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Tag Archives: endurance life

Tomorrow we run our own race

  • Posted by ade
  • 5 October 2012

Final day preparation for the tomorrows Endurance life's Coastal Trail Series running events is evident all over the office.

The total feet to climb on the course profile casually dismissed.
Sports tape shared and location of application perfected.
Weather websites being cross referenced.
Team kit logo's getting hand printed.
Energy food and real food prepared.
Injuries getting a last treatment.
Running bags pack and repacked.
Layering scenarios played out.
Extra lunch being eaten.
Spikes or studs debated.
Less tea, more water.
Batteries charged.
Play lists edited.
Nails trimmed.

Nerves on show.

This weekend I run the longest race I have ever entered.

The Endurancelife   #UTSW  100 miles clockwise round the Cornish coastal path from Porthleven to Watergate Bay in a 40 hour time limit.

I have run some tough Ultra marathons over the years. 125km over the Rockies in Canada at altitude was a challenge. A 1/2 Marathon in snowshoes at -42degrees where my eyeballs froze was also a test.

In preparation I have been running an Ultra of between 35 to 60 miles every month this year, but tomorrow will be the furthest I have tried to run and possibly the hardest I have tried to push myself.

Can I do it? I honestly don't know. I'd like to think that I have learnt to ignore the nagging inner voice that encourages you to quit, but I guess I won't know until I cross the finish line. The weather is going to be bad all weekend, but I like it like that.

There is a saying in ultra running.

"You live an entire lifetime in the course of a single race, all the joy, pain tedium and wonder etched into a single day. Step by step, mile by mile, we keep running through the darkness until we eventually come out the other side at dawn"

It's been quite a journey to get me to this point, and however the weekend goes, I know it will just be the start of the next journey.

I will try to get some pictures onto the howies instagram (@howiesclothing)

Doubt Vesuvius

  • Posted by ade
  • 12 April 2012

 

This weekend we run the Endurancelife coastal series at Heddon Valley on Exmoor. Sofia in the 10km, Hazel in the 1/2 marathon (both first time) and Ruben, Chris and unfortunately myself in the Ultra.

My first and last Ultra was in February. The 35 miles took a few weeks preparation 7 hours and all my will power to finish, and they I could not walk for 2 days. Then we had the Restless ride to prepare for so I switched to the bike training three times a day. Then I went away for work and the running has been a few quick 5 milers here and there. And I meant to downgrade to the marathon, but missed the deadline.

On a scale if 1 to 5, the course is rated 5 (Extreme) and thus the last 14 days and the next 39 hours will be trying to keep a lid on the self doubt.

I have all my mental race props prepared. Innov-8 shoes, smartwool socks, howies shorts boxers baselayers and Brenin jacket, my Salomon s-lab pack, Nuun rehydration tablets, Camelbak bottle, Clif bars, shots and luna bars, iPhone with 1000 running tracks, swiss army knife, chewing gum, foil blanket, first aid kit, ankle brace, £20 note and a merino beanie.  They have got me through hell and high water.

But when the gun goes, it all going to be down to keeping a lid on the pain and the doubt. And the hardest bit will be the last 6 miles of the marathon to the finish line, where they send you out again on the 10km course to do the Ultra.

That doubting bit of my mind will be nagging me stop. "Why go further? You're tired, you've already run the next bit, the car's just there and you could get changed and be home to see the family sooner. You won't be able to walk tomorrow. You just did a marathon, that's good enough. Will you even make the next bit? Just say your ankle is playing up."

If I am in genuine hell, I will just stop there. I will need to be able to depress the clutch to get home.

But I hope that the legs hold, that the music has me singing along, and the last 10km pass to a joyous finish.

Watch our twitterfeed @howies and instagram @howiesclothing for the latest.

Ultra One

  • Posted by ruben
  • 25 January 2012

I ran my first ever ultra on Saturday - 34.3 miles of coastal trail around Anglesea, featuring several gruelling ascents of Holyhead mountain.

I finished almost last, but that's not the point. I finished an ultra. It was something I'd wanted to do since I first started running seriously a couple of years ago.

Back then, after a few 10k runs on local trails, I began to wonder what it would take to run a marathon. I thought I could do it, so with no training I set off to try. After 22 miles and 3 big hills, I collapsed completely, but the distance bug had taken a firm hold.

I went back to the drawing board, running shorter races and keeping the miles up between events. Less than a year after the first attempt, I ran my first marathon. Then another. I thought I was ready for longer distances, so I entered the Endurancelife CTS Anglesea ultra.

 

Work on the new howies website made training tough until the middle of November, but I managed to keep the miles up and by the time Christmas and New Year came round, I was feeling great. I thought I was in the best shape of my life.

Then, exactly a week before the run, I fell off my bike and landed heavily on my leg. A previous injury in my knee was reawakened and as the days passed with me limping around I began to worry. I thought about dropping out, but couldn't bring myself to do it.

On the trip up to the race with Chris (also running the ultra) and Alex (running his first trail half) I was subdued, and at dinner the night before I found myself massaging the damaged knee and mulling over what was to come. I knew this was bad, and that the doubts were probably more dangerous than the injury itself so I tried to put it all to the back of my mind.

 

 

Arriving at the start before daybreak we found the car park was a 10 minute walk from the event HQ at the Breakwater country park. And again, the pain from my knee started nagging at me. The howling wind and lashing rain didn't help, although thankfully both began to subside as the sun came up and we began to run.

The course started off with a short flat run to the foot of Holyhead mountain, before the first long climb began taking us around to the South Stack lighthouse. I was more than happy to walk the steep rock stairs, near vertical in some places. I knew we were coming back here later.

