Monday, 19 October 2009

Founders' Challenge Marathon

What a nice day out. This was an LDWA event (ascend the hill, over the stile with the hedge on the left, turn right over the footbridge...) so was never going to be quick, not helped by the steep hills and rocky terrain in parts. But it was beautiful. Some fantastic views from the Surrey hilltops, not far from Guildford.
I took it steady and just enjoyed being out in the countryside. The weather was fresh and bright. It really made me look forward to more cool running through the winter months. I ran (and walked) with Helen (who I'd met previously at London to Brighton) and Matt (who I'd apparently run with a bit at the South Downs Marathon earlier in the year). Good company both. There were 3 well-stocked checkpoints en route and at the end a very welcome freshly made 3 course meal with a very tasty vegan option (carrot and coriander soup, pasta with aubergine and tomato sauce and fresh fruit salad). An absolute bargain, especially given that the entry fee was only about a fiver.

A very well organised and friendly event - definitely going on the list for next year.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

A marathon is just over a quarter of 100 miles

I wasn't sure it would be wise to try to run a marathon the week after my first 100 miler. But then, most people would say running 100 miles in the first place wasn't wise...

So I booked a place at the Leicester Marathon, just in case I felt like a nice long jog this weekend. Turns out I did (was it ever really in doubt?). By last Wednesday my legs felt fine and just my feet were still a bit sore. That's good enough for me.

I met several Fetchies at the start in park and more people I knew along the way. It's a pleasant enough course, along lots of countryish lanes and through some parks by a lake and a river. We also went past the space centre, which looks like a transparent plastic inflatable builiding with a rocket in it. Cool. I took it nice and easy, walking up some of the hills. My right leg felt a bit iffy at various points (my right foot is a bit dodgy, but it translated to a soreness in the ankle, calf, knee, thigh and butt cheek, kindly alternating which bit hurt throughout the run.) That's what ibuprofen's for, no?
I finished in 4 twentysomething. The Tshirt is women's fit and long sleeved which would be great if it wasn't white. The medal's nice though. Plus I didn't eat my finisher's banana, so I can have that at coffee break tomorrow. Who says I'm easily pleased?

Monday, 5 October 2009

100 miles, 15 200 feet of ascent, 28 and a quarter hours

So they're the vital statistics for this event. It was my first 100 miler. Only a third of the 36 starters completed the full distance. Not sure of my place but I know I wasn't last! Overall not a bad result given that I did my first ultra less than 9 months ago. I still feel like a bit of a novice at this ultra lark, but I'm starting to change my thinking now that I've done a few fairly long runs.

The 'Caesar's Camp 100 mile endurance event' takes place on MOD land near Aldershot. It's a ten lap course with a checkpoint at the start/finish area plus another at 5.6 miles. There are many hills, including some very steep and shingly ones, especially tough on the downhills as the legs get tired. It's all off road, with a mixture of surfaces of trail, often chalk tracks, sometimes grass, mud and other rootsy woodland. And one stile (that you go over ten times). Henk, the mad Dutch organiser, is very supportive in his own unique way.

There were some good views from the hilltops during the daylight hours, which seemed even better in the morning sunshine. The weather was very kind, with only an hour or so of not-too-heavy rain (with a lovely big rainbow briefly visible) and some strong headwinds on the open section for the first four laps. It wasn't sunny on the Saturday (we started at noon) but it did get very warm on Sunday.

I managed 3 laps before it started to get dark so I knew the course pretty well by then. There were glow sticks put out to mark the course overnight. There was a brilliant full moon, but it was mostly hidden in the clouds. Running with a headtorch was good, though it slowed me down as I tried to avoid all the many trip hazards underfoot. I actually only slipped over twice, both times going down the same scree slope. There were lots of cows about (with their eerie seemingly glowing eyes) and some soldiers wearing what appeared to be comedy blonde wigs, but were presumably some sort of straw camouflage. I managed to keep running (at least on the downs and flats) for the first 80 miles. I finshed the first 50 before midnight which I was pleased with. The blisters started after 80 miles, making the ninth lap very slow. Then on the tenth lap I felt very spacey like I was going to pass out. I guess I hadn't eaten enough. But how would one consume over 10 000 calories in a day? Anyway, I ended up walking the whole of the last lap at a very slow pace. That was a huge test of mental strength.

I'm told this was a very tough event to choose for my first 100 miler. Hopefully the next one will seem easier then! (Unless it happens to be Lakeland of course.) It was certainly really good mental training. And therefore good training for the ten in ten (www.justgiving/annafinn10in10)

My recovery run this morning was only 1.4 miles, at 11-minute-miling pace. This week should really test out whether my hemp protein is helping with recovery as I'm planning to do the Leicester Marathon on Sunday...