Running intrigues me. It really does. And I love it. It's just such a simple sport. You get what you put in and it is all up to how much effort and pain you want to trade. I love the long races. Feeling you can't take another step and then running for another 8 hours is something I was to experience again and again in my life. The highs and lows are brilliant and its always amazing to be bouncing along amazingly, then 3 seconds later have the energy sucked out of you and feeling like you are running through treacle instead. Years and years ago I stumbled across a you tube video by Michael Arnstein while I was researching other diets. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOfyZtpmjto&t=453s) For whatever reason this really struck a chord with me. Maybe it's because as he says - there is no destination. I love running in circles and would much rather do that in training and racing than I would a point to point scenic route. So I guess it was no surprise that I found myself at Tooting Bec track years later. I had wanted to do this for years. And here it was.
We traveled by train From Glasgow to Euston, and stayed at Clapham common. This was a great way to do it and if (when) I return I'll be doing the same. We had a range rover (which we borrowed for any avoidance of doubt) and a gazebo and had a good wee set up, which I had bumped from someone else's idea previously.
I was lucky enough to Have Gordon Reed travel down to support me aswell. That's another reason I love this sport - people are so helpful and after meeting you once or twice and willing to travel the country and stand beside a track to mix your tailwind. Don't get that in many other sports I tell you! We happened up next to Bryn Jones, who I had only ever spoken to on Strava. It's good when you get to share miles and can become good friends instead of just kudos buddies.
The weather was typically Scottish - pissing down and due to continue with this for the entire race. Mrs Shaw is a great supporter - however even she drew the line at holding a brolly over me the entire race. I started the race wearing New balance Fresh Foam Zante (http://tidd.ly/9819c1fe) which I would have worn for the duration had it not been monsoon season. I also donned a Gore jacked to keep dry (http://tidd.ly/d222b4b5) and more on that later. It was also my first race since switching over to the Suunto 9 (http://tidd.ly/18e25e52). Decent, comfy and first impressions are that I prefer it over the Garmin.
At 12 bells the race was off. I settled into a decent comfy slow pace. There wasn't much chat from me at this point to other people in the race. Gordon and Mrs Shaw succeded in making me laugh for about the first 10 laps asking if I needed anything, and piss takingly shouting 'go Dave'. Time passed quickly and before I knew it an hour was done.
Don't worry - this wont be a lap by lap account. The monsoon continued. I was happy with my pace and wasn't bothered about anyone else or what they were doing. Stick to the plan. About 2 hours in I started to get bothered by something. I'm not willing to say what this was but it really knocked me off. Low points are normal but this was really getting to me. Theresa and Gordon knew I was in a huff because of my one word and abrupt answers. No need for this when they have given up their time for me. It was just my negative mindset. I resolved to keep going and hope I would get out my slouch. I didn't. 5 pissing wet hours in and I couldn't shake this thing off. A change of clothes would maybe help me so I stopped for a few minutes and changed into the Hoka one one Cavu (http://tidd.ly/21bd1324) and Injinji socks (https://amzn.to/2ORy8MP) should waken me up. I also changed into a fresh under armour base layer and kept on the Gore waterproof, kindly donated brand new by Richie.
The weather continued to hose down, and I continued to be miserable. I just wasn't feeling it at all. So much prep and thought and money into a race and I couldn't get it done. I love the struggle, I love the pain but I just couldn't love my time on the track. I still don't know why I just couldn't snap out of it. It's so frustrating. People will continue to refute this - but I just felt I was letting everyone down. Runners will know what it feels like. No matter what anyone says it doesn't take it away.
Anyway - onwards and upwards I struggled. I was keeping the same pace easily but my mental state was getting more and more sapped by the second. Then I noticed something strange. I wasn't sweating at all. Now I was going along at sub 9 min miles which is a canter, but 6 or 7 hours in I should at least be sweating. I was eating and fuelling well, that was all getting looked at by Gordon and Mrs Shaw. I've never had this before. Also - I couldn't stop peeing. At one point I was averaging 4 pees per mile. And I know I wasn't over hydrated with what I was taking on. After 11 hours I knew my race was done - I changed clothes again and when I took off my under armour it was bone dry. Credit to whatever was going on with my body and the waterproof ability of the gore jacket. Honestly check it out - it was an absolute downpour and I had zero through the jacket I had wore for nearly half a day. Unbelievable (you can check it out here - https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=1857&awinaffid=511167&clickref=Gore&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wiggle.co.uk%2Fgore-running-wear-essential-gore-texr-active-shell-jacket-1%2F)
If anyone has any idea why I wouldn't be sweating please comment below, I am eager to learn.
I finally handed the chip timer in at 0100 hours. 13 hours in. I was so disappointed in myself, but I knew it was the right decision at the time. I know this feeling will stay with me for a long time. I've won a couple of races now and for me that winning feeling disappears quickly. Throughout life you always forget the pain you've felt along the way but you never ever forget the times when you felt like you had more to give. It's a good lesson. So all in all - a terrible race for me. However there was some highlights throughout the race.
1. Death march miles!!! Before I had completely chucked it in I shared loads of death march miles with Bryn Jones. Thankfully (although not for him) he was in a similar situation as me and it was good to share the misery as we plodded round and round at 20 min mile pace. It's good to share the pain and misery and well as share the smiles and highs. I thoroughly enjoyed this although I am not sure he will agree!!
2. Too many runners to mention doing this. I love seeing the pain and misery of the death march ultra shuffle. So many people were doing it and I offered encouragement as I ran/shuffled/sulked. Whats the best bit is when you see them 10 minutes later gliding along again as if it is their first mile. I love it and it's amazing to see people break through their barriers and break free from the pain.
3. Eventual winner Michael Stocks and runner up Paul Maskell (154 and 153 miles). Even though I was done and dusted long before it was top entertainment to watch them bound round lap after lap at a quality pace. I love seeing people doing well and achieving their dreams. Its such a rewarding thing to do. Even when 8am hit and 4 hours left in the agonising rain which appeared at it's heaviest both seemed oblivious to it. While I watched loads from the safety of the car (oops) they tore on and on. It was good to share a few words at the end to pass on my respect of their amazing performances.
4. The highlight of it all. I said at the time it was one of the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life, and I truly mean it. 85 year old Geoffrey Oliver. Yes - eighty five years old.
It's just so utterly astounding. This gentleman is 51 years older than me. I doubt I will even be doing this sport when I am 51 years old. He set 8 age group world records. I am so honoured to have shared a track with such a winner. There I was running in my new Suunto, my waterproof jacket, fancy trainers. And this 85 year old chap out ran me, wearing a flatcap and a watch that only told the time. At times he even battled the wind carrying an umbrella. It was amazing to see and I'm lucky to have been there to witness it.
What's your excuse?
Tags - #ultrarunning #tootingbec #selftransendence #ukrunchat #24hourrace #24hourtrackrace #srichinmoy #dumbartonaac #dumbarton #blacknred #running #runningblog #runningbloguk #runningmotivation #gore #suunto #suunto9