As I write this post it is five days until race day. FIVE DAYS! How the f**k did that happen?
My training is effectively done. I can do no more A few easy miles over the next few days to keep the legs moving & the mind happy but the main priority for the coming week is rest & recovery & preparing myself physically & mentally to run 50 miles next weekend.
It only seems a few weeks since I signed up for the race, since I started my training & now here we are.
How do I feel?
I’m excited. It is literally all I can think about at the moment.
I’m scared. Scared that I won’t be able to do it. Scared of failing. Scared of the pain. Scared that my injuries/niggles will flare up & force me to stop. Scared of the unknown.
I’m excited. I’m even dreaming about running 50 miles.
I’m doubting myself. Can I really do this? Have I trained enough? My longest runs have been my two marathons, how am I going to run another 23.8 miles?
I’m excited. I keep running the race through my mind, imagining how it will feel to have run 50 miles.
Despite having nine months to mentally prepare myself & six months to physically prepare myself I feel unprepared. I don’t feel as if I’ve trained enough, run enough, pushed myself enough. I could have done more.
I’m excited. I simply CANNOT wait! This is going to be one long week!
One of the reasons I signed up to the race was for the challenge, to push myself, to see what I was capable of. Now I have to believe in myself, believe in my training & have confidence in my abilities.
The finish line is in sight
15 miles, 2:21:59, 9:28 min/mile, 1,175ft elevation gain
My last ‘significant’ run before the NDW50! I was looking forward to this one. I wanted & needed that down time that a solo long run gives me, a chance to think, plan & reflect. I was working for most of the weekend so headed out at 7am Saturday morning having just watched Eliud Kipchoge run a 2:00:25 marathon in the Nike sponsored attempt to break two hours!
My plan for this run was to carry the kit I would be carrying on race day to make sure it was comfortable.
I’ve never had to carry kit for a race before but for the NDW50 there is a list of mandatory kit we have to carry at all times, so I’m taking it all with me today! I have:
- Fully Charged Mobile Phone
- Water Bottles/Bladder capable of carrying a minimum of 1 litre
- Survival Blanket: 1.4m x 2m minimum
- Waterproof Jacket: Gore-tex or similar, minimum 10000mm+ & must have sealed seams
- Head torch or Primary Light Source (Minimum 75 lumens)
- The race is cupless which means you must bring a cup with you!
- And then recommended a map & compass!
The first couple of miles were on road. I really don’t like road anymore but sometimes needs must. 2.5 miles in I arrived at Oaks Lane & the start of Croydon’s trails. Through the golf course to get to the Vanguard Way. Round Coombe Wood & up to Littleheath Wood. Discovered a sea of bluebells & was distracted by taking photos for a few minutes!
Across to Selsdon Wood, the Vanguard Way still marked by orange arrows from last summer’s marathon. Up round Farleigh & down to Chelsham Common. This was the first ‘trail’ route I attempted by myself last summer, before I’d discovered the NDW. As I ran I thought about how much I have changed as a runner over the past 12 months. A year ago I mainly ran on roads, I’d done a couple of shorter trail runs with Striders a few years ago, I’d occasionally ventured into some of the local woods by myself but 95% of my runs were on the roads or paths through parks. I’d just run a 4:14 road marathon (although my pre-long-term injury PB was 3:54) & had a 5km time of 24:4X minutes.
Then returning to Striders last May after two years away from the club we ran mostly off-road. I LOVED it! It felt as if I had discovered something new & running was suddenly massively fun again! I started venturing onto some of the Striders routes on my solo runs, studying the maps so that I knew where I was going. Gradually I ran further & further on the trails, discovered new ones, got hideously lost, ended up in places I didn’t know excited, got covered in mud, ran through a field with a bull in it because there was no other way. I entered my first trail race, a 10km. It rained the whole time. It was way hillier than I was expecting (well to be honest I hadn’t looked a the route at all) but I LOVED it. I was hooked. I entered a half-marathon on the North Downs. I didn’t know where the North Downs was. And that is the start of this story.
Here I am today, about to run a 50 mile trail race. Having the confidence to go off by myself on the trails, exploring, running, seeing, experiencing. My running has changed massively, I’ve become stronger & my road times (I do still run them sometimes) have become faster.
I switched from the Vanguard Way onto the Waterlink Way/Cycle Route 21 & past another golf course & headed through Woldringham School, said hello to a few cows, & up to the NDW. My run finished with a mile running the wrong way along the trail before hitting the A22 & back into Caterham for coffee & cake!
Two years ago if you’d have asked me to run to Caterham I’d have gone through Croydon town centre, down through Purley & up the A22. Today I ran to Caterham, & with the exception of the first couple of miles, was almost entirely off-road. And I didn’t need a map!
A very enjoyable 15 miles. Run at a fairly conservative pace, pausing every two miles to eat a quarter of a PB&J sandwich, take a few photos & take in my surroundings.
That is exactly what I needed a week ahead of race day!
I also was back for the Striders Wednesday night club run this week, first time in a month! Great to see everyone & I had a very enjoyable chatty run through some of Croydon’s parks!
The finish line is now in sight. One more week. Maybe two more runs.
Week Twenty Five: 22 miles in total with 1,375 ft elevation gain.