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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Race report: Founders XC Marathon 2013

This event is definitely not for the faint hearted. 3600ft of hills, 3 checkpoints of which the first 2 are at 8 miles and 18 miles and with the heavy rain this last 2 weeks, a quagmire ensued.

I invited my good running buddy Ewan as I had not caught up with him since our 2nd place podium at the NC50 earlier in the season. I think this West Country chap is a talisman for me as you will find out. We had a chit-chat at the start and watched the first couple of waves of runners go off at the start. This marathon was a low key affair and essentially what we would call a 'training event' but it was for me a chance to exorcise some demons from last year as nearing the finish, slipped from top 3 to mid-table obscurity. It was also a chance to test the recent injury to the limits and see how things would pan out. I decided to ditch the OS map as Ewan had a GPS. Little did I know that after about 30 seconds from the start, with the steep climb of Pitch Hill up to 780ft in the first 2.5km I realised this was a man with the bit between his teeth. I initially rued leaving the map at base!

I lost sight of Ewan after about 2k and found my own rhythm up the slope, nestling nicely in 2nd place about 300m in front of a group of about 8 chaps. Around the top of the hill I was quickly caught by the guys behind and we started a bit of banter. Jeff, who I had run with for about an hour on the SDW100 and Darren who I have seen but not run with before and a couple of other guys and a girl. These fellas also had the bit firmly between their teeth and there was a bit of bravado and shoulder shuffling in that initial phase. I know races are not won up to CP1 but are definitely lost. We hit the base of St Marthas Hill at 573ft and these fellas wanted to go in a different direction. Darren stayed with me for about 100m and then after being unsure, turned and caught up with his group.

I felt confident in my own directions as I usually do. No self doubt had even penetrated my cerebral hemispheres so i carried on to CP1 on my own, confident that Ewan was way, way ahead by now. CP1 was a stock up on bread pudding and juice and off down to the next 10 miles of 'bedding in' to CP2, which was 10.5 miles further away. Dropping down into the Mole valley and then up to Newlands Corner along the NDW gave some light relief from following the paperwork. I was shocked at 11.5 to hear panting behind me the one and only Ewan, who had veered off course for about half a mile and was behind me. This was the 'race radio' that I needed. Ewan had passed Jeff and the others about 5 mins back and we realised I was in the lead! Now, dear readers, I have been here before and pride comes before a fall. I maintained race focus, deep breathing and removing any possible negativity from my brain. What else could I do anyway with the LEDG Ewan D blasting along Blatchford Down by my side. Anyway, enough about man-love and onto the race. Ewan clearly had some legs today and stated that he didn't want to be beaten. Some of this rich vein of form rubbed off on me and with the exception of 15 mile wobble, toys out of pram....then back in again, we traversed the undulations of the NDW and also had more man-love hugs for Johnny Cripps and Mal (early wave starters) on the way.

Blasting down to CP2 at about 7s, I couldn't keep up with Ewan and this way HIS time and time for me to enjoy my own running. Back with a BOOM from injury. Keeping my race focus and breathing I navigated without error and had an occasional sneaky peak behind for the BIG BOYS who had told me that they were in this for the podium.

I had one of those runners high moments for about 2 miles. No looking at the watch, focus, energy and totally aware of everything.....yet kind of nothing. A small nav error onto the 'old' course by 1/2 a mile snapped me out of this and after CP3 at Friday Street, one more 850ft hill (Holmbury) and it was a 500m brain off-brakes off descent to the finish.

Arms aloft. 2nd place! Awesome! Ewan was at the finish having some refreshments having completed the round 14 mins in front and winning the event. This was the fastest winning time since 2009. My second place would have won the last 3 years!!!!

After a cuppa and then a run the cars to change in the torrential rain we sank a pint of cider. Ewan stated he felt a little guilty that I had invited him to an event and he had beaten me into second place. Not so. Had he not been there for banter and for running so much better and beasting me, I probably would have settled back in the pack. So thank you Mr D for my 2nd place podium. Next time your batteries are low on your GPS, you deffo know who to trust with mapwork. I reckon we should do a LAMM or KIMM for podiums, ciders, shits and giggles. Great to catch up again. Cheers

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Urban Thames and Canal run with Sue B.

