Thursday, 30 September 2010

Recovery has gone very well and now I have my first test on Saturday afternoon - running for Otley AC in the North of England 6 stage relay in Manchester.

Although I'm running well I feel as though I'm lacking a bit of sharpness.  I suppose that's to be expected as I haven't done a lot of speedwork since Perth.

I'm looking forward to it though, we have two teams and I think it's important for clubs to support these type of relays.  We don't expect to come anywhere near the front but that's not the point.  I don't expect to run the 5.6k in less than 21 minutes but, again, that's not the point.  For me it's a good workout and it's about helping the club get a team together (or two this year).

Bought a fantastic new CD earlier this week.  It's the debut album by a new band called Black Country Communion.  Full of good songs but one in particular, in my own strange way, I can relate to my running - Perth in particular.

At times the singer, Glenn Hughes, tends to sound a little like Carl Anderson ... but that's not a bad thing as I always thought he was the best singer in the film Jesus Christ Superstar.  Glenn's bass playing is reminiscent of   Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) but he's been playing that way since the late 1960s.  Joe Bonamassa plays his guitar like the maestro that he is ... it's hard to believe that he wasn't born when Glenn was in one of the world's biggest rock groups - Deep Purple.  Jason Bonham is excellent on the drums and Derek Sherinian is ... well you can't really pick him out on most of the album but I'm sure the overall sound would be lacking something if he wasn't there.

You were born in a Jet Stream
Down in South Caroline
Got a Role in the big scheme
Now you're ready to shine

chorus -
You're the one last soul
Who can win it
You're the one last soul
If you try
You're the one last soul
If you live it
You're the one last soul
Tell you why
And if you feel
What you got
You can give it
One last soul
Make me cry
You're the one last soul
Who can win it
You're the one last soul
If you try

Now you burn
Like a freight train
You're a bird on a wire
See you drivin' me insane
And I couldn't get higher


And when you get
What you want
Don't regret it
One last soul
Make me cry
You're the one last soul
Who can win it
You're the one last soul

And if you feel
What you got
You can give it
One last soul
Make me cry
You're the one last soul

music:  Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa
lyric:  Glenn Hughes
published by:  Smokin' Joe Analog Co (ASCAP), Stamford Bridge (BMI)

Amazing stuff, I'm really looking forward to seeing them live.  Hopefully sometime over the winter.

Monday, 27 September 2010

split times from Perth

Over the weekend I had a really in depth look at my lap times from the Perth Ultra Fest.  Below is a list of my 10k splits:

10k ... 48:17
20k ... 1h 42:58 ..... (54:41)
30k ... 2h 36:23 ..... (53:25)
40k ... 3h 31:30 ..... (55:07)
50k ... 4h 25:35 ..... (54:05)
60k ... 5h 19:54 ..... (54:19)
70k ... 6h 11:56 ..... (52:02)
80k ... 7h 09:21 ..... (57:25)
90k ... 8h 03:05 ..... (53:44)
100k ... 9h 00:10 ..... (57:05)
110k ... 10h 00:58 ..... (60:48)
120k ... 10h 59:07 ..... (58:09)
130k ... 11h 58:58 ..... (59:51)
140k ... 13h 03:18 ..... (64:20)
150k ... 14h 07:30 ..... (64:12)
160k ... 15h 12:29 ..... (64:59)
170k ... 16h 22:20 ..... (69:51)
180k ... 17h 23:38 ..... (61:18)
190k ... 18h 40:29 ..... (76:51)
200k ... 19h 48:28 ..... (67:59)
210k ... 20h 48:44 ..... (60:16)
220k ... 21h 51:23 ..... (62:39)
230k ... 23h 04:07 ..... (72:44)

From 70k to 230k these times are all personal bests except for the 200k.  Which is rather weird really.  In Perth I beat all my split times from the Commonwealth Championships [Keswick 2009] except for the 200k where I ran 19h 47:42 twelve months ago.  Overall I ran 7k further in Perth than I did in Keswick.

