Tuesday, 31 May 2011

There's no going back now!

I have ran a total of 28 miles in May! - Given that I am in training for UTMB, a race which consists of 105 miles of trail and 29,000 feet of ascent, 28 miles is not very much.
14 of those miles were in the week following the Highland Fling and it was during them that I felt the pain in my ankle which has subsequently been diagnosed as Posterior Tibial Tendonitis. It appears it is a general overuse injury and I had hoped that with sufficient rest, stretching and icing it would clear up in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, we are now four weeks down the line and after a brief 5 miles last night I can report that it is still painful.
I haven't been completely idle in the last month and I have been cycling and using the step machine in the gym but it's not quite the same. This is the time when I should be out there putting in big miles on big hills - but I'm not, and I'm worried.
With just under 3 months to go till UTMB I am seriously concerned about my ability to finish. So what do I do?
UTMB, for me at least, is likely to be a "once in a lifetime" event. I have paid my entrance fee, I have paid for my flights, I have bought some expensive new equipment so, in short, I've laid out a lot of dosh in order to take part. There is also the issue of the ballot. This year I was successful, next year I may not be. So I am loathe to pull out and see all this go to waste.
I have never yet DNF'd. Now I know that at some point this may happen but not yet and not in UTMB. Should I start and risk having to pull out part way through or should I DNS rather than DNF? I am stubborn bugger and I know that if I start, it will take a serious issue for me not to finish, but at what cost? Struggling on to complete a road marathon is a different kettle of fish to battling my way over some serious mountains after 40+ hours of effort.
So what do I do?
I plan to continue to cross train and hope that my ankle improves sufficiently to allow me some proper hill time prior to August. I'm not pulling out yet but at the moment I am struggling to get my mind to accept what my body is telling me!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

More on the Fling

Thanks for the various comments on my last report. Many of them refer to the same suggestion of taking S Caps during the race to help replace lost salts - guess what? - I was!

I took one every hour so maybe that wasn't enough but I hope to find out a bit more after my visit to the Nutritionist on Monday.

From the photo below, you can see from my shirt just how much salt I had lost.

You can also tell that I was not in a particularly cheery, fresh state!

A few other pictures from the day:

Looking calm and relaxed before the start - little did I know what was to come!
Mustering before the start

Managing something almost like a run at the finish.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

More of a Flop than a Fling

My fourth running of the Montane Highland Fling and I was feeling fairly positive and determined to get under 11 hours at last. I've never had a good run in this race despite being convinced I should be able to get nearer 10 hours - maybe this year would be different.
My problem in previous years has been debilitating cramp which kicks in around 30 miles or so and sees me hobbling between bouts of muscle spasms in my hamstrings and calfs. I had a new strategy this year and had changed my drink of choice and had even put in some ready salted crisps at the Inversnaid drop bag to prevent the dreaded 30 mile threshold.
The weather was stunning and I set of feeling good and reached Drymen in about 1:55 - slightly faster than I had planned but feeling very comfortable. I trotted up through what remains of the forrest and then started the climb up Conic Hill. As I reached the top and was admiring the view, my right hamstring cramped up! - I couldn't believe it - only 20 miles in and I was suffering already.
The rest of the race kind of went downhill from there! - I was mentally defeated by the time I reached Rowardennan and for the next 25 miles I shuffled along at a snails pace. Every time I started to run at a reasonable pace, my hamstrings would cramp up and then, after a while, obviously feeling left out, my calfs and quads decided to join in.
The heat didn't help I'm sure but I don't think that was the only cause. I had one spectacular moment climbing the hill just after going under the road at Carmyle cottage when my hamstring and quad both cramped at the same time! - It was impossible to stretch either of them as the opposing muscle just screamed in objection!
Anyway, the long and short of it was that I plodded on and crossed the line in a personal worst of 12 hours 5 mins feeling pretty pissed off. The icing on the cake was that I was told that the cold bottle of Coors that was meant to be given to each finisher wasn't there as they had run out!
So what to make of all this?
I'm sure my problems come from my hydration and nutrition strategy and so with this in mind, i've booked in to see a Nutritionist next Monday to get some advice. Hopefully this will give me some confidence back for the rest of the season. Despite running more miles so far this year than in the previous two years, I haven't had many long (25mile +) runs which I think made a difference.
On the positive side, I didn't give up, despite it crossing my mind a few times and although I wasn't able to run, I could have kept walking beyond Tyndrum so, with the reduced pace of UTMB in mind, that's no bad thing. However, what is also clear is that I need to get the finger out and put in some serious hill time and long miles.
As with every year though, the Fling is a fantastic race, superbly organised by Murdo and Ellen (despite running out of beer!) and I'm sure I'll be back next year to try and rid these deamons!