So that was the first half completed. Just 50 miles to go…
Because this is an out and back course I had the chance to see who the leaders were and work out my position. Amazingly I left the half way mark in 5th place, which gave me a huge mental boost.
I’m not going to try and cover my return in any great detail as there isn’t really much to say up until I got to Box Hill to meet my Dad.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Suffice to say that things got tougher and slower but no less enjoyable – enjoyable from the poignant view that I was enjoying the challenge and the journey that I was on, enjoyable that I was still on my feet and moving forward, enjoyable that I was simply able to take the 100 miles on and hopefully learn something from the entire experience.
Trying to sustain myself
The whole eating issue continued and hit a climax at the Reigate Hill CP at the 68.5 mile mark. The previous section was 11 miles and I arrived at Relgate Hill wearily and in need of something to eat and drink. Iron bru was on offer so I had a few cups of that, and a jam sandwich, a few cookies and then some ham too. What a feast! Except my stomach didn’t agree and promptly ejected it’s entire contents again!
Despite this I actually felt much better for it. The aid station crew was great and made sure I was OK before I set off on my way to Box Hill. The light was now fading fast and in the woods it got dark very quickly so I had to get the head lamp out and navigate using a sole beam of light across the next tough 8 mile section – with many steps, descents and tree roots to contend with.
The climb up Box Hill was enormous and went on forever but eventually it was behind me, now for the the steep 280 steps back down the other side. the final marathon stretch…
The last leg
And so to the final marathon – about 25 miles to be exact. I re-fuelled with two more shakes and a ham and cheese wrap and was off. I was so glad to have my Dad help me along.
Watching Dad’s pace next to me made me realise how slow I was going relatively speaking (sorry Dad!). However this really didn’t matter and we just focused on eating up the remaining miles. We plodded along, power hiking the up hills and shuffling down the descents.
The miles were slow, averaging 15.5min per mile. I was acutely aware of what pace I needed to maintain to make certain of a sub-24 hour finish and as long as I kept moving forwards, things were looking very good indeed. Dad was fantastic and paced it superbly knowing what I was and wasn’t capable of and pushing me just enough. Without him there’s no doubt I would have trudged along a half min to one min a mile slower. I was only passed by 3 runners in the final 50 miles. On reflection I don’t think that I would change my pacing strategy were I to run the race again.
Eventually the finish came into sight, and after nearly seven hours of running through the night with my dad and 22 hours and 51 min and 30 sec since the 6a.m start we crossed the finish line back at Farnham.
What a result!
Eighth place overall and a very nice ‘100 miles in 1 day’ belt buckle for my troubles (This is an American tradition with all US 100m ultras having a belt buckle as the prize for finishing). Around half of the 100 mile starters dropped out by half way, whilst 34 finished in times ranging from 19hrs 47min for the winner to just under sub 32hrs.”
My secret training weapon
elliptiGo – cross-training in an unusual way.
Very often most runners hate not to run and think x-training is just a waste of time. I fell into this category until I discovered the elliptiGO. The elliptiGO is a new cross-training elliptical bike.
It came on the market in the UK at the beginning of the year and I was one of the first people to get my hands on one. And it has transformed my training with great results!
To briefly describe what an elliptiGO is – imagine yourself running on a bike on the open road and utilising all the muscles that you would when running but with zero impact. Unlike a normal bike, which primarily concentrates on the quads, the elliptiGO works all the major muscle groups. It’s weird but it works a treat and the results speak for themselves.
As noted I successfully completed the North Downs Way 100 mile foot race which I’d been training for for seven months. You may expect for a race of this distance that I must have logged some high mileage in training. But in actual fact by incorporating the elliptiGO into my weekly training, which I used to commute to work (much to the amusement of white van man – yes it does attract quite a lot of attention!)
I averaged just 2 runs (22 miles) per week over that time. And as I explained I didn’t crawl across the finish line in last place either! Much to my delight I achieved my goal of running sub 24 hours. I also posted a sub 37min pb at 10k previously. So, I say to all readers that aren’t sure about x-training for running that, in this case, it worked for me and why not look into the ellipti-GO a go!
The North Downs 100
“The NDW 100 would just not happen with the superb organisation and planning of the race director and the many, many volunteers who give up their own time to man the aid stations for over 30 hours straight. For their inaugural ultra event Centurion Running put on a fantastic race that was a joy to be a part of. I would encourage readers check out their website for other future events.”
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