Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Lakes in a Day 2019

It was 07:59 and I was standing at the start line for the Lakes in a Day 2019 ultramarathon.

Everyone around me looked nervous, it felt unnervingly quiet and I felt sick to the stomach. What lay ahead was a 50 mile race from Caldbeck to Cartmel covering the length of the Lake District from north to south. With over 12,000 feet of elevation and self navigation, I was way out of my comfort zone but nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead...

We'd picked the kids up from school on Friday and headed straight to Bolton-upon-Dearne in Barnsley, North Yorkshire. The plan was to drop the boys off at the in-laws for the weekend then Ruth and I would drive straight to Darlington, spending the night with Ian and Naomi before heading to registration at Caldbeck the following morning.

A combination of Friday afternoon traffic and heavy downpours meant that the journey up north had been slow, frustratingly slow. We arrived at the in-laws later than planned, had some dinner, sorted the boys out then drove straight to Darlington, arriving just before 10pm. We got the pleasantries out the way then headed straight to bed. The alarm was set for 4am so it wasn't the best pre night preparation.

My kit was all packed and ready to go. I'd been monitoring the weather conditions intently all week and was becoming increasingly concerned by the forecast; with high winds and torrential rain forecast for the majority of the day. Not ideal to say the least but I was confident I'd packed accordingly to cope with the extreme conditions. With my OCD taking over, I'd ticked off the mandatory kit list, plus extra kit, on numerous occasions to ensure I hadn't forgotten anything.

Checking the kit off against the mandatory kit list

Training had gone well despite a couple of injury scares. In a 21 week training cycle, I'd managed to fit in 538 miles, or the equivalent of running direct from Birmingham UK to Odense in Denmark. I'd also completed the Teesdale Way from it's source in Cumbria to the sea at Redcar, covering a distance of 92 miles over 3 days. I'd tried to replicate the elevation gain in training, although living in the Midlands this proved to be challenging. I knew I had the distance in my legs but the elevation gain, weather conditions and technical terrain were always going to be the biggest challenge.

The alarm went off at 4am. I hadn't slept well but strangely wasn't tired. I'd been awake for a while thinking about the challenge ahead. I jumped in the shower then headed downstairs for breakfast. I managed to force down a cup of tea and a jam bagel, my usual pre race breakfast and nervously joked about the task in hand with Ian, who was also entered into the race. Ian had previous with LiaD, DNF'ing at Ambleside last year due to a combination of Storm Callum and pre-existing injuries so he had his own incentive to finish. We'd discussed previously about starting the race together but agreed that we'd run our own race dependant upon how we felt as the race progressed. Ian is a much better runner than I am so I had no issues with that strategy; the last thing I wanted was to feel pressurised into running too fast to keep up with him, or worse still, slowing him down. 50 miles is a long way, add to that the elevation, terrain and your mood on the day, a lot can happen so it's best to concentrate on your own race.

I'd read a lot about race strategies and setting yourself finish target times. Whether they help motivate or act as a burden I don't know but I'd set myself a gold, silver and bronze target regardless. Gold would be sub 16 hours (so finishing before midnight), silver would be to simply finish within the cut-off time of 24 hours and bronze would be to get to Ambleside, which in it's own right would be my greatest achievement; with 30 miles and approximately 10,000 feet of ascent covered by that stage of the race. Looking back through previous years race results, silver or bronze was more realistic, this wasn't your average flat ultramarathon.

We picked up Dave, a friend of Ian's at 5.15am then headed straight to Caldbeck, arriving just after 7am. Registration was straight forward. Upon presenting some photo ID, they handed you your race number, a laminated map, a t-shirt and a clear drop bag to place a spare pair of trainers and socks in which you had the option to change into at Ambleside. They also taped a GPS tracker onto your race pack so you could be tracked by friends, family and the race organisers throughout the race. There was some slight confusion with Dave's race pack however, with him originally being told it was still in Cartmel, only for them to find it ten minutes later. Apparently they'd used his race pack in the marshal briefing prior to registration opening and put it to one side rather than back in with the rest of the race packs. They apologised profusely so no harm done, other than a little bit of unnecessary stress caused I suppose.

The start line was a few minutes walk away from registration and we arrived just as the race brief started. I had been monitoring the weather forecast religiously for the last couple of weeks and the forecast up until a couple of days prior to race day had been wet, very wet for which I'd packed accordingly.. Then on Thursday, the weather forecast changed and the Met Office reported dry conditions with zero chance of rain. Perfect! Needless to say, as we walked to the start line the heavens opened and there was a torrential downpour - that's the Lake District for you I suppose!

The race started bang on 8am, something James Thurlow - Race Director, is very strict on. We all moved forward and before I knew it, I'd crossed the start line; shit, this was really happening!

Caldbeck to Threlkeld - 11 miles

I made sure I started at my own pace as we left Caldbeck. It would have been easy to get carried away and go with the flow; something I knew would come back and haunt me later in the race. I was running with Ian for the first mile or so at a leisurely pace. It wasn't long until we reached our first main climb; High Pike. At 2,158 feet it's a good old climb but on fresh legs it wasn't too challenging. The rain had stopped by now and we were greeted with sunshine and a rainbow in the distance. I remember smiling to myself and just taking in the occasion. I was actually doing this! It didn't take too long to reach the summit. I'd lost Ian by this stage, he'd made good progress up ahead as I'd settled into my own rhythm.

Heading up High Pike with a rainbow behind us

Once over the summit, we made our way across a boggy heather section before descending down to Caldew River. Unlike last year where they'd installed a temporary rope to help runners cross safely, the river was only at knee high level so we had the option to cross it at any point. Despite the 'low water levels' you still felt the force of the current and a few people in front of me nearly got swept over. It was a fun section and splashing around in water would soon become a common theme throughout the day.  Once across the river, we made our way up Mungrisdale Common, at 2,076 feet it was hard work. It wasn't necessarily the elevation but more the conditions underfoot. There was no distinct path and it was very wet and muddy. I found myself being overtaken quite a lot on this section, mainly by people using poles; it definitely seemed to give them an advantage and something I'd consider using on my next adventure. I grit my teeth and kept moving forward. About three quarters of the way up, the line of people in front of me had split up. Some headed straight to the summit whilst others cut under the scree then summitted further to the right. I'd had a conversation in the car with Ian and Dave about navigation and they'd advised me to trust the GPS on my watch rather than the person in front of me. I did just that and cut in under the scree. It did seem faster and a slightly easier route up to Blencathra.

