Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Reading Roundup

Well its been some time since my last Reading Roundup, and Ive certainly done much more reading than i could ever detail here (or that would be of interest) but there were a couple of themes that might be of interest to others.

First off i did some research into Mitochondria, In particular i was interested in how to best promote their development. It appears clear that Aerobic Exercise drives mitochondria density. However a biketechreview article idicates that higher intenstiy may be required to achieve maximum results.

Unfortunately when you stop training mitochodria return relatively rapidly to pre-training levels, which im sure is a contributing factor to my pace reduction post trainings pause.

However its also important to remember that mitochondria are just one of many limitations to performance in endurance sport.

While looking at mitochondria i also stumbled over an article about the link between Aerobic exercise and the desire to exercise, due to mitochondria development in the brain. Does Aerobic exercise increase your mental ability to endure running at the limit ala Tim Noakes Central Governer

In the time since my last roundup ive also put together the skeleton of a training plan for Boston which will undoubtedly result in high millage. For anyone still doubting the validity of high millage training to maximise performance I refer you to the video below. The video quality isnt great but the information therin is gold worth.

"The challenge for those pursuing excellence is to find the mileage range that you can handle without breaking down" - Greg McMillan describes how to safely introduce doubles into your schedule to increase millage once youve reached your maximum capacity during single runs.

I also ran across a great article explainging fueling for long runs. Of particular interest to me was the information about the supressive effect of insulin on fat metabolism. What i draw from that is that prior to exercise you should not take hi GI fuels, ie gels that contain simple sugars ( eg powerbar's C2Max gels ) Ive allways taken a gel 15-20 mins prior to a marathon... ill now avoid gels that contain the rapidly absorbed simple sugars pre race.... However it apears that the response is supressed once you actually start exercising.

Finally there is a really interesting point made in this article on recovery, namely that exercise done to aid recovery is best if it targets the specific muscles used during that activity... hence the best active recovery for running is ... well running (just a lot slower )

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

A Cunning Plan

2011 had a number of highlights, but now is the time to look ahead, to lay plans, to set goals for 2012. For me the next big A goal is a no-brainer.

My next big 'A' goal is a sub 3 Hour Marathon at Boston 2012.

To that end I have come up with a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel. Im going to get myself in sub 2:50 shape and then run a controlled sub 3 pace. It's fool proof I tell you.

OK So maybe there is one small issue, Sub 2:50 form is over 15 minutes faster than my current PB. Perhapes 2:50 is beyond my reach, but heck if you dont aim high youll never reach your full potential.

So over the past few weeks Ive been doing a bit of research, looking at how I trained for munster, looking at what worked, where i can improve. Where I can tweak my training to get a better result, I have put together a training plan.

The Training Plan

My training for Boston is going to be once again bassed on Lydiard. Which means high millage in the Aerobic Zone. For Münster I mistook the variance in Aerobic pace, that is in a Lydiard Plan for the effort of the workout. Its not all about running at the same pace every day. There should be a lot of variation in paces, form the slow pace of the weekly long run, right up too the Sub LT threshold runs at faster than Marathon Pace. I will be including a lot more varience in my pace in this training round.

Another big change for me will be the shift to training in the mornings. My running group meets in the evenings, unfortunately the groups normal pace is now a slower recovery jog pace for me, with 3 group runs during the week, I was simply loosing too much training time. The shift to training mornings allows me to train at my pace every day, and then use the group runs as additional recovery paced jogging. I have already given pre-dawn running a trial and it works for me

My current training break will officially end on Nov 27 when i run the Aasee Candlelight 10k in Munster. In the fist few weeks of training after that I will be building up the millage, and time spent running with the goal of follow the plan below.

Mon: AM - 75 min Easy or a Progress assesment, PM - Recovery Jog
Tue: AM - 120 min Medium Effort Pace, PM - Cross training
Wed: AM - 80 min Easy, PM - Recovery Jog
Thur: AM - 130 min Medium Effort Pace, PM - Cross training
Fri: AM - 60 min Sub LT (Hard Aerobic Effort Pace), PM - Recovery Jog
Sat: 90 min Marathon Pace Conditioning.
Sun: 180 min Easy Effort Pace.

