Ultra what?!?!

So, what have I been up to I hear you all ask (… or is that the voices in my head I hear?).

Training has been rather hit and miss … mostly due to me faceplanting on the sidewalk yet again. Nice bit of bruising to the knee and when I move it I can feel this lovely grinding/clicking thing going on under the surface.

I have the Run to the Beat Half Marathon on Sunday and have decided to go for a walk/run approach. I think if I can run a 9 ½ mm with a minute walk break every mile then I should come in at about 2.15ish and my goal is under 2 ½. Are my calculations right?

Bottom line is I do not want to do what I did last time which was get all excited and carried away at the start and blow up at 8 miles which caused a slow, slow walk to the finish line … people with pushchairs were passing me FFS.

In other news I did something very exciting (to me) last Sunday. This little seed of an idea of at some point in the (wayyy far off) future of taking part in an Ultra run has been planted in my head by my friend Anna. Funny thing is she had no idea she had done this as we know each other from outside of running and as a lovely friend she ran with me a couple of times. Anyway, I have a total inability to talk after about mile 2 when I’m running regardless of how far I’m going so rather than appear rude by not being able to talk to Anna when she ran with me I would just ask her a question at the start that I thought would be guaranteed to give me at least a window of an hour while she chatted away. I knew she did had done a marathon or three and a few longer runs so asked her questions about this. Big mistake … as once she started answering my questions about Ultra running the idea was planted. I never said a word to her though as I thought she might laugh at me given the furthest I had ran at that point (aside from the previously hideous failed HM) was about 5 miles.

So I started scouring the internet, reading race reports, blogs, magazines etc. It was while doing all this that I discovered just what an impressive running CV my friend Anna has!! Seriously impressive – and even more so that she is so humble about it. Then after reading the Ultra thread on Fetch almost like a novel I decided to ask those lovely insane people for some advice about volunteering to help at a run. My idea was that if I saw first-hand the lunacy I would then put the idea to bed. Upon advice I mailed a couple of Race Directors and had such a lovely and enthusiastic response from them both. I also had some lovely messages from other volunteers offering advice (and not surprisingly they said that Ultra Runners are a mad bunch). So it was set then, the inaugural Stort 30 would be my peek into the mad house.

After getting up at 5am I arrived at the Race HQ at just past 7am to be greeted by Firemannotsam who right from the start made me feel like an important part of the family … by sending me off to buy tea, coffee, milk and sugar! Chatting with FMNS revealed that Anna would be taking part which totally made my day. I met my fellow check point crew and loved them from the start. We were loaded with supplies and a postcode and off we set. I would say in a convoy but it’s a good job Alex was not following me as obviously my Satnav is only a suggestion and I ignore it when it tells me to turn thereby adding some extra roads to the journey. We found our location really easily though thanks to the fab info pack put together for us by FMNS .. even had pictures of the exact spot on the ground he wanted us to set up.

Gazebo up – check. Drinks poured and lined up to please my OCD – check. Snacks into bowls – check. Chairs out – check.

Right – what to do while waiting on the runners? Eat the haribo of course!

Now, I could sit here and probably list most of the runners who came in (by description – not name) but that would be a bit annoying I’m sure. However let me say – what a bloody cheerful bunch! Seriously – I never felt so appreciated, it was fab. I saw Anna waving at me from the other side of the canal (I do think I might have squealed) before they crossed over to refill water and grab some of my lovely Haribo. I mean the snacks that are of course for them.

It was a really great day. People walking the tow path chatted, people bringing boats through the lock chatted – one even let me help open the lock (I am easily pleased). Oh FMNS – sorry about the random picture of me doing this that’s on your camera!

My absolute favourite part was the sweepers coming through Ogee and another gent whose name I didn’t catch. They came through with a guy who was struggling with an injury (ITB I think) and they had gaffa taped him up (with evil glee if the look on Ogee’s face is to be understood) and were helping him soldier on. Was a perfect ‘no man left behind’ attitude that my lovely dad would recognise so well.

I am definitely of the opinion now that volunteering makes you feel like a special part of things. I am already doing two more – Winter100 and Thames Path100 … so if you see the crazy looking redhead stealing Haribo … I’m harmless. I’ve also feel honoured to be asked to be part of a crew for the GUCR next year with FMNS’s partner – who is totally lovely and has an infectious laugh.

So, will I really put taking part in something like this on my own running radar? Well, it appears so. Anna has said she will run with me on my first one. Thinking next August I might be ready.

Nice flat one please.


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