2017 Running Review : Thanks to all my friends, both old & new, for a great year.

DSC00931

For me running isn’t just about your race time and position, it’s where and who you trained with and the shared experiences of both that training and race day. Running may not be the team sport that say eleven footballers have but as a group of individuals we support each other in so many ways. The running community is effectively one great big team.

2017 has been a memorable year with personally, my first double marathon and blog wise a number of achievements. However, most memorably it has been a year of widening my running circles and talking with people who have a similar outlook on life.

My main focus for 2017 was Race to the King (RTTK) with its 53 miles and 5,000 + feet elevation along the South Downs Way (SDW). Generally speaking I’ve found that if peoples reaction to what you say you have in mind are …. “that’s madness” or “oh my god” then you’ve pitched your challenge at the right level.

I entered Second Wind Running’s (SWR) Spring marathon (3,000 ft) in March and the 3 Forts Challenge in Sussex as April’s yardstick. The Spring marathon was on familiar territory around QECP but conversely the 3 Forts were further along the SDW and would be a pleasant surprise, especially with the 27.2 miles and those three big hills !!

One trick I’d recommend for races you haven’t done before is either recce different sections over the weeks before race day or watch the many videos that are available through bloggers and youtube.

The one common factor my top 5 races all had was that my training buddy Paul Coates entered them all as well.

The Spring marathon was notable for the heat and banter with a number of Pompey Joggers. This banter started with race organiser Phil Hoy who pulled up next to Paul and I before the race started. One of his marshals had commented “look there’s two runners over there” … he repeated this comment to us and then said … “no it’s Roger and Paul”, and then drove off laughing. We have exchanged many such comments with Phil but the timing made all of us laugh. P.S. I’d highly recommend Phil’s SWR events as challenging and very well organised.

DSC00258

My second Joggers interaction was with bothers Simon and Jonny Langley, who I hadn’t met before but as we constantly traded places over four of the five hours, we certainly motivated each other.

In between these two races I attended the Running Awards as my blog had been shortlisted in the final 12 for the second year running. I’m very proud of this and once again this gave me the opportunity to meet people that I had only been able to tweet previously. Mark Gallacher, Liam Martin and Paul Addicott were all great company on the night. I also had a quick hello with 401 marathons Ben who won the category.

DSC00331 3 Forts wise I met Phil Hall at about 3 miles in. We’d only talked to on social media previously so it was great to actually have a chat face to face. Likewise I met Paul Webster from Fareham Crusaders and even though he shot off into the distance we did see him on the out and back section. The views from Devil’s Dyke were amazing, miles of countryside in one direction and the coast in the other. It did rain towards the end but I’ll be back in 2018. My valuable lesson from the day was that walking more hills than usual was definitely the tactic to employ for our RTTK adventure because I finished in good shape due to a measured approach earlier.

DSC00352The elevation had us all walking at points including Dave, Kate and Lucy from the Crusaders who entered a number of the big five I’m reviewing. I also made a point of eating which I wouldn’t usually do on a marathon but with RTTK ahead it was a strategy we needed to get used to following. Cliff bars, jelly beans and nuts were all experimented with.

My RTTK preparation included a 25 mile run to Winchester with Del Roberts from On the Whistle who I hadn’t met before and who is currently training for the MDS. This nicely leads me into a very inspirational evening I shared when a number of us listen to Dr Dan Roiz de Sa at an event organised my Absolute Running. Dr Dan specialises in extreme climate endurance and works closely with disabled athletes, usually ex military. He ran the Marathon Des Sables in 2017 with double amputee Duncan Slater.

tents

This inspiring evening also meant as a consequence of my blogging it, I ran in the following weeks with James Yeardley (Fareham Crusaders & MDS finisher) as well as chatted on social media with Tom Evans (the UK’s endurance rising star, who came 3rd overall !!) Talking with these people who have achieved so much really does fire you up for your challenges.

Consequently I raised over £300 for Walking with the Wounded as part of my RTTK run.

wwtw6

RTTK was 53 miles, twelve hours and six minutes of my life that I will never forget. I measured my efforts early on and when Paul pushed on at about 22 miles that was when the day really started. I would like to thank Cat Underwood for her vocal support along the way and the organisers for the attention to detail that flowed seamlessly between the start and finish.

