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Saturday, 26 October 2019

High Weald Challenge - 28 miles #102

Not to be confused with the High Weald 50k, this is a lovely local run organised by the LDWA. Out of about 90 starters I picked out old running legend Robert Cameron Wood...the running doctor. I've run probably 30 or so races with him and we always have a bit of a catch up. I think he is on his way to 500 marathons now...such is his prowess!

A low key start. Off from Forest Row. I am keen to explore as many local ultras as possible and this was on the other side of the Ashdown, somewhere I had not run the southern part before.

Slightly dodgy instructions and a GPX file from a wanderer helped us the more miles than this was supposed to be. I had 29.9 at the end of the race. More problems. Great.

I probably was bothered in the last 3-4 miles....however a downhill finish saw me over the line in 6th.

Weald 50k #101

Room 101 is a place where we put things that we don't like or get on with. For some reason this was a bit of a bogey number. For my birthday I had planned a big one. The Butcombe 56 mile ultramarathon. I think that having lost my mojo totally after passing 100 and with work, kids and the amount of work on our house taking its toll, I think this year will be the lowest running mileage since the broken leg in 2010.

Anyway I toed the line low on mileage and low on morale.

I didn't feel the best but this was my first outing at trying tailwind having DNF'd at Butcombe...having been top 5 for the first 25 miles and then dropping 20 places in 4 miles with 9 hedge stops.....guts were awful. I finally bailed at 38 miles. Empty.

This was a bit of a revelation as it felt good all the way round. I enjoyed the race, despite being low on miles. I had run this in a much higher position in previous races. I have run 5 HWC or WC races now....Sue sends me out on them as the mugs are a welcome addition to the 'hot chocolate' or 'chinese tea' late drink...putting me in 7th position in the 'all time' list.  Nice to see Paul Thomson at the start.....However this time round, I started at the back.....took the first 30k so easily it was an enjoyable run with no lows or flat spots. I was loitering in about 120th place out of nearly 200 runners.....part of the pack that I don't often familiarise myself with, but it was lovely and friendly. With the gut-bomb not happening, I put my foot down. The last 20k I switched on some middle-aged after burners......jumping from 120 ish to 52nd overall. I overtook 15 in the last 3 miles.....all 3 miles were run at sub-7s. I guess with more confidence and training I could have gone out harder and gone into a better position....but you never know. 5.35 and 101 done

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Reflections on 100 marathons

2 1st places - Challenge Hub Midnight ultra 33 miles and course record (this race in its format does not exist anymore so I'll gladly claim that CR by 11 mins and win. High Weald challenge was a win by 18 mins in 30 degree heat

3 2nd places Founders Challenge and Ranscombe Challenge pail into insignificance compared to Norman Conquest 50 miler 2nd place with Ewan.

1 third place at the Widsor Ultra 45 miler.

20 Top 10 finishes in the last 100 marathons spanning over 10 years and 11 months.

Sevenoaks Circular 50k

Some of my good running friends choose a BIG ONE for their 100th marathon. It should be a rite of passage. It should be something massive. 100 marathons is actually a pretty big achievement right? Well technically it isn't 100 marathons...more like 26 marathons and 74 ultras.

I was in the mindset of an injured runner. I didn't know how I would or could be. I recounted the day in Kings College Hospital, 2 months after my first epic UK championships at the Ridgeway 86 miler that I broke my leg 3 days previously, confronted by a senior consultant specialist to be told..."you'll never run again" which was a shot through the heart whilst also being a call-to-arms. Delicately I recovered from that. My recovery from PF was not languorous, albeit with intent, although lack of speed ensued. I could not shake this bitch....but I could confine her pain to a deep part of my cerebral cortex and just run on.

So......toeing the start line. My good running buddy RCW at wingman. We ran and ran through the sticky mud of the Kent countryside.  Some choose an ICON for a big milestone. I chose a local race with local people and a run that cuts across from 7 miles from home. Wow. For me that is iconic...(lower case lot LARGE!) Home turf for a big race. I went off with a good clip. probably my limit for the moment. I noted that I finished 20 mins slower than in 2017 but the trail was much wetter and slippier this year and I opted for the Hokas and not the Inov8s. Silly mistake for speed Great idea for injury prevention.

Weald village, CP2. Hard work but lovely. The next 22 miles were harder. From 15 we ran with Malcolm. Last time we ran together was my first PF pain. We had banter. I held on to the coat tails of these boys as I did not have the capacity to go any harder. I didn't care. I wanted to enjoy the run. The feeling of 100 started to sink in after about 20 miles. It only mattered to finish.....

Well then i wanted to finish good. RCW dropped me with 6 to go. I felt like I'd be about 30 mins behind, such was my pallour and demeanour. Comeing into Dunton Green I perked up. It was pretty much 500ft up to the finish, then down, then up, then down, then the long drag up Knowle Park and the final climb to 600ft at the finish. I changed down a gear and went for it. It wasn't pretty. It was painful. It felt good in my head though.

