“By any accepted standard, I have had more than nine lives. I counted them up once and there were 13 times I almost and maybe should have died.” -HST
My new neighbours are lovely guys; always looking to chat. They even do that thing where they come over to the fence with not a lot to say but are perfectly happy in the awkward silence. It was Saeed (who has randomly changed his name to Sean since he moved here!) who met me on my return from the hottest ultra ever…
“What happened you man?”
“Just been running…”
“You fall over or something?”
“No, it was just a long way so I’m battered”
“How long was it?”
I don’t think he actually really believed me to be honest, his mate got out of the car to check he’d heard me right. I hate telling people how far I’ve ran in Ultras to be honest, I find it a bit uncomfortable in truth. I mean, just by stating the distance of the race sometimes feels like a boast.
So instead, I write up a blog so the world can see how class I am. Hmmm…
Anyway, right now my legs are starting to feel like my own again although I’m so glad we have a lift at the office…downstairs still suck!
I was prepared. Like a human swiss army knife I had covered every eventuality (Rocktape on the hamstrings and quinine tabs) + I didn’t even sleep in this year so at least I’d learnt a wee bit from the past. Nothing could really prepare me for the heat though…
“Flippin’ roastin’ isn’t it” panted moi around the 20 mile mark.
“Whats that buddy? I think it’s actually quite pleasant” said the dude from Utah.
Y’see we’re just not used to heat of any kind in this country. I’ve trained all year in the cold, the snow & the rain. I don’t recall one single hot run this year. Not one. So it makes sense that the day of the 52 miler through the Mournes, it would be 24 degrees.
Nevermind the moaning though, you probably couldn’t pick a better day to be in the Mournes, they looked absolutely beautiful & with the dryness it made the ground perfect to run on. I was even descending looking like I knew what I was doing. Yes, you heard me right, I ran down hills without falling and did it quite quickly too. Those trips along the brandy pad and up Donard must have paid off.
The first half went well this year, and I got into my stride after about 10 miles or so but was always aware that I needed to keep the old hydration in check. I had elete to add to my water, some salt tablets & 5 gels as well as a bit of feeding for halfway. Was great to catch up with Ivan early in the race (This is the only stage I ever seem to be running with Ivan!) and he finished in a cracking time of 9.28 just behind Nicki McPeak who blasted around in 9.20! I’ll have to get a word with these lads and see what they put in their Shreddies in the morning…
Also ran a bit with Ronald Peacock, he’d also ran a bit with me last year & we were discussing the virtues of training for Ultras and having kids. No bother to him it would seem, he had ran Derry Marathon the weekend before! Another great result for him here, getting round in 10 hours dead. We bumped into the NIrunning lads (Doing a cracker job for the running scene in NI as usual!) at Spelga and made sure to look like we were working hard…
Anyway, pretty uneventful til the turnaround which I hit in 4hrs 40mins. Got some food in me & left again within 10 minutes. On the climb up out of Donard Park I met John at the top (He’s running 95 miles in the West Highland Way race next Saturday) and he seemed in good enough shape, just trying to get round the course in a steady pace without going too hard.
I ran most of the rest of the race on my own to be honest, daydreaming about Orcs, viola players, Romany gypsies & Blue fluff. It was definitely slower on the way back as my legs started to feel the burn. Very sore but no cramps so I’m happy! I feel like I should have a celebration for the lack of cramps, but I’ll just say this…In yo face cramps!!
I regularly hear that you have to be a nutter to run an Ultra…
Well I can tell you theres plenty of nutters that run far shorter distances! After passing the half marathon start about 15 minutes before they were due to take off (Very cool, got a great reception from them!) They all bolted past me just after Spelga dam just down by the bridge & boulders, I was soon left with some of the ladies that were also running the half. Absolute headers! The next 5 or so miles with these lasses opened my eyes to the weemen of Newry. Men of Newry, Good Luck! They made some difficult miles very funny.
So almost back to where it all began, I hit the last big climb at Leitrim Lodge. This now has me daydreaming about Game of Thrones (Not totally irrelevant, some of it was filmed right in this spot) so I descend like I’m being chased by one of them white walker things, well it feels like that in my head and I just keep going for that last 10k for the finish in Kilbroney. Always a class finish line atmosphere here, one bloke shouts at me quite agressively shaking his fist saying “That’s it! Great way to finish!” which only serves to make me sprint even harder. I think I’m going to boke for a minisecond then it recedes and I cross the line in 10hrs 49 mins. Almost 25 minutes quicker than last year so I’ll take that.
I hang around and chat to Ryan & Justin from NIrunning about the Gosford100 as well as Billy who smashes the marathon this year finishing 7th. He gave the Ultra a byball as he may be doing a Bob Graham next week. Unreal.
So that was the day. My favourite race of the year was over, but what a day. Chatted to Gavin Oakes who I knew from pacing Belfast for a bit as well as 26extremes Ian Cumming (Another brilliant event from these guys, just gets better each year).
The reason I document my races is so Evan can someday find this, and read what daddy got up to back in the day & read about the random things that might get lost in the sands of time – So, Evan, random thing from today. After the race I lost all ability to use my nose. I was talking but my nose just went numb, and I couldn’t breathe through it anymore. I didn’t know what was going on, one minute I was chatting, the next my nose disappeared. I sat down thinking I was about to faint (Your mummy thinks this is very funny) but don’t worry my nose did reappear. So if your nose ever disappears, just sit down on the grass. It’ll come back.