Race Review: Endure24 #marathon20

Last weekend was Endure24, a 24 hour race in Wasing Park, Aldermaston and my first 24 hour event as a solo runner.  I had entered the race as prep for next month’s 100 mile run at Samphire Hoe, and it was never my intention to run the full 24 hours, it was more to be a test event and one in which I ran through the night as practice to ensure I could stay awake throughout the dark section of the race.  As the race got closer I shifted my plan from sitting around from race start until sunset, then running through the night and stopping to a plan I hoped would give me some options for Samphire 100.  Instead I planned on walking the daylight section, before transitioning to running at night.  As I am not a fan of hot weather it is a worry for me that the 100 will be on the hottest weekend of the year and I will melt.  I wanted to see if I could manage to walk for a significant time and then pick up the pace so that I have some options available to me if required.

We rocked up to the park on Friday in order to get a good spot in the solo area and check the new tent worked.  It did! Speedily pitched and new tent neighbours impressed we were up and in place.  We spent the afternoon chilling in the tent, recce-ing some of the course and then escaping to the relaxed and comfortable hotel I had booked up the road!  One thing I was sure of was that I wanted to be fully rested when the race started, not grumpy from an uncomfortable night in a tent.

We returned on Saturday morning, around 6:30am complete with McDonald’s (breakfast for me, Egg McMuffins on hold for Jools mid-race), and two cool boxes filled with ice from the hotel’s ice machine….total win as it meant I had no need to hit Sainsbury’s for ice on the way to the race.  We then proceeded to get set up and then dozed a bit.  Two cool boxes for drinks (& cheese and marmite rolls, cheese and pickle for Jools) and then a wide selection of food to munch throughout the race.

My final plan for the race was walk from the start until 8pm when head torches would be required, try and pick the pace up to a run and keep going until daybreak.  We headed to the start for 12pm, I made sure I was near the back and we were off!  I am a pretty fast walker, and I wanted to make sure that I was attacking the race with more of a power-hike than a dawdle.  The laps were 5 miles (8km) long, and that meant that I would have to complete 6 laps & 30 miles for this to count as a marathon in race terms.  The course was a nice mix of undulations, anything remotely like an up-hill would be walked even in the latter stages of the race, but I could see some bits that would be lovely for running on once I picked the pace up.  I also wanted to try and keep my “aid station” stops to a minimum if I could, although I had also said I would help crew the Boyf if needed so was planning on being quite flexible on timings.  I got laps one and two completed in 1:08:12 and 1:10:03, not bad at all.  After my second lap I stopped to pick up my poles.  I wanted to try them out before I was too tired to work out how to use them, just in case I did want to use them in the night.  They do take a bit of getting used to, but they are brilliant on steep up hills.  Overall they slowed me a little, but I can see that when you aren’t moving at too hiking pace, or the terrain is tougher then they would be brilliant.  I dropped them back at the tent and was planning to double-up the laps again to go direct to lap 5 without a stop but then I got a crew request from the Boyf and stopped again after lap 4 to do a water bottle top up for him.  I did the same after lap 5 and then headed out on lap 6 still moving really well and without any real pain or issues. I completed my 6th lap, and 30 miles in 7:49:02, ahead of the 8pm cutoff for collecting head torches.  Considering the extra time I had taken on crew/aid station stops I was happy with this and then decided to take the time to change clothes and socks before heading out into the dark and seeing if I could run.  My feet felt OK, I put more Gurney Goo on them and a fresh set of socks, but should probably have paid more attention to a small hot spot/blister that had formed under the rear of my left arch.  It didn’t look like a problem though so I stupidly ignored it.

