Lessons learnt from Hardmoors 110

Katrina and I have entered the Rouken Glen 10k next Thursday 12th June so I decided to run as hard as I could for 10k at lunch time today to see what sort of 10k shape I’m in.

I ran my normal Pollok Park Loop and pushed it hard right from the start.  I was blowing hard from about a mile in and tried to keep the tempo up right through. I reckon I went through 10k in 43mins so that will give me a target to aim for next week.

My feet are completely fine now which considering how they looked just 10 days ago I’m very pleased with.  I’ve always found that the fitter and better prepared I am the quicker I recover from a long ultra.

I always like to note down some lessons from each ultra I do so here are a few thoughts from the Hardmoors 110 in no particular order …

1. Preparation/Taper

I was really pleased with my preparation.  I have been building up to this race since the end of November.  I had a month build up to the HM 30 on New Year’s Day, then another build up to the HM 55 in March.

After that I had an easy 2 weeks before building up to the HM 110.  The 2 recce with Dave T was a key block in the training and gave me lots of confidence and positive vibes about the course and how I was running.

My two week taper had gone well and I arrived at the start line feeling prepared and ready to go.

2. Pacing/HR

I decided to try a very different tactic in this race.  I knew I wanted to reach Saltburn (60 miles) feeling very comfortable so I could enjoy the second half of the course. I really wanted to be able to finish strongly with a smile on my face.

To be able to do that I needed to start easy so I decided to run to a heart rate of 124 for the first 4-5 hours.  It took a lot of discipline as many times I wanted to push on but I kept to my plan and I really feel it paid off.

I love to look at the split positions so volunteered to sort them out for Jon & Shirley.  The Saltburn ones were soaked so couldn’t be read but the rest were fine and make for interesting reading!

61 runners started at Helmsley at 8.07am on Saturday morning.  Here are my positions and split positions for each checkpoint …

  • White Horse: 48th
  • Osmotherley: 43th (38th fastest for the leg)
  • Lord Stones: 38th (32nd)
  • Kildale: 28th (21st)
  • Runswick Bay: 16th (6th)
  • Sandsend: 11th (8th)
  • Ravenscar: 11th (13th)
  • Scarborough: 11th (10th)
  • Filey: 11th (5th)

I was really pleased with that because it shows I started steady and worked my way up the field. My best two splits were the last 2 which again shows that I achieved my goal of being able to finish strongly.

The one I’m most proud of is the last one because that was the only split where I was faster (by 6mins!!) than my friend Dave who finished 2nd overall!!  I told Dave that if the race was twice as long I would have caught him!!!

So I feel really happy with my pacing overall.  I never went through a really bad patch and felt I was consistent throughout.

3. Nutrition

A key factor in these long ultras is getting your food and drink right and I feel I just about got it right this time.  I ate most of what I had planned to eat and a bit more at some of the excellent checkpoints.

Here is a summary of what I ate and drank (as far as I can remember!) …

  • 2 slices of fruit bread with jam
  • 25 yogurt covered raisins
  • good portion of mashed sweet potato and cheese
  • 3 chia bars (excellent!)
  • soup and a jam sandwich (thanks to Clay Bank checkpoint)
  • bowl of rice pudding (thanks Kildale checkpoint)
  • soup and cheese pastry (thanks Katrina at Saltburn)
  • hot chocolate (again thanks to Katrina at Saltburn)
  • Greek yogurt
  • bacon roll (thanks to Scarborough checkpoint)
  • approx 8 x 600ml of Matrix Energy Boost
  • approx 3 x 600ml of Coca Cola
  • 2 cups of tea

I think that’s about it!  Maybe a few jelly babies as well.  I never felt that I ran of energy so I must have been getting enough fuel on board. It wasn’t very hot so that helped with the fluid intake.

4. Kit

All my kit is tried and tested and didn’t let me down in this race. I wore the same Hoka Stinson Evo and Drymax socks for the whole race. Same with the shorts and Skins base layer shorts.  I changed my top once at Saltburn.  I had planned to change into a short sleeved top at various checkpoints but it never felt warm enough.

