Friday, October 28, 2011

Caesar's Camp, 10th October 2011, 50 Miles

What a mad race!

I was entered in the 100 miles race - facing 10 laps of the reportedly extremely tough 10 mile course. However, mentally I wasn't really there for a 100 - I'd had a bad cold (almost man flu!) the week before, my groin had been playing up, and I'd been feeling really lethargic which may have been due to a long taper. I also had to to drop Jenny at Newark train station on the way down - she was off to Minneapolis for the week.

Anyway, I made good time and accompanied by loud music arrived well in time for the noon start. I was met by a large flat sandy expanse - very picturesque. Lots of tents already up. Got talking to some guys from the Isle of Wight who appeared to be eating a 5 course dinner - chicken drumsticks, bagels etc. I had a Powerbar, some nuts and a Rice Krispie caramel bar (yum) - I'm a carb burner!

Henk, the "interesting" Dutch race director informed us that "Registration is open, dickheads" which set the tone for the day! I attached my number 172, attended the highly entertaining brief and then Henk started us with the immortal words, "Right, f*ck off dickheads!"

Well.....the course was flat for at least a couple of minutes, then it was, to put it mildly, undulating for the next 4 miles. Some really steep climbs and even steeper descents on a mixture of sand, loose rocks and path. The steepest bits would be virtually unrunnable even on fresh non-ultrarunning legs - so walking was necessary right from lap 1. Then some pleasant woodland trails to CP1, and jaffa cakes and sweeties! Some more undulating trails, some lovely single track running before a final nasty climb at about 9 miles. Then down(ish) to the start.

My plan was to do the first lap or 2 at around 1:45 so I took the first lap nice and easy and did 1:34!! Calves were really stiff which I think was a side effect of 2 weeks running in my first pair of Inov8's (Roclite 315) - I had decided to start in my Brooks ASR trail shoes which are so comfortable and were fine for this. Nevertheless, was tempted to pack it in after 1 lap as calves were so tight - needless to say, the sight of the start/finish was a lift so off I went on lap 2. Knew I was going way too fast to have any chance at the 100 so made a real effort to go slower and completed lap 2 in 1:36! This lap felt a lot more comfortable and was beginning to get into the race.

Laps 3 and 4 followed the same pattern - toughing out the first few miles then enjoying the middle sections on well-marked trails. Lap 3 in 1:44 and lap 4 in 1:52. Made a risky decision at the beginning of lap 4 to not get my head-torch - the last 15 minutes were "interesting"!

At 40 miles I knew I didn't have 100 in me so made a policy decision to do the 50 and avoid the DNF, safe in the knowledge of a very nice 50 miler. Pfaffed around getting my night kit/head-torch and off I went again. Definitely walked a little more on this lap - think I did 2:12 including a prolonged pitstop at the beginning.

So finished with 50, just under 9 hours and pleased with the effort and also with making a sensible decision. In reality probably not quite got the base yet for doing a 100 miler but I've never been one to not take on a challenge!

Some great positives - kept going at a decent pace for 50 and although I had the to-be-expected few little downers, there was no major melt-down or wall-hitting. Hydration and nutrition was spot on - take home message has to be to take on food regularly - I became addicted to Jaffa Cakes in this race.

Recovery is slow - it's Friday and I may attempt a run today. Not as fatigued as I was after the High Peak 40event but legs just feel "bruised". On great thing is that I have no focal areas of muscle pain/injury - it's totally symmetrical and generalised, rather than my traditional trouble spots.

Would I do this again? Oh yes, its brilliant madness

Am I mad? Probably.......definitely....just ask Jenny!

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