Running isn’t my Hobby, it’s my Passion

 



The aim of this Blog is to hopefully paint a picture of the enjoyment I get from running off road. Running is my mindfulness and really adds to my well-being. 

2017 : QE Spring Marathon, 3 Forts Challenge 27.2 miles, Race to the King Double Marathon, Purbeck Marathon, Portsmouth Coastal 50K challenge 

2018 : R.E.D. (Run every day) January for MIND, Dorchester Marathon, South Downs Marathon, Goodwood Marathon & Isle Of Wight marathon run so far.

2019 : To blog about “why” I run as well as “where” I run

Race to the King : June 22nd entered  

“Your legs achieve what your mind believes” pcm2014b

 Me in my element !!

RTTK : My first DNF but 41 miles covered

A.5

Forest Gump once famously said “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”. As I stood on the Race to the King (RTTK) start line this phrase crossed my mine.

The last six months have been a mixed bag with no races, varied training, occasional injuries and then the prospect of running from Slindon to Winchester, or at least the possibility !!

I ran RTTK in 2017 and finished in a respectable 12.06, that time clearly wasn’t realistic this year but you only live once so I decided “what the hell” lets go for it.

In the end I called time at 41.5 miles and Exton village, it was both a hard and an easy decision, in that I knew, enough was enough. The remainder of this blog charts how the day panned out. The race was emotional but most of all it was full of the great people that trail running attracts.

After a 4.45am alarm call and a 6.05am departure from Fareham train station myself, Paul, Jamie and Mark were taxi bound heading for Slindon. The sun was out and anticipation filled the air.

Once at the start venue we saw a number of familiar faces, Tracey, Zoe and Sabrina from Fareham Crusaders, then Lee and Neil from Gosport and I was particularly pleased to meet Deborah who I talk to on twitter but hadn’t actually met.

a3.3

A1.5

Paul, Jamie, Neil and I set off at 7.45am with Lee and Mark already fast disappearing into the distance.

The initial mile and a half allowed for some overtaking so the field largely found its pace quite early on. The temperature was already warm and as Paul and Jamie eased away from me (not intentionally) I decided not to chase them but to run my own race at my own pace.

For regular readers you’ll know I like to take photos to show where I’ve been, the two photos above plus one more from the start were the only three I took through the whole day. Why ? Because I decided I had to give 100% concentration on this attempt. Thanks to Paul Coates FCRC and Su Baldock from Gosport RR for the remaining photos 🙂

As I approached the first pit stop at about 8 miles the scenery was breath taking, classic South Downs Way. It had been a long and gradual climb to reach the top of the Downs.

a4

Each aid station has an amazing choice on offer and great marshals. I filled my 500ml soft flasks, grabbed a couple of energy bars and set out (they even had portaloos ).

By mile ten I was into a rhythum and was starting to contemplate what the rest of the day would hold. The sky was blue, the grass was a lush green and the white chalky paths made for a scenic contrast.

When running on your own it’s very easy to talk to yourself !! I commented out loud, “the heat is certainly building” !! As I crossed the road at Cocking there’s a steep hill and three quarters up it I noticed Mel from our running club. Yes, she’d run past me and not noticed and likewise I hadn’t initially twigged it was her.

The ironman tattoo on her calf and the Crusaders t shirt caught my eye, we discussed how these 12 miles or so had gone and then as the theme of the day would develop, she moved on ahead.

Around mile 13 I had my second wake up call of the day with a pain in my hip. I ignored it for a while and then decided to use some deep heat. The second pit stop at 16 miles appeared and after a quick chat with Aaron from FCRC, refills and some spectacular Tuna sandwiches I set off again on the long uphill country lane opposite. It was also good to chat again to DiscoDeb as her twitter name says 🙂

As with all climbs you may be walking (no one was running) but you can still be productive. I took my cap, sun tan lotion and more food out of my rucksack while walking with purpose !!

Once up on the Downs again a refreshing slight breeze helped but I decided to blast the hip pain with a double whammy. Paracetamol and more deep heat. By the woods up ahead and 18 miles I was hot and getting even more heated with the pain in my hip.

Granted the tablets hadn’t kicked in yet but my frustrations were heightened when I couldn’t find were I’d put the deep heat. I had a paddy, emptied virtually all my rucksack onto the trail and there it was. A couple of passing runners asked if they could help but I assured them I was fine, I was lying, I was annoyed.

In situations like these, in the middle of no where, there isn’t much choice but to press on so I used a combination of running and walking. The irony of being pissed off is that passing runners sense your frustrations and pass with either a knowing “I’ve been there” nod or they genuinely want to help.

Around this time Sabriana and her husband overtook me and I wished them well.

The kindness of total strangers immediately brought me down to earth 🙂 I knew the remaining thirty odd miles well from this point as we approached the first of the two Beacon Hills so I offered as much course knowledge advice as I could to everyone that enquired after my wellbeing. Trail runners are great people.

a3

With Beacon Hill staring us in the face this also meant basecamp wasn’t too far away and even though we had a series of hills to master with Harting Down the 2.5 miles or so to the camp are largely shaded and downhill or flat, all of which I knew would lift my spirits.

