This may be a long blog post, so get yourself a cuppa, sit back and try and stay awake with me!!!
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, OK not that bad, but when I was young on holiday in France with my french rellies we used to watch France 3 a lot. This is a regional channel that showcases the best of the region you’re in and other regions that are doing big stuff (when I say big stuff, the mayor has changed his floral display in his office!). Anyway, I can’t have been more than 10 and I remember watching a program about a bunch of people running across the Alps over 2 days and everyone doing it looked hardcore, rugged and tough as nails.
A couple of years later we were doing the forced visiting of relatives and at my aunt Paulettes, same thing, France 3, race report of this mad race. this time I caught the whole program and was able to tune out of my parents talking to old people about God knows what. Right, so this race is over 100km’s over some mountains and it looks mental. Again, my over-riding memory was just how double hard these people were.
Fast forward a few years and I kept a passing view on the race each year and carried on with life. One evening (there must have been booze) I happened to mention the UTMB (Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc) to Gemma (my wife) and she also knew about it and had wanted to experience it.
As the years passed I took more and more of an interest but even with my limited intelligence and dubious care about my health thought it was a bridge too far.
They then brought out a bunch of races under the UTMB banner that race from the OCC to one which is even further than the UTMB. Anyway, carried on with my approach of doing one ultra a year and plodding along.
Last year I did race to the Kings and I noticed it was a qualifying race. To cut a long story short, I entered the ballot (zero chance of getting in), ignored it and forgot about it. Then on the way to see my parents at Christmas I mentioned in the car (I was driving so there was less chance of Gemma stabbing me in the eyes with her phone for not telling her), that I had entered the ballot but made it clear, I had zero chance of getting in so don’t worry.
14 January, sat at work, email pinged, yep I had a place. Emotions went from Yes to oh f%ck what have I done, You beauty, you idiot. I then took the, quite frankly brave, decision to text my wife rather than tell her in person…. Did I mention that we would now have to re-arrange all our holiday plans…
She was amazing and was cool with it (at least to my face).
Some pics of why it’s magic has stuck with me:
3500m of ascents – OK that’s doable
14hours – OK that’s doable
Nothing to worry about, then I started reading the blog’s etc – OK need to get myself sorted for this!!!
So the whole let’s make a plan to get this done. For the first time I actually gave same thought to my strategy to make sure I get to the start line as prepared as possible whilst not letting it take over my life otherwise I might get kicked out of home!
– Tranche the year. Don’t go out like a mentalist as by April you’ll be fed up and bored of it all. So Q1, little and often with some kind of exercise every day and one rest day a week. This has actually been going OK with me using the work gym and some of their classes like spinning etc. From Q2, build a small number of events of the same distance as the race so that everything is about replication of one or more elements
– No junk miles – if you do a session give it everything and don’t just go for a run for the sake of it
– Do it around family life as much as possible
– Give yoga a decent go and do core once a week to see if it makes any difference
– I don’t know what I’m doing so ask for help wherever it’s available but I know my body better than anyone else so don’t do stuff just because someone told you.
– Mental – I’m a nightmare for going negative for the first half of a race. I need to be positive from the start or it will eat me up
– Keep saying thank you to Gemma and maybe get her some flowers afterwards (from the garage, nothing extravagant!)
My race schedule up to the OCC:
1st April – Test Valley Ultra – to see where I’m at
21st May – Guernsey Ultra – this was already booked as a romantic weekend away with my wife!
27th May – Kent Road Runners Marathon – back to back marathons with
28th May – Jeskyns challenge (6 hour timed event)
10 June – Endure 24 – no reason, I just really enjoy the weekend
1 July – Round the Isle of Wight ultra (over 2 days). Done by XNRG for whom I’ve heard great things. It’s roughly the same distance as the OCC each day and will be good endurance.
20 August – a warm down 32 mile walking event in Dorset just to do something as I’ll be climbing the walls but will just give some confidence before the race a fortnight later.
So there you have my life for the next few months! After doing 27 races last year this feels sparse but I hope the quality over quantity works and on the first of September I’m posting a photo of me finishing something magical in the mountains.