in April, Tom P, Glen and a host of other runners new-ish to the club. Great to catch up and great to meet new people. I thought that i would be tired after a 26, 10, 12 and 12.6 in 4 days but I feel just fine.

All I can think right now is that this rich vein of form, both through running and at work, continues. There is a busy 10 days work-wise until the Thames Trot 50 but I can't wait!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

It's all in the timing

what time is it? by ultraBobban
what time is it?, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Knowing that I had not left work before 7.30pm on Thursday and Friday, hope for a run after 13 hours at school both days was pretty slim. Not that the break was not a good idea......I was feeling it after 61 miles in 4 days, all with much hill work!

This morning I ran up to Crystal palace Parkrun, not to race but to marshal. I was surprised to be handed a large box emblazoned with Tag Heuer and instructed to be the official timer for the race. All went well although looking at the field, I was a little green with envy that I did not run, as the field would have enabled me a top 7/8 finish. However it was on to bigger things and after a couple of bacon and tomato butties back home I ran up to Sydenham and Dulwich Woods to meet Tom P for a run to Richmond Park. This was not a direct run, as that would involve the smoky, smoggy South Circular. Instead, we took an alternative route, via Brockwell, Brixton, Battersea and Barnes. On this route we put the world to rights and ran into the 20+ mile and hour headwind and drizzle, heads held high in the knowledge that in 4 hours we would have high tea at the Bank of England Social Club. The run took in as many parks as we could traverse, followed by a saunter along the amazing Thames Path into the brutal headwind.

Roehampton Gate was upon us in no time and we paused for a cup of tea before the race. A gentle trot to the start and a big hello to our fellows from the running club and it was off on the 5 mile Bank of England XC championship run. Tappo, Tom W and Dave streaked ahead of me and I was surprised to be able to keep up with Spenser as my watch ticked over 20 miles for the day, uphill, into the wind through the park. I felt like the race had hardly started and I was haring down to the finish in 7s to cross the line before the Ranleagh Harrier who was trying to draft me over the last mile.

An about turn over the finish line and I ran back a mile to join Mrs UB and we ran the last part together. Not long after, it was tie for tea and cakes. Over the last 3 years, the spread has diminished somewhat. The tea and scones were wolfed down but the sandwiches were not up to the usual standard. Perhaps the Euro crisis and the economic downturn have heralded the demise in the quality of Her Majesty's high tea. A warmdown run was needed to round off an excellent training day of 26 miles.

315km for the month so far and I feel as strong as I did in the 3 weeks leading up to the Ridgeway in 2010. I can't believe I have run 135km this week, despite being the busiest week of school in many, many weeks. I do worry about the old saying; Pride comes before a fall, but I am feeling in the best form in ages. Here's to hoping...and also here's to the amazing and gorgeous Mrs UB who I know supports me millions!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

When Immune and Ultrabobban met Jezza and Celtic Tiger

It might seem like an odd title to start my blog this evening but these are odd friends> I don't mean odd in a bad way, quite the contrary! We must be a few tokens short of a pop up toaster to choose to run 30 miles in -2 conditions across the muddy, hilly North Downs when we could quite easily be having a Sunday morning lie in.

This is the moment when we surprisingly caught old hands Jezza and George who had set off an hour before. Jerry was nursing some sort of Delhi Belly. Poor sod!

Anyway there is some swearing so be warned!

A nice 10.5 mile club run tonight so 53 miles in the last 3 days and feeling much stronger now. I am close to feeling ready for the Thames Trot 50. There will be no taper and no easy week before the TT50. That will come afterwards. it will likely be close to a 100 mile week. Can't wait!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Chill! Put the beer on hold for a while!

I've been buzzing the last few days after deciding to have some time off alcohol from new years eve. Dry Jan is close to 2/3rds done and I have really enjoyed the fitness, positive frame of mind and energy that I have been blessed with over the last few weeks. I'm going to have a beer at the end of the Thames Trot 50, but just one to celebrate and then go back to not drinking very often. There's literally shed loads of cider, beer and wine in the shed from Xmas and New Year. The cupboard is full of wine and spirits but I'm riding the crest of a wave....

