Completing The Thames Path 50k Challenge Ultramarathon.
I completed my first 50k ultramarathon since the Titanic Quarter 50k in 2013 and it was a mostly happy experience.
It was from Fulham to Runnymede (near Windsor) which made me think of this scene from Peep Show.
I awoke at 4am and had 3 packets of American Hard Gums for breakfast. I got a taxi down from Tottenham to the start at Fulham at 5:50am. We drove in a haze through Tottenham, Finsbury Park, Camden and down onto the Westway towards Fulham.
None of it seemed real but I wasn’t afraid of what lay in front of me.
I met Lisa and
Alisha Alicia at the start who were both doing the 50k and were nice people (sorry I was uncommunicative I’m an awkward flaky man, especially when I’m terrified of long distance runs!)
I always feel uneasy at the beginning of races, especially when it’s a distance I’m not used to running.
This time I was quietly confident that I could do it, especially after London 2 Cambridge. I knew that I had enough energy to get to 50k if I paced myself conservatively, so I set out at a very easy 7:35 min/k and kept to it for most of the first half of the race.
Nothing of note happened in the first 14k. Some running. Some sweat. A lot of thinking.
At the rest stop I drank 2 litres of energy drink and ate 2 croissants and set out again for the next checkpoint after 10 minutes rest.
I reset my Garmin at every checkpoint from here to the finish to try to convince myself that I wasn’t running a 50k but two 14ks, an 8k and another 14k.
I honestly can’t remember much about this part of the run. It went by so quickly and I just remember feeling very happy. I loved Richmond. It’s a nicer place than Tottenham. I would live in a garden shed there but unfortunately it’d cost around £3,500 a month.
The only thing that pissed me off was the sheer number of careless yuppie dog owners who let their dogs own the fucking path. Dogs only make me nervous when the owner is a cunt and this part of London is full of them.
We hit the second checkpoint at 28k and I had some Haribo and 2 gels. I was gonna take 3 of them but I didn’t want to risk shit-gate happening again. You can only wipe your arse with nettles once before you’ve learned an important lesson for life.
From 28k my confidence grew. I’d just ran the 2 most longer sections of the race so I put myself into autopilot and just focused on keeping my motor running.
This next section was only 8km in length. I knew that if I finished it with strength that I only had one remaining 13k to complete to finish the 50k.
36k to FINISH
I was really fucking pissed off at 36k as we had to run through a town centre and cross roads and motorists were being cunts. I started giving them the V-sign and shouted FUCK OFF a lot.
Nothing was gonna fucking stop me on this planet.
I tried to make a Facebook update at the 36k rest stop but my stinging sweat made my smartphone unusable. This only compounded the anger so I decided to jog it fucking off.
I was down to my last 13km. I’d completed so many 13km’s in the past that I knew I was gonna do it.
Normally I try to speed up if I want a race to be over more quickly, but this doesn’t really work with ultramarathons. Instead I started meditating. I zoned out altogether and stopped thinking.
I was an island of perspiration and determination.
By the time I’d hit 40k the sun was out and I became euphoric.
This wasn’t to last long. The sun became quite strong and I began to wilt a little after having to run around some cows that were out grazing in a field.
Doubts started to arise around 45k when I got into an argument with myself. It went like this.
Me : “Wow looks like I might finish this under 7 hours”
Cunt brain : “Under 7 hours? Bravo ,you fat cunt! What do you want, a medal? A cookie? A SHOTGUN?”
Me : “Fuck off”
Cunt brain : “7 hours, let’s see. A marathon took you 5 hours at your fattest and so you’re telling me it’s gonna take an extra 2 hours to run 4.8 miles? Wow you’re fast.”
Me : “Fuck off”.
I got lost telling my cunt brain to fuck off and accidentally ran onto grass, tripped and landed on the 46km sign. This was my second fall in as many runs.
Fortunately I was unhurt and I fucking sprang up again.
But I let my cunt brain win.
I became disheartened by the prospect of a sub 7 hour finish. Every step forward was a defeat. Everything seemed useless.
I soldiered on until the 48k mark and Staines Bridge and heard someone shout “Go on Angry Jogger!”. This was enough to pull me out of my silly navel gazing and I powered on through the last 2k which was all on towpath.
I finished in around 6 hours 45 minutes which represented a personal best of over an hour. More importantly I ran the 2nd half of the 50k faster than the 1st.
I also got a glass of sparking wine for my efforts and enjoyed 2 plates of pasta at this very table.
For 45k of the race I was very happy. I loved running through Kew, Windsor and countless over towns in West London. It felt so fucking easy.
The Thames Path Challenge is a lot easier than the London 2 Brighton/Cambridge runs as you are mostly running on a path which is great for inexperienced trail runners like myself. As per usual with Action Challenge events, it’s amazingly organised and friendly.
By completing this race so strongly I managed to erase the memory of failing to complete London 2 Cambridge 2 weeks ago. And more importantly I’ve purged this song forever from my fucking brain which reminds me of moping around a Travelodge in Cambridge on a rainy bank holiday weekend after failing with the 100km.
I’m an ultramarathoner now and I want to do more 50k’s. And I’m going to get to Brighton before midnight in the 100k in May 2016.