I came within 200m of the finish and I thought I saw Susie carrying Audrey? They ran away. She said she was meeting Denise and Molly in Knowle park and would 'try' to meet me at the finish.

What was I greeted with? Not only the hoi-polloi from my old running club in Dulwich.......Sensational. 16th place. 100th marathon 5.59 and 4000ft of hills for 32 miles. It took about 30 mins and 2 glasses of fizz for the feeling to wash over me like a tile of warmth, relief and a cheeky feeling of .....WHAT'S NEXT????

Thank you to everyone ever who has supported me, met me on the trail and been there for me on training runs, races, finish lines, marshals, RDs and above all, my wife, Audrey and Greta and my parents. 100 marathons. Done

Lenham Cross Trail Marathon

I've upped my training. The Plantar fasciitis is still there in the background......I'm never sure it will go away, like an unwelcome drunk relative.....showing up when you least need it and you've bought your girlfriend round for the first time to meet the parents. Over the last 8 months my mileage has never been so low. My recovery has never been so long. Mentally it has crippled me and this has impacted on my belief, my work, my energy and undoubtedly my mental health. I hate it. I hate the injury. I hate it and I want it to go. I have tried everything and now having dropped all speed training...the seems to subside into the ethereal mist of my mind.

With a slightly sketchy drive with the M20 closed and almost missing the start, I squeezed on to the back of the start line......oh bollocks it was the front! It was a great opportunity to catch up with podium pal Johnny Melbourne. He was "taking it easy" as he had a 50 miler in Utah next week. Nevertheless he was looking as good as ever and ready to take on Tremayne 'Dill' Cowdry's inaugrual event. Now Dill is a veteran 100 miler and a fast one at that. He organised the race with all proceeds going to Mark 'Thorners' Thornberry's Liver cancer charity. Awesome.

Superb weather and a bloody  hilly and horribly beautiful 4500ft of climb on this 27 mile race. We were promised that it wasnt a PB course. We were right. Great to see Allan Rhumbles manning a few checkpoints. He is a running legend. I'd love it one day if he would be a belligerent pacer for me on the Grand Union 145 or similar. Gent and legend.

Anyway, this was a warm T-shirted February day, such is our global warming climate. Oh bloody hell this was hilly. It was great though. I ran with a few new faces...all super people...too many to mention although I really really enjoyed running with Richard Woolley. The out was hard.....but the back was not bad. I ran conservatively in the first 13/14 miles as I wanted to nurse the bitch in my foot. No dramas so I let the muscles do the work and I banged out the last 10 miles much harder. No issues! OMG!!! Am I better? Well I needed to think longer term but mile 23-27 I let loose and banged out some 7 min miles. It felt great. It felt like the old days. Marathon 99!!!!!!!!!!!!

Winter Tanners

The Tanners is the beginning of the running year. 31 miles and 3500ft of mud and sweat. Today was unusually warm. It has been inches deep in snow in recent years but this year was less inclement.

I have been battling PF in my right foot for 6 months now. To suggest to the reader that I am anything other than F***ed off would be an understatement. I am racing for the first time in a pair of Hoka Stinson ATR in size 12.5. They seem a little stiff but it was the first outing in these as they arrived the day before.

What was good was that I ran with Dave Barker from the running club in Tunbridge Wells and Simon Culver from work. We ran together the whole way. Usually on these races I am in front of Zoltan. I've only ever run with him twice, but on race paces, he is about the same as me. This time we were over 35 mins behind. This is probably the PF effect. No doubt I am returning to fitness, but via the long road. It began to grumble at mile 14. 3 hours later it was painful but I managed it over the line. 30.5 miles of Sussex countryside. Marathon 98. Done.

Battle of Britain Challenge

Entering my 3rd month of Plantar Fasciitis was nothing but frustrating. If I spend time ruminating over this ongoing grievance then I would get myself even further down. I have felt so frustrated. I've sought treatment, I've consulted experts and yet it still persists. When I speak with fellow sufferers on Twitter, it seems this could last forever.....

So I toed the start line with my good running buddy RCW. We basically had a run and catch up over this hilly and windy course on the NDW from Samphire Hoe, out and up towards Folkstone and back again....a few times. I wanted a race to fit in with half term and yet I loathe these lapped courses. I won't waste time rating this race. It was poor. The best bit was catching up with some old friends. The rest......PF failure from 8 miles in. I was a miserable state. I had a smile on my face but it covered a deeper grimace. I hated the tendon under my foot. It hurt. It hurt a lot. I put on a brave face and completed the race. 18th place out of 200. 2800ft of hills in this.

 There is still a brave face in the photo. It was back to the drawing board on the injury. I'll do it my way.