Somehow, already August is knocking on the door and it is just 10 days to go until the NDW100 2014. In fact, as I write this, in ten days time I will already be several hours into the race.
This isn’t going to be a long piece but I wanted to jot down how I feel going into this race. Essentially, very different to this time last year.
Whilst I had a number of issues when I dropped at mile 50 last year, I could have finished. I know that now. I just didn’t want it enough on the day to put myself through what would have been required to finish. Dropping is not the issue, but how I dealt with those problems on the day is the issue.
Reading through Tommy Nielson’s Angeles Crest 100 race report last night really struck home. He almost dropped from that race during a long bad patch, but went on to win and beat Scott Jurek by 23 minutes. One sentence really struck me that when he wanted to drop he consulted (in his head, obviously) his ‘Rolodex of Injuries’ to see which one he would use to justify his drop and tell people when it happened.
I distinctly remember running through a very similar scenario last summer. I had some genuine issues, but hammed them up at the time for other people and also my own head so I could justify that dropping was sensible and above all, the only option.
Since then I have worked on the mental side and adopted the mantra “It never always gets worse”. I know bad patches will happen, but will be followed by good patches. When it hurts, I will smile. This got me through the Brecon Beacons and worked a treat. I will be positive and know I will finish- not in an arrogant way, but in a confident way.
Often when I go into a race I remind myself that I am not going to win and I won’t be last. This time around I have told myself I won’t win and I might well be last. But I’ll be the happiest last place finisher in the world when I cross that line sometime on Sunday 10th August.
I am going into the race 100% focussed for four key reasons. This race is still the only race ever that I have failed to finish and I am not good with that. Failure does not sit well with me and whilst it has affected me for sure, I have also grown stronger from it. Since that race the three ultras I have run I have run really well. Brecon Beacons was a great race, South Downs Way 50 was my fifty mile PB back in April and my North Downs Way 50 run in May was a sensible and calculated finish.
The three reasons this race means so much more this year are:
1. With Western States qualification criteria having been upgraded to a select few 100k and 100 mile races, this is my only shot at qualifying for the Western States lottery this year. Simply put, I have to finish in order to keep the lottery momentum going.
2. I dropped last year. I am not prepared to deal with dropping again. To quote Marshall Ulrich “We leave the course if we are dragged from the course”. The only reason I will not finish is if I am timed out at an aid station after the cut off or pulled for medical reasons. It will not be a voluntary drop.
3. It is the 100 mile distance. Whilst I am technically an ultrarunner after six 50 mile finishes, I don’t truly believe you are fully fledged until you have a 100 mile finish. This is currently the monkey on my back.
4. Lon Lomas. Lon is a friend of mine who died on 7th July when he was struck whilst cycling in a hit and run. Lon had his first 100 mile race lined up in December and will now not finish it. Knowing what it meant to him (and to me) to finish the 100 mile distance I want to collect the buckle at the finish and then post it to his family. I will have plenty of opportunity to earn more buckles, but Lon won’t. Furthermore, I am trying to raise funds as we speak to go to Texas in December and run the race he planned and give the buckle there to his wife and kids at the finish. By dedicating this race to someone else, it will take my mind off my own personal weaknesses on the day.
On the way to the start last year from my hotel with Mum and Dad in the car, I distinctly remember saying “Wow, I can’t believe I will still be running at this time tomorrow…”. I think I had already mentally lost just by uttering this sentence. I just hadn’t got my head around what I was about to do. This year I know it will be the hardest thing I have ever physically done and I respect the course and the distance whilst having the belief that I am trained and capable.
Last year I also tried to run my splits from the fifty mile version of just over 10 hours for the first half, focussed on a sub 24 hour finish. This was lunacy for a tough race and my first 100 mile run. This time around I am not focussed on splits, but running the first 50 miles gently. I will then be heading into the evening and the unknown without a finish time goal in mind, aside from it being under the 30 hour cut off. When I finish is when I finish.
I have prepared my gear and fuel better and am keeping it simple.
So, as you can see, this race is a big deal for me. It really matters and I look forward to it with excitement, not intimidation.
“100 miles is not that far” Karl Meltzer…