Wednesday, 30 March 2011

the past few days

Ran with the club last night for the first time in a couple of weeks.  The idea was that we all ran around the new course we will be using for the Harrogate League race in June.

It seemed to be a very good course with approval from all concerned.  Even in the fading light at about 8.00pm there were lots of positive comments.

For my part I ran a fair bit quicker than I really would have liked considering I ran 15+ hilly miles in the morning.  Got stuck with the faster group as I didn't want to be running solo in the dark with no light.

This morning's 7 miler was on tired  legs but that's no problem ... legs are certain to be tired in the second half of an ultra race and they have to learn how to cope.

Monday, 28 March 2011

more help

Pleased to announce that For Goodness Shakes! are able to provide a little help for me in the foreseeable future with recovery drinks.  I have been using this milk based drink for a couple of years now with really good results - the good points for me are that it comes in a variety of flavours and that it actually tastes good.

If a product isn't appetising it won't do you any good at all despite what it says on the label.  Mainly because you won't use it if it doesn't taste good.

Friday, 25 March 2011

coming along nicely

This morning I ran some hill reps for the first time this year.  Felt good, ran well, used a different hill.  I usually use a short steep hill of about 250m but earlier this year I decided to use a much longer hill (about 700m) but less steep.  That's because of the hilly nature of the 100 miler in June.

For those of you who know this area, Farnley Lane in Otley is still quite a serious hill and for my first time I ran up and down six times.  Quite pleased with that because, including the 1.6 mile warm up and cool, down my average pace was 8:15 per mile.  That's OK ... better than expected.  Over the coming months I'll increase the number of reps up to twelve.

Congratulations to Simon Anderson on his new pb in the Rome marathon last weekend.  I think he'll be slightly disappointed to just miss out on a sub 3hr time though.  He bettered his old best by seven minutes though so that's excellent.

All the best to the runners in this weekend's 100k in Perth (Scotland).  Hope the weather holds out, it's been excellent here this week and today I ran without gloves for the first time in 2011.  Wish I could be in Perth.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


Apologies in advance because this post has nothing whatsoever to do with running.

Yesterday Keir left home early (5.45am) to meet his fellow sixth form students, and a couple of teachers, in Leeds as they made their way to London for an educational visit as part of their A level Politics course.  Visiting the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, et al was the order for today but yesterday was spent meeting MPs and other dignitaries.

But for me it was hilarious in the morning.  At about 10.30am I received a text from his school:

"Dear Mr Carver, Keir Carver was absent at morning registration.  Please text a reply to explain."

Now, we all knew why he wasn't at school ... he was on an official school visit.  So to mark him (and the other students) down as being absent is just plain wrong.

I sent the following text as a reply:

"I don't need to explain.  I know where he is ... and so do you."

About ten minutes later I received an email:

"Dear Mr Carver, Keir Carver was absent at morning registration.  Please call ... or text ... to explain"

I sent another reply, by email:

"If you don't know the whereabouts of Keir then I fear there is something seriously amiss with the school's record keeping and ability or willingness to share important information amongst relevant members of staff."

What's going on with that school, surely they know when some students are away on official business.  And, like I said earlier, to put it down as absent is just wrong.

The same thing happened when he went to Russia as part of his A level History course last December.  I received a text at about 9:45am on the morning the party left Otley.  The wording was identical to the one above and I replied:

"Yes we know he is not at school today.  He has been unavoidably delayed on a flight to Moscow with Mr ... [teacher].  I trust that payment of his Education Maintenance Allowance will be unaffected by this."

So, don't send me a silly text or email or you're likely to get a silly reply.

Monday, 21 March 2011

first race of 2011

Yesterday 12 men from Otley AC travelled north to Catterick Garrison for the annual North of England 12 stage road relay.  As a team we usually finish about 30th with the top 25 qualifying for the National 12 stage road relay a fortnight later.  Although we did finish in the top 25 a few years ago but then couldn't get a team together for the National!!!

The format follows a similar pattern every year although the venue and courses change continually.  This year we had 6 stages of 8k alternating with 6 stages of 4k.  I was on down to run the 8th stage ... a short one.

Long before I started we had come to the conclusion that the course must be shorter that the advertised distance as the times were far too quick ... 13 men ran the 8k (5 miles) stages in 22:30 or quicker.

I found the course to my liking but there was a bit of a headwind during one long straight section - it was cold too.  I ran the 4k in 14:15 and later worked out that that equates to 5:44 per mile ... I know I didn't run that quickly so I immediately knew it had to be short.

Back at home I used the internet to measure the course and found it to be about 3.7k (2.3 miles) and thus my time equates to about 6:10 per mile.  Yes, that's more like it ... I'm quite pleased with that actually as most of the time I was running by myself.

Good speedwork - even for me.

The Otley AC team results were:

(1) ... Liam Dunne ... 8k in 26:03 ... finished in 31st position
(2) ... Ben Cousen ... 4k in 13:26 ... finished in 31st position
(3) ... Edward Davies ... 8k in 26:08 ... finished in 30th position
(4) ... Howard Jeffrey ... 4k in 16:44 ... finished in 35th position
(5) ... Ian Fisher ... 8k in 23:16 ... finished in 27th position
(6) ... John Armitstead ... 4k in 14:39 ... finished in 28th position
(7) ... Huw Illingworth ... 8k in 27:49 ... finished in 30th position
(8) ... me ... 4k in 14:15 ... finished in 30th position
(9) ... Andrew Robertshaw ... 8k in 25:18 ... finished in 30th position
(10) ... Mick Jeffrey ... 4k in 14:44 ... finished in 29th position
(11) ... Julian Mawson ... 8k in 26:29 ... finished in 28th position
(12) ... Matt Broughton ... 4k in 14:54 ... finished in 29th position

Overall it was a very enjoyable day out ... it's just a shame the club couldn't get a team in the women's 6 stage relay held at the same time.

