Sunday, 30 October 2011

Know when to fold 'em

So it's day 2 of the OMM and I should be packing up my stuff ready for another day of navigating across the mountains near Comrie.

But I'm not. We had to pull out of the competition. We set off yesterday taking it nice and easy and were going fine for the first two and a half hours. Then I suddenly ran out of energy to the point where every step uphill was a struggle and my quadriceps would spasm and my legs would pretty much give way beneath me. We carried on for another couple of hours hoping it was just a bad patch but there was no improvement so about two thirds of the way round the day 1 course we decided to bail. Simon was a great team mate since he pretty much made the decision for me - that means a lot when I felt like I was letting him down. We pulled out at pretty much the furthest away point on the course so then had about eight miles down through Glen Lednock to cover before we could get a lift back to the event centre.

I had some sort of virus last week that meant I hadn't really been able to eat for the first half of the week, and still wasn't eating properly on Thursday and Friday. I think when I was ill earlier in the week I had used up all of my glycogen stores and hadn't been able to replace them on Thursday and Friday. I weighed 4lb less at the end of the week than at the start of the week, so something was missing and I know it isn't possible to lose that much fat so it must have been the other energy stores. On Saturday, as soon as I had burnt up the calories I had eaten that morning there was nothing in the tank and I ground to a halt. The muscle spasms in my legs were something I've never felt before - it was different to cramp - like my brain was telling them to do something but they weren't responding. They didn't feel particularly tired, just empty. It's frustrating because we were going at a level of effort that I know I can sustain for 10 hours on a good day. With the wind, rain, cold and tough terrain we were in yesterday there was lots of scope for negative thoughts, but I don't remember feeling particularly negative at any point - it was just that my legs didn't work properly.

It's the Glen Ogle 33 next weekend - not sure if I'll run now, I think maybe I need to take it easy for a couple of weeks to totally recover from the virus I had.

I hope the people who are out there running again today get some better weather (it seems alright so far) after yesterday. I wouldn't have fancied camping out last night. They are an impressive bunch.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Ready for the OMM

I need to get up just after 5am tomorrow to go and meet my brother-in-law Simon then head off to Comrie for the OMM. We met up last night to share out the gear and pack our bags. Simes assures me that we'll just take it easy and have a good weekend, but I'm not sure that's how it will be since my sister is running the same class as us so there is a serious sibling / husband-wife competition to be settled. Simes is a much better runner than I'll ever be - I'm probably more nervous about this than doing the WHW race as I am worried that I'll slow him down too much. We'll see.

I spent an hour on Wednesday evening re-proofing my rain jacket in the hope that Sod's Law would mean it would then not rain all weekend. It doesn't seem to have worked - the forecast is for heavy rain and wind all day and night Saturday, and just some light rain on Sunday.

The three mountain marathons I've done before were in the summer, and I have always said I wouldn't do the OMM because it always has crappy weather - at least I'm being proved right this weekend. We're doing a harder course than I've done before so I'm making some weight concessions from my usual mountain marathon kit, like taking cask strength whisky rather than the normal 40%.

At least the clocks go back on Saturday night so I can spend an extra hour asleep. Or, more likely, an extra hour shivering in a cold, dark, damp one-man tent with another six foot bloke.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The right place for a holiday

We were on holiday last week - a week in the Swiss alps, very nice. The day after we arrived, I got a text message from my brother-in-law Simon asking whether I fancied doing the OMM Elite with him in a few weeks time. The guy he usually partners up with for mountain marathons is a little bit injured at the moment, and he'd worked his way to the bottom of the list of alternatives so I got the text. I've done the LAMM a few times but have never planned on doing the OMM because the weather is usually rubbish, but this seemed like a good opportunity to go and do something different with Simon. Luckily I was in just the right place last week to do some last minute hill training.

We were staying in Veysonnaz, a small ski resort in the Valais canton whose name means "sunny place" and last week it was indeed. The resort is at an altitude of about 1300m, and most of my runs last week were in the 1300m to 1700m height range. The air was noticeably thinner at the beginning of the week but I adapted to it within a couple of days and can notice the difference now I am running back at sea level. We did a few family walks with me carrying a wriggly two year old in a back pack so carrying half a tent, a sleeping bag and some food in a couple of weekends time shouldn't be too bad.

The region we were staying in is becoming well known for the "bisses" - irrigation channels that have been cut across the steep mountain slopes to provide water to the orchards and villages. Some of the bisse are hundreds of years old, and since they are pretty much level and have nice trails running next to them, they are brilliant to run along. I ran along a few of the bisse in the area, but the nicest was probably the Grande Bisse de Vex.