I ran the Giants Head Marathon, my first White Star Running event, yesterday. It was a well organised, friendly and inclusive race set in a stunning part of the world, rural Dorset. I’ll be going back to do another WSR race for sure.
Finish time: 5:06:05
Finish position: 126/465 – top third
Age category position: 21/57 – top third
[Superb, naughty bling for this race]
[Feeling relaxed and running steady at the start – 8 minute miling without realising it! Photo: Rob Hannam]
[Clearly not enjoying yet another hill in the early stages of the race. Photo: Rob Hannam]
[Just before taking a wrong turn and getting lost, around halfway]
[Enjoying running again, especially as it’s downhill, in the last couple of miles. Photo: Rob Hannam]
[This is the WSR sweeper, complete with broomstick! This lady does all their races as sweeper apparently. Excellent! Photo: Rob Hannam]
Things I learned (or was reminded of) in running this race
- I need to get much more hill running in my legs to be prepared for the 10,000 feet of elevation gain over 50 miles (5 x 10 mile laps) at the Wendover Woods 50 miler in November
[Mile 2 and the hills begin!]
[Yep. It went on foeverrrrrr!]
There is no need to panic. One of my strengths over the last few years has been in climbing the uphills. I manage to hike with purpose and sometimes find myself overtaking people on the way up, even if they do then overtake me on the way down! I could definitely tell that I haven’t done much hill training this year when I was on the hills but this was a conscious decision to build fitness and consistency using the TrainAsOne platform. I’ve run done I’d my longer runs with hills but haven’t really got into hiking much, or trashing my quads on the downhills.
Action: I have 4 months to get some decent hills in my legs and especially practice hiking up and running down steep hills. Butser Hill and Kingley Vale repeats need to feature heavily in my weekend training runs. My initial thoughts are to do BH/KV sessions once a fortnight with the other longer weekend runs including some sharp and technical climbs.
[A decent Butser Hill route from a March 2017 run with Phil Hall]
[Now this is a hill rep session! Kingley Vale is a great place to run hills]
- I really don’t like running in the heat
Sometimes I’m okay running when it’s hot but yesterday I struggled at times. I stayed on top of my hydration, taking on enough water at each checkpoint to get me to the next one without running out. I doused myself in water at the checkpoints to keep cool, which worked well. I never overheated but could feel myself struggling at times, on the climbs in particular. I’m writing this rhe morning after the race with a splitting headache, so am most likely still dehydrated.
Action: Continue to be mindful of hydration. I ran the SDW100 on a very warm weekend in June 2015 and got it done. I also ran the NDW100 in August 2017, again in very easy conditions and with some tricky climbs. I didn’t finish that one but that was because I wasn’t sufficiently trained not because of the heat. Remember to continue to drink after the race, but not too much.
- I continue to give in during races, paying too much attention to the devil on my shoulder and their negativity when things get tough
I resolved at the start of the race to run wherever it was flat or downhill. My commitment to this gradually ebbed away as the heat took its toll and my legs, having run no further than 17 miles in one go since last October, complained increasingly loudly in the second half of the race. At a few points in the race I quite literally had a word with myself and with a “Come on GC!” began to run again and kept running even when the devil was screaming at me to yield and walk “just for a bit”. At other times, I yielded.
Action: Finish reading The Chimp Paradox! I was most certainly paying too much attention to Gremlins in my thoughts yesterday and this affected my decisions and the outcome.
[Currently on loan from the Learning and Development library at work and being digested slowly. Lots of interesting stuff so far]
Action: Revisit past successes and how I overcame these demons to believe, keep going and achieve more than I’d ever thought possible once upon a time. See SDW100 blog and my comment above and the mile 50-60 of my NDW100 in 2017 plus the Facebook post from 2012 below about running 30 miles in 24 hours (2 x 15 mile runs, back to back) only 2 months after running my first marathon.
[We sometimes forget what we can do and how far we’ve already come]
[This weekend Jim Walmsley broke the Western States 100 at the 3rd attempt. He was committed to breaking the course record and ran at record pace in 2016 (got lost 7 miles from the end) and 2017 (DNF due to nausea) and did it at last]
- Pay attention to the race markings!
There was one point around 11 miles into the race where I and half a dozen other runners completely missed a sign and marking tape and added around half a mile to our race. Doh! I’m good at finding new ways to get to places in trail runs (AKA getting lost and somehow finding the way!) so this is no surprise. The fact was that the then we had to make was marked behind the gate we had to go through and we’d ploughed on ahead as it was out of our field of vision.
Action: Stay alert! Don’t blindly follow other runners and remember to look all around for signs and tape.
- Avoid the sugar train in races for as long as possible
I’ve recently been experimenting with different nutrition on long runs and races. I tend to do a lot of my weekend long runs in a faster state and this has generally worked well as they are mostly at an easy (economy) pace. However, as I build towards WW50 I need to revisit eating during runs and retrain my visit to do so. Using the 33Shake pre/post run shakes has worked really well in my part two races, providing sustained energy for the first hour and a half. I was “fuelled” yesterday by 1 x Tribe bar (Peanut butter and banana) 1 x 33Shake gel, some watermelon, some pretzels, and in the later stages some Coke and an amazing peanut butter muffin. My energy levels were good but could have been better.
Action: Stay on top of nutrition during races and keep experimenting with different nutrition in training.
I had no specific time goal for the race. When asked for one the day before by a colleague I said I’d like to think of could finish in between 5 and 6 hours. I did. I’m happy.
At several points during yesterday’s race, particularly in the second half, I found myself doubting my ability to get back to running long distances at several points along the route. I then remembered to enjoy the journey and what I’ve previously achieved that I’d never have thought possible.
The Giants Head Marathon has given me lots of things to work on but also provided a great day out. Onwards.
Trail shoes – Brooks Pure Grit 4
Socks – Hilly Twin Skin
Both worked fine. No blisters 👍
Shorts – Ronhill Stride 5″ Twin shorts
First time wearing. Minimal chafing in the heat. Really comfortable 👍
T-shirt – Higher State crew t-shirt
Wore this for the whole of my SDW100 race in 2015. Really comfortable 👍
Cap – Inov-8 running cap
New purchase as my Run Breeze one has a year in it (still using it though!). Worked fine. Didn’t overheat 👍
Race vest/pack – Mountain Hardwear Single-track race vest with 2 x Scott 500ml soft flasks
Used on training runs. Perfect for this distance 👍
Nutrition – 33Shake pre-race shake and in-race gel + Tribe bar + a few aid station top ups.
All good 👍