Thanks to Edwina Sutton for this blog written to go along with Run to the Hills Podcast 35, there's a link here please have a listen and subscribe or download
Getting back to real life …
Credit: Steve Ashworth
After a weekend of record breaking runs at the Centurion 100, the return of the Hardmoor races ad numerous marathons and fell races popping up we might be fooled into thinking life was suddenly back to normal! Lucky those that got to race, wow to those that themselves into shape to properly RACE and kudos to all who braved toeing a startline after what must seem like a life time for many.
I watched, transfixed on the Centurion You Tube feed as runners ran lap after lap chasing that elusive 100 mile PB, national record or even in the case of some a 100 mile world record!! What the hell? This guy has not only got himself to the UK with no doubt a lot of form filling, tests and quarantine to complete, but has also got himself into such incredible running shape to knock out 6.45 minute mile pace for 12hrs! Hang on a second there are 4 woman totally out there too! Turning themselves inside out, chasing records, as the men drop, the women are still there, focused, strong, smashing out lap after lap. As the day pasts and Im busy with the kids I dip in and out of the feed. The fatigue is beginning to be etched on their faces, movement looks a little less fluid, concentration and focus overtaking any other thoughts than their will to succeed. Im in awe. You can tell the runners still in ‘the game’and those whose days just aren't going to plan.
In some ways running a lapped race is so beautiful in its simplicity, you dont have to think about anything apart from moving forward, but in other ways its so deeply hard and ugly you would sell your granny to get off the track and never run another lap. Without the distraction of travelling, navigating, change of trail, scenery there is nothing to distract you from the endless chattering of the voice which keeps saying…sit down, stop. Its exhausting. But the exhilaration of finishing a race like that, of winning the battle against your biggest enemy but also your constant source of support is immense. I think this what make lap/track/24hrs running so addictive to some and also so unthinkable to others!
I cant help but be a little bit eaten up with jealousy as I see races popping up all around the world. Here in France, with a slow vaccination roll out we are locked down and there is no sign of being allowed to travel freely on the horizon. Races are being cancelled rather than started. Ive just finished my first winter of skis, Ive pushed myself in training more than I have in a long time. The ongoing fatigue is real and I feel the desperate motivation (or fear!!) of a race on the horizon so needed rather than the threat of more time with the kids at home trying to juggle life/training and just living again! We feel a bit stuck on a endless hamster wheel, running like mad but no going anywhere.
But life will come back to us here, I mean we are hardly suffering up here in the Alps with scenery and space most can only dream of, but I allow myself to wallow a bit in the envy of those pining on bibs, that feeling of total and absolute exhaustion I so hanker after, the sweat stained bib, the raw feet and dry throat. The time just spent away from the constant stress of trying to maintain normality for the kids and fold all the bloody laundry!
Credit: Steve Ashworth
Chapeau to all those who have raced, its cool if you dont feel like it, aren't ready and even if you do dont set the world on fire, remember we only read about the glory stories on social media and to those who still cant get to races for whatever reason, hang in there. Trust the process. Our time will come and when it does I am going to have biggest smile, the springiest step and dance my way all around whatever trail Im on….but till then, head down, hard work, but dont forget to look up for a moment and breathe, being grateful for so much we have and so many more adventures to come.