Why? Why? Why? That is the common question I get when I tell people I’m running 100 miles. To be fair, at times during the Winter 100 over the weekend I was asking myself that same question. Inevitably during a race that long you’ll suffer quite a bit but the joy and feeling of accomplishment of crossing that finish line make all the pains and aches more than worthwhile. A feeling I plan to experience many times over the next few years.
The Winter 100 wasn’t on my plans for 2014, I usually race very little but when I saw spaces available I couldn’t resist and signed up. Training for this race was unusual, I completed Ironman Sweden, one of mine A races for 2014 just weeks prior, I raced hard and did well there but it took a lot out of me, for a while afterwards I felt tired and suffered from niggling pains and aches, so my strategy for the Winter 100 was to train less, recover hard and be at the start in the freshest way possible and of course grow a beard to look more like an ultrarunner! I knew with the fitness I accumulated training for the Thames Path 100 and Ironman Sweden would help me get through my last challenge for 2014. This time also coincided with my wife and kids being away in New Zealand, free of any family responsibilities one would think that I would have all the time in world to train but my common sense dictated that this wouldn’t be the smartest choice. The upside of not having the family around for a while was that I was able to get plenty of good quality sleep. During the time my diet (as far as metabolic efficiency is concerned) was pretty close to perfect with the exception of a few treats, I decided that since I couldn’t train as much it would be a sensible idea to try losing a bit of excess body fat, metabolic efficient eating worked a treat. In comparison to my Ironman Sweden race week weight I was more or less 5 pounds lighter, it doesn’t sound a lot but when have to run 100 miles and it will help a long way.
My main tactics to lose a bit of excess body fat were to reduce my portions a bit and try to exercise just before my main meals so that it worked as my recovery food. I never counted calories or went hungry. If you want to know more about metabolic efficiency you can read this post, but essentially it’s a way of eating that emphasises the reduction of insulin spikes and control of blood sugar levels with the aim of enhancing your body’s ability to use its own fat stores as fuel.
When race day arrived I felt ready, niggle free and lighter, let’s go and finish 2014 in style. The Winter 100 race is a series of 4 different 25-mile spurts along the Thames Path and the Ridgeway, with spurts 1 and 4 being flat and spurts 2 and 4 hilly, the course resembles the shape of a cross, what I loved about this race was being able to return to the starting point where my drop bag would be with all my favourite foods and spare clothes/shoes. My race strategy was to start at a sensible pace, run the most I could during spurts 1 and 2 whilst in daylight and hang on during later sections. The first 50miles went without a problem, the rain that was forecasted never arrived and it felt very warm outside, I had started the race wearing a base layer but soon felt it was too warm for that. I got through some of the hills at the start of leg 3 and around mile 55 I suffered my first ‘bad patch’, you just have to try to stay positive and accept that these patches will come and go, I walked for a while and all of sudden I felt re-energised and able to run again. It felt great arriving at mile 75 back at headquarters and see some familiar faces before the last spurt. Two miles into spurt 4 I was crossing some fields and up to now I am still not sure what exactly happened but being tired and with my concentrating levels dipping I managed to turn around on myself and started running towards the finish, I ran about a mile in the wrong direction and realised of my cock-up when I saw the bridge near the finish line. Very annoying but all I could do now was to pay better attention. At around mile 85 I suffered another bad patch and had to walk for a while, that must have lasted a good 20-25min, it still felt warm and muggy outdoors, even for my Brazilian body, I was still just wearing a t-shirt despite being autumn here in the UK. The rain came down at this point and it felt refreshing and I started running again. During the last 15 miles or so I really didn’t feel like eating at all, at the time the thought of chewing food didn’t appeal to me at all, with a few miles to go I started sipping cold and flat coke mixed with a bit of water and salt sticks. I know some of you that follow my blog will be curious to how much and what I ate. I ate roughly every hour and consumed in the region of 90 calories each time for the first 60miles or so, during the later stages it all becomes a bit of a blur really. My foods of choices are cheese/ham sandwiches, peanut butter/banana sandwiches, Generation UCAN sports drink, Nakd bars, crisps and flat coke. As I left the last aid station with 4 miles to go something just clicked, the pains and aches disappeared. I was on the home straight, even taking a tumble in the mud with a mile to go.
I crossed the finish line in 21h09 and 18th overall and with a big smile on my face. I’m very chuffed to own my second ONE-DAY buckle.
Super thanks to all the volunteers, no volunteers means no race, thanks to my co-runners and Centurion Running for putting a great event.
The 2014 season
That’s it; it is the end of my season, I’m here writing my blog and sipping a cold beer. What goals did I have in mind when I planned for 2014. My race goals were to complete a 100-mile ultramarathon at Thames Path 100 and to go sub-11 hours at Ironman Sweden in August. My other goals were to become a better cyclist and remain injury free.
Every goal has been ticked and I couldn’t be any happier. My debut at 100-miles at Thames Path 100 exceeded my expectations earlier this year; you can read my post here. My attention shifted to Ironman Sweden from May with lots of cycling. I had a really good race and pb-ed with 10:57, during training for this my FTP power improved as well as my power/weight ratio, you can read about my Swedish adventure in here. Another year and I remain injury free, in actual fact I haven’t suffered from injuries since 2008, I’m not superman, far from that and I do suffer from niggles from time to time, more of them in 2014 though. I don’t have a secret but a combination of ideas some may find useful. I listen to my body, if something isn’t right I don’t ignore it, I see my physiotherapist regularly and I back off hard training, especially running when I feel the need to. I am bit anal with my sleep, I like 8 hours a night, fuck the TV, sleep is the best recovery there is and it's free. I swim, bike, run and also perform conditioning and strengthening work, this combination keeps training entertaining and gives me a complete body workout. I also don’t race very much and have breaks every year. And of course I eat the metabolic efficient way.
More than race times and power meter data, 2014 has been about building my confidence and knowing I’m heading in the right direction. I don’t have any special athletic talent or favourable genetics but I’m learning that my hard work, my faith in my training methods and being patient are allowing me to achieve more than I once thought possible. It’s been a great learning curve and experience and I look forward to the future.
I now embark on a two-week end of season break, no exercise at all, time to give my body and mind a break. Plan is go to the cinema and a few trips to the pub of course.
I have one goal for 2015, well, one goal with four parts though. That is to complete the Centurion Running Grand Slam and finish four 100-mile ultramarathons from May to Oct, the Thames Path 100, the South Downs Way 100, the North Downs Way 100 and finish off with the Winter 100. I really look forward to this challenge. I’m love with ultrarunning at the moment! I’m going to start my season in style though, I’ll be racing the Tarawera 100k ultra in Feb and the Motatapu off-road marathon in March , both in New Zealand and great preparation for Thames Path 100.
If you want to keep in touch you can follow me on twitter @braziliangunner
Thanks for reading my blog.
Thanks for reading my blog.