Tuesday 26 May 2009

New Website: Beyond Marathon


OK, the logo has been applied, so I can release my website that I have been talking about for weeks!

It is for budding and veteran ultra athletes everywhere. I’ve looked around at various websites and though I’ve found ‘lists’ I’ve found nothing comprehensive (online) for single and multi stage events across the Globe.

So, I’ve created a site with the Worlds top ultra’s. There are currently just over 50 featured, and detailed. It’s a free resource for everyone to research events and find something right for them. Now, I’m not a web designer, this is my first time, so I welcome feedback – no matter how critical! I’ve tried to keep the navigation very clean and simple.

I’ve a hard time keeping my credit card in my pocket when learning about all of these races across the World, so just make sure yours is out of reach! You’ve been warned!

Incidentally, I’m not making anything out of the website, from anyone. No kickbacks, no nothing. It’s all for your benefit, and the benefit of the “established event” organisers. I say “established” because I’ve only listed events that have a history of being run, or an organisation behind them who have a history of proven events. This is simply to ensure that I’m not unwittingly freely advertising events that never materialise, and let the site content down. I’m looking for event reports for any of those listed (you’ll see what I mean). Ideally not more than a couple of pages long. More a ‘review’ than a blow by blow daily race report, if you understand me. Though I have included the odd long race report. I’d like feedback on what works there; short or long.

I want the site to be a global resource, and not just one for the UK. I have tried to give good representation to all continents at launch (though admittedly the UK as a country is extra well represented at the moment). I will undoubtedly add more events, as appropriate, and I have some other toys and plans for the site to come soon.

All of the feedback from Race Directors worldwide has been really positive (I have had to chase for their blessing of course), and I hope that many races will attract new competitors as a direct result of people discovering their races.

Have a look and let me know what you think.


5 weeks after the knee operation.

Last week has been more eventful. I had an NHS physio appointment on Tuesday to check my progress. I was given a few more exercise to do, told I could use light resistance machines and the exercise bike; the one where you sit like a go-kart, I forget what it's called.

I went along to the gym on Tuesday night and did half an hour on the machines and bike, and also an hour and a half of yoga. I was a little rusty and not as flexible again, but I'm sure that will come back. The front of my knee was still too sore to do all of the yoga poses, but I did relatively well.

The physio nurse also said that I could do "a long walk" if I wanted to. I decided not to ask her what she considered a "long" walk in case her ideas, and mine, didn't match. I half suspect she meant a few miles, whereas a long walk in my mind is over 20 miles. So on Saturday I decided to do a compromise in my own head and do a 10 mile walk. It had around 1000dr of ascent, and I also managed to establish that my maximum walking pace is 4.2mph. I managed to hold onto that average by the skin of my teeth all the way around. It was an unnaturally fast walk, that burned my feet up so much I actually got about 4 or 5 hotspots or small blisters. It was a lovely day, the warmest of the year so far. I took a few photos along the way.

After the walk, my knee felt ok, maybe a little sore both back and front. I wasn't the least bit tired which was good news, so I hope I recover my fitness quickly. I was told I shouldn't run until my appointment with the surgeon on 22nd June, but I will certainly be doing some longer walks if nothing more energetic. I also plan to use the gym 3 times this week too. On the subject of feet I've had a refund from UKGear this week for the PT-03 desert shoes which failed in the Atacama when the soles peeled away. They have also said they will write to me and tell me the results from the lab tests and what changes are being made to the production, to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Website: well it's pretty much ready to go. I've just waiting for a higher resolution logo to put on the homepage and I'll open it up. I wouldn't say it's finished, because I have lots of plans for the site; new features etc, but it's certainly in a good state as it is, and I look forward to hearing everyone’s feedback; good and bad! I've had to chase down permissions to use some content/extracts from various ultramarathon event websites. Every race so far has given their blessing, as many have seen a pre-live version etc. This includes all the biggest ultras (in terms of number of competitors), such as Two Oceans. Of course it is a free source of promotion for the events, and few people turn down free advertising. However, Badwater said that they'd rather people use their own website, and didn't want me to use their website extracts/photos on my site. I guess when you are running a massively oversubscribed yearly event for a restricted field of 80 or 90 people, and it is on an invite-only basis, you don't need any free promotion! So, Badwater's information is all public access details and no pictures. It makes that page look a litle dull, but I'm sure you can imagine what running 135 miles on road in 50C is like though right? Everything else is looking good though.

There a possibility I may get the graphics a little later, and if so I'll post the link up. Watch this space!

Have a good week.

Monday 18 May 2009

Not enough hours

It's a month since my knee op, and If it wasn't for being so busy with the new website, I would be stir crazy through lack of exercise. My knee is still really sore on the front, and that might last months. The back of the knee is still a little painful too; I hope becuase it is still healing and not because the original issue is still manifesting itself somehow. I am exercising it, mainly when I walk up the stairs. I'll stop and do some extra reps, and I've been doing lots of one legged squats etc to build it all back up. Slowly but surely. I think I might try to run in 2 weeks time. I will doubtless have lost all my fitness, since I have done literally nothing fitness wise. It's strange not doing anything, after it has govened my life for so long. I am looking forward to getting back into it.

