Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Post K42 Mallorca

It's over as quick as it starts in the running world, and having returned home I've had time to reflect on my K42 Mallorca adventure in the mountains of the Sierra de Tramuntana on the Island of Mallorca. Not least that there are huge thanks due to so many great people, including, Mountain Fuel, who started the ball rolling and keep me well fueled with a system that works well for me. In addition, The race organisers who had a very well oiled machine looking after a party of seven of us. The Agency for Tourism of the Balearic Islands (ATB) who are working hard to provide cultural and quality tourism experiences in the area and without their support to the race we would not have the opportunity to experience Mallorca in it's natural beauty, opening my eyes to aspects of the Island that I had not previously considered, I have not been disappointed. Huge thanks to Mayayo Oxigeno who knows, understands and is a remarkable figure in the Spanish Trail running world.  My kit sponsors Raidlight who continue with their support and encourage me to in what ever my next adventure would be. Finally, Vo2Max coaching's Martin Cox, who's remarkable style gets the best out of me.

When considering my experience in Mallorca, I've put a report together that can be read HERE. It is a challenging race, with terrain that is not for the faint hearted and it's probably best to not make this the first trail/mountain race that you embark upon. However, it was well suited to Brits and those who are familiar with the rugged English, Welsh or Scottish mountains. The national parc is in a beautiful part of the Island and the race comes at the right time of the year for those who want a sunny day, without too much heat that it impacts significantly on your capacity to run well. It's a great starter for the year, and is on our doorstep.

Anyone who is interested in the race I have  GPS for your perusal so get in touch. Happy reading.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Pre K42 Mallorca

18th March 2017

Made it to Mallorca via Barcelona for the K42 Mallorca race in Paguera on Sunday 19th March. First mountain race of the year and I'm happy to be back out there on the trail. It's been a tough winter nursing problems in my wonky left leg which meant that plans had to change and change again. It meant listening to sense and reason (thanks Vo2max coaching) and being patient. I'm confident that that reasoning will give me another wonderful year out here in Europe and beyond in the world of trail running.

First time racing in Mallorca... in the Spanish mountains generally to be honest, although I've had the opportunity to run with some remarkable Spanish trail runners in the past.

The event Organisers have us looked after well and have put us in the safe and capable hands of Sergio who has taken us out on the finish of the usual course this morning. The route is changing this year as the usually dry river bed run for the latter part of the race is currently full of water. So we won'tactually be running that section but it was nice to get a feel for the terrain ahead.

Here's what a few of us had to say last night:

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Courmayer- Champex Lac- Chamonix CCC

Winding down the summer with the CCC seemed the right thing to do this year.

26th August 2016
6100m of vert.  
I had very little agenda for this race as I'm inexperienced at running this kind of distance/vert in Europe and it was hot hot hot.
I didn't use any gadgets, preferring to simply run by feel and listen and respond to my body. I didn't even wear a watch. There was no pressure, no expectations but an aim to just get out there and run. To run free in this manner allowed me to tune in better to how I was physically responding during the race. I felt in control.

It had been hot hot hot in the Alps for the previous four days, On race day temperatures were in the high 20's and touching 30 in the valley's. I have no experience of hot weather running for a lengthy period. I've not had the opportunities in training, to emulate those conditions. I was going out there blind with some good advice to help me cope. This was going to be a great learning opportunity. And it proved to be just that.

Pre race fueling

Temperature control/hydration and management
I started out with 500ml of Mountain Fuel and 350ml of water. In terms of hydration the plan was to alternate between the two in order to keep a steady flow of fuel, isotonic and water. It was important to get the balance right with the fluids. Physically, I cope with approximately 400ml of fluid an hour (maximum) any more than that and the liquid sloshes around and puts my body under too much stress causing me uncomfortableness, bloating and nausea. Quite simply I can’t utilise the volume of liquid quickly enough. I was functioning on the edge of keeping on top of hydration and knowing that if there was "one sip to many" then I'd be thrown into the uncomfortable nausea and bloating feelings mentioned. I recognised that it's not all about having to keep drinking in order to manage oneself efficiently in order to keep cool. Rather, it's key take the holistic approach when getting the heat management right. 

