Saturday, 31 December 2016

The year I became...

...a fully fledged Primary School Teacher.
Tougher than any ultra, I have worked so hard to train and learn to become the best teacher I can be. I'm still learning. But, like most hard work, it was all worth it.

This year....

... I made it through several thunderstorms, whilst simultaneously being lost during the Liverpool to Leeds Race.

Did I feel nervous for this race? Yep, more than normal since I had bombed GUCR so bad, and dnf'd which I'd never done before and I can describe (just about) just how horrible that feels to do. I'd been lucky to escape that before last year. So, my luck changed during this year's GUCR...(not going to keep me down next year though!) I didn't want to get a taste of how it would feel to DNF at Liverpool to Leeds as well. However, I was a little unprepared and I also hadn't factored in the altered CP timings that reflected the amended lesser race time limit.

Surprisingly, all ran smoothly for a while. I got a good pace going and I chatted to some familiar faces. The weather wasn't too bad - was fairly sunny from what I can remember. But it changed.

The first sign that I got of an imminent thunderstorm was around the 70 mile mark. The thing is, at this point, we thought we had loads of time to play with. Wrong. Our pace became so slow due to the rutted, uneven ground which had now become muddy with rainwater.

There was sideways rain and wind. And I was getting a little bit scared of the lighting moving closer. I love thunderstorms, when I'm indoors. However, rather than dampening my spirits, I felt absolutely determined that I would make that next checkpoint. How dare it rain AND thunder? I legged it. And just made the next checkpoint with a bit of time in the bank. Although, I was sad to say goodbye to my running buddy thus far, who had been such fantastic company, but had decided enough was enough. Yet, I saw a familiar face from GUCR who had dnf'd at the same checkpoint back in May. Spoiler: we ran nearly the entire race together this time and both finished. Yey.

I didn't know at the time, but that was merely a warm up 'baby' thunderstorm. Just after the 100 mile point, we got horrendously lost. And I was annoyed at myself because I've done this race before, and I remember this tricky bit, but in the torrential rain that ensued, I couldn't remember the way.

We added on miles. And over an hour of time. And nearly our will to carry on. And my new iPod got completely water damaged and died. There were moments, though, when I envisioned a news story detailing how some runners had been struck by lightning whilst lost during an ill-fated ultra marathon. I have never seen rain so bad, let alone been so absolutely soaked to the skin in it and so close to lighting. Scary stuff. And yet it was all worth it.

To cut a long story shorter, my feet held up amazingly in injinji socks...until I changed them to some dry 'normal' running socks, and my shrivelled feet ended up covered in huge, deep blisters. I don't know...I've battered my feet more times than I can remember and I'm still learning. Don't change socks unless you have to - I had to deal with the worst peely feet for months afterwards.