Last night I got 10 hours sleep, ate two good sized meals and did what I needed to do, rest after a long working week. This afternoon my plan was to split up a slightly longer run into two parts, a shorter faster 4 mile effort and a slower more relaxing 6 mile easy run. I pushed the 4 miles in at 6:30 pace just to get a gauge on how my fitness stands going into next weekend. That is significantly slower than I'd usually do tempo runs because at this stage I don't need to be doing all out efforts, but it didn't feel as relaxed as I'd hoped it would. When I'm back from RR100 I'm going to commit to doing a few shorter local races to try and maintain some speedwork. I do actually enjoy racing and I guess if I get a little smarter about how I train rather than just bashing out miles I might do ok at a few of them.
That would be quite a departure from my current ethos. In my running career I have run 5km once, 10km twice, one half marathon, one 16 miler and 53 races of marathon or longer. My last less than marathon distance race was in May 2008 and consequently I set all my PBs, 5km (19:30), 10km (39:24), half (1:26:04) and full marathon (2:58:07) at the same marathon in Washington last year.
My goal pretty much since I started running has been to enter long, hard races for three reasons: 1. they give me an opportunity to go to incredible places and meet incredible people 2. to find out which races truly blow me away and which don't, so I'll know what I am missing when I can't race as much as I do now and go back year after year to my one or two favourite events and 3. to see if I had the stones to get through anything that's put in front of me. I guess I'm about half of the way down that path now in terms of number of races but more like two thirds in terms of timeframe. The plan has taken on five pretty distinct separate stages.
Step 1 was simply to finish the Marathon Des Sables. Once Jim and I had finished that and the Gobi March, Step 2 was finishing the 4Deserts series. With that done I felt like I'd done enough desert/ multi day races (that and that they cost me every penny I could save) and started to focus on the major single stage events. Step 3 was initiating myself to 100 milers in order to qualify for Badwater (I needed 2 to qualify but you now need 3). I finished RR100 and OD100 and got selected for Badwater which was always my dream race. When a few other things went awry last year I got a chance to run and finish CC100 in October which was a bonus. So I guess with 3 x 100s and Badwater out of the way and with no DNFs I can move on to Step 4: Mountain 100s. RR100 and Umstead are in every way warm up races for this summer, being relatively flat. Western States is the jewel in the crown, my A race for this year, but I will have to have one eye on Vermont, Leadville and Wasatch at all times during it because the whole lot could unravel with one mistake. Step 4 is really a year long goal for 2011, run and finish the Grand Slam plus get a couple of other 100s under my belt and Comrades which I am really excited about also. That really just leaves Step 5 and that is tackle 5 races which are arguably all harder than anything I will have done yet (Badwater aside): HURT, Hardrock, Spartathlon, UTMB (strike 3) and Arrowhead/ Yukon Arctic.
(Step 6 is Barkley. I'll show up on the startline for that if 1. I'm unlucky enough to get picked and 2. I've run everything else and can face up to the utter misery of it).
I read an interview today, with an old school ultra runner out in the States who still enters multi day lapped events and runs 40 miles every other day. His comment was that while you're young, you should stick to shorter distances and get into ultra's only as you get older and inevitably, slower. As much as I love long hard stuff he is right and I do want to do a little more shorter distance racing while my legs still go round pretty fast....
Tonight my run was out and back along the Thames Path from Battersea Park in a loop up and over Wandsworth Bridge and back. Considering we are 3 miles from the geographical centre of London we're pretty lucky to have a run like this so close. I get out down there 3 - 4 times per week but it's unbeatable at night. I'll post some photos that I took later on.
For the first time in a long time, no single part of me legs hurts when I go up and down the stairs. It's a nice feeling not to have to walk in a specific way to accommodate an issue. Both my knees feel stronger as a result of a massive reduction in training volume. I will carry on running every day until race day but low mileage. It's been a rocky road of injury and illness to rocky raccoon but inevitably it just depends on how I'm feeling on the day itself as to how it turns out. At least when it has come down to the final run in I've managed to shake off the issues that have plagued the last few weeks.
