The UTMB 2011 a few after thoughts and photos

Having had a break from running over the last week, I have had time to mull over the race and also my last ultra-race, the Highland Fling back in April. Yes I did do the Highland Fling. I had to look through my Blog to see if I had posted on it. It wasn’t a shock to discover that I hadn’t. I meant this Blog to be about the highs and lows of running, so I was a little disappointed in myself for not reporting this disappointing performance. The main reason for the poor run was a chest infection which lasted about 3 months, spanning Christmas and continuing up to late February. I could not train at all through this period and lost most of my base fitness. I didn’t have enough time to gain any fitness other than my base level.  This resulted in a finishing time of 10 hours 23 and 79th place, my personal worst by 54 minutes to a point where I nearly missed my bus back to Milngavie!

Ultra running is all about the preparation both physical and mental. They are both trained at the same time. So without the long runs to facilitate this physical and mental training it is very hard to get the best out of yourself. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, at the end of the Fling I was shattered, but this was at a much slower pace than I knew I was capable of running. In essence I was running much less efficiently and had a depleted cardio system to deal with it.

It was good to get back to a good performance at the UTMB. I had had a good uninterrupted stint of training leading up to it. This gave me confidence to perform and get the best out of myself. I even coped well with the uncertainties that surrounded the event. Firstly the start time being delayed 5 hours and the course shortened, and secondly finding out the course had been re-routed, and extended to miss out Bovine, and whilst at the point in the run where it had changed.

The delayed start ruined my race plan. Which was to try to finish in 28 hours (or better) thus meaning that I would have only 1 long period of night and then finish just as it would be getting dark (22:30). I would maybe have had about 9 hours of dark on this proper UTMB course and correct start time. But with the delay and the extra Matigny section it meant I would have two long periods of darkness totalling about 13 hours. The 5 extra hours definitely cost me some time, maybe 40 minutes couple this with an extra 5 km and 200m ascent and I think that I would have made that 28 hours target.

So taking all this into account I can only be pleased with my effort. I think I will have another go in 2013 but I will hopefully drag some support over there with me to try and compete with the sharp end of the field. I think I spent about 1 hour 40 minutes in CPs. With support I think I could get this down to 20 minutes. This combined with a bit more specific training and more confidence in my ability should equal a faster time.

I had my first run today. It was only 7 miles but I managed it reasonably comfortably. My legs ached a little around the quads and my right big toe was a bit sore but generally I was o.k. Things are looking good for a quick recovery so I will have to think of another race later in the year.

Below are a few pictures from Chamonix, highlighting the tendency for the weather to be nice in the day then stormy into the evening, also showing the start of the long PTL kind of race. Lastly my damaged right toe nail, the left looked much the same. This was taken straight after the run. I’ll have to practice at not kicking rocks for next time!


Nick said...

We both did HF and UTMB. I was rubbish on both counts but your extensive mountain training clearly paid dividends for your UTMB result.

aka Johny Smash said...

isn't that ironic, I had one of the worst runs of my life and came 80th in this years fling. we were probably on the same bus back to Milngavie! And one of my goals is to get a sub 30 in the UTMB one day - you've just waxed that. nice one.


Yes the training on european soil was no bad thing.
Johny Smash
The bus I got back had a guy resting / being ill on the floor lying full stretch in the isle. Probably the same one. You realy need to be at the top of your game or the Highland Fling is long enopugh and tough enough to find you out.