My first ultra. I think I have the good weather gods to thank for completing my longest run of 38 miles in 7h 26mins and 05 seconds and finishing as 10th lady with a smile.
The Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra was, if I ever attempted one, always going to be first ultra. Three years ago, as my Facebook timeline kindly reminded me this week, I was on the sidelines at Jedburgh watching Nigel compete in his first ultra, and I can’t quite believe I made the decision that this year it would be my turn or that I‘m now proudly an ultra marathon finisher.
I remember quite clearly making the decision to enter this race – it was Edinburgh Marathon day back in May and we were celebrating Steph’s achievements over pizza and prosecco, naturally. When I watch friends and even strangers battling through a marathon, even a half marathon, I have an overwhelming feeling of pride, but my gut also tells me I should also be out there challenging myself, pushing towards my next goal. With one marathon under my belt and no desire to try another road marathon any time soon, I knew that next challenge would be on the trails and I saw a perfect fit in Jedburgh Three Peaks. The course is my home, on muddy trails and over hills I grew up around, and having watched the race unfold as an outsider, I also knew it was possible. The goal was simply to finish.
I want to write a full race report as a stand alone post, without all my babbling, for those who, after reading this post, are thinking about signing up for the event next year. For now though, I want to document some raw memories as I look back on the lead-up to the race, my training and preparations, and everything until I stepped onto the start line.
After entering the race I had exactly five months to prepare and unlike my first marathon, which I followed a 16 week training plan for, I didn’t want to restrict myself to any schedule, but simply build up the miles gradually and continue to enjoy running over a long distance sticking mainly off-road. Of course there were training runs and races in between, some of which did and didn’t go to plan, and some worrying times in the last few weeks running up to the race which I managed to overcome and continue through. I think I was sensible, despite it being hard at times, and as my A race got closer and closer I couldn’t have felt any more prepared than I did on race day.
In the week leading up to the race I had a very easy week consisting of a little yoga, one short run, good nutritious meals and early nights. I managed to take the day before the race off work so I traveled back to Edinburgh on the Thursday evening and spent Friday, the day before, just relaxing – catching up with family, going out for a nice lunch and getting my nails done! On the Friday evening I cooked Nige and I our typical pre-race dinner of roast chicken, sweet potatoes and a quinoa salad with spinach and beetroot, just a light-ish meal with all the food groups covered and something we feel comfortable works for both of us. I made up my drop bags, three individual name and numbered plastic bags with my chosen fuel for each checkpoint during the race, laid out my kit and got an early night, ready for a 5am wake up call the next morning.
Our pre-race breakfast was also nothing out of the norm, a cup of tea and a bowl of porridge, mine topped with honey, banana and a Tribe cacao and coconut mineral booster pack. We headed out the door just after 6am and after just an hour in the car, arrived at the start in Jedburgh just after 7am, one hour on the clock until race time. Still in darkness, we picked up our numbers, timing chips and t-shirts, I popped to the loo and then we headed outside to adjust to the cooler temperatures. The forecast looked promising for the long day ahead – dry and bright – and I crossed my fingers that the rain held off and the winds were kept at bay. Twenty minutes before go time, I munched on a Tribe Cacao and Almond energy bar and warmed up with a few hip rolls, squats and lunges, before we listened to the race briefing, walked over to the start line, danced a little to the YMCA warm-up tune and had time for a quick kiss with Nige, before the whistle blew and we were sent on our way, 38 miles ahead of us…