My recovery run today started slow. I worried as the machine begrudgingly cranked up and into action for the 1.5 mile run uphill to Georges. It was amazing to see Astrid and new born Joanne who was just the cutest baby I have ever seen!

I have finally realised that recovery run means just that. Recovery. I told George i did not want to dip below 9s which was fine by him. We took in some hills; One Tree Hill and then Forest Hill and the long drag of Friern Road which is a mile uphill albeit at a low incline. After I dropped the G off I ran a long way around the the supermarket to pick up juice and dinner and by the time I had returned home, had rattled off 12.1 miles. The legs feel absolutely fine from yesterday.

Mrs UB and I have just decided not to stay in a hotel on 3rd Feb for the Thames Trot but drive straight there! Onwards and upwards.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Winter Tanners Video Clip

Race Report is on the next page. This is one of a few videos that I shot with the mini-dv camera. Sorry it is shaky but it is very small and we were running quite quickly!

Winter Tanners 30 mile - Race Report

I had a couple of bacon butties for breakfast and as I was reading up on the directions, I thought I would take a peak at Jezza's blog as he has a time honoured tradition of taking a neat little pic of his race day kit the night before! I was horrified to learn that he was going for a 7.00am start and not going with the main start at 8.30!

I met David, aka Ultra Immune and we got going on a frosty, chilly -2 degree start from Leatherhead. By the time we had climbed to the summit of the first hill after a mile or two, it was jackets off and down to some serious chit-chat as we had not caught up since the summer.

Immune is training for the TP100 in March so at the moment, is a lot fitter than me, however the early miles flew by as we endeavoured to read directions on the go whilst dodging icy puddles and frozen bridleway.

Checkpoint 1 came around in no time at all, as we had been running and chatting and also having a few words with some of the other runners, one with a fantastic Husky dog that was literally pulling him along. I seized an opportunity to whip out the mini-DV cam. No matter how much I practice, because of its tiny size and even smaller mass, the image is very shaky! More on the video later! I'll post up some clips very soon.

Checkpoint 1-2 was a short 7 miles and through the beautiful Surrey countryside, trails through woodland and across open downland, much still frozen and not yet sunkissed by the dawn. Up onto the Downs via a sand ridge revealed a fantastic view of Surrey on one side and London to the North. We were fueling on the run and onto page 2 of the directions....discussing mass reduction of our kit for much of the time. Both of us have realised that it is all too easy to be over prepared and travelling light not only allows you a more economical running gait but you tire less quickly.

I hit a dip between 17-20 miles which was probably a switch from the depleted glycogen stores to a fat burning system. I felt quite rubbish at this point and assumed Immune to want to hit the last 10 miles harder. Indeed he did! After we had traversed Blatchford Down on the NDW, I got my second wind and we started to motor. We made light work of a lot of hills and were overtaking many runners.

As we approached the final checkpoint at 24 miles, we had agreed a pit-stop strategy of 2 cups of juice, a handful of Jaffa cakes and then run. At this point we saw none other than the venerable Lords of the ultra, Jezza and George. Within a few hundred yards we had caught the chaps and spent some moments navigating the twists and turns of the route. It was clear that we were not going to hang around as we had never expected to catch them, having set off an hour later.

The last 5 miles were in the zone that Dave and I have been in a few times. Ultra-leggit mode.......After a particularly undulating 3,000ft of killer hills, dropping to sub 8s for miles 28, 29 and 30 bring on the euphoria commonly known as "runners high".

Blasting down the last mile and off the Surrey hills, I could barely keep up with Dave and a credible 5 hours 16 mins for the muddy and hilly Tanners Round.

Amazing day, made more amazing by the man himself, Ultra Immune! Well done and see you at the Thames Trot 50 mile in 3 weeks

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Winter Tanners 30 tomorrow

It will no doubt be a cold and frosty start tomorrow at the car park in Leatherhead. This is MY type of run....."tough event" as stated on the entry form, 3 checkpoints with limited drinks/biscuits and a set of directions, no marshals and no map!