DSCOO483B

I will leave the link to my blog from the day here because I simply can’t summarise what went through my mind and how the day panned out in a couple of paragraphs. Suffice to say I think that day was my finest in 30 years of running. I was also very proud that the organisers asked to use my blog in their 2018 race promotions. Read my Blog here

The Purbeck marathon was my 4th big race of 2017. I’d heard lots of great reports from Nikki Yeo and a number of other runners so Paul and I set off for Dorset to see what all the fuss was about. The coastal location and rolling cliffs meant we were in for both a visual and leg straining experience.

coastThis photo from Dave Fuller above and Paul and Ben’s below give you a flavour of the hills 🙂

15

The coastal section was breath taking and once we came inland the hills just kept on giving. At around two thirds through I joined Essex Julie and Devon Chris. I don’t think Julie will mind me saying but I heard her before I saw her 🙂 #classic Essex. At this stage Nikki also caught us up. The next few miles were very hilly but also very entertaining. Thanks Chris, Julie & Nikki. With a bottle of cider as part of the goody bag it was another great race.

The remaining weeks of 2017 weren’t as full of running as they should have been but this didn’t stop me entering the Portsmouth coastal 50K.

On the run into the coastal ultra I guest blogged with Winchester Bloggers and look forward to attend a get together with both them and Portsmouth Bloggers on different dates early in 2018.

I’m proud that I was shortlisted in Runultras Best Blog during December too.

171204_Votingshortlistlogo

The coastal ultra started in the cold early hours of the morning and ended in light rain but the 31 miles were made so much more enjoyable with the amount of runners that I saw racing as well as spectating. Fareham Crusaders male and female captains Paul and Mel also deserve mentioning here for their motivation.

cm.5

Meeting Craig from the clothing line Runr and Spencer from Centurion running also added to the day. The shingle sections were testing but the support was amazing. Special thanks must go to Hayley from Gosport RR and her tambourine !!

It’s difficult just mentioning a certain amount of people when our running community is so wide spread, whether it be the local clubs or the wider twitter runners and bloggers. Thanks to everyone that has helped make this a great running and blogging year.

I run off road because it makes me feel free. It’s a combination of mindfulness and challenging your efforts while pushing your limits. Running through the countryside is so rewarding but running it with friends is even better.

Once again thanks to Paul Coates who I train with the most. Thanks for the lifts and photos but most of all thanks for your company mate.  This is Paul, Nikki and me before the coastal ultra and thanks to Nikki for the early morning photo above.

cm.8

If you have enjoyed reading my review there’s still time to vote in the 2018 Running Awards Best Blog. This link will take you to the Publications and Online section, then its the Blog section and scroll down to irunoffroad.

So VOTE here

Many thanks for reading in 2017 and see you on the trails in 2018. I’m also excited for RED January (Run every day). Happy New Year !!

Roger

B&A 50K Challenge, what a Xmas Cracker

cm.8

Why would you want to run 31 miles on a morning that started with frost and ice and finished in rain ? The answer is because we love a challenge and we love to run. This photo of my running buddies Paul and Nikki sums up the buzz that trail running can give you. Someone once sung “Money makes the world go round” but they were wrong, it’s people and especially long distance runners 🙂

The Portsmouth based Believe & Achieve running company host a number of events through the year but they are probably best known for their pre Christmas marathon and 50K ultra.

With an 8am start for the ultra and 8.30 for the marathon we were all up “bright and early”. Nikki’s photo below shows the view from behind the Pyramids leisure centre, our race HQ, and out towards the pier, #inspirational !!

cm.5

Inside the Pyramids main hall we talked with runners from Fareham Crusaders, Gosport Road Runners (GRR) and Pompey Joggers. I also chatted to Spencer from Centurion Running and the Runr chaps who were there manning their running kit stall. As we made our way out for the start it soon became clear that the seafront was quite slippy underfoot and that caution would be needed.

