Dreadmill Training

I am heading off this weekend to look at a potential venue for the 24hr treadmill challenge which now looks like it has been set for April. It is been billed as an official record attempt but the record currently stands at 153.6 miles so I am doubtful that I will manage further than that. I will, however, give it my best shot and see how far I can do in 24hrs. To give myself the best chance at doing this I have pulled out of the glasgow to edinburgh double marathon and will not be entering any other races until this is complete to focus on my traning.
In the meantime I will be doing mainly treadmill running (yawn) to get myself used to the pace and tedium. It will be a mix of long runs and some speed sessions too.
My friend, Paul (lanzarote crew), works in Esporta in Poole and has arranged for me to do an 8hr treadmill run there next month – I will post the exact date when I know. They will promote the upcoming 24hr challenge that I will be doing with Sweatshop and Nike.
Hopefully after this weekend I will have an exact date for both events and I can seriously start worrying about it – although there have been some panics already about it

Beacons Ultra

I have been enjoying my time back ultra running without the thoughts of sea swims in the back of my mind at all times.
Likeys Beacons race is a two lap route around the Brecon Beacons and is billed as 45miles (its apparently more like 46/47miles)


I travelled up on friday afternoon with another ultra runner, Kev. A lot of ultrarunning friends including Mimi Anderson were comming up so it was more of a social event with a bit of running to be done in between.
A few minutes before the start of the race I started having mild stomach spasms. I took my medication but was resigned to the fact that it was not to be a fast day for me. The spasms lasted most of the race but were intermittent so was actually able to enjoy the event and was still feeling pretty fresh at the end. My legs felt great, better than they have done in a long time, I was surprised at how little aches I had the following day. In fact only this weekend I did a 45mile training run at a little faster than 10min miling and it felt easy towards the end and have no aches now. I’m not going to complain about it, just enjoying it as long as it lasts.
The main event of the Beacons weekend was the pub quiz which was great fun….the Welsh team cheated so they won of course.
Great weekend all round, well done to everyone who took part. Our Elagen teams took 1st and 3rd overall.
Off to Scotland for the Yamaa Winter Ultra this weekend so am looking forward to it.

Viking Way Ultra in Memory of Anthony Downing

The Viking Way Ultra is a 147mile race that is starting on 7th April and runs from Humber Bridge to Oakham. It is a non stop race and has a cut off of 40 hours.
34 runners, including myself, have been selected to participate in this tough event organised by Mark Cockbain, an accomplished Ultrarunner himself.
The event is self sufficient (no crew allowed) with basic stuff being provided at checkpoints every 15-18miles.
I am probably not going to do any other races before it, concentrating on this event and getting up to recce the route as often as possible so navigation is a little easier when tired on the actual event.
I am doing this race in memory of Squadron Leader Anthony Downing who was the RAF serviceman who died of injuries sustained in Afghanistan over christmas. Ant was a a good friend and a talented endurance athlete. I met him when I crewed at the Enduroman Double Ironman in 2009 and was lucky enough to have him in my life. Anyone who knew him would describe him as a gent. He was a kind, generous and modest guy who lived life to the full and whose only weakness was the copious amounts of tea he drank, his only addiction…..he normally couldn’t open his eyes in the morning til he had his first cuppa which always made me laugh!
He was a talented runner and cyclist, having cycled across the States in 25 days, a fact he was pretty modest about. He had also planned on doing Arch to Arc 2013 even though he thought I was insane for doing it. Much as he liked to claim he was more sane than me I think he was at a similar level of insanity.
He was an all round great guy and leaves a void in many peoples lives.
Those who worked with him both liked and respected him and his loss will be felt for a long time so to honour his memory I am raising money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. Please give generously to a very good cause in honour of a very good man.

Ironmonster

Another weekend  spent  in  Scotland  for  racing.  This  race  was  Iron  Monster,  a  race  that  is  normally  a  relay  around  loch  ness.  This  year,  however  28  loons  stood  at  the  startline  along  with  275  relay  team  members  with  the  intention  of  doing  it  all.  Roughly  40km  run  and  80km  bike.  The  first  2  run  sections  were  pretty  easy  and  didn’t  have  too  many  relay  runners  overtake  me.  The  third  section  was  a  little  tougher  but  still  pretty  runnable  while  the  final  run  section  was  the  toughest  and  longest  out  of  the  lot.  It  finished  with  a  pretty  steep  downhill  section  into  the  first  bike  transition. 

