Wednesday, 17 April 2013

NDW & SDW Recce

After a failed attempt at NDW100 in 2012 I was determined to come back in 2013 and tackle it again. I was mindful that I made several mistakes in 2012 and was determined to rectify this. I have run as far as mile 55 before on NDW, but no further. I wanted to recce the other half. I was planning a weekend of running on my own. The wonderful world of twitter means that a couple of tweets and the next thing I new there was a group of us running. Eventually it concluded as Bryan and myself running on both days with a group of 5 of us running on Sunday.
With Bryan training for TP100 (which he has since completed! Well done Bryan) it was an opportunity for me to gauge my current fitness level. The Sunday morning brought snow and on this day only added to the excitement. I was wrapped up warm and with my new Suunto Ambit on its first outing (review to follow) things were all set for a positive day.
Bryan and I quickly found our stride and were in a steady pace of 9min 40sec per mile. The snow was causing no problems and if anything made it easier under foot. There were no dramatic issue with navigation and it was easy to follow the trail. Between the map, the markings and the excellent course route on my watch, we were finding our way nicely. A few early glitches with the map, or rather my use of it, were resolved and I was able to track us consistently.
Bryan knew the first half of the route really well and I was able to gather useful information from him. There came a point running through the snow where we burst out the forest on open land of fresh green grass. It was like returning from Narnia. Almost as surreal was the fact that we had carved out 15miles of our planned 30. The day was flying by and proving to be a lot of fun. Bryan and I share a similar sense of humour and this made the day that much more pleasant.
A few miles on we hit a stretch of Ugly road as we crossed the motorway. Pounding the concrete for 2-3milea ripped through our legs and caused the pace to plummet. Pain was the order of the day. Fortunately we met up with Lee at mile 22/23 and an additional party member provided ample distraction. By mile 24 the pain had gone and there was once again pace in our running. This was a useful exercise as pain barriers are likely to arise on numerous occasions on race day.
Conducting the recce was fruitful from a psychological perspective. Until this point I thought that the first 50miles was the hardest. I would suggest that mile 55-82 is harder and would STRONGLY recommend everyone running NDW100 recce this segment. Arriving at Detling to see a delightful set of down and up steps I can only imagine the expletives that will leave my lips on race day. The steps were left for race day. I'd rather not know what they feel like :)
The day was concluded with a cup of coffee, kindly provided by Lee. It has to be said it was an inspired move on Lee's part to leave a thermos in his car.
Overall it was a good recce and a great day out. Conditions were pretty good under foot and the company was excellent. A
big thanks to Bryan and Lee. It is always inspiring to hear why other runners embrace the world of ultras and it was a great day to be out.
The following day was ridiculously windy and very cold. The majority of the runners heading out were SDW virgins. I had pre warned about the exposure that you don't get on NDW. The wind was really going to make this run a real challenge. The plan was to run the last 20miles of the route.
We met as a group in Brighton. It had whittled down to the famous 5 of Bryan, Max (Kevin), Graham, Tom and myself. Ok so a not so famous 5, but 5 of us nonetheless.
It was great putting faces to names and solidifying twitter friendships. We set out to join the trail. Climbing some lovely rolling hills to get us there. Tom's journey was cut short due to an ongoing injury. A real shame as his company was excellent and genuinely upbeat. Tom departed about 3 miles and the four of us plodded on.
Feeling surprisingly good the day after 30 miles the day was panning out well. The weather was cold and windy but the sun was out. Practicising hills Was paying off and i found I was able to keep up with Bryan. This bodes well for race day.
Knowing the last 20 miles of the route will be a real bonus on race day. The other runners were all feeling good as well and the conversation was flowing nicely. It was lovely to engage in some banta with other runners. Graham is preparing for his first ultra and he was really enjoying the challenge of running the downs. He will be running the NDW50 and then a 100 miler next year (won't you Graham ;) ). Bryan and Max were running a good pace and also sharing a really positive vibe for the day. Both are on aid station mile 62 for SDW100 and have politely told me they will be kicking my arse out of their aid station. I'm hoping after a slice of pizza :)
By the end of the day we has climbed out of Jevington. A few idle steps and the trig point was missed. We retraced our steps and eventually found the trig point (one less thing to worry about on race day). I am very familiar with Jevington in to Eastbourne with my inlaws living in Eastbourne and my wife's granddads ashes scattered near the trig point. After a nod to the sky and a hello to Tim I carried on running. From this point I am happy I can run in auto pilot to the finish.
Getting to the end of the day was a great feeling and felt like a massive step towards finishing the 100 mile race. Wishing Max, Graham and Bryan all the best for their races as well (since writing this Bryan has finished TP100. Massive congrats to Bryan).
I am feeling now that I can do this and achieve the downs double. Preparation continues to be going well. The 15/6/13 is not far away.
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