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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Downslink 38 unlikely

After the trainer wars by ultraBobban
After the trainer wars, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Just got back from what was billed to be a nice 16-18 mile run with Eric. After running 2 miles to Forest hill station i met up with Eric and we took the tube to Tottenham Hale, allowing us to run back through London on the River Lea Navigation Channel. This meant crossing no roads until we arrived at Limehouse Basin. I had told Eric that I would be a little slow as was on a recovery which was fine by him. First 6-7 miles were fine. We ran past the Big Breakfast house, stopped off to take some shots along the route, chit-chatted about cars, wives, holidays and social stuff....funny that we never really chat about running when we are running. Then I felt the strain in my hamstring. What is frustrating is that the drive part of my gait cycle just isn't happening.....I can't turn on the beans, not a bit. So we slowed down around Limehouse and ran the Thames Path back to Wapping and tubed it most of the way back with a mile-and-a-bit recovery warm down back home.

I am now 90% sure that the Downslink 38 is not going to happen. Gutted.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

That Sinking Feeling

Normally I have a positive disposition, a glass half full type of bloke. I'm getting the feeling that the next few weeks are going to be baby steps forward and that sinking feeling when recovery takes a step backwards and the wheels fall off.

This week I ran. Last week I had a total week off. Monday was 3.6 miles, Tuesday 5 miles, 10k on Weds and this morning, 2 miles. Each time the first mile has been a stiff slow 9s plus. Like an old car cranking up and spluttering as the tired pistons slowly warm up, my legs gently creaked into action. Wednesday was probably the better of the runs as by mile 4, I was comfortably at 8.45s and dipping lower. It is mighty frustrating to not be cruising around at 7.45s and putting in sub 7s for tempo runs, not travelling far and keeping away from my beloved hilly runs. A little at a time dear readers.......and on reflecting on this while I am writing this, I have returned to a glass half full type of bloke. There are 3 races on my radar before the birth of baby UB, 1 marathon, 2 ultras. Will I be ready in time?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Race Report - Farnham Pilgrim Marathon

I arrived at Farnham this morning in high spirits. After a quick drive down through traffic-free London on a Sunday morning, I walked from the car park to the start and Paul Ali of Ultra Tales magazine hailed me. It took me about 20 seconds to work out that it was him as my brain was still not yet awake. At the start, after the usual 'race admin' I bumped into Peter Bowles, Helen Smith and Dave Ross for a bit of light banter before the start..........and then we were off. Helen and I ran together for ages and we caught up on the usual races and in-between race stuff. Helen, as I have found out today, has an extraordinary memory for random things and asked me some questions about stuff I probably say when I'm tired and sugar-low so it is always good fun for her to recall my ramblings.

We set off at a good clip, 8.30s on the hills and 7.50s on the flats and maybe a bit quicker on the downs. Farnham is a lovely course and extremely well signposted and even better marshaled. In fact, the number of water stations was advertised as 9. I think that the world and his wife had come to man a few unofficial water stations and save for a section where it clearly stated 'no water for 2.4 miles' Were every 2 miles or so. I ran with just a bottle and a couple of the Second Surge double espresso gels from Keith Godden's which was the first time I had tried them out and Keith, I'm going to give a 'thumbs-up' as they are palatable, easy to carry, easy to open, although does need a swig of something afterwards to wash the gloop down.

So the first few miles was quick and I felt good. I spied George Fairbrother and was mid-way through a catch-up and he stopped for a piss-break so our conversation ended abruptly. George....a man of few words! We approached St Martha's Hill and my high hamstring started playing up. This took me by surprise as I had put some miles in last week and not a sniff of a problem. I did a quick calculation in my head; walk home back to the start, or finish the race. No question of what I was going to do. However, the pace had to drop. I told Helen that i was going to walk the hill and I saw her keep looking around to check if I was behind, which I was for about 2 miles to the halfway point. Paul Ali trotted past looking in awesome shape for Spartathlon in 2 weeks time. I then decided that damage limitation was the only solution. I was going to finish this but knew that a competitive time was now out of the question. To describe a high hamstring tendinopathy (HHT) is like describing a pain in the arse, as that is exactly what it is. As a biologist I am acutely aware of injury and recovery, however as a runner I'll always push myself beyond that. The uphills require the hamstring in particular, and so it was that to conserve my body for the Downslink 38 in 3 weeks, I walked the hills and ran the flats and downs, albeit tentatively. Fueling was fine, hydration was fine, I just felt a lot like Robert Krubica who I had watched on the WRC Rally of Poland on Saturday night before bed, coming in to the finish, nursing a lost wheel for the last 12k of a 25k rally stage, trying not to cause too much more damage, whilst leaving himself ready for the next stage.

The best bit of the course, a little lap around the ruins on St Catherine's Hill. Hilarious! So damage limitation needs to have positive outcomes and I strived to achieve these to keep my PMA on the positive side. Normally I am a back of the front runners or a front of the middle runners, call it what you wish. The damage limitation meant a new group of runners were there to chat to. A few were very chatty and I gravitated towards these, but here, in the back of the middle were quite a few moody fuckers. None more so that the utter arsehole that shouted and abused the awesome marshals for going the wrong way. Now with signs, marshals and orange spray and tape it is pretty impossible to go wrong. I took great offence to this idiot who unnecessarily shouted abuse and profanity at the lovely marshals because he couldn't follow some simple signs. He then ran off in anger, fueled by some adrenalin and vented spleen at about 7s......overtook about 10 runners and then (happily for the rest of us) burned out and then walked the last few miles. It was only when I was happily tucking into my pint of cider at the Barley mow, that I saw him limp past. Tosser. Hooligan. Gives us lovely runners a bad name.