The  solo  competitors  were  given  race  numbers  that  stood  out  from  the  relay  ones,  relay  being  1-275  and  solo  1001-1028.  This  meant  that  every time  you  came  into  a  transition  area  you  got  a  big  cheer  from  everyone  who  thought  you  were  a  little  bit  crazy  to  be  doing  it  all.  In  some  of  these  transition  areas  other  competitors,  who  had  either  finished  their  leg  or  were  waiting  for  their  team  mate  to  arrive,  actually  took  my  water  container  to  fill up,  handed  me  food  etc  and  generally  gave  me  loads  of  encouragement  to  carry  on.  I  probably  wouldn’t  recognise  them  now  if  I  saw  them  but  I  was  very  grateful  for  it  all!

Once  the  last  and  toughest  run  section  was  done  one  of  the  race  officials  took  us  to  where  our  mountain  bikes  were.  They  paid  special  attention  to  the  solo  runners,  getting  us  food  and  filling  up  our  water  as  well  as  bringing  a  hot  sweet  tea  for  us  to  the  transition  area.  It  was  also  a  chance  for  them  to  check  us  over  and  make  sure  we  were  ok  to  carry  on.  I  had  a  5 – 10  minute  break  here  while  I  got  changed  into  my  bike  gear  and  refuelled.  I  wasn’t  brave  enough  to  clip  myself  into  the  bike  for  this  section  so  stuck   with  the  trainers.  It  was  a  good  choice  as  I  was  forced  off  the  bike  on  a  couple  of  the  up  hill  sections  as  it  was  pretty  steep.  Once  this  section  was  over  I  took  advantage  of  some  of  the  hot  food  they  were  offering  at  the  next  transition  area.  (see,  I  do  eat  in  races  sometimes).  I  swapped  my  mountain  bike  for  a  road  bike  and  changed  into  my  bike  shoes.  The  next  bike  section  was  a  fairly  tough  one  too.  It  started  with  a  long,  steepish  climb  but  then  there  were  some  great  downhill  sections.  It  was  a  bit  unnerving  doing  some  pretty  fast  downhill  sections  on  a  borrowed  bike  especially  as  the  brakes  were  in  a  different  place  to  on  my  bike  but  I  soon  got  used  to  it. The  following  two  road  sections  were  very  fast  and  I  even  managed  to  overtake  some  relay  cyclists  which  I  was  very  happy  with.  Given  I’m  not  a  great  cyclist  and  don’t  enjoy  it  as  much  as  running  I  was  happy  with  how  it  went  and  surprised  at  how  much  I  enjoyed  it.

I  crossed  the  finish  line  in  10hrs  8 minutes  knowing  that  there  were  still  relay  teams  and  other  solo  competitors  to  finish  yet.

This  was  an  outstanding  race.  We  had  great  weather  for  it  too.  The  organisers  did  a  great  job  and  were  happy  to  fit  around  me  when  I  said  my  flight  would  not  get  me  in  to  Inverness  in  time  for  the  briefing  and  registration.  They  told  me  they  would  wait  for  me  and  give  me  a  one  on  one  race  briefing,  as  I  was  on  borrowed  bikes  (thanks  to  Ant  for  managing  to  get  those  for  me)  we  had  to  set  them  up  for  me  before  handing  them  over  on  Friday  evening  which  added  on  extra  time  so  thanks  to  the  organisers  for  waiting  around  while  we  faffed  about  with  pedals  etc.

By  the  time  I  had  finished  they  had  already  transported  my  mountain  bike  and  drop  bags  bag  to  the  start/finish  area  for  me  so  didn’t  have  to  wait  around.  Saying  that,  if  I  had  to  wait  around  there  was  plenty  to  keep  me  occupied  with  some  hot  food  (free  to  competitors)  and  beer  on  offer.

The  route,  organisers  and  fellow  competitors  really  did  impress  me  and  have  already  pencilled  it  in  for  next  year.  Maybe  if  I  get  some  more  cycling  training  in  I’ll  go  for  a  win  this  time  round,  as  it  was  I  think  I  was  3rd  woman  in  the  solo.

JoBot at HOTH

Having only entered this event on a friends suggestion (cheers Ian Tosh) I hadn’t given it much thought leading up to it apart from the fact that I thought it would be a good training run a couple of weeks before Glenmore 24hr run and would give me some practice running through the night.

I had actually thought that running back and forth over Humber Bridge for 12hrs would be pretty soul destroying but was happy to have my mind changed for me. It was a fantastic event and I was already planning on coming back next year before I had finished this year!

