I have been conscious that I haven't posted for a while and that's mainly because I haven't had much going on since the Grimsthorpe 70 miler 5 weeks ago and deliberately so.
Due to my overuse injury sustained during the race I really did need 3-4 weeks of recovery to ensure a smooth recovery. I have slowly returned to running during the past 10 days but things have not gone exactly to plan. It is clear to see that I have lost some of the fitness (mainly on the speed side of things) I worked hard to build up during the first half of this year. Of course this drop in fitness was expected due to the 3+ weeks I took off. I am positive thought that after a few weeks quality sessions and things will slowly come back
During that rest period I reflected on what I did right and what lessons I had learned after the race and where I need to go from here.
What I did Right
I paced the race well up until my legs went at 60 mile point--Up until the 60 mile point I was averaging each 10 mile loop around 2-2.5hrs.
I did some quality long runs of 3-4 hours--I managed to do about a 12 runs or so between 22-25 miles. As we will see below this was also a mistake because I hadn't really been beyond the 26 mile point at all and I would have liked to do a few 5-6 hour runs.
Resting foot injury developed 3 weeks before the race--This was key otherwise I would never have even got to the starting line.
Areas of improvement
I didn't do enough long runs--Although I did do a decent amount of long runs around 3-4 hours I just don't think I had enough time on my feet prior to the race and this impacted my performance. Of course I was pleased to finish but I felt dissapointed at the same time. I definitely need more time running on my feet so will be trying to fit in some 5 or 6 hour runs. Of course I am still a relative newcomer to running letting alone ultras so my base mileage will grow and my running economy will improve which in turn should help deliver better performances.
Eating erratically and not drinking enough--During the race I pretty much drank bottle after bottle of Gatorade however in the early part of the race I was hit with dehydration and was always playing catchup until around the 30 mile mark and this was one of the reasons I switched to water instead of Gatorade. Also the sweet taste was making me feel nauseous after drinking around 6-7 litres of it.I think I will be sticking to plain water with Nuun tablets moving forward and take experiment with some different gels / energy bars. Eating wise I ate so many different type of things during the race both sweet and savoury and surprisingly all of my choices settled within my stomach (I particularly found eating different types of 9Bars particularly good). However I was pretty much spending on average 6-7 minutes at the checkpoint and this was far to long and I walked way with my muscles feeling cold / stiff and it took time to warm up again plus this was the only time I was eating, not good when you are on your feet for 18 hours. I need to be more consistent and military like with my fuelling / hydration. so I aim to experiment a bit more during the future and hopefully get this one right before my next ultra.
I have been contemplating this question ever since I finished the Grimsthorpe race and to be honest I really am not 100% sure on what I will do, at least not where 2010 is concerned. The main focus during the past weeks has been to rest so as to ensure a smooth recovery. During the week I am well on the way to getting my fitness back albeit only 29 miles however I am looking to return to where I was before Grimsthorpe over the next few week and then take it from there. I am considering the Brentwood Trail marathon on 24th October but might do some 5k's, 10k's or half-marathons. We'll see. To be honest I would like to get another ultra under the belt this year but the season is coming to an end and most races are not within easy reach. But one things for sure I am going to get out there and do some long long runs just for the fun of it.
I am already planning 2011 and it is looking really good already but I don't want to wish away the rest of this year especially as I feel mentally stronger and I know I can only go from strength to strength from here. I think I have entered a new phase in my running in that I am now not just looking to finish but run the race in style and be stronger during the last half of the race. Bring on the next adventure I just cannot wait.