Thursday, 5 September 2013

Feeling the love for Cham again

It should come as no surprise that all I have been doing lately is running. Not really on the same distances as before the big race but I have been going out quite a lot on the trails and still loving it. I have also been enjoying a few beers now and then but I really am not in the mood for a lot of alcohol or nights out. Now that may be me getting old but having gone all summer training and getting myself in great shape I now feel it would be a total waste to just sit back and lose it all.

First run back in Chamonix
I still really really want to find my way to the States next year , it is looking unlikely I will be able to obtain a visa for a while yet but I do think I will be going over for a couple of months next summer if I can get the cash together over winter. Next years big race is being planned but I will explain that all later.

Recently a good friend of mine came for a visit. Lauren worked a season over in Chamonix when I was here a few years ago and she was finishing up her summer job in the south coast of France so flew back up for a couple of days in Chamonix to say Hi. She hadn't seen Chamonix without snow so on the first day I decided we would go for a run along the Aiguille Rouge. Sandy and Ally also joined for a cracking day out. I don't normally run with people when training as I prefer to do my own thing but with major training over it was great to get out and just have a laugh cruising about the trails , taking pics , stopping for lunch and listening to classic Ally Swinton banter. Just enjoying being out the hills. We ran from the Brevent top Station over to Le Tour via Lac Blanc. A 17km route which is just stunning the entire way. We took it super easy all the way stopping now and then for photo's and food. I felt great the whole day and everyone else was awesome. Ally is just generally super fit (having just done a Chamonix Centre – Frendo Spur – Mont blanc Summit – Valley...Solo and in a day!) , Sandy is training for his first 50k race and Lauren well Lauren spent 4 months on super boats on the Med so she did amazing having had pretty much no running training and certainly not on trails.

Dream Team. Ally , Sandy and Me
Myself and Ally
Lauren and Me
Me heading to le Tour
Just past Lac Blanc
Sandy , Me , Lauren. Easily one of my fave days all summer
Can it get better than this? Nope. I prefer to make
pennies and run in this than make millions and run in a city
The following day was climb day. It was a super lazy morning and we got the 12.30pm lift up the Midi to do a little Cosmiques ArĂȘte lap. Again it was the same team as the previous days run. I won't go into any detail on the route as I am sure I have posted many a times about it but we had a cracking afternoon at 12.000ft cruising along the route in beautiful sunny weather. It was so amazing to be back up high again. I know I don't climb nearly enough these days and I did say I had lost a bit of the love for it but it was great. Especially seeing someone else's reaction to it all. Lauren was going mad , in a good way. She was speechless at the scenery and what we were doing and it did make me realise more just how good it can be out here and this was a route I have done god knows how many times but I still love going over it without the summer crowds of July and August.

Me , Lauren and Sandy heading down the midi Arete
Awesome pics from Ally
Start of Arete
Ally where he belongs
Me and Lauren near the end waiting on some slow
Brits to get moving up the final chimney.
What a team. What a couple of days.
The following day I was working but myself and Lauren managed to get out for a wee 8k trail run through the trees behind my house on my lunch break before she had to leave for the airport. We had planned on an easy 5km recovery run but we actually ended up setting a pretty mean pace for the entire run and we were both pretty chuffed at the end.

