I showered, dragged my amazing Wife out of bed, made a smoothie, packed the car then we were off. We collected my Dad en-route, as he was going to be my support crew with The Wife, then jumped onto the motorway. We got to the start point just before registration opened for the runners & in time to watch the "walkers" set off "running". The race was broken into 3 starts, Walkers (6:00am), Runners (7:00am) then The Relays (8:00am). I promptly went to register where I met Andrew (@MrAFletch), Andrew has popped up on my blog a few times, he's a top guy & a very good runner, albeit a very modest one. At registration we were given our race numbers, a memento which was an orange sew on patch & a horrid (you've been tango'd) orange T-shirt. Items that at the time meant nothing but later that day would be prize possessions (even though I may never wear the T-shirt) . I threw them in the the boot of the car, got my kit on & headed back into the hall to mingle, there were some sorry sights in the hall, I instantly spotted the guys that had travelled down the night before & slept on the gym floor, I felt especially sorry for the poor bloke who was brushing his teeth in the toilets that were filled with the over powering smell of "protein". Heading back into the hall I bumped into Laura (@LauraInglis1) & her partner Steve. I ran with Laura when we did a recce run of the 2nd Half of the race but she had ran the whole of the route so hoped to run with her for the 1st half at least.
The START: Dearne Valley to Grange Park 10.8 miles
As we lined up at the start line (a bloke waving his hands in the air holding a fog horn) the sun started to rise. As I stood on the start line I bumped back into Andrew & we wished each other a good race, I know I would not see him again as I don't call him "The Machine" for nothing. I instantly loved the relaxed feel to the event, I was used to runners jostling for position at a start line with road races, but here I could not see a start line, we were just a huddle of people outside a sports hall. I stood there in the fresh morning breeze & had a giggle as I recalled my mate Trent (@ManicMilner) saying "just remember when you hear a gun go off it may not be the starting pistol", Trent lives nearby & is a bit of a comedian.
At 7am with a 3,2,1 we were off. I'd planned/hoped to run at 10 -10:30 minute miles but instantly set off too fast. I slowed a bit as the group I was running with was way too fast for me, we ran down main roads & around footpaths, the terrain seemed to be changing fast but I never needed my map. I found myseld running with a veteran Ultra Runner, a lovely woman who had ran this race a few times before, she never divulged how many times & I never asked again. Running this Ultra turned to be a great social event, everyone was very friendly. The lady eventually slowed & I ran on, I was caught up by a man from Clowne Running Club who slowed to chat, he too was great company but without realising it my pace had increased again to 9min/miles while we were chatting. I knew Laura ran at my pace & as a bonus I knew she remembered the route so really wanted to run with her. I arrived at CP 1 in 1:45, this was way too fast so I hung about a bit longer to wait for Laura. The first thing I noticed was the cake fest at the 1st Check Point!
10.8 miles out of 50 completed
Park Grange to Treeton 6.4 miles
Still "fresh" I gave The Wife a hug, much to her disgust & headed out onto stage 2 just in front of Laura. I only managed to get around the corner & I had to stop as my Camalback was digging into me, as I fiddled with it a voice came from behind shouting something on the lines of "what are you playing about at, come on", yup Laura had caught me up... This stage was nothing to write home about, we plodded past a sewerage plant & through some "dodgy" residential areas where I just thought thankful that they were early on & not at the end, this way I could at least run away from any mugging attempts :o)
Half way through this stage i noticed my battery on my phone was not charging, I had it plugged into an external battery and assumed it was a faulty lead so phoned ahead to CP 2 &basked Sue (The Wife) for a spare. At about mile 15 I started with a niggle in my lower back, it was obvious that it had not healed 100% after the pounding it had taken on the Red Bull Steeple Chase's downhill sections.
