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10:15! Hmmmm, now if my swim was a bit quicker, my transition a bit sharper and, and, and.....
SJ - a bit of swimming 1 to 1, another years bike training, some strength type running so you can run better off the bike..........easy peasy.
Right, I've had a nap and a massive curry so here goes:
Prep: after last year's Outlaw (11:28) I decided that I needed a bit more strength and speed on the bike and, coupled with kinder temperatures on the run I could dip under 11 hours. So I ticked over on the bike at the back end of last year and signed up for the Fred Whitton sportive (brutal hills) and a 50mile trail race just cos I wanted to do one. I thought these would give me a strength boost and keep me off the tarmac. I'd been suffering with leg and groin pain since about August and thought I needed a change in my training to get any real volume in. Basically, more bike, more off- road, less speed.
So, a 40week programme was cobbled together, 10 weeks base building then the 30week Don Fink intermediate programme with a couple of shifts in emphasis to accommodate my Paris and Fred adventures.
First test was in Feb with a 10th place hilly and rough trail marathon finish in lashing rain which gave some confidence that my running was benefitting from the long fell runs at the weekend. Switch to bike straight after and I started hitting the hills in March as part of my overlapping run taper and build for the Fred.
Paris came and went and I thoroughly enjoyed the depths of suffering that ultras can serve up and I was feeling surprisingly intact afterwards (not counting the mangled feet obviously). The bike volume stepped up significantly now and before long I found myself on the Fred Whitton course and received an education in how brutal a bike ride can be. Equivalent to a very hard marathon effort (at least it is the way I ride a bike anyway).
Started to shift focus again now and lifted the swim volume and tried (in vain) to improve my technique, along with switching to long fast bike rides on flatter terrain over the next 6 weeks. A couple of sprint tris and an open water swim event later (none of which went very well) and it was taper time!
2 weeks into the taper I started to feel great. I had the brakes on in every session and felt raring to go. I even cut most of the planned sessions short because I just knew I was ready to go and that I didn't need to prove anything.
Finail race prep: Beet it shots, caffeine taper followed by pro-plus, shaved legs - yes, it all counts. I even cut down on the beer in the last week.
Early night in the hotel before the race (7pm!) and got a good night's sleep and wandered down to the race start to give my bike a hug and get set up and do the usual pre-race stuff. (Beet it shots and caffeine tablets! Interesting.)
Into the water with the masses for a warm up and it's quite warm so hopefully none of the cold-water shock problems I've been having so far this year. Line up in the water for the deep water start and we're off. Ouch. I got absolutely battered in the thrashing about and was constantly blocked and climbed on. I started way off to the left last year and it was much easier. This cost me a few minutes but soon I was off with only infrequent collisions and punches to the head, oh and I was attacked by a swan which was new. A great big white wing whapping me on the head.
The water was very reedy and visibility was much poorer this year making it difficult to find feet to draft behind and I swam the second half of the swim as a solo effort. It's a great feeling coming into a transition and I was hauled out of the water by one of the helper to sprint round the corner like Ali does whilst peeling off my wetsuit. Into the change tent and I slowed down a bit. Mainly because I struggle to reach my feet to put socks and shoes on with my dodgy hip so my transition times are a bit carp but then I'm whizzing through the bike racks and see my steed and we're off. I immediately overtake people round the lap of the lake before hitting the open road. Feeling strong I push the pace to pick people off and try to take advantage of pace lines which forn every now and then.
The water was very reedy and visibility was much poorer this year making it difficult to find feet to draft behind and I swam the second half of the swim as a solo effort. It's a great feeling coming into a transition and I was hauled out of the water by one of the helper to sprint round the corner like Ali does whilst peeling off my wetsuit. Into the change tent and I slowed down a bit. Mainly because I struggle to reach my feet to put socks and shoes on with my dodgy hip so my transition times are a bit carp but then I'm whizzing through the bike racks and see my steed and we're off. I immediately overtake people round the lap of the lake before hitting the open road. Feeling strong I push the pace to pick people off and try to take advantage of pace lines which forn every now and then. The course is made up of 3 loops (2xsouth and 1xnorth). This continued through the first loop and I felt great. Knocking out 22/23mph averages and passing lots.
