Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Not so bad really

Now I have calmed down and got over my hissy fit it is time to write a detailed blog about the this race.


I was quite heavy going into it, 73kg, but feeling very strong physically and mentally. I was hoping to do 210km at least. The aim was to run 6min kms as long as possible.

To do this I prepared a food plan. Essentially it was 

1*500ml of Sisgo or Tailwind with a gel in the hour.
I bought my 20 of my favorite powerade bottles, labelled them 1-24,pre filled the odd numbered ones with tailwind and the even with sisgo.
2 chocolate biscuits on the quarter hour
1 mini Mars/snicker on the half hour
A few Pringles and cubes of cheese on the three quarter hour.
Ever four hours had a rice pudding with magnesium granules. 
For the evening between 12 and 6am I had a can of redbull and some caffeine tablets. 

Thanks to James Elson for the idea of a regular plan. 

All this took up quiet a bit of space. So I was scrimping on kit. I took two pairs of ascics GT 2100, a couple of running shirts, my Care keep warm  top, a long sleeved shirt a couple of pairs of double skinned socks and a couple of pairs of shorts and two rain jackets.

This was my first big mistake. Too many shoe,  too much food and not enough clothes...

I traveled to the race from Frankfurt via train. First class...I thought that would be comfy...but then my back spasmed and it was very painful. I had some volteren forte gel in my bag so I spread that on to ease the discomfort and reminded myself not to moan as some people I know can't feel a thing below the chest.

I got to the hotel checked in and had a long soak in a lovely hot bath. The hotel came courtesy of Andrew Ferguson. He was planning on crewing Izzy Wykes at the race but unfortunately she was injured. Chiz chap it was a back saver.

The next I wrote a few people's names in my body over the locations they are injured to remind me of how lucky I am to be able to run

Left ankle Nicky
Right ankle Izzy
Mark Cockbain on my knees... Too low down though. I wanted his name facing me as I ran and it wasn't.
Dwarf on my chest and Jo on my back.

The organizers did a good job. A nice flat 1.1 km course with gazebos down one side for kit/ food and  benches and tables to put it all on. The benches became vital later.

There are as talk or a storm in the evening but the race started at midday in sunshine.
Just before the race a couple of people commented on my Sparta tattoo. One of the Germans said he saw my finish with the martini. This cheered me up loads.

I started running smoothly and on pace. The food was working wonders nothing could go wrong surely?

I had the usual wobble between 30 and 60km that I put down to all the glycogen being used up and moving to fat burning. I was running really well. I even had time to watch the footie being played on the pitches in the middle ground. 

My back tried to spasm at around to 35km but I just shouted Jo at it and it went away.

The wind picked up in the mid afternoon and blew the gazebos over. The organisers had this covered and soon set things right again pretty quickly.Then the rain started at six pm. I threw on my montane minimus and carried on. I was still on target. Slowing a little but on target.

it would have been handy to have some crew to help but as laid my food out neatly I was not losing too much time  picking up stuff.

I notice that a few Spartathlon winners were there Stu Thomas and Jens Lukas..Bloody hell they were fast. Also fast was a Swedish lady Maria Jansson  who had admired my tat. She said that Sparta was too hot for her.  Seeing the speed she was running I thought it wouldn't be enough of a challenge.. She finished with over 240km. Turns out she is  European ladies champion.

By 10ish I was cold and slowing to 6:30- 7 min/km. Still good  enough for my target. The rain had not let up and I was soaked to the skin. I  changed to the last pair of dry tops that I had and carried on. I had started moving up the rankings and very happy. I was think how much fun it was going to be to tell Mark Cockbain that I had beat his pb in the pouring rain.

By midnight the dry clothes were soaked again and I begged a top and plastic pack a mac from Jen Vieler race director of thttp://www.tortourderuhr.de/. He is an excellent chap and I hope to see him again at the Spartathlon.

By two am I was now 24th overall and 5th in my age category. Considering the quality of fields I was well happy.

Then I made the second and fatal mistake. I took my red bull and decided to sit down.


How many times before have I been told that? What a stupid idiot.

