Monday, 11 May 2015

Being MIA and the Thames Path 100 pre-race

Meanwhile in the last year or so...

Well its been over a year since my last blog entry and I can't really tell you why that is...? Sorry #:(

I can't say I've stopped running or taken on a huge project that has meant more focus elsewhere..... I think I just got to a place or time where I just felt like I didn't have a lot to say that people might find interesting?

There every person and their dog seem to be blogging right now and I just decided how could my everyday ramblings be of interest? So I just stopped. (yes there is a dog with a blog btw).

So whats changed? Loads actually... House move to my favorite place on earth, Running Club Championship won, New cycling addiction, another Frolic race organised and the best bit.... the first half marathon that I'd run with my 10 year old daughter .....

Actually I meant to say "whats changed to start the blogging again?" Well its mainly due to the fact I'd finally managed to do something relevant.

Some of you will know I've actually entered two previous 100 miles races. First up was the ill-fated Thames Gateway 100 in 2013 and the second was last years SDW100.

The TG100 was ill-fated for a number of reasons but the main one being I quit. There you go I said it.

Ian Brazier WAS a quitter! (WAS as that's not happening again).

I just didn't want it bad enough at the time and threw the towel in. OK that's a little harsh as the race itself actually had a huge affect on me especially when lost due to incorrect route descriptions etc. and yes there was the biblical rain but ultimately at 50 odd miles I decided to stop when I could have carried on.

Since that day I've regretted the decision and had made it no secret that I have unfinished business with the 100 miles distance. Well in 2014 I looked to change that by entering South Downs Way 100. I'd previously ran the SDW50 and knew the last 50 pretty well being one of my fav places to run.

Fate would change this plan though as increased races and training brought on injury and I managed to detach my hamstring partially from my pelvis. This resulted in DNS's in SDW100 but also Giants Head Marathon (sorry SimonG) and the UTMB's CCC Mountain race in the Alps.

Eventually I did manage to still run shorter distances after some rest and 5 different physio's I ran as many of my running clubs championship road races as I could limp around and eventually won the men's competition for the year. (things of the bike were going OK too as I picked up a trophy in Time Trialing).

Well back on topic.... Centurion Running Thames Path 100 Saturday 2nd May 2015.

This foot race starts in Richmond in the borough of London and follows the river Thames from there all the way to Oxford. 100 miles.


Towards the end of 2014 I was beginning to finally feel I had turned the corner of injury and I entered the Stort 30. As I'd supported the race as part of an aid station the year before I got a free place and to its rude note to run especially when I heard Centurion Head Honcho Nici Griffin was running, I knew I had to be part of that!

It was during this that I thought that I should enter another Centurion 100. I'd run a couple of their events so I knew it wouldn't be TG100 Part 2, so I stuck myself on the TP100 waiting list on the off-chance a place would come up.

The new year came and went with a few off-road marathons ran socially with friends and I got to Feb before I finally heard I'd secured a place in the TP100 so thought I'd better do some training!

Well I like to train as relaxed as possible and remain flexible. I've tried a lot of plans but with a busy home and work life I always seemed to be be playing catch-up somewhere. I first looked at the amount of time I had until race day and then looked at what events I could fit in?

Me and Darren Coates normally sweep for the St Peter's Way 45 miler in March so we both did that and I also entered the LDWA Sevenoaks 30 later the same month. Sevenoaks race went well and at the time was the fastest 30 miler I'd run to date (not bad considering the terrain and the 20 miles I'd run the previous day). Things were ok.

I use a plan I'd found years ago on the net which is based on 3 big mileage weekends followed by a small one. A big weekend would be a 20 miler on the Saturday followed by a 30 miler the next day. I'd read that back-to-back days were better for recovery than a single 50 but I have to admit I was a little concerned I hadn't raced over 50 miles since 2013!

Small weekends were 20's combined with 10 milers back-to-back. These were supposed to be supplemented with various mid-week runs from 5 to 10 miles... Well that's the plan!
As I said I like to be flexible and I pretty much didn't run at all in the week as I wanted the least amount of disturbance at home in the evenings but I did continue to cycle to work twice a week approx. 40 miles each time. Again I was concerned how this lack of miles running would affect me?