Looking at the times above it's obvious that I did slow down dramatically between 180k and 190k but then I managed to pick it up again which I'm very pleased about.

Which probably means that I managed to keep it going in Perth and didn't reduce to an almost constant walk like I did in Keswick last year.

My 10 mile splits from Perth were:

10 miles ... 1h 21:57
20 miles ... 2h 47:15 ..... (1h 26:18)
30 miles ... 4h 13:22 ..... (1h 26:07)
40 miles ... 5h 41:42 ..... (1h 28:20)
50 miles ... 7h 12:49 ..... (1h 31:07)
60 miles ... 8h 42:37 ..... (1h 29:48)
70 miles ... 10h 19:39 ..... (1h 37:02)
80 miles ... 11h 52:27 ..... (1h 32:48)
90 miles ... 13h 35:35 ..... (1h 43:08)
100 miles ... 15h 21:13 ..... (1h 45:38)
110 miles ... 17h 02:57 ..... (1h 41:44)
120 miles ... 18h 59:30 ..... (1h 56:33)
130 miles ... 20h 44:23 ..... (1h 44:53)
140 miles ... 22h 31:24 ..... (1h 47:01)

All the above times from 40 miles onwards represent personal bests.

Looking at the above times shows that between 17 and 19 hours I slowed quite a bit (the 10k splits above also show this) but I managed to pick up the pace again.

This period of slower running happened just before dawn and reading my report again confirms that I did realise I was slowing down and I took steps to rectify things ... starting using the MP3 player, which obviously worked.

Looking at how far I actually ran in each hour:

1st hour ..... approx 12.4 km
2nd hour ..... 11.2 km
3rd hour ..... 11.2 km
4th hour ..... 11.1 km
5th hour ..... 11.2 km
6th hour ..... 11.0 km
7th hour ..... 10.7 km
8th hour ..... 10.7 km
9th hour ..... 10.6 km
10th hour ..... 9.9 km
11th hour ..... 10.3 km
12th hour ..... 10.0 km
13th hour ..... 9.2 km
14th hour ..... 9.3 km
15th hour ..... 9.2 km
16th hour ..... 9.4 km
17th hour ..... 9.2 km
18th hour ..... 7.5 km
19th hour ..... 9.2 km
20th hour ..... 8.8 km
21st hour ..... 10.0 km
22nd hour ..... 9.5 km
23rd hour ..... 7.9 km
24th hour ..... 8.9 km

This confirms that the 18th hour was indeed a bad one but I did manage to pull myself together and put in a very good 21st hour.  Surprisingly these figures show that I also had a bad 10th hour, which does show up slightly with the splits from 100k to 110k at the top of this post.

All in all I'm pleased with most of this data but it appears that I still have to work hard at keeping things together in the last four hours or so and not fluctuating so much.

Lots to work on then.

If anyone out there has any more observations from all this data please leave a comment or drop me an email.

Friday, 24 September 2010

the future

It's now almost three weeks since the Perth Ultra Fest and I seem to have made a good recovery and I'm now well on the way to finalising next year's racing plans.

For this I have been using various calendars on websites such as, 100 Marathon Club, IAU, Beyond Marathon, and others.

I have also lined up my first couple of shorter races in October ... see this page for details.  I've also noticed that one of the ultras on my 'to do' list is sadly no more - Worschach 24 hr race in Austria.

To end this post I've recently come across this piece by fellow ultra runner Greg Crowther in which he speculates about the reasons people run such long distances.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

strange days indeed ...

I'd like to begin this post by thanking everyone for their kind words about my report of the Perth Ultra Fest.  Some people left comments and others sent me an email and I was happy to read your remarks however they got to me.

If you haven't yet read the race report detailing my first win in an England Vest ... you can see it here.

Training has been going well ... took a week off after Perth but last week I ran 30 miles.  I know it's not much but as soon as I choose my next race I can begin training properly.  Next week will be 40 miles and include some weight training.