Temperature control was therefore a combination of strategies. From the off, the simple things such as hydrating well in the days pre race (whilst not overloading with fluid), and during the race: through wearing the  Raidlight Ultralight Trail Tank, (a technical vest) and the Saharienne cap, (often used in desert races) were all essential to keep me going under the conditions. Furthermore, on race morning I slathered myself in factor 50 sun cream and during the race I didn't pass a stream, Potage or watering hole without a dip. I soaked sweat bands to keep my wrists areas cool in order to reduce the temperature of the blood and subsequently, rest of my body. I kept my feet cool and walked through the streams, the LCF socks that I wore were technical enough to easily cope with being wet and not causing me any blisters or issues. 

I used H2Opro salt tablets in an attempt to keep on top of sodium loss. Sodium helps you maintain blood volume which in turn helps with management of your core temperature, delivering blood to working muscles and the skin. As sodium loss is different for every one, I don’t know how much I lose however, one sodium tablet every two hours kept me moving, and further addressed cramps in my hands and feet that sporadically appeared.

Champex Lac
My main fuel source was Extreme Energy Fuel by Mountain Fuel.It contains essential electrolytes for optimum bio-functions which helped me avoid fatigue during the race. I mixed 500ml and constantly sipped throughout the race. At Check points I craved oranges which is the only additional food I felt I wanted until the half way point at Champex Lac CP. My support crew had brought along my pre prepared potatoes, tomatoes and rice, I tried to keep topped up with these foods however I simply wanted tomatoes and oranges. That coupled with the MF was enough to keep me well stocked up.

The race
First trail 
Courmayer Start
Courmayer start around town
The race itself went ok. It took me 8 hours to unravel myself off the start line as I was conservative until the sun went down, concentrating on attrition rather than speed. It is likely to have cost me in terms of times (and places). I had a lot to make up once the heat was no longer an issue, yet, I needed another 8 hours to get that time back. A disappointing result, yet, the knowledge and experienced gained far outweighs the result.

Raidlight UK for your support and provision: 
Carbon Ultra compact Pole
Ultralight Trail Tank
Active Lady tight short
Responsive race vest
Saharienne cap
Soft flasks
Mountain Fuel for provision:
Xtreme Engery Fuel - tropical and Blackcurrent
Morning Fuel
Recovery Fuel
VO2maxcoaching - MC for professional guidance

The End

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Last of the back to back days in the mountains before the feet come off the pedal (or rock). The CCC is fast approaching and training has been consistent and productive. Here are some of the comments made by Joe Public as a trail runner passes on a busy Snowdon's Llanberris path:

"she's stupid or mad"
"they should carry bells"
"I keep getting paranoid that a runner is coming up behind me"
"where are your ski's"

Here's what you hear on the way up to Yr Aron:

Press here

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Scafell Pike Trail Marathon

It's the height of British summer time, so the weekend weather of constant rain, blustery winds and grim grey weather was of no surprise. I'd entered the Scarfell Pike Trail Marathon ad hoc and consequently had no expectations. Over the previous couple of weeks, I was still feeling Zugspitz in my legs and so treating the Trail Marathon as a training run seem pretty sensible. 

It's a 27 mile race with approximately 1700m of ascent in the Lake District. In fact, Scafell Pike is England's highest mountain and I was excited to be racing to the summit and back down.

