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The best laid plans...

by kirsty
Thursday 24th September 2015

Run247 contributor Kirsty Reade tries to find the positives in a rather dissapointing experience at the 2015 Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc®

You do the months of training, you book the plane ticket and accommodation, you test all your kit, pack it, repack it and just check it one more time. You agonise over niggles, you sacrifice weekends and nights out, you bore friends and family, you pore over maps and time goals. There are months of preparation involved in a big race and you do it all in the hope of feeling the ultimate high of crossing that finish line. Except sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

That pretty much sums up my UTMB experience this year. Training and preparation went well, race didn’t. Illness stopped play at only 30km. To say this threw me would be a bit of an understatement. I’d expected to be running until Sunday morning but instead I finished on Friday night, only a few hours after I’d begun. I hadn’t factored in clean clothes for Saturday. I thought I’d be hobbling around; instead I was fresh-legged. Most of all I’d been looking forward to crossing that finish line and wearing my finisher’s gilet, despite the hot weather. But it wasn’t to be.

Now I feel like something is missing. I feel like I built up to something, put in all the hard work but missed out on the fulfilling, ‘fun’ bit. My first instinct is to just enter something else right away, but that may just be a recipe for further disaster. Much better to work out what happened and try to address that issue. That would make a lot more sense, except that’s a painful, self-searching process which almost never results in a quick fix.

It’s definitely a good opportunity to rethink things. I’m not able to run at the moment (pending results of some medical tests) so I’ve been gymming and swimming. I definitely neglected the gym while I was in the thick of training for UTMB and I’m sure that putting a bit more effort into strength work will pay off in the long run. I hate swimming and am embarrassingly bad at it (I was jubilant about managing to swim 20 lengths the other day and when I told my brother-in-law he said ‘adult pool or toddler pool?’ which was a fair question) so improving on a skill which may save my life one day probably isn’t a bad idea. After all, I do do a lot of running beside canals and rivers.

After a bit of a setback like this I need to get my confidence back too. Maybe some ‘shorter’ races for a while, ones which I have a good chance of completing and won’t take ages to recover from. Maybe some more speedwork, which I’d also been neglecting.

I can take lots of positives from my UTMB fail though. Firstly, I loved seeing my friends finish their races – the OCC and the CCC. I didn’t think I’d get to see my friend Pip finish the CCC as I’d be running but I was able to sheepishly see him finish from afar (I didn’t want him to see me and worry why I was there). It was just as good to share in those moments as it would have been to have my own moment of finish line glory. Secondly, I had a nice holiday and a bit of a rest, instead of returning a hollow shell of a person, having to eat huge amounts of food way longer than is strictly necessary. Lastly, my feet have never looked so good! With the taper, failure to run very far, enforced non-running and all the swimming they look like somebody else’s.  It’s a glass half full, full complement of nails type of situation. If I grit my teeth really hard.


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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