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Run, Sam, Run!

Samantha Amend - GB & England Marathon and Ultra Distance Runner

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.

 

“Gosh what a hot one….Thames Path 100 miler” – 5th May 2018

by Sam Amend - 7th May 2018 | General News

On a hot hot hot morning in early May, as much as I am pleased to see the Sun, today it became my curse.  To think 2 years ago I was wearing a base layer fleece top and today I could wear a bikini!

Any of you that know me and followed facebook updates I have trained the sections in between the ACP 100k.  I felt ready, confident despite and knowing the women field was stacked up with potentials that maybe on my heels.

The brave lioness at the front of the pack

Temperatures at 10am pushing on 25 degrees hotter than anticipated and expected so I knew fluid was key!  Sadly also being a woman the one thing we always fear is to have a  monthly menstrual cycle appear.  This indeed happened on the morning of this race… arggh !

 

Sam & Cat Simpson ( smiling between the stress of the heat) Photo Gemma Carter

I wasn’t to be deterred, I set off with the front runners at a brisk pace to avoid the bottleneck and to get into a race either, well not for 100 miles.  The pace once reviewing after 5/6 miles was way too fast and new my crew would kill me if they saw the watch so I stepped off a touch and ran with a couple of guys from the second group because I had been informed that they were running 7.30’s which although I can run just didn’t fancy it for 100 miles.  To get my target of 15.15/20 needed to run an overall average of 9 min miles.  I knew in the dark I would slow and miles in the tank so I pushed on the quicker pace to where I met my crew Jo, Norman & Anne but at 22 miles I started getting the gut/bowel issues and spent a long time in the toilet/aid station.  I was hoping it would pass..   the guys I ran with were happy to come along and also felt reassured I knew the route so we plugged on to the next aid station the other side of Windsor ( felt like a million miles).

We were all suffering from dehydration despite overloading on water/fluids, salt in my flat coke.  I had barely eaten for 5/6 hrs mainly due to the worry of throwing up so I stuck to watermelon.   From Cookham I was pretty much on my own until Henley and had to pull myself together, also grateful for the shower with the hose in Cookham as I then preceded to weave between so many walkers/dogs/kids.  With the sun out everyone seemed to be on the path today,

Approaching Marlow Park being greeted by family (Photo Amy Bennie)

It was getting hotter, very little shade and harder to pick up the feet by the time I had gone through Cookham ( crew came to see me) and then saw my sister in law in Marlow  ( a very grateful runner received an ice lolly).  I had a  terrible block of running through Hurley where my bag was rubbing and felt so heavy and a lot of walking/slow running through the area until making my way back onto the Thames path section towards Henley.  Along with this path where the Rowing is taking place in just over a months time they had the metal boards in the water which also helped in the burning process and the ground felt so hard/dry to run on.  Relieved to see my Crew again and pick up the first runner that could keep me company from 51 miles.  Sadly this was shortly lived for Sam ( male) which I feel sad about.

With a belly full of fluid, way more than I would take on, numerous toilet stops I knew I had to pick myself up through Shiplake area and Sonning.

Trying to dig in deep from Shiplake to Sonning ( Photo courtesy of Gemma)

Knowing I felt this way with a cloudy head, tired, drained and gut issues it was going to be a ” BIG” ask to expect my body to get through the next tougher sections and then darkness.  What was most upsetting was the sun ruined lots of runners races, relentless and still well into the evening still too warm.  Having properly planned with sun cream, sunglasses and cap and appropriate wear feel gutted!  I need to move on and reflect and this time the weather beat me!

Grateful regardless to have lots of support of my fabulous crew and meet people along the way.  I will be back to defend my course record and not finish at Reading aid station.

SEAA & National Relays – Saturday 14th April 2018

by Sam Amend - 14th April 2018 | General News

A SOLID PERFORMANCE FROM THE BELLES AT SUTTON PARK

An account from our team manager from the relays on what I would describe heavy legs, I set the Belles off on the first, one of the two tough long stages of 5.38 miles on this year’s National road relay.  Not feeling 100% and although battled courageously a minute or so slower than expected when handing over to Saron Haileselase in 25th place on stage two.  Although having two long stages normally tends to suit the strong distance runners in the Belgrave team, the problem is, that after the first stage, the gaps between the teams are already massive. So although Saron picked up seven places in her leg, she felt that if she had not been so isolated she could have run even faster. As it was she finished 9th fastest short stage of the day, the Belles strongest performer.  Georgie Fenn took over for the next short stage, a little sharpener before her London Marathon race the following week. Georgie had a very good run, she passed another four runners, was 6th fastest on her stage bringing the team home in 13th position. What a fine prospect she is.  Mhairi Hall agreed to take leg four, the next long stage, at very short notice after Sophie Harris wisely decided not to run after feeling unwell. Mhairi ran another very courageous leg in a very good time. Mhairi gave absolutely everything up to the last hill, so much so that she had to be helped by the St John Ambulance after she finished. What a reliable and excellent team member she has been all year. Lizzie Goldie-Scot has found it difficult to train quite as consistently this year what with the demands of her job and injury setbacks. However, she has still supported the team and had a good solid run here on another very isolated leg. She gained one place so that after five stages and without a sixth runner, the Belles were in 15th position out of a total of 48 National teams, a very creditable performance.

