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DNF at the Thames Path 100 (TP100)

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DNF at the Thames Path 100 (TP100)

Yesterday I attempted my first 100-miler, running the Thames Path 100 (TP100) along the course of the Thames from Richmond to Oxford. 

I was going to write that things didn't go as planned but there was precious little evidence of a plan beforehand though finishing the race would certainly have been in there had there been.

To cut to the chase I ended up dropping out at the Henley checkpoint 51 miles into it having struggled to get into any sort of rhythm or indeed take any pleasure in the race almost from the start.  If you're a runner you will have had days when your legs feel lifeless, heavy and inflexible.  I can't recall ever one of those coinciding with a major race, maybe because of all the tapering but that got me yesterday.

It's hard to report a DNF when the support before, during and after the race from all quarters - especially Twitter - has been absolutely immense and I'm extremely grateful for that.  It makes me more determined than ever to justify it in the future.

Race day was pretty much perfect weather - sunny and about 14 degrees C at peak and almost no wind.  The course is basically flat and had dried out from the flooding earlier in the year to leave a good running surface.  For once there's no need to navigate with only a handful of small deviations from the towpath.  So it wasn't that!

Living alongside the route, I've run the first half many times.  I thought this would be an advantage but in the event it didn't help.  It was a distraction to run past my own house half a mile before the 3rd checkpoint at Dorney.  It just felt somehow wrong to be carrying on past it in some corner of my mind and things weren't going well anyway.

I didn't have any issues with nutrition - 51 miles is probably too early for those to kick in anyway - and was forcing myself to eat a fair amount at each aid station.  Similarly I think I was taking in enough water and using an S!Caps tablet every hour to replace electrolytes and salt. 

I was in a lot of discomfort from 20 miles on.. I felt like I had 40 miles in the legs and once you start thinking 'you've another 80 to go' it becomes a big problem.

At 51 miles after much agonising I decided I'd had enough.  To push yourself through the night you have to be taking something from the run and on the day I wasn't sufficiently motivated to carry on.  I have Comrades in 4 weeks and it was clear a 100 finish would have written that off completely.  You can't schedule major races so close together I've learned.  You can only commit to one thing at a time.

How naive to think I could finish a 100 and run Comrades within 4 weeks! As it stands I am hoping the legs will recover in time and allow a strong effort in South Africa.  51 miles is a bit long for a last training run but it could prove positive.

So I've learnt a lot about just how hard the 100 is.  You have to be able to eke out your resources efficiently and it is absolutely a mental challenge above all.  If anything I am irritated most with myself for not committing to this 100% up front and on the day despite the legs not playing ball, it was my head that let me down.

I have a 24-hour solo race in July at the Thunder Run and after that I'll decide when and where to have another go at the distance.

Onwards and upwards.
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