Hardwolds 80 II, Revenge of the Wolds
Posted on 25th November 2021 at 11:28
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A heavy blanket of pain, regret and lethargy smothered me as I attempted to roll out of bed on Saturday the 20th November.
I’d been awake most of the night, deciding if I should pull out or not, this all seemed like a bad idea, and the only sensible thing surely was to just abandon it and have another go when things were better.
Standing up hurt, bending over hurt, walking hurt. Not more than twenty seconds seemed to go by without sharp shooting pains running up my spine and a high-pitched yelp escaping my mouth as I fought hard to suppress it and prepare for what lay ahead.
Running 80 miles did not seem like a good idea. But then it’s me isn’t it, with my long history of following through with bad ideas, so given that some people had already sponsored me, I decided it was best just to give this a go and see how I got on, I posted on social media to let people know in advance that there was a strong possibility I might pull out, but if that happened, I would be back at some point to attempt this race again.
And so at the start line, I did all I could to loosen off, and when race organizer Jon Steele released the hounds of Hell I gingerly set off and figured I would just see how the day went.
For the first three miles I was actually in first place, not as a result of my athletic prowess, but by the fortune of living close the course, and having recced the start the morning before with my dog. So, I knew just as we got onto Hessle Foreshore I had to turn right through the road works to get on route, but unfortunately a dozen other runners ahead of me didn’t know that, and so continued along a path where the only option a hundred metres further down was to either swim around the Humber Bridge or turn back around.
A few miles into the route took me straight past my Personal Training Studio, set in a lovely part of Hull with the Foreshore just a mile to the front and lots of woodland just a mile at the back. I'm fortunate to have this playground to explore between clients.
For the first ten miles I just took my time, I was so apprehensive about pulling out, not only would I find it embarrassing, which is just foolish really, but I didn’t want to let people down who had sponsored me, but in direct conflict of that interest I didn’t want to cause myself any permanent damage by carrying on long after the point where I should have stopped.
The tension held me back for the first few hours, running didn’t seem to aggravate it, but every now and then I would trip over and experience sharp twinges of pain. At the second check point, I asked Adam if he could take my shoes and socks off for me and shake out the loose rocks, I had run twenty miles by this point, but was unable to bend over and tie my laces.
But then after I’d completed a marathon distance I began to relax, I figured that if I eventually did have to pull out, there was no shame in that, I had a legitimate excuse, and seeing as I couldn’t actually push myself hard to finish as fast as I could, I might as well just enjoy the day and really experience the beauty of the wonderful countryside I was lucky to be running in that day.
This mindset change felt like dropping an anvil from my backpack which I hadn’t realised was there, I never usually just enjoy the run, and yet it’s probably the most important principle of Ultra running, remember to enjoy it.
The weather was great, conditions considerably better than the last time I ran this and so why not just take my time and get through this thing at my own leisurely pace.
So it was I felt a little more chatty and sociable, and began enjoying the race and talking to other people, at one point I met Eddie, who told me he’d read my blog, which along with my Mum means it must have at least two readers, I was flattered! This was his second ultra-run, and he was absolutely nailing it, great to see so much positive energy and I wished him luck as he sped away, eventually finishing in third place, what a legend!
Later on, whilst double checking a gate to make sure I wasn’t about to make a big navigation error I met Matt, who turned out to be another local Hull lad, we got chatting and spent the next forty miles or so discussing various aspects of running, witty and engaging aspects of academic thinking, with a focus on Wittgenstein and the artistic and political settings of the renaissance.
I also got in a few nob gags and confounded him with pop trivia, including why the whistling section on “sitting on the dock of the bay” by Otis Redding is there, what a Spandau Ballet actually is, and which song Nirvana hated to perform. I won’t spoil the answer to these in case you’re ever fortunate enough to run alongside me in the future.
A run of two halves
My plan was always to try and conserve energy until I got to Thixendale, about 44 miles in. As we approached the village a few miles out the wind was in our face and I began to flag a bit, so at this point we both switched to power walking, which is like normal walking but with a macho stance and foolhardy determination.
Soon as we got into the check point, I set the rest button on my watch and went straight into Diva mode as I demanded Adam belt feed me coffee, charge my watch, get me some more ibuprofen and ram some more snacks into my pack as well as replace the water bottles. After twelve minutes I set off, the rest had done me some good and although Matt had set off a few mins before me I soon caught up with him, and we got straight back into more fascinating subjects.
The rest of the run went well for me, I was feeling good, and it was nice to take my time and enjoy the view for once. At one point as I walked down a pathway and heard “what the fuck are you doing walking?” as my adrenaline spiked up and my fist clenched I saw that my old crew mate Will had turned up to see how I was getting on, turned out he’d been out with his family for the day in Dalby Forest and saw on the Map that I was nearby. Really perked me up to see him and I continued ahead with even more energy now.
