T184

Date: 28th – 31st August, 2015

Location: Thames Path

Navigation: Thames Path signs/ Harvey map given by organisers

Distance: 184miles/ 294km

Time limit: 80hrs

I first saw this event last year and I thought, mmmm, The self supported part of it seemed to jump out at me and being 184 miles too it seemed like my kind of race, I had never competed in a race of this distance before and to be self supported makes it that little bit tougher as well.

Self Supported means that competitors must carry all of their clothing, equipment and food for the duration of the entire race from the start to the end of the race, Competitors will not be permitted to purchase, acquire or receive food supplies or receive external assistance during the race.

In addition support crews or pacers are not permitted during this event (although supporters were welcome to cheer on competitors at the designated checkpoints),However, competitors will be supplied with additional water supplies only at each checkpoint.

This year has been very tough for me on a personal level in many ways and since I DNF’ed at my last event The Grand Union Canal Race, a 145 mile race were I dropped at 85 miles due to suspected injury, that race was also only 3 weeks after the Thames Path 100 too. I was so focused on this race in a big way and I really wanted to do well and I was in no way going to fail, even if it meant crawling to the finish, YES I really mean that !!!.

My pre race training had gone really well, Brighton was my place of choice to do lots of my heavy pack runs, I love it there and the routes that I took were along the sea front and along the cliffs towards the Seven Sisters and Eastbourne, these routes were very hilly and very open, this was a great help for me mentally as running in complete openness gives you such a lovely sense of freedom.

I weighed the pack down using rice and made sure I wrapped it in a number of black bags as I didn’t want it to split or get wet and it would have turned into risotto, MMM yum, yum NOT,

So I was happy with my pre race training, I had also done a number of heavy pack runs in London (where I live) some of my sessions in London and in Brighton where double run days, the ones I did in London I would get up at 2:50am and run for 4hrs in the before starting work at 7am then after work which finished at 4pm, I would run for 2hrs, both runs being with a 7kg pack, Thank you to Nicolas Vallon who joined me on some of the after work runs, even when It was pouring with rain,Thanks Nicolas !!, some of those runs in Brighton were 4hr runs with 7kg pack then 2hrs rest to eat, then running for another 2hrs to Eastbourne and Beyond.

I was also on annual leave from the 24th August and so it was perfect to use that time to prepare everything for the race, I had ordered 2 race packs online that I thought would be suitable for this event and they both arrived in good time, The Salomon Skin Pro 14+3 set was the pack I decided I was going to use, I had also ordered the Raidlight Ultralight OLMO 20L with the front pack, but I found that to be too fiddly and I wanted to use a pack that would be as simple to use as possible and with no faffing around, so I went with the Salomon one and a North Face Roo II Bumbag.

The idea was to use the main compartment in the race pack for all the mandatory kit, (first aid kit, Bivvy bag, head torch, back up torch, waterproof map case, waterproof trousers and jacket, thermal base layer, hat & gloves, hydration pack, map & compass, food, mobile phone, survival blanket, running kit) and use the front section for my food, this way it would be simple to access and not be fumbling around wasting time, something of which I was not prepared to do, I had trained too hard and spent hours traveling to training sessions to lose precious minutes faffing around.

My nutrition for this race was going to be all homemade and plant powered as I’m vegan and have been for five years now, so there would be a bit of time before the race that would be dedicated to preparing all of my food that I thought I would need, I thought of 4 main food ideas, 1st would be homemade energy balls with Madjool dates, cacao nibs, fresh strawberries, pumpkin seeds, linseeds, sunflower seeds, coconut milk, agave syrup and oats all blended together, rolls into balls and then rolled in pea protein powder, then placed in a dehydrator to harden up slightly but still be moist, this way it would be easier to eat as I wouldn’t need to drink too much water with them, the next food idea was homemade wraps with 2 different fillings, The 1st was with avocado, basmati rice, sweet potato, ginger and caramel, 2nd was lentils, sweet potato, mushrooms, ginger and caramel, my other food idea was roasted sweet potato wedges with smoked garlic, rosemary and sea salt, all of these were put into vacuum bags (this is so they stay fresh and the bag doesn’t split while I’m running)

So with all my food sorted I only needed to get one or two things more and I would be ready to start packing, I only had to get a pair of gaiters and a backup torch and I was set, so I headed into town where I managed to pick up both items, I had ordered them both online but Royal Mail had let me down again, funnily enough though since the race they had both landed in my post box, hey ho, So I’m sorted for everything and can now start to think about packing my bag, it’s the night before the race and I’m pretty relaxed and I know if I pack my bag now I will only unpack it again race morning to double check everything, So I get to bed at a good time and only wake up once during the night.

Race morning and I’m still surprisingly relaxed which it really good as I’m normally nervous at this time and in the run up to races, but for some reason I’m pretty confident I’m going to do well.

I sorted my race bag out and my finishing bag (this is a bag that contains everything you’ll need when you get to the finish, like a fresh change of clothes, etc, I had my breakfast and I’m happy that i managed to finish it all, I had already ordered a taxi the previous day to take me to the start in good time, so far so good then, my final pack weight was 7.3kgs

With the taxi arriving on time I was on my way, it’s always a funny conversation with a taxi drive on the way to races when they ask you “what are you up to today” ?, lets just say he was a bit shocked by what I told him.

I arrived at the Thames Barrier just after 8am and registration was already open, I wanted to arrive there early as time seems to fly at registration, I was one of the first ones there and finally I met Shane the main organiser, I got my race number, map and tracker (this a a device enable friends and family to track your progress in real time minute by minute during the race), then I met Paul “The Hat” Ali who checked my race bag to see if I had all of my mandatory kit, with that done I just had to sort my feet out, I don’t tape my feet up, I just put some foot cream on them that softens them ready for the 2 pairs of socks I use, I did my final checks and I was set with plenty of time to spare, HAPPY DAYS.

I knew a few people that were racing and I managed to chat with some of them before the race start which was at 10:30.

I had cut my caffeine 3 & 1/2 weeks before and also lowered my sugar intake around the same time so when I took any caffeine or sugar during the race it would have a greater effect on me.

I decided not to have a coffee before the start which in hindsight was probably a bad decision as you will fine out later on.

It was getting close to 10:30 and there was a race briefing where Shane went over the rules and any possible diversions during the race, there was another race starting at 10:30, the T100 which was from the Thames Barrier to Streatley, also self supported, so I knew there maybe people going off a bit quicker than the ones in the T184.

Before the briefing I met a fellow runner Matt Beaven and his wife Louise, Matt looked very chilled out as he was still wearing his jeans with only 25 mins till the start, we spoke for a bit and it seemed we were both aiming for the same finishing time of 55hrs (or much less if all goes to plan for me), so we decided at the start to stick together at least for the first 2 checkpoints and see how things went from there.

So with 10:30 nearly here it was time to head to the river side, I never seem too go to the front in races not to sure why, lack of confident ? or just the fact that this is a bloody long way and 5-10 meters isn’t really going to change much in advantage terms.

We started a little later at 10:35 and the sun was shining which was nice, the starting pace was nice and easy, I told Matt about my plan for the first part of the course, it was to run for 1hr then walk for 5mins, he was good with that plan and we stuck to it, interestingly enough I had Reeced the course in London many times as I live here……but on the South side, I only realised the race route crossed to the North side of the river going through Greenwich foot tunnel 2 weeks before hand, A route that in all my years of living in london I had never run before, well that’s all part of the fun isn’t it, most of the runners where still together at this point anyway so if you went off course it wasn’t a big deal,

We headed through the Isle Of Dogs and through Wapping and Limehouse before hitting Tower Bridge, here to the 1st water station was the busiest section of the route as it was full of tourists who always seem to get in the way especially now there are bloody selfie sticks everywhere.We seemed to negotiate this part pretty well though and with no dramas, we kept the run 1hr walk 5 mins plan and as the temperature was pretty warm we were happy with this, we got to the first water-station/checkpoint (13 miles) and I filled up my water bottles which were both empty and had been about a mile before hand so It was well timed, In the first running of this event they didn’t have this first water stop, the first water stop then wasn’t until 26 miles so it was a great idea and a sensible to have one earlier on.

We headed out and continued our nice steady pace, I took advantage to go to the next pub to use their loo, as finding places to go in London are challenging.

