Some exciting news: I've got a lovely new sponsor in the form of ULTRAmarathonRunningStore.com.
ultramarathonrunning.com and - as you may have worked out - specialises in ultra running products, clothing, gear and equipment. Everything has been designed with the long distance athlete in mind and focuses on the specific needs and requirements of trail and ultra runners.
The products include running backpacks, race vests, waist bags, waist belts, hydration bottles, waist packs, handheld bottles and running shorts with patented mesh pockets. The ULTRAmarathonRunningStore is the exclusive UK supplier/distributor of ultra-specific products from innovative manufacturers UltrAspire and RaceReady.
Sonic spent months trying to find a pair of shorts with two pockets - and here's whole range of them!
Current West Highland Way record-holder, Terry Conway wore the UltrAspire SPRY pack and carried two RACE handhelds when he smashed the course record on Saturday. How's that for celebrity endoresement?
I will be reviewing some of the products over the next couple of months, but please visit ULTRAmarathonRunningStore in the meantime. You also find (and "like") them on Facebook
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Friday, 15 June 2012
As I'm not running the West Highland Way Race next weekend, I need something to fill my time :-) I know lots of people will do well and three will place, but who do think will win the Men's and Ladies' race? Here's the list of contenders (in my humble opinion) in alphabetical order.
Feel free to let me know if I've missed anyone. Get your votes in ...it's anonymous. And just for fun!
Click on VIEW RESULTS underneath the poll to see the scores-on-the-door.
Feel free to let me know if I've missed anyone. Get your votes in ...it's anonymous. And just for fun!
Click on VIEW RESULTS underneath the poll to see the scores-on-the-door.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
The panic training in a heatwave - to acclimatise - isn't necessary.
Local knowledge is power. Even on a relatively straightforward course.
If your sole crew member is a car snob, you will feel their eyes boring into your head when the car hire company give you a Hyundai.
The slow meandering when the race starts will always make you giggle.
When you're mid-conversation it's easy to miss the turn - even only a couple of miles in.
Runners will go off too fast and suffer as a result.
Ultrarunning is incestuous. Regardless of who you're talking to, you will always have a mutual friend.
It's not right that Scotland is basking sunshine and you're running about in the p*ssing rain.
Although the route is gorgeous, you could be anywhere. It's just the accents that's change.
Grass is not the best running terrain.
Living on a canal boat looks like great fun Although the people who do it are clearly nuts!
People on canal boats think ultrarunners are more nuts. And will tell you so.
Strangers are very kind.
If you're moving faster than the canal boats, you're doing OK.
Never ask for directions when 90m from your destination and your only mode of transport is your feet.
Don't bother carrying a key for the en course facilities. You won't use them. Or even see them.
Wear calf guards or long tights, as you won't be able to scratch your nettle stings the neck day.
Virtual support and encouragement is worth it's weight in gold.
Ultrarunners are nice to each other. The dog-eats-dog approach makes you look like a d*ck.
Don't believe the distance is 145, unless you're prepared to walk on water.
Regardless of how old you are, your Mother will be worried sick.
You will think there's no rhythm nor reason to the bridge numbers.
Nourishment milk drinks rock. Although I think the vanilla flavour must be what breast milk tastes like.
The race may curb your enthusiasm for night running.
Men with Rottweilers are actually not as scary as you think.
Don't avoid the puddles. Resistance is futile and a waste of energy.
The Petzl Myo head torch is great, but when it's raining you still can't see for sh*t.
Don't think the person who falls in the canal is an idiot. You know who the next idiot will be...
Falling in the canal is not the worse thing that could happen.
Losing your head torch in the fall would have a detrimental effect on your ability to continue.
Little humps over locks and bridges are like mountains and a good excuse to walk.
You'll lose the ability to run down hill too.
People will stay up all night - or have their laptop under their bed - to follow the race online.
If you can stay upright for the duration of the night, you should win a special prize.
The sudden movements in the water are in fact not otters (mental!) - but ducks moving out of your way.
There's no point removing gravel from your shoes, as more gets in.
Food will become your enemy and you could fall out with your crew over it.
Believe the Hoka hype.
You won't be able to tie your own shoes laces.
