Thursday, 6 February 2014

Thames Trot 50...ish

I didn't sleep at all the night before the race, instead I just watched the clock till it hit 4am. Time to get up and have some fat coffee. 
Coffee, teaspoon of coconut oil, tablespoon of butter and a teaspoon of honey mixed together and thrown down the hatch. That should do the job!

I had made a point of packing really light for this one after gaining a lot of confidence from the "34 for 34", I knew what I could get away with leaving behind.
I packed a little bit of food just in case the aid stations were a bit rubbish and again to practice being a little more self sufficient.

So what was in the bag?

Food - 4 little buttered lunch box malt loafs, 1 clif bar, a little food bag of chilli peanuts, 1x500ml bottle of coconut water with 2 tablespoons of Chia in it and a little "emergency" bag of Chia.
The idea for this one was to try and stay away from all the sugary bits for as long as I could as they tend to make me bloat and crash hard when the sugar runs out.

Clothing - 1x dry bag with spare injinji socks, spare hat, Montane over trousers.

Other - Head torch, silver blanket, bit of loo roll, painkillers, Elete water, chap stick, alcohol wipe, glove, small scoop of lube, small scoop of macs ice.

Even with 2 full 650ml bottles upfront, it still felt really light, I was pretty happy with my "no faff" kit.

5am - Pick up time!
The wonderful Mummysaurus came to give me a lift to the start and was maybe even more excited than I was! I grabbed my gear and we headed out to the car. The moment we got out of the house I knew it was going to be a cold day.
We chatted away in the car mainly about, you guessed it, running. Shocking huh?
After a quick "convenience" stop on the way, we arrived at the pub where the folks were already busy putting up the flags in the car park.
It was now pretty much bang on 7am so registration had just opened and we got straight to the tables without any queuing at all, bonus!
I went and got changed into the rest of my gear and then got my timing chip. We got one of those ones that looks like a watch with a Velcro strap. After chasing it around my wrist for a couple of minutes, Mummysaurus did the honour of actually making it stay still.
Right, just the race pack to look over and then try and chill out a little bit.
I pinned my number to my shorts, yes shorts. Shorts in February. Maybe not my best choice but I was pretty sure it would all work out in the end.
It was now around 8am and the pub was really starting to fill up so we headed outside, firstly to not get crushed, secondly to "acclimatize" and lastly, to chat and see if we could spot Dennis.

For those of you returning to my blog (thank you if you are!) you will remember Dennis from my other two ultras, the "NDW50" and "Race to the stones". For those of you who are here for the first time (thank you as well!) Dennis is a mountain of a man. By this I mean he is tall, not made of rock.
Dennis is also probably the only reason why I am not still on the Thames path right now!

So there we are, bouncing around in the car park trying to keep warm and I spot Dennis. He is pretty easy to spot if you hadn't already picked up on that. After a quick handshake for me and a hug for Mummysaurus he heads off to grab his pack. Meanwhile a guy comes up and says "hey, sorry I only know you as Cardiosaurus!" Guess Twitter really works huh?! We have a little chat and he takes my picture which was pretty cool! (thanks Kris you made my morning!)
My feet are already pretty cold and already gaining a lot of attention. "Mummy that man has only got socks on!" being my favourite from a little girl behind me.
Yep, socks and sandals, I`m that guy.
Finally after a bit of a delay the organiser gives us the usual speech along with a not so usual one. Long story short, the Thames path is screwed due to flooding and we are not quite sure where we are going yet. Joy! This is going to be and interesting day!
The map supplied is not the same as the one everyone (except me) has studied and even parts of that are now under question.
Now I would like to say that the lack of map studying on my part was due to something other than just not doing it. That would be a lie. Note to self, look at the some point before a idiot.
Luckily for me and my lack of map reading preparation I had a willing tour guide, Dennis.
He knew the route pretty well as he had done it last year and seemed happy enough to run with me this time, happy days!

And they`re off!

We were still chatting when everyone started moving, a quick bleep of the watch and a hug from Mummysaurus and we were off! My feet hurt already with every step, they felt like blocks of ice. Oh dear.
Within the first mile though everything seemed to be coming back to life and we bopped our way along the road, chatting and laughing away.

My rough game plan had been a very sensible walk/run strategy from the start.
6 and change miles in the bank later we were still running. This was no where near the plan. 
We finally took a walk break and I sipped away at my Chia and coconut water. Feeling really strong we just pushed on chatting about what we were going to eat at the first aid station.

Finally hitting the first check point and around 9 miles we came across a pretty disappointing table for someone trying to keep away from sugar. Water, cake, jelly babies and some GU gels. hmm...I`m glad I had my own stuff!
I took a small piece of cake anyway just to give it a taste because, well, it looked bloody good! It was! However due to how I personally deal with sugar and running, I felt pretty bloated for the next few miles and switched back onto peanuts. It did the trick and I settled down into a nice pace.

