Tag Archives: geocaching

31 Mile Canal Path. Birmingham – Worcester – Why Use a Narrowboat?

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OK So I said I’d write a report on my long run yesterday of 31 miles so here we go.

The route was across the Worcester and Birmingham Canal Towpath in the UK. With 3 off path diversions. It starts just before Bath Row in Birmingham UK and ends just along side Worcester High Street (also in the UK).

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The distance was ran in 6:31:14 (hr:min:sec) which is a similar pace (12:37 min/mi) to first time I ran it. This was the 4th time running this route. Although there wasn’t much progress on the time the terrain was much more technical than the first time. There was a lot of boggy mud and there was enough ice to top back up the Artic. Not just little bits of lite ice you that you can plod along, but sometimes thick sheets on road downhills like this. There was also plenty of ice on narrow curving downhill stone paths under bridges on the canal in which one I went right on my ass and just decided to slide down to the bottom.
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This was a ‘luxury’ route because the actual overall elevation gain was less than the loss. The gain was 768 ft and the loss was 1 145 ft. This didn’t make it any easier to the end of the course though but it was welcome of course.
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The night before the event I had a nice portion of chilli con beans and rice. I eat this all the time and I never have problems with it so was perfect comfort food for me.

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On the morning of the long run I had a smoothie with 500ml water, 4 bananas, half punnet blueberries, half punnet raspberries and a large mango. I also tossed in a handful of spinach and a tablespoon of agave nectar to sweeten it more.

For the run I had a mixture of energy bars and fruit bags. I also had a packet of Vegan cola bottles. I don’t normally take sweets with me but rather what I fancy just before and I spotted these… they did the trick for later in the day. I bought coconut also for the fat but I forgot to take this with me. Never noticed and to be fair the bars are a blend of nuts and dates anyway. The fruit bags were ok but I didn’t realise that most of them were laced with sugar so I’ll get the whole dried fruits again next time rather than this overpriced candy!
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A word on gels because someone recently brought this subject up. They mentioned doesn’t food like this take longer to fuel you when you have it as a pose to gels? Yes they might, but you should never actually be allowing your body to get to the point that you must have energy right now or things will go tits up. Eating foods at regular intervals will keep you fueled much better without so many spikes. I have only ever hit the wall once when out running longer distances. I ate a bar an hour and fruit bags as and when I fancied something a little more as a treat. I have only ever used gels once and they were vile foul things! To me (and a lot of people) eating is one of the finest pleasures EVER and if I can combine my pleasure for eating along with my love for running. Well then I’m in ecstasy. Are your gels pleasing you? Well then maybe try something different. It might just work. Then again it might not. Not everyone can hold food down when running whereas I’m known for stopping at a store and buying a large pack of potato chips/crisps and eating them all in one go plodding along still running.

After the run there was a bit of a distaster with food. I ate a big pack of potato chips/crisps from the store at the end and then later had ciabatta toast and sunflower oil and then after this I had a vegan pepperoni pizza takeaway. I did keep up with my fluids though :O

For my equipment I took with me my WAA ultra bag 20L + 4L WAA front pouch. With modifications the 20L bag was 570g the cover was 40g and the front pouch was  185g making it 795g. I probably didn’t need a bag of this size for such a short distance but I am training with it as it’s the bag I will use for my longer runs and T184 Mile Endurance Race.
I also took a very basic home made first aid kit, a few sheets of toilet paper and an emergency blanket coming to 219g. I took my camera which was 100g and my phone to connect with you all when I finished 😉 Apart from these all I took was a little dinero for the train home, a thin fleece jacket, beanie hat and dry gloves to warm me up at the end. The overall weight came to 5kg without water. Then 1.5L water was all I needed.

The temperature was not much over zero or hovering around that. I decided to wear a base layer tight tshirt, a long sleeve running tshirt over that and then my waterproof outer shell jacket ontop of this. I also wore my buff as a beanie hat and wore long base layer tights. I know some people hate it but I did wear tight boxers under these too. My reason being because when I pee I don’t always manage to fully drain off when in a rush to keep going. This extra layer makes this less important. Probably something the girls didn’t want to know but I’m certain many guys have this problem too! My sneeks choice was a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3 Trail sneaks along with a pair of gaiter socks to keep crap out of them! Finally I wore a pair of cheap running gloves.
It certainly was a cold start at 7:45am just as the sun was rising. At about half way I did take off my gloves and then around mile 20 I took my hat off too.
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The morning promised good sunny clear skies to be had throughout the day and that was true for the entire journey. In fact it stayed sunny right until we got onto the train back home! Then it rained and it rained hard and was overcast!

