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Putt Putt's Grand Union Canal race report 2010
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putt putt




Joined: 23 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:45 pm    Post subject: Putt Putt's Grand Union Canal race report 2010 Reply with quote

Grand Union Race Report 2010

As always, it is important before any event to ask yourself why you are doing it and what your objectives are. The former is necessary so that you can call upon it when the going gets tough and the latter so that you know what success looks like.

So why was I doing GUCR? I can’t remember when I first heard/read about it but as the country’s longest most prestigious non-stop ultra running race it had immediate appeal! In addition, after doing many events with small laps, a long point to point race was also different and interesting.

I was also keen to see how I would do in a stand alone running ultra and whether some of the lessons I had learnt in long triathlons would be transferable.

My objective was not just to finish. Even though I knew there was probably a 30% chance I wouldn’t finish – mostly likely due to a fundamental mechanical breakdown whereby I just wouldn’t be able to move forward.

I honestly felt there was a chance I could get under 30hours. Looking at previous years results 32-35 hrs was more likely especially as a first timer. 36hrs was ok. Anything above that would be disappointing.

We (my crew – my wife, Angela and fellow tri talker Scottg and myself) travelled up to Birmingham on the Friday afternoon and got to Fix’s place in King’s Heath at about 6.30pm. Fix drove us to the pub where registration was taking place and it all seemed quite low key. It took about 2 mins and we decided to get back to Fix’s for our evening meal which Madame Fix had cooked for us – it was a delicious pasta meal and the only thing missing from a superb and convivial evening was a glass of red wine. I had been on a self imposed 2 week alcohol ban and was delighted that was coming to an end.

We got up at 4am on Sat and after a shower and breakfast, we were led by Fix (what a guy! Gets up at 5.15am to show us the way to the start!) to Gas Street. It was funny to see people literally falling out of nightclubs (with the consequential rows!) at the same time as we were about to start such an epic run.

I saw James Adams and various others and said hello. Brian approached me and shook my hand. It was an emotive handshake! I mumbled something like good luck and he could see how heartfelt that was and with the proximity of the start no doubt in his mind he looked close to tears which almost set me off!

The hooter went off and we were off. My plan was to start off at 9-9.30miling and see how long I could keep that going. I was hopeful that it would be at least halfway. This was, with hindsight, not a very good plan.


The first 5 miles were easy. I went through in exactly 45mins. I was alarmed to see that I was 3rd (behind Dave and Mimi) but on the other hand I was running to my schedule and it felt very easy so I wasn’t too concerned.

I was wearing my 14 year old daughter’s ipod and really enjoying the music. In fact I listened to it right up to 70miles and apart from the odd song (with dodgy lyrics) I generally approved especially of the fast beat.

I went through the first marathon in 4.10 and everything was rosy.

Soon after the course goes off road and because it was raining the ankle deep grass was pretty wet. The ground was also cambered/rutted and it meant a lot of zig zag running which is not conducive to the hips etc.

The wind was now picking up. We now encountered the worst conditions of the race as it was exposed, wet under foot, rutted and we were running into a head wind.

I went through the second mara in 8.39 and again all felt fine. I was now in about 5th position. My garmin shows that my 53rd mile was 10.30 so I was still moving well at that stage.

It was around this time that Rob Treadwell went past me and we had a little chat. He then stopped to sort his feet out which I felt was a little strange. My approach was that my feet felt fine so don’t mess with them. I think on reflection, his approach would have been better!!! (I might have avoided the leg infection – see below - if I had taken better care of my feet).

Miles 68 (11.16), 69 (11.56), 70 (12.17) and 71 (13.41) show a steady deterioration!

At about 68 miles I had arranged to get from my crew a Bacon sandwich but my stomach was already in turmoil and I took one bite before handing it back to Angela. I could sense a “waste not want not” attitude from Scott hovering nearby and sure enough Angela told me later he had quickly avoided the sandwich going to waste………

I met the Slackos at 70miles and was disappointed that (contrary to my hope) I was not going to able to run strongly with them.

I ran a marathon with Rachel but at mile 80 I started to feel quite low. My stomach was in turmoil. I took some painkillers and within minutes I was very dazed and confused. In fact I felt close to collapsing. I remember running down part of the towpath and there was grass either side of it – the bit of the path I was on was moving (in the correct direction) but the grass bits were both moving the other way. I soon started feeling nauseous and unable to run.

