wannabe ultra runner?

share your ambitions/goals/training here on a 'newbie ultra' thread........

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02/03/2015 at 23:00

By about mile 55 I was shuffling along nicely but not generating enough heat to keep warm.

Arriving at the Reading CP was very welcome but there were steep outside steps to negotiate and I noticed one leg wasn't working very well.  The best CP of the ones I visited with lots of fayre for vegetarians, and a warm sports centre. (Would make a better 'halfway' CP?)

Soon after this CP you must be careful not to branch left, going under the railway bridges and following the Kennet by mistake!  Cross this on the Horseshoe Bridge and stay on the Thames.  A rather unattractive section - at night anyway - with several tunnels.

02/03/2015 at 23:15

At about mile 64 (still in the outskirts of Reading) there is no more towpath and you have to go through some housing estates.  This is the one point where I got badly lost and went round in several circles.

Eventually found my way back to the river but it was now about 0300 and it seemed to me uncommonly cold for May.  I was only shuffling along, my bad leg in the rut that the path now seemed to be and my good leg (the one I could bend) in the grass.  A long line of head torches behind, and gaining.

You leave the river at Whitchurch for the only hill on the course.  The next CP is in this village, about mile 68.

Arrived here in a bit of a state.  There were lots of coloured lights outside, or was I hallucinating?  Inside it was not a matter of deciding not to sit down.  I couldn't sit down.  My bad leg couldn't articulate the movement to make sitting down possible.

02/03/2015 at 23:21

I didn't mention this of course, and they told me to get moving so that I would warm up.

At the end of the village you turn left onto a track and uphill into some woods.

It was in these woods that I quite possibly had the worst nightmare experience from running that I have ever had in the 15 years I have been running. A night to try to not remember ever again, but here I am telling you about it.

[To be continued.]

03/03/2015 at 07:44
* waits with breath held *
03/03/2015 at 13:55

Eek indeed loulabell! Hope it all goes smoothly for you.

No 100 miler for me yet - I need a bit more experience first. Doing a couple of fairly gnarly 100kms this year (Fellsman and Ultra Tour of the Peak District) and if they go smoothly then I would like to try a 100 miler next year!

How is your training going? Are you doing anything differently to prepare or doing much the same as for a 50 miler?

03/03/2015 at 15:02

LNandB - are you local to the Peak District ? I think I will be running the shorter 30 miles of the Tour of the Peak District as a training run for Hardmoors 60.

03/03/2015 at 23:11

[TP100 2014, Part the last]

It was very slow progress.  No more than 0.5 mph with pauses.  A couple of runners stayed with me at first, encouraging me to keep moving but in the end I assured them I would be all right and they moved on.  Over the next hour or two a few runners passed me, head down, and then finally no more.  I was clearly now the back-marker.

I was in a desperate position.  The bad leg was starting to get too painful to move and yet I was having to struggle over rocks and tree roots, and above all go uphill.

Eventually I came to a spot where I could no longer make another step forwards. I couldn’t lift the bad leg high enough or exert enough pressure through it to make an uphill step on that leg.  It was too painful right at the top of the leg and I seemed to be losing motor control in any case.  I don’t  know what made me try it – desperation I suppose – I tried turning around and found I could go up backwards!

Result!!  Progress was still being made.  I was still in this race! 

Or was I? 

03/03/2015 at 23:12

During the remaining hours of darkness, lonely, shivering (despite putting everything on that I had in my rucksack and my drop bag), I managed to get to a point about a mile-and-a half from the Whitchurch CP.  I had crossed the summit of the path and was now descending back to the river far below, but progress (forwards now) was pitifully slow, about 20 small steps per minute.

I don’t give in easily, but ever since leaving the half way point and especially over these last few miserable hours I had seen my 24-hr pipe dream, my 26-hr target, my 28-hr worst case scenario, and finally the 30-hr cutoff disappear one by one.  What was the point in carrying on?  There must be a valid reason for continuing this misery, wasn’t there?  I was finding it hard to think clearly.

But in the end I did it.  I made the phone calls. To the RO first, and then the race medic, who seemed concerned. Soon I had paramedics on the phone asking where I was.  Apparently I was in one of the worst places possible for them.  They told me they couldn’t get to me, but would wait at the bridgehead of the path, at Goring, for me to come to them. 

