Sunday, 29 December 2013

2013 round up

The focus for January was 100% on the TP100 race in March.  I cycle to work, a 26 mile round trip, so most of my cycling miles are incidental.  I find they keep me with a good base fitness, with less injury risk from running too much.  I missed a couple of training sessions due to a cold, but otherwise followed my training plan.

Bike : 386km
Running : 180km

Again a training month with no races. I kept to my training plan and some days ran to work and back across the fields, a round trip of 25 miles. Splitting training into 2 runs a day really worked for me and it’s something I have continued to do throughout the year.

Bike : 465km
Running : 294km

(my first ever 100 miles finish with my super crew)
23rd TP100

This month I had my second attempt at 100 miles and I had recruited a crew to make sure I made it this time.  The weather was extreme with the race being rerouted due to floods and below zero temperatures through the night. I remember the last 10 miles being the hardest thing I have ever done.  Just trying to move forward and being so tired physically.  I finished due to the fact I had a crew, and that this was the first race of the Centurion Grandslam* also kept me going.  (*Centurion Grandslam: all 4 Centurion 100 mile races in one year).

Bike : 683km
Running : 205km

my first 100 mile buckle

14th SDW50
28th Napflio medium distance triathlon

I had two races this month.
I was still recovering from the TP100 and the first 25 miles of the SDW50 was miserable.  However at the ½ way stage I got myself together.  The time was slow, but the weather was awful so I was happy with a finish. I am going to redo this race next year and hope for better weather.

The second race of the month was two weeks later, in Greece, my second home.  We were blessed with a heat wave, with temperatures in the 30’s.  I had a great run, passing a few people instead of the usual scenario of being passed. I was pleased with how I faired in the heat and don’t feel it slowed me, as it did, even some of my Greek friends.

Bike :659km
Running :170km

(Top step of the podium and feeling chuffed with myself)

18th NDW50

(NDW50 finish.)

My second 50 mile race of the year and 3rd Centurion race. I finished in a reasonable time and was happy with the race.  It was just a training race after all. Training between the triathlon and the 50 miles was limited to a couple of long slow runs.  It was mostly recovery that was important. 

Bike :600km
Running :161km
(Selfie and Cheap Sunglasses on the SDW100)

15th SDW100

The second race of the Centurion Grandslam.  With perfect running weather, this race went much better than planned or expected.  I had set myself a target of 24 hours, which after a 27 hour TP100 seemed too much to be asking of myself.  I spent the first 50 miles playing leapfrog with 2 or 3 other runners and then the 3rd 25 miles it was down to 2 of us. At around 75 miles we hooked up together for the night section and navigation and this pulled me through faster than I ever imagined I would run a 100 miles.  We finished just under 20 and ½ hours.

Bike :774km
Running :306km
100 miles in one day!

(Best beard in a triathlon category winner)
14th July Marlow medium distance triathlon

A quiet month for me with just a medium distance triathlon planned.  A local race in Marlow.  I was looking forward to the run to see how my run training was affecting my triathlon running.  Not a great improvement in time, but it certainly felt easier to run  only 20km.

Bike :828km
Running :62km

(NDW100 Looking good somewhere in the first 40 miles. 
But it wasn’t to be)

10th NDW100
24th Big/Little Woody

This was my worst month of the year. I pulled out of the NDW100 (and the Centurion Grandslam) with an injury.  No excuses.  It just wasn’t my day.  2 weeks later I had planned the Big Woody.  A full distance triathlon.  I contacted the organisers and was allowed to downsize to the medium distance held on the same day. Swimming was ok and cycling only hurt a little.  I was able to complete the 20k run in a slower but reasonable time.

Bike :754km
Running :174km

(Big/Little Woody swim exit)

(Colour coordinated Cyclothon)

5th Cyclothon
8th Challenge Henley

21st Equinox 24

This was my big month.  A 12 hour bike ride followed 3 days later by a long distance tri and then I threw in a 24hour race to see what they were like, as I thought this would be fun.  It was, and I completed 100 miles in just over 21 hours and called it a day as I wasn’t going fast enough to podium. After the DNF at the NDW100 it was also a good mental boost.

