I had a dream last night that I was at the start line of the 2013 Lakeland 100 and that I hadn’t trained and wasn’t prepared. I set off anyway and went quite quickly, reasoning that I had nothing to lose and it might be the only time I’d get ahead of Terry Conway. I couldn’t remember the course (an account of being asleep) and then remembered that I hadn’t sorted my PF or ITB issues out and had forgotten my rucksack. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t have one of those “and then I realised I was naked moments too”.
The oddest thing about the dream is that I haven’t entered the race next year. I’m not even doing the 50.
I started writing this post back in August but never got around to posting it, so it’s a bit late. It’s probably for the best as I’ve now got a bit more distance from the race and some more perspective. I’ve moved on from the race – I’ve “done” the Lakeland 100, beaten it, got the medal and the t-shirt and went from a DNF in 2011 to race finisher in 2012 – and I’m focussing on new challenges, new goals. So why write this now? Because I learned a lot about myself and my training and I feel I should share that in case it helps someone else.
Blood. Sweat. Tears.
As I sit here typing this I have my Lakeland 100 UTLD Finisher 2012 medal nearby and I look at it and I think “Yes, you literally are the result of my blood, sweat and tears.” No, not literally as in it’s made from my viscera and bodily fluids because that would be weird and gross. And improbable. But, oh my, tears have been shed, blood has been spilt and so much sweat has been, err, sweated. There was also copious amounts of mud, rain, sun, jelly babies and, importantly, smiles.
Now I come to try and write about my experience and how the event panned out and I’m stuck. I’ve given away the ending already so there’s no suspense wondering whether I made it and no drama in wondering if I’d make it before the cut-off. I suppose it’s a little like the film “Titanic” in that you know what’s going to happen at the end – except in this case there are less icebergs, no bands playing and I didn’t get to paint a picture of a naked posh bird. Yeah, actually it was nothing like Titanic at all.
So all that’s left is for me to tell you how it all played out. Unfortunately I can’t promise it won’t be a little bit mundane.
The weekend was an unqualified success. I finished the course 32 hours, 45 minutes and 11 seconds and I’m delighted with that. I’m still processing everything that happened so expect several pages of write-up before long.
The Other 90% is a series of posts referring to the common saying that exercise is 10% physical and 90% mental.
It’s been a while since my last Other 90% post, which prompted Sam to ask “What’s your usual way of dealing with the mental aspect of ultrarunning?”. Sam then went and ran a storming race at the South Downs Way 100, finishing in 2nd place with a time of 17hours and 23 minutes so I think he’s in a far better position to be talking about this than I am. Not only that but I can’t claim to have a “usual” way of dealing with ultrarunning as, while I have some experience with endurance events, I’m relatively inexperienced when it comes to ultramarathons.
Now I find myself with two days to go and I’ve been spending most of the last two weeks with an eye on the goal and what it will take to acheive it. This post is (the last) part of that mental training and may seem a little random but it’s a snapshot of where I’m at right now.
I started prepping my gear this weekend, making sure I had all the gear on the required kit list and planning my race nutrition. Out of curiosity, I also weighed everything to see how much extra weight I’d be carrying. Here’s the list:
|Pack (OMM Ultra 15L)
|Base Layer (top)
|Base Layer (bottom)
|Hat and gloves
|First aid kit
Other essentials that I will be taking as well:
Then I have some optional extras – luxuries if you will – that I may take with me.
If I take everything, my pack will weigh roughly 4kg (assuming I take 2 bottles of water on most sections) or 3.5kg if I don’t take the optional extras.
Why would I take the luxuries if they’re going to add half a kilo of weight? Because of the mental aspect. If the weather is adverse (as it’s currently looking to be) then fresh socks/top can help give a sense of comfort. The camera I’m already in two minds; I want to be able to take pictures but I’m not sure I can be arsed to (and if it is going to be raining, I may not take it with me). Music? Some people may not like running with it, I like the option. Last year I found that I got a huge lift going around Blencathra with my music on and I flew from Dockray to Dalemain. (This year I might save that inspiration for the second half of the race.)
I know it would be possible to save more weight from the required kit list – up to as much as another 500g if I really put time, money and effort into it. If I were in the running for a top-10 spot then I’d be probably be more dedicated to saving every ounce that I could but I’m not. As a middle-of-the-pack runner, I don’t know how much my performance will be affected overall if I carry an extra ~400-500g. Obviously I’m going to move slower with a pack than nothing at all but in my favour, I’ve been training with a heavier pack, it’s still much lighter than a full mountain marathon pack (no tent or sleeping bag for a start!) and hey, even at the end of May I weighed 4kg heavier than I do now.
How much does your pack weigh?
I want to show you something:
That’s the t-shirt I got last year at the Lakeland 100 registration. It’s a competitors t-shirt, worn by those who took part.
I’ve never worn it.
I made that decision when I pulled out of the race last year because I didn’t feel I deserved to wear it. So it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since, teasing me. Taunting me. Challenging me.
John Kynaston has posted a list of his three goals for the Lakeland 100 – bronze, silver and gold targets that he’s aiming for. It’s a good way of spreading bets on a result but also a good mental support for runners. Setting a time goal alone is tricky because there’s always the chance that if your pace slows and you get it into your head that you won’t make the target and the thought of giving up becomes very, very tempting. Stu recently found that in the SDW100. I found it last year, after a fashion, because my head was not on the race but on the idea of not getting too tired to see my friend. Big mistake – my focus should have been on the race.
So this year I’ve already set up some targets and now, with two weeks to go, it’s time to share them.
The compulsory kit list for the UTLD100 is:
- First aid kit to include: blister plasters / sterile pad dressing / bandage or tape to secure dressing as a minimum requirement.
- Full WATERPROOF body cover, top and bottom *please note that windproof is not sufficient.
- Spare base layer *top and bottom.
- Head torch / spare batteries if required
- Mobile phone *fully charged
- Hat and gloves
- Emergency foil blanket or bivi bag
- Emergency food & drink (additional to your general nutrition i.e. not to be eaten during event)
- Map (supplied, waterproof and pre-marked) 1:40,000
- Road book (supplied on waterproof paper)
Additionally, running gear, shoes,
bag pack to keep it all in, drink, food, other stuff I’ll no doubt forget on the day and be in a panic about.
I’m going to write separate posts about packs and waterproofs because they seem to be the questions most people ask about but as a quick overview of the rest of the gear, here’s some of what I’m taking:
This post marks the first of a new series I’ll be calling The Other 90% in reference to the common saying that exercise is 10% physical and 90% mental.
With the clock ticking away the hours and minutes and there only being five and a half weeks left until the UTLD100, I’ve decided to revisit last years performance and start some mental preparation. After reading my blogpost about what went wrong, I decided to look at the results and my timings. I noticed that the section from Howtown (CP9) to Mardale Head (CP10), where I pulled out, took me 4h17m to complete. The section is a toughie, no doubt about it; at 9.4 miles it’s the second longest section and it’s got the highest ascent with 765m – all on the big climb up Wether Hill. It took me 4 hours and 17 minutes to complete. Ouch!
Out of curiosity, I checked how long it took the 100th place finisher to complete that section (I chose 100th because I arrived at Mardale Head in 101st place). He did it in 3h28m. The chap who I arrived at Dockray with, Philip, completed it in 3h29m, Andy Cole (who I bumped into at Dalemain) did it in 3h35m and Mick Wren completed it in 3h31m. Compared to all these finishers, I took 45-50 minutes longer on the Mardale section. That got me thinking.