Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Trying to go fast

I've been dead busy with work and general stuff going on. After a nice double run on Sunday, Monday was an unusual missed run....but a friend in need was more important. I skipped the running club to catch up this time with a running friend in need, which actually turned out to be a new route for 11 miles through the ever warming streets of Londinium.

At last I get out on my own tonight but not until I arrived home from work at 7.30 so it was a good session of hardcore fartlek, with a middle session down the middle of a slightly uphill quiet road of 8 x 200m reps with 60 sec jog recovery. Pure Marmite moments wrapped into one. I hate it at the time but am buzzing and aching afterwards.

Steyning Stinger XC marathon Sunday....bring it on!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A weekend run on Mersea Island

I've had a nice end to a very busy week with a hard 7 repetitive hills on Friday night, a fantastic 7 with Mrs UB and Lily on Saturday morning, all XC around Beckenham and then a drive up to mum and dad's for the man himself and his 69th birthday. A big fat evening on the Island can only be followed by a run in the morning.

A sunny disposition greeted us with unseasonably warm February sunshine deceiving us that we were up early for a June or July run! The views were stunning, the scenery delectable and the feeling of being at one with the world as we headed throu fields to the coast wall, past the world famous oyster fishery and to Cudmore Grove National Nature Reserve and back to base. I found an old pic of me running through Cudmore on my round the island 1-30 half, helped surely by the military haircut?! Oh dear!

We will miss the round the island half this year owing to a small race called the SDW100.

We have the Steyning Stinger on sunday, where I am doing the marathon and Mrs UB and Lily are doing the half. The SDW is my second favourite place to run. Mersea alway will have my heart and soul.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Recovery run and reflection

Stop Cocks by ultraBobban
Stop Cocks, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
I aimed to leave work at a sensible hour today as I wanted to get a slow recovery run in after the 50km yesterday.

Results were out for the London Ultra and a surprising 27th place for me from what seemed like a quick first half of the field.

Getting the machine cranked up, taking in Crystal Palace hill, I soon realised that I am in perfect working order. Granted, I only trotted out for 9km, but I had work to be getting on with when I arrived home.

Recovery was a nice smooth 8.30s with no niggles or issues. A little stiffness soon warmed out of my legs and my thoughts turned to the "overdressed" yesterday. I wonder how many thousands of pounds of equipment was being paraded round by the "bravado" at the start. Dearest Reader, I do not often get mad about these things, and I am not mad...but the thought of all of the accouterments attached to these poor fellows could have only served to weigh down their heavy hearts as well as weary legs, posing the question upon arrival at home....."why does one take 20 energy gels to a race?" This was very different to the hard and fast MdS'ers who were indeed; a) hard b) fast!

I will be back for this event and others like it. I think it is fantastic that so many are attracted to this amazing sport (way of life) but get a grip. Stop mouthing off at the start of a race about how good you are. Stop dressing like a cock! Stop Cocks!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

London Ultra - Race Report

London Ultra by ultraBobban
London Ultra, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
Well I said that I would not do an inflated price ultra again. Never say never! After voting to miss the TT50 in favour of not being Monday morning mullered at a total waste of time job interview, I was keen to get some competitive miles in and this fitted perfectly.

Despite the £40 entry fee (ouch!) I felt comfortable to be only 7 miles from the start and in need of a lie in....which I got as it was a 9.00am start. After saying goodbye to the amazing Mrs UB, I started to get some utterly negative feelings about the nature of ultra racer queuing up in front of my to pick up race numbers. It felt to me like a very corporate event; shiny new gear, some downright odd to the bizarre. For a checkpoint every 10km and through the London Capital Ring, runners would never be more than minutes from food and drink. This felt like the line up to some multi-day ultra. Most people seemed to be in trail shoes!As many readers would know, London pavement is synonymous with mud and scree trail! Not only that, this ultra fraternity were significantly overdressed in every conceivable thermal fabric and waterproof. Now granted, some of these chaps may have been trying out new equipment for an MdS attempt but this looked like a Yukon Arctic Ultra attempt.

With my trusty Asics, a Helly top and a water bottle, I lined up for a start by Mr Rory Coleman himself. I met him at the finish and actually despite the razzamatazz, the guy is down to earth and genuine and if he encourages more to run long, then good on him.

