WHW: reflections

Reflecting on the race after some solid sleep, my hydration was good, my legs were good, but the food/energy supply was the weak link. I got through about 40 gels, 3 bars, half a tub of peanut butter and chocolate spread respectively, and a bowl of pasta bolognese with garlic bread slices. That’s probably close to 6000 calories during the race, not to mention the battered sausage supper 4 hrs before the start. The other 10,000 calories could have been supplied by 1kg of body fat, and they must have been because I just didn’t eat them. The energy delivery wasn’t there though. I could not sustain a run without my body freaking out. If I want to do anything over 50 miles again, I may have to look again at fat adaptation. It really didn’t work for me before, but there are some nutritionists about, like Barry Murray, who seem pretty successful themselves. It might be worth consulting to see what insights and angles they take on it. I’ll be on a healthy eating buzz over the summer anyway, so will focus on lo-carb and fat burning and see how it affects my activities.

On the other hand, maybe I could have run more but the mind or ‘central governor’ kicked in? I knew my legs were still fresh but there was nothing to drive them, and increasing tempo kept spiraling me down to a bad state of mental fog, vision problems and losing temperature control. I’m used to pushing myself, but perhaps the primitive mind sees something so long in a different way… I don’t know enough about it.

Regarding GPS, a Garmin Forerunner 305 cannot be made to work for that long. Although I strapped it to the charging unit to overcome the 13 hour battery life, it wrote over the start of the race due to limited memory. I’ve seen a guy online recorded a 30 hr flight, but I guess that has very little variation to speed, direction, altitude. A trail run has constant variation that obviously takes up space, even in Smart Data mode. It’ll not work.

Inov8 Roclite 295’s. Mostly love again for these shoes. Over wet rocks, roots, planks, and dusty gravel these puppies just grip with no questions asked. The endurance last is also nice and roomy for my wide feet so no blisters to speak of. There’s about 600km on this pair now and I appear to have worn through the material at the back of the heel. This did give me a bit of a blister eventually. This happens quite often in my shoes and normally isn’t a problem although the edges to this hole are quite pronounced. I’ll try a bit of duct tape over it to see if that keeps them serviceable. I still think I run a bit clunky in the 3 arrow sole – the whole sole slapping down at once when I mid-foot strike. My battered Merrell Trail Gloves with 1000km on them are still the shoe I run best in, even though they have zero grip except on flat surfaces. It may be interesting to try some of the new Inov8 anatomic last shoes like the Trailroc. The rough, bouldery terrain that comprises much of the WHW does batter your feet after a while, but I reckon it is just something you have to put up with. I did see some crazy cushioned shoes being used but I know I would break my ankle running in something like that. I’ll take a bit of bruising vs a serious injury.

I was also asked on a forum, “what goes through your mind to keep you going?”, and this was my answer: Basically there’s nothing going through my mind most of the time. Questioning things and thinking ahead tends to give me anxiety like the fateful Tyndrum section… “too many mind. No mind” (Last Samurai) I had to tell myself. Just make choices related to pre-arranged goals, then keep going. After the near total breakdown, my sub-23 and sub-24 hour goals were gone. All I had left was undefined ‘finish’, so once I chose to start moving again at each checkpoint all there was…was not falling over. Given that that is pretty instinctual, I didn’t have to think about anything. Occasionally, I had to ‘think’ to eat and drink, or think to look at the scenery and remember it. If pain gets worse or your condition worsens you obviously have to do something about it, but if it stays the same then you are already coping with it and can continue to do so. Of course, you can stop at any time, but as the Buddha says… desire leads to suffering… and I desired a crystal goblet for my efforts!

Finally, I noticed a tip yesterday that seemed to work for some people – take an anti-histamine tablet before the race then, when you do get bitten by the midges, the bites don’t itch and drive you crazy. One to remember!

2 Replies to “WHW: reflections”

  1. Well done again on the Race: you definately continue to push the envelope and inspire. Been in a bit of a running rut recently myself but inspired by tales of this race I signed up for Dublin Marathon. Funny thing going from alot of running to hardly any: I experienced what I can only describe as “runners blues”. Think it must have been due to going from huge amounts of endorphins to very little: feeding the running rut further. Out the other side of it now tho!

  2. Thanks Rusty. Yes, I definitely miss the exercise – I get really restless and distracted if I don’t get to do much!
    I always hear good reports from Dublin marathon, so I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Having an event to prepare for is a nice excuse to lace up the shoes and get out the door…training for it gives as much or more than the actual event does when you look at it overall. Enjoy getting back out there 🙂

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