Running into basecamp at about 23 miles it dawned on me I’d been running for over five hours and was on the verge of only the second marathon distance I’ve run in 2019. These facts gave me a boost and I left the camp with a renewed approach. I think I saw Tracey from FCRC here but I’m a little cloudy on that one ?? The multi-coloured flags were waving in a slight breeze which was very welcome.

a6.5

The next coupe of miles were shaded which helped immensely as it was about 1pm by then and I was starting to get a headache. This could have been the heat or dehydration or stress with my hip but either way I needed a distraction to take my mind of it. My saviour was Su Baldock from Gosport Road Runners.

I’ve never met Su before, I just noticed she had a Gosport RR t shirt on. I know lots of GRR runners and without exception they are all friendly. We initially chatted in general terms and then when I mentioned I had a blog she told me my 2017 RTTK write up had been essential reading for a number of her fellow club mates which was very gratifying to hear.

As was the case for the whole race Su headed on in front of me and I set myself for the long gradual climb up New Barn Lane and the steep incline through Queen Elizabeth Country Park. I kept my sense of humour by imagining the many times I’ve run this lane but in the opposite direction. I tried to recall all my running friends that have accompanied me in this area and again the trail running community spirit spurred me on.

Once through QECP the legendary Butser Hill presented itself.

a6

Again I used the hill walk to eat and text my family to ensure they knew I was still alive even though it wasn’t all going to plan. Butser really hurt my hip, I was starting to suffer with the heat and to be honest I wasn’t in a good place. I knew the 31 mile pit stop was on top of the hill and I pondered on dropping out.

I’ve never DNF’d (Did not finish) so I refilled with liquids, flat diet coke and peanut butter sandwiches (which I hate) but it was good to get proper food inside me as well as gels and snacks. I must mention another positive from this race in that there were no single use plastic cups so my refill bendy cup came into its own. Well done RTTK for tackling plastic issues.

a8

I soldered on past the Sustainability Centre and down Salt Hill. The tough undulating downhill played havoc with two sore toes I’d largely been ignoring and for the first time in perhaps nine hours I actually stopped, sat down and contemplated what was my next step.

Yet again, the sound of a friendly trail running companion asking the way meant I could offer my local knowledge and consequently my mood was lifted. I told a few runners about the cold water tap at Meon Springs and their eyes lit up !! I poured more over my head than I drank 🙂

Old Winchester Hill was a slow walk and I entered the pitstops with a resigned demeanour, I was close to packing it all in. Zoe from FCRC passed me and we said hello briefly but I knew the end was in sight. I could have asked to be signed out there and then but I felt I owed it to myself to reach 40 miles. I plodded on.

The trig point on Old Wincheter Hill is a favourite location of mine but it wasn’t today, I was getting moody and the day was catching up with me. On the descent my hips and toes hurt but more than anything I knew I wasn’t enjoying it.

I’ve mentioned before that I sing to myself when running and as I contemplated my situation The Clash “Should I stay or should I go” came to mind. It was time to go.

I rang my wife and she came out to pick me up near Exton. So, 41.5 mile in approaching eleven hours with various stops and it was all over. My first DNF in 30 years.

The final irony was we still needed to go to Winchester to pick up my kit bag and at the same time I could officially register dropping out.

It was the right decision and I haven’t changed my mind. I still love trail running 🙂

Huge congratulations to everyone that finished. I managed 3/4’s of the distance on not enough training, a hot day and pain, others may have finished with a similar scenario but enough was enough for me.

I really appreciate the supportive comments that I’ve had on twitter, facebook and instagram from friends. I appreciate that they respected my decision and not one person offered sympathy because it wasn’t needed. I made the decision.

a3.2

I’m proud of the 41.5 miles that I covered and yes, “I’ll be back” !!

5,000 calories and all but one of the big hills covered meant my appetite has gone crazy. A Harvester breakfast was the only answer on Monday #dayoff .

Thanks for reading. Rog 🙂

A2

Winchester to Wickham 19 miles & 1 video

Saturdays run started by catching the 7.30am train to Winchester so this was the exact reverse of last week. After covering 25 miles a week ago I decided to cut my run short to 19 today and save my strength for Race to the King in three weeks time.

Videos are a new addition to my irunoffroad social media and I’ve had great fun experimenting with the two I’ve made so far. I’ve created a YouTube channel so feel free to subscribe for future running adventures, cheers.

After bumping into Jamie, Paul, Zoe and Tracey from Fareham Crusaders who were on route to Eastleigh for their own “train-ing” run I left Winchester in bright sunshine and good spirits.

The video above shows you Winchester Cathedral where Race to the King finishes, I then followed the South Downs Way up towards Cheeseford Head with fields of glorious poppies to the right and left of me.

aaa2

Once I’d passed the tank experience (also video’d) it was noticeable the trail was becoming busier with mountain bikers but to be fair they were all considerate by announcing their presence.

I chatted with Lidya from Winchester who’d caught me up. This is the beauty of trail running when you can chat with someone you’ve never met before but the conversation flows about why and where you are running.