I will endeavour to be better about doing a proper warmup routine prior to my morning runs. I will continue to Include a core strength program in my training. I am planning to add a once weekly stretching regime, although not immediately prior or post running workout.

In February I will be running the Hamm Winter Lauf Series. 10k, 15k, and HM. These provide a really good estimate of Marathon form when you add all three results together. For example my total in 2011 was 3:24 and then I ran 3:23 in Vieena. I will not do any tapering for these races, and after them I wont race again until Boston, that way I hope to elimate the inconsistency that I had prior to Münster due to tappering for HM races.
"Knowing where you want to go is easy. Mapping out the plan to get there is challenging. Doing it requires total commitment" - Josh Cox
So now that i have my goal, and the cunning plan that is guaranteed to achieve it, Im 2/3rds done... all i need now is a little commitment.

Monday, 14 November 2011

2011 a Season of PB's

Im currently taking a short training break. The idea is to give my body and mind a chance to re-group before I start what is likely to be a hard 3-4 months training for my first big 'A' goal race in 2012. A break like this is also the ideal opportunity to look back over the achievments of the previous season. A lot has happened to me this year.


I still remember that amazing feeling i had running through the streets of Vienna, grinning from ear to ear and thinking to myself 'Wow your really doing it, your running a marathon'. Only a year before that i was going through several bottles of vodka a week, and on the edge of a slippery slope into a really dark place. Instead to inspire my kids Id taken up running, and now there i was running my Debut Marathon.

After Vienna I'd planned to focus on anaerobic training for shorter races instead I hurt my achilles, and thought that the enforced break in training would put a sub 20 5k well out of reach. But my kids cheered me on at the local 5k in haltern, and somehow I managed to pull that sub 20 and my first ever age class win out of the hat.

I then turned my sights to the Münster Marathon, I started building up the milage again, training even more than i did for Vienna. There were a number of Half Marathons in the build up that left me more than a little uncertain that i was in shape to run my targeted 3:10, but on the day it all seemed to come together, my pace plan worked a treat and i was able to storm home to run a time that surprised me as much as anyone, 3:06. I used it to apply for Boston 2012, and it was accepted.

To close out my 2011 season I decided to reward myself with an Ultra Marathon, the Röntgenlauf. Id not really done any specific training, just relied on the Aerobic base my Münster training had built. The race itself was fantastic. My result more than acceptable. It has me itching for more in 2012.

PB's everywhere

The first Races of the season were the Hamm Winter Series. 10k, 15k, and HM. They worked into the Vienna build up really well, and it was great to run these races where i do most of my training. I set PB's in each, which would become a theme for the whole season, with just about every race I ran leading to a new PB.

I started the season with a 5k PB of 25:47 I took 5 minutes off in the first 5k of the season, and a further minute of a week later to set my current PB of 19:35

I broke my 10k PB everytime I ran the distance, taking it from 43:07 at the start of the season down to 40:28 at the start of Autum.

My Half Marathon PB was a little more resistant, helped by a great start to the season in the Hamm Winter Series, and warm temperatures prior to Münster. Still it was 1:43:20 prior to the season and i have a race PB of 1:34:02 now. Which given my 1:31 second half to Münster should be a pretty soft target.

In the Marathon I debut'd with a 3:23 and improved it to a 3:06 Five months later


Some of the dramatic improvement in my running times this year has to be contributed to simple beginners improvement. However during the year my training has migrated towards being primarily focused Lydiards principles, on improving my Aerobic condition. Im sure that also played a significant part in my results. It remains to be seen if i can continue to improve next year, but i dont see why not.

There is certainly room for improvement in my training. I will be working on improving my consistency in the buildup to Boston. My Münster training was disturbed by too much racing in final weeks before tapering. I was unable to use my HR monitor due to some 'technical difficulties'. My training was also a little one dimensional too much long slow and not enough medium fast aerobic training.