The weather looks to be a -2 degree start, rising to a max of 4 degrees for the day. No matter. I was out running the XC Club Championships this afternoon. I was going to run parkrun this morning bu beat a hasty retreat to the duvet covers after turning the alarm off and having a lie in. Good job. I was nice and refreshed for Lloyd Park mud shenanigans this afternoon and after running to Richard's and cadging a lift, a quick warm up round the field and it was down to club vest and shorts for the 3rd Surrey League XC of the season.

I do feel like I should take it a bit easy so after going out about 30 seconds a mile too quick, I slowed to a comfortable pace and sought careful footing in the new trail shoes as there was a lot of ice about and some deeper mud too. Had I not been doing Tanners tomorrow, I would have gone hell for leather, but I wanted to conserve energy and prevent any soreness or stiffness. The hills were great as I caught up with runners and then drafted and overtook on the flat/downhill. The last 2 miles I did bomb it and managed a sub 7 and a 6.30, with an overall average of 7.12s.......4th overall in my club champs and 3rd in age category. However in the grand scheme of things, this was about 8 mins behind the overall winner.

So, I'm looking forward to an early night and a great opportunity to catch up with some old friends tomorrow at the Tanners.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Wickham Way

Shoe Porn #2 by ultraBobban
Shoe Porn #2, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

I went for an 18km run after work today. Something I rarely do is run down Wickham Way. It is only about 5 miles away but the houses are at least 2 million quid each. Mental.

Anyway, I am excited about trying out my second new pair of shoes this weekend. The Asics are just a dream. The 13s are even better than the 12s. I'll be wearing the Saucony at the Surrey League XC on Saturday and for the Winter Tanners Round 30 miler on Sunday.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


the retired tyre swing by ultraBobban
the retired tyre swing, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

37 miles in the last 3 days and I've not been home from work too late....although I have brought work home so have been going out later than usual. I should get another 23 miles in the next couple of days, then a rest day, cross country on Saturday and the Tanners on Sunday. inadvertently I have quickly upped the mileage without thinking.

The Thames Trot 50 mile is just 3 1/2 weeks away so subliminally my body regards this as good peaking mileage before I have a week mini-taper to allow the glycogen stores to refill.

The experiment of one continues. I have in the past attempted a number of different pre-race strategies based on my scientific knowledge. As a Masters-educated Biologist I would like to think that my understanding of body performance was above say, the man on the street. Not that i am a fan of fads and whimsy, but carb loading does not work for me at all. One successful strategy I employed when I ran the 3FM 2 years ago was a morning of hard running, including track work and then a 7 mile warm down on the day prior to the race. The theory goes that the body is hoodwinked into thinking that glycogen is being depleted at a higher than expected rate, so necking a 1.5 litre bottle of Lucozade in the sauna at the gym afterwards enables faster glycogen reabsorption than would be expected. The downside to this is that I hate track work!

I have attempted other strategies to avoid the dreaded carb load, which leaves me bloated and slow. I prefer to snack on my long runs, grazing at shops on fizzy drinks and crisps; on runs it is flapjacks and jelly belly beans, rather than the toxic gel. I have been known to stop at a chippie (ask Immune and Jezza) on a really long run for a can of Coke and a chip butty, plenty of salt and vinegar. Better still, A bacon butty from the cafe on wholemeal. Yum!

All of this keeps me going mentally, as I dream in food! All of this keeps the thought of being tired at bay.....

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Shoe Porn #1

Shoe Porn #1 by ultraBobban
Shoe Porn #1, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
I thought I would take the new Asics for a spin this morning. I was going to wear them yesterday for Parkrun, but decided that my skanky old pair would do instead and I would wear these for the LSR.

I feel like I have packed in an inordinate amount of activities this weekend. Up early on Saturday for a few easy miles, then up to Crystal Palace with Mrs UB to run Parkrun. I had intended to trot round as was up for miles afterwards and ran fairly easy and somehow managed to PB by about 15 seconds. I love Parkrun as there are loads for the club there and it is a great place to catch up; Lily, Glen, Sue, Tom P and George, who has just had a baby. Amazing!