Not long after I bumped into my good friend Paul Coates who was running in the opposite direction. We stopped for some banter which again is on the video.

aaa1

I pressed on towards Exton and then Meonstock Post Office for liquid refills. The temperature had increased during the morning and must have been around 20 degrees so I bought Lucozade as well as water.

Joining the Meon Valley trail I had seven miles to Wickham were I’d decided to cut my run shorter to 19 miles and my wife picked me up. Something she rarely needs to do.  I think its really important to listen to your body when you know you’ve pushed yourself but are still within your limits. I also had a quick chat with Karen Jenkins from the Crusaders along the old railway line.

My double marathon isn’t far away now so it’s taper time and flexibility work. Arriving at the start line uninjured and having flushed out the stiffness of long runs means you start with a degree of confidence even if I haven’t done the volume of training I’d liked to of due to issues earlier in the year.

Thanks for reading and watching 🙂

Roger

Fareham to Winchester 25 miles : RTTK video too

f2w

I ran with my friend Jamie from Fareham to Wickham (5 miles), then along the Meon Valley Trail (7 more miles) to arrive at what will be the 40 mile point of Race to the Kings 53 miles.

I recorded a video to show the last 13 miles of RTTK i.e. the last quarter.

Please take a watch and maybe even subscribe to my YouTube channel. Thanks very much

Videos are fairly new to me so all comments are welcome 🙂 Thanks Roger

irunoffroad : Youtube

DSC00692

I’ve decided to create a youtube account and see how it develops. It may come to nothing but I figure its worth a go !!

Our countryside running can offer all sorts of experiences, whether anyone is interested could be a different matter 🙂 They might think it’s a load of “bull”.

I read that it’s not until 30 seconds of playing that a view is registered on youtube but initially I’ve posted a couple of short videos as testers.

Naturally its also called irunoffroad for consistency.

I’ll update my progress … click on this link  Youtube

Thanks Roger

Guest Blog : Thames Path 100 miles – Richard Hill

richard1

Run report for Thames Path 100 miler – May 4/5 2019 Richmond to Oxford

Forward

This is the first time I’ve posted a guest blog. My friend Richard Hill ran 100 miles last weekend. The length of the post my be a challenge in its self but I heartily recommend you make a cuppa and read it all. Very few of us will ever achieve 100 miles, I take my hat off to you Richard.

