Written by Steve Way - http://www.steveway.co.uk
I’ve only done one other 100km but it appears the standard practice will be for me to write my 100km race reports in the early hours of the morning the day after the race as the aches, pains and adrenaline get the better of me in and ruin any chance of sleeping. Lucky for you…. not so good for me!
So there we were 2 weeks 5 days after the London Marathon on the Friday afternoon when I turned to Sarah during our pre race athlete/crew chat and I said to her,
“I think we need a sign after the first lap to let you know if I’m going for the British Road 100km record or not”
The resulting look I got from my lovely wife was not too dissimilar to the one she gave me the night before VLM when I told her I was considering jumping on the back of the 2:15 pacer train, slightly bemused and concerned!
The fact was that straight after VLM I decided I wasn’t going to be chasing times at the 100km as the legs would not have had time to fully recover and it would be too risky but as time went on I became more confident that I really had no residual fatigue left from the marathon and Tim Cruise-Drew my physio was in agreement. The only thing holding me back was the likelihood of the course and conditions allowing a good time which is why I agreed with Sarah that I would run the first lap at record pace and see how realistic it felt. This meant just under 8min laps for the 2080 metre course (under 6:09m/m pace)
After a great team speech from Walter (England team captain) on Friday night we arrived at the Cyclotrack at around 7am Saturday morning for what would be my first view of the course and conditions and to access the significance of the hills that we would have to climb on each of the 48 laps!
I think this is an ideal time to mention the hosts of the race tzruns and especially the race director/organiser Ian Berry. You could tell from the start that Ian put so much attention to detail into the race from the fantastic named bibs, the finishers medals, the course preparation and the general race atmosphere he was able to create – it really did make the day more special and I’m glad as a group the athletes were able to repay him with some stella performances….. Ummmmmm Stella
I’m sure many of you will be disappointed to hear all my race prep had gone well this time, no missing contact lenses, no untied shoelaces, and I even managed to remember to take my Imodium to try and prevent any time wasting through toilet stops!
I was also wearing my brand new Adidas Adios Boosts which has now become a bit of a tradition for my last few big races. I first bought a pair before the Reading half and put them on for the first time race day and felt great in the them. On the spur of the moment I did the exact same thing at VLM and purchased my race day boosts at the Expo! I have since been very fortunate to have got the support of Adidas UK and my first kit drop arrived on Friday so I thought it would be rude not to continue the tradition and went with a brand new pair of black and white Adios Boosts for the 100km, they didn’t let me down!
The horn went for the start of the race and we were off. I immediately started running with friend and fellow sub 7hr 100km runner Pieter Vermeesch who I expected to be my main competition for the day although it wasn’t long before he confessed that he really wasn’t in the necessary shape to be running with me at the pace we were and that he would be deliberately dropping back soon to avoid a complete disaster.
We went up the set of two hills for the first time which consisted of a short sharp hill (nicknamed Tourette’s Hill for obvious reasons!) and a long drag up to the finish. Only around 50ft of elevation but over the 48 laps of the race this would add up to around 2500ft. My first impressions of the hills were that they wouldn’t really have much impact in the first half of the race but they would play a big part in the latter stages, especially the shorter, sharper hill.
We went through the first lap as planned just under 8min and after assessing the weather conditions (which were pretty good) and the hills I decided that the record attempt was on so signalled to Sarah as such…. fortunately I didn’t have to hang around to see her reaction
Thinking through my race strategy, I new that Pieter was planning on leaving me to it so it was just going to be a time-trial and I was also aware that whatever pace I went off at those hills were going to cost me some time in the latter stages so I wanted to get some time in the bank in relation to the record.
I was making good use of the downhills which were coming out at 5:45m/m pace and my lap times started to tick over around 7min 45 (just under 6m/m). Effort levels were great and heart rate stats backed this up in the low 130’s (I managed to sustain over 140bpm for the Stockholm 100km although that was much hotter) …… Happy days!
(Thanks to my cousins husband Chris for all the awesome photos!)
The first half of the race was very pleasant, lots of smiles, encouragement to teammates and fellow runners, smiling for pictures and generally enjoying the race – not so much in the 2nd half! Feedback from my awesome group of family and friends supporting is that Steve Way in the 2nd half of a 100km isn’t the most social of chaps …. must try harder not to be a grumpy sod!
Just before halfway I treated myself to a wee in the portaloo having given Sarah warning that it would be a slightly slower lap, didn’t want her panicking that it was already going wrong! Trev my roving twitter reporter took advantage of the situation and stood outside the loo to try and get a quick interview
The next quarter of the race was when I really started to have to focus of maintaining my pace. My nutrition had been going reasonably well with smooth crew support due to our now legendary hand signal communications although I hadn’t taken on as much food as I had perhaps hoped. In a very similar setup to Stockholm, once I got past 40 miles I was pretty much just on water for the rest of the race.
I was still maintaining some good lap times around 7:45 pace with some faster laps when I was not taking on nutrition and slower ones when I had my hands full.
The aches and pains in the legs and feet started around 35 miles and I really noticed my glutes starting to complain on the hills….. this is going to get tough I thought!
The plan in my head was to try and hold on to sub 8min laps until lap 40 with just eight to go and then I would have enough time in the back to allow for any serious slowing in the last few.
I just about managed this with each lap between 35-40 losing just a few seconds. Lap 40 was my first lap over 8min and only by a few seconds.
The final 8 laps are a proper blur. After telling my best mate Trev very politely to go away (in my usual subtle fashion for those that know me well!) when he confirmed that I would need to “pick it up a bit” if I wanted the world record, that was the last real communication with the outside world other than a few very tired hand raises to get water bottles from Sarah.
When I wasn’t working out the maths for how much I could slow down to still get the record, I tried to think about the post race celebrations again. This would be a double celebration for VLM as well and thoughts of a few drinks with family and friends really spurred me on…. just needed to get this last hour of pain out the way!
The lap times started to slow…. 8:03,8:11,8:11,8:23,8:32 but with 3 laps to go I could see that my drop in pace was still going to get me well within the record and if I held it together – under 6hrs 20min.
The last few times up the hills were brutal and although the watch didn’t say I was, it felt like walking pace. I went through the penultimate lap in around 8:35 and heard the last lap “horn”, blew Sarah a kiss and got my head down.
By the time I got down to the bottom of the lap ready for the final climb I was ready for it. I could see the finish straight in the distance and I wasn’t going to let these poxy hills stop me now!
I was very kindly handed a British flag as I ran up the finish straight, spooned about trying to get it round my back like only I could and then soaked up my “moment” collapsing in Sarah’s arms – doesn’t get much better than that!
6:19:19 for a new British Road 100km record!! (yes I know Don Ritchie has run faster but only on the track or non-certified road races )
Absolutely in pieces at the end with some serious muscle ache but was rescued by the England team physio Brian Cole who gave me a very gentle massage and dealt with my drama queen moments as the calf cramps kicked in!
There were some great British performances across the board with 4 GB men under the team qualifying time (7hr 18) for the World 100km Champs which are to be held in Doha in November. Also special mention to my clubmate Sharkey who had an awesome debut over the distance coming 6th with a time of 7hr 24. Just need to make sure that wasn’t his last one
A couple more great photos for good measure…..
I’m spending the rest of the BH weekend with friends and family camping in the infamous Camper Van , bit of R&R and no running I think! Thanks all for the Facebook and twitter messages – will probably take me the rest of the weekend to get through them…. Which I love