Wet gadgets may be salvageable if you don't leave them pool of water for four hours.
The new range of Injinji socks are great, but when your feet get wet nothing will save them.
Don't look at your feet during the race. Save it for the finishing line. Ignorance is bliss.
Putting a race number on during the hours of darkness, should be a gameshow challenge
Girls, you can actually pee standing up. Just little tilt and Bob's your uncle.
Peeing on your shoes is the least of your worries.
"True strength is holding it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart" (unknown)
At some point you will want to kick an ankle-snapping dog into the canal. Followed by its owner.
The homeless migrants sleeping under the bridge will look at you with pity.
It's swings and roundabouts. What I lost during the night left me with me with enough for the finish.
Training is the key, but luck on the day helps.
Surprise visitors are up there with winning the lottery
Especially when they can take home the gigantic trophy, which you will never get on the plane :-)
The finish gantry is one of the most beautiful things you will ever see.
Your crew will never really know how much you appreciate everything.
It's a 100% team effort. Fact!
After battling the elements for hours/days, people will look at your end picture and say "you look tired"
Reading Facebook messages from people following the race will make you cry like a baby.
You're not the only person who will shed a tear.
The first beer is amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing!
Nobody wants to see your feet. Even if you think the carnage is impressive and should be shared.
You will scream like a bitch when you hit the shower.
Big pants will be the best post-race garment you can pack.
The socks/sandals combo is acceptable.
Adrenaline will keep you awake for DAYS!
Getting out of bed will take you a good 20 minutes.
Late night TV allows you the opportunity to brush up on your sign language skills.
Hollyoaks is torture and the Countdown Conunderum is impossible.
Footage of the Queen's Jubilee Celebrations is even worse.
People will stare and point at your attempts to walk. And then your sock/sandal combo.
There won't be an asterisk next to your name - *totally wimped out in the night/fell in the canal/bla bla
You may have a list of excuses, but you're the only one who cares.
After counting up the cost of replacing gadgets, don't leave a brand new Sat Nav in the hire car.
You will bore everyone to tears with your race tales, but you won't notice. Or care.
You can wipe out the next few days at work (Judy, skip passed this bit). See point above.
Active recovery is the way forward. Just as well really, as domestic chores resume as normal.
Try to keep a straight face when the Apple store geek tells you "the water damage is quite extensive"
There will come a time when you need to stop milking the race....I'll let you know when that is :-)
Friday, 8 June 2012
GUCR website info....Garscube Harriers' Debbie Martin-Consani wins the 'triple crown' this Jubilee weekend - 1st Finisher; 1st Lady; and recipient of the Steve Philips 'Run for your Life' Trophy (awarded to the first first-time finisher) in a new ladies' record time of 28 hours 1 minute.
The competition: My main competitor was Emily Gelder. I ran with her - well, when she was lapping me! - at the 24 hour race in September. She's amazingly talented and I had her down as a sure-fire win. I wasn't there to challenge anyway, I was there to challenge myself. I never chased and if anyone was chasing me, I wasn't aware.
Support points: There were 47 support points in the race - probably lots more if you know the route - but I'd arrange to meet Sonic every 10 miles. For the first 70 miles of the race, each runners is given a support point colour according to race number - green for odd and yellow for even - to ease congestion in the early stages of the race.
I'd love to give you a mile-by-mile breakdown, which I'm sure you would love, love (!?) to read, but it's all very vague. I could tell you who I passed - as in, I could describe what they looked like - but I'm not sure when it happened. I know I was picking my way through - running approx 9:30m/m - and the second lady was just in front when I met Sonic at mile 20.
|Pic by Ross Langton|
I'll spare you the graphics, but my stomach was really playing up and it was a bit stop-start for the next 10 miles. I phoned ahead and asked Sonic to mix up some Resolve for me meeting him at 30 (or it could have been 40) miles. When I got there, he told me I'd moved up to 11th position. Then it was 10th, as someone had retired as I was leaving.
Sonic was keeping me posted on where I was in the race. To me, it was way too early to bother, but I know he loves the analytical/tactical side to racing. He did keep a note of how things were panning out, but unfortunately he didn't tell me and I threw it out with all the rubbish after the race. So...this is all from memory...Sonic informed me I was closing the gap on Emily Gelder and was in 8th position when I met him at 45 miles.