Caldew River Crossing

I eventually reached the summit of Blancathra after over two hours of climbing on that section. At 2,848 feet, the views instantly made up for the climb. It was stunning. I'd recce'd Blencathra (and the infamous Halls Fell Ridge) prior to race day so I knew what to expect from here. Halls Fell Ridge is definitely the most technical and challenging part of the route. Due to it's technicality, you're given the option to either descend via Halls Fell Ridge or take an alternative route down Blease Fell, which is slightly longer but easier underfoot.

I chose to descend down Halls Fell Ridge. I'm not the best with vertigo and scrambling down wet rock at over 2,800 feet is not really my idea of fun but I took my time and got it done. To be fair, I was overtaken a lot on this section and whilst I would let people pass where possible, some sections were single file scrambles and I knew I was holding some people back. No-one complained, rushed me or made me feel uncomfortable however, which is a detriment to the friendly nature of the race and ultra runners in general. There were sections where I'd scramble down rocks on my backside in fear of falling off the ridge; probably not the most elegant look on the mountains!

The scramble down Halls Fell Ridge to Threlkeld

Once off Halls Fell Ridge I made it into Threlkeld and checkpoint 1. I didn't hang around at this checkpoint. I grabbed a cheese baguette, some water melon and refilled my water bottles with Tailwind and went on my way.

Threlkeld to Ambleside - 19 miles

Upon leaving Threlkeld there was a mile of easy running before we reached the foot of Clough Head. I'd caught up with a couple of runners by then and we were chatting about the new route - apparently the old route has become popular for runners attempting the Bob Graham round and is fast becoming eroded. As a result, we were to take an alternative route up a track before joining Clough Head later on. I had no issues with this, it added distance but meant the start of the climb wasn't so steep, plus we were having less impact on the terrain. I started the climb comfortably and soon got into a rhythm. I'd left the people I'd been talking to behind and powered on ahead. I hadn't recce'd Clough Head before and massively underestimated it! At 2,381 feet it was the toughest climb of the route by far and straight up! My quads weren't used to that much elevation in such a short distance and I felt my legs cramping on almost every step. I made slow progress but eventually reached what I thought was the summit only to find it curved around and continued to climb. I was probably three quarters of the way up when I was overtaken by the same group that I'd left at the bottom - obviously they'd paced it much better! We chatted for a few minutes and they gave me some words of encouragement before they powered off into the distance. I continued to dig in but felt it was a losing battle. I'd take a few steps, stop for a second, then continue, one foot in front of the other. I used this method until I reached the summit. I took a few minutes here to rest, compose myself and take in some fluids. I wasn't alone. I think that section had taken it out of a few others too. Once at the summit, the next section is across the Dodds; three fells between Clough Head and Helvellyn. They are undulating but runnable with firm ground underfoot. I made my way down the first fell which was a nice steady downhill section. Perfect, I thought. I think I ran about 100 metres when I suddenly pulled up with cramp in both quads. I was forced to stop, stretch it out and ate some salted peanuts which I'd packed. It eventually subsided only for it to start cramping again not long after I'd started running again. I must admit, at this stage I started to have negative thoughts. Could I do this? I was about 15 miles in to a 50 mile run and my legs were already cramping. I knew it was the climbing. I had the distance in me but the hills I'd trained on were much shorter than the hills I was tackling today so weren't as punishing on the quads. There was no respite. I stopped again, stretched and waited for it to subside. I ran a little, cramped up, stretched. I seemed to be stuck in a loop. I ate more salted peanuts, hydrated and eventually the cramping stopped. Maybe I hadn't hydrated enough? Either way, I made my way over the Dodds until I reached Helvellyn.

                   The climb up to Helvellyn

At 3,116 feet, Helvellyn is the third-highest point in England and this proved to be another tough climb. My quads felt better, they were still screaming at me after every step but they weren't cramping so I made steady progress. About half way up I saw a ridge off to the left with the silhouette of people scrambling across the top. It looked technical and similar to that of Halls Fell Ridge. My heart sank again. I knew about Halls Fell so I had prepared myself mentally for the challenge.  Helvellyn was new so I didn't know what to expect. I continued to climb and it took an age to reach the summit. To my relief, the route veered off to the right and didn't descend down the ridge. Panic over!

Views from the top of Helvellyn

The descent down Helvellyn to Grisedale Tarn was just as tough on the quads as the ascents I'd climbed earlier. The terrain was mostly rock and I found myself bouncing from one rock to another. It was hard work. I tried to move fast but at the same time being mindful of every foot placement. The 'path' zigzagged down the mountain before reaching the tarn at the foot of Fairfield. It was here that I think I went wrong. Ignoring my GPS, I followed a path which seemed to loop around before heading back to Fairfield. I noticed a couple of runners who I'd overtaken earlier, come out in front of me. Oh well, that's why I did 53.4 miles instead of 50 miles I suppose!

I knew Fairfield was the last main climb of the day and once at the summit I'd have broken the back of the elevation. I dug in and started the climb. It was horrendous! Loose scree and rock made it hard going and at 2,864 feet it was brutal on tired legs. There were several times when I stopped, took a minute to recoup and just appreciated the view. My mindset had changed again and although I was finding it tough, I was thankful to be on the fell with the chance to do what I was doing. One foot in front of the other (my mantra for most of the run) and I'd soon be at the top.

Once I reached the top of Fairfield I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew what followed was a steady downhill section into Ambleside and then I'd recce'd the last 20 miles so knew what was to come. The route between Fairfield and Ambleside however seemed to take an age. You could see the lights of Ambleside in the distance but there was still about 5 miles to run. The terrain was a mixture of rock, swamps and thick mud and I found myself running, scrambling or dodging the mud which in some parts, was knee deep. It was an enjoyable section though, if a little slow.

Descending down towards Ambleside

Once off the mountain there was a short section of road into Ambleside. I'd never been so thankful to hit the tarmac. My legs had taken a beating, my muscles were screaming but I was in a good place. I knew I could recoup at Ambleside, take some food on board and change my shoes and socks - my feet were soaking wet and caked in mud. Changing footwear would feel like a luxury.  Approaching the Parish Centre in Ambleside I noticed Ruth and Naomi waiting for me. It was such a massive boost! I briefly stopped for a few minutes, traded hugs and kisses, enquired about how Ian was doing then went in to refuel. Upon walking through the door I was asked whether I wanted to change my footwear to which I replied with a thankful nod. The marshal then directed me to a seat and went off to fetch my drop bag. The marshals were fantastic throughout and so helpful, nothing was too much trouble.

