Run, Sam, Run!

Samantha Amend - GB & England Marathon and Ultra Distance Runner

Friday 30th October 2020 – Gloucester Track 24hr

by Sam Amend - 30th October 2020 | General News

My learning experience from having run a few 100’s and also long distance events the last few years I need to keep improving on my nutrition. For the Thames Path I had tried Maurten but found this very sugary  in taste so I went back to my trusted tailwind plan amongst different nutrition

Normally I work right upto the end of the week as typically long ultra races tend to be on a Saturday, this race however was on a Friday which meant I needed to plan things differently.  On a positive it was timed well with the school holidays so I went away to the New Forest with my son for a few days. For once without the work laptop and away from temptation of gym classes I had an easy week just running short runs with the dogs, relaxing dog walks and a bit of country air.  

Running wise on a “key race” the week leading up tends to be just ticking over, for this 24hr race typically my last effort session was the previous Saturday before the race.  It seemed to work well but like many runners find taper week very stressful.  

What I love about 24hr racing though is the pace can be much slower, more enjoyable and in a comfortable place ( changes in the latter parts). I was looking for during the race a 100 mile pb and British record and then a further distance of 220km overall.

The Race:

This time I wanted to go back to Tailwind so I had this in all my bottles and love cola so I picked up ” Colorado Cola” and then also made a decision to try the Huma gels, I dislike them normally but as recommended very similar to baby pouch food and tasted lovely and also vegan.  Along with some mash potato with salt pre- cooked, a banana, 1 bottle of flat coke and gels that was it.  I planned to have a warm pasta meal in a cup post 100 mile target. As an Ambassador for Revvies I used a caffeine strip every 4hrs, which worked extremely well for the race.  Also indebted to have my friend Trevor crew me as I was only allowed one person and Anne joined as her athlete was unable to make it and became part of my bubble.

The start of the pack !

Food during the race was for the first few hours 1 x Huma gel and a few sips of Tailwind, then 4 hours in a banana, and then 50 miles into the race (post the 6 hr turning point) some potato and walked the lap with it dropped back to my table and carried on, the thought of warm potato sadly though tasted nicer than it  actually was so next time veggie gravy.  Then another few sips over the next few hours, plan was always to stop at table every 1 hr and the lap before see what I needed, sometimes just a little fluid.

My strategy was to have toilet breaks when drinking fluid every 5 miles minimum otherwise it becomes a psychological battle with the ” Bogs”, and the longer you run the tighter you get.

Race Conditions:

They were very tough as it was on and off rain all the time and got heavier as the night and early morning kicked in.  We battled with strong winds around one side of the track just to add to the challenge ! 

Early race stage and enjoying the laps !

Along with only changing direction every 6hrs was tough on the quads and feet, also the over taking on lane 2 made the distance add up to over 104 miles when I took my hot food break.  We had no real atmosphere as spirts were dampened by the weather, Covid and also no music, timing/leader board.  What was nice and I find this with all long distance races very friendly competition and for the 24hr on a track you see your crew and other runners more regularly than a point to point race.

Sadly for me I made a decision to not continue with the 24hr. With the cold unpredictable weather of October when I stopped for food I felt very cold and started to experience the same signs  from my Anglo Celtic Plate 100k in 2018 with hyperthermia.  I therefore put my dry robe on and went into my tent but couldn’t get warm despite a duvet over me and jacket, then my ankle started to burn, hip flexor tightened to a point I couldn’t push myself back out to run.  

Having just run a 100 mile PB in 14hrs 54 knew that this was a good place to leave a great effort behind, the British 100 mile record was my target and was sailing close to this with a minute outside and then the track floodlights went off and put all the runners into darkness sadly which left us all fighting to see the light from our aid tables.  This sadly killed the opportunity so my target despite every effort is to target this again next week. Also never under estimate how much things change and unfold in a race, however its key to reflect, learn and move on with something positive to aim for.  I am still learning to respect this distance, with the ultimate target for me is to hit closer to 250km next time!

Happier race moments !

Sat 17th Oct 2020 -Newbury 10k & Wimbledon 5k

by Sam Amend - 17th October 2020 | General News

Coming off a stressful week at work, post 50k I was less than enthusiastic about a race weekend let alone my 2-1 in 1 day. Although once commited I know needed to use these as a race/training opportunity. Always better when booked and planned with a friend.

A day of races! 10k @10.30am in Newbury Race course. through the finish for first place with 37.37 as a finish time. Really pleased as an improvement since August and a very technical and congested course with tight turns and different surfaces to negotiate. Loved seeing training mates from Oxford and also past Windsor training partners. Race 1 completed and satisfied despite the lack of energy pre race.

