Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Must revise...

Thoughts before the snow...everything still applies, just a lot less running since the silly slippery sludge....

I find that training and preparing for a long ultra is sort of like revising for an important exam. You have to make sure you put in enough hours of revision; otherwise you get to ‘test’ day and your ‘mind can go blank’. Okay, true, anything can go wrong when you’re attempting to run 100 miles, even if you have done as much training as you possibly can. However, with so much to think about, it’s always great to turn up on that start line feeling as fit as you can, and being able to give it your best shot. This brings me to how I’m feeling at the moment.

I’ve let ‘training mode’ take over my brain and any objections in the lazy part of my brain, that don’t want to face the freezing cold outside are being hushed and ignored. It’s time to get serious. Okay, so, I will admit that I haven’t ‘made friends’ with January like I intended to in my New Year’s Resolutions (wow, makes me realise just how long it is since I have written a blog...). In fact, I’d probably say that January, thus far has been my enemy. The January blues have hit hard this year. Yet, past the second week of the month now, fear has taken hold: ultra-fear. It’s where a lightning bolt moment hits you, an epiphany and suddenly you’re like, ‘Crap, I need to train properly, otherwise it is REALLY gonna’ hurt/ hurt more/ be even harder and I haven’t got a crew, so I can’t randomly drop out in the middle of nowhere… I have to make that finish!’

As some may recall, last year’s Thames Path 100 was a bit traumatic. On a personal level associated with my disorganisation, we bombed it to the start with hardly any time to spare, and just as the race directors were about stop registering people and stop giving out race numbers. Then I had to quickly get my act together, calm myself and do all the usual pre-race faffing around-ness.

On a much grander scale, I made it to the very last checkpoint at Lower Radley and Mile 95 (I’m sure we’d covered more mileage due to diversions, but the official distance was this), whereupon the race was cancelled due to hypothermic runners and freezing weird weather, which included constant rain from the early morning, waterlogged river paths, freezing wind and even some snow! I battled so much last year. We got lost earlier in the race due to some diverted pathways, but we got back on track. Then, having made up time for the time lost earlier, somehow I found myself making the Mile 71 checkpoint with minutes to spare. I needed to pee, but pushed that to the back of my mind and luckily I forgot I needed to during the night section, as I simply didn’t have time to go. I didn’t have time to refuel. That’s bad…you should always try and make some time to get the energy in.

Anyway, my point is, I battled back and clawed back the time until I had hours to spare, and was set on making that finish line ‘comfortably’. So, it was very traumatic to get to Mile 95 and be only 5 miles away from the finish line and yet, never get to set foot on the finish line. At the time I was numb. It was no-body’s fault, just a set of bad circumstances regarding the weather. Me and this race have unfinished business. So, I have to go in to it as prepared and as determined as possible and I’m not going to let some January blues get in my way.

Normally, my January race(s) of choice and ‘ultra training’ would be Ultra Race’s 45/90 (back to back 45 milers) from Northampton to Tring and back again the following day. I have done this event every January for the last three years. It will definitely be missed this January. It is also great training for the GUCR 145 miler later in the year, since it follows the Grand Union Canal and an important road section over Blisworth Tunnel. Anyway, in the absence of this race I have booked Wilmot Wander 32 miler for Sunday. I have done this event before – we got very, very lost in the last section and did a lot of extra mileage. However, this is a very low key, LDWA style event and only about £10 to enter, so it comes in really handy for some long distance training and time on the feet. Of course, this is all depending on the recent crazy, snowy weather we have been hit with. Fingers Crossed. I’ve also got a marathon list going, predominantly for February and a few weeks before March 23rd and the big day that is the Thames Path 100.

Still on the job hunt, I have found it pretty difficult to organise doing events. In the past I haven’t worried too much about how far away races are and I generally accept event prices and don’t grumble too much. But it’s a lot harder when you have to consciously plan what you can afford to do. Petrol is always expensive anyway, but it becomes a much bigger consideration when you’re living on a shoe-string budget. I’ve missed out on a lot of races that I would absolutely love to do and I’ve just learnt to not read Facebook newsfeed so I can ‘block out’ all the fantastic events that all my runner buddies are always doing haha. Ultimately, I’d like to be able to do all sorts again. For training purposes, marathons and ultra’s are so ideal for long, social training runs.  I’ve got a few ‘cheap ones’ on the horizon though, so not all bad ;) and you have to learn to take the rough with the smooth. It gives me a good kick up the bum to get out there, on my own and make it happen.

Note: I’m pretty clumsy, it has to be said. I’m the type of person that will bang into a shelf whilst simply walking around a shop or something, for no apparent reason. Whilst I am more than happy to run in almost any weather – I’ve been up on the moors in fog, freezing sleet, rain, wind etc.; - I get a bit nervy around frosty ground, ice and snow.

Okay, so, we British can be a bit dramatic about our reactions to weather, especially snow. It’s not like were in northern America or Canada or something, but we simply can’t deal with it. Anyway, shortly after declaring all the ‘above’, about me having my ‘training head’ well and truly screwed on, the snow took over. Admittedly, it’s not been majorly deep here, but it has been icy and slippery and slushy. I haven’t wanted to risk it. It’s now been a few days and there’s not been much running. Finally, the other night, I ventured outside and found some bit of road where the snow had melted. I didn’t run far, but it was a very welcome run. It felt good to get out there. In my downtime, I’ve been doing some weights, squats and lunges...not quite the same, but you’ve got to keep it up somehow :o)

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