Friday, 26 April 2013

Anglo Celtic Plate (50K)

After the D33 i planned on waiting until the Fling to run another 'ultra' event, but on the day of the ACP entry closing, I entered.
Two things worried me:
1. It involved running in small circles ALL day
2. It was ALL on tarmac

On the plus side, getting lost would be virtually impossible.

I didn't fancy the 100K so took the 50K (31 Miles) 'lightweight' option and in hindsight that was 100% the correct choice!
My event didn't start until 10am but I wanted to get there to see the 100K get underway at 7am and to do a recce of the route. It was bitterly cold and the temperature was hovering around an optimistic -3 when I arrived. It was a bit spooky at North Inch Park, with the ground being covered in a crisp white frost and a layer of mist hung above the grass.
As I got out my car I saw that the 100K runners had started just seconds before. I walked over to the race Village and said a few hello's and decided the only way to keep warm was to head round the route and offer up some encouragement and abuse to the 100K runners as they passed by. With a lap being only around 1.5 miles I began to wonder when people would begin to get fed up saying 'hello', 'your doing well' and all the other usual words of encouragement. Saying 'looking good' every 1.5 miles seemed a bit redundant at this early stage. With the exception of a couple of miserable looking characters, most looked happy, albeit bloody freezing!

So fast forward a few hours and many many laps later.........
I had walked/jogged the route a good few times now, still freezing, and by now was keen to get underway myself. Sue Walker had very kindly let me put my race box at their tent so I knew exactly where to get my supplies during the race. So I got changed and then hung about the start area. I watched as the 100K folk came and went, setting off a beep each time they crossed the matting. This then triggered a 'Oh Shit' moment. It suddenly dawned on me, with 10 minutes to go' that despite having been so organised with my kit and my race supply box, that I had forgotten to attach the timing chips to my shoes. I belted back to my car and there they were, sitting on the dashboard. Numpty.
So, take I was ready to go.
We assembled and were quickly underway. My pre-race target had been around 5 Hours, nothing fancy, just plod round and get some miles in my legs. I knew I would be lapped, as it turned out I was lapped several times, and hoped that I would lap those who were near death in the latter stages. I soon lost track of how many laps I had done as we were not allowed to carry a phone or gps device, but I knew I had lots to go. The 100K guys were streaming past with increasing regularity, including the 'Big Guns' of Donnie, Antonia, Paul, Andrew and Andy. I chatted to a few briefly before they streaked away. It was never too long before I saw them again. And then again and again.........
In the early stages I passed Ray a few times but over the last hour I didn't see him so I knew I had slowed significantly!! The Tarmac was slowly destroying my calf muscles and my soul! 'God, when will this end?' I remember asking on more than one occasion.
My once cheery 'Hellos' had been replaced by mutterings and then hand signals. Why did I think running an Ultra on Tarmac would be fun?
I think I had run 8 laps before I had my first 'pit stop' for a drink, after that I was pausing every 2 or 3 laps. My leg muscles can't, as it now appears, cope over this distance on Tarmac, trails I can manage but the constant pounding on this hard packed shit really was leading to me making up all sorts of new swear words today. I had regular walk breaks, but I'm pretty sure I was soon being refered to as 'Oh there goes that guy whos walking the race' or 'when are you going to start running?' and my favourite of the day 'how many times is that ive lapped you now?'
By around lap 16 or 17 my legs were packing in and protesting with every subsequent lap. I had walked and talked with various runners, including Andy Johns and John MacLean and the ever smiling Antonia, but nothing could take my mind off the red hot pokers being stabbed into my legs. Even being shouted at by Sharon Law for talking to John like a 'pair of old fish wives' couldn't lift my spirits. Sue had fed me some cake and it gave me a wee burst of energy. A wee burst that soon wore off, but then some more cake and another wee burst. I felt a bit better, but not much! On one lap as I approached the mats the crowd were going mental, cheering and screaming. I thought 'Oh thats nice, thank you'. I quickly realised that it was Donnie Campbell coming in fast from behind me to finish that they were going crazy for!!!
I could see and hear the proper runners finishing one by one as I trudged around. I stumbled over the mats once again and Adrian told me 'One to go Colin'. My reply is unprintable and I apologise to those who had children present at the finishing area. My 5 hour target was well gone, but decided to push on my last lap in case anyone pointed a camera my way. On the previous couple of laps I had been passed or been passed by Neil McRitchie. I knew on the last lap that we were both on our last one. So my new target was to beat him! Over the last mile and a half we exchanged places a few times but as the route turned away from the river something in my brain told my legs to stop messing around and move my arse. I pulled away from him and kept well away until I finished. It was brutal, my legs were wrecked.
It was, despite that pain and suffering, an epic day. The encouragement from those I knew was matched by complete strangers handing out marshmallows and jelly babies. Thank you all. The event was very well organised and well done to all those at Run and Become. Adrian, I take my hat off to you for an amazing day. It was great to chat to some quality loons during the day and it helped for a wee bit to take my mind off the ribbon of tarmac that lay ahead. I wasn't expecting that finishers plate and made for a pleasant change to the customary medal, so that was fantastic, as was the easter egg! Well done to all who ran, it was a tough day out there. Thanks again to Sue for feeding me with cake and to George and Karen who spent the day cleaning up all the crap other runners saw the need to throw by the wayside and for cheering us runners on as we plodded on. Well done Team Scotland!!
At the start of 2013 I had boldly stated that I wanted to run and finish 12 Ultras. I soon began to see this as being overly ambitious and slightly mental. So I've 'slimmed' this down to a more realistic target of just 9!
So 2 down (D33 and ACP), 7 to go.
Tomorrow is the 3rd of this years, the Hoka Highland Fling 53 mile Trail Race. This will be my 5th Fling and hopefully my 4th finish. I'm aiming for Sub 12 hours this year and ideally would like to achieve 11.45.00
My previous two ultras this year haven't exactly gone to plan, but I need to remember that its all about the bigger picture, The West Highland Way Race in June. See you all in Milngavie in the morning. Although I'm sure I'll see some of you tonight at pre-registration. Bring It!!

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