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10 Things I Learnt by Running 50 miles (or my SDW 50 mile race report)

1. Tapers can mean no running and that is OK. I didn’t run for 2 weeks before the race. I was injured and sad, I was freaking out inside my head. But I tried to trust my training. I sent panic messages to my Centurion buddies. I cant walk let alone run! I visited the wonderful Simon Lamb. Everyone said the same thing, calm down dear. I spoke to James Elson the day before the race, who said I know it will all be fine and it was. And as I collected my trophy from James he whispered to me, see 2 week no running tapers work! They do, but you have to be very strong mentally, not my forte, but a huge test for me and one I am pleased to have got through!

2. Pressure is a good and bad thing. A lot of were people talking about the race on twitter and facebook. I got nervous especially knowing that I had been sitting at home the last two weeks and was going to be running carrying a niggle. So I turned off Facebook and Twitter and felt much better. I made a plan. Life is always better with a plan. 1. Finish the race. 2. Win the race 3. Break the course record. 4. Enjoy the race, its what you love doing with the added bonus that every so often people appear, who you don’t even know cheering your name and offering you snacks.
Centurions biggest fan (after Rich)

3. Don’t stress about the little things you cant change. If you have kids you aren’t going to get the rest you need the days leading up to the race. I know this now and just don’t get stressed over the fact that I haven’t sat down for 48hrs (slight exaggeration) and am being woken up 4-10 times every night (no exaggeration). The night before the race I was battling with a 3 year old to get back into his bed at 2am and then up at 5am giving breakfast to the 1 year old. This could have stressed me out, but its my normal life and I remind myself that if it wasn’t for these two little darlings I may not have the drive to be where I am today.

4. I love my great support team. My long suffering husband, who is my number one support in this campaign of mine to ruin myself over longer and harder distances. We spent the evenings before the race practising water fill ups at speed (hilarious for the neighbours) he was at every check point and he has picked up the pieces in the 48hrs post race apocalypse.  My big sister who had the kids on her own for 13 hrs. My wonderful neighbours and running club friends who came to Alfiriston where I knew I was going to struggle and then drove on to the finish to all cheer me on. The wonderful Centurion Team and volunteers who run such brilliant races and really do help ordinary people complete amazing feats.
Very fast boys and me
5. Have a Kenyan Training pack (words of my Hero Paul Navesey http://ultrapaulo.wordpress.com/) or just train with people who are way better than you so you spend all the time sweating and swearing behind them. If you can put up with the pain, it does make you faster. I love training hard, it was perhaps to my detriment that I trained too hard on the long runs running harder than I needed, but it was a lot of fun and many happy memories of laughing over the South Downs,  mainly at Rich Ashton (who finished a very impressive 2nd place and is the funniest person I know http://icesnowfearandlaughter.blogspot.co.uk/)
6.  Know the course. I had run every inch of that course a number of times, Steyning Stinger marathon, Three Forts Marathon and three times with different combinations of really fast boys. I had even gone as far as to replicate the inclines and distance of the hills on treadmill sessions during school lunch breaks. You cant fault my drive. I knew where all the ‘hard’ sections were. perhaps this was to my detriment, I knew what was coming and spent the miles before  dreading it rather than concentrating on what I was actually doing. Lesson learnt.
Photo courtesy of Simon Hayward

7. When you feel rubbish after 15 miles don’t be scared to keep your sunglasses on even though it may be slightly raining and foggy . I felt sluggish, my quads were already like blocks of wood, I couldn’t maintain my target pace without trying too hard. So I put on my sunglasses. My sunglasses and I have been through a lot. We have trained and raced around the world together, they have collected more sweat than my lucky running knickers. They are my go to when I need to concentrate. I needed to concentrate on Saturday. My mind was full of, ow my foot hurts, I’m not going to finish this again, everyone is going to be so disappointed if I don’t perform. I put the sunglasses on and went back to the plan. 1. Finish, 2. Win, 3. Break the course record. 4. Enjoy it and repeat

8. If I don’t eat I lose my head. I didn’t eat enough.  4 gels, 1 bar and 2-3 bottles of electrolyte. Once my blood glucose drops I lose the ability to rationalise the importance of eating and start to believe I am invincible. This is the time when I also drop off pace, start plodding, lose all competitive drive and want to lie down and die. My stomach kept cramping and I had to keep stopping, I thought if I didn’t eat I could just hold it together for the last 10 miles, I feared if I put anything into my stomach I would end up in a bush for a long time. Instead I ended up throwing up for the next 12hrs and not drinking or eating anything till lunchtime the next day. Crash and burn. Not pretty and wont be repeated.
9. Eddie when things really hurt and you really cant wait to see that blue banner, remember why you are doing this. Because you love running. Because you love the people you meet when running. Because it inspires other to go out and challenge their horizons. Because at home are two little boys who are waiting for your medal and to put their arms around you and say ‘Well done Mummy, can we watch cartoons now?’ Because by reaching to the depths of your reserves you realise you are not even touching your limits of endurance.
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10. Belief. Believe and you will achieve. James, Paul and Bryn kept telling me to belief in my training not only in the lead up to the race, but during the race too. Belief, I had written on my hand. And during the race I did nothing but doubt myself, doubt my body and doubt my mind. I am disappointed that I let all the fear of failure and pressure seep into my strength. But on reflection I can and will learn so much from this race.
Courtesy of Drew Sheffield, who I have never been so happy to see,!

And now it is all done I’ll sit back, reflect, enjoy and plan to come back again, stronger, tougher, faster and definitely wiser. I learnt a lot about myself over those 50 miles. Mostly I learnt that when things don’t go right in the lead up to the race, in the race and post race always go back to why you started the journey in the first place. Always go back to the reason you run and above all always believe in yourself.

Comments ( 1 )

  • Debs M-C says:

    Great race and fabulous report.
    Have you found a place for the Centurion trophy yet? I think mine from the TP100 is still on the dining room floor (over a year later!), as I don't have a shelf big enough.
    xx

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