It surprising but ive also really been enjoying my training break over the last few weeks. I have even done a little less recreational running than I'd initially planned. The break is almost over. Im feeling re-energized and ready for the coming season. If its anything like this year has been then its going to be a doozy.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Review: Brooks Glycerin 9 - How Far is Too Far?

My Brooks Test Package included a shoe that Id not run in before. The Brooks Glycerin, currently in its ninth version.

The Glycerin 9 is the Rolls Royce in the Brooks neutral category... built for comfort. The extra cushioning is immediately obvious. The whole shoe just feels plush when you put it on. From the thick foam around the collar, to the extra thick tongue, even the material in the toe-box feels thicker than what you get in a Ghost. Walking around in them the shoe feels soft, luxurious and just a little bit squishy underfoot.

When I first put them on I just knew that id be able to stand up, head out the door, and run a decent distance in them without any issues. The shoes just felt really good on my feet, I had no points that were pinching or were too tight. I know a lot of reviewers think they have unusual feet. I guess that is normal, few of us have feet that exactly match the shoe makers last. Ive been cursed or blessed with a rather long 4th toe (the one beside the pinky) which means that I often have to go up a size in shoes to get the required width across the tips of my toes. The Glycerin 9 doesn't have a high scuff protector overlay so my toes have plenty of room to spread, making them ideal for me.

It had been wet and windy all day Saturday so it was especially inviting to wake up Sunday morning to clear skies, some residual fog, and cool temperatures around 4°c Conditions that just scream at the runner that they should be outside taking advantage of the moment. The perfect opportunity to christen a new pair of shoes.

I started off with my usual slow warm up jog, to the meeting point. The extra cushioning was nice under foot, definitely a lot softer than my ghosts. The group run started off at a pace of 5:45/km. We ran along a bike path beside the canal. The Glycerin's easily handling the crushed gravel path. still  comfortably soft but not too soft. After some 6km the only Lady in the group peeled off because she only wanted to run it was just the lads left.... lads being lads from then on the pace slowly crept up as the kilometers got ticked off over a mix of gravel and asphalt.

What surprised me was that as the pace kept climbing the Glycerins also seemed to get firmer under foot. Still not as firm as the ghosts, but nothing like the soft cushy 'walk on clouds' feeling you get when your walking in them. I Guess the DNA does what it says it does and firms up the midsole as the impact increases. We wound the pace down to around 4:50/km the glycerins took it all in their stride. My first run in the Glycerin 9's turned out to be just over 21km.

The Glycerin 9 has a substantial overlay package around the mid-foot and heel, This provides plenty of support and ensures that shoe doesn't move around on your foot. The segmented out-sole under the forefoot allows for a very smooth transition through to toe-off. The heel is very forgiving for a heel striker, or should your form deteriorate over time.

Personally i wouldn't pick these shoes for short fast racing, there are other shoes in the Brooks lineup that might be more appropriate, however if your looking for extra cushioning, want to feel super comfortable or are planning on raking up some high millage then you cant really go wrong with them.

Going Far

It was that High Millage point that really piqued my Interest. Id decided to attempt my first Ultra as a reward for an outstanding run in the Münster Marathon. The Röntgenlauf a 63km race in Remscheid over a mix of mostly non technical bike paths and asphalt seemed like the ideal candidate. The Glycerin 9 like a good shoe choice. All that i needed to do was make sure that they, and I, would be up to the challenge.

Two weeks out i put us both to the test. On Saturday I ran the teutoberglauf, in the Ghosts that had served me well in Münster. Sunday it was time for the Glycerins to step up to the plate with a longer training run. I headed for the Halterner Haard, 47km later it was getting dark, and my legs were shot. My feet on the other hand were just fine, wrapped in infinity socks and the Glycerin 9's.

Here's a short video I took of me unveiling my feet after that run through the Haard. Im speaking (murdering) German in the Video btw.
After that, the decision was easy, id use that exact same combination for the Röntgenlauf.

