As some of you may know, I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon last Sunday.
I hadn’t planned to do this at all. A few very good friends of mine decided to get a group together to run to help raise awareness for 24hrs4cf.
I was overwhelmed by their support and couldn’t ask for better friends, so how could I not join them?
We did start off with a few more but as with any fitness event, injuries happen and numbers inevitably drop.
It’s fair to say that John, Elliott and Lou were gunning for good times. Me, on the other hand, had a different idea.
I decided to turn the half marathon into half the height of Kilimanjaro, well almost.
As everyone was approaching the start line to get in their pens I grabbed my altitude mask, which was set to 9,000ft and had a few laughs.
Until people realised I was being serious
The boys were aiming to finish in 1.35-2.00. I was aiming for any time under 2.30.
At 9,000ft you have around 25% less oxygen so there was no way I was setting any PB’s.
As we set off, I said good luck and went on my way at a leisurely pace.
As you can see from my split times below, they were far from fast but felt comfortable.
After around 8-9 miles I started thinking, ‘This is actually surprisingly easy at this pace so I may need to speed up’.
See, here’s the thing. At 9,000ft you have around 15% oxygen. Anyone who took GCSE P.E or has any interest in training will know that during intense exercise, at some point, lactic acid will build up. With only 15% oxygen it becomes harder to break down and gets incredibly painful.
My legs started getting heavy and my lungs were ready to burst after around 11 miles.
Seeing family and friends in the crowd with the 24hrs4cf t-shirts kept me going. It reminded me why I was here, doing this bl**dy half marathon in an altitude mask.
There were plenty of people dressed up in fancy dress but I didn’t see anyone else in an altitude mask. The mask definitely raised a few eyebrows and I think everyone who overtook me (a lot of people), noticed the 24hrs4cf challenge printed on my back, raising awareness for this cause.
So, I finally see the 13 mile sign…
“Where the **** is the finish line?”
And yes, I forgot that this was 13.1 miles.
After 11 miles of low oxygen, your mind does weird things. You forget where you are, you start to focus on your breathing. You have to remember to drink at least double the amount of water, so I had to take the mask off whilst running passed every station grabbing a full bottle to drink.
The last 100 metres were the longest I’ve ever experienced. A little stumble across the line and check the watch.
2hrs 4 minutes… I’m pretty pleased with that.
My brother had to prop me up for a photo as soon as I’d had a drink and a bite of a chocolate bar
I managed to conjure up the energy to have a few photos before my legs seized up completely.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported on the day, especially the runners; John, Elliott, Lou, James Cutlan and his friends!
Last weekend I decided I wanted a bit of a different training session. Having never climbed Pen y Fan in South Wales, I thought, why not.
However, like anything, I wanted to make it a little more interesting / exciting / different / harder.
So, after a 3.30am start on Monday morning, we (my brother, his girlfriend and me) arrived at the bottom, in absolute darkness.
After 10 minutes of scrambling to try and find the start of the route (whilst avoiding the wild horses) it was time to make this 886m peak (2906 feet) a little higher and certainly more of a challenge.
Enter the altitude mask provided by Training Mask.
It was a little eery hearing the sound of my own breath in absolute silence but once I found my stride and the right positioning of my phone torch whilst running I got into a good rhythm.
The lungs were working well and seemed really comfortable. The tricky terrain in the darkness was hard on the calves though. They started to tighten up on the steep bits and I have to admit to having to slow to a power walk in parts.
After around 40 minutes and a few photos taken on the way up, I reached the top with 30 minutes to spare before sunrise. Huge apologies to the couple who were having a romantic cup of tea at the top to hear only the sound of what I can only describe as Bane / Darth Vader running for his life. I hope I didn’t ruin your selfie…
So, I managed to turn the 886m peak into roughly 3,600 metres (11,906ft). It was a good session to start the week and I’ll be working this run into my training on an on-going basis. The sunrise is pretty incredible up there!
The rest of the week was made up of high-intensity training sessions in the gym and at home. I’ve started to change the order of different exercises to see how my body reacts.
Note to self; Don’t perform 200 squats straight after a 10 mile cycle and a 4 mile run.
Come Thursday, I was feeling good. Mentally, I was in a good place and ready to up the weight on certain exercises to see how much I could shift in an hour…
After chatting with a few mates I’ve trained with over the years, it was decided I try throwing in some Deadlifts and Bent-Over-Rows in between press-ups, squats and sit-ups. It seemed wise, as out of all the exercises I have to complete (other than rowing), my back should be pretty fresh after a long cycle.
In one hour I managed;
- 10-mile cycle
- 15 tonnes of weight shifted
- 100 squats
- 100 sit-ups
- 50 press-ups
- 2-mile run
So after this, I was feeling really good. So good, I thought I’d try and do one of my ‘burnout’ exercises to finish the session.
5 sets of 10 pull-ups with your legs horizontal was not a good idea. I ended up pulling a muscle in my lower back, causing me to walk weirdly, sit down like an old man and having to roll out of bed every morning since.
This week will be a tough one not being able to train properly, so if anyone knows a good physio in South Wales that wants to become part of the 24hrs4cf journey, feel free to get in touch!