12 hours, 17 minutes and 13 seconds - that was the time for my first Ultra but to be honest I really couldn't care less about my time. 44 miles (70km) is a LONG way and for this race my one and only goal was to finish!
The whole day was incredible, yes it had times when it was simply horrific but it also had some great times, for example at about the 30mile mark you could see roughly where we started from and it was literally the horizon!
I ran the first 4-5miles with Craig (Unit6 CrossFit Coach) until he went on ahead to finish in a beastly time of just over 9 hours!
Although I ran the race on my own I met lots of people along the way and it was really interesting hearing their stories of training and why they're racing. I met one guy that despite having shin splints he was running 13 marathons this year (plus this ultra!) to raise money for Cancer Research - I asked him why he was still running if he had shin splints and he simply replied, "I can't let the charities down, it hurts like hell but people are going through a lot worse out there". What a legend.
The weather started off with a torrential downpour of rain and a massive thunderstorm which wasn't ideal to get cold before you've even started but once we got going it was fine. However this quickly left and by about 10am it really started warming up and the afternoon was roasting. Now seeing as the UK hasn't had any decent weather in pretty much 2 years this was a bit of a shock but from a training perspective it was good as i'm happy running in rain but I really don't enjoy running in the heat so it was good to be out of my comfort zone.
This race for me despite being my first ultra distance was actually just a qualifier for my 60mile (100km) race, the CCC in August. I used it as more of a training run, testing gear and food along the way. I brought quite a wide range of foods with me as I wasn't sure what I would want after 30miles on the go as this was most definitely unknown territory for me.
I found at the early stages of the race I ate fairly normally as I would do in a race with Naked Ape snacks (these in-particular are great for the early stages) and bounce protein balls. I prefer to eat these as they've got great fat and protein contents but after about 27-28miles I needed something with a bit more consistency and higher in carbs. This was when my mum's homemade banana and Nutella muffins were ideal, i'll definitely be having more of those for my next race (I'll get hold of the recipe for a future post). I also tucked into some banana Soreen, cliff shot blocks (these were my saving grace as I really don't enjoy regular gels) and a couple of bananas.
I have to admit I did stop off for an ice cream and a coke, both of which were a huge comfort snack but really worth it during that heat and definitely helped me through the next few miles.
Despite being by far the hardest thing i've ever done by a huge margin the race itself was awesome and arriving at the finish was an unbelievable feeling. It has set me up mentally extremely well for my next race and my confidence is right up there now.
Now it's time to work on a few more specific things like getting more efficient using the poles and more running efficiency work.