#Juneathon 2015 Day 9

I shouldn’t blog about running for Juneathon, I should blog about how tired I am and some of the awesome naps that I’ve had. So yes, tired again today. Missed the opportunity to run before work this morning, opting to indulge some freshly baked pain au chocolats instead. Chose not to run after work as I was being lazy and slumped in front of the tv with my dinner. So my remaining slot for today’s run was after this evening’s antenatal class. I was more knackered than I was earlier, which needs stating apparently.

In an attempt to avoid rehashing routes I’ve trawled around and to avoid the small annoyance of using a head torch, I stuck to local roads with adjacent cycle tracks. I ran up to Begbroke and then back along to the other end of the village, hoping that this would be about the 5K mark. Sadly, I was about a mile short so need to wind around another half loop of the village to make up my mileage. The roads were uninspiring but I really enjoyed myself again this evening. I’m glad that I got out and that I now have a nine day runstreak. My calfs felt ever so slightly tight at times, which doesn’t feel like anything to worry about, but my legs seemed to come to life on the stint back towards Yarnton. At times, my feet shimmied as if involuntarily thrown into some Irish jig, and later, when I added the extra mile onto my planned route, my legs subconsciously started pushing harder and I found the foundations for more pace going forward. It’s probably early days and I feel like there’s too much going on at the minute but it’s nice to feel like I could slowly be reclaiming something resembling form.

Every now and again on a run, especially so during Juneathon, my mind will turn to my next ultra, the South Downs Way 100 on 13th June. I’ve pondered whether I’m fit enough, how I might fare and whether I’ll be happy with my performance. I’ve also had times where I’ve tried to remember what it was like to run and finish this ultra in 2013. I don’t want to focus too much on this weekend coming (obviously, I want to do well) but having enjoyed the regularity and consistency of my recent runs, I’d also like to build a decent fitness base and push for some more PBs – 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon – as I feel that recent efforts haven’t reflected what I should be capable of.

Anyway, as for the SDW100, see below…

I See It All

(musings on this year’s SDW100)

Start: Winchester

Lap of the field before runners bottleneck trying to get onto the South Downs for the first several miles of gutter running.

CP1: Beacon Hill Beeches
At this CP in 2013, Dawn Tilley made herself know to me, which was an unexpected morale boost for someone who wasn’t expecting to see anyone. After this, there’s a lovely section across some fields through mardy cattle.

This CP felt epic to me. When you summit the final hill before the CP, you see a large main road, descend the hill, cross underneath the road before rattling through the QECP. At the actual CP in 2013, I first said hello to Dan Park. Leaving this park last time around, I was fortunate to have Graham Carter waiting with a car boot full of marshmallow tea cakes.

CP3: Harting Downs
I was feeling cocky at this CP. As Stuart March was taking pictures, I let my ego fly as I asked him to take a picture of me running backwards uphill.

CP4: Cocking
There’s a gravel track leading down to this CP. I was lucky enough to say hello to David Barker. Cocking’s an odd CP. On my first attempt at this ultra in 2012, I remember standing around for far too long, talking to one of the volunteers about his GUCR finish. Also, Cocking is a funny name.

CP5: Bignor Hill
I took a little while to remember Bignor Hill. There was only supposed to be water here in 2012. This is where I first learnt to eat either savoury or savoury and sweet food and not just sweet, as it was giving me stomach cramps.

CP6: Kithurst Hill
In 2012, I was overtaken here by a girl walking with poles, who finish in around 26 hrs. In 2013, I met George Knights, who seems to have disappeared from social media since then. George – where have you gone?

CP7: Washington
Ah, the American themed CP. Despite being at 54 miles, the halfway point of the SDW100. Goaded into renewed vigour by Rich Ashton and Ewan Dunlop. Pain in the backside climb out of Washington but when it’s done, it almost feels like it’s downhill to Eastbourne.

CP8: Botolphs
My nemesis. Leaving Botolphs, there is the hill that just never f**king ends. Mark Perkins was manning the aid station here in 2013, man never stops smiling. Earlier this year, I survived the initial first ascent on the SDW50 before cramping up in both legs. Botolphs is the one hill that I adore and abhor in equal measure.

CP9: Saddlescombe Farm
Ah, Saddlescombe Farm … the end of my journey in 2012 when I fell asleep in a portaloo. In 2013, the same staff were manning the CP as the previous year as they remembered my name when I finally reached them. And yes, they had to usher me along as I had taken to almost nodding off in chair. When in Saddlescombe, don’t go near the loos and don’t sit down!!

CP10: Clayton Windmills
On the SDW50, there’s a long and annoying stint which rattles along to Housedean Farm. However, on the SDW100, we have Clayton Windmills. Back in 2013, this was the ROCK CP. Good tunes blaring away and a cheery group of volunteers trying to gee up the runners for the rest of the stint through the night. Big shout out to Bryan Webster, who always helps out at Centurion Running events, unless he’s running them himself. On this occasion, Bryan’s words of wisdom boiled down to staying off Twitter and getting on with the actual running.

CP11: Housedean Farm
A nice sheltered CP with only a marathon to go. On the SDW50 in 2013, I was fortunate enough to meet Graham Carter and Rich Ashton for the first time.

CP12: Southease
I swear the CP for Southease used to be before the train station but it had been shuffled a little further along for this year’s SDW50. The climb out of Southease is another pain in the backside but by this point, I’m still pi**ed off with Botolphs, so it’s time to put your head down and get on with the job in hand.

CP13: Alfriston
After a long and arduous trek, Alfriston means the miles remaining is finally in single digits. Leaving Alfriston, there is some sharp climbing before you start circling what I refer to as the “basin”. I was told the error of my ways back in April but the name has stuck.

CP14: Jevington
Ah, the final CP. Always full of cheery volunteers as they know that the runners haven’t got far to go. This year, I know that in advance David and Sarah Barker are baking various cakes for the CP and stocking a full on mini bar. To be honest, it’ll be a miracle if I leave Jevington able to move, sober or that I leave Jevington.

Finish: Eastbourne
Climbing one last ascent and turning off the Downs at the trig point, there’s some fun gulley running down to Eastbourne and what feels at most a never ending 5K along to the atheltics track, 400m and done.

The above may not mean a great deal to you but course knowledge is a mental and physical advantage and for me, the above will serve as a reminder that I do know this course, I may not run along the course very often owing to where I live and where it’s situated but i can finish this ultra marathon and every time that I’ve run on the South Downs Way, I’ve either come away with positive experiences or an ultra marathon finish or both.

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