I started the new year as I meant to go on with an early start for the New Years Day mudfest of a parkrun at Wormwood Scrubs, then Aylesbury Parkrun on the 2nd and Rushmere Parkrun on the 9th. I went back to running club and started swimming for cross training and injury prevention purposes too. It turned out I really enjoyed swimming with a club again, having not done anything other than ploughing up and down by myself since uni.
In the middle of January, I travelled to Dover to support friends racing in the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series. If tried to get a last minute race place to no avail so instead jogged off down the course before the start, waited for Alan and Mat to come through near the front of the pack in the ultra and paced them for a few miles then turned back and did a few hill reps before standing on the top of the white cliffs rocking out to Greenday on my iPod and cheering the marathon runners through until Jenny arrived. She was already limping with a calf injury so I did a run/walk with her to the end of the half marathon where she stopped. By this point, we’d heard that Matt had fallen and sustained an ankle injury and been taken to hospital by ambulance. I ran out along the return leg of the marathon to meet Alan, the last man standing, who having been up puking in the night was also cutting his race short and stopping at the marathon distance. I know it was a hard day for all 3 of them, and poor Mat had to cancel a trip of a lifetime he had planned due to a serious ankle ligamental injury. My plan for the weekend was a 20 mile long run which I’d done, and with good company and food (albeit and icy cold hotel room!).
At the end of January, I took a long weekend in Iceland with my best friend. We did a sightseeing run the first morning and due to the short daylight hours, the majority was in the pitch black. I went for another run along the coast in the evening, quite early but again in darkness. We also did a brutal but beautiful run one morning ending at the Blue Lagoon for a recovery dip.
The following weekend, was the Thames Trot 50, a 50 mile race and the longest distance I would have run in one go (took a nap during the 56 mile stage of the marathon des sables), and my biggest training run before my 100 miler. I was nervous because of my recent injury and low mileage training, but would be running with Naomi again, who I’d completed two ultras of >40 miles with before, so knew I’d be in good company. The race starts in Oxford and follows the Thames Path to finish in Henley (where my 100 mile race will start in London and follow the Thames Path back the opposite way to finish in Oxford), and is organised by the same company as the Country to Capital race I did last January.
The race started through thick squelchy mud, and straight away, all the ligaments and muscles around my right hip were painful, being used and pulled to stabilise myself as I slipped in all directions. I was gutted thinking there was no way I could finish 50 miles, feeling this sore after only 2 or 3. But I stuck it out, and the pain got no worse, and in fact I’d forgotten about it by the end. The mud really slowed us down though, and if it wasn’t the mud, it was battling against the wind of the start of Storm Imogen. The course was quite flat, which in an ultra isn’t always the best as it doesn’t provide natural walking breaks. Instead we realised some of the mud and wind just wasn’t conducive to running and we were better off walking those bits. As we made our way through the race, we realised it was going to be short of 50 miles, more like 48. We’d run near that before having got lost in 45 milers and Naomi felt really short changed, so after we finished and I changed out of my bogging kit and headed home, she ran a few laps of the carpark so her garmin would finish on a round 50 miles. Haha, love that girl!
I felt alright after the race, took a full rest day Sunday then back to running club Monday. The following weekend I did Aylesbury Parkrun, and a Milton Keynes Chiltern league cross country race on the Saturday, then placed 3rd at the Hardwick X-Stream 10km cross country race hosted by my running club on the Sunday. The week after, Alan and I tried to maim ourselves again by warming up for a 26 mile long run with a rapid Parkrun in north London, or as he called it Parkrun + 5km cool down!