Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Grandslam Take 2 and basic advice.

I can't quite believe that it is nearly 2 years ago that I first attempted the Centurion Grandslam. So near and yet so far. For those of you who regularly read my blog you will know just how close i came and how devastated I was at having to pull out of NDW at 76 miles. It wasn't long after that race before I had decided that I would be making another attempt at the Grandslam. The Grandslam feels like an itch that still needs to be scratched. I have pushed others to finishes and now I am pushing myself.

The plan for 2016 was all focused on GUCR. As I have recently blogged about this race you will be able to see just how much that took out of me. The demand of the training and the race itself left my mental fortitude some what depleted. I have spent a lot of time getting my focus back. 2016 was full of highs. Having had the privilege to sweep a lot of runners home to finishes at TP100 and A100 and attending to runners needs at NDW100 I enjoyed remaining part of the community. Of course GUCR remains my personal highlight. See others achieve dreams, and playing a small part in that, was a very close second.

My training has been up and down, but overall I'd rate it a solid 7/10. I am a different runner physically and mentally from 2015 and I can't wait to get back out there. Some how having a race looming seems to have reignited a spark that I had not even realised had gone out. The missing spark was the charge that was getting me up at 5am regularly in training for GUCR. The missing spark caused me to hit snooze one too many times in build up to this race. I am committed to a successful race at TP100; a finish that doesn't skirt with cut offs and I come away unscathed from will constitute such a success. Following on from this race I feel that business truly begins. My plan for recovery and training into SDW100 is challenging but purposeful. It is all with the focus of peaking for NDW100. There is a good period of time then until A100 where I hope to be in the position of running for a giant buckle.

I have weight to lose (My great nemesis) and for sure I can gain pace this way. I can get physically stronger as well. With that said I am ready for TP100 and there will be no excuses. Whatever the weather, whatever happens on the day I will remain focused and will press for a finish. I am not underestimating this race and I am ready to give 100% effort. Too many people underestimate this race, after all its flat and fast. The reality being of course that many people set out too fast and just don't manage a running plan; the result being a DNF.

The Grandslam is gruelling and I am ready for that. It makes you question your ability and I am ready for that. 

For those running their first 100 and for those on their first effort at the Grandslam my advice is this... Enjoy it! Be prepared for pain and be prepared for this at early points. That is ok. Hurting at mile 30 does not mean you won't be feeling good at mile 60. A 100 miler is like the waves of a sea. You will go up and down and sometimes feel overwhelmed. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will get to the end. NEVER underestimate the value of running 10meters. If you can only run 10metres in every 20 then by the time you have done 10km you will have run 5km. My point being find your way, but never underestimate how much the little things add up over this distance. Address any niggles early as well. That tiny stone in your shoe that you don't want to lose 2 minutes taking out, well it's now a rock 10 miles later and has grated your foot. Be smart and be responsible. A death March for 14 hours is no fun!!! Trust me on that.

I'd also suggest strongly to pack your kit on Thursday. Have it all done and put to rest. Friday night needs to be about unwinding and letting the nervous energy keep contained. Sleep Thursday night and Friday night will pay dividends on Saturday. Hydration in build up to the race is also something not to overlook.

I guess the key thing to maintain is self belief. I am not special, but I do consider myself tough/stubborn. If I can finish then so can you. Just maintain that belief even in the darkest moments. Turn off notions of quitting. I didn't at NDW100 2015 and I got beat. If a volunteer spurs you out of an aid station they feel you are safe to go on. Trust them over yourself. They are usually right.

Don't underestimate the euphoria of the finish. It will always be worth the suffering.

For me I am so excited to get this started and embrace the weekend as a runner. This ultra running malarkey can be as lonely as it is sociable. I will be catching up with Phil Bradburn on Friday before he commences his grandslam journey as well. We will be at the Chiswick premier inn. If you are staying there and see us in the restaurant then come and say hello. I am rubbish with names so if you see me do come and say hello I love the festival feel to these race weekendS and am always happy to chat.

As part one of this four part saga begins I need to thank my family. I know Zoe kills me when I don't warn her that I'm mentioning her in my blogs, but all thanks and gratitude are well deserved. I can only do these things because of her. She never argues or complains. We do argue, but normally this is when she keeps me in line and reminds me I need to be committed to my training. I am minded to a point I made in my wedding speech 6 years ago... I am a better version of me, because of her. I am so proud of my wife and our little family. They ensure I remain focused and appreciate life. I love them more than I tell them and hopefully completing these races continues to show my children to set their own limitations... and then go and smash them. Their strength and determination always feeds into my race weekends. Knowing they will be at the finish is all the inspiration I need to get there. I seem to be watching my children grow up through the finish line photos by Stuart March. 

If you have read my blogs then my alien from 2015 has survived and will be on the back of my pack, hopefully until the end. It's a good way to recognise me. Although in 2015 I think he was more popular than me.

This is going to be a heck of an adventure this year and one I get to share with so many people from the Centurion Running family, my friends and my family. Lets hope this first step goes smoothly.

I have two other blogs that will give an indication of what to expect. The first from 2015 and the seconds as sweeper in 2016. Good luck everyone.

Final advice.... stop checking the weather forecast ;)