Before
Starting location is quite a distance from where I live on the South coast so I stayed in a Travelodge in Teddington on the Friday night and had a lovely dinner in the Ribs & Burgers restaurant on Teddington high street. Good nights sleep and a few train stops in the morning and arrived at the Old Town Hall for kit check and number collection etc. Got there quite early as I don’t like queues.
Didn’t really know anyone there, a couple of names on the entrants list I knew of but not that well so just hovered about for an hour or so people watching which I quite like. People have some funny routines before long runs.
Whilst I was stood watching the world go about its thing a very friendly chap asked me how I was feeling about the run. He wasn’t joining in himself but was planning to pop over to Hungry in a few days to run 100 miles a day for 6 days around a caravan park on a 1km loop. You don’t have these kinds of conversations every day! The excitement in his eyes was quite palpable.
It was a nice chat as we had something in common which I don’t often find in runners. We both love the heat and hot sunshine. I find the cold just saps me but the sunshine and hot weather is so energising. Not often you find runners with that same view. He was also the guy that started the run at 0930 with a bloody awful airhorn, locals must have loved that.
This was to be my second 100 miler having completed the Autumn 100 in October just gone. As I finished that event below 24hrs, which was my goal, I approached the TP100 in pretty much the same way and hoped for the same result. One thing that had been stuck in my head since the end of last Summer was something I heard on a Bad Boy Running podcast that had an interview with the Race Director of Centurion.
I can’t remember if there were any stats but essentially he said there is a high DNF rate among second time 100 mile attempts (having successfully completed the first). I found this quite alarming and it stayed with me since. The reasons for this DNF rate will be numerous but a big factor I presume is knowing you have a buckle already and when at a low ebb perhaps it’s that bit easier to bin it. I’m grateful for the Centurion RD to have shared that as I think it was significant in mentally preparing for TP100.
Just a quick note on why I chose to do this (everyone has their own different reasons). First off I think these events are called the wrong thing. Anything further than a marathon is an ultramarathon. The term ultra usually means beyond normal or extreme and I don’t think that’s the right description, it’s just another distance but not so uncommon anymore. Maybe its ultra for the people at the front that compete but then that’s same as those who can routinely run sub20 5k.
In fact for me, if I could routinely run sub20 5k I would perhaps consider it a greater achievement than hobbling through 100 miles. I can hobble 100 miles but I can’t routinely run sub 20 5k, in fact I haven’t even done it so go figure! As there are so many people enjoying longer than marathon distance events it isn’t beyond normal anymore and personally I’d be happier for the sport to drop the Ultra term, it just doesn’t fit in my view.
But anyway, reason why I entered is quite simply that 100 miles fascinates me. I have done lots of running in the past few years and I heard about Centurion on a social run one evening in the woods and that they had a qualifying system to get in. So I go look at their website and lots of things were different and a bit odd. For 100 there is no medal but a belt buckle (why is that?), they have a stats page that just didn’t make any sense. Some people have completed many 100 mile events and they are all logged on there.
Couldn’t really believe it at first but obviously there is no reason for it not to be true. Delve a little deeper and there are quite interesting chunks of info about various things like safety issues. One that caught my eye was the risk of muscle breakdown and release of myoglobin into the blood. Combine that with poor hydration and you can expect renal shutdown. Ok then! So I head off to the Western states website to find out about belt buckles and read endless Wikipedia articles about kidney issues among others.
Essentially the seed is planted and the fascination has just grown with time. So that’s the why, an event in which running is by no means the key factor. For a bloke that doesn’t enjoy the sensation of hard running but really enjoys long jogs in the countryside with likeminded folks and a reasonable touch of challenge it fits pretty well.
Having just read what I’ve written I realise it sounds a bit flippant. To complete 100 miles on foot non-stop in under 24hrs is a huge challenge that will inevitably end in failure without meticulous planning and preparation. But it is profoundly rewarding to successfully complete.
That wasn’t a quick note.
Forecast for the race was cold, northerly winds and possible showers with close to freezing overnight. So I stayed in the Old Town Hall to keep warm. When I eventually got outside for the race brief the sun was shining and it was lovely and warm. Typical.
richard2
During
Plan for this event was the same as A100. Finish the race within cutoff and if it looks possible go for a sub24. So I started off with 6 minute km pace which for me was far too quick over this distance but I didn’t really want to go much slower as it feels unnecessarily slow. That was a mistake. I should have started much slower, maybe 6.30 or 6.45 km pace.
I had a bit of knee trouble at the start of the year which meant five weeks off running and I hurt my calf once I had got back into it in March by pushing too much too early. The calf had been a bit of an issue since and sure enough it cramped up after the first check point at Walton at about 20k.
I honestly thought I might have to bin it (not a whimsical thought it really did feel that bad). I was up against trees stretching it and trying to heel strike as I ran as I couldn’t run the way I normally do. I was feeling pretty low and despondent. 140k to go and I was already in a lot of discomfort.
A guy I chatted to before the start came alongside and really lifted my spirits and encouraged me to keep trying to find a way and he helped enormously. I didn’t know his name but I cross matched his bib number from the event photos to the results list and this was Patrick, it was his first 100 and he did really well to finish. Thanks Patrick, you likely won’t know it but you really helped me out.
Couple more check points further on and at 50k the muscles had softened a bit and I felt ok to go on. I was cursing the Altra shoes for having no heel though. I’m a huge fan of Altras, this is the second 100 miler with not even a hint of a blister and I don’t use tape or Vaseline, just socks and Altras. But they are flat with no heel and with a tight sore calf a shoe with a heel lift would have been wonderful.
