Endure 24…a 24 hour running event of a five mile lap. You could enter in a team, as a pair or solo. Our running club entered four teams and one madman solo runner 😉 I was part of a team of eight very speedy runners.
Leading up to this event I contemplated not doing it. Due to my annoying hip niggle I just hadn’t got in the miles I wanted to in order to feel really comfortable bashing out as many laps of the course as I could. Ben and his team had gotten out and done a good amount of training with running multiple times in a day over a few weeks. I hadn’t done any of that and hadn’t even got back up to running 10 miles yet. Ben, and several others, convinced me to go though and enjoy the experience while setting myself a limit on the number of laps I’d complete. I conceded this was a good plan: enjoy myself rather than pressurise myself and ultimately risk injury.
Ben and a few others arrived Friday morning to the campsite (yes, it involved camping…portable loos, portashowers and British weather). They set up loads of tents for those from our club who couldn’t come down in the day (like me, I was at work). I arrived Friday evening and essentially the hard graft had been done – thank god, I haven’t put a tent for over 10 years!
A group of us decide to walk the course to see what was in store for us. A lot more undulating than we thought! 90% off road, on dirt tracks and through the woods. Nice and scenic though.
We had a lovely BBQ that evening and basically just had a good old laugh and a fair amount of drinking (*cough* Ben and Mike *cough*). We had a late night and unfortunately a rather early morning with the sun beaming into our tent.
The event started at 12 o’clock Saturday. Some crazy people cycled down to the local parkrun that morning before to “get some more miles in”. Not me I hasten to add. The weather looked a little precarious but we all prayed for the rain to hold off. What with Wimbledon and Glastonbury happening at the same time this was highly unlikely.
I had told my group beforehand that I only wanted to do three laps (15 miles in total). I explained that I hadn’t prepared properly and my main goal was getting to Berlin marathon without injury. They all understood and that was brilliant. I was put as the 7th runner (out of 8) so the other speedsters could get as many laps in as possible.
On Ben’s team he was number one. We all headed to the start to watch the first runners go at midday. It was all very exciting.
But then the rain began. It absolutely bucketed it down like you wouldn’t believe. Ben got fairly wet on his run, and the number 2s and 3s got absolutely drenched.
While the beginner runners headed off I quickly got down to the important stuff. Eating lunch. Before coming up I had slow-cooked an entire chicken and roasted three sweet potatoes. I then shredded the chicken and smothered the lot in BBQ sauce. Heaven. Except when it came to eating it I didn’t portion it out onto a plate. I just sat there munching away enjoying myself. I pretty much ate 3/4 of that bad boy. I was stuffed. I was still stuffed at 3.30pm…30 mins from my first run.
The rain finally stopped and it was my turn to go. I was excited.
The first mile was tough because, though it was on tarmac, for the first little bit, it was a slow gradual incline which kind of killed your flow. Then it was onto some trail running. There were a few more inclines and a beast of a short sharp hill towards the end. There were so many people on the course, some bombing it down at stupid speeds or some taking it slow and simply walking (usually the solo runners pacing themselves for the long hours ahead).
As I started running I knew I had an issue. My stomach was so full. Within a mile I got a stitch. I thought I was going to be sick. Towards the later part of the run I wanted to be sick to at least relieve some pressure. I never eat before I run, whether it’s the morning or evening. I eat before races but only because there’s such a gap between breakfast and actually racing. Usually many hours. OK I had about 3.5 hours between eating and running but essentially I’d eaten 3/4 of a chicken and a whole load of sweet potato…That wasn’t going anywhere fast.
As soon as I finished I hunched over convinced I was going to be sick. A lovely girl from my club tried to give me some food as she thought I needed it and I almost did throw up. Thankfully though the chicken stayed in place. Note to self: never eat that much chicken before running. Ever.
After feeling better I grabbed my stuff and headed to the showers. I thought I’d try and shower after each run. After a little wait I was in one of the tiny little portashowers. Essentially it was a shower cubicle with a bit of space to get changed in. No windows, no temperature dial. It was lovely and warm though thankfully.
The issue I had was that as the water was so warm the room became very steamy and hot. I think I can safely say that one of the hardest things to do is try and put on a sports bra when you’re still hot, the room is steamy and it’s an over the head affair (i.e. no straps to undo). I got stuck half way. It wasn’t pleasant. Then after struggling with that for what seemed like an hour, I then had to somehow get my tight FULL-LENGTH running leggings on too. Jesus. I almost just opened the door and got changed outside. “Excuse my bum, I’m just bloody hot!”
Whew. I felt like a whole new woman after that though. All squeaky clean and lovely. I found myself chatting to a elderly lady as I headed back. She must have been 80 or over. She was small and hunched over and nattered away to me. I asked her if this was her first 24 hour event. She laughed in my face and said she does it every year. She hoped to do six laps! She said she did one event in the 1980s as a soloist and was gutted that she only (only) did 98 miles. My god what an inspiration!
OK I will leave it there for now. I won’t lie, it sort of goes pear shaped from here for me 🙁
Have you ever done a 24 hour event?
Do you enjoy camping? Hmmm. I can’t say I’ve been won over by it this weekend!
Do you eat before running? What do you have?