Bike :1217km
Running :213km

(Equinox 24)

This was going to be a focused month on getting ready for the W100. I didn’t do a few of the shorter planned training days and did ½ the distance on the mid week medium length runs, but kept to the long weekend ones that I enjoy the most.

Bike :592km
Running :227km

Races: 30th W100

I only ran 16km this month leading to the winter 100.  I really didn’t feel like running and didn’t have the mojo to run.  This luckly changed once we started the race and after a little down at about mile 30ish I really enjoyed the rest of the run and got my running mojo back.

Bike :771km
Running :187km

I only ran 2 runs this month.  One a week after the W100 and one more the following week.  I enjoyed both and wanted to run more.  I think the dark mornings and nights helped me stem that feeling as after a big year I knew I needed to rest.  My training will start on the 6th of January ready for my first A race in May.

Bike :504km
Running :12km

The year was full of ups and downs In my running. I finished my first 100 miler. I then pb’ed my 100 miles by 7 hours. Then I went on to DNF my 3rd 100 mile of the year. I bounced back with a 21 hour 100 miles in a 24 hour race. Then finished my 4th 100 mile finish of the year in a sub 24 (100 miles in one day). It was a fantastic year of achievements for me, something I couldn’t of imagined even attempting 5 years ago when I took the first running step into the unknown.

I placed 2nd overall in my only bike race of the year and finished well in all my triathlons although I had to downsize one due to an injury from running. The icing on the triathlon cake was an AG top step of the podium in one race.

Cyclothon 2013 2nd place 12 hour solo.

Victor Ubogu from Cyclothon

Sunday, 8 December 2013


Winter 100

This was a local race for me. The start is 6.5 miles from my house. I was tempted to cycle to the start but instead, got up early and got a lift to Didcot where I got the train to Goring.  I met Martin Pether on the train and once in Goring we headed for the Morrell room hall. 

Here we signed in, had a kit check and we dropped our bags.  The race is an out and back run on 4 different spurs.  So we would be back here every 25 miles.  We then went to the cafĂ© close by, just over the bridge and I had tea and scrambled eggs on toast. Coming back I met Stuart March on the bridge and he took a photo of me.

I was milling around at the back chatting, when I heard the countdown to the start.  Then the horn went and I wasn’t ready I was fiddling around with my eTrex20.  I finished putting it  into my pack walked along doing up the clips on the front. So I was near the back and knew the path went into a single file lane.  This was perfect as it would stop me running of like a lunatic, something which I am accustomed to do under the adrenalin rush of a race start.

The first spur was to Days Lock and back. It follows the Thames Path and is part of my regular long runs route. So I know it inside out, back to front. Dropping off the main road that takes the Thames path around some posh houses in Shillingford that don’t want to share the Thames with us plebs, I passed the leader in the second field, coming back.  I checked my watch and it was 1:33 into the race. I got to Days Lock in 1:47. Although it was a shorter spur at 19km (12.5 miles should be 20km) I was still way to fast.  I had decided on the strategy I used on the SDW100 earlier in the year, as it had worked well there.  This was to take a 24 hour pace plan, which I had written down and laminated and attached to a race belt and just chip away a few minutes on it at each aid station. This meant I could always fall back to 24 hours as a race plan, but could try for the 20 hours, which, on a good day is possible for me.  On the way back I checked my watch again at the place the leader had past me. He was almost 30 minutes up on me already. Amazing speed to be running a 100 mile race!

On the way back to Streatley I started to get a really sore undercarriage.  I was wearing a pair of lycra running shorts that I have used often and a pair of tights over the top that I had also used quite a few times, but I had never worn them together one over the other.  I had done this as I didn’t want to have to stop and put the tights on when I got back to Streatley.  However, what this now meant was that I needed a complete change into another pair of tights and no shorts underneath. While at it I also changed my tshirt.  With copious amounts of Sudocrem this solved the problem for the next 75 miles. Having a ‘base’ you keep returning to was great as I had a rucksack full of spare clothes.

Chris Mills was helping out at the race and offered to pace me from 75 miles.  I said I’ll think about it and let him know.  My hesitation was because I have only ever tried with a pacer once before and I blew up with and injury before getting to him. Possibly caused be trying to go to fast. So having a pacer waiting was going to feel like a bad omen for me.