Coming into Ambleside - exhausted but still smiling  

One of the biggest mistakes I made, (and it did make me chuckle) was choosing Injinji socks in my drop bag. For anyone that doesn't know what injinji socks are they have individual toe sleeves, (similar to a glove) which reduce skin-to-skin friction and reduce blisters. I swear by them and use them on all my long runs. However, my quads were on fire and the prospect of sitting down in a chair was a struggle, let alone reaching down to take my shoes and socks off. The realisation then hit me that I'd have to individually place each toe in its own sleeve which proved to be as great a challenge as I had faced all morning. I hadn't really thought this through. I even laughed to myself as the bloke sitting next to me gave me that 'concerned' look. He knew the struggle.

Shoes and socks replaced, I grabbed some coke, refilled my water bottles and quickly shoved some pizza down my throat. I also changed my top (I had to carry replacement clothes as only shoes and socks were allowed in the drop bag) and strapped my head-torch on. It would be dark within the hour so best to be prepared.  Refuelled and dry I met up with Ruth and Naomi again outside (as it's a self supported race friends and family aren't allowed in the feed station) and had a brief chat before heading on my way. It was 6pm when I left Ambleside. Up until now I hadn't looked at my watch, other than to follow the GPS route, so had no idea of the time. I left feeling positive. There was 20 miles left with 6 hours to complete it before midnight. That would be my gold target achieved - easy I thought! How wrong was I!

Ambleside to Finsthwaite - 14 miles

The first few miles out of Ambleside are mainly tarmac and bicycle paths. Although undulating, they were a dream to run on considering what had come before it.  I overtook countless number of runners on this section and although I wasn't going at any considerable pace, it did make me question why everyone was walking. Before long we reached a wooded section and by now the sun had set and the night was drawing in. Under the shelter of the tree canopy it was getting dark. I enjoy night running but it does slow you down considerably. You have to focus more on your surroundings, skimming the ground for tree roots, debris and rocks whilst ducking low hanging branches. It's fun but you have to be switched on all the time. In the build up to the race, the weather had been pretty horrendous with heavy rainfall. This made the ground saturated and for most of the trail sections in the last 20 miles, it was like running though a bog. Heavy mud and puddles to dodge. Fun but energy sapping.

Just past Claife Heights I caught up with a bloke who appeared to be struggling. I'd spoken to him earlier in the day up on the fells and it was good to chat with him. I offered him some food which he politely declined and asked if there was anything he needed. He mentioned his head-torch was fading and didn't have a back-up. Luckily I had packed spare batteries so replaced them in his head-torch, for which he was grateful. Looking back, he still had approximately four hours of running to go and I wouldn't have fancied running any of that without a torch. We ran together for a short while before we split up as we reached High Damn.   

High Damn reduced me to a brisk walk. On normal legs you could probably run that section but my legs were heavy, I was starting to struggle and any sign of a hill gave me a reason to walk. I was with a couple of blokes through this section and without saying a word we all automatically jogged the flats and walked the hills. It was like a silent code. The trails were often single file so we took it in turns to lead and the miles ticked off.

I felt good as we approached Finsthwaite and the last check point. I'd checked my watch and it was showing that I'd covered 46 miles. For some reason, which I can only put down to fatigue, I'd completely forgot about the 3 mile diversion I'd took at the base of Fairfield and convinced myself that there was only 4 miles left. I even considered not going into the last checkpoint and heading straight for the finish. It was only 4 miles after all. I felt like I could walk it and still finish before midnight.

However, outside the Village Hall there was a marshal who greeted us as we arrived. She then congratulated us on our achievement so far and said that there was only 8 miles to go. Wait! What! - 8 miles??? There was only 4 miles to go, or so I thought! I checked with her again and she confirmed just shy of 8 miles. My mood instantly changed! I felt broken. I went from running the last 4 miles in my head to now thinking I didn't have the energy to walk 4 miles, let alone run another 8. Feeling broken, I went into the Village Hall.

I must admit this was my lowest point of the day. I was broken. I knew that finishing before midnight was never going to happen but even worse, the prospect of another 8 miles filled me with dread. Its funny how the mind works. I'd gone from easily running 4 miles to not being able to put one foot in front of the other at the prospect of another 4 miles added on. I'd already covered 46 mile across much tougher terrain, it was just another 8 miles, single figures yet I was mentally beaten.

Despite how I was feeling, the marshals in the village hall were amazing. And I mean amazing! On entering any of the feed stations you were required to put on shoe covers and use antibacterial hand gel (which all races should use in my opinion). As soon as I walked in a marshal was at hand to place the shoe covers on for you and offered to fetch hot drinks or food whilst you sat down. Being the last feed station I think they appreciate how tired you are and are so attentive and supportive. Everyone in the hall looked broken. There were a couple of guys at the back wrapped in blankets who had obviously DNF'd and a few guys asleep with their head in their hands. It was hard to motivate yourself. I had no intention of going anywhere fast. I drank about a litre of coke, 2 cups of tea and ate everything on offer; from sausage rolls, chicken and leek soup, pastries, crisps and sweets. I closed my eyes and was woken by my elbow slipping off the table. I needed to leave...

I filled my flask with tea and left Finsthwaite.

Finsthwaite to Cartmel - 7.8 miles

Upon leaving Finsthwaite you head across a field into a wood which had a steady incline. I'd met up with a couple of runners across the field and we walked up through the wood together. We got talking as I finished off my tea. I was still exhausted and was struggling to find the energy to walk.

Before long the lady had fallen behind and I was left chatting to a bloke as we plodded on. I later found out his name was Peter and we stuck together until the finish. Peter had been in Finsthwaite for over an hour and was very close to pulling himself out of the race despite the marshals best effort to get him refuelled and rested up. I think we spurred each other on and the more we spoke the more energised we became. We continued to walk the hills but jog the flats and downhill sections. Without Peter and that psychological lift I honestly think that last 8 miles would have been a death march!

