The Maverick Silva Dark Series Oxfordshire Trail Run

This was the first time I have either entered this event or done an event hosted by Maverick, and so on Saturday I was going to achieve two firsts.

A trail run in the dark was always going to be fun, and when it is hosted on a.private estate with plenty of hills then you know it should be good.

The race hq was set in a field in the shadow of some Woodland Hills, which as the darkness fell gave a lovely vista.

Registration was well organised and quick to get your race number and glow stick wrist band, what a combination glow sticks and head torches.

Once start time arrived it was on with the head torch and off. The first hill seemed to arrive almost at once, and this pretty much set the tone for the rest of the race.

It is always difficult to give a detailed course review when you are involved in the race asI find it hard to remember the exact details. This course had a heady mix of uphill, uphill and more uphill, frankly as discussed with another runner it seemed that almost the entire course was uphill! Now as we all know it can’t all be uphill and whilst some of the hills were steep, to the point where walking was quicker than running,, The downhills were often muddy slippery and immense fun as you fought to keep control, rest and pick up some time, A combination which is tricky at the best of time. Running through woodland in the dark with you way lit by a head torch is great fun and something that everyone should do at some point, it heightens your senses and makes you concentrate, it seems the more you concentrate the more fun it becomes.

The finish came and I thought the fun would be over, but I was wrong, on crossing the line I was asked the best question I can remember being asked on crossing a line. “Would you like a beer?” What a question, “Yes please” came my instant response, “Would you like me to open it for you?” Came the reply “yes please” again I replied. The beer tasted really good. They also gave me an iced coffee and a Tribe bar, both of which were also tasty.

In terms of the time it took me 66 minutes 28 seconds and I finished 43rd. To put into context only 23 people went sub 60 minutes, which when you have nearly 300 metres of elevation it is not surprising.

By completing this event it means I have now done as many this year as I did in the entire of last year, and the best part was I really enjoyed this and it has given me the confidence to do more, mentally I feel I have taken a step forward, at no point did I find myself looking for excuses not to turn up or to even pull out of the race at any point.. For me that was the most important thing, rediscovering the fun element.

I am booked in for a couple more Maverick events this year and based on my experience with this one I am looking forward to them.

It is good to feel like I am back in the game again!


Exciting Times

This time of the year, or the time after your A race is a great time, you have time to reflect on what you achieved, but more importantly you can consider what is next.

In my last post I hinted that I had given it some thought, and that was true. However, now I find myself looking at all types of different events thinking, could I do that?

I like looking at different events, perhaps I sometimes enjoy the looking more than the taking part, actually no I don’t I just like to think that! The sheer variety of events available both in the UK and beyond is simply mind blowing.

I have a bucket list of things I would like to do, and as a cyclist those include riding up a mountain or two, running round or up a mountain. There are events that satisfy all those criteria, for example the L’Alpe D’Huez duathlon and triathlon, then there is a run round the Matterhorn that looks simply spectacular. For pure cycling there are various sportives that do mountains, and also cobbled Flemish roads, I love the cycling spring classics.

Then there is the simple challenge of pushing yourself into doing something you simply didn’t think possible, a half ironman perhaps or even a full, nah not a full that looks like a properly tough day.

Lands End to John O’Groats, the Coast To Coast and The Highland Way, three more things I would like to try, different challenges again.

I think this means that to me the world is currently so full of opportunity to test myself and have fun that I am a little unsure exactly what I want to do.

Yes there are constraints, time, money, work and consideration for my wife are all among them but how can you not be excited my the chance to enter and plan the races that will form the basis of your athletic life for the next 12’ish months? I am and I will obviously write about it and if anyone wants to join me on anything or has ideas let me know, there is a world of fun to be had out there.

Bring it on!

I Just Can’t Bring Myself To Do It

I am sat here tonight with a list of possible events to enter for 2014, and I just can’t bring myself to enter any of them.

It is not the cost, I think it is the thought that there is a possibility I may not finish one or more of them, it is the fear of failure.

I will be totally honest I have never entered anything before I didn’t think I would finish. Maybe it is a touch of arrogance but I always believe I can pretty much do anything, and yet now I am starting to wonder if the mask is slipping and maybe I am not so confident in my own ability.

The problem is I want to do triathlons but lack the confidence in my swimming which is in turn affecting me by making me start to doubt I still can achieve what I want to. To some, this might sound stupid but to people who do sports, confidence is a key ingredient. The belief in your own ability is often what gets you through those difficult moments and without it I for one certainly feel fragile.

Is the answer to dedicate myself to swimming to improve and basically do it till I have the confidence? Possibly.

Is the answer to take a structured approach to swimming? Possibly.

Do I know the answer? No

I don’t think I have ever had this type of crisis of confidence in my own ability and certainly not to the point where one sport affects others.

I am heading into a bad place and I know I need to deal with it, I get great advice from Mike and also from my swimming instructor who is always positive, but in the end it is down to me and me alone and I need to do it now.

I am sure a wise man once said, “man up you big girl” and he was probably right!

Evans – Chiltern Sportive

On sunday, myself and a couple of friends entered the Evans Ride It Chilterns Sportive, the medium 62.5 mile route.

The day dawned sunny with a beautiful blue sky, who would have thought October would have produced such a day?

We decided to meet at my house, and in the best tradition I served up a pre-ride breakfast of coffee and bacon rolls, how else would you start the day? After this we rode the 5 minutes to the start. Registration was simple and within a couple of minutes we had the timing sticker attached to our helmets.

We walked to the start funnel and then listened to the pre-ride briefing and then we were away. The early route was a bit of an oddity to me, as it was on roads I know well, but would never normally join them together in that order to get to the point, but there again I haven’t had to organise a route of certain distance either.

There were a couple of early hills and then we headed out into the small roads in the Chilterns, heading through Cholesbury towards Tring and onto Albury. At Albury we hit the first steep climb and after getting up here the we were treated to some great views.

There was a welcome drink and cake stop in Mentmore, some great free cake and both water and energy drink plus bananas and jelly babies!

Once we decided we had better go off we went again, more great views and out to the furtherest point of the loop. The return leg had several hills in it, including the climb up past Aston Hill, a long steep climb that makes you grovel your way up it, after this a good decent into the Hale.

Well it would have been a good decent, had I not got a front wheel puncture on the way down, this left me fighting to stay upright and also to stop the bike. I ended up using a combination of the back brake and the bank to slow me down enough to stop!

Once the repair was done it was just a climb into Dunsmore, followed by the return to the start.

All in all a really good ride, no a well thought out route on a simply lovely day, not sure there was a better way to spend a Sunday,