The next stage on the Ridgeway to Swyncombe, was the hardest and I had a little low at the start of it.  The usual things going through my mind like, ‘100’s are hard. I should make this my last one’. It didn’t last long and I never once thought of quitting. After North Stoke a lot of this section was uphill. It runs through Grims Ditch, which in the summer is covered in purple flowers and an absolute delight to run through.  Remembering the reccies along this section and how much fun they had been certainly helped get through it with 30 miles already in the legs. I crossed a road where someone’s supporter was waiting. He said I was being beaten by a piece of stringer.  I could see someone in the distance and tried to catch them.  It took a long time to get there, but when I did I saw it was Sam (sideburns) Robson. He looked like he was going well he had ran over 100 miles already! We had a chat and then I went on my way. I arrived at Syncombe 1.5 hours up on my race plan.  This was looking good for a sub 20! I put my head torch on here as it was starting to get dark.

The way back to Streatley was all down hill and was really enjoyable. I arrived back at Streatley in 9 and ½ hours from the start and decided to take Chris up on his offer.  A pacer through the last part would really help.  I had some pasta and a cup of tea. My well earned 15 minute break I like to take at the 50 mile mark. Again this is something that worked at the SDW100 and it worked again here. I often hear that time in an aid station is time wasted not moving forward, but I find the short rest actually helps me run a little faster than if I continued through and running a little faster has a positive effect on me. I left the Aid station and told Chris to expect me back at 1 am. Nici Griffin who was helping out too said she would hold me to that. So with just over 5 hours to do 25 miles I set off.

This spur is on the Ridgeway out to Chain Hill and back. I have run along the first part of this maybe 20 times.  It is another part of my long run training loop. The first part is tarmac and although slightly uphill, easy to run and I passed a couple of people that had overtaken me at the aid station. I had seen them come in and turn around to go straight back out while I drank tea and ate pasta.  This help solidify in my mind a break is good for me. The ridgeway up here is wide and you need to take care with the ruts caused by motorized vehicles with oversized tyres. There are also many paths crossing and spurring off the main path. Once I got to Bury Downs, the intermediate aid station I was on part of the course I had not reccied and so didn’t know. I thought it was just a 4 mile straight path.  I took care to stop at the finger posts and check for the Ridgeway signs. Also torches coming back helped a lot. There was a left turn and amazingly I didn’t miss it. It was hard for the course markers to mark it as it was a wide path and just long grass and deep ruts so nowhere to put tape or spray arrows on the ground.

I arrived at Chain Hill at 10:32 (12:32 hours from the 10 am start) 2 hours 45 minutes.  I would get back at 1:15 if I kept this pace up and why shouldn’t I? I had just ran uphill and now it was downhill to get back. When I got back to Bury Downs car park I had a nice surprise.  Two of my triathlete friends from the Oxford Wakeboard & Ski Club where we swim had turned up to cheer me on.
I was heading back nicely drifting in my thoughts when I hit some tarmac.  I knew I hadn’t passed certain landmarks I was looking for and that I shouldn’t be on tarmac yet. However in my sleep deprived state I just carried on down the tarmac road. I got to a village I didn’t recognise and it was then I decided to get my eTrex20 out and check.  I was not on the Ridgeway anymore. As I already knew, but hadn’t done anything about it.  I turned around and headed back. I saw a footpath that looked like it cut back in the right direction, so took that.  It ended up circling around and going back onto the ridgeway where I had inadvertently left it. I think I had gone the wrong way for 20 minutes meaning I had lost 40 minutes time as I would have been 20 minutes further up the path in that time.

I arrived back in Streatley at 7 minutes to 2am.  Chris was ready to go but I needed 5 minutes.  I got some beans and a cup of tea. 25 miles to go. I was a bit annoyed with myself for not paying attention and losing 40 minutes, but I was still on for a sub 24.

The last leg was along the Thames path again. This time to Reading and back. The first 4 miles is nice to run. It’s up hill through some trees on a nice path.  Then after Whitchurch the path is pretty boring, running through fields until Purley.  I was glad to have Chris with me for this as our chatter kept me going. At Purley you run through a housing estate then cross the railway and down a massive amount of steps to get back to the river. Here it is a short run along the river banks through Caversham until you get to the turn around point. We did this in around 3 hours.  Then it was 3 hours back to Streatley.  Just after Whitchurch I saw Martin Pether. We stopped and had a chat for a minute. He was suffering with a chest infection for the whole race, but was going to complete it.

