It seemed like a stroke of genius at 3.14am. My plan had a 30 mile full kit run on Sunday 10th July, and the Black Ranscombe Challenge on 9th July started at 4pm. That meant that I could run 30 undulating miles with aid stations to test my race day nutrition and with the last hour in the dark to test my new head torch. It was essentially what was in the plan, just 18 hours early, and it would cut out all the procrastination. Of which there would probably be lots.
It seemed like a stroke of genius at 3.14am. As I ran round Sittingbourne parkrun in the morning, with empty legs which made the essentially flat and firm course feel as though it were hilly and knee deep in treacle, I was less sure that the decision was a wise one. As I sat in the pub catching up with a couple of tourists I haven’t seen for a while, the temptation to head home to doze in the hammock was tangible.
In the end what stopped me, aside from having to explain my decision to the ferocious Mr Elson* was that it was a challenge event. Go home now and I forfeited my entry fee completely. Run a single lap and I would at least get a few bars of chocolate and a can of beer for my troubles.
I bit the bullet and headed for race HQ, where the Summer Ranscombe Challenge was in full flow. I watched as runners came and went, wilting in the heat, and chatted as I waited to spot Kathy Brown, designer of the parkrun tourist Cow Cowl which has made touring a whole heap more sociable.
I’ll let you into a secret: I am a genius, at least I am at 3.14am. 7 undulating laps; 30.4 miles; kit, race day nutrition and new head torch tested. The shorts I was thinking of wearing didn’t stand up to 7 hours of running (nether chafing had me walking like a cowboy by the time I made it home), my shoes are fine, my headtorch is great (but I need to make sure I pack it carefully so I don’t spend three swearing minutes trying to untangle the various strings) and with minimal loss of pace over the seven laps, I think my nutrition is as good as it’s going to get. I survived the 14 separate encounters with herds of cows (2 herds, 7 laps, a gazillion glowing eyes), proved yet again that I’m perfectly happy with my own thoughts (though the repeated encounters with other runners on the out and back sections were very welcome) and can now settle down on the sofa with the cat with a clear conscience to enjoy the first day of my taper.
* The Mr Elson in my head who bolsters my flagging mojo and gets me out the door with threats of dire consequences if I slack. Not to be confused with the actual Mr Elson who merely clears his throat pointedly in the presence of sloth induced slacking.