Newbury 10k – 1st Place lady

Then off to Wimbledon for the 5k club relay @1.30pm with my friend Trevor. Traffic started to stress us through Newbury and Thatcham along with the motorway restrictions. We were delighted to pull into the carpark, find a space ( rare in London) and quickly navigate the location for the track/team meet. nice sneaky long hill climb so very pleased with 18.35 and 8th overall. Lovely to see Belles team mates again and put my club vest on and see a ladies finish overall in 2nd place and our men’s team a respectful 4th team.
Belles Beauties! 2nd Place Team
L-R Michelle, Steph, Charlie,Katie, Orna (Front: Sam & Olivia)

#poweredbyrevvies#revvies#belgraveharriersRevvies Energy Strips UK

Saturday 10th Oct 2020 – Run To The Sea 50k

by Sam Amend - 10th October 2020 | General News

Part of a 2 race series the first was in August Reading ultra and this one was even more scenic along the coast and through Poole – Bournemouth. With the race being an early start made a decision to stay local and have someone look after my son. This proved sadly to be a mistake as much as the property was nice in general the bed was so uncomfortable I couldn’t sleep a wink which wasn’t ideal.

That aside cracked on with the early start on the road and also up at 5.30am to arrive at the HQ for 6.30am. I had porridge/ tea and then a snack just before the race start, knowing their were aid stations if needed and a few back up supplies in my race bag. Weather was cold and about 7 degrees and then as the race went on warmed up during the time running through Bournemouth beach and then fighting challenging wind and cooler temperatures in the last few miles.

Social distancing race we all started in waves of 6 and the first few I started with we spread out within the first few miles and I didn’t see anyone until the last 5/6 miles. Sadly a few wrong turns and then at aid station 3 a diversion I missed and therefore ended up running nearly 30 miles as I missed a sign.

On my way to checkpoint 3

What this meant although the time was quicker than Reading I lost the win due to trying to get back into the race. That aside enjoyed all the amazing scenery just not the road crossings and concreted areas. This wasn’t a key race so regardless of not winning it was enjoyable and well organised and a good long run ahead of the Track 24hr a few weeks later.

Sun 27th Sept 2020 -Goodwood 20 Miler

by Sam Amend - 27th September 2020 | General News

Brace The Laps

Happy to be back racing, what this course had in ” flatness” came the strong head and cross wind.  Having run Chichester 10k last year knew that the last loop was on the track.  Really enjoyed the laps but went from 6.05 pace to 7.00 around the back section. 

The calm before the storm!

Despite being challenging I knew that others were also feeling the same so I downgraded the expectations to a solid training run.  I felt really good, calm and collected trying not to feel despondent hitting the hard wind for the 8.5 laps.  I knew I was in 1st position for the ladies race and what lap based on the lead man coming into the finish, I had one lap to go.

Enjoying the early race stage

My friends (Trevor & Soraya) both ran the 10k which started 1hr later, so it timed really well with me finishing 20 minutes later.  The take away was a great social distancing race, well organised and we all came back with some positivity. Happy also to be back racing and know that the 6.33 pace was purely down to the weather conditions as I felt strong in my last long hard session before the 24hr race at the end of October.

Finally the finish line !

Sat 5th Sept – Centurion Thames Path 100

by Sam Amend - 6th September 2020 | General News

Photo Credit: Stuart March ” Early stage around Kingston”

TP100 Winner – 16hrs 28.08

At 41, I always felt my running would be over, like footballers in their early 30’s.  Fast forward 10 years and I am still going strong!   Many injuries, recoveries, accolades and stories to tell. Having recovered from a sacroiliac fracture in June and picking up training/racing in January it was time to plan the year.

Deep down I was hoping as a miracle that I could run quicker than my 16hrs but on reflection realise I am race rusty, it was going to be my longest race in nearly 2.5 years and a reminder of a DNF at Reading 2 years previous due to heat exhaustion.

How I prepared for the race?

Its been a difficult one as I got into TP100 on the second wave of entries when deferrals or cancellations happened.  Due to my year being planned for the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k and GB 24hr a lot of the prep races had been cancelled but this came back on the radar.  Fortunately, I made the right decision when Covid set in to book it and risk losing money if my key races had remained. I managed a tough 10k, then onto a park run and a 50k in March.  Then everyone went into lock-down, truth be told I felt low at the time because I had managed my injury taking up a life coaching course and as the Covid 19 extended I knew I had to try and remain positive.  It was like a second punishment, although as we learned more, I felt grateful to have my health.  I carried on regardless of no races putting in effort to my training, and any online zoom circuit classes.  So much had gone into my injury rehab I was determined to get some races this year and use the downtime to train. I ran a 10k a few weeks earlier and then before you knew it time to race again! Also in the back of my mind was the DNF back in 2018 due to very hot conditions it wiped out most of the front field so I was also on a mission to make it past Reading checkpoint.

