Long Eaton 50 Miler 2013
Carry: Salomon agile 17 sack containing
2 x 9bar - ate 1 and a half
2 other cereal bars - didn't eat
Jelly babies - didn't eat because all check points had lots
Pretzels - didn't eat because the check points had lots but I consider these essential due to my predisposition towards cramp
Elete salt tablets - took one at cp3 and one at cp4
250ml home made gu with 90 grams of sugars. Had most of this before the cp4 drop bag
2x 800ml bottles - only used one.
Extras of all the food I was carrying which I didn’t need and left on the table and another bottle of the home made gu which I took and of which I had about half.
I had an awful training block for this mainly because my son has been so ill. Since easter he’s had tonsillitis, scarlet fever, chest infection, and chicken pox so there have been lots of times that I’ve ear-marked for a long run or a back to back which has ended up spent with my young fellow. I got a 23 mile run in about 7 weeks out and a 20 mile run in about 5 weeks out but apart from that my longest run since february has been 12 miles and my weekly average has probably been around 12 - 15 miles.
As I was setting off I was telling the others that I did have a good January and I was hoping the fitness was still there from that. It seems like only yesterday but then I realised it was six months ago. My plan, given my rubbish training, was to have a good 2nd week out in the hope that I could revive any fitness and strength that was residual in my body. So two weeks out I did two 10 milers - one fast and a 6 miler. I did the 6 miler at a pace that would probably be suitable for a 8 or 9 mile race so fairly fast for me. I also did an unexpected 5 miler as part of a late night expedition to buy port and cheese.
I had a couple of days off after that but when I went for an easy 5 miles on the Tuesday before the race my legs felt very heavy and I was really worried in case those extra 5 miles would mean I got to the day tired.
In the end it worked out really well. I did a mega relaxed 2 miles on Thursday and my legs still felt tired but I was fairly sure I'd be ok on the day.
I should probably pay more attention to nutrition the day before an event, but I don't, so chicken kebab and chips for me.
Saturday morning I was up nice and early so I could hit the toilet.
I am a convert of the high fat low carb diet - I’m not motivated enough to be strict about it but I do make sure I have a zero carb very high fat breakfast every morning so two large eggs scrambled with a dash of milk and lots of butter. I’d been debating whether to add toast given that I was doing an event but on reflection I thought that I probably wouldn’t really need carbs given the snail like pace I’d be running.
My dad gave me a lift to the start early enough that I could see the 6am wave go off. I’d originally planned to be there early to see my mate Mark go off but he couldn’t make it. I’d got two fellows to sign up this year and they both had to pull out. Anyway I met up with Darren who I’d met on facebook via Mark.
I’d organised to meet up with Sal at the start and go off together because our times last year, and our goal this year, were similar but she shot off like something not right and I didn’t see her again. She did 9:59 for first lady. It was a shorter course this year 50.3 miles instead of 51.8 (or something like that) but even allowing for the difference that represents a pb of around 50 minutes for her.
I was running with Bernard, Rachel, and Damien and we chatted the usual chat. I got a sense right from the start that Damien would have liked to be going slower. I would have been slower out of choice but I knew there would be enforced rest later (due to terrain and navigation) so I was happy to go with it. It was Bernard and Rachel setting the pace in the early miles although when we got down to the canal section Damien must have slowed and Rachel stuck with him because all of a sudden me and Bernard were on our own.
Last year I had an OS custom map made and traced the route on but unfortunately I forgot it this year so I was relying on the route description. I hate route descriptions. There’s been some post race grumbling from the competitors about the route description: I think that, as route descriptions go, it is fine and I don’t think you could really improve it although, as a navigational solution, they’re always going to be fairly poor.
The lack of map meant that Bernard and I had to walk every now and then to read the description. I like to get walk breaks in early, not loads of walking but I think psychologically its good to remind yourself that the effort hasn’t really started yet.
I was hoping to be much swifter through checkpoints this year but having forgot the map I had to wait to be given the next stage’s route description so that goal went right out of the window but we got through cp1 fairly quick. Just as we left the cp Pete, last years winner, came in. He’d started at seven. I’ve looked at the splits and he did those first 10 miles in 1:20 - wow - although I think he suffered for it a bit later on.
