Posting much belated, what has been in part sitting in my editor buffer for months.
Last Saturday was the D33 ultramarathon, 33 miles out and back on the Deeside Way from Aberdeen.
With an easy week going in, I had a race head on. A few good long runs gave some confidence I could run the distance, but far less training than I used to do meant I wasn’t confident what shape I was in. So the plan was to get around, maybe go out at a pace from 4:45-5:00/km and see what happened.
Stood at the start line with 10 minutes to go, the rain comes on in a light mist. Wearing a race vest with a 600ml bottle, my phone, and a jacket in the back, for once I had the confidence to stand in the rain and realise I wouldn’t want a jacket once started.
As we got off I let the lead-ish group of 10-15 go off, and settled into an easy pace with a bit of chat, along a flat paved cyclepath. The pace was maybe 10s/km faster than I was intending, but feeling easy, I hoped the distance wouldn’t prove too much.
Eventually the cycle path gives way to some tracks, a road section with a few hills, and some more paths. I was keeping the pace constant but moving forward occasionally, as people that went out too fast started to slow down.
And that’s as I wrote with the race in recent memory. Looking back, I recall chatting with one or two folk, and then approaching the turn-around. This was a perhaps anticlimactic turning circle of drop bags to run around, followed by retracing the path all the way back to the start.
Having hit halfway, I started to pick the pace up, while giving shout-outs to the stream of runners passing the other way - which started with a natural desire to do so for the first few passed, and continued with the conviction that if one deserves it all do…
I was feeling good and picking up the pace, but the ground was a little damp leading to some foot issues later. Moving from mental section to section, the road, the crossing of a work-site (with friendly security guard shouting out some words of encouragement). Back to the last 5-mile-ish flat paved cycle-path section for a final push.
I felt a little wooziness come on as I came to this point, and had a 1/3 bite of a protein bar which had been riding around in my pack for weeks. Later to be followed by another 1/3, which turned out to be enough to get me through, as I discovered after getting home with a lovely end of a bar in my bag pocket.
Towards the end
The cyclepath section was ticking away well, but it wasn’t the easiest. I didn’t have an accurate idea of the course length, particularly as my watch is in km, and I didn’t take a reading at halfway, so I had no idea how long was left. So I was looking for the signs for the park containing the start/finish line, as they counted out 4, 4, 3, 2, 3…?? Thought that one was too good to be true.
Approaching the last couple of miles, I spotted a runner who I could maybe catch? Maybe flagging? He stopped to walk, well OK, soon enough I got close and realised… he was out for a wee jog, nothing to do with the race. D’oh.
Pushed on through the last mile, tired enough to be a bit confused as the entrance to the park looked different from the opposite direction, and a sprint finish. 3:57:47.
So I started out aiming for an initial pace of 4:45-5:00/km, kept it more in the 4:35-4:45 range, nice and easy. Hit half way and started to race it, 4:20-4:25, finished a little faster.
Probably I could have stood to run the first half slightly faster and continue for a slightly faster time, if I knew how I’d feel ahead of time. But I had no idea if even an easy pace would still tick over to the end. So it feels like the right way to do it, nice confidence builder in my recovery, faster time than my target. Scraped top ten, maybe I could have been 9th with a different run (within a couple of minutes of it) but the next place was way out of reach.