17.2 miles out of 50 completed
Treeton to Harthill 7.5 miles
Sue greeted me with B.O spray (point taken, no more hugs) I swapped the cable but it was to no avail, my external battery had died. I dumped my camalback & the phone, this annoyed me lots! I knew a few people were watching the live feed via Runkeeper and the tweets by well wishes were rolling in which I was relying on to perk me up on the latter stages. A quick bite to eat (CAKE) & we were off Laura set off first as I grabbed another Swiss Roll. Eventually I caught up with Laura down the road then realised I'd left my bottle of water on the path at the CP & also forgotten to replenish my Jelly Babies & Haribo Tangfastics, a massive FAIL. On the plus side my back eased off fir short while. The terrain swapped from track to field to road, eventually Niggles & fatigue started to creep up on me at 18 miles so I decided to walk up a hill to save my energy. As I looked around I noticed so did everyone else around me. All apart from Laura, she had pulled in front by now & I started to get the first sign of doubt, I had secretly hoped to beat her & I assumed she had the same goal as we cat & moused the last few miles of the stage. I'd been told that this ultra would be 10% fitness & 90% mental, i was starting to see why. My mood soon picked up when I saw the friendly smile of Mike (@Mikew30), Mike had come along to support and had jogged back to meet me & run the last bit with me, a massive boost that I needed, its always a pleasure to run with him.
24.7 miles out of 50 completed
Hartill to Woodsetts 5.8 miles
Check point 3 was heaving, I logged my number & went inside for a drink & some food (CAKE), I grabbed a couple of oranges (& CAKE) then headed out following Laura, I felt as though I had more energy but I stayed back, I never attempted to catch her up this time but was keen to kept her in my sights, I knew I needed to run alone for a bit at this stage. My socks were soaked wet through by now but I squelched on with cramps coming & going, my mood would swing from one mile to next as pains came & went. A lot if these miles mingle together but I do remember running past the airfield & a plane flew past us very low, another runner called from behind, "I live local to here & I've never seen that before, that was for us that was" I was not going to argue with him, it made me smile,
"I'll take that, Hooo Rah" I replied.
The guy ran with me for a while & I appreciated his knowledge of the local surroundings he was running too slow so I pulled away and caught up to the group in front. All was well until we got slightly lost coming into CP4, as we crossed a golf course a few of us took the wrong side of a tree line & ended up down a road to a massive house with walled grounds & a missile in the garden. Yes a missile! Seeing a missile in a garden at the best of times would make me question my sanity but seeing it while running 50 miles? Yeah it too made me question my sanity. We decided to take a chance and carry on, luckily we intercepted the group again just down the road, we had taken the road that ran parallel with the route so the detour was not too costly. Mike was there on queue to run me into the CP at the top of a small climb, his praises & support helped loads as I was really hurting now.
30.5 miles out of 50 completed
Woodsetts to Firbeck 5.6 miles
I saw Sally, a running friend, at the entrance. Sally was part of the Maltby Running Clubs Relay Team for the event, again it was nice to see a familiar face. I headed inside to the CP & grabbed some bits, once outside again I changed my soaking wet socks, the freshly ploughed fields had taken their toll. I gracefully lowered myself to the floor, who am I kidding, I groaned & squealed so much so a passing spectator looked over in shock & asked if I was ok. I changed my socks, got back up & headed back out. Laura had gone & I was guessing she was 5 mins in front of me by now. Mike ran out with me & took my mind off of the pains that were getting worse. We ran over one muddy field before he turned back. The change of socks was not the best idea I have ever had, although they felt like heaven initially the next field was not only freshly ploughed but looked like it had just been watered! My fresh comfy socks were soon the same as the last pair that were by now fermenting in my car. I remembered this part of the route well after the recce run but it made it no easier. At each checkpoint I read some of my tweets of encouragement & at this point I really needed them, I tweeeted at one of these CPs "I HURT", my head had stopped working, I could not even write a plain tweet, never mind a "funny" one. We ran past Langold Lake & the Dad of a family asked "I know your tired mate, but how far is the race?" I had all intention of politely saying "50 miles mate" but I think it came across as "50 MILES MATE!!!" the look of shock on the mans face sure did cheer me up, "Wow" he replied, "enjoy" I had a giggle to myself as I heard his wife telling him off "enjoy? what a silly thing to say, he looks shattered".
I tagged onto two ladies for the rest of the stage as they ran with their maps in front of them so was confident on not getting lost again as we ran thought small villages.
