Well this moment seems to have come around quick. I left the office still with a massive to do list and a variety of things I will need to do next week, but right now I don't care. I am on the train and making my way to a Premier Inn in Chiswick. It now feels like a race weekend. I realise in this moment how long it has been since I have had the chance to feel the nervous energy of a big race. I can't quite believe TP100 is already upon us.
So many people thought I was joking in the office when they asked what I was up to this weekend. Eventually I just stopped telling people; having grown tired of being asked what was wrong with me and being informed most people go to the pub for fun. Truth be told I love my job, but I've been flat out with my main role and my business. Ultras have always been a sanctuary for me and the build up to this one is no different. This race affords me a space to clear my mind and just enjoy my surrounding. I know it will be tough and I know I will be exhausted, but I also know it will rejuvenate me. To quote Faithless "this is my church. This is where I heal my hurt."
I am sat on the train and the removal of traffic stress is absolute bliss. Moments from my childhood (or maybe the reading of Harry Potter) always makes train rides feel like an adventure. An adventure within an adventure... that may be a theme for the weekend.
Leaving the family is always tough. I miss them whilst away and both the kids are growing in cheek and are full of life. I hope that my challenges and strength of character show them a lifestyle choice that will allow them to have the confidence and courage to chase their own dreams in life.
Big shouts of thanks to my wife. I could not do this without her support. She is awesome and I am very aware how fortunate I am with my family and the life I have. So when I am running they will be with me in spirit and then when I turn in to that field on Sunday, I know they will be there to conclude part 1 of this grandslam adventure; another example of an adventure within an adventure.
I have no real targets for the race other than to finish and be in one piece. A sub 24 would be lovely, but I will not be upset if it does not happen. I am hoping that the experiences and mental fortitude of GUCR last year, will enable me to press harder and endure longer. If it has then anything is possible tomorrow.
The bags are packed and I have realised, the more races I have done, how little I need to take with me. I ended up second guessing myself and almost adding more because I might need it.
Giant shout out to the running community and army of volunteers. I will thank you all at the weekend, but having been the other side of the line I know what a hard job you have and the support is invaluable. No offence to those sweeping, but I sincerely hope that, unlike 2015, I see none of you!
I have opted for road shoes. Hoka Clifton 3's to be precise and after much panic my petzl Nao is up and running. It's all fitted in my UD AK 3.0 pack (I am sure UD are building towards an affiliated runner where they can have an R2D2 pack). There is tonnes of room to spare. I find the single back pocket is not segmented enough and so I have split kit into dry bags. One with kit I only need if I DNF and the other for stuff I will only need if temperature drops significantly.
My final tip for runners and something I am carrying... sandwich bag. I have a habit of ramming food down my throat at aid stations and then the volume of food making me feel ill. I will be putting it in my sandwich bag and walking and eating as I leave the aid station. It saves time and means I don't force high volume calories in a short window.
So to the volunteers thanks.
To the experiences ultra runners, you know what to do, just don't get complacent.
To the 1st timers, relax, enjoy and get some sleep. The race will take care of it's self. Focus on the moment and take it one step at a time.
TP100 is flat, but hard. Set off too fast at your peril.
See you all in Richmond.
Grandslam Take 2 begins... Now!!