The Naked Edition

Fear not, this is not a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) post that includes the need to apply sunblock to the whitest of white bits.

While away for a weekend in south Wales I had planned to go for a run in the hills (locally referred to as mountains – which they definitely aren’t), and I packed enough kit to cater for weather smacap_Brightconditions ranging from the arctic tundra to the Borneo rainforest.  One of the things I decided didn’t need packing was the charger for my Garmin.

Come Sunday morning I decide what kit is the most appropriate for the typical Welsh weather – drizzly and a bit overcast – pack a first aid kit and a waterproof in my Salomon pack and dig out my Garmin.

I jump in the car and drive to the other side of the village – I absolutely hate road running in trail shoes – and turn on the Garmin while I have a little warm up.  Except the Garmin doesn’t turn on, it just buzzes and the screen goes dark again.  I try again, but to no avail.  Top battery management.

I have run the first part of the route a few times before, and it’s a solid uphill slog from FB_IMG_1557003473514 (1)the outset.  The route climbs from the edge of the village for around 3 ½ kilometres all the way up to a trig point at about 270m or so above sea level.  It hurts running up here, it always does – but strangely it felt much harder to dig deep and keep going.  I manage to summon the will power to keep running.  There is a definite sense that no one is watching and it won’t be popping up on Strava at any point.  Time also seems to slow; seconds turn into minutes as my mind plays tricks on me as progress feels sluggish and legs feel heavy.  This may have more to do with the alcohol intake at a friends 40th the night before, but it feels far more convenient to blame the Garmin.

It wasn’t all bad, far from it.  Despite having little idea of time or distance it was liberating to run without being a slave to data, without the temptation to look down at

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my wrist to check the time, distance or pace.  I could keep my head up and enjoy the views – this was enhanced by the decision to leave the iPod at home too.  The sound of birds, the grass crunching under foot and even my heavy breathing all added textures to the increased appreciation for the vistas.  Running out in the wilds always makes me feel more relaxed, but without the temptations of checking the data and push for a certain pace.  I was just running on feel I felt like I absorbed more of the open space.

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I’m not sure I can give up data full time, actually if I’m completely honest with myself there isn’t a chance.  I think I am going to set a screen on my watch which only shows total time for my LSRs.   I would like to cut my dependency.  I cant give up data all together but it might be time to work on my data addiction.

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Terminator Tom

It’s not uncommon for race organisers to use a smattering of hyperbole when naming races – the Pewsey Vale Running Club can’t be accused of that when naming their race The Terminator.  Much like Ronseal, it did exactly what it said on the tin.

Since running the Gloucester Half Marathon I have been trying to ease back into running; trying not to make my calf strain angry again – meaning I haven’t managed to run more than 10 kilometres a week, split into a couple of runs.

After what feels like a whole a day in the car Tom and I arrive at his sister Claire’s house in the dark – so I have no idea what is in store for me.  The following morning (which is race day) is a relaxed affair, the race doesn’t start until half ten and starts a few minutes down the road.  It was a very strange feeling – I’m used to having to drag myself up at an ungodly hour to force down a bowl of porridge.  Once we get to the start the stress free pre-race continues.  No mad stress to pick up our race numbers, no queue for the toilet longer than the actual race and no trying to squeeze 400 runners through a single door.  IfThe Terminator – 24.2.19 – www.pewseyvalerunningclub.org only more pre-race experiences were like this.  Claire, Tom and I make our way to the start line, and after some mumbling – which I assume is the race brief – we are off.

The first kilometre or so is quite busy and trying to find any kind of rhythm is a bit tricky.  We part ways and re-join each other during this first kilometre up until the final stretch of road before we hit the trail.  As we climb we separate to pass a group in the middle of the road, as we regroup and turn onto the trail Claire isn’t quite with us, and like the true gentlemen we are we carry on without her.

The first section of the race is undulating with no big hills, but certainly enough to tenderise the legs, and if you go too hard here there is certainly enough to it to make you suffer later.  As much as I would like to say how the early kilometres flew by effortlessly and without incident, I can’t.  The first 5 kilometres feel good, maybe too good – and I begin to feel it bite.  Then I encountered The Bog.

As I crossed a stream I slipped on the bank, and as I fell into the stream I instinctively grabbed out behind me – unfortunately grabbing a huge fucking thistle.  I wade through the stream and once out I begin to remove what feels like organic hypodermic needles from my hand.  Next thing I know I feel the ground beneath me give a little.  Before I have time to process what is happening my left leg has swung past my right and I’m balls deep in the infamous bog.

