Well it’s been a cracking two weeks or so! My last flight before breaking up for leave being a Coastguard callout up to the North Sea 100 miles off-shore from Aberdeen set it up nicely. It was that time of the day when the sun was just starting to get low in the sky and it could not have looked better on top! Taking a straight line from East Mids Airport to the scene, we were flying literally just above cloud-level enjoying that awesome “other world” above the cloud that everytime I see, makes me think its why I love flying! It looked awesome as always. The flight back being just as amazing too, flying again on top of the cloud but this time at night – we could see every star in the sky, Venus, Mercury and Mars all visible above the orange glow of the cities beneath! Nice.
I was slightly concerned on the call out that i wouldnt make it back intime for the coast to coast the following day though, but thankfully as you might have seen 3000 words later, i did!
So, of the challenges set so far, the Coast to Coast is complete, done in 3 days and this time last week myself, Dave Riley and Mark Edwards had just finished our first Adventure Triathlon over in the Lake District.
Being an off-road run, mountain bike and kayak triathlon, it was hard. I was bruised. I was scruffy. I was exhausted. I had lost my trainer 3 times in mud and my legs burned badly going up the hills but could not have been happier!!! Starting off with a 1-2 miles “warm UP” run we set off at the horn with the rest of the pack and immediately hit the first hill!! It was all the way up from here for about a mile and a half until it was down a ridiculously steep hill into mud and across back to the transition area to collect our bikes. This wasn’t the end of the running part and had caught us out a bit as I think we were all expecting it to just be 3 whole sections of running, biking and kayaking. I think it actually helped a bit if im honest though!
The bike section was brilliant but was pretty tough at parts. I’ve been training quite a bit for this over the last few months and thought the coast to coast would set me up nicely in terms of hill climbing but I definitely felt it. The other lads im 100% certain suffered too! Weather wise, it couldn’t have been nicer! The sun was out all day and definitely contributed to the feel-good feeling we got throughout the challenge. Once the majority of the hill climbs were over, the views were immense! Cycling along at the top you could see for miles between the trees, sun beating down and hoping quitely it was downhill from here… awesome!
With the mountain bike section complete, it was back to the run section. Bikes dropped off and a quick munch of some jaffa cakes and jelly babies we set off again… Jesus Christ on a bike it was steep! You literally couldn’t run up the hill that never seemed to end! We were all pouring with sweat trying to keep a good pace up while not slipping on a rock or loose branch! Our lungs, legs, heads burning, cramp setting in and the sun not helping at this point, it was a hard slog up like! The course levelled out momentarily for about half a mile before it was up again!!! Shorter this time, it levelled and it was back down the other side of our Everest that day. This time we could run and although it might sound easier running downhill it was bloody difficult. The impact was starting to kill our knees and joints while all trying not to fall over (I nearly did several times!) At the bottom we were greeted by the kayak section and a water point, we knew though that at the end of it we were to run, hike, climb, crawl back up the hill we had just came down so quickly! I was dreading that bit but excited to see Coniston Water infront of us and kayaks everywhere!
The kayak section was brilliant again and definitely a welcome rest for our legs! The water was so still setting off in the inflatable kayaks provided. Myself at the front, Riley in the middle and Eddie at the rear (no jokes please!) we set off eagerly. Now you’d think kayaking in a straight line with three paddles would be fairly straight forward but we just seemed to go off to the right and in a circle, quickly realising though that Riley appeared to be our issue as once he stopped paddling we were back heading in the right direction to complete the course! For the remainder of the course Riley enjoyed a leisurely paced sight seeing-tour of Coniston Water while myself and Eddie hammered the paddles! The kayak section was the shortest of the sections and seemed to go too quickly in my opinion!! It was brilliant being out on the lake though, in the sun shouting competitive hackles at the other teams along side us! Needless to say once we finished it we all had soaking wet shorts and trainers and it was time to hit the hill again. It didn’t take long to warm back up though! At the top we were all suffering with different sores and ready to stop running but with the power of some Minstrels chocolate we were on the homeward stretch for the finish line a few miles away!
To finish, it was back down the ridiculously steep hill we had previously descended twice, once on the bike (bloody scary!) and the other at the beginning run, losing my shoe for the first time we were concious not to fall and injure ourselves so far on in the event!
Hill descended it was time to complete the obstacle course now, starting with strapping our feet to two long planks and walking around a course together, a cargo net crawl through the mud then onto and over the slippery wall and a sprint to the finish line!! We were pretty useless to start with the planks and leading at the front, i was constantly falling over forwards trying to lift a leg. It must have looked funny to all the spectators though! Hundreds of right,left,right,left orders given we eventually did it though! Cargo net done and covered in mud we hit the slippery wall all together in one go we had finished it! It felt awesome! Would I do it again? Definitely. See you there next year!
Therefore, i’ve come up with a training plan that will hopefully allow me to keep up the running training AND at a minimum, maintain my body weight. The problem with this is that my finish time will suffer on the marathon and probably the half marathon too. Carrying excess muscle mass or fat is a marathon runners nightmare. Look at all long distant runners, they’re all slim and skinny. Sprinters are big and fast, as are rugby player… its all to do with the muscle fibres recruited during the exercise and the type of training that it recruits. To get a good time in the marathon I will have to sacrifice muscle mass and lose weight but I really dont want to do this. For me, completing the marathon will be an achievement in itself. I still want to complete it in a respectable time and after doing some research, I think a sub 4 hour marathon is do-able and a an aim to beat my best time for the GNR of 1:46 my target for the half marathon. I also do not want to walk any of it. Not a step. Reading more on hitting the wall though (18-20miles), this seems a tough goal and with the kielder marathon adding some unwelcome hill climbs around this mile mark, im dreading it. More training required. Nutrition as always, will be playing the biggest part in my training!!