We are in the process of redesigning the Centurion Running Website at the moment. It seems a little early in the day to give it a complete overhaul, however I really want to have a function on there that allows friends and family to track runners progress during the race and see photos and video as it happens. We used Wordpress to create the current site and it is awesome as a start up, I mean I think what we created for a total cost of about £150 is pretty good actually (bearing in mind it took a hell of a lot of time from myself but more importantly the designer, my good friend Al, to get right) but creating it from scratch will give us the ability to change the framework exactly as we want it. So far we have had 35 runners sign up across all 3 distances and I know of a lot more out there looking to sign up in the near future. So pleased at the support we are receiving the first year and a lot of that is undoubtedly down to the good word being put out there by people like James Adams amongst many others. It's nice to feel part of a real community and bar one or two people on the runners world forum (one in particular who really got my goat), the feedback we've had has been tremendous. There is no way, of course, that we can please everybody but I did and do still feel that there is a vast body of runners out there who will benefit from this race and others like it being brought into existence in the UK. We have British runners right at the top of the ultra running scene at the moment racing all over the world and if more races like the NDW100/ 50 take shape, marked courses with full support ie race conditions, there will be a lot more behind them.
Starting to get some real energy back now and my legs feel stronger. Had to suppress running longer again today. Trying to be as sensible as I physically can be and remind myself it's not actually going to help at this stage putting in long runs. The old adage states it is far better to get to to the start line over rested than over trained. I try to stick to that principal. Everything is in place for the trip now and I'm starting to get pretty excited. It's going to be a game of two halves. Run steady and smooth for the first 3 laps (100km), eat, drink and prevent chaffing. Then run steady and smooth for 2 more. If I smash into a brick wall again for any reason I'll just have to suffer it out in muted frustration. I hope the ultra gods are with me.
pm: 5 miles. Still getting my strength back. It's hard to know what the best prep is from here on in but traditionally I've done almost nothing in the last 2 weeks before big races and invariably it has worked a treat. I'm not going to pull nothing out but literally just keep things ticking over. My legs are still pretty tight and as they loosen up I'll hit the track a couple of times and get some nice easy miles in.
The entry list for RR100 went from a big field with a couple of really fast guys to a who's who of US 100 mile champs. Hal Koerner (2 x WS100, AC100, Bear100, CDR winner), Anton Krupicka and Scott Jurek two household names in the ultra running world all dropped in at the same time last night. Along with Zach Gingerich and Karl Meltzer you have arguably got 5 of the top 10 US ultrarunners lining up in one race extremely early in the season. What's more it's 'flat' (5500 ft of gain over 100 miles) and fast. Personally I think the Course Record of 13:16 could go down if they each push each other hard but not too far. Out of the 5, I would say it is between Zach and Anton. Hal has a great record in the mountains but maybe can't hold such a fast pace. Karl is very much a mountain guy. Scott has been on a long path back to success after a year or two in the doldrums but recently ran 165miles+ to break the American 24 hour record. With that he cannot be dismissed but undoubtedly he is not at his previous best yet. Anton has a 13:32 on this course already and has only improved since then. Zach ran a 13:20 at Umstead on a track with 8000ft of gain so technically 'should' go faster at RR. And then there is Ian.
This is his time to shine. I think this is where people will sit up and take notice of him. If it goes to plan, he has the leg speed and endurance to beat this field if he can race his own race and hold it steady and injury free....
Given that the course is 20 mile laps, tt will be fascinating for me to watch the race unravel. I am going out to try and just do my best. For the first time in a 100 I'm not just there to finish, I've already done that on this course, I am there to push it and see if I can turn in the kind of 100 mile time I know I am capable of. If I can avoid getting lapped it'll mean I am on course for roughly a 18 hour finish. Without giving too much away, I am hoping I won't get lapped....
Much more energy today, working on building that up as quickly as possible over the next week and a half. Todays major success was plotting the NDW100 and NDW50 courses on Google Earth. Looks pretty good although a little under what I'd expected in total elevation change. Climb on the 100 is 10,400 feet and on the 50, 5,700 feet. Could make for some faster times than I had considered....
