Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Clyde Stride

Sitting in the car park before the start of the Clyde Stride I was a bag of nerves, I was so scared that I was actually crying. I just wanted to run and finish the race without an injury and to enjoy myself just running lots of miles. The reasons for these emotions was that it felt like it had been along time since my last ultra which had ended in an injury and dissapointment. The training leading up to this race had been difficult as I increased the mileage while recovering from the injury and also managing to get new injuries on route. During this time it had made me feel like I was falling apart. Because of the niggles I felt I hadn't put the miles in which had become my normal Ultra build up, but I felt I had got in some decent training and I needed to run a race without any pressure to get my love for Ultra's back.

So I had entered the Clyde Stride at short notice and here I was justifying why I was here?  For me today wasn't about racing, it was about re-discovering my enjoyment for Ultra running and finishing in one piece and hopefully not to much pain. So here I was at 7am on a Saturday morning sat with Stevie in a supermarket car-park in Glasgow with him trying to calm me down before I headed into what I felt was the unknown. The last few Ultra's had been hard and I felt they had taken their toll not just on my body but also my mind.

When I got to the start line I realised I had forgotten my Garmin, not that I really look at a watch but as I have no sense of direction so I felt it would be handy to know from the distance when I was near the check points. I shouted to Stevie, who said he would get it to me for the first check point. We were off and it was nice to be running, and I soon caught up with my friend Richard who had also been injured so we didn't spend too much time taking about injuries if anything the subject was avoided so as not to tempt fate!! as the one thing we both wanted was to finish in one piece. Richard helped me make it out of Glasgow and through all the busy road crossings as me and road crossing are really not a good mixture. With Richards company the miles certainly flew by running and it was nice to be running with someone. Into the first check point I got the Garmin and took on some fruit. I had prepared my drop bags in advance with gels, cereal bars, crisps and home made cookies, normally stuff I love, but it was so hot all I wanted was the fruit, which was a very last minute buy at the super market at the race start. Even through it was hot I felt was drinking plenty and Stevie was able to give me cool drinks at each station. Since my experience in the Barcelona 24 hr I had learned a lot about how to cope in the heat, and the need to be prepared with ice, sun cream and full body cover. Right from the off it felt hot so it was a nice feeling at the check points to get cooled off a little even it did sometimes mean your support got a bit wet. Then I was off again onto the trail, thankfully Richard was ready to leave the checkpoint to, so he would now be forced to listen to me for another few miles and keep me safe from the road crossings.

Sadly coming into the second check point Richard said he would be stopping longer so I would now be on my own and also now at a great risk of getting lost., as Richard had been keeping me right with the route as well as the crossings.  Anyone that knows me knows I have to sense of direction, so I am sure Stevie was now very worried about me getting lost. So off I went feeling a little apprehensive about now being on my own, but I soon recognised this part of the race as Strathclyde Park,  which luckily I knew as I had recently done a ten miler along here. It was now midday and the park was exposed, so the heat running along here felt unreal and it made me want to jump in the lake, but the only thing is I really don't like getting my face wet and I can't really swim so that was not really a good idea. Even though I knew this bit I was thankful when some nice women further along told me to watch for the race marking as they had found some runners going the wrong way which was nice.

About this time I started to feel a bit sick so I slowed my pace a little and after a while I started to feel better. I think it was just the heat, but I have learned to listen to my body more. I was now moving well again and I felt I was coping with the heat.

I even started catching some runners which would turn out to be a god send when the next part of the trail was blocked by cows who had moved down towards the river. I am not very keen on cows so I adapted the safety in numbers approach and hid in the group. It was near here that I saw a couch in the middle of the river, its amazing what thoughts can occupy your mind in an ultra, oh how I wanted to sit on that couch in the river with my feet in the water.  But no I was in the middle of a race so there was no time for that, but it was a nice thought. I kept pushing on and I could see I was now gaining on a runner with a red top but I then lost sight of him as we ran through a forest. I thought I had got lost so I retraced my steps picking up the two other runners I had went past after the cows incident. We all then ran together until a road crossing or rather I stayed with them when I saw I had to cross a road again.

Into check point 3 and I felt I was chucked right back out by Stevie as he wasn't wanting to hear about any of my dramas with the cows or what I had seen in the water. So back on the trail but it was not long after this that I started to feel sick again, I slowed down but this time the feeling wouldn't go away. Thankfully I was sick and I soon started to felt better. My first thoughts after I had been sick was that I needed to get some food back into me, which for me this was a positive response as before when I have been sick that's it I don't want to eat and Stevie has to normally force me to eat. I gave myself some time to let my stomach settle and then I was able to eat small bits often. It was only with around six miles to go I started to feel tired, and I started walking a little. I felt really pleased to have got this far in the race, in such hot conditions on limited training. I was able to walk for short periods or on some of the hills and ran the rest. The later part of the race was a lot more shaded for which I was glad as I really was starting to feel tired. The finish was a welcome site and to finish with no injuries was a huge bonus.

On reflection what a great race and what a lovely way to spend a hot saturday out running lots of miles and meeting some really nice people on the journey.

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