...Yes folks, my ultimate test is one day away. The race starts at 8:00AM on Saturday morning.....it is 60 Kilometres and 7,300 feet (2300 metres) of elevation gain and is quite simply the biggest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. It is a fully fledged Ultra Endurance run and I am scared to death. I remember my friend Bobby once asked me ...'Why are you doing this?'....my answer was...'Just to be able to say I run Ultras'.... he said 'thats an awful lot of pain and sacrifice just to say that'...... he has a point and explained that in France they would probably say; ...'I run ooltraas'.....
In my last blog I was not feeling very well and since then 'the pain in the balls of my foot' has slowly got worse.....still, as Bobby also pointed out... 'it could be worse, it could be the other way round!'.. Ha,ha, good point.
So with one thing and another, incuding various visits to the Podiatrist, its been an up and down week of preparation, not ideal but here we are.....D Day minus one. I have long pondered this moment over the past few months and I am a bag of nerves and really just want to get on with it. It will be hard and, at times, miserable but my goal is to make it and run through all the crap as best I can. Bobby also suggested why not do it....AND have a smile on your face at the same time.....I will try. I must say I quite like the idea of enjoying it but the truth is I just don't know, its uncharted waters and a total mystery. This quest began 5 months ago and I have run, in training, well over 1,200 kilometres since then. I've been up mountains and run in storms and searing heat at all hours of the day.......and night, all to get to this point. The one thing I don't want to do is DNF...this is the term used in endurance running when you don't make it, ie: 'Did Not Finish'. If I don't make it this will be the title of my next blog. My intention is to have a very different title..... you'll know it when you see it.
Sue, the world's best support crew, has all the stuff ready for the 30k half way point, gels, fruit bars, isotonic drinks, peanut butter muffins, bananas, miso soup, etc......(.actually I might just stop there, have my lunch and call it a day!) My last race was 6 hours and 32 minutes, this will be much longer. I have no idea how I am going to run for longer than this but I will have too. I read that a fellow endurance runner, Mike Peterson, saw the following printed on an ultra runners T- shirt.....'My sport is your sport's punishment!'.....This is the kind of perverse mentality endurance running engenders......I love it.
The drive up to the Burgundy wine region today is about 5 hours, this particular area of France is called 'Little Switzerland'....I like that because hopefully it means the mountains and hills are....'Little'. Its very beautiful, the weather is forecast to be extremely hot with possible thunderstorms.....Great!! At present I am full of indecision and worry about what type of clothes to wear, drinks, bags, food, will it be cold or hot, do I tape my feet or not, did I train enough, what if the searing pain in my foot returns, blah, blah, blah. I know it sounds boring but when you are out on the trail with no aid station around, these small things take on enourmous importance .... .....especially when you get it wrong or forget something. These things fly around your head all night and its quite hard to sleep. I have read so much and put a lot of hours of training in.......and all this to suffer for the time it takes most people to do a full days work. Maybe I am nuts.
Although there are many different events here this weekend, 15k's, 25k's, a 42 k marathon, relay races, a marche nordique? (no, me neither); my race, the 60k 'Haut de Clunysois' is the main event....and yet strangely it has the least amount of entrants. Of the 450 people running in total in all disciplines only 20 are so far registered for my event..........Why are you not suprised??.....hopefully more will turn up by Saturday.
Anyway....'This is it' and so, as one of the crew of Apollo 13 said on approaching the dark side of the moon,...'Catch you on the flip side'.