Off then for a nice warmdown run to take me to 14 for the day. I probably could have run all day, much was the retiscent feeling I had that I had promised to sort out the fences that had blown down in the storms last week. "£200+VAT! I'm not paying that to put up a fence!" So the Odyssey began. Digging down 70-80cm into wet clay is not my idea of enjoyment. Nor is the veritable back-breaker of dragging in excess of 100kg in one lump of concrete out of said hole. Nevertheless, with every sinew, muscle and a great deal of expletives thrown in, I got the bastard out! Putting in a new post and then the hurdles took no time at all.

This morning, belly filled with most excellent munch from Saturday night, I called upon Tom P, Beardo and Eric for our LSR. I knew time was tight as I had to be in Chinatown for Dim Sum at 12 noon. What I hadn't bargained for was the route that we took was fairly undulating and by the time I had got back, 1200ft of ascent had been added to my calves and quads. A great place to test out the new addition to the trainer cupboard....the Asics. Great!

The end of today was the best bit for me....running with Mrs UB for a few miles of recovery, chit-chat and planning the week ahead. What a brilliant weekend.... and 110km in the last 8 days too! Winter Tanners 30 miler next Sunday, Lloyd Park XC next Saturday. Bring it on!!

Via Flickr:
New Asics Gel Cumulus 13 (in day-glo green)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Cross country alert!

Warm-ups by ultraBobban
Warm-ups, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
it's time for the post new year cross country. Before the Winter Tanners round (30 miles) on Sunday next week, the Surrey League XC race at Lloyd Park for the club and the week after, Bank of England XC in Richmond Park. I'll take it easy at Lloyd Park, although at Epsom, we had our best ever team finish, despite a couple of quick runners missing. It will no doubt mean I go like "shit off a hot chrome shovel" or as fast as my legs can carry me on 2 muddy laps.

Leading on nicely to my new Saucony Peregrines, in which I got home a bit later than planned for work so only go chance for a brief 4.5 mile "check out the new crepes" run. Light, grippy......they'll do. The Salomons have gone back as they are too heavy. I'll give them a whirl at the Tanners and see how they go. I'm up to 60km for the week so will likely end up running long tomorrow and Parkrun + on Saturday so hopefully will get in 90km.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Out in all weathers

the mist through the trees by ultraBobban
the mist through the trees, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
Not deterred by the wet and windy weather, I pulled on my trusty OMM all weather breathable lightweight mac and hit the wet streets of south London. Today was somewhat of a recovery run. I've only been back at work 2 days but was feeling a little tired after 7 days of running without a break.

Being back at work is ace. I do miss the lie-ins of the Xmas break being up at 5.30am. Tiring and stressful, but I like the challenge and structuring my day to get the maximum amount of work done. I usually work 12 hours a day at school, but today had to come home earlier for a furniture delivery before I went out on my run.

Being lazy I went for the tailwind first. With 30mph behind you, running is easy. Coming back and uphill into the driving rain was challenging but well worthwhile when I got back home and into a warm bath.

The Salomon XA 3D Pro arrived today. I'll be taking them straight back. I put one on the kitchen scales; 465g for a size 12.5. Ouch. I'm opting for the Peregrines instead. think of carrying an extra 430g of footwear over 100 miles. No way! That's a lot of extra, much needed calories burned. It also saves burning money too. I am becoming older and wiser about trying kit out and then Ebaying after it has been wardrobed for 6 months if I don't now just goes straight back.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Handicap and cravings

I love milk by ultraBobban
I love milk, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
I ran the club handicap tonight. I often shy away from speed work but have been on it for a few days. I haven't run a fast running club handicap in 13 months, before I broke my leg. My PB is 13.18 which equates to about 6.30s for the 2 and a bit mile undulating course. On form, I should be sub 13 but I never seem to get it right. My PB did involve me pulling a "moonie" to my buddy Irish Sue on the way round. I could have done better but it was so funny I nearly died laughing!