30 miles walked in under 8 hours. Kit changed, head torch picked up and back out! Bring it on! #walkrungetitdone #juneathon #runstrong #runlong #marathonmaniac #thisgirlcan #loverunning #trainasone #trainsmarternotharder #garmin #fenix3hr #fabletics #fablHead torch on and I was off out for the next 5 miles.  I walked the long, gentle hill and then transitioned into a run walk strategy.  It felt good, I had a fairly fast pace and nothing really hurt.  I put in a fastish lap time and then went out for another one.  It was here that it all started to go a bit wrong.  I started to feel quite sick everytime I picked up the pace, and my foot started to notice the blister.  Shortly after 11pm I decided to visit the First Aid tent and get it looked at.  Drained and bandaged I was soon back out, but the nausea wouldn’t shift and I was constantly needing to stop for the loo.  I was walking more than running, but I was still moving forward.  The key thing was to keep moving until sunrise and see how far I could get. I finally reached the 50 mile point in 14:52:56, I was still moving OK and my bandaged foot was mostly pain free but I was feeling every stone and surface transition, tiredness was setting in but I knew it would soon be daylight.  I did another clothes swap, this was an essential one as I had managed to get sawdust all over my bum and shorts (it was used to “flush” the loos out by the water station) when I was rushing on another wee stop and it was itching like crazy.  I decided sawdust chafage was not going to be pretty and was grateful for clean leggings before heading out into the unknown of “beyond 50 miles”.  

I walked what was to be my last lap with the Boyf, collected a third hug from Paul Spooner & his fellow marshal Nick, and then chatting to Alex Penny.  Sunrise came and I decided that enough was enough, I had made it through the night, seen I could pick up the pace after walking a while, and couldn’t see any benefit to putting extra mileage in my legs. We did ponder going out again but in the end decided we had done what we had set out to do.  Shortly after I had crawled into the sleeping bag I heard the rain start to fall…..totally stoked to be in the tent and not halfway round the course!

What did I learn? 

  • Getting a massage when you wake up from a 2 hour nap is brilliant, my legs really benefitted and I managed to drive home without stiffening up top much, I even waddled less between the car and the house!
  • Blow-up tents are brilliant! It was quick to pitch and take down, meaning we actually took it home rather than just binning.
  • If you are weeing lots then your electrolytes are probably out of whack, don’t think that just because you are walking you can get away with just drinking water (that certainly didn’t work for me).  This probably also accounted for the nausea.
  • Walking for 30 miles in your running trainers that promote mid-foot strike will cause a blister. Run:walk is ok because the movement is varied, but nearly 8 hours of walking in them was not a good move.
  • I can pick up the pace after walking for 30 miles…..hurrah!  If I do have to resort to this at Samphire I will switch to my “walking” trainers though, hopefully that will minimise unwanted chafage and random blisters.
  • I really enjoyed Endure24, I extended my distance PB to 55 miles, kept moving forwards from dusk till dawn and my legs were still working.  It wasn’t the perfect race, but I made the right mistakes and it means I go into next month’s big one feeling like I can battle my way from start to finish!  I have 32 hours to do it, and if I have to take that long to get it done then I will.  I want the buckle & finisher’s t-shirt!

Lap Splits:

Endure24 lap splits

Click here for Garmin stats if you can’t see them below:

Endure24 Summary

Endure24 graphs

2015: the round-up

As I have decided against squeezing in another run this year I thought it was time to get the stats statted and a 2015 round-up posted for all to see.

2015 was a big year for me. It was the year of realizing that not only do I enjoy running but I quite like running for a long time (with a few walk breaks thrown in admittedly). It was also the year that I realized racing trumps “running” when the running is parkrun.  Having reached my 50 parkrun milestone on 1st January 2015, I only managed to fit in 29 parkruns and 10 volunteering sessions (4 were tail runner so count twice!).

I also succeeded in my goal to run more than the distance from Lands End to John O’Groats, in fact I managed to get part of the way home again.

Image Tailfish year of 2015I did however manage to fit in 24 races…..
It has to be said that things have escalated rather quickly. I first signed up to one of the SVN races at the end of 2014, the race wasn’t due to take place until September 2015 but the medal was cool and I had heard good things and so I wanted to get one in our calendar. Then another race was opened up and so we did our first race with them in February. At this point II was expecting this to be my first (and last) ultra. Just one to tick the box and say I had run a marathon and run an ultra-marathon. Everyone was so nice though, and more races, with cool medals, great goody bags and the promise of cake, were released, and so we signed up and did more marathons and a 2nd ultra.

