Racking up my first fifty

With only 6 months to get myself ready for the challenges of a 100 mile trail race, I decided that it might be an idea to test the water and see what my fitness level were like with a really long run.

The plan was simple to fill the car with a decent supply of drinks, cereal bars and jelly babies, then park up and run as many laps of a 10 mile circuit around the river as I could, stopping to refuel after each lap.

I wasn’t quite sure how far I could go. The furthest I’d ran up until this point was around 32 miles. I told myself I’d be happy with 50k but secretly I was hoping for 50 miles.

Things didn’t look good on the morning of the big day, I got up to dark skies and the sound of rain pounding against the window. I tried not to let the rain put me off as I  got up, dressed and made breakfast before heading out into the cold and whatever miles lay before me.

I threw a couple of extra training tops and a few pairs of socks into my bag before I left, I’d resolved myself to getting wet, but it wouldn’t hurt to dry off between laps at least a little.

Despite the rain, the first couple of laps went really quickly. I’d ran this course many times before, and was very familiar with its easy rhythms, following the steep undulations of the rivers banks to begin with, then chris crossing the many bridges, before following the gentle decent as it flows down towards the final bridge and the turn around, and then climbing back up to complete the loop.

By the end of the second lap the battery on my ipod was down to a few percent. So I headed out into the rain for the third lap, I didn’t have the reassuring sound of those familiar tunes following through my head, but by this time I was confident that I would complete at least 50k, and  was beginning to let myself think I might actually make 50 miles.

Going into the fourth lap, my ipod was back to full charge, and despite the continued rain, my spirits were high. According to my Gps each lap was closer to 11 miles that 10, meaning that I would have ran 44 miles by the end of the circuit.  This brought the question should I run a fifth lap or simply make up the 6 miles to get me to 50, with the rain still pouring down and the now sun starting to set , I decided to make up this my last lap.

Without the focus of the familiar track and now running in the dark, those last 6 miles seemed to go on for ever, but then a little after 6pm it was over. I’d ran further than I’d ever ran before, and I’d been out for longer, covering the 50 miles in around 9 hours.

There is still 6 months before the Lakeland 100, but I will have to run twice the distance and i’ll be running through the night not once but twice, but that will be another adventure, for now I am content with having ran my first 50.

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