It wasn't long before I saw Emily with her crew. She was standing off-course eating jelly babies and I stopped to see how she was. She was having issues with a sciatic nerve but was going to keep going. We exchanged niceties - god, ultrarunning is so pleasant - and I moved on to meet Sonic at our next meeting place.
The kit: I'm glad I wore my HOKA. Only problem was when the towpath sloped, having the extra height played havoc with my ankles. I started in my shorts, but change into long Skins at 65 miles as I couldn't take any more nettles stings and overgrown flora. I had the new range lightweight Injiniji socks on, which I has to order from the States. I love these socks, but when your feet are wet nothing is going to save them. Ignorance is bliss though, so there was to be no sock changing until the end of the race.
|Picture by Ross Langton|
I don't make secrets of the fact that I'm not comfortable in the dark - ever. Running in a strange place in a the dark, freaked me out somewhat. The hours of darkness really are all a bit of a mish-mash for me. I was a bit highly strung when I was traipsing through thick grass. I was running alongside the canal, but I was never sure it was the right canal. I lost a lot of time faffing about with maps and dealing with my emotions. My legs were great, but my head was all over the place. The combination of slowing pace and torrential race, meant by body temperature was dropping.
It was quite eerie being out there alone - especially when four burly men appeared with their 10-stone rottweiler. To be honest, they were lovely and seemed genuinely concerned about my safety. I called Sonic to see if he could come out and meet me - with layers, waterproofs and gloves.
When I saw two head torches behind me - and I knew it was Cliff and his support runner, Matt - I think it's the only time I'll ever be as happy to be caught in a race. We chatted for a bit and Cliff was going to the 100 mile checkpoint to pick up another runner, Richard Galbraith. Who I know from WHW training runs and races! Small world, isn't it.
I had to stop to sort out my race number and pick up some supplies and the boys were off. I was alone again, frantically trying to keep sight of their head torches.
Now, this is where is all goes ridiculously wrong! There are quite a few bridges to cross over the next few miles. In daylight, the directions will be quite intuitive, but in darkness the paranoia sets in.
It all happened so quickly. Before I knew it I was wadding about in the water - in the dark - trying to find the water bottle that had popped out of my belt.
Ironically, someone had mentioned earlier in the race about someone in this race who's falling in the water during a Thames race and in my head I was thinking: "what a t*t". ha ha. How much did that come back and sting me in the a*s?!
Of course when I went for my mid-race swim, my iPhone and iPod came with me. Joy! I was out of the water as quickly as I got in and in a blind panic tried to call Sonic with said wet phone. Not surprisingly, it wasn't playing ball and all Sonic heard was gurgling water before it switched off.
I started running again, trying to rationalise the situation. Really I was just as wet as I was before I got in the water and as long as I kept moving I wouldn't freeze. I made the decision there that I wasn't going to tell Sonic about my mishap. I was just a silly accident, and I thought he would use that and my scattiness earlier to pull me from the race.
A while later - it could have been minutes or an hour - I saw a head torch bopping towards me and then Sonic shrieking my name. He was quite frantic when he got to me, as he had been trying to call me and thought I was "face down in a water or raped and face down in the water or something". I may have made noises to suggest that was a ludicrous suggestion and made the excuse that my phone got soaked in the rain.
I moved on and managed to get myself in a tizzy trying to find bridge 139. I kept coming to a dead end at bridge 153. If I had half a brain at that point, I would have realised that the sequence of bridges to follow were 154 and 155 and therefore the map I had was marked wrong. It took a bit of to-ing and fro-ing before the penny drop.
Of course, everything comes in threes. Oh yes, there's more! After falling in the canal, I managed to fall splat out three times after that. I really needed to keep my wits about me and I'd left my wits somewhere in the hours of daylight. Plus, with wearing Hoka, if you don't pick up your feet properly, you trip. Thankfully I was falling onto "dry" land though. On the third tumble though, I managed to crack the screen of Sonic's Garmin. So far, I was an iPhone, iPod and Garmin down. If anything the expense has got to be the best incentive not to DNF.
