Wednesday, 2 November 2011

JOGLE 2012 Tester Weekend

Having signed up to do the JOGLE weekend tester, my thoughts quickly turned to the logistics of getting to the start and from the finish point on Saturday morning and Sunday night.

My options were fairly limited and were going to rely heavily on the fact of friends or family being able to drop me and pick me up from train stations (the joys of having only one car). However my Brother in law kindly allowed me the use of his car for the weekend so problem solved I thought.

Then I turned my attention of finding suitable public transport from Church Stretton to Preston. Due to family commitments my somewhat limited options basically meant I would be travelling through the night.

So come Friday evening after leaving the family enjoying a  party I made my way to Church Stretton for my Train which was due to leave at 10.40PM.

Having safely negotiated a change at Crewe Station I found myself at Manchester Airport at 1.15AM Saturday Morning, my connecting train to Preston was due to leave at 4AM.

I decided that I was going to take a walk around the airport as there was no way I was going to sleep. I must admit after 3 circuits of the same deserted corridors and sky walks I got fairly bored although my Garmin (yes I know sad isn’t it) had said I had covered 3.2 miles.

Finally after negotiating some late night revellers on the Train I arrived at Preston Station at 5AM. Having some time to kill before meeting the others I decided to walk the first part of the course as the station was somewhat depressing.

It is very strange walking along unfamiliar streets carrying a hydration pack and an overnight bag being followed by a man who walked as if he had a wooden leg. I found an excuse to stop which involved a very complex method of tying my shoelace which involved a considerable amount of time. By then peg leg was in the distance and it became a role reversal.

Any way I digress I managed to cover around 1.5miles before I realised I had better head back to meet the others.


So at 6.30am I was sat outside Preston Train Station having walked over 6 miles through the night with no sleep trying to eat a pot of rice pudding  without a spoon, when I saw a chap suitably attired ready for running alight from a Taxi.

It was Ian who I had had Email correspondence with but had not met (he must of thought whose this idiot who can’t even remember a spoon).
Very soon all the other runners appeared from various directions, and after a quick phone call we met up with Rory, Jen and Dave Miles.

Soon we were off, my plan for the day was to take it easy and not get drawn into any body else’s game plan. It quickly became apparent that a few of the guys wanted to give Ian a run for his money (I knew before hand he was a quick runner therefore out of my league) so I was not tempted.

I settled into a rhythm which was comfortable and soon found I was running with Dave which was very pleasing as I was hoping to get a chance to pick his brains a bit.
So for the first 10 miles we were chatting away and to be honest that 10mile section was probably the most single important section for me out of the whole weekend. I learnt a lot of useful things from Dave (I learnt a lot of other things over the weekend but spread out and not as intense as that first 2hr section), the man is top draw totally unassuming in the achievement of completing the JOGLE.

Well we soon found ourselves at the first checkpoint at 10miles with Rory scolding us like naughty school children. I found 3 of the other guys there Tom, Tim and Sean unsurprisingly Ian was too quick for them.

When I left the CP we all seemed to fall into step, the pacing was comfortable and everyone seemed in good spirits. We had Dave’s company for a few more miles and then he left us promising to meet us later in the course to support us.

To be fair the course was easy to navigate and we had no real issues quickly navigating are way through Wigan onto the 2nd CP. A quick pit stop with the usual banter was had and we were on our way out of Wigan and onto Warrington.

To be fair I have never really been in these areas before (apart from Blackpool) and to be honest I have no desire to go back. The area is featureless and quite frankly depressing; Dave said this day on the JOGLE was the worst one in terms of scenery and frankly motivation.

We found ourselves heading out of Warrington after having a bit of an extended walking session through it; I think lethargy had set in.
We found ourselves walking up a hill to then see in the distance the Ultrarace Motor, why does he always park on the top of a hill, I suppose to catch us walking for an unflattering photo (Oh well I guess I will need to get used to walking photos). So CP3 was reached were more food was consumed I had been eating breaded products all day so I decided to have a milkshake, how stupid of me I had forgotten it had made feel rubbish on the GUCR.

So for the next 10miles I was battling with a really dodgy stomach, there was a period of around 5 miles that I really wanted to throw up and did try to force myself at one stage hoping it might help the stomach cramps. I battled through on my own for a fair bit as my pace had dropped enough for the 3 others to have gone out of sight.
Then I saw Dave in his car so had a quick chat and carried on, suddenly that seemed to pick me up because within a few minutes I had caught the other guys, ok they had stopped to talk to Dave but I will take it.

Although the pains were still there it was easier to run so we carried on and soon saw Rory again at a petrol Station to be told we had 5 miles to go, result.

The next 4 miles or so were just head down and grind it out, then with a mile to go we knew we had a bit of navigation to do.

We stuck together at this point for fear of getting lost which became apparent fairly quickly that this is exactly what happened. We consulted the paper map and i phone and phoned Rory. All did not really give us the info we wanted, where on earth were we and where was the hotel.
We stopped a couple of folks who told us where to go so we went running. Tom then had the bright idea of cutting across a golf course as it was part of the hotels (on a footpath I hasten to add), this proved to be his best idea of the day as it led down into the car park of the hotel and to a 10hr 15min finish for 47miles (with detour around 48miles).
A very satisfying day at the office. I must admit with no sleep Friday night I was looking forward to my bed.


Today was a staggered start with Katherine going off at 6am (Rory & Jen somewhat sheepishly confessed they had overslept and missed her going) 4 of us were going at 7am and Ian was going at 8am.

We set off and to be honest I felt very good considering the lack of long runs in the last 2-3 months.
My groin injury had hurt a fair bit from around 10miles through to 26 miles on Day 1 but had then gone away. Normally after a long run I would struggle to get out of bed as the injury would basically stop me standing upright I would be stooped for a while until my posture adjusts and then I could stand, but normally in considerable pain. Today this did not happen, can you actually cure a misaligned pelvis just by running 50miles?

