Two and a bit weeks back at work seemed to have flown by, and I found myself back on a plane heading out to Doha again, though this time I wasn't going solo and was proudly wearing my Team GB kit. This time, I found it harder to get my head round the fact that I was going there to race - partly because 100K seems like an incredibly long way to run, never mind race, when you actually stop and think about it - but partly because I'd been out there so recently on my own. This meant that I was one of the most "experienced" team members. I'd sent everybody feedback on the course, the turns, the underfoot surfaces, the heat, the humidity, the customs, the food, the feed stations etc etc before we travelled, but I also took several of them on recces around the route when we got there.
|Room 606 shenanigans!|
The few days before the race provided an excellent opportunity to catch up with running friends old and new - and I also really wanted to attend the medical conference and tour of the sports medicine hospital that had been arranged. Unfortunately it was not to be - as that was the morning Ellie and I were summoned early in the morning by a knocking at our door and "drugs testing!!".
|Waiting for blood tests|
|Go Team GB (with Ellie and Jo M)!|
Oddly enough, we were all made to walk across the start line and back again to check that the chips were working - we were tightly packed as a group so I have no idea how they would identify if one wasn't. No big deal was made of the start and suddenly we were off.....
Don't worry, I'm not going to give you a K by K or mile by mile account of the race....or even a lap by lap one (as that would really help anyone with insomnia), mainly because I cannot really remember the whole run that distinctly. I would sometimes find myself running past the feed stations having covered a lap wondering how I'd got there as I was sure that I'd only just passed them! I'm not sure that I can really claim that I was "in the zone"....more like I'm just a bit of a space cadet!!
|Emily, Ellie and myself pre-race.photo:irunfar|
Although there was a large number of participants in the race, and a good competitive ladies' field, I found myself running alone by halfway round the first lap. This was at total odd to my only other 100K when I had ladies to chat to for about the first 40K. I guess I've done many lonely runs since then, so it didn't really bother me and I just tried to settle into a comfortable pace. Some things were the same as the 50K - that familiar hard surface underfoot and the call to prayer sounding eerie in the night - but others were new to me - the temperature was a good 10 degrees cooler, the cooling stations had moved, and even the official feed station was in a totally different place!
|1 bottle to drink, 1 bottle as a shower!|
We had all agreed to look out for and support each other during the race (which was another difference from the 50K, when I only really had Paul Martelletti to wave/chat to) - and we had decided to do it in a rather tongue-in-cheek American way, so there were plenty of "Good Job!"s and "awesome"s as we spotted each other. I didn't want to offend anyone by accident, so when I was running near Meghan (Team US), I gave Ellie an encouraging "Jolly good running old Bean!" shout instead! It was nice to recognise so many runners from other countries as well, so it was actually quite sociable with all the waving and cheering.
I hadn't quite covered 25K before I was lapped!!! The young Russian (Vasily) was flying, but he did seem to be working very hard so early on in the race (if he'd carried on at that pace he'd have lapped me 4 times!!)...and indeed, he paid for it later as he faded back to 8th place! Incidentally, he (along with a couple of Russian ladies) wasn't wearing his National vests, so it wasn't clear until you were right up next to them (so you could read their numbers, names and nationalities) that such runners were competing in the World Champs. A little while after he passed, a huge chasing group containing Americans, Japanese, Italians etc nearly ran me over as they motored past. I was surprised not to see any Brits amongst them, but on a positive note, it meant that I then had the anticipation of being lapped by my teammates so taking my mind off running several more kilometres.
I could see that Ellie had moved smoothly into the lead a way ahead of me, and Jo was running strongly a few places behind me. I had steadily progressed up the field and gradually closed up on a couple of ladies as we approached the 50K mark. Without changing pace, I moved past them, which put me into second place in the field....not really where I wanted to be at this point in the race. The Japanese lady that I'd just drifted past then suddenly shot past me 2K later. I felt like I was going backwards....either that or that she was running a 10K, as it was an impressive sudden burst of speed, which certainly meant I had no inclination to go with her. I was slightly worried she'd power on up to Ellie, but no fear of that with Ellie was looking so strong and comfortable.
|Not exactly a 5K "loop"!!|
There were other things to notice to while away the time, such as a Swedish guy who had decided to run for a while carrying his shoes before replacing them on his feet, and a Latvian guy who was doing the whole thing in "barefoot" shoes! The mens' race was also heating up, and I could see positions changing at the front end when they came past me. I was so jealous of them when I realised that they were almost finished whereas I still had several laps to go, but at least none of the British men lapped me more than once in the whole race!
I know I definitely slowed down for a couple of laps later on in the race (and my splits confirm this). I guess I could blame my stiff achy back, but if I'm honest, I think that I mentally switched off for a bit. Ellie was motoring away up front....so much so that I no longer saw her at the switchbacks, and there seemed to be no real movement in the field around me, whatever lap the runners were on. I found myself take a quick stock of my body in the penultimate lap.....my legs felt ok, I wasn't running out of energy, my back wasn't that bad as long as I kept moving.....so the problem was definitely in my head.....I guess that if I include the 50k and other runs while out at both the events, I was almost on my 40th time round the route - enough to drive anyone insane!
Ellie had run a fantastic race, and just got stronger and stronger to win with a huge margin in 7:30:44 with Jo also excelling to finish 4th in 7:43:30, which meant that we were easily the leading team. The Japanese ladies had a great day for silver team medals, and the American ladies took team bronze (the Russian ladies would have had this honour, but unfortunately they had not obeyed the race rules by not wearing their national vests and so were disqualified from the team results)!
Some things seem to only happen in events of this distance/nature. For example, it was slightly odd to lap a man after having run 97K and have him comment on how "nice my legs were"!!!! I'm not sure that runners competing for different nations would be as encouraging and supportive of each other in a shorter race either, though I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
|4:30 am - Photo:irunfar|