I had been looking forward to running the Thames Trot 50.I knew from last year that traditionally this is a race that can be quite difficult due to the weather and flooding form the River Thames. This means the route can be diverted. Luckily the weather had held with little or know rain in the week leading up to the race.I had ran the Darkstar River Marathon 2 weeks previously which was similar with regards to terrain and mud. It was also good preparation for today.
I wanted to ideally see where my fitness was on this race and try and get a number of things right, my fueling and pacing.My goal races this year are North Downs Way 100 and the Sandstone Ultra which is a 120 miles long. Having completed a few 100's. I now want to focus on finishing quicker. My training had been fairly consistent. But since The Winter 100 I had found it hard motivation wise.
Race day saw myself and Donna my partner travel from the Travelodge to race HQ at Hawkswell Hotel. It was easy to find parking. I registered and saw Andy Nutall a friend I have made over the course of the last year or so racing. I had to message Andy the night before to see if he had any salt tablets. I had forgotten mine. I dehydrate easily even in the cold. He had brought some. Which was really helpful. I also saw Tremayne another friend, I caught up with him he was ready and looking forward to today. I said my hellos to a few other people I knew.
The was a nice buzz about the race and it, everything about Go Beyond Ultra the race organizer was professional and well set up.The race is described as tranquil run from Oxford to Henley. I also found it good value for money at £47.00. With superb aid stations. There is an 11 hour time limit.
I waited outside for the start and said my good by to Donna was crewing for me today.I had studied the route and was familiar with all from other races. My plan was to run around 10 - 11 min miles for the first half and then I would expect to slow a bit. I had realistic view also because of the mud along the route. The main thing was to just enjoy the run.
The race started on time and we was off heading for the Thames. I felt good and as usual my pace was a little to quick. First mile came in at 8.44 after that I kept it just around 9.45. Once on the Thames and a bit of space I settled into an easy rhythm. It was a lovely crisp morning and it was cold. But I soon warmed up. The ground under foot was rutted and uneven. The mud was frozen so it was fairly good running. I was running on my own. Not much of a talker when I am running I prefer it this way. I like my own race. However I do not blank people and got chatting to another runner and we swopped are running stories to date for a bit.
I arrived at Culham Lock the first Check point at mile 10 in a time of 1.38. I saw Donna and quickly picked up a banana and a wrap some crisps. I did not get any water as I had not been drinking much. The ground was now starting to thaw and it was getting muddy which was slowing me down a little. I walked out of the aid station eating and soon started to move forward again. I could feel the cold when I had stopped. I had been sweating quite a bit and my jacket was wet with sweat. I would have to this and the next CP.
This part of the race route was not so familiar I was okay but the mud was starting to slow me. I was finding this frustrating. I kept moving forward but I started to feel a little fed up and bored. My head was not really in it. But even so I kept going. Knowing that it would shift. I started to try and be more in the moment and just focused on my breath. It was mainly fields now along the side of the Thames. I had eaten a little and had also taken a Scap. I had started to feel thirsty as I had not been taking enough water on.
The route started to look more familiar now as we passed by Little Wittenham.I was soon at CP2. It was great to see Donna I had phoned ahead to get a jacket change. The one I had on was wet through from sweating and making me cold. I stopped for 5 minutes drank some water and ate a little. I now new where I was and heading. There is a diversion here due Benson Lock still being closed.
The route comes off the Thames Path and follows a diversion on road. I was glad of some firmer ground to run and I ate a banana as I run along. I have ran this diversion a few times now and last time it seem longer than it is. I could see a run up ahead vomiting. I stopped to see if he was ok and offer some salt tablets. As I was coming into Wallingford I started to feel sick myself. I ignored this and kept running, but as I was coming to the the bridge I started to heave. I stopped and walked for a minute then kept moving forward. It soon left me. I think this may have been because I was dehydrated. I had been getting water in slowly and it was not until after CP 3 that I felt re-hydrated again.
Back onto the Thames Path after Wallingford and I was moving along okay. My head was still not really in the race. This part of the route had quite a bit of mud. Now that the ground had thawed it was becoming hard work. I kept moving and running as best I could at mile 24 before you get into Moulesford the mud was really bad. I am not to keen on this bit of the run into Moulesford, the road seems to go on for ever. But its not even a mile long. The last couple of miles into Streatly I started to feel really hungry and a little tired. I had a gel and just carried on running. Streatly was busy and I took 10 minutes to get some food in and rest and chat to Donna who reminded me I am no quitter.
Mile 28 - 29 was horrendously muddy and I had no choice but to walk most of this. I was glad to get into Hartslock Wood. There is some incline here which was pleasant change.
Once back on the Thames path I kept up a good pace unless I was hitting more mud. I felt good and popped in my head phones as treat and listened to some music. Knowing the trail well here was good and kept me moving. At Reading there was another diversion through the town. This was well marked and easy to follow. I was heading towards Sonning and I knew once there I would need to get my head torch out. I saw Donna walking along to meet me. We ran together to CP 5. A crowd was waiting and clapped as I made way in. There was not much food left so I grabbed a couple of gels. Donna got my headtorch out of the back of my race vest. Donna said I had an hour and 10 mins to get in under 10 hrs. I thought I could do this.
As soon as I was over the bridge I was into the worst mud of the race so far. It was ankle deep and in the dark even with light just impossible to run in. I decided I was wasting to much energy trying to run in it. So I walked the next 2 1/2 miles till I reached Lower Shiplake. I met up with some other runners who where not to sure of the direction. One of the runners was the guy who I had seen vomiting earlier in the race. I said it was good to see him and well done. We chose the obvious direction and headed off and it was not long before we found a Thames Path sign and some marshalls who directed us on. We had 4 miles to go. I always have enough left for a bit of a spurt at the end so Is started to push forward. My garmin had died some time back so I was not sure how far I had to go. I was cold and tired. And I just wanted to get in the warm. I kept running despite my body and head telling me to stop. Through some more mud and then the Thames at my side again I could feel the fatigue in my legs.
I looked behind me and I could see a trail of headlamps behind me. This spurred me I did not want to get overtaken! I ran over a long wooden bridge. Every time I saw lights up ahead I kept saying please be the finish. Soon enough I could see the finish. I had the usual welling up of emotions as I came to the line, I felt great though.
|The beard is looking very Ginger!!|
After a hug with Donna and two cups of tea it was time to go home. Another ultra in the bag. Time 10.18.30 and avg pace 12.24. I was happy with the race and achieved a time I wanted.
|Welcomed cup of Tea.|
|Feeling good after 50 miles!|