Man I'm tired today. It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed this morning and make it once round the park with Lisa this evening. I feel pretty beaten. I guess that's the point of a period of more intensive training, to push your body as close to breaking point as possible without tipping it over the edge and then back off just in time to be able to peak for a race. My mileage has been average to poor in the lead up to this and the quality of those miles has been mixed to say the least. At the same time as putting in 11 weeks of training, exactly as I did pre Badwater, I have been sick, injured and had a very busy finish to 2010 and start to this year at work. Putting in big mileage weeks around my day job is pretty strength sapping and I think after yesterday when I psychologically reached the start of my taper period exactly 2 weeks from race day, I kind of unravelled a little bit. I'm just going to try and keep my legs ticking over, strengthen my knees back up and gain a serious amount of energy in the next 13 days. I am getting geared up for it now, I am relaxed about the distance and get my nutrition right this time around. Regular readers of this blog will know what my one true fear is going into this race.... the only question is which shorts provide the lowest possible risk of damage....
This morning I met Webbo down at Merstham at mile 34 on our NDW 100/ 50 route to run the last 16 miles of the course in to the 50 mile finish/ 100 mile turn around at Knockholt Pound. Running in the opposite direction to meet us was Paul Bennett, a friend of ours from previous races both home and abroad. He had parked up at the finish before 7am and armed with a headtorch and some decent trail shoes. As we left the station and hit the trail the temperature was about 3 degrees C and hovered there all morning. The ground was absolutely horrendous underfoot and made all the worse for me by the fact that I'd decided to wear road shoes. My decision was based on the fact that there are some short sections of road in amongst the trail and with mild pain still from both knees I would rather not risk any more impact through them than absolutely necessary. It was a massive error, I'm not really sure how I avoided crashing but I slid all over the place for a little over 3 hours. Paul met us at mile 2 on our run and turned around with us to head all the way back to his car.
Every time I go back to the NDW I'm amazed at how well way marked it is. Even without a map it's pretty hard to go wrong. Today gave me the chance to properly map out the last 8 miles of the track and in fact we moved the final aid station around 1.25 miles down the track to a much better spot. We also scoped out the exact finishing point in Knockholt Pound. Once again my Garmin packed up in the wet weather and gave me some crazy read outs, plus the strap has torn so it is pretty much a waste of space right now. Luckily Paul had his so I will be able to add the final piece to the puzzle and publish a full route profile of all three events early next week.
This afternoon I jogged a couple of miles but I had pain in my right knee so I went down to get a sports massage. It was an hour of agony, my back and legs were really tight. I am still in quite a lot of pain a couple of hours later and feel pretty sick. That's what you get for leaving it 8 months between sessions.
5 miles easy tonight. That was it. Already from just one day off and a short run tonight, my legs felt 30% better and I had way more gas in the tank.
Today I learned that the Lakeland 100/ 50 mile races (UTLD) have sold out the full quota of 700 places in 2011. That is phenomenal. They have only been going, from what I can tell, since 2008 and have quickly grown the event into a monster. The most intriguing thing for me, is that they do not mark the course. Needless to say the area is absolutely out of this world, the photrography I've seen make it look like a truly stunning race course.
We have had 3 x 100 milers enter in the last 48 hours. To be honest, even if we only get 50 runners total, I will still be proud and delighted that people think there is enough to warrant spending a lot of time and money giving the inaugural race a crack. I will endeavour to send every one of them home having had the best possible experience. The amount of correspondance and number of entrants is growing daily. All in all I'm getting pretty excited already and we're 7 months away....
On another note I got drawn in the lottery for UTMB this week. I was hoping I wouldn't get in as I have a wedding that weekend (plus Leadville the weekend before) so I could defer until 2012 for automatic entry. I can't so I'll have to give up my place. Having been lucky enough to tick a few of my 'dream race' boxes in the last couple of years, the list of things I still want to have a go at ultra wise have reduced and I'm pretty clear already about what I want to have a crack at in 2012. At the moment I have my eye on either HURT or Arrowhead in January, Hardrock in July, UTMB in August and Spartathlon in September. All of those assuming I finish the 7 big events I have this year....