A couple of miles after leaving Finsthwaite Peter had told me he had some supporters waiting for him outside a pub. As we approached the pub I told him I'd carry on and wished him all the best in case I never saw him before the finish. I think I'd secretly hoped he'd catch me up as I was appreciating the company at that stage. As he veered off to greet his supporters I heard someone call my name and to my surprise Ruth was standing there waiting for me as well. What a boost! It was amazing to see her and I became a bit overwhelmed with it all. She told me she was proud of me and that I was so close to the finish line. She later told me that she had been there for a while and was worried watching my GPS; worried that I'd either DNF'd at the village hall, my GPS had failed or I was collapsed in a ditch somewhere! Ooops. If  I had known she'd have been there I would have left the village hall sooner.

I'm not exactly sure of where we were but at one stage we found ourselves running adjacent to Lake Windermere through a wooded section. There was a full moon to our left, a house party playing some bad 00's dance music in the distance to our right and we found ourself wading though water at knee height level - Windermere had flooded. After all we'd been through, it lifted our moods and we thought it was the final obstacle to overcome. Wrong again. Amongst the flood there was a low hanging tree which we had to limbo under. Peter went first, no problem. I followed only to get my backpack caught on a branch and I was left attached to a tree, in full limbo whilst stood in knee high water. We both saw the funny side.

The final mile and a half is on tarmac as you leave the woods and farmland into Cartmel. What's even better is that it's all downhill. I don't know how but both Peter and I picked up the pace and recorded our fastest miles of the day. Anything to get to the finish line I suppose.

As you enter Cartmel you run straight though the village before reaching the finish line at Cartmel school. I was filled with emotion as I crossed that finish line, just a few seconds after Peter.

I'd done it!

53.4 miles, 12,831 feet of elevation in 17:25.

Ruth was there at the finish line to see me come though under the gantry which was amazing! She immediately gave me a massive hug before I was presented with a medal, a food token and a printed display of my finish time and splits.

It was by far the hardest thing I've ever done - brutal in fact. I think I use the term 'brutal' too much to describe tough races but in all honesty Lakes in a Day holds that mantra. It truly was the hardest thing I've ever done or most likely will ever do. I was broken but massively proud of what I had achieved. I learnt a lot about myself up on those mountains, what the human body can endure when you're at your lowest -  it was true character building.

Ian finished in 14:52 which was incredible and smashed his target time by over an hour!

The race winner, Ricky Lightfoot smashed the course record coming in at an astonishing time of 8:47, some 25 minutes faster than Kim Collison in 2015. He was in work straight after just as I was arriving into Ambleside. Madness

Finish Line
My No 1 Supporter 

Congratulation cards and medals from the boys

Love the medal

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Additional Kit, Nutrition and the Final Long Run

Week 19 - Taper Phase
w/c 23.09.2019

Recommended mileage: 14 miles
Actual mileage: 28.1 miles

I'd booked Monday and Tuesday off work.

Ruth was away in the Lake District, enjoying a relaxing week at Centre Parcs whilst I got to spend some quality time with Thomas whilst James and Oliver were at school. It also gave me the perfect opportunity to switch off from running for a couple of days and recharge the batteries. After averaging 40+ miles a week for the past 3 weeks it was definitely welcome.

It also focused my mind on kit and nutrition, with the latter something I'd given a lot of thought to since completing the Teesdale Way. Although I got through it, relying on water, a handful of nuts and half a Chia Charge bar was not sustainable and made for an uncomfortable final day.

I'd done some research online and stumbled upon Tailwind Nutrition; which apparently 'combines complete fuel, hydration and electrolytes into a tasty drink which won't turn your stomach into a brick.' It's designed to overcome the nutrition problems faced by endurance athletes in events like 50's, 100's, 24-hour and multi-day events. If it's good enough for those guys then it's good enough for me!

I recognise that changing nutrition this late into your training plan is risky and goes against any advice but I felt it was something that needed to be addressed. I'd still plan to eat solids every 30 minutes or so; whether that's Chia Charge bars, nuts, pretzels or whatever else is on offer at the feed stations, but I'd just replace the water with Tailwind.

I ordered some on Monday, hopeful that it would arrive by Saturday; my last scheduled long run as part of my training plan.

In addition to nutrition, I also ordered a couple of warm mid-layers in case of adverse weather conditions on the day, not uncommon up on the fells. Last years race was during Storm Calum and although we're not expecting a repeat of last years weather conditions of 60mph winds, flooding and torrential rain, it's best to be prepared. I opted for a Montane Neutron Hoodie and an OMM Vector long sleeve top which are both fleeced lined and fairly lightweight, thus will pack down nicely into my race bag.

With Thomas at nursery on Wednesday, I managed to fit in a short 4 mile hills session during my lunch break. I kept the pace fairly steady and enjoyed the hills reps. My legs felt fresher and with the daily quad exercises I'd been maintaining, I felt a vast improvement in the knee.
Average Pace: 08:57 min mile
Elevation Gain: 377 ft
Mile 1 - 09:04, Mile 2 - 08:55, Mile 3 - 08:55, Mile 4 - 08:53 

My Tailwind delivery arrived on Friday, just in time for my long run the following morning.

I'd checked the weather forecast the night before; clear and dry in the morning turning into heavy showers in the afternoon. Therefore, I decided to get out nice and early and headed for the Malvern Hills; somewhere I was guaranteed to get in both distance and elevation. I left Bromsgrove at 5:30am and with a 30 minute drive to the hills meant I'd make it in time to see the sunrise at the top of the Worcestershire Beacon; the highest point of the hills at 1,400 ft. I packed my head torch for the first hour of running and arrived at the beacon by sunrise. It was both beautiful and peaceful. I was the only one on the hills and the views, peace and tranquillity were amazing.

I'd taken Tailwind to fuel the run and my first impressions were that it worked extremely well. I'd covered 20 miles in total with over 6,000 ft of elevation and felt strong.   

Distance: 20 miles
Average Pace: 15:35 min mile
Elevation Gain: 6,037 ft       

Stunning sunrise - so peaceful 

Finally got to that elusive 6,000 ft.

Quarry near Hollybush

I got back from the Malvern Hills, showered, changed and headed to Arrow Valley to support friends and club mates who were running either the 7k or 10k trail event. As it was a local event, there was a good turnout from Kings Heath Running Club, Wild Stiles Trailing Running and Lickey End Striders. 

