OK here we go ... time to get serious.
As mentioned in a previous post I plan to take part in three long ultras this year - that's anything over 100 miles.
Originally I had also planned to take part in the open 100k race which is being staged at the same time as the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k in Perth, Scotland. That's at the end of March but my recent knee injury scuppered that plan.
But then, only about 10 days ago, I received a phone call from Norman Wilson (chairman of selectors, England Athletics) asking if I would consider representing England at the Anglo Celtic Plate. Apparently they were having trouble finding enough 100k runners to complete the team - injuries, etc - and so the 24 hr runners were being asked if they would be able step into the breach. Unfortunately my lack of running recently meant that I had to turn down the offer as there's no way I'd be fit enough to run 100k at the end of March.
100k is a long way - even for a 24 hr runner.
It's a shame really because I really like the course at North Inch and I know Adrian and the team will put on a terrific race. I know the course well, having completed almost 100 laps last September - see this page for full details.
Recently I've been putting in place my racing plans now that I'm fully recovered from that injury and I can now reveal that my first long ultra this year will be on 24 June. It will be the ...
... which starts and finishes in Stratford upon Avon. All the event details can be found here.
I'm really looking forward to this race as it's the first open ultra race I've entered since ... the Tooting Bec 24 hr event in October 2008.
Wow ... is it really so long ago? Since then I've had the Run To London in May 2009, Commonwealth Championships in Sep 2009, World Championships in May 2010 and the Perth Ultra Fest in Sep 2010.
It's also the first time I've taken part in a long ultra which hasn't been staged on a closed loop - it's going to be fun. Even in the heat of summer, on a hilly course. Last year the temperature apparently reached 31 degrees Celsius (88 F) but it must have been close to that on the Run to London.
Or when, in June 2006, I warmed up for the Thirsk 10 by running 45 miles from my home to the start.
For me, this will be the ideal build up race for the year's big one [for me at least] which takes place in September. The Commonwealth Championships ... the inaugural event was in Keswick in 2009 and now, the second championships will take place in Llandudno, Wales, at the end of September.
All the details for that can be found on this page. I know there isn't very much on that site at the moment but I'm sure more and more will be added in the coming months.
The event in Keswick was an extremely enjoyable experience - my first international race - and I'm expecting to do quite well in Wales. I finished fifth last time with a pb of 231k (143 miles) but I'll be looking to go a lot further in about seven months time. I never aim for positions, I only aim for distance or time and if that's only good enough for 8th or 23rd then so be it, if I come away with a personal best I can't really complain. It just means the other runners ran better than me.
Of course, there are occasions when some of the other runners can push or pull me to a better performance and to some extent that happened in Perth last September.
My third long ultra of the year will most likely be either the World 24 hr Championships or the Barcelona 24 hr race. The World Championships were due to be held in Brugg, Switzerland but that was cancelled and now it seems likely that they will be held in Taiwan in December ... but if, for any reason that doesn't happen, or if UK Athletics decide not to send a team, then I'll probably take part in the race in Barcelona where Emily Gelder ran over 220k last year.
Barcelona is a wonderful city which I visited in October 2005, only five months before my ultra running debut at the Barry 40.
So ... lots of training to occupy me this year. I'm very happy with how things are progressing with all the running, cycling, strength work, etc [well over 12 hours per week at the moment, but not enough yet] and I'm relishing the challenges to come in June, September and December.
There's also going to be quite a few shorter races this year and full details of everything I've got in the pipeline can be seen on this page.
I'd like to finish this post by thanking Angie and Phil for agreeing to crew for me in the first race and offering me somewhere to stay too.