The last few minutes into Streatley I realised I was on for sub 22 and ran as hard as I could after 100 miles, but didn’t quite make it coming in 21 seconds over 22 hours.  Another sub 24 100 miler. So I was very pleased.

I really enjoyed this race.  We were lucky with the weather and the lack of mud contributed to my enjoyment.  

Centurion Running

Friday, 15 March 2013

2012 round up

2012. My season started early with my first attempt at a double Ironman in February on the island of Lanzarote. The weather conspired against the race, but my goal to finish was achieved with 15th place. A double ironman is a 7.2km swim, followed by a 360km bike ride and then a double marathon. The event ended up being a double duathlon with the swim replaced by a ½ marathon run due to safety concerns with under currents in the sea. So I still have a ‘true’ double as a goal. This is now planned for 2014 as next year I have decided to concentrate on ultra running. Full race report here:!race-reports

March saw me attempt my first 100 mile run. I believe this was harder than double iron. Maybe because it was too close to the double iron for proper recovery between the two events or maybe because it’s all running so no changing events over the 30 hours it would take me. I pulled out at mile 71 when the sun came up and the weather changed to very cold and wet (later to snow and the race was pulled due to unsafe weather) I had done the hard bit and run through the night! It felt so good to be challenged and because I didn’t complete it I had found a goal that needs to be beat. Next year I have signed up for all 4 centurion 100 mile races.

In June I entered an Olympic distance tri in Greece. The logistics were easy for me as we have a family summer house where the race was and my spare road bike is left in Greece. So it was a just for fun race. Sometimes the without the self imposed pressures things work out better than you could plan for I came 3rd in my age group.

Later in the same month I had a rather flooded and muddy ½ iron dist in Marlow. Again it was just for fun as I live near Marlow and just wanted a training race. I was 3rd in age group.

In August I found another localish ½ iron distance race and ran that coming 5th in Age group.

During the year I had seen an advert for a 12 hour bike ride around brands hatch. The thought of cycling on near perfect tarmac for 12 hours appealed to me so even though it was 4 days before my A race – Challenge Henley on Thames I signed up for it. I realised near the end I was possibly in the top 5 and was correct as I finished 3rd over all. Full race report here:!race-reports

Challenge Henley an iron distance triathlon 3 days later was interesting. A faster swim and run mixed with a slower bike, as my legs were still feeling the 12 hour effort left me with an Ironman and course PB up by an hour on my previous years time. Full report here:!race-reports

After Henley my knees were starting to feel the year’s efforts and on my training run I started to get a lot of pain at 7 miles. So I stopped running and kept fit by cycling. 4 weeks later in October I ran the Henley ½ Marathon. Still injured and a little disappointed with the time. Originally it was going to be an A race where I planned to beat 1:30, but it wasn’t to be.

The season finished with Athens Marathon in November. I was still not training due to my knee, so the 3:30 target time had to be forgot and anything under 5 hours was going to be ok. On a hot day I ran the marathon for fun and thoroughly enjoyed it. This year my swimming has improved and I think this was from a coach telling me ‘Paul has an unorthodox swimming technique, but I wouldn’t try and change it as he gets the results he wants with it and can swim the distances he wants to.’ This helped because I relaxed and just started to enjoy swimming rather than worry about technique all the time. The same with running. I now don’t really plan exactly what I am going to do. I do have training pencilled in a diary, but if I feel like it on a weekend I will just make up a 4 hour or 5 hour route and go and enjoy myself on the local national trails, I am lucky enough to live near.

My knee is better now and I have started training for my first 100 mile which isn’t that far away in March. My schedule for next year is heavier than 2012, but the plan is that the races between the 100 milers are all just long training sessions. I have planned 2013 and 2014 in full already and every race is a step to the next one. My mantra has always been: how can you complete an ironman if you can’t complete this (when running a ½ iron to keep me going). Or: how can complete a double iron if you can’t complete this (when in an Ironman). Which means, I always need the next longer race planned! So watch this space. My 2013 plans can be found here:!2013