Helsinki trip…..

Went to Helsinki with my mate Bo, same guy i went to Norway with last year. The trip started for me in London, where Bo lives. He lives in the Queens Head, a pub in Piccadilly. He owns the pub, just to clarify that. Spent the day/night in London then headed to Heathrow to catch the plane.

Leaving London, and arriving Helsinki!

We had a day/night in Helsinki to start, we had an Air BnB in the city, which was a really nice apartment and about a 5 mins walk from the main city centre. The city is not really that old, its around 200 years old, but then there was a fire, so most old buildings are around 150 years old. So in city terms its quite modern!

The city is quite, well compared to the likes of London or Paris its quite. Which is good, they have everything you’d expect a European capital to have, its just easier to walk around, get a table etc. They have a metro, which has one line! can’t get it wrong, they have trams running through all parts of the city and the trains are fast and cheap! As we didn’t really have much time on the first day, i dragged Bo into Hard Rock cafe Helsinki, on the basis he’s never been to Hard Rock Cafe. And taking him their made me laugh!

The next day we were picked up to be taken to a hotel we were staying at about 30mins form the city centre. the hotel was awesome, hidden in the trees, and right on the lake. All wood and glass! was brill. We started our Kayaking from there. Around Helsinki is 100’s of islands, so we kayaked the Baltic, around some islands and then got off and had a walk around an Island.

After the Kayak we went back to the hotel, and had a swim in the baltic. The sea was an amazing 25 degrees (Celsius). Finland also has an extraordinary amount of Saunas. Population 5.5m people, Saunas 3m!! they like saunas. So we embraced this and had a sauna, after 10 mins in the sauna, jumped in the Baltic and repeat. Ok the desired effect doesn’t really work when the fucking sea is 25 degrees!

The day after the Kayaking we went bike through the forest and along the coast line. In winter you can actually bike on the sea as its frozen!

 

After these activities we went back to Helsinki and had a few days there. We went to the 1952 Olympic swimming stadium, and had a swim. 50m pool too which was a novelty to swim in. It’s also outdoors, so i can only imagine they use it for 3 months of the year.

We went on a boat tour around the islands which was good, we also went on the stupid red tourist buses and did some exploring. We found some good bars and nice restaurants. One of which we had Reindeer, well worth it if anyone ever comes across it, very nice. They have a few bars that have outdoor swimming pool areas, and surprisingly saunas. One bar on the harbour had a sauna, and little jetty so after the sauna you could jump in the sea! then grab a beer! We somehow managed to walk into Helsinki’s football clubs ground, and there training pitch, while they were training! We went paddle boarding twice! as paddle boarding for two hours is cheaper than a beer! From where you start paddle boarding you can make your way into the Baltic sea! I’d highly recommend doing that!

Helsinki is a awesome city, and if you like outdoors and outdoor activities you should defiantly go. If you want to go for the night life and beer, don’t bother, there isn’t much and the beer isn’t cheap. Apparently the locals get a ferry to Estonia, as its cheaper. Its also pretty much crime free.

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Running Adventures

So….. my plan of updating this thing every week properly backfired! about once every 3 months currently!

Anyway, lets say I started the Hardmoors 55, seems better than saying i did it, as ‘did it’ would imply a finish! Which i didn’t do. It was my first DNF, thought i would feel a lot worse for having a DNF. It bugged the shit out of me at the time, felt like a failure and that maybe i had overreached  “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” Arthur C. Clarke

So i beat myself up a little bit (the exact same way i do when i start a sentence with ‘so’), realised that i just need to slap myself, have another go and train smarter! I think the training is the area i need to improve. I dropped out at around mile 30, just before the 3 sisters. My hip started hurting around mile 15, which didn’t bother me too much until about mile 25. I must have been compensating for my left hip on my right side, as my right hamstring and glute started hurting. I just thought dropping out was the most sensible option, to not get too drastically injured and still be able to do the other events i’ve entered. I also pretty much decided the moment i’d quit that i was going back next year. To fucking smash it 😉

Now the weather was bad, with snow, sideways sleet and wind. But i had the right gear and never felt cold or wet, i can’t even blame the weather for sucking!

