Well, yesterday was my L2MUltra my biggest run to date and my biggest race of the year. So how did it all go? Well, I am pleased you asked. Leaving the family is never an easy thing for me anyway as I always miss them loads, so that was the first main thing to get out of the way. I caught my trains and loved the drama of the drunken women, etc that put on a show for us all on the train, even nearly ending in a fight. I got to the hotel put bags down then went to collect my race numbers which were about a mile-ish from the hotel. I then went for a walk to find food for my “night before a big race” fueling buffet. I normally just phone for a take out Indian curry, but as I was away from home that wouldn’t be possible. I was staying next door to a carvery so that would have to do. I had a wonderful albeit too much for my belly to handle roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I then walked around the area where I was staying for a bottle of water. Didn’t think I need to take my own, but guess I should have lol. Anyhoo after about 4miles of walking around I had my hands on a 1.5ltr bottle of the stuff. Went back to the hotel and ran a bath, prepared my bag and running gear. I was ready. I spent the night watching netflicks on my tablet. Fell to sleep at 12 and then woke violently with leg cramps at 3:30- 4:00 ish, hurt like a bugger, but I was awake. I took some tablets and some salt sticks and got into my running gear of dread. It was dark and race nerves were flooding through my system. I grabbed my bags and walked to the start line, it was strange as I have not left the house at this time in ages. I arrived at the start line around 5am and peeps were just starting to show up. EEEEKKK it was here, the day I was waiting months for finally in front of me. I had no choice but to move forward and do what I asked myself to do all those months ago when I signed up for the bloody thing. I chatted to a few peeps trying to figure out who I was going to run with, by asking what pace and time everyone was aiming for. I had a cheat sheet prepared with times for arrival at all the checkpoints based on 3 different race paces it was all very geeky :). Anyhoo the race was about to start and we all lined up. There were a few runners that wore hardly anything. No bags or packs or anything. They made me feel like I was “that” guy who runs the park run dressed as a proper runner but not really lol. I knew they were going to be finished before I even got to the first checkpoint. Good for them. We were all expecting the rain and wind to play a big factor in today’s run. 3,2,1 and we were off, I swore I would hold off and not do a Dave and run silly. Shortly after we started I realised that was not going to be. I was running in the 8min miles instead of the planned 11/14min miles. I kept saying ” I am going to knock it down a gear and slow down” to the guys I was running with, but somehow just carried on. At the 1st checkpoint I carried on while they stopped to take on fuel, this was my chance to try to get into my race plan, my own groove. I started to run slower. I was watching my pace and HR on the watch ( fenix3 HR ) all the time trying to get it lower than 164 lol, it needed to be at 134bpm lol. I kept feeling my legs trying to cramp up. At times, my legs just shot out with sharp pains but I kept them at bay. I took on more salt and electrolytes as I ran hoping they would be ok. They were sore, but the job needed to be done. Got to the 2nd checkpoint 50mins earlier than planned I was happy and concerned, needed to be slower. After all, it was only 12miles into the run lol. I continued to run and continued to cramp, but I was taking control of my pace and my race. I walked when I needed to slow down and it was working. I continued to check my cheat sheet and before I knew it I was over an hour in front of myself. I told myself it was ok now that I was running on my own and doing my own pace. I could use the minutes gained as a buffer as long as I finished between 9-10hours I would be over the moon. At certain times during the run I ran alongside people having the odd chat, which was nice. Before I knew it was running to the 23.5mile checkpoint I knew this was the halfway point in the race. I was still dry and still running. The hot spot on my foot which had shown itself in all my training runs over 18miles was there. It was a friction spot on one of the pads under my toes on the ball of my feet. I wasn’t concerned with it as I had ran 39miles with it before. I kept plodding along. At some moments of the race I did feel concerned at some of the diversions as some were not that clear and a few of us did take a few wrong turns. This did eat away at the mojo but also gave us something to talk about lol. When I got to checkpoint 35 I was happy as I was getting close to beating my all time overall distance of 39miles in one run.I grabbed some more coke and water and ran. Another runner and I took a big wrong turn into the city at mile 41 which we laughed about as we ran back to the TPT path. The checkpoint was at mile 42 so by the time we got to it was 43.5miles lol. I was not over concerned as I was >< close to the end. I could walk the rest of the way and still be below the 9hour mark. At mile 45 we took another optional route diversion around a large lake. The guy I was with said ” isn’t that James Nesbitt” as he pointed to a guy walking his dog. It was indeed and i opted to shout “James” he looked up turned and I then asked him if I could snag a photo with him he smiled and said “yes”. One of the only running selfies I have ever taken and at 45miles of running too lol. I shook his hand and said thanks, informed him we had run 45miles to take that photo and he smiled. So off we went to try to get back on course. The last 3miles seemed to go on forever and ever. I kept listening to see if I could hear cheering, but couldn’t hear anything, thus meaning there was a bit to go before the end :/. I reached the corner and the marshals told me it was in that direction just follow the arrows. SOOOO CLOSE.
I saw the field with the finish line at the other end so I legged it. All the time trying to get a good finish form as I knew there was a camera waiting. It was Done I got the medal placed around my neck, i grabbed my tee shirt from the box and threw my phone at a guy asking him to take a photo of me at the line.
8:33 finish which was bloody brilliant considering. I asked where I came in and the lady said 33rd place. WOOT I was 2hours behind the 1st place guy. The guy who came 16th finished in 7:48 so I wasn’t too slow at all. I felt great. My legs, feet and arms knew they had just worked hard for 8hours. The drinks and refreshments were upstairs at the venue which was a nice touch I felt. Seeing everyone struggle to get up and down was fun lol.
I took a walk through the village with medal and bags in hand to the train station a mile away. Doing the “just ran a bit limp” Sat on the train and went home.
I was soooo over the moon I had done it. It took months to come and I felt undertrained, but I had finally done it. It was the first L2M Ultra ever ran and it was a good event. Lots of nice support staff, lots of well-stocked checkpoints and a lovely day. The medal is a cracking quality too. So if you are after running an ultra this is one to look at. The track can get a bit boring as it seems flat ( slow hill after 15miles to the end though lol). I think this will be a big event in the future.
My kit worked fine. I was a bit worried if my new fenix3 HR would last the entire time as I have never used it on my long training runs. It still had 40% of the battery left when I got home, which was very good IMHO. The new OMM coat kept me warm, protected from the wind and dry ( only had a bit of rain). My Ultimate direction PB2 performed as it always has done so no surprises there. No issues with my shoes and feet apart from the friction spot were great. In all the gear I trained with and worked hard with worked on the day. There was no surprises to be had at all. TRAIN IN YOUR GEAR PEEPS :))
What did I come away with from this lesson?
- Planning is a good base just don’t over think shit
- Train in your stuff that you will be running with, don’t leave any room for surprises
- Run your own race, yes fine allow some time to get carried away with buzz and flow, BUT allow yourself the time to get into your groove so you can see yourself through to the end
- No matter how hard you train you never feel fit enough, embrace this feeling as it is going to get you. You just have to make it to the start so you can show it how wrong it was (ish)
- Take more time to enjoy the running and day. Far to easy to focus on the job at hand and forget that at the end of the day you do running to enjoy it. Unless you are going to win it that is then GET A MOVE ON, but for me I am never going to win any race. So attending races is an honour and I should start taking in all the enjoyment from the buzz. Instead of fretting too much over details like pace, times, etc.
Anyhoo that is that. Sorry to bore you 🙂
A fly around of me running the route >