My experience at the Röntgenlauf was fantastic. Yes it was hard, the hills were tough, and my legs were feeling it towards the end, but i achieved a great result for my debut. I must give some credit for that to the shoes, my feet posed me no problems during the race. The combination of the thick Infinity Socks and Glycerin 9 protected them from the pounding I gave them over the 63km course. In the final 10km's it was just a battle between my will, and my legs. My feet were fine, i didn't have any blisters or hot spots, nothing to make those last 10k harder than they were.

Ive done my best to find the Distance Limit for the Glycerin, but it has me beat as the guys at activegearreview say 'you’ll quit long before they do'. For comfort, for high millage the Glycerin 9 is a fantastic shoe. My pair is going to see some pretty hard usage this winter, especially on my long runs, as I build up for Boston. I know that they can handle it.

Run Happy

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Art of the Negative Split with the Cut-in

On one of my favorite Podcasts Marathon Talk they are constantly talking about running Negative Splits.

For those that dont know what a negative split is. Its when you run the second half of a race faster than the first half.

There are a number of benifits to running a negative split in a longer endurance race
  • Reaching your lactate threshold later in the race, which makes you feel like you have more energy and allows you to run faster over the last few miles
  • There is a Physcological advantage to running faster than the competition in the closing stages of a race.
  • Conservation of Glycogen stores during the slower first half.
  • A faster post race recovery.
  • A more pleasurable race experience overall as your 'time on the limit' is reduce.
 Still not convinced? Stop and consider that many World records across various endurance events are achieved with a negative split, the famous 50.5 :  49.5  ratio being the most effective.

The traditional Negative Split has you complete the race in thirds, the first third a little under pace, in the middle accelerating upto pace, and then finishing the last third strong, and kicking with whatevers left.

Unfortunatly there is one major downside to all this, that strategy doesnt apply well to the Marathon where any increase in pace in the final third is usually beyond the abilities of most runners. Instead the best approach to a marathon is to try and run a constant pace throughout. There is of course one qualifier to assumes that you had plenty of time to warm up prior to the race.

Most Marathoners are not afforded that opportunity, as they stand in corals waiting for the start gun, or if its a small race and there is room to warm up we tend to stand around anyway and save our energy for the race.

The single biggest mistake that marathoners make is that they start too fast. The body is flooded with race day adrenaline, the gun goes off, the crowd surges foward and suddenly everyones running 20-30 seconds per kilometer faster than their target race pace... what makes this even worse is that your doing it on essentially cold legs.

When your running the marathon you want the energy required to run to be drawn from a combination of stored glycogen and fat burning. You'll never make it to the end just on glycogen alone. However It takes a while for your body to react to the stress of running and start up the mitochodrial furnaces that provide energy through burning fat... in the interim all energy needs are met from your glycogen stores. It is not uncommon for runners to burn off over 20% of their available glycogen stores in the first 5k.

It can take your body several miles to get warmed up. After that, your muscles are charged, your joints lubricated, and mood-boosting endorphins flood your system. You’ll find yourself running faster without feeling any more effort.” - Jeff Galloway, Runners World

The way to avoid this problem, and also deliver that oh so desirable negative split is to use the Cut-in. The Cut-in has you run the first few kilometers slower than race pace giving your body the time it needs to warm up. 

For a basic cut-in determin your target time and calculate the pace required to achieve it. Start the first Km 30 seconds slower than target pace, run the next 2k 20 seconds off pace, and the 2 after that 10 seconds off pace. At km5 you will be 1:30 behind your target pace. The rest of the race you consistently run 3 seconds per Km faster than the target race pace.

The Cut-in however does require several things. Firstly you need to be able to make an honest and realistic estimate of your Race day potential. If you set yourself a target time of 4:10 but are really only in 4:40 shape then the plan will fail and you will bonk. Using a race in the weeks leading up to the main goal is a good way to get an estimate, plug the time into an equivalent performance calculator like the one at McMillanRunning to get a good estimate.

