November running update

My 12 in 12 challenge is starting to enter the final few races and with it the nerves are starting to kick in. Back in April I started planning for a 12 marathon/ultra challenge in 12 months for 2019. As I started looking at races I discovered that most of the ones I was looking at I had actually done already this year, I mean why do them twice. It dawned on me that it might actually be possible to complete the challenge this year instead, so I began to plan as such.

I was missing 4 marathons or ultras to complete the challenge, the issue was fitting them in. I knew November would be tough. 2 marathons in 2 weeks, which would then be followed by 2 marathons in December to finish the challenge. I had planned on running in between them too, just to keep the legs moving. This however went wrong at the start of the month.

I picked up a niggle at the end of October. Nothing major just a general pain. To be expected really given the amount of long distance runs I have done in a short space of time. Normally the niggle subsides but this time it stayed. In fact standing or putting weight on the leg hurt. The first marathon of the month had me really worried. This was an important one for me. Completing this marathon in under 6 hours and I would have a place to run New York Marathon in 2019, and in doing so collect my 4th star of the major marathons.

The race was on a canal. 3.7 miles from the start line in a west direction, turn around back to the start. Then 3 miles East and turn around back to the start. Repeat it. The 3.7 miles out was on a very slight decline so the return was uphill. The next 3 miles involved locks so it was a larger incline. The route was very monotonous and it resulted in a lot of mental strength. I wish I had taken some music with me. I was fed up, bored and trying very much not to make the injury worse. At the 5hour mark I started to panic as I was worried I might not make it in under 6 hours. I cannot tell you the relief when I crossed that line and received confirmation of my place in New York. The injury however remained.

One run planned in, a short 10km to complete the 100 runs of 10km distance or greater in a year. It was a nice steady run and just what I needed to not make the injury worse. Hindsight says I should not have done it but the desire to complete the challenge won and with it a huge relief that I had finished and could now run any distance and not worry about having to constantly round up to 10km in order for it to count.

Another week of rest, several massages and ice/heat sessions in an attempt to help the injury/niggle heal. No signs of it getting worse so marathon number 10 of the challenge could take place. I stood on the start line very nervous. I had no care as to what my time was, I just needed to get round and not make it worse. A steady plod of 9 laps was all I needed to do. I met a very inspiring gentleman on my way round and for 6 laps we chatted everything ultra and marathon running. A friend from running club had come to watch and it was a lovely surprise bumping into her as I started lap 5. It gave me a much needed boost. As I started my 7th lap I bumped into a friend from a fellow running club and we got chatting, I didn't realise the pace picked up and unfortunately I lost the person I was talking to earlier. I felt bad and spent the next lap trying to find him across the lake so I could judge if to run back or to slow down. Laps 8 and 9 saw the 10km race start and people on very fresh legs running past, not realising I was on my 8th and 9th lap and offering support saying we were nearly there. My children met me at the start of my last lap and it was so lovely to see them. It spurred me on to get the final lap done. At the final 1km I bumped into the first aider on his bike and we chatted as I ran into the finish line. I was pleased to have finally finished and a sense of relief that the injury wasn't feeling any worse. I decided though to rest until the next marathon, taking two weeks away from running.

Here I am then a few days before marathon/ultra 11 of this year, with no other running in November I am now getting nervous. Marathon 11 is a tough one and one I am hoping I make it round. There is a cut off time at 17 mile that has me worried, one I am going to have to work extra hard to ensure I make. This marathon takes me completely off road. It isn't marked and requires navigation skills, which means I have to carry kit with me.

Kit list includes

Full waterproof cover (tapered seams)
Spare thermal top
Hat / Gloves
Foil Blanket
Fully charged mobile phone
Head torch
High energy snack
At least one bottle of fluid
Personal cup

A map is provided at registration, but I have downloaded the gpx file as well. I have purchased my kit from Simply Hike as they have everything I need for getting outdoors. It was important to me to have a brand I could trust as when I am outdoors and in the middle of nowhere I need to trust my kit and know it will work. There can be no compromises on safety. 

Trail marathons are completely different to road marathons. You have to navigate and are constantly aware of where you are putting your feet, a wrong step means you tumble or slip. It no longer becomes a mental battle as your mind is far too occupied with where you are going and what you are actually doing. I prefer them, they test you a lot more. They test ever part of you and I find them so much more interesting. They are however harder and because of this take longer to recover afterwards. With an injury on top I am very worried about the weekend, not only will I get round in the cut off times but will said injury hold out enough to make the final marathon of the year too? I guess only time will tell.

The ever changing weather is also an important consideration when up in the peaks too. I am there all day. Starting at 7am with registration and probably finishing a good 7 hour later. It will be dark and no doubt cold when I finish. I have North Face gloves to keep my fingers warm and so I can hold the map! My hat is ready and waiting, and I take a few buffs to keep my neck warm too. The head torch is charged and my waterproofs are compressed ready to be packed. I have the kit ready to go, all I need to do now is believe I can do this and get out and do it.

Whilst I might be incredibly nervous I am also incredibly excited. I can remember how much fun I had last year and whilst I only did the 14 miles I wished after I had done the full marathon. It might sound silly but I simply love running through the peaks, especially the downhills I cannot wait for those.

Keep an eye on my Instagram as I usually have a chat on stories as to how I am getting on!

Post is written in collaboration with Simply hike

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