I'd planned to rest on Sunday but decided to go out and do a short, local hills session. Running on tired legs is good training and despite my aching limbs I went out harder than normal, completing 3 miles of hill repeats in my second fastest time ever; averaging 7:52 mm pace; not bad (for me) after a tough weekend of running!   
Average Pace: 07:52 minute mile
Elevation Gain: 299 ft
Mile 1 - 08:17, Mile 2 - 07:51, Mile 3 - 07:41, Mile 4 - 06:51

Monday, 23 September 2019

Sports Massage, Stretches and a Last Minute Half Marathon

Week 18 - Peak Phase
w/c 16.09.2019

Recommended mileage: 60 miles
Actual mileage: 35.2 miles

On paper, this was to be the toughest week of the training programme.

The final 'Peak Session' with a recommended mileage of 60 miles, after which, I would start to taper.

I woke up Monday morning feeling exhausted. The boys had slept through, I'd had a decent nights sleep but yet I was tired, lethargic and drained of energy. My legs were heavy, my knee ached and the thought of running another mile filled me with dread.

I had plans to go into the Birmingham office in the morning but traffic had built up on my road due to an incident on the M42. Instead, I worked out of my home office to catch up on a few emails and print some documents I needed for work, only to find the printer had run out of ink - great! Bromsgrove town centre is just over a mile away and although half of me was tempted to jump in the car, I reluctantly grabbed my running trainers and had a slow, steady jog into town. In fairness, the slow 2 miles acted as a bit of a recovery run and I felt the benefit in my legs almost immediately.

I'd booked a sports massage on Tuesday with GD Health in Redditch. I've been going there on and off for the past 3 years and find it really helps with recovery. Luckily for me, they do evening appointments and I managed to secure a last minute appointment after work. The sessions last for about 45 minutes and as I can testify, if you leave it too long between sessions, it bloody hurts! You think a foam roller is bad? Then you've never had a sports massage!

Prior to the massage, we'd discussed my knee pain and after an initial assessment, it was confirmed that the route of the problem was down to tight quads putting too much pressure on the patella. I was given some stretches to do which would alleviate the pain and felt reassured that the injury was muscle related rather than a more serious knee issue.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling instantly refreshed. My knee was still aching but the legs felt a lot lighter. I dropped the boys off at before school club, stretched then headed into the office. I usually leave it 48 hours after a sports massage but as it was a 60 mile week, I decided to go for a short run post work. I stayed local and did an enjoyable yet hilly 4 miler on fresh legs.

Average Pace: 08:51 min mile
Elevation Gain: 236 ft
Mile 1 - 09:23, Mile 2 - 08:51, Mile 3 - 08:48, Mile 4 - 08:24, Mile 5 - 08:39

Thursday night was club run but once again I sacrificed this for a solo run up the Lickey Hills. I miss club runs. I miss the people and the social side of running in a large group but I'm also aware of the need to replicate race conditions in training. I needed to be running up and down hills on trails as opposed to tarmac and canals.

I'd planned to run my normal 10k loop twice, covering approximately 1700 ft and elevation and using my head torch to light the trails. Again, useful training for LiaD. I left at 6:30 pm and enjoyed a steady 12 mile run in and around the hills.

Average Pace:11:24 min mile
Elevation Gain: 1,683 ft
Mile 1 - 11:37, Mile 2 - 09:45, Mile 3 - 12:12, Mile 4 - 09:29, Mile 5 - 09:37, Mile 6 - 12:18, Mile 7 - 13:13, Mile 8 - 12:39, Mile 9 - 12:25, Mile 10 - 10:12, Mile 11 - 11:49, Mile 12 - 11:58

Sunset over the Lickey Hills

I find it eerie yet relaxing running at night

Birmingham City Centre

I worked from home on Friday and went for a short 4 mile run after swimming with the boys. I'd missed last weeks session so I was looking forward to seeing how they'd progressed. I wasn't disappointed.

Average Pace:8:40 min mile
Elevation Gain: 230 ft
Mile 1 - 9:07, Mile 2 - 8:41, Mile 3 - 8:37, Mile 4 - 8:14 

I had scheduled to do another 18 miles up the Malvern Hills on Saturday but as it happens, I got offered a place at Trailffest Half Marathon in Wales from a club mate who was unfortunately injured. It's a race that's always been on my bucket list but I'd never actually got round to doing it. It didn't disappoint and turned out to be one of my favourite races of the year - you can read the full race report here...

I'd also scheduled to do another long run on the Sunday, either a 20 miler around Kings Heath with some club mates or a local hilly race in the Wasely Hills; the Wasely Wobbler. As it transpires, I did neither as I overslept! I was physically exhausted all day Sunday so I put it down as a rest day and wrote it off!

I'll get out next weekend for my final long run before I taper.

Trailffest Half Marathon 2019

About to board the train to the start line

What a brilliant race!

The Trailffest Half Marathon is billed as 'one of the most scenic you could hope to run, with dramatic changes of scenery and terrain the whole way to the finish line',

I wouldn't disagree.

Everything about this race, from the steam train which takes you to the start line, the narrow trails which snake their way down the mountain, to the stunning landscape made this one of my favourite races to date.

Don't get me wrong, it was hard, very hard in fact and a lot more technical than I had expected, (or needed this late into my training plan) but I loved every mile. The course profile is a little misleading, with the race starting at an elevation of 710 ft and finishing at sea level you'd expect it to be mainly downhill, but we still managed to climb over 1,535 ft - for every technical downhill, there was a tough uphill just around the corner. 

I only found out about Trailffest two days prior to the race. A couple of club mates had posted on the club Facebook page that regrettably, due to injury they'd have to pull out at this late stage. The race had been on my radar for a while but I'd never actually got round to running it so I gratefully accepted the place together with Kate, another friend from club who took the remaining place.

As it was such late notice, there was no time to organise accommodation so I decided to drive the 6 hour round trip to Porthmadog, Wales. Registration was between 8am-10:40am; so another early start. I'd agreed to car share with Kate so we met up at 6am to make the long journey to race HQ.

We arrived in Porthmadog just after 9am, allowing plenty of time to register, grab some breakfast, soak up the pre-race atmosphere and meet up with fellow club mates Abi, Rebecca and Claire. We were also handed our goody bag consisting of a technical t-shirt, a bottle of ale from the local brewery and some protein bars.

Pre race photo with Kate, Abi, Rebecca and Claire.

The start line was at Blaenau Ffestiniog which lies at the foot of the Moelwyn mountain range. To get to the start line the organisers had thrown in a steam train ride (for runners and supporters) which takes just over an hour and adds to the charm of the race. The views on the way up were amazing and every now and again we'd pick out race signs within the landscape depicting the route we'd soon be running back.