On the website front, I have now gathered about 80% of the content I want on the site for when in launches. Most of the rest I will have got together by the weekend. I am up until 1am most nights working on it. I haven't been outside the house for an period of time in weeks! All weekend I spend on it. A company has approach me to do the design, but it's all chargable of course, and since I won't be making any money out of the site (it's just an info source) it would be money I wouldn't see again. Still, I'm sure their effort would outshine mine!. I'm no web designer of course. Regardless, you'll be seeing the fruits of my labours anyway, because any professional website design would be further down the line, and I want to get something to show you as soon as possible. Even if it's not as pretty as it could be, the content is key I think. Maybe something by the weekend, but I'm not sure. We'll have to see how many more hours I can shoehorn into the day.

Have a good week!

Sunday 10 May 2009

Brain meltdown

It has been 3 weeks since the knee operation, almost. At least another 3 weeks until I can start running though. I will have to start from scratch again, building up mile by mile. It'll give me the opportunity to do a few short distance races. I only ever entered one 'road' 10k, one half and one full marathon ever. Getting fit again will give me the opportunity to smash what passes for personal bests at those distances. Back in 2006 when I first started running it took me 50 minutes to do a 10k. I've comfortably done them in 45 minutes just training, so I daresay I can shave a bit more off. Again in 2006, I did one half-marathon and it took me an hour and 50 minutes. Given I was doing 10 miles in an hour in fifteen, with torn knee cartilage; I would hope I'll achieve about an hour and a half when back to running. I'm not particularly interested in doing a road marathon again, but I'm fairly sure I could do one around 3:30, or maybe a little less if my 10 mile pace was anything to go by.

So, I'll set myself a few short term goals of running at least some 10k's and a half marathon on my way back to fitness. I'll be doing some LDWA events in a few months, and I have entered the OMM (medium score), but it is a ballot and I won't find out if I am in until August.

I have been doing some exercise to strengthen the knee; one-legged stands and squats etc. I am walking around perfectly well. I went out with one of my friends for a night out in Chester, first time in ages we've been out, and I managed to wander around the bars and tap my feet on the edge of the nightclub dance floor ok, so I must be on the mend. The doorman at the club made my night by asking me for ID! I'm 35... I'd love to say I looked 17, or even under 21 as the sign over the door stated "if you looked under 21 we will ask you for ID". I don't look vaguely anywhere near either, but still I got to be 17 again, even just for a minute. So, about 6 hours on my feet around the town and in the club, with the odd sit down, so I'm feeling positive about my knee. I do have painful scar tissue when fully flexing my knee in a quad stretch. That isn't improving much at the moment though.

In the evenings and into the early hours I have been continuing to work on my website. I have backtracked slightly and made some design decisions which will make my life easier further down the line. It will make the site easier to use, and to update for me. As a result, from someone who has never done any web design in their life, I am currently learning Flash & actionscript, HTML, Javascript, XML, mySQL and PHP, all at the same time! So, you can see why my brain is in utter meltdown if you know much about any or all of those. I have spent hours in the tiniest problems, and hours trawling the web for solutions to them. I've asked around on forums, but usually ended up persevering and solving the problems myself. As it stands, I have less ready to show than I did a week ago, but I am more geared up to add content quickly when I finalise the design.

Even when I release it, I think it is going to be an iterative process of feedback from everyone to improve the site. So, remember go easy on me I am a beginner at all of this. As the content grows, I hope to provide a valuable resource to ultra runners both new and old. It might be a couple of weeks away, before I put anything up. I'd rather get it mostly right, and get plenty of content on there, than launch the site earlier.

So, bear with me, and I hope to have something exciting to show you soon.

Have a good week.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

2 weeks post knee operation

It is two weeks today since my arthroscopy. You can see below, I just have a couple of small purple marks where the cuts were made.

I have had a hospital physiotherapy appointment today to check my progress. I am walking around ok, but walking around the shops does tend to hurt my knee after a while, so I take regular breaks. I have lost muscle tone on my left quad, but this is as much due to not using the leg in the last few months, than a direct result of the decreased activity since the surgery. I have been given some new exercise to do, to rebuild strength and try and regain full flexion in my knee, which I don't still have. I am about 10 degrees short of that achieved by my right leg.

I get pain in my leg, underneath the left wound (from the knife). It is also a little lumpy. I assume this is scar tissue, and hopefully this will go away in time, or after some soft tissue work in a few weeks.

I've been told I can cycle but no resistance work yet. The exercises I have been given are pretty basic. Just a single step-up and down, single leg squats and a quad stretch (which hurts). I have to go back in two weeks for physio, and hopefully four weeks for the post-op assessment with the surgeon to get the green light to run again.

I have now found that I have a huge amount of spare time in the evenings, and have finally got round to doing something I have had planned for a while. I'm working on a new website, the domain for which I purchased in the middle of last year. It's not a blog this time, but rather an information source for ultra runners, both new and veterans, and worldwide. It's getting towards the point where I can make it live, though I still have some content to add and I have to chase some permissions to use photo's and articles from various sources. I'll also be looking to include reviews from ultra events all over the world. The reviews are not the primary focus of the site at all, so I'm only likely to include 3 reviews for each event directly on the site, though I will likely include links to those reviews I don't feature. I'm very keen to get reviews from newcomers, as well as veterans - from front-ruining racing snakes, mid-packers and those at the rear of the field. We can all learn from people no matter where they finish in a race. The people who take 60 hours to do an event are very much as noteworthy endurance athletes as those who take 25 hours in my opinion. So, if you have a story to tell from an ultra. Single or multi stage - road, desert, snow, any terrain you like, then let me hear about it and maybe I'll feature it on the new site.

I'll post the link as soon as I can, so keep checking back.

Have a good week.