We continued on a little further, Adam surprised me by turning up at a great spot between checkpoints and I got some bananas and a glass of coke down me, I think that along with the beautifull countryside, the aspect of running I enjoy most is just eating lots of food!.
Just a few miles before Ganton, Matt realised that he was enjoying my company so much, that he begged me to leave him alone, and so it was with just fifteen miles to go I continued ahead by myself.
Unfortunately, Matt had an issue with fuelling, in that everything he ate made him feel sick, it’s a horrible place to be, it can take hours to recover from and in some cases, people have ended up in hospital with severe dehydration and hypothermia because they tried to push ahead long past the point where they should have done the sensible thing and quit. I found out a few days later that Matt had to pull out of the race with just 12 miles left, gutting as it was, it was probably the right thing to do, and he’s already said he’ll be back to crack it again.
When I arrived in Ganton I managed to wolf down six slices of pizza, a refreshers bar, two litres of water and enjoy a five-minute rest before setting off again. A few miles through some woods in the dark with a headtorch on by myself, a few steep hills to climb, and I was eventually at Flixton, a tent check point where the marshals had set up a cool light show and dressed as Werewolf’s.
Kudos to the marshals, and hats off to Hardmoors for this excellent addition this year, as the full moon shined down on me it seemed the perfect accompaniment to Echo and the Bunnymen’s Killing Moon playing on my headphones.
I met Adam, full of energy and beaming, the last stretch, just seven miles to go, I drank a strong Belgian beer and told Adam I’d see him really soon at the finish line.
The next seven miles ran through a few last hills, and I was careful not to make the same mistake as last time and end up on the wrong side of an electric fence in a ditch surrounded by angry looking cows.
I arrived in Filey, the tide was out and best of all it was only twenty minutes past eleven. So it was I pushed ahead, managing a slightly fast bimble along the sea front and up the steep stairs to the cliffs where I had to reach the official end of the Wolds way marked by a large stone. From here it was just a short journey back, down the steps again, into Filey and a quick run through the town to eventually arrive at the Sea Cadets building for tea and medals.
It was great to see everyone, and although I had to take it much easier this year I still came in fifteenth place and knocked two hours of my previous time. I now got to do the thing I had most been looking forward to for the last twelve hours, I had a nice long shower, got changed into some clean clothes, got in the car and went home. Nice days’ work after all.
Best of all so far, I have raised £510 for two charities close to my heart, Paul for Brain and Humber Rescue, both organisations make a huge difference to the community and I’m grateful to have supported them.
If you would like to donate then please click here, no donation is too small and every penny goes to a great cause. thanks.
My drama wasn’t the toughest drama that day.
I’ve tried not to exaggerate how my back felt that day, I’m pleased that I was still able to complete this event, but it doesn’t really merit any special significance, I was just lucky that it wasn’t bad enough to stop me.
Biggest drama of the day and full-on maximum kudos points go to the lady who got a cramp just five miles in, but continued ahead, eventually finishing at ten past seven on Sunday morning, just fifty minutes shy of the cut off time.
Oh, and that cramp? Turned out she actually full on broke her leg! She ran seventy five miles on a fricking broken leg!!!!!!
Ultra runs are full of stories like these, they might not be sensible, definitely not advisable, but damn it if I’m not overwhelmed with inspiration when I hear about these amazing people.
I'm very grateful to Adam for giving up his weekend to come help me out, it's a massive ask for someone to drive a hundreds of miles and find their way to various places on a map which they haven't been to, and then wait on you hand and foot as your tired body tries to make demands. Massive, massive thanks Bro.
Also a big thanks to Adrew Shevlin, nutrition coach and PT who helped keep me on track with calories and ensured I wasn't carrying an extra 6kg over 80 miles. Will do a full write up on weight loss soon enough, needless to say I'm his wort client.
Maybe there’s something in slow?
By necessity I had to really hold back on my pace this year, and yet I still managed a reasonably decent run, best of all there were no points during the day when the engine fell of and I had to endure a few hours in a dark melancholy barely able to put one foot in front of the other, which has happened on every other run I’ve done so far, probably because I’ve been running too quick causing my stomach to give up on digestion and instead turn its attention to making me want to vomit.
I’m still going to push harder next time I run but will hopefully use this valuable lesson to slow down more often when I need to prevent my foolish self from burning out.
This was also the first time I ran with electrolytes in every drink, which may also have had something to do with me feeling good throughout the day.
In closing I’ll just say this, I set out to get my best possible time on the Wolds way, and that didn’t happen, things beyond my control prevented me from being able to give it my all, which is OK, but the Wolds way and I still have unfinished business, and I’ll be back..
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