August 2014

T184: preparation

I’d entered T184 as soon as entries opened a year ago. 184 unsupported miles sounded right up my street and would give me something to look forward to post-Spine. After my aborted 24 hour track race in mid-June, I started my T184 training. By taking four weeks off running. (I did do some hard sessions on the turbo.) I’d hoped that this would let my achilles injury heal, but in fact it got no better. So I decided to start doing long-runs with my pack and hope for the best.

I built up the length of runs and also the pack weight, to the full 8kg I’d be starting with. I peaked three weeks out with back to back 15 and 25 milers at 5 mph. Which I was pretty happy with; I’ve only just managed to increase my long pack-less training run pace from 5mph to 5.5mph this year. I also threw in a long weekend on (most of the) L100 route. This was mainly for fun, but plodding around with a heavy pack was probably good training, even if it did trash my feet. Somewhere along the line (possibly thanks to sleeping in a Strassbourg sock) my achilles stopped niggling.

Two weeks out I had my worst training run. 12 miles without the pack in a heavy storm where I struggled to average 5 mph. The sluggish-ness carried on through the next week, but I guess it was just taper-itis as the next weekend I was on fire (by my very ploddy standards). I did my fastest time ever on my regular 3 mile training loop, and then took 10 minutes off my best time for my favourite undulating off-road 10 mile Peak District route. So it was then a case of keeping the powder dry until race day. And rueing the fact that my new found ‘speed’ was pretty superfluous for a 184 mile unsupported event.

Since this was the first running of the race it was difficult to guess how long it was going to take. The time limit was 80 hours, and I hoped/thought I could finish significantly faster than that. After the Spine just aiming to finish other races seems a bit feeble. I finished GUCR last year in 37 and a bit hours, and even when the wheels fell off towards the end I was moving at 3 mph. So my calculation went: take my GUCR time, add 13 hours to it for the extra ~40miles and then add another 10 hours for the rucksack, giving 60 hours. Initially I then added another 10 hours of wiggle room, but somewhere along the line I ditched the wiggle room and went for 60 hours as my goal.

I also, misguidedly, decided to aim for a placing in the women’s field. The tracking software included runner profiles, so I didn’t need to google stalk people. Karen Hathaway (a GB 24 hour international and winner of the gnarly Ceasar’s camp 100) was the clear favourite. Of the other 14 women there were 4 or 5 who had similar long ultra and multi-day backgrounds to me (e.g. Thames Ring 250, double Ironman, Rovaniemi 150). So I guessed top 5, or even top 3, was a plausible goal.