Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Wall Run 2013 – Part 2

And so onto the morning of the race. Despite it being a very peaceful hotel I had a fitful nights sleep. Clearly what lay ahead was on my mind, but I was also very worried about sleeping in. You know how it goes, you wake up and turn to look at the clock in the corner of the room only to realise it’s no more than 20 minutes since the last time you did this. At 4.30am I decided to get up and start to get ready.

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(note the girl standing  in the photo above, right …. she would end up being the eventual winner) 

Despite making kit preparation part of my training regime in the weeks leading up to the event you would have thought I had never done this before. I kept loosing things and managed to forget to put my compression skins on before taping up my feet. I also managed to turn the innocuous task of squirting a small amount of talc in my socks into covering the room (and myself) in a thin layer of white powder.  By the time I left the place looked like it had hosted,  not a runner, but some B List celebrity cocaine fuelled after-show party. (the empty tube of Vaseline just added to this look)

A quick taxi ride to Carlisle Castle, first bag drop and then onto the start line. The place was already awash with runners. It was again at this point that the “you are that YouTube bloke” comments started to come thick and fast – having since checked it would seem I was one of only a handful of people who had posted a video of last years event.

I got talking to a few people including a brief conversation with who would turn out to be the eventual winner, Sonia Bracegirdle. Man I now regret with every inch of my body of jokingly offering her a bit of my morning fuel – a pork pie.

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As the time approached 6.50 we were all asked to take our positions in the pen which marked the start line. This was it. 12 months after my last attempt the Wall Run was here. More folks talking to me about my video, but I was gone. My head already filled with memories of last year. The biblical floods, the pain, the heartache of my DNF. This was it. I was pulled back sharply from my thoughts .. 10 …. 9 …… 8 ….. ….. 3 …. 2….. 1 …… and we were off ….

Stage1 – 15 miles (3 hours 13 minutes) 

The first few miles of the race are through a park and beside a river. It was at this point last year (although I didn’t know it at the time) that things started to go wrong. Thankfully this year the river stayed where it was supposed to (between the banks) and we passed through the park and out onto open roads.

About 6 miles in I realised how much I was missing my running buddy Alistair. Normally by now we had set the tone for the next 20 hours by talking complete rubbish. I would make conversation with a few folks (and more .. Hey the YouTube guy) as we slowed to a brisk walk on the up-hill portions of the course but it just wasn’t the same.

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(I was surprised how quickly crazy fever set in – this was only mile 10 or something)

The weather couldn’t really make up its mind on what to do. Within one 30 minute section it went from blazing sunshine (and heat) to a complete down pour. I decided, even as the temperature rose, to keep my jacket on. Despite it getting quite hot at times I really couldn’t be doing with the hassle of stopping and taking it off, only for 10 minutes later to be faced with putting it back on again. I passed many runners who were going through this ritual every hour or so.

Typically when running a long one I have my running belt which has room for two bottles – these position themselves just above my arse. For some reason they were “acting up” and felt quite heavy and cumbersome. I started to think already about ditching them at the half way point, which then lead me to remember just how far even half way was away. I realised that despite not yet clocking up 10 miles I had already suffered a few low moments. This concerned me so I made an effort to strike up a conversation with two lads who were discussing the metris of having sex the night before a race. It did make me laugh that one of them, after discussing the obvious metris and how it wouldn’t put him off, declared that he hadn’t had a shag in 6 months.

As we approached the first check point (Lanercost Tea Rooms) my mood had improved dramatically and I was back to enjoying the run. We had already run across some off-road sections and this had helped. I stopped for around 20 minutes here and took on some food. Flapjack, croissant and some juice. I avoided the Jellies having watched Alistairs turn to brightly coloured mush during the run last year.

Stage 2 – 17 miles (5 hours 30, which included my 20 minute pitstop) 

As I left the pit stop I was in a very good mood. A change of socks felt nice and I knew the next part of the course offered some spectacular scenery and would also see us get up close and proper with Hadrian’s Wall itself.  The terrain was was a mixture of gravel tracks and roads. I love how on this section you pass the marathon mark without really noticing (well I don’t). It’s at a point out in the wilds. It was at some point during this section that a bit of a pattern (in terms of the same faces) started to settle in. Some groups were employing a complete (ie for the full race) run / walk strategy (run for 5 minutes, walk for 1). This would mean (with my let’s run for as long as my body lets me) we would be continually passing each other. Conversations   were spread over many miles and I looked forward to the sections where we would cross paths as I continued to miss the company of my Alistair.

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The last 5 miles or so of this section (before reaching the final bit of road) is, for me anyway, quite a slow portion of the course. The terrain is at a slant which has you moving with one foot higher than the other. Despite it being reasonably dry under foot (we had had the worst so far rain storm during this section) I was still worried about slipping and twisting something so I maintained a brisk walk.

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Reaching the 32 mile marker and the second check point I felt good and knew mentally I was in a much better place than I was 12 months ago. Seeing the familiar faces of my wife, Alistair and Lauren was really nice as well. I had planned to stop for no more than 45 minutes and this allowed me to change my socks, trainers and top as well as re-pack my bag with kit which would be required for the night sections. I also had some food (ignoring the carrot filled soup this year) including some salty chips and a can of coke – result. I also kept to my pre-race plan and after 45 minutes pretty much on the nose I was on the move again.

