MdS challenge 2017

A challenge of the self


March 2016


Since running the D33 Ultra I’ve been resting my hurty right knee, mostly.
I tried testing it out on the Wednesday after the race with a my usual commute run into work, a mere 9.2k. By half way, I could feel that it wasn’t right and by the time I got to work I decided that running back wasn’t an option.
I therefore rested for the rest of the week, however, I knew I had to test it again sometime.
So, on Sunday myself & Stefan set off from Dalgety Bay at 08:00 looking to do a 20mile heading North. I would hope, all going well to return on the same route, covering 40 miles in total.

The plan to do 40 miles was in line with my plans for the 55mile on the 2nd April. So, well thought out. Only if my body was in good order. Sadly, my knee was telling me otherwise at mile 10-11. I knew then that the best thing to do was cut it short.
We ended up covering just over 17miles and the last 2-3 miles saw me walk parts where the pressure on my knee was just too much. The last mile into Stefan’s home village was… painful but I was determined to run that.
I got a lift back to where we left my car and then headed home to further rest my poorly knee for the rest of the day.

Plans to run during that following week were put on hold. I took the decision to rest it all week and see what happens with a short run across the weekend.
So… the weekend has passed and so has my short run. I met with a friend and we set off over the East Lomond heading to the West and back. Pace was always going to be slower than race pace. This was a test. And, with Jim not having done any running off tarmac previously, and virtually none across hills, it was a perfect chance to take it easy.

The weather wasn’t too kind, it was windy! Got some natural resistance training in too 🙂
Overall the 8mile (approx) route is reasonable. Going up the West Lomond does require a ‘push’ and you definately feel the rise in altitude, on the legs.
Coming across the crest, I was nearly blown off my feet. As I say, it was windy but, at least dry.
Jim and I rested on the top behind a cairn and after a few minutes, we set off retracing our steps back to the cars. At least the wind would be assisting us in parts on this leg.

On the way back I could feel my knee again and thought that I was doomed for the upcoming 55miles in a weeks time. Again, more rest needed.

I’m a stubborn sort, or maybe that should read… determined. Your pick.
However, I’m doing the race regardless and will have some assistance in the aid of a knee brace. Seems drastic but I’m determined to complete the double marathon.
My rationale is this…If I’m in the middle of the desert and complaining of  aches and pains, what am I going to do? Quit? Err…. naw! I want to finish the thing I have started.
I’ll have plenty time to recover once it’s complete. And, in the grand scheme of things, what’s a hurty knee on the scale compared to the reason I’m doing this in the first place.

As ‘team Dean’ says… “If you can’t run, then walk. And if you can’t walk, then crawl. Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

So, another full week of resting he knee and then, on Saturday morning, toe the start line with two friends (And another 150+ folks) and set off in search of glory.
We aim to finish in under 9Hrs and anything closer to 8Hrs 30 will be great.
We’ll see what my knee has to say about that!

How have you dealt with an injury/ache? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy running folks. Keep, keeping on.


1st Ultra – DONE

I survived!

The three amigos (David, Stefan & myself) travelled up to Aberdeen (2hr drive) on Friday evening after work to stay over before the commencement of the race on Saturday. Booked into our B & B (which was lovely) we went out into town to a multi-cultural buffet restaurant, Cosmo for dinner.

Too much choice!! but that’s also a good thing too, right?
After deliberation we had two plates of mixed food and stuck pretty much to safe foods and a few little desserts. However…

After returning to the B & B at a very respectable time, Stefan & I did some stretching to just to ease a few muscles. David… straight to bed.

The morning of the race came round and we fed and watered at breakfast. Turns out 6 of us were staying at the B & B and all entered into the race.
Headed for registration and got our numbers then waited. Safety briefing was 15mins before race start but as this is an out & back, there’s not much to say. Ear plugs out and the marshall call is final at the road crossings, if you have to wait, tough!

Stefan & David with me in the middle

5, 4, 3, 2, 1… and we are off!

The pace was quick, in fact Stefan asked “Why is everyone trying to kill themselves on mile 1?” Well, as races go, I guess you get pulled along at the start and then settle back to your natural pace. This is what happened, mostly.

We had agreed that a finish under 5Hrs was the target and for that to work, consistent 08:30min miles would be required. So, a reasonably easy pace.

By mile 2 were were ahead of target and had completed the first 2 miles in 08:10 per mile. Everyone was feeling good.

Mile 4 passed and still the pace was sitting at 08:10(avg) and we (Stefan & myself) decided to keep this pace, although David was clearly wanting to push on a bit.
Stefan & I kept the pace and said to David, go if you want a good time. We already knew that if we kept up this pace, a finish closer to 4Hrs 30 would be on the cards.

David slowly crept away and Stefan & I put the miles in. Checkpoint 1 came & went at 8 miles. No-one required to stop for water or food as we were all wearing running vests of some sort and had stored all necessary food, etc.

After CP1 the course changed onto trail, tarmac had finished (for now) and it was a pleasure to run on softer stuff underfoot.The rest of the miles to the halfway point (CP2) would be a mix of trail and tarmac sections.
The course was pretty flat, only gaining 34m from Start to CP1 and a net avg from CP1 to CP2. A slight (20m) gain would be found soon after CP1 over a 1k distance. So… all in all, a flat course.

