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An academic in (running) tights

Blogs on education and running: My two passions

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General running thoughts

The most enjoyable hell I’ve been through

So, Lakes in a Day event – 7th October 2017. 50 mile ultra marathon across the Lake district with a reported 12000 feet of climb. Actual race stats puts it at 54 miles with just over 12300 feet of climb.

Spoiler alert: Continue reading “The most enjoyable hell I’ve been through”

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Lakes in a Day recce (aka WTF)

I wrote this a day after I had 3 days recce on the LIAD course. My thoughts have changed a bit since then!

So I told my fella I’m taking him on a holiday in the Lakes for a bit of hiking. I eventually came clean and told him it was a race recce Continue reading “Lakes in a Day recce (aka WTF)”

Lakes in a Day Caldbeck to Threkeld (Leg one)

You may have seen my previous post (here) where I did about 2/3rds of the route over 3 days. All walking with a 1:50 OS map.

This recce was organised by Open Adventure, the race organisers.

Caldbeck is the start of the race which is in a village. You get given last year’s map which is 1:50 OS with the route clearly marked. The recce event split naturally into 3 paces with me being at the back of the middle pace. Each group had an experienced race person who gave some great tips on best route options.

So the recce. Continue reading “Lakes in a Day Caldbeck to Threkeld (Leg one)”

Lakes in a Day: Race prep thoughts

So I have done Caldbeck to Threkeld recce and then from Helvellyn to Cartmel recce. The only bit I haven’t done a recce for is Threkeld to Helvellyn.

From a newbie perspective this is a collection of thoughts for race day

  • Know how to use a map and compass. If weather is bad you’ll be VERY thankful of these skills.
  • It gets cold. Really f******* cold so I intend to pack my kit accordingly. I would prefer to carry a bit of extra weight than be stuck in the wood section at 2am in the cold with poor clothing. I’ll have long sleeve top, tee, spare top, down jacket, waterproofs, gloves, hat, buff. Plus the more clothing I wear, the longer it takes the wild animals to get to my flesh 😀
  • I will be changing my shoes (and socks) at Ambleside from La Sportiva to comfier trail shoes – may be my Leadville. I’ll also change into my dry top I’ll be carrying.
  • I will use my gaitors
  • I will use my poles (Mountain King) for ascents
  • I will take a 1:25000 OS map, especially as the last half could be quite tricky in the dark.
  • I have set up my Petzl Nao+ headlamp (with spare battery) so I have light for up to 20 hours
  • I’ll take my usual 1st aid kit
  • There are plenty of places in which shortcuts could be taken and incur time penalties but why would you? You’re not completing the race if you do that intentionally.
  • I’ll grit my teeth and just keep ploughing through Leg 1 – I will have to turn my brain off for this section as mentally, it’s awful.
  • I will opt to go through the gates when I reach the wall before Ambleside and keep the wall on my left.
  • I will use 2 x 500 mL flasks of fluid for Leg 1 but from Threkeld to Ambleside I will also top up my 2 litre bladder. I suspect I will be on this Leg quite a while. I am hoping 2-3 litres will be enough or at least enough until I reach Grisedale Tarn.
  • I’m going to start on the snacks very early on.
  • I’ve still not successfully managed my salt levels – I hope eating salty snacks will be enough.
  • It’ll hurt to run at some point. But I expect it’ll hurt to walk too, so you may as well attempt to run. This has been my thoughts on past ultras and it worked well.
  • I must keep reminding myself that after Ambleside, it’s easier in many aspects. Do not give up!
  • Don’t die

Continue reading “Lakes in a Day: Race prep thoughts”

Race to the King experience

This was my 2nd 50+ mile event. The 1st one was Gower 50 on Oct 1st 2016. This event claimed to be 53.5 miles (my fenix 3 said 54.3). To say I hit a roller coaster of emotions is a massive understatement! And the ride hasn’t stopped 48 hours later.

If any of you have read my previous posts you know that this year has been a mix of injury recovery and infections. This hasn’t meant I haven’t run, it just means I didn’t have any focus to my running. I still managed to knock out a couple of marathons, a 50k and 41 miler. I thought if I managed those with relative ease, then I should be kinda OK for RTTK. And I was OK.

