Monday, 20 February 2012

Nick does an Ultra

I proudly now have my first Ultra under my belt.  Yesterday I took part in the London Ultra 50K (32 miles).  I think, on balance, it was about as hard as I expected – not terribly difficult but not easy either.  Though it should be borne in mind I was not going for a fast time, just merely using it as a barometer for how my training was going.  More on that later.

So, I did the 31.5 miles in a time of 6hrs 8mins 27secs.  I hit the 26.2mile marathon mark at 5hrs 4mins – of course I wouldn’t have stopped as much to navigate or fuel in a typical marathon so am confident I could run one a whole lot faster than that (the furthest I have ever run until yesterday was about 15miles, about 12 years ago!).

Check it, peeps.

The race organisers provided a coach from the finish to the start, which mean the run was a pleasant point-to-point affair rather than a big loop.  It finished in Perivale, NW London, and to my surprise the coach drove clockwise round the North Circular (meaning I did a full circumnavigation of London yesterday).  Driving back almost past my house did hit home quite how far the run would be.  The route followed the ‘Capital Ring’, a funny old route – I’m not sure why you’d want to walk it, but people do.  It goes from main road, to park, to suburbia, to woods and back again, never keeping much consistency, but I saw some of London I am not familiar with – Crystal Palace, Wimbledon Common (no Wombles though), Richmond Park.

Apologies, best I could find.

After a bit of hanging around the race began at 0915hrs, and there seemed to be a couple of hundred runners.  We soon spread out, with me being toward the back I think.  I think I got my fuelling about right – I only ate a fajita, four flapjacks and some jellybabies and drank about 2 litres.  I coped fine with eating while running.  For sure I will need to ingest a lot more on the GUCR, and although I go quite tired in the last few miles, I certainly didn’t bonk.  In fact I think I have felt worse on some runs home from work.  From about mile 18 I would say I was generally overtaking people up to about mile 29.  Up to that point it was all remarkably easy.  Then the hip flexors started aching, especially the right one and by the end I was limping.

Medal winning Nick.

So why was it relatively easy? I am sure it was down to psychology.  Train for six months to run a marathon and a marathon will be hard.  Train to run 145miles, and less than a quarter of that will seem easy – I had convinced myself it wasn’t all that far.  And having done some bike rides that are double that time, I guess six hours really isn’t that long to keep oneself moving for.

Today, I have relatively few ill effects – though I did get the train in (it was cold this morning!).  The hip flexors seem much better and not aching as much as I would have predicted given the pain they were in while running.  My left ankle seems a bit wobbly though, I wonder if it’s possible to have stretched a tendon and so lost some stability?  It’s a bit painful, but nothing too serious.

What does this all mean for the GUCR?  Well, I am not too sure.  I can’t say I can imagine running four of what I did yesterday.  In fact, I would still be running now.  But then, I suppose the trick is not to try – just get to the next checkpoint, then the next, then the next.  It wasn’t hard enough to worry me, nor easy enough to be particularly encouraging.  If my hip flexors do that again, I will be in big trouble (I am wondering if they are under developed due to not being used as much for cycling – complete guess, but I shall investigate).  So I’ll just keep plodding on with the training (after a three week layoff for climbing).

The last stretch was actually down a bit of the Grand Union Canal.  Where I saw a bloke in full motorcycle garb being hauled out of the drink.  He had a very wet Staff, so suspect he must have jumped in to save his dog, but it cheered me up for all of a hundred yards.

I came 131st of 188 – that’s in the 69th percentile you know.

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