Dragon’s Back Training Week 15

My plan for this week was to have a slightly easier week but with a bit more emphasis on speed.

Monday 15th April – Club Fartlek Session

  • 8.18 miles in 1:08:13
  • Ascent – 449

The session this week was our regular hill session where we use the warm up to run to Craigends Hill and then run the 0.31 mile hill 10 times.

I had Sunday off after my two day recce on the Dragon’s Back course so I was hoping my legs were recovered enough to give it a good go.

It was fairly windy which affected the first section but helped a bit on the final push to the top. I was keen to try and keep all 10 within a 5 second band.

I was happy with my effort and felt I kept going right to the last rep.

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The quickest (#9) at 2:02 and the slowest (#5) at 2:08 so a 6 second band. I was very happy with that.

Wednesday 17th April – Lunchtime Run around Pollok Park

  • 6.46 miles in 54:36
  • Ascent – 548ft

I was keen to push hard from the start. I was aiming to get under the hour but was really pleased when I looked at my watch at the end and realised I had run under 55mins.

The ground was a lot firmer with all the mud dried up which helped but it is an encouraging indication that my training is going well.

I love the way strava compares all my runs on this route. According to Strava I have done this route 25 times and todays run was my 2nd quickest. I have also done the route lots of times the other way round as well.

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Thursday 18th April – Ben Lomond

  • 7.66 miles in 2:15:07
  • Ascent – 3,264ft

This was only my second ascent of Ben Lomond mainly due to the snow on the Munro. I was on my own as Cammie, my normal training partner, had things on tonight so he ran yesterday. He said it took him 1:11 to ascent and 32mins to descend.

I ran/walked as hard as I could on the ascent. It took my 1:18 and then I ran all the way down but not too fast in 57 mins.  So quite a bit slower than Cammie!

I was encouraged though that my legs felt good on the descent. I think I just have to accept that I’m not very fast on the descents.

Saturday 20th April – Blaven

  • 51 miles in 2:36:57
  • Ascent – 3,051ft

Katrina and I decided to have a few days away over Easter on the isle of Skye in our VW camper van. The weather forecast looked reasonable.

On Saturday morning we drove down to Torrin to the start of the climb to Blaven. Katrina’s knee had been a little sore so she decided to walk for a mile or so with me and then head back to the van to read her book.

The Munro was shrouded in mist but I was hopeful it might clear by the time I made the top. It is a very clear path and so easy to follow. The top third is very scree like and rocky and so perfect training for the Dragon’s Back.

I stopped to put on my jacket, buff and gloves as it was getting quite cold. I met a couple on their way down who said that it was misty and cloudy all the way to the top. The guy was wearing Hokas so we had a quick chat about how good they are!

About half a mile from the top I met a couple of guys who were on their way down. They said that the mist had gone from the top and you are above the clouds. So I was really looking forward to getting to the top.

They were right and it was such a great sight to be above the clouds with some the Cullins peaking above the clouds. The photos probably don’t do it justice but give an idea of the views.

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I aimed to run as much as I could on the way down. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never be very fast on the descents but I’m definitely feeling more comfortable which I’ll take.

We had some sandwiches in our van at the car park and then drove round to the Fairy Pools and enjoyed a walk to the pools. The drive back to our campsite was excellent as well.

Sunday 21st April – Morning run

  • 5.53 miles in 1:02:49
  • Ascent – 371ft

I got up early and was out running by 6.50am. There was a path from the campsite along the shore so I set off running along the water age hoping it would keep going for a few miles so I could run for 30mins and then turn round.

It was a decent path for almost a mile but then just stopped at a fence so I turned round and ran back then went up onto the road and ran to Edinbane and back.

It was pretty windy and rainy but good to get out and have a run before setting off to explore a bit more of Skye.

Summary of the week

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Photo of the week

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Video of Dragon’s Back Day 4 Recce Run

I’ve put a video together of my recce of Day 4 on the Dragon’s Back Course.

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 14

The highlight of this week was my final recce runs on the Dragon’s Back Course. Andy, Mark and I covered day 4 over Friday and Saturday.

Monday 8th April – Run to and from work

  • 4.16 miles in 38:08
  • Ascent – 187ft
  • 4.15 miles in 35:52
  • Ascent – 308ft

We had some of our family staying with us for a few days so I didn’t want to miss seeing them by going to my normal Fartlek session in the evening.

So instead I decided to run to and from work which gave me 8 miles or so. I ran with a rucksack which definitely affects the way you run.

Tuesday 9th April – Cycle to and from work

  • 8.0 miles over two rides

I do enjoy cycling as an opportunity to do some exercise on a non running day.

Wednesday 10th April – Lunchtime Run

  • 6.80 in 1:05:01
  • Ascent – 571ft

It was lovely to set off with clear blue sky. It was a little chilly as I started but I soon warmed up and it was great to feel the sun shining as I finished my run.

