Saturday, 30 March 2013

On the Beach - Chris Rea

'Upon a summer wind there's a certain melody' - Chris Rea

Morocco's Mohamad Ahansal (previous multi-winner of the MdS) has told me to worry more about 'Sand Winds' rather than the rain we had seen forecast for Ouarzazate next weekend. He said it wouldn't rain and that's good enough for me as last year he was spot on with his desert hailstorm prediction when we were hit on the day-off with a hideous downpour that nearly finished the race early.

When I first went to the race in 1999 the weather was always taken as being Super-Hot and nothing less was ever delivered. Now, well it's a pure lottery and I'm making sure I have my goggles armed and ready for a very SANDY MdS.

More tomorrow and 7 days to go...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Shut your Eyes - Snow Patrol

'Shut your eyes and think of somewhere, somewhere cold and caked in snow'...

I got signed off by my Doctor today for the race and did the ECG, Blood Pressure and Form Signing all in the space of just 20 minutes. This followed me purchasing some energy bars as the last part of my race supplies and to be honest, I am pretty much 'Ready to Rumble'.

My training has now changed from the Long Slow Distance runs of the past six months into short sharp 60 minute runs with a pack of 3-4 kgs at 6.5mph. I bashed in a such a run yesterday running up to Salter Towers on a wild and bleak, snowy afternoon in Cardiff; light years away the warmth of the Western Sahara.

These last few days always make me nervous and I end up worrying about getting run over on one of my training runs. Avoiding injury paramount right now...I've already kicked the settee today and smashed my toes. 

Let's hope that's ALL that goes wrong eh?

More tomorrow.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Lose Yourself - Eminem

'Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment - Would you capture it or just let it slip?' - Eminem

The lyrics got me thinking over the weekend about those going out to the 28th Marathon des Sables this year. No doubt if you are running this year you are worrying about what's in store for you out in the sands of the Western Sahara. And yes you'd be right to have some trepidation as it is darned tough but my last piece of advice to everyone is to ENJOY the EXPERIENCE and make the most of a 'Once in a Lifetime' opportunity to do something totally EXTRAORDINARY.

I speak to hundreds of people a year about the race and I often wonder what people GET out of being part of this modern day mecca of ULTRA-running. I know just how important it's been to me...

I found it a life changing experience and one that I TOTALLY understand... I can't explain just how BRILLIANT the race is. It's something that you can't let SLIP through your fingers and yes there will be times during the race when you will question your sanity but take it from me that when you get back, in the days and months that follow hopefully you will know where I am coming from right now.

I hope you don't Lose Yourself at MdS and you'll find out what makes you tick during the race -it really is a 'ONE MOMENT' opportunity.

More tomorrow...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

When the Levee Breaks - Led Zeppelin

'Cryin' won't help you, prayin' won't do you no good'.

I could have chosen a 'MUD' song or 'Achilles Last Stand' as one would describe the terrain and the other one my battered heels on the first day of The Jurassic Coastal Challenge (JCC) on Friday. For this, my 760th Marathon, I'd hoped that this year's JCC would have been a complete replay of last year's heat wave run along the Rollercoaster Dorset Coastline and provide me with that final lift before the impending MdS but NO. Instead it was a brutal Somme like march along sloping, slippy, chocolate coated mud-fest of a nightmare that questioned my sanity on more than one occasion.

It's amazing how weather conditions can make such a difference to your race and how previous experience can affect ones judgment on what shoes to wear.

My thought pre-race thought processes made me think that the wide Adrenalins that I used on last year's JCC and MdS would be a good choice and with an ankle that's slightly dodgy still from a good twisting at Greensands, everything would be fine. Oh how I missed the Peregrines but funnily enough I got used to having NO grip.

Now, if you saw me at New Year's trying to Ice Skate, you'll know that I'm probably the WORST skater EVER... anyway,following 26 miles of the JCC, Torvill and Dean had better watch out as I only went over twice!

