Lesson learnt from Hardmoors 55

Last night I was at a 50th Birthday party for one of the schools I work with so I didn’t get home until 8.45pm. I’d arrange to go for a run with Katrina and being the star she is she was still up for it.  So we set off at 9am and ran just over 6miles.

Katrina is in taper mode as she builds up to the Greater Manchester Marathon on Sunday 6th April.  As usual she said she felt a bit tired and sluggish then we run at 8.09 pace! I’ve stopped listening to her! I can’t wait to see what she will do in Manchester. She is running well and her sub 3.45 target is definitely achievable.

I was really pleased with how my legs have recovered from Saturday.  I’ve not got any aches or pains and I have to remind myself that I ran 55 miles a few days ago.  I do find that the better the race goes the quicker I recover.  The races that I’ve had to dig very deep to finish take a loot more out of me.

I like to review my ultra races before I forget and write down a few points that I think I have learnt from the race.  I tend to learn more from the races that don’t go according to plan but it’s also good to write down some thoughts when it does go to plan. So here goes.  They are not in any particular order …

# Preparation/Training

I had 10 weeks of good solid training without any injuries or niggles. I find that consistency of training really helps me both physically and mentally. I felt I had done enough to have a good race and when I stood on the start line I felt my training and preparation had gone well.

I had prepared well doing a recce of the final 23miles which gave me confidence knowing what was to come.  I had worked out some splits to get me round well under 11hrs and generally felt ready to run with no regrets of what I should have done.

# Taper

I don’t think many runners like the taper but I kept telling myself that it’s important to ease off during the last two weeks before the race.  I wanted to get to the start line raring to go and I did so I won’t be changing much of my taper.  Easy running every other day for 10 days or so seems to work well for me.

# Kit

I had tried everything out on training runs and it all worked fine.  I know a lot of people are using the Ultimate Direction packs these days but I don’t like the idea of having water bottles on the front.  I’ve never tried it and maybe I should but I’m really happy with my North Face Induro pack and plan to keep using it. I can get all the compulsory kit in as I attach a dry bag to the outside for my jacket which also makes it easy to get in and out.

I wore my Hoka Stinson Evo shoes and they were superb on the terrain. There wasn’t a single mile were I wished I was wearing something else. The track was dry and I only stepped in one puddle the whole way round!

I finished the race without a single blister and my feet felt great.  I had a little bit of rubbing on my little toe which was sore the next day but I didn’t feel it at all during the race.

The rest of my kit was tried and tested and didn’t let me down. I only wore my OMM jacket for about 15mins during a heavy hail storm but soon took it off again. I prefer to run a little cold rather than be too hot.  I did notice though that most people in the race did wear a jacket all day.

# Race Plan

I like to have my goals and my gold aim was sub 10.30 which I thought was going to be a real challenge.  All the way to Osmotherly I was just ahead but I knew I’d have to have a good final 23 miles to keep ahead.

By the time I got to the White Horse I knew it was in the bag barring a disaster and I must confess than the intensity wasn’t quite as strong.  Maybe this is a downside of my goals.  If I’m ahead of them I find it a bit harder to push and I’m more content to relax as I’m going to achieve my goal.

If my goal had been sub 10hrs would I have been able to push harder.  I’m not sure. Maybe I would have pushed too hard at the beginning and blown up.  I do know that my goals need to be challenging.  I honestly thought sub 10.30 was a challenge but maybe I’m running better than I thought!

I’m going to give this quite a bit of thought before the Hardmoors 110.  A few years ago I had some real battles to finish and one of my main aims over the last year or so has been to finish strongly with a smile on my face. I certainly did that again on Saturday.

If I had tried to go for sub 10hrs would I have been able to finish as strong and smiling??  I’m not sure so I’m going to stick with my plan but I do like to run as fast as I can!  There is obviously a balance here and hopefully I can find it.

# Food/Drink

I was surprised with how little I ate yet I never felt I ran out of energy.  Here is a list of what I ate and drank (as far as I can remember!)

  • 1 slice of fruit bread with jam
  • half a small tub of mashed sweet potato and cheese (at Kildale)
  • 1 cliff bar (over several hours - one bite at a time!)
  • 1 Greek style youghat (at Osmotherly)
  • 250ml of flat coke (at Kildale)
  • 500ml of flat coke (at Osmotherly)
  • 2.5l of Matrix Energy Drink
  • 300ml of Coke (from White Horse Checkpoint and drank over the last 9miles)

That was less than I had planned but it seemed to be enough to get my energy levels up.  This seemed to be enough for a 10hr race but I will need to be careful for the HM 110.  I will have a support team for that one which makes things so much easy in that I can have a choice and some hot food like soup etc.

# Place in the race

I love to look at the splits in ultra races and see how I did in relation to others around me. Shirley has sent me the splits from Kildale and Osmotherly and I’m in the process of sorting them out.  There are a few questions over reading the numbers but from what I can make out so far ….

  • At Kildale I was 46th, at Osmotherly 28th and I finished 32nd
  • Between Kildale and Osmotherly I was the 25th fastest
  • Between Osmotherly and Helmsley I was 42nd fastest

So in relation to the field my best section was the middle.  I was happy with my final 23 miles but maybe I did ease off more than I should have!  At the time I felt I was running as hard as I could.

Overall though I think it shows I was fairly even and consistent throughout the race.  I will try and finish the spread sheet off asap as I’m sure it will be of interest to others!

Comparing myself to my friend Dave Troman who finished over an hour ahead I was 12mins slower to Kildale (11miles), 21 mins slower on the section from Kildale to Osmotherly (20miles) and 40mins slower in the section from Osmotherly to Helmsley (23miles).

I think that says more about Dave though as he always finishes really strongly.

# Summary

So there we have a few lessons that I would like to learn for future races.  Overall I was really happy with my race.  So that’s two races down in the Grand Slam and two to go.

In the Grand Slam competition I’ve moved into 3rd place!

HM Grand Slam after 2 events


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