Archive

Monthly Archives: October 2013

20131023-190014.jpg

Today is Wednesday and in a few short hours it’ll be Thursday, worse comes when we see it’s Friday the day after that and the creeping realisation arrives that you are just a few small hours from the most testing and demanding thing you have ever done. You are a few small insignificant hours away from the total destruction of your right Achilles, you, yes you are looking into, as Barry Cryer describes it, ‘the gaping anus of Christ’ – I may be paraphrasing and therefore my apologies Barry. Saturday morning will arrive and Saturday afternoon will come, perhaps Saturday evening with Brucie will still turn up and you won’t miss the 50th Anniversary of doctor who. You’ll sit there clutching at the memory of the life you once had, you’ll explore the days ahead with new found awe and everyone wil bow respectfully at your feet because you’ve changed, you’ve just become more than superhuman – you’ve become a survivor. You my friend like I have just run it.

Thats right, despite carrying more injuries than I can shake a stick at, despite being a chocolate addict that can’t give up that creamy and dreamy taste I am going to line up with the other incredibly ridiculous runners on a cold and probably wet Welsh morning for the Snowdonia Marathon.

Hear me roar Wales, UltraBoy is coming to get you.

Advertisements

20131023-040359 pm.jpg

I saw a post recently on Urban Running from Running Mum and thought it was a truly excellent piece and caused me to consider my own urban running. Why? Well, I began to think that I was one of those shits who simply expects people to get out of my way and expects the roads to open up in front of me but then I was discussing this very topic this morning and discovered that actually I’m pretty courteous.

However, the following is true;

I run straight towards people
When I do run straight towards people I always move out of their way, I’m the one going quickly, I’m going to take the appropriate action and I try to indicate to people which way I’m going so as not to cause distress.

I jump out into the road
When I jump out into the road I always look before I leap and look before I leap back too.

I run in front of the traffic be it ahead or behind me
I only take windows of opportunity that are available and usually none life threatening but I will travel on the road until it is no longer safe to do so and I’m a very good judge of traffic. I am very aware of the traffic after four young gentlemen while I was running along the back of Oxford Street pushed me into the oncoming traffic, this had the effect of me hitting the side of a taxi and rolling along it and off the back into the road – thankfully there was nothing behind as had there been I would have been killed. The guys just laughed and continuing wandering down the road. I got up and dusted myself off and despite being shaken continued running.

I have shouted ‘meemeep’ to get my fellow pavement users out of the way
I would never shout offensive things to the fellow pavement or road users (including cyclists) but when I run through Covent Garden at rush hour I do like to pretend I’m the roadrunner and call out meemeep as my warning sound. This is especially effective with Americans and children.

I have tutted when groups of tourists have gotten in my way
I try to be considerate but when you are narrow streets and are a large group it would do you no harm to be considerate too and so yes I will grumble to them as I go past and think this is perfectly acceptable

I have shoulder barged tourists on the embankment and not apologised
On occasion when I’ve been going flat out I have misjudged the odd space and smacked straight into someones shoulder usually and I haven’t stopped. I probably should and I’d like to apologies here and now for anyone I might have accidentally bruised during my running escapades. I have also been known to slap into someone who is hogging a pavement to make a bit of a point – pavements are designed to go in multiple directions and when those who can clearly see you coming make no effort to let you pass then why should I be the bigger person and step into the road? I mean I usually do but when they look you in the eye and challenge you that pisses me off – shoulder slap!

I have been called a ‘cunt’ by people on Westminster Bridge as I run past them
Funnily it’s the language of the cyclists that gets me the most. I was once deliberately pushed into the cycle lane by a pedestrian, the cyclist who was going beyond me called me ‘you giant fucking cunt’ – rather an over reaction as I barely slipped into the road and managed to get back on the pavement pretty quickly. As I passed him at the traffic lights a few hundred metres later at the traffic lights near Waterloo I did give a rather long two fingered salute – childish I know but he deserved it.

I do weave through people traffic and take no prisoners
I make no bones about it, if I’m running at 3.30per km I’m going to need to weave between people and not lose my groovy pacing. Straight lines simply aren’t available in London during rush hour and therefore I dodge between people but I do it in as polite a way as possible.

I do run through the ticket section of Blackfriars station
I love running through the ticket sections of train stations, Blackfriars, Charing Cross, London Bridge – to name but a few. Hearing the sound of the TfL guys telling me to slow down is a sound I never tire of. Breaking rules, I’m such a bad man! Ha.