So the positives and lessons learnt are that, i did 30miles, no small feat in itself. The course is worth running more than once, and i’ll get to! The weather makes the adventure. Fucking stay over, getting up at 3 in morning to run 55 miles is fucking dumb. My flexibility and mobility is zero, i need to work on this. Just because on a training run you can comfortable do 20miles, does not mean you can do 55miles, and doing 40-50 miles per week is not enough. One long run a month of a marathon or more is on the cards when in training for an Ultra.

 

The above stories are a huge over reaction and absolute bollocks. Whoever Bethany Lodge and Graeme Hetherignton are maybe they should have asked the runners, or got off their lazy arses and run it themselves to find out. Useless twats, being good at you job and having some integrity would help.

Last weekend i did the Great Lakeland 3Day event, this is a Mountain Marathon event 3 different classes (as with most mountain marathons). The event is 3 days in the Lake District, Run/Hike camp everyday. You get given a map and have to navigate to the check in points, these are just electronic markers, no people. There is no aid stations so you have to be self sufficient on the Hills/Mountains.  The event was brilliant, on day 1 i did the the Elite class, 30 miles with 3,000 metres of elevation. Day 2 and 3 i dropped down to the lowest class, covering 20 miles on day 2 and 10 miles on day 3. I’ve been to the Lake District before, but not like this weekend. This was up in the Western Lakes, a place i’ve  never been before. It’s part of the Lakes that isn’t really busy compared to Windermere or Keswick way out. There is basically no one on the hills. We started from Ennerdale, went up Hen Comb, down to Crummock Water, up on to Dodd and then up again onto Whiteside running the ridge past Hopegill Head onto Grisdale Pike, back down and then up to Barrow, from their along the ridge onto Scar Crags and Sail, then a steep down and up to Knott Rigg. Down from there all the way over to Dale Head, over to Hindscarth and onto Robinson. Finishing at Buttermere, the new camp site. Second day was backup to Hindscarth along to Dale Head, and down into Little Town, where i had Soup and a roll 😉 From there up back onto Knott Rigg and back down to Buttermere. The 3rd day i just walked it back from Buttermere to Ennerdale. I would defiantly recommend the Great Lakeland 3Day, the adventure and exploring is amazing.

 

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Now it’s onto some triathlons…………

1 week to go Hardmoors 55 – Kit List

Well thats it, if i haven’t done the training i’ll soon find out, and a week isn’t going to improve anything! This week is pretty much relax week, eat well, drink plenty of water, stretching and Yoga, with maybe one run thrown in to keep the legs mobile.

The last longish run was yesterday, 10mile around the Upper Derwent & Howden reservoir. This is a amazing place to run around, the views alone are amazing, but the roads and trails around the reservoir’s are easy going and undulating making it a good, quick run on trails.

I spent the rest of Saturday checking the kit, i ordered a new top for race day, and i’m hoping it gets to me before Saturday 😬

There is a mandatory kit list, as expected. Its the usually stuff, waterproofs, map, water, bivvy bag etc.

He’s my kit list and some of the gear i will be wearing.

I have the Petzl ACTIK head-torch, the race starts at 9:00 in morning, so we could potentially be running in the dark, the sun is setting around 18:00 here in England. Map, spare hat and a buff, plus a few gel’s and some Made Good chocolate chip Granola bars. These are good, and contain all natural ingredients, they even have one portion of veg in them! sounds rank but you can’t taste the vag shit!

 

For the waterproof jacket i have the Salomon Bonatti Pro, best waterproof for the trails i’ve had. Awesome coat, highly recommend. Its windproof with taped seams. A pair of Compressport calf sleeves, i find these really work and help on long distance runs, i also tend to keep them on after runs for quite a while too. I have a Salomon Advance 12 Skin Set race vest, i have tried a few race vests and this one, so far, seems to be the stand out vest. It is really comfortable to run, the front pockets and rear pockets are really easily accessible, which is good for food and waterproofs. There is a few zip pockets too which i like, the pouch at the rear is plenty big enough for any race needs, and the hydration flasks are easy to get to. I am also taking a pair of Black Diamond Distance Z poles, i’m not sure if i will use these or not, but i’m going to pack them. They’re light enough to not care about.

 

I’m taking 2 pairs of trainers, i’m lucky enough that a few people are following us around the race (in their cars) and will carry spare kit for us. I’m starting the race in my Inov8 Terra-Claw 250, they are really roomy and comfortable, but i’m not sure how they will feel after 55 miles, the soles are pretty thin with not much cushioning, so i’m pretty apprehensive to do 55miles int them, i’ve done 32 miles in these, but my feet aching for a few days after. I’m going to take my Inov8 Park-Claw 275 GTX shoes, just incase things get a little too rough for the feet! I’ll be taking spare socks too, i love the injinji socks, so will be wearing these and taking a few spare pairs too.

