Monday, 26 August 2013

Video clips from the Grand Tour of Skiddaw race

Just having a bit of a play around with my new camera, trying different settings and upload options.

This is a short video of the runners, both on the way out and the way back at the Caldbeck checkpoint on The Grand Tour of Skiddaw race.

If I have managed to adapt the embed code properly, I'm hoping the video should play in some sort of HD mode giving much higher quality than all my previous videos.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Grand Tour of Skiddaw

Just a quick post to get a few pictures out there from The Grand Tour of Skiddaw yesterday. I spend a happy day marshalling at the Caldbeck checkpoint which the runners visited twice on the route.

Looks like a cracking event that will grow and grow. Definitely one I have placed on the to-do-list.

These are all snapshots I have taken from video clips on a new mini HD video camera. I have upgraded in the hope of improving the quality of my video clips for the blog, so once I have had a good play around with the settings, worked out how best to upload to Yourtube/Vimeo and sussed out how to embed in HD, we'll see how it works out.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Ring O Fire preparation

It's all been a bit strange in the build up to the Ring O Fire race in just over a week's time. For my previous long ultras like the West Highland Way and the Lakeland 100, I have carefully planned a 3 week taper and have had no problems keeping to the plan, this time I have found it difficult to stop myself from going out for a run and have, in fact, done probably too much training over the last four weeks, to the point where I now have to take some rest days to stop myself from getting injured.

The obvious difference in the build up to this race is that I will have been off work (school holidays) for the six weeks leading up to the race. When I am not charging round like an idiot at work all day long, I have so much more time, energy and inclination to go out training - so I do!

On my previous visit down to Anglesey to have a look at the course, I definitely overdid the first day of running (45 miles in hot conditions) and then compounded the body-kicking with 23 miles the next day. It took me some time to get over that physically, though it was great, psychologically, to run those two big days back to back.

Last week, Tracey and I went down again to spend another few days on the island and I planned to do a couple of 20 milers, back to back as my last big push before easing back in the final couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I made a bit of a schoolboy error and miscalculated the distances between checkpoints and ended up doing 30 miles on the first day and then the planned 20 miles on the following day. Still, I felt fairly good doing it and finished strong on day 2, again giving a confidence boost that I might be able to cope with the full 3 days.

There are a few interesting points on the course, including times when you have to wade in the sea round rock out-crops on the beach. On my recce it was only thigh deep, but it could be interesting on race day if the tide is any higher! One thing I am going to do is carefully check the high tide times just prior to the race, estimate what time of day I will be at the significant points round the course and then make a decision as to whether I need to take the slightly longer but much drier options along the coastal path.

My route round the outcrop!!

Having done these two back-to-back sessions in the space of two weeks, I am feeling the effects a little and have, therefore, really backed off the running and am just going to trot out a few easy jogs in the final two weeks build up. I am starting to put together a battle plan, but am going to have a very different focus for this race than I had for the West Highland Way Race a couple of months ago; it will be interesting to see how things work out. I'll put some final thoughts together just before I head off down to Anglesey again for the race proper in the middle of next week.

This weekend, I am really looking forward to marshaling on the Grand Tour of Skiddaw Race. I'll be helping to look after the runners at the Caldbeck checkpoint, so if you are in the race, good luck and I look forward to seeing you spring in and out of the checkpoint on your way to achieving whatever goals you have set yourself.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Recovering and moving on

Following the WHW, I had a rough plan of recovery in mind; roughly three weeks of occasional jogging then try a normal easy week of training with the aim of being back in full training by the end of the summer term. This would give me time to get four weeks of good training done before a short taper for the Ring O Fire Race at the end of August.

The first part of this plan went well and I limited myself to some easy jogs and was quite happy to do nothing on some days and not beat myself up about it. After three weeks it was time to get the old mojo flowing again and what better way to do that than spend another weekend training with Richie over some more of the Lakeland 100 route? We spent a couple of hours running back to Keswick from Buttermere on the Saturday evening climbing via Sail Pass.

Dropping towards Braithwaite

On the Sunday, we had a look at the final few sections of the route, from Ambleside to Coniston and once again spent most of the time trying to take in the full beauty of The Lake District looking her Sunday best. I have really enjoyed showing Richie around the Lakes and again, as last year with John, watching someone else obviously loving this part of the country, it reminds me how lucky I am to live here. Mojo levels through the roof.


The final week of term, when I intended to have a normal steady training week, kind of didn't happen. I found that having spent a lot of the day out in the sun, by the time I got home I had had enough and just wanted to stay inside the house where it was a bit cooler. Part of me was saying this was such a waste but, on occasions, I really felt it would be ridiculous to spend another hour or so back in the sun. In an ideal world I would have gone out training in the morning but my body clock does not live in the real world, my body clock likes to live snuggled under the sheets on a nice fluffy pillow.

I made my annual pilgrimage to The Open golf championship on the weekend of 20/21 July and, as you can imagine, on a lads weekend away there was no time, energy, inclination or desire to train so, despite the rough plan, training post WHW started on Monday 22 July, just over four weeks from the race.

Tracey and I decide to spend a bit of time away in the camper van and headed off down to watch the start of the Lakeland 100 in Coniston. It was great to catch up with friends and watch this amazing event from a totally different perspective compared to last year. Folk kept asking me if I wished I was running and, for the most part, the immediate answer was no. This event was never on my radar this year and it was nice to just chat to friends and not worry about how the next 24+ hours would pan out. The only time I did waver and felt like I wanted to set off on the adventure again was as we watched the runners go past us on the way up to the Miners Bridge just after the start. A short run along the shore of Coniston Water seemed to get that feeling out of my system.

The adventure begins

I wont go into the full blow by blow account of the race itself, you can see details on the race website or for more personal accounts try the race Facebook page, needless to say I spent most of the Saturday glued to my phone checking for updates on friends running the race.

I spent another day watching golf on the Saturday, this time at Birkdale for the Seniors Open and then we finally made our way in the van to Anglesey so I could have a look at some of the route for the Ring O Fire race.

What a spectacular course it is! In essence it is really simple; three days of racing round the 131 miles of the coastal path round the whole of the island. I had it in my head that it would be relatively flat with a few ups and downs but, if nothing else, the recce has given me some food for thought with regard to a race plan.

In an effort to make logistics a bit easier, I ran a long first day (around 45 miles!) and a shorted second day (23 miles) and have now covered all of Day 1 and Day 3 of the race. For the most part, the route is really well signed so navigation is not too much of an issue, though I did spend odd minutes here and there just making sure I had got the correct route. What was important is that I now know what to expect with regard to the terrain which I think is really important so I know how pay out my energy levels over the course of the day.

Top tan lines!

One thing is for sure; if the weather is good it is going to be a stunning journey and if the weather is bad it is going to be man-suit time in a big way. Check out the video of the two days to get a flavour of the route.

Ring O Fire Race recce from Recovery Beyond on Vimeo.

Sun setting on the Mother Ship

Although I am not making the race a major priority for the year, I am really looking forward to the run and cannot wait to see how my body will cope with three consecutive days of ultra marathons. My right foot has been very sore the last couple of days (I think I may have tied my laces too tight on the first day of the recce) so I have taken a few days off and will spend this weekend having a couple of cycle rides before I try running again. I'm not sure if I will have time to go down to Anglesey again before the race to recce the full 65 miles of the second day but I may have a look at some of the route. Any excuse to get out of decorating/gardening!