There’s not much I can do.  Wriggling my feet to try to free them doesn’t help, I’m stuck.  As Tom turns I throw him the couple of gels I am holding, and then suffer the indignity of being dragged from the bog by a couple of fellow runners – without whom I may still be in that bog.

Once free from a fate befitting the end of the dinosaurs, Tom and I continue to run together but now my legs feel unbelievably heavy, and I can’t help but hope it’s just a short lived bog related side effect.  We run along the edge of a field for a while and the going feels tough and the grassy tufts along the edge of the field doesn’t help with this one bit.  I later discover Tom suffered along this stretch too, so maybe it wasn’t just bog related side effects.

It takes a couple of kilometres for our pace to get back to where it was before we encountered the bog, but almost as soon as we get back to that pace we hit the bottom of the first proper test.  The trail we are on begins to climb – gently at first.  Gradually the gradient begins to rise as the trail closes in.  After a while, the hill begins to become a slog.  I slowly reel in a group in front of me, but unable to pass them I sit in at the back where I struggle to run at their speed – so I walked for a moment before starting to run and catch them again.  This happens once more before the trail opens up and I assume we are at the top – how wrong can someone be?  Just as we get to the opening I notice other runners scrambling up the side of the hill on all fours.  I feel my heart – which is already racing – drop into my trail shoes.

A couple of deep breathes and away we go, scrambling up this grass covered wall.  It feels like we take one step forward and several back again, but eventually we top out.  At the top we take a hard right and continue to climb – much more gradually – before we finally begin to descend.  Then the sickener, that’s not the top.  After a slight drop the climbing starts again.  This time there’s no gully, no closed in trail.  It’s open and straight and you can see the top from a long way away.  It’s never steep, but after the climbing thus far and the relief of thinking you’re at the top, it’s a grind – and the car which is parked at the top doesn’t get closer nearly as quickly as it should.

Once at the top I have to walk a few paces to let the feeling return to my legs before beginning the descent, but I’m half way down before they feel like they still contain bones.  Once at the bottom we continue across a field and onto a hard packed track.  My legs feel relatively normal for a while, but the early race exuberance is beginning to tell.  The hard packed trail continues pretty much to the foot of the next quad shredding hill.  At first it feels nice to stop and walk as we take on the next grassy colossus, but before long the calves are screaming – and screaming far loader than they ever do when running.  Once finally at the top – calves screaming and lungs hanging out somewhere near my knees – we turn right, passing through a gate, and contour along the ridge gradually losing altitude before descending quicker as we approach the bottom.

It’s not far between the bottom of this hill and the next, and what makes it so mentally tough is that you know you are running up and down the same side of an escarpment – almost as damaging as it was to the legs.  This is the slowest section of the whole race as the easy flowing early kilometres feel a long time ago.  The climb might as well have been in the Annapurna Massif as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other while gravity dragged back at every extra kilo I’m carrying (it is widely known amongst chubbier runners that extra kilos count as double).  Finally, the top is in sight and we pass through a gate and run along the top of the escarpment before gradually dropping back down to the bottom.  As we passed through the gate Tom and I were separated by a couple of runners  and I hear the marshal at the top say “only one small hill” left; hear one small hill, expect the Matterhorn.  The trail along the top of the escarpment is a joy as it winds, dips and climbs – it’s very reminiscing of sections of the SW coastal path.  Just as we begin to descend properly I catch back up with Tom.  The final climb is pretty much at the foot of the previous climb.

Stopping us in our tracks is a stretch of tickertape running up the escarpment, and then we noticed runners coming down the other side of it.  Straight up and back down it is then – both mentally and physically it was a brute.  I later discovered that the fencing we went around where the tape ended housed the white horse, but at the top all I could see was my feet and spots.

By now the down hill is almost as hideous as the climbing – just a different kind of IMG_20190227_140121hideous.  At the bottom we follow a straight gravely track with nothing but a stile to negotiate (which Tom annoyingly just vaults over).  Along this stretch I need to stop to attend to a stitch – a few deep breathes and a stretch and I get going again.  Tom is about 20 metres head by this point, and I concentrate on trying to reel him in again; I seem to have spent a big chunk of this race watching Tom slip away, before trying to reel him back in again.  I finally catch him as we reach the road, and try to hang on as we make our way back into Pewsey – including a little detour off the road to drop down through a stream and back up to the road.

