Thursday, April 14, 2011

Trail running and snowshoeing in the Alps.

The Plan

Less than a week after returning from Perth I got a call from the Producer / Director of my almost finished documentary asking if I was available to do some filming the following weekend and after checking my availability I was then told, 'oh by the way it's in France'.
Relaxing in Morillon

A week later we flew to Geneva accompanied by two mountain guides (Gary McConville & Tony Ruddy from the Millenium Gym in Lurgan) and drove to a village called Morillion in the French Alps.  According to the locals it was one of the worst seasons for snow and this is when it's worth having a guide as it saved a lot of time wasting looking for an alternative location.

The Crew taking in the scenery.

Day 1 was spent at 2500M +  running in deep snow and using snowshoes which took a lot of effort because of the altitude but that couldn't take away from the breath taking scenery and as tough as it was I didn't want it to end.  I took whatever opportunities I could to stop and just take it all in and there were moments when I was all alone and they're the ones that make it all worthwhile.

Ready for action.

MSR Snowshoes as supplied by Great Outdoors

Day 2 was spent lower down in the surrounding valleys running along the most amazing trails with every turn more amazing than the last.  Yet again it was tough at times but the rewards far outweigh the effort and although my muscles were hurting I couldn't help but smile.

My unplanned adventure.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Moving on.

Till next time.

It's just over 2 weeks since the Anglo Celtic Plate and my recovery seems to be going as planned, I was back running within 3 days but taking it easy and all runs since then have been in the same easy heart rate zone which helps to monitor improvements or set backs and more importantly it prevents accidentally doing too much too soon.
During one of my first start back sessions I decided to use the running track because it's flat and because it's a loop it meant I was never far from the car if I had to throw in the towel.  Running this session I could feel that my legs were strong but my heart rate was much higher than it should be and thats an obvious sign that although my leg strength is still there I was still tired on the inside so I made sure to keep it slower than I felt capable of doing.

For the moment I'm still trying to decide which races to do over the coming months but for now I'll just keep doing what I'm doing to get my fitness back but will train with certain events in mind.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Anglo Celtic Plate 2011. My Race.

With Scotland's finest, Debbie Consani.

You can learn a lot from races that don't go as planned if you take the time to analyse them and then make the corrections.
Support Crew Tent.
Going into the Anglo Celtic Plate I was in my best shape of recent times and was fully prepared and expecting to finish in under 7hrs 45min which was an estimation based on recent race results and long distance training runs.
The course was as good as it gets being relatively flat and consisted of 42 x 2381 laps which might sound daunting but in a race it's 42 times that you pass your support crew, 42 times that you have access to food & fluid, 42 times to check your pacing and position but more importantly it's 42 times to pass the friendly faces and if things go wrong you're never far from help. 
Before any race I come up with a mental plan and try to visulise whats ahead and for this one becuase of it's numerical similarity with the 42K in a Marathon I turned it into a marathon and thought of each lap as a Kilometre even though I wouldn't be counting them down.

Waiting to start.
The weather on the day was almost perfect and I felt very confident and proud lining up beside my team mates at the startline and when the race started I settled almost immediately into my pace and gradually found my position behind the lead pack.  It felt quite comfortable and effortless and as I made my way around the first lap I picked out some markers that I would use to check my pacing as the race went on.  Less than halfway around the loop the course went alongside the river Tay and each time I passed I looked into the water in the hope of seeing a Salmon jump and that was something I looked forward to on each and every lap.

All alone on the banks of the River Tay.

Before completing the first lap I felt the need to use the toilet and tried to decide whether to stop or try wait a bit longer. Seeing as it was going to be a long day I stopped rather than prolong the agony and that was the start of it!  Almost every lap I had to stop and looking at the drops in my heart rate I must have stopped close to 25 times.  Each stop cost me between 30-90 seconds and even though I wasn't drinking much I made the decision to reduce my fluid intake.  This helped ever so slightly but the problem was still there and the reduced fluid intake can lead to other problems which it did.
Checking my pace with Tony Brennan
I went through the Marathon split in 3hr08 and then through the 50K split in 3hr49 but shortly after that my hand went into a spasm and I knew I was becoming dehydrated and suffering from loss of electrolytes even though I was still needing toilet stops.  I started drinking again but switched from a carbohydrate drink to an electrolyte drink which is easier on the stomach and because it was electrolyes I needed as my energy levels were still ok.  My right hip then started to tighten up which again I put down to the electrolyes and this required the occasional stop for an assisted stretch with the support crew.
Even before the race finished I was a bit disappointed and I didn't cheer up any bit more after crossing the finish line. Apart from the extra stops I was still running at my planned pace which I worked out by subtracting the stoppage time from lap time so I know I should have finished much faster and at least finished in under 8hrs but thats how it goes.
The mistake wasn't made on race day because I drank very little before the race and ran the first 70 minutes without any fluids.  I had estimated my fluid intake to be somewhere between 3 -4L but I only drank approx 2L.
The finish.
Daniel Doherty, Richard Donovan & Thomas Maguire.
Did I drink too much in the days before the race? I don't think so but then again I don't know!  I keep a record of everything else but fluid intake is routine and maybe I need to start watching that in advance of races anyway.  It has been suggested by a fellow Ultra Runner (Jim McCormick) that maybe I had a kidney infection but it didn't feel like I did but then again I don't know what a kidney infection feels like.