Wednesday 30 October 2013

Stort30 Race Report - 27th October 2013

Last weekend I was all set to run the Caesar's Camp 100 miler. Caesar's is somewhat of a UK ultra running institution, and is one of the tougher events on the calendar - largely due to the Race Director, Henk, who likes to make things difficult for his runners. I worked with Henk at the North Downs Way 100 last year, and we had slightly different perspectives on how to run an Aid Station; I felt that we should be aiding the runners, whereas he thought we should be calling them all c*nts and kicking them out. Both perfectly valid techniques! But as we approached the race I was shitting myself.

Unfortunately, I don't mean that figuratively.

About two days before the race, I came down with a pretty nasty gastro-enteritis bug. Very unpleasant, and very much not the ideal way to prepare for running 100 miles. In the end, I couldn't even leave the house to go and watch and cheer other people on. The timing was impeccable, so chalk that up as another one in the "man, this year has sucked running-wise" column. Sigh.
There's a river somewhere, honest. Photo care of Karen Webber.
Determined to actually run something, I signed up for the Stort30; a 30 mile Challenge Running event organised by Lindley Chambers not too far from my house. The race is a 15 mile out and back route following along the River Stort Navigation Channel in Hertfordshire. Navigation is pretty simple (if you're not in danger of falling in the water, you've probably gone wrong somewhere), but temporary arrows had been painted on the floor at any point where you needed to do something other than "keep going straight", so navigation certainly shouldn't be an issue - a dangerous claim for me.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Stand and Deliver

In many ways I am a man of extremes. If I'm not running for hours out in the middle of nowhere, I'm collapsed on our sofa, vegging in front of the XBox. In this day and age, I just don't understand how people live without a recline function on their sofa! But the one thing that always bugged me is that my chosen career (computer geek) leaves me slumped in a chair in front of a computer screen all day. Since my wife won't let me quit to become a tree surgeon (I like chainsaws), the next best thing was to have a go at this "standing desk" malarky. 

There have been various articles of late about how sitting down all day takes years off your life, and more and more office workers are making a switch to using a standing desk to limit time on their arse.  In fact, I was surprised to find out how many of my friends were already on this bandwagon. So I thought hey, why not give it a go. 

A quick word with my boss and I was good to go. I eschewed the "stick the monitor on a cardboard box" approach in favour of the more tech geeky "buy a giant monstrosity of a computer stand which has all sorts of bells and whistles" approach. Luckily this Ergotron (great name...) sit-stand workstation was available through my work's suppliers for a very reasonable price. It is incredibly versatile, and has the added benefit of easily moving up and down if I decide that I want to sit down and work for a bit.

Next step is to fit a treadmill underneath

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Stour Valley Path - September 2013

It's no secret that I've been struggling with injury for the last few months since Transvulcania. I have been rehabbing like crazy, and things have gradually been getting better, suggesting at least that it was nothing serious. But with two big DNFs under my belt at the SDW100 and NDW100, and being unable to run longer than 10k without things starting to ache, I was starting to go a bit crazy. But with some help from my physio Chelsea Harding, September proved to be a good month. I had a whole week of "proper running", including some exploring down on the Monarch's Way and SDW near my parents. My first 70+ mile week in a long time - and it felt great!

So the following week, I hit the start line of the Stour Valley Path 100 km race (SVP100) with not a single niggle. No spasming calves, no painful knee, no plantar fasciitis. I was finally starting a race without worrying about something going wrong.

Okay, that's not entirely true. James Adams and Gemma Greenwood were helping out at the race and had come to stay with us since the race starts not far from my house. Since they would be there throughout the day, I had stored a bag of clothes in their car "just in case". But despite this I was going in with a positive mental attitude, determined to get a good finish in before the end of the year.

My previous 100k time was 9:57:26 at the Norfolk Ultra last year, so I figured that somewhere between 9 and 9.5 hours was doable. But I wasn't going to worry about pace, instead focussing on running to feel. At the end of the day, my main focus for the day was finishing and having a good time.

Every photo of me at the start has me checking my watch. Turns out I needn't have worried about pacing!