At this point we are in a group of four, and as we turn off the road on to a trail up past a church a guy in our group stops to walk.  Even though there is room to pass, I can’t run past him and walk too.  It’s almost as though him walking somehow gives me permission IMG_20190227_140058to do the same.  Tom doesn’t walk, he just runs off.  The path runs continues along the bottom of a stretch of gardens.  A marshal shouts “800 metres to go”.  800 metres, I can do that, time to dig deeper.  I can still see Tom ahead and although he isn’t getting any closer, he isn’t getting further away either.  At this point I fully expect Claire to come flying past me and reel Tom in before the finish line – making me pay for going too hard as the start.  I manage to keep running around the final bend and cross the finish line; just about managing to squeeze in inside 2 hours (in an official time of 1:59:11) – which apparently was the cut to remain considered a runner.  A few minutes later Claire comes into view, with barely a speck of mud on her and looking utterly in control.

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At this point I am contractility obliged to mention that Tom beat me by a whole 40 seconds (which is possibly the biggest winning margin between us).  Initially he claimed it was a hollow victory – under the impression I could have beaten him; this was defiantly not the case – even if I had bionic legs.  Hopefully that’s his ego suitably massaged.

I’m Running How Far?

If all goes to plan a new milestone will be reached before the end of the year.  Although specific training for it hasn’t actually started, I have started trying to work out how it’s going to work – especially as I would like my wife and kids to still recognise me when it’s all done.

Back tracking slightly.  Last year was my first soiree into the somewhat daunting world of ultra-marathons.  It started with a 24 hour race a few months after running Boston (UK) Marathon, and rounded my racing year out with the Gower Ultra 50.  This year I hope to go a bit bigger – and it’s bloody terrifying just writing it – but hopefully a 100 mile ultra will be ticked off.  ‘Ticked off’ makes it sound so easy; not a 30 hour sleep deprived, quad destroying grind.rpt

I don’t have – nor do I plan to get – a coach, and you can’t seem to get generic training plans in the same way you can for a marathon; so it’s time to research.  My Christmas book haul was comprised entirely of running books ranging from autobiographical (Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run, and Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard (which, while not entirely a running book it is well worth a read)) to more ultra-running manual type books (Byron Powell’s Relentless Forward Progress and Jason Robillard’s Never Wipe Your Ass With Screenshot_20190201_210933A Squirrel).  I am hoping that I can use these books to freelance my way into shape to run a 100 mile ultra. 

In addition to being inspirational, Scott Jurek’s book offered up a few pearls of training advice, but more importantly he offers a huge amount of nutritional advice including a whole host of recipes for trail food which I am looking forward to trying while the training ramps up.  To be honest you would hope to gleam some tips from the best ultra-runner of his (or any) generation.

Relentless forward progress has a training plan for a 100 mile ultra in it which will be great to use as a template – one thing I have learnt from using generic marathon plans is that if you don’t tailor them to the race you’re training for you will suffer for it.  On top of this there is also a load of bits on things that I hadn’t even considered.  One of the things I noticed while thumbing though was the section on aid stations, and specifically how not to lose a bucket load of time at them.  I have no concrete way of knowing – as I didn’t pause my Garmin – but I think Tom and I probably lost over an hour and a half at the checkpoints and aid stations on the Gower Ultra 50 (and there were only 7 of them), at that rate we could lose over 10% of the time limit stood around at aid stations.  

Never Wipe Your Ass With A Squirrel also covers aspects of ultra-running that I hadn’t considered, suchScreenshot_20190201_211046 as whether to shave my balls or not – I really didn’t think that needed consideration.   As well as how to get rid of an annoying training partner – which I don’t think I will need, but it’s always good to have a game plan.  While this book seams a little more tongue in cheek at times, I still think it will offer a myriad of helpful advice and its format – almost like a reference book – means I can use it to supplement anything I read elsewhere.

So, I hopefully have all the information I need at my fingertips. All I need to do now is do a little reading, take a few notes, and do some running. When I say some running, I mean a lot of running.

Operation PW

It’s a wonderful feeling when you are on the start line of a race knowing all your training has gone as well as you can realistically hope, you’re in great nick and you feel confident that you can hit your targets – if you don’t ruin it by doing something stupid.