So to the race. Start to CP1 was all on tarmac path. The field split up quickly to the point of me thinking that most of the people at the start had taken a wrong turn. Apart from the first couple of km, I know the first 15 miles like the back of my hand so the map went away. I settled into a 8.30s pace and found myself amongst unfamiliar faces. In fact, I have never been to an ultra event and not known anyone.....but hey-ho, an opportunity to meet new friends!

All was well until the underpass below New Beckenham railway. Over the last few days a 25m puddle that covered the entire underpass with 4 inches of good old cold water stopped about 40 runners. "Is there another way around?" I said, yes, but you will add on another 1/2 a km. "Mr-and-Mrs-new-running-gear" duly detoured while I ran through and got slightly damp but nonetheless happy with my own resolve. CP1 arrived and the amazing Mrs UB, only yards from home gave me a kiss and wished me well. Capital Ring signs flowed thick and fast and I was just draining my bottle down my throat when George and Glen from the running club dived out of an alley near Alexandra Park and ran with me for a few miles. It was great to catch up with the guys on this sunny but cold morning. George, as ever was in a t-shirt with the temperature only about 2 degrees! At the top of Palace, I had realised that a lot of runners were going the wrong way so I took a cut through Palace Parade as we had missed a CR waymarker. A bunch of guys trusted my judgement and I rewarded them with a direct route back onto the course, not adding any unnecessary kms.

Across Westow Park, Norwood Park and to CP2 at Streatham Common. I paused for some Snickers and was duly dropped from the small group I was with. Settling into my own pace I hunkered down, picking off the odd runner here and there. I settled into a rhythm and found myself in a group of 4. One runner, John, was not clad in the state of the art lycra with all the accouterments of these other runners so we seemed to gel. i would not say that I am from the old-school, but I've done a few events now and I know the need to travel light and scavenge well at CPs. John was on marathon 28. he had run his longest run, a 30 miler at the Downland Ultra in the summer. We chatted long about the event as I had run it a few mins slower than him. John stated that he lived near Richmond so knew the back end of the course well. This was a match made in heaven!

Tooting Bec and Wandsworth common came and went. CP3 was bestowed with my fave ultra drink......a nice cold can of Coke! After much burping and belching, we settled into a good clip over to Wimbledon and then over the hilly and windy Richmond Park. Some of the route followed the bank of England XC in Jan and runners of that will know the headwind up the relentless hill in the middle.

At this point we were carving up the field and taking no prisoners. On these pocket ultras, the time for the serious work is after mile 20. There are some that go off the line like the clappers. Hardcore pros like Stuart Mills can do that sort of thing.....but so many runners go off far too hard at the start, maybe gaining a minute or so a mile, only to lose 6/8 mins a mile by walking or jogging intermittently over the last 8 miles. I believe far more time is lost in the last quarter of a race like this than is ever gained at the start. Not only that, it must be so demoralising to be overtaken by a chirpy, lanky northerner like me! We joined the river to the final CP. Into headwind all the way and after another coke and maltloaf, John started to fade. Into Syon Park and I was alone again. This section through Brentford to Perivale was technical, many twists and turns and lots of surface water. 8.5 miles from the final CP to the finish was probably a bit long for some. I really blasted from 40-48kms, overtaking quite a few runners. I made a couple of hash ups and missed the signs, but by this time I was a bit tired mentally, but my legs were still pounding away. This was my fastest XC 30 miler to date, as I knocked off the miles in 4.30 and the last 2.5 miles came and went along a particularly forgettable stretch of canal and fields. I thought we would have a lap of the track but the finish came up on me with 32.5 miles under the belt in 4 hours 50 mins and a nice medal and mug from Mr Coleman himself.

A well organised run and would do this for the exorbitant entrance fee.

I will be seeing John at the Steyning Stinger in 2 weeks and after a hot cup of tea at the finish it was off home and to buy Mrs UB a much-deserved bunch of flowers for being most excellent.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Crossing the capital....up all manner of streets

I'll be getting lost on Sunday. Mark my words. It is a given.

This week has been a fruitful one, in terms of running, but also one of missed opportunities. 92km for the week was OK, and with a long run coming up on Sunday, I am sure that I will be best placed to enjoy the outing. I do feel that i could have run another 50km though!

How about the weather? Last week I was in 4 layers with gloves and my run yesterday was close on 12 degrees, a massive 16 degree rise in temperature and I found myself sweating like the proverbial......having to ditch layers around my waist like a mental washerwoman! I do enjoy running when it is either really cold or really hot. Having said that, my new Haglofs running jacket arrived this week and is awesome......weighing in at just over 150g it feels like I am not wearing for the slight SWI........SSSSSSSSSHHHHH of my arms pumping away.