Where does this leave me in my MdS Prep? Well not as bad as I first thought as it only took me an hour longer in the dry and I still have a couple of weeks to get the mud out of my clothes!

More tomorrow...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Cinema Show - Genesis

'Listen to the old one speak of all he has lived through.'

I had a great time at Profeet in Fulham last night speaking to lots of runners about my life, training and running. It 's only when I start preparing for such evenings that it strikes me just how much I've achieved and been thru in my 51 years. Don't get me wrong as I'm no superstar, I've messed up along the way far too many times to remember BUT what I do know is that I am happy with the journey that I've taken and helping others short-cut some of my life-errors or being able to open their minds to reach their potential is VERY rewarding.

I love speaking to a sea of wide-eyed people and I hope that I'll coach some of those who were there last night in the future. My special thanks go to Sarah who ran on the treadmill last night to demonstrate my VO2 Max Test. Talk about the perfect patient and with her potential she could be a great 100km this space.

Hopefully my own words of encouragement will ring in my ears at tomorrow's Jurassic Coastal Challenge for the first of my two-marathons in two-days.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Scream if you want to go faster - Geri Halliwell

'Don't let life pass you by...Jump on in, get ready to fly'

I flew today... yep I really did. It was a 4 miler just into the centre of Caerdydd and back but it was just a peachy run. Whether it's down to the Long Slow Distance running I did with Andy Saville last week that helped, well maybe, hopefully it's down to the level of training and confidence starting to kick in prior to the MDS which is just 18 days away.

I've got my last two marathons on Friday and Saturday of this week and then I am I to tapering and tinkering with my kit for the last few days before I go to Morocco.

Until then, I am going to keep up my fast short runs to sharpen me up.

More tomorrow after my evening at Profeet.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Language - Porter Robinson

'Let the waves of time and space surround me... Cause I need room to breathe'

It's the final three weeks run in towards the 28th Marathon des Sables and it's time for me to focus in on the race and what it entails for me to go back for the 10th time... One of the things that I'm looking forward to is breathing in that warm Moroccan air as Caerdydd's spring hasn't really brought much warmth to my old bones in recent months.

I'm looking forward to VO2's Jurassic Coastal Challenge on Friday and Saturday of this week as my final marathon prep. I did this race last year and after being broke on the first couple of hills, ran strong and went to MdS in good mental shape to take on the 1000m Jebels.

I'm going to keep my mileage up this this week and pick up my pace before the JCC as it's SO important that I get myself in the right place to race.

If you are going this weekend, please let me know as it would be great to see you there.

More tomorrow.

Goody Two Shoes - Adam Ant

'So Everyone can take note' - Stuart Goddard.

I've just got my MdS Shoes back from 'The Shoehealer' Cobbler in Doncaster. And you'll see that this year I'm using the Brooks Adrenalin GTS 12 as per #MdS12, with the Raidlight Gaiter from our ULTRAstore, it's a tried and tested combination and it's one that hopefully will be even better with some help from The Shoehealer's Expert, Anthony and the technical experts at Profeet.

It's an interesting development as there isn't a shoe that's PERFECT for the race... There are loads that are FAR from perfect and if you've met me you'll know my thoughts or you will find out for yourself when you do the race in just 19 days... So for now Brookes are the Boys!

Anyway, this year's Velcro stitching is different because it's been notched to allow my little toe a little more freedom. Unfortunately the GTS has a flex point just in the wrong place so hopefully the new Velcro style will be a winner.

Combine this with the flat foot-beds from Profeet and I might have the shoe combination that I've been looking for these past 9 MdS.

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Life of Mine - Toxic Federation

'So I ask myself a question, what am I gonna do.. other than survive'...

Quite apt for Andy Saville today as he completes his third 50 mile training run in 3 days in preparation for the 24hr Race in Basel. in May I did 26.2 miles with him this morning to get his route sorted from Cardiff out thru Penarth to Sully.

