Monday 30 July 2012

Lakeland 100 - July 2012

This weekend I took part in the Lakeland 100, a 105-ish mile jaunt through the Lake District, one of the bumpier areas of Great Britain. Only 4 weeks after the South Downs Way 100, and 5 weeks before the Utra Trail de Mont Blanc (my 'A' race for the year), a 21,00 ft climb along some seriously tough terrain was perhaps not my best laid plan. I actually signed up to Lakeland last year thinking that I would never get a place in UTMB (I did) and because, in 2011, it was one of the 12 events of the Runfurther series of ultras, and would give me both a fantastic jaunt through the Lake District and also count as one of my 4 races required (it is no longer a Runfurther race this year). Bad planning all around methinks!

"Who put this lake here?" Lake Windermere halts my drive to Coniston. Stupid SatNav...
I very nearly decided to miss the race and come back another year to give the race the focus that it deserves, particularly when Mimi Anderson wagged her finger at me and told me off for even contemplating it. I tried to swap onto the 50 mile event, or get my entry postponed until next year, but to no avail (not that I expected to be able to - it must be a logistical nightmare anyway, so it's not like they need me messing things up because I'm a numpty). In the end, I decided to go along anyway, thinking that it would be a good way of getting some hill training in the legs. I figured that I would run to how I felt, and wouldn't worry if I had to pull out. My goals (in priority order) were as follows:

Tuesday 3 July 2012

South Downs Way 100, June 2012

Well. What a difference a year can make!

This weekend marked my "official" return to ultra running after my DNF at the Thames Path 100 miler in March. Since coming off my bike a week before the race, then running over 70 miles on what would later turn out to be a pretty dodgy ankle, I have been desperately attempting to recover and avoid missing any further races (already failing to make the Viking Way and a Bob Graham Round attempt with Chris Baynham-Hughes). Some aggressive electro-accupuncture from my physio Chelsea Harding and slowly building up my training seemed to be working well. A top 10 finish at the Northants Shires and Spires 35 mile ultra, 3rd place at the Willingham 7.7 mile Fun Run, and a first place finish at a random 5 Km Fun Run in Swavesy that I joined by accident after spotting it on my cycle ride home suggested that things were on the mend. But the big question was; could my ankle withstand a full 100 miler?

This time last year I ran my second ultra - the South Downs Way 100 mile race, running along the beautiful SDW between Eastbourne and Winchester. This was somewhat of a passion project for the race director Jen Jackson, who organised the first event in 2010 with about 35 runners. The 2011 event would be her last event, but she decided to hand over the reigns to someone who could do the route justice. Step in James Elson from Centurion Running, who had wanted to organise an event on the SDW National Trail but had not wanted to step on Jen's toes. He took over the race (with a few tweaks including changing the direction to take advantage of the westerly winds) and added it to his set of 100 mile races (Jen took part in the inaugural rebirth of the race and you can read her report here). Last year I came 5th in a time of 22:10:00, so I was really looking forward to seeing how much difference I had made in the last year.

Despite only having a month or so to really build my training back up, I was feeling strong. Chelsea seemed much happier to let me run this race than she had been at the Thames Path. I was therefore a little peeved to wake up on the Wednesday before the race with a fever coming on and... let's just say "stomach problems". I was a bit worried that I was coming down with something, but a day of drinking water and dioralyte to stay hydrated seemed to keep things in check. So when race weekend finally came around, I was feeling happy. There was no excuse this time!