Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Thames Trot 50. 2016/02/06

I have some good training in the bank and I am looking forward to running the Thames Trot for the second year running. The aim of the race will be to work on sustaining a consistent pace and seeing where my general level of fitness and endurance is. I had built this race into my plan working towards April's target race. The TT race is organised by Go Beyond Ultra and is a well organised event and a popular run. My pace for this time of year so far is quicker over mud and I am feeling fairly strong, I am going into the race with some anticipation about how I will do over a longer distance and with all the rain we have had there will be plenty of mud to look forward to. I have bought a pair of Mudclaws and so far I have enjoyed running in them. I have previously run in Salomon speed cross 3's.

I travelled up the afternoon before and bumped in to Lee Crane on the train. We are staying at different hotels and he offers to pick me up in the morning with his partner. I stay in a Travel Lodge and have a restful night. I slept well and woke early. I eat some natural yogurt and have a banana. Lee picks me up at 7 am and we get to Hawkswell Hotel nice and early.It is already busy so after a quick registration we find a seat and settle down for a while. A few other BOSH runners turn up, Janna who is running and will be supported by Marina and Helen.
Lee Janna and me before the start.
A quick race brief and we are off to the sound of the horn. Once on to the Thames path it is soon apparent it is going to be a mudfest. I aim to keep my pace at around 10 minute miles.
I am sticking to this but notice not far out from Abingdon I have no satellite signal on my garmin.This is frustrating to say the least! I decide if it does it again I will just run without it, which it does. I find it is much better not knowing what my pace is.It was raining now and the wind was driving in. On the other side of Abingdon it was exposed and I was hoping this would not carry on for too long. The combination of all 3 - mud wind and rain - made today a fairly decent challenge. I topped up with water at Check point 1, Culham Lock. 10 miles @ 1.34.10. Last year it was very muddy leading out of here but it did not seem too bad today. I eat some banana as I go. The field is spread out now, the wind is still gusting in and I enjoy the shelter of the trees. I am looking forward to getting on to  the course I am familiar with and is like home for me, part of the A100 and TP100. 
A dry spell!
Arriving at Clifton Hampden I can already feel some tiredness in my legs from running in the mud alsot he winds have been gusting at 40 mph! It is good to see Marina and Helen at this point. Always nice to see a friendly face. After a few miles I am at Little Wittenham over the lock gates and I am into some more fields. How many times have I been here! I walk for a  minute and eat then I start to run again through the fields till I get to A4074. It's grim running along here with the rain and the wind and traffic but it's not long before I am back on the path. I arrive at Benson waterfront, CP2 19 miles 3.16.45. I clear my shoes of debris that has got into them. I walk out of Benson CP eating till I get to Benson Lock then I run over the lock, the water is thundering under the lock.
Benson Lock.
Once on the other side the path soon becomes muddy but I am able to run with the Mudclaws. I notice runners in front of me slipping about. It's not long before I am at Wallingford crossing the road. I walk and eat and give my legs a rest. I know this part well so I feel at ease with running and mentally I work out I am off my pace and the target I had in mind. It's not a problem and I go for plan B. 

Arriving at CP 3, The Swan at Streatly, I feel good. 27 miles in 5 hrs. I top up with water, eat a few bits and walk out giving Donna a quick call to let her know how the day is going. Once over the bridges I start running, more mud once through the fields. Up through Hartslock Wood the only real elevation gain of the whole race. It's good to have an excuse to walk. Through Whitchurch at about 3.5 miles. I had broken this bit up and I knew  the next CP was about another 3.5 miles. To Mapledurham you pass through a number of fields some were sticky with mud and with it being open fields it was quite windy. I stopped for a much needed loo break at the lock here where there is a toilet. Arriving at Mapledurham, 34 miles at 6.44 I am in a good place and looking forward to the next section. I eat some cake and go through Purley on Thames and then back onto the Thames Path I walk and chat with another runner before he goes on. The constant mud and flat has drained my legs but I know I am still in time for plan B so keep going forward. The path here is mostly firm and is for a good few miles with some tarmac thrown in. 

Sonning at 44 miles seems to take an age to get to. I am taking more walk breaks but not long ones. I know I am still on for a PB, my feet are a little sore from lack of cushioning in the Mudclaws. I get to Sonning in 8.25, get my headtorch out and eat a fair bit for me. I feel I will need it. I thank the volunteers for being out all day and the support they have offered. Once over the bridge at Sonning and back on the path I am greeted with more mud. My ankles hurt and my feet are sore! To say I am not overjoyed with more mud is an understatement. I run bits and walk others. It is pitch dark and if you do not know the route it must be difficult, poor signage does not help. Once out of the fields we come onto Mill Lane. I meet a runner I have been following, I point him the right direction. As I get to the end of Mill Lane I see a group of people standing there. I do not realize it is Marina and Helen and Janna It was so nice of them to be there supporting us runners and great to see them. I eat some pineapple which tasted good. The ladies would now go to the finish and wait for me. The last couple of miles go quick. I was glad to finish it had been a good race to finish with no real negativity,some challenging  conditions on the day.  I had also managed a 28 minute PB with my time being 9.50.16.

I was really grateful that Marina Janna and Helen had stuck around to see me in  and  for driving me back. The day had gone well with no real issues. I felt fairly comfortable all day even in the poor weather. I woke up the next day and felt just a little jaded!  Now back to training and getting out with map and compass for April's adventure. 

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