Hot under the collar

The Extreme Energy "Humanity Direct" Tring Ultra.

A Plan

Another race, a bit shorter (at 50km) than the usual stuff so I have a plan. a cunning plan.

A cunning plan...

This time I think I'm ready for it, I have it in the calendar - no learning about it four days before, I rest for the week before. I still don't sleep the night beforehand, but on the morning I feel like a coiled spring and for the first time in ages I really feel ready.


I've been looking at the course profile and previous year’s times and I actually, really, honestly do have a plan. The course profile is like so:

Flat and Lumpy

So it's a little unusual and different to my normal sort of race with some long flat sections between some lumpy bits.

My goal - I reckon I can get well into the top 10, perhaps top 5 and I want to go for the Vet40 win. I intend to start at marathon pace for the first 10k or so, and see what the rest of the field is like, drop to 9-10's or so on the lumpy bits, but push hard and fast again on the flat. Sprint finish. I reckon that'll do it. Easy.

The weather.

I don’t like the look of the weather, again, yet again. I’ve been keeping an eye on the forecast all week and It looks like it's going to be stupidly hot. This isn't good for me. I think I've been getting better at coping with the heat recently, but won't know that for sure until I actually race in it properly.


Mostly harmless
So up early and onto the train into and back out of London to get over to Tring. I have loads of time since I'm listed as being in the 10am 'Elite' start. 😁

Classic. It's got a rather nice ring to it really hasn’t it “Elite”, but that's very silly, not sure what a better name would be though, "racer" perhaps?

With hindsight, a cooler, earlier start would have been better for me, but that wouldn't really be in the spirit of things would it?
Once at Tring station I had thought of jogging down to the start, but the mini-bus was sitting there waiting so I hop in for a shuttle over to HQ. At the start the 9am group are milling about getting ready and being briefed, so I relax and amble about for a bit with an hour to kill.
Our briefing is pretty cool as the RD Ian points out each the top runners and what they've won recently, ok, so *that's* who to watch.

Aand we’re off.

OK. Full gas and away, for the first km the front two pull out a small gap but as we get onto the canal it stays stable, and this feels just right. Pushing a little - way harder than a 50 or 100 miler - but not absolutely rinsing myself (c.f. Piglet plod).
After 3k, the two leaders run over a bridge and I automatically follow but as I turn my head I can see that there's possibly some red race tape on the other path so I backtrack to check it out, it is and I turn to shout but they’ve already turned the next corner and are out of sight now. I hope they heard - (but later hear that they didn’t and added a mile or so onto their race 😦 Oh well, we’ve all done that at some point).

As I run back I wave and gesture at the runners I can see coming towards me and head off along the correct canal, I assume as long as people can see others around them it’ll be ok but I wonder how many others will end up doing the same.
OK so now I’m at the front, leading. This wasn’t part of the plan, but I try to keep the marathon pace steady knowing that fairly soon there’s going to be some lumps to cover.


Having very rarely been at the front of a race before, I'm thoroughly enjoying it trying to keep the pace steady and high, but not nuts.
Finally at 11km and we hit the first inclines and it's not long before I have someone trotting past. Bloody mountain goats, I'm just too big and heavy to float up hills like that, but, I really don’t care, I'm feeling good and having fun. Into the first CP and I'm recorded as #2.
On, up, through Wendover woods, this has been an area I've been meaning to come and run through sometime – I’ll have to come over another day because it looks and feels really runnable, it will be good to see the trees through different seasons. There are a few groups of supporters here which is great, slightly less great is the number of people enjoying the forest I have to thread my way through. I’m trying to maintain a 'constant effort' but with a slightly slower pace now - *as planned*  😀

Over the next 13k a couple more runners glide past me.

CP2 and I’m down to 4th. I have trouble keeping count now since we're now constantly running through, past the 9am starters. I shout encouragement at every single one and it sounds like everyone’s having a great day.

CP3 still in up 4th, occasionally on long sections I can see one, possibly two, of the guys ahead and I harbour ideas of pushing on once the terrain levels out.
I really can feel the heat though.....

26 miles. mental tick. OK marathon done. Time 3:30. That’s really pretty decent even if I say so myself. Superb.

27 miles.




All of a sudden stitch hits me in the gut. I throw up. I run on. I throw up.
I’m on my hands and knees throwing up.
I almost curl into a ball to rest, but I’m out in the baking sunshine and need to get some shade.

