At the end of last week i had positive hopes for the week ahead. I had my last week of annual leave starting on Saturday 24th November, i would be able to follow my weekly regime without any pressure of having to go to work. Also i would be able to go to bed earlier and get some good quality sleep in before returning to work and the late night finishes. The morning of Friday 23rd when i went out for a run the first warning signs that something wasn’t right were felt. I was still feeling a bit bruised from the Men’s Health run and didn’t think too much of the sore feeling around my lower left calf just thinking my bruises were still healing. I finished that run ok but feeling a little sore afterwards. On the Sunday i headed out for an 8 mile run and the calf was feeling slightly sore from the off but not painful at all and certainly not bad enough to stop me running, then at mile 6 i felt a really big jolt of sharp pain in that calf. Still 2 miles from home i slowed the pace right down and managed to keep moving but could feel that it had pulled or torn in some way. Once home after showering i iced and bandaged it and wondered what had caused it to happen. I have been running regularly since March without any pulls or strains then i get this out of the blue and typically when i have a week off work! On Monday 26th i would usually run but rested and iced the area again. Tuesday 27th i did my weights circuit without any ill effects to the area, it was still feeling bruised but i decided to go to the running club on Tuesday evening. The club had a time trial night of approximately 6 miles around our Saffron Walden town circuit. Again i started well but about 3 miles in i could feel the calf getting progressively worse and faded back a little and slowed the pace. I made it around but feeling really sore again, so more ice and bandaging. Wednesday 27th would usually be a running day but i decided to take the day off and went shopping to Cambridge to get all the last bits of Christmas shopping done. This was also a good excuse to give in to some delicious cakes and coffee in town and we also had the bonus of bumping into the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who were visiting the city for the first time. Thursday i took as a rest day and today, Friday 30th i went out for a 2 mile run to gauge how the ankle is. I went through some easy running slowly increasing the pace up to some short sprints. The lower calf area is still feeling bruised but not painful. The club has our first cross country league run on Sunday 2nd December which i am hoping to run in, so my plan is to rest for the rest of today and tomorrow with the hope it will be much better for Sunday. I have felt pretty disappointed it’s happened but am hoping that i won’t have lost much in the way of fitness and from Sunday onwards i can pick things up and get back into a regular routine. I have been in touch with Loughborugh University about a running physiology test which i may take in the new year. Details of what they offer can be found here http://www.loughborough-sports-science.com/running-fitness.html. I will report the outcome of the cross country early next week, let’s just hope i make it around!
I had to make an early start on the Saturday morning. I got myself up and ready, had breakfast of oats and whey powder and also a cup of coffee and felt human enough to set out to London. I got the 08.43 train from home and met friends on the train. At about 10am i had a banana to keep me going, then changed on to the underground and headed for Vauxhall station. We arrived at Vauxhall about 10.25 am and had a short walk to Battersea Power Station. Arriving at the site about 10.40 we then made our way to registration, the place was absolutely packed as the competitor limit had been increased from last year. At 11.30 i had a powerbar gel to see me through, we all then went to get changed and store our bags. The weather was overcast but remained dry, the temperature was about 12c. Then the moment had come, a 10 second count down and we were away! Obstacle 1 was some highly stacked straw bales, i tackled this full on and got over so quick i almost lost my footing straight away, but strong legs and core kept me upright. Charging onward over differing levels of up and over obstacles then a flat run for a few hundred yards. Then onward over a 6 foot wall then quite a long run out of the power station grounds and toward Battersea Park. Along the river front, then turning into the park itself, 1 lap of the running track, over hurdles, a steeple chase jump into water then back into the park. We then headed along the main road going back toward the power station and came to an abrupt halt! we had to wait for traffic lights!! the marshalls wouldn’t let us continue until it was safe which cost about 2 minutes in time! This was a change from last year a quite annoying. Once over the road we headed back under Chelsea Bridge over the top of a huge pile of old tyres and back into the grounds of the power station. In the back of a car and out the front window, in and out of some skips, over some scaffold obstacles, trying not to think about the tied legs. Over some parkour type obstacles, i was now well over half way and feeling pretty bashed and bruised. We then had to put on a hard hat to enter the power station, pick up a sand bag and run along and over some road blocks, back out and dump the sand bag. Into the opposite side of the power station over some scaffold frame, pick up a traffic cone, run, dump that and out. Dumped the hard hat and headed over some army style obstacles. A 10 yard crawl through ice, a 10 yard crawl through freezing water as well. The what can only be described as a double skate ramp. I had to attack the steep slope, grab the top and pull myself up, then do the same again up a second ramp, threw myself over the top and slid down the opposite side. There was then a large inflatable swimming pool to wade through as well as a large tank to jump in and wade through. The end was almost in sight. A 6 foot wall with crawl through section and then on to the final 9 foot wall. A queue of people was forming with people not really knowing what to do themselves. Eager to get a good time i charged in grabbed the girl in front and threw her up, closely following behind. The same tactic was used on the 9 foot wall, simply got hold of the person in front, gave them a leg up then got the person behind me to give me a leg up, up, over, 10 yards, finish!! Cuts, scrapes, bruises, freezing and shattered, but happy to have done it. Last years time was 1 hour 6 minutes 10 seconds, this year i came in at 51 minutes 04 seconds so was really pleased with the result. Will i do it next year? give me a couple of weeks to heal and we’ll see!