There were lots of familiar faces on the start line by now and we were all marvelling at the blood red sky and the early morning sun. I spotted Dean, Nikki, Paul, James, Simon, Matt, Dave, Thom, Dwayne, Del, Cat and Richard from our local clubs running the ultra as well as Shaun saying goodbye to Susie Chan who was running the marathon half an hour later.

cm.95

cm.9

This map from my Strava download shows what lay ahead of us. Two miles along the seafront, a section of harbour mud, compacted trail around the harbour with a small amount of tarmac and then down to the Hayling ferry for the 15 .5 mile half way point. All that remained after that was to retrace our steps !!

cm11

The curious thing about ultra’s are that by definition you run slower. As a consequence you rarely see people warming up !! So the hurly burly of a 5K is replaced with lots of chat and banter, both as runners stand on the start line and for a good mile into the run.

Fleet brothers Dave and Matt disappeared into the distance first, they were then followed by most of the other people we knew but Richard Law and Dwayne stayed at mine and Pauls pace. We’d decided to start conservatively. Me, because frankly I hadn’t done enough training and Paul because he’d run Bovington marathon the previous day !! I think he’s up to 61 marathons now.

The harbour mud wasn’t too bad at 2 miles and as we weaved our way along the harbour path the field started to thin out. The temptation to pop into the Harvester pub for breakfast at about 4 miles was avoided and by 5 we were into our rhythm of just under 10 min miles.

The beauty of the course is that it’s fairly easy to spectate at as well as drive ahead and appear again. Gosport Road Runners were very well represented including my friend Hayley with her vocal support and tambourine. The aid stations were well stocked but we ran through the initial ones as we were carrying supplies. Thanks to Mike Harper who also gave us a shout.

The first shingle section passed without any issues but as we made our way around the coastline the wind off the sea had started to slightly pick up as well as the sun disappearing so I decided my egloves were staying on !! Paul dropped behind me slightly but we both know each other well enough that I was confident he’d catch me up later.

Once across Hayling bridge the 10 mile bleeper went on my watch, a third of the way !! By now a number of the marathon whippets had overtaken us and with the nature of the out and back course runners were heading towards us.

The 13 mile half way mark was quite congested with supporters and then, all of a sudden, it because really quiet with only the ultra runners carrying on. Now at this stage I was on my 3rd gel and had drunk well so I felt reasonably in charge. However, I was rudely awakened by the next shingle section !! My god that hurt. It was like running in toffee. Once again, however, seeing friends running in the opposite direction was inspiring.

The half way aid station had the ever lively Kiernan from On the Whistle to encourage us so I set off with renewed vigour. It’s also worth pointing out that at this point we were only a few hundred metres from the 29 mile point, it’s just that it was tantalisingly on the other side of the water. After a couple of motivational hellos with Cat, Ian and Del this then meant I’d left the shingle and was heading back towards the marathon runners. I have to say meeting familiar faces on a long run really does lift your spirits. Some banter with Allie and Crusaders men’s captain Paul Pickord certainly helped as they were taking drinks at their 13 and my 18 mile point.

With 20 miles approaching I’d got to the point were my lack of training miles was starting to show and I had to accept that dropping my pace was needed, however, there were a number of marathon entrants walking now, so this kept me going.

Once over the Hayling bridge I was counting down the single figure miles. With a large group of GRR supporters, including Terry, Nick & Kim from Absolute Running and Hayley with her tambourine cheering us on near Havant this helped over the next couple of miles. Paul caught me up and another host of marathon Crusaders did too. Ladies Crusaders captain Mel, Paula, Trevor and Rachel all appeared along with a gingerbread man 🙂 (Thanks for the photo Mel) This was at around the marathon point for me and it’s always great to know you are moving into ultra territory !!

cm6

cm1

Mel and Paula (to the right of the GB man) had also run Bovington marathon the previous day. By now steady rain had set in but luckily it wasn’t too heavy and it certainly didn’t dampen my spirits. We exchanged banter and as always Paul was leading the way. The final miles were a bit of a struggle for me but I insisted I was fine, when Mel asked. I ran / walked for a while and crossed the line in 5 & 3/4 hours.

As ever I was greeted by lots of the people mentioned above and if the car park ticket hadn’t for been imminent we’d have stayed later. This is what’s great about our running community, it doesn’t matter what position you have finished in, you are part of the community. I had a fantastic day with so many great running friends. Thanks to all the runners and supporters. Running maybe an individual sport but we are all part of one big happy family.