As promised to myself yesterday, no training today. It's amazing how during one day off my desire to consume fatty foods goes through the roof. I had a massive urge today to gorge on junk food but managed largely to resist the temptation.
I'll set back off again tomorrow and see if the rest day has made any difference. Saturday will be my last 'long run' before RR100. I guess we'll cover somewhere between 23 and 25 miles most of which will be on the NDW and eventually form mile 30 - 50/ 70 of the 50 & 100 mile course. I aim to post a full route profile once we're done as I should be able to link accurate Garmin read outs for the full 50 miles/ 100 miles.
Simple day today. 8 miles, no significant pain but it's starting to feel like I'm just running junk miles, not really improving my fitness and generally lethargic.
I'm going to take a day off tomorrow, rest, run Friday and get ready for a good 20+ mile trail run on Saturday, covering the last half of the NDW50 course with Webbo early on Saturday morning. Then it's taper time. Game on.
Around 30% of the runners entered for the UTMB and CCC this morning were unlucky in the lottery so I'm expecting a few of them to drop into the NDW100 instead which would be great for our numbers.
am: 5 miles 40 minutes. pm: 9 miles 1 hour 13 minutes.
This morning felt good, this evening did not. Ran with Webbo up into and around Hyde Park and even just trying to hold 8 minute miles felt difficult. We managed it for 6 - 7 miles and then I cruised back home. General fatigue is building slowly which isn't wonderful news but is to be expected. I will push hard until Sunday and then taper massively for 10 days.
Just looked over my splits from RR100 in 2009. You can tell it was my first 100 by the spiralling disastrous split times. I pretty much walked from 80 miles I will post nearer the time what I hope to run this year. It's a ways quicker.
11 miles today. 4 this morning, 7 this evening in just under an hour. Felt a little tight everywhere but otherwise good. I will try and shake a lot of that fatigue out tonight and run longer tomorrow evening. Starting to feel a little more consistent again after a rocky patch.
Had a lot of enquiries today about the NDW100/50/26.2 races in August. It feels like interest is picking up a lot despite having a good number of entries already in. We need a lot more to make it a sustainable entity in the first year but I think the UTMB lottery in the morning will leave a few people looking for a challenge around the same time. I hope some of those people pick the NDW as the place to race.
I had a guy e mail me today with the CV of a champ, Ironmans, a Double Ironman and going for Quintuple Ironman at the Enduro races in June. He asked if he was fit to race 100 miles yet? This is a question I get asked a lot, how does an Ironman stack up against an ultra. Well to this point I've only ever raced 1 triathlon and it was only a half Ironman so I am not really fit to judge. I would put that half on a par with running a 50km - 35 miles both time wise and overall fatigue wise. I have read plenty of articles and blogs in the past who have likened an Ironman to a 50 mile run in terms of equivalent difficulty. Most fall on the side of 50 miles being a little easier but not significantly so. On average I would say an Ironman would take the same person around 20% to 30% longer to finish than a 50 mile so that is a deciding factor. Relatively, therefore a 100km or 60 mile run would sit on par with an Ironman. There are a whole myriad of factors that make this a very sketchy estimation including weather, terrain, amount of climb/ descent, elevation, temperature etc etc. But if I was asked that is what I would say. Perhaps a small affirmation of that estimate is the interview Runners world ran with David Goggins. Goggins response to where Ironman Hawaii ranked in terms of races he had completed was that he 'tabbed every 100 mile plus ultra he has run as 1 through 15, all ahead of Ironman Hawaii and all ahead of the Ultraman Triathlon (Double Ironman)'.
