Recovery run – 26th March 2012

After my Paris exploits over the weekend I decided to have a gentle run to stretch my legs and see if there was any real damage after those ruddy French hills!

Having taken the day off (in anticipation for being totally wasted after Paris) I went out for a slow 8k round Crane Park, wearing my normal Luna Sandals (I hadn’t got round to cleaning the French countryside of my others).

The legs felt surprisingly good, although the now black toenail will need me to be more observant where I put my feet for a few weeks, as if I stub it again it will hurt big time!

Paris EcoTrail 80k Ultra – 24th March 2012

Well its finally here, my first Trail Ultra.

Having already entered a trail ultra (69 miles) running the length of Hadrians Wall in June 2012 I found this one in Paris that looked challenging (alas I didn’t realise how) and incorporated running through some great countryside. A great test to see what I need to improve for the run in June, and would give me 3 months to fix it!

I flew into Paris on Friday afternoon, picked up my number and headed to my hotel that was a couple of Metro (underground) stops from the Eiffel Tower (crawling distance).

The next morning I joined the train by the Eiffel Tower and headed out to Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines south west of Paris and the end of the C7 RER line, along with a few thousand other runners.

I knew it was going to be pretty hilly, but little did I realise exactly how hilly!

I got to the start with a couple of hours to go found a comfortable tree to sit against and sat back in the sunshine to watch runners arriving and the final preparations for the race unfold.

The important stuff is in the following video:

Breakfast at the start

I had been undecided as to whether to wear my Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek or Luna Sandals for the race, but decided to wear Luna Sandals, but with socks to give me a bit of protection from nettles etc as I didn’t really know how rough the trail would be.

Getting ready

The Start

I was carrying a Camelbak with 2 litres of water and other mandatory kit (waterproof, warm top, headtorch, food etc) and had decided on a fuelling strategy of 1 Shot Blok every mile which would at least give me around 200 calories an hour (you can only absorb around 240 cals an hour anyway) as against the 600 cals I was probably burning. That should hopefully stop me bonking, and not cause any stomach “distress” (polite term).

22k Aid Station

Now the bad news, alas I got to Meudon at 50k and was timed out as I had missed the cutoff by 30 minutes! I had been watching my time closely but the hills had really killed my quads, they were so steep that not only did I have to walk up them (expected) but I had to carefully walk down them as well using even more time and hammering my quads again.

I was with a crowd of runners so we all walked to the nearest train station and travelled back to the Eiffel Tower, picked up our bags and headed back to our respective hotels and a shower. After which I just went to bed as I wasn’t hungry having eaten a Shot Blok every mile for the last 7 odd hours.

Next morning, having gone straight to bed without any dinner last night I decided to treat myself to brunch in a nearby (a key requirement) Paris cafe as my first real food after a day eating only Shot Bloks. Wow did it taste good, and I didn’t care about the calories having burned 3,000 the day before!

In summary it was a great first Ultra, my Luna Sandals were great (aside from where I kicked a 1 inch iron rod on the path and will lose a toenail), and overall it really helped me understand where need to focus for the Hadrian’s Wall Ultra ( in June.

Hill training and quads of steel here I come!

P.S. The highlight of the whole run was when a stunning blonde girl on a handsome horse came galloping out of the forest wearing a low cut top. The French runner next to me (who knew I didn’t speak French) thought for a minute and commented to me in broken English “nice orse”. “Oui” I replied and we both exchanged knowing looks!

If that is the sort of hallucinations you get on Ultras, then bring them on!

River Crane 5k run – 12th March 2012

Legs were feeling pretty good after Bath Half yesterday and as I’d sorted my 2 blisters I decided to go for a gentle run just to stretch my legs.

It was quiet along the Crane aside from the 2 foxes I disturbed with my head torch.

5k later I decided that my last few months of training has really paid off as my recovery after a race like Bath is streets ahead of anything experienced before.

I hope I can say the same after 50 miles in Paris in under 2 weeks time!

Bath Half Marathon – 11th March 2012

Well it’s race day at last. Phil and I drove to the Bath racecourse and got the coach down into Bath to avoid the traffic and parking/road closure issues that are caused by 12,000 runners descending on a city that is not car friendly at the best of times.

It was a mild morning with expected temperatures of around 14 degrees C later on so I’d taken a cap to run in.

I was intending to run with my Camelbak with 1.5 ltrs of water as practise for Paris.

The route is pretty fast and involves 2 laps before returning back to where you started. The start begins with a downhill stretch so you really have to hold back and try not to think about the uphill finish later!


I was wearing my Luna ATS sandals with the usual improvised chip holder.


Phil and I started together but soon got separated as he accelerated away into the distance.

I did the first mile in around 8:30 as intended (not much time or space to warm up when you are stuck in a field that big). The picture below shows people queuing to get to the start 3 minutes before the race begins.


