Peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, apples, lucozade, snickers, water, money, railcard, watch, phone, long sleeve top and my camelbak for it all to go in.
I usually only need a day of doing pretty much nothing before I feel I have to do something that gets the blood pumping and the brain firing. The hip injury I’d picked up somehow back in April has been rested over the last few months and slowly I’ve been pulling the miles back in over the last few weeks. Crossing part of the city to get to the route didn’t take too long, as soon as I was on the trail the chaos of the roads disappeared and my whole brain and body relaxed. The green tunnels began and I put one foot in front of the other and enjoyed the journey.
A few days after that run to Winchester along the Itchen way I kept thinking about where else I could go that isn’t in the city, what other trail routes are there close enough to manage in a day? The Test Way popped in my head, as I know it finishes in Totton, which is only a few miles from home and my dad has done it so knows the route. I decided with dad as support to give it a go. 42 miles. What I thought and still think is, if I really want to enter the UTMB, which is over 100 miles with over 30,000 feet of ascent and descent, then I must be able to manage 42 miles at this stage. My thinking is I try and enter the 2017 UTMB, which gives me about 2 years to get ready. Seeing as you need 9 qualifying points to enter from just 3 races means it’s not going to be easy in any way, it’s in fact going to be by far the hardest thing I’ve ever attempted…EVER! I don’t physically and mentally know if it will be possible but it’s something I have to try.
So Wednesday it was, after a skinful with friends on the previous Sunday I was glad to be feeling good with the aftermath of tequila, ale, rum and then sausage and chips on a park bench now in the faded distance of my head and stomach. Strangely I was feeling a little nervous as if before a race or gig. I guess the looming distance of near on 50 miles was the culprit of the butterflies. We left at 6.30am and drove to Inkpen in Berkshire where the route starts and or finishes depending on what way you are going. Now I’m not gonna write out the route place by place as to be honest I don’t remember all that sort of stuff very well. I can say though that some of the route was truly beautiful and running through metre high cornfields alone under the British summer sky was a highlight that brought on a wonderful feeling of content and thoughtful loneliness. The route was marked well in some places and not very well in others, in fact it wasn’t marked at all which caused me to add a few miles to the journey. Main roads made me stressed, as nobody really likes running with the traffic. I got lost quite a lot to be honest and getting lost at around 43 miles didn’t add to my tired mood. But then a giant rainbow appeared after a heavy downpour, I could see the start and finish so that helped ease the mind a bit and I had to smile, I didn’t find any gold though. I would have taken a photo but by this time my phone had died due to the battery drain of Strava and GPS tracking my route. I was out of contact for the last 7 miles or so and was slightly relieved to see Dad waiting with the car as I came to the end of the route.
I learnt a few things on this run. I had to walk some of the way, which is part and parcel of doing such long distances for someone like me. Only the few elite can run non-stop and those men and woman are true athletes. I was very happy that I did manage to make it running and walking. It was hard at times but for most of the journey I was in a good place in my head, which is the most important thing when it comes to such long distances. The legs will hurt that’s a given but if I can keep my mind at ease then I stand a better chance. As much as I don’t like them, the 2 isotonic gels I took really helped. I couldn’t stomach chocolate very well though, the one snickers made me feel sick. Apples were very good which was something I’d never had before whilst out covering long distances. Having a support team was brilliant and cheers to my Dad for being at the different places with supplies and guidance, I think he’s gonna have to help quite a few more times over the next couple of years.
The legs were stiff for a few days after but nothing more than as if I’d run a road marathon so recovery was good. I burned around 7300 calories and was out there around 10 hours. Burning that many calories and being out there that long, both a first.
A week later whilst on a couple days off on tour I was in Switzerland so thought I’d try and get some miles under the belt up in the hills. I managed 24 miles with not much supplies and a lot of rain. But again I thought in my mind if I cant handle some of these hills then how am I going to handle running though the Alps?? Again my mind was in a good relaxed place and I realise it has to be to achieve what I want to do over the next 2 years.