I head back to Scotland in October for a month and I have a few races lined up. A little 10k , a 17k and a 50k in the Lakes District which I am excited about. I also have another plan. I was saying before how I wanted to do the West Highland Way race next year but having thought a lot about it recently I have decided why wait until next June when I can do it now. So my plan is to give it a bash as soon as I get a good weather window in October. It will mostly be a solo effort but I have a couple of good friends who are keen to help me out. Martin will run the final 10ish miles with me and will also help support at different points with extra food , clothes etc. and Scott will join me for some sections which will be awesome , I really miss running myself into the ground with him. He is a way faster runner than me but we just seem to be able to get on with things really well together and as strange as it sounds we can read each other super well so I can't wait to run with him again. Most of you will know the route but for those who don't it is a hiking trail that runs for 98 miles from Milngavie which is just outside Glasgow to Fort William in the highlands. I have ran it before but over 2 stages in opposite directions and neither went very well. Myself and Scott many years ago ran from Fort William to Tyndrum around 50 miles in 10hrs on the back of zero training so we were a mess at the end but managed it. The other section we did was Milngavie to Ardlui around 41 miles. We had planned to run to Tyndrum but I was crippled by about mile 35 and was struggling to even walk so we had to bail at mile 41 and get Craig to drive up from Glasgow to rescue us. Ended up I had overdone it and got tendinitis. Those last 6 miles that day were probably the most painful I have ever felt when running or trying to run. Scott would normally push me to keep going but that day he did sit next to me “you are not good man , we need to stop” I said we could push on but I think he may have laughed and said “look at yourself” then I decided enough was enough. Great day though. So the plan is to just go for it in the oner and see what happens. Going well I think I could do it sub 24hrs but sure I could be under 30hrs. I think the current record is around about a ridiculous 16hrs. Let's see if the weather let's me have a go.

Ally heading along to the descent.
So to next summer. So many ideas. I am definitely going to pace Kim over 20-30 miles of Leadville and as I said earlier plan on staying in Colorado for a couple of months. I am going to put in for entries to two big races but doubt I will get into either even though I have done the right qualifying races. First up is the Hardrock 100 in Colorado , in my opinion the hardest 100 mile race out there. 100 miles , 10,000m of elevation gain , average altitude of 11,000ft and you pass over 14,000ft 13 times! The cut off time is 48hr , just 2 more than the UTMB. The average winner does it in 27hrs compared to the UTMB's 20hrs so that itself shows how tough it is as the UTMB is ridiculously hard. The downside is that they only let in 140 runners each year so chances of getting in are low but I will put my name in the hat and see what happens. Second up is the famous Western States 100 in California again a small field of under 500 it is the oldest 100 mile race out there and the one that started it all , it is very similar to the UTMB in terms of vertical gain and cut off times but you have 1 in 17 chance of getting into it so my hopes ain't high. Obviously these 2 races are on my radar due to their reputations but also because I want to run in America again , I want to travel away somewhere again to run and discover new trails and areas I just don't know , I seriously am not bothered in the slightest about the UTMB. I now have the right amount of points to put my name in for it but I won't. I think the whole UTMB weekend in Chamonix is amazing and must be experienced and it is one of THE races to do but I don't want to do it just for the tick and that is the reason I would be entering it next year if I did so I will wait until I have a real passion to run it before putting in my name for it. Never say never.

The race that looks like it will be the one as Hardrock and WS 100 probably won't happen is the UROC(Ultra Race of Champions). This is a 100k race with 4'500m ascent and has a cut-off time of 19hrs. Nothing over extreme but sure not easy. The reason I want to do this is that it goes from Breckenridge to Vail in Colorado. Two places I visited before Leadville and fell in love with the trails. It looks like one of the best trail runs I have ever seen. It is also run by pretty much all the ultra running pro's out there so it is nice to share the field with these people even if you never see them until maybe the end after they have showered and had their dinner and probably had a sleep as well. All these races allow pacers and I sure as hell know I got the best ones out there already.

Finally a massive shout out to Graham who not only finished his first 100k race(CCC) but totally smashed it to bits! He managed an amazing time of 18hrs 40(something) minutes or it could have been less. He was in the top 200 runners overall out of a starting field of 1900. Just totally amazing stuff from him. I totally loved following the race after work. I got a real buzz clapping in runners to aid stations and seeing the smiles on their faces as they said “merci” “thank you” and so on. It was strange to be the one clapping and shouting encouragement but I loved it because I could relate to the exact feeling these guys were getting from the spectators. For once I really didn't care I wasn't running. I had a great night.

So for now it is work and run. Then come October it's just run run run probably in Rain , Sleet and Snow.

Excuse the new title , pics etc.. Just playing around with a few things to see how it looks.

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