A couple of years ago, ultrarunning magazine published a very interesting article listing out the relative difficulty of ultras across North America vs Iron distance events. I cannot for the life of me find the list but the outline in principal was to take a group of runners, all of whom had completed one of 9 of the biggest 100 mile races held that year, and ask them to benchmark other ultra races they had done against them. The results were normalized against Western States ie. WS = 1.00. I've sketched out some of the key ones below. The sample size was 667 people:
Badwater 135 miles: 1.57
Hardrock 100 miles: 1.55
HURT 100 miles: 1.31
Wasatch Front 100 miles: 1.17
Angeles Crest 100 miles: 1.08
Leadville 100 miles: 1.03
Western States 100 miles: 1.00
Javelina Jundred 100 miles: 0.89
Old Dominion 100 miles: 0.88
Vermont 100 miles: 0.84
Rocky Raccoon 100 miles: 0.81
Umstead 100 miles: 0.81
Zane Grey 50 miles: 0.48
Miwok 100km: 0.46
White River 50 miles: 0.37
American River 50 miles: 0.33
Avalon 50 miles: 0.32
So in summary Badwater is 57% harder than Western States and was elected the toughest race in the US, pipping Hardrock by 2%. The hardest 100km race, HURT, was ranked as difficult as both Rocky Raccoon and Umstead 100 milers, the voted the least difficult of the 100s. The hardest 50 miler, Zane Grey was voted as 48% as difficult as Western States 100.
I have tried to explain in the past just how much harder a 100 mile race is than a 50 mile or even a 100km race. Something happens in that last 30 - 40 miles to stretch even the best prepared to breaking point.
In summary I would say to any Ironman, yes you are in a great position to have a crack at a 100 mile run, but expect it to be much longer and much harder, probably up to around twice as hard depending on the terrain. Having raced a number of those in the list above, I would put the NDW100 somwhere around 0.82 to 0.84 given the elevation change of around 12000 feet and the probable temperatures of an August day in England.
Some mild pain in my knee this morning but nothing major. MASSIVE success. Nevertheless I decided to take today off completely in an attempt to be sensible after yesterday. I figure there's no way fitness gained from an hour or so running today stacks up against that the chances of doing more long lasting damage by doing so. I'm still sitting here now at 9pm thinking should I just go out and do it anyway.... but prudence will prevail I think.
I ran through my mileages tonight to see how volume is stacking up. Obviously quantity is not everything and actually a lot of the miles I've put in for RR have been at a much better pace than those I laid down before Badwater but:
During a period 11 - 3 weeks prior to Badwater I cleared 517 miles running plus an additional 380 miles bike.
During a period 11 - 3 weeks prior to RR100 I have cleared 415 miles running and 0 miles bike. 7 days off with flu before Christmas and 5 days off with ITB problems last week have been major hiccups.
From here on in pre Badwater, 3 full weeks, injury forced me down to a total of an additional 51 miles. I should be able to get one more full week of training in before RR100. I'm fascinated to see the difference come race day as long as I stay healthy from here on in.
The results just came out and a runner, Craig Stewart, ran a 4:54 over the '45 miles' to win yesterday. Now the course is short by 2 miles as I mentioned yesterday and the last 22 miles are absolutely pan flat BUT I can't help wondering whether the winner is someone we should be keeping an eye out for as a world class athlete in the ultra world. To put that time in perspective, Mike Wardian, probably the best known current ultra runner to regularly compete/ win over road marathons and yet have also laid down a number of 'flat' 50 mile times, has PBs of 2:21 in the marathon and 5:50 over 50 miles. That works out at 5:01 for 43 miles. Ian Sharman has a 2:32 marathon PB and a 6:01 Comrades PB. 4:47 for 43 miles. Comrades isn't flat, neither is JFK where Wardian set his 50 mile best and both are significantly longer than 43 miles, but yesterdays course has 22.5 miles of relative undulations and some very sticky ground. On balance either the course is significantly shorter than even the 43 miles I had down, or Craig Stewart achieved something pretty special yesterday. I would guess there is a bit of both in there but i'll look out for his name in future.
