No offence intended to anyone called Tim.
Do you remember "Tim, nice but dim". He was a Harry Enfield character.
I think Rebecca wrote the Postit note in response to my flippant remark that 'there is no I in team'. Thinking back, I'm sure she wasn't suggesting I was an 'A hole', it was purely a wink and nudge to never get complacent about the importance to involve others in the journey.
It's easy to say there is no I in team. Too easy. If ultra has been any one benefit to my life, then it has been to keep the feet firmly grounded and learn the fundamental truth that nothing can be accomplished by ones self and nothing outweighs the importance to support family and friends. It must be reciprocal. I'm never quite sure how I can demonstrate my appreciation for the support given towards the adventures had in the past few years.
Never to be thought too deeply. To be supported perhaps demonstrates that support has been reciprocal in ways I do not see. It certainly means I can do no harm in attempting to duplicate the actions received by others when the opportunity arises.
What the heck is this to do with heart rates, intensity and fitness? For me, it is everything that makes any of the more intricate details for training worthwhile. Without the external framework there is little point in breaking down the detail. A rising number of people are pushing there previously thought boundaries on physical endurance and intensity. Personally, I love that this is becoming main stream rather than unique. However, what comes with this uptake is a growing number of people who are hurting themselves in the process, mentally and/or physically. The information available on the internet is awash with "how to's" and "kit lists. What is left to the participants discretion is the impact on family, friends and personal health. Our advice is to consider this as a priority before all other things. This is the best place to start in any plan of action.
What's the point? There's always an A hole when it's given enough time to protrude and rear it's ugly head. Many a pun intended. All that's to be done is nurture a healthy lifestyle, go about the fitness in a positive inclusive manner and place a personal challenge in a complimentary position rather than a dominant one. Can it be accepted to live life without setting huge challenges? Sit for a while without them looming in the rear view mirror. Spend a little time consciously being part of someone's team. Helping them with their own challenges, physically or otherwise.
Thanks for visiting the page. Madmule Fitness & Adventure are branching out in 2019/2020. There are plans afoot to bring 28 years of training knowledge and experience to more Madmule ventures. This month we begin a series of "running faster for longer" sessions to clients in Poole. Check it out here
For any assistance you require with your training/ lifestyle goals, don't hesitate to get in touch. Madmule can provide bespoke packages, even if it is a one off consultation to listen to your ambitions and help you get them into action.
There's a mindfulness tape out there that describes thoughts as clouds that are passing through a clear sky.
As the clouds pass, the sky remains. The sky remains. Genius. What a brilliant image and one that really helps when negative thoughts start to infiltrate a moment that deserves better. Taking an hour at Arnouvaz, mile 60, was not Plan A. It did however turn out to be the best plan of action at the time. Giving myself time to let the thoughts pass, let the body have a well earned respite and move onto one of the biggest climbs in the growing heat, with vigour and intent.
There are 3 major efforts up and down in the final 20 miles. 2000, 2500 and 2800ft respectively. Knocking them off one by one after being read the riot act by Jayne and Alicia at the checkpoint of Champex Lac. I was shaking, uncontrollably, still unsure if my body was overheating, when they just turned and said - "Stand up, go and get some food, drink some coke, then eat some more, and let's get out of here" - I have much to be thankful for but this was a pivotal moment for the remaining miles to be as positive an experience as they turned out to be.
I felt great at the end of this race, plod, adventure, epic, long walk, monster, bonkers session.
Jayne has been subjected to endless chat about the UTMB since January when the entry was confirmed. Anyone who has supported their other half to get to the start line for these type of events knows what is involved. Often, it is the supporter who becomes the master of knowledge and wisdom. Jayne certainly demonstrated those attributes during the race itself.
Alicia and Dan being in Chamonix was a huge factor in keeping Jayne sane, with company and added depth to getting me up and off my ass at the crucial time in Champex Lac.
Rebecca and Bec, apart from so much positivity gave the most sound professional advice. My glutes will never forgive Bec and the calm achieved after the initial storm to mile 20 was thanks to Rebecca.
Andrew - taking part in the monstrous PTL himself - 300km 6 day epic during UTMB week - was able to meet us on the finish line in the morning, even though he had the fatigue from his own insane challenge. As a finisher of UTMB himself I'm glad to have had his advice in the build up.
Phil and Dave - my two brothers. Both have completed the cycling equivalent twice each. This year they went round the 330km course where I had the pleasure of being the support crew. So now the 3 of us have our Mont Blanc memories. They think I'm mad and I think they are mad. So we are even.