Once at the start line we were ushered into a start pen and there was a short pre race briefing and head count. It was a relatively small field, approximately 150 runners and before we knew it the race had started to the sound of the steam train whistle; another nice feature!

I had planned to take this race steady, simply enjoy the terrain, take in the views and just have a great day on the trail. The weather was gorgeous with clear blue skies and we were greeted with amazing views of the landscape.

The first 4 miles we found ourselves running trough rugged slate mines, mostly on single file tracks. There was also numerous stiles and gates to navigate which led to some congestion in places. Not a problem for someone enjoying the view and catching a breather but I did hear a few groans from fellow runners which I thought was a little out of hand; each to their own I suppose! The slate was also tricky underfoot and the technical aspect of being mindful of each foot placement meant it was pretty tough going in places and difficult to maintain any rhythm and pace.

Between miles 4-8 the terrain changed again to more woodland trails. This was my favourite section of the race, jumping tree routes, ducking under branches and running along small trails under the tree canopy. I also passed the train at mile 5, which was stationary and full of supporters who gave us an resounding cheer which was a real boost.

The pain is real. Looking up to yet another hill!

Miles 9-11 were mainly though farmland areas and again I found the terrain difficult to navigate. Making our way though farm tracks or grassy areas with hidden boulders or pot holes made it quite tricky and I found myself constantly scanning the ground in front of me rather than enjoying the views. There were sections I decided to walk rather than run in fear of turning an ankle or worse. This decision was later justified when I passed a lady who had unfortunately fallen and was being attended to by the marshals. 

The last couple of miles were mainly on road and were relatively flat. For the first time in the race I felt I could open my legs and maintain some speed. As a result, I found myself overtaking quite a few runners on this section which was testament to where I am in terms of my training plan. The last mile we found ourselves running next to the train line adjacent to the sea wall with the finish line in the distance. It was also very well supported and we were cheered home to a personalised tannoy finish - another nice touch! 

I finished in 64th position in 2:28 but in all honesty, the time and placing was irrelevant.

I finished injury free and had an amazing day on the trail.

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat!

The view from the start line

Our ride....


Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Working Away, Night Running and a Return to the Malverns...

Week 17 - Peak Phase
w/c 09.09.2019

Recommended mileage: 55 miles
Actual mileage: 40.3 miles

I was fortunate enough to be working in Cornwall this week but only managed to get in a couple of runs due to work commitments. Both were circular coastal runs; one from Cardis Bay to Hayle and the other slightly further afield from St.Ives to Hayle.

Cardis Bay to Hayle was an enjoyable, if somewhat difficult run due to the elevation and nature of the terrain. The weather conditions were favourable; overcast with light drizzle and the trails were a mix of grass, gravel and sand. As it was a circular run, there was also a large section on pavement once I came off the coastal path. I ran for just shy of 5 miles.

Average Pace:11:10 min mile
Elevation Gain: 489 ft
Mile 1 - 9:33, Mile 2 - 09:27, Mile 3 - 09:58, Mile 4 - 13:17, Mile 5 - 14:35

Lovely coastal run from Cardis Bay to Hayle

On Thursday evening I decided to run the slightly longer section, from Cardis Bay to St Ives, whereby I'd join the coastal path and head towards Hayle, returning back to Cardis Bay via the country lanes. Luckily, I'd packed my head torch which was essential on the cliff top trails.

I enjoy night runs. There's something quite peaceful about running on trails with just the glow of the head torch lighting the way. It's eerie yet calming. I took it nice and steady, walked the hills and clifftop sections, gently ran the rest, covering just shy of 7 miles. It was also good practice for the LiaD, where if all goes well, I'll probably be covering the last 20 miles in the dark whilst trying to navigate! 

Average Pace:12:58 min mile
Elevation Gain: 823 ft
Mile 1 - 10:07, Mile 2 - 10:05, Mile 3 - 12:46, Mile 4 - 17:32, Mile 5 - 15:30, Mile 6 - 11:05, Mile 7 - 13:45

Dark, eerie but surprisingly peaceful 

Hayle in the distance 

Despite the lack of running, I did manage to fit in some stretches and core work, something I've neglected over the past couple of weeks, and boy, did I feel it! The old expression 'one step forward, two steps back' comes to mind and I struggled with 10 reps each of the Dirty Dozen exercise plan.

I travelled back to Bromsgrove on Friday and unfortunately arrived back too late to take the boys swimming; something I like to do when I work away for the week. The A30 was crawling out of Cornwall and the M5 was pretty much stop/start; your average Friday commute which took me over 6 hours. I had no desire to go for a run in the evening.

I had no plans for the weekend but knew I needed to get some long, 'back-to-back' runs in as part of my training plan.

I made the last minute decision to go to the Malvern Hills on Saturday, leaving at 7am for an 8am start. The Malvern Hills are a range of hills in the English Counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and North Gloucestershire, covering approximately 9 miles from North to South.

I've run the hills before, parking at North Quarry car park and running the 9 miles to Hollybush before turning around and retracing my steps - 18 miles in total with approximately 5000 feet of elevation. Its a tough run and as I don't have access to the Lake District on my doorstep, it's the next best thing without travelling too far.

I took the run steady, with the main focus on time-on-feet and climbing the maximum amount of elevation possible. In my mind, I wanted to hit 6,000 ft (nearly half of the elevation of LiaD) without running up the same hills repeatedly.

I failed. Although I did manage to cover over 5,200 ft of elevation 18.6 miles in just shy of 5 hours. I walked the hills, jogged the flats and downhill sections - pretty much my race plan for LiaD.

It was a great day on the hills and made me a little more confident for the challenge ahead.

Average Pace:15:56 min mile
Elevation Gain: 5,213 ft
Mile 1 - 17:53, Mile 2 - 15:52, Mile 3 - 13:37, Mile 4 - 14:44, Mile 5 - 13:54, Mile 6 - 16:27, Mile 7 - 14:44, Mile 8 - 17:32, Mile 9 - 13:37, Mile 10 - 17:05, Mile 11 - 12:43, Mile 12 - 19:10, Mile 13 - 15:58, Mile 14 - 17:18, Mile 15 - 15:14, Mile 16 - 19:52, Mile 17 - 19:43, Mile 18 - 15:09, Mile 19 - 09:52

Views from the Worcestershire Beacon - the highest point of the Malverns

It's very rare that I listen to anything whilst out running but as it was a long, solitary run I borrowed Ruth's bone conducting headphones to keep me company.  I've been listening to a lot of podcasts recently whilst in the car and two of my favourites; the British Ultra Running Podcast and the British Trail Running Podcast have now come to an end (and I've caught up with back catalogue), much to my disappointment.  Looking for an alternative, I stumbled upon Trail Running Women and decided to give it a go. The first few episodes were informative, funny and focused on the average runner and not just the 'elites", as many podcasts tend to do, which I liked. I'd downloaded a few episodes and started listening to them back-to-back. It was an interesting listen until I came across a couple of episodes focusing on 'running whilst breastfeeding' and 'running with periods'. As interesting as it was, I don't think I was the right target market!

