Just been out to buy some ‘milk’ to continue the rehydrating and, even though every step on my swollen very unsexy feet hurt, I walked with a smile on my face just thinking back on what a great day yesterday was.
No photos on this one sorry, I didn't even take my phone out till near the end when I went to check the time and realised I'd lost my wrist watch (don't suppose I left it at the Alfriston CP?)
I hadn’t really had too much time to think about this race in advance, what with work related stuff and that kind of shite, but in the final few days beforehand I did get excited and was looking forward to catching up with some good running friends. Apart from a lot of B2B weekends training had been fairly intermittent (aka shit) and I've learned a big valuable lesson for what the next couple of months need to contain.
Met up with Ian in Eastbourne on the Friday evening where we once again stayed at the Fraggle Hotel. Thankfully Ian agreed that food and drink in the lounge was a better idea than going out, and so I was back in my room by half 10 and asleep by midnight, pretty good for a pre race night.
The alarm went off at 5.15, Jesus how rude, and then followed many cups of coffee and a minging porridge pot which I looked at for 20 minutes before finally eating.
Off on the train to Brighton where we changed over to the train to Worthing. Maybe it seems a bit cackhanded to stay at the finish line and travel back over to the start, but it makes such a difference at the end to be able to just get in a cab and be back at the hotel, showered and refuelling (lying on a couch in the 24hour bar) so quickly.
Registration, kit check etc were all indoors this time and it was great to have everything all in one place, especially the toilets. It made me laugh to think how I was scared of Gary at last year’s kit check and this year I queued especially to get his desk. I managed to see just about everyone I was hoping to see at Registration – Nici, Gary, Kevin, Rachel, Laureda and Michael, Sharon, John, Janette, Graham and several others - and it was lovely to get so many smiles and hugs before the race started. Tracey you made me laugh so much on the way to the start, delighted we’ve finally met in person!
We did miss most of the race briefing due to queuing to fill our water bottles and I think this nearly bit me on the arse later on at Saddlescombe *note to self – don’t miss race briefing and read aid station notes properly!
Unlike last year I did enjoy the chalky rutted uphills to Chanctonbury Ring, getting up there and into the race ‘proper’ was a nice feeling. The weather was good and for most of the race I was in t-shirt, armwarmers and windbreaker (and tights, of course) – very different from last year when all the gear was used and I could’ve done with an extra layer.
By the time we got to Botox (the map name is misspelled) I could see that Ian wasn’t happy and, although we knew his knee could become an issue, it was worrying to see it manifesting so early on. Hugs from the lovely Galwayman there and then on to the bastard Beeding(?) Hill. I’d hit a horrendous low at this point last year, which lasted for a good few miles, so I was very mindful of eating and drinking early on to avoid this. Unfortunately our worst fears came to pass and at the top gate Ian’s knee completely went. Seeing a friend in such pain and then having to see him drop and then leave him to rush on to make up time was truly shit. We’d talked about this race for so long, but he made the right call, and Ian if you’re reading this get to the fucking physio ASAP!!! I will nag you until you do.
There were 2 blokes behind me on bikes all the way up the rest of the hill. For some reason I thought they were sweepers and I was properly fucked off to see them already! I decided to listen to some music to gee myself up a bit, hadn’t brought my running earphones though, so ended up holding the stupid thing in my ear as I plodded on swearing internally. The 2 blokes eventually passed me and said hello. They weren’t sweepers at all. I’m an eejit.
The next CP was just over 5 miles away, and I kicked myself into gear to catch up with the others. I was so happy to meet up with Tracey again and even though we didn’t get to chat much as we were working hard it was lovely to share the trail and views with her and we got some choice language in. Thanks Tracey J
The CP at Saddlescombe wasn’t where I expected it to be *see note above about listening to the race briefing etc, but I did eventually find it and some nice friendly faces. Great to see Jane there.
Somewhere between Saddlescombe and Pyecombe Golf Course I heard a choice unrepeatable phrase shouted behind me. I turned around thinking “what the fuck is Gary doing out here?”, realised that it was not Gary on a bike, and then realised it was my other lunatic partner in crime John Farr, who’d watched the live tracking and cycled out to see me. Thank you you mad git, it was fantastic to see you and I’ll be out at VLM to return the abuse!
Up another hill, I think, and at some point along the top we passed a field with Herdwicks in it, Tracey must’ve thought I was mental, but I was so happy to see them. One of my favourite things and it was a lovely boost.
Last year that hill down into Housedean Farm had been an utter swearaloud quad killer, this year it happened quicker than I expected, and it was a great happy run down into the CP. I think it was Stuart March I passed on the way in? What a fab big smile! Love the Centurion gang. Very surprised and happy to see Ian here, he’d decided to stay on and help out at the CP’s. So we filled up the water, got some food, and marched on.