On returning home from a recent musical jaunt to France and Switzerland I have entered my first 50 mile race along the South Downs Way and will attempt to enter the 100 mile race as well. These are certified qualifying races to enter the 2017 UTMB but they operate on a first come first served limited amount of runners basis. The races aren’t until next year, which gives me time to train and focus. I will have to run more qualifiers to stand a chance and then its potluck if you do get in to the UTMB. It’s one of the most popular trail runs in the world and entry is a lottery (for runners like me). We’ll have to wait and see.
This journey will take some time. Step by step. Onwards.
I am Dave Pen
I’m not going to go through this blog mile by mile so to speak, that would take far too long and be too painful, plus I can’t remember every mile as most of them after mile 13 just turned into a long slow blur of pain, wind, water stations and jelly baby induced desperation.
To start with I was all over the place trying to get ready, I left it a bit late to sort my gear out, it was 8.45 and I was still munching on a bacon sandwich down in the hotel restaurant. I was leaving at 9.15 and that 30 minutes went like the wind, unlike I would. Running 26.2 miles of one of Britain’s toughest and unforgiving marathons that is the Snowdonia Marathon.
After I got dropped off at Llanberis where the start of the race was, I popped in the porta loo for a quick wee, being slightly nervous at running my first marathon my alone time of quick relief wasn’t helped by the fact that probably one of the last surviving wasps of the Snowdonia region had decided to give it one more shout of space invading annoyance by hovering around my head whilst I tried to aim straight. Not being a fan of wasps in any way shape or armoured form I quickly got out of there sting free and went out in the fresh air against a massive stone wall alongside other blokes in spandex and vests.
I hung around near the start line taking in the vibes and pre race nerves with my Dads mate Dave. My dad was supposed to run the marathon with his mate Dave but had picked up a knee injury and decided (very wisely) I might add to drop out just a few hours before the start. These two cats go way back and have run a stack of marathons between them, with my dads best time on Snowdon being a strong 3 hours 12 minutes.
I got interviewed by the local Film crew alongside Dave about why I was running the race so gave the Trekstock charity a good plug and mentioned that this marathon was part of a few endurance events in the build up for the Archive Quest for Mont Blanc taking part next summer. Not sure the plug made the final edited TV cut though. My Welsh is zero.
Now it was race time. The long 6-mile hill from the start of Llanberis was a nice challenge and I dealt with it well. From the top of Pen-y-gwryd the downhill was a joy and I cruised naively down like a young fawn bounding across the moors. At the bottom of this, the course went into an off road section which was quick with a high tempo and I was focused at watching every step along the rocky and stony path. I was having a great time at this point and continued to do so. All was going well when I saw the 12 mile marker, I thought to myself this would be a really good run if it was a half marathon, oh to dream, and thinking like that was a warning sign of what was to come. I came through the halfway point to smiles and cheers from my family, I managed to catch a glimpse of my little 5 month old daughter wrapped up with her little face looking a little like I was to feel a few miles later, a bit lost, confused and in need of some TLC.
So after the happy faces of support I started to notice things getting a lot harder, I just didn’t realise the next 10 miles would all be up hill. It just went on and on and on, every corner I could see in the distance I started to pray it would level out after that and it just didn’t, and it took no prisoners. I started to notice a runner who kept over taking me then stopping about 100 metres in front and walking until I caught up with him and over took him, for him to then run past me for another 100 metres to then stop and walk again. He did this about 5 times, which slowly just made me want to stop as well, and it finally did. I finally had to stop and walk at about 16 miles. From then on it was a test of how far I could run before I had to stop and walk for a bit. I carried on running at a slower pace after this and water stations became mental havens for me where I knew I could stop for a bit and drink what was truly the sacred water of the mountains. I have never tasted water so nice than on that Marathon, to the point of carrying a little sealed cup of the stuff with me for the rest of the race as a good luck token or something like that. I was getting a bit desperate.