36.1 miles out of 50 completed
Firbeck to Maltby 4 miles
At CP5 I was really please to see Sue, her bright pink camping coat that I wind her up about all the time stood out from the crowd. I was at this point slightly "punch drunk", I was giddy & full of "life" as I ran in, I use the word "life" very loosely. As I pulled up I noticed Cat (@CatkinTaylor) smiling away, its always nice to put a real life face to a twitter friend & Cat was no exception, she came across as being as full of beans in real life as she does on twitter. I need to do an apology now to Shaun (@SpontaneousPlan) Paul (@paulbuchanan80) & any of the other guys that were stood with Cat as I never recognised any of you, thank you guys. I dropped to the floor again for the 2nd time to change my socks & shoes, it was a risk as I knew deep down I may not be able to get back up, I cant remember what we talked about but I remember being happy & laughing throughout the CP. Laura was about10 mins in the lead by now so with a war cry I headed back out, I knew there was a chance of beating the 10 hour time but I had to dig deep. This stage was a pretty stage with a couple of fields, Roche Abbey and some scenic woods, apart from the pains & cramps it was kinda pleasant. I caught up with a guy who's name for the life of me I can't remember, he lived in Scunthorpe which is not far from me, we chatted about anything & everything in an attempt to block out our pain, he had set off at 6am with the walkers but was running & walking, this is the style I'd now adopted, initially I only walked on inclines but the pain was too much now, mentally & physically I was exhausted. We had to check our maps at 38 miles as we had missed a turn under the railway bridge & picked up another runner who had made the same mistake. We caught up with someone else shortly after & the 4 of use cat & moused the rest of the stage. The church spire was a welcome sight and so was Mike who stood there lije a homing becon to CAKE, the sharp climb into the graveyard hurt like hell but I forced myself to run into the CP6.
40.1 miles out of 50 completed
Maltby to Denaby 7 miles
At Maltby the CP steward was not at his desk, my Dad shouted for him but I was in no rush at that point. As I stopped I could not think straight, I wanted a gel but could not get the words out, I filled my water bottle up and as the pain got worse I knew I had to move, I needed to finish this before my body gave up. I headed out in a huff, I was snappy & feeling sorry for myself. Praise & encouragement from others never cheered me up, they were just words, even the fantastic twitter mentions did not lift up my mood, I was in a hole. I ran on in so much pain, having to stop to walk more often than before, this just made me more angry with myself. In the end I gave myself a good talking to & accepted I was broken, broken but I would finish this race. The group thinned out with me taking the lead but they soon reeled me back in on the walking stages, my stride had shortened dramatically and I could not extend it due to the pain, it was everywhere, I could not pinpoint any point as I hurt from head to toe. I was over taken again & again. The down hill into CP7 was a welcome relief to the legs,bit was very quiet & I was a tad emotional to say the least.
47.1 miles out of 50 completed
Denaby to Dearne Valley 3.2
I grabbed a cake and asked Sue for a gel, well I say ask, apparently I was quite abrupt (Sorry). As she went back to the car for my gels my Dad calmed me down and reminded me I only had 3 miles to go, I'd ran 47 and it was nearly over. In a strange attempt to sort myself out I for some reason thought it would be a good idea to take a pic of myself and look at it. I have no idea why I thought this would work but it what I did (I told you my head had gone)... I pulled out my phone & took the picture.
I looked at this pic and though who's that mardy B@$~#*!
My Dad gave me a pat on the back, I fought back the tears, kissed Sue on the cheek, thanked then both then headed off for one last push, this was the 1st checkpoint I walked out of. I gathered my thoughts, I could not work out why I was upset, I felt happy, I felt proud, yes I hurt but I was not upset with pain, I started running with a couple, a husband & wife running together, this brought a massive smile to my face & my mood instantly picked up, the rest of the race felt strange, I knew I was hurting but I felt numb, I ran the whole of this last stage only walking to climb steps, pass through gates & to cross over a bridge. I caught up with two Germans on the Canal & we discussed Ultras, I mentioned this was my first & they was shocked, they had done many & said they were having a bad day before praising me & one of them patting me on the back. We chatted for the rest of the stage until we saw the school roof over the trees,
"THAT'S IT!!!!" I yelled, "COME ONNNN, LETS HAVE IT"
We instantly stopped talking & picked up our pace, we were racing! England vs Germany!!! Good God I don't know where it came from, I have no idea, I some how stared to pull away from them and when I hit the grass I gave it my all. I came down the finish shoot with a massive smile on my face, holding back the tears, (there was no way I was going to cry) I saw Sue & my Dad smiling back then my mate, best man & newly converted running buddy Russ (@Rustyw5).
