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Monthly Archives: September 2015

  
Buggy running isn’t for every parent who runs but for me buggy running combined my intense love of trail pounding with my new found enjoyment of being a parent. In the months leading up to the arrival of UltraBaby I was very concerned that my running would take a hit and the truth of it is that it has but not nearly as badly as I thought it might and that in part is because of the genius of the Mountain Buggy Terrain.

 

I’ve now been buggy running since the baby was 3 days old and in the near year since we’ve covered a lot of distance together and a lot of hills. I was very careful when I was looking for a buggy capable of taking on the kind of running that I was intending on doing (hills, muddy trails, dry trails, roads). Extensive research meant I quickly discounted the ‘Bob’, MB Urban Jungle and a number of other very high quality transports. So what was it that sold the MB Terrain to me over its competitors?

It basically came down to the fact that every review, video and picture that you saw of the Terrain suggested that this was a mountain buggy by name and nature. When I finally managed to road test one of these I was amazed by the versatility and options.

  
The details below give a breakdown to just how much you get for your money.

  • Age range: 0-5 years
  • Open size: 86-118 x 63 cms
  • Closed size: 109 x 39 cms
  • Weight: 13 kgs
  • Wheels: 16 inch back/12 inch front
  • Chair width: 30 cms
  • Back height: 47 cms
  • Aluminum frame
  • hand and foot brake
  • canopy w/ sun visor
  • Full suspension
  • Removable double cup/running bottle holders
  • Large sealable under buggy storage
  • Fully adjustable handle
  • Five point, multi position harness
  • Suitable from birth (runs flat)
  • Compatible with cot/car seat accessories
  • Running strap

Let’s go back to my first run out with the Terrain – UltraBaby was just 3 days old and my partner was insistent that I used the cot attachment, obviously the Terrain isn’t intended for running with the cot attachment but in my excitement I just wanted to run with my daughter. We bounded out of the house at 3 days old and we came back runners. We went over to the local heritage park a few kilometres from the house. UltraBaby despite lying unstrapped in the cot (and really rather small) remained fairly consistent in her position and simply watched the bright blue sky drift past, I’d have been very happy though to have used the run flat capability of the buggy (and did many times). Feeling more confident we attacked the dusty and muddy BMX trail at the park, including the heavy ascents and descents – with these achieved we banged our way through the muddy wooded trail – it was glorious. The MB was now a tribute to the mud gods but UltraBaby was still as happy as she had been when we left the house. 

The good news is that MB was great on the trail but what about race day conditions? Pops, UltraBoyRuns, GingaNinja and UltraBaby decided to rock up to the fun run element of the Dartford Bridge 10km – a fast, very flat route. The fun run was about 2km and the MB was as good here as it has been on the trail.

We’ve since run every type of condition – mountains in France, Parkruns, road running, winter trail running and so much more. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t matter where we go, how far we go or what the weather is like the Mountain Buggy Terrain takes it all on with great aplomb. It’s light, it’s fast, it’s comfortable for parent to run with and baby to sleep in (and believe me UltraBaby sleeps soundly in it even over the most rocky of ground), the giant back wheels and suspension give great support and I never feel like I have to slow down because I’m secure in the knowledge that the buggy is built for this and importantly on a practical point I’ve got space for everything I know that a baby might need and even two large water bottle holders which hold everything I need on the move.

The one caveat I’ll add is that the buggy is expensive and it’s a specialist item – but we’ve had lots of use out of it, more than we expected but still a price of around £500 means this will be off putting for some. However, as a parent who runs a lot and wants his daughter to experience the literal highs and lows of running I wouldn’t be without my MB Terrain – or as we call it ‘The UltraMobile’.

  

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Ultra running and parenting are two things that require a genuine level of dedication where you must give your all if you are to get the rewards you desire. Now despite my best efforts I’m feeling the strain of that dedication at the moment – it didn’t go unnoticed in my dismantling of my failure at the CCC that it was not helped by the fact that the two weeks prior to the race had seen the baby more restless than normal and my (already limited) sleeping pattern further hindered.
UltraBaby is a genuinely good child when it comes to letting us rest and catch up but with teething now in full swing I’m starting to understand the struggles that runners have when young children are involved.

The Before Pre-UltraBaby it was easy to get home from work, change into running kit, kiss GingaNinja goodbye and then go running for several hours. Pre-UltraBaby it was easy to say ‘I’ll run home from work tonight – all 40odd kilometres.

The Now Now I spend most of my time wondering if I’ll get back in time to collect her from the childminders or get home in time to put her to bed so that gran doesn’t have to. By the time this is done, baby and work prep for the next day and well you don’t always feel like going and banging out 20km or more.

