Track at it again

Double post.... both quick write-ups, one failure, one completion. But both a bit disappointing. 

Track again

First up, some track running again.

After running the Crawley 24 in August... I was certain I could do better.

Coach Robbie wasn't enamoured with the idea of another 24 so soon after the last, but that performance was nagging at me and I felt ready to try again. Robbie didn't actually say no, but his modus operandi is to let you make your own mistakes. Usually by asking "well do you think it's a good idea?"...
Well yes, obviously, it's a brilliant idea, duh!

So I was down to run the Gloucester 24 hour on 28th September, it seemed that the steadily increasing heat had been an issue for me at Crawley causing the miserable decline between hours 6 and 20, hopefully the weather at the end of September would avoid this trouble. See brilliant plan.

OK. Another track...

The only grief initially was logistics, getting from the East of Surrey over to the edge of Wales for a race isn't quite as convenient as just popping down the road to Crawley (or even up into London), but still I have a plan, having all the necessary kit for camping from doing it at Ironman events in the past. But, it's been a while, and I'm out of practice, and the rest of team Hewitt seems less keen on the adventure. We head on down and setup the night before.

One totally sleepless night later and it's race time, must remember all the other useful camping tricks next time. meh. 

Gosh, is that the time.

I'm not going to give a lap by lap summary...

The Gloucester event is running a 48hour and 24hour race at the same time, so when we setup the 48hour runners are all out there and have been going already for a whole day. It is humbling to be starting a mere 24 with them, and amazing seeing the pace many are still doing. I hadn't realised initially but (the legendary) Richard and Sandra Brown are out on the track running the 48.

It started well I didn't have the issues with heat, got a good pace going and held it... but this time as the hours ticked by, it was the cold! 🙁 I hadn't noticed/paid attention to/realised that the track is on low ground just adjacent to the River Severn, and so the experience was similar to the horrors I've experienced from running by the Thames at night.

From 8 hours in the temperature started to drop, by 18 hours I was frozen through and running with chattering teeth. I called for help and Hugo (who was manning the aid station for a few hours while Cara grabbed some sleep) dragged Cara back out to help. Off we marched to the first aid team, who wrapped me up and thawed me out.
I struggled on for a few more hours but fully wrapped up (and wearing a Dryrobe) I could either run and overheat, or walk and freeze. I was getting more and more miserable, by 05:20 in the morning  I'd had enough I wanted to go home. and did.

Average lap times per hour, steady steady ah.

I hate track running. I've still not decided if I ever want to try another. Ever.


So. Onwards. Next up the Wendover Woods 50.

Not the Wendover Gruff

I've wanted to run this course for a while, it looks like a really interesting course with the additional challenge of repeated loops. I'd had to run a lockdown virtual version last year, so was looking forward to trying it for real. On the other hand most races are from A to B along a trail so sort of have meaning, this one is simply random loops up and down Wendover for the sake of it.

Training hasn't been ideal in the lead up with a shoulder operation at the end of September causing a bit of a gap. I mentally had wanted to be on top form and be able to race this hard, so it was hard managing expectations and knowing what I should or could be capable of.

So, early start, earlier than usual for a 9:30 race since Cara was down for manning the Trig point aid station, so we have a truck full of food to get to Wendover before the start.

Food unloaded just after 6, Cara gets started and I mill about for a bit and nose around the tent wondering why some numbers are black, some red.... 
James tells me registration is at 7 which I take as a subtle hint to sod off. (although by now it's only 10 to 7, so a little harsh) 😊
Excited and ready

Half an hour later I'm back to sign on. I can't relax, multiple loo trips already.
Cara tells me to go away again. so I chill in the truck.
8:30 and I get out and about, final trip to the loo and Drew's briefing.

Plan is start slow and at the back, probably 3/4 back or so start really easy.
This plan goes perfectly... for the first 3 miles. But it's infuriating queuing not only on the climbs but the descents, so I decide to still keep it easy but gently and steadily move up through the field. That plan goes a bit quicker than I anticipated and I'm past most people by half way, and the rest by the end of the lap.
But it still feels like an easy steady pace, using sticks from the start (partly as a technique to slow myself).

But I felt too heavy and slow right from the start. Perhaps time to reduce mid-morning coffee and cake.

Temperature was good, conditions were perfect... should have been a fast one.

So. in summary.

Lap One.

Just fine (as expected) but frustrating with going slow where I wanted to run.

Lap Two.

Tried to keep it steady but probably now went slightly too fast, really enjoying having clear paths now to be able to run at my own pace..

Lap Three.

Hated the course, hated life, hated my life choices and was very moody. Got back to the trig, and wanted to stay standing up, but was juggling coffee, two sandwiches, potatoes and hash browns so sat down very briefly to inhale it all and regroup.
Running with sticks really buggered up my eating/drinking routine. (I'd normally carry a bag and graze) I didn't think this would be a problem, but it was. This needs practice.

Lap Four.

Still slower, but the coffee and food have really helped and I'm less moody now and can feel myself perking up. 

Lap Five.

I decide to run final lap without the sticks so that I'll have a bit more freedom now that it's dark.
Also time for a quick change of shoes for a bit more cushioning and confidence on the roots.

I actually really enjoyed this loop chatting to people going around, and obviously the knowledge that it was the final lap.

1/2 Lap splits

and finish, under the clock....

Very glad to see the clock hadn't clicked over to 11, but really wasn't happy how much past 10 the time was.

Initially, I was thoroughly disappointed with this, but, on reflection I really shouldn't be unhappy with that given the broken preparation leading up to it.

Not sure if I want to try that course again though! It really is brutal (and pointless!)

(right... just 1200 words, feels a bit brief, but Robbie is insistent that no-one wants to read any more than 1000 words in a blog.... on the other hand, he has just written a book so perhaps he's playing the long game and just trying to stop any competition?)


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