Monday, 16 May 2011


Disappointment - yes, frustration - yes!! I pulled out of the Fellsman on Saturday at mile 12 with a hamstring tear.

It had been tight coming off Ingleborough but quite suddenly "went" on the steep part of the descent off Whernside. Whilst it is only twinging today it cut my pace in half at the time and was clearly not going to appreciate another 50 miles of use.

There is the obvious disappointment that we all feel when getting injured and having to pull out of a race but there is also the fact that I felt great on the day and was massively looking forward to a right good battle with Jez. Going back a couple of months it looked as though Duncan Harris would be with us too and that would have been epic but he got sidelined with a stress fracture. Now, I am not saying I could have beaten Jez - he is a very classy performer - but I am saying I wanted to really push it and take it to the wire. It's the terrain I would choose for a friendly showdown and having a couple of people pushing each other is the way to get best performances.

It also puts a big question mark on my other plans for the summer.

After a days reflection (and moping around) here's my thinking...Looking positively, it was the Fellsman that motivated my training for the past 3 months. The cancellation of Sonoma 50 and the drop on Saturday mean that the fitness has not really been tested but everything else tells me that it's good and that I am in better shape than for the past few years.

Of course I now need patience, I need to address the root cause of the injury (my posture) rather than the symptoms and I need to retain the focus to do whatever I can whilst it heals so that the damage won't be too bad. Finally, each day that I can't run I need to commit to memory the re-discovered enjoyment I found this spring from being able and motivated to run so that I get right back into it when I can.

I need a few days to see how the recovery is and figure out a Plan B. Meanwhile I must congratulate both Jez Braggs and Nicky Spinks - both ran wonderful, well paced races to set new course records. In Nicky's case she knocked over 40 minutes off her own best time and Jez, without the diversions around Middle Tongue would surely have posted the mythical sub-10 hour time. Well done both!!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A road to the sky and Miwok Indians

OK, so the ride of the Camino Cielo went great. The climb up from the town is about 3500ft in 6 to 7 miles along the Gibraltar Road. For the most part it was well graded and an “in saddle” job rather than standing on the pedals. I didn’t take a time for just the climb but that might be a good thing because I have since discovered that Lance Armstrong and the Discovery team used to train on this climb and also that its part of a century ride in which the leading riders complete the ascent in around 40 minutes. I think I was a little more pedestrian than that!!

The reward – a ride along the rolling ridge for several miles was sweet and the descent of “Painted Cave” road was steep and, in parts, a bit rough but nothing worse than I am used to on Staffordshire lanes so I was surprised to read that the
Painted Cave descent is a bit notorious for being dangerous. Maybe that’s true if you have confidence – I just took it all at snail’s pace.

That was at the beginning of the week since when my explorations of the local area have continued a little, my collection of poison oak itches
and scratches has grown a little and my cough has slowly improved. I’ll admit to a great degree of frustration – training this spring has gone really well and I was looking forward to really pushing for a good time at Fellsman next Saturday. Of course I will be there but I really feel that the chest infection of the past 2 weeks has scuppered my chances of doing the kind of time I was looking for. Still, it is what it is and I just need to keep the focus and make the most of the fitness I hope I have developed.

5:40am beach start for the 400+ Miwok 100km runners

This weekend was fun – pacing Krissy Moehl at the 100km Miwok race in the Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco. I did this race in 2009 and it was truly, awfully wet and cold. Wasn’t supposed to be, in fact I had been warned it might be really hot but, on the day, mild hypothermia was the result and a finish in just under 10 hours. Almost identical, in fact, to the time Krissy posted yesterday. She had high hopes of a win and maybe a course record but nausea decided to have a say in the matter and it seemed that the course changes had made things harder as neither the men or the women approached record times.

Race leaders still packed together at mile 41
Still, super fun to see the racing, great to spend some time with Krissy and watch the single minded determination that has seen her win UTMB and many other races and good to catch up with Topher, Kim and other running friends over here.

Ian Sharman - fastest 100 miler on US soil (12hrs 44mins!) scores a top 10 spot as Elvis

So, next Saturday is the Fellsman. I was going to suggest some odds for leading men and women but since the start list is not available I will just state the blindingly obvious which is that Jez has to be favourite in the men – part of his build up for Western States in about 6 weeks and Nicky Spinks is looking pretty invincible for the ladies. I believe that Duncan Harris is unfortunately side-lined with injury and yours truly is certainly making excuses about the recent illness but will probably still push for a time that starts with 10 somthing to improve on last year’s 11.30 Let’s see – as I understand it the conditions are pretty dry underfoot so if it’s not too hot, it could be a fast one.

Monday, 2 May 2011

First Steps

The big move - Truckin' USA

So, the big news is that I will be spending some time in Santa Barbara, California. Lynn found work down here and it’s a great place to get fit and pursue my business ideas.

The past 10 days have been a little crazy. We got about 4 days notice of the job start so rushed to find accommodation, rent a truck, pack everything up in the Bay Area and head down here. On top of the all-nighter I regularly pull before going away and an extended flight over here as the original one was cancelled due to the storms in the east of the USA, this was the ideal recipe for getting sick. It’s very frustrating because I have been fine all winter and looking after myself but is seems as though I will never learn. Getting overtired before taking long plane journeys really is a recipe for picking up infections.

The bike ride I wrote about last time really helped the infection set-in and so the past week has been characterised by my spluttering and hacking, useless cough. Doubly frustrating because all the hard training leading to Fellsman seems like it’s going to waste and also because there is a wonderful range of hills/mountains on my doorstep and I can hardly get out there to do them justice.

My new back garden - trailhead 2 miles from house

Things improving, however, and I made my first steps into the Front Country – as it is called. This is a range of hills going up to about 4,000ft from sea level. Plenty of trails, some a little overgrown, mostly well graded, some quite rocky.The terrain is pretty rugged with lots of sandstone outcroppings. Reminiscent of the high chaparral - imagine native american indians behind every bluff with bow and arrow. Much of the area I have run in so far was burned by the big Jesusita fire two years ago - it took out about 300 houses and, believe it or not, we met someone yesterday who managed to take out insurance AFTER the fire started and 8 hours before his house got burned!!

Inspiration point - 1750' up from the coast

Much more exploring to do but today is a bike day (with no bees hopefully) to climb from the sea to the Camino Cielo road that runs along the first ridge inland at about 3,500ft. Given the clear blue sky that greets every day and the midday temps of around 80-85F, I expect a roasting!!