Well, it’s been over 5 weeks since my last update so thought I should really get my arse into gear and write a few words about what I’ve been up to…
Terminator, Pewsey, 11 country miles (27/Feb/11)
As I’ve mentioned before, the Terminator was my first ever race so will always hold a special place in my running heart. None of my training is geared towards shorter, faster races these days so I always come into these types of races with the plan of simply enjoying myself, the countryside, fellow runners, marshals, supporters and most importantly…the cakes! Ended up not having a bad day, finishing 9th in my best time for the course…happy days!
Lakeland Reece, Ambleside to Keswick, 53ish miles (7th – 8th March 2011)
First thing Monday morning I drive up to Ambleside to meet up with Ian Bishop (who I ran 40+ miles with last year) to run from Ambleside to Keswick over two days, staying in Boot, Eskdale at the halfway point. The weather was nice for running, a bit chilli, but dry. We had booked a camping pod in Boot and planned to sleep in bivvi bags to keep our weight down but a couple of days before I chickened out and bought a very cheap, light 1 season sleeping bag and an inflatable cushion. Ian decided to keep with the bivvi plan.
We took off towards Boot at a reasonably leisurely pace, enjoying the beautiful surroundings and conversing in general running chit chat. Navigation was spot on and we arrived in Boot after 4 ½ hours or so. We checked into our little wooden pod and put on the gas fire to warm it up. Shower, change of clothes and were off to the pub for a meal and a couple of pints…nice. We leave the pub and it’s a beautiful clear night, thousands of stars sparkling down on us but the temperatures dropped quite a lot…oh well, we’ll be fine in our insulated pod with gas heater? I snuggle into my sleeping bag, Ian wraps himself in turkey foil, the gas heater’s burning and within an hour the pod is nice and warm. Time to turn of the heater and get some well deserved sleep? Within an hour we’re both wide awake…freezing! I’m sure we we’re told that once the pod gets warm, it stays warm…apparently not! We stick the heater back on and leave it on this time. Ah…that’s better. Hiss…hiss...whiff…puff…its out! The gas has run out! It’s the middle of the night and we have no way of getting anymore gas and it getting bloody cold. When a pod gets cold it stays cold! Every now and then I would drop off before my body woke me up to remind me that I was freezing. We both spent the rest of the night continually rolling around on the floor to maintain some kind of body heat…it didn’t work. I managed to drop off for about 20 minutes, woke up at 5am shaking uncontrollably. Never a good thing. We head off towards the toilets and spend an hour under hair dryers attempting to raise our core body temperatures. This would probably look funny to someone else, two grown men cowering under hair dryers, and in hindsight it is. We decide to leave early and set off on the second half simply because it was better then hanging around to get cold again.
What should off been a nice easy run turned out to be quite a tough outing in the end. We were both tired and my left knee was really sore. The cold really agitated it and it was painful from the offset and got worse. Boot to Keswick took us 5 hours, but we did stop at Buttermere for a coffee and cake.
Endurance Life CTS Pembrokeshire Marathon 28 miles (12/March/2011)
After my adventure in the Lakes I had to take to rest of the week off running (3 days) because of my knee. It still felt sore on race day but hadn’t got any worse so decided to go ahead with it. A couple of hundred or so of us start off from Little Haven and within a couple of meters I’m running out in front by myself. My knee feels okay and I’m running pretty fast with the hope of getting near the course record. Everything’s going well, I feel strong and my knee’s feeling okay. I get to the second checkpoint after 11-12 miles and I’m already over 15 mins in front and still feeling strong. A couple of miles after leaving cp2 I follow an arrow pointing left, catch up with an early starter and say hi. She mentions she’s not seen any course markers for a while, I say I presume we follow this road to the end and go from there. I get to a T junction and there are no markers. I stand around; scratch my head and the runner catches back up with me. “There are no markers? Which way now?”. We go right for 200 meters or so but I doesn’t feel right. We turn around and run back to the T junction where we’re met by another early starter. “Have you seen any other markers since you’ve been on this road?”…“no!”...“okay, what now?”. Now the sensible thing would be to go back to the original marker and double check, but for some reason when you’re racing and especially when you’re out in front, you never want to go back! So we instead decide to go left and I race off fuelled by anger of wasting time. This stupid anger contributes to my stubbornness to accept that I was going completely the wrong way and I continue to pound on. After 20 minutes I return to the course a couple of miles before the point I first went wrong. Again, the sensible thing to do would be to get back on the course and go from there. Nope, Mr Stubbornness was having his way and I decide to run all the way back from where I came from and return to the T junction. At the T junction I’m met by some other runners. What the heck is going on? Someone pulls up in a car and informs us that loads of people are going wrong and getting lost. It turns out that the arrow that pointed left actually was supposed to point straight on. Someone had turned it around for fun! Just as annoying was the fact that someone had decided to park their car right in front of the “proper” path where another arrow pointed the way! I’m now halfway down the field after wasting god knows how long running around in circles. Nothing for it but to carry on and start chasing down everyone. I continually pass people but have no idea where 1st, 2nd or 3rd are as I’ve now caught up with the half marathons runners and 10km runners. I start to feel tired after the 20 mile marker and decide to relax a bit and just enjoy the experience and treat it as a training run. I disappointingly finish close to 4 hours but then notice I was only 7 minutes behind the winner and 30 seconds or so behind 3rd. Never mind, it was a nice day out in beautiful surroundings and pretty good weather.
Cleevewold 14, Postlip, Gloucestershire, 14 miles (27/March/2011)
A beautiful race in the Cotswold countryside, taking in Cleeve common and some of the Cotswold Way. It’s a fantastic event with some nice undulating hills and is pretty fast. I have a really good race and finish 3rd.
Solo Lakeland Reece, Ambleside to Keswick, 53ish miles (28/March/2011)
A great day out in the Lakes! I decided to do it in one go this time and by myself. Although it’s nice to run with other people, I also find it very therapeutic running by myself and its good experience to reece by oneself. Navigation was again pretty spot on apart from coming into Boot. I managed to miss a turn and arrive at the river a little further down. Not too much bother; I can cross using the stepping stone bridge. But I manage to slip on one of the stones and plunge head first into the river. Turned out to be quite a nice accident really. The day had turned out to be a lot warmer than I had anticipated and the impromptu dip was quite refreshing! I also had to drink a hell of a lot more water than expected and was thankful for the many becks and ghylls to top up my water bottles. I arrived in Keswick within 10 hours, refuelled on some Thai noodles and crashed out at the local YHA.
Exe to Axe, Jurassic Coast, Dorset, 20 miles (03/April/2011, ascent over 4000ft)
Another race I try to do every year. A simple point to point race from the river Exe to the River Axe following the coastal path. Unfortunately, my dodgy knee flared up the day before the race so I had to take it easy on the day. I managed to finish 3rd, although even if I was fully fit I wouldn’t of been near the winner who finished in a course record.
My knee’s still feeling pretty sore at the moment so I’ll be taking it easy for a couple of weeks until my next race…happy days.