These key races sure come round quick don`t they? Before I knew it it`s October – which meant the Caesars Camp 50
Why was I here? Well shortly before making the decision to pull out of my solo run at the TR24 – my 2012 target race I needed a new challenge . I choose this one because it fits – it was laps (helpful when there is no support team), very very local (less than 3 miles) , I knew the course (previous races 2 x 30M + numerous training runs) & that as I`m not very good with hills it will help me to improve plus it`s 50 miles which is a long way Blimey - putting it this way
Training wise was poor but what sealed my place on the start line & not dropping down to the Midnight 30 was when I finishing the Farnham Marathon. My logic was that I could do 26.2M (not saying it was plain sailing) then I could do 30 miles at night & wanted to be outside my safety zone......
The race starts at Noon, this gave me plenty of time especially as my sleep pattern in race week was, even for me, was very poor. Most mornings I was wide awake just after 4.15am. My head thoughts was racing, ideally not want you want in race week but sometimes you cannot do anything about timing - I could not tell if was proper taper madness or a personal matter that knocked me sideways & always has – and now as I`m writing this after the race I`m hoping it was the former but probably a mixture of both but let`s hope it`s not a case of déjà va (have I said that before??).
Anyway just after 4am on race morning I was awake so I put on a film - Forrest Gump – it just seemed the right thing to do plus it made me relaxed. Shortly before 9.00am I nipped out for a bit of fresh air & wandered over to Frimley Lodge parkrun. Very interesting to see from the other side of the fence. I got backed & got ready. I had already sorted my kit into smaller bags with food & drinks in a cool bag & transferred these to my race HQ (my car)..
I got there & signed in – no jokes about doing the smaller `fun` run & returned to the car (which I managed to park in a spot that was the furthest away for Race HQ – a poor decision I later found out). Even though I expected to see a few familiar faces I still felt out of play – this was a proper endurance race. It briefly reminded me of that fox hiding caption..
This thought was soon removed by the race briefing, delivered by Henk. He sure does not sugar coat things – his warnings were stern – and his views on littering the course is so spot on (don`t do it). BTW He doesn`t seem to like compression socks, backbacks & garmins all worn together....congrats that man !!!
Looking back I am unsure how the race was actually started – in previous years it`s something like...”3 – 2 – 1 now f**k off you d*ckheads” – quite odd I just started to jog, there was no thoughts of “Ok, 50 miles here I come” I had gone for what most were wearing – trail shoes, short sleeved top (I wore my Club vest) & compression shorts & around my race number belt I had two gels & tied off I had my buff & arm warmers. The start was nice & slow with many early walking breaks especially up the 1st steep incline (this photo does not do it justice) & then up along the ridge & then the dip down before climbing onto the `Look out`...here were the best views on the course. Also the first area where care need to be taken – down a steep, wet, muddy, stony tracks that I think catch a runners out later.
Seeing as I had recently down a training run over there the course conditions for the 1st half was not a real surprise. Soon enough I was at the checkpoint (5.5M in), I think I only stopped for a couple of drinks & some jelly sweets or something. Miles 7 – 9 was the part of the course I had not stuck to when I came over here on my reccie runs...... blimey there was a tight drop which already was very sloppy with (liquid) mud & was sure going cause problems later. Then after a flat section and a rise it was down towards a real muddy section – shoe sucking section – I know this as it took my right shoe off without any problem – one footstep later & I had one wet, muddy sock – great. Then it was back towards the look out and some solid tracks & path. We turned off (I remembered this as this was the cause of my bonus miles in my very 1st trip over here), this track was even more trickery than the one earlier & it wasn`t going to improve. Soon it was less than a mile to go – which was good as I felt a couple of hotspots on my left foot – inside edge of the sole & tip of a couple of toes – the toes I was surprised with as my Mizuno Wave Harriers II`s have a large toe box & the step drops causes a bit of toe bashing. I dropped off the final hill & checked into race HQ before going to the car – see garmin connect to see how far I had to walk – what a dope. I sorted out the feet & after a clean pair of socks & a new top I felt a lot better. I also had about 175ml of flat coke & a muller rice. Out on lap two...