RESULTS; Relay Results

Leeds City AC 2:11:27,   2.  C & C 2:14:19,  3. Rotherham  2:15:45

Incomplete;    Belgrave:  S. Amend 33:25 (long) 25th,   S. Haileselase  17:55 (short) 17th,  G. Fenn  18:49 (short) 13th,  M. Hall  35:04 (long) 16th ,  L. Goldie-Scot 21:07 (short) 15th.

FASTEST STAGES;

LONG; 1.  T. Barlow (THH)  29:07,    2.  S. Stockton (Leeds)  29:22,  3. A. McGlynn (THH) 29:39.

1. J. Pateman (C&C) 17:02,   2.  E. Baker (Stockport) 17:23,   3. L. Crookes (Leeds) 17:24,   9=   S. Haileselase (Belgrave) 17:55

Looking for the finish

Anglo Celtic Plate 100k – A Win & A Course Record, 31 March 2018

by Sam Amend - 2nd April 2018 | General News

The  A race, I had been training for since last year failing to finish at Winschouten 100k in September 2017.  This was the second selection for the same distance and this time I was desperate to finish and prove my fitness.

The Anglo Celtic Plate ( ACP) is a yearly event which rotates between England, Scotland & Wales to develop athletes beyond the marathon and into ultra-distance runners..  This year it was Wales’s turn to host under the guidance of Steve and Jackie Brace  – Welsh Athletics.

Photo:  Mike Stocks, Anthony Clark, Jez Bragg, Nathan Montague, Sam Amend, Sophie Carter

Although more experienced with the long distance especially with 50k’s, 50 miles, 100k and 100 mile races under my belt I was still incredibly nervous.  Mainly down to the fact I had spent the whole of 2017 fighting glandular fever and with another relapse at the end of January.   Anyone that has run beyond a marathon will understand it’s a different type of nerves because it isn’t so much the distance its more about how your body is going to react to the nutrition, course and let’s face it a very long way still at speed!

There were 17 runners racing for their home nation and only 2 women for England, both Sophie Carter (former Belgravian) and I, so I hoped to do the club, my coach and myself proud.

Having prayed all week that ” the beast from the east  Part 3″  was due so I was concerned with the limited race options for 100k that the race may indeed after some significant training not be on.  Having had heavy rain back home in Oxford Weds, Thurs, Friday the weather wasn’t looking promising with cold temperature, high winds and guess what ” more rain”!

Depressing… anyway as they say you cant control the weather, it is what it is, think ” Team England” were just worried about the distance.  I arrived with my Support crew on Friday afternoon, the journey “good Friday took”  an hour longer and all I wanted to do was de-stress and suspect it was due to Cardiff hosting the Anthony Joshua fight.  I cracked on in the evening race prepping/team brief and a dinner at a local pub after the exciting (sarcastically said)  course route inspection, which although lots of scattered pubs looked flat and nice.  Only 31 laps eeek !!

Morning of the race I looked like a startled rabbit at 6am ,  nerves had built up with a combination of anxiety from the thoughts of the previous year’s failures to overcome.  My crew Jo, Anne, Trevor and I travelled down with the team at 7am and then the pre-race stresses, several non-stop toilet trips started kicking in.  The race was to start at 8am.

The runners descended off to the start shivering and most started with jackets/gloves/armguards and some leggings and the weather did continue into the afternoon get colder.   The laps felt easy up to the point of 55/60k and I went through halfway in 3hrs 45  but then the hurting started.  Fighting in the wind on some of the long straights, trying to lift up my knees where my cadence had become shorter, slower and then a few laps where I started to lose focus. Regardless was determined to carry on and I managed to lap the female field multiple times so I knew I had a big buffer.  No one looked better than anyone else, we were all digging deep in the conditions either dodging tractors at speed or headwind.  A great spectator course/ also for the aid station being every 2 miles.