About a mile or so after the first aid station my legs were on fire and I thought to myself, How on earth are you going to run 184 miles when your legs are like this at 17 miles and how have you even run races of 100 miles before ?, I know this feeling very well and it seems to crop up in everyone of my races, you see the first section of any race for me isn’t good but I know that past the half way point I seem to get stronger and that pushed me on knowing that.

We continued on towards the next water-station/checkpoint and I decided that this would be a great time for the first proper intake of food, we both agreed that we would only spend 10-15 mins there, as it was a warm day I thought it important to take fluid on as in the form of “little and often” and the same with the food, this was to not get bloated as that would make running very uncomfortable.

I made sure I left with full water bottles and carried on the way, at this point I asked Matt if he was happy to change our plan to a 50min run/5 min walk and he was good with that, as I was very warm indeed, plus the first section up until Teddington Lock was all on pavement.

I was pretty impressed with the signage on this section and we didn’t have to use the map once.

Matt was feeling a bit low at this point and I talked to him for a while with words of encouragement, you see In all of my races I have always run by myself and never used a pacer or had any crew helping me and in training its the same, I’m a very social guy but if I run with someone else they have to be aware that I will have to go on if they slow me down or if they go too quick I will back off, we both agreed that earlier on, I spoke to Matt again just before we got to Richmond Bridge and  apologised to him but I had to go on alone, he was ok with this and ran about 20 or so meters behind me until Marble Hill Park where he caught me up, we entered the town of Twickenham which is where I grew up and lived there until 2002, it was there that I saw my Mum and Dad and that was a wonderful surprise, they both are very supportive of my racing even if they do think I am completely bonkers.

I caught up with Matt again just before Teddington Lock were I made a stop to fill up on water, as did Matt, we ran together again until just before Hampton Court were I could see Matt was dropping off the pace again so I wished him all the best and I ran on ahead, at this point a chap from Summit Fever media who were there to cover the race for a film, started to interview me, pretty random during a race but I’m always up for a chat.

I was relieved to be off the concrete at this point and be on much softer ground and now I was in The Zone, it normally takes me around 10-15 miles to get into my running during a ultra but since I have been doing more speed training that distance had come down to about 7 miles, but then again each race if different and this race proved that as with in the first 17 miles my legs were on fire as I have already mentioned.

I was in my zone, in my element and running free, this is what I love to do and it is at times like this were I feel amazing and in complete zen, some peoples reaction when I explain this to them is pretty funny, ” how can you be in zen ?, relaxation when running ? Don’t you get board ?, what do you think about ?”, These are probably some of the most common questions you would ask an ultra runner, I always reply, to get relaxation when running you have to enjoy it first, build up a base fitness and just lose yourself in your session or race how ever long it may be, I don’t get board either, I never listen to music when I’m running as I enjoy the noises around me, this is especially the case when I’m deep in the countryside and at one with nature, I would find music would ruin the sheer bliss of this element, I think about many things while I’m running, normally all of my life issues in the first section of a run, then they come back to me one at a time during the rest of it, along with long sections of complete blankness, something of which is pretty hard to explain but my mind during this time is pretty much empty and I’m on autopilot, I have broken down a few times in some of my recent training runs because of the personal issues I’m going through in my life right now, but knowing how much this race means to me and the reasons I compete in them in the first place I have powered through, they have also  been very emotional indeed when I have finished them, I also knew this race would at some point be an emotional journey too, with 184 miles to cover I had a lot of time to think about things and too assess them, I’m a true believer that races are run with your body and your mind, if at one instance your body is not willing your mind will get you there and vice versa, never under estimate the power of the mind, it all sounds very spiritual and in a way I suppose it is, but it will get you to that finish line and to a better place.

The week running up to race week I had started to compile a list of all of the water station/checkpoints and locks that were on the course, the distances between them and the facilities at each lock (water, toilets) I also had 3 columns with 3 estimated finishing times, 55hrs, 65hrs and 80hrs, that last one was my Mums idea.


This was a very tricky process as you had to work out what time you would arrive at each section by finding the minute/mile pace for each estimated finishing time, that multiplied by the mileage between each section then converting that into time, pretty tricky stuff, so I enlisted the help of my much more mathematically intelligent Mum, even for her it was a challenge, but we got there Thanks again Mum, it was great to have a plan to aim for, as I mentioned before my aim was to get sub 50hrs at least and I knew I was more than capable of this.

I was on familiar trail now as I had competed in the Centurion TP100, a 100 miler from Richmond to Oxford, also along the Thames Path, so after Teddington lock where it joined the same route I knew exactly where I was going.

As I mentioned I had run the sections before but at a different time of day, it was very odd running a section that you have run during the day when it was starts to get dark, the first night section was approaching, I love this part of the race as it’s much cooler and my pacing is still pretty good during this time too, I was slightly concerned however with my tiredness, as I was power walking along the path I fell asleep, yes while I was walking, I drifted towards the water, I was about 1/2 meter away from the waters edge when I got stung by a stinging nettle which woke me up, I realised where I was and pulled away from the water, at this point I said to myself, “right, as soon as you see the next bench lye down and put your feet up and set your alarm for 5 mins, as soon as 5 mins is up get up, splashed your face with some water and run, ok ?” “ok”, I did that and again 1 hour later, that was all the sleep I had for the entire race, I mentioned earlier I cut caffeine and sugar out of my diet about 3 1/2 weeks before hand so when I took any during the race the effect would be so much greater, I hadn’t had any coffee before the start either and that was the reason for me feeling sleepy, I had some caffeine earlier but decided that having those power naps was the right thing to do, after both of the 2 x 5 mins power naps I was wide awake, so happy days were here again.

During the race the volunteers manning each water stations would ask me, “are you ok” ?,”how are you feeling” ? “Do you want to know what position you are”?, “haven’t you not been tracking yourself on your mobile” ?, I tell you I was more in the zone during his race than during any other race I have ever done before, I have no idea why, but I would love to have that feeling back for all of my other races, I didn’t want to know my position or where anyone else was in the race, I was just so focused on moving forward, doing my own thing and keeping things a simple as possible.

From Teddington thru to Oxford things were pretty much plain sailing as I knew the course and remembered it well, my watch was loaded with the route which I had started it at the beginning

but 24hrs in to the race the battery had died..BOLLOCK (I say it like this as I’ve only got one)

I had bought a cheap Casio watch to use during times like this so I still knew if I was on track for a good time.

I only looked at my watch in the early stages of a race as to not go off too fast, I think a lot of people get a bit carried away In that moment of the race start and set off at a very fast pace and maybe cannot keep that same pace for the remainder of the race.

The great thing is my memory is really good when I have been to places before, I can remember the exact turnings to take and when to take them, all was going really well and I was happy with my progress, my nutrition and hydration were all working really well, when I was even the slightest bit hungry I would eat and before I was thirsty I would drink, the little and often approach was working a treat.

I was really happy about this because I have a very big event planned for 2017 and it’s just under double the distance of this one, so knowing that my nutrition/hydration is sorted makes me very happy indeed, I always think that is the hardest part of any race for a lot of people, you see this is the first race I had done where you carry all of your food with you, so you have to know how much to take, what you like and roughly when you plan to eat it, of course it can change depending on how your feeling at any particular time during the race, so if you plan too much and unexpected happens in the race then that is your whole plan out the window, I think you have to go with how your feeling at the time, take what food works for you and if possible test out the food during a few of your pre race training sessions so you’ll know what works for you and your stomach, I stuck with savoury foods as I tend to eat more of this and it also agrees with my stomach more than if I eat a lot of gels and shop bought energy bars, these tend to upset my stomach and I also tend to eat less when I eat sweeter foods during races, during most of my 100 mile races I burn around 7000-8000 calories and it is very hard indeed to put that back on during a race, I think I eat between 2000 to 2500 calories during a race, I’m finding the more races I do my nutrition is getting better as I have guineapigged quite of few ways of eating and trying different food options, some people think I’m crazy trying out things during races and not training sessions, I do of course try them in training sessions but then again when are you ever going to simulate a 100 mile race during a training session, my kit choice however has sometimes only had its first outing during this  race, crazy again you think, well not if you research to product carefully, I have done this quite a few times and there has never been any problems, in fact for this race I had never done a training run with the race pack I was going to use, I had no real issues with its and those that arose during the race were just pimped and sorted straight away, I used Ultimate Direction bottles with the pack too as I prefer them to the collapsable Salomon ones, I have heard a lot of people do this kind of thing as it is hard to find a pack that is 100% perfect for you.

