My last post revolved around a journey into the unknown and my 100km debut. What most likely should have been a disaster movie, turned out to be a tick-that-one-off-the-list-type-affair. And I’ve been left with a feeling that it should have been harder than it was.
A week of daily physio visits during which my miracle-healer therapist admitted she’d thrown the hamstring injury protocol book out of the window, I was somehow ready for the start line. Yes, I’d not run properly for 10 days. I’d just done a 200m test run two days before and then a 5km run the night before and that was it. I’m not going to lie, the 5km trot was a sore affair. There was pain in the hamstring from 4km – not a ripping type feeling – but it definitely wasn’t right.
The physio and I had had that chat. You know the one where they ‘um’ and ‘ahh’ and there’s a lot of ‘maybes’. In the end she agreed to me starting on my promise that I would stop if I felt any pain. We came up with a strategy of steady 5.30min/km to 50km and then 6min/km plus run/walk to the end. Boring as 20 loops may be, it made a safe way for me to have a go and not risk sitting at the side of a trail waiting to be rescued. Besides, it’s not everyday you get the chance to crash the IAU 100km World Champs!
And so the scene was set for my stab at 100km. The start line atmosphere was buzzing. The international teams were out to party and it was great standing behind them. Thanks to the laps, that wasn’t going to be the last I’d see of them and I believe us truckers added some amusement for them as they kept lapping up.
We were off and they were away. Within 2.5km, I could feel my hamstring. Umm! Rearrange my posture and keep on chugging. I got lapped by the lead men on about the third lap and they just kept on coming.
I’d opted to wear my Hokas to start with. My orthotics don’t sit well in them so I knew I’d have to change at some point to give my legs a break. The Hokas did however do a great job of protecting my feet from those bone-crushing cobbles on course and were a definite success.
Passing the 50km point steadily enough, it was time to change my footwear for my trusty Brooks Ghosts plus orthotics. A quick munch and I was off again. Our local squad were starting to feel the effects but with so many 100km virgins we weren’t doing bad.
The DBRC support crew were out in strength for the whole night and a special thanks must go to them for their sterling efforts. I’m not quite sure how they managed to make such a racket for 12 hours solid and I must admit to feeling a bit of a chump crossing the lap mat enjoying a bigger cheer than the World Champ runners.
However, crossing the lap mat did become a depressing affair as the number of laps you’d covered popped up alongside the number of laps the pros had covered. Never mind, it was time to hunker down and get the job done.
I wasted a fair amount of time finding a clean portaloo – thanks Steve Way for that one! At least I think I avoided standing in any nasties on track. I don’t think I could be an elite with all the bodily evacuation and pill popping that seems to go on while racing hard.
As the elite guys started to finish, I apologised to one chatty local official for my slowness in the sweep crew. He kept his cool and cheered me every time I passed, counting down my laps for me.
Managing to get a ‘well done’ into Ellie Greenwood as she scooped up a Union Flag from the elite drop zone on her last lap, I made another shoe change back to the Hokas.
My stomach was okay and I kept chowing down. Hubby Steve and lead support-provider for the night had a panic that I was going to run out of food as I was eating so much. I did pop one Immodium as I felt a little bubbly and didn’t want to be caught short like some of the pros.
Another shoe change to Brooks with no orthotics for the last 15km, and I trotted off onto a very lonely course. The elites had pretty much all finished for the night and it was just us local runners and a few stragglers left. Trundling on, I just wanted to get the next 10km done before picking up speed and finishing the final lap, when I knew I’d definitely make it.
As I came into the last 1km, I was heartened to see Ellie trotting alongside a Canadian runner helping her along. Technically against the rules I know but who cares. “You can only go as fast as you can,” Ellie said.
“This surface is killing us trail runners,” the Canadian woman replied. She was correct, the surface made or broke your race. Luckily, I knew what was coming and had planned accordingly and wasn’t expected to bust a gut like those guys were.
And so my 100km was finished. I received my medal from Aspire’s Phil Templar, got a congratulations from Nadeem Khan of the IAU, and a big hug from support crew extraordinaire Steve and that was it.
I should have felt worse, sure I was tired but it was nowhere near as painful as I expected.