You will also need the discipline to hold yourself to the paces during the cut-in phase. Certainly no easy feat when the adrenaline is surging, and the runners around you all seem to be going past they do say to yourself that you will be seeing them all again later in the race....some much earlier than you expect. It pays to practice the cut-in during some of your weekly runs.

Finally it would also pay to have done several steady state runs at the target pace - 3 seconds that you will want to run the majority of the marathon at... This should be the pace used in all Marathon Pace runs in your trainign schedule.

If you follow through on the Cut-in then you will also find that you automatically run a negative split. You will have conserved your energy for the later stages of the race where youll be passing people left and right that are struggling with the wall. Youll run to the finish line feeling great, and may well set yourself a new PR.

Start Slow to Finish Fast!


If the course is really hilly and your not going to be able to use pace then you can also use effort, a good measure of that is your Heart Rate. ... go through a cut-in on a flat course record your heart rate at the various paces and then use that as a guide to how to control the effort on a hilly course.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Röntgenlauf UltraMarathon 63.3km

I am an Ultra Runner!

The seed for this was laid during my training for the Münster Marathon. I was putting in a lot of millage, There were 3 weeks in a row where i ran over 100 miles a week, topping out at 192km in one week. I believe it was Stephen of Run Like you Stole It that commented that there might be an Ultra in my not too distant Future... which got me thinking.

The plan was to run fast in Münster, and if that fell through attempt it again in a second autumn marathon. If Münster went well then i would 'Reward' myself with an 'Easy' introduction to Ultra Running with the Röntgenlauf. Ive never really considered myself a fast runner, Yes i have some decent PB's but i always felt i was built for endurance not speed. So the thought of doing an Ultra allways intrigued me.

The Roentgenlauf with its 63 km seemed like the ideal introduction. It worked into my race schedule well, and it seemed like an achievable distance with limited Ultra training or experience. My prepartion consisted of my existing aerobic base, the Tetoberg Waldlauf followed by a 48km run the day after, and a few hill sprint workouts. Certainly not ideal, but it was sufficient.

The Röntgenlauf itself is a fantastic event that i would highly recomend. It offers races over Half Marathon, Marathon, and the Ultra. The Ultra can also be run as a team of 3 runners each running a Half Marathon distance. Its also extremely flexible you can register for the ultra and drop out at the full marathon, or register for the marathon and run the ultra, and you will be classed appropriately. The course is simply stunning at this time of the year.

My Taper was pretty uneventful, a few little aches and pains, just what youd expect. I was nowhere near as strict with myself as during the Münster Taper and the result was much more relaxed. Carbo loading started wednesday. I chose to favor potatoes rather than rice or nudels because potatoes apparently have a higher nutritional value.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide on a race pace and draw up a pace plan. This was complicated both by the distance and the effect of the hills. In the end my plan was reasonably close, but a littel too optomistic given the hills. The night before the race i suffered my own brain failure as i spent a good hour going back and forth trying to figure out how to make sure i didnt wake up too late ... that night we switched from summer time to winter time here in germany... i guess nerves will do that.

The morning however i woke up at the correct time and just followed my regular race day process. Breakfast was a healthy portion of porridge, with a sliced bannana and walnuts mixed in, topped with milk and honey. Showered dressed and 'body glided' i was ready to go. I arrived at the race start area with a good hour and a half to go. Picked up my start number, and then went to go get changed into my race kit.

I had prepared my short running tights the day before, I wanted to take a gel at km 5 then every 10k after that...but my shorts couldnt hold that many and i only have a start number band or a hydration belt. I didnt want to carry the hydration belt so i decided to pin the gels that wouldnt fit in my pocket to my tights. I positioned them on the sides and it was quite comfortable they didnt wobble around and didnt get in the way.

I had also chosen a long sleeve shirt, it was a good 13°c when i arrived, so i wouldnt need a jacket for warmth, and the weather report was predicting no rain, so the jacket stayed in my gear bag. My shoe choice was made after the 48 km training run, i was testing my Brooks Glycerin 9's and they had shown themselves worthy of my trust.

