39 miles and a bit ………………..
My need for a last 100+ mile training week and the fact I am only 2 weeks away from my Himalayan 100 race , I decided to pull out all the stops and go for a 35+ mile trail run , I chose two of my favourites , linked them with a series of horse trails and made it a big linear route so I couldn’t just give in , I would have to reach the car to get home , this is always a good tactic . My friend Neil would dump my car at the end and mountain bike back to town , sorted !! I awoke to a perfect day , sunny , yet with a cool air , this was to change though , eventually to a roasting hot sunny day that dehydrated the hell out of me but at the very least it started well enough.
I left my house at Horsley Hill and headed into the fields as soon as I could find a gate, I climbed high and ran the rolling hills looking over the town for over 8 miles until I found the long descent trail that would help me cross the Teviot valley before heading up and over to the next and on to Collifort hill and its beautiful scenery , this is a place of true beauty , the hills overlook forests , rivers , old Castles and beautiful vistas at every hill-top .. wall to wall picture postcard countryside , it’s so easy to get lost in these trails , both physically and mentally. About 3 hours in I was feeling the heat and I hadn’t filled my Inov8 bladder fully , when holding the full 2 litres it does get heavy and I’d planned on making the reservoir long before it ran out , I didn’t !!! so I was forced to detour slightly to refill , after this the trail was pretty flat and I made good going , I had passed the 20 mile stage at this point and despite the heat I was feeling better than if I had been running road miles , the trail was going well and I had decided to run in my Inov8 285s , these are my favorite shoes of all , I’m a monster Inov8 fan !! , I have shied away from using these shoes in the desert for various reasons but they are my weapon of choice for the hard pack hill or trail , I have never ran further than 18-20 miles in them though so this was their test.
My forced rest then progressive mileage build up program that I have followed since the Gobi is definitely working and I’ve hit a peak bang on when I want to , the Gobi was a disaster, I entered that desert arena unmotivated and due to Injury lacking the intensity of training needed to run it how I would have liked but this time I’m just how I want to be !! the Himalayan 100 is going to be an Epic run !!! the finale’ to my Epic year !! About 25 miles in I hit a nice 3-4 mile long easy angled downhill section , just what I wanted and gave me a decent rest after all the climbing I had done , I had been running 90% of the hills at this point and it was starting to hurt , the Borders has fantastic runnable hills so its hard to resist , bridle paths and Drove roads are everywhere , all 95% runnable by the off-road runner , I find it very easy to use map my run to program my GPS for some amazingly complicated runs and just get out and go !!!
After passing the 26 marathon mile point I was starting to feel the heat but I headed on to an old railway track , nice and flat so I zoned out for a few miles , I felt better and had a 5 min break for food and a quick tweet before breaking into the fields again , I tweeted a few pics of the day as I hit unrunnable hills and had to slow down a bit , anything to break up the run and keep the mind occupied helps , I was finishing through the forest stage of Penchrise hill , with 360 degree views of the borders and one our highest hills , it’s a sight to behold when you reach the top after a long slog of a climb, I wanted to check the forest was clear , there’s a lot of tree felling in there and I was stopped in my tracks half way though back in March and had to negotiate miles of steep detours to get home , but as it turned out it was perfect and I headed straight through.
At about 31 miles I was really feeling the sun beating down and my want to stop running was getting stronger all the time , I was fighting it and needed to play mental games galore , Sex vision , counting , meditation , Id used them all so I decided to video log the last few miles , I apologise for the swearing now 🙂 and also the ramblings but its how it was , I hide nothing …. and please bear in mind I have just ran over 30 miles in the blazing heat before recording it and appreciate that I am way better looking in real life !!! haha 😉 , another reason was Alan Eagles observation that he was amazed at how us Ultra runners “apparently” seem to run the distances easily and with smiles on our faces so I started to record a little footage every passing mile , I cant remember ever smiling apart from at the finish so I thought Id see for myself , as it turned out this video would give me the motivation in the last few miles to keep going , especially as I was so wrong as to how far into the forest I was , 36 miles turned into 39 and anyone who has run long distance knows there’s nothing more horrible than discovering you have another 3 miles to go when you think you should be finished !!!! Honestly I thought I should have been out of that forest at every turn , yet it just kept coming , I was really buzzing though , it was the best I have run since before the Marathon DEs Sable and after a tough year of races and injury the realisation that I was going to be able to enjoy the Himayalan 100 , the final race in my year off , was clearly affecting me as I was definitely getting a little emotional in those final miles , the thoughts that go through your head when you really push the distance deserve a full chapter in this blog and maybe I will write one on what was going on when I run past Everest next month , that should be interesting , my thoughts were drawn to how Its been one seriously tough mission this year , 4 of the worlds most extreme races , dragging my arse and blistered feet across inhospitable terrain for 100’s of miles in my first year of running through will power and limited running prowess !! and now I’m nearly at the end of my journey so it was all coming home to me in those last few miles .. man !! Aaaaargh !! it just weakened my legs reliving it just now , writing it down , pretty much I’m an emotional guy at the best of times , commitment ,enthusiasm and heart pull me though epics that my body probably isn’t ready for , but in at the deep end appears to be where it’s at for me !!
the buzz didn’t last forever though as every corner I turned in the forest lead to more and more track , I was seriously demoralised by the time I got out … but when I hit the open country I was buzzing again , just over a mile from the car and just one shallow hill to negotiate .. I could have run it , my legs had it in them , I’m sure of it but I couldn’t , I just couldn’t , 38+ miles in and it just seemed to be impossible to get my head round how sore it was , so I walked it to the crest and ran the flat then the downhill all the way to the car , I saw the river , looking cold and inviting , I didn’t think twice , I went straight in , cold and invigorating , running straight off the hillside !!!! I sat there for the best part of 30 minutes getting myself together , emotionally and physically. …… Eventually I headed to the car , I hadn’t thought my river dip out fully , I had no change of clothes , just a Wobbly Williams T-shirt in the back from The Great Scottish Run , still with number attached , I stripped naked and popped the T-shirt on , at least if the police stopped me on the way home I would be half-dressed ….. So onwards now to my taper , Keilder Marathon next week then off to Darjeeling in India , confident in the knowledge Im ready ………….. then back to work .. shit !! whose Idea was that !!!!