If a crow could fly direct, it would by over 6000 miles to Durban from Edinburgh. This will be double the distance I have ever travelled for a race. New York in 2007, when Lance Armstrong beat me by 20 seconds (and his film crew almost killed me), is just a tad over 3000 miles from Auld Reekie.
Sunday, will see me toe the start line with 22,000 ultra marathoners for, what is arguably, the biggest contest in human endurance on the planet. Volume of runners is mind boggling and I wonder what it will feel like. Any other mass participation road race? The last road ultra I ran had 22 people in it!! Luckily I am in the A pen, which is at the head of the race, but in the back of my mind is a podcast I listened to where Patrick Reagan is interviewed. Patrick is a US elite ultra marathoner, he finished 12th last year at Comrades. He told the interviewer that he was in 500th position after the first 5K and was worried that he hadn’t set off quick enough. This really is a race of attrition versus controlled effort. It is not last man standing. Control will be key and I need to ‘keep the heid’ in those early kms. Negative split is the only way to run this race. A wise old owl recently told me this: “Start the race at a pace above your ability will certainly ensure that you finish the race less than your ability”.
The next concern is the amount of down in this ‘Down Run’. Multiple descents of Arthur’s Seat doesn’t come close and I am going to have to control the descents by relaxing into them as much as I can. Let gravity and my biomechanics do the work and try not to force anything.
Weather could be the next concern, but there is nothing I can control here. This will be what it is and I should adjust my efforts and pace accordingly. I have prepared in Scotland as much as I can with regular sauna sessions post run and even some gym treadmill workouts then diving straight into the 90 degree Celsius sauna (that was brutal by the way).
Recovery from ACP took a little longer than I wanted and it impacted the training ‘the boss man’ @pyllon programmed for me in terms of effort at specific paces, but the effort was there and that was the main goal. Things started to turn around in these last few weeks and now I feel ready physically. A few kgs lighter, diet dialled tighter, only missed one session in 10 weeks due to illness and injury free.
I can’t ask any more of this aging but able body. I’ve continued to work hard on mobility, flexibility and strength and now realise that this is key for the older athlete. If you are 40+ and not doing anything to improve mobility and strength, and are not a genetic freak, then you are heading for the injury bench. I have all the T-shirts and if I had to dwell on regrets, that would be one thing I wish I had started 10 years ago. Nothing is certain, of course.
Onto Durban tomorrow, via Glasgow and Dubai. We leave the house at 17:15 tomorrow afternoon and we’ll arrive in Durban around 16:30 local time on Friday! Phew, it’s going to be a long journey!
See you all on the other side.