Ultra Races, Grantham, Saturday, March 5, 2011

2 x 29.3m

Dave Robson

Day 1

Today it was Cotgrave to Grantham. The route was mainly on the Grantham canal so it was pretty flat. There w

So far so good!

ere some road works on the A46 so the towpath was closed and we were diverted onto a road for about a mile and there were further small stretches of tarmac at the beginning and end.The canal is not navigable for most of its length and there are stretches with no water at all. For the first 12m I was wondering whether I should have chosen road shoes as the surface was hard packed with no mud.

After Harby, 12m, it became grass and some mud for a while. I may have been losing it, but I had the impression that the canal was going uphill but the water in the canal didn’t appear to be moving!

I was very pleased to get to the end of the canal which stops when you get to the A1. 5hr 7min and I am very happy with that. We stayed the night in a hotel in Grantham and there was a talk on the Marathon des Sables. There is no way I would do anything like that!

Day 2

Today was Grantham to Cotgrave, exactly the same route in reverse. As breakfast was not being served until 7 and the race started at 9, I decided not to have a proper breakfast this morning and had cereal bars and energy drink. This may have been a mistake.

As I went outside of the hotel I switched on my garmin – nothing I tried various combinations of buttons and suggestions from other runners, but nothing. I had a stopwatch on my normal watch so that had to suffice. I also had a memory of roughly how far the checkpoints were into the race, so that would have to do. Of course when I got home and charged the garmin again (it had been charged overnight) it worked fine …

My legs felt pretty good and I started slowly, but then started to speed up. After the first checkpoint which was reached in under 10 min/mile pace, I lost it. This was the start of the ‘downhill’ stretch that I felt was uphill on Day 1, so I decide to just go for it. I wish my garmin had been working, I would love to have seen my pace, but I felt comfortable, shot blocks seem to be boosting me and I was passing lots of people. Got to roughly halfway in about 2h 25min and a Day 2 which was faster than Day 1 looked very feasible. After halfway the path changed from grass and mud to more hard packed trail and I didn’t enjoy it as much. Also my speedy first half was starting to have an effect and I was slowing…. The shot blocks didn’t seem to be as effective, but at least the Scaps seemed to work fine.

I also realised just before the final checkpoint that I hadn’t been drinking enough, so I drank what I had left and picked up a new full bottle (this was probably all too late, once dehydrated it’s difficult to recover). But then the sun came out, the weather had been a much better day than Day 1, we could see for miles and we could easily see Belvoir Castle which has been lost in the drizzle and cloud yesterday. But the sun coming out in the final quarter made it worse for me, I was running out of steam and walking much more. Some of those runners who I had passed in the first half who had made a much better job of the pacing started to come by. At this point I just wanted to reach the point on the canal where we were diverted off the canal to avoid improvements to the A46. It seemed to take for ever.

I was drinking all my water and luckily there were two young women who were car supporting somebody behind me so they seemed to be at every road crossing and I got some water off them.

I finally made it back in 5h 14min, so only 7min slower than yesterday, but as a run, it felt much worse. I drank two bottles of water straight away and went to the local supermarket to get some food down me.

Lessons learnt:

1. Before you leave home check that you have your favourite glasses in your glasses case;
2. When changing your mind at the last minute about which pair of shoes to wear on Day 1, remember to put the the new pair for Day 2; pair in your overnight bag and not leave them in the car which was at the start of Day 1 and the finish of Day 2;
3. Eat a better breakfast;
4. Be cautious about the pacing;
5. Think about how much you are drinking.

Still overall, I have come out of it okay, everybody was very friendly and I enjoyed myself, you can’t ask for much more than that

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