Monday, 3 November 2014

Helvellyn fell race 2014

I ran this race a couple of days ago, so here are some thoughts and feelings. I should find a few pics too.

This race is part of the "Dirty Double" weekend that is the finale of the series. By the time I entered, the Sunday Ullswater event was full. Ive run these before but find it hard to remember the courses. I remember sections but am never sure which race they are from so I effectively went into this race "blind".

The weather, as anyone who knows anything about the Lakes, can be anything and everything. All in a short time. Travelling down the weather was fine. I did hit a little rain, but that was after I'd turned off the M6 only to get back on it ! Muppet ! So 11 miles south to the next junction and 11 miles back north. Luckily I had plenty time.

I parked up and made my way to registration and was in time to see the 12pm start (there are 2 or 3 starts to accommodate more people on the narrow trails).  I was surprised by the numbers.

Now I had to think about clothing. It was pretty warm and dry but I knew we'd be going up where it would be cooler, windier and possibly wet. I decided on one merino base layer and my Inov8 jacket stashed around my waist. I'd already decided on Inov8 Orocs on my feet and so that proved right. They have small tungsten tips in the lugs that grip the wet rock superbly. They are a tad thin on the gravelly roads, but all in all a good compromise.

At the start I met the lad that reads my electric meter (like you do !) and chatted with the guys next to me in the start pen. No, none of us could remember the course despite all having run it before. A nervous girl beside me chatted saying how she's not long started running. A great place to be as everyone was there to go run up and down hills and were excited about it. I love the running community for this alone.

Race reports mile by mile aren't my thing. Too boring imo. Lets summarise as follows. 2 miles and 600 feet of climb up broken gravelly track followed by 2 miles down technical narrow rock strewn paths. Just so much fun for me as I really love that sort of descent. I have to concentrate so hard to find my footing, not fall and try to run fast too.

The second valley is more gentle but is very narrow on the way up and after the initial down section widens out to become a very fast finish, the last mile being road. I'd been running my own race, not killing myself, but perhaps not pushing myself hard enough (see finishing time). I let anyone who wanted to pass me to do so early on. After the first mile I was passed twice and took 20-30 place, which I was very happy with.

At the head of the second valley I noted my pace was sitting at 9.36 min/miles. I thought to myself "can you get sub 9?" That was my spur for the last section of the race. Well yes I managed to bring it down to 8.55. I was pleased but looking at my time in 2012, I see I was over 5 minutes slower !! WTF. Was I so in my comfort zone early on or is it just the ageing process ? A bit of both I suspect, however I am not too bothered as I really really enjoyed that race. It probably has everything for me: climb, fast technical descents and out and out fast sections. Its not too long or too short at just under 9 miles.

I got a nice shout out from the man on the mic along the lines of "nice beard there!" I met a twitter friend I'd never met in person and 3 who I had. We arranged to meet for beers later and I headed off to my van to get cleaned up. I lay down for dose and woke up two hours later ! It was dark and the car park was totally empty !

Anyway as usual all good days find a way of ending well. I met friends, drank beer, ate well (eventually !) and retired to my van. In the morning I wandered down to the shore of Ullswater, took in the views, watched the guys start to set up the tents etc for Sunday's races. I got a breakfast in a cafe as the day's runners arrived, all lycra and nervousness. Such a positive vibe about the place.

Me? I headed up the road, stopped near Hawick and ran up Ruberslaw. Absolutely magical at top of that baby. Don't believe me? Try it and I dare you to be disappointed.

                                                               20 yards to go !


                                                                         Ruberslaw !

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Random Pics August 2012

                                          The Bass Rock from Berwickshire Coastal trail

                                                        Evening skies from my door

                                                                     The stuff of life

                                                                    Scottish Gas 10k

                                                                     Daughter #1

                                                                    Daughter #2

Monday, 20 October 2014

Random pics to July 2012

                                                     After my 1st ultra with a special guy


                                                            After out 1st marathon

                                                         Gina's perfect handstand

                                                                  Tricked up handstand

                                                                   Sonny trail running

                                                                      Kids, beach

                                                               Monkey driftwood?

                                                                           Beach life

                                                           Driftwood and beach running

                                                                         Beach running



                                                          Sonny & Scrim - beachlife

                                                               Ma boy and ma toes



                                                             Dunes. Beach running

                                                                       Special people

                                                                 Sonny on the trail

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Random pics from my life

                                                             Sam, bike, Holy Island

                                               Don't run a marathon in shoes too small !