DSC00896

If you have enjoyed reading my blog maybe you’d consider voting for it please. Just follow the link  VOTE

then within Publications & Online, scroll down the Blog list to irunoffroad.

Many thanks to Rob Piggott and his Believe & Achieve  team for a great race.

P.S. Here’s a facebook message from a potential future winner !!

Tom

 

irunoffroad : Shortlisted for 2018 Runultra Best Blog :

171204_Votingshortlistlogo

I’m very chuffed that my blog has been chosen from the 100 nominated. The initial shortlist is down to 64. I’m very proud that runultra have chosen to include my blog against tough competition 🙂

All that’s needed is your name and email address, no registration required !!

Quick and easy ……….. please vote Roger Thomasson.

Click here to vote

Much appreciated 🙂

What goes through your mind on a solo 20 mile run ??

20

Endurance running is definitely more enjoyable when you have the company of fellow likeminded souls, however saying that, there’s something calming, satisfying and almost an out of body experience when you run for a long time on your own.

Running with a group of friends will give you banter, support and spells when they drag you along and visa versa. A solo run is all down to you, your watch and your thoughts.

I set out with the intention of 20 miles at ten minutes a mile i.e. 3 hours twenty minutes. The 50K I’ve been spasmodically training for is in two weeks time so today was as much a mental test as a physical one.

My usual training involves hills, fields, gates, streams and all the glory of the countryside so what the hell was a doing planning 20 miles of tarmac !! The answer my friends was the lack of available time and testing my legs over flat terrain just to make sure that no weaknesses were lurking. Running up and down hills gives your legs a varied workout, constantly running on the flat works certain muscles and repeats the action again and again.

That’s the physical side, now onto the mental task of three hours + with only yourself for company. I saw John Vose who I ran with when I was at Stubbington Green, he must be 70 now and as he drove past I wondered if he was off to spectate or even run at the Victory 5 today. Mike Dally from Hedge End runners tooted his horn as he passed and again I wondered if he was heading in the same direction.

So, excluding people I know, what else occupied me ??

I keep an eye on the hedgerows for any signs of early morning animal activity, birds, maybe a fox !! Then once I made it to the sea after 4 miles then there’s windsurfers, huge cargo vessels on their way into Southampton docks and even an occasional swimmer.

Your pace strategy is easily managed by your garmin and then there’s your nutrition. I generally take an SIS gel every 50 minutes, drink 500mls an hour, swallow occasional salt tablets to prevent cramp and eat occasional SIS bars just for something more solid. Remembering to do this is easily forgotten once you are in your flat, even paced metronome mind set.

Paying attention to keeping warm is another factor to ponder on too. Start with more than you need is my philosophy. Gloves can be removed, base layers can be untucked but by the time I turned around at 7.5 miles and headed back up Stokes Bay the direction of the cold wind had an immediate effect. Another trick is keeping an eye on the clouds so that you can see is bad weather is approaching and also because they’re just really interesting to watch !!

Saying hello and passing positive comments to fellow runners and cyclists always motivates me and it’s surprising how many of the general public say hello too.

Next, what goes through your mind when your pace starts to drop and you realise the run is starting to take its toll. I consider if I’ve got my nutrition right and most of all have I drunk enough. Never be afraid to stop at a garage or corner shop just to supplement what you started out with !!

Psychologically, have a word with yourself 🙂 I’m on this run for a reason. The challenge, the enjoyment, the preparation for two weeks time, to push past such moments of doubt because they may occur on the day, to draw on all the months of running already done this year and most of all, don’t let yourself down, you are in control so keep at it.

Finishing below target pace was satisfying and hugely motivational. One of my favourite sayings is that your legs achieve what your mind believes. So, believe in yourself.

Finally, I never think about work or any issues I have in my life. Running is my therapy and quite often I don’t think about anything at all, I just observe my surrounding.

If you have enjoyed reading this maybe you’d consider voting for my blog,

just follow this link to VOTE

The category is Publications & Online, then Blog and simply scroll down to irunoffroad. Many thanks for reading.