July 2016 - Lakeland 100 / 50

The 2016 Poldhu 10k was the 2nd Summer Sessions to take place, in mid July, and was a lot more popular than the first race (at Porthtowan that year, in May) with about 70 more people coming to run.  We had perfect weather for it all day for setting up and into the evening for the race as well.  Poldhu is a really nice cove on the Lizard but I had the impression lots of our runners hadn’t been there before or run around there so it was good to show them around in the race.  We have known Ross and Nat at the Poldhu Cafe for years so it was excellent to hold a race from there - with the sun, beach and pizzas afterwards this felt like the Summer Sessions had arrived!

The end of July is the Lakeland 100/50.  This is our favourite race and we were there for it again in 2016.  Nicky was doing the 100 and me the 50.  

But neither of us had really done much running in the build up to it, with Nicky only deciding to actually start it the week before.  I had entered the 50 instead of the 100 (for the first time, having done the 100 3.75 times before!!!) because of everything the year before and not being as strong or fit.

We’ve been there and done these races since 2012 and it is always excellent to be back for the race, driving into the school field it is based in and seeing friends and familiar faces.  I was starting to get somewhere in my running before being ill, with my last finish there being 11th.  Nicky is strong and good enough to be right up there, but always struggles so much with navigating and knowing the route, so hangs back with others instead of pushing on alone.

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Nicky hadn’t been running much and always suffers a lot when its that certain time of the month, also she had been diagnosed with Endometriosis which explained it too.  Unfortunately every year the Lakeland 100 weekend seems to fall on ‘that’ weekend so Nicky wasn’t feeling too good but was up for it.  She started really conservatively and sensibly but was enjoying herself and after about 15 miles was starting to move up the field.  By 30 miles she was in a good position but more importantly actually felt really good.  Unfortunately the ‘time of the month’ had been a big problem form the start though and she didn’t feel she could continue past Braithewaite checkpoint at 33 miles.

I was just getting up when Nicky got back to the venue really upset at always having such big issues like that (the 100 starts at 6pm, the 50 at 11.30am).  I still think that even without the training she was going to do really well!  

My race was good fun. My Dad has walked the Lakeland 50 for the past 5 years so I started walking with him for the first 4 mile loop before the route leaves the main estate.  After this I started running easy and going fairly well, it being cool to be fresh and running stuff that normally I’ve done 60 miles to get to already when doing the 100 mile race!  

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By about 25 miles in I was starting to wonder if my legs were getting crampy.  I’ve often had this in races - not necessarily a dehydration thing but lack of conditioning through not running enough!  I was running well though and was feeling really good still so made sure I was looking after myself ok and eating/drinking well.  By this point I was on for a roughly 10 hour finish which was far faster than I would have thought.  I started the race without any hopes or plans really other than to enjoy it and finish as after being ill that would have been pretty special on its own.  

As the race progressed though it was so good to be back and running well, moving well over that terrain and just seeing that I could still actually do it!!!  

I was hoping to keep going well but it was starting to get a bit harder and I was definitely now ‘managing’ cramp from coming on as I went towards Garburn Pass after Kentmere CP at roughly 25 miles.  I was going really well and running up the pass fine but at the top had quite big cramps for about 20 seconds.  

I didn’t have tons of fluid on me to really flush it out so I had a mini mars bar and decided I needed to get to the next CP as fast as I could, knowing cramp was coming on and that I needed the variety of savoury foods, bananas and fluid (soup always works…) that would be there.

Sometimes too much sugar can ‘flip’ the stomach and ruin your day; this is what happened next!  I hadn’t been having just sugar but perhaps too much and this last mars tipped it over and going down Garburn my stomach got worse and worse.  Things like this are always surprising in their speed of coming on - I was running up a biggish hill after 27 miles one minute, then barely running down the other side half an hr later!  My legs were ok, I wasn’t pushing too hard and felt fine, but my stomach was now awful!  

It took quite a while to get to Ambleside CP but once there I hoped it would be ok and I could take some time to eat and drink to balance electrolytes (I think a big part of the stomach problem) and get some decent food in me before carrying on.  

I was there for an hour but my stomach just wasn’t absorbing anything, with it sloshing around inside (definitely an over salty stomach I think - from trying to sort the cramp out earlier and having to use salt tabs).  

I have sucked it up plenty of times in Ultras to finish when it has gone badly.  I don’t need to anymore - I know I can do it (it’s not about proving to others I can or can’t - I don’t really care, plus I HAVE so I don’t think there’s any proof needed!)  An Ultra is going to hurt and be hard at points; some things you SHOULD push and manage yourself through and keep going, others maybe not.  

It’s all up to the individual and although finishing was a big goal for me after being ill, by this point I’d seen enough of how I can actually still run - I didn’t need to ‘finish’ to prove I could.  I knew I could still do it, and would be able to d it quite well.  So I called Nicky and she came to pick me up from the CP in Ambleside at 34 miles.

I could have walked the last 16 miles to ‘finish’, but it wouldn’t have been much fun, would have hurt a lot with my stomach (it didn’t sort itself out until about 24 hours AFTER this point).  This wasn’t a failure, it was a very positive thing to have been there and run so well for so long (don’t forget I hadn’t really done any training either…!) but mainly to show myself that I can still run!!!

I was happy to know this and so having a bad day on this particular day and not finishing was fine - it happens, and if I’d been struggling the whole way and finishing was going to be the big challenge and achievement then it would have been different.  But I’d seen by then that I could still aim to be competitive and was able to still run well, so dropping out was ok.  If that makes much sense?!?!!