For the first few miles I was running with Chris, who had kept me company during my first trail marathon a couple of months before. I don't think I was great company this time as I was still struggling to control my negativity and I was actually quite relieved to see Chris head off up the road, running his own race. I was now alone, and I knew that was how it had to be.

 

I was soon beginning to feel much better and was enjoying the scenery as we passed Trearddur Bay. My thoughts were a lot more positive, although my knee was still giving me trouble. Shortly after the half way turn around on Rhoscolyn beach, it flared up and my leg cramped causing me to fall against a low wall. To my relief I was able to recover quickly and get back on my feet, although cramp (and the fear of cramp) plagued the rest of my run. Especially over the numerous stiles, which I now negotiated ver gingerly for fear of triggering another leg failure.

Heading back toward the finish line, I saw Holyhead mountain again in the distance. Knowing I would be having to climb the rock stairs around the mountain again before the finish and already approaching the furthest I had ever run I wasn't in a hurry to get there. I ran a steady pace, but making sure I could make the cut off point in time to be allowed back onto the mountain.

 

As we joined the half marathon course, I was quite glad to have the company of other runners again, as I had be plugging out the miles alone, save for odd fragments of conversation as I traded places with a couple of the other ultra runners. By chance I met up with Alex, who seemed to be having a great run in his half. He left me with one of his spare gels and carried on.

The miles all began to blur together and my mind wandered until I reached the foot of the mountain and the sharp ascent brought things back into focus. The sun was out, the views were amazing, and passing half marathon runners with their fresh legs on the climb gave me a massive boost. I passed nearly everyone I saw on the first climb, although my legs screamed at me to stop. Eventually I reached the summit and took a moment to enjoy the view before turning back down the mountain toward the marathon finish line.

 

I made the cut off more than 20 minutes before it closed. I knew this wasn't fast, but it meant I would now get to finish the ultra. I set off toward the mountain again, looking over my shoulder to check I wasn't last. Ray who runs the whole food shop in Cardigan and his friend were the next through the gate, about 500 yards behind me.

Seeing someone I knew behind me gave me another boost and I was determined to keep up a good pace as the climb began again. I was impressed that my legs seemed to have recovered from their earlier cramps and I was able to power my way back to the South Stack lighthouse checkpoint without stopping.

I ran into the checkpoint and headed straight back out again, not wanting to loose any more places before the finish. The course now took me back inland and I knew that another trip to the summit was coming. My legs were beginning to feel hollow and my mind was wandering. I was interested by the sensation, but refused to slow down.

Reaching the summit for the second time, I almost cried. I knew that gravity would do the rest. All I had to do was point my weary body int he right direction and not fall over. I plodded out the descent, drinking whatever was left in my bag and eating a bar. I realised I had too much food left, and should have been eating more. I was already planning my next ultra by the time I finished.

 

Chris and Alex were waiting for me at the finish line. I had to wait a few minutes to get my time. They'd turned the power off and had to restart the computer. As I waited, Ray and his friend came running home. I would later find out they were the only finishers behind me, although 9 runners dropped out.

I followed the others back to the car and was more than happy to let Chris drive home. I was done. I had run my first ultra.

 

We stopped at a little climbing cafe called Pete's Eats that Chris knew on the way back to Cardigan. The good coffee and baked potatoes seemed to serve as a fitting full stop to the run, and the reality of the achievement began to sink in.

There's such a difference between believing you can do something and knowing you can.

run your own race

  • Posted by ade
  • 14 March 2011

Ruben (web), Scott (Cardigan store), Nathan (Accounts), Peter (The boss) and me went down to the Endurance Life running race in Little Haven, just down the coast from us on Saturday. Peter and Nathan ran the 10k (10.8K) and the rest of us ran the 1/2 marathon (16 miles!).

A simply run great event. Get there. Get a number. Get ready. Get a briefing. Get a timing chip. Get in the queue. Get running.

Once I tagged out it was off up the steep steps to the start of the coastal path.

Scott ahead and Ruben behind. I had been ill for two weeks so I was not sure I could do the distance or whether my body would. I took a steady tapping out climbing pace up the first steep climbs, then on the downhills loosen the hips, use the thighs and let go and just fly.

The path undulated for a few miles and once warm I started to sweat salt water. It ran in my eyes so I could not see the trail. I was also in the early part of the run descending into the pain of the task I'd set me.

I was loosing heart as I was passed by the faster boys. Then remembered it was me who had set me the task. I wanted to run this. It's always mile 5 that I hate. Where I want to give up, go home, rest, the wife to appear in the car. But it's the bit after that I love.

The part where you have to over come the doubt, not worry about how much is left, forget the other runners, relax into the exhaustion and just run your own race.

I crossed fields, skimmed styles, dabbed over the wet bits, ran as fast as my little legs would spin on the downs, tip toed the church lawn, touched the electric fence. I looked for seals on all the beaches, I held the gate open for the person I was running near, I rejoiced at over taking the bloke who lost me at the start and hated the woman who slowly disappeared out of sight on the road hill. Every red top was possibly Ruben on the scent, I descended  into despair at 5 miles and got pins and needle all over and lifted spirits when my sons favourite song hit the play list,  I regretted breaking early for home and I cramped the last two uphils. I wished for it to end early, I blistered, sprinted and nearly gagged to the finish.

Against me, I had come first.

And then it was done. Concrete legs, the soles of my feet bruised, near to throwing up, sweat soaked, hand shakes, give the timing chip back in return for a drink, loads of smiles, chatted to those previously silent competitors, drunk tea, clapped, got cold, waited for the rest to finish and felt the empty feeling of no regret.

I could not have gone one second faster.

I had run my own perfect race. 37th. 16 miles. 2hrs 29

Ruben my nemesis ran in.

Then Scott roared home looking, as he always does, happy.

If you run, come here next year and run.

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