The lack of clouds and rain didn’t make the ground any easier for running though. The mud and ice made things a bit slower throughout than we may have wanted to go. But we soldiered on and found this tricky terrain would give us a bit more of a challenge which ultimately allowed us to enjoy the experience even more.

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The first half of the run was a doddle really. We chatted and caught up on whats been going on in eachothers lives and work etc and ticked off the miles without hardly even looking at our devices.

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That’s David by the way. David hadn’t ran anything beyond 23.2 miles before this run and he said that shorter run nearly killed him. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t capable of this kind of distance though! If you ever saw any of his training runs and races he’s a pretty fast runner even when he hasn’t had much time to put in the training! He kept mentioning how he might have the speed but I have the endurance. So I was looking forward to showing him that if he slowed down a bit he’d find that wasn’t the case.

It was absolutely awesome watching us tick off the 23.2 miles and then the 26.2 mile achievements for him and then the 30 and 31 for the finish. He kept soldiering on and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he might do at this course on his own some time.

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About half way I wanted to pick up a Geocach in the local area as I don’t often get that far out in that direction and knew it would be an easy one right on our path so I picked that up and we signed our names on the paper and gave it a new sealed bag lol. I think this along with an electrolyte drink store stop and taking some snaps probably lost us about 15 minutes of the run but it wasn’t a race and these things added to the experience.
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Once we got to about mile 18 as per usual I began getting this real burning feeling on the bottom of my feet. Well actually it was only very mild at mile 18 through to about 23 then it was really bothering me. We reduced from running long stretches to running 5 minutes and walking 5 minutes on and off. We did this for a while and then at about mile 26 we began increasing the length of the runs by a minute or two here and there.

My feet where throbbing with a burning aching pain on the bottoms and David said that we should stop if it gets too bad. I tried to remind him that I aint stopping. I’m already in pain and might as well get a reward for it… as the inspirational speaker Eric Thomas says. “if I say I’m going to do something then I do it we are finishing this run at mile 31”.
My mind was ready for the long haul and the rest of my body was. But my feet cried. Which began to show on my face.

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So we kept going and then I realised I’d completely stopped looking at my Garmin GPS watch and when I next looked we were at 30.31 miles or something. As we got closer to 31 miles I picked up the pace and started legging it to the 31 mile mark as quickly as I could. My watch marked 31 miles and I stopped and threw my arms up in arm going “wohooo”. What an accomplishment for both of us and I believe David finished much stronger than myself.
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We then went to a local store to get something to eat on the train and to Costa to grab a quick coffee. I had a nice Americano with Soya for myself.
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Overall I know this long run doesn’t amount to a great deal. According to my training plan to prepare myself for the T184 endurance run I should be running this distance another 7 times and running beyond this up to 50 miles another 4 times. Though you need these little accomplishments to keep you focused on the bigger goals. To keep you going “hell yeah I can do this…. I have done 30 I can do anything!” This is not the case right away lol but that’s how my bipolar mind works. In fact I believe partly my bipolar helps me to keep pushing on and wanting to reach extreme levels in my running.

When I woke up today (the day after the run) I was worried I wouldn’t be able to walk much for recovery let alone a recovery run. I struggled on the last times I ran this distance. But my feet seemed to be better and I managed to get out and do a nice gentle 4 mile recovery run. I then came home and did my regular post run stretch and felt my body would benefit from an additional Vinyasa Yoga session this week to flex out my muscles and aid recovery.

Bring on the next challenge!
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Geocaching

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So as part of my training I had decided from January that for every mile I ran I would also walk. Of course this is not practical on a long run weekend. It wouldn’t be very good to go out and run 30-50 miles and then walk the same that day. I would make the miles up during the week on my shorter runs.
It all seemed a great idea at first until it came to my first day running 5 miles and walking 9. I managed to walk 3 miles and run 5. I have no problem with the running part but seriously lack motivation to actually walk for training. I can’t let this continue because when I am fast packing (run/walking long distances) I will need to be able to walk long distance as well as run. I can’t solely run the 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path in England!

Then I heard about Geocaching. Geocaching is when other people place a landmark in which you have to go and find. Sometimes they will leave something there for the seekers like a notepad and pen to write your name on.  You can also log your own for others to go and find! You can set the difficulty too.

I checked out this website called www.geocaching.com . I popped in my postcode and asked them to show me all locations within a 10 mile radius and was presented with 2007 results! I tried again within 20 miles and I got 6866 results!

I have decided to use this as a means to get me out there exploring and actually walking the mileage I’m supposed to be walking as part of my training.

The website is actually free to join. There are many you can access without being a paying member. You can print out the details and clues. As a paying member you get access to ALL activities. You can also download the details to your smart phone, smart GPS watch or GPS tracking device etc.

I’m seriously looking forward to trying this out.