7:27 train this morning from Marylebone out to Wendover from where we would run the 45 mile Country to Capital Trail race back to Little Venice just outside of Paddington Station. This is a well thought out event replacing the original Tring To Town 45 which was my first ultra. In 2006 Jim and I, clueless and inexperienced, ran but mostly walked for 10 and a half hours with very heavy packs simulating 'Marathon Des Sables conditions', Making it to the end in the pitch dark 89th and 90th out of 94 runners respectively.
Go Beyond replaced Tring to Town with the C2C and last year I introduced a friend of mine, Pete, to the world of ultra running on a very wet and windy day. This year, mercifully, the Gods allowed us to cover the distance without once opening the heavens on us. We kicked off at 8:30am and made good time through the first aid station at 7.8 miles and again through the second at 17.5. The ground was thick with mud in places but bearable and didn't slow us down too much. Following on from previous posts, obviously my knee was my primary concern and to be honest f it had taken us 10 hours to get to the finish without knee trouble I would have taken it. We ran a lot of the first two sections with a guy called Ian Holdcroft and Claire Shelley who has signed for the NDW100 in August already. Ian is off to do the Atacama Crossing in March so it was nice to talk about my great experiences of that race through with him and the time went quickly. As a result when we hit the canal at mile 22.5 signaling the end of map reading duties it felt like we'd been out much less than the 3:45 or so on the clock. This was assisted greatly also by the strength I had in my knee.
Time can either drag down the canal or go pretty quick and for me today, it went quick. Pretty soon we were through the marathon point in around 4:20 and to the left turn indicating 13 miles to Paddington at the end, actually only 30 miles in to the race (its been short by 2 miles both times we've run it). Pete came a little unstuck at this point but then we were at least 45 minutes up on the 2010 effort by that stage and the sticky mud through the first 20 miles had undoubtedly created additional fatigue in the legs. We slowed to a walk periodically but I wasn't overly fussed given that all I wanted from today was to get 43 pain free miles in my legs. We went through aid station 4 at 33 miles and 5 at 37, where we hooked up with Hadley, an American runner who placed 2nd woman and 6th overall at last years Sahara Race, obviously a pretty impressive athlete. 6 miles from the end we were back to walking and I admit my heart sank a bit at the thought of another hour and a half on our feet to get to the finish, but as usual Pete came back strong and with 5 miles to go we ran it in finishing in a little over 7 hours. About an hour better off than last year. We capped the day off by meeting up with Drew Sheffield and Tim Adams, both of whom are heading out to Leadville in August with me and by finally meeting Mark Cockbain properly albeit briefly. It seems amazing the number of races we've both been at over the years, not to have met previously.
My nutrition today was horrible. I had a piece of bread for breakfast and followed that with 13 gels and 10 ibuprofen. I challenge anyone to put that lot in the system and feel good. I kept a handle on my hydration and regular gel inhalation because we were moving slower than I usually would have but I still have concerns about my ability to 'get it right' at RR100 and not get too behind in eating/ drinking in the first 50 which I tend to do through laziness. Slowly but surely I seem to be learning my lesson.
My legs tonight are good. No issues either in terms of muscle soreness or ligament pain. Tomorrow morning will be the acid test as to whether I've done any additional damage which 10 ibuprofens probably helped to mask. I do wish I could have a crack at Thames Trot this year as I'm pretty sure at a push I could have put an 1hr to an 1hr10 into todays 43 mile time and potentially take my 50 mile PB to sub 7 hours. The question is whether I can string that together and more to go sub 7:30 at Comrades and get myself into the silver medal bracket. Either way we had a good day out and I am delighted that my knee held up.
So back to it tomorrow, we'll see how it goes but one more decent training week and I'll start to allow my confidence to build a little in anticipation of RR100....
4 miles this morning in the altitude room, increasing tempo each km. Knee clearly still not 100% but sustainable. Spent the afternoon at the Outdoor Show down at the excel centre where I spent some time at the RacingThePlanet stall with Mary, Alasdair and Dave Annadale. Great to catch up with them. Sounds like the 2012 roving event is going to take place in Jordan. I'll be putting my name down for it almost certainly.