A couple of runners pass by and ask if I’m ok, and can I make it to the next checkpoint.
I wave them off.
As I start carefully staggering forwards, the next runner tells me it’s just 2km to the checkpoint.
OK, I can do that. I trot slowly and gingerly onwards, stopping every few hundred metres to walk.
Into CP4 now in 9th - I take on fluids. coke. water. salt. I fill my hat with ice cubes and try to continue.

Seconds later, I’m sick. Everything I’d just taken is back out again.

OK. Well the terrain is now levelling off and easier, so resume the run a bit, walk a bit routine.
Where did it all go wrong? Oh just there.

Tring tring

I keep sipping a little, and keep throwing up.
Finally Tring station appears. I can’t recall where we go here, surely it’s less than a mile now…  but just as I get to the canal crossing, someone sorting out signs points, “it’s down there”, oh pooh that's a couple of miles then.
Oh, ok, down and along the canal. I meet and chat with an group of mountain bikers, then it’s up onto the main road. Ready for the turn into the finish field and someone pulls alongside me just as we enter. I’m *not* having that; I have no idea if he's in my race or a 9am runner, but I sprint finish and cross the line.


Place #12. ☹️

I’m asked if I need the medic (hmm again, *that good?*) but I go for a lie down, someone brings me over a cup of sweet coffee. (It might have been Ian but I'm not really with it at this point)
I sip slowly; it tastes perfect, then throw it up.
This is getting tiresome, collecting my bag I see that there’s an open bar and I really want a beer, but can't face the prospect of paying for but then throwing up a pint.
There’s no sign of the minibus at the moment, and it looks like there’s quite a gap until the next train, so after resting a little more in the shade and sipping a little water decide to walk to the station now.
Perhaps I’ll get a drink from somewhere there.

Rehydration technology
I hadn't noticed or realised that Tring station is a total wasteland with no facilities or amenities whatsoever. Mutter. Oh well, I finish off the last of my backpack water and chill.
I’m feeling a lot better now though, at Clapham I’ve got quite a wait for a change, so I head out to get a bottle of beer and a litre of coke.

Back home, and a litre of coke later and I’m feeling perfectly fine. I’m annoyed the heat got the better of me again. I thought my plan was sane, and on a cooler day I really think with that tactic over that distance I would have been OK. Perhaps dropping the pace slightly would have made the difference, but doing the maths I think I'd have finished in pretty much the same place at that.

Ah well. chalk that up for another data point for lab-rat-ivor. Perhaps one day I'll suss this running malarkey.

I'll have to ask if they can make it a marathon distance  next year.😁

New dawn, new day, I’m feeling good.

The next day and I'm feeling OK (if a little sulky) we in team Hewitt, had a larger plan for the weekend. I was to race hard on Saturday then have a "piece of string" session on Sunday. I have no idea what or where.
I'm up and about from 6am... and so getting a bit sulky by 11am when I get instructed to "run west and turn on your tracker in an hour" I have no water or food, but assume I'll get a change/further instructions at about an hour and will be able to arrange something.

12 miles later still with radio silence I message back in from the top of Reigate hill...  the reply is just "keep going", right, I get a latte and croissant at the cafe anyway and press on. Down past Colley hill I then get a "stop, turn around, retrace steps" order. OK.

Back at Reigate is now a temporary aid station for me, so I have a drink but I'm not really that hungry and so am just told to stay on the NDW.


I assume I'm going to have another stop at the same distance back so trot on retracing my steps.

At 12 miles later and I'm at the bottom of the North Downs and heading back into town, I'm intending on getting myself an ice-cream, but now I get an angry message, "what are you doing? why aren't you on the NDW". Sigh. I attempt to explain that I’m retracing my steps as ordered, but I accept the inevitable, forget about my ice cream, turn around and run back up and onto the Downs.

Up that? Again? sigh.
I message in again at the top of Botley hill, I had assumed there would be aid here and I really could do with a drink now, but just get back a "very good" reply. Oh very very funny.
A couple of miles later around a corner I can see the car. I down a bottle of water, then another, then hunt around and find a third in the back footwell.

29.7 miles done, I’m asked if I'm OK not having done a round 30. Clearly. I don’t care. I'm not a psychopath.

Anyway, that was an interesting and fun exercise, especially after running so hard yesterday.

Next up, a local 10k...
then the Winnie the Pooh SVN challenge....

then it's the Piece of String.


Popular posts from this blog

seven month update

Tracking running Part #2

back from the brink