Between here and Henley I don’t remember much. There were a few showers and I remember being amused by the runners fumbling frantically to sort out their rain jackets. The showers didn’t last much more than a few minutes at a time. There was one guy (in a green grand slam teeshirt) who didn’t seem to give a toss about the rain, just carried on regardless. He was also listening to the football on the radio (only just audible so not at all annoying). He looked like he was in a very happy place, good for him, he made me smile.
I got to Henley 51 miles at ja little over 10hrs. As this was the half way point I was feeling pretty good as a finish was still possible and a sub24 was achievable too. As the forecast was for chilly temperatures I changed my tops for new dry thicker ones so I wouldn’t get too cold.
I used the drop bag service for here and Streatley. Chose not to have a crew or pacer as that would add extra stress for me and I like to be as self-sufficient as possible.
richard3
Having got settled for the second half and made good time against my plan I started to enjoy things a bit more, the Thames Path trail is quite beautiful with lots of interesting landmarks, Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, Lambs etc etc. It didn’t feel samey at all even though there is 100 miles of it. Probably because every childhood summer holiday I ever had was on a canal boat somewhere in England I felt quite at home on the towpath.
I had no headphones with me, I almost never listen to music when in a race (almost always when  out on normal runs to work or wherever) so there were plenty of nature sounds to enjoy along with a bit of banter from Joe public pointing out a few times that there are things called trains.
I’m not a running blogger although I did write a run report for my A100 finish last year (which was more as a keep sake for me personally) but my friend Roger who is a blogger suggested I do a blog for his blog (if that makes sense) so I’m trying to jot stuff down that might be helpful for anyone thinking of trying for a 100 or maybe of interest to anyone that might bother to read. Trouble is though I can’t really remember much from here so that’s a bit rubbish for a run report but I’ll try to dredge up what I can and sorry I didn’t bother to take any photos.
Between Henley and Reading it got dark at some point and according to strava my pace slowed up a bit. Two things that feel important to me to get a finish are only ever focussing on the next check point. I have a little laminated timesheet that tells me how far to the next one and that is all I think about in terms of distance. The second is pork pies. I have a completely unfounded theory that when we start running our stomachs shut down (flight or fight response perhaps) and that if at the start you simultaneously begin eating real food the stomach tends not to shutdown.
It seems to work for me but this might just be me, who knows. I received these two tips from the RD of the GU36 in Guernsey. So thanks again to him and by the way the GU36 is probably the most enjoyable running event I’ve completed so go check it out, it sold out in 9hrs last year so be quick.
Reading to Wallingford via Streatley is the 4th & 1st leg of the Autumn 100 course so was a bit familiar. I don’t bother to reccy a course as they are so well marked by the Centurion team, it’s too logistically difficult to do a reccy for me and its nice to discover stuff as you go. I’m not likely to ever enter a self-navigation event so I’m just not that fussed. This section was a bit of a haze, was mostly focused on the next stop and maintaining my hydration & nutrition plan.
On that I keep to a pretty simple plan that works for me. Breakfast was a pot of instant porridge, coffee, protein shake, and a banana. Once the race started I ate a large pork pie over the first 10-20 km (they get a bit warm and manky if you leave it any longer). The rest is a combined drink/eat plan based on Tailwind. One sachet in a 600ml bottle every 10k and did this throughout. Also scoffed sausage rolls, pork pie quarters, and fruit here and there at check points.
That’s it and it seems to work out fine for me. I was a bit worried at one point (before Henley I think) as I swallowed a bug (about the size of a ladybug) and it got stuck in my throat and caused me to cough so much I started wretching and thought I was going to puke up all my tailwind but thankfully it was just a bit of dry wretching that eventually dislodged the bug and all was good again. I use my own tailwind sachets rather than the free stuff at checkpoints because then I can control the strength and type.
Up till about 9pm I used naked flavour zero caffeine and then from 9pm till sunrise I alternated between naked zero-caffeine and green tea caffeinated. This seemed to work out well for me. Just as a bit of context, each sachet of green tea tailwind has about 70mg of caffeine and I was taking one about every other 70minutes or so, about 4 or 5 packs in total (total caffeine of 350mg). Go check out how much caffeine is in a medium costa, it’s about 280mg in one cup! I’m sure this is a news scandal in the making. There must be some serious costa addicts out there.
At Streatley there is another drop bag opportunity so I put on some loose fitting jogging bottoms as I could tell it was going to get chilly, also picked up the remainder of my tailwind, had a quick pee and I was on my way. I try quite hard to minimise time at check points. It’s wasted time that needn’t be lost. If I missed out on sub24 by 30mins and I had fannied about at the checkpoints I’d be pretty hacked off so I grab and go. Surprising how many folks linger around nibbling away.
Between Streatley & Sunrise (a little before Abingdon I think) I have only one recollection which was the check point that deviates from the towpath (possibly Clifton). Only reason I remember this one is the people who either don’t know how to focus the beam on their head torches or for some unfathomable reason prefer them on flood mode! Its horrible being blasted by a 1000 lumens right in your face. I always try to be careful with my beam as I know how bright these things are and also a small focussed beam on the ground is surely the best way to light your path. That really did irritate me so I remember that bit.
