3 Days to Go… Countdown to the Green Man Ultra

The Green Man Ultra will be my first ultra marathon, and it starts in a little over 60 hours.  I wanted to write a post about how I’m feeling at the moment so I can remember, as I think my memories of this time will change somewhat after the event.

Training

Since I decided the idea of long runs was a good one, my training has become the most consistent it’s ever been.  Mind you, it was pretty diabolical beforehand, with intense weeks followed by almost nothing.  I’ve put a detailed table at the bottom of this post with week-by-week running and walking distances for the last 6 months, but the monthly summary is as follows:

Month Running Walking
Feb 2014 51.25 21.39
Jan 2014 170.65 29.7
Dec 2013 137.65 20.17
Nov 2013 108.65 13.64
Oct 2013 99.6 15.59
Sep 2013 135.31 6.89

November, December and January show a steady build up for the running (I was hoping for 200 miles in January but cut back a little after my run to Winchester to reduce the risk of injury).

February saw a combination of a very busy time at work, followed by a lingering cold which meant that in the week of 9th February I ran less than 2 miles!  It’s not ideal as my original plan had been to have a couple of 40-50 mile weeks in early February and then taper down, but in reality I haven’t don’t a decent long run for over a month, managing a single 10 miler in early February.  I’m pretty much recovered from the cold now which I’m thankful for!

Injury

Luckily I haven’t had anything significant to complain about (it hasn’t stopped me complaining about lots of insignificant things though!)

My niggling Achilles that has been hanging around for the best part of a year seems to have subsided, and I think that may be due to taking it easy in early February, so an enforced rest period may actually have some physical benefits.

I have a back/glutes/hamstring muscular problem on my left side which has been around for a good few months and which I periodically massage.  I think this is all caused by a tight deep glute muscle, and the last few days I’ve been working on it with a cricket ball (ouch!).  Yesterday I think I finally got the blighter – afterwards I had pretty much equal flexibility in both left and right side (bending to touch toes), and it seemed better this morning.  I think another couple of evenings of massage will help get it as good as possible for Saturday.

Kit

One of the critical rules of running is that you don’t race in new shoes.  That would be stupid.  So I bought some new shoes, which arrived on Monday afternoon.  They’ll be over 4 days old by race day – that’s not new, is it?!   There is a fairly good reason for this.  I bought some Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra’s back in January with the intention of using them for this race, but they became the only shoes I’ve had in the last 5-10 years that rubbed my heel to the point of bleeding.  I’ve really tried with them, and although they’re softening there’s no way I can risk them for the Green Man.  My Salomon SpeedCross 3’s are falling apart, but they are great trail shoes, so I decided to buy another identical pair and get as much running/walking in as possible before the race.  I seem to have clicked the “stupidly bright green” button though, so my feet will probably be visible long after sunset if it should take that long.

Psychological State

This is my first ultra, and to some extent I don’t know what to expect.  My sister has done quite a few of these sort of events, and I’ve been there to support on a few and have seen how they run.  It’s going to be quite strange being part of the starting line up on Saturday though – I’m usually watching these events with a camera in hand.

I think I’m excited and petrified in about equal measure!  The run to Winchester was pretty much the same distance so has given me the confidence that I can manage the time-on-my-feet aspect, but I know the Green Man is going to be more hilly (twice as much elevation as Winchester), and almost certainly at least 50% mud which is going to make it considerably tougher.

I honestly think I can finish it though.  There’s no point in thinking anything else.  When you’re 6 or 7 hours in and having a bad time you need to do all you can to keep doubts from surfacing, so I’m going into this with the view that whether it’s running, walking or crawling, I’m getting to the end (to paraphrase Dean Karnazes).

The Plan

I have a plan.  Whether I’ll dump it after the first footstep remains to be seen, but I have a plan nonetheless.

To finish in 10 hours requires just about a 13min/mile pace, and judging from my run to Winchester there will probably be a fair amount of walking in the last 10-15 miles or so.  Therefore, I’m planning on starting off at 11-12min/mile pace and hopefully keep that up for up to around 30 miles.  If I can get to 30 miles at 12min/mile, then I can do the rest at a fast walking pace (14.5min/mile), or more realistically a combination of walking and slow running.

My general strategy involves:

  • For the first 20-25 miles if I feel like I’m putting any effort in, I slow down, irrespective of time.  If I stick to this rule and I can’t keep to the pace above, then so be it – that’ll be a consequence of my fitness.
  • Remember to eat!  I’m sure that nibbling along the way for Winchester made the end so much more tolerable.
  • Don’t give up.

Simples.

The Weekend

Final instructions have been emailed.  I’ve got all my mandatory kit.  I’ve panic bought most of the contents of at least 2 running shops and will no doubt be leaving most of it behind when I realise just how heavy everything will be.

So now, whatever will be, will be.  I’m starting to chill a bit because it’s out of my hands.  One final run tonight – I’m going to attempt a few miles at 11-12min/mile pace and see if I can manage to run that slowly – and then no more running until the event itself.

There will also be eating.  Lots and lots of eating.  After all, what’s the point of running other than to eat? 🙂

I’ll try and post updates on the run on twitter (@reikanphoto), so if you’re really bored or fancy finding out just how much mud there can be around Bristol then take a look.

Until later…

Last 6 Months Running/Walking

Week Running Walking
23/02/2014 5.6 6.62
16/02/2014 23.51 2.17
09/02/2014 1.79 9.27
02/02/2014 20.35 3.34
26/01/2014 15.35 6.5
19/01/2014 53.92 9.47
12/01/2014 38.11 6.46
05/01/2014 30.53 7.26
29/12/2013 47.04
22/12/2013 17.53 1.47
15/12/2013 18.79 6.75
08/12/2013 34.89 5.08
01/12/2013 52.14 6.86
24/11/2013 21.24 7.56
17/11/2013 48.36 6.08
10/11/2013 2.98
03/11/2013 31.2
27/10/2013 31.12
20/10/2013 26.26 4.41
13/10/2013 16.94 6.88
06/10/2013 20.98
29/09/2013 29.21
22/09/2013 20.15
15/09/2013 50.06 6.89
08/09/2013 26.73
01/09/2013 18.33
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