Saturday, 30 May 2015

Foxton 24

After a couple of bad 24 hour races last year I wanted a break to build my confidence back with shorter ultras.  Foxton 24 was a new event this year and in the absence of any other suitable 12 hour races decided to enter and just run the first 12 hours.

Training had been quite good with several 100 mile weeks and lots of long runs/races. Then 5 days after the London marathon I came down with tonsillitis. My planned long runs didn't happen and hardly ran the following week.  The next weekend (2 weeks out from the race) I wanted to do a final long run but was still so tired (due to a bad night cough keeping me awake - after about a week I started on an inhaler which helped) so only managed 12 sluggish miles.  After that it was taper time so too late.   I wasn't sure if the almost 4 week taper was going to be a good or bad thing - my last long run was London 4 weeks out.

A few days before the race my night cough started to make a come back (not as bad as before though.  Needless to say although my legs felt well rested I was not!

Skechers Gorun4
The race started at noon which is nice as means no early start or rushing around.  Phil was crewing for me which meant he would hand me food and drink when requested.  The race was chip timed with the chip being attached to the shoe which made me reconsider my shoe choice for a few minutes! I had intended to test the Gorun4 (see previous blog for review) which I have used for marathons but nothing this long as they are very light (200g).  Changing shoes loses a few minutes but changing chips onto new shoes adds to that.  I decided to risk it!  - thankfully they were great although the last couple of hours I did think a bit more cushioning would be nice

I had a fairly rough race plan - number of laps per hour (with a built in fade!) and time per lap on a pace band.  As always the plan was a one lap (400m) walk per hour to take on food then later probably walk a bit more. I wanted to start slower than normal in the hope that the fade would be less but always find it hard running slower when well rested - my legs want to go faster than they should and slowing down too much feels awkward.

First lap was 2.05, far too fast but felt easy; I slowed down.  Kept adjusting my pace and checking each lap and ended up settling in at a pace which was a few seconds per lap faster than planned but which felt very easy - it was slower than I would usually start 12/24 hour races so I was a little bit successful at slowing myself down!  I was recording my laps on a stopwatch - for the first few hours my laps were all a few seconds faster than they needed to be.

It was a really warm day with not a cloud in the sky.  The heat started getting to me after a couple of hours and I think this is the reason for my early slow in pace.  Normally I alternate 9bar/powerbar protein bars/bananas for about 8 hours before getting bored and moving on to the junk food but today I was struggling to get them down after only 4 hours - it took a full walking lap to get down a small 9bar which is only about 4 or 5 bites!!

Although I was still on track at 5 hours this was because of the cushion I had built up earlier. My lap paces were getting slower quite quickly as I was struggling with the heat.  I made a few errors with fueling......

I only had 4 small bottle of Pepsi Max so didnt have some when I really wanted it as wanted to save it until later - first mistake as I ended up have one left!  Second error was that I should have bought normal Pepsi! I wasn't really thinking when I bought the Pepsi Max (sugar free) just bought what I normally drink. Finally to do with the Pepsi Max was that shortly after having it one time I realised that I needed some calories but couldn't stomach any food - normally I would have chocolate soya milk in these circumstances.  My stomach was full from the Pepsi so I couldn't  have much soya milk without getting stitch and therefore couldn't get the fuel in - I forgot I had gels!
After 7 hours

Somewhere around 6 hours I started to consider just doing 100km rather than the full 12 hours.  I was going to get a rubbish distance so what was the point? 100km would still have made the journey worthwhile.  6 hours felt like a very long time to go but 100km was less than a marathon  which felt a lot more doable.

There didn't seem to be any rules about pacers - other runners had people walking with them for several laps, some of them more than one person as if they were on a family afternoon stroll; some even in the inside lane which made me cross.   After about 8 hours I decided to get Phil to walk with me on my walk lap - which got extended to 2 laps!  This gave me a chance to have a bit of a moan.  He needs briefing next time on what to say as I was grumbling about it being hot his response was I shouldn't enter races in the summer its always hot and I should know better by now!! Not exactly the comforting/encouraging word I needed!

By about 9.30pm I started to feel a lot better as the sun had gone in and my core temperature was finally falling.  However, I was not able to muster up much speed.  I occasionally ran a few laps with other people who were running a bit faster but it was not a pace I really wanted to hold on to for long so I was glad when they decided to have a break.  One thing I noticed about this race more than others is that everyone seemed to take time off the track for a sit down - I only left twice to go to the toilet and twice to do some squats (it helps stretch out the tight hip flexors).

Once I was no longer struggling with the heat I decided that I could manage to keep going for 12 hours - I had got into a plodding pace which when I was moving wasn't really all that bad.  My cough which had not previously bothered me running was now quite bad, I am sure a few runners gave me a wide berth! 

left over marzipan balls
My struggle with solid food continued! I would walk with Phil trying to get down a packet of crisps and only manage half.  I ended up getting my fuel from poweraid (luckily this was provided); chocolate soya milk and marzipan balls.  It took me a whole running lap to get a marzipan ball down by biting little bits off but at least I was getting them down.  I was surprised to see how many I had got through when packing away at the end!!

Once my watch ticked over to 12 hours I completed the lap then stopped.  My final distance was 110km.  At this point I was 1st lady and 2nd overall.  Another lady stopped at 12 hours but I think everyone else went on until the end although there was heavy rain for a few hours in the night so I think a fair bit of resting/hiding in tents went on!   By the end of the 24 hours I had moved down to 2nd lady.

Leaderboard after 11 hours (not in order)

Overall a bit disappointed as I have done 120km in the first 12 hours of a 24 hour race in the past. However, taking into account my excuses - hot day; missed training at a key time; still had a lingering cough - I suppose it wasn't too bad. 

For future races in warm weather I must remember plenty of full fat coke/Pepsi; sports drink (I don't usually drink this but in a few hot races where it has been provided I have been grateful for it; marzipan balls (supermarket marzipan made into bite sized balls)gels and chocolate soya.

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