It’s been a week since I completed the St. Cuthbert’s Way 100km ultramarathon. My body feels back to normal, which makes me think it’s about time I did a bit of blogging! Dee and I travelled down to Melrose the night before the race so I could get registered. We then stayed in a nearby AirBnb, then bright and early it was off to Holy Island for the start. I lined up at 8am with 52 other starters feeling a bit nervous. I was a under prepared and stepping into the unknown, but I got on ok…
The race was quite an experience! I finished in 26th out of 53 starters (42 finishers) in just under 17 hours – that’s a 1am finish! The time was a bit slower than I had hoped for but I’m content with it. Around the half way point the runner in front of me went over on his ankle at the top of one of the steepest hills I’ve ever been up. So I helped him down. It meant what should have been two of the fastest miles on the course turned out to be amongst my slowest. Even after I got him to safety it took me a while to get going again. I’m glad I did the ‘right thing’ but when you are exhausted and you see your target slipping away it can be hard to keep motivated.
This wasn’t the only thing that slowed me down. I went off a bit too fast to start with. Took on too much sugar too early (I suspect). Spent too much time at the aid stations. Generally once I was exhausted I let little things get to me, like my Garmin accidently turning off which nearly made me consider giving up – Dee made sure I didn’t dwell on it too long though.
Throughout the race the community around it was really special. All the way through there were locals cheering us on and giving out food, I even got directions at one point. After roughly a marathon distance I find can become a little emotional, this race was no different. Dee (who was amazing all day, coming to every aid station and keeping my spirits up) saw me just before the 27.5 mile aid station, with this being over the magic emotional marker I was nearly in tears saying bye to her! So I got myself composed and jogged another half mile or so to the aid station, the people here were lovely and one woman enquired about my CF Trust vest. I explained I was running in memory of my brother who passed away a few years before, this she said was getting her quite emotional! To maintain my dignity I thanked her, grabbed some fruit and was on my way!
As much as I wanted to finish faster, my experience was something that I won’t forget about quickly. I wanted to finish before the sun went down but finishing in the dark was a cool, if a little creepy, experience. I spent a good while running (and getting lost) through some forests with just my head torch and shadows for company! It took my a while to realise the hundreds of bats were just the shadows off of the leaves. In Melrose a woman and her son ran the last 150-200m with me, as did Dee. Then when I got to the finish in the village hall the runners, their friends/family and volunteers applauded me which was a little overwhelming.
I collapsed into a chair, got my medal, ate pizza and drank a coffee. Before leaving I applauded a few more finishers who I had ran with earlier in the day. As much as I had just run the same race it was inspirational to see other people finish.
Now it’s a week on and I’m feeling recovered. I went for a sports massage earlier in the week just to aid recovery. On Thursday I managed a two mile run and I am about to head out to a group training class this morning. I’ve had some time to reflect on the how the race went and I’m pleased. Mentally I think I could learn how to deal with low points better. I’ve heard when you are low you should focus on ‘why’ you are running. It helped but often took me a while to get there. Physically, I needed more miles and more hills, but I knew that before I started.
Overall it was a great event, well done to the organisers Trail Outlaws for putting it on. Dee really helped me throughout the day. She was their at the start, at every aid station and at the end, I know this wouldn’t have been easy for her but it really made my day easier. Thanks you Dee.
Just to close I need to say sorry to my mum. She text me twice during my race asking how I got on, panicking because I didn’t get back to her. She’s quite keen on me sticking to ‘shorter’ distances, unfortunately I think I’ve got the ultra distance bug and if anything I’m trying to work out when my first 100 mile will be. Sorry mum – I know what I am doing is a bit unusual but I promise I am okay.
It’s not on my ‘official’ race list but next up is the Spartan Sprint next week in Edinburgh. Better learn how to do some burpees – AROO!