So up until Oxford all had gone well and I was happy with my progress, it was this section that I had not covered on any training runs, so it was completely unchartered territory for me, the maps we got given at registration were Harvey maps, they had been mandatory kit for most of my previous 100 mile races but because the course was fully marked with red tape on those, I had never used them, as we only got given them race morning we had no time to pimp them with additional information to assist us during the race, you would think is would be pretty simple to follow the Thames Path and you would think you would just have to follow the Thames the whole way from start to finish, right ? Wrong !, very wrong !, you see even in the first 26 miles the path goes away from the Thames and after that even more so, as I mentioned before there are of course the Thames Paths signs to follow and the acorn symbols that are the markings of a national trail, these are sometimes very hard to spot though and you have to be so on the ball, sometimes they have even been pointing in the other direction from what they should be and sometimes the plastic acorn signs have been broken or even taken off the wooden post which makes it even harder to follow the correct route, but that’s all part of the fun right ?

AT 168 MILES

Normally I would be happy and just go with this but I was at times getting pretty frustrated and cursing at the map as it didn’t mirror the route properly GGGGRRRR, I had trained so bloody hard for this event and a simple matter of signage and the map were the things that was stopping me from going onwards 100%, that kind of thing gets me pissed, you see when I finish a race I like knowing that I have left everything on the trail, meaning that I couldn’t have given any more, but in this case if your not sure of the route it puts you in a tricky situation as you don’t want to waste any energy going the wrong way, so you have a lot of excess energy that could be used more productively, but each race is a learning curve, so you take that experience and move on.

I used a very different strategy in this section by which as soon as I worked out the correct route I would go at a very good/strong pace, (7-7 1/2 min/miles) this would work really well as it kept me on a more positive edge, There where some sections however that would look competed identical from ones that I thought I have covered already, the gates even looked the same and this is were you become unsure that this was the correct way to go, as I’m writing this report as hindsight is a wonderful thing I am kind of finding this funny, but at the time it can tell you at first I was laughing but further on I was not, another thing about this section is that the Thames is pretty much non-existent and would just be a dried out river bed, mmmm so much for just follow the water then.

Lots of this section was pretty thick we heavy grass and reeds which were very wet from the rain that had come the previous night and the last few days, this didn’t worry me as my feet were in good shape, I had major issue with them in 2013/2013 but since going to Pro Feet in Fulham and being fitted with the correct shoes and insoles, thankfully this issues have slowly fazed out which has probably been the best news in my ultra running life since I took it up in 2012

THANK YOU AGAIN PRO FEET!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You see if your feet are wet for a long period of time you can get what’s called trench foot, very similar to what happens to your skin if you stay in the bath for too long, it becomes shrivelled and this can be very painful indeed and can make your skin very tender, one of the best bits of advice my coach has taught me so far is, if your feet don’t hurt don’t touch them.

As I continued on my way I was constantly checking the route and making sure I was on the right path, it was really hard as the signage was so sh*t and I kept getting lost, eventually I found the next two checkpoints and that is of course very comforting, with each checkpoint apart from the first 2 were I was pretty much in and out within about 3-5 mins, I would fill my water bottles up, drink a little more and have a quick chat with the volunteers, then I was off, as there were so many locks with drinking water taps on the route where you could fill up your water bottles, I didn’t have to spend valuable time at the designated water stations.

The weather continued to be nice and overcast which for me is perfect running weather as it’s not too hot and not too cold.

I eventually arrived at the town of Kemble where a pub called the Thames Head is, this is where the event crew were based so I was closer to the finish, however it wasn’t that simple as the maps were not as detailed as one would like, this made it harder when you got to the town sections.

I must have tried to find the correct route for about 10-15 mins, I  made my way in what I thought was the correct direction and found the Thames Head pub and the railway bridge that was apparently next to the field, I ran through it to get to the field with the finishing stone in it.

After going the wrong way a number of times I found the correct path and crossed the railway line and found the field that was before THE finishing one, yippee at last !!!!!,I met one of the race volunteers who said “well done, your nearly there, how are you feeling ?”, I remember just saying,  “hey, I’m ok thanks, just a bit pissed about the navigation side of things but hey, there’s always next time to make it the perfect race”, so I entered the final field, saw the finishing stone, there were a number of people that had come to the finish, I was still running strong and I reached out and touch the stone…YES YES YES..I’D DONE IT.

I do remember the first thing I thought about when touching the stone was, How I could I go quicker next time and how would you do a double version of this race, one for the future for sure.

I’m also pretty sure that me and Shane (race organiser) where discussing this and the rule of it.

 

Conclusion

You would think what with getting a 2nd place and a time of around 55hrs I would be happy, right,?

Not really, when I finish a race I like knowing that I could not have given any more and that I have left everything on the trail, in the case of this race, there where too many times In my opinion after Oxford where I was standing still and trying to figure out the correct route.The next time I compete in this race the only thing I would do differently would be to start my Suunto watch at the section just past the Oxford checkpoint, apart from that everything went perfectly, yes there where a few tweaks I made to the race pack but that was it.

STATS

HERE IS A LINK TO A LITTLE VIDEO OF THE RACE http://tseriesracing.com/video/

HERE IS A LINK TO THE ORGANISERS RACE REPORT http://tseriesracing.com/2015-t100-t184-challenge-reports/

I would like the thank all of the volunteers that made this race possible an the Shane and Paul for organising it, Also a BIG THANK YOU all so much for all of your messages of support before, during and after the race, as soon as I turned my phone on in the pub after it went crazy.

And of course and massive THANK YOU to my marvellous coach Mimi Anderson.

Please remember the main reason I compete in these gruelling events Is to raise awareness for bustinyourballs.org, a testicular cancer awareness website I set up after beating the illness myself in 2005, when I was originally diagnosed with my chances of survival being less than 5%, so I hope competing in these events inspires patients that are going through the illness to realise there is a light at the end if the tunnel and to not lose hope and to always think positive and never never give up.

Next up for me is the Centurion autumn 100 on the 17th October

Thames Path 100

Date: 2nd May 2015

Location Thames Path

Assent: 900ft

Navigation: Fully marked course by organisers and Thames path signs

Distance: 100 miles

Time Limit: 28hrs

Well this was the second time I have competed in this event, I did it year see race report here

I was not best pleased with my performance last year and so I wanted to come back to prove to myself that I could do a lot better.

To me this was my first big race of the year, I have competed In two others but this is the first 100 miler so it is a “A race” for sure.

The preparation Since my last event has been good, just tapering and getting my head strong and into the zone for this race.

The Thames Path is a race that a lot of people under estimate I think, it is pretty much a flat course but there are a few parts beyond 50 miles that can catch you out,  also the surface is all very dependent on the weather which can make it hard to run on,  with some of the paths very narrow where you have to  concentrate fully and not drift off and being a flat-ish course you have to think about your walking breaks where as on a hilly course you tent to walk the uphills, a lot of people tend to go off too fast & this then catches them up later on.

Well as the race started in Richmond I just had to get a train the morning of the race which is perfect, so I arrived with plenty of time to spare and was greeted by Gemma “WR  women’s 50km treadmill” Carter and we chatted for a bit and then she was given the evil eye by Nici Griffin to get back to her volunteering role, “sorry Nici & and sorry Gemma if I got you in trouble. ha ha.

So with mandatory kit check done, the waiver signed and the number handed over it was time to do my last bits of prep and just chill and chat to the other runners that I knew through Facebook and other races.

My coach Mimi Anderson was also competing in this race and this was the first time where we would be running in the same event, it is all very marvelous, making this race even more special.

So with the race briefing done by the Wonderfull race director James Elson.

IT WAS TIME

10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and we’re off

My rule of thumb in these races is to not go off too fast and take the first 20 miles nice and easy, so I set my watch to show only the min/miles as not to go too quick in the beginning and then pay hard for it later on, my aim was to keep to around 9 m/m for the first section (25miles) and then take it from there, however in the first 10 or so miles I had to go to the loo (number 1) about 8 or 9 times which is odd as this has never happened in a race, after 10 miles I was feeling ok and good until around 26 miles where I was sick and then up until mile 34 I was sick another 4 times.

