Sunday, 10 July 2016

Stuck at 9, did not finish!

Jeskyns Challenge 26.2
25th June 2016

Lovely day.
I was looking forward to this race which had been postponed from January due to bad weather. It was located at a local park, so I didn’t need to get up so early and my normal pre race routine went really smoothly. I was wary of another 26.2 so close to my bad experience at Reculver Towers. In fact, this was my 3rd distance event in 5 weeks and having recently started up my Personal Training Services I was more than a little busy. In my mind I had trained sufficiently and I had had nearly 2 days full rest before the event.
I had slept a bit more and had hydrated and fuelled well and so, feeling happy and excited I left the house to drive the 20 mins to the race start.
As usual, I was greeted by the lovely race organisers, Traviss and Rachel and with my number pinned on and the weather looking good we all set off at 8.30am.
The route was another out and back loop with just 2.91 miles until you were back at HQ. It was a beautiful trail/track run around the park with lots to look at, with some shade, some hills and a lovely atmosphere of mixed runners. I chatted for a little while and then decided to enjoy my day and so I put some chilled out tunes on and had a little daydream, whilst my legs did all the work.

After a few laps the heat was getting to me.

Feeling, hot, hot, hot!
1 lap passed and I felt light on my feet, I had changed my pace from a 10 min mile to an 11 min mile, following some expert advice from a fellow runner after my previous race at Reculver where I nearly collapsed! I felt strong and relaxed, I had also adjusted my mindset and was not checking my watch for pace etc. By 9.30am the temperature was increasing, it was getting hotter by the hour! I had already started on my hydration drink and was eating every 30-40 mins, every time I got back to HQ I decided to walk for 5 mins whilst having a drink or eating an energy ball. This little routine worked just fine until at lap 4!! I thought I was half way but when I found out that I needed to complete 9 laps for marathon distance I just crumbled! All the way round lap 5 the annoying mental chatter returned, all I wanted to do was walk, or stop and realising I still had so far to go nearly finished me off!
I went back out to see how lap 6 would feel and truthfully it felt and hurt like hell! My legs were heavy and the 25 degree heat was beating down on me.
I kept drinking and eating and decided to walk for a bit, especially the uphills, but then i’d run the downhills and the flat parts of the route. By the time I saw my little group of supporters I was done.
“ I can’t carry on, not feeling like this. I don’t want to become ill like last time” I admitted to my girlfriend. She would normally encourage me to carry on or run with me but with 9 miles still to complete she just hugged me and said “Only you know when to stop, if you think it’s now, then stop”
So holding hands with little Abby, I walked back to HQ. Traviss could see I had given up and although he tried to encourage me, I knew he understood that I needed to ring the bell.
I had completed nearly 18 miles in very hot conditions and although I was initially disappointed I knew I had made the right decision.
The great thing about a distance challenge is that if you complete 1 lap or 20 you still get the same medal and goody bag, so with a medal the size of an ipad around my neck we decided to go sit down and eat ice cream.
Fabulous medals from SVN events.

I spent the afternoon at home relaxing, but every now and then my mind would wander and I’d catch myself thinking “ Could I have pushed on? Maybe I should’ve tried one more lap” but, as soon as I thought it, the realisation kicked in that I just didn’t have it in me.
I refuelled and slept well over the next 24 hours, no lasting aches or pains but just a niggling thought kept playing on my mind! I had not completed my 10th marathon, a DNF, Did Not Finish. I had at least another 8 marathons to complete by 1st Jan 2017, let alone another 33 after that! OMG! What if’s filled my mind, what if I can’t get past 18 miles again? What if it’s not meant to be? What if I’m too tired or ill to train? Blah, blah, blah!
I am still at a point where I don’t know what's going to happen and I’m talking through fuelling strategies, training and mindset with my peers. I can honestly say the last 5 weeks have been a struggle and although many achievements have been made over the last year I am feeling worried about my future and unsure whether distance running will feature in it so frequently .
The challenge of 50 marathons before 50 seems like a distant dream at the moment, marathons do not seem to get any easier, infact they just seem to get harder!

1 week later and I’ve had more time to reflect and re reading the last very negative paragraph above just shows how your mind can play tricks on you! I am nowhere near done with marathons or my 50 before 50 challenge, so do not worry dear reader the battle continues!
 I still consider the decision to stop to be right and now looking back there are some very obvious reasons why. I had a great chat with my coach and mentor and by the end of it I felt that by just looking into a few minor issues I could get back on track again.

  • Hydration on a normal day is important let alone on a hot day. My main issue was with getting the electrolyte to water ratio correct and having not read the dilution instructions correctly I didn’t have enough in my hydration pack! I am also trying out some other solutions/flavours to see if they work a little better.
  • Fuelling/Hydration/Rest before race, seems fairly obvious but just by adding in a few days of drinking Dioralyte and eating/sleeping a little extra I could’ve felt a lot better and been able to continue.
  • Find a run buddy, ideally someone whose pace is slightly slower than you and offer to pace them over 26.2 miles. This takes the pressure off your race and shifts the focus onto helping someone else achieve their goal.
  • Diet wise I am very healthy, but looking into a few vitamin and mineral deficiencies could also help, Iron, B12, zinc and Vit C are all heavily depleted through endurance running and training. A quick blood test could give me a good idea of what I need to give my body to help keep me running marathon distance every month. 
  • A quick check on whether I am over training some weeks came back positive! With training clients, Boot camps and my own training it’s rare that I get a day off and sometimes I work out 3 or 4 times a day! I’ve already scaled this back and I’m under instruction by my nutritionist to nap more! 
  • Training in between marathons is also something that I’m unsure about, but thankfully it’s nothing too scary. 3 runs per week, 1x recovery 5km, 1x 7-10km and still try to get the long run of 2 hours in at the weekend. This may mean less strength work but it will help me mentally and physically to feel race ready. I took a week off all training last week and went back to basics with food and hydration. I call this pushing my reset button and it certainly seems to have worked. I am raring to get back out there, after all those marathons are not going to run themselves!
Just a reminder to myself.

With all of this fresh in my mind I have less than 2 weeks now to get myself back on track before Race to the Stones! Just a mere 100km to cover in 2 days! I will have Saturday as my race day and Sunday as my recovery day as my girlfirend is running with me and I can pace her and enjoy the scenery along the way. Lets hope that my mindset is more
 “I can do this, even if I struggle I can finish” rather than “Sod this, it’s bloody hot and I want an Ice cream!”

Thank you for reading my blog, next race is Race to the Stones 100km in 2 days!


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