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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Race Report - Dublin Marathon

Well it being my first overseas marathon I was quite excited! Having put in no training at all and been sick to the point of taking a couple of days off work......(I didn't, but struggled through Thursday and Friday, hoarse, dehydrated through constant nasal blowing and coughing) and then up at 5am to fly to Dublin where we stayed with the awesome Jen and Keith in their new house in the West of Dublin.

After an afternoon of walking around Dublin City centre and having picked up my number from the RDS in South Dublin (smooth organisation.....far more organised than VLM) I decided not to hang around the running stalls after a quick peruse to scout out any Ultras....and then it was off to the sights of Dublin city. Dinner was Thai at Saba where we quaffed plenty of rice, prawns, chicken and beef dishes, all washed down with a few large glasses of red. Returning home I quickly went into re hydration mode, bathed and went for an early night.

Up at 6am and after a smoothie and a bowl of cereal, Keith drove me to his office on the River Liffey in an area not dissimilar to London Docklands. I walked the mile and a half to the start which I was glad of as it was only 3 degrees and I needed to warm up. A coffee later and I was at the bustling bag drop, not too eager to rid myself of my warm gloves, coat and hoodie.

Although the marathon appeared very well organised, I spied a maximum of 8 portaloos for the elite (orange) and mid paced (green) start waves. I needed a dump but it could wait.......

Off to the start and it took about 2.5 mins to get over the start line in the "elite" group of about 4,000 runners. I oped for the rear of the group, but unbeknownst to me, there were plenty of green and blue (4.30-6.00 finishers!) runners in the way so I bode my time and after an 11 min first mile I was underway.

As city marathons go, I think this felt like it was going to be a good one. Aside from the odd idiot who often adorn the first few miles, cutting up all and sundry, it was a nice feeling with reasonable crowds and good city scenery. Passing the giant phallus and the famous GPO, we were now underway!

I ran the first quarter about on schedule.....not that I had a schedule....I was just happy to be running in the cold overcast morning, having not run for a week with a heavy cold. Last Tuesday night I left Woolway after a mile of the club run only to turn back and relieve my lungs of phlegm all over Dulwich. So, being at the back of the fast start suited me fine. Round granite city streets and up to Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo and around the top of the City was where I found some rhythm. The fog barely lifting across the panoramic view of the cityscape. Mrs UB and Jen were at mile 8.5.....I stopped for a chat and to see how they were.....they were off for a coffee. I then saw Glenn at 10, so stopped for a chat too. Within no time was halfway. Well oiled and well drilled scouts/boys/girl brigade thrust water, juice and gels at me as I hit the tenement greyness of Crumlin. I've never done a marathon on gels alone, but that is asll they had, so I duly took a couple and on I ran. Lots of the early nutters fell by the wayside and I was shocked to see so many pull up with cramp in the 13-18 section. I bimbled on, metronomic in my own pace. I looked at my Garmin about 20 times during this section, sure that the damned thing was jammed as the min/mile pace was exactly as it was at 8 miles! Frustrated by this I, and as I saw a lot of runners falling by the wayside, I hit the afterburners at 19. Usually, this is my favourite zone....acceleration is my best medicine. This usually lasts for the rest of a marathon and I was pleased to see that until 22.5, this was the case. Then, marathons find you out. If you don't train for this, it always gets you. Saunters across the countryside are good, but good hard 20+ weekly Sunday runs are what maketh the road marathoner. After hitting the city centre again, I felt a little hamstring issue, I slowed, pulled in the reins and glided through the last 4, focusing on form and soaking in the thousands that had lined the streets. I did lose some time here as I was on for about a 3.35.......not amazing, but the only training I have done since the SDW100 are long slow marathon runs, nothing quick.

The last mile was amazing. I can see why so many come back again and again for the adulation of tens of thousands of screaming fans.A cacophony of noise ensued as I headed through central Dublin, less than 500m to go and then a blaze of marshals shouting at everyone to sprint to the finish.

A most surreal moment enveloped me in a bubble. The whole street was carpeted green, the marshals screaming at every runner to race for the line and as tired marathoners, experienced or not exploded into a burst of last-gasp-speed for the became a war zone! I must have overtaken 50 people in the last 3-500m........hamstrings, quads, calves.........all giving way to unadulterated bravado.......

Strange......but funny all the same. No problems though as most hobbled across the line to pick up an amazing medal, t-shirt and bag. Awesome road marathon. Awesome organisation. I had picked up my bag, had a cider and a bag of monster munch in my hand within 10 mins of being over the line......and I walked 5 mins to an offie to purchase them anyway!!!

I'll be back Dublin.......but next time I'll have 16 weeks of road training under my belt!