This was nothing like that, not even close. This was fear, worry and trepidation. My training had been thin on the ground to begin with, but four weeks before the Gloucester Half – just as I began to feel like I was getting somewhere – I pulled my left calf. The mdecouple of weeks before I had felt like I was beginning to see some improvements, not giant leaps in performance but green shoots non the less. The week before Christmas I had managed both a lovely trail run and a less lovely interval session. Once back at my parent’s house, I decide to round out the week with a run along the canal with my dad. All is great with the world as we chat in the morning winter sun as the early kilometres tick by. Then I notice a tightening in my calf, I hope that it will ease but before long it’s gone from ‘a bit tight’ to being stabbed in the leg by an invisible stabby thing. With a jolt, I pull up and try to stretch it out; but that doesn’t appear to help. I tell my dad to carry on, as I turn and begin to trudge back the way we came. After a couple of minutes of walking I try to run again in the hope that running at my own pace might ease it – it doesn’t so I revert to walking again. With running off the cards I try to keep myself ticking over on the bike until race day. As the days count down towards race day, I feel the anxiety and trepidation build up. To add the calf worries, the death cold which had been passed around my family finally made its way to me on the Friday before the race. As the cold takes hold, a cough develops, and lakes of snot begin to be produced.

After a restless night, I follow the usual race morning routine; bowl of porridge, poo, get img-20190120-wa0000dressed. For a change I manage to get to race HQ with plenty of time to spare. After sampling the local portaloos I take a couple of cold tablets. I don’t normally like doing that, but I really didn’t think running with snot stalactites forming in my beard was a look I want to go for. Once the tablets have begun to take effect I warm up and make my way to the start line. After a final pep talk from my loving wife – this consisted of mainly “Don’t be a dick. If your calf hurts, stop!” – I join the pack near the back. I’m not sure if there was a race brief, but after a while of waiting near the start line, we start walking forwards then, crossing the start line I begin to run.

I spend the early part of the race mentally checking I am ok and not running too fast. While I felt I needed to do this to ensure that I didn’t anger my calf, it did mean that I couldn’t get out of my own head and enjoy the course. The early parts of the course take us through housing estates and industrial estates before we are out into the countryside. At this point I am still firmly stuck in my head – worrying about my calf and my pace. By the time I get about 7km in I settle down and become a bit more confident with the condition of my left calf. As I become more confident my pace begins to increase, but I still try to hold back. Although my calf feels ok, I still haven’t trained properly so go too hard now and I’ll detonate long before the finish. I try to hold this effort for the remainder of the first of two loops.

At the end of the lap I am running comfortably, and more importantly no longer obsessing about how my calf is feeling. Mentally I feel more relaxed and that means I begin to take in my surroundings a little more. The route is a lollipop with two laps of the loop. Being a Devon boy, I would call the route flat – with the only noticeable climbs the motorway flyovers. The route is really nice, with no really hard turns but I can only imagine how bleak it could be in more wintery conditions with no real shelter from the img-20190120-wa0001conditions. Given the conditions this year, I genuinely think if you turn up in good shape you can get a good time on this course.

By the time I reach the half way on the second loop I am running with another guy. We run well together, but before too long I begin to worry about making the end, so I back off a little. My companion appears to do the same. With only a few kilometres left I try to keep the effort (not necessarily the pace) at about threshold and just try to grit it out as the lack of training begins to bite. Somewhere along here I lose my companion. Before long the route retraces back to the start and it’s the final dig to the finish.
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I cross the finish line unimaginably relieved that the only source of soreness is from my peach-like feet rather than my calf. Before starting I would honestly have taken finishing with a PW (Personal worst). Not only did I manage to finish inside that, but also managed to run each 5km quicker than the previous one (again quicker, never quick) – which I have never managed before. More importantly I haven’t ruined my entire season by being a ‘dick’.

Popping Out

There are a number of things that make running joyous.  One of my personal favourite running perks is the lunchtime run, or the RUNch.  It’s a fantastic way of getting a run in when it’s not possible before and/or after work.  It also feels like you’re getting one over on ‘the man’ – although I can’t actually work out how.  It is however a beast with two heads.

