A tough day at the reservoir

I entered the Ladybower 50 to give me something to focus on post UTMB (and to maybe see how close I could get to sub-10). And when I went through 50 miles at Run 24 in 10.22, a sub-10 seemed doable. A tough couple of weeks pre-race and I’d backed off that goal. If asked I’d have said I was aiming at a finishing time starting with a 10. But secretly I was still aiming for a PB at least.

That went out the window fairly early on.  I never managed to get into my stride. Even 11 minute miles were a struggle, and by 4 miles my legs and feet were hurting, an array of rotating random pains. This was the worst I’d ever felt in the early stages of an ultra.  Yes there’ve been bad patches (a couple of ‘I’m going to finish this race and never run another ultra’ episodes in Rother Valley Country Park), but this was in another league. The next 20 miles were a mental battle, talking myself in and out of DNF-ing (pro: running is supposed to be fun, and this isn’t, con: if you can’t finish a 50 what hope have you got of finishing GUCR?). Walking the last 30 miles of my first 100 having lost the skin from the balls of both my feet was easier... There I had the carrot of a mileage PB and it was ‘just’ a case of keeping going to from checkpoint to checkpoint. It’s hard to motivate yourself to finish a.n.other 50 when it’s going to be a 45 mile plod, which repeatedly loops past your car.

I did it, but the highlights were few and far between. Being told I looked strong by 2 blokes I overtook, and (perversely) it beginning to bucket it down with rain on the final loop. In the end I finished the 51 miles in 10.46, going through 50 miles in 10.34. Not a disastrous time by any means (and before this year I’d have been happy with a 10.30ish 50), but it was a struggle from more or less start to finish. And 24 hours later I still feel battered. I can’t remember when I last felt this bad after a 50. I didn’t even feel this bad the day after the Games 100...