At the weekend I took part in Endure24 (North) at Bramham Park, Leeds. Endure24 is a 24 hour race open to solo runners and teams. I was part of Team Dopey (what else) with 3 awesome women. Kath and I were there to catch up with Bex and Amanda and the kids as well as to run. There were of course many other teams who were there to run, seriously run. Kath and I got there early afternoon and set up our tents (swearing included), then I picked up our race numbers and timing chips, Bex and Amanda and the kids arrived around 8pm and we had a lovely couple of hours chilling out, having a little walk and catching up.
Saturday we had bacon sarnies and sat in the sun before getting ready for the running. At 11.45 they started the race briefing (which wasn’t all that useful because the only thing not in the instructions was the bit about how to change over from one team member to the next and we couldn’t see the demonstration from where we were. At 12 on the dot the first runners set off, Kath amongst them. I watched her set off feeling hugely proud. Then it dawned on me that I was going next. After we looked at the exchange area I walked back to the tents, got myself sorted and then waited. We reckoned Kath would be about an hour – just under. I was just watching the exchanges when I spotted Kath coming up the slope. I wasn’t expecting her for another 5 minutes or so she had a great run. A she handed me the yellow team armband and gave me a hug she just said ‘take it easy, it’s hot out there – walk the hills and enjoy the downhill’.
Lap one was fun. I set off along the grassy slightly uphill slope thinking ‘fuck this is hard, I don’t like uphill on grass’. But then I turned right onto the track and started going downhill and enjoying myself. I looked at my watch – 11.30 pace. Too fast. I slowed off, turned the corner and started a long stretch of flat/slightly uphill. Then I turned a corner and went slightly uphill – I remembered Kath’s warning and slowed to a walk. I’d just passed a guy who did the same. I walked up the hill and then set off again. It was hot and my pace was dropping a little but I enjoyed looking around, plodding on the flat, walking the hills and letting the downhill just take me downhill. I was beginning to think it was getting a little hard as I passed the 4k mark, half way. Then I reached the drinks station, had a sip of water and a quick chat about the Dopey Challenge and then I was on my way, feeling stronger. At just after 7k the guy I had passed on the first real hill caught me up. We had a little chat – he was a solo runner and said he’d see me over the finish line for this loop. We jogged the rest of the route to nearly the end. I just couldn’t keep going up the final slope so told him to to go. As I reached the corner I heard a cheer and saw Bex and Kath and the kids clapping me home. I ran the finish stretch and handed the band to Amanda. Loop one done and I felt great.
Lap 2 – again I took over from Kath who did another great loop. I set off more slowly this time and ran more of the course but at a slower pace. It was cooler so easier to keep going. Approaching 7km I was about to walk as a group of runners passed me. I asked them if I could tag along up the hill and they welcomed me in. When I got to 7km I waved them off and thanked them for the lift. I couldn’t go with them all the way up. Again the slope at the end defeated me but another good lap.
Lap 3. I set off after a hug from Kath. I felt strong and ready. I plodded up the grassy slope, turned right, got half way down the hill and my tummy gave a dangerous rumble. I tried to ignore it but by the time I turned the next corner there was no ignoring it. I walked a bit to see if it would ease but it didn’t. It got worse every time I tried to run and I nearly turned and went back but I didn’t know if that would disqualify us so there was nothing for it. I would just have to keep going and hope that I would make it to the end without pooing my pants. I tried running on and off and when I was on one of those little jogs, sticking nicely to the left as a slow person a bloke came zooming past me on the left – he could have used the entire path on my right, it was clear – he said ‘move your fat arse’. I was stunned and angry and a bit upset. Everyone had been lovely up to that point, encouraging and friendly. Eventually I got to the drinks station but someone sneaked into the loo before me and then they were doing something on it and standing waiting wasn’t helping so I motored on. I didn’t run and then, in the finishing straight it happened… I didn’t quite make it to the toilet. It wasn’t a total disaster but a useful reminder that running and keeping your dignity intact aren’t necessarily compatible.
Lap 4. I didn’t eat anything other than a banana between loops 3 and 4. I slept a few hours, restlessly and then decided to go out for another lap to leave the demons out there. I got sorted and set off about 4am. It was a gorgeous morning. My legs felt good, I was looking forward to a gentle jog in the morning sun. I’d been to the loo, I felt empty but well fueled – perfect really. I walked the grassy slope to wake my legs up and then jogged down the hill and almost immediately my tummy was right were it left off on Lap 3. I tried not to be disappointed and just accept I’d be walking. I didn’t even try and run so as to not make things worse. This time I could use the loo at the 3 mile mark and once I’d done that I managed to run a lot of the final 2 miles. I went back to bed for a bit after that.
Lap 5. This was my lap of honour really. I wanted to go out on a positive and so decided to take my camera on a walk/jog around the course. I loved this lap. I felt strong and I jogged from photo stop to photo stop, I chatted with people on course, I thanked the Marshals and I enjoyed the sunshine. I stopped to take a picture of the last sign and then walk the slope up towards the finish line when I saw the kids running down the hill towards me. ‘Oh fuck’, I thought ‘they’re going to make me run the slope!’. They did but it was awesome. On my last lap I finally managed to run the hill and the finishing stretch. A great way to finish!
We collected our medals and then headed home – the others had packed up the tents and everything while I was running. It was a lovely weekend, I ran/walked 25 miles which is fabulous and I am so proud of the whole team for all sorts of reasons – we did our own thing, we had fun and we did it together. What more could you want?
Once we got home I soon realised how tired I was. We did some yoga, we had some food and celebrated with a beer, lots of water and a packet of hoola hoops.