Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The challenges of summer 2013

Before I start, there is a Since Summer 2012... part 2 in the pipeline. I'm still working through mini reports on events in late 2012. But I just wanted to bring this up-to-date so I could spend more time on current events, without being put off writing by feeling obligated to interrogate my memory of things that happened over 6 months ago. So takes more time to write up and I don't have the luxury of the free time I once did....

...The main reason for this is the arrival of Isaac just over 6 months ago on Christmas day. It's
been quite an adventure so far and despite getting running in it doesn't have the priority or get the time allocation it did in previous years. Clare and I are very happy parents and I can't quite put into words how much joy he brings us..... so I'll stick to running talk.

I'll detail this further in another post, but for this year I entered all the marathons in the Hardmoors 26.2 trail series as I like running in the North York Moors, enjoy the atmosphere of the Hardmoors ultra's and they were handily spaced two months apart throughout year so I have rolling targets to keep me running.

The first of these was from Osmotherley and very hilly. I had an easy one with Mark and enjoyed the many undulations and reasonable February weather. I'd run a bit off-road in the winter and the wet conditions had done good work for my leg strength despite modest mileage. So I decided to do a few more long runs and enter my usual Spring target event the Hardmoors 55 in March.

The Hardmoors 55 was a very cold and windy event (more on this in another post), but I ran well on good training and ran under 11 hours. Over an hour faster than in previous years in easier conditions.

Come April and the Hardmoors 26.2: Wainstones marathon I was primed to attack another tough course and gave it real effort from the start. I probably started a bit hard, but still ran an immensely satisfying 5:06 for the 27.25m course with a HUGE 6500ft of ascent and descent packed in.

So far so good then... then my Icarus moment. Last minute personal plans meant I couldn't run the Fellsman, which I felt well prepared for. So I agreed a substitute in late May with Clare (the boss) and Isaac (her boss). They thought I was mad - usually do - as this was the Hardmoors 110. The tough combo of the Hardmoors 55 on the hills of the North York Moors and then the extremely undulating coastline from Saltburn to Filey! I started the event, again running with Mark, at a modest pace.... but knee pain and general exhaustion finished me off at 70m.

What had gone wrong! I couldn't help but think my approach had been right, I'd done the 52m of this years snow-covered, super-chilled and windblasted Hardmoors 55 in less than 11 hours. I'd covered a similar distance this pleasent and relatively mild-to-warm night and morning in 14 hours. With extra training, that seemed like a modest enough pace for me to still have the energy and leg condition to get further.... but I'd been struggling since well before the 70m withdrawal.

So what next?

I still don't have an answer as to what went wrong exactly. I guess even though I was running slower in the 110 than the 55, I was still out on my feet along time, which could be the issue. It's prossible I'm a better marathon-to-double-marathon distance trail runner than before on the training I've done, but I'd not done enough to pull off the extra distance.

Regardless, the sensible answer to "what next" seemed to be to play to my strengths for now and perhaps revisit the extreme 3-figure mileage distances at a a future time when I could devote more miles to training (some don't need mielage in training for confidence, I obviously do).

I've not completed a 100m+ event since my first in 2010, it struck me that perhaps my motivations for running 100m aren't that strong anymore and having done one I'm not prepared to "dig in" when the going gets very tough and subject myself to hours of slow and pained progress.

But, in events less than 100m I only have one DNF - which came in the masochistically tough, 70m, TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie)where time on feet was equal to many 100 milers. I've knocked out quite a few 50-70 milers over the last few years, not without some distress at times, but overall I've finished these and enjoyed doing so.

So the obvious answer seems to be to concentrate on what I can do well now and try and do it better. I still like the challenge of a hilly trail route the most and a "fresh" challenge is what is needed. So I have entered the first 100km Ultimate Trails Ultra Marathon Race in the central Lake District. Where I've enjoyed many a happy hour/day running the fell and trail in the past.

Sounds ideal, but those who know me know that I don't just want to get around. With several months to prep my target is a real improvement on my 2012 trail run efforts - the most equivelentLakeland 50, which I completed in under 11 hours (and was probably my best run last year all things considered). And I'll have to be cleverer about getting more out of training in less available time too, or the bosses won't be happy!

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