Actually two other things of note from this section, first I discovered that I can walk faster than some people jog. By this point I was reduced to a fast walk as I was in quite a lot of discomfort and had lost the will to try and even attempt to run. There is obviously an overlap between a fast walk and a slow jog. According to the results I picked off 23 places but as I walked most of it I wasn’t alone in my discomfort! The second thing of note, and a new experience to me, was some mild hallucinations. Nothing extreme just occasionally I found myself being startled by what I thought were deer or badgers only to find they were bushes or gates or tree stumps. This happened quite a bit but I got used to it.
Sunrise came and then into Abingdon which is a very pretty place. I’d like to go visit there one day for a run.
From here to the finish was very unpleasant. The relentless flat course had trashed my leg muscles and my mind. Thankfully it was only 10 miles or so to the finish. Had it not been a race I would have instantly stopped. I could sense damage in my body and my mind was really unsettled. I really don’t think there is anything in this world that could have lifted my spirit at this stage. The towpath was rough and I had truly had enough. I once considered entering the GUCR 145 miles along a canal towpath. That will not be a consideration any longer.
I run because I enjoy it. Between Abingdon & Oxford it was not fun and had the event been the TP90 I would have had a much nicer day out.
Didn’t even bother to stop at Lower Radley check point I just grumbled by and gave a cursery nod at the utterly wonderful volunteers. Those folk at Lower Radley check point (the last one) will probably never enter another running race after seeing the state of us all! It must have been like a zombie apocalypse..
Eventually I could see the finish line. As I entered the field the guys behind the line were shouting at me to run as I was close to getting under 22:30. To be honest I couldn’t give a toss but I did try to run and nearly fell over so I walked across the line in 22:29:39. 15mins or so slower than Autumn 100 but I am very grateful for that time nonetheless.
100path
After
The after bit is the bit that is very different from my experience at the Autumn 100. The weather towards the end of the A100 was heavy rain and so I think the weather caused me to slow to a walk rather than physical and mental exhaustion. Here however I was walking at the end because I was more drained and uncomfortable both mentally and physically than I can ever remember in the past 44yrs on this chunk of rock. At the end of A100 I had a coffee and a roll and went home without incident. According to the strava log I was back to a normal running routine the next Thursday.
TP100 was different.
After crossing the line someone gave me a teeshirt and a buckle and took my picture. The photographer then asked me to hold the buckle in the air. I just refused and walked off. I am so sorry for my rudeness (I think he might have chuckled a bit, hopefully). I sat down in the pavilion thing and drank a coffee and then called a taxi. When I got up to walk to the taxi I nearly fell over and the next thing I knew I was being supported by two medics into the back of an ambulance. That’s where I stayed for the next hour or so. My blood pressure had dropped through the floor and I couldn’t stand by myself anymore. Blood sugar was perfect though (thanks Tailwind). I have since sent a message of thanks to the medics. They were amazing to say the least.
Lesson learnt is not to try too hard. Next time I’ll take it a bit easier. Talking of next time. I sent a text to my wife that said: ‘I will not be running100s ever again. It’s too damaging. I’m done and I’m happy about it.’
Eventually, again, I called another taxi and struggled into it and headed for the station. Being unable to walk in any normal way the prospect of the journey home wasn’t good. Got a train to Southampton and then had to change platforms for one to Fareham. This was not easy.On the Fareham train I ended up sat next to the lady who had just won the Southampton marathon that afternoon so the conversation to Fareham was really nice and fun. A fitting end to the day.
Once home and showered I had virtually no appetite and felt rough on and off till Tuesday. Don’t know much about muscles but the ones that allow you to lift your leg when sat in a chair didn’t start to work without intense pain until Monday evening. Obviously had no sleep Saturday night and Sunday night I barely slept again, not tired and legs too sore. Monday night got a full sleep, thankfully.
It’s now Tuesday evening and still not much of an appetite. Apparently I burned 11,000 calories during this event so I guess I’m going to get hungry at some point soon.
So that’s that, still knackered but I have a buckle I will treasure for ever.
Finally I want to say something about Centurion. Put simply they just care and it really shows. It’s a slick and nurtured operation with attention to detail at a level I haven’t seen elsewhere. There is no bullshit about being the hardest or the most extreme blah blah blah, they just give objective straight honest information and they really care about every aspect and everyone. Impressive.
Kit stuff
Start to Henley:
Started with a buff over my ears (bit of earache of late) with a baseball cap to hold it in place and keep the sun out of my eyes.
Light compression top (to stop nipple rub), tech tee and fleece top. Used a lightweight windbreaker at times.
UD race vest to carry stuff, mandatory kit etc.
Sealskin gloves (not real seals I don’t think).
Naked belt to carry bottles and phone.
Kalenji lycra shorts to stop chaffing thighs (and plenty of body glide in the crevices…..).
Calf sleeves to try to help my knackered calf – nice and warm too!
Injinji socks – same pair throughout.
Dirty girl gaiters – I really don’t understand why more people don’t use these. Not one bit of grit got in my shoes the whole race.
Altra Olympus 3 shoes – kept them on the whole race. Never touch my shoes once on, just let the feet bed in. No blisters.
Henley to finish:
Changed headwear to a warm beanie
Used a LED Lenser NEO10R & a spare battery that I swapped out at some point. Magnificent light and comfortable. Also carried a SEO7R and spare battery as back up and a crappy petzl emergency light. This is more than mandatory kit but I feel it’s really important to guarantee a good light source if going overnight. To be stuck with a faulty main and only an emergency backup may well end the race and that would be gutting.
Changed into a merino wool baselayer with a thick kalenji cold weather top.
At Streatley I put on some cold weather kalenji jogging bottoms.
I also have a Naked running vest that I wanted to try out but I didn’t wear this as my wife says it looks like a ladies croptop!
Thanks very much Richard for your insight into a 100 mile race.
Fantastic !!

