So yesterday I arrived at SVN race HQ an hour early for an eagerly anticipated race I’d booked ages ago- the Beerathon. Basically everyone was given a bottle opener and when the timer started everyone had to down a bottle of beer then do the first lap of 3.75 miles and a beer every lap after (of course it was voluntary) This all was right up my street until I got offered some freelance work that night that basically would pay for about 8 races so worth the time but it meant I couldn’t drink… bugger.
Race started and I necked a bottle of non-alcoholic beer (just to be inclusive) and set off at a pace of about 9 per mile. It’s a very hilly course (3500ft elevation over roughly 30 miles) so there are times when walking is necessary which is not a bad thing.
This photo and the next 2 photos are courtesy of Jon Lavis who did some great photos all day for free. His Flickr link is on his name. Thing is in this photo I’m wearing my old Brooks Ghost 7s as I thought it might be muddy and I didn’t want to ruin my new ones.
Bad move. As I’d done the Roald Dahl Marathon on Thursday I was still a little tender in the quad and back department and these old Brooks had about 500 miles in them (even though first run in them was 25th June!) and I found they had NO BOUNCE at all. Like no cushioning ever so every downhill (which I love) was major pain mainly in my back, so much I had to grit my teeth to stop shouting out in pain. Now I know it wasn’t the pain that could harm me, just muscle pain but it was so hard to carry on downhill. I usually do a 6:30 to 7:30 min per mile on this course downhill- only briefly but it’s good fun to let it all go ragging downhill, not on this day.
On lap 3 (7 for marathon, 8 for ultra) I seriously considered a DNF (did not finish) but as I’ve yet to DNF I gritted my teeth even harder and carried on until the one aid station at the start. Reason being is I’d brought my newish Brooks with me just in case. Quick change of footwear and two Ibuprofen in my pocket (again just in case) I set off on my 4th lap.
I had no intention of using the Ibuprofen but I needed them in my pocket just in case, sort of a psychological cushion knowing they were there in case I couldn’t cope with the pain. By pain I meant every single downward forward step made me gasp in pain and agony. It was stupid, I love my downhills and love running down them in abandon but for some reason (probably not enough protein after Thursday so a lack of recovery) my back and quads were killing me. I can live with sore quads but the back pain was new and very painful. This course is known for the hills and the great downhill running so not the best position to be in.
I decided to man up, with my change of shoes I felt better but not perfect, to be honest it still hurt a lot- see my face here
So I decided to one thing to do was “embrace the pain” no idea where it came from but I’ve seen it on a t-shirt or on some motivational quote somewhere and I know I struggled with pain on my 100 miler and that I needed to learn to cope more so I did. I ran downhill as fast as I could with gritted teeth and a determination to not give in. It hurt a lot but I pushed through and it still hurt but I went a little faster. My splits weren’t brilliant but still my fastest time on the course even in good health. Have a look here
I decided a new tactic was needed, as I couldn’t run downhill as fast as I wanted I started running the uphills faster- my heartrate training has given me a great aerobic base so I’m never really tired it’s only muscle pain that stops me or actually finishing the run! So all the hills I usually power walk up after lap 3, I ran up- ok slowly at the end but forward motion absolutely. I did not give up and even after marathon distance and my back and quads were screaming I went for another lap PURELY because I didn’t want to but because I wanted to push myself a little harder to gain a little bit of respect in my head for the run. Stupid mainly but as I’ve set myself a task of a sub 3 marathon by the end of 2017 I need anything to motivate me.
It wasn’t fun, it was agony and painful at times but I never took those two Ibuprofen in my pocket and I feel better about that than anything. I “embraced the pain” and as pretentious as that sounds it still bloody hurt and was still bloody hard but I never moaned, I never gave up, and I just got it done.
Now haven’t a marathon until 22nd October but I’m starting training my wonderful wife for her Disney marathon in January so that will be new for me too and I’m very much looking forward to our forward steps towards that aim.
Always moving forward seems to work.
For the nutrition record I had 3 Clif Bars one every hour for 3 hours then a full Lucozade sport (500ml) at 4 hours with some more in my 170ml bottle then the same for my last lap about 5 hours in. I got Tailwind for this run but didn’t have enough time to prep so I’m going to use it to fuel my 22nd October run when I’m hoping to crack 50 miles in about 8 hours.
Wish me luck.
Here’s my medal
Of course big thanks to the SVN team for putting on another great run!