I will leap between people when there is a slightly too small gap
I’m a designer, I work with space, I see space, I understand how it all comes together and I know where I can fit. In the distance I’m judging the spaces in front of me. I see people and watch how they are walking, when and where they will connect and can I dive between them. I pull my shoulders tight, push my arms forward and follow through with a ‘meemeep’ and an occasionally ‘woohoo’ if it was very tight. Its childish but by crikey its fun.

So, yes, I probably am an inconsiderate urban runner but not the most inconsiderate and I do try to think of other road and pavement users and while I may fail sometimes because I am occasionally a bit of what the cyclist described me as I will continue to try. I like to think that it isn’t just the urban runner who can be inconsiderate but intact all road and pavement users and if we all thought a little more about the things we do the world would be a much better and generally safer place – but then maybe some of the thrill is in the barbed exchanges and danger.

Happy running.

20131021-084721 am.jpg

I could sum this up in one sentence, that sentence would be ‘feck me that was fun’. But this would provide an injustice to supporting a lovely new event that clearly took lots of organisation and had certain challenges of nature that threw things slightly into chaos – let me explain.

I signed up a couple of weeks ago to Xtreme Beach with Xtreme running because it simply sound an absolute hoot and because at the time I didn’t have a knackered Achilles, but just a few short days before, for the first time I injured the one thing that I really didn’t want to injure. Thankfully with a lot of effort and a lot of ice I managed to drag myself to start line in Bradwell on Sea in Essex. The first thing we noticed was that the emailed out directions to the event were very good and we arrived in very good time with the added bonus of free parking. Awaiting us was signage to indicate we had arrived and there were runners and race organisers floating around directing people over to the start line – all good so far. I even noticed that the couple of toilets weren’t in bad condition either – although I was there early and didn’t use them but the good lady did and she wasn’t too distressed by them.

I nipped over to the registration tent where I remembered that I had left my ‘Waiver form’, say on the printer at home, but the guys resolved this problem pretty easily for which I was grateful. I was asked how many laps I intended to do and I offered my usual – all of them please answer, the full 18km. I had decided that I would keep running until it was no longer safe to do so and therefore I needed to make sure I had the right amount of distance signed up for.

I was a little distressed as my feet had taken a soaking in the long grass on the way to the registration but there was nothing to be done about this now and although I had now seem a much drier path it was too late – perhaps a little directional signage would have helped here? I have to say though it was a rather jovial atmosphere though and by the time a few dozen runners had arrived and the music was in full swing, one could of mistaken this for a bit of rave had it not been for the early morning setting and the amount of trainers and Lycra on show. Sadly it then turned a bit miserable when the first obstacle hit home – the hail storm, this was well and truly beyond the organisers control but being in the long grass of the field with no cover meant that we pretty much all took quite an unpleasant soaking and the race was still 45 minutes away. I was freezing and contemplated pulling out as what looked like a load of fun now looked like being pretty miserable but I’m glad I didn’t.

10.30 turned up and the race should have started but over the PA system we heard it was running a few minutes late and that the warm up would take place soon. This was fine as at least they kept us informed and the warm up was okay although I felt some of it in the long grass might have led to potential injuries and given my already knackered state I took this section rather easy. So despite a few teething problems, mostly caused by Mother Nature the registration was pretty smooth.

At the start line we all ganged up together and readied for the off, I started in my customary place at the back and would work my way forward, the first kilometre was fine although bereft of any really nice scenery or challenges and I used this to move up the field a little bit. Then we saw it, the first of the challenges, we crossed into what can only be described as a very long stream of glorious shit, chest high in places and filling all our crevices with black mud. My Speedcross 3 with their gloriously grippy grip kept getting caught in the mud and refusing to come free but I powered forward as only a runner can! I slipped at one point and my head was dunked just below the surface and this was the bit where I knew I was going to enjoy this. After what felt like an age we came out of the mud and many of the runners simply started to walk but I pulled myself out and started to run for the monkey bars, it was a great disappointment that I saw a number of the runners avoiding the black pool of filth because if you weren’t going to do the adventure element of the race then what was the point? Anyway I digress .. I managed about 2/3 of the monkey bars and then hurtled past a dude called Gary who I had met earlier, I jumped under the first of the netting and used my head as a guide (getting friction burns on my scalp I think!) coming out of this was a delight until I crossed onto the beach and the lovely Marshall advised we were going down on hands and knees again. I adopted the same routine and came up for air quickly, holding the netting for my fellow competitors. Pushing onwards and upwards I came to the tyre lift and hurled some abuse at a lovely chap who was offering comedy support, into the water once again and then back out hurling my tyre on the rack. I was now tiring, more from a lack of training and being injured than the course but it was taking its toll and I hoped to simply make it to that second lap. I threw myself over the double wall they had erected and then onto the bag of stone lift – it was here I decided on doing just a single lap as the weight of the stone make breathing difficult and while I recovered once the weight was off me I wasn’t sure I fancied it again and my Achilles was feeling tighter than I had hoped. I therefore trundled beyond the turn, thanking the Marshall and organiser at the turning but deciding to go to the finish. I did give the finish a bit of fizz as is my usual way and I sprinted straight into the final obstacle of two large gentlemen brandishing large cushioned batons to beat me with! Ha, wonderful.