Big day tomorrow. Big test for the strength of my left leg. 45 mile Country to Capital. It will be very wet to begin with and possibly all day so we'll see how it works out. Purely a training run for RR100 so will be trying my best to enjoy it.
am: 4 miles 30 minutes, no pain. pm: 7 miles, 58 minutes, no pain. Felt good. Confidence better, stride better although I felt like I needed to adjust my left foot strike slightly which isn't a great sign.
Heading up to the Outdoor Retailers Show tomorrow to see Ranulph Fiennes give a lecture. Pretty excited to see him speak. Will take it easy and stick to a morning run.
Its still immensely difficult to not go out and run longer but I'm pretty sure I made the right decision to stop short again tonight.
No running this morning. Depressing. Spent all day icing my leg, stretching etc it's so boring. I literally spent all day gettin psyched up about trying to run 4 miles home without my leg collapsing from under me. I was supposed to be running 15 - 17 each day this week. Oh dear.
Anyway I made it home, totally pain free. More importantly my leg felt strong, not 100% but some of my confidence came back within the first few minutes. It was unbelievably difficult to just reign it in and call it quits after half an hour but common sense sort of prevailed.... I couldn't resist going out and doing another half an hour after dinner just to see. It's fine. So fingers crossed I can get a couple of sessions in tomorrow again, a short on on Friday and then C2C 45 miles on Saturday. One day at a time.
Back to the subject of Rocky Raccoon, I saw this evening that Zach Gingerich has put his name down against the 100. Zach won Badwater in 2010 beating me by a paltry 15 hours, coming in 24:44 and change. He had a great year in 2010, winning pretty much everything he entered and with his course record at Arrowhead 135 mile, pretty much the coldest race out there, he gets the title of Fire and Ice Champion for '10. It's still not clear whether Anton Krupicka is racing. Reading his blog, Karl Meltzer seems to think so (karl is also running) but who knows. If those two both turn up then it's quite possible that Eric Cliftons CR of 13:16 could go down. I exchanged a couple of messages with Ian Sharman tonight. For those that don't know him, Ian has begun to establish himself as one of the best, if not the best, British Ultra Runner. Whilst performances like Jez Braggs at the UTMB-lite in 2010 put him right up there, Ian managed a 6:01 at the 89km Comrades Marathon in May 2010 and strung together a top 10 finish at Western States on his first attempt, only his second at 100 miles. With his leg speed proven in his marathon PB but more so in Comrades and his ability to hold it together over longer distances (WS) I can't wait to see if he can cause a stir at RR. I don't want to put him under too much pressure as he had and maybe still has no intention of racing for a win but personally I hope he does. Look out for the final standings come midnight on February 6th.
Massive set back this morning. Got up early and put my gear on. Almost immediately my knee felt tight. I got through Battersea Park ok but as soon as I got north of the Thames over Chelsea Bridge I was reduced to alternating running and walking again. Weirdly the pain didn't become too much to force me to stop running but way more than mild discomfort which was the limit the physio gave me to stick within.
I got so hacked off towards the end that I just put the pace down and ran it in. The only positive is that I was able to run albeit my stride was all over the place. The problem is getting to critical so I spent the entire day alternating ice with elevating it and stretching and tonight the pain i had even going down the stairs earlier on, has subsided. I will rest tomorrow morning again and run home tentatively tomorrow night. In fact I'll probably just take it to the track as I'll get more natural cushioning there.
So with a bit under 4 weeks to go, I can't run 3 miles without stopping. Doubt I can walk 97 miles of RR in under 29 hours 30. Probably still worth a go though....
I'm going to try something new which might be quite boring but might help me keep focused a little bit during a difficult period in my training. Rocky Raccoon is 26 days away so I am going to try and diarise the run in on here each evening.
After no running Thursday - Sunday with ITB issues I got back to it tonight. I've seen Mark my physio at Third Space Medicine in Soho 3 times in the past 6 days. He helped me back to strength after wrecking my achilles and acquiring shin splints in the run up to UTMB 2009 and again before Badwater in 2010. Each time he has got me back on my feet quicker than I thought really possible, helping me to help myself so that I don't need extended and expensive weeks of needless treatment.
