As I’ve already written on this blog, I entered the London Marathon (running for the JDRF) straight after I was diagnosed.
I spend a lot of time in the mountains, and have discovered that I love running on mountain trails and I was starting to get into longer distance trail running before my diagnosis.
On top of this my good friend, Phil Reynolds did the Marathon de Sables a few years ago, and has done several ultra marathons since. He planted a seed in my head a couple of years ago, and it has since been quietly growing into a fully formed ambition to actually do one myself.
There is a very famous trail run in Chamonix every year in August. The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). It involves running round the entire Mont Blanc Massive, which is 100 miles and 10,000m of ascent (more than Everest) non-stop. I was thinking I’d like to do that one day, and there is a “little sister” event called the CCC, which is a “mere” 100km and 7,500m of ascent. I’d like to be in a position to run it next August if possible.
Unfortunately, I discovered that the entry criteria for 2014 is to have already run an ultra marathon of a certain difficulty by the end of this year. There is no way I’ll be ready for that right? I decided to postpone for a year.
But the voice in my head didn’t go away. I found myself browsing the available events and found one in the Brecon Beacons on 7 December. 42 miles and 2300m ascent (more than twice up Ben Nevis), off-road in Wales on nearly the shortest day of the year. It sounds pretty difficult, but it’s about the easiest event I could find that qualifies.
So I entered last Monday, and started reading about training on Tuesday. Good job, as if I’d read about the training first, I might not have entered!
I basically have two months to train for it. I ramped up my running a bit last week. I ran 26km yesterday and to fit the miles in around my existing diary, I even found myself running 10k to a dinner party on Thursday and 10k home from the dinner party! After struggling home at 11pm, I can confirm that two helpings of pork belly and three glasses of wine will not be part of my ultramarathon nutrition plan!
Something I learned from Phil is that meticulous preparation in all things (from training, to nutrition to equipment – just read his blog) is vital in a successful ultra marathon attempt. I’m more of a happy go lucky character by nature, preferring the approach of the plucky English amateur rather than any kind of highly prepared professional. But the difficulty of running an ultra combined with the added challenge of managing my diabetes while I do it mean that I’m going to change that and do everything I can to arrive at the start line as well prepared as possible.
Am I crazy to do an ultra marathon before the London marathon? Maybe. But only because the ultra is going to be really long and tiring. From a diabetes management point of view it’s a different challenge. I want to run the London marathon fast whereas I just want to finish the ultra. That means stopping to test my blood won’t be an issue in the ultra whereas it’s going to be a real pain whilst running the marathon. Anyway, I’ll keep you updated with the training.