On Sunday I got to support Ruth for a change as she was running the Worcester 10k. With the 3 boys in tow (that was a challenge in itself!) we managed to get to a couple of viewpoints to see her run past and she looked strong, which proved to be the case as she smashed her PB, finishing in 57:53. An awesome run!

New 10k PB

High Five for the little man

Reluctantly, I decided to go out for a run late afternoon. Despite feeling exhausted from yesterdays 18 miler, running back-to-back on tired lengths is key to my training plan so I grabbed my gear and did a lovely, scenic 10 mile route around the Worcestershire countryside. Fitness wise I felt ok, but issues with the knee were still niggling away and I was forced to take a couple of Ibruprofen half way though the run. Not ideal but at this stage of the training plan I've resigned myself to just getting through it and sorting out any long term niggles after the ultra. 

Average Pace:09:48 min mile
Elevation Gain: 404 ft
Mile 1 - 09:37, Mile 2 - 09:27, Mile 3 - 09:41, Mile 4 - 09:58, Mile 5 - 09:41, Mile 6 - 09:52, Mile 7 - 09:52, Mile 8 - 10:10, Mile 9 - 09:54, Mile 10 - 09:45

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Navigation Training and a LiaD Recce

Week 16 - Peak Phase
w/c 02.09.2019

Recommended mileage: 50 miles
Actual mileage: 48.8 miles

Monday came around fairly quickly.

Ruth and I were at the Moseley Folk Festival all day Saturday and Sunday was spent tobogganing for Oliver's birthday - I still can't believe he's 5! I'd rested the knee somewhat in terms of running but I was still hobbling around for most of the weekend and on my feet all day.

I decided not to run on Monday. The knee had improved somewhat but there was still an underlying issue when I put weight through it, more so when I stretched it out or put my full weight on it leaning forward - particularly down stairs. The pain wasn't unbearable, far from it, but there was definitely a niggle which was causing me issues.

The sensible me, and the advice I'd give to others would have been rest, ice and get a physio appointment asap. In reality, I was in week 16 of the training plan. The PEAK phase. I should be recording 50 miles this week and here I am with a dodgy knee! I couldn't afford to take any time off. I could probably get away with reducing the miles but I needed to keep the legs ticking over.

I grabbed my gear and went for a run on Tuesday.

The first mile was uncomfortable and the knee felt like it was jarring on every foot strike. It's difficult to explain but it's similar to that feeling in your fingers when they need cracking (or is that just me?), except the knee wouldn't crack. The more I ran though, the less discomfort I felt. I kept the pace steady and ran a 5.6 mile loop around the streets of Bromsgrove.

Average Pace: 09:37 min mile 
Elevation Gain: 331 ft
Mile 1 - 9:25, Mile 2 - 09:29, Mile 3 - 09:29, Mile 4 - 09:47, Mile 5 - 9:45

I woke up on Wednesday and thankfully the knee felt ok. Not perfect but ok. I'd kind of told myself that after my run on Tuesday that if there was any sign of it feeling worse then I'd have the difficult decision to make of resting and getting some professional help. If on the other hand it didn't feel any worse then I'd grit my teeth and get on with it, which is what I did...

I was off work on Wednesday and Thursday as Oliver had his induction week at school between 9:15 and 11:45. This gave me a couple of hours to get a short run in. With the knee in mind, I kept the run local and decided to do a hills session not far from where I live...again, dodgy knee + hill reps - I'm my own worst enemy sometimes! Nonetheless, it held up well and I actually really enjoyed it.

Average Pace: 8:54 min mile 
Elevation Gain: 305 ft
Mile 1 - 8:56, Mile 2 - 08:55, Mile 3 - 08:49, Mile 4 - 08:53

I did a double run on Thursday. I'd posted on the club Facebook page that I'd be running my usual 10k route in and around the Lickey Hills on the evening, to which a few people had agreed to join me. That was scheduled for the evening. Whilst dropping Oliver off at school on Thursday, I bumped into my mate Tom who suggested a short run whilst we were 'child free'. Sod it I thought, back-to-back running was good for the training plan. Toms not long returned from injury himself so the pace was steady and we enjoyed a really nice 3.4 mile run.

Average Pace: 11:06 min mile 
Elevation Gain: 135 ft
Mile 1 - 10:12, Mile 2 - 12:02, Mile 3 - 11:22, Mile 4 - 10:21

I met up with the Kings Heath group at 7pm in the Lickey Hills. It had been a while since I'd run the hills and really enjoyed it - although I may have gone a little off piste and got slightly 'lost'. No harm done, although by the last mile it had got dark, not helped by the shade of the tree canopy. Note to self: head torches needed on the next run!

Average Pace: 12:37 min mile
Elevation Gain: 958 ft
Mile 1 - 13:13, Mile 2 - 11:46, Mile 3 - 14:21, Mile 4 - 12:29, Mile 5 - 11:00, Mile 6 - 12:12

Sunset over the Lickey Hills 

I took Friday as a rest day on the basis of running back-to-back on Thursday.

For my 40th Birthday back in May, Ian and Naomi had enrolled me on a Navigational Training Course with Due North Events in the Lake District on Saturday. The LiaD requires you to self navigate and being a city boy (I got lost in the Lickey Hills yesterday don't forget!) my navigational skills are lets say, not the best!

The course started at 9am in Pooley Bridge which meant an early start. A very early start. I'd packed my things the night before so I set the alarm for 4:30, showered, grabbed my gear and left the house just before 5am. Despite the M6 being closed for a couple of junctions, the journey up was pretty uneventful and I arrived at the meeting point for just before 9am.