I hung around in the start hall hoping to meet Henning who was also running the race for the first time, but with 20 mins to go i headed for the start line, turned out id just missed him there. I couldnt find him there either, and thought id end up running the race without him.

The start came, and i was still standing a little to the side, I watched a good number of runners go through the start gate, before stepping into the flow and starting my run. The first few hundred meters were hardly behind me when Henning turned up on my shoulder. It was a plesant surprise, and we would run together for the next 26-27km. The course starts with a little sightseeing loop through Lennep. A very picturesque village, and birthplace of Willhelm Röntgen who discovered XRays.

That first little loop was an introduction to the hills, however we were caught in a lot of trafic and were not able to run the pace according to my plan. There were almost 2000 people on the start line, and the course was quite narrow, it didnt really start thining out until after the first10km, It was too crowded on the downhills prior to that to run faster, and the uphills...well they were a bit steeper than expected, so there was no picking up places there.

I knew that from km 10-15 it would be constantly down hill, so we started to pick up the pace, and places as we began overtaking the runners ahead of us. somewhere after km 15 I realised that Id over hydrated that morning, So I waited for the next steep hill and steeped off the course for a 'breather'. It turned out to be the prosecco hill... at the top you were invited to join the spectators there in a nip of prosecco. I didnt loose too much time and caught up to henning pretty quickly.

The first HM went by pretty quickly, I was chatting to henning, and we were crusing along. My legs still felt really fresh, in fact i commented that so far it felt like a pretty normal sunday long run. The Traffic had gotten quite a lot lighter after the first HM as we shed all the runners that were going no further.

The Second HalfMarathon stretch is pretty much flat overall, but has lots of short sharp ascents and descents in it, with only the ocasional flat stretch. Around Km 28 we hit the first real trail like steep uphill, and even though i power walked it I could feel the lactate buildup in my legs. Id managed to walk past a few of the people ahead of me, but Henning looked like he was struggling a little on the hills. I waited till he caught up and we started running again.

At some point we went under the Müngstener Bridge, the highest railway bridge in germany. Henning was starting to strugle more and more on the hills. Id hopped that we'd be able to run to the 50k mark together before each finishing in his own pace. But it didnt turn out that way. Henning told me to not worry about waiting for him anymore, so I wished him luck, and set about trying to maintain a steady pace.

Km 32 - 36 was mostly a gentle rise, and i started picking up a lot of runners, mostly marathon entrants but also quite a few of the ultra runners. I was still feeling strong and was running well. The course went past the Castle Burg but i cant say I recall seeing it. At Km 37 there was a brutal descent on an asphalt road, my toes were hitting the tips of my shoes despite being laced properly, I started to worry about my feet, and wether i should stop and re-tie my shoes. but after a few more bone jaring meters the descent was over.

From Km 38 through to km 47.5 the course was an almost constant ascent, just a few short downhills as a break. I picked up quite a few Marathon runners, and eventually came to the marathon finish line. The clock showed 3:46 and the announcer commented that i ran to the finish line / timming mats  looking fresh. but i didnt stop there... there was still another half marathon to go. After the Marathon distance we passed the Eschbachtalsperre and kept climbing, My tolerance for when i would start power walking on the hills started to drop, as did my ability to start running again once id started walking.

That stretch was the hardest for me. It really took its toll. Id also stopped picking up runners, all that was left on the track were the ultra's and the HM relay runners. They were all pretty fresh still and the ultras were few and far between. The hills were really grinding me down, The one bright spot was the homemade musli bars at the refreshment stations.

Eventually I crossed the 50km mat and my legs had started to recover a little. I was able to maintain a slightly higher pace again and started to close the gap on the runners ahead of me. The course had changed a litle and was winding through farmland over asphalt lanes. I had to smile to myself a few times as i realised that i was running an ultra, that this was the furtest id ever run. the longest id ever run. That for most people the idea of running this far is something they just cant understand.

My 'Plan' was to run steady through to km 55 and then see what was left in the tank.... well just prior to km 55 there was another big hill, that I 'power' walked up...although there wasnt much power mostly just walk. my legs were starting to hurt, and they didnt feel like they recovered any on the following downhill. Infact i felt even worse. I recaled reading at that many people experience a second wall around 55km or so. I wondered if this was what i was starting to feel.