Any how we soon found ourselves on the A49, which was the primary road yesterday and once again was going to be our main companion through out the day.

We settled into a rhythm which once again was working well eating the miles at a steady rate.

We then saw that the A49 was closed ahead and it was a bridge closure so possibly a potential issue. We consulted the map to work out where the detour would take us and decided that it added far too many miles and we thought we could blag our way through the road works if need be. I informed Rory who assured us we would be ok to get through as Katherine had gone that way. We soon came to the closure and found a sleepy watchman who let us through, to then find that Rory had blagged the watchman the other side to let him through. So CP1 was reached bang on target and feeling really good. I decided that today I was going to avoid breaded products as I had felt fairly bloated yesterday afternoon, plus I figured grab a banana and chocolate bar and you can carry on walking.

So on we went over the makeshift bridge and on our merry way to Whitechurch. One thing that was becoming fairly clear yesterday was very featureless and fairly flat, today was in stark contrast much more scenic but also a lot more hills.
Don’t get me wrong there were no monster hills to speak of just frequent hills which disrupted your running pattern a little. Inevitably there was more walking involved, ok normally I would have run a lot more of the hills but in the spirit of the whole weekend I wanted to approach it as I would if it was the event for real. Besides I wanted to see how I would wake up Monday morning, could I go running again if I wanted to or would I have crashed and burned….

We soon found ourselves heading out of Whitechurch Jen had caught and passed by then in some springy shoes called Hokas which had been dubbed the tweenie shoes. We had much discussion about these shoes over the weekend and the general consensus was negative rather than positive.

By this time the sun was out and we were really enjoying jogging along country roads, we had to keep our wits about us as the roads were narrow and the cars fast. For me I am used to this type of running as I run a fair bit down unlit country roads, I think it was an eye opener for a couple of the group though.

Soon we saw some folks wearing high viz  ahead and realised it was probably Jen and Katherine, we spotted them crossing to a car so knew CP2 had been reached.

On arrival we learnt that Katherine had been hit a glancing blow by a passing car, she was suffering a fair bit so decided to call it a day.

We gathered our sustenance and was quickly on our way munching as we walked. Jen soon passed us again running up hill and then soon followed by Ian who had caught us up from his later start.

This section for me was quite hard but this seemed to follow a trend because it was the same the day before. I found myself lagging behind the other guys, which was fine; I was sticking to my own pace and not trying to force myself to run at a pace that did not suit me. Mentally I was fine I just knew my body was going through I tired patch and providing I kept going my pace would pick up again.

The day before I had plugged myself in and had listened to music as a distraction, but today I chose not too, to see if I could manage without. To be fair I don’t think I would want to have anyway as the A49 called for full concentration and alertness.
I was amazed by the amount of road kill we had seen in the 2 days of running, one which stood out for me was badger on the side of the road fully intact but with his mouth open and teeth bared as if defiant at the very thing which had probably hit him.

Soon I was crossing a roundabout to find CP3 was the other side, I was surprised to see the other 3 guys at the cp as I assumed they were well ahead of me.
I grabbed the same food banana, chocolate bar and can of coke, it had served me well all day with no stomach issues so I was not about to change it. I headed off a bit behind the other 3; jen had decided to jog with me for a bit still in her hokas although I think they were making her feet hurt a bit by then. She left soon after as Rory was lurking on a street corner ready to pick her up.

It had been decided earlier due to the clock change and some folks not having high viz wear that we would run until 4.30pm and Rory would pick us up at whatever point we had got to.

Any way I carried on my merry way knowing we were coming to probably the trickiest bit of navigation of the day negotiating Shrewsbury. I roughly knew the direction I required and decided that broadly speaking I would head that way knowing full well the road signs would not be very useful to me.

I caught and passed Tim he said he was struggling with his knee and was going to stretch it out.
I headed into the centre getting some strange looks from shoppers, at one point I got disorientated and was unsure of the direction to take, I headed off in what I thought was the correct way. I soon spotted a Traffic Warden who I approached and he assured me I was heading in the right direction and to keep going.

So on I went the road seemed to go on for ages and I had another doubt moment, I spotted a chap clipping his hedge so I asked him for clarification. Big mistake he was very interested to know what I was doing and why, I felt obliged to tell him, after around 5 minutes I managed to get away with the knowledge that the A49 to Ludlow was just ahead.

I soon found myself on the A49 heading out towards Church Stretton, I had about an hour to cover as much ground as I could before Rory was due to pick me up.

I soon found that progress would be hampered a little as the road was fast and the verge was a little overgrown in places. As always when you’re faced with it you dig in and battle on. To be honest I started to enjoy it as it became a battle between me and the other road users and I was not going to loose. I developed a strategy that seemed to work for me I just started singing and the closer they got to me the louder I would sing. Anyone looking in must have thought I was insane!!

My phone rang it was Tom to say that they had just started down the part of the A49 with no path. I was surprised as I assumed the 2 were ahead of me as I had only passed Tim, it later transpired that they got lost badly in Shrewsbury.

Soon Rory appeared to pick me up and inform me I was around 7 miles short of Church Stretton, so 39miles covered on Day2 in 9.5 hours.

All in all it was a great weekend of consistent running at a pace which was comfortable and sustainable.

For me it is the confidence boost I needed knowing that although some of my endurance fitness has gone I have not lost too much due to my injury over the summer. More importantly I have learnt a lot off Rory, Jen & Dave which will hopefully help towards a successful completion come April 2012..

I used my UK GEAR PT1000’s for both days and I had no issues at all they performed just as I wanted them too.