Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I want to be an ultra runner, so I need to run ultras...

I had a crap run on Saturday at the Highland Fling. I finished in 11 hours 47 minutes, my worst time out of the 5 races. I didn't feel good for most of the race, being sick a lot in the early stages, but I managed to keep it together reasonably well until the top of Loch Lomond. Then the wheels fell off. I had cramp, was sick, bored, scunnered, fed up, and wanted to pack it in. It was a horribly long last 15 miles. But I got there in the end - although I don't think I looked at my best when I came over the line or for the rest of the evening.

On Saturday afternoon and night I had more or less resigned myself to withdrawing from this year's WHW race. I've found every long run a struggle this year and it hasn't been enjoyable. "Covering old ground slower than before" was a perfect description from Geraldine. It's not a great place to be; I think the volume of ultras over the last couple of years has probably taken its toll on my body. So what should I do? I resolved to make no firm decision before Wednesday, but to think things through in some detail before deciding.

In the few days since Saturday I've spoken to a few people about it and have now reached my decision: I'm going to do the WHW race. I think I have to accept it won't be my fastest time, but I'm sure that I'm still capable of getting to FW in 24 hours or so, which would be fine. The decision was helped by the reaction of some of the guys at the sportscotland board meeting earlier today. They were hugely complementary about the fact I had just run 53 miles, and the time was pretty irrelevant from their point of view. I suspect we all get a bit caught up in all the great times from others in the race and it diminishes the sense of achievement in finishing - but at the end of the day we all have to set our own targets and goals. As I said last year before the WHW race - it's my race, no-one elses.

There is also the Dario factor. Dario's death continues to cast a long shadow for many of us who knew him well, and has certainly made it harder for me to find the motivation to push myself through tough events like this. Last year, and the year before, and the year before that, I would have been on the phone to Dario after my Fling run, talking it through in detail, analysing the various stages, and looking for things I could have done differently. By the end of the call everything would have been sorted out and I would have been back on track, keen and ready to take on the WHW challenge. I miss these chats, and know others do too. But I think Dario would have wanted me to run this year's race, and would have encouraged me to do so.

So, assuming my body doesn't give up on me, I'll be lining up again at the underpass at Milngavie Station just before 1.00 am on 19 June. And hopefully I'll be bringing home my 9th goblet on the Sunday afternoon.


Peter Duggan said...

Still doing the Cateran, Ian? Maybe just run it (my plan), not race it, and you might yet surprise yourself in the big one!

Kenny said...

Sometimes we all get bored of those things that somehow define us as people. When you think you 'have to..' do something it's time for a break and go do something else. But if you still think 'actually I'd love to...' well just go ahead and enjoy it - but for your reasons alone.
Anyway - if you pack it in, who am I going to bug for tips and advice?

Debbie Martin-Consani said...

Are you joking?? You're as tough as f**k. You do remember flying passed me as I was withdrawing after 16 miles in Aberdeen a few weeks ago, don't you? I didn't work for me that day, but I bounced back. You will too. You have done it loads of times.

Debs x

graeme reid said...

I went through a very similar thought process myself on Saturday afternoon but have also come to the same conclusions. We can't all run like Jez and have to accept that we have limitations on our time through work, family and everything else in life. It is easy to loose sight of the enormity of what we actually achieve by running 53 miles or more and we need to decide why we choose to do it. In my case, it's not to beat a time or a placing but to challenge my body and mind and to enjoy the journey along the way. Don't get hung up on where and when you finish, just try to finish. I'm glad you've decided to run in June, the race would be a poorer place without you

John Kynaston said...

An honest assesment of where you are at the moment Ian.

I'm so glad you are doing the whw this year (and next) as I know the 10th goblet will mean a lot to you.

Hope you recover soon and rekindle that love of the long runs on the whw.

I have a feeling it will only take one good long training run to get the feeling back.

Andy Cole said...

Ian, it was discovering your blog that got me into ultras in the first place. You can't stop now, the whole scene just wouldn't be the same! See you in June (when I'll be making my fourth attempt to get that 24 hours that you know you can still do with something to spare!)

Fiona Rennie said...

Ian, sod sub 24 hours, throw away the watch. Just go and celebrate Dario’s legacy, it’s precious and we are so lucky that we can. Raise the Quaich with thanks!

Davie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Davie said...

I remember reading what Geraldine wrote shortly after Dario's passing and I'll tell you the same thing I told her then.
If you want to talk to Dario, talk to him. He'll still be there to listen and both of you have had enough blethers with him to know what he will say anyway. Lift the phone, dial his number and talk to him. Just don't do it when anyone else is about!;-)

Marco Consani said...

Hi Ian,

A very good and honest blog posting. I am really glad that you have decided to run the WHW still. I don't think that you would like not to be doing it and the race would be poorer as well.
You got me into this ultra running Ian and I have so much respect for you. All those years ago in MJ I couldn't understand how you were able to train to run 100 miles. Even now I can barely understand how you do it as you have a very hectic life.
Last year after the WHW I was in a similar situation. I hated running. I hated the same routes week in week out and I never wanted to run an ultra or the WHW again. But I changed everything. I found new routes to run and instead of the same training runs on the WHW I went exploring. I don't even think of them as runs anymore. More like fast hillwalks. I walk the hills and run the downhills and flats. So instead of not looking forward to the long runs I can't wait to get out and explore. Your love of running will come back again and with that you will feel so much better.

Take care Ian and speak to you soon.


Silke said...

And Ian, also remember you were unwell the week before and probably still had not recovered fully.
I'm with Fiona. This year's WHW Race will be very special and difficult at the same time for a lot of people. But it needs you there as a runner, no matter what the time is in the end. Silke

Thomas said...

Ian I had two West Highland Way race attempts. For me that is the most inspiring of all races. And in both races I hit rock botton and trust me I reached the point where I was destroyed and broken and I thought this is not for me. This is madness.

But a few days after the desaster I had to acknowledge that I wanted to be an ultra runner. And the reason was not because I wanted to "win" or have a Goblet. It was because I enjoyed the experience. A lot of that "runners high" even comes when I run on my own. Or on "training runs". And it is not even about finishing (if I am allowed to say that at all). It is about enjoying the experience. And I don't think you have lost that. You had a bad day. Bad luck. Your body weakened and dehydrated by those problems you had the week before.

I just hope that the enjoyment and the rewards which come with ultra running comes back to you. Since you just deserve that to happen.

Thomas said...

ok,ok, I have to admit I DO want to have that Goblet :-)

Keith Hughes said...

You know what I reckon.. See you Tuesday .. Cheers KH