The first few hours were a bit tough going…my bruised/cracked ribs were causing some discomfort but after a couple of longer breaks I settled into it and was soon flying along. I felt strong throughout the rest of the run and loved every second of it. A lot of that was down to a brilliant crew and some very friendly fellow runners. It was great to see runners of all speeds and wave/smile at them while either running in the opposite direction or passing them/being passed on the lap.

I was very pleased to take 3rd place and get myself a nice trophy and an automatic entry into next years race….oh yeah and a new nickname JoBot! For next year I will target it as an A race and go for as many laps as possible.

a week until Glenmore…lets hope I can run as strongly there!

Ultra runs

I have rebooked my arch to arc attempt for september 2011. A lot of people have been asking why I am waiting this long to do it again. There are several reasons for this, least of which being I couldn’t possibly afford to do it again in a years time. I am hoping to get sponsors to pay at least part of the fee this time round. I am currently back training in the pool breaking my swim stroke down to ensure it is perfect by the time 2011 comes around. I need to increase my upper body strength and swim speed so if anything goes wrong next time then there’s less of a chance of everything falling to pieces in the channel.
I hope to have moved to the coast by the start of next summer to make the sea swims more accessible.
I also need to take a bit of a breather from the intense training and try and have a bit of a life again even if it is only for a short while.
I am focusing on a few ultra runs in the next few months, September 4-6th is the Eagle Isle Ultra, 3rd October is Caesars Camp 100 while December is the Beacons Ultra and I have had some interest from a fairly big running store wanting to arrange an event with me (there’s quite a big sports company involved too). Its early days in the organisation of it so thats about as much as I will say for now. It appears that not completing A2A has not done my reputation any harm thank god.

Arch to arc take 1

Everyone who has followed my progress will know by now that I did not succeed in completing Arch to Arc (for now)

The weeks leading up to the event were pretty sunny so I was hopeful that the weather would stay as nice for my attempt. Typically the weather turned a few days before the start of my slot so myself and my crew were left in limbo waiting to hear when we would be setting off, however that is always a risk with swimming the channel. During this time we keep an eye on the forecast and prayed for a break in the weather to allow an attempt, it wasn’t looking too good for it. To top it off the guy that was supposed to be filming the event decided he didn’t want to hang around even though he had been told there was a high possiblility that we would be delayed for a few days as the weather may be unsuitable for channel swimming. I am currently waiting on a refund from him.

Cameraman gone we focused on more important things like keeping an eye on the weather. A small break in the weather was showing for Thursday morning so we took the decision to start the run on Tuesday night. At 5.15pm Tuesday evening I set off from Marble Arch having been waved off by a few friends, Oli and James (www.runningandstuff.com) 2 fellow ultrarunners were there which calmed my nerves a bit.

Once I was running all nerves were gone. I had great crew (Fiona, Jason and Rosie) who managed to get me to eat with hardly any complaints, anyone who has met me in a race knows how much of an achievement this is so they deserve a medal. I did the run with some small rests. At about 3am i was starting to feel a little sleepy so decided to take a power nap. This decision, however, lasted about 5 minutes as I thought f**k it I’d rather walk for a little bit instead of sleeping so I had a coffee then carried on. As we approached folkestone the BBC crew came along. This was an incentive to keep running. They stayed with me for a bit then carried on to Dover where they filmed me coming in, the last section into Dover is downhill and I knew I had less than half an hour to break the stage record. Of course I chose this time to have a massive sugar level drop so had to cram loads of mini chocolate bars in to keep running. Luckily it had no effect on the time I did 18hrs13mins, 17 minutes quicker than the boys. This will be a time I will aim to better in 2011 when I return to do this event justice.

Once in Dover we headed off to the hotel where I freshened up then went for some food. I only managed to force down half of my meal though and went to bed for a couple of hours before getting up to try to eat again. This time was more successful and went back to sleep with the aim of getting up to see the boat pilot at 3am to check if the swim could go ahead. When we spoke to him he said the weather was closing in but he would start the swim. If it looked like the weather was turning I would be taken out of the water and he would return to Dover. Eddie asked me to make a decision, swim or not? The rest of the swim slot was pretty much a no go as the weather was due to get worse after that day so I thought about it and decided to go for it.