The Commute None of this is helped by (on average) my 2 hour commute (each way) from my Central London job to home in sunny Kent and it’s further compounded by my partners regular late finishes which simply make me feel like I’ve got to get home. Weekends are equally prone to fracture with the GingaNinjas work and a lack of family network close by that we can draw on for support – therefore running is now challenging.

I do as many of the right things as possible. I run pre and/or post work most days. I’ll parkrun, I’ll buggy run and I’ll race regularly so I’m still achieving bigger distances even when training isn’t going well. But there’s only so long you can keep going like this before the lack of coherent training, sleep and even eating cause some mischief.

I’m Lucky Really I shouldn’t complain, I have it relatively easy, I have a supportive partner, a baby that isn’t too demonic and a dedication to the medals – I just want my cake and to eat it too – and I mean the whole cake, not a slice! Running is my primary hobby but UltraBaby is my responsibility and so I need to learn a greater degree of balance to ensure that I can continue to successfully parent but without too much compromise in ultra running!

What about you? I’m curious to hear how other running mothers and fathers manage to get the ‘time on their feet’ in and what ‘little tricks’ they’ve developed to make running, especially ultra running possible in the face of full time work, children, commuting and the plethora of other things that seem to get priority over running!

 
So yesterday I turned 38, not a particularly momentous day but the weeks between the end of August and my September 20th are uninspiring and make me far too contemplative. That rather internal monologue I have during this period is quite negative and I often need something to snap me out of it because my running always suffers.

Enter: The GingaNinja with a pair of freshly imported Altra Lone Peak 2.5 – say goodbye biscuits and over-eating, say hello ‘back in training’

Thanks GingaNinja.

  
My next few months of running already taking shape, my failure in the CCC hasn’t dampened my spirits for running and has actually only hardened my resolve to run in races I think I’m going to enjoy and to run them my way (probably talking too much and taking too many photographs – if I listen to the criticisms often levelled at me).

To help me overcome the disappointment of CCC I’m a late sign-up to Saltmarsh 75 – my first multi-day adventure – taking place in October and I’m thoroughly looking forward to taking 75 miles of mentally challenging flat running – this hopefully will put me in good stead for training for what I hope will be a successful ballot entry to GUCR (but that comes later). Post Saltmarsh I’ll be joining the ever awesome Traviss Wilcox at the Ranscombe 8hr timed challenge event. Here I’ll be hopefully be joined straight off of Kilimanjaro by @chiltondiva as she moves from mountain mastery to ultra running starlet. I’ll be hoping to wend my way round enough laps to run 40 miles or so but we will see. 

Staying with Traviss Wilcox and his oversized medals I’ll then be bumbling my way round the November Hugin Challenge looking for another 30 mile ultra distance and a 1:1 scale Viking ship sized medal – well I think that’s the scale!

Winter continues to be my favourite running season and I’ll be finishing the ultra year with the Saintelyon – my absolute ‘A’ race – this is the one I’ve been working towards and the one I’m looking forward to. I might even squeeze in a bit of pre-Christmas shopping while I’m there. I think failure here would be quite crushing but I really do have to turn up for this one as everything about it rings out ‘spectacular’ – well except the lack of medal. That should be the end of longer distance running for 2015, if it all works out that will have been 10 ultras attempted this year and 9 of them completed (fingers crossed).

However, I’m not leaving it there, January brings with it my second pop at Country to Capital (and I’ll be being joined again by the awesome @chiltondiva). I’m planning on this being an easy jaunt to get 2016 underway, perhaps run a better time and simply enjoy it a bit more. C2C is a personal favourite at a great time of year and it’ll be excellent to go back – though I’m hoping the toilet won’t be blocked this time around.

With C2C in mid-January I’m leaving February light on ultra distances as my own stupidity is likely to catch me out on the first weekend of March when I look to conquer the magnificent TransGrancanaria. I signed up to TransGC in a moment of madness the day before the start of the CCC when I saw Wendy offering a few euros off and a very blue t-shirt. Now I’m running the risk of another major ultra going a bit Pete Tong because of a lack of hot mountain experience. However, having examined the profile, done a bit of research and a ‘don’t give a fuck attitude’ I should at least make a passable attempt at TransGC. 

And that’s my next six months sorted – obviously there will be an assortment of other races involved in keeping me active – I’ll probably do a Movember run, more than likely the awesome Vigo 10 miler and I’ll see if I can find a marathon to chuck in there too. But then what happens after TransGC? 

