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CAESAR’S CAMP 50 MILE ENDURANCE RUN 2013 – THE FINAL ONE



SUB-TITLE 1: CAN I TEMPER THE GASTRIC ISSUES THAT COMPLETELY OBLITERATED ANY PLEASURE AT IRONMAN FRANKFURT (RACE REPORT WILL NEVER GET WRITTEN – I TRIED & FAILED – ALL TOO MISERABLE TO BOTHER REMEMBERING) WITH MY LOW CARB HIGH FAT LIFESTYLE & JUDICIOUS USE OF WIND ELIMINATION TECHNIQUES?


SUB-TITLE 2: CAN I WRITE A STORY WITHOUT REFERENCE TO ABLUTIONS?


DOMS is passing – it’s time to tell the tale & indulge in the remaining euphoria of a challenge completed.


FOR THOSE WHO DON’T ‘READ’, THE ANSWERS TO THE ABOVE ARE:

YES 🙂

  • Evening meal day before: 4 lamb cutlets with all the fat, green veg

  • Breakfast: on the plate was an avocado and 3 scrambled eggs … I managed about 2/3rds of it plus 2 x Bulletproof coffees, one with MCTs & butter, the 2nd with butter only

  • ‘On the hoof’: 3 x brazil nuts, 5 x almond (scotch) pancakes, 2 x baby-bel cheeses, water, 1 x salt tablet, 3 half little cups of squash

  • no actual nausea, just the need to self-wind (described in detail unfortunately) and the feeling after 40 miles that I couldn’t eat, even if I needed to, which I didn’t

  • Feelings of loss of energy through lack of calorific intake (particularly lack of carbs) – none

  • Post-event DOMS  in lateral quads (nothing dramatic – not like when I cycled in Majorca on enormous cranks and struggled down the aircraft steps at the end of the flight in absolute agony!); no DOMS in calves or hip flexors.


NO 🙂


Now the full story …

The furthest I’d run in one go was 35 miles, and although I’d run events longer than 50 miles, they were multi-stage adventures.  I needed to see if I could do a substantial ultra distance in one hit.  I scouted around for my first 50 miler and liked the look of the Ladybower in the Peak District; I’d run the route once, it was stunning, and decided that loops was my answer to not getting lost (I always get lost).  Then ‘Caesar’s Camp’ got mentioned in dispatches; it was ‘underground’; it was a bit ‘mad’; the Race Director (RD) played sad, wrist-slitting country songs as you ran through base camp, just in case you were enjoying yourself too much; it was totally un-PC, with abusive language on the web-site and a clear intolerance of wimps; you even had to enter by cheque – it was that minimal!  It appealed (I know, I’ve been told I ought to go and see someone about this), I entered and promptly forgot about it in the midst of daily life.


We followed our team mate Bryn Green on his Double Brutal challenge, up and down and round Mt Snowdon: 5 mile swim, 230 mile cycle, 56 mile run … incomprehensibly tough.  He was running further than I was going to have to, after swimming and cycling 2 Ironmans.  I couldn’t get my head round it – I couldn’t even get past the bike bit … at the end of the Ironman cycle ride (112 miles) I need to get off my bike!!  To have to ‘go round again’ was simply too awful to contemplate.  He did it!  34 hours of accurately-dubbed brutality.  We were exhausted just tracking him … how on earth was I going to manage my challenge?


With a couple of weeks to go, I thought I’d touch base with my Running Buddy (RB) Jason Smith and make sure all was well at his end; the reply was short: “achilles tendin-f*****g-itis … AGAIN”.  It wouldn’t be an adventure if everything went to plan.


On the Tuesday before the race I read the small print.  Holy Sch-Caesar’s (as Nicole would say!)!!  I texted RB. “7600ft of ascent alone?!?!?!  1520ft of climbing on each one.  Did you see the profile?!?! OMG what have we done?!?!?”

RACE DIRECTOR EVENT RULES:“CHEATING STICKS OR OTHER AIDS OF THAT ILK ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED. RUNNING SHOULD BE DONE ON TWO LEGS AND IF THOSE FAIL YOU GO HOME. ALTERNATIVELY, STRAP A PAIR OF INOV8’S TO YOUR HANDS TO CRAWL THE DAMN THING, IF ONLY JUST FOR MY AMUSEMENT.WE NO LONGER ALLOW BUDDY RUNNERS DUE TO SOME FOLKS HEADING OUT WITH A FULL ENTOURAGE LAST YEAR CARRYING THEIR MAKE UP BAGS AND OTHER SHIT MOST PEOPLE SEEM TO CARRY FOR NO REASON. IF YOU ARE NOT CAPABLE OF COMPLETING THE DISTANCE ON YOUR OWN, MAYBE YOU SHOULD CONSIDER THE RACE FOR LIFE SERIES.”

 

Worse, the start time turned out to be midday, apparently to ensure that all runners, no matter their chosen distance (there were 50 & 100 mile options, as well as a 30 mile option, starting at midnight!), would be running in the dark.  A few further clicks around the scant website revealed not many numbers actually finishing (on lap 5 I learned that the average annual DNF rate is 70%), with the grand total number of runners who’ve actually completed the 100 mile challenge in 24 hrs, over the course of 7 years was … 17!!!  I tried … and failed … not to worry.

Stupidly, I texted Bryn for supportive encouragement – I knew he wouldn’t let me down … “Don’t worry, it’s only 10 mile x 5 🙂 How far is the bike ride?”

So much for the supportive encouragement.