I was cut, bloodied and bruised but I felt rather wonderful at the finish line and this was a great event.

Perhaps a few things to consider though, I run for the bling … I suppose I’d rather have a medal than a t-shirt, the goody bag was decent, banana, hot soup, T-shirt, water (although would like to have seen the logo on the T-shirt). The registration area would probably have been better in the car park, or on slightly more even and drier ground given the autumnal setting and then we could have been led to the start line.

The marshals were excellent, giving clear directions and lots of lovely support, so many thanks to them. I imagine that as the event gets bigger and better the organisers will add little tricks and touches to the route and the obstacles but I thought they made great use of the landscape and terrain in developing complex challenges. The choice of 6,12 and 18km on the day and as you are going round was also very welcome and that option to stop when you needed to meant I was actually able to participate despite injury.

I would certainly do this again, although the normal entry price of £40 seems reasonably steep – even things like the Grim and Beast in the East manage to keep it a little cheaper than this but the discounts via Twitter (and I imagine Facebook) made the cost more sensible – infact for the £22.00 I paid I thought it was a bargain.

In conclusion I can say a few things, the first is that while this is not on the scale of the Mens Health Survival of the Fittest, nor Grim Challenge it has an epic charm all of its own and if they manage to tweak some of the very minor problems in registration then they have a winning formula and coupled with a great attitude and a listening ear this event will become a regular on many peoples calendar. Finally I would like to congratulate the organisers for their hard work because without them we wouldn’t have places to race and they seemed so genuinely passionate – plus the thing I really loved was that they wanted the runners feedback – this is the kind of thing that will make this event stand out as it moves forward. So thanks very much and good luck for the future Xtreme Running and I look forward to seeing you for the 18km next year.

Three ultra marathons this year, all over 12hours, all rather wet, one freezing cold and all of them a challenge but not for me, they were a challenge for my primary support crew, the wife and the dog. She’s the designated driver – I don’t drive, she walks the hound while I run , giving him probably the most fun he’s had in a month but even a dog walk can’t last the whole length of me running. She carries my additional supplies, usually changes of clothing, spare socks, additional food and good cheer. She’s also my primary cameraman which I have to say I’m grateful for because over the last few years of racing she’s got some rather nice shots of me. She acts as support for the other runners as she waits at the checkpoints, often helping out the official runners, she’s a bit of a legend and I couldn’t do it without her, which is why I say my medals are often run for in her honour (and the dogs). But next year I’m running at least four ultra marathons, probably more likely seven or eight in an effort to ensure I get the UTMB points I so desperately crave and this leaves me with a problem – my friends aren’t really runners and they are spread out across the globe so asking them to crew for me is a bit of a no go and I’ve discovered that this is a problem for many of the ultra running fraternity. It seems to me that this is the greatest struggle of the ultra marathoner – that our nearest and dearest do get a bit bored of standing round at checkpoints waiting for us to turn up.

So what do we do? One solution, which is the one I will be adopting for at least my first couple of ultras next year is to run them completely solo. This offers a couple of unique experience challenges – I will have to carry all my own kit, there won’t be anything waiting for me at the mid point, it would just be me and the spare pair of Vibrams and 12litres of space in my Ultimate Directions vest. But then there is the alternative, ultra runners by their nature seem to gravitate towards one another and I know that at the very least a couple of my lovely twitter followers offered to support me on my aborted TG100 attempt and this gave me a thought – perhaps the Twitter community could be helping each other out? Now I don’t drive so I wouldn’t be much use in the driving round stakes but I would make a decent pacer for so someone doing a 100 miler to help them through those most difficult of stages. Plus this would be an excellent way for practice on some genuinely tough trails but also what fun knowing that you helped someone achieve their dream.

