Games 100: big PB

Both of my first two 100s ended with 30 mile ‘death-plods’. Wrecked feet in 2010. Wrecked stomach in 2011. So my goal here was to finish comfortably, and in the process hopefully take a couple of hours off my 34:16 100 PB.

I’d been late entering the race as 100 miles through/around London didn’t really appeal. But in the end decided it was likely to be a better confidence builder for UTMB than struggling, and possibly failing, at the harder Hardmoors 110.

I set off faster than usual through my old training ground of Victoria Park, in order to get ahead of the walkers before we hit the canal tow-paths. Over-taking Saturday morning joggers, while wearing a rucksack at the start of a 100 miler felt very strange. The first few miles though the Docklands, including running through the atrium of a posh building, were great fun. Through the Greenwich river tunnel and along the South bank of the Thames to the flood barrier was more of a drag though.

After 15 miles my feet were already feeling sore, and I realised this was already the longest run I’d done on tarmac this year... I was slowly working my way through the field, but then I made an epic navigational SNAFU. The route description said `run along road and turn right into lane by pylon‘.  I spotted a pylon in the distance and headed along the road towards it. When I got there, there was a track on the right, but the `Warning police dogs training’ sign on the gate made me think it wasn’t the one I wanted. So I kept heading along the road, until I hit a major road junction...  So maybe it was the right lane. Back I went, and it still didn’t seem right. And then, in the distance I spotted a stream of runners heading across a field. !?!?  Back I went and there, 100m metres after the route originally joined the road, was a pylon and a right turn...

Having added well over a mile onto the route, I spent the next couple of hours repassing all the people I’d previously overtaken. As night came the weather deteriorated and with the route now following the North Downs Way the going got slower. But I kept up a decent pace carrying on running the flat bits through the night.

The field had thinned out by now, and I was seeing fewer runners. A woman (who went on to finish first, over an hour in front of me) sped past me at ~80 miles. But otherwise I was still slowly catching and passing people. On one muddy path I realised there weren’t that many footprints in the mud. So did that mean there weren’t many people in front of me?? Some rough mental calculations told me I could finish inside 30 hours if I kept up my pace.

The last major checkpoint was empty when I got there to a round of applause and the helpers raced to guide me to ‘their’ table. I went to the loo and got back to find my water-bottle had already been refilled for me. In my first 2 100s I didn’t manage to run at all in the last 30 miles. But today running slowly felt easier than walking fast. So I kept running, all the way along the Great Walk and through Windsor to the finish in 28:46. A 5.5 hour PB, 3rd woman and 19th overall. Woo-hoo!

I probably shouldn’t get too carried away about finishing towards the front of a field of mainly long distance walkers. But I did finish in front of various ultra-runners who are usually hours in front of me. And I feel like I can now say that I’ve run (rather than walked/plodded) a 100.