After four months of build-up, it was time for my longest training run before the Sundown Ultra. The goal was six hours.
Got up at 4am feeling pretty alright (I hit the sack at 8.30pm last night), though if you’ve done it before you know you can never feel too good when you get up that early. Spent 20 minutes getting changed and ready, mixing my drink, packing my waistpack, lubing nearly my entire body and giving my calves a good coating of deep heat. Had a bottle of H-TWO-O for breakfast (I was too full from my whole day of eating yesterday) and off I went at 4.30am.
If you’ve ever tried running for six hours before, you know the first few steps are always very tentative and cautious. You worry about setting off too fast and dying at the end, you worry about setting off too slow (and being slow is the last thing you want in the race), you worry about your breathing (why is it getting so heavy so fast?), you worry about that little twitch in your quadricep (is it really there or is my mind playing a trick on me?), you worry that the sun will show no mercy later (it didn’t, at least for the last three hours), you worry that your food will run out (it didn’t, I brought three gels and a muesli bar and only had two gels), you worry that some madman or dog will pop up from the bushes and start chasing you, you worry that you might not be able to complete the run.
I worried all those things and more.
But then you try to think of other things to take your mind off the worry. I thought of Damo sleeping at home and the movie (Wolverine) we would be catching tonight. I thought of work (sucks). I thought of the story I wrote yesterday. I thought of a Chai Tea Frappucino greeting me at the end of the run (it didn’t). I thought of the Sundown Ultra and how badly I wanted to win it again. I thought of all the other competitors and how they were training harder than me (can’t confirm this but always good to think so). I thought that the faster I get this over and done with, the faster I’d be back in bed (I’m typing this in bed).
Six hours of running is a long time. There’s a lot of time to think, a lot of sights to see, a lot of pain to go through, a lot of pavement to pound, a lot of miles to cover.
Mapmyrun says I did 58ish km in six hours (which includes 20min spent across three drink/refuel/douse-self-in-water stops and one poop break), but I reckon it’s more like 60km for reasons I’ve stated before (doesn’t have park paths mapped, doesn’t take into account hills). That’s a pretty good race pace I guess… about 10k/h including drink stops and heat and no taper. My target is to do a sub-9h 84km and I think it’s doable especially at night.
So I didn’t get chased by any dogs or madmen, didn’t bonk or get cramps in the heat, and, uh, didn’t really run for six hours straight but was close enough…
I’m a happy camper right now. But a few hours ago, when I was done with my run, I was toast.