Monday, 23 January 2012

50k debut in Gloucester

Yesterday I dipped my toe (well jumped with both feet actually) into the deep waters of ultra marathon running by racing the Gloucester 50km race, part of the IAU series.

Expecting a low key debut I had travelled up on the morning and was happily stretching out some tight muscles from the journey when I spotted fellow sub 2.20 marathon runner Steve Way, so much for a low key race ! With the marathoners setting off at 10.30am we had a short wait before the 40 odd runners in the 50k got underway with previous winner Julian Rendell showing early on (left).

My pre-race plan had been a bit affected by the weather which was blowing a stiff westerly. Having seen the havoc strong winds can create in Toronto I decided to go a bit slower than my 3:30/km target pace and after a gentle opening kilometre I quickly settled into a nice rythmn which was averaging out at 3:34 with the hills.

After a short flat loop in town we headed out into the countryside for 4 laps of a 10.5km circuit. Laps like this are a mental battle as much as physical and the first couple felt pretty comfortable, though with hindsight I should perhaps have backed off a little going up the hills and into the wind but I was fully committed and going for it as hard as felt was possible.

Lap 3 was when it started to get hard (left). Having passed 25km in around 1.29 I was still feeling pretty good and at 30km I actually started to pick the pace up, a move that would cost me dear later on. A couple of 3:30s and a 3:25 took me well past 20 miles, the point at which you really start to race in the marathon. And then it dawned on me that there was still another 10 miles to go and there was no way I was going to hold the increased pace to the finish.

With the effect of the hills (especially the downs) starting to tell on my quads I hit 40km still cranking out solid kilometres and wondering how long it would be before the elephant jumped on me. At 45km the last big climb started, well actually 2 climbs with a short downhill over the course of 2km). And then the elephant jumped out from behind a tree and climbed on my back. I was down to 6min miling and into survival mode - a feeling many marathoners will have experienced before !

Focusing on getting to the top of the hill knowing that the last couple of kilometres would be down/flat I was able to haul myself to the top though I could sense the holy grail of a sub 3 hour clocking slipping through my fingers.

Unfortunately going downhill on trashed legs wasnt much easier than going up and the last mile felt as long as in the 2006 London Marathon. Going round each bend I imagined Frank yelling "faster, faster!" but it wasn't doing me much good with a knee lift now measured in microns rather than centimetres.

Getting to the line brought as much relief as I have felt for a while at the end of a race (left) though my time of 3 hours and 47 seconds was good enough to go seventh on the UK all time lists which on that course and in those conditions was very satisfying.
So all in all a very solid debut at 50k. I'm pleased that I fully committed myself to running as fast as I could when it would have been easy to sit back in the pack and have an easier run.



Anonymous said...

great run adrian. well done. 50k is too far for me! tony

James Lawler said...

Well done mate, long way. Loving the long hair BTW.