I carried on upwards and upwards then came to part of the route called Walnfowr. I had been told this was a proper “Tough Bit” of the race. Everyone around me including a bloke on a bike just stopped to a walk/shuffle. I tried to walk for a minute, and then shuffle for a minute, and then walk for a minute and so on to slowly make my way up. As I was doing this I heard a chap behind me chatting about how once the race was over they would hit the local pub for a couple of jager bombs and some whiskeys, I looked behind me to see who this rock n roll speaking hard core geezer might look like and low and behold it was an old friend from my skateboarding youth days, Mr Dean Jones. I said “dean Jones” to him to which he didn’t recognise me to which I then told him it was I, Dave Penney, he laughed and said what the hell are you doing here? I said the same thing to him and we struggled on together for about a minute or so before his legs stretched just a bit further than mine and he moved slowly forward. What a random place to see an old mate huh? Brilliant.
I got to the top of Walnfowr and the wind was howling across the wide-open space of this bleak looking puddle filled summit. It was proper grim and incredibly hard to stay motivated. Even the jelly babies were quite un-inspired. I stopped for another wee and just let the wind blow me into a high grassy bank, the term “pissing in the wind” ringing like a massive siren of truth in my head, I had stopped caring by then and wanted this ridiculous challenge to end. I pushed forward and made it to the descent, which was tuff in the totally opposite way of the previous 2 miles. Not being able to quite stop yourself moving very quickly downhill after 24 or so miles is a strange, painful and testing feeling on the hips, legs, feet, and brain. Down it went across the fells, rocks and mud. I had to keep my concentration in tact so as not to slip or fall or slip which would at that point, really hurt. It was with joyous sound to then be told by a supporting stranger “come on, the end is just around the corner”. This was music to my ears so I stepped it up as much as I could and around a beautiful grey-concreted corner was the end. I gave it my all as the crowd cheered me and the other runners coming to the end with legs burning, tears in my eyes and a proper wad of snot hanging from my nose I made it across the finish line in 4hours 09 minutes and 21 seconds.
I took my medal (a piece of welsh Slate), another bottle of water and wrapped in a space blanket walked alone to a corner and had a little sob whilst scoffing more jelly babies. I was thrilled to have finished and have never truly done anything as hard as that before in my life. What a brilliant and ridiculous sport marathon running is and the support and camaraderie was superb. A proper bunch of nutters do this and I kind of felt at home with it all. My family all supported me on this, which were lovely and my Dads mate Dave finished at around 5 and a half hours which was great.
I ended the day in a nice pub drinking ale watching the SFC beat Fulham, followed by a couple of rums and a curry. I went to bed a bit tipsy thinking about the next marathon I have in December.
Why am I doing this?
I am Dave Pen
September greetings everyone.
I’ve been training hard and pounding out the miles for the Quest folks. My First big challenge is The Snowdonia Marathon in Wales on October 26th. This is my first marathon and it’s not too far off now. The training for this is all part of the Quest for Mont Blanc and I will be taking part in many more endurance events before the final Challenge next August. As the final quest is 11months or so away I thought I’d really put myself to the test in the build up with some proper endurance challenges to get me tip top and fit along the way.
Events I am in before the final Quest are:
The Snowdonia Marathon.26/10/13
Endurance Life Jurassic Coast 10km Trail Run.7/12/13
Portsmouth Coastal Marathon.22/12/13
Endurance Life Anglesey Coastal Trail Marathon.18/01/14
These events should keep me busy then!!!
I am blown away by everybody who has donated to Trekstock so far so please keep the sponsorship coming in, anything you can donate all helps and as you can see I’m really trying to do my bit to help this great charity and it’s cause.
