Last Blog before the long awaited UMCB Mexico running adventure begins

Well after months and months of training in rain, snow (and sometimes even sunshine) I’m on the last 6 days before I leave to journey to Mexico for the Ultra Marathon Caballo Blanco http://www.ultracb.com/ made famous in the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall (http://www.chrismcdougall.com/).

It is expected that there will be around 120 international runners travelling from all over the world to run alongside 100 Mexican and 300 Tarahumara runners.

I’ll try and update my blog wherever I can get WiFi access as I’m sure the scenery will be stunning.

Its been tough keeping the miles up over the past few months with the UK weather and trying not to pick up an injury.

IMG_2334

IMG_2332

IMG_2377

Alas I had a twinge on my right calf after doing 30 miles in the snow on two consecutive Sundays (with my mountaineering neighbour and http://www.ringofire.co.uk/ RD James Bingham) a few weeks ago (suspect it was partly due to wearing heavier “minimalist” shoes than my Luna’s causing a slight running form change). After which I halted running and moved to just working on my quads using my Wife’s steps (whilst furiously massaging my calf so it’s fixed in time for the run). With the amount of ascent & descent (10,000 ft) the inevitable walking should give my calf a bit of time to rest during the run.

Alas the only thing I cannot train for (aside from the ascent & descent) for is running in temperatures of 35-40 degrees C at midday!!

Here’s a quick summary of my itinerary:

I fly out from London on Friday to El Paso, Texas (2 hr flight change in Dallas) and then on Sunday start a 2 day van journey (with an overnight stop at Cuauhtemoc) with 25 other runners to a hotel at the top of the canyons (http://www.mexicohorse.com/).

Tuesday some local hikes and a tour to Cerocahui and in the afternoon we will visit the local Tarahumara school where I will be giving a 10 year old laptop I’ve brought from Twickenham a good home!

Wednesday we commence a 24 mile trail hike down into the canyon whilst our luggage is transported down by van. Followed up by dinner with the runners in Urique at Madam Tita’s restaurant (of “Born to Run” fame)

Thursday we walk part of the course and in the evening 20 of us are going to a Temazcal Sweat Lodge at Cabañas San Isidro. Several hours of sweating later I’ll be glad for the swim in the waterfall.

Friday we walk another part of the course and pick up our race packets and in the evening attend a Pre-Race Runners Dinner with the Raramuri runners.

Saturday is a run for the Kids of the Canyons! Over 400 Children from all over the Canyons will participate in this run. All children finishers receive a Medal and a Shirt donated by Marathon Kids and a bag of School Supplies donated by the Runners and Supporters of the event.This is followed by a Pre-Race Festival in Urique Town Square.

Sunday at 6am the 50 mile Ultra marathon Caballo Blanco starts!!!! Presentations start at 5pm which I would really like to be back for, but 11 hours for 50 miles is 2 hours off my best time so we will see……..

Monday we all leave (walking very delicately I imagine) and start the 2 day drive back to El Paso where I catch a flight on Wednesday afternoon back to London having (hopefully) achieved the number 1 item on the top of my “Bucket List”!

Now what was number 2 on my “Bucket List”……….. 😉

.Oh yes, and I need to recover quickly as I’m pacing James for the last 30 miles of the Thames Path 100 Ultra (http://www.centurionrunning.com/thames-path-100-2013/) on the 23rd March!

Advertisements

Lots of running, some chilly weather and preparations for Mexico begin

I really seemed to have settled in to a bit of a running routine of late as I try to maintain a decent mileage (by my standards that is) in the remaining months before Mexico, so a normal week is generally looking like this::

Tuesday – 10 or 14 mile run through Bushy Park, along the Thames to Teddington Lock and home via Teddington (10 mile route) or continue to Richmond Bridge and back along the Thames to Twickenham and then home (14 mile route). Although I did get carried away last Tuesday as it was such a gorgeous wintery day I just carried on and did a loop of Richmond Park as well taking the distance up to 21 miles!

Thursday – 10 or 14 mile run through Bushy Park, along the Thames to Teddington Lock and home via Teddington (10 mile route) or continue to Richmond Bridge and back along the Thames to Twickenham and then home (14 mile route)

Saturday – Bushy parkrun 5k

Sunday – 17 mile run from Chelsea along the Thames path to Chiswick Bridge and back whilst Sam is doing judo @ the Budokwai

So generally I’m running around 40-45 miles per week in my Luna Sandals (Leadville model) unless on days when the trails are really muddy which is when I have to resort to my Vibram KSO Treks.

I was fortunate to win a competition at Luna a few weeks back that resulted in me receiving a free pair of their Tabi Socks which have been great for keeping my feet warm when it got down to -5C (23F) recently.

Here are some photos from my runs in Bushy Park over the last few weeks during the cold spell which was great for both running and photos:

The Bushy Pom Pom tree (Mistletoe)

photo (21)

Toasty feet (thanks Luna)

IMG_2005

IMG_2124

photo (19)

A quick play with the Panorama feature on my iPhone

IMG_2145

A few photos from my Sunday morning Chelsea to Chiswick Bridge runs before the cold spell:

IMG_1962

IMG_1983

I think I was definitely warmer than this guy!

