Our first 100km race

So this previous weekend we had our very first 100km run – The Jurassic Coast 100.

It went pretty good for Kristians, so here is his account of the race:
My first 100km race, a tough one. It was harder than expected but also the result was above expectations. Fifth place with just over 13 hours – last year with this time I would have been second. This year there were lots of experienced runners and the winner pushed the race record by almost two hours.
My race strategy from the beginning was to stick with the front of the pack and keep pushing as far as my body allows me to. That of course came at a price and my legs were already hurting by 30km. The trail was also not very well marked and the chances of getting lost while running through the night were high, so I couldn’t allow myself to slow down, I had to keep up with the guys that knew where to go.
Around midpoint there were four of us running together and pushing for 3rd to 6th place. As the first light came out me and another runner pushed away and we managed to stay in 3rd and 4th places until around 77km, where he pushed away, my legs were getting pretty stiff and I couldn’t move quickly enough on downhills. At the checkpoint at 80km one of the runners that we left behind earlier caught up and passed me. I was a bit surprised to suddenly see Stiina waving in front of me. More questions than answers but there was no time for that, it didn’t go too well for her, so she decided to quit and joined our one man crew team. At that point it was a bit hard to convince my body that I still have 20km to go. My legs were extremely stiff and the body seemed physically incapable of running. Luckily, running is pretty easy – one foot in front of the other and as I left the checkpoint I was walking, trying to get my legs to keep running and they slowly did, a very slow and painful shuffle, one foot in front of the other. About 12km later was the last checkpoint before the finish and they had watermelon – what a treat at this stage!
Throughout the race my stomach was kind of constantly upset about something so I could barely get down any calories, which was not ideal. It was mainly because of the body working too strenuously, which left no free resources to service the stomach. I think I consumed around 700-800 calories during the whole race whereas I burned around 6000kcal. Will have some eating to do, anyways I think the carbo-loading before the race worked to some extent.
A few slices of watermelon and I just wanted to get to the finish, so I pushed on, pain in my legs just kept getting worse and worse to the point where I had to start limping and look very creepy as I run. Regardless, I didn’t care about the pain, I kept telling myself that pain is just in my head and that I can ignore it. It’s kind of counterintuitive as all the pain that body sends you is to tell you to stop before you make any more damage to it, which totally makes sense, but you have to argue with your body against it. Life is pain and life is suffering, you have to push through it! I made it to the finish, it was over, I was free. In a weird way the goal of the race wasn’t to finish, but to push myself and see what my body can do. It was one of the hardest and definitely the most painful things I have physically done and I definitely pushed myself, but I don’t think I reached my limits yet.
Despite all the hardships I believe that I will at some point do another race of same magnitude. I don’t think about it yet, but I will once I recover and there is definitely room for improvement in my preparation for the race. Due to our circumstances I couldn’t train like people would normally for such an event with more or less five runs a week. I adopted a strategy of one fast and one long run a week with the rest supplemented from long hours of hiking and it could only get me so far. I believe that with proper training greater things can be achieved!
A day after the race despite pain in every single muscle of my body from my toes to the upper neck I feel surprisingly fresh. Speaking of toes it looks like I am going to lose a nail on one of them – the perks of long distance running.

* * *

So, just to explain a bit what happened for me: the first 17km section was a breeze, trail was quite easy to follow and not too hilly, I was feeling strong and kept a good pace. During the next 12km section it got dark, there was a long stretch of gravelly beach where running was very hard and then the trail was impossible to follow, no markings and I did not have the gpx data downloaded as it wasn’t required, the trail was supposed to be well-marked. Anyway I got lost and did an extra 4km road run to get back to the trail, losing 30min.

After the second checkpoint the hills started and I hanged on to another runner because he knew where the trail was. As we ran the next 17km through the night I realized I hadn’t really been eating anything. On the steep downhills my right leg gave up and I could only hobble. Not the state in which I wanted to be by the halfway point.

When I reached the halfway checkpoint I decided to stop in order to not get an injury just prior to our mountain leader assessment (the priority at this moment). And as Kristians was so much ahead our crewman Lawrence could not have really been there for both of us coming into the different checkpoints so I wanted to be there for Kristians, making sure he had a great experience for his first 100k. I realized this was not the way I wanted to run my first race – hobbling, having lost time, not well-prepared, risking injury, not eating, on a badly marked trail. Limping for the second half of the race was not the way I wanted to go. It was actually an easy decision and handing in my race nr did not feel disappointing.

* * *

Absolutely enormous thanks to Lawrence for crewing us on this event and spending his time and energy to help us!

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