All in all, of the 24 races, 2 were ultra-marathons and 12 were marathons! Taking into account last year’s single marathon that means I am now 15 marathons into my “quest for the vest”, or my aim to be part of the 100 Marathon Club.

I’ve battled my way through over 1000 miles in a year, I have run PBs all over the place (thanks TrainAsONE!) and I still want to run! I have come a long way from when I started Couch to 5km in April 2013.

2016 is going to be an interesting year, I have a couple of longish goal races and I am looking forward to seeing how I get on with them. I am also going to be focusing more on my general health, fitness & strength. I want to make sure I am in the best possible state to achieve everything that is on my to-do list and to do that I need to commit to the gym and yoga as well as keeping my running training on course.

Huge thanks go out to everyone who has supported me in person or virtually over the last year, I look forward to 2016 being even better for all of us!

The Usual Suspects #marathon15

Image Folkestone sea frontAfter establishing that back to back marathons are a bit of a struggle for me at the moment it was nice to have a single that went smoothly and brought me up to 15 completed marathons.

Originally I hoped to have a few more under my belt, but it wasn’t to be.  Since doing the Ranscombe Double in October I have tried twice more but it just wasn’t to be.  Marathon 13 for me coincided quite nicely with October 31st, Halloween.  To make it even better the race went on into the night so everyone was running in the dark in fancy dress.  Great fun and a steady but solid run from me.  Unfortunately the next day my shot at number 14 didn’t go quite as much to plan.  Whilst it was lovely to be running with some parkrun friends, James, Teresa, Vanessa & Nicola. They were all there to run different distances and that is what makes the Saxons, Vikings & Normans races so perfect. A group of runners can come together and have fun running whatever distance they want to on the day.  Unfortunately for me I called it a day at the 5 lap point (it was 8 for a marathon) as I was getting knee pain, originally I thought it was the trainers I was wearing that day but upon reflection I think it might just be that running so far in such a short space of time irritates me a bit.

Fast forward a month and I completed marathon 14 at the Martello Marathon between Folkestone & Hythe.  I started out at PB pace and felt strong, but the wind was stronger and it meant I ended up easing off and just making sure I finished in a reasonable time.  It was nice to see Louise a few times during the race (she was down for parkrun and the Dymchurch marathon the following day) and Cassie, also down for Dymchurch.

Image of signs at Dymchurch firing rangeDymchurch beat me, I let it but it definitely beat me.  I started the race with Cassie (doing her first marathon) and Helen but I had to fall back pretty early on.  Martello had taken its toll and I was finding it tough.  Over the course of the first few laps the pain got worse and in the end I decided the concrete and the wind were not going to be my friends that day.  While I want to get more marathons ticked off I refuse to break myself doing them and given that it took 7 days before I could walk down the stairs without a shooting, stabbing pain in my right knee I know I made the right decision.  I was totally stoked for Cassie though! She finished her first marathon with a smile on her face and as much of a sprint finish as you can into a 50MPH wind on 26+ mile legs! I was especially pleased as I had suggested she follow the TrainAsONE plan that I use, and it’s so nice when someone puts their faith in your suggestion (and the magic plan!) and succeeds!

Which brings us to the Usual Suspects! Another of the SVN races that sold out extremely quickly.  The promise of a medal with our names on meant I signed up as soon as I heard about it and I am so pleased that I did.  The Boyf and I were both looking forward to it, and were a bit nervous at the same time.  I was concerned that I would get knee pain again and he had been suffering with a bad back all week, so we weren’t sure how far we would be able to run.  Luckily it was a challenge event, which meant as long as we got one lap completed in 6 hours then the medal was ours.  Luckily for us both though it was all OK.  I completed my 15th marathon(14th in 2015) and Jools his 19th (18th this year).  Of course he went a bit further and actually ran 38.5 miles, in a course PB time!