It was strange I felt that  could keep running, my breathing wasnt laboured i even felt like i had enought energy in my body it was just that my legs were getting sore and feeling tired, I wanted to keep pushing but they just wouldnt do anymore... I let Tony Auldenshaws mantra run through my head a few times 'F**k the legs, F**k em'. It also occured to me that most of the other ultra runners must be going through something similar.

The next refeshment stand had salted pretzels on offer... heavenly. after the gels, and the musli bars i really enjoyed something non-sweet and salty. I briefly considered the cola, but said no, ill have that at the last stand. The next section of the course was more or less flat running alongside the wuppertalsperre another man made lake.

I elicited a brief laugh from a relay runner that id just passed when i stopped, whipped out my camera and took a photo before starting to run again. I was able to maintain a pretty good pace, my legs seemed to have given in to Tonys Mantra and were now just doing their thing and turning over pretty good. I passed a couple of ultra runners and put space on them, The last refreshment stand was pretty busy, with lots of spectators. I called out for cola as i arrived, failing to notice that there was beer on offer.

There was another short flat section alongside the lake, I started to feel like my right hamstring was going to cramp up. I played around with my breathning rates switching to a non symetrical one to try and ease it... which it slowly did. then i got to the final hill. And walked my way to the top. There were lots of walkers with race numbers on that confused me a little, and quite a few spectators and other people walking on course, But by that point id given up worrying about places and just wanted to finish the damn race. I even managed to do an old man shuffle up the final section of hill to the applause of the spectators. They yelled it was 400m to go and all down hill...

It took me a good 50m to build up my speed again, but then i ran to the finish line with a decent bit of pace, no end sprint, but still. I ran over the mats, through the people at the finish line and was a little worried i wouldnt stop before the barrier holding back the spectators... but i avoided that disaster when my legs decided enough was enough. hands on knees and head down i stopped my garmin with 5:35 showing, and then a young lass put my finishers medal over my head.

I looked around there must be something to eat and drink here, i wasnt sure where it was, eventually i realised it was in the hut right by the finish line, i grabbed a cig cup of coke, banana, oatysnack, and a danish pastry, and sat myself down on a chair. The local TV crews and reporters were standing around in the finishing area, Waiting for the first female runner to come in, but no one was interested in me. I went back to the food for seconds, and realised my legs were starting to tighten up. Besides id also seen that the beer tent was just outside the finishing area. So i went out grabbed a alkohol free wheet beer, and started walking in circles to try and keep the legs turning over.... two beers later and i was starting to feel cold.

I headed for the showers, and then lined up for a massage from the phsio's. I kept having cramps in my left calf when the physio would press into the muscle.. eventually however he worked that out. After the massage i struggled to tie my shoes as each time i bent foward to tie them the top of my quads would cramp up... my god i thought, im falling to pieces here. Eventually i got  myself sorted out.

I ran into Henning again, turned out he'd really hit the wall in the third Half... still he had fought on and finished his first Ultra too. I went back to the finish line to cheer on a few of the runners, and then when i started feeling cold headed for the hall to watch the prize giving.

All in All it was a great day, and a great race. I finished my first Ultra, and in a pretty handy time too. I wasnt able to stick to my pace plan, but i did run a very evenly paced race throughout which was something i wanted to do. I learnt a few good leasons that will be handy should i ever decide to race this again. In particular my preparation definately lacked sufficient extra long runs to condition my legs to the pounding that they will take on a race of this distance. I also discovered the the hills were a lot more brutal than i initially expected. But that the tactic of power walking them didnt cost me much time at all.

My Stats for the race are as follows

Chip Time: 5:36:13

1st HM: 1:53:37
2nd HM: 1:51:51
3rd HM: 1:50:44
50km: 4:27:00

For a 22nd place overall from 400+ finishers and 5th place in the M35 Category.

here Lady Garmins take on the whole thing