Thursday, 25 October 2012


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

I've mustered up a phenomenal 25km running in the last 5 days. OMG! What is going on? Sunday, no running. Monday, a lovely 9 mile continuous hills up and off the apex of the Norwood Ridge traverse and then a paltry 6 mile run with the club, which included 4 miles of me running before and a mile of running and a slow mile back.

I've been ill, had a heavy workload and have then taken work home. In fact, if I didn't have to do what I had to do, a couple of days in bed dosed up and in a warm cocoon would have been the tonic. So now I sit here feeling pants. Before you call the Police, dear reader, this is a metaphor for illness, rather than some washing line knicker thief-type of feeling PANTS!

I'm off overseas this weekend to go and visit friends and have been tidily roped into an overseas event which, not my liking-style of event, will still be a test of guile and mettle.

I'm just using it as a way to see the sights.

I'm now booked in for the SDW100 for 2013. Having run 23 hours this year I am going to aim for something much better next year. With a bit of luck and a lot of training, I think a target of sub 21 will be my goal. This will be the first of my BIG BIG runs next year. I have a plan for a run longer than 100 but that will be kept close to my chest to avoid any unwanted attention until the event is due.

Meanwhile, I'll fight this cold and come back smiling after the weekend.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

recovery and a need for a map

Race HQ by ultraBobban
Race HQ, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Directions are one thing. Next time I do a self navigate marathon, I'll pack some sort of map.....and listen to no one! my directions have always been spot on....only when tiredness creeps in do I doubt.

Recovery run yesterday was a pleasant 10k at the club at 8.00s. I had a good catch-up with Woolway fresh back from his honeymoon and was great to have a chin-wag about Zambia and Tanzania, train journeys and the like. We did a flat route to Nunhead Cemetery and back around the Rye in Peckham. No getting lost here!

I've just taken delivery of a load of reading material today at work, including the acclaimed "Waterlogged" by doctor Tim Noakes.....a serious medical textbook read on overhydration and endurance events. On more lighter reading, histories on Docklands and London's hidden rivers which I will be running over the coming months. I have run the Ravensbourne and most of the River Peck, but now there is the Effra (which starts only a mile from here, the Wandle (I haven't run all of it) the Fleet and a load of others. I'm sure this will give me new areas to run around London and take Mrs UB on some well needed marathon training for her upcoming VLM in April. After she has done that, we will be thinking about kids......well dear reader, you heard it here first!!!!!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

You've not won a marathon until you win it crossing the finish line!

16th Founders Marathon race report........ ('s not over until the fat lady sings......or........don't tempt fate!)

Driving down to Peaslake memorial Hall in the Surrey Hills, the temperature gauge dropped to just 1 degree. It had been colder as the local cars left outside the pub no doubt from the previous evening had a good frost on. pulling in I bumped into Helen, whom I had run the SDW100 with. Her and her group were going off earlier than the advertised start time, for a bit of a bimble.

By the time I had got my gear on and signed in, sorted out my drinks and food (only 3 checkpoints on this course) it was 955am, so i thought I would go a little early, just to warm up.

I ran alone for the first 5 miles, the first 1.5 miles a brutal climb out of the valley to 700ft along the trail. Mile 2-3 the directions were open to interpretation with the light trails crossing the path and no doubt I took a wrong turn and dropped back into the valley, only to spot the windmill which was a marking point on the route. If you are not a regular reader; LDWA events are non-marshaled, non-mapped written directions. They can be a little confusing at the best of times. I've snapped an example below!

 But it won't turn round the right way!

Anyway, I caught up with Anna who I ran with for about 3 miles. She was on marathon 43 and in good form. She said she couldn't keep up with my pace so we duly departed and I whizzed off on my way up to St. Martha's Hill, up a route I had not taken before to CP1. Spending just a couple of mins at CP1, I thanked the marshals and got on my way, and soon caught up with Helen and Anna Finn. Anna is a legend in ultra running circles....she has just come back from injury to the Plantar and Groin. We ran together for about 4 miles but after some confusion at mile 9-10 about a gravel path, we were on our way. I'm not even sure how we became separated, but we did, such is this business of XC marathons. Getting slightly lost as I accidentally turned over 2 pages of instructions and found myself in a stately home driveway. Quickly realising my mistake I about turned and up to the 900m climb and to the highest point of the course at 840ft above sea level. I was caught and overtaken by a group of 6 chaps who were running at a fair clip. I decided not to join but to go at my own pace which after joining the NDW and less of a need to follow the instructions.

I caught up with this group of 6, who then became 7 with me, then dropped to 6 as one chap fell off the back. Small talk and direction reading for the next 7 miles until CP2 was the name of the game.

