Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The runningman returns

Well, it's been a long time since I updated this blog. All the more surprising and unjustified given that I am currently “at leisure”. Partly, I suppose, it’s because 2011 really did not turn out as hoped with much of my running so what was there to report and talk about

Since we are only 3 weeks into the New Year so it still feels OK to make updating this thing regularly part of my resolutions and to start off with a resume of 2011 and an outline of plans for 2012.

In the spring of 2011 I felt fit, recorded my fastest time to date on the High Peak Marathon and was really motivated for the Fellsman. Over the years I have been very fortunate to avoid injury – actually I have been very fortunate to have good natural biomechanics and a natural running style which has kept me away from most injury and overuse problems. I can claim no active credit for any of that since I rarely stretched, often recovered with a nice pint and frequently pushed my luck in terms of sudden mileage increases and running with niggles.

Advancing years have meant that those niggles are more frequent and, to my intense frustration, they boiled over just before the Fellsman into a hamstring injury which “hamstrung” me about 10 miles into the actual race back in May. Now, I am not saying I could have hung with Jez all the way round but we were running and chatting together and have never really raced head to head so it would be been a blast and maybe having someone to push him for at least the first half of the course would have enabled Jez to post the mythical sub 10 hour time that must be out there.

A month or so later and my second major disappointment of the year – a DNF at the 100 mile San Diego race. It’s actually about 2 hours away in the Anza Borrego area – hilly, semi-desert country at around 6-7000ft and is a cracking course. Looking back a few months on it’s clear as day that I simply had not put in enough long days to sustain a 100 mile completion - partly because of cancelled races and pulling out at Fellsman, partly because I simply did not get out there, all weathers, and lay it on the line.

One of the great things about our sport is that you cannot fake it. You can’t drop a few thousand pounds or dollars on carbon and titanium to buy an improvement in outcomes. So, through the summer and autumn, I haven’t really been racing and haven’t really been pushing it – until October or so – and then I started to get a bit more structured and a bit more motivated. With the Quad Dipsea looming for late November I finally realised I needed to start motivating rather more!!

Of course one of the other great truths is that running becomes a virtuous circle. Run and you feel more inclined to run more. Run more and you start to see things that “reward” you for your efforts – a sunset, a hawk hunting, a bobcat, a chance meeting on the trail with someone really interesting – good things happen. Upshot of some half decent training was 8th place from 233 finishers with no strollers or grandfathers in front of me. With passive cramps setting in around 3 miles from the end I knew I had given it all and I was also delighted to pick up places from around 14th at half way.

So, a 2012 race schedule is emerging based on new found motivation and, hopefully, injury free running. The main events for now are listed below and a current listing should appear on the right hand side of this blog through the year.

  • Feb 25 Ray Miller 50 mile
  • Mar 17 Chuckanut 50k
  • Apr 15 Lake Sonoma 50 mile
  • Apr 28 Fellsman? 61 mile
  • May 05 Miwok 100km
  • Jun 09 San Diego 100 mile
  • and then.....?

If all the above makes it sound as though I have not been enjoying the outdoors then I need to redress the balance a little. I have not been racing and training in a structured way but we have been lucky enough to run in some great places such as:

· Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands, California

- Sespe Wilderness, Los Padres Forest, California

· Red Rocks Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada

· Gunung Agung, Bali, Indonesia

and, of course, my now local hills here in Santa Barbara where the sun, mostly, shines!!


Dale Jamieson said...

best of luck, Mark. Love reading your blog

Mark Hartell said...

Thanks Dale. Knowing people actually read it really helps to motivate me to keep things fresh!