Race to the Stones – Jonathan Frary

… so that’s 100k done then… lots to blab on about and it’s a good emotional download after a long time on your feet!

Back in Feb I made a decision to move away from Triathlon for a bit after 9 years of racing, decided what I liked best was running long distances when it’s hot (I have raynauds, it’s literally what my body is made for!)

Moving to a slow pace and running long distances was a hard adaptation for the body to make but I knew I couldn’t do ‘long’ without adapting my body to what I was going to ask it to do… so that’s all I’ve been doing.

After a pretty successful first win at a 50k distance in 4 hours 11, I decided to do a 100k (albeit a bit too early in the training programme to do a 100k, I was broke after the first 50k I did!)

The race:

I’ve been genuinely looking forward to it, unlike every triathlon I’ve ever done I didn’t need to set off red-lining and worrying about seconds… I had a target of 10 hours.

As I had only ever done one 50k run before I had no idea how conditioned I was for double the distance… so my approach was simple

  • Run at around 50k pace (08:00 min mile) for first 50k and then see how it goes, while this isn’t an approach you would “ever” do for a normal running race. Ultras are different as your using different energy systems and your running below your normal ability…
  • Don’t eat (just an odd snack for mental purposes), as I should be running recovery I’ve spent a long time training my body to use fat for fuel (1lb of fat is about 3000 calories) … the body only stores around 90 mins of glycogen so trying to top this up while burning 6000 calories aint gonna work!
  • Drink … lots and use zero tabs to keep salt levels up and cola … because its great on a hot day and the caffeine numbs the pain!

0-20k, off in the A wave with the ‘wanting to win’ group. Pretty spritely pace… but felt pretty sluggish, as it’s single path we did find ourselves hammering it through very technical woods because no one wanted to slow the people down behind them!

20k-30k, stopped at first aid station at 20k and then had some divine wind carry me through … felt awesome and got into top ten

30-50k, feeling good mentally and hit 50k in 4 hours 11 (that’s just below 26 min park run pace) I was 7th at this point. My left hip flexor (the thing that lift your leg) however was hurting… a lot and setting off after re-filling my bottles at 50k took around a 500m walk before I could try to run again!

First marathon split was 3 hours 32 minutes, so about on target.

50-60k, pace slowed but still feeling good (despite the hip) passed some people who had blown up

60-80k, still top ten as people kept informing me but not sure exactly what position… stopping at aid stations every 10k but absolute agony getting running again… it took a lot of walking to build up the courage to run.

80-100k, everyone came passed and I dropped to top 20… average pace was way off and along with my hip flexor meaning running on the flat was nearly impossible my quads had gone so I could only walk downhill! … the only thing I could do was run uphill, so while everyone walked uphill I ran… which got me a bit of applause J and kept me roughly on time… but every km was pretty awful!

We climbed 4,500 feet so it was lumpy in places but not shocking!

I know my current development areas are …

  • Too much tapering, I don’t need 3 weeks!
  • My aid station stops need a bit of practice… spent ages faffing with bottles!
  • my weekly mileage and length of the long runs (I’m normally 60-90 miles a week currently, long weekly runs are about 20-24 miles… both need to grow)
  • hills, I have a weekly training gap of around 4000 feet, damn you flat Doncaster!
  • Conditioning, hip flexors and quads continuing on the strength and conditioning agenda, they cost me at least 13 spots on the weekends race.