The only real way to run these events is to keep a check on the directions and TRUST NO ONE! I say this in a positive way. Not 2 miles from CP2, but one of the group was followed without question and a mistake was made. I then took over and as we passed a few runners who were confused, I took the lead of the group. I felt good and realised that a couple of the chaps were struggling. Approaching CP2, we passed more runners, picked up hydration and some peanut butter sarnies and went off again. I was 9th through the CP

CP3 was 23 miles into the event. Within a mile there were 3 more runners passed and our group had dropped to 3. The next few miles were of that running ENDORPHIN that I love and crave. I felt smooth and checked my hydration, food and feet and all were great. I was on a roll! The chaps were now struggling a little and I pulled a few mins ahead, navigating my way. CP3 came up in no time. There were 2 guys there......both had started 30 mins before the official start time. We were now in the lead!

Ok, technically, these chaps were in the lead as I started 5 mins before. Could I take 5 mins out of them in the last 3.2 miles? Well I felt strong! Another mile went by and I took a 300m lead. I could hear the guys following me and I took a little walk break up a big hill. They caught me and then the DECISION.

We were at a 5 pointed trail divide. I had my eye on a path but the compass came out from one of the guys (Phil) and we chose a path. It is one of those defining moments when people (including me) try to make the directions fit the terrain. Scarily, we crossed 2 roads and followed fencing etc which was pretty damned close to what it should have been! It didn't pull off. I went one way further on. BIG MISTAKE! I ran on up the hill for what felt like forever. I found a walker with a map and realised I had gone wrong big time. I had no clue where I was and had made a mistake of not going back to the point that I was unsure. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, no map and a set of redundant directions, my first place slipped through my fingers like the Greensand I had just traversed!

Garmin compass engaged, I had a 5 mile run to the finish instead of 1.5! I legged it, hard and fast down country lanes. Nothing was taking me in the right direction, so I decided to take the law into my own hands......a back garden, a hand grabbing bramble shocking scramble up the steepest part of Hombury Hill, bracken above head height, a knee high stream, leg punctured twice by unseen barbed wire, a country estate and a fair few fences.

My first place was now in the realms of my dreams........Don't ever utter the words......."one of us is going to win" to anybody........

So I rationed my drink and sauntered over the finish line, powered by compass alone, 6 miles over the distance.....probably in some crap placing........but still felt that I had something in the tank. I'd prepped for a 26 and ended up doing 32 miles. It's not a problem. Thats what LDWA events are about.

So. The moral of this story is that it is not over until the fat lady sings. I had this event in the palm of my hands. I never have listened to others for directions......who know why I did this time. The thing was, it was such a good day for running, I have a small amount of frustration, but a huge amount of buzzing for such a good event!

Next time!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Eat and Run

So apart from a good read, this is what I am planning to do tomorrow. I have been extremely busy at work this last few weeks and as such, you will know that the miles have not been pounded away on the streets of South London, but have been hard at work instead training and planning at school. I don't often talk about the minutiae of school but today (yes, working on a Saturday!) has been awesome with amazing feedback from our Open Day.....a lot of hard work from all have come home for a relaxing saturday afternoon, a beer and some sport on telly, eating and relaxing ready for a marathon tomorrow.

As with the last marathon 4 weeks ago, i have kept this fairly low key. The wife, Eric, Beardo and George know about it but that's about it. in 2010 I was in canny fine fettle and off the back of the UK Ultra Distance Champs where I came in 42nd place, not 6 weeks later I came into the finish in a bullish 7th place.

This year is a different story. Short of autumn miles, hard at work in arguably the quickest improving school in South London, my training has taken 3rd place to work and home improvements. Nevertheless, I am going to hit the trails of he North Downs with vim and vigour tomorrow and give it the best that I have to offer. The kit, unusually is out already. I'm hitting the trail in minimalist Saucony zero drop trail shoes, my SDW100 race kit clothing (light) and the ultrAspire race bottle pack. We are looking at about 3000ft of hills tomorrow so my 7th place with 4 hrs 52 ( is that hard!) will be unlikely, but with self navigation and 6 marathons on the same(ish) stretch of hills, I am hoping that the day is a memorable run and the chance to catch up with some familiar faces and meet new ones.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Dulwich 10k race report

Although I wasn't competing, I took some shots of the club event in our lovely local park. Here is a rather blurred picture of Beardo, sweating after only running 10 feet. As you can see, dear reader, he is a formidable chap, one who grunts and uses a simple sign language.

Aside from this distraction, the rest of the club fared well. Chrissie ran a PB in 37.57 and Richard ran 39mins. There are a few pics on my flickr that sum up the morning, which was ace. I then continued my run for another 21km over to Deptford and then Greenwich, turning back to run the Waterlink Way. One day I'll run it all, from source on the North Downs, down to the Thames.

I'm attempting to pick up the miles again after a slack couple of days. I seem to manage a good Sunday, monday, tuesday but then work takes over. There should be 50 base miles this week and ready for the longer run on Sunday.