So all i have now is 6 days of waiting! really looking forward it, i’m confident i/we can do it in around the 12 hour mark.

Hardmoors 55 – nearly there!

So its 11 days until Hardmoors 55. Really looking forward to this, it’ll be the furthest i have run, and its going to hurt, but, still looking forward to it. We did a recce run of the last 10mile or so, this was from Kildale to Guisborough (we ran back, as we’d parked in Kildale).

This was a good part to recce as this could be the bit done in the dark!! Its a bit of a climb from Kildale up to Captain Cooks Monument, theres a few flats thrown in though. Its then a nice downhill from there, then back up a little hill to the start of Roseberry Topping, this kind of reminds me of WinHill, but its easier to run than WinHill. Its then back down, and a nice run into Guisborough from there, around 5 mile of undulating trail. I’m still hoping for around 12 hours, and i’m hoping the snow has gone, as nice and cool as it is to run in and have fun in, running 50miles in snow would be wank!

As well as this recce run theres been training runs every week, well quite a few runs every week to be honest! A few snippets are below.

 

Few runs on the Trans Pennine Trail, its pretty flat, so normally a faster run. A few runs in the Peak District for the hills and undulating trails. Through the week just thrown in some hill repeats, recovery runs etc. Along with this i’m trying to keep up the strength training with Squats, lunges, plank, press-ups etc. Added in Yoga and stretching. Plus swim drills once a week on a Sunday, and up until a week ago i was on the turbo trainer once a week!

I have all the kit ready, i have a slight foot issue though. The top of my foot is sore, i think this is from my trainers being too tight! its now a decision on what trainers i wear on the day. The ones that hurt me are the specific ones i bought to run this race, ahh!!! I’ll try them this weekend again and see how they go, if not i’ll have to revert back to the Inov8 Terraclaw 250.

Anyway, few easy runs this week, one last proper run this Saturday, a hike on Sunday then chill for a week!

New Year New Goals (bit late, who cares)

So long time no blog (ish), not sure why, sometimes i just forget to blog, until WordPress email my bill anyway!

Anyway screw recapping what i missed from this blog to the last! I’m not sure about everyone else, but i kind of do make New Year goals, or resolutions. I learnt a fe things from last which i intend to take into the new year. All in all last year i did about 20 different running/triathlon events. This was way to many, fun, and add to the medal collection, but way to many to be of any use. My last race in December (i know i said no recapping, but this is me making a point, stop judging) was a 10mile trail run that i had done the year before. Now i beat my time this year, but i was still 10mins shy of my actual goal time. My legs have never felt as bad when running, i have never felt as bad! The fatigue in my legs was shit, this was an accumulation of too many races over too many weekends. The week before i had done a trail marathon with around 4000ft of elevation, two weeks before that i did a race, 98km from one end of the Peak District to the other!

Now my lesson is too many races too soon after each other, not enough time training!

This year i have booked every event i’m doing up until end of September.

  • 27th Jan – Waterway 30 (31 mile race along the canal toe paths)
  • 17th March – Hardmoors 55 (55 mile race around North York Moors)
  • 5th – 7th May – Great Lakeland 3 day (3 marathons 3 days, Lake District)
  • 13th May – Maltby Sprint Triathlon
  • 30th June – Ripon Triathlon (Olympic Distance)
  • 21st July – Castle Howard Triathlon (Olympic Distance)
  • 23rd September – Weymouth Ironman 70.3 (half Ironman!!)

So that its so far, i know the 3 day event is near the Maltby triathlon, but the Maltby one is more of a club event and there is around 20 of us doing it, so fuck it!

Thats my entire race calendar, i’m not sure what to do after September, i would like to do the 98km Peak District race again, but i’m not sure how fast i can transition from doing Triathlons to Ultras! Currently i’m prepping for the 2 Ultras and 3 day event. I know from doing this my speed is pretty much gone. Which i’m assuming will be role reversal once i start the triathlon training. My speed will get better over 5km – 20km, but my long distance running will probably suffer. Which means is 1 and a half months enough to train for a 98km Ultra! I mean the fitness will be there, but the miles in the legs will not be there! Fucking decisions eh (i’m very lucky that these are the worrying decisions i have to make in life)!!!