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I looked out to what lay in front … okay Nigel, 13 miles get these over you and it’s game on !

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The Wall Run 2013 – Part 1

So I’m writing this two days after taking part in the 2nd Annual Wall Run – a 69 mile Ultra which takes place alongside Hadrian’s Wall.

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I took part in last years event which didn’t quite go according to plan. This year I felt better prepared having not only put in extra training but also focused on trying to keep my feet in one piece during the event.

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I did however feel so much more nervous than last year – I think a mixture of actually knowing what the event could and most likely would entail, but also the fear of failing AGAIN.  I didn’t realise how much it was playing on my mind until the train passed by those famous Tyne Bridges – this was it, no turning back now. (well I could have but it was a long run back to Cambridge if I did)

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It was also at this point that it hit home that I would be doing this without my running buddy, Alistair. It would later hit me (hard) how much I missed his company.  As I left Alistair, his wife Lauren and my own wife Nicola (who once again would be spending her birthday chasing down  her husband across muddy fields) I felt sick. I felt excited and if the truth be told quite emotional.

The train across from Newcastle to Carlisle was packed full of other runners – it was however difficult to strike up a conversation to pas the time. I tried with one girl who looked like she may be running it, but upon me asking “you running?” .. she looked confused before answering .. “no I’m on the train !!”

As we arrived in Carlisle the first thing that was (very) different from last year was the weather – it was dry. It was actually sunny. As we arrived last year we could have  charted a small fishing boat to take us from the station to the Castle. A rather uneventful registration (apart from some bloke trying to feed me some kind of flapjack which to be honest tasted like 3 day old socks wrapped in pine nuts – I tried to be polite and swallow but couldn’t stomach it and proceeded to yak it back up into the one thing that was in my hand – my hat. The poor bloke looked shocked and moved away)

It was as I was leaving I got my first “Hey, are you that guy from YouTube?” comment … This made me smile as I nodded. “Good luck this year, you can do it” he followed up …. Made me smile even more …

I was staying outside of Carlisle .. which after last years events (read 4am no sleep due to clubbers outside my window) was a godsend. The Taxi driver, after hearing me chat about the following days events, proceeded to inform me that there was a really nice 6 mile run around the hotel if I fancied it …. err no thanks. Strangely the receptionist also made this recommendation and also how well equipped their gym was.

No thanks …. just show me where I can eat the animals !

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Dinner and my usual pre race pint of the Black stuff and it was time to hit the sack – but not before another chap asked me if I was that YouTube bloke ….

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Right time to get some sleep …. they say today had been the Longest Day but as I my head hit the pillow (or rather some flimsy excuse for a pillow) I had  sneaky feeling tomorrow would run it a very close second.

I also realised my hat still smelt of pine nuts ..

 

24 Hours to Go

Well I type this sitting on a train heading to Newcastle … Then onto Carlisle for pre race registration. Yes it’s less than 24 hours until I start on my biggest and most likely toughest race of the year – The Wall Run.

Feeling a mixture of nerves and super excitement .. Probably in equal measures …. Race bags are packed …. Today is all about two things; relax and EAT. I’ve held back on eating too much this week so today I get to fill my boots (and the probably eat those as well).

Perhaps it was easier mentally last year as I had no idea what 69 miles running felt like ….. This year I kinda do (well I know how 67 of those 69 felt) and believe me it was tougher than 3 day old steak ….

It also looks like rain for at least part of the course (aka probably all of it) ….. It can’t be as wet as last year …. Can it ?

Today they say is the longest day ….. I reckon tomorrow may trump even that 🙂

See you on the other side !!

1 Week To Go

Well actually just over 1 week, but this time next week I’ll be about to board the train up to Newcastle and then from there over to the Race registration in Carlisle. Yes, it’s just over one week until I go back to attempt The Wall Run

Training has gone well – although I’ve not been running as much as I’d have liked in the past few weeks due to first a vacation in Mull and then a Business Trip to Houston. Still I did manage my 40 mile training run a few weeks back – felt good actually (completing in 10 hours). 

This weekend I plan a few short runs, just to keep the legs ticking over (I find the week before an event I get imaginary injuries so it’s always nice to confirm my legs are still working). Both runs I’ll be out with my full race day kit which always brings in the odd look or two. The weekend will also be spent confirming my kit, packing, checking and re-packing again. 

As you may know last year I had to pull out at mile 67 (out of 69) …. to this day I’m still not quite sure what happened. I’ve found it playing on my mind more and more as race day gets closer. This year I’ve simply set myself a target of finishing … I don’t care if its 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds ….  I actually found myself earlier checking my splits from last years event and thinking to myself – well if I can make up a few minutes here and a few minutes there .. 

STOP IT NIGEL !!!! 

For me I start at 7am on the Saturday .. and I run … (and run) until I finish …. it’s a simple as that.  

Simple … oh okay then 😉