“Slow running” doesn’t mean running slowly, although that often happens! To me it means running with the minimum of kit and gadgets and enjoying – and feeling part of – the environment. It sometimes means incorporating an adventure into running, and most importantly it means running for its own sake.
Every European off piste skier dreams of visiting Le Grave at some point in their life. This winter has been a strange one so far. Lots of avalanche incidents, so we’d been sticking to safer low angled slopes when ski touring (including a really fun day with Bet and others in Megeve). So in some ways we weren’t even that excited to visit this steep skiing Mecca – would it be safe enough to ski anything anyway?!
Henry David Thoreau said “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”
My new friend Harry and I had been splashing through half frozen puddles on a (suspiciously) small path through a hilltop bog, visualising our glorious podium finish after the 44 mile run through the Brecon Beacons. We were feeling strong and had opened up a big lead on the field with the group behind us out of sight. But as we crested the ridge, I realised that we were WAY off track.
A lot of preparation has gone into getting myself ready for the CCC tomorrow. The CCC is the little sister of the ultra-tour du mont-blanc (UTMB) – a mere 101km and 6100m of climbing. (The 6100 of downhill will be the difficult bit of course.) This is more than enough for me. I feel fit, strong and have no idea how fast I will go. I hope I’ll finish it of course.
They say that success in running ultras can be boiled down to winning the “ultra-eating” competition. One can expect to burn about 700 calories an hour. The body can absorb up to 300 calories an hour if one eats as much carbohydrate as possible. Competitors frequently suffer from nausea or vomiting, and this can lead to exhaustion if they cannot hold food down.
(In the Spring, I was a diabetic tiger. In the Summer I was a diabetic snail – running slow and steady with my house on my back)
With the cliffs above me blocking the way higher, I eyed up the only way onwards: a waist high stream a few metres across. The water was flowing fast before tumbling down a series of waterfalls dropping into the village I’d left half an hour before. Having scrambled up three hundred metres of imposingly steep grass and rocks I could verify that contrary to what my map told me, there was definitely no path and definitely no bridge. There was also no-way I could risk crossing the torrent without the possibility of plunging to a premature death far below. I cursed at yet another misadventure and turned round to retrace my steps. I slipped, and desperately hung on to my walking poles, digging them into the ground with my life flashing before my eyes. I averted my slide and broke one of my poles in the process. Walking up the 1700m to the next col had just got even harder.
I’m training for a 100km ultra marathon around mont blanc. I’m learning a lot about running, training, physiology and diabetes. Today though was all about the joy of running and being in the mountains.
It started with a four mile run in London at 5am. I hadn’t factored in just how heavy my bag was, and I had to really push it to make my train. The doors closed as I arrived on there platform, so I panicked, waving to the driver hoping that I wasn’t going to miss my second plane in a week! Luckily he let me on.