If I want to get serious about hitting new goals and achieving the impossible, then I need to start being more realistic and stop kidding myself.
After each big event, I need to sit down and decide whether it was a successful (always room for improvement) or an unsuccessful race.
So while this race took place a few years ago, I want to go back over memories to see what I could have done differently.
So before I go on, I participated in this race in 2017, so it was a few years ago – the 24th of June 2017 to be exact.
Race to the King
If you don’t know what ‘Race to the King’ is, here is a bit of background. It’s a 53 Mile race across the South Downs, so basically it covers the distance of a double marathon.
Before we go any further, I didn’t complete this race as I was left with no option but to pull out at the 36-mile point due to medical reasons.
Let’s start with the positives. I completed 36 miles, which up to that point was the furthest I had ever run. Before this, I had only run the marathon distance.
What to change:
So what did I do wrong? Firstly, I had wanted to quit at 30 miles as my ankle had swoll up and my running had become a walk. However, after I set off from the 33-mile aid station, I knew I was done but I tried to carry on. The next day, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t walk through the barriers at London Kings Cross station before they closed. It was also where I got Plantar Fasciitis.
Whilst dropping out was disappointing, it was the best decision.
So where did it all go wrong? I’ve always blamed the course as the reason I failed, but that’s not true. I was looking for an easy way out to not take responsibility.
I hadn’t researched the course. I live in Doncaster, an incredibly flat area. When we want to do hills as a running club, we have to go and specifically find them and then they aren’t that long or steep, especially during winter months. So the physio and medical team both agreed that my ankle was not used to the terrain which would have caused the problem. Annoyingly, this is a lesson I should have learnt as a few months previous, I had got a PB at Manchester Marathon.
I rocked up at Huddersfield marathon thinking about PBs etc and to be told on the start line that this is one of the UK toughest marathons. I quickly found out why! The hills were brutal and at the 22-mile mark, the course takes an upturn over a bridge and back down – not what you need! Thinking back the ankle hurt so much that day!
Action: So in future, before a big race, I plan on scoping the course. Ideally in person, but if not studying the route.
I went in with the same strategy that had got me a PB at the Manchester marathon. I planned to run for 25 mins, walk for 5 minutes and like I said it had been a good strategy at marathon and during training, but this was different as this was 2 marathons back to back.
I’ve since learnt and I guess this comes with experience, ultras are different, you walk the uphills, run on the flats and slow run down the hills (depending on how steep they are).
Action: Walk the uphills and run on the flats. Walking uphill isn’t usually much slower than running but uses a lot less energy. Plus, I can use this time to refuel and get my breath back.
Overall, I think I had done pretty well with my kit, but as I had no support crew, I could not carry any additional kit. It wouldn’t be practical to carry an extra pair of shoes, but socks would have been nice to switch, once I had passed the halfway mark.
Action: This would all depend upon the race and whether I have a support crew.
The food stations located around the course are great and you will never be hungry during training. I had trained with the same foods as on the day (another mistake I learnt during the London Marathon), so the food was fine, the issue was around halfway you can choose to stay overnight, food provided and runners can stop. I stopped for too long to refuel, while I would stop again, I wouldn’t sit and get comfy and get chatting. I would grab some food to eat and get going.
Action: Don’t rest for too long as it’s too hard to get going again. Eating is important but make the stops brief.
As the race started quite early in the morning, when I was pulled out at mile 36 (medical team came to find me) it was still light and mentally I was fine. The actual route is well signposted and has a lot of great views as well as amazing feed stations. I will be back, not in 2021 as its too close to Endure 24, but the year after.