IMG_1985

and one from the Saturday morning 5k parkrun in Bushy Park where the wildlife can get a bit close at times:

photo (14)

Mexico & Ultramarathon Caballo Blanco

I’ve had a Hepatitis A & Typhoid jab and I’m due for a Tetanus jab in January which will be all my innoculations over with. I’m now starting to think about what stuff I need during the trip and items like water purification.

In my next blog I’ll probably go into a bit more detail on how I will be getting down there, and hopefully I’ll be able to blog as I travel down and upload anytime I reach free wifi but we’ll see. I can see that my Powermonkey & solar panels are going to get a lot of use keeping my iPhone charged up.

Thames Path 100 (Richmond to Oxford along the Thames Path)

3 weeks after Mexico I’ll be pacing my neighbour James for the last 30 miles of the Thames Path 100, so sometime in early February we’ll probably run the last 30 miles of the course into Oxford to familiarise ourselves (well me anyway) with the course, as it will probably be dark when I’ll be running it in the early hours of the morning (unless James is really really fast!).

A Roman Camp in snow and mist, a 62 mile week, autumn runs along the Thames and yes more deer!

I can’t believe its almost a month since my last blog post.

I’ve been busy with a friends 50th birthday weekend in North Yorkshire where I was able to fit in a morning run “in snow” (Saturday morning) and in mist (Sunday morning) running through a Roman Camp (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawthorne_Camp) on the North Yorkshire Moors! It was definitely time to start running in socks with my Luna Sandals

I’ve had a quite a number of early morning 10 and 14 mile runs through Bushy Park and along the Thames to Richmond with the obligatory deer of course.

My highest mileage week was 62 miles, partly due to a 23 mile Sunday morning run (6:30am start!) with my neighbour James where we ran through Bushy, Kingston, along the river to Richmond Park, where we did a lap and then ran back along the river to Teddington Lock and back home via Teddington. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain for most of it so we ran through an awful lot of mud which can be pretty challenging in Huaraches.

Finally my run last Sunday was a beautiful autumn 15 miles along the Thames from Chelsea to Barnes and back whilst my Son Sam was doing his usual Sunday Judo training at The Budokwai.

Oh, and here’s one from Saturdays Bushy parkrun where one of the course marshall’s looked a bit more fierce than usual.

Morning runs, Thames and Boats

At 51 miles, last week was probably the most training miles I have run in a week and all in my Luna Sandals!

Monday – I continued my early morning runs through Bushy Park and along The Thames which I really enjoy and will miss once I find some gainful employment again. That 10 miles for the day increased by another 8 miles as later that evening my friend Phil stayed over (we are running Bristol Half on Sunday though he will beat me by at least 5 minutes!) and we went for an 8 mile headtorch run round Bushy, which can be a bit unsettling seeing lots of pairs of eyes reflecting your light back at you and knowing their are very pointy antlers a few inches above those eyes!

Wednesday – Another 10 mile morning run via Bushy and The Thames.

Friday – A 9 mile run via Bushy and the Thames due to starting from Fulwell station rather than home as I walked Oliver to the station first.

After crossing Kingston Bridge and heading along the Thames towards Teddington Lock I saw the following barge towing another barge carrying large pieces of wood. I was trying to work out what they were but finally realised they were lock gates. Probably to replace some further up the river, and what better way to transport them. You get an idea of scale by the 2 guys sat on the 2nd one in Hi-Vis jackets.

 

Sunday – As I was taking Sam to judo at Budokwai in Chelsea and would have 2.5 hours to spare I decided to pass the time running from Chelsea to Barnes & back along the Thames Path which is 14 miles.

The weather forecast was rain so I threw on a jacket (which proved useful later). It was a good run and I had just reached my turnaround point at Barnes when it started to rain. But the path was fairly well protected from the rain as the trees still had a lot of leaves on. Having run the path in the winter parts get get very muddy which can be a challenge running in sandals.

I made good time and got back early so I had time for a wonderful vanilla latte whilst waiting for Sam to finish. The Starbucks staff looked very glad this sweaty, muddy runner wanted his latte to go!

 

Bushy parkrun, training experiments and Caballo Blanco Ultra Marathon

Well its been an interesting few days on the running front.

I did a couple of 9 mile morning runs, not fast averaging around 9:30 min/mile. But what was different was that the 2nd run was on Friday morning, the day before parkrun. Now normally I would always leave the Friday free of running (to avoid feeling stiff & tired) as parkrun is my speed session as the rest of my runs (as you can see) are fairly slow as I tend to follow MAF so run to heart rate, rather than speed. Basic principle is as your aerobic system improves you go faster at the same heart rate.

So there I was at parkrun on the usual beautiful Saturday morning (along with 955 other people apparently), having run 9 miles the day before, wondering how I would get on, and I was pleasantly surprised. Although I was nowhere near a PB (which is no surprise as my speed has taken second place to endurance recently, aside from the finishing sprint) but I felt great during the run, legs lungs everything. I came in at 23:10 after a good sprint where I hit 4:08 min/mile pace in the last 100 yards.