I also wanted to start racing in our local bike time trial series at the same time so a few times I'd miss a 20 mile run and ride a 25 mile road race on the bike instead. I was convinced the mix of running and riding actually helped me manage the hamstring which was still there in the background.

Most weekend training runs took place locally again around weekend family plans etc, so running to Park Run to with with daughter (getting up at 5am) or running a 30 mile detour to my Dad's which was 5 miles away, was the order of the day.

My favourite run though was a 7 mile loop along the River Chelmer into Chelmsford then back through Little Baddow to home. This combined river running similar to Thames Path but also hills! If I needed distance, all I'd do was use home as an aid station and run loops switching direction each lap. (I feel a Frolic event coming on...?)

Footwear choice?

Again if you know me you'll know I mainly run in zero drop minimal shoes or Luna Sandals.
Well another factor in the downfall at TG100 were the sandals. Well it was a really wet day and the first 10 miles of the race were across soaking ploughed fields and the footwear just wouldn't cut it. This combined with the poor organisation for the event meant I'd promised myself next time I would take no chances.

So what footwear to chose? Well for anything off-road but not too bad I tended to wear zero drop Inov-8 Trailrocs. They are flat with almost no cushioning but I've worn them for hours with no issues but the problem here was the ground was a large part hard standing, almost "on road like" for a large part of the event and I decided the trailrocs were a little extreme.

I instead made the decision to wear Hi-Tec Nazka 5.0's. These are promoted as reduced drop trail shoes but are nowhere near as hardcore as some barefoot shoes (think baby Hoka's?) My friend's at Hi-Tec sent me a couple of pairs and I went about breaking them in. I used them for all my training with no issues in partnership with Nike Dri-fit socks. I'd used this combination previously up to 50 miles so quite confident it was a good decision.

Kit List

This is something that I actually typically enjoy. Unlike some people I know who's idea of advanced packing is throwing stuff in the boot the night before, I had gone through the process of a series of hand written lists that developed into spreadsheets that were divided into sections such as 'worn", 'worn in vest' or even 'worn in vest in drybag'.

Well the first thing to take note of was this was a smaller list than last time. Last 100 I had a crew with a huge amount of food that could have supported the whole event (should have done that) but this time I had no crew and was using two drop bags, one at 51 mile and the other at 71.

I was quite nervous of what to expect from the night section still as I'd not done loads of running in darkness so I tested my kit one night along the river locally and I have to admit it's a different world.
The main important piece of kit of any night run is obviously the torch. I was using an Alpkit Gamma headtorch which I'd bought online and is only about £20! For an 85 lumens light that is a bargain.

So as I hit the riverbank the first thing I noticed was how much colder it was next to the water. The temperature drops at night and this combined with being next to the river makes a noticeable difference. I was wearing a light baselayer and a windproof and I was cold, I'd need to address this.

The next thing I noticed was the fact that even though my light was bright, the shape of the beam gave me tunnel vision and this combined with the "3D effect" of the wet grass made things very trippy. This at 2am after a full days running could equal early bath.

Because of this I decided bigger is better and started to look for a headtorch that would turn night into day. Like always, I checked out the website and they had a huge range but after talking to Colin in the shop chose the Black Diamond Icon 200 lumens torch which boasts 85 hours of run time on max power.

Taper Time

One thing I've been guilty of in past was over training. Well as I think you might have guessed, this wasn't really going to be an issue this time as I was doing a lot less running so hopefully this less is more approach would work?

Also I decided to start my taper earlier and with a month to go I ran my last 30 miler and started to wind down. I planned two weekends of back to back 10 milers then wind to down even more.

I also booked weekly massage sessions to make sure any minor niggles were sorted asap. This was great and I was lucky to get this covered at my office through work!

When I got the the last weekend I did a single 10 miler then that was it. Well that was the plan. Monday I woke up with no energy and a cold. I hit the fluids and Vit C non-stop and tried to rest.

Next day the cold had eased off but I seemed to have stomach cramps and I was now at the stage were I wondered what else could go wrong! Well the day after I woke and I couldn't move? I'd somehow managed to trap a nerve in my lower back and any movement around my core was painful,

Well this continued until Friday when I finally woke with all that cleared but with light hayfever!, well that wore off in the day and I laughed at the week I'd just had but thinking though it never really got that bad and I'd actually managed to sleep really well, actually better than normal!

Now to race day!

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