Some people say that you feel better after your sick but unfortunately that’s was not the case for me, so after mile 34 things seemed to have settled down a bit so that allowed me to get some good miles in and thinking that I just needed to get to Henley which is just past the half way point and is where my races normally get better and I become stronger, this is why I have been working really hard to improve my speed work over the winter, so that the first half of the race goes well , as you see in all my races last year the first half didn’t go too well at all, so I was hoping with all the winter miles both halves would work together and I would have the perfect race…mmm this was not it..

So I managed to get to Henley where I met quite a few runners I knew,  I only spent 5-8 mins there and I was out, there are certain parts of the course where you can have drop bags containing what ever you think you may need at that point of the race, they are at mile 52 and at mile 75, I chose not to have any and carried everything with me including some food, the reason for this was my next 2 races are unsupported and you have to carry quite a bit of weight and I thought it would be more sensible  to trial this in a race situation rather than in a training one, as the time you carry the weight on your back is crucial,my pack weighed about 4kg, that’s about 3kg more than I have raced with before.

About 4 or so miles after I left Henley, I phoned a very good friend of mine Dede Nazareth, this ended up being the perfect person to call and worked as great mid race motivation, after our wonderful chat I was ready to face the night demons head on!!

At this time I noticed my Mum had been texting me since mile 26 letting me know how I was doing.

This was a real surprise as I normally have my phone off during races due to all the messages I receive draining the battery,but this was a rare occasion and the first time during any race I have called anyone.

So I was in the zone and this was about 8pm, this part of the race is hard for many runners I have spoken to before as you can get quite lonely out there on your own, I personally love it, apart from the light of your head torch it’s completely dark but in the distance behind and In front of you there are flickers of other head torches, it’s really quite a cool and exciting part of the race, my stomach seemed to be ok, although I was trying really hard to burp and was feeling gassy like you do when you drink fizzy drinks or lots of water, but nothing happened..ahhhhh, this went on…for…well you will find out soon enough. HA HA

So with my tummy playing tricks and me knowing that this was my strongest section of the race, it was going to be a fun 2nd half..that’s for sure.

The weather started off really nice and overcast with a nice gentle wind and pretty much stayed like this until the night section when the rain started to fall, this always makes it more fun and you really see what people are made of when the weather turns sour, some people can’t stand it and quit, others relish the challenge and use it to their advantage, I am so in the latter, I LOVE CHALLENGES.

So as it turned dark I was still pretty warm, I was happy with my pace and my mind was in a good place, there was nothing that was going to stop me getting that sub 24hr buckle.

My nutrition for this race for pretty simple, I carried a few bits of food with me like a number of gels, coconut bars and homemade burritos that I kept in my race pack and when I got to the aid stations I used a sandwich bag to take a few extra things.

I tend to eat and drink little and often which has worked really well in most of my other races.

After mile 70 I couldn’t eat or drink anything however hard I tried and when I tried to run my stomach wasn’t helping at all, I  just felt like I was going to be sick all the way to the finish, So with this happening I knew I was going to have to pretty much power walk the last 35 miles, “35 miles ?” I hear you say, your at mile 70 ?, Well you see I went off course twice earlier on and when I did I didn’t remember that part from last year so I turned back, some others were ahead and also going in the wrong direction and I hallowed to let them know…(all those times I watched Crocodile Dundee have paid off). So having run an additional 5 miles I was still ok for a good time I think, I have been doing a lot of power walking in training, you do get some funny looks though but this is were is pays off and you can actually move faster than some people are running.

In lasts year race It all fell apart in the last 50 miles and the last 2 or so were just crazy,

From last years race report.

Got to checkpoint at 95 miles and was feeling so so dizzy and could not speak properly and the tip of my tongue was tingling  by this point I just drenched myself in water to cool off, I ended up walking the last 5 miles so so slowly and had to sit down a few times as I was so lightheaded, A lady that was running on the path just past the 95 mile checkpoint saw me sitting down and started chatting to me asking if I was ok and she said that there was only about 2 1/2 miles left until the finish, I was so out of it by this point and seeing stars…Not a good thing, she started walking with me and asking if I was OK for fluid, Took my drink bottle and ran ahead to the lock and brought me back some more water…How nice is that, She said that she was in awe and today my have inspired her to compete in an ultramarathon one day .

I want to say a big thank you to her,Thank you Emma Carter and to Matt as well for walking some of the way with me too.

So before the race  we had made a deal that I would let Emma know when I was around 8 miles or so from the finish,  she would then come and meet me at roughly the same point where she found me last year and we would run the last section together.

So I texted her at around 88 miles and got to around 3 miles or so from the finish and saw her running towards me…YIIIPPPPEEEE it was so nice to see her again and I was pleased to be in a lot better state than I was last year, So we chatted for the last section and then she let me run down the finishing shoot alone…THANK YOU AGAIN EMMA X

WOW WOW WOW what a race and a very challenging one too

I really want to thank all of the volunteers that give up their time to ensure that the event ran smoothy…YOU GUYS/GIRLS ROCK…and of course the wonderful and very cheeky Nici Giffin and her amazing hugs

Race stats

Distance covered taking into account the wrong turns: 105.5 miles

Last years time: 26:22:35

This years time: 22:20:37

Last years placing: 125

This years placing: 49

This year runners started: 265

This year runners finished: 182

This year runners dropped: 82

Very help with the result considering the issues during the race plus I have been beat my previous 100 miler PB by just over 13 minutes.

Please don’t forget that the  reason why i compete in these event is for a number of reasons.
  • To raise awareness for testicular cancer
  • To raise awareness for it’s early detection
  • To inspire all cancer patients that there is light at the end of the tunnel
  • To inspire people to get into sport and to start to be more active

TOO SEE ALL THE OTHER RACES I HAVE COMPETED IN CLICK HERE

Manchester Marathon

 

This event was only my second ever competitive marathon, my first was in London 2012, even since then I have been hooked on competing in much longer distance events.

Most my training is aimed at ultra distance events and there is not a great deal of speed work involved  but over the winter months I have been doing at lot more speed work session as I wanted to improve my times in the first section of my ultras as this was always the hardest and slowest part for me, you see I seemed to get a lot stronger after the 50 mile point in all of my 100 milers and clock a quicker time for the second 50 compared to the first..

So this event was pretty much a test event to see where i was at with regards to timing and it was also part part of a standard training week in which I had already done 29 miles consisting hill reps, easy runs and a 8 and 10 miler so I was not 100 % rested as as most people would be for this event.

So the prep for this race was pretty standard, shoes,socks, shorts,shirt, bodyglide and gels, the most simplest kit check I have done in while.

So I got the train from London Euston To Manchester and headed for the YHA which was £30 for the night and was very good for that and very secure too.Once there I checked in sorted my things for race day and when down to sort my dinner out as it was about 8pm and I needed to get to bed pretty soon for a early start.

So race morning I made breakfast and was surprised how much I ate, you see I normally nervous before races but I seemed to be ok for this one.

While I was having breakfast I met a lady called Sonja and she mentioned that this was going to be her first ever marathon and she was really nervous.

I spoke to her gave what advice I thought would be good and she seemed to be ok after we got to the race village.

So arrived at the race village and may the last min bits of prep and give my bag in for collection afterwards.

I made my way to the race section that I was in after getting a foil cover as I was a bit chilly.

So the race got underway and I was aiming to go the the distance at best pace and see how long I could hold it for.

It was pretty good for the majority of the race, by about mile 20 I felt a bit of tightness in my quad muscle and had I stop a few times to stretch it out, I had done a stretching routine before hand as I do with all of my races, But it just one of those things.

I was drinking little and often as it was quite a warm day and I was popping my gels at good distances apart, so I was happy with that, All in all it was a good solid performance and I was happy with the time

 

 

Race stats:

Runners: 12000+

Placing: 1678

Time: 3:24:54

Hardmoors 55

Date: 21st March 2015

Location:: 55 miles

Assent: Total climb of  2700m plus

Navigation: Fully marked course by organisers and Cleveland way

Time Limit: 15hrs

This race is one that I have never done before and have always seen many of my running friends comments on how great this event is, so as with every year I compete in a 50 miler early on to see were I am fitness wise and to test any new kit that I will be using in my other races throughout the year.

So I went into this race having not done much planning of the course at all as I’ve been wrapped up in prep about some of my other race later on in the year, namely the Grand union Canal race and the T184 both of which are unsupported apart from water, So with this race I was going completely unsupported apart from water.

