Sunday, 21 June 2009

A disappointing end to a tough week 33!

The start of week 33 saw me attempt a 14 mile route in the Cheviot Hills with Mike Lewis and Paul Bradbeer. Now I've ran some tough routes in my time but for me this was a new definition of difficult!

The route involved climbing up The Cheviot summit itself which stands at 2674 ft and the neighbouring Hedgehope Hill at 2340 ft. The elevation didn't prove too difficult by itself. I've ran up and down many hills (and steps!) during this training campaign so I wouldn't expect anything different. It was, however, the terrain on which I was running that caused me as many problems on a run as I've had in a long old while. Straight forward paths were few and far between and for the most part it was a case of "wading" through heather and lots of rough overgrown uneven terrain. The near constant jarring action on my ankles was nothing I've ever experienced before. I was running like a cross between a drunken Elvis and a new born Bambi! The air was blue in the Cheviots that day I can tell you!

While clambering down the other side of The Cheviot I was beginning to question the seemingly ludicrous decision to enter the Chevy Chase on July 4th. I think I also realised why Jimmy Bell said "Never again" after he ran this race a few years ago. Although he did come back and do it again a second time!

All of a sudden my respect for Fell Runners increased many times over. I found I neither had the courage nor the technique required to descend a hill such as The Cheviot in a respectable time. I will definitely be up against it when I try and beat the 6 hour cut off time on July 4th! This particular attempt took just over 5 hours and was 6 miles short of the full distance! You don't have to have a GCSE in maths to work out that I probably wouldn't beat the cut off time with this kind of performance. The fact that I ran out of water after 9 miles didn't help matters either. That's no excuse though!

I will be returning to have another go at it by myself on the 27th June. I won't be stopping to take photos this time and I'll be armed with my trusty iPod. It'll be a case of head down and get on with it! I'll go into the next attempt better hydrated than last week and will try and use the 1.5 litres of water that I'll be carrying sparingly.

Last weeks run in the Cheviots was the first of what should have been 95 miles. By the time I came to do a few regular runs on Monday I realised that this was a particularly tall order. I felt absolutely shattered. Sunday's effort up and down the rough terrain had definitely taken it's toll, particularly on my quadricep muscles. They never ache! It's usually my hamstrings or calf muscles that ache!

I missed 3 scheduled runs between Monday and Wednesday but still managed to clock up 42.7 miles. But they were all very laboured miles and the confidence that I'd gained from last week's Blaydon Race PB was nowhere to be seen! I can't say I enjoyed many of those 42.7 miles and if it wasn't for the usual runners from Northern Rock keeping me company on a few of those runs then I would have struggled even more. Thanks yet again are due to Austin, Colin, Patrick and Carl.

One thing to note was the amount of sleep I was having. 12 hours on Monday, 10 hours on Tuesday and 9 on Wednesday! 12 hours! That's unheard of!

This dip in confidence didn't last and the 3 sessions on Thursday were a good sign that I'd finally recovered from Sunday's Cheviot adventure. The aches in my quads had gone and I generally felt a lot better. To make life easier I did more miles than I'd planned to do during the first 2 sessions on Friday. This only left 3.9 miles left during the 3rd session which I took easy on the treadmill. Somehow, going into the final day of week 33 I'd managed to run 73 miles and I felt I had a really good chance of getting to the target of 95 miles. The plan was to run the 22 mile Pennine Challenge route on the final day. This never happened though as I woke up with a very sore throat and a bit of a head cold. I put off and put off running until finally making the decision to quite at 6pm. I was quite prepared to start the 22 miles that late but it wasn't to be. Another thing that affected my decision was the need to be in ship shape for the next attempt in the Cheviots next Saturday.

The Chevy Chase has been a bit of a distraction from my USA 2011 training. Is it a welcome one? I think the answer to that is yes! One thing is for sure, running on that kind of terrain certainly makes my regular running feel a whole lot easier and straightforward. I take my hat off to those hardy fell runners. Some of whom may be reading this and having a bit of a laugh. I'm not too embarrassed by lack of fell running technique or even by my constant complaining this week. What will be embarrassing though is not beating the 6 hour cut off time on July 4th!

The plan last week was to go straight into 100 miles this week but I need to focus on the Chevy Chase. This week (34) will just involve a session in the gym with Mark Fleming before a 2nd attempt at 14 miles in The Cheviots. I'll have another session with Mark in week 35 before the Chevy Chase at the end of the week. I may well have another gym week after that before attempting 95 miles again in week 36. It's all subject to change but if all goes to plan then I should be running 110 miles per week by mid August. This is approximately half of the weekly mileage that I'll be running in the USA in just under 2 years time.