We talked for a while when I suddenly blurted out that I couldn’t carry on any more. I actually surprised myself I said it. I felt totally empty, hopeless and devoid of energy. The thought of even being able to do another 7miles was impossible let alone another 70miles.

We meet Angela and Scott at 87 miles. I sat down on a bench and got some warm clothing on. I didn’t want to go on. Eventually they persuaded me to walk a couple of miles and see how I felt. So I hauled myself off the bench and started again – it was a massive effort.

It was now dark and we started running again through rutted and wet ground so we switched after a while to walking. Rachel kept encouraging me all the time and somehow we found ourselves at Invinghoe (96 miles) where Steve had been waiting patiently for some time!

Through a combination of 3min run/5min walk Steve and I managed to make reasonable progress to the 100mile point. There were a couple of guys there mending their feet etc. Steve was pleased I had been able to make up a couple of places! I laughed –my competitive juices were long gone! My objective now was just to get to the finish.

I had, from the start, been carrying a British Waterways key for access to a tap and toilets along the way. We got to the delightfully named Cow Roast (102miles) and I decided I would like to use the toilets there but the key wouldn’t fit the door! Unfortunately I had more things to worry about- Angela offered me a toasted hot cross bun but as I sat down to look it I had my second major bonk. I started to feel very unwell and all of a sudden I wasn’t going to make it (take 2!). They decided a sit down in the car for 10min might do the trick.

I sat in the car and pulled the duvet over me. Bliss. What seemed like 2 seconds later, Steve was tapping on the window – time to get going. You have got to be joking – that was never 10mins! I shook my head but even before I could reach the door lock, Steve had the door open and was saying “C’mon Mate lets just try walking for a bit” as he (ahem) gently “helped” me out of the car. Feeling a little manhandled and freezing cold it wasn’t a good moment – I started shivering uncontrollably. I put on extra clothing and much to my surprise it wasn’t long before we were running 3min/walking 5mins again and doing 16min miling. In retrospect that was also partly due to some rice pudding that I had eaten a little earlier and was now in my system.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to get into much of a rhythm as first I had an issue with my toes that needed a pitstop (including my toeless trainers) but then I started having a problem with the front of my left ankle. I was horrified to see that there was lump at the top of my ankle/bottom of my shin was about half the size of my fist. Not good. I put on some cold freeze and an ankle brace.

It did the trick and we started running again but it wasn’t long before I just couldn’t lift my left foot off the ground so I had to walk which was tedious for all concerned.

Slacko left me at 122 miles. I was sad to see him go. I had grossly underestimated the importance of having such good friends as buddy runners. I definitely would not have made it without their encouragement, tolerance and patience. I was ready to quit (twice) and they, along with Scott and Angela were the only reasons I didn’t………(or more accurately weren’t allowed to!! Surely there must be a law against that……).

Another friend and work colleague (Derek) met me at 126miles. I tried running with him but it was hopeless. My ankle just hurt too much. It was now grossly swollen and dark red which was alarming - I was now thinking stress fracture. Every little downhill was murder and I had to shuffle down sidewards.

I was ashamed that my friend who is new to running had to see me walking in a running race so I kept trying to run every now and again – especially as my stomach felt so much better. It also took the shine off the event for me. I had entered a running race and even though I had expected to be run/walking at some stage just walking didn’t feel right.

I met Angela at 133 miles and it was pretty much the same pattern ie walking with the occasional running effort. We were walking pretty quickly but it was very dispiriting. I had gone from walking for the first time in a running race (although in fact I had walked a small section at the Triple but not at all at the 10x1 Decairon) to it being the norm. I wasn’t a happy bunny but determined to see it through especially after getting through two very rough patches!

Angela kept me entertained with her home spun versions of US Marine type marching chants!

We had quite a long diversion just after Hamborough which although annoying, in that it added a mile or so to the distance, was actually welcome in that it gave us something to think about.

And finally we were within the last 6 miles and our pace considerably quickened – suddenly we were run/walking 15min miles although by now my ankle had become so stiff that I wasn’t very elegant! I was also finding it very difficult to work out my anticipated finishing time. One min it is 40hrs then no…….35hrs……no much more……it was a relief when I realised it was almost certain to be 36hrs something.