This morning, Mrs UB and I went on a run together. in fact, it is the longest run we have been on together for some time and it was good. Out into Kent and via some gargantuan houses in the Beckenham area and back through wood and glade of Beckenham Place Park. I never underestimate how amazing it is to run with Mrs UB. She glides along engaging in chit-chat for miles. Then she turns round and states that I am running too slow for her and I should be running much faster so she can "catch me".....and have a workout.

That said, all was awesome in the UB stable where we completed a round of SE London and Kent together. Amazing!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Plodding the streets of the Big Smoke

After a few days of socialising and spending time with the family-in-law in Liverpool and only a small foiree into the mean streets around the East Prescot Road, I arrived back into the Big Smoke with the intention of plodding the streets of Londinium tonight.

Little did I envisage that my day would be so busy with chores that all I could muster was a quick cup of builders tea as hydration then hitting the streets for 17 miles of running.

You might recall those times where you run, walk or drive for an age and arrive at your destination and think......shit.......I don't recall most of my journey. That was me tonight. I afforded a glace at the Garmin's version of events and came to the realisation that I had run almost the same roads twice at the beginning and conclusion of my 17 miles. Not only that, but I blasted down the hill towards home feeling thirsty. Now, London being London, I usually carry a couple of quid for a bottle of juice or whatever. I arrived home with the notion I had not a drop of sustenance, save for the rain on my face!

Well, at least I have another day of long runs tomorrow as I meet with the Chairman of the world's largest advertising agency under the cloak of CSR. I am working on strategy for my beloved school. Prior to that I have to run back rom taking the car for a service, go into the West end, lucheon, then return, run back to pick the car up and then run to the running club.....all being well I will see my Valentine clad in Lycra and wicking fabric...immense!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Chilling end to the week

After an 11 mile run through the fantastic snow along the Waterlink Way on Thursday, I was primed for a quick 10k on Friday and a 15 mile run in Liverpool this morning. neither materialised! I don't feel awful about it!

I'm on half term this coming week but need to spend 2 full days at school on matters of fair urgency but the rest of the holiday will be dedicated to family, reading and running. I have the potential for an ultra in the next 2 weeks which I will update you on as soon as I have entered. Following that are 2 weekends of Steyning Stinger and Sevenoaks Circular races.

So, this weekend I am settling down for some cider, wine and a relaxing time in Liverpool with Mrs UB's family and the gang with a possible Sunday am run with Mrs UB

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Feeling hemmed in

Hindsight is the best teacher on earth. Wanting to run the TT50 should have been the way to do this and not letting the job interview rule over what I had been training for is a lesson learned this week.

All work and no play makes UB a dull boy. Indeed it does. Hindsight should have told me to relax and carry on my normal daily routine and not be fazed by such things. Now I have some making up to do. Socialising, reading, doing things with Mrs UB and running must go up the agenda on my weekly to-do list! Otherwise I'll become institutionalised and boring.

So, it is hats off to my fellow DPR running mate Spenser, who secretly ran the TT50 without telling me. Bastard! But well done as this was to my knowledge, his longest run ever, so well done in getting a 50 under your belt. How much money am I going to wager on his appearance at the SDW100?

It's back to business tonight with some stress busting angry hills. This is a simple workout when there is a late finish from work. Find hills, vent anger! If you find any flats, turn around and run the hills again. or else! I managed some serious hill work and all of the ups were 7.45s or less. The downs.....I was too scared to look at the watch while on ice-watch!

Amazing how a run can make you feel better. Now I have an ultra and a marathon at the end of the month. Bring it on!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


White on White by ultraBobban
White on White, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

When I have been writing over the last few days I have been concerned over a job interview. I have deliberated, digested and mulled over the day of interview yesterday and have come to the conclusion that I am not going to put myself forward or the second day of interview.

1. There are big issues that are unresolved in my head to do with the dynamics of the organisation. Going in as 2ic would not be a good thing without the full backing of the head honcho.
2. Never avoid a nagging feeling in the belly. Like a small crumb in the shoe of an ultra can only lead to a blister, or worse.

So I sit here thinking about the world. I ran 13 miles in the snow yesterday which was just beautiful. It made me think long and hard about the interview and made me realise that I didn't want it. Selection is tomorrow for day 2 but I have already politely emailed to pull out.

Goals ahoy now........Sevenoaks Circular in 2 weeks, followed by Steyning Stinger. Mrs UB and the marvelous Lily are running the Stinger half.

