Here’s part 2 of my recap of the Endure 24 weekend.
[To catch up check out part 1]
I’d just had a lovely shower. The weather had improved. Things were looking up. I decided to not eat anything before my next run (which at this point was around four hours away, roughly 9.30pm). I was still so full from the chicken and I really didn’t fancy anything. Not even cake <—NOT EVEN CAKE.
We cheered on other runners, including Ben, and chilled out for a bit.
Our running club had a prime location of tents just in front of the change-over point so we could see the clock ticking away at the 24 hours.
I reluctantly got into my running shorts, compression socks and vest (lovely and sweaty from my previous run) and got myself ready to go again. I decided to keep my long running leggings for my 3-4am run knowing to keep the real warm stuff for later. Head torches were now required 8pm onwards until 6am.
Bless Ben, he stood waiting with me at the changeover point holding an umbrella and ready to take my coat, despite the fact that he was getting soaked and cold. It was suddenly very dark, very cold and absolutely chucking it down. I was dreading the run now. I was so cold. I got myself into a bit of state of nervousness. Ben calmed me down and said some wise words about how I’ve run in rain before etc. and how I’d be warm within the first mile.
One of my fellow running club friends, Sheryl, was stood there too and I remember her saying “this isn’t fun anymore”. Then her changeover runner came and off she ran for her lap. I stood waiting getting more and more nervous and cold. Then I saw Kate, ripped off my coat and got ready to go.
The first section was fine: all on tarmac. I pumped my arms and tried to get warm ASAP as I got soaked. Finally I stopped feeling the cold. Then I got into the off-road section. It was like a bog. I actually passed a runner holding a large umbrella! I had to shout at him (as politely as I could) to move over so I could overtake.
As it became more and more sticky to run and uneven I felt my hip start to niggle. I tried to keep the mantra “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” in my head. But I saw my pace dropping as I struggled to run fast through the thick mud. All I could think in my head was “I can’t let my pace drop, everyone else’s second runs have been a minute or less out from their first runs”.
Darkness had now fully descended and all I had was my head torch to lead the way. As I got into the woods I couldn’t run – the mud was so thick and my hip so painful. I was glad to see others walking as well and not just me but I saw my watch flash my pace and internally I broke. “You’re weak, Anna”. Every step seemed like agony in my hip as my feet slid around. I desperately wanted to catch up with Sheryl so I could run with her as I felt so alone and broken. A 12 minute mile popped up on my watch. I started to cry as I ran/walked the course. The last mile is out of the woods and I tried to speed up. As I finished I saw Ben and I threw myself into his arms in tears.
I’ll briefly pause here. I know this all sounds so very ridiculous (and it only gets worse). Sitting here feeling dry, warm and clean, it seems pathetic. I don’t know why I reacted as I did. Maybe it was because of the pressure I put on myself to achieve a time similar to what my fellow team mates had achieved in the drier, lighter conditions…maybe the fact my hip was so painful again and it had been fine for a while now…the darkness…the feelings of being alone out on a trail…my rapidly declining pace.
Ben asked if I was OK and what was wrong. I suddenly felt so very overwhelmed. I couldn’t get my breath as I tried to tell him. I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I was sobbing but struggling to breathe. I started to panic. I couldn’t breathe. My panic increased. A lovely lady from my club ran to get a paramedic. Finally I calmed down and could breathe again.
I’m not proud of this. In fact I’m deeply ashamed. A panic attack? Seriously? Over what, a rubbish run in a bit of mud? I can’t believe how I reacted. When I got back to my team they asked how it went and I started to cry again. But they were all lovely. When they found out that my hip was hurting they decided (and I reluctantly agreed) that another lap, especially in the middle of the night, would be a bad idea.
I went for another shower only to find the showers were either cold, flooded or the light wasn’t working. In the end Ben helped me douse down my legs with water and dry them with a towel so I could get back into my running leggings and head to bed as it was now past midnight.
Ben had a 1am-ish run and I wished him luck. Unfortunately he turned his ankle on the course (aren’t we pair??) and he came to bed in a lot of pain 🙁 Bad times.
I woke early and cheered on the other runners. I felt like a failure but I was so chuffed for the other runners who ran at ridiculous times during the night. Pretty much everyone ran at least three laps. I ran two. I couldn’t have felt more rubbish.
Ben woke up a bit later and was told by his teammates he couldn’t do his last fourth lap because of his ankle (he wouldn’t have listened to me if I’d have told him not to run). Another lady had torn a ligament in her ankle and Mike had a calf issue. Injuries left, right and centre!
As fellow runners completed their final laps they then went off to collect their medal. This meant they couldn’t do anymore laps as they’d hand in their chip. I didn’t want to get my medal. Part of me was still convinced I could run one more lap. My hip felt OK in the morning…but people still said the course was muddy despite the rain having finally stopped. And part of me didn’t feel like I deserved a medal. I know this is silly, but I felt like I’d let my team down and myself. Just two laps? And a panic attack? Pathetic. The demons in my head were having a field day with me.
Ben, as always, snapped me out of it and told me not to be so ridiculous and go get my medal. He told me I’d run 10 miles and those 10 miles would have helped my team regardless. So I got my medal.
A bittersweet end
Despite my terrible, terrible run and post-run experience I did love Endure 24. I loved the atmosphere with my club, the camping and the experience. I wish so badly my run could have gone better, that I could have done a third lap, but it didn’t pan out that way unfortunately.
Instead I enjoyed cheering the others on and seeing them achieve things they’d never thought they could achieve. Our team did a total of 32 laps between us. The solo runner ran an epic 15 laps (75 miles); how amazing is that? He ended his final lap holding his baby and little girls hand as he crossed the finish line with the club’s flag draped like a cape round his neck. Truly inspiring.
So I’ll be there next year. Endure 24 and me have unfinished business.
Have you ever had a truly terrible race or run?
Have you ever had a panic attack?
Do you put pressure on yourself to perform a certain way? Do you set yourself unrealistic targets?