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Run, Sam, Run!

Samantha Amend - GB & England Marathon and Ultra Distance Runner

GB 100k World Championships Croatia  -8th September 2018

by Sam Amend - 9th September 2018 | General News, Race Reports

“Well what can I say, it was a pleasure to be reigned the British 100k champion at the end of March this year in a new PB of 7.53.57 and to top it off also recovered from a disastrous racing year in 2017 due to Glandular Fever and being picked up by Norman Wilson who now coaches me in the ultra distance and plans my training.
Some months later waiting with baited breath was the decision of selection for the World 100k Champs in Croatia for GB.  Agonisingly this was delayed until after the Comrades in June so I decided to focus on a 24hr race in Belfast in preparation to get the selection criteria for 2019.
Then the icing on the cherry happened on the week of the 24hr ( June 21st 2018) that week the announcement from British Athletics and the IAU that the team had been selected and yes ” I was part of it”…
Honestly, I cried and had the shakes mainly due to the privilege, overcoming illness, fighting strength to win the Anglo Celtic Plate and get my second selection.  Over the moon doesn’t even come close especially when I am reaching my 40’s and always had a dream to represent my country in athletics.
Then reality then sunk in.. Christ now training really starts, this in fairness was and still is my hardest distance to run due to pace and also being 62 miles on tarmac.  At this stage we didnt know the course, we just knew it was in Croatia.  The place for many years I have wanted to visit but wanted to ” earn it”.    So there it was training started and then a few races in between but not mass load in top speed just very specific long runs of the back of all my races to make sure the endurance stayed.
Without elaborating on the finer details too much, we flew out on Thursday 6th September, not great with my son going back to school but a great bargaining tool for football fans ( you won’t be happy) was a Croatian football shirt.  My teenager was more interested in her new college and bringing back chocolate and a pending artic monkeys concert.  The travel wasn’t without its bumps/hiccups, the Heathrow crew were okay, we had no issues but for Lee in Spain and Joasia ( Team Management) heavy delays and baggage loss.
We were however fortunate to have a strong and well-known support team across other ultra teams with John Pares, Adrian Stott ( Trail) and Joasia Zakrzewski( Ultrarunner for 50,100k & Trail).
The location in Sveti Martin ( about 1.5hrs from Zagreb) was very remote, we soon got to see the roads we would be running on watching the South Africans who had already arrived.  Yes it wasnt flat it was up and down, but hey we all had to run it and not like the UK the service lacked the usual potholes galore.  Being teamed up with Clapham Chasers, Carla who has an amazing top 10 finish at Comrades we ran the course a few days prior and until the day pretty much vegetated.  The race was very early at 7am ( 6am UK)  but the benefit due to the humidity was definitely our saving grace for the early few hours.
Onto the race itself, the GB team ( Ant Clark, Rob Turner, Lee Grantham, Carla Molinaro, Sue Harrison and myself) set ourselves in the calling room a few minutes before the event, nerves sitting with me, the stress of the commitment and expectation that D-day finally came.  My plan was always to run my own race, my coach and I changed the planned paced on the course and I was cracking though upto 40 miles then the last 22 miles in the humidity, rolling hills became very challenging.
This was the same for many apart from the Japanese who started to work through the field and end with winning the team prizes and multiple podium finishes. I was determined however to finish, change my race strategy and aim for top brit in the team.  Whilst my performance dipped in those latter stages, so did the  PB opportunity.  From the positive takeaways, I came through in a very respectable 15th in the World Champs with a time of 8.01.11, first lady for Great Britain and delighted another championship under my belt.  I won’t deny, craved to make that top 10 but take positivity from still having the lead British 100k and 50k time for 2018, I  felt my race nutrition, minimal aid station time, proper toilet stops all worked as a benefit.  To change for the next time would be more hill training, strength work, and heat acclimatization, a lot of what could not be predicted until the race weekend.  It’s like an anti-climax now, such a great experience but left wanting more and thinking ” what’s next??”… apart from recovery.