The wind was so cold. Normally if I was still wearing my jacket past 10 miles I would be ready to be served up with some chips and peas with blob of butter on me, boil in the bag style! Not today. In a way it was a good thing, it meant I didn't have to mess around packing it away in my bag. Added bonus was I could keep my phone in one pocket and food in the other, perfik!

The general going went from road to boggy mud to knee high water and back again, and again, and again.....
The going was pretty tough. We laughed our way through most of it and swore our way through the rest. I`m pretty sure I was holding Dennis up a lot but he just walked a bit until I caught up.

Check point 2 felt a long, long way and again we were greeted with the same sparse table. We were now just shy of 18 miles in and I started to really worry for the guys and girls who didn't pack any of their own food.

20 miles can only mean one thing...Yes, that's right its ultra duck face selfie time!

Me and Dennis - ultra duck face time! 
2 miles later and it was time to celebrate halfway...ish!

Yes it was cold, very, very cold!
I think Dennis has some more pictures of this bit but I wont knick them, instead I will give you guys a link to his blog at the end.

25.5 miles in and we find check point 3. This aid station was a slightly different story to the others, mini pork pies, more cake, little scotch egg things, not a bad stop that one. I grabbed a couple of mini pork pies, a little bit of cake and we moved straight on.
So far we had done really well at not hovering for to long at aid stations. I learnt a lot from my first 50 mile, I spent way to much time chatting and resting. This time was all about grabbing water and food and getting going again as soon as we could. Concentrating more on doing all of my eating and drinking on the move.

More road, mud, deep sticky mud and freezing water. The mud, (did I mention the mud?) road and wind was really starting to take its toll. My nose was pretty sore by this point from the freezing wind making it run more than I was.

I hit a bit of a mental low for a few miles between 30 and 33 while my food kicked in from the check point at 31 miles. It was good to think that we had finally hit check point 4 but I really had to keep my head down and try and eat for a few miles. I dropped back from Dennis a short way and just said I was in a bit of a black hole right now, he understood and just kept up his pace, looking back every now and then or just giving me a little shout to ask if I was ok. It really helped me along.

A couple of miles later, the mental fog lifted and we were back to laughing and joking our way down the road. I think we were both starting to really feel the miles now and were happy to put in more walk breaks and take it a piece at a time. Well I say it was the miles, it wasn't really. It was the switching from road to thick mud to water. My feet were like blocks of ice. I tried hard to concentrate on my form but it was almost impossible when it feels like you are running on stumps.

10 miles to go!
It felt like a great thing to post on Twitter thinking that it was nearly done. Also knowing that my family would be at the finish gave me a nice boost. My knee clearly wanted to stay on the trail as long as it could as it tried as hard as it could to keep grinding my pace down.
Walk, run, walk, run, just keep moving! When I walked I tried to walk as fast as I could, firstly to keep up our average speed, secondly because as I mentioned before, Dennis is a giant. It was like a smurf trying to keep up with a giraffe! 

The rest of the journey is all a bit mixed up as some of it involved trying not to get run over as we ran down the edge of a road, getting lost and ending up in a car park, scrambling through brambles, climbing over a fallen tree, wading through yet more freezing water and getting sacrificed to a swan.
Yes you read that correctly. 
We came across a very startled swan swimming in the middle of the path. Dennis had decided as I was the smallest (of all 3 of us) I was the one who was getting beaten to death by an angry swan. 
He didn't say this bit out loud until later.

"It just wants to get passed" said I "ok, you go that way" Dennis said as he shuffled his way closer to the edge of the trail leaving me with the Thames on my left and a somewhat bemused swan on my right, it was now swimming at me. This now left a nice gap.........for run off like a girl scout. 
Obviously being the brave hunter gatherer that I am I did what I had to do, haul ass after him the moment the giant white bird of death calmly swam to the side.

At some point in time we found check point 5 but as you can see after the hell bird trauma, it was all a bit of a blur. 

We now only had about 5 or 6 miles left so it was time to get our heads down and back to the grid! It was a tough few miles but we just chopped them up and did what we could to keep the pace up. We joked about who should cross the line first, like true gentlemen ultra runners we decided the only thing to be done was to finish together.

Turning down the last road and into the car park we came across the greatest sight of the day, a big blue inflatable Finish arch!

A fair few people lined the car park cheering us past, it was amazing to get this kind of response. Right at the line I could see my mum, dad and Jaime all cheering and clapping away. Such a great feeling to cross that line.

10 hours 40 minutes and 10 seconds, it was done!

Ridiculous ultra duck face finish! 
I can`t thank Dennis enough, without him I would have got incredibly lost and without a shadow of a doubt not made the cut off time. Hope I didn't sabotage your time too much buddy! ;)

Another ultra in sandals! :)

Hope you have enjoyed my story so far and thanks for reading!

Please head over and check out the blog by Dennis here -

Till next time folks!

Cardiosaurus OUT!

No comments:

Post a Comment