Well, it has been over three weeks since I arrived in Gibraltar and a couple days ago it was my Birthday, so I couldn’t resist going out for my first run. I just popped down to the local park and did a couple laps. It all felt a little rusty at first, but soon things begun to loosen up and I was having fun. It was only 5.5km, and I wanted to carry on, but was aware that I would be sore the next few days. I am a little nervous about taking my injured ankle off road, though feel that it needs it a bit to strengthen it up. I will pop out again tomorrow after work and maybe go a little further. Martin Like from Likeys, the ace running/outdoor shop has offered me a place in the equally ace Beacons Ultra this weekend. I ran this last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I really want to go but money is very tight. It would be a fun race to gauge what state I’m in. It is also two laps so if things aren’t great I could always bale half way. It is a beautiful course which would be a pleasure to run again, especially as I wouldn’t be racing at all. I will check out transport prices tonight.
So how has it been adjusting back to ‘real life’? Well, I won’t mention work, but everything else seems to be fine really. The longer the experience is left to bake in my mind, the bigger it becomes. It is without a doubt, the most incredible experience in my life. The length of it means that there are a huge amount of memories that regularly pop into my mind and make me smile. There is no forgetting this one! I have still to read through my blog too which I really look forward to. I am also honoured that I am in a poll for the Ultra Running Performance of the Year in the UK. There are some great performances in the poll which makes me doubt my place as I just feel like all I have done is wake up and run for 64 days, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t chuffed.
Everyone I have spoken to about TE asks “what next?”. Well to be honest, I’m not sure. What seems like a natural next step to me is to do a self-organised ‘long’ run. Maybe you could call it an expedition? There are countless trails around the world that I would love to do. Note the key word, trail. I’m sure I have probably said this before, but I will say it again – I belong on the trail, not the road. The only reason I will run on the road is for something special, i.e. JOGLE, Spartathlon and TE. If I do plan my own ‘expedition’, then it will be off-road.
So other than the next big thing, what races am I planning/considering? I have entered the Thames Ring. This is the third time it’s been held and I am really happy that I have finally got around to it. It is a single stage 250 mile race encircling London. You have 100 hours to complete it. This interests me as it is beyond the grasp of a single run with no sleeps. I will be forced to sleep at some point during the event, probably on the floor next to the trail with my alarm set for 20 minutes or so. When will I take this break? As usual, I will try to listen to my body and rest when I can no longer stay upright and am concerned that I may fall into the canal.
I have also entered the Endurancelife Ultra Trail South West again after my disaster attempt this year. The route will be different, not sticking to the coast path for its entirety, which will break it up nicely, making it easier mentally. I like the idea of the route being different, but am a little sad that I won’t be racing the original route. I did say immediately after the disaster that I would plan to run the route alone as a big day out. I will have to see if I can find a suitable gap for it.
Possibly the main race for me next year is the Tor Des Geants in the Alps. It doesn’t open for entries till around Easter time and the problem is that the website is apparently a bit clunky, so it is difficult to get entered, so fingers crossed! It is a 200 mile monster with 24,000 metres of ascent. This will be more of a trek I think! It certainly seems to be at the top of my ‘must do’ list though seeing as it is a good length and is in the high mountains. All the ingredients of a great adventure I think!
That is all the definite things I have planned, but I am thinking of getting up to the Lakes a few times to at least do some recceing of the Bob Graham Round. This is a set challenge that can be done anytime, but you need a witness to see you around so cannot be done solo if you want to be in the ‘club’, which I do. There are a few ways to do this. At one end you have the ‘armchair ride’, meaning that you have a team that can guide you around the whole route and carry your kit so you can travel faster. The other end of the scale is to learn the route as best as possible by doing numerous recces, so that on the day, you will do all your own navigation and you carry all your own kit. I am swaying towards the latter though it would be fun to do the armchair ride one day too. I feel like I should ‘earn’ my armchair ride though.
So, in the time it has taken me to write this, I have managed to scrounge a lift with someone to the Brecons this weekend. I popped out for a forty minute run last night and things weren’t too bad. My ankle makes a loud clicking noise which is a little disconcerting, but I’m sure I will get used to it! My aim for the race is to be safe and nothing more. I have just run across a continent so my ankle is obviously not too bad, but I need to get it off road to hopefully toughen it up. I remember the route from last year and there are some technical sections which I may have to walk on. There will be a fair few people I know there too so will be a bit of a social. I will also be attending the infamous pub quiz after to embarrass my self.
Here’s hoping that my ankle behaves itself and lets me enjoy the Welsh countryside.