I soon caught up these the 3 (1 x 50M & 2 x 100M) runners who were very experienced & having a laugh, which helped me relax even more. I cannot remember if I went off or if they did but suddenly I was alone – which was nice. Well not quite alone – I met the Caesars Camp Cows along a small track....lucky they played nicely & let me though. Soon enough I found the checkpoint & it answered one thing – they had gone off ahead of me . I left them there. I looked at the garmin – 16 miles down. All felt good – no hotspots anymore, legs ok, running wise good & head was ok. I think I was lucky choosing a route through the mud field so no repeat of the previous lap & losing my shoe. The rest of the lap seemed to go quickly.
Again transition was about 10 minutes, no food – new top & change of race belt with my lights (Led Lenser H7 head torch & rear hazards lights). Now sometime during this lap my head became a trip on its very own – weird thoughts time – The sun will come out tomorrow song came out of nowhere & even more bizarre was where I got the `Cub scout law` from – wow. I need to focus & keep my brain going. They had coffee on the go at the checkpoint so I had a black one. I took it on the go I managed the mud slide track quite well again. I thought I taken my safe route through the mud field but I hadn`t – big squelch & my shoe was gone – the right one & same results again. I sorted that out & carried on – well within 3 footsteps I lost it again – I mean LOST it ...a proper toys out of pram moment....I am glad no-one was near me. They could have heard me but not in sight. I looked down – 27 miles just gone – my 1st ultra for the year done. That was like a new page – I felt much better. I realised that if I was doing the 30 mile run I would be finishing soon – I didn`t want to finish. Ok I was tired, things were tighten up but I hadn`t finished yet which pleased me.
I may have taken longer at this transition, I wanted a helly top & my gilet – as it happened within a couple of miles it started to rain. I was joined by this South African runner – amazing to just listen & swop stories as the miles ticked off. I think at the checkpoint he carried on. 35 miles in – this was a good point – my second furthest run. By now my walking sections had increased. By now the tricky points on the course were very bad – I felt for the 100M runners & 30M guys. I saw one runner miss a turn so went after them - all I will say is iPod !!! I hadn`t checked but the numbers of runners I saw was getting less I could only imagine quite a few had quit. I made a deal with myself quite early on that I wasn`t going to quit – I might be one of the last 50M runners to finish but I wasn`t going to quit.
Just before Race HQ at the last incline a runner went past – a 50M runner – who was just about to finish 10hrs 25 mins or something. Instead of getting down about that I thought “hey that will be me soon....well soon in a few hours sense of the word”. I got a coffee & changed helly tops & put on my Haglofs smock as the rain had not stopped & made my way out to my last lap.
My time & cuts off`s permitting I had always planned to walk most of this lap – only really running the downhill sections. I thought I walked fast but it took ages ....but each step I was getting closer. At the checkpoint I thanked them for their work & support – they causally accepted it but it does mean a lot. I also bumped into Andrew & we had a good long chat – but soon enough I was back out on the course to finish it off. I walked with a 100M runner for a while then suddenly I was at the bottom of the `Look Out` – so that`s a climb, flat, long downhill, tricky section, firm flat bit & the tree section & finishing straight to go till I finished. As I neared the road & the last downhill to Race HQ a car was driving up & I`m glad my torch had enough light for them to see me as I didn`t want to stop...they saw me & I ran through to the finish.
Ok my last lap was not pretty & I would guess a 8M walk but I got the job done. I had gone out of my safety zone, beaten the head demons & those self doubts that had crept in.
I now have an `easy` 50M PB to break next time....I know I can do a better time.
10M - 2hrs 00mins
20M - 4hrs 24mins
30M - 7hrs 15mins
40M - 10hrs 27mins
19th out of 51 fifty mile starters - unsure how many DNF
Damage – a couple of blisters, toenail count = 9, legs & hips a bit tight. My smile is covering up a lot of doms I think.
Big thanks to Henk & his brilliant team – thankyou.
Next up.....a bit of rest & then in a couple of weeks I`ll go back over there & enjoy a lap.
Last thought.......Now if I can nearly spend 14 hrs on my feet on a hilly course what can I do on a flatter course - either mileage or time-wise terms.......tbc ;-)