Long back-to-back training runs are an obvious part of ultra-training, but for me it was not till I ran my first longest ever 42 km training run this Monday that I realized that I am on my way to ultra. All my previous training runs before never exceeded 35-36 km, though I would do something like 36 km on day 1 and 20 km on the second day.
This week called for a 40+ monstrosity… I was supposed to do it on Sunday, but unfortunately Middle East weather gods decided to send us a nasty sand storm which made even a 5 km run impossible, leave alone a 4-5 hour adventure. This is really frustrating when you are mentally prepared to do something this challenging and you have to postpone it because of weather. I woke up at around 4: 30 am on Monday morning with a very strong desire to stay in bed and not go anywhere. I had a secret hope that when I look out of the window it will be windy and sandy and totally inappropriate for running. Unfortunately it was not and I had to literally drag myself out. Banana and almond butter for breakfast and off I go.
The plan was to practice a run-walk strategy, taking a walking break every 40 – 45 min. I decided to do so every 8 km as I like having a sort of a structure and a kilometer mark ahead to run to. Unfortunately the route was alongside not a very pretty road from Al Hamra Village to Dreamland water park in Umm Al Quwain, but I had to stick with it for the sake of just finishing the run and be done with it. Training mental toughness, you see lol.
Kilometer 1 to 8: “Gosh, I don’t want to do this. Its too early and dark, my legs are not listening to me. And I have to do this for another 4 hours? Seriously, why did I even sign up for this race! Like there is nothing else exciting in my life!”
First 2 min walking break: “Walking already? I don’t want to walk now, I have just started running!. It will slow me down!”
Kilometer 8 to 16: “Its not too bad actually, feeling good. Could do that for hours! Bring on a break, time for some chomps!”
Second walking break: “Chomps are so much better than Gu gel. Like candy. If another idiot in a passing car honks or flashes at me I’m gonna do something crazy! Like ….. nothing…. What can you do to them?”
Kilometer 16 to 24: “Hmmm… Its still cool, looks like I will be be lucky this time and won’t fry myself on the tarmac. I have just actually run from one emirate to another – how cool is that. Wondering if t qualifies for Guinness book of records! Probably not 😦 Now turning back and its just a stretch home”
Third walking break: “Too lazy to get a banana out of the back pack, better stick with Gu. Yuk, this one is chocolate mint flavor. Hate it! Not even close to real chocolate. Wish I had a peanut butter gel though, its awesome!”
Kilometer 24 to 32: “My feet are tired. Can I walk a little earlier, no one will see anyways! No, I will see, don’t be such a girl, just run. One foot in front of the other – come on, stop wining. You can have nice eggs with salad for breakfast. And nuts. apples and even some chocolate – just run!”
Fourth walking break: “Jeez, walking hurts more than running. Calves are tight. Can’t run any more… I’m hungry”
Kilometer 32 to 42: “Last 10 km… Sip some water. 9 and a half… 9 to go. Gosh, only one kilometer covered? You joking? I was running for like 10 minutes after the last break! There is something wrong with GPS! Its definitely the aliens! They attacked our planet and destroyed all the satellites and GPS is not working! 7 km to go – aliens, definitely aliens. This stupid Garmin! 5 to go – come on, you know you’ve got it! 3…. 2…. 1 – just count down in hundreds, almost there, there is the gate. Eggs are waiting. And chocolate.”
The rest of the day was aimlessly spent on the couch, cuddling with the dogs and the cat and feeling proud of the achievement. The irony of the whole thing? – It looks like I am not running the 100 km ultra in June because of some life getting in the way…