Posted: 26/06/2016 at 09:49
Energia24 12 hour race a Victoria Park Belfast
I lined up at the start just before 12 pm, just 2 weeks after a finishing a 100k in 9 hour 11. Not only was there a 12 hour race but also a 100k and the 24 Hour Irish Championships. Most Irelands top Ultra runners were in the 24 hr but the 12 hr had a 55 year old going for age group world records for 100k, 100 mile and 12 hrs.
I didn’t have a set goal but hoped I could run about 70-75 miles and had a chance for a minor podium place. Only two went further than 70 miles last year. It was a little warm and the sun was out so not ideal conditions, especially for someone worried about skin cancer! Although I covered myself in factor 50 before the off.
I ran the 100k at 8 minute mile pace for 60k then really struggled so took it down a notch to between 8:20 and 8:30. I decided to break the race mentally up into 2 marathons and a 20+ miler at roughly 8:30 then 9 and 9:30 pace. I knew from my recent 100k that this could disintegrated completely.
I got into a good rhythm early on chatting to a guy called Peter who had won the CausewayCoast 50k last year and I finished second. He was doing the 24 hr but we ran together chatting for first 15 odd miles. I was feeling great early on and completed the first marathon in 3:45 so exactly what I had hoped for. However, I started suffering from a bit of tummy trouble with all the food and drink swilling around my stomach.
I really haven’t gotten the nutrition side of things for long ultras sorted out yet. I tried to consume 100 cals every 20 minutes but I just don’t seem to be able to digest it well. By 30 miles I was in a lot of distress and had to stop in a portaloo. Just like the 100k a few weeks early I broke wind for about 15 seconds shaking the toilet! Phew, what a relief. However, within a mile my tummy was troubling me again. At 33 miles I had to stop again in a portaloo for a few minutes.
Thankfully the course was a 1 mile loop so the toilets were always close. I continued on but my tummy was pretty much in constant discomfort. Due to this I was eating and drinking less and had reverted to sucking boiled mints for fuel. My kidneys were also sore and I thought there was some blood in my urine. It was already beetroot coloured due to the juice but seemed to be darker and closer to blood colour.
I wasn’t even half way through the race and I started considering dropping out. My legs felt great and I was still comfortably running 9 m/m miles but was stopping every couple of laps for the toilet. Some time it was wind and others it was number 2’s.
At 43 miles I had to walk for the first time then spend 5 minutes on the loo. That mile took almost 17 minutes. I decided that I would run a double marathon and then stop. I have a long term goal of running 100 marathons/ultras and this race was already counting as one as I had run marathon distance. Knowing I had less than 10 miles to run gave me a lift and I ran around 9 m/m pace for a while again.
I needed another toilet stop at 52 miles but my tummy had settled a bit. I reached the 53rd mile and stopped to talk to the organisers to tell them I was leaving. I had completed 2 marathons in 8:10 so had took 4:25 for the second. I asked about Jan the 55 year old World record guy as I hadn’t seen him for a while. Previously he was lapping me about every 3 or 4 laps! I was told he broke the world record for 100k but stopped as he’d had enough.
I thought it would be great to tell people I beat a world record breaker in a race so re-considered dropping out. I asked if they knew what place I was in. I was shocked to find I was second behind Jan but with 2 guys just behind on the same lap.