Nutrition Use

My focus is always on the week leading up by eating complex white carbs ( less gut reaction) as I struggle to eat during races.  To keep alert my caffeine boost came from “Revvies energy strips” ( my sponsor) every 4 hours as I didn’t want too many and be overloaded. I focused also on fluids this time, having also experienced a sickly feeling from mu last 100-mile race drinking too much coke.  I avoided sweets and added more savoury based snacks such as pureed fruit, and Maurten in my carry bottles.  Fortunately, all the aid stations were stocked enough with both food and Tailwind.  That said the latter stages of the race I couldn’t face anymore food or fluid, so I opted for watermelon slices.

Race Conditions

Being British we always like to mention the weather, On a positive note there was no rain.  The temperature for me personally was a little warm but not even close to the temperature in 2018.  So roughly for the day we had 22/ 23 degrees at the height of the day.  With the race starting earlier at 7.30am which meant we would get similar amount of running in the daylight as the initial April race. I still however found the weather very humid and muggy during the day and not at any point did I feel cold to want to add a layer.  Within the first hour running I stripped down to a vest and only in the last hour of the race just put on the base layer when closer to the water where the fog had risen in patches.

Experienced athletes/coaches & clothing experts would always recommend trying out your clothes and trainers before racing. I knew the shorts would be the ones I had trained in and were a comfortable bare of Nike shorts with a pocket to put bits in (Revvies energy strips) and the seams between the legs often in shorts rub ( called chub rub).  The vest was from a good memory one, from the Comrades Marathon 2019 Nedbank team (despite running with that back fracture), and the socks were ones I knew hadn’t rubbed during training over the last year. Before the socks my feet had been greased up with Squirrel Nut butter and post-race peppermint toes another awesome Squirrel product.

Trainer wise It was a tough call, knowing there were hard sections in the earlier miles didn’t opt for trail as I do not find them comfortable although can wear for Cross country up to 50k.  I went with Hoka Carbon X but later put on the Nike Vapor Fly 4% because I hadn’t broken the shoes in and intend to use for 24hr running due to the cushioning.  I opted to change them at the first opportunity in my aid box from my coach in Windsor.  I then continued the rest of the race in Nike Zoom which had more bounce and kinder to the feet and remained on until the end of the race. The watch was my trusty old 935 XT Garmin watch and it got me wait for it……to 99 miles and then died, I suspect as I had programmed in the course this was also consuming the power needed.

Average Training Week Leading up

80-110 miles depending on build up and also races being incorporated and a few changes due to Covid. Classic week involved Mid runs of 10 miles, easy pace runs around 8-8.30 mpm and then a mid week run, Track/grass effort session, LSR ( Long slow run) between 20 -31 miles and buffered with easy days.

Next main race?

Time now for me to tick over with miles, stay injury free and focus on the next big race.  Whilst id have liked a quicker 100-mile time on reflection I am grateful to be back running post injury and also having lacked racing proud that I got through it both mentally and physically. I have had a invite to Gloucester 24hr which is fortunate due to the GB 24hr race in Italy being cancelled. Aside from this big race, I will seek a few small races over the next coming week’s post recovery.

My friends watched me cross the line on Saturday and post discussion still, laughing that I had barely stepped away from the race gantry and talking races.

Photo Credit: Trevor Hunter ” Bliss what it was all in aid of!”

Sun 23rd Aug, St Albans 10k

by Sam Amend - 23rd August 2020 | General News

Race number 2 the opportunity of another Covid secure race and a hot one for August so thank heaven for some of the shade in the race. I was worried massively on this and managed to rope in my friends to join me. It as a long trip from Oxford for a 10k but regardless a race!

I was scared on my speed having not raced or trained regularly at the sharp end.

Similar format to the Reading ultra 50k the 3 of us started in different waves and a format of 6 like a shuttle run and gaps of a few mins of 6 per each wave and 2 start times at 9am and 10am.

Lovely course, a bit bumpy of the grass at the start but some fast sections on the old dis-used railway. Weirdly nobody knew where they were based on start times, I had no ladies in mine but did see a lady in the front group and she later came back to me in the final 3/4k. Having experienced stomach issues had pulled to the side and tried to rejoin but felt unwell.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get close to 37 mins which I was aiming for as I just lacked the speed. Regardless wanted to finish in a respectable time and pushed through in 38:10 for the win.

Soraya, Trev & Sam

Sat, 1st Aug ” Round Reading Ultra 50k”

by Sam Amend - 1st August 2020 | General News

“Oh My A Race???”

