I wrote that I still need a few good hard training sessions before The North Face 100.
I can now say that I've got one of these under my belt. Over the weekend I completed the 55k event at the Wild Horse Criterium.
Now, before we get on with how the event unfolded, first things first. My last blog post was fairly negative. From time to time I get like this. I let my self doubt take over for a bit and there's a bit of negativity flying around.
I know I get like this. Generally speaking I don't dwell on it. Often by the time I get around to tapping out a blog post, I've already come part of the way towards getting over it. Sometimes writing the post helps.
This time was no exception. There IS still a lot of work to do but in writing my blog post, I reminded myself that I do in fact have a plan. I just need to keep following it.
I did exactly this over the weekend. The Wild Horse Criterium ticked a few boxes in my prep for TNF100.
Early startA 4am start meant a 2am alarm and this meant running in a slightly sleep deprived state. It sounds a little unhinged but as I'm preparing for a race that's likely to take me a little over 24 hours, this is good practice.
Race nervesI don't mind admitting it - I was nervous. The night before I had a little bit of a nervous cry and at registration I asked how their time cut off worked. It was likely I'd be towards the limit so thought it would ease my nerves if I knew what the process was.
Race conditionsAs I stood on the start line with the other 19 runners taking on this distance I noticed everyone else had packed light. This was a training run for me so I had committed to carrying my mandatory gear for The North Face 100. It seemed like a stupid decision at 4am on Sunday morning but now I'm glad I did.
A long, long runI probably wouldn't have run this far in training without this event and if I'm really honest, I think it showed. In retrospect I probably wasn't quite ready to run 55ks. My last 11k lap was markedly slower than the others, so in essence I ran a good strong 44ks, and then just toughed it out to get home. A strong 44ks is still a good long run. The extra 11ks, no matter how slow, is a bonus.
Confidence on trailsI ran this event last year and it ended in disaster. I still had a few slips in tricky conditions (including a slo-mo face plant in the mud in the dark) but I noticed how much stronger I felt running through the sand and how much more confidence I had over in general.
This course has terrain with a bit of everything, except elevation. At the race briefing we were assured that the river crossings were only shin deep, but they omitted to tell us that it was shin deep if you happened to be a giraffe. No harm, both crossings were manageable, even the first time in the dark.
The final washupThe course was muddy. The final washup needed to be comprehensive.
(Sorry. That one's not even funny.)
What you probably want to know is, was my nervous question about time cutoffs just me being negative, and did I get home in time after all.
I never found out what their policy was. All I got at registration was a cheery "you'll be right" and I have to admit, at the start of my fifth lap I was on schedule to finish within the nine hour limit. But my last lap was slow.
When I finished after 9:17, I figured I wouldn't get an official time. I was OK with this. It was a training event. I know I did it, and I've got the Garmin file to check my time and pace.
I've checked the results - not only did I get an official time, but I placed first in my category. There is something to be said for choosing the longest distance at a smaller event.