The World Championships in Brugg, Switzerland (June 2011) is a distinct possibility - if I'm selected.  After that there's the strong possibility of a Commonwealth Championships at the end of September.  I'd also like to do a third long race, probably before Brugg.  Which one though ... any ideas ?

On Tuesday, last week, I was contacted by a reporter from Associated Press who was doing a story about beetroot juice ... yes you did read that correctly ... beetroot juice (stop laughing !!!).  On Wednesday she phoned me and we had a 10 - 15 minute chat about how the purple stuff had helped my performance in Perth.  About an hour or so later a different reporter phoned and we had a similar conversation before he mentioned that he's doing a piece for TV and was wondering if he could send a crew to film me.

Than, a couple of hours later still, a photographer phoned from Associated Press Images to arrange a time when he could come and take some photos of me and the dreaded liquor.

On Friday morning the photographer chap came over from Liverpool and spent about 45 to 50 minutes taking hundreds of photos.  Indoors, outdoors, drinking the stuff, not drinking the stuff, sitting this way, standing that way ...

Before he left he told me that a small selection of the photos would appear on the Associated Press Images website.  I haven't found them yet but maybe I'm looking in the wrong place.  If you want to try and find them I'm wearing the GB kit I was given for the World Championships earlier this year.

(photo by Jim Rogers)

The latest news about this beetroot juice saga is that the TV people are taking longer than anticipated to get everything they need so the original reporter has decided to hold back for a week or two so that it can all be released together.  Further details when I get it.

The day after the Perth Ultra Fest, before I caught the train back to Yorkshire, I went to The Bean Shop.  I came across this little piece of heaven on the afternoon before the race and I was determined to buy something whilst in the town.  The staff were amazingly friendly and knowledgeable ... and tolerant of my with a very large bag and bruised feet, sore legs, etc.  I came away with 250g of a Cuban coffee named Turquino.

That really is a grade rather than a district or area of the country.  Many experts reckon though that the best Cuban coffees are graded Turquino or Extra Turquino - so I knew I was in for a treat.  Especially when the assistant explained that it had been roasted on the premises.  The coffee, of which I had the last cup only a few days ago, was full bodied with a slight smoky flavour and mild acidity.

Although I'd never tasted Cuban coffee, I found the spiciness and long aftertaste very enjoyable and put me in mind of Cuban bars and cafes with the mixed aroma of coffee and cigars.

I'd definitely like some more of their wonderful coffee.  Especially as there isn't anywhere similar within 30 miles of where I live.  Or do you know different ?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Here at last ...

Apologies for the Perth race report being a day or so later than planned.  It was all written and ready to post yesterday afternoon but then the computer crashed ... and I could get the thing working again until this morning.

Anyway, read all about it over on this page.  I hope you enjoy it.

Over the next few days (or maybe a week) I plan to look very carefully at which races are available for next year.  There's the World Championships in June and it looks likely they'll be another Commonwealth Championships next September.  I'd like to do three long ultras in 2011 so I've got to find one which fits in with those championships taking into account recovery times between races.

Also need to update my personal bests - the overall distance has been included but I haven't managed to put on the times for distances such as 50 miles, 200k, etc.  Will do that soonish.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

my brain is fine thanks ...

You may remember that about three or four days after my Run To London I was doing some DIY at home and it all went horribly wrong.  At the time Fay vowed that she would never let me do anything around the house for at least a fortnight after a long ultra.

Apparently these long ultras not only wear out my legs, feet, digestive system and endocrine system but they also severely impair my brain function and coordination.

Some people say I'm mad to run 24 hr races ... now I know that it's the races making me mad !!!

Anyway, Fay has obviously relented because I've just spent about four or five hours putting up new bathroom cabinets, shelves, mirrors, etc ... and everything went perfectly well.  Much like last weekend's race really.

Which reminds me ... my report should be available in a week or so (hopefully less) but in the meantime there's a great one on Fiona Rennie's blog.