I met up with the course leader, Mel (who's completed the Bob Graham Round btw! - legendary status in my eyes) and four other people who were enrolled on the course. It was a great group which made for a fun, enjoyable day. We spent the first hour indoors learning all about map reading, contours, scales, legends etc, then we went out into the fells to put it all in practice. I had an amazing day and can't recommend the course highly enough. We covered approximately 8 miles in the fells, navigating to various points, taking a baring and generally had a great time. It also gave me the confidence to be able to self navigate in the fells if needed during the LiaD.

Beautiful views over Pooley Bridge

Get 'red in the shed'

As I was up North, I'd agreed to stay at Ian's overnight and recce the last 20 miles of the LiaD route - the supposedly 'flat' section from Ambleside to Cartmel (miles 30-50 during LiaD). It was also part of the route we'd most likely be running at night in the dark so some familiarity would be essential. We'd agreed on another early start so left at 6.30 am in separate cars, both driving to Cartmel whereby we left Ian's car before driving back to Ambleside in my car as it was a linear route. We started the run at 9am. Shamelessly to say, I took some Ibruprofen to hide any knee pain and we went on our way... 

I won't go into too much detail with regards to the run as I'll do a full race report when (if) I complete it in 5 weeks time. But what I will say is that as far as navigation goes it shouldn't cause too many issues but it was far hillier than we had both expected; with just over 3,200 ft of elevation.  Plus we ran it on fresh legs. On the day we'd have already covered 30 miles with over 11,000 ft of elevation! Shit! It just goes to show the enormity of the task in hand!     


Post Holiday Blues and Another Injury Scare

Week 15 - Build Phase
w/c 26.08.2019

Recommended mileage: 40 miles
Actual mileage: 21 miles

I'm aware that I've not posted for a couple of weeks but I've just returned from a 2-week family holiday on the Isle of Wight and went on a social media sabbatical; which was just what I needed!

I've learnt not to underestimate family time. My boys, James (7), Oliver (5) and Thomas (2) are growing up fast and I recognise the importance of spending quality time together. Training for long distance events does eat into your spare time and as much as you try and fit in early morning runs or getting out in your lunch break, subsequently it does interfere with family life somewhat. Getting the balance right is important and holidays should be about spending quality time with the family.

As a result, I took my running gear with me to the Isle of Wight but managed to keep the runs to a minimum - with 3 runs over the two weeks.

1) - a 3.2 mile 'campsite tour' with my eldest, James, keeping me company on his bike at a nice relaxed pace.

2) - the Isle of Wight Half Marathon which I completed in 1:45 - you can see the race report, here 

3) - the Medina IOW parkrun which I got around in 23:24, finishing in 63rd position and came 8th in my age category.

Campsite tour with the little man

There were plenty of family walks though to keep the heart rate up!

I returned from the IOW on the 27th and decided to stretch the legs out with a quick run on Wednesday, with a local 4 mile hill reps session. The heavens had opened but it felt good to lace the trainers back up and kick start the LiaD training schedule, albeit on very tired legs still.

Average Pace: 09:14 min mile 
Elevation Gain: 377ft
Mile 1 - 8:53, Mile 2 - 09:07, Mile 3 - 09:21, Mile 4 - 09:29
Nice little hill reps session in the rain

I took Thursday as a rest day but wanted to schedule in a long run for the Friday, either before, or post work. As it happens, Friday was a fairly busy day with work and I was struggling for motivation. Some days your heart just isn't in it and running becomes a chore, the complete opposite of why we run in the first place. I'd convinced myself not to go. I switched off my computer at 4pm and was slouched on the sofa just staring at the ceiling. Ruth had taken the boys swimming and the house was empty. It was quiet. Too quiet. Sod it, I'm going for a run...

I threw some running gear on, filled my water flasks and hit the tarmac. My intention was to run my favourite 20 mile circular route, from Bromsgrove to Droitwich Spa via some scenic country lanes before returning via the Tardebigge Canal. Although hilly, it's a lovely route and is a good mixture of road and trail. Plus, if things aren't going well, there are plenty of opportunities to shorten the route if needed.

I set out at a comfortable pace. With LiaD now just 6 weeks away, I'm easing off my pace and using my heart rate monitor to ensure I'm not overexerting myself, trying to stay in zones 2 and 3 as much as possible, at 60-80% of max effort.

The first few miles were comfortable, I was averaging 9:30 mm's which were comfortably within my threshold but by mile 5 I was feeling some discomfort in my right knee. I toyed with the idea of cutting the run short, and in hindsight is what I should have done, but I continued to plod along, hoping the pain would subside as I ticked the miles off. By mile 10, I was struggling somewhat, I was hot, tired and the discomfort in my knee had not gone away. To top it all off I was also out of water.

In my rush to get out the door, I hadn't picked up my wallet so had no means to replenish my fluids. For a planned 20 mile run, this was stupid and I was beating myself up mentally about it! When you're running alone, particularly on a long canal section, you have time to think, to possibly overthink things. The reality was I was 10 miles away, with no cash, no water and a throbbing knee! Was it runners knee? Was it my IT band? Was it serious? Am I making it worse by running on it? How long should I rest it for? Will I make the start line of LiaD? I was overthinking things and rather than focusing on form and posture, all these negative things were going through my mind. I eased off the pace slightly and continued along the canal.

By mile 14 I ran passed Stoke Prior Social Club which backed on to the canal. I refilled my soft flask at the bar and ordered a pint of water. I then sat down for 20 minutes and text Ruth; just to pre-warn her that I was going to be late. As normal with Ruth, she straight away offered to come and pick me up but in my stubbornness I refused. I'd already plotted a route to come off the canal early which would save about 3 miles and by then I'd adopted a run/walk strategy. The Tardebrigge Canal contains the Tardebrigge locks, which the direction I was running meant I was running up them! I'd walk the locks, gently jog the flats.

The last 3 miles home were uncomfortable and I did my fair share of walking, especially on the few downhill sections whereby I was applying more force onto the knee. I got home, bathed, iced, massaged and rested the knee, fingers crossed it would feel ok in the morning...   

It wasn't ok. I woke up Saturday morning and immediately I was struggling to put weight on it. I hobbled around for 5 minutes and although it eased off the more I walked on it, there was definitely an underlying issue.

I came to the conclusion that I'd give it a couple of days of rest and if it's still playing up on Monday then I'd get (another) physio appointment!


Lakes in a Day 2019

It was 07:59 and I was standing at the start line for the Lakes in a Day 2019 ultramarathon. Everyone around me looked nervou...