In the run up to this event I have bought a few new bit of kit and have tested them out on a few training runs and was pretty happy with them, water proof trouser and jacket and a new race pack with soft bottles (something that I have never used before)

So I  headed to meet up with fellow runner Ann-Marie who offered to drive me to and from race in exchange for petrol money, this was great as I had not booked train tickets and they were very expensive.

So we headed to the Yorkshire moors and to our B&B’s as soon a way at my B&B I Sorted my kit out ready for race morning as there never seems to be enough time then and then headed in the village to buy some soya milk for breakfast and see if there was anything i could eat locally (I’m vegan), there a was hotel there with a restaurant which were very helpful and made me something off the menu which was really kind of them, so with food sorted I headed back to the B&B for and early night. I couldn’t seem to get to sleep though as the floors in the B&B were very thin and the kitchen  door kept banging and there was a dripping sound ahhhhhhh. WHY ME..AHHHH, anyhow I managed to get some sleep and woke up for 5am ready for breakfast and then a quick shower.

The coach was ready to leave at 6am and took us to the start and the registration, with all the last min things done we all headed to the start line…probably a rookie error but I was way way too near the back of the of the pack ,I wish i had made my way closer to the front because the first few miles of the course were along very narrow path and it was very hard indeed to pass anyone..hey ho..it not as if its a short run this..The course it so lovely and passed through so of the most stunning scenery I have seen in races, each part is so different from the last and that makes the whole event so much more enjoyable, it is a vey hills course with over 2700m of elevation and most of it being on hard stoney ground which can be very difficult to find your footing and the same thing coming down the descents too, I have done a lot of training on steps and was very confident  on these sections and came down some decent a very good speed, the one thing that upset me and my rhythm during the event was my right foot again, as with my first event last year my feet were a pain and I pretty much sorted them for 3 out of 4 of my 100 milers last year they were pain free due to me going to pro feet in Fulham and them sorting out the right insoles and shoes for me..

So I was not a happy bunny, this event however was not an A race and it was not a high priority on my racing calendar for this year, So Im happy that these errors accrued now and not in any of my next few race all of which are A races.

The other issue that came up during this event was the new race pack I had bought just over a month or so ago before.

I was not happy is as the hydration system has a huge floor in it’s design.

Well the main aim with each of the event is to complete each one and learn from it and carry that forward to the next event

Race stats

Runner: 294

placing: 164

Drops: 25

Time : 12:45:16

Winter 100

Date: August 2014

Location:: 100 miles

Assent: Total climb of  ?????? feet

Navigation: Fully marked course by organisers and Ridgeway and Thame Path signs

Time Limit: 30hrs

This was the final race in the Centurion Grand Slam, this means completing each of the following100 miler within their time limits (28-30hrs) (Thames Path 100, SDW 100, NDW 100 & Winter 100)

This race was a little different from the others in that you came back to it was was and out and back course where you came back to the same base after each 25 mile spurt, which means you only needed one drop bag. I found this style of racing so much more different than a point to point race where you have to get from A to B and have your drop bags at different points along the course, putting in there what you think you may need at that point of the race. The drop out temptation I feel is harder in this kind of  race as you can choose to drop whenever you come into the main base, where as in a point to point trace you have to stay at the aid station until you get a lift back to the finish..

Well the morning of the race was pretty standard as It was my homemade power muesli with coconut milk and soya milk mixed up (can’t tell you the recipe though)..

The YHA I was staying in was very close to the start and I only had to walk over the Bridge to get there, once there you have all of you kit checked and there is a chance to catch up with fellow runner…they are all such a positive bunch of people.

So James of Centurion give us a  race briefing and after we all head down to the start..

The race as always for me get going about 8 miles in when my breakfast has settled down…I seem to take it really easy at the beginning as you have to keep reminding yourself…it is a pretty long way…The course as I mentioned earlier is 4 x 25 mile sections, the section are split between the Thames path and the Ridgeway national trails all coming back to the base at Goring which is stunning village, so i was going a a nice steady as i have not done much or recceing of the course apart from the Thames path sections which I covered in the TP100 earlier in the year..

The Thames path is pretty much flat with some part rolling that can catch you out if you unaware there coming up.and the Ridgeway completely different in that its very rolling and all in trail which all is all added a bit of variety to the whole event.

The unique thing about this race is that get to see the race leaders and all the people who are ahead of you and that give you a much better understanding of where you are i the race and also gives you motivations to catch them..

As with most of my races, I seem to really get going after the 50 mile point and start doing pretty good min miles

Throughout the race my nutrition was pretty spot on, I had made some homemade burritos and had test them in training as to not shock my system on race day and they worked a treat, they are a little on the heavy side to carry but they really fill you for a decent amount of time.

My feet during the race where not an issue at all and that is such a relief  as you don’t really have to think about them, which give you the option to let your mind wander, which happens quite a lot when I run, I really get lost in the moment. I love the fact the during runs you completely lose yourself and forget all of life’s worries is really nice.

Overall I was very happy with the race and very happy to have completed the Centurion Grand Slam in 14th place out of 41 people that started.

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STATS:

Runner: 202

placing: 50

Drops: 57

Time : 24:50:56

THE REASONS WHY I RUN

A lot has happened in my life in the last 10 years. In November 2004 I was diagnosed with stage IV testicular cancer. After high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant I had my major cancer operation on 7/7/2005, the same day as the London bombings, so that day was extremely emotional for me in more ways than one.
A month after I started back at work in October 05 I was told the company I was working for was being taken over and I was no longer needed, So I lost my job.
So there you have it…. within 2 years I was told that I was going to die and I lost my job.

So what next??

Well I won’t lie, the next 2 years were a real struggle.  Finding a job in catering was really tough with people knowing what I’d been through.
By 2006 I had found a solid full time position in a completely different part of the hospitality industry.
But then within the first 2-3 months of working there I had to end a long term relationship with my girlfriend through being cheated on.

So what next??

Well, finding a new place to live while still settling down in a new job in a high tension environment was a challenge.
I went to live with my sister for a bit while I was finding somewhere more permanent.
The next year or so was spent getting my life back in order and getting over what had happened in a very short space of time.
By 2009 I had my own place and had had a steady full time job since 2006, Things were going ok, but there was something missing in my life, something I wanted back, something I had missed from my teenage years.

IT WAS SPORT !!!!!!!

That one single word means so much to me, It means life, freedom, community, meditation, zen, excitement, determination, loyalty.
So I started to run, small distances to start with just to ease back into it as I was not that fit and my lifestyle wasn’t great, plus I was working 60+ hour weeks and not eating right,
There needed to be a change and running helped me realise this.

When I started to get back into an active lifestyle it was hard, my diet was not great and I used to go to club/bars a lot as I worked in them as well.  I was in a bad place after my break-up, my whole life needed a change,
My first run was a real struggle and it was only  5k around the local park in London!  I was sweating loads, breathing heavily. My god was this going to be hard or what! But I loved being outside, away from the drink etc, it was a nice change, a really eye opener.

So I had found what had been missing from my life and I was so happy that I was back and involved in it.
I had got my sports Mojo back and was loving being free in the great outdoors.

In 2009 I entered my first event which was a duathlon, a run, cycle, run event where you run 10k then jump on a bike, cycle 20k then run 5k, one after the other without stops. That was very interesting. To start with, the bike course was a looped course and  I was concentrating so much on my speed and pedal stroke and trying to avoid falling off at the dead turnaround points  and  it was pouring down with rain so I ended up doing 2 laps too many and ended up in the bottom quarter of the finishers.  But a finish is a finish, something I would come to realise is a bigger achievement than I had once thought!

In 2010 I thought of setting up my own website to raise awareness of testicular cancer.  I wanted to try and help people understand the illness better and make it less confusing and try and push home the importance of self- checking on a regular basis.
I had found a mission in my life. I wanted to make people stand up and  take note what I was doing and why.
I made a promise to myself to dedicate my spare time to raising the awareness of testicular cancer and to help motivate people to get involved in sport.

Everyone goes through issues and problems in their life.  It is how we choose to deal with them that makes us who we really are and what we are truly made of.  Life can be as stressful or as easy as you want it to be.  Ok let’s say you have a big problem in your life at the moment.  Is it really as big as you’re making it out to be? If you try looking at it from a different angle it may not seem as bad . Be happy with what you have and make the best and the most of it. Stop complaining about what you haven’t got and be thankful for what you have got.

