My first DNF
After training hard the week before with 123 miles ran I was feeling pretty invincible to say the least. Well I was in my head in any case but my legs seem to tell a different story which was to play out later in the week. I had felt OK but knowing I needed a rest I took Monday off as a full rest day, headed out for an easy 5 miles on Tuesday, easy 10 on Wednesday, and an even easier 2.5 (yes you heard right, 2.5! It was my first workplace jog club so I took it easy on them!) on Thursday. Friday was also a rest day, though I did go to Bikram yoga on Friday night to try and ease out any aches and pains.
Saturday was race day of 35.7 miles-We had to travel from Edinburgh about 2 hours to Bamburgh Castle for the Endurance Life, Coastal Trail Series Ultra, so the alarm was set for 4:40am, out the door for 5am. Coffee in hand, tasty pastries for a pre-breakfast treat, then at 6am we fuelled up with a ProBar for proper race fuel. Registration and parking were easy as is usual with Endurance Life events, it is all pretty low key to get started. This start was a bit different and we all got bussed out to the start at 7:20 to make it for an 8:30am ultra marathon start. It was cold, frost on the ground, but dry & still, so ideal running conditions.
After the usual pre race briefing and a relatively quite joint countdown start, all 74 of us set off on our way. I wanted to try and lead out the ladies from the start and in hindsight I may have gone out too quick. After the first 3 miles I was the first female, running at about 8:15min/miles; silly girl, much too quick for me in an ultra. As 2 ladies passed me I settled into a more steady 9min/mile routine. I was soon joined by another lady, of whom I ran with for about the first 15 miles, swapping places along the way through checkpoints and toilet stops en route.
I had mistakenly thought the race would be easy. When is 35 miles every easy one would ask? The race map showed it would be fairly flat the entire way with some downhill, perfect. Not so. It certainly didn’t feel flat, and with quite a lot of sand running on the beach it was pretty draining on some pretty tired legs. This was however great prep for MDS in April.
I also wanted to eat better than on previous runs and I managed to by munching on nuts (100g mixed macadamia, almonds and brazil nuts) regularly and take on small snacks every 5 miles. I had a Clif energy gel at mile 5 (I don’t normally have gels but thought I would try and eat some different snacks to what I am taking to MdS), pepperami stick at mile 10, tried to eat a mule bar at mile 15 (these just don’t agree with me, note to oneself-no more mule bars), and started on some thai sweet chilli sensations nut at mile 20. Unfortunately from then it was just munching on nuts as I had lost the will to eat which is continuing to be a problem I’m looking to solve.
Got a great lift from the half marathoners who were milling about somewhere around mile 13/14 into the race awaiting their own race start which was great, but by mile 21 I was fading fast. It wasn’t long after then, that the first of the half marathoners started to pass me on their fresh legs, but it wasn’t enough to motivate me to a faster run, my legs were just empty. It was here that I saw the 10k racers getting ready as well to start their race and another couple of miles in some of these started to pass me as well.
By mile 25 the dreaded little voice inside my head wanted me to pull out so for the next 2 slow mile I was seriously contemplating pulling out at mile 27, where the race actually takes you past the finish line to go on to do another 9 miles. It is quite cruel and easy to quit knowing your car/warm clothes are close by, and all the Endurance Life events have the same race route, where the Ultra runners have to go past the finish to do the extra loop to bring them to the Ultra total mileage. This I guess is the mental challenge part of running an ultra. I just didn’t have it in me to keep going for some reason and I took the ‘easy’ option of finishing at 27 miles. In the back of my mind I had thought that hubby may have pulled out here as well also due to the big mileage he did the week before. It probably would have taken me another 2-2.5hrs to finish the last 9 miles, so I didn’t want to leave him sitting them endlessly waiting (another excuse). He hadn’t pulled out however as I found out after I climbed the gruelling hill to the top of Bamburgh Castle. I was absolutely shattered when I finished and pretty disappointed with myself for not following through and finishing, but too late now, I had made my decision. I told one of the marshals I had pulled out, as I could only manage the 27 miles that day not the 35, she was quite incredulous to say ‘only 27 miles’ as well as the runner behind me who was dead on his feet after doing the half marathon distance! It’s all relative I guess.
I tried to keep myself warm as I waited for hubby to cross the line, and about 45 minutes later he appeared. In a complete state, he was completely spent, so much so he completely collapsed in a heap when he crossed the line with nothing more to give. Food smeared all over his face from trying to eat along the way, he was close to tears and huddled in a ball for about 15 minutes until he was functional enough to walk back to the car. For once it was me waiting for him (albeit I had run 9 miles less!) so it was my opportunity to look after him for a change and get him warmed up in the car and begin rehydrating with our first choice for recovery, For Goodness Shakes, and some food sorted out. I was super proud of him for finishing in 9th place especially since he had actually ran 140 miles the week before himself. My very own Superman!
A rest day ensued on Sunday and Monday to get some time off the feet. It is now only 3 weeks, 6 days and 22 hours until the start line of the Marathon Des Sables. All the hard work is done, the time left is to keep things in check, diet & exercise, and get my head totally right and focussed for the week. My aim is to make it into the top 100, which is a massive goal, a scary goal, but imagine how great I will feel if I can accomplish that! My secondary goal is to be in the top 25 of all the females, and would also like to be the first Australian female home as I am competing as an Australian as this meant I could go this year and not join the UK waitlist!