So why does it feel that it was a big fat failure?

I had the right kit, I felt pretty excited at the start line, I had enough sleep and I had kept an eye on hydration and food the week prior. Even race day temperature wasn’t too bad! Humid but bearable.

I set off at what felt like a comfortable pace, walked (power walked) up the hills, stopped at the pit stops and used the portaloos. The 1st 20 or so miles were pretty fun! The scenery was great!

Then around mile 27 is I started to feel fed up. I have no idea why. It got worse. I felt I was being inhabited by ‘Kevin the teenager’. Full on moody, stubborn ‘ I won’t run any more’ mood had taken over. I was one miserable cow.

Add that with the heart palpitations and the hallucination…..(a dog about to attack me) led to an ‘interesting’ last 35 miles. Now I don’t think I was lacking fuel or hydration as I kept an eye on what was happening with urine loss. I can only put this down to heat. I actually dripped sweat and that’s something I don’t normally do to any extent. Any other suggestions are welcome!

So I carried on, stopping for lots of photos, stopping to look at the views (yes they were incredible) and took full advantage of every pit stop, including sitting down and drinking tea! According to my stats I wasted a good 45 mins on this 😀 But at the time, it felt the right thing to do.

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Around mile 35 I decided I was going to pull out of Lakes in a Day, another 50 mile event. By mile 45 I had convinced myself I useless and I should give up long distance. A volunteer at the last pit stop did her best to cheer me up and encourage me, but it was no use. I hated everything.

Until mile 51

Then I suddenly got a new lease of life and I ran……and ran….and ran! I felt good again! Obviously it was because I knew I was nearly done but that sulky teenage mood had been kicked to the ground. I actually felt like my body could have carried on running and crossing that finish line was pretty damn good.

So was the race hard? No. The route was easy (ish), there were a few good hills, the path was clear, the temp was warm but OK and I wasn’t suffering with any aches or pains and not a blister in sight. There was absolutely no reason for my mood. I can’t explain it.

I finished in 12 hours 15 mins, 18/81 in age cat, 50/171 female, 235/581 overall. For my standards that’s pretty damn good! A whole hour faster than Gower 50 and Gower was shorter by 4 miles and had less elevation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I know why I’m not happy.

I really, really hate being tired! I like finishing events feeling fresh. Yes I know that means I haven’t put in the effort but it still doesn’t change the fact I like feeling relatively fresh after an event. I know I shouldn’t expect the same after 50+ miles, but I do. If I could just change this mindset and accept that ultras make you tired, then I’m sure I’d be a lot happier with my result!

I’m still questioning whether Lakes in a Day is a good idea

The Race Review

It costs £119. If you look at the price of other ultras, this seems pretty pricey! I begrudge paying anything over £45 so signing up to this was a leap of faith. Although many have said it is overpriced, I disagree. You get 7 pitstops, fully stocked with individual wrapped goodies, branded foods, full medic tent and portaloos. If anyone has every tried to arrange a race over farm land before, you’ll know what an absolute nightmare it is to arrange, and portaloos?…not a chance of sorting it unless money changes hands. So yes, it costs a lot, but you can see where the money has gone. This event and its support would not be as comprehensive without this price. Add in the discounted race entry for Save the Children, and I’d say the price was justified.

I will add that this is the 1st ultra I’ve done with full medic, loos and array of food etc at every pit stop. No grabbing of snot covered jaffa cakes at this event!

Add to the above to the lack of navigation required….I’d actually recommend this as a 1st ultra. And I’d never thought I’d never recommend anything over £50!

There are other charges to consider such as carpark and coach transfer fees but again, the carpark was on commercial farmland so I think that price was understandable. However, the coach transfer fee was seriously over priced. Thankfully I needed neither.

So yes, it’s a cracking event and yes I’d certainly recommend it even though I was miserable for the majority of the race 😀

I’m a fickle bugger!

