I’ll let you in on a little secret. I haven’t enjoyed running an ultra since the Green Man Ultra in March 2015. Since then I went through the motions at the Thames Path 100, my first sub 24 race on UK soil. I had run a 22:31 at the stifling, muggy Brazos Bend in Texas a few months before and thought I had it in me to go sub 20 hours at the Thames Path, but sickness transpired against me and I death marched in for a 23 something finish. That was my third 100 mile finish and the first where I felt nothing.
In September during the start of a year from hell I dropped at the Cotswold Century, emotionally wiped out by 60 miles.
But then in January this year I found out I had a place in UTMB. I firmly believe that UTMB helped me get through these last few months with something so huge, so epic to aim for amidst all the struggles I had day to day to get there.
On the way I finished the South Downs Way 50 in April and the South Downs 100 a couple of months later in June. Both finishes meant very little and I knew I was suffering.
By the time August came around, I finally had some good news and was able to fly out to Chamonix in a positive state of mind, but you can’t run UTMB on less than 100% mental focus. I was fit for sure, but it wasn’t meant to be. I learnt a huge amount and will be back to complete this race, of that I am certain. The race didn’t destroy me physically like a lot of races do. To be honest, most of it was hiking and I was back running a week later in the Dolomites and feeling good.
So good in fact, that I decided to seek redemption and for all of the wrong reasons, decided to enter the Cotswold Way Century again and close down a horrible year with a strong finish. 55 miles in this weekend I was pulled from the course having fainted and with uncontrollable vomiting from mile 30. I wasn’t ready. My body and mind weren’t ready.
But, and this is a huge but, both these failures were way more beautiful than my two victories earlier this year. Both took everything from me in different ways and I discovered more about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses, my goals, my aspirations, my life, my focuses in these races. I prayed during both, I cried, I fell down and I started to heal because of both.
I am not done with ultras. Not by a long way. But I am taking a long winter rest now and focussing on whats truly important as I look forward to life again. And if this text doesn’t sum it up, the below hopefully will.