Monday 20 July 2015

Endure 12/50 (Ultra12) Endurance Event - Run, Snack, Repeat

As I write this I'm comfortably resting my poor blistered toes (I can hear the little violins going as I type) and a slightly sore left ankle.

When I had to pull out of Dartmoor Discovery due to work at the end of May I needed to find another ultra event to replace DD which was in June. Having no luck for an event in June around work and holiday I found an event in mid July. A 12 hour endurance event called Ultra12 was giving to me by a friend on Facebook who was also running it. So that night I looked up the event Endure 12/50 and entered it. Ultra12 it's original name but is now known as Endure 12/50. As well as the 12 hour endurance run which you can enter as a soloist or as part of a team, there is also a 50K race and a 50 mile race.

Bib Number
 Now as my longest ultra distance of the 7 ultras in 7 days (#YOLO7dayUltra) is about 40 miles, I wanted to use this event as a basis of time and planning for that event. So I gave myself a target of 40 miles within the 12 hour period.

The event is located in Beale Park, just outside Reading, so we had a bit of journey to make. Even though the event wasn't starting til 7pm of the Saturday I didn't want to be leaving earlier in the morning of arriving and setting up base and not leaving me much time to prepare myself. So we set off Thursday night? Thursday night you ask, well I have a 4 year old boy and he has had to put up with a lot of me running in events. So we booked a hotel Thursday night, so we can set up camp early Friday morning and then take my boy to Legoland which was about half hour away and give him a treat for being my best support crew member I could ask for.

Event 25 of 37 - Endure 12/50 (Ultra12) Endurance Event.

As the sun rose, after a pleasant night of chilling out around the fire pit talking with the organisers I woke around 6am after a pretty broken sleep. The wife took my boy out for the afternoon so I could try and catch a few hours sleep before the race started, however due to the heat in the tent, and outside noise I couldn't get any so I will be running through the night having been up since 6am. Not much difference to the 24 hour events I guess, I am also used to this when working nights.

The fire pit
 Eventually with our gazebo and table set up alongside the race line with all our drinks and snacks available for when we need it so we can snack and go. That was the plan run, snack and repeat.

With the safety brief given the 50 milers and 12 hour runners lined up on starting line for the 7pm start, the 50K runners had a different start point so they can cover the correct distance. There was a slight delay of 10 minutes to the start but soon the hooter started and we were off! 5 miles laps of multi terrain.

Start/Finish straight
The course route was pretty much flat with two very slight inclines. Flat ultra's is something I have never run before so this was going to be different. I had to make sure I didn't go too fast just because it was flat.

The course lead us out of the camping field and in through a field for the short stay parking (those who were doing the 50K and wanting not to hang around) and into a loop around another field just opposite the camping field. After about a mile this brought on to the road which takes us past the camping field. So by now the supporters would've seen the runners 3 times before heading down the road past the 2K mark. Now considering the course is 5 miles I would've preferred the course to have been marked in miles not KM's but that's just me I'm funny like that. As we left the camping area the music faded out into the distance and followed the road all the way until the 1st marshaled area.

My motivation
We made our way off the road and onto a gravel track and through a field before hitting the next marshal spot at 3K, marshal had parked his VW camper van at the corner where we turned and headed along the Thames. The VW Camper had two big speakers playing music and when it got dark was turned in to a Lucozade Sport (bar) and was lit brightly up (see pic). Probably one of my favorite marshal spots I've come across.

Coolest Marshal point ever?
The route then followed the Thames passing moored boats berthed along the waters edge with various boat owners and passengers providing some support atmosphere until darkness set in properly. We passed the 4K mark and not long after we reached the water station marshal point. Using my Inov 8 race vest I didn't require to use the water station, but it was used a fair bit I noticed by other runners.

Along the Thames

I continued further down the Thames until we reach the turning point where another set of marshals were back into Beale Park's grounds and hitting the 5K mark. Back on the tarmac and we headed through what could be described as the animal park, however I never saw any live ones only statues of various animals and some sculpted ones were a bit freaky when I saw them in my head light.  Pass another marshal point and around the parks car parking area through trees hitting the 6K mark at the top of a small incline. Normally these types of inclines wouldn't bother me but after a few laps I did start to walk them. It was back on the tarmac for a little bit with a down incline towards the short stay parking area of the campsite. We turned at the marshal once at the short stay parking and up another slight grassy incline.