And so after numerous turnings when I expected to see the finish, it really did arrive! I sprinted the last 200yds and although most finishes are an anti-climax this was pure pleasure!! As I ran under the banner it just felt so good to be finally finished! Dick hung the medal around my neck and shook my hand and I said something along the lines that I had tried to give up – for the first time ever – not once but twice! He told me everyone needs a crew like that and that many people don’t realise they can get through really bad patches.

We found Scott – he had missed the finish by 10mins after driving round London for 2hrs trying to find Little Venice! I got into the back of the car and elevated my foot. When we got back to Chippenham, both Angela and myself were very concerned at how it looked so I made my way to casualty where the Doctor said it was an infection and gave me some anti-biotics.

I am now writing this nearly a week after the race and my leg is still very swollen but not quite so red. It also hurts where the ankle bends so I still think I have done some damage. I need to get it checked out. I can’t see me running for at least a few weeks.

Reflections – a great race and I am pleased I did it. I learnt a lot from the experience. NOT that I am planning to ever do it again!!

I had great support from Fix, the Slackos, Derek, Scott and of course Angela. I couldn’t have made it without them – both to the start line and to the finish line! I cannot possibly do justice to the effort they all put into this project – suffice to say I really appreciated it and they all went well beyond the call of duty!

Peter
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knightlancer




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't half whinge a lot for a hard man. Wink :p

Seriously tho, awesome stuff, great report and fantastic effort to finish with a rotten stump for a foot. Well done, that man.
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jpenno




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done on finishing and in a very respectable time

having ran a few training runs with Dave and Brian I know how much effort is required just to get to the start line.

From there its about physical and mental fitness and toughing it out when the going gets hard.

I hope the injury is not serious and that your back up and running soon
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ed_m




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nice one.
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putt putt




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

knightlancer wrote:
You don't half whinge a lot for a hard man. Wink :p



no - you are right!! Laughing Laughing
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Mrs Slacko




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

putt putt wrote:
knightlancer wrote:
You don't half whinge a lot for a hard man. Wink :p



no - you are right!! Laughing Laughing


Jeez does he Rolling Eyes Wink

It was a pleasure having you hanging off me whining your way around MK about your inability to continue and feeding you carp lines and visual imagery about being a car and Angela being a petrol station.......it was bizarre but unique and you did what you had to to get you to the end. You were marvelous! Worship and I would gladly do it again next time you need.

Seems funny now:-
Phone call to Angela 'which bridge are you at'?
Angela: 86
Me: marvellous we're at 85, see you in a mo!

as we approach the next bridge........85A...........your face putt was perfect Very Happy Very Happy
xx
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Toyota_Crown




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

putt-tational Very Happy Cool
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sailbird




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazing. Comments like "I ran a marathon at mile 80" and at 133 miles I was walking with the occasional running effort. Absolutely incredible. So much respect and very well done.
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JamesBoH




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bloody fantastic effort. Love how you can just skip over the first 70miles (!!) of running. Hope the infection doesn't last too long. I'd have paid good money to see the Casualty doc's face when you told him (or her) how you'd managed to hurt your leg. Very Happy
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steve_r




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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great race report, hope you are recovering well. Time for a bit of swimming by the sound of things. A nice 3.8k at lake 32 on the 17th June if you fancy it.
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Fix




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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mucho respect Worship Worship . You did fantastic. Your support crew Angela, Scott and the Slackos all made it happen, they deserve our congratulation too. I almost wonder if it's an unfair advantage Wink .

With insight, what would you change? Pacing, footwear / foot attention, training, nutrition? You had a very precise nutrition plan, did it help (apart for the pre-race peace of mind)? What will you do next time Twisted Evil ?
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die trying




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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always enjoy following your escapades Putt Putt. Congrats on this one which sounds really painful to be honest! Well done Scottg, Slackos, Fix, Madame Fix and the bloke from work for pushing you through. I don't know how Mrs Putt Putt manages it! Nice to see a positive nutritinal plan includuing bacon sandwiches!!! Good luck with the infection and associated recovery. Hope you are on the mend and back running ASAP.

BIG CONGRATS! Very Happy
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The Iain




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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome as ever!
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mitten.




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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

phew - that's impressive. Well done for digging so deep, mere mortals might well have given up Cool
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ed_m




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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mrs Slacko wrote:

as we approach the next bridge........85A...........your face putt was perfect Very Happy Very Happy
xx


i recall being spectacularly unimpressed by extra bridges in MK too Very Happy
i swear one of the sets went up to F.
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