I find that when I do exercise, especially running in the great outdoors, I completely lose myself and my mind . I will think about things that are going on in my life for the first part of the run, then I go into some sort of zone and then my mind is completely blank. It is an amazing feeling of relaxation.  Like meditation if you like.  Even if I’m going at a steady pace (7:5-8 m/m) my mind is  free and that is for me one of the best feelings in the world,  Then if I have issues in my life they come back during the run at a later point and they are much easier to think about and I have a clearer focus on how to deal with them.

Living in the city has it’s perks but I’m truly happy when I’m out of the big smoke somewhere like the South Downs, North Downs, and generally any country trail. There are great parks in London too like Richmond Park and Hampstead Heath where you can feel like you are in the country away from the city bustle.  My favorite places to run though are the Lake District, Peak district or the Brecon Beacons.

A lot of my friends ask me “How do you find running relaxing ? I get knackered in the first 1-2 miles!”, I tell them that firstly It takes time to build up what’s called a base fitness.  Nothing happens overnight.  Just be patient and It will come with time. It all depends how long your fuse is.

I hear a lot of people say “I really don’t have the time”,  or “I’m just too busy with other things”..

OK let’s work this out……

How many hours are there in one whole week?
Answer 168 hours.

Now work out how many hours you spend doing the following ….
Sleeping
Working
Eating
Commuting
Watching TV
Time with family/partner/kids etc
Socialising (this includes social networking)

Now you have a time for each item, total it up and then take it away from 168. That is your spare time!  Time that you could be exercising!

GO DO IT!!!!

NORTH DOWNS WAY 100

 

 

Date: August 2014

Location: North Downs Way

Distance: 102.5 miles

Assent: Total climb of 9,930 feet and overall elevation change of 22,000 feet.

Navigation: Fully marked course by organisers and NDW signs

Time Limit: 30hrs

This is the 3rd race in the Centurion grand slam which consists of the Thames Path 100, South Down Way 100, North Downs Way 100 and the Winter 100 all within the same year.

Since that last race SDW100 my recovery and my training have gone really well and I have been really concentrating on step sessions at box hill and the surrounding areas as the NDW has a large amount of elevation change and multiple section where there are steps, steps and more steps..

Also my feet during my training runs have been a of very little concern and have made things a lot easier to deal with.

So leading up to the race things have been good, Another race organiser and good friend Karl Jackson of Hell On The Humber (6 or 12 or 24 hour race over the Humber Bridge) message me and asked if I would send him a logo for BYB so he could add it to the HOTH finisher t-shirt, WOW THAT GREAT NEWS, Such great coverage for the site, Thank you again Karl.

So things in life are great leading up to race day, no injuries, the websites future is looking bright and training has gone well.

One interesting thing happened on the way to one of my step sessions though, I finished work and headed to Waterloo and hoping to catch the train to Dorking and then walk to The stepping stones car park and then up to the steps at Box Hill, I arrived at Waterloo and the training to Dorking were seriously delayed so I had to catch a train to Leatherhead and walk from their, So after pretty much failing asleep on the train I got to Leatherhead and decided to run to Box Hill as it was about 5-6 mile it would be a nice warm up for the session ahead plus it was a little cold.

I was running down the cycle path which is about 5-6 meters from the busy dual carriageway and about 5 mins after I had eaten a banana, I heard as loud noise and saw a car tumbling towards me I step 1 meter to my right and in went straight passed me, MY GOD THAT WAS CLOSE..

The pic below was the cash then happen and the car the could of killed me.

PICTURE OF CAR CRASH ON WAY TO BOX HILL

So…race week approached and I had decided to buy some race socks called Injinji that I had heard were great socks and nice to wear underneath the Drymax socks that I already had.

I have also had a bit of advice from my Mum (retired gp) who suggested that it would be a good idea to have another insole in my shoes as to distance I was running was quite substantial, that seemed to have worked in all if my training runs and so I was happy to take that to race day.

I had not booking any accommodation anywhere near the start which is unlike me, so on race week I booked a B&B in Aldershot which was about 4 miles from the start and managed to arrange to share a taxi with a fellow competitor. RESULT !!

So a few days before I started to organise my race things and sort out what i was going to put in my drop bags…( drop bags are bag that you give in at the start that are clearly labeled by your race number  and are placed by the race organisers at mile 54 and mile 69) you choose what goes in what bag and they are then delivered to the finish.

The day before the race I headed to Waterloo Station to catch a train to Aldershot and check in to the B&B, arrived there to find out that is was more like self catering with a kitchen which was great as I’m vegan so getting food in Aldershot would have been a struggle.

So I head to my room and sorted me things and then headed to the local supermarkets to find out what they have to offer.

Got a few packets of Uncle Bens microwave packs, Linda Mccartney pies, veg and drink and then headed back to the B&B to feast on them, Got  early night as alarm was set for 3:30.

Woke up feeling good and well rested and happy with my nights sleep as I only woke up once.

So got up had a shower and then changed in my race things and did my last min prep and then headed down for breakfast homemade muesli with soya milk, bananas and orange juice.

Runner name that I met the night before who agreed to share a taxi to the start

We had both finished breakfast and were waiting for the taxi as it was booked for 5:10 and the race started at 6 and I like get there with time to spare and not rush thing that why it’s good to do a lot of sorting and organising the night before so your not wasting nervous energy.

So with registration done and kit bags checked there was a race briefing headed by James Elson the race organiser five or so Minutes after that we all headed to the start of the NDW were there was a 10 second count down 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1

This race is the hardest in the centurions running calendar, My aim was to just keep a nice steady pace throughout the race, there is a lot of elevation change and multiple steps you have to endure which was good as I have done a lot of step training at Box hill.

I made a decision before the race to wear my Garmin watch for the first 50 miles if the race as the battery only last 13.5hrs and I thought it would be better to wear in the first half rather than the second as to get a good pace going and into a good rhythm, that worked really well as I feel a I go off too fast in ultra and thus effect you for the rest of the race, the first part of the race was going well and I felt good at the pace I was going, as I was early morning when we started the race the sun was just coming up and shining though the trees with early morning mist it was a stunning picture and well worth get up for if just for the view,the first part of the race was going ok and I was happy with my progress and my nutrition was good too, the first part of the course before Box hill is a little rolling but not to challenging and then..there they are..the steps to Box hill, before this section thought you have a aid station which is nice to see as its gives you a chance to refuel ready for climb of those step… the good thing is I practiced this section so many times and knew the best side to take and the best approach..but after a 25 mile run before hand it’s another story completely.

I have my own rule when going up a hill, mountain or long steps, just look 1 meter in front of you and don’t look at the view until you get to the very top…

So the steps were tough but I overtook a few people so i was happy and when at the top I got running again as I had done it my training.

To surface of the NDW is chalky to muddy and then to grass, it completely different to SDW as it is very wooded and sheltered were the SDW is very open to all the elements and there is no were to hide, but then again the NDW is much more hilly

I prefer the NDW because it is more challenging and the hills just keep on coming..

The section after Box is a bit rolling in places…there were number of people that passed me in earlier that I notice had dropped when I got to the next aid station, i wish them all the best, refuelled and when on.

The was a key moment in the race when I began to rain really hard and from that point on you couldn’t really run at full pace while on a slope as you may take a tumble to the bottom and that maybe the end of your race, So i took it nice a steady with a safe pace.

There were some pretty steep ascents on the course even more so than Box hill and I loved them.

The last section as I remember was through a country park and then as you past the 101 mile point, (yes this race is actualy 103 miles) you get to a big field of 7 foot singing nettles which is not a pretty sight, I must a broken the 100 meter wr running throught there..VERY PAINFULL..

But all in  all a great race and please I finished

SATS

TIME: 27:29:26

PLACE: 60th

RUNNER FINISHED: 110

DROP OUTS: 71

South Downs Way 100

Date: 14th June 2014
Location: South Downs Way
Distance: 100 miles
Assent: 12700ft
Navigation: Fully marked course by organisers and SDW signs
Time Limit: 30hrs

This race will be my third ultra of 2014 and the 2nd of the Centurion Running Grand Slam, Which consists of the Thames Path 100, South Down Way 100, North Downs Way 100 and the Winter 100 all within the same year.