I have a training plan until May, when the 3-day event starts, mostly running. I will also being doing 1 to 2 turbo sessions in the house every week, and currently 1 swimming session, but this will increase when i can get back into the lake to around 3 times a week, plus the odd strength/conditioning/stretching session per week. Currently i’m doing around 60/70km per week running, all activities included, around 8-9 hours per week. I think this will have to increase to around 12 for the 70.3.

The Hardmoors 55 and the Ironman 70.3 are pretty much my main focus this year!

Other goals – Do 50 push ups a day, i know doesn’t sound a lot, but it was 0, and i want to see if it actual makes a difference, more of an experiment than a goal!

Eat more healthy – so far i’m doing well, no fast food ( i rarely ate this anyway, but cutting it out altogether is still better), no sweets, no chocolate – all currently a tick. By the way there are rules and disclaimers to this, pizza is allowed at all times!! Pizza is life, especially after a race!!

And boring work goals, but i’m not going into that shit.

1 bike trip this year to Scotland (motorbike), for a few days.

Also fucking Australia for Christmas & New Year (my best mate moved there last year with his family), i haven’t been to Oz for 15 years, so i’m pretty excited already! By the way i live in England, just incase Oz doesn’t seem like a big deal, England will be cold, Oz will be warm, England has no cricket on, Oz has cricket, England has Christmas dinners, Oz has BBQ’s 😉

Here are some photos of the last few months.

Norway Adventure & a Marathon

So…. in September (after the Amalfi Coast) i went to Norway Kayaking down the Fjords, camping and some hiking. I went with my friend Mr. Robert Swift, he has a pub in Piccadilly called The Queens Head, check it out, they also do awesome pies and have created a new company called Piccadilly pies, go have a beer and a pie!

Anyway, we flew from Gatwick, in Bergen. Which must have the most photographed sign of any airport.

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From there we went to Voss for a night, this is a beautiful place, kind of like Windermere in the Lake District, but with bigger mountains and lakes! Plus they have Voss Water, apparently this is somewhat famous. Each pint in Voss is about £10, luckily there are only about 6 pubs, we still went to them all though!

From Voss we got a bus to the start of the kayaking. We kayaked for maybe 2 hours, got out explored a waterfall and had some food, started back up for a few hours then pitched tent. A few things to note, there is nothing there, take food and beer! Once you hit the Fjords and get on the water there is no shops, pubs, restaurants or toilets! You are in the middle of nowhere! BUT the fucking 4G works everywhere, and i mean everywhere! It is pretty awesome that it does, but pretty sad that although you are in the middle of nowhere your wife can still call you, or work can email you! Just leave your phone at home!

The below is our tent, and for a few days what we saw every time we left it……..

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We hiked up to the top of a Fjord, which there and back was around 22km, there was one steep bit towards the end to scramble up to the top, around 2km or so. I have yet to make this into a Strava segment! The walk up was amazing, we got to see some amazing views and the countryside around us was spectacular, Norway is a must go to place.

I got back, spent a few days in London, had a few too many beers, then back home!

When i got back i had the Sheffield 10km to run, i did this with my sister as a warm up to the Marathon, and to get her back into feeling how good it is to race and be running with everyone. My time was 46:47 which i was pretty happy with, and still felt good at the end.

After that we had the Yorkshire Marathon, this was a pretty cool day all in all, a well organised event, and a nice flat course. Worth a run if you like marathons. I had promised my sister i would run round with her and try and get a good time. I think she was a bit apprehensive, especially about the last 6 miles or so, so i said i would stick with her and make sure she finished it. I tried to average the time out to 6 minutes per km, which would give us about 4:15 finish time. She started to slow down a bit around 30km mark, so i just kept pushing her, we ended up doing it in 4:26. I was pleased with this time, even though i think i could have shaved 30mins off on my own, that wasn’t really the point. It made me even prouder of my Trail running marathon time of 4:36!

One thing i highly recommend after doing this run in them is some calve sleeves, wow, awesome bit of kit. I got the Compressport ones, i also told my sister to get them before the race and she was super impressed by them. My niece and nephew also bought me a medal hanger for my birthday. Pic below with the medals from this year on it, minus the new Marathon one.