The last few weeks have been a flurry of all the sunshine, easy runs, cranking out a marathon as part of standard training (who even knew) and embracing hills as much as I embrace my coffee.
April saw the return from injury. Finally. Which meant keeping pretty much every run to an easy pace. One which was a lot slower than pre injury. I found it pretty tough, knowing that my first Ultra would soon be creeping up. It required patience and perseverance just getting my legs back in to running. Everything seemed off, from breathing to just feeling awkward. Pretty much, like starting all over again. Seeing what I should be doing to prepare for a double marathon and what I was actually doing was a little nerve wracking. But I stuck with it, complimenting those easy runs with lots of strength training and tlc in the stretching and rolling department.
Then I signed up to a local trail marathon. Please note, that I am telling you what I did do, which is most likely, totally not advisable.
13th May I completed the trail marathon in 5:18 hours. The longest run I had plodded before this was 6 miles (post injury) it was a huge risk, I could of come away with injury again. My aim was to just spend time on my feet, with a mixture of walk/running. Trying to suss out a tactic for how I would approach the ultra. It worked. I walked the huge hills (probably more crawled the last) and just kept moving forward. It was an incredibly difficult day for it, high temperatures and no escape from the blazing sun. It was also a 4 lap course, with abandoned aid stations after the first lap, and not another soul to be seen. Even when I finally crossed the finish line there was nothing. The whole event (which had a nice number enter the 10k option – the first lap) had been taken down. No finish line, nothing. One person, sat on a chair by a timing mat, waiting for my return. I cannot tell you how soul destroying that was. Aside from my views of how shocking the whole event was, it served its purpose and probably helped a huge deal with mental preparation. Yes humming the wheels on the bus did help.
I actually felt amazing on the days that followed and happily eased back into more easy miles. I don’t know if it was the easy pace, or the numerous Epsom salt baths and my new found love of Oofos recovery shoes but it was all good.
The second long run of 24 miles followed that week. Again, super easy. I walked, I ran, and I stopped at a shop to have a lolly in the stupidly hot weather. I enjoyed this much more than the marathon. But running along the River Wye in beautiful surroundings on such a beautiful day certainly contributed to it. I have a new love for Ultra training long runs as opposed to marathon training. No paces to hit, no slogging out a long run. Just time on feet, taking it all in. No pressure.
I did feel the results of these two weeks with my energy levels taking a huge dent. I ran an appalling trail race a few days after this run. Just couldn’t get going, completely out of puff. The hills most definitely ruined me that day. The recovery beer helped take the edge off any bad feelings about that though.
The last long run before taper, of 14 miles again was a completely different story. Most enjoyable until mile 10, energy levels had returned. The last 4 miles of all the uphill Home, and a huge thunder storm made me drop any easy pace and pelt it. A lot more strenuous than it should of been!
Now it’s less than two weeks to go until Race To The Tower, and that has been the extent of my training. 3 weeks of 30-39 miles, far lower than I would of wanted. But time on feet spent, different weather conditions and making sure that almost every one has included huge hills. I don’t know how it’ll all fare come 9th June. But I know I’ve done as much as I can without being completely ridiculous, I’ve come through without injury, I’m feeing stronger and I’ve recovered well.
I also know that time isn’t an issue for me. I’m not racing it, I’m not wanting to be a super speedy speed machine. The reason I entered Race to The Tower, is because it’s the 12th anniversary of my son passing away. The last day I held him. I struggle every year around this time. So to spend time doing the thing I love, the thing that helps me mentally, remembering him whilst challenging myself in beautiful surroundings…. for me, that is what my first ultra is all about.