At fifteen miles this happened:
Me: Shall we walk abit
Bernard: I think that’s a good tactic
Me: you’re going that bit faster than I would be
B: I don’t mean to its just that I get a bit carried away
Me: tuck behind me I have no problem going slow
B: well if we’re walking I’m going to shock you now
Me: Go on then
B:I’m going to do a roll up
Now I really was puzzled about this - he’d mentioned that he might need a comfort stop (gingerbreadman) at some point and I really wondered if he meant he was going to roll his short leg up and get on with some buisness. But no, he gets out his tobacco and papers and has a smoke - brilliant.
Shortly after this we left the canal and were met by Bill, a club member that spends the day waiting at navigationally problematical points to guide participants, thanks Bill.
When we got into the fields we quickly made a navigational error (went wrong). With the fag break and the back tracking I was a minute slower on this leg than last year. By the time we got into cp2 we’d been passed by a couple more of the 7 o’clock wave been caught back up by Rachel and Damien and been joined by Phil who had also started at 7.
I don’t really like stopping during these things so I left the checkpoint quite a while before the others and walked while I ate and drank and to let them catch up. The next leg is the worst navigationally and the group which now formed (Bernard, me, Phil, Damien, and Rachel) owe Rachel massive thanks. She has great knowledge of the route and she did all the work over the next ten miles. We hardly looked at the route description and, although my moving pace was slower than last year, my time for the stage was 5 mins faster.
I was getting very grumpy though.
The group wasn’t really doing what I wanted. Damien was starting to find the going a bit tough so we were walking more than I would have wanted. On the other hand Phil was finding the pace very slow so he was wanting to run faster than I wanted and Rachel was fresh off a fast marathon so she was going with the faster pace. Also the walking pace was slower than I would have wanted. The grass was long and it was getting stuck between my toes - pretty much the only thing that makes me wish I ran in trainers - and the rape seed was over head height.
I had genuine thoughts of dropping; I hadn’t decided to drop but I was seriously weighing it up.
It was thoughts of young-feller-me-lad that kept me going. When we told him the night before that he wasn’t coming to the start he was really upset. He said he wanted to cheer daddy but we told him he could cheer daddy at the end. I thought ‘well if I don’t finish he won’t get to cheer daddy and so I’ve got to finish’. Brilliant. Decision made. I’m finishing.
A couple of miles before cp3 Phil had started to tell us about Ian, a friend of his who was really fast and was going to pick him up at cp5 to run him into the end. Phil received a phone call from Ian to say he’d started earlier and was at cp4 waiting, the news had to be broken that we were still not at cp3 yet. Our pace was clearly way slower than Phil’s but I don’t think he’d have done the stage any faster if he’d gone ahead. The two guys who’d left him when they got to us were a bit faster than Phil (so Phil said) and despite their extra speed we’d kept them in sight for a good few miles at the start of the stage because they were taking so much longer to navigate (thanks again Rachel).
Anyway when we got to the checkpoint Ian was waiting for Phil. By this point Damien was breathing very heavily. I had been right way back at mile 2 when I thought the pace was too strong for him. He talked about not wanting to hold the group up but we all said we would go at whatever pace he wanted but I was sure he wouldn’t be finishing.
To be honest I thought he’d done really well getting to 28 miles over what was clearly tough going for him. Another thing. He was wearing this bum bag that looked like the most uncomfortable thing in the world - it would have driven me mad. While we’re on gear. Rachel had one of those weird handhelds with a hole in the middle that you wear on your wrist. I couldn’t begin to think of carrying one of those for 50 miles I’d go berserk.
I did my usual thing of grabbing stuff and walking out of the checkpoint and before long Phil and Ian caught me, I’d finished eating so I started running but Ian was clearly not going to let Phil hang with the group and they rocketed off. The rest of the group hadn’t caught me yet but my running pace was way slower than that which the group had been setting so I knew they’d catch me. After a mile or so I began to wonder if they would catch me and sure enough the next time I saw them was when the route doubles back across a valley and they were 600 - 800 meters behind.
This was when we had the big rain storm of the day. I’d spoken to Bob shortly after the checkpoint while I was walking and he’d asked about the weather and I said it was good, cool with the odd bit of rain. He took the piss “only a Britisher would tell you that the weather is good then that its raining”. Well here was where the rain turned bad. All the other showers were quite mild and I’d kept my route description dry by shielding it in my cupped hand. Now I had to get out my map case (yes I’d remembered the map case even though I’d forgotten the map - what a twat). While I did that I got cold and clouds were thick and black leading to more questions over finishing. If we had a couple of hours of this I’d be walking into the checkpoint wrapped in my space blanket.