Delighted to reach the finish line #Croatia1ookGBTEAM

MotaVation Race 5, Oxford City – 30 August 2018

by Sam Amend - 30th August 2018 | Race Reports

What could go wrong, another speed session off a positive race win on Sunday at Headington?

Mainly my head, it wasn’t in race mode but I had committed to do the race. The weather also seemed to improve dramatically which meant a sticky evening of racing, on a positive I told myself its a warm-up, just over 4 miles.

Wow, over 300 + runners locally with so many competitive clubs with handfuls of runners looking to get the team prizes and more importantly probably looking forward to the bar in the clubhouse.  My hayfever started as I came out of the car due to the grass but very little I could do arriving without tablets.  Like initially on Sunday my heart was at home and the head was saying I needed to do it.  Having paid for the full series of 5 races I had only made two.  ” Get a grip, warm up and get it over with !”.  So that’s what I did, a crowded start with elbows everywhere, I knew Diane was likely to win being in good shape for the series and on the track.  It took pressure off me and I also knew there were 100’s of ultra miles in my legs and my focus was on my championship.

The course was similar to Headington 5 but a bit more windy and had to be careful on and off the pavement/underpasses and also the long cycle paths. Definitely felt more laboured than Sunday’s race but dug in deep and reminded myself in the big scheme of things it was ” training”.  Knowing I was in second place I wanted to remain there and still see Di in my sights.  Please with the 6.06 pace to take me into 2nd with a time of 24.27 for just over 4 miles.  For the hard work, I ended up with a bottle of wine, not drinking Alex got the benefit of my hard graft.

A great course and atmosphere to a race series, my goal will be next year to try and make them all rather than missing the early ones.  Being Thursday evenings a lot depends on work and also being a morning runner I struggle with evening events and not running in the daytime.  Last race done time to reduce the miles and focus on the big event GB Croatia 100k.

Photo Credit : Barry Cornelius  -“Off to a flying start ! “

Headington 5 Mile -26th August

by Sam Amend - 26th August 2018 | General News, Race Reports

Ouch, another punchy race was my thought of getting ready to leave to my now ” local” race.  I love racing in Oxford as they are well organized and have good competition at the top end.  I wasn’t sure how the race was going to pan out, to be honest, the last few days at work had been stressful,  felt flat in training and still dealing with a niggling hip flexor and achilies.  With all the miles in my legs over the last few months, a bit worried that my top end speed was non-existent, I had felt this also in training. Come back 5.45’s/5.50’s soon as I miss you…..

One of the ladies at the start shot of like a rocket, I had also caught the eye of Mara Yamauchi ( quite rightly with number 1 on her bib) and wondered whether she was still racing hard.  I settled comfortably in 2nd place with the front lady in view and just pushed myself to my ability.  Strangely with all the winding sections and on and off pavements it wasn’t until the long bypass straight about 2 miles in I started to reel her back in.  Once past and I had made my move there was no turning back or even looking to see how close the next person was.

Photo Credits: Barry Cornelius

The effort I put in was surprisingly rewarded with 30 mins and 5 seconds race win just missing the heavy downpour and running an average of 6.02 pace.  I walked away with a time I haven’t run for a few years, mainly down to concentrating on very long races.  It raised my confidence and receiving the overall win, vets 35 and Senior lady I was chuffed to bits and also given by Mara herself an Ex Headington runner.  The coach was pleased aswell, maybe it was those fast Nike Pegasus Turbo.  Win’s are a good confidence boost and also these are races leading upto my 100k on the 8th September.   Miles are going down, one more race to go then its the dreaded taper !

H5M_2018_Ladies_Open_Prizes

Full Results 2018

Salisbury 54321 50k – Sunday 12th August 2018

by Sam Amend - 12th August 2018 | General News

The Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1  trail run was much harder than I expected and I am pretty sure nobody warmed up before the start.  Maybe my mindset wasn’t right from the outset and partly to do with the weather with heavy rain and wind.  Regardless for me less pressure for flat-out speed and focus to remain on getting the mileage and the win for confidence.