Can't wait for such awesome events!

I'm not too fussed about the job........there will be plenty more that comes along and then the time will be just right!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Spotted Dog

Spotted Dog by ultraBobban
Spotted Dog, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

My morning run was superb! After a 4 mile round trip to the pub with Mrs UB last night in the snow, it was nice to pull on the Peregrines and exorcise the demons.

Readers will note the the last time UB set foot in snow, the wheels came off, or so to speak. A broken leg in 3 places was the misfortune. My theme this morning was the Green Chain Link. Canon 5d in OMM rucksack and 2 pairs of socks on, I tentatively set off, aiming for parks and pathways to avoid gritted roads in my trail shoes.

A few shots reeled off at each vista and the only feedback for running this morning in shorts...."You're brave" from the non-running fraternity.

Onto greater things and a snowball fight in darkest Kent followed by lunch at the Spotted Dog. Chiddingstone cider aside, a wonderful afternoon was had by the two car fulls of family and friends who celebrated Mrs UB's birthday in style. Running is taking a back seat for 48 hours as I prepare for the biggest interview of my life. I am utterly bricking it.....not because anything other than I think the job is perfect and the necessary promotion may allow Mrs UB to have a longer maternity leave........but not util the sound of tiny UBs are on the way....and that wont be until after the wedding. However, I am suitably nerve-wracked and bereft of finger nails. Normally one would go out for a 15 mile run to calm the nerves but I have opted for an early night and the comfort of my book; 42 Peaks, the story of the Bob Graham Round. If all goes well, I would live to do this next year.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Running in the cold

It was -4 degrees this morning and I should have been in Oxford where I hear it was colder. I am now getting more prepared for my job interview on Monday by taking an afternoon run around the neighbourhoods and estates around the school.

As a reader you may ask.....what is the point of this? I am approaching this Deputy Headship post with vim and vigour whilst opting for something of a rigorous approach to learning about the area around the school. In South East London there are areas of high affluence; for example Dulwich Village and East Dulwich close by. As you traverse towards the Thames at Greenwich there are pockets of City worker gentrified streets and large gardersn. Travel East and the post-war concrete tenement facades take pride of place next to dilapidated terraced housing and 70s and 80s housing association blandness. Jobs are harder to come by, urban deprivation and the symptomatic greyness of unkempt streets, dog shit all over the pavements, rubbish piling up in the streets and the plethora of angry young men with angry dogs gather on street corners, congregating to update Facebook status' and plan the next booze and weed run.

During this short run of steep hills coming out of the Thames basin, Mrs UB and I dodged the canine copra, bins and mattresses in the street and got a feel for the school environment. One only hope that I was the only prospective employee that engaged with the local community today.

Onto running matters now and I must doff my cap to the legendary Immune who ran the Thames Trot in 7 hours 23 today. He text me to say that his last 2 miles of the 50 mile run were 7.40 and 6.46! This is legendary status and I have a feeling that an ultra soon will be won by my good buddy, and deservedly so. Looking at his weekly stats.....he seems to be on top form.

Lets hope the snow stays away and that we can all enjoy a Sunday Runday

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Team UB

Mr and Mrs UB by ultraBobban
Mr and Mrs UB, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
When does a light week become a mission?

It becomes a mission when there are some things in life more important than running!

What? I hear you cry from the comfort of your IPad on the sofa, spilling your gin and slim all over the cat! Preposterous!! How can the doyen of Ultras be spouting such nonsense?

Point 1: Mrs UB has a birthday on Saturday and had agreed to crew. Exceptionally amazing and all other weekend plans are in place to celebrate including dinner, pressies etc and the weekend of said birthday does not require navigation around sweaty male ultramarathoner and requires much TLCness

Point 2: Massive, massive 2 day job interview from Monday and the requirement to spend the weekend prepping and planning is essential

Point 3: Massive, massive job interview requires me to have all faculties about me and a 50 miler often leaves me wanting in terms of mental and physical capabilities.

Point 4: my current amazing and fabulous job is huge at the moment and I have so many things to be getting on with that I haven't even route planned, shopped or even got my kit in order!

As you can see, I am in a state of mental anguish....but there will be other 50s. I have never pulled out of a race like this before. But I need to. I absolutely need to. There will be other days to strive to succeed in our beautiful world of ultramarathoning. If I get this right.....Mrs UB will have a longer maternity leave when we have little UBs!