Running Butser Hill – the beauty & the beast

Image-7I’ve been drawn to Butser Hill for over a quarter of a century. This iconic hill was the location of my first race when I moved to Hampshire and I never tire of return visits. Situated not far from Petersfield it towers above the A3 and offers any elevation hungry runners, walkers or riders the opportunity to test themselves.

Why ? I hear you say …. well, apart from the personal satisfaction, the views are amazing !! Portsmouth Spinnaker tower and the Isle of Wight to name two.

I arrived early enough to have the whole hill to myself. The shadows that darkened its lower slope would soon disappear as the morning sun rose and a steady trickle of “outdoors types” appeared from Queen Elizabeth Country Park on the other side of the A3.

Image-6 Butser can be climbed from a few different angles but I stuck with the main path that then forks off to the right on its way towards the trig point at the top.

Sheep and cows both graze on different slopes and at different times of the year so the grass is short wherever they have been. Naturally, our four legged friends can leave behind clues that they’ve been there, so bear this in mind.

Its worth saying that the visitors centre is currently being modernised so temporary structures are in place.

In order to gauge the height of the hill this next photo shows the view looking back from the fence line and gate that crosses between the wooded areas.

Image-9The hill gradually ramps up and then there’s the steepest section of 150 metres or so. The fact that you can only see the heads of the two walkers gives you an indication of the gradient. It’s here that your breathing and fortitude are tested, “keep on going” !!

Once through the gate its onwards and upwards for a gradual climb towards the satellite mast and then the terrain flattens once you reach the summit and the trig point.

Image-8

Image-10Statistically the elevation is around 500 feet from the car park to the trig and 400 from the lower slopes of my first photo. This is enough to earn it the “beast” status I refer to in my title. Distance wise thats about a mile and a quarter and a mile.

I could let you into a secret that there’s actually a car park just the other side of the satellite mast as well as a café but you’d be missing out on the challenge of getting there !!

My personal aim for the day was four ascents. Hill 1, ran all the way, Hill 2, ran most of the way, Hill 3, combined walking and running, Hill 4, probably a 50/50 run/walk.

Yes your calves and thighs are tested to the full on the way up and there’s an inevitable jarring of your quads as you make the descent but you really can’t replicate this kind of hill training. Strength and confidence are gained in equal measures.

On one of the descents I had to negotiate “Hill Security” ….. I asked kindly if they’d “move” over. With this area being part of the South Downs National Park all the livestock are used to visitors but these cows are big old units so I showed them lots of respect.

Image-11The countryside is such an asset and it’s often closer to us than we think. My focus today was strength work running up and down this hill but in the process you are treading a path that’s been used for hundreds of years along the South Downs Way and effectively going back in time because it would have looked exactly the same, apart from the main road !!

In summary, a beautiful location that’s well worth a drive out to.

Thanks for reading, Roger

Trail running : A tale of the trails

friday1

As a trail running blogger, by definition, I love to write about where I’ve been. I enjoy sharing my experiences and maybe, just maybe it will motivate others to follow in my trainer footsteps on a rural run.

My most recent run was along the Meon Valley Trail (MVT) which heads north out of Wickham with a gradual incline, as befits an old railway line, on its way toward West Meon.

The trail is reasonably wide and is sheltered on either side by well established trees that form a green tunnel of foliage at this time of the year. I planned seven miles of the MVT which would take me to the point where the South Downs Way crosses and I’d use this to run up Old Winchester Hill.

I ran on a Friday morning which curiously gave my adventure an unexpected feeling of freedom, on the one hand I felt like I was skipping school (even though that was many years ago) and on the over I knew most people would be on their way to work. Starting at 7.30 a.m. also gave me a mindful experience with few distractions.

My early start was rewarded with the views of a white carpet of frost on many of the fields that back onto the MVT as well as the birdsong that comes from there being no one else interfering with their morning rituals.

To my left the Meon River winds its way towards Wickham and ultimately Titchfield and the sea. The water flows at quite a pace due to the gradual incline and it is crystal clear. On a good day you could potentially spot either a kingfisher or a vowel. An additional benefit of today’s run was the seasonal abundance of beautiful bluebells.

The wind swishes through the trees and there’s an occasional rustle of branches, probably due to a squirrel. Days like today are to be fully absorbed, who needs headphones when there’s so much to take in.

As I reach my appointment with the South Downs Way I leave the shelter of the trees and start the climb up towards Old Winchester Hill. I can immediately feel the sun on my face and the wind on my cheek as the elements welcome me to the open countryside.

The trail isn’t too muddy but I pay attention to the sections were horses have churned up the soil. As my elevation ramps up the tree roots that appear from under the hedgerows remind me that taking in the views needs to be combined with focusing on the matter at hand.

friday4

My next reminder of Spring is the sight of lambs with their protective parents. I try my best not to startle them but I guess they’re quite familiar with ramblers and runners.

Reaching Old Winchester Hill the surrounding countryside pans out 360 degrees around you from the trig point.

friday2

Green, yellow and brown farmers fields all contrast against the mornings blue sky. Again on a good day Red Kites and buzzards can be spotted, however it was man made fight that I observed today with two paragliders.

There’s one last drag up to the highest point in this area of the park and it kept the best until last. Yet more contrasts of colour.

friday6All that was left was to retrace my steps, take care on the downhill and carry on soaking up both the views and the peace and quiet.

Mindfulness is all about living in the moment even if that moment lasted 18 miles and just over 3 hours.

Go for a run in the country and connect with your surroundings.

Thanks for reading

Roger

Cancer Awareness & the Parkrun Spirit

Image-132

Saturdays 14 miler had just about everything that’s great about our local running community and the unseasonably warm weather complimented the warm welcome that the 5K Your Way – Move Against Cancer guys received from regulars at the Lee-On-The-Solent Parkrun 

My plan for the morning was ……….

Head over towards Titchfield village, then along the canal to the sea, follow the coast along to the parkrun, meet Sue and her Cancer Awareness group, run the 5K and then head back home.

So, first things first, who are 5K Your Way- Move Against Cancer ? Well, “in their own words”, they are a support group with a difference. A community based initiative to encourage those living with and beyond cancer, their families, friends and those working in cancer services to walk, jog, run, cheer or volunteer at a local 5k Your Way parkrun event, on the last Saturday of every month.

