Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Weekend warriors...

And so, having run out of excuses, the first big training weekend arrived for Atomic Hamster. Mr A arrived promptly at Hamster Mansions and Team Overall plus the Squishy one headed off to put their stamp on the Rhayader 20, the Rhayader 20 having singularly failed to put a stamp on the race information we'd been sent...

Despite the presence of a storm-lamp on the table, the weather was pretty pleasant for the race...and there were remarkably few dead sheep. Everywhere you go, always take the weather with ewe indeed. Mr A had gut problems from around mile 8, while your correspondent was resisting the urge to throw up; the hills were almost alive with the sound of Drew sick. There wasn't much singing, but we did manage to crack the 'two fish swimming along when one crashes into a concrete wall and says 'dam'' joke as we passed the, er, dam. As delerium set in, I also coined 'two scarecrows in a field, one says to the other 'can you smell snowmen?'. No, it wasn't even funny at the time, to be honest...

At mile 17, we located a caravan site and one half of Team Andrex retired for a pit stop. It was then just a case of jogging it out for the T shirt; 3:22 and shrapnel meant that we ran the Transalp requirement of 10 min miling.

Day 2 dawned before dawn, as it were, broke. Forcing down breakfast at 4am is never easy. Into the car, then off to Eastnor Castle to ride the Lightning. Even though we were sharp-dressed men in our Pirate gear, we barely had legs and didn't know how to use them. I was first off at 6am, to discover that the first 2k of the 9.3k course was entirely uphill. Nice touch, Raymondo, er Patrick. First lap done in just under the hour, hand the baton to Mr A, wait for him to come in just under an hour later, repeat...only progressively more slowly. Mr A was standing up manfully, my hips locked up and refused to allow more than a shuffle. There were many pitstops for both members of Team Overall. Portaloo, couldn't escape if I wanted to...

Twelve hours later it was over; we'd covered about 30 miles each over hilly, muddy terrain, the day after logging 20 on the road. We'd finished sixth male pair. Admittedly there were fewer than 7 male pairs entered, but a kill's a kill.

Thanks to Mr A for the company and Squish for the support. It's like a big upside-down squirrel.

The other A-H

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Race Report and other stuff......

The race report, for any that haven't seen it and were wondering what TOAH was on about......

Race Report Day 1: 29.3 miles along the flat Grantham canal. Plan was to run at 10 min/mile pace, eat & drink well, keep Mr H company and finish. Mr H was ill with a virus, so I was down to 3 targets. By checkpoint 3, at 15mile, I had foolishly forgotten to eat & drink well, but was happy to arrive in 2hrs 25m. 2 down 2 to go......, additionally, having surpassed my longest training run of the year by the halfway stage, my legs decided they didn't want to function. So, miles 15-21 took a little under 2hrs wich put paid to another of my targets, which left me with 'to finish'. After another hour and some, I crossed the finish line in Grantham and thought, hey Meatloaf... 1 out of 4 ain't bad. The remainder of the day was spent walking around (much like the last 10 miles of the Ultra), eating & drinking (totally unlike any of the Ultra) and watching Alice in Wonderland in 3D.

Race Report Day 2: Woke up at 0630, stretched walked about a bit, felt soreness in right achilles, decided that whilst I'd be able to start the 2nd 29.3 miles, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to finish it, so decided to withdraw. 1 Ultra is blaggable, a 2nd in 2 days probably is as well, but I've bigger races to prepare for, the risk was too great. Went back to bed.

So there we have it.

So... yes, nutrition, very important. Had a quick look at my Garmin which recorded the 1st day of the race (but not the 2nd, obviously! (see above for reason)), and apparently, I used over 3000 calories during the run. Now, the generally agreed calorific intake for a male is 2500 calories per day, and that's before taking into account the exercise. Using the frequently used, and highly accurate guess-o-meter: pasta meal Friday night 600cal, porridge 400cal, 1lt SiS PSP22, 2 energy gels, 4 mini mars bars and a bottle of coke probably doesn't equate to the 3000cal deficit. In fact it might be hard pressed to get close to the 2500cals needed to sit on a couch!