Summertime RUNch;

Picture the scene, it’s the height of summer, it’s getting close to lunchtime and the sun is davup high with a backdrop as blue as a very blue thing, but as your colleagues settle back a their desk with a limp sandwich you – like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat – produce your running kit from your bag and do an impression of Superman (getting changed quickly in a small space).  Out the office and into the warm afternoon sun with a hop and a skip.  Within a matter of moments, the stresses and strains of the working morning ebb away.  The sun rays warm your face, the bird song lifts your heart and the freedom ­– even less than an hour of it – is great for your mood.  You return to the office safe in the knowledge that something has been accomplished in that hour, even if you can’t stop sweating.

Winter RUNch

Winter lunchtime runs are a much harder sell, there’s wind, rain maybe even snow – if fptbtyyou’re lucky.  Rather than limp sandwiches, your colleagues are settling into warm soups and mugs of hot chocolate.  The actual running is fine, it’s better than fine its running which is always good but stepping out the office into the blizzard takes a moment to dig deep.  The tricky bit is when you get back to work that it is a bit of a faff, particularly if you need to defrost. If you’re not lucky enough to have a shower at work it’s as simple as; have a shower, get dressed. If you don’t it’s a delightful combination of towel to dry off and wet wipes to refresh.

Post RUNch

Once you’re back into more appropriate work attire the fun doesn’t stop.  On your return the office is always too hot in the summer (where you can conceivably keep sweating for the rest of the working day) and too cold in the winter yet you emit a warm glow – which probably means your face is a fetching shade of beetroot.  Post run, I always find I struggle to stay awake for about half an hour to an hour from about 3.  I begin to feel my eyes glazing and my concentration wain, but don’t tell the boss – RUNch sessions make up the bulk of my midweek training.  The mid-afternoon struggles are combatted by a cup of coffee, or three, and a change of scenery for a while.  Once the caffiene has done its job, its back at it in the satisfaction that while others wasted their lunch hour mine was both mentally rewarding and phyically productive.

 

A Runners’ Dictionary (for the non-runner)

Blowing – not as fun as it sounds. When your respiration rate is far higher than it should be for the speed you are running.

Chicked – when a male runner is passed/beaten by a female – probable running far more comfortably while doing it (chauvinistic). For the record, the last group run/race I did I was the first man back – but was still chicked by three women.

Condom Jacket – a packable waterproof jacket with little to no breathability – keeping the rain out, but your fluids (sweat) in.

Detonate – usually in a race, but not exclusively, where you push hard for a target time and cant hold it until the end, resulting in a catastrophic loss of pace. Can also be caused by naively running too fast at the start.

DNF (Did Not Finish) – think of it as DFA (Don’t Fucking Ask)

DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) – soreness to major muscle groups hours after the event, usually just before you want to go to bed. Usual tell tail sign is the sufferer will emit a noise similar to that of a badger with its testicles caught in a gin trap.

Doubling Up – running twice in one day.

Dropping The Hammer – running faster over a tougher part of the race, or near the end, to gain an advantage. Can also be done on a training run to put the hurt on your running buddy.

DQ’d (Disqualified) – think of it as SDFA (Seriously Don’t Fucking Ask)

Fartlek – from the Swedish for ‘speed play’, basically it’s a series of random speed intervals in a run. Think of it like trying to do a food shop with a toddler with a sugar habit – it’s either glacial pace or quicker than a stabbed rat.

Fasted Run – usually an early morning run before breakfast. Basically, running while hungry.

Garmin – data is the new religion of the modern runner, and Garmin is the go to collector of data. May also be used as a watch.

LSR (Long Slow Run) – exactly what is says on the tin, a long, slow run. A staple of endurance training.

Lung Buster – a long or steep (or even both) climb that puts you into physical difficulty.

Micro Litter – when dirty bastard runners just drop their gel wrappers on the trail. If you are that runner, stop. If you know a runner like that, have a word.

Naked Running – the atheist of the running community. No it’s not running with your giblets out (mores the pity) but running without the means to collect data. Not for me thank you very much.

Negative Splits – not actually a negative at all. Where you manage to run the second half of a run quicker than the first; usually as the result of a favourable wind or a downhill finish.

Oh, just a 10k this morning – really means “That was grim, it was all I had, but I used to be able to run much further”.

Pacing – using a faster runner (usually running within themselves) to eek out a personal best over a set distance. It’s a bit like winning the local pub quiz on a team with Stephen Fry and Prof. Brian Cox, you may have contributed but it wasn’t all your own work. For the record I have used pacers in races.

Quad Buster – a long or steep (or both) descent that destroys your legs. Arguably worse than a lung buster.