Here is the sponsorship link:
Many thanks everyone. Another blog soon
Trying to keep to the 16 week training programme isn’t easy. The tour bus air conditioning unit has broken so as anyone can imagine it’s been very energy sapping travelling thousands of miles on a bus through Europe’s heat wave. I have been trying to get the miles in when I can, I forgot my watch so have been running with my phone in my hand with it on stop watch mode which is a little bit frustrating. My breathing has been a bit of a struggle to get under control for the first twenty minutes or so when I’ve started to run, I have never trained in the summer before and i find it a lot harder than running in the autumn and winter months. It seems to take longer to get into a rhythm for some reason. It’s a strange thing going from playing a show in front of thousands of people all going for it one night and then the next day plodding along some road I’ve never seen before in my life to get the miles in. My routine is – I run in one direction for thirty minutes or so and then just turn around and go back. I found a great route in Germany where I discovered a massive river, I thought i’d try and lap it as I could see that it was lap-able from a distance, I kept going but came to a narrow path into a very dense and dark forest, It was already almost 9pm and my imagination can have a tendency to run away with me so that was when I thought it better to turn around. I Jogged past another runner and we gave each other a friendly “Allo”. Twice this week I must have got in around 11km or so as I ran for an hour which isn’t bad considering how tuff it is to train whilst on a summer tour of Festivals. The Quest for Mont Blanc is 12 months away and this first big challenge of running the Snowdonia Marathon, one of Europe’s toughest marathons is becoming very real. I’ve a long way to go and as the tweets from the Snowdonia marathon have said when they have responded to me “Dig Deep” seems very fitting. We played the Melt Festival in Germany last night, Slightly weird seeing Thom Yorke and Flea backstage hanging around backstage before their Atoms for Peace Show, I wonder if either of them run?
I am Dave Pen
I feel the pounding of my feet, the pulsing of my blood, the driving of my mind as I climb the steep hill after eight miles. I find slowly counting to a hundred helps me with my Zen like state when the steep inclines hit me where it hurts. I control my breathing, I keep moving on. It’s a buzz. Running works for me.
I’ve been training hard the last few months and was thrilled to complete my first ten mile race. I came in at one hour, nineteen minutes and fifty four seconds. I’m happy 1954 was in there, cheeky little number likes to pop up now and then. I am starting to feel that many more endurance challenges will be on the horizon for me and I don’t just want this to be all for me, I aim to start trying to raise money for charities as well. More news on these adventure/endeavours will be posted when they are planned.
January was used for not only training to accomplish this race but also for writing, recording and performing.
As the cold snap nipped away like an arctic crocodile two brilliant recording/writing sessions were completed with Archive in a remote studio in the Cambridgeshire countryside. I’m gonna keep the vibe of it under wraps for now as I don’t want to let the wild boars snuffle the truffles too soon… or maybe it’s a mushroom of some sort only found in the forest. Expect more wild animal and vegetable news on this soon.
It was good to then get a show in at the Midem festival down in Cannes in France. Of course once the long, long journey was completed and we had arrived. I woke up to rain and a cold breeze whipping up across the beach and marina. The sun did come out later whilst catching up with the Kendal mad man that is Robin Foster. We had coffee and spoke about the film Metro Manila that had just won the Audience Award for World Cinema Dramatic at Sundance Film Festival. This was great news as Robin created the music for the soundtrack and also the lead song, which is called Life and Death, which was co-written and performed, by Robin and myself.
Click to watch a live version of the song below:
The Archive show was a short, tight energy filled hour and ten gig, and it was a nice privilege to headline the festival. After a quick sip and some chat we all then climbed back on the tour bus for what ended up as a twenty three hour long journey for me to get home and through my front door. Lots of Who documentary was needed and kept us entertained on this trip. Pete Townshend’s autobiography “Who I am” has kept me company the last few weeks and has been a brilliant insightful read and I highly recommended it to any music fan or fan of The Who.
So into February we go, lots of stuff happening this month but that will be in another blog.
Went to The Garlic Farm after the race, stinky victory’s all round yeah.
I am Dave Pen