There I was happily running round the track at Barcelona in December at the annual 24hr race. This on the back of running the Arc, Western states and Lakeland 100 in the same year. I was nailing it and bang on schedule for a Sparta auto. I hit 75 mile and was ready to push on into the second half. Then it hit me, my hamstrings started to seize up followed by my quads and within an hour I was unable to move my legs it felt like my body was shutting down. I subsequently stopped before the 24hours were up and shuffled back to my hotel.
|All smiles now.|
We started and I quickly settled in to 8:30 min miles. Just as planned. My food strategy was a gel every 45 mins and topped up with Tailwind/Mountain fuel or whatever I fancied en route. The plan was to meet my crew at Wrasbury 22 miles and it worked out I would be there in 3hours 17min. I reached Wrasbury with little drama and I stopped for seconds at the aid station knowing my crew would only be a little further on where I would be able to switch bottles. I met my crew within a minute of my predicted time. The Thames was gorgeous, people everywhere, so much going on. All this lead to some heavenly trail running. The heat wasn't really bothering me yet, I was keeping my sleeves damp and my hat wet and that was enough to stay on top of the temperatures. I ran into Dorney at 30 mile feeling surprisingly fresh and my slow start was paying off. I had run the 30 in about 4:40 so I was exactly on pace and now was time to start a more strict walking plan. Up till now I'd walked for 1 minute after an hour and a half and then a subsequent 1 minute every 45 mins.
|Bang on time|
Another crew stop at 42 miles, I'd slowed up considerably but was still running. My feet felt good but I took the time to remove my shoes and socks, powder my feet and eat a couple of fruit pots. It was a good stop well timed. My next crew stop would now be 51 miles. I ran but I was just about to have the mother of all bad spells. From the 44 mile aid station I felt like death. I was eating right but felt violently sick, my head was spinning and I felt dizzy. The sun was about 45 degrees up in front of me and there was no shade. It was relentless. The heat was finally getting to me. I started a 10 minute to 1 minute run walk strategy, this was so tough. I really started to question my reasons for being out here. I had nothing to prove, no time to chase, what was I doing? Why put myself through this shit? I'd had enough and I was definitely dropping at Henley. Boats full of people partying passed me by, Henley seemed an age away! I reached the bridge and crossed, the amount of people out and about gave me a slight lift as did the applause as I ran into the aid station.
I set about sorting my feet with fresh socks and powder. I couldn't eat though, I felt really sick. Runners were coming in behind me looking fresh and full of beans. A couple barely stopped just went through smiling and eager to press on. I felt hopeless, my mind was spinning. James and Jacque were speaking but it went in one ear and out the other. I often feel I'm letting people down when I consider dropping. When you mention it everyone just looks at you like there's a massive spot on your nose then carries on caring for you. I'm always left just getting up and carrying on even though 5 minutes ago it was over.
Ok I thought I'd kind of left Henley for no particular reason lets get to Reading and drop there at least it be a good 100k covered. Although I felt awful I was still running, I hadn't really lost any places although a couple of lady runners were really running well and it was taking everything to keep them in my sights. None of it mattered because I was dropping at Reading anyway but there was certainly no issue with my running. I wasn't walking for prolonged periods, I had no chest pains and the sun was dropping fast. Reading appeared and I spotted my crew from a way back. Excellent i'll get over there and drop out. I bumped into Sarah Sawyer on the way over and said Hi I'm dropping. Not a lot was said but it was enough to reconsider my postion. In 30 seconds I went from finished to finisher. If nothing else I'm up for a challenge. I only had 40 to go. It was cooling down, lets have a go. I saw Jacque and restocked and loaded up on gel the only thing I was able to eat now. I poked my head in the aid station door and left. It all seemed possible again.
I got to the last aid station ate one last gel and committed to running hard in. I did in fact run one of my best splits of the evening and walked very little. I felt like I was running 7 min miles but in fact I think they were 10s but boy it felt fast. I soon got to the gate and it was just light enough to see without my torch I ran to the line and crossed with a big sigh of relief. 10th place and 18:54:18.
|Six of the best|
I've always said this race is my nemesis and should I conquer it I'll leave it be and not run it again. Well balls to that it's really just an annoying old friend who I have a love hate relationship with. We will get together whenever possible and duke it out. Got to run at least 10 of them and then I'll reconsider.