PENULTIMATE RACE DAY

Traditionally one of rest and final preparations.  Shambolically, I had not one, but 2 run coaching sessions booked, so by the end of the day I’d run 10 miles and walked to and from train stations another 3. So a half marathon in my legs the day before they were going to be asked to do further than they’d ever done … by a long way.  Nice one Helen – not.


RACE DAY

With a faff and a flurry we managed to throw everything we thought might be needed into the car, and were waved off with my husband’s rallying words: “I don’t think I’ll bother coming down – I’ve got things to do” … whilst totally in keeping with the ultra’s unpandering and unsympathetic theme, I remember wondering if I had, finally, bitten off more than I could chew.  Just in case I needed some more cortisol in my system, I started worrying.


First we missed the motorway turn-off, then I realised that I’d forgotten the one item that might enable me to fulfil Subtitle 1 – charcoal tablets – and then RB decided he definitely couldn’t start without more caffeine; a pitstop at the local Tesco’s was in order.  Finally, we arrived to a wet and muddy car park taken over by a Warner Bros film crew and mountains of equipment, interspersed with lycra-clad extras.  Spotting the registration tent, we thought we’d do well to get that bit over and done with, given the normal queuing factor.  In and out in less than 2 minutes, clutching our finishers T-shirt!  Now there’s efficiency for you.  With 15 minutes to race briefing, we hurriedly adorned ourselves with all the kit one could possibly think could be required on a 10 mile trail run (?!), and made our way over to the back of the gathering runners.


I couldn’t hear a word the RD was saying, so asked a nearby runner to relay: “All dickheads wearing a back-pack, move to that side”.  Nothing happened.  “Come on, come on, we haven’t got all day”.  A good number of ‘dickheads’ shuffled over to ‘that side’.  Those not wearing a back-pack looked on smugly and knowingly.  “All those wearing a dickhead Garmin, stay there”.  Mmmm … RB dashed back to the car having ‘forgotten something’ and I ‘stayed where I didn’t want to be’.  “All those wearing dickhead compression socks, stay where you are”.  Relief!  I hate running in those things (people … do you realise you’re making it harder for your calves to work against the external pressure of the fabric?  Why would you do that?!?!?!  And don’t get me started on the upside-down nonsense that’s positively endemic since the lovely Chrissie endorsed them.  I’m being good, I’m being PC … no names, no pack-drill!).  I hurried back to the ‘safe side’ before RD noticed my footwear (I’d find out soon enough what he thought of Vibram Fivefingers … no prizes for guessing his first adjective).


Humiliation complete, with 3 minutes to go to Race Start, RB and I dashed back to the car to do the only thing dickhead runners focussed on self-preservation would do: dispense with the back-packs and distribute all manner of ‘essentials’ about our person and a running belt.


LAP 1

There were a considerable number of runners in just shorts and a T-shirt.  Madness!  In accordance with all rules regarding outdoor sports, we’d ‘layered’.  Not sure there was anything as formal as a Race Start – RD had no doubt spat out something about dickheads getting going – but there was a surge forward.  I pressed ‘start’ on my offensive wrist equipment … surreptitiously.  I planned to record the first lap and save it separately, in case of needing a ‘breadcrumb trail’ to follow if we got lost (usual MO).


Quickly, we found ourselves at the back (usual MO!).  Doesn’t everyone realise that it takes at least 7 minutes to divert the blood from the non-vital organs, the glands producing the hormones and the intestines, to the working muscles?  


Given we were going ‘a very long way’, and to thoroughly warm up RB’s achilles tendin-f*****g-itits, we gave our blood some extra diverting time and 13 minutes later we started to run.  YAY!  Race ON!!  2 minutes later we were walking again due to arriving at a very steep incline.  I mean, really steep.  The kind of steep that burns your calves and quads simultaneously and forces you to stop and whine at the random forces that placed that kind of incline in the way.  What were they thinking?  And we have to do this five times?!  Thank goodness RD wasn’t in ear-shot – we might have been DQ’d for unacceptable levels of moaning.


By the time we’d reached the top we were baking.  Layers started being peeled off and we congratulated ourselves on our wisdom in ridding ourselves of the burden of a back-pack.  Onward we went, scouring the military wasteland for arrows and red/white stripey hazard tape, marking the way.  It started raining.  In fact, it started pouring (I would call it something else but I’ll leave the swearing to RB & RD).  Quickly – waterproofs round our waist – we were soaked.


We ran the flats, walked the uphills and simply aimed to stay upright on the downhills.  Foliage was recruited to stabilise feet on immensely slippery slopes.  What an adventure 🙂  Then – our first stile.  Well, not really a stile.  A ‘stile’ would infer something you used to clamber up and over something else.  In this instance, the ‘something else’ was a barbed wire fence.  The ‘stile’ took you up – then – with an enormous gap to straddle with nothing else but the barbed wire beneath your nether regions – having damn near done the splits – your feet finally found the other side.  It was a demanding manoeuvre … on Lap 1.


We’d been going for so long, I’d almost forgotten there was an aid station half way round.  Arriving in a clearing, we were suddenly faced with the harsh reality that we’d only just made it to half-way round lap 1.  How long did that take us?  I daren’t look.  I don’t think 5 miles had ever taken that long.  RB took on board provisions.  I didn’t need anything.  Onward.  They shouted at us from their impressive waterproof clipboards.  We’d missed the turning back into the forest.  


Focus!


Through the forest along twisting, turning trails (we’ll remember these trails), roots hidden by fallen pine needles


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