There was another chap ahead who must have been a 6am starter - the last, we’d passed the others at about mile 20. He was stopping to mess with his rucksack too and sometimes I got closer to him and sometimes he pulled away. By the time I got to him the rain had eased and by the time we’d done introductions (he was Nick signed up for his first 100 - the winter 100 later this year) it had more or less stopped (thank God)
I thought his running pace was a bit quicker than mine although it was me dragging him along because for some reason I could remember the route on this section really clearly. I’m not sure he really trusted my confidence in the route but I got us to the next road and Bill without any problems. He told me I’d have to leave him which surprised me because he was moving really well and looked very strong. He was right, though, and I didn’t see him again.
Now one of the reasons I’d thought about dropping before was simply that I couldn’t be bothered. I’m not competitive at all and I’m not really motivated by time. I’d done this before and I’d done my best last year, I wasn’t sufficiently trained to do any better so what was the point.
Well now, for the first time ever, I got a little competitive edge in me. Last year a chap called Paul, who’d set off half an hour later, caught me at about mile 27 and he just held me off to cross the line a few seconds before me.
That would be my goal - cross the line before Nick and therefore beat to the line all of the 6am wave.
I was held up in cp4 because the route descriptions for the next stage had been misplaced which meant that Nick was just coming into the cp as I was leaving. He could gain two minutes on me there because they now knew where the route descriptions were. I set off up the horrible climb and gave one of the relay runners some shit for walking it even though his legs were fresh. This climb is the only time that your heart really gets going in this race and I called Bob and Katja for a chat at the top so I could get my heart rate down again.
That was really the last eventful thing that happened to me. I kept thinking about Nick and thinking “if he’s running this section and I’m not then he’s making up time on me” I was in much better condition than I was last year during the final 13 miles and I ran much more. I called my wife to let her know an ETA and told her that I was running well - and I was. Last year I told the guys at cp5 that I was struggling - non of that this year. I was quick in and out, ran down the road where last year I found it tough to get my legs moving again after the stop.
Timing wise after adjusting for the shorter course based on my average pace I did a PB of around 15 minutes and I got most of that in the last 13 miles. The last stage was 6 minutes faster than last year - that’s over a minute per mile - and I put in the fastest stage outside the top 4. In front of me the next man was 9:45 so I consider myself to really have been the quickest of the slow guys. And, as always, I was the fastest (read only) in barefoot-style footware.
It was another great day; I punched the air as I went through the finish tape; I picked up my boy (and reason for finishing) who cheered me over the line; shook hands and thanked all the fantastic volunteers. I was very proud.
As always the toe shoes sparked a lot of interest and I answered lots of questions about them as I sat, and stood, waiting for Rachel and Bernard to come in. They came in just over half an hour later and to my surprise Damien was with them. The winning time was 7:29, remarkable, but no more so than Damien’s finish. I told him I thought he would be dropping and he agreed he said he thought he was done at cp3 he showed massive strength in finishing. We had to go before Nick came in. He did 11:48 so he must have arrived only just after we left - the fact that I’d passed him while he was looking so strong is what got me the time on those last two stages. Darren got a 13 hour finish. He told me the wheels had come off and it sounds like he had big problems with navigation on stage three (not surprising) and I gather he did an extra 3 miles or so, finishing after that is properly characterful.
After the race there’s been discussion (moaning) about the race description. In my opinion the route description itself couldn’t really be improved but I do agree that, even so, its pretty crap having to run with it. Do what I did last year; get an os custom 1:25000. Have it centered on grid ref 365363 and you’ll get all but the last 3 miles of the route on the map. Trace the route on - then don’t forget the map. It makes the nav loads easier.
There’s also been talk about the low turnout (17 starters). That doesn’t bother me personally but it does seem a shame for the race organisers.
If you’re reading this, and you want a 50 miler, do this one. The organisation is fantastic, you can choose your own start time, the checkpoints are good enough to turn it into a 50 mile all you can eat buffet (there were jam sandwiches, cheese and ham sandwiches, sausage rolls, energy drink, flap jacks, pretzels, jelly babies, chocolate bars, etc), its incredibly good value, despite being low key the finish line is excellent and they hold the tape up for every finisher, its a caring event (last year there was one guy who dropped at cp3 and they transported him to cp5 so he could ru the last stage).
It would be a brilliant first 50 for anyone looking to increase their distance.