This needs further exploring I thought, so on Monday morning I went for a 10 mile run and in the evening I went for an 8 mile run with Phil who was staying over (and I normally do Bath & Bristol Half marathons with every year).

10 Mile Run

8 Mile Run

Again usual speed, no aches left over from the morning run, felt great (even though it was dark, needing headtorches and it rained).

I’m starting to wonder if it is time to start adding extra runs as no sign of any injuries appearing, my Luna’s are still great, feet and legs strong as ever.

I’m now about 6 months away from my “Bucket List” race Caballo Blanco Ultra Marathon (CBUM) in Mexico, so I am conscious of the need to start increasing the mileage and particularly adding some hills, as the 50 mile course includes 10,000ft of ascent / descent. This is twice what I had to cope with during “The Wall” Ultra I did last June. I also need to lose at least 1 hour as I took 13 hours to reach 50 miles then as well, and the CBUM cutoff is 12 hours (but not that strictly enforced I am told, but you start to miss the awards and evening celebrations which would be a real shame).

I’d better get back to booking some accommodation and transport to get to the bottom of this 6,000ft canyon  in Urique, Chihuahua, Mexico or else I’ll be sleeping on someone’s floor!

Training, River Relay and Bushy parkrun

What a great 7 days weather for running. I managed to get in 37 miles of running, most of which was even in sunshine (alas a few more weeks and I’l be glad if it is in daylight)!

A couple of 9 mile morning runs last week, no running at Bushy parkrun http://www.parkrun.org.uk/bushy/home on Saturday (more on that later) a 5 mile run on Sunday to the start of my 5 mile river relay (and the 5 mile race back in the midday sun and 29 degrees C) and this morning’s 9 mile run (where the photos are from) after walking Oliver to the train station (which is not far from the entrance gate to Bushy park).

My aim was to have a nice run for around 90 minutes so getting home around 9:30, I had a water bottle (as the sun was already quite strong) and set off running from Fulwell rail station in my Luna’s. For some reason the gate I was going to enter the park was closed so I carried on through Hampton Hill to the next gate (alas having to pass bakers and coffee shops with people sat outside eating pastries….the bas***ds!) which was open and entered the park.

The deer were hiding in the long grass & bracken but I disturbed them as I went past and got glared at by at least one of them.

It was a glorious morning to be running in the park, which alas my photography skills and an iPhone just can’t capture, but I have a go anyway.

On reaching Kingston bridge I crossed, looking upriver towards Hampton Court with the Thames Path on the right of the picture.

After crossing at Kingston I headed downriver along the Thames Path towards Teddington Lock (the only river crossing between Kingston and Richmond bridges, and pedestrian only) where the Thames becomes tidal. The photo is looking from Teddington Lock back towards Kingston.

After running past some of those river boats wafting the smell of bacon & eggs onto the towpath I finally got back home hungry after a great 9 mile run.

As for Bushy parkrun http://www.parkrun.org.uk/bushy/home, as I had a race on the Sunday I volunteered for Funnel on Saturday (my usual practice when I have a race the next day). Rodney McCulloch and I had decided to be on Funnel together (along with many other volunteers needed to run such events) as we expected to have a large field, with the combination of Olympic fever, sunshine and the fact it was pacers (people running with the time they will finish held aloft on flags for people to try and keep up with!) this week.

Well we were right, we had 981 runners (2nd largest field ever) so after an hour of directing tired runners into the correct lane (more like herding exhausted cats) I had almost lost my voice.

Although I must admit I almost get as much of a buzz from “funnelling” the large fields at Bushy as I do running it myself! I think Rodney feels the same.

Next Saturday I’ll be running, though I’ll probably jump into the funnel to help after I finish, just for a 2nd buzz!

Canada, Colds and Mo-Box

After looking forward to lots of trail running in Canada I managed 2 runs before then going down with a chest cold that kept the children entertained as I sounded like Darth Vader!

My first run was in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver a couple of days after we arrived.

I went out early and after running past some large (non human) footprints I acquired a large pointed staff that I used to contain my paranoia over the 2 hour run through the forest and canyons. The scenery was amazing and so were the trails. My staff even made it into the picture as well.

My second run was in Whistler.

I took the cable car and chairlift to the top of the mountain 6,000ft and intended to hike the trails down to the ‘Peak to Peak’ gondola.

I was wearing my Trail running gear (but with toesocks on to keep my feet warm in my Luna Leadville sandals).

Once at the top I found a good trail and ran for 90 minutes gradually working my way back to the gondola. The views were fantastic and my Leadvilles smoothed out pretty much anything underfoot.

My first run back in England had to swing by a special post box in Teddington. In particular the one painted gold in celebration of Mo Farah’s amazing 5k and 10k gold medals in the Olympics.

As I’m currently unemployed having been made redundant I’m trying to run 10k every morning before I sit down at the laptop for the rest of the day looking for my next role.