I first became aware of the group after seeing a twitter post by Sue Rourke and then reading the following page on the Lee parkrun website … Click on this link !!

Considering that we live in an age when small deeds are labelled as “epic” or someone that buys you a pint is a “legends” Sue, really is, inspirational.

I’d encourage everyone reading my blog to click on the link above and take the time to read about a lady who has incurable cancer and is fighting it on her own terms by encouraging others to come along. Sue, who has run 5K’s and up to a marathon is part of a national network of such groups that parkrun has embraced.

The seven miles that took me to Lee included a favourite stretch of mine, the Titchfield Canal. I met Keith from Fareham Crusaders on route and then saw a number of other running friends as I looked for Sue and her group.

112leeTo be honest I was quite surprised at the size of the 5K My Way group and as Sue lined us up for the photo that starts my blog it was clear a good 50 extra people would be participating in the parkrun.

I chatted to Sue and her passion for the project shone through.

Some ran, sum jogged, some walked but everyone followed in the parkrun tradition of encouraging each other. Becky from the group gave everyone new to the parkrun experience a briefing and then this was followed by a warm introduction from the event director.

Lee parkrun is an out and back course so there are numerous occasions on which you pass each other. Naturally this meant “well done” “thank you” and “keep going” were all terms used over and over again.

Unfortunately, on this occasion, I couldn’t hang around at the end to chat more because I still had a few miles left to run but luckily I saw both Sue and Becky as I headed back up the coast. I stopped and chatted to both ladies promising that I’ll be back in four weeks time (April 27th) when I can spend more time getting to understand their supportive work.

I recognised a whole host of Fareham Crusaders, Gosport Road Runners and other friends from our local area that all share and contribute to the parkrun spirit. As of today another fifty people joined our community and I’ve got a feeling the two groups will benefit each other.

Lets out run cancer together.

Image-134

This is my Strava map from today with the parkrun being the furthest stretch along the coast. With the breaks in my running the pace dropped off a bit but hey !! “who cares”, today was a memorable morning.

My family, just like so many others, has been affected by cancer which is why I was keen to write this blog.

Thanks for reading and please, follow those links for some truly inspirational reading.

Roger

 

 

 

 

 

SKINS DNAmic Compression shorts Review

pants100

How many sponsored reviews have you read that claim the product was “pants” ?? Not many, I’m sure. Thanks very much to SKINS for sending me these to try. I have nothing but praise, they offer support, wick away sweat and are so comfortable you almost forget you have them on !! I wear them on all of my long runs now.

Yes, we are talking “pants”, and more specifically SKINS DNAmic Core compression shorts. I’ve used other compression shorts and a combination of underwear, with them, so this was to be new territory with just wearing one pair.

The reason I’ve put off writing about them is because I wanted to give them quite a few outings and make sure I’d run for two hours plus.

Your running under garments may not be an issue during a 5 or 10K but once you start running longer distances then comfort and support becomes a topic that needs to be addressed.

I’ve previously blogged about SKINS compression socks and as a company I believe they live up to their marketing claims, ….. i.e.

“We create bloody good sportswear that makes everyone the best they can be”…. TICK

“We believe that how you play sport defines how you live life” ….. TICK.

I completely agree with both of these statements and especially the second because as an endurance runner I believe that willpower, staying power and an ability to cope with whatever’s thrown at you, over long periods, all transfer into your self belief when tackling, non running everyday tasks.

Previously I’ve worn compression shorts that were a similar length to cycling shorts but these feel far less restrictive, don’t show from under my actual running shorts and still provide great support.

You’ll be pleased to know I resisted the temptation to include a photo of me wearing my tight shorts. I’m aware that such images could have long lasting effects !!! Ha Ha 🙂

I chose extra large, not because of any physical attributes, but because from experience I’ve found one size up helps me.

Trail running puts a different kind of demand on your body compared with road running. The extra demands that running up a hill put on your thighs and bottom are then matched with the pounding on the way downhill. SKINS compression shorts suit the demands of these activities.

The support that SKINS compression shorts offer can be measured in both physical and mental terms.

My shorts reassure me that I’ll have no chaffing or friction issues and no riding up of underwear because I’m wearing one garment that fits me very well, including my sensitive area. As the hours of running effort pass by SKINS help to make the process bearable.

I’m reassured because I know the support will minimise any strains or injuries and wearing them will make a huge difference to the muscle soreness that I might otherwise be suffering, both during and after my run.

Sore hips are a frequent source of trail running pain, what with the changing elevation and terrain. SKINS compression shorts won’t magic this away but they certainly make a noticeable difference. Equally, walking up and down stairs the following day can be a painful experience so wearing them on your training/race day will continue to help your recovery.

I’ve had IT band issues in the past which can appear all the way up the side of your thigh and into your buttock. No longer !!

Armed with all of these benefits I set off with confidence on my long runs knowing that I’m giving myself the best possible foundation with compression shorts.

Thanks for reading

Roger