Earlier in the week I made a last minute decision to email the director of The Wilmot Wander–a LDWA 32 mile event open to both walkers and runners–and asked if on the day entry would be available. It was and for the same price as entering in advance, a very reasonable £12! Several of my friends had already entered and prior to me fracturing the metatarsal back in October had been trying to convince me to enter as well.
Of course we all thought that would be impossible considering the bone still hasn’t completely healed but after Friday’s appointment where we were unable to get an x-ray on the progress due to the computers being down and the doctor after a desultory prodding and poking at the foot asked if I was back to normal activities–yes, I am–and was I able to return to running–again another yes. He then said that there was no need to return and that if I could run on it then obviously it was ok. Of course my first thought was obviously he doesn’t know many runners and the level of pain they are willing to endure in order to keep running! Please don’t take that as I’ve been running in pain this past month though, the only issues I’ve been having is a bit of aching if it’s been a very long day of activity–most of my work now consists of being on my feet all day between the dog walking, leading Nordic Walking sessions and doing personal training sessions 3 nights a week.
I decided that since I had an injury (oddly enough none were caused by running!) nearly every time I’ve tackled a distance event that I would just go ahead and do this one without any advance planning. Never mind that my longest day of running/walking since mid-October has been 13.5 miles! My reasoning was that because I’ve been doing a LOT of HIIT strength and core training plus do spend a good portion of the day on my feet walking that I should be able to get through this if I didn’t put any time or performance pressures on myself. Would I recommend this method to anyone else? My answer is that it depends…if the HIIT training has truly been high intensity and more than once a week and there’s a reasonable amount of running then yes I would say go for it.
Anyway back to the Wilmot Wander…this is NOT a personal best sort of course but wow, was it varied, interesting, fun and very very very muddy! First off unless you are running or walking with someone who knows the course well it does require self-navigation. They do provide a map and written directions but a recce would definitely be advised if at all possible. There are many stiles, kissing gates, and a couple of busy roads to get across. The mud is knee-deep in a handful of spots but mostly ankle-deep for the majority of the course. You do get sections of tarmac for those who like that sort of thing but I usually prefer the mud.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the course–the only part I didn’t like was a seemingly endless section (approximately 4 miles) along a canal towpath that was the kind of mud you can’t get a grip on and there was no escaping it. Other than that miserable part I felt great and then seeing my partner at the end of it totally made my day–I didn’t know whether to smile or cry!
I also broke another cardinal rule today and that’s not doing anything new on race day but since I was looking at this as a just get around the course event I felt fairly safe in using it as a time to experiment with my nutrition–of course I also had taken 2 Imodium after my porridge, banana, and coffee this morning and brought along extra in my rucksack! I do think I finally nailed it for the longer and slower events though, I mixed in a tablespoon of chia seeds into a 1/4 cup/30 ml of water plus a bit of sea salt last night in a small flask and would take a swig of it every 30-45 minutes plus did a half of a Acai-Pomegranate HoneyStinger gel every other time I did the chia seed gel mix. Water I minimised because I tend to get a dodgy tummy if I drink too much of it. I also had 3 toffee candies at different times plus each checkpoint I would eat a biscuit. At the last checkpoint I also had half a cup of coffee–felt I deserved it for surviving the canal towpath skating session! I wouldn’t recommend this for hot days or fast races but it worked for today’s laid-back slog. I do have to note that I’ve done the home-made chia seed gel mixture before so knew how my system would react but it’s been a few years back.
All the checkpoints had biscuits, coffee, water, squash, and jelly babies plus very friendly volunteers. My only comment here was that perhaps some crisps for the savoury would be a nice change from all the sweet. The after-event spread was awesome though. Lots of cakes, bread with chunks of cheese, and your choice of chicken or vegetable soup plus all the coffee and tea you could want for. Absolutely first rate!
A huge thank you and well-done goes out to the organisers and volunteers plus my awesomely lovely friends who kept checking to make sure I was ok while we were running today. FYI, one of them had his 51st birthday last week and wore a balloon the entire 32 miles! Lots of Happy Birthdays and chatting as a result 🙂
Oh and I finally completed my first ultra!