It was a really special race, so much support for each other and a lovely chance to catch up with people and have a bit of a chat.  My knee was pain free throughout the run and the Boyf’s back pain was pushed into the background and isn’t giving him too much trouble today either.  Oh and the medal….totally amazing and a complete one off, with all our names on it.  A brilliant idea and I can’t wait to be part of it again next year.

Image the Usual Suspects medal

2015 isn’t quite over yet though…if all goes to plan I can still squeeze in 2 parkruns and a marathon, before kicking off 2016 with a parkrun double on New Year’s Day!

pause for parkrun

I didn’t race at the weekend, I did fit in a parkrun at Wimpole Estate though (it’s a run not a race). The Boyf & I were all signed up for Beachy Head marathon on Saturday, but in the end we decided it was better for us not to run it. He’s had the lurgy for the last few weeks and as part of that has been struggling with sinus induced headaches. I’ve just been feeling really tired. I think a combination of two marathons in two days and some really hectic weeks at work have left me feeling a bit drained, and in all honesty my heart just wasn’t in it. It’s really important for me to enjoy my running and not feel like it’s a chore, so mid-afternoon on Friday we decided to skip it and have a lazy weekend instead.It was both well earned and well worth it and I am already feeling more relaxed and reinvigorated. 

On the positive front I have a few more days off from running this week as I am in Basel for a few days. I have decided to leave my kit at home, focus on the final few weeks before our next go live (and the chaos this stage of a project inevitably brings) and then run 3 times over the weekend. Well you need to balance rest and activity.

The plan is to visit Great Lines parkrun on Saturday, then we have the Black Ranscombe challenge in the afternoon/evening and the Hugin challenge on Sunday when we will be catching up with some parkrun pals as we run round Pegwell Bay. Teresa, James & Nicola have all enjoyed an SVN event (they were at the Spring Cakeathon), but for Vanessa this will be her first. Given she has an upcoming operation on her foot the challenge style of the event will make it perfect as she can do as many laps as she feels like without being under pressure to complete a set distance….basically a “parkrun” will see her in possession of a huge medal and bag filled with goodies. Teresa could well be in a similar situation as she’s recovering from a badly sprained ankle so I am sure we’ll be making sure she doesn’t over do things….the frustrating thing with injuries is wanting to run when your body just won’t have it. It’s tempting to push a bit too hard but then you have the risk of delaying recovery. A tough call, but hopefully made easier by being in the presence of friendly faces and cake. I have a feeling James will be aiming for an ultra and Nicola says she’s going to try and run for the 6 hours if she can. I can’t wait to see how we all get on.

To balance the non-running I am going to try and squeeze some yoga into my day, of course that all depends on how much floor space I have in the hotel…..this week it’s a “small room – no window” so it could be a tight fit. At the very least I shall just have to practice reclined goddess & corpse pose on the bed. Here’s to a relatively stress-free week at work and a fun weekend of running.

Double Done!

Ranscombe Autumn Challenge10 days ago I achieved Marathon Maniac Iridium status just as I had planned and blogged about in this post.  To do this I ran two marathons in 2 days, one Saturday and one on Sunday.  This is the first time I had attempted this feat and for someone who never meant to do run marathon let alone the 12 I have run so far it was quite a surprise.  My body didn’t break down and nor did my mind, all in all it really wasn’t a hideous experience.  This is probably not a bad thing considered I am signed up for two more back to back marathons (or doubles) in the next 6 weeks.

