Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Feeling all positive at the start,
      Its been 48 hours since my trail debacle and I have been analysing what went wrong using Google earth and trail race maps. I now remember a sign where the wide track turned left and it pointed that way so thats what I did. I later discovered that it must have been pointing to a tiny track which I just didn't see, I obviously looked down and just  continued on......That and the fact that I'm half blind! When running trail ultra's there are signs and bits of tape that show you the way. Ironically I had been thinking during the race how well marked it had been. Earlier I had seen a few runners who took a wrong turn but there were always others who would shout out and alert them but at 32k's there was no one around. Its amazing how the brain works, you know there should be tape markers but on long straight tracks they have very few, apart from when you leave it and this is why I wasn't overly concerned when I didn't see any after I had gone wrong. You 'assume' you are okay......(something I am always preaching to my son that you should never do)....... At first,  my track was running parallel with the real one which is probably why it felt fine but then imperceptively deviated away......miles away, as it turned out.
       By the time I had really understood the problem, I worked out that to climb back up and retrace my steps would have taken in total lost time, about 1hr and a half....and then I would only still be at the 32k mark. Besides, when I finally reached the road where Sue met me, I had run a 44k Ultra anyway..... and in 6hrs 45mins, so at least I can take that achievment for the day away with with me, if nothing else.
I was somewhere in there!
      As you may have realised, getting lost on trail runs is not unusual, many runners have this experience, even the elite guys, the difference is that normally you can get back fairly quickly once you recognise the problem.....I just kept telling myself I was fine and refused to accept my mistake and it was this stubborness that cost me an official finish.
    Ultra running can teach you a lot about life in miniature, all the ups and downs, mistakes and successes....and especially your own personality traits.
     If you remember one of the tests of this run was to see how my new training regime would work out. To be honest there wasn't much difference apart from the fact that I need to gain more leg strength........and possibly a map! The only other odd thing I discovered was that once I had accepted my fate and having decided to run on down to the river below; I enjoyed the freedom.......I was alone on the trail and not part of some organised event.  I always train alone and  its what I enjoy doing the most and now suddenly I was back in that enviroment; just me, the woods, the stillness; I guess its that hippy thing again. Its bizarre but I could have gone on for miles as I also began to run with fluidity and ease whereas earlier I had been tense and  stressed........weird!
      To be fair it was very decent of the organisers to offer to come and find me and perhaps if they'd sent a helicopter I would have said 'yes'........ it would have been rather exciting.(always the Drama Queen). However, as someone else pointed out, they have to look after there own reputation as well, after all this is France and it doesn't look good to have someone disappearing off into the wilderness in an official event.......they too have an ego.
      After some advice from my friend Pauline I also have to admit to something else. Yesterday I was surrounded by people about 30 years younger than me. Thats fine and it keeps me motivated  but in doing something that keeps me youngish and fit, on some difficult occasions  had the opposite effect,........it made me feel terribly old. This was not part of the plan but its how I felt. I have been and am very fortunate to be able to run in these beautiful places but I feel a sense of balance and perspective is also neccessary if I am to continue to enjoy these wonderful experiences.
     Two final comments, one from Dave Brophy;.....'On a lighter note, I hope the other 42 runners behind you didn’t just follow you or you would have had a lot of pissed off people on your back. I can just imagine it now “42 angry frogs chasing you down the hill and when Sue arrives, them all trying to climb into Sue’s little car and swearing about “thees dumb, stoopid,  eegleeshman who doesn’t know where he was going” – it was just as well you weren’t leading or it could have been 100 pissed off Frenchmen trying to get into the car! Great.'
       And finally Wayne Browns status on facebook:-
                                    'Anyone seen Phil Jeremy? ..............Brilliant:)

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