Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Week 38/39 - US Centurion !

Week 38 & 39


Time Avg
Elev Gain
Elev Loss
Calories HR
23rd Sep Rest Day
24th - 25th Sep 100.00 160.93 21:53:52 13:07 4.6 0 0 11,554 - -
26th Sep Travel to Washington DC
27th Sep Holiday
28th Sep Holiday
29th Sep Holiday
Week 39 100.00 160.93 21:53:52 - - 11,554
Week 38 17.00 27.36 03:11:21 602 645 1695
Week 37 25.00 40.23 04:29:44 1,056 912 2968
Week 36 34.10 55.00 06:32:30 0 0 3925
Week 35 24.80 40.00 04:40:34 0 0 3010
Week 34 0.00 0.00 --:--:-- 0 0 0
Week 33 34.50 55.52 06:16:57 478 469 4,116
Week 32 38.50 61.96 07:05:30 1,206 1,138 4,238
Week 31 26.10 42.00 04:51:20 900 957 2,593
Week 30 34.00 54.72 06:18:57 1234 1166 3,771
Week 29 46.50 74.83 08:41:00 1756 1625 4,951
Week 28 37.81 60.86 06:59:57 902 809 4,705
Week 27 8.00 12.87 01:30:27 301 302 1,020
Week 26 0.00 0.00 00:00:00 0 0 0
Week 25 85.00 136.79 17:49:35 1671 1629 10,643
Week 24 19.20 30.90 03:43:53 584 559 2,085
Week 23 30.70 49.41 05:54:07 1453 1574 3,199
Week 22 24.10 38.79 04:44:25 804 813 2,544
Week 21 28.00 45.06 05:20:25 947 966 3,305
Week 20 50.00 80.47 09:47:18 - - -
Week 19 19.50 31.38 03:45:04 528 655 2,220
Week 18 28.44 45.77 05:26:59 858 901 3,306
Week 17 48.10 77.36 09:05:52 1023 1082 5,723
Week 16 32.00 51.50 05:43:26 800 837 3,850
Week 15 18.00 28.97 03:24:26 571 582 2,333
Week 14 0.00 0.00 00:00:00 0 0 0
Week 13 21.72 34.95 04:03:13 229 249 2,505
Week 12 21.21 34.14 03:40:53 578 481 2,499
Week 11 53.27 85.72 09:59:05 1501 1296 6,240
Week 10 41.50 66.79 07:46:54 882 773 4,872
Week 9 21.00 33.80 03:53:34 547 545 2,631
Week 8 27.43 44.14 05:02:31 421 416 3,176
Week 7 35.87 57.73 06:41:54 829 927 4,444
Week 6 24.82 39.94 04:36:11 395 443 2,830
Week 5 27.70 44.58 05:24:26 671 656 3,235
Week 4 31.50 50.69 06:11:56 806 831 3,528
Week 3 36.50 58.74 06:58:54 873 825 4,390
Week 2 29.70 47.82 05:37:20 629 621 3,720
Week 1 30.00 48.28 05:51:27 629 580 3,633
TOTAL 1211.57 1950.00 9 days 17:05:57 26,664 26,264 135,457
To go   41.12 66.00

Apologies for the delayed blog.  I haven't really had a lot of time to myself since getting back from the US as I had a couple of very busy weeks at work and then I was away in London again for a long weekend. 

A few computer issues didn't help either.  I did write a post for week 38 but was going to wait until I had written weeks 39 and 40 and then publish all 3 at once, but I just realised after writing this post that my draft of week 38 had vanished! 

Not sure what happened there, maybe Google Blogger only allows 1 "draft" post at a time, but it could have warned me when I started this one!  At least I didn't start week 40 and lose this one too!

In summary my week 38 (pre 100 mile) post was that I covered 17 miles over 2 sessions, a similar distance to the week before the Parish Walk. 

We headed out to New York via Dublin (slightly quicker flight time and US Immigration pre clearance being a bonus) on Wednesday 21st, flying into Newark airport and hiring a car for the 200 mile drive to Owego, arriving there around 8pm.  We chose Newark as it makes the drive much easier and quicker.  If we had flown into JFK we would have had to spend a few hours getting through the city first.

