Good morning! As I sit typing this I find the weather to be sunny, which is in stark contrast to the conditions experienced when I volunteered at Thames Path 100 last year, although I am led to believe represents the reality of the conditions for this year's race. The warmth of the sun apparently led to many runners experiencing nausea from fairly early on, which almost certainly would have been the case for me - I am never actually sick during a race or training run but if it's hot then you can guarantee I'll be urging at some point. On a ridiculously hot day I once spent a good couple of hours retching as I tried to run the Quantock Greenway's northern loop, but was reduced to a hobble due to said retching. Eventually I felt well enough to jog slowly again, but it took some time.
So I've had the mental capacity to keep moving forward for a couple of hours whilst my body tries to reject the fuel I have given it. That should stand me in tremendously good stead for running 100 miles. So what went wrong? Why am I sitting here typing about how I missed the Thames Path 100 than about how I brought home the bacon there? Well as it happens I've just dreamt about doing the race, and just before I woke up I was moving well past the 100k point, passing a number of people and telling them I'd still break into the top 10, even though at least seven people had already finished at this point (my race would be going pretty badly if that had been the case.)
Well, to cut a long story short I had a troublesome ankle injury last Autumn. After my last race in October I decided to give it a good rest. Then we were hit by many of the most ferocious storms I can remember experiencing. This didn't really inspire me to get out running. All of that time I was writing a book, then getting it published, then processing pre-orders. In between all that January 1st happened and I had written a list of 100 kind of resolutions that would help me have a fitter, happier, more productive (see what I did there any late 90s indie fans?) 2014. Then suddenly it was nearly April and I'd barely run a step in anger all year. "It'll be Ok," I reasoned, "As long as I can have a few weeks' half-decent training I'll be able to give TP100 a go." I even had a crazy idea in mind of trying to finish in time for breakfast; a time of between 19 and 22 hours. It was flat as a pancake, I thought, and so it shouldn't be impossible. Around that time I did a run of about 19 miles on the 'infamous' Taunton to Bridgwater canal, but nine minute miling didn't feel all that slow, and I was having to take walking breaks from 6 miles in. A few days after that I went for a run on the 'legendary' Ilminster to Chard cycle path. Within a mile or two I just knew in my heart that I wasn't going to be ready to give it my best shot. Maybe I'd be able to death march to the finish in about 26 or 27 hours, but maybe I wouldn't. If I was going to do a Centurion race I wanted to know when I stood on the start line that if everything went perfectly I could get to the finish in a decent time.
It was with a very heavy heart that I decided to relinquish my place, for there were many people I'd been talking to excitedly about the race beforehand, many of whom I was looking forward to meeting for the first time. Maybe I could volunteer instead? Well the fact is that in stark contrast to when I volunteered this time last year there's a whole heap of stuff going on in my life that means I could have done without a busy weekend away anyway. This has led to the realisation that the publication of my tome really does mark a bit of a turning point. It does mark the end of a chapter. The fact is that unless I become a millionaire any time soon I don't see myself being able to crowbar in enough running time to be able to train to give a long ultra a proper good go. Until such a time as this changes I won't be entering one. Oh nosirree. Instead I shall be building myself up as a runner again from scratch, ready to absolutely set alight the next ultra race I take part in, be it later this year or not for several years. My immediate running goal will now be to train for.....a FIVE K!!!! Yes, that's right. A distance I have never raced. I will be training for Taunton's 'world renowned' Long Run Meadow Park Run (don't know if that's even its proper title.) This will involve a fair bit of speedwork, and little in the way of long runs - now that's ironic. Also, for some reason I keep happening to look at a clock when it reads 3.36, which happens to be my current marathon PB. I am hoping all the speedwork will allow me to go out one day and run a marathon faster than that, just to prove I can. I will attempt to do it in race conditions if I get a chance.
Instead of dwelling on what I can't do I've decided to focus on what I can do. I have time to train for a 5k, and in fact to give it a really good go at getting a half-decent time. I won't be aiming for 15 minutes and change or anything crazy like that, but will see if I can post a sub 20 by the end of the summer, which is actually pretty quick for me as I hate running fast if I'm brutally honest. I'll do that and just see where it leaves me, but my hope is that it'll make me fitter overall and as I gradually aim to get towards being ultra fit again I will end up fitter than I've ever been. Genius ;)
So what about the Thames Path 100 race report? Well, on Friday I got that familiar buzz of excitement, even though I wasn't racing - I guess my brain knew that I would have been. Then over the weekend I looked for updates where I could find them, being unsurprised that Ed Catmur was storming ahead at the front, smiling broadly when I saw that someone I knew was doing well, having a frown that needed turning upside down when I saw that somebody I knew had dropped. On Sunday morning, at about the time I envisaged myself finishing, I felt pretty morose. For the rest of the day I kept thinking about how I should be absolutely wiped out physically, mentally and emotionally, and looking forward to eating everything in sight for the next couple of days, then slowly recovering and getting back to running again. Well it didn't happen. I haven't beaten myself up about it, and have been lucky enough to dream very vividly about doing the race, which is the next best thing. I won't rush my return, but will get a different kind of racing buzz soon in a way that I can without decimating the time I need to do what needs doing currently. To quote a line from an old Streets song, "Something that was not meant to be now is done, and this is the start of what was."
Oh and blimey o' reilly, WHAT??!!!!! I've just remembered the title of my aforementioned tome, and how the rebuilding process begins with Longrun park run - I guess everything will work out in the long run!
(If anyone wises to order, please follow link below)........