Wednesday, 23 February 2011

What the Royal Mail doesn't have any more*

Ok, I'm going to explain the title of the blog one event at a time, and in the order they appear in the title, not their chronological order.

So, A Monster.  This is Maggies Monster Bike & Hike, a fundraising event for Maggies Cancer Caring Centres that's held every year (I think this is the 7th or 8th edition) in Scotland, over the first bank holiday weekend in May, or as the dates fall this year, 30th April (the day after our extra bank holiday).  It starts in Fort William, and the challenge is to spend the next 24 hours getting you and your team up to Inverness, via the Great Glen Way.  The first 32 miles are completed on mountain bike, and then the next 43 by foot.  The mountain biking bit is reasonably straightforward - 2.5 to 3 hours worth of a few hills, nothing too serious.  The hike is a bit more challenging - there are Bronze, Silver and Gold finishes, after 9, 25 and 43 miles respectively.  Bronze is pretty straightforward too, Silver is a little more stretching - it's marathon distance, but with some testing slopes thrown in, up and down.  Going for Gold though is tough - the terrain is a notch harder again, and you've got the accumulated effects of fatigue, and it's dark, quite often in woods, and just, frankly, energy-sapping.

I've done it 3 times before - first to Silver, then to Gold on the last two occasions, with teams of 5, 5 and 3 people.  This time, there's just 2 of us - me and Bill Lloyd-Williams (the other ever-present), and also this time, we're aiming for a time, and not just to finish - 15 hours.  That's still as nothing compared with a few folk from the services and local athletics clubs who bound round in 9-10 hours, but if we can do it in the 15 hours, we should comfortably be in the top 50 finishers (out of around 1000 starters last year).  What that objective means is that we have to cover the 43 walking miles in around 12 hours - gross.  By the time the inevitable stops for food, fluid and extra kit are factored in, it'll be closer to 11 net.  And that's not possible by just walking.  Not on that terrain anyway.  So this time, there's going to be running involved.

Running.  I'm learning to love it, in much the same way as I learned to love hills on a bike.  It's a bit like falling in love with a beautiful woman, then discovering she has smelly feet.  At first it's an unpleasant surprise, but after a while it's part-and-parcel of the wider being, and an integral part of their identity.  Bill, however, can't yet see the beautiful woman - he's too busy smelling the feet.  Given his distaste for running, he's training well.  Or that's what he tells me - I'll see for myself in a few weeks.

There'll be more on Maggies over the coming weeks - we're 65 days away from it.  In the meantime, a bit more on the training.  I'm doing more cycling training than running, on the basis that triathlete friends tell me that cycling benefits running, but the opposite is much less the case, and I want to try to preserve my joints as much as possible.  However, there's no getting away from the fact that I've got a lot of miles to do on my feet, so I'm trying to get one long run in at the weekend - 17 miles is the furthest so far.  I've also got various long rides organised - the next is this weekend, with a 201 km 'Audax' - an explanation of that, and how I get on, can wait till next time.

* a second post

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