Sunday, 29 September 2013

Tooting Bec 24 hour race

At my last 24 hour race in Basel in May I did 132.5 miles (213km) so my goal was 135 miles but really anything more than last time I would be pleased with. Since May my training has been a bit messed up with little niggles. I had a few weeks totally off in May/ June but my main concern was lack of speed training which I had cut out when I had the hamstring problem.  I wasn't sure if this would matter for a 24 hour race so was hopeful of having a decent race.

This time I wanted to have a more even paced first half, still getting to 12 hours with about the same distance but hopefully less tired due to not setting off as fast.  After that I had hoped that a more conservative start would mean less of a fade in the second 12 hours along with not walking and wasting as much time in the last 4 hours - last time when I knew I was going to hit my target I dilly dallied, walking when I didn't need to and just generally being a bit lazy.  Since May I have lost 5 pounds so hoped that might help too.

The run plan was pretty much the same as last time - run an hour walk 5 mins ( 1 lap) for 4 hours then drop to 40 min run as by then I am needing to eat more. I would eat in the walk break. This time I had packed more power bars, Jaffa cakes and chocolate soya milk as last time I ran out of these.

The race started at 12 noon, temperature seemed ideal. Although I had my pace plan I was going to run to effort and use it more as a guideline. The Garmin always goes a bit mad on the track so it was hard to know exactly where I was however, each hour the leader board was updated to the nearest mile.

I set off at a pace which felt comfortable, perhaps a little fast but it felt comfortable so I stuck with it, it was a similar pace to Basel yet at Basel it felt a little harder than it should.  I find it hard to run at a slower pace than feels natural so just went with it. 

My first official distance was when I was told marathon in 3.53.  Some time around here I was knocked down into 3rd overall and 2nd lady. This did not bother me at all as I was on target, feeling good and was not racing other people but running my own race with myself.

A few more official splits were 50km in 4.38 and 50 miles in 7.37. Still a little ahead but not alarmingly so and probably a similar place to at Basel. The main thing was that I was feeling comfortable.

I was eating each walk break but was getting stitch which lasted quite some time.  At around 9pm I did my usual of pluging Mr G into the portable charger so that the whole run would be on one Garmin. This took about 1.5 hours to get to full charge and is not too annoying running with it on charge, its certainly worth the 30s stop to get hooked up!

Next official split was 100km in 9.45, still a little ahead of plan but feeling good. 

At around 11pm Phil went to bed (we had a long drive home after and he needed to be awake for that)  Richard ( GB 24 hour team manager) crewed for me overnight.  At 12 hours I was on 74.6 miles, target had been 74.5 so although pretty much bang on had lost my 1 mile lead in the last couple of hours so alarm bells started ringing.

Although I was feeling OK,  I was starting to feel a bit sick from eating.  This feeling gradually got worse - I was feeling bloated like my stomach was full of food; the fluid was sloshing about so instead of walking 1 lap when I ate I stretched this to 2 laps to try and give the food chance to digest.  My pace started to slow to a crawl, I felt I had no energy yet I was taking on the calories well.  The energy was just not getting into my system so I was running through the thickest treacle ever.

By 4am I was on 94.2 miles, goal was 97.5 so as well as feeling sick and running slowly I was now feeling down about being so behind and not achieving my goal. 100 miles in 17.15  - 30 mins slower than Basel. I felt that my race was over but looking back now it was not as bad as I had thought as 
at Basel I wasted a lot of time after 100 miles so I could possibly have caught back up had things not got worse but I didn't see it like that.

Phil got up at about 6am,  shortly after this that I totally lost it.  I had had enough, I felt I had no energy, I felt sick, I felt a failure and couldn't stop crying. Spencer caught up me up and tried to talk sense into me as we were walking.  All I wanted to do now was walk to the end as I felt fine walking. I wasn't going to get my target so what was the point? Running was such hard work and I was going to get a rubbish distance so why slog myself??

Richard walked with me for a while trying to encourage me, saying it was good mental training and if I can pick myself up I can look back if it happens again.  I was quite happy walking with Spencer and not interested in running any more but Richard said 'get round to the other side then start running'. Spencer said he would run with me when I was ready so I eeeeked it out to 3/4 lap before I started running again - very slowly.

Richard found out my official distance in km and miles and suggested making a new target but I wasn't interested I was just feeling too negative. My run pace was now so slow, I just felt like I had nothing left.   I was taking on food still but it wasn't helping, just making me feel sick so although I knew I needed the calories I decided to stop eating for a while to try and ease the sickness.
After a while I actually started feeling hungry for the first time, that was a really nice feeling after feeling so bloated and full. I managed to eat one coconut mushroom, it took a while but I got it down ok , after eating 4 on alternate laps then went Jaffa cake! I was now feeling a bit better in the stomach department but my pace was still painfully slow.

I really wanted to have a sit down but Phil wouldn't let me, I did consider just going and sitting on the chair and having a fight with him but then thought a better plan would be to go to the toilet and have a nice sit down there. The problem with the toilet was it was quite warm and I ended up getting a bit dizzy. I have to confess that most of my toilet visits in the second half were not necessary I went before I needed to go just to have a break :-O

With a few hours to go I was still in 3rd (2nd lady). Next person was a few miles behind me which gave me a bit of motivation to keep going as best I could.

With 1 hour 45 min to go I was on 193km I think so I decided I could easily do 200km.   With just under an hour to go I got Phil to find out my distance as I was now wondering if I could make it to 205km and also if I had time for a little sit down on the toilet again!

Final distance was 128 miles 206km
Overall position was 2nd lady , 3rd overall. The race was the English ultra running championships and since 1st lady was Scottish I won that :-)

This is a great race, well organised and the 400m laps means lot of support/chat with other runners.  The volunteers look after us really well supplying us with lots of nice food/drinks and even hot chocolate to order as well as offering lots of encouragement.  Biggest thanks have to go to my great crew - Phil and Richard who I would shout my food/drink request to and they would have it ready next lap so I didn't have to stop.  They also had to put up with my moods in the early hours when I was struggling and did their best to cheer me up and keep me going.

So what went wrong.? Initially I thought there were two problems 1. Feeling sick so not wanting to run and 2. Couldn't run at any sort of decent pace from too early on. Having done lots of research and spoken to several people I think that the two are linked and think I have sorted it so feeling better about things.

This is the warmest 24 hour race I have done. I thought I was drinking enough as fluids were sloshing in my stomach but toilet visits were less frequent than normal. I have never run the whole 24 hours in just a T shirt so this was certainly my warmest. I was sweating a lot even in the early hours when I was moving slowly and it was cooler.

I didn't get cramp or anything but think my problem was not enough electrolytes . I didn't know this but in order for your body to absorb food sodium is needed. That would make sense. It's as if the food and drink were just stuck in my stomach, like the door was closed to get the calories into my system but until I read this about the sodium  I didn't know what was going on or why, that now explains it.

I have now done 4 of these and each one has been a learning experience.  Although I didn't achieve the distance I was aiming for, 6 months ago I would have been very happy with this result.  At least I have learnt something from the experience 1. Electrolytes and 2. I can pick myself up from the deepest darkest places.

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