Bramley 20 – 2:33:36

I had a fairly disastrous run at the BKO Cold Ash orienteering event at the end of January. Went OK early on, but the boggy conditions on one side of the forest (Pics here and here; compared to the relatively dry conditions on the other side) threw me a bit and I was well out of contention after a terrible bit of navigation mid-course. Having spent 2 hours on the “short brown” course, my legs were dead for a couple of days afterwards.

I’d managed a bit more running on the local grass playing fields but I was getting a little bored of those laps and laps. I was wondering about some more cushioning for my injured toe and chanced upon a gel toe cap in Boots [link]. I tried it out in a pair of my usual Asics running shoes and it wasn’t to bad, but then I had an idea that maybe some maximalist Hoka One One shoes might be just the thing. They’re supposed to “bring the trail to the tarmac” and the Ultramarathon store was having a bit of a sale, so although these’d be the most expensive shoes I’ve ever bought, I got a pair of Clifton shoes. They proved to be a revelation – light, yet cushioned enough for road running. Nothing like as clumpy as their appearance suggests. I ditched my race at Watford half-marathon, not feeling that I was ready for it, and Jules was home that weekend so we went out for a long run together on Sunday morning instead. After that it was Game On for the new shoes. I was happy to rack up some decent easy kilometres on the road in them.

I had a local TVOC Saturday Series orienteering event the day before, where I managed a respectable 15th place finish. If I’d not made a slight mess of one run between checkpoints, and been a minute faster, I’d have made the top-10 on the green course [results].

The Bramley 20 was GO!, and although I hadn’t quite managed a run of that distance I knew I’d cope OK. In the end  it was a cold, overcast day, probably ideal for long distance running but maybe a little cold for me. I was pretty controlled through the first 15 miles, and then let rip over the last 5 miles (run in 36:00) to finish in 2:33:36 [results]. That’s not too bad after a slow start (my fastest 20-mile training run last year was 2:34:40, but at a much more even pace).

At 9½ miles, comfy, forefoot striking in my Hokas. Thanks to Barry Cornelius (www.oxonraces.com) for the photo

My calves felt pretty tight afterwards – especially the left, which I’ve always had problems with – but that’s OK. These Clifton’s are pretty lightly built, there’s not much outsole and after only 180km I’m quickly wearing through the forefoot so I’ve just bought some Rapa Nui 2 Tarmac for training in. They’re a bit heavier and more substantial, not quite the fast smooth ride of the Clifton’s but hopefully they’ll hang together OK for some more long runs.

I’ve been racking up my runs on Jantastic for the YACF team, with just a single swim and bike each week, and the odd indoor row, here and there. This seems to work well for me but I’m wondering about backing off the running slightly in March so I can get more quality into it.

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