I have a day off tomorrow before my recce of Day 4 over Friday and Saturday. We are driving down to mid Wales tomorrow.

Friday 12th April – Dragon’s Back Day 4 part 1 Recce Run

  • 20.99 miles 6:59:38
  • Ascent – 4,035ft

Katrina and I drove down to Llandrindod Wells where we stayed with our friends. In the morning Mark, who I’d not met before, picked me up at 8.30am and we drove to the start of Day 4 where we met Andy who had driven down from Chester.

It was a chilly but clear morning as we set off to run to Elan Village which is the half way point of Day 4.

I was really looking forward to covering day 4 over two days as that would complete my recce of the whole course. I was also interested to see how my hill fitness was after the training I’ve done since my last recce in February.

We had a great day chatting the whole way round. Mark attempted the race in 2017 but sadly was timed out on Day 3 so he is back more determined than ever to slay the Dragon!

Mark is very much a map and compass guy whereas I’m more happy to use my gpx trace on my watch as well as the map. So it was really good to see the way Mark navigated especially looking at the details around him and matching it to the map. I learnt a lot.

The navigation was fairly straight forward though we did miss a couple of key turns and had to work out which way to go.

I was pleasantly surprised that the terrain was a lot easier than I was expecting. There are lots of good paths which, if I’m still able to run on Day 4, are runnable!

It always helps when the weather is clear and you can see the way ahead. There wasn’t as much climbing as Days 1-2 but still plenty of ups and downs.

One of the other things I like about running with others is the little gems of advice you can pick up along the way. Both Andy and Mark have been involved in the race and so have experience of what camp life is like so I was gaining as much help as I could.

I took lots of video clips of the route so I’ll be putting that together in the next few days but here are some photos to give you an idea of our day.

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When we reached the final checkpoint before Elan Village Mark was keen to try a more direct line but we wanted a bit too far left and ended up having to cross marshy ground. I’m not sure I’ll go that way in the race but Mark still thinks he’ll get it right and save some time.

We finished at Elan Village where Katrina picked us up having spent the day with her Dad. Katrina have a bit of trouble finding the village as the postcode I gave her took her to a car park miles away but that’s another story!

Saturday 13th April – Dragon’s Back Day 4 part 2 Recce Run

  • 23.02 in 6:48:48
  • Ascent – 3727ft

In the morning we drove back to Elan Village. Katrina headed off to visit her Dad again and the three of us set off to complete Day 4.

I was really encouraged that my legs and feet felt good after yesterday and I was looking forward to the day.

Mark had another of his alternative routes out of Elan Village which cut out the switchback on the road. This one worked out better so I might well use this one!

The weather was stunning again with clear blue skies but it was quite chilly so I had my light gloves on all day.

The route climbs up, down then up again but the views were among my favourites of the whole route. The trees around the reservoir were amazing.

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The leg from CP7 to the CP8 Trig Point on Drygarn Fawr (Big Dragon) was over 8 miles so I decided to have a mini-split half way.

The climb up from the reservoir started on a good jeep track and on the 2017 map the recommended route carried stayed on that track longer before turning right along the ridge to the top.

The 2019 recommended route basically cuts out the corner and takes a more direct line. We found the start of the path fine and made our way up but once we got to the top I decided I knew the way and headed off … 90 degrees to the way we should have gone!

I realised my mistake in the end and we joined back together to head to the top of the hill.  The tremendous views were well worth the climb.

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On the way down to the forest Mark & I were chatting and we took a path to the left so had to back track a bit to get on line and it took us a few attempts to find the correct path through the forest but we got there eventually! Always better to make these mistakes in a recce rather than the race!IMG_5078

There is a lot of road in the final 10 miles but again that’s good to know so I’m ready for it on race day. It was great to reach the campsite of Day 4 and know that I have now completed the whole route. All I need to do now is put it all together over 5 days!!

Katrina had another adventure with the sat nav which gave us time to have a drink before she found us.

So another superb weekend in Wales on the Dragon’s Back course!

Summary of the week

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Photo of the week

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LOVEultras 047 Dragon’s Back 6 weeks to go

My latest vlog with 6 weeks to go to the Dragon’s Back is all about what I’m planning to put in my overnight drop bag.

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Dragon’s Back Training Week 13

I have decided to alternate harder weeks with a medium week in this final block of training leading up to the Dragon’s Back. The main difference is going to be the longer run at the weekend. This week I did my Braes run rather than a longer Munros run.

I really want to make sure I’m not over doing the training as arriving at the start line ready to go is the aim rather than arriving feeling tired after too many long training runs.

Monday 1st April – Club Fartlek Session

  • 8.06 miles in 1:06:44
  • Ascent – 286ft

There weren’t so many of us this week probably due to the school holidays. The weather wasn’t very kind with wind and rain. The session this week was 6 x 5mins. Donald who leads the sessions set us off from the same point each time which meant that once we had done the first one we had something to aim for each time.

