It’s nearly here! On Saturday I will be running the Vale of Glamorgan Ultra Marathon.
It’s starting to feel real now, especially as Rhys, the race director, called me earlier to check in ahead of the weekend. He calls all the entrants and it’s such a lovely touch and makes the race feel really personal and definitely makes you feel valued.
Saturday will be the second time in three months that I’ll have run 40 miles along the Wales Coast Path. Whilst I’m really looking forward to it, it’s not been the easiest journey to get to the start line. Being ill has meant that I am no where near as prepared as I was the first time round. Fortunately, as the excitement builds this is starting to matter less now race day is a little closer. Yes, I’m concerned that my fitness isn’t where I would like it to be but I’ve covered the distance once and I know that I can do it again, even if I have to walk more than I would like.
I’m really looking forward to getting to the start line now. My bag is packed, I may have done it before but it doesn’t stop the pre-race nerves from starting early. I like to be organised so it means that I can relax the evening before. The worst thing would be to realise the night before the race that I’m missing something key.
Helpfully I’ve been reading Vassos Alexander’s book Running Up That Hill in which he talks about some of the runs and races he’s completed. It’s a great read and I’d thoroughly recommend it. I’m very glad I’ve just read about the aid station etiquette! Having not completed an official ultra before I hadn’t really thought about how it would all work. Last time we hung around for as long as we fancied as it was our friends manning the stations so we wanted to spend time with them as that was part of the experience. Our race manual says that we shouldn’t stay beyond 30 minutes or we’ll be disqualified but in terms of getting drinks and eating I’d not given much thought as to how long I’d be there. It turns out that in most races the aid stations are at the bottom of a hill so you refill your bottles, grab some food and eat it whilst walking up the hill. You’d not normally run up the hills anyway so that you can conserve your energy for the bits that are more runnable. It’s something I’ll be baring in mind on Saturday.
My nutrition worked well last time so I have that in the bag as well as I know what to expect and how much to carry/ eat at the aid stations. This is definitely reassuring. Also I’m aware that I’ll not want to drink just my Tailwind so I’ll be carrying a bottle for water as well.
Also this time there’s a mandatory kit list. Something we didn’t have last time. So whereas last time we didn’t take coats with us, to be fair it was roasting the day that we ran so we’d have probably been able to ditch them even if the race was on, this time I’ll have a coat, base layer and light with me to fit in my bag.
Most of all I’m looking forward to getting out on the trail with my friends and exploring part of the path that I’ve not run on yet. Last time we started 7 miles into the route so there’s a whole stretch, including the notorious stepping stones, that I’ll be running for the first time.
I’m going to be spending as much of the next couple of days having some quiet time, well, as much as I can with two small children at home with some local walks and reading stories.
In just 36 hours I’ll be out on the course, along with lots of others.