On Thursday we took the opportunity to drive to Niagara Falls which is 'only' 200 miles from Owego, so a 400 mile road trip altogether.  A bit of a difference from the drive to see a waterfall at one of our many Glen's but well worth it.  The falls were impressive, however I was less impressed with the hotels and casinos that had been built up on the Canadian side of the river as they were just an eyesore really.

After picking up my timing chip and race number on Friday we headed over to Marvin park to check out the venue for the walk.  It must have been around 2pm when we got there and it was hot!  It had been pretty hot all week but the temperature at the park just seemed to jump several degrees and easily felt +25 degrees (Celsius).

I did a very slow stroll around the 1k loop with Maeve and was really starting to worry about the temperature because at the end of the lap I just wanted to get back into the car and turn the AC on. 

The temperature was forecast to drop for the weekend and I just had to hope it would, and sure enough when Saturday morning arrived it did feel a little cooler, but still hot and not a lot of cloud cover from the direct sun.

The US Centurion race I entered on 18th November 2015 and had been training towards for the past 38 weeks was finally here!

As I have mentioned in previous posts, with these long races I always have a Plan A, B and C and this was no different.

Plan A was sub 20 hours, which is 12:00 minute miles, or 5mph average.  I based this on my 50 mile race result in Holland in May where my average was 11:44 per mile, or 5.1 average, for a time of 09:47:18. 

Since Holland I had also achieved a good PB in the Parish Walk, averaging 12:34 over 85 miles so I figured I should be able to average 12:00 on a flat course.

Plan B was a 100 mile PB which I think is around 23h:11m from when I qualified as a UK Centurion in 2013.  I don't have the exact time to hand as I didn't stop at 100 miles and just walked for the full 24 hours.  I only managed an extra 3 miles in that last 49 minutes, but that was still enough to be UK 24 Hour National Champion, a title I technically still hold as there was no UK 24 hour event in 2014, 2015 or 2016!

Plan C was just to finish within 24 hours.

In this years Parish Walk I started at a slower pace than previous years in the hope I could maintain it for longer and avoid the big pace drop off after Peel.  It was a little frustrating as I knew I could walk quicker but it certainly paid off in the long run, so my plan for the 100 was to do exactly the same thing. 

Plan A needed an average of 12:00 so my target was no quicker than 11:45 pace, same as my 50 mile average, and just try and hold it for as long as possible before the inevitable drop off.

Everyone raring to go :

My first mile was a little quicker (11:32) but I just put that down to adrenaline, and the next few miles were 11:41, 11:35 and 11:40, a tad quicker than plan, so I eased back a bit for 11:47, 11:54, 11:48, 11:55, 12:06, and mile 10 was exactly target pace of 11:45.

It was just before 2pm now and the heat was well and truly rising again, with no cloud cover from the sun on one half of the lap and decent cover and a nice breeze down the other half.  The temperature was a little cooler than yesterday but it was still getting uncomfortably hot so I thought it would be best just to ease the pace back a touch for the next few hours, and the next 12 miles were all around 12:00 pace.

The Isle of Man support team, Sarah Bassett and Maeve Jones, hard at work.   

It was still really hot around 5pm and I was just starting to feel the affects of 5 hours walking in the heat, with a little light headedness and feeling a bit queezy so I just backed the pace off a little more and focussed on trying to get some food and drink down me on each 1k lap.

My pace now was around 12:15 which felt comfortable and I had no interest in trying to pick the pace up as it got cooler.  There was still up to 17 hours walking ahead of me and I just knew this wasn't the right time to chase Plan A, so this had now become Plan A1, sub 21 hours.

Too much talking ! - with John Kilmartin. 

I also realised at this point that I hadn't been to the loo yet (in 7 hours) which was a sure sign that I wasn't drinking enough.  This caught up with me a few days later while we were in Washington DC and I developed a kidney infection, most likely caused through dehydration.

I was taking a drink of something on almost every 1k lap (every 7-8 minutes), and I was also carrying my own drinks bottle which was refilled a number of times during the afternoon but it obviously wasn't enough with the heat.