Race Bling – big, cheap and shiny ‘medal’ used to make the eye wateringly expensive race entry appear more reasonable. Runners all know this to be true but love their race bling anyway.

Run Camp – like a holiday but less rum cocktails and more run intervals.

Runhole – someone who only seems to talk about running, and will drop their family and friends in an instance for a race, or even just a run. Probably writes a running blog too.

Runners Trots – the sudden and uncontrollable loosening of ones bowels while out running. If you are unfortunate enough to be afflicted you will need to cease running and plunge your rear end in a wheelie bin promptly.

Running Buddy – someone who you run with, a runner will probably spend more time alone, in the dark and out of breathe with their running buddy than anyone else.

Sandbagging – the art of belittling you training and/or kit before absolutely smashing a race and/or your running buddies. This is not to be confused with being modest.

Singlet – it’s just a vest to run in.

Strava – if data is the new religion, then Strava is the New Testament. Think of it as runners Facebook, but rather than your friends’ pictures of cats its maps of where people have been, and they’re usually in a hurry.

Streaking – not nudity related.  Running for a number of consecutive days.

Taper – the period of restless grumpiness when the training eases before a big race.

Threshold Run – also known as a tempo run. It’s a horrible mistress, running at a speed that feels comfortably hard. I’m still not sure what comfortably hard is (insert any number of innuendos here), but it should be quick enough that you can’t talk easily, but not so fast that you can’t finish.

But Why?

Since telling friends and family I had entered an ultra I’ve been asked the same few questions – over and over in some cases – and it’s was getting tedious. So, here are the questions I keep getting asked, and the answers – as honestly as I can.

• But Why?
Because I can; because it’s there; why not? These are my go to, if slightly flippant, responses to the why question.  While that is the bare bones of it, it’s not just that. There is more. It’s about finding where the limits are in the distances I can cover – both physically and mentally. I still like to run fast (a relative term) and I would still love to run a sub 90 minute half marathon, but at the moment I think I am more interested in far Screenshot_20181112_215334rather than fast. I may live to regret that decision when fast is no longer an option. Even if fast is a relative term.

• Isn’t it just a form of sadomasochism?
Well, yes I guess it is; just without the inconvenience of needing whips, ball gags and a sex dungeon. I know it sounds weird, but there is a cleansing from the suffering. It resets the stresses and tensions of modern life – whatever modern life is, it’s just life isn’t it? I honestly feel like I’m a better person, but more specifically a better parent and husband, when I run on a regular basis. So I really feel for my wife and kids when I’m injured, I must be a nightmare to live with – even more than usual.

• You must run a lot!
Well I should, but I don’t. Not really. Not compared to proper runners. I ran much further while training for Boston Marathon (still not that Boston Marathon). This is mainly because for the marathon I had a ‘proper’ target to aim for, where as for the Gower 50 and Hope24 it was all about the distance rather than time. However when I return to the distance, and I am sure I will, I guess the time might become more important. Might? Will

• You ran 50 miles?

Yes! Well no; sort of. I ran some, maybe even most of it, but I certainly didn’t run all of it. But even the guy who won it must have walked some of it. Well I bloody hope so anyway.

• Didn’t it hurt?
Well, yes it did. At times it was grim, but all races are grim at times. I maintain that 5km is the most disgusting distance to race, it’s essentially 2km at full gas then 3km of just clinging on hoping for it to finish before you see your breakfast again. It might only last 20 minutes or so, but its bloody horrible.  The Gower 50 might have been grim at times, but there were also huge swathes of enjoyment. Running at a comfortable pace, taking in the vistas, chatting and eating. What’s not to like?

• So, what next?
I don’t know actually (other than a couple of shorter races before the end of the year), but I think I want to race ultras again. In fact I know I want to. On the Monday night after Gower 50, Tom and I were sending links to 100 milers to each other like naughty schoolboys passing pornos around at the back of the bus. Hope24 is on the radar for next year too, but this year I can see a distance target being laid down to gun for (100km, 80 miles, something like that). If it fits in to the grand scheme I would love to finally run the full Man Vs Horse route, but it’s the week before Hope24.
So what’s next? *subject to approval*
o Spring Marathon/shorter ultra (30ish miles)
o Man Vs Horse
o Hope24
o 100 miler

• Have you always been a runner?
Hell no. I don’t really consider myself to be a runner now. I run, but I’m not necessarily a runner.