Thursday, 30 April 2015

Winters Over...Hello Transvulcania

Well that's me officially marked the end of my winter season with a cracking couple of days with friends doing Gran Paradiso yet again to finish off the season. With only a fraction of the powder days I had last season this winter has mainly been touring and fitness and its been brilliant to focus on something other than using the lifts all the time and lapping the pistes just for the sake of it. I like my skiing but I really am preferring to just get out for tours in places old and new no matter what condition the snow is in. I really have enjoyed the past 6 months but I am thoroughly ready for summer to get going now.

Brilliant spring snow on the Paradiso descent
Hut to ourselves , Brilliant.
The past month I have been running regularly to and from work(18km total) and on days off I have managed 25km , 30km and 25km on my longer runs and added in 1000m-1400m of ascent on these days so I feel okay but not quite ready for 73km. I am definitely in way better shape than I was last year at this time but this is a much harder race than I trained for this time last year.

View from 4000m , breathtaking.
So all eyes are now on La Palma and Transvulcania. The journey for us (myself and Naila) to get there starts on Sunday and after 3 flights we will arrive there on Tuesday. I cannot wait to get on that island and just experience the whole race weekend of what is the must do race at the start of the running season. How will I do on race day? I really have no idea and that's the truth. Yeah for sure I have had a vastly different winter season than I have ever had and I am hoping that this will help with keeping me strong during the race but I just really don't have a clue what to expect. The climbing sections should go rather well , the flats will hopefully work out. I am mostly worried about the heat and the last descent. If I am lucky and the temperature doesn't hit the mid-high 30s then I reckon I will do okay I just need to be smart with my hydration and eating and it should see me through. The final descent however is meant to be an absolute killer. It's 2400m straight down for the last 20km and yes some people might think nothing of that but coming 50km and then having a quad bursting descent like that is going to be a real killer and I haven't heard anybody who has run the race before say this section wasn't brutal.

Summit of Gran Serre with Rob
Time wise I can't get my head around what I will run. I think the cut off is 17 or 19 hours. The only thing I am confident in is that I should not scrape through the finish line with ten minutes to spare. Long distance races are so hard to predict a time as the courses vary so much. I have ran this distance in 7hrs , 9hrs , 11hrs and 16hrs! All on vastly different courses. If I had to put down an estimate then it must be between 10-13hrs but really who knows. I could run a blinder and get sub 10 or have a horrid time and run 15hrs. I would honestly love to run it 12-13hrs and feel bloody great for all of it than run 10-11hrs and feel destroyed and finished. I want to enjoy this race and just soak in the whole day. There is 2000 runners on this course , if there was only 200 then definitely I would love to try and get a high placing but realistically given the absolutely stacked elite field in this race I will come nowhere close to the top section. That's not to say I wouldn't love to come in in the top 20 but really folks there ain't a chance. It's the first race this season and I really really don't want it to end the same way and in the same pain as last years first race in Scotland when it got so painful I really wasn't enjoying being out there and I don't do these races for that kind of suffering any more. Granted loads of people love the pain or should I say they pretend to love soaking in the pain but do they really?? Come on. We are out there(most of us) to enjoy the day and we ain't really racing. Sometimes I don't get the point in racing when your in the middle of the pack as coming 300 or 500 in a race with 2000 runners what's really the difference if you can finish a bit slower and really really enjoy yourself. Maybe I just don't have much of a competitive fighting spirit these days but on big fields of runners I just have no interest in fighting with thousands of other people on the trail. Now on the other hand the VK's , Tromso , The Rut and The Bear are going to be completely different , smaller fields of runners , epic technical courses , now we are talking but for this one coming up next week let's just enjoy and finish. If however something over winter really has worked wonders then I will just be running how I feel and I really really do hope I feel good...really good.

High above Contamines
Lycra ALERT! Col Du Bonhomme
So I am now just resting and doing the odd bit of running before Sundays departure. I am just back from having a few days in Scotland to sort a couple of things out. The weather didn't really play ball but I did have one nice morning running in Arrochar. I parked at the Cobbler car park but ran up the valley towards Loch Sloy in glorious sunshine and from there blasted up Ben Vane , down a very steep pathless north side then straight up the south slope of Ben Ime to be greeted by horrendous winds , bitter cold and hail. It was a rapid descent down to the saddle between The Cobbler and Ben Narnain from which I opted not to suffer more in the hail by hauling myself up to the summit so I decided best to just blast back down the normal trail and back to the car. 23km and 1300m in just shy of 2hrs 45mins.

Morning was lovely. Ben Van on right , Ben Ime in distance straight ahead
Ben Ime summit was rather different
I have added yet another race to my summer plans. The Dolomites Vertical KM in July. I have never been to the Dolomites and since Woody is heading over to run the skyrace and I noticed there was places left on the VK I thought why not just go and support her and also have a little race whilst I am there. I must say I don't think VK's are my strong point in running but now I am doing 3 this summer so I guess I will need to do the Tromso one as well so I can possibly get a VK Skyrunning ranking...but only if I finish the races in decent positions(I believe top 40!) which could be rather difficult but it will be fun trying anyway.

It's time to pack as little as possible so I can board my Ryan Air flights with just hand luggage and not get stung with some ridiculous charge for my bag being 1cm too long or 10g overweight. That airline really is a bloody joke but there was no alternative as I ain't really that good a swimmer.

Only the essentials
I am not taking my computer to La Palma so I don't think I will manage a blog update before the race. I will try if I can to stick up a few words with my bib number and the tracking site along with some pictures of the Island via my phone but don't pin your hopes on it working. Transvulcania 2015 here we go................

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