I made a deliberate choice to find a cluster of riders for the exposed and into-the-headwind 10mile-ish link up to the northern loop and get some minimal shelter. This meant slowing a bit but it's always a balance between speed and energy. Hit the north loop and up and over the only meaningful climb on the ride which was over in a flash compared to Hardknott Pass. A fast long descent into Southwell and felt like a rock star flying through closed roads with 20mph signs up whilst hitting 35
Stupid fat thumbs
Hit an exposed, uphill bit into a headwind now and suddenly there are very few riders around. Grind it out before picking up the pace back down to the southern loop and it's now a very lonely last 40miles or so just concentrating on working hard and getting food and drink into my regularly. Eventually get into T2 and I feel a bit stiff as I get into the tent, struggling to get shoes on again and suddenly feel quite light headed and queezy. Oh dear, a bit of worry that I've over-cooked it - bike split was 5:25 vs last year's 5:38 and wonder if I'll pay for it.
Stagger out of the tent and past the timing mat and the legs feel a bit wobbly - a glance at the watch says 6:30mm.... woah, steady tiger - slow slow slow, I only need 9mm average to hit 10:45 which is well under my 10:59 target so take it easy for the first couple of miles. They average at 7:42mm...! I use the aid stations to take the pace out a bit, walking through each one and pouring water over my head and taking a swig of high5 at each one. This carries on and on, and I feel more and more comfortable and the first 13.1 goes by in 1:45. I know this can't continue so deliberately slow a bit to aim for 8:15mm and maintain this for quite a while. The heat is picking up into the mid 20s and in the direct sun it feels a bit toasty.
SJ, loving your story as it unfolds! Great break in my dreary writing. More please.
The run went by really quick. Passing people the whole way round. Felt shorter than a normal marathon (although my watch confirms that it wasn't) and I felt comfy all the way around until .... I passed the finish chute for the last time and it's now just 2.5 miles to go. I'm on for something under 10:25 and I'm feeling great and then my back tightens up to the point that I'm almost doubled over by the time I reach the top of the lake. 1.2miles to go and my first forced walk break - shuffle to the aid station for a dousing in water and stretch out for a minute or 2 and then off again - I'm having to tip my head right back so that I'm looking at the sky to ease the pressure on my back and to stay upright. For some reason, closing my left eye as well also helps..... Grind it out to the finish line and I'm worrying that I'll blow the 10:30 mark - stagger down the chute - "this guy looks like he's in trouble" says the commentator - hmmm, not looking forward to the pictures - but I make it through the grandstand, slow to a walk, arms to the air with a great cheer and dive/fall rather ungracefully across the line and just lie on the carpet, draped in the finishing tape, face down and grinning
Can't believe my time - almost the perfect race for me and possibly my proudest athletic achievement
other time fiddling with hats and socks etc
35th place out of a shit load of people
I've now got 5weeks to recover before SBU35
Well, congratulations again SJ. Glad for you and hope you bask in this one for a long while. That took some serious guts. Especially like the finish dive! Hope the neck/back is good now.
Apparently my hip flexors were the problem and pulling against my lower back throughout the run - the post race physio massage sorted it pretty quick - I know how to nip it in the bud next time.
The basking has begun VTR. Glass of cava is in hand
I'm hoping this fall I can do the same. Thinking a Ketel One w/tonic and extra lemon would do nicely
Fishy - nice hilly 13.4 miles.SB - good to bounce straight back after a disappointment.GM - that is terrbile news - really sorry to hear that. And no need to apologise.Minni / MsE - cracking Thunder Run! Well done.marrows - good luck with the interval session - I've been doing a mixture of shorter and longers reps over the last couple of weeks and it's ages since I'd done any either. Haven't a clue though - just making it up as I go along.TAR - 3 beats me.VTrunner - good training.SJ - just epic. Brilliant report.Final interval session before the Magic Mile this morning. Just 4 x 300m to save the legs a bit (0:54, 0:55, 0:55, 0:56).
Nice report SJ! What did they do to your hip flexors to fix it? Some of those muscles aren't very accessible, are they?
Thanks Fishy & Badger for the suggestions. I will try one of those whizzdoodle mixed-distance workouts next time. Yesterday I had a squinny at my commute route trying to work out how to fit the pyramid around the road crossings, gave up, and did 6x800m with 90s rest. Aiming at 6m/m and did 2:59,2:49,3:03,2:57,3:04,2:59 - OK.
Gul - you've probably run your mile by now! How did it go?
Morning all, just catching up quickly after a weekend doing various family & cricket "stuff" and then a great day at the Test yesterday. Will have a proper look back over the last couple of pages later, but headlines are an amazing performance from SJ. Really impressive racing and result, and you sound rightly proud of an excellent day. Recover well.
Another significant achievement from the Thunder Runners, Minni & MsE. Impressive podium.
