Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tooting 24 hour Self Transcendence - A "How not to" guide

Welcome to the "How not to" guide!
In this edition we are going to look at the Tooting 24 hour Self Transcendence track race and how not to run for 24 hours! In this brief guide I will show you a few top tips to help you on your way to spectacularly crash out of any long distance endurance race!
That`s right my running friends, you too can experience that gut wrenching feeling when you call it a day in just a few easy steps!

Step 1
Now this one takes a little bit of commitment but with my help I`m sure we can get you on your way to that DNF you've always wanted!
Food poisoning - You really need to aim for about 2-3 days of this about 2-3 days before your big race. I went for 2 solid days of food poisoning 3 days before. It worked pretty well.
Now I have found what works for me but I`m sure with a bit of experimentation you will be able to find many, many more ways to get food poisoning. Lets not linger on this too long as I don't want to influence your choices to much. Congratulations you now have significantly reduced the fuel left in your system! Great job! Now the best news is by using this top tip you get the added bonus of not sleeping well which leads us smoothly onto step 2!

Step 2
Sleep deprivation - Not sleeping well is a fantastic way to really drain the body to make sure you have very little left in the tank for the race. Its a great way to help slow recovery and gives you that all over "Done in" feeling before even running a step! Yes! The great thing about this tip is it is so easy to do even for a first time DNF`er, all it takes it to go out the night before and get in at 1am and then pretend to sleep for the next 6 hours before getting up....simples! You can even practice this one in advance to make sure you really get it down before the big day.

Step 3
This tip, my final one in this edition is a great one for grinding yourself right into the ground! I have split it into two separate sections to sit correctly with how to mess up both halves of your race -

Stuff your face - For the first half I would highly recommend stuffing your face with as much as you can cram in, leaving you feeling listless, bloated and for the fully committed, sick.
When someone hands you that DNF on a plate, eat it!
The only disadvantage to this technique is that if the food stays in it will keep you going for longer, no DNF`er worth their lack of salt wants that!

Stay weak buddy, I`ve got your back!

Starvation - After all that stuffing you should really go the other way. Now unfortunately for you as the bloating, listlessness and sickness disperse you are going to have a "good" few hours of "great" running due to the side effect of eating. Don`t panic! This hell will only last a few hours if you stick with me!
Simply, stop eating!
Now comes the moment you have trained for young Grasshopper. Run, walk, sprint, do whatever you can to completely screw yourself into the floor as quickly as you can. Make sure you also keep reminding yourself just how much time you would have to keep going. I`ve found this really helps to speed things along!
Before you know it you will be crawling into that cold, damp tent, snuggled under your towel blanket....heaven!!

So there you have it! 3 simple steps to help you pick up that much coveted DNF!

Well that was fun wasn't it?!
All joking aside I discovered that running on a track for 24 hours is a lot harder than people give it credit for! The relentless, monotony (I`m really selling it aren't I) of running around in 400m circles is tough. You can see everything. The start, the finish, the aid station, the tents, the good, the bad, the ugly.
I guess if I`m honest about the whole situation it was my mind that gave up.
After doing so much more walking than I expected I just couldn't see myself hobbling for the next 10 hours just to rack up some extra numbers and further my injuries.

It wasn't all doom and gloom though and I still gave in with a smile.
Rich Cranswick was there to lap me many, many times and shout encouragement/abuse (delete as appropriate) as he rocked is way to over 100 miles! Almost every hour he did a "Bonus Chicken lap" where he was joined by Ultra Chicken for a squeaky 400 meters. I even had the honor of escorting Ultra Chicken for a lap myself.....Good times!

I underestimated just how hard it was going to be mentally, 200 laps around an athletics track really took its toll. Ill get you next time Tooting, we have unfinished business.

Thats right......Next time!

Huge thank you as always to all the nutters who follow me and keep me going in the dark times, you guys rock! Thanks to the organizers, volunteers and other runners for such a great experience. Thank you to my Lady for trekking across London to sit in the cold and watch this fool run around in circles.
Lastly a massive, massive thank you to Mummysaurus - My driver, my crew, my support, my ass kicker, my comforter, my food and water distributor but most of all...my Mum.
Crewing for this kind of thing is tough and please don't ever let me forget it! :D You did a fantastic job, just let me know when its your turn! ;P

For now its time to rest and get ready for Fowlmead in 3 weeks time........No rest for the stoooopid eh?!

Peace, tea and biscuits

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

When life gets in the way

As the title suggests my blogging has taken a bit of a back seat of late due to life getting in the way.
Work has been crazy, training has been time consuming and then just for laughs my lady and I have been working on the house, trying to save space and clear the clutter.