The last 12 miles really were the hardest for me as I counted down 6 laps, 5 laps, 4 laps and then the last 2 laps pushed to get through.  Sadly I missed the 7.52 individual time by a minute and suspect my moments of toilet stops/talking at the aid trying to get myself together as all needed was to cross that line.  There is was and in a time of 7hrs 53.57.  Elated however with a pb of 16 minutes,  a course record and my confidence back.

Sadly though I spent straight after 2hrs on the sofa getting medical treatment as I went downhill very quickly with hyperthermia and drifting off,  after some fabulous TLC from St Johns came back to life to make sure I could lift that large trophy !

In the women’s race England retained their team title from 12 months ago.

Athletics Weekly ACP Write up

Power of 10 Results 2018

XNRG Humanity 50k ” Solid Training Run” – Saturday 10th March 2018

by Sam Amend - 10th March 2018 | General News

Slightly nervous on an off-road race, still nursing my temperature and feeling exhausted I did also go and get some blood tests to ensure I wasn’t having still glandular issues.  I was pleased to confirm that the blood count looked good and the temperature likely to be triggered from exhaustion/anxiety and stress.  Almost relief to get clear results! but equally still feeling under the weather with the dark skies, soaked course and the hilly 50k that I would tackle.

I set off from home to pick up Jo who was going to be my aid and also friendly face as I knew it was local and Jo wouldn’t mind driving and popping up in and around the Chilterns.  This race had a staggered start with walkers @8am, slower runners @9am  and then Elite runners @10am.  I hadn’t seen the course but suspected with 17hrs rain non-stop it was going to be a mud bath.  This would mean trying to target the course record wouldn’t be the main target it would be ” hard training run”.

Off we went with Nathan Montague’s (  my fellow England athlete and like me the Ridgeway record with XNRG)  brother speeding off and the first mile being downhill ended up 6.20 pace ( ouch),  that did change as the race went on, self-navigation, warm conditions and tired.

There were a few signs in the course that I suspect had been moved from locals.  In particular 5 miles in, I missed a sty and had to run back a distance to lose my place and chase the front pack.  It was like wading through treacle through the churned cattle fields/bridle paths.  Surprisingly some of the course took up the ” Country to Capital 45 miler”  and tough climbs around Chesham, road crossings along with some steep climbs with a streams running down #soakedfeet.  I managed to get myself early on into the lead and also on the few times I took wrong turns ” thanks watch” to get back in the lead up until the last checkpoint.  The overall second place finisher from London managed to get in front for a short time and I thought that was it.  Grimacing to get the last 4.5 miles to the finish unbeknown to see there was a very steep climb towards the end and all the downhill start became the climb to the finish and across the sodden field from the start at Dr Challoners.

Relieved to see the finish line did my best sprint finish possible to get through before gratefully collapsing into a chair,  tough tough race!  It was challenging, muddy hard course than both mentally and physically challenged me.  What was even more delightful was to find I ended up ” winning the race”  as the leader from checkpoint 4 had got lot lost towards the finish section so I had re-taken the lead again.  In fairness, the top 3/4 runners had admitted i was a worthy winner having benefitted from working off me, and the mistakes I had made.  Winning this overall was beyond my expectations but lovely to share my win with Jo and leave on a positive note.

Next year will be back to improve on the time, in hopefully dryer conditions and a bit of hill work under my bet.  My thighs and quads took a hammering!

Prize Giving with Neil Thurborn  -XNRG 50k

Humanity 50k : XNRG Results 2018

Seville Marathon ” Getting The Job Done ” – Sunday 25th February 2018

by Sam Amend - 25th February 2018 | General News, Race Reports

What was going to be my main ” A ” race for me as far as marathons go ended up more about ” getting the job done” and being downgraded.

Sadly, last year I was in the early stages of my glandular fever which meant I had to retire 10k into the race due to stars in my eyes and losing balance.  I was out with my best ” supporter” Jo and this time she was actually racing….  cant believe I convinced her to run!  so for both of us it was to get rid of the demons and in essence a ” hard training run for her marathon in April  and my 100k in March.

We met Ed Catmur who is a seasoned traveller and 100 marathon club man with mutual club friends and also someone we often meet ahead of races.  We were staying right near the beautiful cathedral  ( somewhat worried me with the possible noise)  but turned out to be an amazing venue and hub in the historic part of Seville.  Arriving Friday late we ventured out to the expo the next morning where Ed met a fellow ” 100 miler club”  who was also a Sports Doctor in Sheffield.

Larking around @ the Expo

Baz gave me some great advice on virus’s and handling my second bout of glandular, sadly resulted into me not finishing Wokingham half marathon the week before.  #onwardsandupwards!