I ended up at 790 out of 7821 http://www.mhsurvival.co.uk/assets/pdf/London_SOTF_day_race_results_d2_17thNov12.pdf
The time has eventually arrived! All the training since March has been leading up to this event and trying to better last years time of 1hr 6min 10sec. I’m reasonably confident but when you have up to 300 other runners getting in your way and obstacles to contend with…you never know what’s going to happen! I could really do with running a flat 10k race because i’m sure my time is down to around 42 minutes. My last officially timed race was 45min 01s, so the time i could possibly run would be anywhere between 45 and 55 minutes. This past week has been fairly relaxed with working all the time i’ve been more concerned with getting enough sleep, which fortunately hasn’t been too bad.The weather has been really cold and foggy around this area but remained dry. Still stuck to my 8 miles trying to run the first half fast and the second return leg as a recovery. The last few days have been rest days with stretching in place of running. My race day meal plan is 8 a.m. 50g oats with 50g whey and 30ml olive oil, 10 a.m. banana, 11 a.m. beet-it sport shot, 11.45 a.m. powerbar gel, 12 p.m. race. A full race review, time and pics will be posted in a couple of days one the time are live online.
I rely on the train to get too and from work. We only have the one household car so on the odd occasion where i finish later than the last train leaves i’ll borrow the car. Unfortunately this particular evening being Halloween the kids were going to a Halloween event which meant i was unable to have the car for work. On a couple of previous occasions i have cycled home out of desperation but having a heavy work bag work clothes and shoes, basically the wrong kit for the job!, it was bit of a slog. Then the thing happened, the thought went through my mind, i can cycle the 10 miles home in an hour, may be i could run it! I convinced myself it was a good idea, i had a day off the next day, yeah! i’ll do it!
The weather was forecast reasonably mild but rain was also forecast for the early hours of the morning. I took a gamble that i would just about be in front of the rain and could make it home without getting too wet. A couple of firsts as well on this run. First run at night and a first run wearing a backpack. The pack i used was one i’ve had 18 years from snowboarding and is a DaKine helipack, slimline, 10 litre and capable of holding a hydration pack. There was bit of a cock up at work and instead of finishing at about 00.50 when there was only a slight drizzle in the air, i finished at 01.40am and the heavens had opened!! By time i had got changed into my running gear i was starting to wonder if it was a good idea, may be i should grovel to the company for a taxi home! No!, i was committed and it was time to get moving.
Bishops Stortford is a market town on the Hertfordshire border so is well lit so no need for the headtorch at this point. Heading out of town i passed by the Cock pub c1590’s. No sign of any headless apparitions, also no sign of any legless ghouls either! they had either been locked in or had been long since kicked out! Making my way along the London road passing by the Roman road into the old Roman part of town. Apart from the pad of my own feet on the wet pavement and the sound of hammering rain there was no sound of hobnail shoes of marching legions tonight! The water was rising in the streets and there were some large flooded road areas. Into the half mile poorly lit section between Bishops Stortford and the next village of Stansted Mountfitchet. Over the railway bridge passed the Old Bell Inn and on Into the village which again is a well lit area, still no ghostly sightings! Heading out of the village the next 3 miles has no lighting and had to use the headtorch to help light the way. Still the water was rising and covering the pavement in a lot of places and it was easier to run in the road for the most part. By this point i was absolutely soaked but pretty warm and was having to launch through ankle deep ponds of water as the roads were covered.
Heading on towards the villages of Ugley and then Quendon i was now out into the “sticks” of North Essex which consists of open fields and wooded areas. I think even the dumbest of wildlife had the good sense to be taking shelter for the night and wasn’t going to be bothering me. If anything they were probably having a good laugh at me being the dumbest of them all!! Passed Dick’s wood were a homeless fella lived for 30 years or more of his life and only passed away a few years ago but even his ghost didn’t fancy venturing into the horrendous nights weather to try and scare the wits out of me. On reaching Quendon i was effectively on the home stretch with 3 more miles to run. My soggy feet squelching away, breathing into the dark night air, soaked to the skin, i was almost there! I rounded a couple more bends, up a small hill, along a cut through and finally at my front door.
No ghosts, ghouls or apparitions on the run home. The scariest sight of the night was seeing myself in the mirror, drowned rat is an understatement!! I’m the first to admit absolutely hating the rain, cold and snow i can handle but i hate the rain and i chose the wettest night of the year to run home. I set off at 01.55am and made the 10 mile trip home by 03.05am, 1 hour 10 minutes and 59 seconds. Not bad for an absolutely hellish Halloween run home.