As you may have read in my last race report (TP100) didn’t go thats well because of issues with my feet, So since that race I have been to ProFeet in Fulham and had them look at my insoles and my running style and bought 2 new pairs of shoes, 1 for road running (short runs after work) and 1 pair of trail shoes for the majority of my training runs and races.
One of the many things I like about this shop is that when you buy a pair of shoes there that they recommend and they don’t work for you within 14 days you can exchange them for another pair (only once though), I think thats great another wise you spend endless money trying to find the right shoe for you.
So new shoes are a go and I have 2 weeks of hard training to get used to them then 2 weeks of taper then race day.
The 2 weeks of hard training went well with no problems with my feet apart from at the end of each long training run (30 miles) which was probably because there was still some inflammation left from the TP100 race.
So all was good and the race week was here, just a couple of light runs on the week running up to the race (each 5 miles).
So on the Thursday before the race I headed to Waterloo to catch the train to Winchester…
The train was delayed by 40 mins damn, during the journey an old chap sat across the walkway from me at a table and had a 1/2 bottle of wine, he was a bit shaky and I thought he’s ging to spill it on me isn’t he ?..and guess what, with in about 20 mins the whole glass had gone all over my left leg, Luckily is hadn’t gone over my my new road shoes..anyhow he apologies to which and I said
“it’s fine don’t worry about it.”, well as soon as the drink trolley arrived he ordered another 2 1/2 bottles and you never guess the chap servicing the drinks dropped about 7 empty plastic glasses over me..just not my day was it…HEY HO…so…eventually got to Winchester and headed to my accommodation for the night, which I only found out the night before was on the Hotel Inspector Returns…well it was only £35 for the night…So I arrived there and it’s seems ok, Friendly staff, Clean room…I’m not picky, as soon as I got to my room i started organising me thing ready for race day.
With all that done I headed into town to find a place to eat and found Ask an Italian restaurant chain that I have eaten in before.I’m vegan by the way so it can be hard find place to accommodate me.
The food was great and I managed to eat 2 plates of pasta and a potion of bruschetta an OJ and some water..which I might add the waitress spilt over me as I order my food…(I mean really….come on grrrrr) ha ha you had to laugh though, oh well and least it was warm out so it dried up pretty quickly.
So after that headed back to my room and tried to get some sleep, The time now is about 6:45pm and I was planning to get up at 3:45 to have my breakfast and share a cab kindly organised by an fellow runner staying in the same place.
Within about 15 min of my head hitting the pillow loud music started playing to which I was right above, My god it was loud and I didn’t feel I could do much about it because the people in the pub below were the beer drinking, Reebok classic leather wearing, England football shirt wearing people thats scare me a bit…and they were mostly guys….with shaved head…errr so I tried 2 ideas to keep the noise out..please see below

I must say that neither on them worked that well..
That music ended up finishing at 1:30am, which meant I got roughly…..sod all sleep !!!!!!!.
So 3:45 came I sorted my thing and headed down to have my homemade muesli and soya milk and got the shared taxi to the start area..
Was good to catch up with many of the other runners that I have met before at other ultras .
Last prep done and drop bags handed it.( drop bags are bag that you give in at the start that are clearly labeled by your race number  and are placed by the race organisers at mile 54 and mile 69) you choose what goes in what bag and they are then delivered to the finish.
SO race time is here 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and we’re off….for the first 20 miles or so I was feeling very heavy and I’m pretty sure that was from my large breakfast, I did see people eating pretty early in the race and it looked like breakfast, lots of bacon sandwiches going around…
After the first 20 or so miles..things started to get better bit by bit, my feet were fine with no pain at all which was good and my mind was just on the race and thinking hydrate, hydrate…
The weird thing for me in theses long distance races it that I seem to get my 2nd wind at the 50 mile point (I have know idea why) but it’s a good thing as that is where I think the race truly starts by if your having a good race you can keep going but if not you still have 50 mile to go and that is tough if your not having a good day, like I found out in the Thames Path 100, It pays to have a strong mind and focus on just finishing the race if it doesn’t go the way you’d  hoped, It maybe hard but a finish is better than a DNF in anyones book.
So I got my 2nd wind just passed the half way point I think this is me around that point

I started to feel pretty strong and was running at a good pace, I’m not too sure why it took so long to get into my stride in this race, Maybe I should try running longer races of over 100 miles as I get my 2nd wind so late on, So from this point on till about 80 miles I was ticking people off slowly and my min/mile pace was improving and I was feeling great, My hydration of which was really worried about before the was good and my nutrition good too.
From about mile 80 however the inevitable happened, My feet began to hurt and this was really upsetting as it was so close to the finish…(I know 20 mile is still along way, but considering the race is 100 it’s ok)..so my bloody feet are at it again..well as with the Thames Path I tried my very best to keep going at a gently jog but it was so painful at times it was very hard not to walk…
Since the point of TP100 where my feet began to hurt and all the training since then this was getting a bit upsetting and I knew at that point that I was in the same position again..Just finish the race, just finish the race, Then people I passed earlier started to overtake…GRRRRR, Just smile and say…”well done, good going”..
So with about 5 or so miles to go there was a chap with me who was in a similar position to me and it was nice to share the last few miles with someone who’s in the same boat as you
Check the course route HERE

Here’s the course profile

Not to happy with my time as feet were an issue again from mile 80, But a finish is finish.

Thank you all so much for your kind support and messages

RACE STATS

RUNNERS STARTED – 356

RUNNERS FINISHED – 179

RUNNERS DROPPED – 58

MY PLACING – 119

Time 25:39:17

HERE I AM AFTER I’D FINISHED WITH MY COACH MIMI ANDERSON AND MY FINISHERS BUCKLE

TO SEE ALL MY RACE REPORTS FROM MY PAST EVENTS CLICK HERE

Thames Path 100

Date: 3rd May 2014
Location: Thames path
Distance: 100 miles
Assent: 900ft
Navigation: Fully marked course by organisers and Thames Path signs
Time Limit: 28hrs

Well what can I say about the race, Firstly I want to thank you all SO MUCH for your support and kind messages and donations before and after the race, Sorry I didn’t respond after the race  I had serious Garfield eyes and could barely keep them open on the journey home, So much so I was worried when getting the train from Oxford to Paddington I would wake up again in Oxford having already gone to Paddington, Yes that sort of thing has happen to me before.

As you all may know I’ve been having issues with my feet for the last few months and have seen running specialists and a physio to try and sort out the problem, I’m going to try a completely different style of shoe in the next few weeks and hopefully this will make a difference in my next race which is in 6 weeks time (South Downs Way 100).

This race however didn’t go well at all, I started off ok and by mile 40 I was getting some serious pain in both my feet and had to switch to walking 5 miles running 2 miles until mile 85, By mile 60 I found out that I had trench foot and from there until mile 95 I was down to just a walk as the pain was so bad, Got to checkpoint at 95 miles and was feeling so so dizzy and could not speak properly and the tip of my tongue was tingling  by this point I just drenched myself in water to cool off, I ended up walking the last 5 miles so so slowly and had to sit down a few times as I was so lightheaded, A lady that was running on the path just past the 95 mile checkpoint saw me sitting down and started chatting to me asking if I was ok and she said that there was only about 2 1/2 miles left until the finish, I was so out of it by this point and seeing stars…Not a good thing, she started walking with me and asking if I was OK for fluid, Took my drink bottle and ran ahead to the lock and brought me back some more water….How nice is that, She said that she was in awe and today my have inspired her to compete in an ultramarathon one day .
I want to say a big thank you to her,Thank you Emma Carter and to Matt as well for walking some of the way with me too.

Next year I will be back with a vengeance and I’m going to knock out a much better time that’s for damn sure.

In conclusion I found the race very mentally challenging as I know that I was more then capable of completing the course in a much better time and having to walk for so much of it is very demoralizing,But one think they say in running, you run the first part of the race with your body and the second part with your mind, well this was definitely the case in this race.

My main mantra in life is quite simple , I say that with everything in life no matter what happens

NEVER NEVER GIVE UP.

