Monday, 19 September 2016

Robin Hood 100

This was it the big one, I had been excited about this race since early in the year when I saw the details on Facebook. It was like it was meant to be, it fitted in with other commitments, had a decent cut off and was described as having all runnable trails and was marked so only minimal navigation, ie look for the signs and tape.

My life has revolved around getting ready for this race since I signed up in March. I asked Lindley from Challenge Running to write me a training plan and I have followed it since May to ensure physically I was in the best shape I could possibly be. Thanks Lindley.

I asked Dan if he would crew for me and Richard to be my pacer from 50 miles. Thank you both.

The bit no one could help me with was mental strength, I needed to work on that myself. I read blogs, articles all sorts and practised what I had learnt on my training runs. Slowly over the months I learnt to not let my life stresses mess with my head whilst running. It took work but listening to music for short periods helped, focusing on the running, mantras... you name it I tried it! There was no way a negative mental attitude was going to spoil race day!!

Having a very busy week leading up to the race meant there wasn't much time for stressing and being nervous so when Dan picked me up at 3;30am on Saturday morning I was excited and keen to get going.

I had a race plan and had some notes for  Dan...
Dan's crew notes!
I made it clear to Dan that the only reasons I could DNF was death or a leg injury that meant there was no way I could move, he agreed to this. I had my own sheet of checkpoint mileages, things to do if I was low, a message I had on Facebook from Mark, a note from Richard and a quote from a Frank Turner song "every step you take forward is another step you never have to take again"!!

I was as prepared for this race as I possibly could be so when we set off at 8am all I had to do was run 100 miles, eat lots, drink and keep moving, I was confident I could do this...

Ronnie Staton the race director is one of those people you like instantly on meeting them and my excitement grew (along with some nerves but it was all under control) Race brief done, final toilet dash and we were off.

Everybody seemed to go off really fast and looking at my watch I was being drawn along going far quicker than I wanted, so I took a deep breath, slowed down and let the main pack go on ahead, sticking to my race plan was vital and I knew going out at that speed for me would be disastrous!
The first ten miles still passed by quickly and I reached CP1 in two hours. I felt good, Dan was waiting with my bag of food, I had some custard, topped up bottles and got moving.

The race consisted of a canal stretch, then two 30 mile laps then a return along the canal to the finish. So you visited each CP more than once. I was happy, enjoying the running and feeling strong.

I always, no matter what distance I am running, have a low point at about 18 - 23 miles, but I know it will pass, so when it hit, I put on my ipod, listened to some music, told myself it would pass and kept going. By mile 22 I was feeling great but slightly worried at how sore my legs were, especially my shins (not something I normally suffer from) but was still moving happily within my target pace. Walking breaks were a little longer but having practised fast walking all summer (15 min miles or quicker) I was still well within my race plan times. This race was fun, I was having a great time.

Enjoying my custard, the king of ultra foods!

A friend from parkrun was volunteering at CP4 and she had a big hug ready for me, and lots of encouragement, thanks Andreea. Dan was ready with my custard, sorted my bottles and checked I was fit and well.

I was sensible and sorted some hotspots on my feet as soon as they appeared. I also had a large blister on my big toe, but some diy surgery with a safety pin from my running number and some tape and it was all good and not causing discomfort! My feet didn't really give me any more trouble other than that.

My shins were giving me some pain but it was manageable and I was moving and I finished the first of the 30 mile loops in 12 hours and 9 minutes (48 miles in total) just 9 minutes outside my race plan. From this point I was allowed my pacer, so Rich and I set off to run the 30 mile loop for my second time. At this point I must mention the Major Oak, the website had said you pass it twice. Somehow I missed it both times which amused me somewhat, guess I was in the zone!

Richard kept me entertained with games and we discussed all sorts of topics including 'chicken reproduction'! I was convinced I saw a puma and although my shin pain had reduced my pace more than I would have liked we were still moving at a speed where we weren't chasing cut off times. I was having some periods of nausea and not eating as much as I should. Mentally I was in a good place and not once did quitting cross my mind. I could get this race finished...

Then at 73 miles or so it all went wrong and very quickly too. I began to feel very weak and the temperature seem to drop suddenly. I had put on my base layer and then added my waterproof jacket. Still not very warm I put on a hat and gloves, though my left hand was swollen and I couldn't get the glove on. According to Richard I was staggering all over the road and refused to eat anything, think I agreed to one midget gem! I went and sat on a log on the side of the road but Rich made me get up! Then things are a bit distorted but I ended up in a heap on the floor, I have no recollection of telling Rich I had the RD phone number in my phone and my foil blanket. I vaguely remember talking a lot of rubbish about cows, and telling Rich and Dan, who had arrived in his car, that if they just got me some hot chocolate I could carry on. I don't remember crying which I did a lot apparently, or making them promise not to move the car. The race medic arrived and I was taken back to race headquarters it wasn't till I was back at the village hall it really hit me that it was race over and I had a bit of a cry!
Ronnie said if you are going to DNF that's the way to do it, I didn't make the choice to DNF but do feel that some small errors of judgement escalated quickly to a race ending climax.

I told Richard I was retiring and taking up knitting and baking but have decided to keep ultra running instead (I can't knit or bake!).

Thank you Ronnie for a brilliant race, the route was stunning and very well marked, the CP volunteers were so encouraging and helpful, the medic who checked me over was lovely. Apart from the end bit I loved every minute, I will recover, get even stronger and come back next year and get it finished, and maybe even see the Major Oak!

Thank you Rich and Dan you were the best team I could have had, sorry if I scared you but so grateful you were there. Dan you need to get your business up and running but you have to be my crew at races I am doing! Rich keep finding new games for our runs and let's get 100 miles done!

Thanks also to everyone who has supported me and sponsored me this year. I have read all the messages from the weekend, you are all brilliant.

 It didn't end as I had hoped, but yet another learning experience and a reminder of how small things can add up and end a race. Keeping warm and eating even more will be added to next times notes!

So no new medal to add to the collection but mostly very happy memories and 75 miles is my longest ever run! Is 100 miles within my capabilities... I am 100% sure it is, I won't give up trying, I will just get more positive, train even harder and keep believing.

Happy running xx


  1. Loved my 25 miles with you , shame it all ended so prematurely as would have loved to have doubled that and seen u finish ..... next year x

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.