This was my first race back from Covid-19 and lock-down of all sports/social activities. I went in with an inquisitive mindset on how the ” social distancing ” would work in racing and also liked the idea of less rush at the start and fear of being knocked down

Structure of the race:

As runners we were given the choice of start time based on predicted finish so I was off at 7.04am with 5 other runners. In the first 400m we all broke away and followed the labelled signs along the Thames Path, through footpaths weaving between Reading and also the Kennet & Avon. The course was one challenging loop with many tight spots, bridges, road crossings to negotiate.

How did it go?

I felt good with the 7.00-7.15 pace for the first 20 or so miles, however beyond seeing my coach, friend Veronika at Greenpark ( 18 miles) started to find the last 11 miles a challenge. The crossing was tough on the main Reading junction over the motorway and then on and off pavements. It could have been lack of nutrition but found that the flat coke and Revvies was enough and not particularly hungry to eat. Veronika my friend had been brilliant during the race with her son JJ popping up like ” Where’s Wally” to cheer me on and provide me encouragement. Along with my coach Norm and his wife Anne this helped me massively in the latter stages of the race.

The last few miles were tough and having not run the race before was in one sense a blessing and in another thought I was approaching sooner. The last mile was uphill so I did a bit of a walk and then pushed onto the finish. I would have loved 3.45 but reality was I didn’t have it in me for the day and the anxiety at the start hadn’t helped along with the warm weather.

I was pleased with the win in 3hrs 57, and to then see my friend that missed me during the race as I had been moving too quickly and came out from a different end of the park.

This was a great base in preparation for the TP100 miler and England 100k in September should they go ahead. Very appreciative to Ultra Violet for putting on a race and becoming Covid compliant. I like this format !

Life In Lockdown

by Sam Amend - 2nd July 2020 | General News

Learn to brace it….

I am not going to deny , it has been really tough these last 6 months.  Particularly having had 9 months away from racing post back injury.  Come 2020 I had just started getting back into racing, this included 2 short lived celebration for both England 100k celebration and GB 24hr. One race already cancelled and the other then postponed.  Then on top work went through the roof ” busier than ever” topped off with home schooling and ready to explode ! At one point my pleasure of running freely and outside maybe resorted to the treadmill, fortunately the beauty of living in an Oxfordshire village meant space was at a plenty.

A life of just training with no racing has been normality for many of us (unless in the Nordics or New Zealand) and for me additionally factoring in now school homework, walking the dogs, training and of course full- time work.  The positives though, less traffic on the road has meant the environment has thrived, saving money and wasted time not travelling.

The hardest part has been like many having children always at home. No school for mine has impacted behavior, and for the first 7/8 weeks not seeing friends. I was always hopeful they would go back before September, sadly not the case as he said goodbye to year 7. It’s the one thing I wish the government had prioritized and also enabled virtual learning much sooner. 

One not to dwell, back onto the positives, I completed my last 2 modules of life coaching, and qualified, consistent level of training behind me for when racing returns, a bonus from work , a thriving flowery garden and more importantly less travel equals more “ time”.  I have missed seeing family and friends but now that’s allowed with social distancing has been great so I can train with others, sadly a holiday with the virus still high in countries not something I want to do and beaches rammed. 

With regards to holiday’s for this year they will by UK only and work will carry on from home without office visits and customer onsite meetings.   

I feel grateful to have my health, especially over the last few years having had glandular). Possibly the acceptance for us all is the reality of the new “ Norm”, and be grateful for the small things!

My Niece & Nephew

” Life As An Ultra Runner”

by Sam Amend - 6th June 2020 | General News

5th June 2020 –  A lovely evening with England Athletics with Darren Reevell talking all things “ Ultra”. Also who will be supporting and managing the team for the Anglo Celtic Plate should it still go ahead at the end of September when the new date was proposed.  The Boddington loop I like with fond memories running the marathon there some years ago.  Darren was hosting several discussions with athletes and also guest speakers to keep positivity among the running community and also to build up future ultra-running teams.

Sat 30th May – Centurion Virtual 50 miler on Marlow Track

by Sam Amend - 30th May 2020 | General News

Tough session which originally planned as a 6hr and then a decision a few days earlier to become part of a virtual community “Centurion” and go for 50 miles, which would be another 5 or 6 miles on the planned distance.  Also being my birthday weekend and being inspired by a local man running the 100 in the village.

5th overall, first lady in 6hrs 47 and 04 secs

6:47 .04 secs

Centurion had over 3500 on the ‘start line’ during that week the event started from the 25th May until 31st May.  The format gave the opportunity for everyone to get involved.  I chose to do the 50 mile, and fortunately my coach came from Gloucester to time the event and we stayed on the track so I could have an open aid station.  I snuck on the track as it wasn’t officially open, but I knew it would be safe and quiet, and easy for my coach to watch and remain socially different.  Along with my friend

5th overall 6hrs 47 and 04 secs