Lesson learnt (again) or maybe not.. it's been suggested that, since I'm rubbish at remembering to fuel correctly, and since I get distracted easi-oh look a rabbit; bring forth the holy hand grenade of Antioch. And the Lord did grin and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and large chu - I shall be adopting a Pavlov's dog style of nutrition training; my ever faithful stopwatch will now beep every 20 minutes which should be the cue for me to take on some nutrition. As some Bare Naked Ladies once sang so eloquently, ring a bell and I'll salivate. Woof!

So, Rhyader beckons, and TOAH will be available to keep me on the straight and narrow (unless it's a corner), just like an arrow....

Till next time, pop pickers

Do you have a Flag?

Atomic Hamster

Monday, 15 March 2010

A Cunning Plan!

When Dave first said to me 'Let's do the Transalpine Run, it's for injured ex-soldiers', my first thought was 'Blimey, we could win that!', but as reality dawned, I realised the entry list was full of professional mountain runners and he'd meant in aid of the seriously injured. Last place was looking a possibility, even with doing lots of 'training' and 'losing weight', whatever they are.

Then I came up with a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel.

We simply change the name of our pairing to Team Overall.

Thus when anyone asks how we did, we can reply, completely truthfully, that we were the first Team Overall. As long as we make no effort to correct the misapprehension, we should be left bathing in the warm glow of the admiration of others, without having to break sweat.

I am, like Michael Foot, a leg end in my own lifetime. You'll need a tray...

The other A-H

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Thanks to the pharmacological interventions of the NHS' finest (and in addition taking what was in the back of the cupboard) the latter half of Atomic Hamster is restored to rude good health. I am a drug tsar, what can I say? I managed a five mile run yesterday and was good to go again today, except that fate decreed that I spend most of it driving in my car (it's not quite a Jaguar)...the second sign of Madness indeed...

It seems that the former half of AH has missed me too, though his aim is improving. In his promised race report, you will see that he 'forgot to eat', an excuse much beloved of svelte fit wenches, anorexics and people with suicidal tendencies. You see, gentle reader, you can call it the knock, a bonk or hitting the wall, but the last thing you want to do in an endurance event, especially when you have another one planned next day, is run out of carbs. The sudden 'why has my body stopped working? Why has my brain stopped working?' feeling that this produces is unpleasant in the extreme...and not conducive to dragging your sorry arse onwards for another several miles. In the absence of paracetamoxifrusebendroneomycin (which also reverses impotence and makes you good at fighting) eating is the only way to stop this. I could've reminded him. It's nice to be needed...

I bet he missed my singing too.

The coming weekend sees us at Rhayader for a 20 mile jogette round the oh-so-gentle contours of the local reservoirs. It's an undulating half marathon with two short sharp climbs and an eff-off 3.5 mile hill tacked on the front. It also has WEATHER.

And dead sheep.

It can be wild up there.

People have finished this race with PTSD. I had my first taste of hypothermia here.

And this is only the thunderbolt of Saturday.

On Sunday at 6am, it's the Lightning 12 hour at the 'very flat honest, guv' Eastnor Park. Set them free at the break of dawn 'Til one by one, they were gone. Now admittedly, we'll only run for 6 hours each, wussing out compared to the big boys and girls doing the whole thing solo, but on tired legs, it could be a challenge. Every one's a super-hero, every one's a Captain Kirk...

It has some minor side effects and some are not that rare...

Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening thing; I'll have the penne alla arrabiata...

The other A-H

Friday, 5 March 2010

Antibiotics or Death?

I'll take the Antibiotics please.....

As the 1st training weekend for Atomic Hamster beckons, it is with regret to inform our fellow followers that one of us may not be fit to compete. It's always tough to take the decision to withdraw from a race; there's the time and energy committed to the training, the fear of 'letting your team-mate down' and that nagging doubt that perhaps you're not really that ill and that maybe you should HTFU. But when all things are considered (sleepness nights, blocked sinus, fatigue etc) then the obvious choice is not to compete. There will be more races, more training weekends and the ultimate goal of an 8 day A-race in September.

So, one of the 2-man tag team will be wandering aimlessly along the canal in Lincolnshire, admiring the rolling landscape and the speed of the other competitors, and wondering if there's a better way to spend the 1st weekend in March. The other team member will be taking pills and aiming for a full recovery in time for the Rhyader 20 in a couple of weeks.

Race report to follow.........

They gave me a name, I was called Grrrrrr

Atomic Hamster