After being up into the small hours on Sunday helping keep Chris company on his 145 mile race I popped home to shower before hopping on a plane to Spain and a week of tapering in the sun.
Also a good opportunity to avoid the office coffee for a while. More seasoned ultra runners advise cutting caffeine out for two weeks before a long race so that 8pm coffee after 14 hours of running will kick like a mule and you’ll be channeling your inner Mo Farah as you skip along the later miles.
This has been my lowest weekly mileage in longer than I can remember and being away from home means I’ve avoided the usual temptations to break the taper and do ‘just one more’ club run.
Monday – rest day!
Tuesday – short 1hr/7mile run around nearby town to stretch legs and get acclimatised to the heat. Dodging the fellas selling snide handbags on the promenade didn’t help pace but did provide amusement as they’d look up at sound of approaching feet, ready to leg it with their stock if I was a policeman.
Facebook told me it was also 6 years to the day since my first ever race, where I huffed and puffed around the Bupa London 10k. 6 years later I’m in final training for a 100 miler and on 96 marathons so far. You can go a long way on a stubborn approach and a lack of any athletic ability.
Wednesday- not just a rest day but had a sports massage too. My third ever. Last was also in Spain where I was told “legs strongy strongy good, legs bendy bad” as he failed to get much normal degree of movement out of them. This time the masseuse called her mate to help and with much tutting they concluded I have legs accustomed to running but not much good for anything else.
Wednesday also marked the end of May and I managed to hit 305 miles for the month. Highest by a good margin and a real confidence boost for the 100 coming up.
Thursday – another hours run along the beach. Deep sand and pebbles were a good workout. Felt a little better in the heat.
Friday – rest day (another!)
Saturday – early start as I’d managed to find a Spanish race to enter. The 1st annual CXM Igualeja 17k race. Up in the nearby hills it was a far cry from Milton Keynes. After collecting my race bib (passport required which I was glad I’d packed into the car) I gathered in the town square with 250 or so other runners (all Spanish except me from what I could see).
The race was 17k but very hilly with three aid stops. At home I’d have run without a pack but given the heat and unusual route I elected for a race vest with a full 2 litres of sports drink and some other gear to simulate SDW100 conditions better.
As the gun went off we ran through the town and up the winding road. It was steep but manageable at a decent run. Then it veered off onto a ‘path’. The fact the lead bikers were motocross scramblers should have been a clue this was a challenging route.
The course disappears up the mountain and is more akin to running up an overgrown rockery than a path or trail. In the first mile we ascended 1000ft. Finally breaking the top we had a short descent over the same treacherous rocks before some more climbing. In the first hour I’d covered a decidedly unimpressive 3 miles. At around 10.5 miles total this was going to be a long race if we didn’t pick up the pace.
After the first aid station and consuming my body weight in water melon (also a staple of the SDW100 so further practice) we set off again. Through a flat fast section in a valley we passed dozens of bee hives, presumably as a motivation technique to keep going. The runner in front of me didn’t manage to avoid them though and was stung several times. He loudly ranted to me about this for some considerable length before I had a chance to interject and tell him I didn’t speak any Spanish. Fortunely there was a medical station soon after so he got attended to.
The route then dropped onto a road as it wound back into the town. Fast and smooth Tarmac was tempting but few other runners seemed keen to push, potentially saving themselves for the next climb. Given I lacked the goat like climbing skills of the locals I elected to smash the legs on these and take full advantage of the considerable benefits of gravity on my ample size and my more cushioned shoes rather than traditional lugged, thin soled trail shoes.
The second aid station was in the town and I dunked my head in the fountain to cool, soon copied by other runners. Then a twisty section down past the town before climbing back up the next peak and aid station number 3 where they also served beer (alas I was driving). These later sections were far more like the trails I was used and able to run or at least power hike the hills making up a lot of places.
Final section descended through a deep cutting in the rock with a path worn away by years of use and barely wide enough for one runner. Fortunately those in front scattered as I thundered past, they were probably fearful an escaped mountain goat was chasing them. One last short section through the cobbled streets and I finished in an unimpressive sounding 2h24 for 10.5 miles. Overall came about halfway down the field, not bad for a dirty dringo.
Weekly mileage – 24 miles. Yep. Just 24. And for once it feels good to taper.