I’m not sure whether that had some effect on my mental state, I knew there was quite a high chance I wouldn’t have the time to get across the channel. Maybe that mental state affected my physical state. Either way I knew 6 and a half hours in I was not going to make it across. My arms were fatiguing, I had a brief respite when I thought they were getting better but that lasted about five minutes then I was struggling on again. For the 2 hours I carried on knowing I was moving too slowly to get across and that I was going to get pulled out. I wasn’t getting out unless I was told though. It was a crushing disappointment to me and writing this report now is incredibly hard to do without reliving that feeling of total and utter failure, something that will not go away until I complete this event.

As soon as I got on the boat I said to Eddie – we have to talk about another slot for my next attempt, I don’t think he was too surprised. The Boat pilot, Chris, took us into Calais so I could do the bike section too. Might as well make it a decent recce for 2011. After the rest of the crew arrived in Calais with the van and bike I had a short sleep then started the 180 mile cycle to Paris. Even though I had done the route at Easter there seemed to be a lot more hills than I remembered. The weather did turn nasty too, a small consolation to me as it meant I probably would have been pulled out of the water later anyway. The storm was pretty spectacular and some way into it Eddie and the crew decided I should sit it out as the wind was pushing me onto the wrong side of the road. Much as I wanted to finish the cycle quickly I didn’t want to die doing it so I agreed. After a shortish stop I was back on the bike and heading to Paris. The route is pretty amazing and I did enjoy it although I was swearing a lot on the up hills

Finally after 23 hours we got to Paris, the cycle up to the Arc de Triomphe was incredible. I became very Parisian in my attitude to all other vehicles at this point, in other words “out of my way, I’m coming through!”

I had an amazing support team Jason and Rosie, they helped me recce it all and I cannot thank them enough for all they did for me. Fantastic people, I look forward to doing it all again in 2011 – swimming into france instead this time rather than hitching a ride. Fiona, you were a great help. Now you understand what this ultra madness is all about

Eddie as race director was great, only sent me the wrong way once! Top bloke

Thanks to Dave Scott too, although he wasnt crew he has done an awful lot to help me out in my attempt. Look forward to catching up at Eagle Ilse

www.mightcontainnuts.com 40miler

On saturday the guys at www.mightcontainnuts.com held the second of their ultra running series. This was to be a 40mile run across the Brecon Beacons.
Due to the bad weather a contingency route was put in place and it was about 38miles.
I travelled there on friday evening with Gary Dalton, a relative newbie into ultrarunning but doing very well at it. The last couple of miles getting there were difficult enough as the snow was coming down so heavy we couldn’t see out of the windshield!
It was a bit of a miserable night but we got there and registered…….with Gary telling me I was to blame for him entering these silly events as I was the one who told him about them.

The conditions looked set to be pretty challenging as the forecast was for fog/mist……well who wants an easy ultra?
At 715am Matt held the race briefing and we set off a little after 730am. The conditions seemed pretty good and the temperature was not too bad…..still cold enough for hat and gloves etc.

As I had been suffering with some bug since coming back from Indonesia I had decided that I was not going to race the event, just run it and enjoy it. Amazingly I actually was able to do this, I didn’t have my competitive head on and was really enjoying the race.
The scenery was spectacular ….although I have run in this area several times it looked completely different covered in snow.

The first half of the race was deemed to be the toughest going, however due to the snow cushioning the rough terrain I found it not as tough as I was expecting, apart from a few climbs of course. There were a few obligatory falls and faceplants in the snow at times though!
We were told that after CP4 it was downhill all the way and was a lot easier than the previous section……from CP4 to CP5 was actually the toughest section for me. There were what must be Welsh downhill sections (uphill) and a lot of cold slippy slushy snow to run through.

Just before CP5 I was suffering with a sore back so had some painkillers…these kicked in just after CP5 along with a sugar rush from some jelly babies and just in time for a great downhill section in the snow. I must apologise to Darren, who I ran about 30miles of the event with, as at this point I turned into a hyper child.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The last few miles were along the canal, which seemed to be never ending. I was running with Darren and Yin Hi at this point and we finished pretty much together.

Gary had unfortunately been injured during the event but still managed to finish well and in front of me.

The event was very well organised. I have to say I enjoyed almost every second of it.
Well done to everyone who took part, it was great to meet new people. Massive thanks to all the crew who were out on the course on such a cold day, I’m glad I was running rather than crewing. It was great to see some familiar faces in the crew.
Shame we couldn’t stay the saturday night but had to get back to London.

What else is there to say about the race? Not much except I had a great day and would recommend doing it to anyone and I am looking forward to the 50miler in March.