In April I ran the Hermannslauf 31km trail run in Germany, but didn’t have anything else in the calendar for the rest of the summer. After moving to Dorset in May, I found out there were lots of local trail races close to our new house, but unfortunately most of them were so popular they had already sold out! So, on a bit of a whim, I decided to enter the Dixon’s Carphone Race to the Stones. It’s a 100km race along the Ridgeway trail that can either be run or walked, in one go or split over two days. The race starts in Lewknor (Oxfordshire) and finishes by the Avebury Stone Circle (Wiltshire). Obviously me being me, I thought it would be a great idea to tackle the 100km race in one go. Not one of my brightest ideas.
Now, for full disclosure, this is not the first ultramarathon I’ve run. Back in March of last year (2016) I ran the Green Man Ultra (GMU45) 45-mile (72.4km) race that utilises the community forest path encircling Bristol. It was a cold, muddy but bright day, and it was the furthest I had ever run in my life! However, I’d trained well for it, and was running at least two half marathons a week, either as my commute to or from work (and occasionally running both ways in one day!). It took me 9 hours 41 minutes to clock a distance of 73.35km, and I was pretty broken at the end. Fortunately my parents were there to scoop me up into the car and drive me the 20 minutes home.
The Green Man Ultra 45 miler, March 2016
After I got home from the row (more on that in another post soon!), I decided that although I needed to give myself some time off exercise to recover properly, I equally needed to have a goal on the horizon, to make sure that the time off didn’t just turn into me being lazy. Since neither I nor my friend Jo had managed to get ballot places for the London Marathon this year, we instead opted for the Hermanslauf 31km trail run, held around Bielefeld in Germany. I should just point out that after we both lived in Oman, Jo moved back to Germany, and this was in fact a local race for her! As entries normally sell out within about 20 minutes of opening, Jo was on entry duty whilst I was bobbing around in a boat mid-Atlantic.
I got back to the UK midway through February, and after a week or so in the UK (trying to find a new house etc., all fun stuff to do!), I was straight back to the Middle East for a couple of weeks work in Oman and Qatar. I joined in with the usual club runs with Muscat Road Runners (our old running club in Oman), and even managed to sneak in a hot and hill half marathon (HETT – the Heat Equator Time Trial). My running was a bit slower than normal, but I managed the 21km with no problems, just under 2 hours, so I figured I’d probably be ok for the 30km in April, and that my residual fitness from the row would see me through
March training in Oman
Well, hasn’t it been a jolly old long time since I last visited the blog to update it! That gives you some idea as to how hectic the past couple of months have been for me. After the Muscat Marathon at the end of January, I took a couple of weeks off from serious training to give myself a bit of a rest. Aside from a few light days of training after the Desert Marathon in November, and a few days off sick over Christmas, I hadn’t really had a break from training since I arrived back in Muscat in August last year. Happily this break in running (and therefore free weekends!) coincided with a few fun things, the first of which was the Sandstock music festival.
Due to certain laws and rules in Oman, it’s now illegal for a group of more than three (I think) people to play in public – i.e. you can’t have bands playing unless it’s at one of the big hotel concert venues….. so no live music at the hotel bars anymore etc. There have been a few house parties where the various Muscat bands have played, but I’ve managed to miss all of them. So, once a year, the bands all join together to host an informal music festival in Oman for an afternoon and evening of live music. There have been previous incarnations of Sandstock, most recently being Jebelstock (jebel is Arabic for mountain) up Jebel Akhdar a few years ago. This year Sandstock was to be in the Wahiba Sands, very, very close to where I’d been running in November for the Desert Marathon. I went with my housemate as Niall was away, and met up with a group of her friends to set up camp and enjoy the music. We made ourselves salad, nibbles and dips* for a snacky dinner, packed our coolboxes full of ice and drinks, donned our best festival attire then met up with various other cars that were also making the trip down to the desert. Continue reading
Back in 2014 I set myself the aim of running a full, standalone, road marathon. I’ve run marathons before; my first was as part of Ironman UK back in 2012, an Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series marathon on the North York Moors left me rehabbing an ITB problem for 6 months following the race it was so hilly, with the long stage of the Oman Desert Marathon 2014 just falling short of a full marathon (40.8km) in the desert heat and sand. Like most amateur club runners, I’d always thought that getting a sub-4 hour marathon time would be a good goal, although it never really seemed hugely do-able. I ran 4:27 in my Ironman marathon, off the back of a 7 hour bike ride, so in theory it should have been possible to take 27 minutes off my time by focussing just on the running, resting well and preparing properly.
Ironman UK 2012, Endurancelife CTS North York Moors 2013, Oman Desert marathon 2014