It has taken much of this week to process this and get to a place where I felt I could write this blog without being completely negative about the whole experience!
Training had gone well I was happy with my fitness and mentally I was in as good a place as I could be, actually probably better than for a long time. Home life isn't perfect but, mostly, I think I am dealing with the uos and downs more healthy, positive way.
Dan had very kindly agreed to crew for me again and I had decided against a pacer runner as I think I am happier on my own. Dan's instructions were simple, make sure I keep eating, drinking, put warm clothes on when it gets dark and don't let me quit.
It was good to see some familiar faces at the start and although nervous I was looking forward to getting going. Race brief done, a walk to the start line, start photo taken and we were off.
|On the start line|
It's funny how the nerves disappear the second you start moving. The first 6 miles went quickly, it wasn't easy terrain to run on but I was running the pace I wanted, I chatted to a few people, weather conditions were good and I was enjoying myself. The first aid station came round quickly and I didn't hang around, a quick hello to Dan, grabbed some food and kept moving.
The running to aid station 2 was ok and I was on target pace wise in these very early stages. I met Dan again ate some angel delight and kept going. I felt like I had a stone pressing against my big toe so stopped to empty it out at the aid station, it wasn't a stone but a hole in my favourite drymax socks. I messaged Dan to ask for coffee and fresh socks at aid station 3.
I remember finding the canal path between 2 and 3 tough to run on last time, so ran/walked it and was still very much on the pace I wanted at 15 miles. Still very early days!
I was glad to get to the forest loop and some easier terrain to run on. All felt good, I was enjoying myself, and was feeling positive, I still find it hard to eat large amounts at a time but continuous grazing seemed to be working.
At about mile 33 my left foot became sore around my heel and big toe, this wasn't too far before the next aid station and race medics Kinsley and Maxine who are friends were there, so I made the decision to stop and get my feet looked at, I was slightly concerned at the blisters on my heel and big toe and the start of some on my right foot too. Maxine cleaned, drained and taped them up and next time I saw Dan I changed it to my road shoes, the trails were hard and my road shoes are slightly more cushioned so hopefully this would help. I was at 36 miles and getting blisters only a third of the the way in wasn't great but they were bearable and I was still managing 14/15 minute miles which was fine and well within my race plan at this point.
I got to the 51 mile aid station a bit later than planned but still well within the cut off times, it was a great boost to briefly see Andreea, I had some soup and got moving. This is when it got tough, we were well into darkness and the feet were really sore. I tried not to focus on the pain but my pace had dropped significantly and I had a spell of feeling down and slightly queasy. I stopped behind a tree and had a massive poo which helped with the stomach!! Nothing was helping with the feet and my right hip was giving me some pain. I took a couple of paracetamol to try and take the edge of and kept moving. I was met before the next aid station by one of the marshals, Pete, as he was concerned my tracker hadn't updated for half an hour, it was good to see another person as I had been on my own in the dark for some time. I forced more food down, took a cup of coffee with me and kept moving forward. I was starting to worry about my pace, or lack of, and began that stage of trying to do the maths 'if I keep moving at this pace, how long will it take me, how many miles to the next cut off etc.
At 63 miles I was at the next aid station and had the 10 mile loop ahead of me, I knew I was going to be chasing the cut off now but made the decision to get Lindley to take another look at my feet and my hip. The pain as he squeezed the fluid out of my blisters was something else and at one point did think I might throw up! He massaged and stretched my hip and attached a heat pack to hopefully help me keep going and get back to a pace that would mean I could finish. I was cold after stopping so was pleased in a way to get moving again. I met Dan again about a mile on and told him I was done but he listened to my previous instructions and said no I wasn't! There was another point about 4 miles on where he could meet me and I agreed to keep going and reassess then. I put some music on and did everything I could to move at a better pace. I managed 20 minute miles for a short time but couldn't keep it up consistently. I found a random playlist and some of the lyrics made me laugh, such as 'I have wondered through the dark, through the dirt, I was hurt'! Or 'l know every mile will be worth my while'! So although in pain and moving too slowly I was still having an ok time. By the time I eventually met Dan again I knew I had no chance of making the 81 mile cut off, Dan had done the maths too and we knew it was race over.
I am still disappointed that I didn't finish but I have taken a lot of positives from it, lots went really well. I don't normally suffer with blisters and it's a pain I wasn't used to or expecting so had a tough time fighting through it. The nutrition, hydration and keeping warm went so much better than last time and I only had one really down point, I know I still had 30 ish miles to go!
I did announce my retirement from attempting 100 miles as we travelled back, Dan said that was rubbish, or words to that effect! And he was right I will try again, too much went well for me not to try again!
RH100 is a brilliant race and very well organized, thanks Ronnie and all the volonteers who made it a great event. Thanks Lindley and Maxine for patching up my feet.
My biggest thanks goes to Dan for being the best support crew, Andreea you are an amazing friend too, thank you for the support.
And thanks to everyone who supports my crazy running adventures, knowing there were those of you at home taking time to check the tracker and send messages is so uplifting and motivating, I really do have the best friends.
So although disappointed looking back I did thoroughly enjoy my 21 hours out on the trails, it really is my happy place and where I am at peace with myself and the world,
Happy running xxx