I wasn't feeling particularily energetic the week leading up to the race, perhaps becuase of the mega-exercise I'd had the week before in Fuerteventura. I guess the warmth and sun inspired such levels of exertion that I had nothing left. But back to the race, my low energy level sort of carried on to that as well. On the drive over to the start, which was nicely under an hour for once, I drank a whole bottle full of hot tea, which is definitely not normal for me. My stomach didn't really deal with all the liquid before the event commenced, either, and I could feel water sloshing in my innards every time I picked up the pace and ran. Bad idea. Note to self: don't drink so much before a race. My stomach never did digest all the water, so I ate some food to try and damp it down. That didn't help either as I started cramping as I ran. And then of course I got thirsty because my mouth was dry, and drank more water. Ah, well, let's just say that running down hills, usually my strength, was quite painful and jolting. Once I figured out that it would be a slow day, I gave in at one checkpoint and took a jelly-filled donut. Not really great to eat on a sloshing stomach, or really during any long run in my opinion, but boy did it taste good! I did sort of gag at the thought of eating multiple hot dogs, though, which were being handed out at one checkpoint. I can't imagine eating a hot dog while running...much less three of them in one huge bun.
The race, which was forecast to be hilly (not a surprise when the route goes any where near Stoodley Pike), was even more hilly than I imagined, or really wanted. I stayed close to my hoped-for pace of 5 mph for the first couple of hours, then hit several hills in a row that were wickedly steep and went on and on
This was the first race of the Runfurther Series (I may do all 12 one year, but this will not be that year). The race photographer stationed himself on a hill and entertained himself by trying to get us to run up it for his photos. Needless to say, mine are not very flattering. Luckily I don't even feel tempted to paste one of them in here as they are copywrited, and won't let me :)
As there were always people around me to follow, I never did pull out my map and navigate for myself. However, my recall of the route description and my map plottings the night before was surprisingly clear, as at each intersection I had to guess the correct route, I was right. And thanks to a few tips before the start at tricky junctions, I saved myself and a few others some wrong turns by heeding Nick's advice.
Fellow Reservoir Runner Peter and his teammate Jacqueline finally caught up to me with about 8 miles to go, after saying that they would "take it steady" from the start. I was glad to have some company, and they helped push the pace a little, so the last few miles (which can take forever in an ultradistance race!) seemed to pass quite quickly. The raindrops waited to fall until we could taste the stew back at the finish line. At that point I didn't care if it rained all the way driving home (it did), as I had made it round, in just over 7 hours. Sloshy stomach or not, my legs felt strong, and I think I am starting the year out fine, towards my soon-approaching goal of the 100 miler at the end of May.