In the past I’ve had a habit of coming on here and telling you all about the latest race that I’d hastily signed up for (and by “hastily” I mean that it’s usually after drinking a few glasses of wine or standing up too quickly after a hot bath). Well it’s been a while since I’ve done that, and I haven’t actually run in any sort of event since the Silverstone Half back in March, so I think it’s high time I told you about the latest adventure that’s snuck its way into my diary…
For those of you who don’t already know, I’ve signed up for the Adidas Thunder Run 24hr 2012. Bit of a mouthful, so I think I’ll just stick with the far snappier “TR24*”
What that means is that, if all goes according to plan, on the last weekend of this month I shall become a (dun dun derrrrr) Thunder Runner, and consequently have to wear one of these every day for the rest of my life…
Clearly, when I say “have to” what I mean is “will”. I would like to make it absolutely clear that the organisers of this race in no way insist on the wearing of magical helmets, winged or otherwise. Anyway, a brief synopsis of the event is in order, before you start thinking I’ve made up yet another event just so I can wear a silly hat. The TR24 started in 2009 and sees entrants running as many laps of the off-road 10k route as possible in 24 hours. It’s open to solo runners, as well as pairs and teams of five or eight. The pairs and teams run it as a relay, whereas the solos are, well, just a little bit mental. I’ve heard it described as “Glastonbury for Runners”, which makes it sound very cool. I’m just hoping that this is due to the camping and sense of bonhomie rather than a warning that Jedward will be turning up to do an impromptu cover version of “Ace of Spades” on the Thunder Run pyramid stage. If you’d like to know any more about the event itself, point your interwebular device here.
As challenging as the race itself will be, my main obstacle lies in my tendency to waffle on and on for ages about the slightest thing. For me, a race report about an entire weekend could easily become a blog post so lengthy that, if released as an unabridged audiobook, would take Morgan Freeman at least six months to narrate (or seven if you include toilet breaks).
So in an attempt to mitigate this, I thought I’d pop along and tell you a bit about TR24 in advance, so I can hit the ground running (pun!) when the time comes for that actual race report.
(If you’re in any doubt over my ability to ramble on, can I just draw your attention to the fact that I’ve just written nearly five hundred words on the subject of a blog post that hasn’t actually been written yet).
So anyway, with just over two weeks to go, I’m happy to tell you that I’m not feeling totally unprepared, which makes a nice change. That’s not to say I’m not flapping, because I am, it’s just a slightly more nonchalant flap than usual. It could possibly be described as Un Petit Flappe***.
I guess my preparations have fallen into three broad categories…
This bit’s quite important, otherwise I’ll find myself feeling a bit lonely while running for 24 hours straight. There are around 150 people running it solo, but each one of them is the equivalent of three Chuck Norris’ and a Batman, so they’re very much in a leg-pulverisingly terrifying league of their own. And “pulverisingly” is a perfectly cromulent word, so there.
My team (and essentially my family for those 24 hours****) is the majestically titled Runners Forum 24-hour Trotters. I’ll leave descriptions of my team mates until the race report itself, by which time I’ll have had ample opportunity to dig up some dirt on each and every one of them. I’ve been a member of Runners Forum for just over a year now, and it’s an unparalleled source of advice, inspiration and cheerful idiocy.
So just like this blog then, except with advice and inspiration.
In all seriousness, it’s the people from RF (old and new) who’ve helped me to keep going whenever I’ve had a few runs that were a bit meh. They’ve been with me every step of the way as I’ve explored the wonderful world of running and I feel honoured to be part of the team.
I’ve always been a bit of a kit-monkey, if I’m honest. I get a guilty pleasure from fiddling with a new gadget or nerdily stocktaking my gear to make sure I’ve got exactly the right amount of cheese graters for any given situation. In the event of a zombie apocalypse I’d be the one in the underground bunker, cheerfully placing jars and cans on shelves in perfect symmetry and making sure each one was accounted for.