As it got cooler, which it did pretty quickly once darkness fell, I put on some extra layers of clothes, had my first loo stop and just settled into a comfortable pace for the long night ahead, and what a night it was!

Prior to the race I hadn't really given much thought to 'the night shift' other than sunrise would be around 7am, so when darkness fell around 7pm the realisation hit me that there was 12 hours of darkness ahead.

In the Parish walk (and the recent 100 mile events held on the island) darkness sets in around 10pm, with sunrise around 5am so 'only' 7 hours of darkness to walk through.

My pace now had dropped to around 12:30 and my main target was to stay under 13:00 pace until at least the half way point, which I managed until mile 54 (13:04). 

It was now just after 11pm, and in addition to another 8 hours of darkness ahead the temperature had been continually dropping, falling to around 3 degrees Celsius, a huge drop of nearly 20 degrees from 5 hours earlier.

Despite wearing 2 hats (my 'Up and Running' tube/buff and a cap), coat and gloves I was still feeling the cold and the worst part was knowing the sun wasn't going to break through for another 8 hours. 

I really wasn't expecting such a drop in temperature, I don't think anyone was, so I hadn't brought my extra 'sub zero' base layer that I use whenever training through the winter.

Unfortunately the cold weather resulted in the 2 other British entrants, James Bassett (Isle of Man) and Sailash Shah (Birmingham) retiring from the race.

My pace averaged around 13:20 from mile 54 to 75 until my Garmin battery died just before 4am at 75 miles (which was a 13:34 mile).

By this time I had numerous blisters on each foot, chafing in a few uncomfortable areas, a painful left foot (which hadn't quite recovered from the Parish) but not once did I ever consider quitting.  Sunrise, and heat, was only 3 hours away !

After switching to my spare Garmin my pace had dropped further to around 14:00 minute miles as I also found myself stopping for the loo a lot more (every few miles) and also slowing down while I drank hot coffee and soup. 

My brain was all over the place now and I couldn't really compute the pace I needed to finish but I knew sub 16:00 minute miles would be enough. 

Finally around 6:30am the sky started to lighten but we were met with freezing fog rather than some warming rays from the sun!  It wasn't until around 8am that the fog lifted and the temperatures finally started to rise.

Still managing a smile despite the freezing fog.  Not far to go now!

My second, much older, Garmin died after 20 miles but I really didn't care anymore.  I had about 3.5 hours left to cover 5 miles so I was just counting down the laps rather than worrying about pace. 

With around 8 laps (8km) left and the sun starting to warm things up my brain started working again and I calculated that while I had missed plan A1 (sub 21), I was on target for sub 22 so I just kept focussed on the clock as I crossed the line on each lap.

Finally after 160 laps and the longest and coldest night I have ever walked through I started my final lap, collecting the Manx flag from Maeve on the way and finally crossing the line in 21:53:52, finishing in 3rd place overall and recording a personal best in the 100 miles by 1 hour 18 minutes.

2 minutes later...

7 new US Centurions

From left to right:

Eddy Goeman, Belgium 19:16:50 US Centurion #81
Me!, Isle of Man 21:53:52 US Centurion #83
Christer Svensson, Sweden 20:14:50 US Centurion #82
Sandra de Graaff, Netherlands 23:45:12 US Centurion #86
Erin Talcott, USA 23:31:05 US Centurion #85
Luc Soetewey, Belgium 23:06:23 US Centurion #84
Albertus van Ginkel, Netherlands 23:48:17 US Centurion #87

A huge congratulations to everyone who took part in the event, and a big thank you to the organisers,  Dave and Erin, and all of the volunteer helpers and supporters.

A special thank you to my wife, Maeve, who provided me support and motivation throughout the race despite the freezing conditions through the night.

I am pleased to say that Dave and Erin will be hosting the event again in 2017 (September 23/24) and if anyone is considering a US Centurion event I would most definitely recommend this one.

And don't forget, the second part of my challenge is to try and raise £2,016 for Finley's Tracks and all donations are welcome here.  A big thank you to everyone who has already sponsored me online or offline, and to those who have pledged to donate later.

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