Ultra Marathon Blog – Part 4
A 50km Canalathon
The weather was perfect. The temperature was cool and wind conditions were light.
The Canalathon is a route designed to run along the towpaths between Manchester and Sowerby Bridge. There were 3 distances to choose from, 50km (31 miles), 75km (46 miles) or 100km (62 miles).
The organisers provide a list of mandatory kit that must be carried and this applies to all Ultra races. As well as the 2 x 500ml of water, we had to carry a waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, a spare T-shirt, some basic food, a phone, a whistle, a torch and hat and gloves!
As I was using this event as a training exercise, I focused on the shorter 50km to gauge my endurance and state of mind at the end.
Just after 8.30am, just over 500 eager faced runners held their fingers on important ‘start’ buttons on their watches. The ‘race’ began; everyone smiling and keen to impress their watching family and friends.
Within 1km we were running along the canal, nicely spread out and enjoying the countryside. I knew my target pace and kept an eye on my watch. Part adrenaline, part ‘following the pack’, my pace was slightly quicker than I wanted, but I felt good and continued following the others down the towpaths of Manchester.
At around 16km (10 miles) the ‘flow’ of running was truly set and I became slightly unfocused. It happens sometimes as you can drift off thinking about other things in life. Suddenly, I tripped! I was on the edge of the towpath, very close to the canal and stubbled on one of the slightly raised cobbles that were present along the route. In what seemed like slow motion, I was creating a Superman-like pose in the air, trying to align my trajectory away from the cold water of the canal. Luckily, I bounced on the hard gravel-like ground using the palms of my hands as brakes! A sight of blood and embedded gravel-rash wasn’t pretty. I dusted myself off and continued running, albeit now concentrating on the path ahead.
At halfway, 25km (15.5 miles), I decided to take a walking break. Reading online forums, most ultrarunners encourage small elements of walking to complete the distances. The rest of the run was uneventful until I broke through the marathon distance of 42km (26.2 miles). Only 8km (5 miles) to go! However, due to my keen start and not sticking to the plan, my legs found the remaining distance tough going.
The sign to the finish was a welcome sight and I managed to complete the course in 4 hours 40 minutes.
I had mixed feelings. The satisfaction that I had completed the 50km against the frustration of knowing that if I didn’t pace myself on the big day, the second half would be a real struggle.
The overall experience was beneficial and I aim to compete in some other events before the big day (15th June 2019).
Do not listen to your body at the beginning, stick to your plan!
Only ‘daydream’ when the ground under your feet is more forgiving!
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Depending on the donation amount, you can specify which prize you are looking to win!
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