                                                                    Seal, Holy Island

                                                                    Sam, Holy Island

                                                     Scrim dog giving it laldy, Holy Island

                               Me running the beach in Luna Sandals. Just so much fun. Holy Island

                                                                Scrim. Holy Island

                                                       East Berwickshire. October morn

                                                                  Trail run. Luna Sandals.

                                        Top of Hedgehope. Beautiful day. Alone. Perfect

                                                         Gets a bit boggy in the Cheviots !

                                                                    Gina. Posey.

                                                                  Sam. Bike. Holy Island

                                                 Cocklawburn. October. Atmospheric place

                                                      Love a sunrise. SE Scotland. October

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Kielder marathon 2014

Last weekend I ran this event. Here are my thoughts and feelings three days later.

After never really consider running a marathon, I ran one in 2012. And then another. I continued in 2013 and by the end of the year I had run 4 marathons and 2 ultras. This year, however, I really got stuck in and this was my 6th (and last !) in 2014.

I had run this in 2012 in a time of 4:03:52 which remained my PB. In truth, with the exception of Edinburgh in 2013, the others were all true hill affairs and a PB was never a possibility. So I came to this with the goal of a PB and a sub 4 hour time.

Perhaps not ideally, I ran the Yorkshireman marathon 3 weeks before, had great fun and felt strong throughout. This gave me a big boost in confidence and all my training had gone well.

I don't have experience of revisiting marathon courses usually, but this time I did. Would this be helpful or not? I remembered from 2012 how undulating the course is and how hard I found that and so it proved to be again. I decided to try to take it steady, walk every hill and run it smart !

I did start off a little quicker than I intended, but its so hard not to when you are fresh. It was nothing silly and I was quite happy trotting along at 8.45 pace for a good few miles. I knew that 9.09 was 4 hours roughly. I passed halfway in 1:55, knowing the sharpest hill is not long after. I happily walked it. I was not long after that that I started to feel things. First were my hip flexors, next was my left hamstring. Nothing major, just them letting you know that they're working. I rarely get cramp but had an attack in my left hammy whilst sitting on the sofa on the Friday night and again in bed on Saturday morning. This was where I was feeling it now.

I watched as the average pace rose on my watch and started trying to do some mental arithmetic. I'm generally good at this but its amazing how muddled you can get whilst running a mara ! Crossing the dam (mile 17-18) I reckoned if I could keep knocking out the miles as I had been, I'd be fine for both goals.

Now I can guess that you are thinking that there must be a twist to come. Oh yes ! Two actually. Firstly I has forgotten how undulating and hilly the section after the dam is and secondly I'd made a schoolboy error. I'd realised this error around halfway but now it had become a problem. My shoes were too small ! I have a favourite pair of shoes that are quite hard up now and decided that some others would be more suited to the nature of the paths we were to be running on. I had run this before so I remembered the surface. I had not long got these shoes, which were a half size smaller than the 1st pair I'd bought, and had my suspicions that they may be a tad too small. I'd run in them several times, but obviously not over this distance.

As my feet screamed at me, I battled on and my watch showed that my average pace had dropped to 9.10 pace. I said to myself that if I could maintain this, surely I could raise my game for the last mile. Immediately the pace rose to 9:11 :-( It was at this point I decided the sub 4 was gone, but the PB was still on so I eased off slightly.

I couldn't help myself from trying to continually work out the maths. Was this still on or not? I caned the last mile to finish with a time of 4:00:41. I'd got my PB by 3 minutes+ but not the sub 4.

Thinking the race through, I'm fairly happy with how I executed it. The shoe gaff is my biggest regret. Could I have found 42 seconds in other shoes? Possibly. But I also remind myself that I know I left nothing out there on the course and so that time was the best I could come up with. I was simply not fast enough. As this had over 1700 feet of climb and I've only ever run one road marathon and said I'd never run another,  perhaps thats where I have to go if I really want to bust the 4 hours:-)

About the event itself. There are many many water stations which allowed me not to carry water. I like this as I can run light so to speak. I do enjoy the hill marathons where you have to carry full kit as well as water, but it was nice to set off running not feeling you were carrying a load.

The marshalling and support was outstanding. The route is pretty self explanatory but where there were marshals they were so positive (if you've ever run a mara you'll know how much of a lift this gives you).

In summary, from my limited experience this is a quite unique route. It is entirely runable. There are no bogs, gates, stiles yet its quite hilly. Maybe it fits the bill for 2 types of runner? Someone moving from the road to the trail and a hill runner looking for a faster run.

Should you consider running Kielder? Your call of course, but if you were to ask me I'd say "HELL YEAH "

Thanks for reading and remember this, if I can so you can too.