I started shivering so much that I could prepare enough milkshakes for MacDonald's a month. 

for all their branches


I was told to have a hot shower to warn up and wrap up in a space blanket. I took some rest I tried to go out again at four am only to be advised not to as my shaking was letting up. 

I ended up returning to the hotel and then putting all my dry clothes on and returning home .

I ended up with 123km in  14 hours 

Disappointing yes. But look at how consistent I was compared to last year. The big spike is the toilet break I needed. I think that is a sign of improvement.

I know I can do plus 210 maybe even more. 

I am going to try again in June or July but really need some crew.
Probably here http://24-stunden-lauf.de/index.php
 Any volunteers?

Sunday, 1 May 2016


The race was going well.
Food...including my first trial of Tailwind worked. Even at 2:00am I was successfully moving up the field and felt great mentally.
But ultimately lack of preparation for the weather failed me.

The weather forecast for the race said it would rain. It did, a lot. My rain jacket was not water proof. Even switching to another method ...basically a large rain poncho didn't help. I got colder and colder but I focused on the time left and to keep moving to stay warm. I was on for a massive pb. I was going to reach 210km, a bit tight admittedly but it was doable.

I  withdrew, however, as I became so cold that matter how much boullion and cheese I consumed they didn't make a difference.

Lesson learned....
Take loads of clothes.  You can never be prepared enough.

Make sure that they are the right clothes for the weather.


Monday, 25 April 2016

Pre race blog

I know I have to start slow and stay slow.

I know I can maintain  6 minutes per km for at least 120km.

I know I can extend that by using the  run 3/4 fast walk 1/4 when I am slowing down.

I know the course has four sides so it is easy to implement the above.

I know I have to eat.

I know what I will eat.

I know that I am running on 1km  track and can pick stuff up when I want. 

I know I will pick up according to my eating plan. 

I know I won't fuck about selecting food.

I know I can run through the night.

I know I need motivation.

I know I will split into into 40km chunks.

I know each chunk represents a station on  Sparta.

I know each chunk will be  done  in four hours.

I know I will write M on one knee and C on the other.

I know I will write Dwarf on my heart.

I know I will write Ugly on my foot.

I know I will stay focused.

I know how to change the negatives to positives.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

January Review

Slowly I am getting more focused.
In the last week of January I hit all my targets.  not only running, but swimming and core work as well.
I also had my first week of eating absolutely no crap.
My input from  Tuesday to Friday was two apples a day, a homemade soup and a fish salad.
This resulted in a weight loss of 2kg.

I am still well over weight though at just under 74 kg.  

I truly believe that I can stay strong now on and keep shedding the weight.  

It really does have an impact.

This time  last year I was 72kg and completed the Rodgau 50km in 4:18.  
This year I was 74 kg and finished in 4:40.

I had also done 3 roys by this time  last year and I eat a gel every 5km.  This year only one Rory and a gel every 10km. 

I was ok until around 30km  resulting a big drop off in performance as can be seen from the graph below.

Lessons learnt.
Weight - lose it!
Gels - one every 5km
Rory's - do them 

Next race Marburg 50km  27th February

Monday, 14 December 2015


I am struggling to get my mojo back. I am very heavy at 76.7kg
I am going to have to force myself out this week. But I will do it with the help of the 5:00am club and the need to really improve.
I have a plan of races that should get me going in in the new year and my legs are stronger so I should not suffer from the hamstring problems of last year.
The races are as follows
30th January - Rodgau 50km
28th February - Lahntallauf 50km
20th March - Eschollbreucken 50k
30th April - Basel 24 hour
13th August - Leipzig 100km
30th September - Spartathlon
2nd December - The Hill
The training plan is up for the year and I will stick to it. This year will be great.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Building a proper plan

After The Hill I have had a bit of crisis of confidence. In order to race at the level I want to I have to stay permanently fit and that is hard. So I have considered dropping out of racing altogether. I would instead just stay fit and be happy with that.

The trouble is that is not enough. Why do I think like that?
It is difficult to summarise, but here goes.