My snacks and drink supply
We then headed down through a wooded area that went behind the camping and around it. Once it was dark two areas where trees had completely covered over head was lit up with fairy lights. These were just after the 7K mark and once we hit the second lit up trees we knew there was half a KM left and we soon turned on to a track before turning again into the camping area to the race start/finish line.

My motivation for this one
We completed the first lap in 51 mins which I was pretty happy with and new that would be our fastest lap recorded as we were stopping to snack after each lap. We reached my table of food and drink, and I took on some pork pie and banana. Picked up some isotonic drink stuck it in my race vest and off I went. I walked whilst I snacked and then ran once more my brother in law Paul was keeping me company once more during this event. He was a last minute entry as originally he couldn't make it. I was pleased to have the company again. Making our way round the second lap Paul was getting issues with the seams of his shorts. I started to feel hot spots commonly known about on my feet. I tried a different form of anti blistering powder. Which didn't work, so the wife who was my support crew taped up my feet using the kit I acquired from myRaceKit .

One more to go!
Again snacked up and off we went. It was fully dark and head torches were ever where along the route. However the music at the campsite was turned off, which was a little disappointing, even just turned down it's still provides a great atmosphere at these events. Anyway that was just a little thing that was missing from the event. We made our way round the 3rd lap and Paul was really struggling, he was broken already. We reduced our runs to run walks during the lap to get him round, and we made it back, we made sure he got some food and liquid inside him. Over the next few laps we walked more than we ran to make sure he could keep going. As we ticked off the laps, I could tell Paul was in suffering. I too felt blisters appearing on my toes, and a niggle under my left knee cap forming. Despite this I felt pretty good, but with Paul suffering he didn't want to do more than the target of 40 miles. Despite our pace slowing down the target was still possible to hit.

After the 35 mile completed we took a slightly longer rest for Paul to recover before fitting in the last lap. I felt I could've fitted in another lap with less stopping time earlier and also I had plenty of time to go and complete one last lap but once we hit 40 and with Paul not wanting to go on, I had lost the motivation myself to go on. It was good to feel I could do more though. So we finished 40 miles in 11 hours and 31 minutes and with a great sprint finish. Considering we had 55 mins of rest period in total I'm pretty pleased that the run time was 10hrs 36 mins. The hooter sounded at 7.10am to finish the event and those who were out on their laps still slowly finished off the laps. Even though the course was pretty much flat the uneven under foot terrain and the odd animal holes I found (hence sore ankle) made it still a tough test

Finished and some one is a little broken
During this event, I planned to give the Hoka Cliftons a good run out. Although it was multi terrain, it had been dry enough all day until the last lap when it rained, to warrant road shoes. I had other shoes in case I needed to change though. For the first time I didn't suffer bruising of the bottom of my feet during a long run so very happy. They were amazing all the way round.

Event 25 of 37 completed!
I only used my Sunwise glasses for the first lap it got dark after that and I went with the X-Bionic Fennec top this time instead of my trick top with my X-Bionic running shorts. Great kit and still providing me the support I need through all this. I can't thank Sunwise and X-Bionic enough really.

So there you, another event done. I really enjoyed this event, and if I'm not away at sea next year I think I will be back again. It is only in it's second year but I'm sure it will continue to grow like it's sister event Endure24, hopefully not as big though as I like the atmosphere of the smaller family feel events. May it continue with it's success and hopefully keep the music going all night next year ;)

Only 2 weeks now until #YOLO7dayUltra getting very real now.

Until next time.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Event 23 Sweatshop Running Community Virtual 5k - Are virtual events worth it?

As the title suggests only two days after Event 22 at Boconnoc, Cornwall I nailed my second event of the week and the 1st one of July.

Event 23 - Sweatshop Running Community (SRC) Virtual 5K Plymouth.