Thanks to Mick Jeffrey for organising everything and to Jack & Kath Robertshaw for coming to support.

Friday, 18 March 2011

the long and the short ...

Starting to seriously think about my first ultra of 2011 - a 100 miler in June.  Plans need to be made:  travel, nutrition, pacing, etc.

I know that race will only be a warm up for the Commonwealth Championships in September so I'm using it to try out one or two new ideas -

(1) pacing ... I still feel that on the whole I need to slow down less during my 24 hour races.  Maybe start a bit slower and finish a bit quicker than usual,

(2) food and drink ... this will be a good opportunity to try new foods, different protein drinks, etc.  I have been using some protein bars as well as protein drinks but the bars become difficult to chew in the latter half of a long race.  A combination of my tired jaw muscles and the bars becoming harder during the cold night.

Of course, I'm still looking to win the race with a decent time, but I think a personal best is out of the question on such a hilly course.

Before all that though there's a (much) shorter race on Sunday.  It's the North of England 12 stage relay and I'll be running a measly 4k.  I've no idea what time to expect as I can't say I've done a lot of speedwork so far this year.  I do know that, in training, I can comfortably run 4k in 16:10.  But that was a flattish route and I don't know anything about the course in Catterick.  Hilly or not ?

For me though it's all about turning out for my club, having a bit of fun and doing some speedwork at the same time.

See you there perhaps ...

Monday, 14 March 2011

long run

This morning I went for a long run.  Only about 19.3 miles but the main significance was that it was by far the longest run since my injury.  In fact it was my longest training run since 6 December last year.

Anyway the run, quite hilly, went without a hitch at all.  Easy in fact.  I also tried out a couple of ideas picked up from the discussion about nutrition earlier this year on blogs by John Kynaston and one or two others.  Basically I took on board no carbs until about 2h 20 into the run ... again, no problems at all.

Next Sunday will be my first race this year.  It's the North of England 12 stage relay and I'll be running stage 8 for Otley AC.  The event is being held in Catterick this year and I'm really looking forward to it - even though I'll only be running 4k.  Good speedwork.

Thanks to Thomas for his comment on my last post ... his suggested worked a treat and everything seems much clearer.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Latest news ...

The IAU have recently announced that there will be no World Championship 24 hr race this year.  Their website has all the details but it's a shame for a number of reasons:

- after having an annual event every year since 2003 it seems sad to miss a year.  That means that the 2010 world champions will be the title holders until September 2012.
-  Soochow in Taiwan was the setting for some very good performances down the years, not least of which was the women's world best by Mami Kudo (254.425 km ... 158 miles 162 yards).
- at the moment it looks likely now that I'll be in Barcelona in mid December.  But the race website is in Catalan and the translation tool I have doesn't seem too keen on that language ... can anyone help please.

At least now I can safely concentrate all my training efforts on this year's Commonwealth Championships in Llandudno.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

busy ten days

Well, training seems to be following some sort of routine now.  Two long runs per week, fartlek, tempo runs and steady runs complete that side of training but not for long.  Shortly I'll be adding hill reps to the repertoire as well as increasing the length of the long runs and the overall weekly mileage.

This week the long runs were about 11 miles each (17.6 km) and the weekly total about 48 miles (77.5 km).  By the beginning of May I expect those figures to be 22 miles (35 km) and 79 miles (127 km) respectively.  Of course I'll also be increasing the length of the tempo runs, the number of hill reps and the length of the fartlek sessions.

And, as before strength training continues almost daily but with the weights being 2 or 3 times heavier than last year.

The last ten days have been very tiring though.  As well as all the training I seem to have been to one meeting after another, I think it's about 6 or 7 [including the one I'm going to in 20 minutes time].  They've included two for Otley AC, two for scouts, one at Keir's school, helping Fay at beaver's (6 year old scouts) last night.

Got to go now ... taking the minutes at the meeting of the local scout hut committee.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Challenge 66

Some of you may remember that when I undertook the Run to London, almost two years ago now, one of the key members of my crew was Andy McMenemy.

He helped me so much during the excessively hot Sunday afternoon ... and on into the night.  Even holding me upright at times so that I could doze and run at the same time.He was also instrumental in getting me running again 15 minutes after passing out while changing my shoes after about 39 hours of running.

Absolutely brilliant ... I couldn't have done it without him.

Well now he's got his own charity thing going and it's definitely worthy of support.

Taken from his website (

"On the 16th March 2011 Andy McMenemy will commence his toughest challenge yet, to run 66 ultra marathons in 66 consecutive days from each of the 66 official UK cities. There are 6 in Scotland, 5 in Ireland, 5 in Wales and 50 in England, and by undertaking this feat of epic proportions Andy will challenge the official Guinness World Record which currently rests at 52. Andy is proud to support ABF The Soldiers’ Charity who are celebrating a successful 66 years of delivering outstanding support to British Army personnel and Challenge66 is being dedicated solely to the charity to help raise funds and awareness of their work. Challenge66 will be coming to a city near you so dig deep and make a difference as every little helps."

I wont be able to run with him in Leeds or Bradford as 50k is much too far after January's knee injury ... but I may be able to run in York or Ripon at the end of his adventure.  I'm sure he needs all the help he can get with raising funds for a cause which means a lot to him.  Running in one of the cities would also be a great help.  Th logistic issues surrounding something like this must be immense ... but in some ways the army are the best people to help with that.

Great bloke ... great cause ... wishing you all the luck in the world Andy.

PS ... no idea why the top half of this post is in upper case letters.  There are obviously some web gremlins somewhere.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

This year's races ... at last

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.

Sorry Adrian.

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.