I wore my OMM jacket a few times especially through the night.  My Petzl head torch worked well though it wasn’t as dark dark for as long as I expected.

My North Face Evo rucksack was very comfy and I hardly had to go inside it which saved time.

5. Dealing with low points

I think everyone goes through some low points in a race that takes almost 28hrs and a key thing is how you deal with them.  If you allow a low point to linger and take over it can result in a dnf.

I went into this race with a very positive attitude based on my training and the recce runs I’d done. I knew the course. I had all my mini-splits sorted so I had a good idea of what I was going to face on each leg.

I was determined to have a race and time that I could be proud of and put to bed my 31hrs 10mins from 2009!

I would say I had three low points that I had to deal with …

  • The first one was adding an extra mile in the Guisborough woods. I was moving really well at the time after 11hrs 35mins of running.  I started to get down on myself and feeling I should be 15mins further up the course.  But I was pleased with the way I put it behind me. I accepted I’d made a mistake and I wasn’t going to let it spoil my race!
  • The second one was the stretch from Whitby to Ravenscar. It was dark. I was on my own. It was a long way between checkpoints. The coastal path was muddy and slippy. I was losing time against my splits! Again I had to dig deep and concentrate on getting to the next marker. I told myself I will come through this and that there was plenty of time to get gluing again.  It really helped when the sun came up for a new day and I could see Ravenscar and was able to tick that off.
  • The third low point was seeing my feet at Ravenscar.  I had a nasty blood blister on my right heel that had been bothering me for a number of hours. I wasn’t sure what to do so ended up covering it with a plaster and it did help. It was actually less sore when I ran so that was a good incentive!!

6. Overall attitude

In conclusion I would say that my overall attitude really helped me. I wanted to enjoy this race, do the best I could and finish feeling strong.  I felt I did achieved that and I’m very happy with my time of 27hrs 58mins 10secs.

My gold goal was sub 27hrs but I always felt that was at the upper end of my ability! To run sub 27hrs everything including the weather would have to be right. I was happy that I got most things that I could control right. Things like the weather were out of my control but I was happy with the way I dealt with it.

So overall I feel that this ultra is in my top 5, even top 3 !!

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One Response to Lessons learnt from Hardmoors 110

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write up your lessons learned, these types of posts help with working out one should do in prep and during a race to get the most out of it.

    The navigation mistake is a real shame, but it’s the only real mistake I’ve spotted on your journey. You did really well not to let it get your down and keep good pace afterwards. Not getting angry and trying to make up time is really smart racing.

    The time lost with the extra mileage probably cost you more than the 15 minutes on the detour, this was an extra hundred+ calories you had to burn, and you had to race a little harder than you would have otherwise needed to do to make it past the beach before it was closed. Getting wet feet and having to recover from the quicker than planned section was likely a contribution to your other low points.

    Might have 27 hours be on if it wasn’t for the detour and low points? It seem like a lot of time to make up, and given how well the rest of the race went I suspect it would have been pretty tough to get close to 27 hours. The sub 28 hours time is really impressive.

    The struggle in the mud again suggests that the Hoka’s weren’t idea for all the conditions encountered. Dave Troman’s Sketchers look interesting spin on the Hoka style max cushioned shoe, perhaps these might give you a little more grip without compromising on the amount of cushioning. You’ll need to encourage Dave to write a review of them.

    I also need to get some shoe reviews done too. I have just been wearing various shoes this spring, my personal favourite is F-Lite 232’s which I work for the Fling, but the thought of stony trail on Larig Moor at the end of the WHW has been thinking about using my newly purchased Nike Wildhorse as they have a lot thicker mid-sole and hence more protection from rocks. I generally prefer more minimal shoes but I actually find myself enjoying running in them more than I expected. I also have the Nike Kiger which are a tad lighter and softer mid-sole but with 300 miles on the clock they are no longer protective enough to be on my WHWR short list.

    The Wildhorse and Kiger might be work well for yourself as it’s a mid point between minimal shoes like the Talon/F-Lite’s and maximal shoes like the Hoka. The Wildhorse’s are half the price of the Hoka’s which is certainly a nice enticement.

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