I've been a member of the SRC now for about 19 months, I joined them before I joined the Plymouth Musketeers Running Club a few months later. The SRC is a free running community run by Sweatshops across the UK. Much like parkrun where you just register and turn up, the difference is, the staff at the shops lead the running sessions. You aren't affiliated like you can be through a running club but their other incentives such as every time you turn up you stamp your card once a week and every so often you receive a reward. Week 1 is a nutrition pack, week 5 is a SRC top, etc until week 50 which is a pair of shoes up to £100.

I run once a week with them on a Monday as my club main night is Thursday. It gives me an opportunity to run with other people more often than just the Muskies club runs. They have various routes laid out from 3K to 7K's on the Monday night and 10K's and Endurance training on Thursday's. Occasionally there are beginner classes as well. So it is aimed at a mix of abilities.

There are a few Muskies who also run with SRC as well so it's quite nice. We meet at the shop, have a good catch up and run.

Bib Number
 Plymouth SRC advertised a virtual 5K event via their Facebook page which was through As I had a bad run at event 22 I want to get over it sooner rather than later so I entered. The even cost around £10 or so to enter and like pretty much all other virtual events especially the others I have done there is a charity associated and money from the entrance fee goes towards that charity.

What is a virtual event? Basically it's an event created over the internet usually for a charity, where people can enter and these vary in distances. It allows people to run that event when they can. So for instance this one runs throughout July. So you can use a training run, or another event like parkrun if it fits in your distance for the event as an example to run it. Once you've run the event you upload your proof be it from a running app or watch and they send you the award which is usually a medal of some sort. Sometimes also a goody bag.

As Plymouth SRC had a set 5K route for this week, I decided to do mine then. I printed off my bib number pinned it to my top, although most don't give a bib number. With company from one of the other SRC members who is also a staff member. Off I went out in to the very warm streets of Plymouth. Luckily Jessica kept me company as she was taking it easy due to a recent injury and she had Lakelands coming up. Jessica was another Hope24 soloists this year and managed to smash out a lot of miles that weekend.

The Route

I completed my 5K event forwarded my proof to where the results will be processed for the event and my bling sent out to me.

I like the idea of virtual events because of the simplicity of them. They are also a great idea for fundraising too! You don't have to sort out routes, organise marshals etc. All you have to do set up the event, sort out the payment for it, order rewards like medals then send them out once the runner has completed them. The runner can use other events to do it like a parkrun and jobs a good un. The runner can fit it round work, family and other commitments. Quite a few times I've been unable to run an event due to other commitments and virtual events like this allows people like myself to still earn some bling, whilst giving money to charities.

Unique Bling
I have two other virtual events lined up, one on the 11th and one which is 10 months long again all these will help me hit my total events goal. So if you are busy person who can't always make races, or someone who lacks a little confidence to go to a race but still want to earn some medals why not look at these virtual events.

So 23 of 37 events completed with 14 to go at least!

Thank you for reading please have a look at the Facebook page for more updates.
#YOLO7dayUltra FB page


Boconnoc Multi Terrain Race Event 22 (A bad day in the office)

After what was a busy June in regards to work and holiday, June lacked in races for me. I can almost hear the little violins being played as I write this hehe!

Now having only done one race at Bude, Cornwall (Event 21) before going away on holiday to Kos I was really looking forward to toeing the start line again at an event in Boconnoc, Cornwall. Having to work lots before and after the holiday despite getting runs in, the quality of training around work hasn't been a good as I'd like to be honest. I should remain positive though take away the fact I am still running regardless.

Anyway there was an event down in Cornwall not too far away that I heard about ad fancied giving it a go. It was a Multi Terrain race around the beautiful National Trust Estate in Boconnoc and as I could enter on the day I thought I'd go give it a go. It was ideal for me as it was an evening race so allowed me to pick my boy up from pre school and drop him off to the wife at her work on my way to the race.

Event 22 - Boconnoc Multi Terrain 5 Mile Race

I was feeling good in my self for this, on my way to the event traffic was good so little stress or panic. The weather was really good with very high temperatures even in the evening. The UK was having a good spell of hot weather so I knew the course was going to be pretty dray around most of it if not all. You never quite know with multi terrain/trails how they will be under foot if in shelter of trees and knowing the estate I knew the route passes through some wooded areas.