I decided to change clothes, as the cold was wearing me down. I kept my shoes and socks on, but striped off and piled on top layers. In hindsight, the ensemble was an absolute travesty! Black and pink Skins, grey Montane long sleeve, blue WHW jacket and a maroon Montane waterproof. But just having dry clothes and gloves made a massive difference
Around 1am, Sonic came out to meet prior to our next arrange meeting point to tell me I was just about to overtook the Richard Quennell who had been leading the whole way. It wasn't until I saw the race pictures, that I realised I ran the 24 hour with him! Sorry, Richard, it was dark and we probably weren't at our chattiest. Richard had by that point moved into second, as Cliff was in the lead. He didn't look in a great way, reduced to shuffling, and I felt quite bad running passed him.
An hour later (say, around 2am) Sonic informed me that Cliff had pulled out and I was in the lead. After passing Cliff walking at 50+ miles, I was surprised he'd picked it back up. He lives near mile 115 (ish) of the course and we heard he had stopped into his house to pick up dry clothes and when he got there his house had been broken. Then we heard he'd locked himself out, so I don't know what the story was.
Brother Sonic was going to run the next five miles with me, until it got light. It was a huge weight off my shoulders when Sonic took the maps off me. Brother Sonic even offered to carry my bottle belt for me, but that had already become part of my DNA and might unbalance me.
We moved on. Although I was adopting a walk/jog strategy, I was still moving quite strongly and was still in high spirits. And it was so nice to have someone to talk too!! Other than the imaginary people I'd been seeing along the way :-) The fisherman who turned out to be a tree and the little fat lady in the red coat who was in fact a bin for dog waste...
Nutrition/Hydration: I would say my eating was better than usual, but Sonic might disagree. On the Friday evening, we'd gone to Asda and stocked up on the usual rubbish. Two of everything, just to be sure. I drank mostly energy drink, water with Nunn and Nourishment milk drinks. I was saving my beloved flat Coke for later in the race, but even then only took a couple of small bottles. Eating wise, I had a few sandwiches, Mrs Tilly's fudge, sweets, banana...and I think that's about it. Surprisingly (well, for me) I had about 10 gels. Usually I save these for emergencies, but I bought the water-based SIS GO gels and they went down fairly easy.
For the next 10+ miles, I played a bit fartlek. I would walk for a bit and then run to the next bridge/corner/sticky-out-tree. And this got me through to Bell's Bridge, where I turned off the Grand Union Canal and started heading towards Paddington.
I saw the sign for 13 miles to go and started working out times in my head. The night antics and the walk/jog had slowed me down, but I was still feeling pretty good. My legs were fine. Tired, but not sore at all. I had well over two hours to do a half marathon. Fine on normal circumstances, but not so great after 25+ hours of running.
If I wanted to break the record, I'd need to up the anti. It was like someone switched on the light and I just kept going. I heard Adrian Stott say to me "If you want something bad enough, you'll find away" like he said to me in Llandudno. Sonic and Gillian were waiting at the final support point at H'Brough Tavern. Sonic has clearly just woken up and looked a bit startled and bleary eyed when I passed through. Even the poor marshall had to dart out of his van to come and get my number.
I was on a mission! I needed to get to Little Venice by 28:11 to break the ladies' record. In my head I was flying. In reality I was doing 10m/m. I was practically tapping the screen of the Garmin, as I thought I must have really broke it in the tumble :-)
I never really knew how far behind the next runner was. We were just using hear say. I just presumed it was a male runner and hell hath no fury like a man being "chicked"!
As it was now normal morning time, the path was getting busier with dog walkers/cyclists/runners. I just hoped they would see the race number and not think I'd escaped from an institution.
As the countdown signs for Paddington were getting closer, I could see lines of barges. Of course, I knew it had to be Little Venice, but I stopped a runner to ask just to be sure. Even though there's nothing more irritating than being stopped mid-Zone to give directions!
Click here for the Scottish Athletics, the Ultra Running World report and the Scottish Running Guide report. Not surprisingly that they all say the same thing though :-)
Click here for full results
1st: Debbie Martin-Consani 28:01
2nd: Iveagh Jameson 28:53
3rd: Pete Summers 30:03
4th: Steve Charleston 30:38
2nd female Sarah Thorne 34:56