Sunday's run was redemption. After struggling in Dartmoor and having to throw in the towel I felt pretty low. It’s not a great feeling realising you can’t achieve a goal you set yourself. But rather than mope around, I decided to dust myself down, lift my head up high, and go again!
The Surrey Hills Challenge was next up. A 37 mile ultra marathon in Surrey from Haslemere to Denbies Winery in Dorking. With a 7am start it meant getting up at Silly O’Clock on a Sunday… but if you’re chasing your goals then you’ve got to get up and at them right?!
Arriving at 6am for a 7am start meant time to check in, sort kit out (as I wasn’t fully prepared the night before…). It was great to see some friendly faces at the start as well. Always helps calm the nerves and take your mind off the long day ahead of you.
The run itself was great. I’d say a fairly low key event with refuelling stops every 10km or so. Think I genuinely only enter the longer races so I can enjoy all the food along the way and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that! It always tastes so good once you’ve been slogging up and down hills for a while.
The course didn’t disappoint. It followed a beautiful route in Surrey countryside and gave lots of big hill climbs to tackle, and long stretches of down the other side. This gave a very ‘runnable’ ultra marathon.
Despite having the hottest summer since the world began (this may or may not be an actual fact), the weather was thoroughly miserable! It rained pretty much non-stop the entire day, with the exception for us slower runners who were running into the mid-afternoon where the sun came out and it was beautiful. So much so, I thought I’d stop towards the end and take a photo of a waterfall. That waterfall probably didn’t exist before the mornings deluge of rain!
The course was rather wet and it was hilarious at times. Despite deliberating for ages before the race I decided to wear my Brooks GTS Adrenaline shoes. A very risky decision given the weather forecast. But they are a lot more comfortable than my ‘hardcore’ trail shoes. So it meant for a day of slipping and sliding - or as I like to think - gracefully gliding across the terrain like an Olympic skater. There were lots of times when we were running up some sort of gully, which had been turned into a ‘river’ by all the rain. So if you don’t like getting your feet wet, or trainers muddy, then this wasn’t the race for you!
In spectacularly me fashion…. I got lost! The 37 mile ultra marathon was in fact 39.5 mile ultra marathon! In my defence…. it wasn’t just me. Quite a few of people seemed to stray off track on this course. My mile going the wrong way was my fastest mile of the day!! Typical. 8:50 minute mile in the wrong direction on an ultra marathon is quite disheartening. But instead of letting it get into my head and ruin my day I decided to reframe it. I figured I’d be hitting 40 miles instead of 37 miles ish. So I thought, well 40 miles has a much better ring to it. So I just reset my thoughts and focussed on hitting 40 miles. Think it came in at 39.4 miles… but there was no way I was running around the field at the end of the run to round it up to 40 miles!
I’m so glad I signed up for this. Sometimes in running and life give you have setbacks. I’m glad I took Dartmoor on the chin and didn’t give up on my goal of running this ultra marathon. It would have been so easy to just park the idea until 2019. But the feeling of crossing that finish line is worth all the pain and mental struggles along the way.
Never give up on your goals, even if you do hit some roadblocks along the way.
Thanks for everyone's messages of support after Dartmoor and well wishes for this run. It's great knowing you have the support of the running community willing you on to the finish line!