RACE STATS

RUNNERS STARTED – 228

RUNNERS FINISHED – 147

RUNNERS DROPPED – 81

MY PLACING – 125

TO SEE ALL MY RACE REPORTS FROM MY PAST EVENTS CLICK HERE

SOUTH DOWN WAY 50

Date: 5th April
Location: South Downs Way
Distance: 50 miles
Assent: 4800ft
Navigation: Fully marked course by organisers and SDW signs
Time Limit: 13.5hrs

Well it’s been a while since I last competed in a race, The last One was Caesars Camp 100, Which was very tough and in harsh conditions too.
After that race I took some time out from training and was rather Ill for a while, So when I was meant to get back to training I couldn’t as I was no way near 100% so I was very frustrated, Then I began to get a constantly dull ache in my one remaining testicle and this when on for a few days, So I managed to ring my Professor and get an appointment to see one of his team.
The time that followed was a bit nerve racking as so much had happened in a good way since I had got my life back, Now having similar symptoms to what I had before, I had testicular cancer in 2004 (click here to read my story) Well like I did the first time, You just have to ride it out and deal with what ever comes at you, That’s the thing with illness there really isn’t anything you can do but just be as positive as possible and DON’T GIVE UP ON YOURSELF.

So after a number of tests (blood, ultrasound, x-ray) I was told that all seemed to be normal and that the cancer had not come back, I have a check up every 12 month where by there is a blood test and I’m checked over by my professor, But there had been a gap of about 7 months since I was last seen and I was just a bit worried I guess, I think even though I have been cancer free since July 2005, It can always come back and it’s best have it checked out and have peace of mind, Which is what I had after all the results.

So after all of that craziness, I began my winter training in the 2nd week in January, So I was already few weeks behind, But that’s life and there is nothing you can do about it.
My training had been going really well and I was getting some really good mileage in and good times too, So I was really happy with my progress.
The 7 weeks running up to this race had not been as easy, As I was going through a pretty hard time on a personal level and it was hard to deal with, Some people, Me being one of them will say that running or sport in general is great therapy for dealing with many situations in life, But even I found it pretty hard going, Whereby I was having breakdowns during my training sessions, I pushed on through to finish them, But it was hard.
My feet on the run up to this event had been a constant pain as I had been getting really bad pain on the balls of both my feet and was unsure as to why.
The week running up to the race I had planned as holiday which I greeted with open arms when It finally arrived, As I needed to get my head straight and focused.
I had two light training runs each of 4 miles and one swim session of 1.5k just to keep me ticking over and the body moving.

I had done quite a few recce’s of the course in the months running up to the race, So I was familiar with the route and what to expect on race day, My last one however I got very lost trying to get to Blackcap from Lewes, I eventually got there but it took 8 or so miles to do so, DOH,
As I’ve said In many of my race reports before I love doing events in amazing locations and this one is up there with the best of them.

So the day before the race I packed all my things together and headed to Victoria Station for my train, 1st class I might add, (for £15) bargain, The main reason begin for the plug socket for charging my iphone with it oh so good battery life….not.

I got to Worthing and head to my B&B which was in Sompting, About 20 mins walk from the start, Which Is good.

I get there and am greeted by a sheep Dog (smudge) and Izzy and Ozzy who own the property, Two really lovely people who wouldn’t look out of place on a Harley Davidson.So I get to my room and straight away notice this sign…..SEE PIC ON LEFT

OOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Now this could be a problem….

So after sorting out my things ready for the race and having a quick chat with Izzy & Ozzy I headed for the shops to buy some dinner, After a few miles walk I found a Morrisons and pretty much raided their entire salad bar (I’m vegan by the way) rice, pasta etc, 3 x large salad tubes full and a few bottles of water and I’m out of there…oh yes and bananas , You can never have to many of those.
So back to the B&B to eat, eat and eat in front of what Saturday night tv had to offer or do I opt for one of the many dvd’s that the B&B had to offer, Interview with a vampire, Should have good sleep after that :/

So race day, Woke up with a pretty bad pain in my back as the bed was very soft indeed, which is not a bad thing, Just something I’m not use too.
So after doing a few back stretches It seemed ok, So it was time to crack on with breakfast, Which was fruit granola with bananas and soya milk, Now for some reason I wasn’t feeling great, I couldn’t eat all my breakfast and so felt a bit weak which is strange as the night before I had no problem with eating 3 large helpings of pasta, rice and mixed salad.
I ate as much as I could, Got changed and got my things together, Said  my goodbyes and headed for the start.

I arrived and everything was in full swing, There were some many people there,  More so than a lot of other ultras that I have competed in.
I heard really good things about the organisers of this event and have entered all of their 100 milers this year too, Which is known as the Grand Slam, The races Include the Thames Path 100, South Downs Way 100, North Downs Way 100 and the Winter 100.
This will be the first time I have run a 50 miler, So I was treating it as a race to see where I was  fitness wise and what I had to work on with my coach, 100 mile races are what I can see rather different in the way you pace yourself, You see I normally have a pretty good pace when I’m running longer races, and my pace stays pretty consistence , So taking on a 50 miler needed a different approach I think.

I got organised near the start and headed for registration, Which is where you got given your race number and there is someone that checks you have all of the mandatory kit for the race (head torch, Survival blanket, Whistle, Thermal long sleeved top, etc). Well in the weeks running up to the event, Nici one of the organisers had been posting  random Q&A’s on their Facebook page and there have been some very funny banter about the kit list.

So to the race itself, I started of at a pretty steady pace and kept that pace going for about the first 8-10 miles by that point I was not feeling great, My legs were ok but I just couldn’t breathe 100%, Worrying I know, knowing that you can’t fill your lungs up properly, My feet felt ok, There was only a bit of pain which I wasn’t too concerned about.
So I pushed on and was drinking well and keeping a good steady pace, The weather during this race was pretty good from start to finish, It was very humid and muggy though which made it important to stay hydrated, Something which affected me in my first race last year, The Ultra Tour Of The Peak District, Where it was the hottest day of the year and I was not drinking enough at all, Which is something that ended up happening in this race too, I just didn’t drink enough in the first 35 miles and that had an effect on the rest of the race, As I was trying to make up for it in the last few aid stations and when that happens you waste more time there and you also feel very bloated with all the fluid inside you.
My feet were really causing me issues from about mile 24 and that completely effected my race, As I had to keep stopping and taking my shoes off and massaging my feet as they were in so much pain, I took a few pain killers of which I’m not one for doing so as I believe that to feel pain while running is good and then you know if your improving or not, But in this case I think it was different.
Having a pain in both your feet during a running event where they are a pretty important part of getting you to the finish is hard and this is where the mind takes over and pushes  you on, Many people say the 1st half of the race is run with your body and the 2nd half is run with your mind, So having a strong mind, Of which I think I have is very important.

I always go into a race thinking that I can do well and always have a time in mind of which to complete the course in, For this race I gave myself a realistic target of 10 hrs, This was based on the fact that my first race last year, As I’ve mentioned already didn’t go well. So I was aiming to finish by 7pm.
The aid stations during the race where absolutely amazing, I mean they where pretty much what I remember seeing at kids birthday parties, Just see the photo below for an idea.

The support on the course was really amazing too, From the volunteers to members of the public that had come out to watch, The volunteers though who as always are the main reason why these events are such a success, They were so encouraging and very helpful.

There was one couple I remember that were at most of the gates that were accessible by road, They had a motorbike, He was always eating and she was taking pictures and opening the gates for you and both cheering you on, It all made such a big difference to the day I think.

I spoke to a few people during the race and many of the competitors I spoke to said that this was there first attempt at this distance, There was also one chap, I can’t remember his name, That made me laugh a few times as we were discussing things when running and your so tired you do silly things, For example while filling up your water bottles you try to put the top of the Nunn tablets tube on the top of your water bottle instead.

Well as the race neared the final 10 or so miles I was feeling better hydration wise but my feet were not having any of it, The last section of the course off the downs is coming down  a rather fast descent t to a road which you then make your way to the streets of Eastbourne and then left after a roundabout to a path which seemed to last for eveeeeeeerrrrrrrr, Then you can just about make out the Centurion arch that is on the athletics track and as I approach the track there were lots of people there to cheer you in and all thats left is about a 300m run around the track to the finish…and then yipppppeeee, I crossed the line.

It was really great to see my parents too as they had made the trip down from Twickenham to watch at 3 different points of the race and at the finish, It was so easy to spot my dad though as he seems to wear the same beige trousers all the time.

Overall I’m not jumping for joy about the result even though I set myself a time and beat it, I knew I could have done a lot better, So the time between now and the next race will be  crucial and working on getting my feet 100%.

SEE YOU ALL THE THAMES PATH 100

Final result
STATS
314 started
301 finished
Placing: 96th
Time: 8:55:28