Friday, 24 April 2015

Crawley 6 hour track race

This was a bit of a last minute decision! I didn't originally enter as it was the week before London so I wanted an easy weekend. However, a few weeks ago whilst on holiday,  I realised that I wasn't in anywhere near PB marathon shape so there was no need to be resting the weekend before; I might as well do a race!

The previous Sunday I did 'A Coventry Way 40' which is a 40 mile run/walk around the outside of Coventry so I was not especially rested before Crawley although I did have a rest day on Friday (the day before) which usually makes quite a big difference.

Three years ago i covered 41.3 miles so my obvious goal was to better this but I wasn't confident given that I had not tapered and have not been running that well lately.  I needed 2.10 per lap but was just going to see how I felt and not push to hit that pace but if I was going faster than 2 min laps I would slow down as I knew that would be far to fast.  The best ultra runners seem to manage even splits, even in 24 hour races but I am no good at that - I find it hard to slow myself down at the start.

As this was not a target race I decided to risk wearing my skechers Gorun3 which are a racer; I love these but have not worn them for this distance before (good choice, no blisters or foot issues).
Skechers Gorun3

The early laps were in the region of 2.05 and feeling comfortable.  A little faster than PB pace but not so much faster as to be a disaster later! At the end of each hour the lap sheets are taken from the lap counters; our distances calculated then put on a leaderboard.  I had a dream goal of 42 miles which was 7 miles an hour so that is what I was looking out for.   I was just under 7 miles on the leaderboard but that only counts full laps, I had actually done most of the next lap before the full hour was up so had managed 7 in an hour. 

I have got into a routine for marathons where I don't drink anything/very little for 2 hours before the race and the first hour of the race.  I can then make it through without needing the toilet! I think this is OK for marathons but for longer is perhaps not such a good idea to get so dehydrated yet I still do it because I forget to drink.  I didn't have my first drink until about 90mins into the race and shortly after had first gel.  I think the problem with 6 hour races is that I treat them a bit like a marathon (i.e. not much fluid or fuel) because they are still quite intense but the distance covered it a lot longer than a marathon so more care needs to be taken of nutrition and hydration.

Another issue on the hydration front is that normally I have my husband handing me drinks and filling my bottles so I will grab a bottle, run with it a few laps then hand it back therefore drip feeding myself fluids.  I had no crew so had a couple of donut bottles which are easy to run with but then it was the 500ml water bottles which are not so easy.  I would delay getting one and then when I did so as not to waste time (which in reality was a few seconds going off track bending down to put it back) would drink my bottle quite quickly to get rid of it so I wasn't carrying it.  This resulting in getting stitch and having a horrible sloshing in my stomach for quite a lot of the race.  Also, due to dehydrating myself early on I constantly felt thirsty yet at the same time couldn't drink more than I did as my stomach was full of fluids.

So, back to the race! At the end of hour 2 I was on 14.x so quite happy with that although I was feeling like I was having to work a bit harder now.  I found the next hour (2-3) quite hard as it was not yet halfway so it still felt a long time to go yet I was getting tired.  Its often the same miles 11-12 of a marathon where the fatigue is setting in yet you feel like its still a long way to go. Infact I find this to be the case in a lot of races at the just before halfway point!

My lap paces were getting slightly slower but not too much so I hit 3 hours on 21 miles but not feeling confident of keeping it up although I knew I was not giving it everything and that last time I was able to pick the pace up at the end so I was still hopeful of a PB and possible 42 miles. 

The 4th and 5th hour were really about just sitting in there ticking off the laps and trying to keep the effort level comfortable.  Rachel was doing a great job of lap counting - calling out my laps every 10.  It was quite warm and also windy; the thing I wanted most was a cold can of coke - another disadvantage of not having crew! I don't know why I didn't pack any coke! I spotted Traviss walking around with a can which he said was caffeine free but said it was cold, had it been caffeine I might have swiped it and made him chase me for it!! I spent a while dreaming of cold coke, the best I could manage was luke warm chocolate soya milk - it is not easy taking the straw out the cellophane and sticking it in the top of the carton whilst you are running around a track!

At the end of hour 4 I was a little below 28 miles.  I hadn't given up on the target but I knew I was slowing more now so it was unlikely.

I think there was a flaw in my nutrition plan! I should have planned things out better.  I would think to myself, best have some electrolytes so would have some high5 drink then I would think need some calories but my stomach was full of fluid so I couldn't then have the choc soya milk for a while and would have to have a gel.  I only had 4 gels as I had brought solid food as well but when I tried eating a jelly baby I couldn't get it down as I was running too hard to get the solids in.  What I should have done is brought electrolytes as tablets so I wouldn't need to drink high5 but could then drink more soya milk for the calories.  Also some marzipan as that melts in the mouth or baby food sachets - I take both of these to 24 hour races.  I am not sure if I would want many more than 4 gels in a race! 

By the end of hour 5 I had done 34.5 miles so was not going to get to 42 miles but maybe I could still get a PB.  My stomach was not happy so I wasn't really wanting to push hard just yet; I just kept churning out the laps hoping what I was doing would be enough as I didn't really want to go into 5th gear!!

I wasn't sure how many laps I needed so was going by my Garmin which I knew was half a mile long at marathon distance (105.5 laps) so guessed it would be just under a mile long by now.  Usually in 6/12 hour races i will make an effort for the last 10-15 mins to get in as much extra distance as possible but I really didn't feel like it because of my stomach and as my Garmin suggested I might get a PB there didn't seem to be any need.  

It would seem that my Garmin gained a lot more extra distacne in the second half as final distance was 42.3 which equated to just under 41 miles.  I finished 3/4 way round a lap, had i completed the lap (to make 165 laps) that would have been just over 41 miles.  Am slightly annoyed at myself for missing that as I know I could have found that extra distance with 10-15 min to go.   Happy to be 1st lady and 1st 100 club runner so got a trophy and a bottle.

Total fuel/food
2 cartons chocolate soya milk (minus some which I got down myself!)
4 gels (2 caffeine)
1 jelly baby
1 L water
1.3 L high 5 caffeine

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