To all the madmules for the brilliant messages of support, encouragement and inspiration. Yes, inspiration from my clients. Everyone that Madmule trains with has had a part to play in getting over the finish line. Thank you.
Thanks for joining us here at Madmule Adventure and reading the blogs.
Drop us a line if you have any questions on training and your future ambitions.
Whatever you decide to do, do it with Moxie and to the best of your ability.
Sounds and thoughts meditation - click link to listen to the meditation
Handy tip #1 - from Andrew Findley. "With the time you're looking for, make sure you get yourself into the front of the pen." - FAIL. Passing the first check point at 10km in 1500th of 2500 demonstrates it was big fail. When arriving at the start pen, it was mobbed. Not only were the runners crammed in, a lot of supporters were also wedged in for what reason I do not know. The start line was no more than 100m in front of me, yet it took several minutes to cross it, and several minutes more before we even got to a movement that resembled a jog. Accepting the situation, I went with the river and took a breath.
Handy tip #2 - from Rebecca Dent " Calm down, you are doing great". Once the hustle and bustle of the forest path was dealt with, the real business of the session began, with the first proper ascent to filter up. I won't deny, the mind got a bit carried away and although I was moving at an intensity well within myself, I was little annoyed about losing so much ground. I got a good hoof on and passed a lot of folk. Weaving past and when the path became more open, settling on the side of the ski slope path and driving past, feeling strong. By the time I descended to St Gervais, unbeknown at the time, I had moved from 1500th to 750th. Whoops. A bit quick.
Handy tip #4 - "burst or not burst, cover it with Compeed immediately" - Rebecca Shanahan. 1500+ miles and 220,000ft in training and no signs of skin problems. First descent into St Gervais and the left heel base flared up, grew into a monster and popped on the descent to Courmayeur. A most weird sensation, which left me wondering how much pressure must there be for the skin to be forced to open to let it out! Anyway, after much pantomime "oh yes it is a blister" - " oh no it's not" - Jayne smacked on the compeed, told me to get on my feet, and the resulting kick flip on the way out of transition sums up how good it felt. Drama Queen.
As the session continued it was becoming harder to break into sections. 50 miles is not halfway and with a towering climb to get to halfway, it is delusional to try to break the session up into halves, quarters, thirds or any other fraction that comes to mind. It is what it is. Another path to discover, haul up or drop down. Another amazing view to be mesmerised by. Another roof in the distance that fingers can touch and yet is still 45 minutes and 2000ft below. Into the 2nd night, it is a constellation of head torches zig zagging above and merging with the night sky. It is what it is. A moment to nurture. Get rid of the mathematics. Hide the clock.
It is UTMB and it is awesome.
Part 3 - to finish with one whole. Beaming smiles, good legs and great company.
3 halves. Doesn't make a whole.
Ultra Trail Mont Blanc.
Unbelievable. Tremendous. Majestic. Beautiful.
I am convinced our apartment was built on an Indian burial site (Gareth P - you know!)
Sleep has to be a priority leading up to a race that is going to take all night, all day and all night again. So to be lying awake at 2:00am for 3 consecutive nights was becoming a little tedious. No amount of mindfulness tapes, hot water and lemon, Lord of the rings (always worth a shot!) or simple spread eagle lethargy pose was doing it. It was neither assisted by the calf cramp that crept up and spooked me in the middle of the night, nor the late night cheering and clapping coming from town for the finishers of the other events. The lesson of this is 2 fold. Never book an apartment in the centre of town that doesn't have double glazing, dark blind settings or air con and be prepared for the adrenaline rush known as "pre race nerves".
For my level of racing experience, ability and common sense, I opted for a 15litre capacity vest pack. There is a balance to be had between lightweight speedy and heavyweight steady. Training has never been focused on speedy and with unpredictable weather, cutting down a few grams for the sake of cutting down a few grams was never going to be an option. Whilst packing Dan reminded me that I happily yomped with 100lb bergan on my back throughout my years as a Royal Marine. Any fool can be cold and in the case of UTMB, any fool can be too cold, too hot, too thirsty, too hungry and definitely too fast! Leave with everything that can make the journey more comfortable.
Spring energy gels and electrolyte sachets were the main food source. Knowing the stations were well stocked with. hot soups, pasta, rice, hot drinks and snack foods thirst and hunger were never going to be induced from lack of resources. It is was only possible by not partaking in eating and drinking enough.
Up next... The River of Madmules to Les Houches and 2 quarters beyond.