I’m coming to get you Green Man – My Green Man Ultra 2015

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It was early, too early. The sun was barely rising as I pulled into the car parking at race HQ, but whilst the nerves were there, I knew it was going to be a good day. Switching off the happy tunes coming from KCRW, I grabbed my bags and headed off in search of the registration desk and kit check. Continue reading

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Running as therapy

My mother said I could run before I could walk.

And I guess I’ve not stopped running since. Freud might say I’ve been running away from something all my life, and it’s maybe that I started running at such a young age to try and escape early child hood trauma, and maybe even today I still need to run to try to escape.

More recently I’ve started running longer and longer, looking for that escape and time for reflection. In all honesty I’ve not handled the challenges of the last few years well, made some bad choices and lost a lot of people who I cared about. Then one day I found myself sat in a therapist chair trying to make sense of it all, and it took me a while to work out that perhaps more running, and not more therapy sessions was what I needed. Continue reading

My Ultra kit part 1

My kit bag can be a dangerous place to delve into, a dark cavern with a unique scent. But recently it’s had some lovely (and good smelling) new additions that I’ve found really, really useful when training for and racing Ultra distances. These distances and terrain are new to me, so I may be a bit late to the party with some of these things having been a track athlete all my life. But I thought I’d share my thoughts over a few blog posts about a few products I’ve been using.

Firstly, footwear.

A long time ago, in what feels like almost another life, I used to sell running shoes in a specialist running shop. ‘Easy Runner’ was probably one of the first shops in Bristol to be dedicated to stocking just running shoes, just for runners. And being surrounded by my passion was fun, payed the rent and got me great discounts. Which meant I had and tried nearly all the running kit I ever needed… except that is, for trail shoes.

So, realising just a couple of months before my first ultra that I was going to need footwear that would cope with both mud and road, I headed off to see the lovely people at ‘Up & Running’ Bristol, for their advice on what I should put on my feet for the special day, as I had no real personal experience of what was going to be best. Also, being an orthotic wearer always rules out a few shoes, but I finally found comfort in a brightly coloured pair of Salomon Fellraiser.

Once out of the shop, into some proper running and slightly skeptical about not having to ‘tie’ any laces due to the quick lacing system, I’ve found the shoes to be amazing, and left me wondering why I’ve never bought trail shoes before (ok, I still prefer spikes for mud, but they don’t work so well on the road!). These shoes have great grip on mud climbs, feel lightweight even after encountering numerous streams, and have comfort that lasts all day (my first ultra race went over 10 hours).

I love them, a lot. And to be honest, I didn’t think I was going to. Why? Well, because I’ve always liked things that are specialised, like my first running shop job. It knew what it was targeted at, and did it very well. Things that try to be a bit of this, and a bit of that, usually in my experience end up not being great at any of them. But the Fellraisers are different. Different because, however aggressive the grip is on the underneath of the shoe, somehow Salomon have made it still feel good on the road too, even after 10 hours of running. And in my book, that’s pretty damn impressive.

Ok so, I’ll be honest and say that I won’t be choosing these over my road shoes on my next 10 mile road training run, but if I had to, I know that it would all be ok, and honestly if I did choose them, I’d probably add on an extra few fun ‘muddy’ miles for the hell of it!

My Salomon Fellraiser, before. See Green Man Ultra for the after shot!

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Green Man Ultra

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MORE MUD and now a stream! I couldn’t believe it, less than 20 minutes in to a long days running and the lower half of me looked like I’d jumped into a lake of chocolate… if only it was chocolate, ummm chocolate!

So, the day had finally come to compete in my first Ultra Marathon. And when I say ‘compete’ I mean more like ‘survive’ the 46 miles, mostly through very wet muddy fields. But it was a nice day for it, and Bristol was looking pretty in the sunshine. Continue reading

It’s snow joke

Whilst taking a break from my ultra training and enjoying some time on my snowboard on some of the best back country snow that the French Alps had to offer last week, I stumbled upon a hidden rock. Or rather my knee cap found it first, followed by the full force of my body.

The day had started so well with numerous runs down the mountain surrounded by untracked snow which sparkled in the sun, which pushed us on to find new untracked ground, and finally after shimmy-ing along a narrow ledge behind my guide, and watching him stumble and fall, I followed suit and got up close and personal with the afore mentioned rock. It took a good moment to process the pain, but everything still seemed to work, and there was a 300 meter drop into a huge powder field waiting for me.

I made it off the mountain by myself that day, but my knee was probably 5 times the size it should have been. The knee still worked without pain (somehow?) unless I wanted to bend it all the way back or keep it totally straight. I couldn’t help thinking to myself, and slightly panicking about what it would be like to run on, if in fact I could still run!

After numerous ibuprofen and many more days snowboarding, the swelling reduced enough to be able to feel the rather large and strange dent in my patella from the rock impact. So, with less than 3 weeks to go before I should be heading out on a ’46 mile warm up’ race, I’m sat in the hospital waiting for an x-ray and mri scan. Oh joy!