As I wrote last week, I set out to complete 102 miles of the Cotswold Way this weekend just gone. I fell well short of that goal, calling it a day at 35 miles when I realised I wouldn’t make the cut-off at 40. Here’s a very honest report of what happened on the day…
Starting well in the heat
The atmosphere was brilliant at race registration. We headed off at noon for the first 13 miles to reach checkpoint 1. Despite the heat (25oC), there was a bit of a breeze and I ran well, taking in the stunning scenery. After a short stop at CP1 for food and water, I headed off towards Broadway.
In hindsight, the heat was quickly beginning to take its toll and I found myself drinking a lot more than normal. Race Director Kurt Dusterhoff advised all runners to pack an extra litre of water for the first 30 miles, but I failed to heed that advice and ran out of water at 22 miles – seven miles short of the next checkpoint. I did manage to find a tap at a stables to fill up one of my bottles; I wasn’t convinced about the water quality!
I ran / walked to CP2 at 29 miles, just making the cut-off by 10 minutes. I left in good spirits and stopped after another hour to put on my head torch. I figured that, as long as I kept moving well, I should make the 40-mile 10-hour cut-off at CP3.
Unfortunately, between CP2 and CP3, I made a navigation error which took me on a 5km detour, and I just didn’t have the legs to make up the lost time. Another navigation error around the 34-mile point, and I knew I’d blown the cut-off. Shortly afterwards, I called Race HQ to let them know I was pulling out of the race. I was incredibly disappointed but, as I said to a friend, you live to fight another day.
I’m a somewhat seasoned ultra-runner but this really hammered home some key learnings for me:
- Heed the advice of the Race Director – they’re doing it for our benefit!
- If it wasn’t for the navigation errors and the heat, I felt like I was moving well. The strength work (weighted steps), longer weekend runs, losing a bit of weight through better diet, and implementing short yoga sessions have all worked a treat. I need to keep that new routine going through the winter
- My ‘endurance’ deserted me. That could be down to illness over the summer, or simply that I’m getting a bit older? This requires some further thought so…
- I’ve set myself a goal to get my weight down to 84kg by the end of this year by increasing my weekly mileage and adding in some regular weight training (watch this space) to improve muscle mass.
Hopefully improving strength work and reducing my weight will help to counteract any loss of muscle mass from age, and set me up for a better 2020 season. I have qualifying points for next year’s CCC (where I have unfinished business), so I’m going to enter the ballot and keep my fingers crossed. Returning to Chamonix would be a brilliant source of focus!
I’d like to hear from anyone recovering from DNFing a race. How do you pick yourself back up? And what have you learned? Let me know in the comments below or drop me a line on email@example.com.