It seems to me that this makes for a way to give something back in addition to the volunteering element – something I also intend to get into over the next year or so.

So there we go twitter and wordpress I am offering myself out as crew, to help support one or more of my fellow runners, of course it’s subject to being available, free of injury and the like but then you racing is dependent on those factors too, but what needn’t be a factor is a lack of crew support. I hope more of the wonderful social media community will consider thinking about this too because as the song says ‘we get by with a little from our friends’.

I saw some tweets earlier this week about body confidence week and thought that was an interesting idea – at first I thought it was to do with a response to fat shaming week, which would mean that body confidence week was about bigger people showing that they can be confident but as I’ve watched this unfold I can see that it is much more open to interpretation than that and therefore, on my running blog, I’m writing about this.

I run, I run far, I run fast sometimes but I love chocolate, I’m 36 and I work behind a desk, I never take my shirt off in public and I avoid tight fitting clothing wherever possible – I’m not fat, I’m not even particularly big at 5’8ish and about 72kg but I’ve never been confident in my body. It was all about a big nose, or slightly round in the middle or big thighs or hairy feet, there has always been something I’ve been ashamed of. Running has helped me enormously in both keeping fit and helping me to redefine my own confidence and when I line up at the start of a race I don’t mind wearing tight fitting clothing, partly because I need to, to avoid chaffing but also because I know I’ve worked hard to keep myself in check. I could write about all the embarrassing episodes to do with body confidence but then why should I air my dirty washing in public instead I’ll simply say that I am hugely impressed by anybody that can stand up and say ‘I am confident in my body, I’m not perfect but I like myself.’ I’ll never be quite sure I can do this but I’m working my way towards it and if I never get there at least I know I’ve gave it my best shot – now where’s my skin tight mankini…

20131015-184645.jpg

I was told yesterday that words love and hate should be used sparingly however, I have a different feeling, I argued that you should use these terms when it is appropriate. Therefore let me start by saying I 100% love my Skora Phase running shoe. This review is based on my recent purchase of Skora Phase and I have no affiliation with them, I write this because I use them, so let’s start off with what the company say

PHASE is constructed using the latest lamination techniques, with a minimal single-layer mesh upper and laminated reflective details. With an asymmetric lacing system and unique IBR outsole, PHASE provides maximum performance with minimum weight and interference. Zero-drop, 11mm stack height outsole (8mm without insole).

PHASE is built on our revolutionary IBR (Injection Blown Rubber) platform. R02 pushes the boundaries of material technology. IBR offers better abrasion resistance, grip and compression-set than injected EVA with lower density and weight than rubber. This provides a runner with incredible ground feel and running comfort in an amazingly durable, flexible and lightweight complete package.

FEATURES
– REALFIT™ last
– Airmesh upper
– Laminated reflective overlays (no-sew)
– Asymmetrical lacing
– Anti-slip microfibre heelpad
– No-tongue design
– Reflective details
– IBR (Injected Blown Rubber) outsole
– Rubber toe bumper
– Zero-drop construction
– Stitch-down construction
– 8mm Forefoot/heel stack height
– 3mm Antimicrobial insole

What does any of that mean? Very little if you think about it, when you buy a pair of shoes you buy them because you think they might offer you something in the ride or because you like the colour or because you trust the brand named for me with Skora none of these applied, I was actually looking for a lightweight replacement work shoes to cover the job previously done by my Dunlop Green Flash, which I’ll be honest are not a great shoe anymore. I had seen some reviews for Skora running shoes via some of the American tweeters that I follow and given the zero drop and barefoot style feel, combined with a colour way suited to the workplace that these might be for me. So I started looking for them on the internet but finding a stockist, who also have a physical shop is near impossible – a bit like the early days of Vibram Fivefingers. At the point of giving up I happened upon a Sports pursuit sale and there I found the Skora Phase and without a moments hesitation I was ordering my first pair – an absolute bargain at just £46 inc delivery. The trouble was this was early August and they didn’t arrive until the middle of September so I was left waiting what felt like an age, still upon arrival I was rather pleased with the packaging – always a good sign. A nicely branded and well constructed box contained my new shoes and as I lifted out the first one I couldn’t believe how light it was. As a big advocate of the barefoot style I own several pairs of VFFs and Merrell glove and in the weight department these felt lighter! they also felt more flexible and without a shadow of a doubt they had a uniquely delightful styling.