Somewhere around the 10mile mark my stomach told me something wasn’t right. My body to evac. A reminder to self… never try anything new before a race!
Not long after, maybe a couple of miles, Stefan had to do something similar. We knew then, it must have been the Saag Aloo! We both exclaimed at the time “It’s a bit spicy!”
Lessons learned. Time dropped and off we ran again in search for the halfway point.

I knew that time had been dropped and I wanted to make it up, so rather than settling for an easy pace, I kept the 08:00 – 08:10 miles banging in. This didn’t really agree with Stefans’ plan. He was starting to show signs of fatigue around the 23-24k mark.
Soon after (26k) we saw David come back the other way. We high fived each other and ran onwards to our respective CP’s.
Stefan was starting to lag a bit and exclaimed that tight calves were getting the better of him. However, we soldiered on and hit the midway point. Not needing to fill up with food, nor fluids, I waited for Stefan to do his. We walked for a bit. However, my walking pace is reasonably quick and S decided to let me go. “Go for it Kris!” I left and off I went in the hunt for the finish line.

I was still feeling strong. Still keeping to 08:00-15 min miles. That was until 37k where my body told me to evac. Again!! the indignancy of it. And, losing time too!
After my 2nd, necessary stop, I picked the pace up again and found myself passing people. I got chatting with a few on the way who obv were keeping a good pace. They stayed with me for a couple of miles each but I found myself on my own for the remainder of the run.
only another 15k to go!

I hit marathon distance at 03:46:00 (ish) and I was happy with that. I knew that I could do the rest and come in around my time, if not a little better than expected.

The last 4miles…

O.M.G.!! My knees! Especially my right knee. It was telling me to slow down. The tendon, or connective tissue was pretty fatigued. I had to resort to walking for a few hundred metres and then run. I ended up walking about 800m but I was determined to run as much of it as I could. Regardless of what my body was saying.
The last 2miles were, SORE! I kept jostling places with a few others that had succumbed to this tactic too and it was infuriating.

The last mile…
A race to the finish. No, not sprint! The course is open in front of you for about three miles and you can see folks. you can hunt them down, or get passed by them. It’s easy to set your sights on someone and “try and gain that place”. I tried. I had four in front of me, pretty strung out but what with the knee I had to settle for where I ended up.
I did however manage to pick up my pace for the last 200m section through the park to the finish line.
The cheers weren’t warranted but I thanked those that did cheer and give words of encouragement. I crossed the line… TRIUMPHANT! A time of 4Hrs 50min 23secs on my Garmin. Eventually my place in the pack would be noted as 110th of 335.

Congratulations given, a medal (unique) was hung round my neck.  A hand-crafted bottle of beer was also given to every finisher.

David was there cheering me on and took a few quick snaps. David finished in 4Hrs 37min. A great time.
We waited for a bit for Stefan to come across the line but, regardless of the pain he was in, he was still smiling and managed to collect a couple of guys to run in with him too.

It was an awesome day, or in words of the organisers and their mantra… .it was EPIC.
I must thank everyone, from the race organisers to peeps that helped out on the day. They were all fabulous. Everyone was so encouraging. This is a race I’ll probably stick on my running calendar year on year until my knees finally give in.

NB: The chap that came 1st, his time was 3Hrs 21min and the 1st female crossed the line in 4Hrs 15mins. When they passed us, they were flying, and still smiling too!

more on the D33 can be found here

One week to go…

The time is nearly upon me (us, as I’m running with two friends) for my first Ultramarathon, the D33. A mere 33 miles from Aberdeen to Banchory and back.

Looking forward to running the race as I’ve prepared as much as I could, i.e. I have run the distance twice now albeit over a hillier route and now with my taper going well, I’m feeling ‘confident’ that all will be fine. I obviously have a time in mind to finish, and hope to complete the course in 4:30 – 4:45 should weather conditions allow, as it’s just started snowing!

During the last week I’ve completed a run into, and back from work. I even managed to do a PB on the way in. I hadn’t planned on it, it just happened. It was ‘funny’… I was easing into the run down the hill and through the town park (part of my normal route) and once I got over Hospital Hill, my watch buzzed. I looked down and my watch was telling me I was running at 7:04 m/m pace! Not something I was planning on doing. I then thought, why not keep this pace going and see what happens. I finally reached my work in a time of 41:36. Getting ever closer to the 40min mark.

I firmly believe that the interval training is helping. Our 45min, bi-weekly sessions cover, 5 x hill sprints, 10 x steps (various drills) and 3 x 50m sprints between lamp posts. Coupled with a 1k warm up and cool down it’s plenty enough.

My last long run was yesterday. I was going to run a flat 20k around Loch Leven but decided to do a rather hilly 12k route instead. I certainly tested the cardiovascular system but managed to run all of it, apart from the ascent of the West Lomond itself. It’s rather UP! No gradual rise, just 100m (ish) on a 60degree slope and as you can tell by my splits, it was tough. Overall, I am happy with my performance and the Gap function on Strava suggests I’m doing ok too.

So, this week will see only two/three runs of 6k with an easy pace. No running after Wednesday and only a Kendo session on Thursday to complete my physical exertion before the race.

We have a reservation at a local B & B for Friday evening and a table booked at a buffet style restaurant in the city center to stock up on vital calories.

The race itself is well supported, what with numerous water an eat stops, so we don’t have to take too much with us. However, for rehydration along the way I’ll be wearing my Salomon Set 5 running vest along with two, full soft 500mm water bottles and carrying a few Nakd bars for real food.
A report after the race will be forthcoming on the Sunday.

Whatever you’re doing, be proud about it. You are doing fab!

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