The North Downs Way 100 mile race was exactly a month ago today. In many respects it feels a lifetime ago and in others, such as energy levels, it feels much more recent than that.
Whilst I knew a 100 miler would affect me more than the 50 mile races I have done to date, I had no idea it would affect me so much. Immediately after the race I slept virtually all of Sunday. Most of this was on a coach to Farnham from the finish in Wye, followed by my father driving me and Solange back to Bath.
I was in desperate need of a proper wash and this dealt with the chafing, although wasn’t pretty or quiet… My main problem was blisters on very sensitive parts of my feet but mostly agony in my lower shins. I genuinely thought I had done some serious damage so had them checked that night and was relieved to hear it was just muscle damage, nothing more. Just an overuse injury but one that hurt like hell nonetheless.
The next week I can only really describe as like jetlag but with pain. I took the Monday off to do very little, but was back at work on Tuesday. This week was spent mainly in the office and gradually I felt better, albeit going down stairs like a crab and taking ibuprofen for the shin pain and swelling. I also saw a chiropodist who dealt with my feet as best as she could…and certainly earned her £38 that hour.
I then had a couple of weeks holiday, which was mush needed. I feel now that the pain I went through was not just attributed to the distance I covered for the first time, but also the amount of slipping and sliding I did on the night leg as the storm hit. I was running in a compensatory form every step and this aggravated already exhausted muscles. I believe this is the main reason for my shin issues.
On the Tuesday of the holiday, 9 days after the NDW100 I took my first running steps. And felt amazing. For a mile. I was then utterly exhausted and completely wiped out. I walked the mile back to the house after that. The next day I managed two miles and by the end of the week I was back running hills and up to 8 miles.
But even since then, I haven’t beaten the elusive 8 mile mark! Partly this is just because I am not actively training right now and just letting my body dictate the distance and pace. Partly I am just enjoying not running much.
I fly out to the Brazos Bend 100 three months today and this now starts the ramp up period again in training. I have dropped the Cotswold 100 and will volunteer instead and have also dropped the Winter 100, where I will return the favour to Chris Mills and pace him the last section of the course. These were sensible moves, although I ummed and ahhed about the Cotswold 100 up until last week. Whilst I have my body back, I just don’t have the stamina to put myself through that again so soon. I admire anyone who can run back to back 100’s and whilst I do this to push my limits, I also do this to understand my limits and my body too.
I am now starting to look forward to December and it will no doubt be a very emotional experience. I mostly train on hills as this is what I enjoy, but with this being a “flat and fast course” (it will definitely be flat but I’ll be the judge if it’s fast…) I will be spending a lot more time working on maintaining speed and pace on the Kennet and Avon canal, which fortunately runs right through my village. This will also be good as I build up to my Western States qualifier in May of the Thames Path 100.
What has really amazed me has been the support towards my race in Texas. My flight has been paid for by a collective of friends and strangers putting in anywhere from a fiver to £100 to make this happen, Mule Bar have offered me free gels and bars, The North Face are supplying me with a tent and sleeping bag and so on. It has just been incredible and at the heart of it this is because people want to see something good happen to the Lomas family before Christmas after a tragic year.
I am looking forward to starting to build up the training again and I want to thank everyone who has helped make this possible, again. It is an overused phrase, but I truly couldn’t have done it without you.