At 41 I always felt my running would be over, like footballers in their early 30’s. Fast forward 10 years and I am still going strong! Many injuries, recoveries, accolades and stories to tell.
I found I enjoyed sport back at school both primary and secondary, but you were never really pushed. It was only when the opportunity at a company I worked for in 2004 had a marathon place for London I felt compelled to enter. Id given up when rejected at 18/19yrs old and couldn’t understand what seemed like a lottery process to enter a race I was going to be paying for. They always say you either run one and say “never again” or you get addicted, you know where my story goes.
Some 40 + marathons later, a few recorded 2hrs 42 pb’s and years of racing various distances from 3k - marathon I started to want a new challenge. I signed up to a multi-stage race in Nov 2011 called the Druid Challenge which was 86 miles over 3 days on the Ridgeway. Truth be told I loved it, won it and then went onto prove I could run further and recover quickly. I knew this wouldn’t be the last time with a ultra, mainly as I came 1st lady and 3rdoverall to some very respectable runners. I was convinced by many runners I had too much speed and to work on improving my time for the marathon. For 5 years I didn’t look at ultras until the end of 2015 when looking at qualification criteria. Marathons then became my training for ultras and what is there not to love, if you like running and the outside you are completely in your comfort zone.
How I prepared for the race?
Its been a difficult one as I got into TP100 on the second wave of entries when deferrals or cancellations happened. Due to my year being planned for the Anglo Celtic Plate 100k and GB 24hr a lot of the prep races had been cancelled but this came back on the radar. Fortunately, I made the right decision when Covid set in to book it and risk losing money if my key races remained. It had been hard coming back from a slower recovery of a back fracture that impacted me running from June until recommencing my training in January 2020. I managed a tough 10k, then onto a park run and a 50k in March. Then everyone went in lock down, truth be told I felt low at the time because I had managed my injury taking up a life coaching course and as the Covid 19 extended I knew I had to try and remain positive. It was like a second punishment, although as we learned more, I felt grateful to have my health. I carried on regardless of no races putting in effort to my training, and any online zoom circuit classes. So much had gone into my injury rehab I was determined to get some races this year and use the downtime to train. I ran a 10k a few weeks earlier and then before you knew it time to race again! Also in the back of my mind was the DNF back in 2018 due to very hot conditions it wiped out most of the front field so I was also on a mission to make it past Reading checkpoint.
Products used during the event
I tend to focus on the week leading up by eating complex white carbs ( less gut reaction) as I struggle to eat during races. To keep alert my caffeine boost came from Revvies energy strips ( my sponsor) every 4 hours as I didn’t want too many and be overloaded. I focused also on fluids this time, having also experienced a sickly feeling from mu last 100-mile race drinking too much coke. I avoided sweets and added more savoury based snacks such as pureed fruit, and Maurten in my carry bottles. Fortunately, all the aid stations were stocked enough with both food and Tailwind. That said the latter stages of the race I couldn’t face anymore food or fluid, so I opted for watermelon slices.
Temperature of the race & race clothing
Being British we always like to mention the weather, well on a positive note there was no rain. The temperature for me personally was a little warm but not even close to the temperature in 2018. So roughly for the day we had 22/ 23 degrees at the height of the day. With the race starting earlier at 7.30am which meant we would get similar amount of running in the daylight as the initial April race. I still however found the weather very humid and muggy during the day and not at any point did I feel cold to want to add a layer. Within the first hour running I stripped down to a vest and only in the last hour of the race just put on the base layer when closer to the water where the fog had risen in patches.
Experienced athletes/coaches & clothing experts would always recommend trying out your clothes and trainers before racing. I knew the shorts would be the ones I had trained in and were a comfortable bare of Nike shorts with a pocket to put bits in (Revvies energy strips) and the seams between the legs often in shorts rub ( called chub rub). The vest was my good memory one, from the Comrades Marathon 2019 Nedbank team (despite running with a back fracture), and the socks were ones I knew hadn’t rubbed during training. Before the socks my feet had been greased up with Squirrel Nut butter and post-race peppermint toes another awesome Squirrel product.
Trainer wise It was a tough call, knowing there were hard sections in the earlier miles didn’t opt for trail as I do not find them comfortable although can wear for Cross country upto 50k. I went with Hoka Carbon X but later regretted the decision and should have put on the Nike Vapor Fly 4%. , Although Hoka are great for wide footed runners mine had rubbed . I opted to change them at the first opportunity in my aid box from my coach in Windsor. I then continued the rest of the race in Nike Zoom which had more bounce and kinder to the feet and remained on until the end of the race. The watch was my trusty old 935 XT Garmin watch and it got me wait for it……to 99 miles and then died, I suspect as I had programmed in the course this was also consuming the power needed.
Average Training Week
80-110 miles depending on build up and also races being incorporated
What & when is your next main race?
Time now for me to tick over with miles, stay injury free and focus on the next big race. Whilst id have liked a quicker 100-mile time on reflection I am grateful to be back running post injury and also having lacked racing proud that I got through it both mentally and physically. I have had a invite to Gloucester 24hr which is fortunate due to the GB 24hr race in Italy being cancelled. Aside from this big race, I will seek a few small races over the next coming week’s post recovery.
My friends watched me cross the line and post discussion are still laughing to me that when I had barely stepped away from the race gantry I was already talking about my next race. Can only mean I like running??