What was I doing last time?
Oh yes! It was the story of the NDW100. Lets have a quick catch up......

The weekend of the 9th August saw a bunch of folks line up at 6 in the morning to run 102 miles over extremely challenging terrain with a possible hurricane approaching.....nice!
The North Downs Way is tough.....really tough. I have covered 50 miles of it myself as my first ultra and it remains one of my favorite challenges so far. It is as hilly as it is beautiful and I remember thinking during my perfect spring day how tough it would be to do this in the rain.

I had been asked by Dennis "The Machine" if I would pace him from halfway to the finish. 52 miles of giggles? How could I resist?!
Mummysaurus had volunteered to be at the 82 mile aid station to get a feel for the "Ultra life" so it all worked out really well.
I text Dennis at 11am, 5 hours into the race knowing that he should be fine and giving him chance to settle in a bit. The text back however had me worried. He was barely at mile 24 and was already feeling sick. Not good. After my recent....shall we call it "miscalculation" at my last 50k where I over drank, this became my first question. He said he had been drinking loads but still felt thirsty. WARNING!
I told him to stay off the water for a bit and try and eat something. Its going to feel really wrong but trust me, stay off the water!
We kept up the texting for a bit but he wasn't sounding great.

Meanwhile in Gotham City.....

Mummysaurus and myself set off for Knockholt Pound (mile 50) at 2pm and arrived at 4pm right on schedule, giving Mummysaurus an hour to get to Detling (mile 82) 32 miles away to start her shift.
I was happy milling about chatting to folks I had met before at other ultras. It felt like more of a social gathering than a 102 mile race! I met up with Faye, the wife of Dennis, and we had a good natter.
We both continued to coax Dennis along with text messages as the time slowly moved on.
We clapped and cheered runners in until we got the text we were hoping to not get.
After putting up a brave fight, Dennis was done. He was a couple of miles away but was in a lot of pain and just couldn't see himself limping for the next 12+ hours to try and pick up a finish.
Fair enough!!

Plan B is it then.....

So what now? Mummysaurus was going to be at Detling till about 7:30am, its now 7:30pm.
Very kindly Faye offered to drop me off at Detling after taking the stinking carcass of Dennis back to the hotel for a hose down.
He was moving slowly but was still in good spirits despite the DNF. Sometimes you just have to chalk it up to experience and move on with a smile.
Dennis now smelling human again, we made our way to Detling, arriving at about 8:30pm. We all had a good chat and then they left to go and crash out in the hotel.

Right only 11 hours to kill then!

Mummysaurus had the duty of timekeeper....scary stuff! I mingled around with the other crew and tried to make myself useful by cheering folks in as they came over the bridge into the aid station.
There was a little road right at the bottom of the bridge which we would walk into to make sure the traffic stopped. Once people came out of the aid station we would give them instructions to the next turning...."Down the road, slight right to the pub then sharp left and you will see the tape, good luck!" I must have said that, or variations of it maybe 400 times! aaaaaaand that pretty much sums up what I did until 7:30am.
It was great to see all the familiar faces arrive at Detling still looking strong despite the rather nasty weather that was starting to creep up on us. You guys are very inspiring and well done to each of you!
We started to pack up around 7:15am but knew we had one guy left out there who had left the last aid station but hadn't made it to us yet. Time wise he was done, he would be stopped here as he wouldn't make the next cut off. I went up onto the bridge to get a better view down the road in the hope that we could spot him.
A little while later I could see him staggering badly down the road so I made my way across the bridge to walk him in. The moment I saw him I knew he was in a bad way. I tried to get him to chat but what I got back was a garbled mess. We slowly swayed over the bridge and I text Mummysaurus that I was with the last guy and we needed to get a chair ready.
Everyone clapped him into the aid station and quickly sat him down and made sure he was OK.
The paramedic arrived shortly after, give him a look over and then bundled him inside the ambulance.
Job done!
We had intended on trying to make it to watch people finish but we were both pretty shattered and Mummysaurus was getting worried about driving on that much sleep deprivation......I wasn't going to argue it was a good call!
We drove around and got lost a bit due to some flippin cycle race but eventually got home for some much needed shut eye.

Fast forward to the present day...

With Tooting 24 looming ever so close now with just 2 little weeks to go, I had some deep tissue massage on my hamstring on Saturday in the hope of working out the kinks.
The nerves haven't really started to kick in just yet but I`m sure they are in there somewhere!
I don't really have many plans in mind right now other than just give it everything I have and try and keep smiling!
Its strange how much I am actually looking forward to running around in circles for 24 mind numbing hours.
Time to get my head in the game.....I WILL last 24 hours, I will NOT be last......hopefully

Till next time, don't forget to smile! :)