Monday, 24 September 2012

Epic Fail!

What could be more simple than riding down a canal to then run back up it? Not a lot that I can think of! And so it was with utter confidence I locked my car in the car park of the Blue Bell Cider House in Hockley Heath (Checkpoint 2) to head off on my mountain bike along the canal to The Navigation Inn in Wooton Wawen.
I was running the middle leg of the JW Ultra Marathon on Saturday. A lovely 10 mile canal run. Mandy was runnning the first leg and I would hand over to Kate for the final leg. I left Checkpoint 2 at 10am with loads of time to travel the 10 miles to Checkpoint 1 to be there well in time to take on the baton from Mandy (estimated to be in about 11:20). I set off whizzing by the locks and shouting a 'good morning' to the other canal users. The weather was lovely, dry and warm, and I was looking forward to getting a decent run in race conditions under my belt. It would be my furthest run since Outlaw. This was all I had to do to get to the hand over.
15 mins in and I came to a junction which suprised me because for some reason (and despite living next to Fazeley Canal JUNCTION!) I didnt expect any junctions on a canal. My phone was in the car so I couldnt check sat nav. No problem I thought I will ask the nice man on his bike over the other side of the canal. I asked for directions to the canalside pub The Navigation Inn. This was my first mistake! Had I added Wooton Wawen or 'on the way to Stratford' I am sure he would have directed me right. Instead he said straight on. At this stage I was not aware of Mistake One so off I went.
I soon reached a 'T' junction with a right or left choice? I asked a couple which way the the canalside Navigation Inn (Mistake Two - same as One!). They said left and off I went. About a mile or so along the canal I was beginning to 'feel' that this wasnt right. I stopped another couple and asked if I was going the right way to get to the Navigation Inn but this time added 'ON THE WAY TO STRATFORD'. Of course they said no I wasnt and suggested I go back and go right at the 'T' junction. At the moment I was going away from Stratford. A fellow MTB rider (MTB Man) also confirmed this to be correct and I followed him down to the 'T' Junction. I left him by wishing him a good day and set off at some pace to make up for lost time. I should still be well in time.
As I rode along the canal I was sensing a deja vu moment. It all looked a bit familier. It looked and felt like the 22 mile canal leg I ran with Mr Happy 18 months ago during his epic JOG - LE run. That couldnt be right though as I wouldnt be going the right way!? I consoled myself with the knowledge that most canal paths look the same unless there is something out of the ordinary along the the big effin concrete tunnel/steps combo at Shrewsly. Shit on a stick I was on the route I had run 18 months before and the shit part of that stick was that it was not the route I should have been on for the JW Ultra!
I got up to the main road. Confident I shouldnt follow the canal any further I reckoned hitting the road with some local knowledge could still possibly save the day??? I asked a gentleman if he knew the way to the Navigation Inn. He said yes it was left to the crossroads, left again and straight on for 'a few miles' and it was then on the right. I also asked him the way to Wooten Wawen. That was right for quite some distance he confirmed. Decision had to be made. I asked if the pub was canalside, he said it was so I went for Left (Mistake Three).
He was right in that I got to the The Navigation Inn, he was right that it was canalside, he was right it was a few miles (he didnt warn me about the hills!), so when I got there I was gutted, absolutely gutted that there were no runners on the canal, no marshals, no effin anything!! I'd travelled 15 miles - remember this as its relevent - oh so fucking relevent - to the conclusion of this fiasco with the help of hindsight! I thought I have no choice than to head back to Shrewsly and go right to Wooten Wawen. I was completely lost.
I retackled the hills (knowing they were there to be dealt with didnt help), went through Shrewsly, headed right, spoke to another nice gentleman to stay on track and finally, finally saw a car by the side of the road at an opening to the canal. Better news still there was a runner on it and spectators who confirmed this was the JW Ultra route. I could go right against the runners down to Checkpoint One or left with the runners to Checkpoint Two. I chose right (Mistake Four) thinking they might be waiting for me, or ringing me, or ringing the emergency contact number meaning Mrs B will be worrying that I've been run over, or fallen in the canal or some other such ridiculous situation I can get myself into.
I got stung, scratched and very nearly ended up in the cut as I bounced along the somewhat overgrown canal path. I stopped to let each runner through concscious not to impede their running and finally made it to Checkpoint 1. Mark looked at me like I was a schoolboy renowned for forgetting his kit for PE about to tell the teacher I had forgotten my kit again! He said Mandy was running my leg as she was first woman through and upon realising I wasnt there she had remarked "well we're not gonna not finish!" (I think this may have been littered with expletives!). So I set off with the naive hope of catching her so she could have the bike and I could at least run some of it. I was truly unimpressed with myself. I had travelled 22 miles or so for a 10 mile journey, missed the run and most importantly made Mandy run 20 miles at 10 mile race pace! I knew she would not be pleased and rightly so.
I went as hard as i could but realistically I couldnt catch her. I passed @Meldy67 and a few other runners and wished them well. Gutted that I wasnt with them on foot! About 5 miles from the end I popped out on the canal junction where I made Mistake One. More gutted that it was all so easy had I done it right. I finally got back to Checkpoint 2 that I had left 3 hours and 14 mins earlier. I had ridden 33 miles or so. I apologised with absolute sincerity to Mandy who had blitzed the run whilst Mark and Matt ripped the piss. Something I may have to get used to!
That was my Epic Fail for the JW Ultra. I am lucky that Mandy is so forgiving and such a good runner. My disappointment was highlighted this morning when I uploaded my Garmin to realise that at about mile 15 at The Navigation Inn Lapworth (the wrong one) I was back on the canal where I had sought help from MTB Man and so only a few miles from getting back on route and perhaps getting to meet Mandy only half way into the second leg. If only I'd......................

