Friday, December 6, 2019

My first (and last?) 24h timed race: capping several cycles of running...

I have to say, for a 24h time race on a 1-mile circuit, the 24h de la Balme in France, near Annecy, provides an incredibly beautiful setting. Unfortunately, incessant rain the prior week and again three hours into the race meant that part of the track became "dangerously" muddy and slippery...

Image result for la balme de sillingy"

The race kicked off at 3pm on Saturday 2 November. Low key race, with participants having to flip their own tour numbers (no electronic tracking), but more participants than I expected, possibly more than 30!
I ran at intended pace for just over 9h, logging 67km. We were well into the night and pouring rain by that point, with muddy/slippery sections to the race that made me fear for my recently dislocated shoulder - so I stopped for the rest of the night. I caught a few intermittent hours of cold and fitful sleep on an army cot (I'd stupidly forgotten that you had to bring your own sleeping bag, or rather I'd ambitiously not even considered sleep) but since I had no car to drive home in and my wife couldn't pick me up till late morning, I started up again at 7.30am and ran another 3h for about 20km. My aim to at least log 150km, if not reach 100-mile mark, had died at midnight so I had already decided (also because of my recent foot pain issues requiring a new orthopedic sole) that I wanted to spend rest of day with the family. 
So I didn't really get the 24h experience, but learned along the way that I have an easier time not stopping a) when stopping is complicated and not as easy as jumping in a car or train and heading home (as was the case at the Ultra Tour du Léman vs GUCR) and b) when i have a goal, a destination - the 24h circle run just seemed a bit pointless. 
I don't think I was ready to face four challenges at the same time: weather, sleep deprivation, physical and mental fatigue, and lack of sense of purpose. But I was pleased that I did go out again after stopping for 7 hours... 
Looking back at the positive, I realized that while my body was generally fatigued and not sure that the training has been very productive even though I logged the hours (which means I need a long break), I was feeling pretty good so that overall my running in the past few years has definitely made me more capable of running rather than walking for a much longer period of time. Also, while there is definitely some lack of desire to reach the end of races or a greater questioning during races as to why I am doing them - I was actually in a decent place mentally, I put down the mental fatigue to many months of training (if not several years now of continuous structure training) - so again, reason to take a long break! But also, probably, due to issues at work that have been draining psychologically...
 
Not sure I'll do it again. For that, I need to figure out whether I want to confront the challenge of just plugging away for no particular purpose, no destination, etc. when the distance goal is out of reach... But a few weeks on, I have to say that I find it compelling. So I think that I won't be making a 24h race a major goal, but having this one so close to home, at a time in the year when there aren't any races (but also when I usually take down time), I may be tempted once again to give it a go...

Now (early December) I am easing back into non-structured (i.e. no watch) training and seeing how things go. I have registered for the Swisspeaks 100-mile mountain race next year, but that's in September. The jury is still out for Ultr'ardèche end May. I'm planning on starting some serious training for it in January and see how I feel by February/March and sign up (or not) accordingly. 
New job too in March - and that can go both ways! Last time I changed, I signed up for and completed the GUCR!

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