Tuesday, 25 January 2011

By the canal again

This weekend saw the start of the UK ULTRArace Championships. This is a series of, er, ultra races, which together form a championship. So, does what it says on the tin really. It's a pretty neat idea - you enter 5 or more in the series and your top 5 results count. I would have entered at least 5 of these anyway, but it might encourage people to enter more. Either way, it's great to see how rapidly ultra running is expanding in the UK. Rory and Jen do a fantastic job in organising such feel-good events.

Last year I plodded along the canal (46 miles each way: Northampton to Tring Saturday, the reverse on Sunday) and finished first lady, albeit very slowly. An hour quicker this year was only good enough for 5th place. That's fine with me - I'm not in it to compete, just to enjoy, but I do really like being surrounded by such talented runners, in a community that remains friendly and positive as it grows. I was very pleased that this year there was only 5 minutes difference between my times for the two days (8:41 and 8:46). Nicely consistent. And I'm still feeling that I'm very much taking things gently as I don't want my lungs to start complaining again. My shin got really painful though and has a lump on it. This happened at the 10in10 and they lasered and iced it for me. As a non-pampered-afleet now I'm doing the ice and ibuprofen thing instead. I even took a day off running this morning.

I found out this week that I didn't get a place at UTMB this year. A shame, but it can wait for another time. So, now I'm pondering whether or not I'm ready to tackle the Spartathlon. I feel slightly giddy just contemplating it...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Getting better gradually

I've been taking it very easy and not running much, to try to allow my lungs get properly better from that annoying chest infection, which really left me feeling knackered for weeks. Fingers crossed and all that, but it seems to be working.

The 100 Marathon Club AGM marathon was a great social event. I knew nearly everyone there. It's a handicap race (we each started at the-average-time-of-our-last-5-road-marathons before 2:30pm) run on a 5 lap course in Bromley. I started at 10:21 and saw plenty of others out on the course, either lapping, being lapped, or crossing over on a section of road that we did in both directions on each lap. John Wallace (AKA Superman) won the handicap race by finishing far quicker than his handicap suggested he should have. A great result. It was one of those crisp fresh but sunny days and even though I was deliberately walking a lot to take it easy, I thoroughly enjoyed it.On Saturday I did the Country to Capital ultra for the third time. This was my first ever ultra a couple of years ago and remains one of my favourites. The first half is cross country and can be tricky to find the correct route. It's pretty hilly and muddy and there's lots of running through fields and streams - the sort of terrain that really makes you feel alive. It wasn't very cold, making conditions most pleasant. The second half follows the Grand Union canal so the intense navigation ends and one can just relax (and dream of covering this ground again in May as part of the GUCR). I went nice and slowly and walked a lot on the canal section. A very gentle jaunt, which somehow made me over 40 minutes quicker than in the previous two years. Odd, but I'm not complaining. Top organisation as usual by the brilliant folks at Go Beyond.
I was unusually tired that evening, but seem to have recovered well enough now. I hope so, as there's a 45 miler on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend...

Monday, 3 January 2011


Happy New Year!

We went to visit my folks in Newcastle for a few days last week. It was still snowy (on the ground, not falling) and we briefly saw my sister, though my bro and his family stayed the whole time. It's hard not to do the stereotypical auntie "my, haven't you grown?!" thing, but really, my nieces are are 11 and 13 and both nearly as tall as me already. We had the inevitable mountains of good food, plus pleasant trips and walks out, including to a very slippery Durham. They'd been up to the Lake District and had some great photos of a completely frozen Derwent Water showing people walking, skating and even cycling on its solidified surface.

Now I don't want to say my lungs are fixed yet (but I am hopeful). I spent over a week in bed and even missed a marathon in an attempt to get well. Then today I went to run another lovely Enigma marathon round (and round and round...) the lake in Bletchley Park. I jogged the first half then made sure I took plenty of walk breaks to keep my lungs happy. 4:22 was much quicker than I'd expected. And so far, I feel good.

So, back to work tomorrow. 2011 is a prime number. I like that.