 

An after thought

I don’t think I was that bothered about this event to begin with – I have had a rough few weeks with work and all I wanted to do was disappear. This might explain the extreme moodiness 😀 A few words from Matt (Running Adventures) has given me the kick I needed to change my mindset. Not only has his online coaching provided me with training to complete these ultras with relative ease, but he also gives me a mental kick when needed! For that I thank you.

So now for recovery and start to appreciate my ultra performances are improving. I have also arranged to recce part of Lakes in a Day route. The road is long….and long is good.

A Wannabe Ultra runner (the things I have learnt)

I don’t consider myself to be an ultra runner (yet) but I am working towards it. I started running from couch to 5k 3.5 years ago. This is hardly enough time for a sufficient running base to develop let alone Continue reading “A Wannabe Ultra runner (the things I have learnt)”

Dukeries 40 and what next?

This year I blogged about training for Paris Marathon in April. If you’ve seen my blogs, you know it didn’t go to plan, but overall I was happy with my finish.

So what’s been happening since? Well I ran another marathon – Newcastle Way Trail marathon 6 days after Paris Continue reading “Dukeries 40 and what next?”

Two marathons, trail running and inner peace

It’s been 6 days since Paris marathon. If you read my race report you would have seen it broke me. So 5 days of rest and recovery followed.

Then Newcastle Way trail marathon was today. I signed up to this last year and I had no idea if I could even complete half of it!

So 8am at the Ash Inn at Mow Cop I set off on the trail. The plan – to run at a pace that felt right for my legs. And that’s exactly what I did. Unfortunately this also meant leaving my club runners behind. But I needed to keep the legs turning over at the right pace. 

Within the 1st mile I was so piggin’ happy! It felt like I was back home, on the trails, away from the pavements. Life felt good. I was a little nervous about the trail as this was my 1st proper trail run since spraining my ankle back in early December. Thankfully, all was well. 

The route was a mix of fields, lanes, woodland with a evil Lane just past the Swan with Two Necks (around mile 15?). I hated this Lane last year! This year it felt a lot easier. In fact the whole route felt a lot easier. 

So I carried on plodding along, running with Steve, a fellow TT and Trenthamer. By the time we reached the end of the lane I was feeling good. I knew the end was only about 12 or so km away. I could have quite happily picked up the pace. My legs felt loose, I had energy. But I didn’t pick up the pace.

I carried on running with Steve. If I’d have picked up the pace, I may have ended up running on my own and I certainly wouldn’t have felt good about leaving behind my running partner. So we carried on together. I did run off ahead in the last few hundred metres. I had to have that sprint finish. Never not had one yet. 

And I crossed the line with a time of 5:51 which puts me in around mid-field. 

This wasn’t an easy race. After all its a marathon! It has about 100 stiles and over 2000 feet of gain. But it’s certainly the easiest trail marathon I’ve done. Comparatively flat. And it’s 26.2 miles. Trust me, that’s really unusual for a trail marathon. My last trail marathon was 32 miles  (no it’s not an ultra). So relatively speaking, it’s a nice easy one to do. 

Couple that with the easy pace of 13mm and good cool weather, I finished feeling I could have carried on.

Which was a massive relief.

These last few months I’ve really questioned my running ability. Injuries, illness and sporadic training. I didn’t think I had any endurance in me. But finishing this race fully capable of running more has put a lot of fears to rest. 

I feel more positive about entering my next phase of training in preparation for Lakes in a Day. 

And I’m back on the trails. I intend to stay there.

Paris Marathon: 12 weeks of training.

Paris Marathon took place on Sunday 9th April at approximately 9.15am for the 4 hour wave runners. That would be me. If you have read my past weekly posts, you’d know that my training has not gone smoothly – namely due to sprained ankle recovery, a couple of infections and antibiotics…blah, blah, blah. The list goes on.

Based on everything that had happened over the 12 weeks, I revised my original goals of 3.50/4.00/4.10 to getting close to my Manchester Marathon time of 4:23. Deep down I still hoped for something between 4-4:10. After all, I had come off the antibiotics a few days prior to the marathon and I felt OK. I felt optimistic! Continue reading “Paris Marathon: 12 weeks of training.”

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