Changing into my Skora was a pleasant experience and the slightly to the side of arch for the foot lacing system meant less stress across my arch, but they also pulled nice and snug for a good fit. I wiggled my toes a little bit and noted that the toe box fulsome with room to breathe but without ever feeling loose. The airmesh was suitably breathable and the heel – a place that I find rubs on me was nice and soft to the touch, but it was as I stood up that I felt the really great support and the grip, you get the feeling of the little dots gently pushing through and I knew that as I ran I’d be well connected to the ground below me. And then it hit me, I must have worn Skora before and memories of being a six year old boy flooded into my brain and there it was … Skora reminded me of those little black pumps that UK kids used to have to wear rather than real trainers, now this is no bad thing as recent research suggests that there is nothing wrong with these at all, but that memory spike meant the Skora earned a place in my heart long before I’d run in them.

On the road?
My first run in them was a slow 10km, followed each of the following days with either a fast 5km or a 7km trot, not much but best to break them in slowly – but the reality is there was no need, these were a great pair of runners. The Skora Phase are fast and light but with a great connection to the ground just like the Merrells and Vibrams but offer a little more protection certainly than the VFFs and probably as much as the Merrell. I also feel slightly more sure footed in these than I do in the Merrell which I find a little more difficult to keep under control but no such issue here. In water they take the liquid on board and release it nice and quickly but with added benefit is that in the rain they tend not to absorb as much as the Vibrams therefore my feet have been staying drier as I’ve been running – another bonus as my feet seem to blister at the first sign of rain.

On the trail?
I did one 15km run on the trail and the Skora Phase were fine in dry conditions, moving nicely over the rough terrain but I think they would struggle in more challenging conditions but then I’m not convinced they were designed for the trail, these feel like a decent road and gym shoe.

In the office?
There have been a number of admiring glances at my Skora Phase and they are the perfect show for working in, I commute in them, I work in them and I run in them. I would pay the full price for these and will be when I next need a pair and I’ll be buying in bulk and in even more dramatic colour ways.

In conclusion
If you already are a barefoot runner and enjoy your Vibrams, Vivo or Merrells then you’ll probably enjoy these too, a little different from the ones mentioned but retaining all the great features that a barefoot shoe should have – I suppose for me these are the most versatile of running shoes I own and perhaps that is there downfall – I wouldn’t consider these for running the Snowdonia marathon in a couple of weeks time! but I would certainly be looking to pound out some faster 10km races in them and certainly they make a great training shoe. If you can find them then they will be a great addition to your shoe rotation and may even replace several old pairs of barefoots. Good running chaps and if you invest in some of these you will not regret it.

20131016-071817 am.jpg

20131016-071838 am.jpg

A really interesting piece and this is a blog worth investing a bit of your time in

The Fat Girls Guide To Running

When I first started running I was a little bamboozled by all of the terminology that come with running, it can be so overwhelming and basically it just makes you feel really thick when you are talking about running to other runners. So I have pulled together an A-Z of the most useful terms for a plus sized runner, there are loads more that are missing I’m sure but you can join in the fun in the comments section and point out any I have left out.

A – Aerobic & Anerobic Exercise. One uses oxygen and one doesn’t basically. So its the difference between running long distance and sprinting. You may not be able to feel the difference now, but you wait until the last 50 meters of your next race when everyone is cheering you in and you forget to breath all together. Then you will know.

B…

View original post 2,018 more words

Trail Running Wales

Cameron of the House Lacey-Coles, Grower of Beards, Runner of Roads

Bearded bimbler

A runner, a hiker and a bearded man

Blue Man Running

I can't run fast so I choose to run far.

Inadvertent Mooning

Observations from the Grumpy side of ultra running

The Unprofessional Ultra Runner

My attempt to crack some serious challenges in an unserious manner

LifeAthlon

“Life Is An Endurance Event”

rara's rules for living

Swim, bike, run, fun!

An academic in (running) tights

Blogs on education and running: My two passions

"Keep Running Mummy!"

Motherhood, marathons and more

Franky tells it like it is

(Though sometimes it might be wiser to keep my mouth shut- not)

Val's running blog

The trials and tribulations of a Jolly Jogger

be back in a bit, have biscuits ready

I like running, and feel the need to write about it

marathoncomeback

After a short break of 23 years I have registered to run the Melbourne Marathon.

knittysewandsew

Amateur wrangling with sewing machines, wool, fabric and thread. Some baking too!