Monday, 18 January 2010

Country to Capital 45

A very hard race, not only due to the distance (45 miles) but also down to the lack of training and underfoot conditions. Both the latter were a result of the recent snow and laying ice which had completely destroyed my training plans, leaving me only a treadmill to run on safely, which in turn led to a serious amount of under-training - still at least I felt fresh for the run.
The race started at Wendover in Buckinghamshire and after 20 miles of trails and roads joined the Grand Union Canal footpath at Denham Lock at Uxbridge and followed this path to the finish at Little Venice in London. An 8.30am start meant I had to catch a train at 4:50 that morning, travel to London and meet up with Alex, before the onward trip to the start. Once there, as the rain started to fall, we registered and with a light pack, carrying only a top, cap, socks and Sports Beans, we set off with approximately 120 others.

The weather was poor to say the least, raining constantly for 5 hours and very chilly so the addition of a pair of gloves and a Polar Buff were the order of the day, and with an extra layer under my jacket I felt warm enough without over heating. Bladder was full (camelbak in the back-pack I mean) and so we set off at a stead pace (10 min miles) and settled down to enjoy the run. An enjoyment that started to wane after about 3 miles as rain soaked gloves (must get some waterproof ones) started to become very cold and feeling in my hands started to go. Still my feet were dry due to the Hedgehogs Gore-Tex uppers and everything else felt fine.

A slight detour then at Ballinger, as a group of 15 missed the bridleway path meant an extra spell on the roads, but we were all at CP1 (8 miles in 1hr 40min) in Chesham only a mile later, and with the famous Go Beyond fruit cake available, as well as water and Jelly babies, we quickly refuelled and continued Southwards. The route was still mainly trails and bridleways but as we passed Chorleywood West, Alex started to suffer from pain in the outside of his right knee, which grew progressively worse as we ran. Just to make things worse we hit a large flood road ½ mile form CP2 and my feet got soaked as the water went in over the top of the shoes.

Adopting a run walk strategy meant we could carry on at a good pace but after CP2 at Horn Hill, after I emptied my shoes, we slowed to walking pace for the rest of the race. Alex could only manage 10 yards of running before having to stop and stretch out. So with me on point dictating the pace we marched onwards, covering about 4½ each hour, which reduced the strain on his knee. After 5 hours on the go we hit the Grand Union Canal, our home for the next 6 hours, and with more snacks and cake at CP3 in Cowley Peachy we could do nothing more than march, talk and set the world to rights.

The canal split in 2 directions so we turned northwards, at a welcoming sign of "Paddington 13½ mile", only a ½ marathon to do and we would be home, however now, as we let CP4 at Greenford 3 miles later, I was suffering as well. A large blister had formed under my left foot and the walking and change of gait wasn’t suited for the Hedgehogs and shin muscles were expanding at a painful rate of knots, still we had only a short distance to go and weren't going to stop.

Headtorches now on we stopped briefly at CP5 (Alperton) knowing that there were only 6 miles left and headed for home, at a pace dropping to almost 3 mile per hour. Every climb on bridges and locks had me gritting my teeth in pain, but the relief of finally reaching the finish, amidst warm applause from the organisers and others was joy in itself and with a warm cup of tea inside, a sudden dash to the toilet (well shuffle) Alex and I made for the station and wound our ways home.

We finished in 10 hours and 51 mins, 86th & 87th, and with 30 others pulling out/not starting could be pleased with our efforts. Also we now have another 69,200 metres under our belts and can progress knowing that we need to improve fitness but that our endurance is good, despite injuries.

My Kit consisted of
The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR
Mizuno Performance Tights
1000 Mile All Terrain Socks
X-Bionic Accumulator L/S Top
Ronhill Lite Jacket + Gloves
Buffwear Camuflaje Polar Buff
Polaroid 7007 Glasses

Next race is only in 3 weeks time, again organised by Go Beyond Ultra, which is the Thames Trot, starting from Oxford and finishing in Alex's home town, Henley-on-Thames, so I have a few days rest, and then back on the road again, with gentle training rather than high intensity, although the shins ands left knee will need to recover suitably first.

Til then - Safe running all.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

So much to do and Thanks

Happy New Year to all my friends, colleagues and sponsors. I feel that this year will be a busy one, especially on the running front.
2009 was very eventful with Family Holiday to Florida in January, followed swiftly by a very wet Marathon Des Sables in March/April, a month of illness in May/June, moving house in July and making plans in August for the 1 Million Metres challenge, getting a great range of sponsors on board in September and kicking off the challenge with our first race in October.

Sadly this was also a year of big shocks - both regarding Alex - the lowest point of the Marathon Des Sables was hearing that he had been forced out of the race at the start of the long stage with Pericarditis - something that he thankfully recovered from very quickly - swiftly followed by another shock, when he announced that he had been diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease - but this didn't stop him from completing the 85 mile Ridgeway race in August, and with me nagging in his ear we ran the Henley Half in October - the guy will not stop until he achieves what he wants, and it is my pleasure and honour to be working and running with him as we not only complete the Million Metre Challenge, but push onwards and upwards.

As we planned races for 2010, the total distance increased and now new plans are being formed for longer runs in 2011 (London to Rome), as well as 2012 (LA to NY??) - These are still in the infancy of planning, but with the right support and backing the 2011 looks to be a certainty. Hopefully this will generate a lot of publicity for both Cure Parkinsons Trust Charity, as well as our sponsors, with national TV and newspapers, from not only the UK, but also France, Switzerland and Italy hopefully being interested.

On the note of sponsors i must offer my greatest thanks to Adam Smith at Fitness Footwear, Patrick Lambertz at X-Bionic, Nicki Reid at Ardblair Sports and Sarah Gowans at Buffwear, as well as their support teams for all the help, and equipment that we have had so far, and here's to our future working together, and us all achieving our goals.

And talking of goals - our next race is the Country to Capital race on 16th January - a 45 miler from Wendover in Bucks to Paddington in London, via the Grand Union Canal (for the last ½), which in light of the current weather conditions which is expected to last for another few weeks, it will be cold, wet and arduous - but as they say "If it was easy - everyone would do it". Next report will be after the race.

Finally - We are in the process of designing a new web-site and making changes to the challenge name to reflect the increase in distance and new races, which will be announced soon.
Safe running everyone.