Until Saturday the furthest I’d ever run was 38 miles at the Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra. That was painful enough. Or so I thought.
Volunteering at the aid station at Reigate Hill, 31 miles into Centurion Running’s North Downs Way 50 last year fired something in my belly.
The runners seemed to be enjoying it and the challenge was enough to tempt me into accepting my place I received free as a thank you for our time volunteering. Steph was with me that day so we both had a place, but unfortunately she had important bridesmaid duties to uphold, so I was on my own. Alone until 18 of Fulham Running Club’s finest/craziest decided to jump on the ultra wagon and give it a go too, so as race day approached there was a strong team of stripes (and ex-stripes) gearing up to run 50 miles, some seasoned 50 mile runners and others, like me, attempting it for the first time.
I’ll be honest my training towards this race didn’t go exactly plan, probably because I didn’t have a plan written down – only some gradual increase in mileage in the lead up to the race, a few back to back long runs, a 50km race with Steph in horrendous weather conditions, weekly Pilates, yoga and weights-focused classes to keep me strong and balanced, and unfortunately a prolonged taper due to a niggle in one of my feet that I didn’t want to overthink or let scupper my chances of being on the start line. Stubborn. Determined.
In the weeks leading up to Saturday 19th May I did a lot of things to make sure I was as ready as I could be –
I booked trains from Edinburgh to London – I gave myself the full day on Friday, the day before the race, to rest, so I travelled down on the Thursday and arrived mid-afternoon.
I met up with Fulham Running Club, my old team and friends, on Thursday evening at their weekly run as a shake-out to calm my nerves and run a familiar route along the Thames path.
I found accommodation in Farnham, where the race started, on Friday evening, so I wasn’t worried about making the early start time on Saturday.
I tried and tested Tailwind – a complete calorie, hydration and electrolyte endurance fuel – for my race nutrition that was available on the aid stations.
I charged my watch.
I made sure I had all the mandatory kit on the list – waterproof jacket, head torch, survival blanket, whistle, soft cup and soft flasks to carry 1l – and was comfortable carrying it all in my race pack (Salomon 5l).
I chose my kit including shoes that I wanted to wear and as it was looking pretty warm during the day I went for shorts and tee, Brooks Juno bar, a visor, Stance socks and Inov-8 Roclite 290s.
I picked up some Tribe bars and other snack bars to pack so I had a selection to choose from.
I asked Steph to meet me halfway with some Marmite sandwiches and I carried her wedding invite 25 miles to Boxhill so that I could give it to her. Because if I made it to half way and I made it to Steph, I knew I could make it all the way. 50 miles. The furthest I’d ever run.