3 months ago, the Ultrarace 100, sparkled and enticed me to join even though Rory (RD) refused my tyre entry. This event started at mid-day and would be held on one of the longest days in the year, 28 June. This meant I would not have to get up early and the night part would be relatively short. It was a perfect event to enter as a training run to kill a couple of demons in my head, if I was going to re-attempt the 135 miler (Arrowhead). However there are two parts to every event. First there is the training to get to the start line and second there is the completion of the event. So far I've failed only one event for the latter and none for the former....but there is always a first time for everything.
GETTING TO THE START LINE
After Ridgeway 40 (11 May), I completed a second 40 miler the following weekend in just under 8 hours sans tyre. Still feeling strong my target for the 100 miler was to finish the event within 24 hours.
Four weeks before the event a past back strain came to haunt me as I dragged piles of rubble around (more building work!). Unable to run for 2 weeks due to chronic back pain, I considered cancelling the event.....after all everyone around was nagging me.........that is until I attended my local church.
With the church's vision for a church centre to be a cornerstone in the town and their appeal for funds, I got excited. Perhaps the vicar had put the thought in my head, perhaps God or perhaps I just needed a little more purpose. As I left the church, I did a u-ee (u-turn) and declared to the vicar that I would dedicate my next run to help them raise funds (see https://mydonate.bt.com/events/rimaultrarace100/100147). Errr.... no I did not tell him I had a bad back.
Two weeks before the event: Still unable to run, I downgraded my time estimation to completing the event within 30 hours and sheepishly announced to those around what I was planning to do.
"Roll the eyes and shaker the head."
Okay so I had 2 weeks to sort myself out and if God wanted me to do this event, my body would be ready on the day. I had a plan to continue with my daily pseudo-pilates and secondly get my buddy Sharon to attempt to clear my knotted back as well as the stiff neck that had been niggling me for a number of weeks. Her first attempt to ease the back had me giggling with pain as she discovered a very tender spot on my glutes, however after her manipulation, I managed a slow 10 mile run 2 days after. The weekend before the event, I slow jogged a 5K and then had Sharon attack my back and neck a second and final time to remove any further tension. The rest of the training plan was to simply eat to put on some weight and ask some church members to pray for me the week before the event!
Four days before the event: Everything was coming together. Me back feeling was better, that girly thing came a week early...but sniff sniff. My nose was runny, had a slight headache and the throat was feeling a little discomfort. I was coming down with a cold. As long as it didn't affect the chest, I would be okay. My touch rugby buddy Kate reminded me to gargle with Listerine. I did for the next 2 days. I was adamant this cold would last 3 days.
Event day: Just a sniffle left of the cold and a slight tension in the lower back - no show stoppers. I had made it to the start line as fit as I could be: very little running in the last 4 weeks and lots of eating. ***lots of imaginary fanfare sound effects + yahoos*** The plan was to keep everything easy and enjoy the sunset and sunrise.
The weather: The day was cloudy and cool at 18 degrees C. The early morning drizzle had died out by about 10am. Rain was forecasted to fall at about 6pm. The next day would be hot and sunny.
The Start: Having walked off in the wrong direction to the registration building/startline which was only 5 minutes away from the hotel I stayed overnight in, I was anxious. I was anxious about getting lost and I was anxious about being itchy and clawing my skin apart in the slightly humid conditions (I suffer from eczema). To circumvent the latter, I had a whole anti-histamine before starting which was a bad idea.
Two experienced ultra runners who had done this event assured me it would be hard to get lost on this route. As a newbie (well I've only completed a 40 mile event as my longest and failed the 135 mile event) I thought I'd pick their brains further and followed their advice to reduce my bag of surplus weight of extra water, food and clothes. After all each checkpoint is only a training run away (every 10 miles).
Final Kit: Small running backpack; spare long sleeve (parkrun jacket); a couple of cereal bars + one gel; one 750 litre bottle of water; pair of sandals; small towel (to wipe the sweat away and hopefully reduce the eczema itch); head torch; plasters; ankle brace; string (in case I needed to tie anything - like if my shoes fell apart!); small tube of sun cream; small tube of moisturising lotion; toothbrush with toothpaste, rain jacket, emergency blanket.
The last thing I needed to do was to flush out the system of negative thoughts, however I hadn't really thought to do so. I knew I could complete 100 miles, I already had the mental capability. The questionable part was in what state I would leave my physical being.
Anyhow it's late, I've got to go to bed, then work and do all the normal shenanigans normal people do.
In the meantime, I'd like to suggest that future running events have a pen, paper and bucket for you to write down any final negative thoughts as you wait because you arrived ridiculously early for registration. The bucket should be placed at the start line, so you can throw your negativity into the bucket to leave it at the start.
Good night and be with you all again next week for part 2 if I haven't bored you already :-)