Some more ups and downs, along the tops, I stopped along the way to get my smock back on as the wind was quite biting and lost Tracey and another girl for a bit. Caught up again and had a good sweary slog to the next CP. I’ve just had to look at the map again, it’s all a bit blurry, but I’m sure it was at Southease that the guys really picked me back up after that godawful fucking horrendous evil shitbag Yellow Brick Road. Hated it last year, it nearly broke me this year, next time I’m going to break IT J Thanks again to Gary, Ian and the wonderful crisps providers. Apologies for my language, but I think it was probably there that my race turned around and I got my head right and back into the game. Thank you for the excellent support.
I’d decided to keep the map screen on my watch, rather than looking at pace etc, fast hike the ups, fly the downs and march/run the flats, and just kept an eye on mile splits. Fighting cutoffs is a bitch, I’m not going to put myself in that position next time. I managed to get quite a few ‘faster’ miles in at a point of the race where usually I’d be deathmarching it so that was a good morale boost to have. Along the top a sheep was scratching it’s head against a post, two hikers stopped to look at it, then as I passed I caught it’s eye and laughed, and continued to laugh as the sheep turned it’s head and watched me for about 2 minutes. The hikers must’ve thought I was bloody mad. I managed to resist going over to rub two gorgeous lambs that came over to the fence as I passed. Race head on, see.
More lovely scenery along the way to Alfriston whilst singing ‘Galveston’ in my head and some fab downhill running. I’d totally lost the plot with eating by now, nothing at all was going in but Kendal mint cake. And when I got to the point where I couldn’t even chew that I just marched along with bits of it dissolving in my cheek like a squirrel. Total race saver. Lifelong debt to Rachel Lonergan!
Coming into Star Lane was fab, I knew at this point I had the back of it broken and was going to make it. It was nice to win the mental battle – that shit is very tiring! Absolute gold star service there, Mary Knapp you’re a doll. Great to see Sharon again, thanks for another hug and smiles. Went to the loo then set about getting my headtorch, hat etc out rather than doing it out on top later on. Ian was here as well, great to see my partner in crime throughout the race J Mike Hawker you’re a little legend you are, I hope I managed to smile and convey my thanks enough for all the stuff you got for me there. Nikki it feels like I saw you a hundred times yesterday, or maybe your smiles and hugs have an extra long staying power, thank you J
Put on my Prism and headtorch, filled some bags with nuts and fruit, and off out again. It helped so much here that I’ve run this bit loads of times and wasn’t worried about having to do some of it in the dark alone. About halfway up the lane to Windover Hill I was way overheating so took off the Prism and marched on. Windover really took it out of my legs, I remember standing at the top looking through a bag of nuts for a peanut and laughing aloud at what Nikki and I had said at Alfriston about this. The people at Centurion races really are what makes the experience so good.
Got up onto the top and stopped to put my smock back on as it was getting a bit nippy. I heard voices coming up behind me and that gave me a kick to get a move on. Apologies to whoever it was, I wasn’t being rude, I just needed to get the job done so thank you for spurring me on!
Coming into the woods on the approach to Jevington I decided to turn my headtorch on to see better in the dusk and get a shift on. Really enjoyed that bit. Through the churchyard and in to see the lovely Paul and Roni. Sorry I couldn’t stomach any cake Roni, I didn’t get my nutrition right yesterday at all, I should’ve taken some cake with me for afterwards! There was another guy there who I’m sure I know, but names were escaping me at that point sorry J went to the loo again, had a chat and then on to the home stretch.
That bit up Willingdon Hill seemed to take longer than I remembered, but the moon was huge and amazing and right in front of me all the way up, it was peaceful and calm out, and I was just so glad to know I was nearly done and going to make it after all. Drew (I think, headtorches and friendly voices were all I took in at this point) was at the trig point to guide myself and another runner onto the descent into Eastbourne. God that is still an evil one no matter how many times you do it. I met up with Tracey again along here.
Got myself down into the residential bit, and got back into a ‘run’. The straight road (Kings Drive I think) was at least twice as long as I remembered, but as a consolation the cycle track felt a bit shorter. Down into the race track finally, gravity and a serious need for the toilet propelling me forward at this point. I think I managed to break into a shuffling zombie jog for the final 100 metres and then that was it, job done J
Beer from Ian’s drop bag, hot food, seeing Tracey finish (you’re a proper battler missus, so glad we got to run together, well bloody done again). Lovely to see Rachel and Michael again, thank you for the cheeriness, I will return the favour at NDW50. Hugs from Nici, Gary, Emiko, it’s all a blur really, so many of you guys popped up all over the place and it really helped to get through each stretch knowing I was going to see a friend soon. Thank you all most sincerely. See you at the next one x