Distances  for the race  varied from  5km  –   50k  Ultra  Marathon, hence the 5 = 50k, 4 =42k, 3= 33k, 2=21k and 1=10k.  The routes were over bridges, footpaths,  bridleways and country roads in the  Salisbury Wessex area. I had no idea my competition not recognizing anyone apart from Cat Simpson another local ultra runner who may push me a bit, she also failed to complete back in May the TP100 due to weather conditions.

My coach Norman came also to flyer cars, watch the race and we would have a late lunch after to catch up.  According to his thoughts ( proven to be wrong), he was convinced it was a fast course but I assured him it was definitely not flat!

With the rain not easing, runners hiding for shelter after registration time was now ticking for the announcements.  That part was pretty swift and it was time for us to line up for the start, so I shimmed into a spot close to the front as I knew even for ultra’s especially 50k’s people race off to avoid tight spots.  It was very up and down course through unploughed fields, stiles, chalky based hills and the weather added some interesting challenges.  The nice parts took you through areas of historical and scientific interest and through Country Estates not usually open to the general public.

Dipped massively with energy in the second half, truth be told I thought my flapjacks for breakfast and banana before the start had been enough.  The aid stations were very frequent along the course but didn’t have ” quick grab and run” food so I missed many opportunities and therefore paid dearly and became dehydrated ( story of my life this year).  Sadly I went from 3rd place to 5th and the overall win for the ladies.  Never felt more grateful to see the finish running through the wind and dripping wet clothes.  I won in a time of 3.51 which was a respectable time but hoped closer to 3hrs 40 but in hindsight with a race that involved looking a lot at signs, getting lost in a wood and opening lots of gates ” a win is a win”.  Sadly the race doesn’t go on your athletics profile but a very well organized and challenging event.

 

Photo from Salisbury 54321 into the finish ” soaked and relieved”

Results 2018

Salisbury Pictures 2018

Bearbrook 10k, Aylesbury -Sunday 5th August 2018

by Sam Amend - 9th August 2018 | General News

Did I tell you I hate 10k’s???

I like that they are over quickly but the pace and especially now moving into ultra’s kills me…  I haven’t been to Bearbrook ( Aylesbury) for some years but always love to visit a well-organized race.

On arrival it was like I had never left, especially meeting the Race Directors and chatting about what I had been upto.  Truth be told today I was feeling tired, not really up for it but again “ Get the job done”  it was a hard training run as I am still lacking flat-out speed and the course has a few winds/turns and climbs.

I knew today I had competition, Charlie somewhat 15 years my junior went off like a rocket.  Annoyingly her finishing time in normal circumstances and marathon training we could have had a very competitive race.  I settled for remaining in second place and to pick up speed when my legs woke up.  The last 3k was my fastest and went down to 5.40 pace something I hadn’t seen for some time and probably also because I knew the end was coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L:R Charlie, Sam & Sean 

I was pleased with my improvement on Wallingford 10k, especially again the topic of conversation regarding our British Weather  “ It was very HOT !” and finishing in 38.25 for second place.  After having a swift bite to eat at home I then set off to go and do my PT Core workout cleaning out the Donkies at the local Sanctuary, like I hadn’t done enough.

