Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Iceman is the third in a series of five off road events organised by Human Race. The others include WildMan, MudMan, TuffMan and TrailMan. Each event has the option of at least one run distance and a duathlon or relay duathlon plus canicross (running with your dog) option for runners which makes it one of the most varied events I’ve ever entered.

With this range of races organisation is key and this really was one of the most smoothly organised races I’d taken part in. Email communication in the run up to the day was very comprehensive (although it was unclear in the emails whether certain points applied across the board or just to duathletes) and race packs easily collected on the day. The site was well signposted from the road and there didn’t seem to be any trouble with parking capacity although I think some of us were a little worried that we might not get out of the mud afterwards. Runners were parked separately from duathletes so that we could exit earlier and not risk being blocked in.

The start area was well marked, there was an excellent coffee truck selling amazing looking flapjacks (I’m sure they did well at the finish) plus the standard bacon butty truck. All entrants received an event-specific technical t-shirt (Grim… take note) when collecting their race pack. The idea is to collect the set over the series but I think I’d have preferred to have received it at the end… the thought did cross my mind that I could just leave, not having run the race but with the t-shirt claiming I had.

There was a staggered start with the duathletes setting off first, followed by the 11km runners, the 16km runners and finally the canicross runners. The announcer on the start line did an excellent job of corralling the right group at the right time and I didn’t notice anyone panicking and missing their start. As part of the 16km group I ran one lap of the 6k bike course which was mostly flat, followed by 2 laps of the 5km run course which was brutally hilly. The weather on the day was clear and dry and a little warmer than previous days which made for a very enjoyable running experience. The course was mostly free from ice and wasn’t excessively muddy. It was well marked with signs, tape and very cheery, friendly marshalls, never felt too crowded and had a well-placed water station near the start/lap crossover which I got to pass twice. There were absolutely no distance markers though, which sort of makes sense given the variety of races taking place, but it was unexpected.

With hindsight I enjoyed the course, it was varied enough and scenic through the forest but I found the hills completely horrid. I walked them just so I stood a chance of finishing in relative comfort. The finish area was well managed, mostly clear by the time I finished, with someone to cut off your timing chip. No medal or goody bag as such but every participant got a vitacoco drink, bottle of water and cereal bar.

If all the other events are as well organised I would certainly recommend them, especially if you’re not quite ready for a Grim or a Brutal. I’d say in some respects these are easier, or rather have different challenges. There’s a friendly atmosphere and I enjoyed my race being part of something bigger. Although I won’t be running another in the series this year I’d be tempted to run another, or maybe try for the whole series, another time.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Ice Ice Baby

This week has been so relaxed and lovely, somehow without breaking my training regime. On Monday I took part in my first Body Tone class at the gym, which was, frankly, a bit of a let-down. The instructor was good, checking who was new, if there were any injuries and explaining what equipment we’d need. I set up a step with 3 risers, figuring that I wanted to make this hard for myself but was told I mustn’t use more than 1. As a result, despite throwing myself into the routines (mostly aerobic combinations) with 2kg hand weights, I hardly felt it in my legs, though I was told I should be. From this I conclude that either my legs are super strong or I must insist on using 2 risers if I do the class again. Which is unlikely.

On Tuesday I had a Spa day with my mum at Brooklands, which was just lovely. It’s a fairly small place by comparison to some I’ve been too, and all the better for it. I started off using their gym to do my intervals session before relaxing in the steam room and hot tub and having a facial and rather invigorating massage. On the way home I started to ache quite badly in my sides (it only eased on Thursday) and I can’t work out if it’s DOMS from the Body Tone class or bruising from the massage!

Wednesday saw me brave the icy paths for my tempo run around the park. Well, it was meant to be a tempo run but I had to take it quite slow in order to keep all bones intact, but I went out and covered the distance so I’m happy with that. It certainly eased my guilt over scoffing an amazing afternoon tea later that day.

I didn't really feel like venturing out for my second 1-2-1 session at the gym on Friday evening so I've rescheduled for Monday when I'm going to be there anyway. So I've only done one strength session this week but today I'm helping a friend move house so I'll be heaving boxes of books around for a large part of the day.

Yesterday morning I ran Iceman with Anita. I'll do a full race review later in the week but suffice to say  it was a lovely morning for a run, but the run itself was not lovely. It wasn't especially icy or muddy but the hills were brutal! So many hills. I'm really proud of Anita for completing her first ever 10 miler... such a trouper! I don’t seem to have any aches and pains apart from a twinge in my right ankle which is pretty good considering.