1) I want to be fit..for me and my family...I hate being fat and unfit.

2) To be fit I need a goal...a goal on the edge of my abilities to stretch me.

3) Racing hard ultras is one of those goals. It keeps me focused otherwise I flap about aimlessly.

4) Once I complete one I not only have my own validation... But other people validate it.

5) I like that validation because it proves I am not as shit as I think I am. The amazing feeling of achievement when I have completed the big ultras is something to look forward to

The trouble is why did that not happen on The Hill? I suffer from overconfidence. I do one thing well after training hard and then expect to coast into the next. It really does not work like that for a person of my capabilities.

It was undoubtedly a challenge and kudos for finishing that would be significant.  I lacked the  commitment, however, from the end of Spartathlon to the Hill.

It is fucking hard...avoiding all the crap. The shit food, the drink the ciggies and keeping up the training.
This makes  me somewhat of  a fitness freak. My best friend said 'Why not just do marathons?' I replied that I thought they were too easy. He shocked response was 'Don't you realise how ridiculous that sounds to a normal person?'

In reality no I don't. So I am a freak I have to accept it.

I focused on the Spartathlon finish and then thought that was enough to get me through the Hill. I suppose it would have been if I had maintained the fitness. I know how much effort it takes to prepare for a race physically and mentally beforehand.  I concentrated on one race and forgot about the other. Mentally I was done after Spartathlon and the Hill came too soon. There was not enough recovery or preparation time. I didn't build a proper plan. I was too lackadaisical.

My conclusions are

1) The focus has to be permanent with no slacking. This does not mean I can't rest and enjoy myself. I just need to build the longer rest periods into the plan.

2)I need to schedule the training mentally and physically for each individual race well in advance. This plan should include significant downtime on a regular basis as well as time for race appropriate plans.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Failure at The Hill

My complete failure to start The Hill has got me thinking. I can do races in the heat. I am, however, totally unprepared physically and mentally for the wind. Andrei Nana writes that people don't complete races because they fail to prepare.I had a plan but that meant getting lap eight for the first treat to boost me. I panicked and failed to use any of mental tricks that helped on previous races.  Physically I was fine, I just fell apart mentally. I am WEAK!

Training for the heat is easy. Bin bags. But how do you train for being battered from side to side and thrown off your feet and not being able to breath?The wind knocked me over so much that I really did not want to continue after two hours. This shocked many people around me at the race, but not as much as it shocked me. It was not that I was wet or cold. Richard Fish lent me loads of gear that kept me protected from the elements. Cold and rain I don't mind. But the wind not only knocks me over but also makes it difficult to breath. I don't understand how anyone else lasted so long. Even Lindley did more laps than me!)

I admit that I have lost a some of the fitness since Spartathlon and gain quite a bit of weight. Maybe more than I care to admit. I kidded myself I needed that as ballast, but seriously if an extra seven kilos wasn't enough to keep on my feet I doubt more would useful...

I wonder if it was merely that?  Or do I need to get stronger? For instance tyre dragging or using the weighted jacket more. Or training with a mask on to simulate the lack of breath.

I can either spend time working out how to cope with these conditions or just not do races that involve them. That would me not doing The Hill again. This conclusion is very bad as I hate admitting defeat. Perhaps I have a new obsession to replace Spartathlon? Or should I just forget about the Hill and any other race?

Some serious thinking is needed. Maybe not only about the types of races I enter or whether I should be doing them in the first place. What purpose do the serve in the greater scheme of things? Can I justify doing them?

Still the weekend was not a complete waste of time as I got to assist on the race...collecting up and laying out glow sticks with Dave Fawkner and Drew Sheffield. I was helping Mark Cockbain, Richard Weremiuk and Richard Fish in the camper van, making teas and preparing food.

I also got todo a bit of baby sitting with the adorable Max Cockbain.

Catching up Claire Shelly and meeting some of the Mud Crew guys and the others on the race. I do recall getting spectacularly drunk on the Saturday, but most of that was a blur. I am sure I offended a few people, coz I usually do and please take this as an apology from my sober self for my drunken self.