I was so thrilled when I found out I had been invited to compete in the 50km World Championships trial in China. The race was the Lake Fuxian 50km Ultra and it doubled as a trial for the World Championships 2017. It attracted some incredibly talented elite athletes (I don’t consider myself to be one of them!), and I was just honoured to be able to share the same start line as them.
The month leading up to the race had been sub-optimal training wise as it consisted of:
- Two weeks of recovery from the UTMB OCC race (57km with 3,500m of elevation gain) I had completed in the Alps earlier in the month. My quads were really sore and my cardio vascular system felt tired. I had no choice than to give my body some rest and recovery to allow my muscles to rebuild.
- One week in bed with cold/flu type illness which led to only very limited training
- One week taper in China before the race
So based on my recent training, I was simply questioning whether I could get around the course. I knew I would have to rely on my deeper foundation of endurance fitness, which I have been working on over the last year of training and hard work.
Also, by glancing at the start list, I knew the level of the international runners was really high. My initial goal was to run my own race at my own pace, and not worry about my ranking and other fellow runners. I was literally worried that I’d come last!
As one of the “invited runners” and we were all very fortunate to be put up in the same location, the beautiful Hilton hotel in Fuxi, for the week preceding the race. So I was lucky to meet and hang out with some of other runners from all over the world (runners from 20 countries had been invited!). How special but also how petrifying for me! I could see all the other athletes, who had all run for their countries, walking around the hotel compound in their country’s racing gear. I was intimated, I felt out of my league and outside my comfort zone.
On the other hand, deep down, I also felt strong and eager. The beauty of the situation was that I had nothing to lose.
And so came race day, I was so eager to give it everything I had.
The hour before the race was really memorable and I spent it mainly with my new friend and fellow runner, Abi from Nigeria. We kept being asked to have our photo taken. We had a good laugh as it’s not something which normally happens to us (we aren’t exactly Paula Radcliffe haha!). This distracted me and so I was really relaxed when the gun went off.
As usual, with the adrenaline, I started a bit too fast, especially considering the altitude and the heat. The course was at altitude, between 1,765m and 1,910m. The temperatures reached 24C and the humidity was very high (93%).
The first 10km felt hard as it seemed I couldn’t breathe enough air, However eventually, I settled into my pace. It was a tough course made even tougher by the external conditions, but I felt good. The highest point of the race was approximately half way through (26km), so when I saw the sign at the highest point, I knew the hardest was done!
I just had to hang on for the second half. And that thought alone give me a second wind and positive energy. In the last 5km, I was battling really hard and I was deep in the pain cave. It was now down to a mental battle with myself. I decided to ignore the pain signals being sent by my brain at every stride, and pushed my body as hard as I could. I was on a mission. I increased my ranking by 3 positions in the last 5km of the race, finishing 11th woman! I have never pushed so hard at the end of an endurance event!
I was so happy at the finish that I teared up, and then I nearly collapsed of fatigue. I managed to direct myself to the massage tent. It was the only shaded area I could see, and you could lie down on the floor… Just perfect! It looked so inviting to my exhausted and overheated body. I laid there having a massage for what seemed like an hour (maybe I fell asleep?).
Needless to say I had given my all a massive effort.
I’m very pleased with my recovery post-race, considering I raced hard for two 50km+ events in a single month. I expected to be limping around the day after the race, I was really pleased to be back out doing an easy run only a few days later.
For my recovery, I have focused mainly on the following:
- Having food straight after the finish. On this occasion, I just ate whatever I could get my hands on: I was offered cucumber (that’s a first!), banana and chocolate. I made sure I had a wholesome meal as soon as I got back to the hotel.
- Using a recovery spray on my legs straight after the race.
- Drinking lots of water and electrolytes for at least 24 hours after the race, especially as it was hot and humid to rehydrate.
- Swimming: I had a very very easy “swim” in the cold pool water in the afternoon after the race, which felt really nice.
Days/weeks following the race:
- More swimming: I swam as much as possible in the days following the race. I swam for an hour the morning after the race (to the bemusement of some of my fellow runners who asked if I hadn’t done enough sport the day prior haha!).
- Wearing compression socks and elevating my feet when possible. Especially during and straight after the long flight back to the UK, during which my sore legs had swelled considerably.
- Eating healthy food: I felt really hungry and depleted for days after the race. I made a special effort to have plenty of nutritious and wholesome food to replenish my body.
- Cycling: I incorporated easy rides, especially in the couple of weeks following the race, to get the lactic acid moving without any impact on my joints.
Now, with the off season, time to focus on (more!) rest, cross training and a little bit of swimming/cycling/running (I can’t resist!).
Thanks to Kirens Sports and China Athletic Association for organising a fantastic event and for their welcome and generosity.
As always, thanks to all my partners, without them none of this would have been possible: CimAlp,Totally Wonderfuel, 9Endurance, Ali coaching at Delta Nutrition and Fitness.
#dare2be #dare2dream #followyourpassion