This evening the windy weather didn't help anybody. There were puddles, (not a problem) fallen branches to be stepped over (slight issue) and then having to overtake on a waterlogged verge with no grip (a big problem) but I managed to holler everyone on the way round and run a 14.21. A reasonable start to the year. A nice hilly run there capped it off as a nice evening, especially getting to see my mate Tappo and his brilliant wife Katie and their beautiful new daughter at the club. I reckon she loves milk at the moment.

I do to....but semi-skimmed is what i am about to quaff before hitting the wooden hills to Bed-fordshire.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Footwear needed

I've just ordered some new footwear. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a shoe fetishist.......well Jezza would disagree, however I do own 2 pairs of Asics Cumulus that have done about 800 miles per pair. I also have a pair of Brooks Ghost that have now done 300 miles and I won't be buying another pair as the wide fitting is fairly narrow. I have my lovely Inov8 road-lites for minimalist stuff that I am trying to get into...oh and there are the Trabucos for trail running. I haven't been getting on with these either. They gave me my first blister in 3 years at the Gatliff 50k !!

So I am trying 2 new pairs of trail shoes.....Salomon 3D XA Pro which should be in the post this week and a pair of Saucony Peregrine. The Saucony look the nuts weighing in at just 260g for a pair of trail shoes! The Salomon are a bit overpriced and I've heard nothing good about their customer service from friends.

Anyway, today was a tale of 2 runs. Run#1 was a nice 8 mile trot and chit-chat with Sue and Glen this morning, with run#2 a set of continuous hills with a bit of fartlek thrown in for 5 miles as I prepare to go back to work tomorrow.

After the quick last mile at Serpentine 10k yesterday, the thought of speed at least once a week is creeping into my running agenda. I don't think that is a bad thing, as long as injury does not ensue.

It is running club handicap tomorrow so this now looks like 3 days of speed in a week. Bring on that long run on Saturday morning.....after Parkrun (which is another session of speed!)


Via Flickr:
first time fiddling with the controls in a move towards lomography. i will be ebaying a holga or similar soon. i love the effect

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Share the love!

Starting 2012 the right way was on the cards from the moment I awoke from hungover slumber. The round-the-world party last night went down really well, starting with Chinese and travelling through Europe and finally ending up in dear old Blighty with our very own tasting (scoffing) menu which included a guest appearance from Maria’s boyfriend Charles who until recently worked at Le Manoir aux Quats’Saisons making a marvellous chocolate tart with parsnip ice cream and alcohol infused jellies. Wow! I didn’t mind ending the evening with my home made Cornish pasties and cider though! Eric and I quaffed our last drink before the last of the crowd left and I climbed into bed at 3am
This, coupled with the 2 (!) recycling boxes filled with bottles did nothing for my New Year hangover. Luckily Mrs UB drove to the New Year Serpentine 10k this morning. “you still smell of booze” she commented as we pulled into Hyde park at 10.30am this warm but damp New Year’s morning. Luckily I was one of 9 from the running club who had turned up for duty. I was definitely the worst for wear. I bumped into Ultra Legend Helen Smith at the start. I have to take my hat off to her as she is a total star…….who is going for 4 x 100 milers this year and has enough points to qualify for UTMB about 3 times over!
Starting off running with Mrs UB for the first mile at 10s and feeling like I was about to be sick, I felt safe in the knowledge that there was no chance of a PB. Feeling perkier, I accelerated through the mud whilst everyone kept to the pathway and dodged the puddles, much to the amusement of the excellent Serpentine marshals. I ran with Bernard for a while at 8.15s, then Lucreta and then decided I would put a spurt on and by about 7k into the event, I started to feel a bit better and knocked off the last 3k in 7.40, 7.00 and then 6.03! Then the feeling of nausea and headache came back which was fine as I was safe in the knowledge that this was my first 10k in 3 years and a perfect way to start the year off. Cake and banter afterwards and a nice chilled out afternoon on the sofa beckons.....and some free socks for all finishers!
Share the love!