“How long will it take me to finish the rest of this race?”
That is what was going around my head on the 7th and final lap of the 50km race that I completed in March 2017.
It wasn’t a thought that I was expecting to deal with and it came a couple of hours after I was doubled over with stomach cramps and expecting that my entire insides were about to evacuate themselves through a tiny hole.
The route was around 4.5 miles and made up of good quality fire roads through the woods. There were a few hills as well. Basically, the first mile was down hill, and then the rest of it was up with plateaus. What a beautiful route to run – and I couldn’t believe that I was going to enjoy the route 6 more times before I could finish and stuff my big mouth full of cookies.
Yes, I started off well, I knew I was close to the front of the pack and in the first few miles I was absolutely tanking along. This is unusual for me. Tanking along…. And being close to the front of the pack. It is a novelty and I was loving it.
I felt particularly smiley, and everything was going great. I was still buzzing after a 3h44 marathon on mixed terrain a few weeks ago. I knew I couldn’t be that fast, but I was approaching this race in a similar mindset – long marathon (rather than a short ultra).
On the first lap, about half way through I ran some of it with a chap called Chris. He was running to raise money for a charity dealing with the kind of heart problem that he had been diagnosed with. It was lovely to catch up with him and find out more about what was motivating him to run. He planned to run 13 miles that day – and he was certainly running well.
I finished the first lap, headed up the steepest part of the course into the aid station. Grabbed a couple of jelly babies, a drink, and then straight back out. I don’t hang around at aid stations. On longer ultras they can be an absolutely killer and force you close to cut-off times.
I don’t remember much of the second lap, but on the third lap – at around 10 miles into the race my stomach knotted and I had the overwhelming desire to lie down in the bushes and curl up in pain. My stomach was cramping and I was 99% sure this would be a disaster. I was part way through a lap, no obvious materials to use to make good the mess I felt sure that I was about to make, and not only that, but the area was pretty open.
After a quick wee, the pressure relieved somewhat, and I felt about to complete that lap before making a mad dash to the portaloo. 5 minutes later all was right with the world but I decided to take some toilet paper with me as a precaution.
The fourth lap went ok – but I was starting to feel the uphills sections were playing with my piriformis and sciatic nerve. I took them easy, and made up the time on the other sections. The fifth, sixth and final seventh lap mostly involved walking much of the hill sections. At the end of those laps I was treated to seeing my friends – Paul Commons and Samantha Mills – and my Wife Susie (who completed 4 laps (18 miles) before stopping with an injury. Every time I saw Sam she was singing “Let me be your hero”. That lightened my mood a bit – as did saying hi and shouting encouragement towards the other runners during each lap.
On the final lap, I ran part of it with a lady called Vicky – she was planning some crazy adventure to the Himalayas later on in the year. Chit chat with her made the last lap go much faster than it could have done (my mile splits were shockingly slow!), and with a mile to go I pushed on a bit. I felt dehydrated and the usual field tests suggested I was right.
I was so pleased to finish. Grabbed the bell. Rang it like a crazy man. Phew. Thank goodness.
Only later I found out that I finished first. Furthest distance and fastest time. 31 miles, around 3,000ft ascent, 5 hours 16 minutes and 24 seconds. I doubt I will ever head the results table ever again (I got a little badge for my medal ribbon – and it made me extraordinarily happy!)
The benefit of a very very very small field for a highly untalented but determined jogger who puts lots of effort into training. http://www.saxon-shore.com/results/cookiethon.html
Next up – Thames Path 100 mile race – and then the final three 100 milers as part of the centurion grandslam.
- Merino t-shirt from Decathlon
- Kalenji Elio Feel Trail shoes
- Steigen cherry red socks
- Kalenji compression shorts
- More Mile 5 inch shorts
- Kalenji arm warmers
- Compressport compression calf sleeves