 There was plenty of chance to warm up as the first few miles are flat following the trails along Derwent water and a chance to find and settle into you pace, just before a change in tempo as the climbing starts through Borrowdale. A short taster to get the calves working and ready for Scafell. The weather proved testing, causing the rocks to be greasy and every opportunity to slip and slide your way to the summit. Anyone who is familiar with Scarfell Pike, will know of the corridor route with the boulders and the technical terrain nearer the top which is pretty incessant. I took a total of four falls during the course of the race, the most epic being on the drop off the summit in the boulder field. It shook my confidence on the rock and in the shoes that I was wearing, so I gingerly limped my way off the mountain for 15 mins before the pain and fear subsided. I managed, eventually, to get into my groove again, yet I had lost a lot of time. It is a difficult descent passing broad crag and heading for Esk Hause and Sty head. The difficulty is with the changing terrain and simply not being able to get complacent or take your eye off the ground. It's the English mountains at their best, there is nothing manicured about the tracks and limited obvious path at times. The race requires some navigation on the way up, over and off the summit, however the marshals had helpfully put a few flags en route as the clag was down which meant some of the mental work alleviated and folk could concentrate on staying upright in the wind, up on feet on the boulders and move quick enough so as not to develop hypothermia. Ok Ok, I may be being dramatic here! 

I believed I'd lost so much time that I was soon to be caught by the ladies behind, so I resigned myself to my fate and was happy to have not sustained any serious injuries, reminded myself it was a training run and enjoyed the rest of my time on the course. Beautiful forest, running alongside waters edges, paths, roads, tracks and grateful that I was feeling fresh enough to keep plodding on wards. 

There is a sting in the tail in this race up to Watendlath so if you've left it all on Scafell then you'll struggle over the last hour or so on the approach to the finish. I think my time lost earlier through superficial injuries had in fact, ensured that I didn't push it too hard too early and found that I had plenty left to push on over the latter stages. 

I was shocked to have finished first lady given my attitude to it being a training race and certainly had not expected to win. I'm not going to complain, the trophy is amazing, it's a firm reminder of the rocks that I had been breaking my neck on all day long. 

Super race High Terrain events
Thanks Raidlight UK for supplying my trusty kit
And a special thanks to My coach Martin for your wise and trusted knowledge

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Comedy in Ultrarunning

I first met Nadeem in 2013, at the IAU world championships in Wales UK. Who is this guy? Well, he's a member of the committee for the International Association of Ultra Runners (IAU). His primary role is the director of communications (among others) and he's certainly a character to spend some time communicating with as he's a warm, welcoming and modest individual. He's also knows a think or two about ultra running given that he's ran twice for Canada in the 24 hour World Championships (Taipei in 2006 and Drummondville in 2007).  I was lucky to catch him during his visit to Manchester in the UK this weekend as he's usually based in Canada.

So, what is the IAU?
Simply put, it's an association that is focused on developing Ultradistance running internationally within the IAAF rules and regulations. It aims to promote and develop long distance running world wide.

There is no doubt that ultra running has experienced a BOOM and more and more folk are discovering the beauty of the sport, particularly the trail running within the sport. For what is 'hot', races, news and general up to date what's occurring in the international world of the sport, then it's certainly worth a visit to the site and peruse at your leisure. International Association of Ultra Runners

We spend some time at the local comedy club, Ultra runners share a wonderful mentality, no matter your individuality and diversity there is a knowing and understanding that only UR share, Joe Blogs struggles to 'get it' at best. I'm wasn't sure if the crude (and funny for us locals) Manchester comedy scene is ready for the USA sense of humor, however, it was great to see Nadeem enjoying some nostalgic comedy and enjoying his experience.

Thank you Comedy Store Manchester for a great evening and IAU for supporting and promoting the Sport.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Rain Run

Completed my first long run since Zugspitz today. There were no mountains and it was a pretty uneventful flat and easy canal towpath for an easy 80 min run.

What I adored about this run was the rain! Why? Well, there are a few great reasons for enjoying rain runs. Firstly, the rain clears all the public places outdoors of folk who would rather stay dry in comfort of their homes. Which means there is less people dodging and a more peaceful run. Secondly, once wet, I don't notice the rain, it spices the run up and I stay cooler. I loved this run, just over 9 and half miles, an easy recovery, happy run. Keep at it folks.