This week’s training: 22 miles and Body Tone

Look what arrived!

I was dealing with my mail whilst sitting on the sofa scoffing egg fried rice after my Iceman event yesterday (which I'll post about tomorrow) and I was thrilled to unwrap my running vest from the Scleroderma Society!

I'll post a photo of me wearing said vest when I get a chance.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Rock My Run

After today's run I feel compelled to write a short post to recommend a site called Rock My Run. I found this site during advent, thanks to a promotion run by PT Mollie where by you could claim two free credits which can be exchanged for music mixes.

You get a free credit every month and can buy additional ones. There's a good range of mixes from about 20 minutes to over two hours incorporating pop, house, dub step and rock (to name some). You can search by DJ, BPM, length and genre, and even filter out the ones with explicit lyrics. You can listen to the mixes before you download and see the full track listing.

One credit can get you a 45 minute mix so it's worth signing up even if you never buy any credits. I've downloaded Rock Da House and Closer To The Edge so far, both of which I love and work great when I'm on my longer, slower runs. I've recommended (and would still recommend) AudioFuel in the past, particularly for times when you want to pace yourself consistently, but these make a great addition to my running playlist too. Sometimes I want songs, sometimes I just want funky beats. Beats having to work out which tracks in my collection suit my pace when making up my own playlists!

You know sometimes when the perfect song comes on your iPod... that was Jessie J - Do It Like A Dude on the Closer To The Edge mix today. So awesome!

Of course you don't have to use them for running too. They'd be just as good in the gym or day to day. 

Gym, club and snow

Cor my left leg didn’t half ache after Sunday’s 12-miler! The bath I had to warm me up post-run worked a treat on my back but not the leg. I hope it’s not my new trainers that are to blame but if it is I can at least swap them. It’s not kept me from training though. And neither has the snow although my wet socks and trail shoes have given my a blister on my instep. 

On Monday I had my gym induction which was a cursory 15 minute talk through what my aims were and then a demo of the CV machines. It’s a well-stocked gym with plenty of CV machines and no one waiting for anything despite it being the busiest time, but I don’t find gyms the most inspiring of places. I managed to get a cancellation place in that evening’s Body Pump class which I used to do regularly in my late teens so it was fun to get back to it. The (fill-in) instructor was really good, asked if anyone was new and reminded us what weights to go for. I’ll be trying Body Tone same day next week. 

Also this week I got my “You’re In!” marathon magazine, forwarded from the charity. I got a little bit emotional reading it, thinking about how it will be me this year. I also got inspired by the film Fast Girls, which I rented through iTunes and watched while the OH was playing computer games in another room. Great little film. I’m thinking of building up a collection of inspiring films to watch before my events. Run, Fat Boy, Run would definitely be on there. What would other films would you suggest?

I went back to Running club on Wednesday for 6 miles and a marathon masterclass given by one of the members. He runs these most years and it was really useful to have my training plan reviewed by someone who has been there and done that. A few suggestions have been made which I'm going to incorporate, such as cutting out a little strength training in favour of more swimming, upping the miles a little later in my training, including a run during my Suffolk holiday and leaving more recovery time after the marathon.

After constant snowfall yesterday I was not exactly looking forward to my run today in 5in of snow but after procrastinating over 2 cups of tea I donned thermal tights, merino top, windproof jacket and trail shoes and headed out for what turned out to be a totally awesome run. The going was fairly easy where the snow was packed and everyone I encountered was in a good mood. I had new music to listen to and I felt strong. I decided to go for time on feet rather than distance and covered 10 miles in 1:50 and came back feeling really hardcore!
About to tackle a mile long hill
Hot chocolate by Hotel Chocolat as a recovery drink... oh yeah!
This week’s training: 22.5 miles plus Body Pump

Next week I’m looking forward to a couple of days off work, one for a spa day with my mum and another for a day in London with afternoon tea. All that relaxation will be undone by the Iceman event on Saturday 26th… hills are not my friends so I’m pretty nervous about that.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Ousted the January Blues

I’m feeling much more positive this week. In fact I’d go so far as to say I was thoroughly excited and gleeful. I can confirm that I am now registered for Iceman and Eton Swim. The official line up of my quintet of challenges is now complete and looks like this:
March 3rd – Paris Half Marathon
April 21st – London Marathon
May 4th – Tough Mudder
May 19th – Triathlon
May 27th – Eton Swim

Events that don’t fall into the official category but serve to encourage me through my training now consist of Iceman on January 26th, Cranleigh 21 on March 24th and Bolt Round the Holt (half marathon distance) on April 6th.