It's great to see how Andy has come on during the past year with me coaching him and these 4 days, (yes he has another to do tomorrow)... will be his making as a 24 hour runner I believe.

I'm not saying it's been easy running for him today but the realisation of needing calories to keep the spirit up and the legs going has already been a revelation and I'm sure tomorrow's calorie count will surpass todays.

It reminded me of the days when I used to have to get this sort of mileage in and just how resilient it made me to covering huge distances on consecutive days. I'm really excited for Andy, as he has what it takes to do this and more...

I'll let you know how he gets on tomorrow.

More then.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Patience - Take That

Patience - I've got it by the barrel load I reckon. Don't get me wrong, I know I've got a million bad points most of which I'm too embarrassed to write about here but I know I have the patience of a saint.

I think if you are going to perform, it's one of the attributes you'll need too along with loads of grit and determination to achieve your running goal. I'm bloody minded and always try to see the upside so when the chips are down, it comes in handy when there's just a couple of miles to go in one of those never-ending races that you thought at the time was a good idea to enter.

The amazing thing at the finish line, especially in the MdS is the electricity you can actually feel on the palms of your hands if you hold them up...

I'm looking forward to feeling that electricity again in less than 30 days... I am patiently waiting!

More tomorrow.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Supper's Ready - The 'Almighty' Genesis

'And even though I'm feeling good, something tells me I'd better activate my prayer capsule'.

It's been another trip down to the sand dunes today, this time with Graeme Harvey who is another MdS#13 runner. Now, I love people who come prepared and as some never bring a pad or pen it was just brilliant to coach Graeme as he arrived with his homework 90% there already. He's been perfect to coach in the Gym too.

It meant that we could fine tune his kit and get it right just for his needs...

Down at the dunes it was my usual 10 repeats of the Crucible followed by 3 Bigger Dipper Circuits that really bring home wh6ats in store for the MdS Runners who come to see me.

There's still time to come and see for yourself and get your kit checked in person and make your MdS as easy as you can make it...

More tomorrow, where...

'The real stars are still to appear'...

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Shut your Eyes - Snow Patrol

'Shut your eyes and think of somewhere, Somewhere cold and caked in snow'.

I'll think on about these words when I am in Morocco, which I have found out tonight this year will be over 5 stages not the usual 6 with a '7km fun Run to the Coaches' on the last day. A late interesting twist to the race and one I like the sound of as it will be similar to the way we finished in the 2009 race into the camp itself. It was awesome!

That follows a great day of training with MdS#13 runner, Nick Richards whom I found most interesting and if you were looking for a good tent mate - he's the man for you. Calls a spade a spade, and I like that in a man!

I'm coaching Graeme Harvey tomorrow and have a trip back to the dunes planned... after yesterdays 26.2 and last weekend in them too it can only be good for my own MdS...

Bring it on and I'll think of the next lines of the above Snow Patrol song...

'And when the worrying starts to hurt and the world feels like graves of dirt. Just close your eyes until you can imagine this place, yeah, our secret space at will'...

More tomorrow...

Monday, 4 March 2013

Time - Pink Floyd

I've had a great weekend of training with 14 runners on my MdS Training weekend. For me it was wonderful that people took time out of their busy weekend schedules to come and see just what it's like to run on Sand Dunes and Jebels...just like the one's we'll encounter in Morocco in just 33 days. For me these guys haven't missed Pink Floyd's 'Starting Gun' in my song for the day above.

Those that came will now go to the race knowing at what pace to hit the sand and the jebels as it's like running in slow motion. Take a look at the pic above!!!

For me, running in the sand on Saturday was a real wake-up call and I need to do more... on Sunday the runs up to the Summit of Pen-y-Fan (886m) made my back go numb - before the -10c numbed the rest of me. Coming down hurts... well me anyway.

The next 32 days need to have a lot more of the above!!!

More tomorrow...