I then increased my speed to between 8:00 -8:15 where I tried to keep it for the rest of the race.

I skipped all the feed stations and just sipped from my pack as needed (drank .5 ltr in total) and had a shot block about every 30 min. The cap was a good decision as it was sunny but shorts would have been better than my 3/4 tracksters.

Due to the 2 loops we have to keep to the left at 1 point as the leaders will overtake us. We saw the police outriders and heard the cheers before we saw Kenyan Edwin Kipkorir come past who went on to win in 64 minutes! Kenyan Edith Chelimo was the fastest woman in 71 min 25 secs. It really takes your breath away to see the speed and grace with which runners like that go past you. The rest of the runners were clapping and cheering as they flew past us.

My speed fluctuated between 8:10-8:25 generally, finishing in 1:50, not a PB/PR but as my training had been focused on distance not speed I wasn’t too concerned. My HR recovery looked good, dropping 50 beats in 2 minutes.

Injury wise I had a blister on my Mortons toe (my 2nd toe is longer than my big toe) on each foot so I must have been pushing off a bit uphill and maybe breaking downhill. I’ll probably tape them for Paris. I’m heading towards running Paris in my KSO Treks (better if muddy) but putting my Lunas in my Camelbak pack in case.

We left the beautiful city of Bath and headed back to Phil’s Dad’s house where a shower and full Sunday lunch was waiting for us, mmm delicious!


Bushy 7 mile run – 7th March 2012

Well its my last training run before Bath Half on Sunday so a gentle run to stretch my legs is my plan.

Dark as usual so head torch on I set off on my usual circuit out and back through Bushy.

Pace averaged out at 10:15 and a comfortable run in my VFF KSO Treks.

I’ll be wearing my Luna Sandals ATS on Sunday as my heel has had a good rest from being sore from a too tight heel strap a few weeks back .

So my target for Bath is 1:45 so let’s see how I get on. I’ll be running with my friend Phil who is also looking for a similar time so a chance for a chat (if I can still breathe).

Bushy 8 mile run – 4th March 2012

So with 1 week to go till Bath Half Marathon I had to stretch my legs for a few slow miles, but not too far.

I headed off on Sunday afternoon for a run wearing waterproofs as it had been raining for most of the day and was bound to start again when I was miles away.

It was around 5 deg C and I was only just warm enough with a T, long sleeved top and waterproof so I may have to add a few extras if it is this temperature in my Paris Trail Ultra at the end of the month.


Bushy was gorgeous as usual so rather than just run back through the middle I ran the parkrun course in reverse just to see what it looked like.

One creature didn’t look too pleased to see me so after a quick blurred photo I carried on (those antlers looked sharp).


It was a good run (keeping my heart rate at around 60% results in a 9:45 mile/minute time as I am aiming for a 10:30 mile/min pace for the Ultra) and I’m looking forward to Bath where I will see if all my heart rate driven training (Maffetone) pays off as I really want a new PB of around 1:45 (currently 1:48).

Bushy parkrun – 3rd March 2012

Saturday here at last and parkrun time.

With my first half marathon of the year 1 week away I’m taking it steady so today was just a run round the course.

We had 800+ runners and the usual parkrun Saturday morning weather that makes it worth getting up.

The deer were out in numbers but not bothered by the traffic.


My time was 22:44 which will do for this week.

River Crane 10k run – 1st March 2012

I had arranged with James to go for a 1 hour run last night so met up at 8:30pm and (once I worked out how to start my new 910XT) set off for a run around the wildlife nature reserve that runs along the River Crane nearby.


As usual it was dark but you are constantly reminded that the surroundings have a fair bit of history as you keep coming across remains of brick work and mounds as you run alongside the river. Once you reach the tower below it is all explained.


Crane Park had a number of gunpowder mills from around 1760 till as recent as 1927 and the photo is of the recently restored Shot Tower.

Molten lead would be poured from the top, hit a mesh to break it into droplets before hitting water to cool the lead shot. The millstones in the foreground were used to grind saltpetre, an ingredient of gunpowder.

The building remains are the result of several large explosions in the past that we’re heard 20 miles away and the mounds we were running past were to reduce the blast from any explosions.

It’s hard to believe that the quiet woodland we were running through was once the location of such an industry.

If I ever find a lead musket ball it’s going on the mantelpiece!

We disturbed several foxes as we continued through the woodland their eyes reflecting back in our head torches. At such times I’m always glad that we don’t have bears in the UK!

We looped back along the south side of the river and headed further into Twickenham, before finally turning back on ourselves at the rail station and once more tracing the river back home, just sneaking under the hour for 10.8k.

A good run, with poor James having to hear a local history lesson, interspersed with gasps for air as I battled to keep up with him!