"GET IN THERE, COME ON!!!!!! YESSSSSSSS!!!! LOVE IT"
I went nuts, my arms went up and I punched the air, I was over the moon, I had bloody done it, I was now officially an Ultra Runner, OOOOOOOSH!
I was promptly ushered into the tent by Andrew who had kindly waited to see me in, I was that ecstatic about finishing I'd forgot about signing out of the race. I saw Laura & gave her a big sweaty hug, she had nailed it in 10:03, I know she was a little upset to be so close to the 10 hour and not break it but this lass ran the last 5 miles on a bust knee on top of all the pain she was suffering with from the general mileage, she beat me fair and square (you can read her side of the story HERE) . As I thanked everyone for being there my legs started to give way on me, I
The drive home was in luxury, well I sprawled out on my back seat with a bottle of beer and my phone catching up on all the missed messages and replying to every last one of them and thanking everyone who had sponsored me.
On arriving home I will not sugarcoat it, I felt awful, I was starving but could not eat. I could only just walk and every forced stop hurt like hell. I promptly went to bed, proud as punch but feeling lousy.
How do I feel now?
Still proud as punch. My ill feeling went over night & I am left with 2.5 black toe nails, one tiny blister, DOM's in my thighs that hurt like hell if I sit in one position for too long or move about too much, oh & a stiff lower back. On the plus side my feet have not swelled up like I was warned, my calf's are not as bad as my thighs and I managed to tackle the stairs without having to slide down them like a child on its bottom, I never even needed to walk down backwards to ease the pain. I have eaten like a horse & walked as though I have lost one today but considering I've just ran 50 miles in 10 hours 13 mins I can't grumble. I can handle walking like an O.A.P for a few days and I'll soon put back on the 3kg I shed during the race.
I'd Just like to end this with a few thank you's. I know this has not been the easiest post to read as I ramble on lost mainly due the fact that all the miles and CP's mix into each other & to be honest I still feel mentally tired, so firstly thank YOU for persevering with this post and reading this far.
Thank you to The Wife aka Sue (@_The_Wife_) for putting up with me and my training for all of my challenges, especially this one as the training sessions have been long and the price of new shoes & kit does not come cheap. Also a massive thank you for being part of my Support Crew during the RRR50, I am truly grateful and you helped me through the hardest parts by just being there. x
Thank you to my Dad (@GaryHookway), for agreeing to be on my Support Crew for the 2nd time. I honestly thought you'd have had enough during Hookway to Hookway. I could not wish for a better person to have on board, if a job needs doing it gets done with him on board. Thank you.
Mike for being there just before the checkpoints, picking up my spirits, guiding me in and running around after me when I never knew what I wanted. You never wore your pink fairy suit mate but you brought flapjack and backwards running, you even brought it up a level by doing it through a freshly ploughed field. ;o)
Laura for just being Laura, she made me laugh and put me through my paces, she would make a brilliant PT. I hope you recover fast & I get the opportunity to race with you again in the future.
Steve (Laura's partner) for picking up my trainers at CP5 when I changed them and Sue forgot to put them back in the car. The brave man picked them up and carried them to her before she drove off. Cheers mate.
Andrew for all his support this year, as I said before it is a honour to run with him and one day (when I grow up) I want to be just like him ;o)
Russ for making it to the finish line with his lovely daughter, he was working all day but got finished early to meet me. He wanted to run the last session with me but sadly due to a pulled groin he was unable to. Get well soon mate, we need to get training for the Clowne Half Marathon ;o)
lastly I'd like to thank friends new and old that I met along the route, all the Marshall's and Stewards that ran the RRR50 like clockwork and everyone of you that sent messages of support and donated to the children's charity that I ran this race for, Rainbow Trust. I don't like preaching for sponsor money but I am still way off the target of the £2000 I need to raise so I can run the London Marathon for them but on the positive side I am only £300 off of the December target. So please dig deep and if you can please sponsor me so I can run the VLM2013 and we can help support the Rainbow Trust so they can continue to support children with terminal illnesses. If you fancy helping out and would be kind enough to take a sponsor form into your work for me please just ask, every penny counts guys, just click the link on the top of this page to donate or ask me for a sponsor form if you are local and don't like filling bank stuff in online.
Oh and would I do it again????
HELL YEAH!!!! oh and that flimsy memento I mentioned earlier... Its better than any medal I have raced for.