Prize giving Bearbrook 10k with Penny the R D

July Racing 2018 –   Vets Area Meet 3000m & 100m Relay

by Sam Amend - 31st July 2018 | General News

Sunday 8th July 2018 –   Vets Area Meet 3000m & 100m Relay

Feeling somewhat tired still and lacking any sort of speed after the 24 hr race 2 weeks previous decided to still commit to racing “SHORT”!  The annual meet for VAC being at Solihull I travelled up to run for the South.  Just prayed I wouldn’t embarrass myself, also a prompt reminder that last year was suffering terribly with Glandular Fever.  The race was very late in the day so the motivation was low but I would give it my best shot.  It was very hot from the extreme summer we were experiencing so It was a case of just getting my head down for 7.5 laps.  Mixed women’s race from v35 – v65 I led from the start and paced it slow to start with and then just ticked off the laps and didn’t do anything more than required to take the win.  It was a PW (Personal Worst) 10.58 but all the legs wanted to do and more importantly needed to take the win.  I was then asked would I do the relay; a joke was made.  “sorry did you say 100 miles??” or “100 metres?” regardless I got leg 3 around a bend which was preferred and off we went with a mixed age relay and done purely for fun.  The funniest thing was others watching me on the bend with a slow start as the distance was over in a blink and I couldn’t fire on all cylinders, needless to say I will leave the “sprinting for sprinters “.

Saturday 14th July 2018  –  Belgrave Outing  5000m SAL League

Another track race and our home meet so I promised to commit to the 5000m with many of the other ladies either injured or otherwise committed.  Please please speed come back was my only wish especially as the legs felt like they had been running backward for some time.  Lovely as always to meet all the Belgrave crew being the outsider from London.  It took 2 hrs to get there from home but an easy commute chilling on the train and even managed to read a few pages of a book.  Race was at 1.40pm again another hot weekend of racing but grateful to the ladies from the club providing water and much needed support.  Battered legs, I  claimed the lead for the first two-thirds of the race. Wendy Webber of Milton Keynes managed, however, to slide to the front in the final 2 laps and therefore still finished in second place  in a time of 18:46. We believe she called it ‘speed work’. Stephanie put on her game face and slogged through every distance runner’s worst nightmare and some much needed points for the team.

Thursday 26th July 2018  –  MotaVation 4.1 miler Summer Series Race 4

First time as part of the “ Oxford Series” out in an evening run.  I am not a fan of evening races but it always helps push me racing against others than doing all my training runs solo.  So hot and feeling a bit flat but regardless got to Combe in time and with Alex we decided to still race even though extreme tiredness and lethargy seemed to kick in.  Punchy tough 2 x lap course and hilly course which had my heart racing and breathing erratic, in particular the hill climbs I felt out of control like I was hitting the wall and running through treacle.  Alex finished in 8th and I came through in 3rd place, for my race despite the effort you see, I knew I was just running for survival and the finish.

Photo Credit: Barry Cornelius  “Combe downhill section after the climb!”

Finished in a time of 27.24 for 4.2 miles and 3rd lady winning a bottle of wine for the effort!  Really large turnout for a summer series and great to see so many Oxford Clubs and a thriving running community.

Photo Credit: Barry Cornelius  “Praying to reach the finish”

 

 

Energia 24hr Race – 23/24th June

by Sam Amend - 24th June 2018 | General News, Race Reports

Utter maddness !

Manic what can I say,  I took the Friday off to ensure I was prepared and also had reflexology, which later could have also contributed to my foot blisters. Anyway travelling with the crew was Jo and I from Heathrow and Norman and Anne from Birmingham.  All of which were going to be key to my success amongst nutrition/sleep and pace.

We didn’t start off well with a huge flight delay but eventually got there to meet with Anne and norman.  Despite being horrified by the insurance for the car in Belfast we did well to get a nice Honda.  20 mins later we were at the house that ironically was around the corner from the last house I stayed in.    This was also 4 miles away from the park.

We shopped for King and queens that night for my energy and the big laugh was when Jo said “ this won’t be eaten will it Sam??”  “ hey you never know” was my response.  All set and prepared we went to bed around 11ish Friday night.  I was wired and couldn’t sleep due to stress and then I got up around 7.20am to stretch out the morning.

We left around 11am to get the race number/table and set up… ooh, now it feels real and I had been worried about “how the hell can I do this???” .   No turning back and the preparation, race debrief started 20 minutes before the event.