For the first three I finished just short of a particular post and the last three I got past the post so I ran further on the second three which was encouraging.  Here are my stats for the session.

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Tuesday 2nd April – Cycle to and from work

  • 8.10 miles

This week I have a Holiday Sports Club at the secondary school I work with so I decided to cycle to and from the school on Tuesday and Friday.

Wednesday 3rd April – Lunchtime Run at Pollok Park

  • 6.68 miles in 1:02:13
  • Ascent – 502ft

The school is slightly further from Pollok Park from where I normally work but I can run on grass most of the way there and back and a shorter loop around the park. Last week the ground was dry and I covered the ground quicker than normal but this week it felt like winter again and it was very muddy and a lot harder going!

Thursday 4th April – Conic Hill Run

  • 10.49 miles in 2:07:12
  • Ascent – 2183ft

My original plan was to run Ben Lomond but my friend Cammie had been up on Wednesday night and he said that there was a lot of snow on the top which made the descent very slow. I didn’t really fancy it especially as I was on my own.

So I decided to drive to the car park at the Garadhban Forest and run from there to Balmaha and back which meant that I would be going over Conic Hill twice. I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to it somehow but once I got going I enjoyed it which is often the case.

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I did this run on 7th February and I averaged 13:13 and I remember walking most of the way up Conic Hill. I was feeling good and ran the vast majority of the hill on the way up so that was really encouraging.

The second ascent was tougher as it is a lot steeper on that side and the head wind was very strong. I averaged 12:07 for the whole run so a good minute a mile quicker than the February run which hopefully shows my training is going well.

Friday 5th April – Weigh in and Cycle

  • 11st 6 7/8lbs
  • 8.10 miles

My weight is staying around 11st 6lbs which I’m more than happy with so if I can stay around this weight for the race I’ll be very pleased.

I cycled to and from work again.

Saturday 6th April – Gleniffer Braes

  • 15.06 miles in 2:48:53
  • Ascent – 1581ft

I was keen to try and run steady for my regular loop. I set off at 7.25am as we were planning to go out late morning to Rouken Glen with two of our grandchildren.

I felt good all the way round. I was aiming to get into an easy rhythm of running and stay there for as long as possible.

In the Dragon’s Back there are sections where I’ll need to run at a steady pace so I was trying to imagine how much effort I would need to put in to achieve this.

With 6 weeks to go to the race I am feeling good and happy with my fitness. I have a few more key sessions to go but I also want to make sure I give myself plenty of easy / rest days as well.

Sunday 7th April – Road run with Katrina

  • 5.30 miles in 46:38
  • Ascent – 325ft

Katrina was keen to have a run before we headed to church so we had a run together. It was a bit cold setting off but we soon warmed up as the run went on.

Summary of the week

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I ran five times but I didn’t quite manage my aim of 5,000ft but I purposely wanted to have a medium week rather than another long Munros run at the weekend.

Photo of the week

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Dragon’s Back Entries

I really enjoy looking at who has entered any race that I’m doing so now the Dragon’s Back numbers have been allocated and presumably the majority of the runners are now going to be on the start line I have done some analysing of the entries.

I have also created a spreadsheet with all the previous results . There have been 4 previous races in 1992 2012, 2015 and 2017 races. I reckon that 243 runners have completed the race at least once.

Please note this is an ‘unofficial’ spreadsheet. I’ve just taken the results from the race website.

For the 2019 race there are 463 entries with 75 women and 388 men.  Here is the breakdown looking at past entries and finishers.

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Some interesting facts from this year’s entries …

  • 397 runners have never run it before which includes me!
  • 14 runners have done finished it once before with just 1 female runner
  • 4 runners have completed it 2 times (2 men and 2 women)
  • 1 runners has completed it 3 times
  • 1 runner Joe Faulkner has run all 4 events

One of the stats I was interested in was how many had taken part in a previous event and not finished.

  • 5 women and 40 men have attempted the race and not finished
  • 2 runners have not finished twice

I’m sure their motivation will be really high to make sure they finish the race this time.

From my spreadsheet the percentage of finishers of the previous 3 races is as follows

  • 2012 – 83 started, 34 finished = 40.96%
  • 2015 – 133 started, 65 finished = 48.87%
  • 2017 – 222 started, 127 finished = 57.21%

It is good to see the percentage increasing each edition!

I wonder what it will be in 2019?

Any other comments?

 

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Summary of March 2019

March has been another solid month in my build up to the Dragon’s Back in May. The month was dominated by the Hardmoors 55 on Saturday 16th March.

In total I ran 174.48 miles.

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Summary of all runs in 2019

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Summary of my specific training for the Dragon’s Back

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Finally my goal of running at least 2019 miles in 2019. I’m still ahead of target

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