Other things I’ve been getting excited about this week include booking a session kayaking on the Thames with a friend on February 16th, joining the local gym and using some of my Christmas money to buy a new pair of trainers. The local gym had a pretty good deal on, and a membership level that I can cancel any time after the first three months which is perfect! I get five 1-2-1 sessions with a personal trainer, unlimited use of the pool, group classes, gym and sauna. Of course because it’s January I can’t get booked in to any classes but that will change and I can use the pool and gym. I have my induction on Monday and best of all is it’s only a mile and a half away so I can run or bike there as my warm up!

I got my new trainers on Thursday at Alton Sports in Farnham. We don’t have a Sweatshop very nearby and truth be told I’m losing faith in them anyway and Alton Sports are far more local, friendlier and equally if not more knowledgeable. I went wearing my current/old shoes, which I think the guy approved of. I was analysed on the tread mill (I used to over pronate, now not so much, and was told I was “unusual”. Seems to be a theme) and then fitted with four different pairs of shoes. I really loved these because of the colour but ended up with the ones in the photo instead because they were slightly better, technically. I try not to get too hung up on the colour of shoes because the fit and support are the main factors but I’m kinda glad they’re not pink. I can change them within 30 days if they don’t work for me, though so far they've been dead comfy, and I got 10% discount as a member of the local running club! My old shoes are now demoted to gym duty.

This week’s training looked like this: 22.5 miles and 2 x Tuff. That included a 5-miler on Saturday and a rather grey 12 mile run near where my parents live.

Next on the to do list is figuring out how I’m travelling to Paris and booking it. I’m favouring Eurostar and am hoping they have some sort of sale I can take advantage of. It’s looking at ~£90 return per person at present (the £59 offer they have at the moment doesn’t cover our travel dates). Does anyone have any suggestions for Paris travel? Any knowledge of deals or discounts I might be able to take advantage of?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Happy New Year but not Happy New Training

Happy New Year to one and all! I hope your Christmases were merry and bright and that New Year’s Day was as sunny for you as it was for me.

Somehow I managed to come through the festive period not feeling too stuffed although I have to confess to feeling a little sluggish. I managed to keep on top of my training plan over Christmas thanks to pre-planning less running and signing up to the Gut Buster run which I have reviewed here. Here’s what I’ve achieved in the last two weeks.

Week 4 (w/c 24th December): 15.4 miles plus 1 x Tuff
Week 5: 17 miles plus 2 x Tuff

I don’t think I’d have gone out for a run at all on the 28th December if it hadn’t been for my Aunt. I’d arrived home later than planned from Christmas visits so it was dark and cold (although dry) and I was feeling sluggish. I was due to do intervals and had a bit of a moan on twitter about it (@vikkiroberts if you’d care to follow). My Aunt gave me a virtual kick up the backside and reminded me that she was #VirtualTraining with me. It’s becoming a running joke that is helping to motivate me. Today's 11miler was pretty good. I found some new roads to run and stopped in a quiet pub for five minutes at mile 8 to have some water and a gel. The barmaid was rather worried about me, I guess I looked worse than I felt! I’m planning to go back to running with the Farnham Runners from this coming Wednesday as well as spending some of my Christmas money on a new pair of running trainers so maybe that will remedy the boredom I'm feeling on the majority of my runs. I’m enjoying the “Tuff” sessions as they don’t involve going outside.

My lovely friend Anita from work has now officially signed up to do Tough Mudder with me and also signed up for Iceman in a few weeks’ time which she’s persuading me to take part in. It fits with the training plan so I figure why not!

Finally in other news I’ve found out that the Great London Swim won’t be held until the end of August this year, indeed the earliest in the series isn’t until mid-July, which is a bit late for my plans. So instead I’m going to sign up for the Eton Swim which is on May 27th. I’d kept my eyes on this one in case the GLS didn’t end up being when I’d hoped. It’s 1500m (just under the mile) and still in open water (Dorney Lake) so fits all the criteria. They also hold a 3km event but after much deliberation I think I’ll be sticking to the mile as planned. Quite frankly I don’t think I could swim 3km in the 1.5 hours they demand.

Does anyone have any tips on how to stay warm after long runs? Hot showers and multiple layer work but only slowly. I'm sure I shouldn't feel quite this cold afterwards!