Last Wednesday I attempted to run the 4 miles to work and literally had to walk it 4/5ths of the way there. My ITB was swollen, rubbing hard on the outside of my knee. The well known condition 'runners knee'. When Mark started applying pressure to it on Wednesday night I was in agony, the kind which makes you sweat profusely right there on the table as you grit your teeth. He advised me against running Winter Tanners this weekend which I duly did and to stay off my feet as much as possible, ice, stretch repeat.
Tonight I went back for round 3 and the pain had all but subsided. He advised me to run in tomorrow and to get back to longer runs tomorrow night, but I am impatient and as much as I tolerated stepping away from training for 4 days, pain free meant I felt like giving it a go.
I managed 10 miles in a little over 1hr20. For 6 miles I was fine but on the back straight of Hyde Park down the hill on the trail I started to get niggling pain so each mile I stopped and stretched it out before continuing on gingerly. I am going to have to be really careful not to do myself lasting damage, whilst getting in enough training. What is supposed to be a 100 mile week culminating in the Country To Capital 45 miler on Saturday will have to be taken each day as it comes. I still plan on toeing the line on Saturday morning albeit it is purely a training exercise for RR100.
The biggest problem with being injured is that you lose confidence. Last weekend I was running with total control and a good amount of pace. Tonight I led the whole way with my right leg, trying to protect the bad knee. I need to balance out my stride and spread the load otherwise I'll damage something on the right hand side and risk making the left too weak to sustain the pace.
Anyway I'll try again tomorrow morning and again tomorrow night and see how it goes.
Well I guess I've been pushing it harder recently with the training but just towards the end of 20 miles yesterday I could feel my left knee starting to go. When I got up this morning to run in it was cold and my ITB felt like it was drawn tight as a rubber band over the outside of my knee. I have had 'runners knee' regularly in the past. The fact is I have ended up putting most of my longer runs together on concrete this past 6-8 weeks rather than sticking to trails. I guess that's part of the problem living in a city.
This past 7 days I've put in around 80 miles and the week before that 75. That was a alight increase from late November - mid December where I averaged around 65 miles per week (lowest 58, highest 84). I don't feel overly tired and the average pace of my long runs has increased significantly as I start to cope with longer sessions better with increased fitness. In the past I would happily run 20 - 25 milers in 4 hours plus whereas this past week I ran 23 miles in 3:02 and 20 miles in 2:32 a few days later, averaging 7:30 miles. It's nothing spectacular but i'll take the improvement and consistency in running longer. That is way more important to me in training for a 100 rather than speedwork.
Having a great base on which I was planning to build will count for nothing if my knee blows up. I will see the physio tomorrow and keep applying ice to the inflamed ITB. Boring story I guess but useful for me to look back on as another hard earned lesson not to train on the roads as much as I have been.
An old classic but always worth a view to remind where your limit really lies.
Went up to the South Downs Way at 10pm tonight to get a bit of night time trail running in. I left it all day as frankly I was pretty hung over this morning and didn't get out of bed till gone 11. I parked up by Jack and Jill, the windmills that sit on top of the downs above the village of Clayton and ran west over Ditchling Beacon before turning around and coming back again. For the first time in a couple of weeks the clouds had cleared a little and the stars were out, but there was light snowfall the whole time. Apart from that the only other light was my headtorch, reflected back at me by hundreds of pairs of eyes belonging to the herds of sheep that wander the hills up there. I'll take it relatively easy tomorrow before commencing back to back big weeks as the last big push before Rocky Raccoon. Next weekend I'll be at Winter Tanners 30 mile and the weekend after at Country to Capital 45 mile. My left achilles and calf are tight so I'll need to tread carefully....
Big run coming soon in training also as I'm going to run the full 50 mile Centurion North Downs Way course. I will get a GPS read out for the whole gig to give entrants and potential entrants a totally accurate picture of what they will face in August. Timewise I'm expecting it to take me around 8 hours but again we'll see about that...