Posted: 12/09/2014 at 13:56
I’ve been in lurk mode for several months but wanted to delurk to post this race report. It’s for the Titanic Quarter 50k Ultra Marathon which I ran on Sunday.
The race was a combination of flat roads, coastal paths and over grown trails. There was also a 102k and 25k race running along the same course. The 102k started at 6 am and ran from the Titanic quarter to Ballywalter and back. The 50k I was running was one way from Ballywalter to the Titanic quarter starting at 12:30 pm. The 25k started at 2 pm covering the second half of the 50k race.
My training had gone well with a longest run of 30 miles two weeks before the race. I didn’t fully taper with a 100+ mile total three weeks out, then 60 (scheduled cut back week) and 30 miles before the Ultra. I experimented with 10 days of fat loading (65% fat diet) before carbo loading for 3 days. I also didn’t take any caffeine including my beloved dark chocolate for 10 days before the race. I then took 2 x 200mg caffeine tablets during the race and was buzzing like a mad thing!
The weather wasn’t ideal with a lot of sun and temperatures up to 20C and a 10 -15 mile head wind for the 50k point to point race. I ended up with sun burn!
I knew there were three other runners of a similar standard to me, two of which (Simon, Sean) had recently beaten me in a half marathon. At the start line in Ballywalter I saw another runner (Peter) of a similar standard and also the former 100k Irish Champion (Marty) who was a 2:37 marathon runner.
The race started and straight away Simon, Peter and Marty began pulling away with me sitting in 4th. My race plan was to run about 7 to 7:15 minute mile pace on the flat section and see what pace I could hold on the trails and paths. I expected to slow down later on but hoped to break 3:50 which was the winning time from last year.
The first three kept pulling away for the first 10 to 11 miles and I eventually lost sight of them. I averaged about 7 m/m for these and felt very comfortable and hoped that the leaders would start dropping back later on. After 11 miles we were directed onto coastal paths and trails for about 4 miles. These were hard to navigate at times and I went the wrong way twice having to double back. I lost about 1 to 2 minutes and was getting very angry! Luckily I was catching a lot of the 102k runners and knew I was going the right way.
After about 14 miles I saw Peter not far ahead and soon closed the gap. We ran close to each other for the next few miles before reaching my home town of Bangor after 15 miles. The next section was on a beach and I saw Simon not far ahead with Peter and me closing fast. Just as the beach section finished I past both, with Simon looking like he was struggling badly.
Peter stayed close behind me as we ran through Bangor but he eventually overtook me again when I stopped for a few seconds to take on food and fluids. Leaving Bangor the next 8 miles would be along a coastal path before reaching Holywood near Belfast.
At around 18 miles Peter stopped for a pee so I went back into second place again. I was still comfortably running about 7 m/m pace on the flatter sections and went through 20 miles in 2 hours 23. I was feeling strong and really enjoying myself although due to the warm weather and sun the coastal path was full of families and dog walkers.
I was passing many of the 25k runners now which was encouraging and getting lots of support. At around 24 miles my family handed me my final drink and I asked if they could see anyone close behind. About 2 miles later they shouted from the car that I was 4 minutes ahead of 3rd. Phew! I was feeling good but knew I could slow slightly and still finish in 2nd place. I had never seen Marty in 1st from about 8 miles and ha