Um… zombies aside, I’ve just this second realised that what I’ve described as my ideal role in life is essentially a supermarket shelf-stacker. Moving swiftly on…
I’ve never really been camping before, and so planning what to take for this event has sent me a little bit OCD. In my defence, I’ll be getting there the night before and probably staying until my legs start working again on the Monday morning, so it’ll be three nights in total, with the added complication of not only needing camping gear, but also running stuff too. I won’t share my packing list here, as I don’t want to exceed my monthly data limit, but I’m sure everything will work out fine if I can just find a rucksack the size of a small bungalow. Laugh all you want, but don’t come running to me when you run out of duck-repellent or find yourself in dire need of an Ainsley Harriott steam-powered quiche-maker.
This has been going surprisingly well, and I’ve found myself training specifically for this race rather than my usual trick of throwing miles around willy-nilly (fnar!) and hoping for the best. In order to prepare myself for running several times in 24 hours, I first started off doing a few double-days, where I’d run 10k (or thereabouts) in the morning and then again in the afternoon or evening. I’ve then steadily worked my way up, to the point where this week I managed four runs of 8-10k in a 24hr period, including one lovely hilly night run. Surprisingly it didn’t feel too bad, and my pace actually got quicker and easier by the third run. I got my comeuppance on the last bit of run number four though, when I found myself sapped of all energy while my right hamstring called me some quite hurtful names. In an uncharacteristically mature move, I’m even balancing out the training with plenty of rest, stretching and foam-rollering. I’m trying my hardest to stay injury free for this race, and it seems to be working so far, which just leaves me at the mercy of illness, bad weather and man-eating tigers escaped from the local zoo.
I’ve also volunteered to put together a rough running order for the team, taking into account everyone’s anticipated number of laps and projected pace. I’ll be pleased as punch to do four laps, and I’ll be ecstatic if I can somehow manage five (message from legs: “ecstatic isn’t the word we’d choose. You’re on your own, you complete bastard”). It was when I started trying to predict my pace that things started getting a bit silly. I can bang out a 10k in just over 55 minutes (roughly 9 min/mile), but because there’ll be several of them it goes without saying that I’ll have to pace myself. So if I start off with the first lap at 10 min/mile pace, then allow an extra 0.5 min/mile for each lap to allow for fatigue. Ah, but I’ve heard the route’s quite hilly in places – better add a bit on for that too. Except I’ll have been carb-loading and carefully(ish) planning my nutrition/hydration, so that’ll make things easier – I should knock a bit off for that. Oh, but it’s in the height of summer (stop laughing!) and I don’t fare well when it’s hot, so I’ll just add a bit on to allow for that. Ah, now let’s not forget the race day atmosphere, that feeling that magically boosts your energy levels – I should really knock off a few seconds for that. Now, if I just compensate for wind resistance, allow for bears, carry the three, multiply by the first number I thought of, pick a card, any card…
I’m sure you can see now why I quickly scrapped that approach and instead opted for the slightly-less-scientific-but-infinitely-better-in-every-other-way mantra of “I’ll just see how I feel on the day”.
For most, myself included, TR24 isn’t about podiums or medals or personal bests. It’s not even really about running – it’s about runners. We’re pretty damn great, and the fact that we do this “running” stuff is just the icing on the cake.
So that’s the groundwork done for the forthcoming race report. Now I just need to start thinking up a suitably snappy title. Obviously it has to have the word “thunder” in it somewhere (it’s the law). A few that spring to mind are Thunderstruck, Tropic Thunder (if it’s a particularly hot day), Blue Thunder (if something rude happens, or if there are smurfs), Thunderbirds are go, Thunderpants (see “Blue Thunder”, but without the smurfs), Thundercats Ho (if there are cats …or ho’s). I’m secretly hoping that the organisers announce a last-minute move to East Sussex, just so I can go with “Thunder Run in Brighton, Very Very Frightening”.
* Strictly speaking, a more accurate abbreviation would be ATR24HR2012. However, “ATR24HR2012” is also the part number for a replacement Austin Allegro gearknob (1982-1984)**, and I didn’t want to confuse anybody. ** Not really. *** I don’t speak much French, so sincere apologies if I just said something unspeakably disgusting. **** Not so much because of the deep, unspoken bond of love and loyalty between us. More for the fact that I’ll be relying on them to keep me clean and well-fed for the duration of the race.