I have been back from the MDS for 8 weeks now and one thing I can truly say is that it has certainly left its mark on me! I remember the last couple of days in the desert just wanting the whole thing to be over, but as soon as the race had finished my initial thought was "I could have done better.."
I have my sights firmly set on coming back in 2015 and I hope that by having learnt so much in my first outing I can come back stronger, faster and more prepared to hopefully achieve the things I wanted to in my first attempt.
So what have I been upto in the last 8 weeks or so? Well, here in Jersey I have turned into somewhat of a local celebrity! I had a great interview with the local newspaper and also an appearance on the local news and a local kids TV show "Puffins Plaice" The local media appearances have helped to boost my fundraising attempts and I am now over the £13,000 mark raised for Jersey Hospice Care.
Initially I was very tired and lethargic after getting back from Morocco, and for about 3 weeks I could not stop eating with sugary snacks and stuff that generally wasnt very good for me being what my body craved. This seems to have calmed down now thank god, as I would have been rolling around my next race otherwise!
I think after the focus of the last years building to the MDS upon completing it I was in a bit of an in-between place for a week or so. I had set myself goals for after the MDS but nothing major so it was important for me to get a few things set up to give me that reassuring goal to be heading towards. So... I am confirmed on the Spine Race in January, entitled "Britains most brutal race" it is a 270 mile in 7 days jaunt across the Pennine Way in the middle of winter! I must admit to being very tentative about this race as I have read blogs of people who have taken part in the race, which will be in its third year this year and it seems brutal, as promised! To get me ready however I have set up training weekends over the coming year every 6 weeks to 2 months apart in various mountainous areas in the UK to try and get experience of the mountains, navigation, hill climbing and the route. I view this is essential to be in with a shot of being both safe in the mountains and to give the event my best shot. My first experience of the Pennine Way being a few weekends ago with one of my MDS buddies Graeme. We did the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge which is a 26 mile route taking in 3 Mountains - Pen Y Ghent, Whernside & Ingleborough. I have to say it was beautiful up there, we were blessed with an amazing day, the weather was amazing and the scenery stunning. A great introduction to the Pennine Way, although I figure it might be a little colder when I am back there in January!
I have recovered well after the MDS, with a few long challenging runs having been done. I did 40 miles of the South Downs way back at the start of May which again was another part of the country I have not visited and was another great day out with one of my Jersey running buddies Simon. It felt nice to get a long run like that under the belt and it confirmed that the recovery was going well, plus I implemented alot of the lessons I learnt at the MDS about nutrition and pacing.
I now feel I have hit a new level with my running, and have been training well for my next race, Jersey's Round The Rock Ultra Marathon being held here on July 3rd. I have been working with a local endurance coach here Bruno who has been giving me great advice about periodisation and differing levels of intensity of training which I think is a big aspect of my training where I can improve. I am really looking forward to RtR this year, this being the 3rd year I have run it. I hope to break the 7hr 30 mark this year, last year I completed it in 8 hours 25 and the previous year in 9 hours 25 (my first ultra!) I see RtR as a real bench mark to see how I have prgoressed over the previous year and I count myself so lucky to have this Ultra Marathon on my front doorstep in Jersey. For those of you not from Jersey, we are lucky to have some of the most amazing coastal paths, beaches and trails that you could wish for, I highly recommend the Round The Rock Ultra, a truly friendly, small, challenging ultra!
This year will then see me take part in my first 100 miler - The Cotswolds 100 in September. I am using Round The Rock as a stepping stone in terms of training, my goal being to complete the 100 miler and nothing more! I have discovered alot about running with no expectations in the last 4 or so months and find I enjoy the race alot better if I have multiple goals within a race, the goals are achievable so that i dont start to beat myself up too much if it all goes a bit wrong on the day, and that primarily I do enjoy the day, finish the race, and then worry about the other goals!
So overall the MDS was a massive learning experience, and has been a catalyst for me to try and get the very best out of myself for the upcoming races I have planned. I am looking forward to the running trips I have planned over the coming months; Snowdon with the guys from my tent in the MDS in July, The Peak District with Paul from the MDS in August, The Snowdon Marathon in October and then who knows what in the latter part of the year. Lots to look forward to and I am sure the running in the UK will do nothing but improve my running and also increase my love of it.
Call for comments - I am really interested to know the reasons you guys run? What is the allure of running for you? Whether it be ultra, road, trail, 10k or round the block! What do you get out of running?