An event were I took part as a team of die-hard fun participants, with a group of teams from our running group Reading Joggers.
Run 24 was a local event at Aldermaston, near Reading. 8km laps through woodland, with a few mini hills, a little bog and peat, mixed in with tufty grassy, some asphalt.. yes multi terrain! It was for mixed abilities and you could run as a team or solo.
There were fantastic facilities to accomodate us all as campers too. Excellent toilets and showers that were maintained regularly. A marquee with food, beer, a band, the Sweatshop and Clif Bars, plus Mizuno were there to for sales and advice on footwear.
Reading Joggers pitched tents close to each other, and we had also pitched larger tents to have a massage tent (we had a wonderful team helping us!!), catering tent and Communications gazebo(s). We started as a team, we worked as a team, we camped as a team. Each running team had a captain and plan of action. All the months of preperation, thought and training finally came together and we were Awesome!
Now this piece is going off in many tangents as once again whilst running, observing, mingling and chatting to others, the Duck Brain went into overdrive and the imagination was fueled!
I learned this weekend that my body is a lot stronger than I give it credit for. It got me through a second 24 hour event in 7 days. Second time I have mentioned that, as ultimately it is something I am proud of. Plus it was all on the back of the Forces March a couple of weeks previous to that! So, three endurance events in four weeks! I now know my mind is strong enough for endurance. I would now like the body to step up to the mark and be just as strong. It can go the distance slow and steady, but now I'd like to be faster and sleeker. I would like to be a Paul Ali and do some real endurance events!
I mention Paul because he did Run 24 as a solo, and despite a calf and groin injury he dug in, and was 1st man having done an incredible 22 laps in 24 hours. It wasn't just his strength of mind and focus to complete, in some pain I imagine, but that he was such a gent and smiled when ever he came past or came in to top up supplies. I never heard him complain, and always remembered his Ps and Qs! Even after 24 hours! I also watched how other solo runners worked their way through the 24 hours and have been enormously impressed with their tactics and resiliance. This has whetted my appetite.
This weekend also showed me how much a running club CAN help me. Until now I have been a little intimidated. That is my own fault as I hadn't really got to know any one, and due to work, it was hard to really find the time to go. I now know I must and will insure Tuesday Child is returned home safely, on time and no longer hold me back! I also know that there is a lot of support and no patronising so I have nothing to fear. Ask, speak out, but never worry! there was also the joy and education in being part of a team of diverse talent, energy, characters and running ability. I was hungry for more of each person (their running experiences!) so was constantly asking questions and listening. This is the key to my developing into a better runner. Better in mind, body and soul to train efficiently and focus on a goal, not many! I have also finally realised that like many things in life, there are many varities and styles of most things, and the same can be said of running. Running is the generic term; I know I am happiest running in my local woods or along the river bank. I love off road and being outdoors; the greenery, the soft ground, the changing terrain, the smell and sights of Mother Nature!
Having done three endurance events back to back I have also realised how in my enthusiasm to try and dabble in so many things, my body would never be able to taper and recover properly to be any good at any one thing! In my quest to become a person that a few close family members could be proud of, plus to maximise on challenges for raising funds and awareness for a few charities, I have not really been able to excel at one thing. I have done quite a few challenges and with many ulterior motives and spread myself thin! However, the experience has been invaluable, the fund raising succesful, and I now know where I would like to focus. Until you try something you wont know what you like!
I have never shied away from the fact that I hate running. It has been tough for me to motivate myself, to do the training, to compete in the events I sign up for that puts me under the constant pressure to run! I have even come up with the quote "Running is my new chocolate"! Binge on it and you will be ill! Avoid it, and I get withdrawal sypmtons! I came across this quote today, “Running has never failed to give me great end results, and that's why I keep coming back for more!” . Never a truer word said! And so this now brings me full circle to where I would like to go for the next year.
I need to focus on a couple of events. To train hard and not spread myself thin. Have a goal and purpose. To do these events for Me! I must learn to not want to emulate some one else. I am special in my own right and capable of so much. I can be my own hero! But I must learn to not jump before I can crawl! I must go back to basics, start simple and not over complicate anything. Listen to my body, and the sound advice of others. Rein in the enthusiasm! Start small then as I get stronger, think bigger! The ideas I have means I will be involved more with Reading Joggers so I shall be in good company, which I have missed a lot in the past. Plus learning from their experiences and not relying on my limited knowledge and google!
Initial thoughts are to do an ultra event and there are two that appeal - The Thames Trot Ultra 50, 2nd February 2013 and to be a solo entrant for the next Run 24 UK, 30th June 2013 (tbc). So much for thinking small! But it is not impossible with all the current training and challenges achieved! I am also doing the Forces March, May 2013. Barely decent recovery and taper time. But by then the miles will be in the legs, and in theory, apart from injury, possible. Thames Trot and Run 24 are also local so my family can be involved in many ways. Something they have not been able to do. There will be minimal training costs, entry fees and travelling and accomodation costs. The last few years have cost me a small fortune to run for charity!
The appeal to do the Run 24 solo is it will be like my Dreadmill challenge. Just an outdoor version. Round and round on laps of 8km. Oddly enough, 8km sounds better than 10km! Don't know why! I like the challenge of coping with the boredom factor of just being like a hamster on a wheel. Endurance of mind AND body. The Thames trot 50 is a long event along water with beautiful scenery. I am soothed by water. Plus I am hoping it is an easily navigable flatter route than most so will minimise risk of getting lost and on familiar territory.
The important thing here too is that these are not typical road marathons. The Forces March is on the road, but this will be done as a powerwalk (with a twist!) and is not your average challenge. I do not like road events. I love cross country and multi terrain. In an unfocused almost random frenzy of "needing" to do some "commerical" and "high profile" running events, I signed up for Brighton Marathon, plus Windsor, Maidenhead and Downton Half marathons, and Great South Run. If these do not fit into the training schedule for my ultra runs, or I just can not summon up the enthusiasm and motivation to do these road races, I shan't do them. My training has to be fun and doing things I love as it will be tough and hard. As I said a few times over the weekend to a variety of people at a variety of events, and during my own Run 24, "Smile hard, run happy"! I must practise what I preach!
My ultimate challenge will be to run the isle of Wight in under 24 hours. I am hoping to do that next summer when the days are longer!
Now, I must focus on resting for a few days....