The races were the Ranscombe Autumn challenges put on by the SVN team, and it was my second visit to Ranscombe.  The first did not go to plan, I managed 2 measly laps and called it a day.  This time out I ran 7 laps on each day!  I say ran, there was a fair split between running and walking if I am honest.  Having blasted out a PB at the Race for Life marathon the weekend before I was planning on taking things a bit steadier, especially on the Saturday as I wanted to make sure the tank wasn’t completely empty on Sunday morning.  Ranscombe lends itself to this quite nicely though.  The first half of the 6-ish kilometre lap is a mix of flattish, a bit down and up, with the second half of the course having a really nice, long, downhill stretch with a bit of a climb back at the end.  This meant I was able to take things nice and easy but make up a bit of time on the downhills.   As ever Ranscombe was a friendly event, the SVN races always are, and it was great to catch up with people.  It was also really nice to spend some time running and chatting with @UltraBoyRuns (read all about his day here).  He and I first met at the Twilight races (he was ultra-ing in the same race as the Boyf) but didn’t realise who each other were (or that we were Twitter-friends) until we were both at home checking Twitter!  He had also convinced his friend @ChiltonDiva to come along as well, this was to be a bit of a prep/assessment race for her ahead of C2C in January.  The great thing about lapped races is you get to see a lot more of people than you do on a point to point, your paths cross more often, you lose people at the aid station and then they catch you up, and you get to have a good old natter!  Although I picked up the pace a bit in the second stage of Saturday and eased ahead of them both I was on hand at the finish to cheer them in!  @ChiltonDiva had made it to marathon distance and given she hadn’t run for 8 weeks I think she did a grand job of it….obviously hiking up Kilimanjaro helps with your fitness a tiny bit.   Refuelling took place at Wahaca in Bluewater and it was lovely to meet the GingaNinja and UltraBaby!  In fact probably the scariest moment all weekend was being in a restaurant at the same table as a real, live baby!  I shouldn’t have been worried though, as with all runners (even those that travel in a buggy) her focus was on the food and she was perfectly behaved.  Thanks for a lovely meal UltraFamily!  Ranscombe Autumn Challenge

Day 2 dawned and I hit McD’s to get prepped for the day, coffee to ensure my stomach was in a fit state for another marathon and egg & sausage muffins for a good bit of fat and protein (I only had a smidge of muffin).  This was possibly the first error of the day (a few had probably been made the night before as well).  We headed over to the race site and got ready, Rachel started us off and away we went.  The Boyf had already commented that I seemed way to bouncy and un-achy as I whizzed round the hotel room getting prepped and I felt really good as we set off.  I was slightly achy but not in any pain, and thankfully things stayed that way for the whole race.  Where I did struggle though was just the empty feeling I had in my muscles.  I started on the peanuts after the first lap but as I was coming to the end of lap 3 I felt a real dip in energy, my vision all went a bit fuzzy and I knew a gel was needed.  I don’t normally gel on the lapped events but I really needed the pick me up and I felt better straight away.  I realised that whilst my body felt OK it just wasn’t as topped up with fuel as it needed to be.  I should have eaten the muffins as well as the eggs and sausage after all!  It rapidly became clear that the key to running marathons on successive days is making sure you fuel up really well after the first one.  I had eaten a good meal but it wasn’t enough to account for the lack of food I had eaten during the day on Saturday coupled with the calories burned by running.  I know that in theory I have plenty of fat to burn, but I also think my running heart rate probably doesn’t lend itself to an easy fat burn.  I really need to get tested to check this out in bit more detail.  I should definitely have gone for a Maccie’s milkshake like the Boyf did…..liquid calories are so much easier to squeeze in around the edges of the real food you have already crammed in.  Staying fuelled was a real struggle throughout Sunday.  I have learned on day two you need to eat twice as much otherwise it’s just a struggle.  Hopefully I can plan things a bit better for the next one, as ever this running malarky is a constant learning experience.

Ranscombe Autumn ChallengeI survived though and was still running the downhills at a good pace even after I had hit 50 miles in a weekend!  Marathons 11 (6:16:46) and 12 (6:38:05) were in the bag and I wasn’t completely mentally or physically smashed…thank goodness for that!

Garmin Stats:

Marathon 11

Marathon 12

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