So I trundled over the line in a pretty piss-poor 4.23. Second half was about reducing any longer term issues with the HHT and then there was the finish. Not a moment too soon. Medal, T-shirt, mug and goody bag and then off to the pub for Stowford's finest cider. Great to catch up with Pete, Helen and finally have a good chat with the legend Dave Ross, who came in 4th today, not so good as his 2nd last year. Nursing injury and forking out for treatment is the key to the next week. Marathon 42 is in the bag though.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

A good weekend of recovery training

Recovery is coming along nicely. There are still plenty of issues with my high hamstring tendinopathy which will not get resolved overnight. There are 4 events; 2 XC marathons and 2 ultras (38 miles and 50km) to do until our first child is due on 14th December. If I can hold myself together until then, I will take a full break and have some healing time whilst daddy-duties take over my life.

This weekend was an unexpected boost to my training. Having decided to take some time to detox from the amount of alcohol consumed over the summer holidays, I have been feeling very positive. I was apprehensive about a longer run with Phil on Saturday as I had not run over 7 miles in any session in 3 weeks since the TG60 DNF. Parkrun was my first hurdle on Saturday morning at Crystal Palace. I ran up the hill to the start and felt rusty......

So with a 1.5 mile warm up and a little stretch at the start line, I relaxed (and for the first time at Park Run, didn't know anybody) and waited for the off. I was wary of the niggle so set off conservatively knowing that the 2.5 laps of the 5k course would reveal 240ft of ascent and some tight corners. I decided not to look at the Garmin and focus on my breathing, which I never really felt was near its limits, possibly 85% ish. I did have a sneaky glance at the top of the first climb feeling OK and thought that anything sub-24 would be really good, bearing in mind my recovery. All of the way round I focused on my breathing and my foot strike and was pleasantly surprised to have knocked out a 21.47 for the course. The Parkrun stats show I was 13th (out of 103) in my 13th park run but was also my quickest of the year. Not bad. I hopped off up the hill to meet Phil and his little brother Richard (training for Royal Parks half) and ran with them in a parks and cycle routes way to Brixton for a coffee and then home. 14 miles.

 After an afternoon of DIY finishing off the bathroom and lots of other odd-jobs around the house, a relaxing evening and it was off again this morning to do more miles with Phil. This time his wife was competing in Run to the Beat half marathon around Greenwich. We trotted down to the start, saw her at mile 1.5 and then ran the back ways around Woolwich and Charlton, then the Thames Path before ending up at the Dome where I got the tube and then ran home. Great to have a bit of northern banter with Phil. 13+ miles done and although this afternoon the hamstring felt it, it was not uncomfortable. Things are looking better and as long as I can hold it together for about 10 more weeks, recovery beckons.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Removing the fail from trail

I've had a pretty rum summer in terms of running. Injury and some real junk miles and the DNF from the Saxon Shore Thames Gateway. I guess that I have just been busy with serious DIY over my school summer holidays and add into that, probably a bit too much socialising and I think that there were a number of events too far. I should have taken stock after the SDW100 and then had a bit of a break. Sometimes having a bit of time off can not only be good for the body, but good for the mind.

So it was with some trepidation that I even packed my running gear for a mini-break to the Pembrokeshire coast. Mrs UB and I were heading up to her sister's wedding in Monmouth on the Welsh borders and we wanted to add a few days to this before the end of the summer. I am so glad that I did. I only completed 2 runs and neither were greater than 10 miles, but both, especially the first, were jam packed with big ascents and jaw-dropping scenery.

Susie, now being 25 weeks pregnant was interested in an afternoon nap after our walk around the beautiful Manorbier Castle and late luncheon. After a sumptuous bowl of Welsh Cawl washed down by some strong tea, we drove to Stackpole Quay and she departed for the hotel. I ran up the coast to Barafundle bay.....arguably the best beach in the UK. (only reachable by a 1km walk) Once I had taken in the vista, I ran back along the Pemrokeshire Coast Path for what was a very hilly lung busting run but nonetheless beautiful.

 I stopped a number of times for photos and to get my breath back  and absorbed the scenery. This was my first run in nearly a week and the pain in my hamstring was not as bad as I had originally concerned myself over. There was a niggle, but this went after a hot bath and glass of wine. two more days of chilling and it was off to the beautiful market town of Monmouth for the wedding of the year and indeed it was. Prior to cooking the entire bridal party the famous UB fry-up on wedding morning, I popped out to sample the rolling hills of the Wye valley and its surrounds. I was in for a treat.

After an hour of continuous hills it was time to return to chef duties to provide the wedding breakfast! We would need it, based upon the copious litres of beers, wines and spirits that would be consumed over the following 20 hours or so! Over these two runs I then contemplated a good old fashioned detox and dry month or two. I have over-consumed cider and wine this summer and I have no doubt it has affected my running and a lot more besides. So it is dear reader that I inform you that I am having a long break from the booze to give my body a chance to get back to fitness and to also prepare for the arrival of small new UB to the family. Good friends will know that I have been known to over-indulge on a regular basis so this will no doubt come as a relief for them too. I will monitor the effects and report back.