I knew it was the unknown, I just had to crack on.  Music for the 12-5 slot and the rest just run around and focus.  It all felt a little surreal when the gun went for the start and set off by Dame Mary Peters, renowned as a pentathlete in the 1970’s.  Without going into the bore of the laps it was a case of just keep running circles with minimal breaks.  All of which felt fine until the night time when it got harder, with the heat been on the runners all day, I was struggling to take too much fluid on.  Like with the Thames Path ended up with urine issues and then scared to drink so I resorted to ice lollies, some banana with peanut butter, a little tailwind hydration and a porridge pot.

Surprisingly  I took less flat coke on but did add some salt to the watermelon that also went down well.  For Caffeine I had some tablets every 6 hours or so to keep myself alert, a few times I was off the mark but as dawn started to break so did my ability to get back on it again.  Having led from the start to finish I completed 24hrs in a respectable 220.249km.  Looking back in hindsight I could definitely run further, I know what food/nutrition works and how to run a better race and including considering the surface which for Belfast very hard, at a camber and stoney.

Belfast 24hr

 

Wargrave 10k – 10th June

by Sam Amend - 10th June 2018 | General News

A bit of a disaster!

A race with my friend Leigh and the last training run before I hit the 24hr event on June 23/24th.  I had a bad build up of low level running, overworked and a bit stressed.  With this race I started off with the wrong attitude.  The pollen in the carpark was also high and my guts still hadn’t recovered properly.

I ran a very slow 38.53 which was a slight improvement on Wallingford 10k  but by no means a good enough effort from me.  I let the ladies go by me to avoid pressure and knowing it was won in late 37’s something I was more than capable of.  It was a poor run but downgraded expectations and still beneficial training.  Since going long the shorter stuff naturally have taken a hit and why I didn’t worry too much on the outcome.  With the hills and people to run with this gave me balance.

 

Chiltern Chase 15k – 3rd June 2018

by Sam Amend - 3rd June 2018 | General News, Race Reports

Another hot one !

This wasn’t a race I felt particularly felt very well prior to the start.  Probably an accumulation of a busy work week having done a short day visit to Sweden and also the heat picking up.  Regardless the distance suited me being a little further than the norm and meant I could get a good training session in.  I met with Trevor my running friend there who had recommended from previously running and being local why not.

Avoiding the sun before we then got to the start line just shy of 10am before the race went off.  This was with a staggered start delay for the 15/10k and 5k.  Felt okay the first mile then a bit flat so I took the pace down due to a tight chest and erratic breathing.  For the first 6/8k of the race, I remained in 2nd place playing a bit of cat and mouse with another lady who I didn’t recognise but looked like a triathlete.  My friend Trevor also surged ahead for some time on the challenging multi-loop course.  Really hard overtaking slower runners on narrow trails but once finally through I dug deep and pushed forward to get into the lead ahead of my friend and also the lady I was tracking.  It was pushed all the way to the finish in a respectable 1.02.

                                                                        Trevor, Clare, Rosie, Sam & Matt

For the hard work, I was rewarded with Rowse Honey basket and what turned out to not be a race I felt good for but one I picked myself up in and turned things around.  The morning was topped off with a nice lunch in a local pub in Wallingford with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Wallingford 10k – 3rd June 2018

by Sam Amend - 20th May 2018 | General News

On a very hot day and still heat exhausted some weeks later after the Thames path I knew this would be a tough one.  Ultimately I was using this or a good hard training session and a local race.  With a few hundred on the start line, a local community feel and recognizing some local running clubs and neighbours.  Braving the front of the start line and at speed from the gun to make sure I could get a good gap.

I struggled with the speed still lacking the leg turnover from the long-distance running and training.  Netherless carried on with the 2 lap course for the 10k.  The off-road and weaving of bridal paths and round cones made this not a fast course, but still very pleasant.  I wasn’t contested at the front by anyone else but did finish is a slow 38.56.  There were bigger fish to fry in a months time with a 24hr race.