This weekend, I'm taking part in the Pilgrim Challenge event – a two day 66 mile ultra, put on by XNRG, running out and back along the first section of the North Down’s Way, with a stop overnight at the half way point.
Unfortunately, after a weekend of back to back 18.5 milers, when I was pounding away on the tarmac both days, because I couldn’t face the boggy fields after the storms, and then a night of 10-pin bowling, my legs are aching today. I think it’s the bowling that did it ;-) Definitely not the best taper, but unfortunately at this stage in training for the Thames Path 100, I’m not going to be able to taper for my races – it’s all just about keeping the training going. I really need to approach every race as though it’s just another part of the necessary preparation for my A race of the year! However, I have got a massage booked on Wednesday which will hopefully go some way to helping my legs repair in time for Saturday, and I’ll be chucking back the beetroot juice this week - although it’s probably all psychological, I like to think it does make a difference!
I am really looking forward to the weekend. For some reason, I'd been telling myself the Pilgrim course was going to be pretty flat but having now done a bit of research I realise it's not...this is the elevation profile from the website...and with the state of my legs, I know it’s probably going to be quite painful…oh, and more muddy than anything I’ve experienced before I expect…but that’s all going to be part of the fun!
The only other XNRG event I've done was the Toad Challenge back in 2012, which was 90 miles over 3 days, running along the Thames Path, and I absolutely loved it. I’m expecting more of the same this weekend. It’s doesn’t matter how slow I go – they’re still be a real camaraderie with the other runners, we’ll be well looked after by the brilliant XNRG team, it’s a beautiful route, there’ll be an enormous dinner, I'll be able to spend the whole weekend focused on running…even having to dig out my rucksack and sleeping bag, and kipping overnight on a sports-hall floor wont be a hardship. It makes the whole thing a mini (albeit warm and relatively comfortable) adventure.
I’ve started writing lists of all the kit I need to pack, and am starting to buy my provisions. It’s surprising how much stuff you end up needing (or at least, taking) just for a bit of running! I’ve booked Friday off work so I can make sure I’m sorted out in good time, and can relax a bit on Friday evening, and then I’m off work the following week too - a couple of days recovery and then we’re going away for a few days for Franc’s birthday. I can’t wait!