Goring?!  That was 2.5 miles from my position.  How on earth was I going to get there?

03/03/2015 at 23:14

I said OK, and warned them that I was moving slowly.  I didn’t tell them how slowly, that it had taken me 4 hours to cover the last 1.5 miles.  They would be waiting a long time, perhaps a very long time.

So it was a matter of keeping  going.  Each step was progress towards safety, but how many of these were going to be needed?  The task was too enormous to take in.

It was a surprise then to hear the approaching footfall of someone running behind me.  Who was this?  It was the sweeper, carrying a sports bag into which he was stuffing all the course marker tape and signage.  He was obviously expecting to come across me at some point and stayed with me all the way to Goring, fair play to him, all the while darting off here and there to remove tape from trees and unstaple signs.  He managed to keep me moving, even approaching running speed.  Don’t know how he did it.  He kept up a conversation and I think I was coming out with all sorts of rubbish. Every now and then he would anxiously make a phone call to someone.

I think when help is near and it is up to you to get there you somehow, from somewhere, find an inner reserve of strength.  It didn’t even feel that painful.  I was going beyond.

Once I climbed up the steps and into the ambulance it was a different matter!  I came close to unconsciousness, and every jolt along the road was excruciating, even though they had strapped me down tightly.

03/03/2015 at 23:18

I spent 36 hours in A+E on continuous drips.  Perhaps too long – I felt very puffy and when I weighed myself on getting back home I found I had put on 11kg.  That’s a lot of fluid.  Took about a week to get rid of it, and a couple of weeks for my blood CK levels to drop to something like normal.

For me, the pleasure of doing long ultras is not worth risking muscle damage as bad as that again. Possible outcomes could have been compartment syndrome or kidney damage, both very nasty.

A more sensible person than me would have stopped much earlier than I did, possibly at the halfway point when realising something was amiss.

You don’t hear much about rhabdomyolysis.  It seems rare, but I would think it probably happens to many ultrarunners to a mild extent caused by muscle damage in ultras. It’s worth reading up about it. Why some people are more susceptible, I don’t know.

You can help prevent it by being sure you’re conditioned for the event , getting plenty of rest beforehand, and during it drinking plenty of fluid and keeping your electrolytes balanced. Dehydration is one of the main triggers and it had been hot during the day along the Thames.

I’ll let someone else tell about the remaining 28+ miles that I didn’t achieve!

All the best with preparation, loulabell.

04/03/2015 at 07:44
Thank you T-Rex for your account and really steel hard determination to go as far as you did - stubborn lot aren't we?!!
I think yes you are right in that some people don't cope as easily in hot weather . I prefer it hot but I struggle in cold so I will be paying particular attention to how I can stay warm as soon as evening / light falls rather than waiting to think about it in the middle of the night !
04/03/2015 at 09:51

Hi carterusm. No, not local, but like the Peak District and like hilly ultras! I'm very excited about the UTPD as the course looks great.

04/03/2015 at 12:31

There is some stunning scenery up there that's for sure, I do a lot of my training runs up there. You wont be disappointed if you're after a hilly one ! The only concern I have when running around there is the amount of rocks; you have to chose your footwear with care

04/03/2015 at 21:16

Sounds pretty grim T Rex. Night falling often coincides with pace slowing if you've been running for 12 hours!

04/03/2015 at 21:28

Not usually by that much though!!

05/03/2015 at 18:40
We live and learn
05/03/2015 at 19:18

An engrossing read T rex, and a very gutsy performance.  

A determined mind set is essential for 100 milers, but the very characteristic that makes us suited to them, can sometimes lead to us pushing on when we really should quit.  

Always worth remembering.  

05/03/2015 at 19:34

After reading that I think I will give 100milers a miss thank you T Rex for putting me on the straight and narrow 

07/03/2015 at 00:40

That wasn't the intention!

Hopefully my experience is fairly unusual.  Expect 100 miles to do strange things to body and mind though.

I'm hoping to return to them but it won't be for a couple of years at least.

07/03/2015 at 18:00

might do a 100k instead 

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