I have some ideas – the Isle of Skye Ultra looks properly amazing but is at the same time as GUCR, Devil of the Highlands also runs into conflict with other races. My favourite ultra St. Peter’s Way would be a lovely addition and if it runs the Leeds-Liverpool canal run might make an excellent replacement for GUCR which I doubt I would get a place in anyway. However, I might get a London Marathon place which would make the Hoka Highland Fling a problem but of the two I think the Fling would be more fun. There’ll be no Centurion races either in 2016 so I could try the 12 Labours of Hercules and some other 50 or 100s but the big decision would be between the 86 miles of The Ridgeway and Ring o’ Fire (both of which have been on my hit list for a while). There’s just so many and I don’t want to be trying to run them all.

So which should I run and do you have any good quality recommendations that are a bit out of the ordinary, probably not that many competitors and have awesome medals? I’m curious to see what’s out there.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

  
There’s going to a load of reports from the CCC but I didn’t make the end, I was timed out at about 55km in and it’s fair to say I wasn’t disappointed to have it end. So this isn’t a report as such, more a why it’s not a report.

And this is why… 1. Sunstroke 2. Knee injury after a fall on the first descent 3. Failed to eat 4. Didn’t enjoy the checkpoints 5. I was bored of the race

Let me address my points 

Sunstroke: I don’t do well in the heat anyway but the temperatures on the route were high and even at altitude it didn’t seem to ease off. I had the sun cream, sunglasses, the right amount of clothing and headgear and all the water I could need but I could feel my head exploding and over heating and my message home was ‘I don’t know what more I can do’.

Knee Injury: As I descended into the first refuge at about 14km I took a nasty fall and landing on my right – I should have stuck to the rocks but thought I’d seen an easier path and when I lost my footing I was hopeful it was okay but sadly I realised I’d turned my knee unpleasantly Although not a race ender it would get progressively worse through the rest of the journey to Champex.

Failed to eat: I was consuming on average 2 litres of water per 5km (including mountain streams and local water supplies as well as my own water reserves). However, I was eating almost nothing and the French substitutes I had taken with me I couldn’t stomach. The food on offer at the aid stations also failed to inspire me to eat, I tried a little bread at refuge 2 but by then the damage seemed done and the roof of my mouth was so dry I couldn’t swallow any longer. It was my own silly fault for not adopting the eat strategy that has served me so well in this years races – I was very disappointed with myself.

Checkpoints: let me first say that I think that the people manning the checkpoints were wonderful and on the whole helpful but the food and organisation around them was haphazard at best – I felt like I didn’t quite know where to go, if my number had been noted and I was jostled from pillar to post to just try and get my water refilled.

Bored: honestly? I know that so many of you who ran this and the other races will talk of glorious vistas, amazing trails and landscapes to die for and while I thought it was pleasant I didn’t think it was beyond compare. Add to this the ‘big race’ mentality, the need to ‘follow the leader’ for long swathes of the race and the necessity to watch your feet rather than the trail meant I didn’t actually enjoy the CCC. Perhaps I’ve become too accustomed to lovely UK trails, small groups of runners and pleasant atmospheres but this one wasn’t for me. The start line was a prime example – it was horrible and felt like a crush as we all tried to squeeze into a holding pen not designed for the amount of people. The GingaNinja was genuinely worried as runners clamoured barriers trying to get past her – not worried about who they kicked as they leapt part her to the starting line.

There is the issue of being timed out, that’s how it ended … I stayed ahead of the cut off by about an hour and a half up until 42km but by this point I was fully aware that’s knee had abandoned me and the pressure was causing my glutes to flare up. However, I was determined that I wouldn’t stop unless I really needed to and so I set off again with Champex my next stop and the promise of real, good quality food. In hindsight this was an error of judgement and I should have stopped at Le Fouly where my leg was only mildly burning and my much used compressport calf guards had only sliced behind one of my knees and ankles! The last 14km were hard and painful – my knee wouldn’t let me go uphill or downhill with any ease now and I admit I stopped for about 15 minutes cooling my leg under a water fountain to try and ease the burning. I crawled up to Champex with cheers of ‘bravo’ but I just wanted people to leave me alone, I wanted to sit down and I wanted my (ahem) Champex banquet.

Still lessons learned, I gave it a go and despite my whinging I’m glad I went. I wasn’t scared of the heights, I wasn’t too unfit, I could handle the altitude and on another day it might have gone better but the two key factors – heat and falling – conspired to stop me finishing. However, I think that’s itch scratched and I don’t need to go back to the Mont Blanc. Many race directors have pointed out that their races are equal to if not better than this series of races and why should they act as feeders – well I’ve taken note and i’ll be spending a bit more time running smaller, more intimate but equally challenging and probably more fun trails soon.

Finally before I finish a thank you to everyone on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram who sent soooo much support – I was incredibly grateful and while I could respond to all of it on the route be assured it was just what I needed – thanks guys.

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