Changing my thought process around the race strategy and being around calm people definitely helped.  For the second time ( last year Valencia)  I was going to run controlled and how I felt…  Take the pressure away and aim to improve on last years comeback.  Stupidly something worth noting the evening of the race before bed I smashed all my toes into the corner of the bed, every single toe digit apart from the big toe was in agony, Ouch!!  still very sore and bruised race morning, but with the new car-free attitude and lowered expectations, the goal was to get to the end.

Its an early start these Spanish races so we were up at 5am ( 6am local) with a swift breakfast before meeting Ed midway on our 35 min stroll to the start.  Much better way to arrive than a possibly ” no show taxi” or a ” cramped race bus.  Time flew by after several toilet trips  ( renowned for zillion stops)  its nerves that go once in the race…  We didnt want a repeat of last year fighting through people carnage so we headed over to the start earlier, due to the little English at the expo was surprised to be greeted by ” elite toilets”  , let’s say I was delighted and of course I went and used them ( multiple times).

So off to the  start line crammed in by Kenyan’s Elite Internationals, and worried it was going to be a fast start and potentially being knocked down I was “on guard”.  We were off and yes fast start….  but I settled into a comfortable pace around 6.10 for the first 8/9 miles and then eased back as it warmed up a touch ( about 16/17 degrees), more than last year but still pretty good conditions.  Some running over tram tracks, a few tight corners and some strange park/cobble roundabouts but all in all a pretty good flat/fast course.  I had no idea where I was in the big scheme of the race but stuck to my plan,  I was surprised though to see a fellow Brit around 15/16 miles income past who was on the front of the start and must have pulled out or had medical treatment.  Anyway without boring the readers  I managed to run an average of 6.28  to finish in 2:52 and felt very relaxed and able to move freely, walk back and happy with progress.  Of course Id have liked quicker but ultimately from feeling unwell/ a temperature, bruised toes, trying out brand new trainers for the 100k I would say it was ” Progress”.  Jo also finished in 4:05  something she was aiming for and pleasured also to complete the race  and Ed went through in another sub 3 ” tick”.  Positive weekend, great vegan food, great company…

RESULTS: Seville Marathon 2018

SEAA Cross Country, Brighton – Saturday 27th January 2018

by Sam Amend - 28th January 2018 | General News, Race Reports

A TOUGH DAY ON THE DOWNS

The venue at Stanmer Park is usually a favourite of Belgrave Harriers with happy memories from the last visit in 2015 when both men and women’s teams won silver team medals.  This year, however, proved very different. Travel to the venue proved lengthy with both rail replacement and M23 closures, in fact, some clubs didn’t even bother to come. The course far softer than three years before became increasingly difficult as the afternoon progressed with drizzle before the start of the women’s race becoming increasingly heavy throughout the rest of the afternoon. By the end of both women’s and men’s races, the surface had become very muddy.
The highlight of the afternoon was my teammate finishing in 6th place by Sophie who moved up on the first of the two large laps to track the leading group of five.  Saron Haileselase started well, looking strong on the hills and flying on the downhill sections. On the first lap she was lying roughly in the top twenty which would have put the Belles higher up in the finishing teams.
However, on the far side of the course on the second lap she was struck with agonising stitch on the sharp downhill section and had to pull out finding it difficult to breathe. She was helped and driven back to the Belgrave tent by St John Ambulance very upset.  I sadly witnessed this coming round on my last lap and knew I needed to finish to give the team the best finish possible.  Also, a lot lower down in the field than I wanted feeling sluggish and tight from the long car journey sadly and previously finished this race in 16th & 19th.

I had a blinder three years ago and usually love this course with its rolling hills and fast downhill sections. Not this year though. Still building up fitness after a long period illness, lacking any training over the hills/ offroad in prep for 100k.   Safe to say I struggled in the slippery mud but nevertheless stuck to the task and gave her best in her usual determined fashion.

Photo Credit: Pat McDougall – 375 Runners in the ladies field and can just make me out in mid pack  ( Overall Finish 68th)

 

RESULTS: SEAA XC Results 2018

  1. P. Law (K&P)  28.56,  2.  E. Hosker-Thornhill (AFD)  29.18,  3.  C. Christenson (C&C)  29.19,   6. S. Harris  29:56,  68. S. Amend  34:25,  74.  M. Hall  34:48,  128. L. Goldie-Scot  37:14,  246. M. McDonald  43:18.  351 finished
TEAMS.
  1. AFD  33,  2.  C & C 68,  3.  Serpentine 148,  9. Belgrave Harriers 271.