I am a relative novice to ultra's but completed two this year (TPU and TM) and got a long way round Lakeland 100 before running out of time to catch my train home. I did these events off a my normal HIM training with a few extra runs. I mention this simply because I would caution against going too long on your training runs.
I agree with ed_m regarding preparing yourself mentally and focusing on completion. This is more important than doing crazy training runs.
1. Work out a strategy for completion. I got some great advice from Rory Coleman pre this year's TPU regarding pacing. I was amazed at how conservative he was..but in the end he was spot on. I adapted his basic plan and used a simple run walk strategy - run first 50 minutes at steady pace (about 1 min slower than mara pace) then fast walk for 10 minutes. (Mentally this was hard as lots of people passed me during this stage. Rory actually recommended 45/15 here but i couldn't face walking for that long!). After first hour, I stuck to 20 min run / 10min fast walk for the rest of the event (this compared with a 9/1 spilt I used for a 30mile XC run in 2007 which wouldn't have given enough recovery time.) At the beginning, it was hard to let people go during the walk break but in miles 30-50 I was able to gradually reel them in and it felt fantastic. Remember walking does not equal strolling. It is a fast walk...enough to give your legs a break though.
2. Get your nutrition right - have your own views on what suits you but keep nibbling. The beauty of the 20/10 strategy is that I made sure that I nibbled something and had a drink during each walk break. Mentally this gives you something to look foreward to and physically it helped to keep the energy levels steady. At the L100, I tended to stuff myself at the checkpoints more than eat steadily all the way round and expereinced weird energy highs and lows as a result.
3. Accept that it will hurt at times. The TPU and TM are essentially the same race. During the TPU I had two real low points (near Dorney lake at around 35 miles) and after Staines. My hips hurt, I felt tired etc and I wanted to stop. However, I got through these periods. Doing the race again a few weeks later meant that I was prepared for the low points and the pain near Dorney and it felt so much easier.
4. Buddy up with someone if you can - I was lucky to find a guy during the TPU who agreed to run the 20/10 after 20miles. It really helped to have the company. I was on my own for the TM and it was much harder.
5. As most people have said, start easily. A friend of mine who is a strong 10k-marathon runner ran the TM this year. I ran with him for the the first 3 miles before he started to up the pace. I watched him disappear into the distance around Shiplake and wondered if I should stick with him. I didn't. After 30 miles he was done and ended up walking most of the last 20 or so miles. I passed him with about 10 miles to go and was amazed that he was suffering so badly given that he was so experienced. You have been warned. Pacing is key!
6. Enjoy the experience - not many people go out and run that distance...enjoy it first and foremost and get to the end with a smile on your face. Unlike a marathon, people rarely ask you what time you did!! So forget pacing and focus on having fun and finishing!!
P.S. dont forget loo roll (you never know) and a few ibuprufen to take half way round!
Blimey this it tempting (as is Candy's run, if it is open to Tripers as well as Pirates !).
Having attempted the Lakeland 100 this year and finished TPU and TM I have the bug for long runs and starting to get a bit pi$$ed off with certain aspects of tris. Might stick to ultras and XTT tris for a change in 2009. So my 2009 A race will be Lakeland 100 or ULTMB (if i get in!) , but this could also be another option.
However, judging by your current training programme you would be a lot faster than me so I think an unsupported run would need a quorum of like minded nutters!!
Good luck with the training and the exams - I will watch this thread with interest.
I did TP twice this year (TPU the flooded one) and TM (better). Used Asics 2130 (my distance training shoe) both times and this was correct depsite the muddy sections around Marlow. The terrain does not require specialist shoes although I am sure Inov 8 trail shoes would be a good compromise as would the Salomon AR shoes. The final sections are on tarmac/firm tracks so you appreciate the cushioning by the end. I ran the TPU with a guy in walshes and he didn't enjoy the final 2 hours!
You will not go wrong with any of the packs from well know brands - North Face, Camelback, OMM, Innov 8 etc. It will come down to what you want to use it for. If its just for this race then i would advice going small - you really do not need to carry much on the Thames. But if you want to use the pack for day hikes/longer events you need to go for a 20-25L or bigger. The spare space wont weight too much as long as you avoid the temptation to over-fill it.
Each time, I have carried more food than I need. So I now try to go small in order to avoid the temptation to carry too much.
Gargamel - I agree. The best holiday I ever had as a kid was walking the TMB with my dad. We still talk about it. For his 70th birthday, I took him back to Cham to re-do some day walks (Lac Blanc, Balcon Sud etc). My plan was to go back next year will all my family and dad to celebrate his 80th - hence my frustration with the constantly changing goal posts at the UTMB. I am note sure if its worth all the aggro.
As he lives most of the year in the Lakes, a weekend away in sunny (??) Ambleside doesn't have the same ring about it though!!
The weather during the L100 was ugly. My feet have only just recovered from being soaked and mashed by grit for over 20 hours!! Interestingly the L100 is the first race where I have had the 'required kit' actually checked out in full. Sod's law that I hadn't bought it to registration! Or maybe they just didn't like the look of me