I arrived in good time and finding the event was pretty easy well marked along the way and ample of parking which was marshaled by the volunteers from the St Austell Running Club who were laying on the event.  Registration was simple enough, the usual fill out a form pay your money with a little extra for on the day and it cost me £12. I was given my race number and off I went. Being a Cornish event, I got to catch up with my good friend and some of his Carn Runner friends as well some Mud Crew legends of Andrew Ferguson (recently smashed in West Highland Way Ultra) and Jane Stephens (recently smashed in the Classic Quarter Ultra). It was nice to chat to them and catch. Up these runners have been very supportive of what I am doing and it proves what a close community the ultra running world is.

Craig and myself
 So after the fun run for the younger runners had finished it was out turn. We all mustered on the start line for a quick safety brief. The weather was still sunny and the temperature was still very warm I would say borderline roasting to be honest. I was in two minds knowing how I am with heat and hydration to wear my inov8 race vest but I thought otherwise. I carried a Lucozade bottle with me and I knew there would be at least a water stop around the half way mark.

We set off and went down hill from the start via a tarmac section. It wasn't a long section of downhill as once we turned right along the start of the various terrains it was the start of a slight incline. The terrains changed from trail, gravel, grass and undulating underfoot. It weaved us around a section of woods and across a small river crossing. The river wasn't very deep but enough to get a little wet. With the heat it was refreshing on the feet. Soon the incline increased in climb and it became a lot steeper. The hill or incline wasn't a short one either it went on right until 2.3ish miles before eventually leveling out. By now I had gone through some slightly soft muddy patches in the sheltered sections of the woods. Despite being in these sheltered areas is was still very warm and close.

Boconnoc Estate
 I soon reached the water station, manned by some ladies and children.The kids were picking up the dis-guarded cups and the ladies were handing the cups of water out. The route then dropped down hill slightly before coming out at 3 mile mark for a short period of tarmac. Turning left off the tarmac through woodland once more along the trails. The trail was again undulating underfoot and it rolled up and down as you went, with another downhill section at the 4 mile part it was soon another climb back up as you headed toward the finish. With about 3 hundred yards to go it was downhill with the short uphill finish to where we started.

Trail through one of the wooded sections
 As runs go for me, it was a bad day. I was not feeling the love at all. I struggled even with the 5 miles. The course was great, it had it's challenges that make it a good multi terrain course and yes the weather was warm, but this was not an excuse for my poor performance. My body was just in love with it today. My head was loving it though, it enjoyed the course and the scenery. The event is well organised, well marshaled. I guess maybe my body was out of race form as it's been used to racing pretty much every other weekend up until June.

Not sure why, it felt like this for me to be honest even during the drive home I was kicking myself. Yes I have had slower times in other events some due to supporting another runner, some because I fancied just taking it easy. This time was neither it was my body holding back for some reason. I will put it down to being out of routine for now. I've another event Thursday night so will see how it goes then.

I recommend the event I was the only member from my club to go to it, which surprised me a little as it wasn't that far to go. Hopefully more hit it up next year. I am not a fan of the baseball cap memento to be honest though, the fun runners got medals and I like my bling to hang up but that's just me. I will do this one again and recommend people to do it though.

Baseball cap finishers momento
 During this event I took my first pair of Hoka's out for a test run. The conditions allowed me to get away with road shoes, so this was a good opportunity to put some miles in them.  The reason I wanted to give Hoka's a go is because especially on road runs over distance I bruise the bottom of my feet easily. I wear lightweight shoes like Saucony Kinvara's but over long distance and not being an very quick runner my feet take a pounding and suffer for it. So not sacrificing lightweight for big amounts of cushioning I chose Hoka Clifton's. They are 215 grams which are slightly light than my Kinvara's at 218 grams yet they are amazingly comfortable under foot and feel like running on cushions. They look clumsy but take my word they are far from it. I am looking forward to putting some miles in these and hopefully this will be a solution to my comfort issue. First impression for me are only positives and that the shoe seems to be a good one.

My new Hoka Cliftons

Well 22 event out the 37 target completed 15 to go. It's also getting very close now to the main event on 3rd August. Excited but nervous as well.

Thank you for reading

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