Thursday, 13 September 2012


This is a ridiculous concept. As if an Ironman isnt hard enough I am going to do Outlaw 2013 Ironman in a Morphsuit! At least the ride and run sections. The swim is in the air at the moment as to whether I can do it in the suit because in water the Morphsuit material holds the water creating a CIA Waterboarding effect and I simply dont think that will be condusive to a good swim! I am looking to see if there is a way of working it out and will be testing at Dosthill Quarry in due course.
I have received confirmation from the British Triathlon Federation and One Step Beyond that I can compete in the suit so now the most ridiculous idea ever (doing the Ironman) has just got a little bit more ridiculous. The buzz I felt yesterday when registering again for Outlaw was great. Seeing lots of others registering and at a rapid pace, was fantastic and I think the event will be full within days rather than weeks!
I did of course do VLM12 in the Morphsuit (and it was really really hard) and I saw at least 10 other Morphs on the course but to the best of my knowledge no one has done an Ironman Triathlon in a Morphsuit. This year I finished with 15 mins to spare and I was of course just two minutes within the bike/run cut off time. At Outlaw 2013 the goal is a sub 15 hours Ironman finish to become the first Ironmorph. (feel free to correct me if I am wrong and someone has done this before - if for no other reason I would want to pick their brains - if indeed either of us has one!)
Design suggestions for the suit are welcome. Its a blank canvas at the moment. My initial thoughts are a white suit (easiest to print on) with Birmingham Children's Hospital on the chest and the Outlaw symbol on the face. I wrote a few things on my legs last year so may have something equally inspiring printed there too. The back is open to suggestions?
Fingers are now crossed for an injury/lurgy free training schedule as I wish for everyone else doing it as quite a few had their 2012 Outlaw efforts ruined with injury!
In other news I am on a runstreak! 9 days completed and todays lunchtime 4 miler will be my 10th. I was looking for something to provide a bit of focus in between events and I am enjoying it. As my distances improve I am hoping that this will give me a base for attempting an Ultra run at some point in the future - probably 2014 - purely because it seems impossible. The problem of course is that after Outlaw12 I did say publicly to you all that I dont ever want to hear you say you can't! I've kinda gotta be ruled by that myself!
I am also doing the 5km x 50 days challenge for Sport Relief. You can run, bike or swim or walk the 5k each day. It fits in nicely with my runstreak. Today will be my 5th day of that.
Both will help me toward 2012 miles in 2012. This should have been done and dusted before Outlaw this year but of course the disrupted training meant that my mileage was far less than it should have been. I am at 1302 with approx 15 weeks to go. I need to be hitting 48 miles a week which is certainly doable with a few decent rides thrown in.
As an aside my blog stats tell me that most of you that look upon it do so through the links I post on FB or Twitter. A few have stumbled on it by google search. Here is a list of the top 5 searches that brought people here this last week:-
'Abbots Bromley Lake' - thats quite nice
'Fat people Morphsuits' - somewhat less nice
'Altered smell imiquimod' - facial skin cancer reference
'Bald Outlaw' - made me chuckle
'Runner Famous' - I wish!
Quick shout out to @JWultra @ajh1269 & @madlot1 all doing the JW Ultra race this month. To @walkingunited who finishes his 2500 mile 92 Football Club walk for BNIB and Leukemia Research at Anfield this coming Monday, @mjgreenfield for his Henley Ironman this weekend and everyone doing IM Wales this weekend too!
I am off to to runstreak and 5x50 to my hearts content in the hope that come January I will hit the Outlaw 2013 training trail very much running!! Hope you all got in that wanted to and enjoy the journey. If you see a Morph out running, cycling or swimming do not be scared just give me a wave!