Great to catch up with Irish Sue on the run this morning that nearly didn't happen. With 2 hours sleep Sue had been on call delivering babies in the night at Kings and with the rain lashing down this morning, an extra hour in bed followed by 2 coffees and a bacon butty was enough to get me going. We paced at 8.30s-8.45s the bck way to Greenwich and through the foot tunnel. From Poplar the headwind and horrible rain led us off the river, diverting us from our intended route to Victoria along the Thames Path but instead to Limehouse Basin and along the Regents canal, a lap around Victoria Park in Hackney, through to Islington and Kings Cross. We stopped for some much needed sugar and with a number of stops for falling about laughing and being silly, took a turn for home, intending London Bridge but upping the miles and pace to 8.11s-8.20s with some dipping to 7.45s after the coke kicked in, instead to Canada Water for a warming coffee on the Overground back home.

The long and the short of it is that my hamstring feels a little tight but OK. 21 miles in the driving rain is not funny....but necessary as with rain and being wet, it is nothing that a hot bath can't cure. Looking forward now to the marathon next Sunday, whatever the weather

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

BOOM! It's back

So, would you believe it? The last 3 weeks I have bemoaned an injury and then prior to this, a miserable summer since the awesome 2nd place at the NC50 miler. So what has been the problem? Massage did not sort it. Rest did not sort it. Apart from a broken leg nearly 3 years ago I have not had a running injury since I switched to forefoot running 4+ years ago.

The culprit? Well. There has been a titter on Twitter amongst my running buddies about the one thing I have changed earlier this year. Compression shorts. I have had an issue in the past with a pair of Salomon S-Lab which went on Ebay pretty quickly. This time, a pair of Nike compression shorts (well 2 pairs actually) that presumably altered my gait cycle in some way to cause this issue.

As a good scientist I always experiment but there are those Eureka moments that come from time to time from pure serendipitous activity. Here was mine. Both sets of shorts were in the wash. I wanted to go out for a quick run a few days after my Lea Valley breakdown with Eric. I chose an old pair of v thin undershorts instead and behold; no problem at all. Good science is about repeat-ability and on 5 subsequent runs, chose non-compression undershorts as my sartorial undergarment, found that there was almost no issue. Slight tenderness in the hamstring led me not to run the Downslink 38, something of which I was gutted about, but a 20 mile run and a fast 10k on Tuesday, followed by BOOM, a 6k run to de-stress after a 13 hour day at work and after the first 2 miles at 7.09s, a 6.29 mile!!! UB is back.

As C3PO once famously stated...."thank the maker!"

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Mrs UB back from Bulgaria and a run up the Palace

Mrs UB flew back in from Sofia this morning from a wedding that work commitments wouldn't allow my attending. 3 days away from a heavily pregnant wife is not so good. However this pic of 2 days after our wedding at the Olympic torch relay cheered me up no end as we were off on honeymoon last year 2 hours after this shot was taken!

Tonight was a do I or don't I run after a nice 10k slow with Irish Sue last night. I have a theory as to the root of my injury issue. I will keep this close to my chest for the moment but changed one thing and headed up to the top of the Palace (I have avoided hills for 3 weeks now) and hit this run hard. Very little issue even up at the top of the hill which is a 15% incline. What joy...and then a sub 8 afterwards. Baby steps are needed here but a real breakthrough. The change is small and from an unlikely source but as a true scientist I am going to repeat my experiment tomorrow to see if there is a pattern in the results. I'll let you know what it is in due course. Fingers crossed please!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A pain in the arse starts subsiding

Sue texted me this morning wanting some miles so I thought seen as she ran 20 on Sunday and wanted a recovery run, I would tag along as she ran to mine, rather than the usual me to hers. Tentatively at 9s on the flat we bimbled along and had a good old catch up on the gossip.

5 miles later and we had dipped to 8s and the hamstring felt OK. I can feel it now a little but it is just uncomfortable rather than a pain. I'd rather be in the form I was in for this photo with Tappo where I ran sub 7s on the Green Belt Relay for 7 miles. If only!