GM - really sorry to hear your news. I can only imagine how you must be feeling. As others have said, if venting on here helps you, then go for it. Difficult to know what to say that could possibly make you feel any better at the moment, but you know that our virtual support is here!
Thanks all for your well wishes. I really appreciate it. Trying to take each day as it comes but it's not easy. Made all the more harder when I am trying to be strong around my 6 year old son. Hopefully I will get through this ok and be happy again.
Great training all and SJ you did so well. Well done.
Gul - Good luck in your mile.
Great report, SJ - such exploits are beyond me; I tip my hat to you . . . . .
Easy pace 8 this morn for me
lightning pop in to heartily congratulate SJ on an epic showing
Minni and MSE - great endurance racing.
Slokey- epic report and you left it all in the race top effort
Gerard- Chin up and miles up
Gul- how did the mile go?
20.5 miles @ 8:23/mile this morn with 799 ft of elevation after 4 days rest , first 10 miles were the worst struggled to get fired up again.
SB - good effort in a hot 10k (and good pace making duties from PMJ), and then a nice 12 miler to back it up.
GM - hope the running therapy can help.
Minni - no experience of trying to fuel anything longer than a mara, so can't really advise. Can't imagine it's a 1 size fits all answer though; must be a very individual thing.
TAR - great chin up work
VTR - nice weekly mileage and LSR. Going along nicely.
TR - you could end up having a cracker on Thursday, all being well. Might just bubble up nicely for you. Had a cracking day yesterday; happy to pay a lot of money to see a Bell 100, so got my wish!
Marrows - nice 800s, especially considering you haven't done any speedwork for a while.
Gul - we're all waiting!
Leslie - excellent LSR.
Got through cricket on Saturday without any adverse reaction from the quad, despite my full 10 over allocation. Then just under 6 miles today, and all is well, so will try to up the easy mileage and get back into things again.
marrows - nice intervals.Leslie - well done on toughing it out.Abbers - sounds promising - take it easy.Sorry guys, my earlier post was a bit ambiguous. I meant that this morning I did my final interval session - my Magic Mile event is on Friday at 5:30 am (not expecting anyone else to turn up!)
Sounds like a sensible time to do an all out effort Gul!
Thanks very much /Merci beaucoup for the plaudits folks. On reflection it really was a special day with lots of things going well.
Marrows, finger tips being jammed into my groin followed by thumbs into lower back did the job.
Good news Abbers - gently does it.
I've just formally entered (with 1 day left before entries close) the SBU35 for 5 weeks time. Off-road 35 miler from Bassenthwaite Lake to St Bees via Honister Pass. That should shake the legs out a bit......
Lovely report, SJ. That's a terrific achievement.
I felt tall and proud when I wheeled my new 'Boardman for Beginners' out of the bike shop today. After a quick ride around the carpark, where I failed to work out how to change gear, I wheeled it back inside, in search of the uber-cool sales assistant Adam. As he taught me how to operate my new bicycle, I tried not to notice the smirk beneath his Kings Of Leon beard. The scamp.
Anyway, gears a-go-go, I set off on what turned out to be my longest ever bike ride. 33 miles, ladies and gentlemen. Completed with unassisted gear changes.Ha! Take that, beardy.
Nice read, SJ. Congrats. Fingertips and groins and thumbs and backs doesn't sound like much fun.
GM, sorry to hear. I don't have any sage advice, except that you should stick with us.
A few weeks back, I must have jinxed myself by suggesting that I was ticking along injury free... my left hip flexor was niggling a bit at the end of last week (end of a 3 week cycle of increasing distance/intensity... just possibly perhaps a correlation there), so I've blown off last weekend's runs and will sit on me #r$e for a couple more days. Sigh.
Rennur, hope it's minor and that you heal up quickly!
TAR, can picture the exchange. Glad you managed things so nicely on your distance breaking ride. I think I need to buy a real road bike to spark some love for that sport (and save my joints in the process...I just run).
Leslie, nice effort. Miles in the bank.
Abbers, you're rolling again. Hoping it's all blue sky from here for you.
Today did 11.5 w/8 at subLT. But due to a poor food choice prerun cramped up so bad had to walk after 6th fast mile. And walk I did (about 1.5 miles of cramped misery to a public bathroom!). After that 2 more miles easy and then 2 more fast as I neared home. I'll mark this as something never to repeat again! Dairy is evil...
SJ - Honister Pass - must be torture.TAR - respect. Just time left to enter the SBU35 if youre' quick!Rennur - hope the niggle has cleared up.VTr - unlucky.6 easy miles and a haricut this morning.