Beep! Beep! Beep! It’s 4:15am on a Monday morning! I’m off to London for my last altitude training session before the UTMB.
I’m happy with my training. I’ve learnt from last year’s DNF experience and although I know what I can do to improve my performance I also know that what I did manage was the maximum I can fit into my lifestyle of being a working-mum-ultra runner. I run ultras because it makes me happy. Yes for some strange reason inflicting pain, pushing my body to the limit sounds like fun! My aim is to enjoy my races not win them. Now I know that a lot of you might disagree with me but you need to choose your playing field wisely and set your goals accordingly. I’ve done a lot of ultras over the last three years but I’m still a novice in the ultra world and still needs to learn a lot but that’s the beauty of ultra running. It’s a discovery of your sole and being! If you asked me a few years ago what type of ultra runner I am I would have stared at you in confusion like a toddler. However, I now know more or less know what type of ultra runner I am. I know what I like and don’t like! Well at least for now, until I change my mind again!
Sometimes you just have to do a race for pride, ego or just to prove a point whereas other races lie close to your heart. So the UTMB is my ego race! After doing my first ultra in 2012 I saw the UTMB on Facebook and thought “it would be so cool to say I’ve run from France to Italy to Switzerland and back to France”. I was so naive that the fact that I’ve only done one ultra and has never even run a 100 miles wasn’t even bothering me. Like a toddler I wanted it and no one was going to convince me otherwise. I trained, did all the qualifying races and lined up for last year’s UTMB. At the start line I knew my chances was 50/50 but what was the worse that can happen?
I got timed out and I could give a lot of excuses but the reality was that I had no idea what I was letting myself into. I live in a area where speed humps are seen as mini mountains and if I find a hill that last longer than 30 seconds I was happy. My world is a million miles away from the near half marathon uphills of the UTMB. DNF made me stronger! I leant so much. It showed my where my weaknesses were. To become a better runner you need bad runs. You learn more from a bad run than from a good one. DNF is not something to be ashamed about. It’s a learning curve. It shows that we are human and not the super being which we create in our mind! Living a life with “oh well” is much better than a life of “what if”.
So this year I’ve improved my 50/50 chance! It’s still not 100% but my chances of survival is better. I’m less nervous and my race plan is a lot less complicated. No more spreadsheets only running. One foot in front of the other and belief that I can do it. I know that I will need to go through the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual roller coaster, but that’s ultra running! I know how scared I was last year climbing up a mountain, somewhere, just following markers. I remember the thoughts and mental images as if it was yesterday and that’s a good thing!