I haven't run a step since that race - I couldn't even wear socks until Friday because of my painful toes - but now is the time to take up my running shoes again.  Carefully for the first week though.

I've also been looking long and hard at race diaries for the next 12 to 15 months and the one thing that is as certain as can be is the World Championships in Brugg, Switzerland next June.  UKA permitting.  I'm still looking for other races though and have one or two ideas in mind.  I'd like to race three long ultras in 2011 - which other two though?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

more from Perth

Whilst gathering all the data and information needed to write my race report about the Perth Ultra Fest I came across the following pages on the England Athletics website and on the Scottish Athletics website.

Also, there are also over 250 photos of the event at  Note that they are spread over two pages though - see the link at the top of each page on the left hand side.

I've also updated the following pages on this site:
 - my races
 - my ranking
 - my personal bests

Many thanks too for the comments on my previous post and for all the kind messages I've received by email over the past few days.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Perth - in brief

Well ... some good news.  After a disappointing performance at the World Championships back in May I redeemed myself somewhat in Scotland.

My pre-race target was two-fold really:

1 - to finish with an overall distance of somewhere between 236.0k and 239.4k (146.7 to 148.7 miles)
2 - to not fade badly during the final few hours but to keep pushing right to the end

This initial report is largely based on memory and without looking at the actual figures (that will come in the 'proper report' later) it would appear that almost every lap was at the pace I needed for 239k or more.  Obviously pee breaks and other unplanned stops make the average speed slower but I think I hit every single one of my hourly targets.

The last few hours were painful indeed and I REALLY DID NEED to change my shoes at 22 hours.  Crew members Eleanor Robinson and Andy Smith explained that I'd lose a kilometre if I changed my shoes ... I tried to explain to them that I'd probably lose two or three if I didn't because I'd be reduced to walking shortly.  The soles of my feet were very painful and I felt I needed the extra cushioning provided by fresh shoes and socks.

In the final hour Eleanor was absolutely fantastic (for most of the race really ...) and the way she motivated me worked superbly well.  I'm pleased to say that I remained strong right to the end and my last two or three laps were probably quicker than planned.

Final result ... I won with a distance of 238.286 km (148.064 miles).  A new pb.  England won the team prize too, so a good performance all round.

Full report later.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

last minute changes

Earlier this week I learnt that my nutrition plan had a hitch.  As well as the usual sports drink I planned to eat a mixture of grapes, Turkish Delight, rice pudding, baby food, sultanas, energy bars, protein bars, apple puree, custard, jaffa cakes and energy gels.

There's quite a wide range of stuff there but I think that problems can easily occur if, for example, I existed on sports drink and energy gels for the entire 24 hours.

Anyway, when I put it all together in a schedule I noticed that the ratio of sodium to potassium was a measly 1.95:1 whereas it should be between 3 and 5:1  The problem seems to be too much potassium rather than not enough sodium which makes it more difficult to correct.

Some of the science behind this can be read here.

Looking into this in more detail I realised that simple things can make a big difference so what I've done is:
- cut down on the number of Carbo Shotz energy gels as they have a high potassium content
- exchanged some of the high potassium sultanas for lower potassium apple puree
- changed my brand of energy bar and protein bars
- added some salt when making the apple puree

The calcium content is still a bit high but I'm willing to leave that be as it's less important than the potassium and sodium content.

Small changes can make a big difference.

Tomorrow will be spent packing and resting before travelling north on Friday and racing on Saturday and Sunday.  The weather here is getting better daily and these two forecasts for Perth indicate good weather for the race.

weather forecast from the BBC
weather forecast from Metcheck

Overall I've been very lucky with weather during my ultra races.  I have heard horrendous tales of 23 hours of rain during a 24 hour race a few years ago.  That must have been so demoralising.  It was the same for all the runners though and I guess in those conditions it comes down to who copes best.

I could do without that though ... running 140+ miles is difficult enough without bad weather.