Sunday, 23 December 2012

World Trophy 50km reflections

This post seems to have taken an age to come together. The race took place as long ago as 20th October and it didn't go according to plan with a problem in my right vastus lateralis getting progressively worse until I had to stop at 36km, frustrated and disappointed.

So one of the reasons it has taken me so long to pull some thoughts together was I that I very quickly wanted to move on from what had happened and focus on enjoying a good break and getting myself healthy again to resume training later in the year.

So a few reflections on the event. The heat. It was a hot day on the Italian coast with temperatures in the high 20s and no shade from the sun which was burning down for much of the race and reflecting off the sea. I was surprised to see people dropping out even in the first 10k as they struggled with the conditions which brings me back to the topic of heat acclimatisation which i've written about before.

If there is a possibility of a warm day then prepare for the conditions ! I'm still amazed at how many runners leave this aspect of their preparation to chance and hope they can cope - they invariably can't. I did my most comprehensive heat acclimatisation so far with regular treadmill runs wearing a hat and gloves and not surprisingly I felt relatively comfortable on what was a hot day.

All the photos here are of me running with team mate Dave Mitchinson. We spent the whole race running together and it really helped to have some company and a bit of moral support when things were feeling a bit tough. We hatched a plan early on to start steady and work our way through. In the early stages we were outside the top 10 and by the time I had to step off the road we up to 5th and 6th with 4th place in sight. Once again I was reminded of the value of setting out a realistic pace for the course/conditions. In the marathon or 50k you have a long way to hang on if you go out too hard and there were some of the early leaders who were hanging on for a long time!

With hindsight I had an inkling of trouble in my right leg when out for a jog the day before the race. There was some discomfort although it eased off fairly quickly. Knowing what I know now I would have spent a lot more time self treating that evening and on race day morning though whether that would have prevented the problem from flaring up who knows.

In such a long race drinks are critical and in ultra races you can have a support crew handing you bottles within the designated technical areas. We had our own drinks on a table (left middle) but some quick thinking from Team Leader Andy Smith ensured that he also got across the course to give us bottles of water in the second technical area to help us keep cool (left bottom). Thats the kind of experience in the team that really makes a difference.

And finally winner Steve Way deserves a mention for how he ran the race. With an out and back 6km loop along the seafront we could see the race unfolding and Steve dropping off the lead group a couple of times. He never gave up and get running his race. Even when I walking back in it was clear that although in third place he was looking the best of the leaders though I not sure he believed it given by the look he gave me when I yelled at him that he could win the race with 10km to go ! He only took the lead with 5km left and the size of gaps he opened up tells you just how badly 2nd and 3rd place blew up.

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