This event was billed as the Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 50 and 100km races. I had spotted it in February in a running bible that was lying around the house and had decided that it would be the perfect follow up to the 1o0km de Vendee as it fell exactly 4 weeks after. I hadn't banked on the fact that the weeks building up to it would be hampered by injury, exhaustion and a lack of motivation that completely took me by surprise.
It is true in all walks of life that after the build up (and completion) of an event there follows the inevitable low. The days of restlessness after long, intense periods of activity are hard to grasp. After the 100km I found myself inactive on the running front and hyper busy on the Autism front. My equilibrium tilted. The yang to my yin put on the back burner if you will. Add to that my Achilles tendon niggles and you end up with a few doubts regarding the next race. But don't get me wrong, its not all doom and gloom, the lack of running did allow me some time to tie up other odds and ends that needed seeing to. I attended an Autism communication course in Normandy for a day and found out some new and interesting approaches to aid Pearl. Alicia and I had a long and overdue meeting with the Mayor to discuss his commitment to helping our plight and the fact that we have done our area a lot of good through positive stories in the French media did not go unnoticed. Apparently he follows the blogs and site so its a good start. Add into the mix the changes in Pearls therapy sessions and the potty training, well, our hands have been quite full.
So in order to fully prepare myself of the 50k I did the obvious pre-race resting by going to see Muse in Stade de France the night before. The gig was epic but after a few hours sleep I was gobbling down a bowl of pasta for breakfast and thinking to myself "Am I gonna finish this today?" I had my doubts. After an hour plus on the train and a mile walk to the centre of Bois (Woods) de Vincennes, I found the place a hive of activity. The 100km event had started at 7am and runners laps were being called out to them as they passed, this was 11am and the mercury was already rising. The course was a 1.6km loop and the main hub was a triangular shaped grass covered area with tables lined up at the start/finish line. There were officials and time keepers milling around and both races would be on the same loop for the day. An aid station was being kept busy with runners picking up much needed refreshment and the heat was clearly taking its toll, I could hear one guy saying he was done after 28 laps, the ramaining 34 too much to contemplate. So after taking in my surroundings and getting my race number I chatted away the remaining time and with the other runners and at mid-day we were off. 31 laps ahead of us.
The tempo was pretty high from the start and after 7-8 laps the pack had completely split with two guys in the lead and about ten others, including myself, about 15 seconds behind. I was pretty concerned about the pace as I didn't want my Achilles tendon to flare up too early and have to abandon altogether. As some of the others pushed to the front and upped the pace even more it was decision time for me, do I stay with them and risk burning out half way through or run my own race and risk not catching them later? I decided that patience was going to have to be the order of the day and as the group splintered I found myself with five others. Somewhere around the half way point I was trying to work out in my head how many guys were in front of our group, but by this stage it was 30 degrees and all I wanted to do was jump into the stream we passed by every 6-7 minutes. At about thirty km I could feel the struggle begin, my mind veered off its task and even though my legs were in a nice smooth rhythm I was becoming more and more distracted. The voices in my head were telling me to ease up, to not worry about where I finished as I had done enough already. These kind of mind games always seem to start about two thirds of the way in for me and I have to re-group and realise that I signed up for this and to stop bitching and just get the job done. Passing the tables the team called out "eight laps left Malcolm". After hearing those four words I was suddenly shaken out of the trance I was in and made one final pit stop to refuel, grabbing a handful of cooked potatoes and dousing them in salt I washed them down with a large isotonic drink and legged it. Suddenly the group got smaller and I pushed as hard as I could, after five laps I found myself alone and passing a few that had been in the pack earlier on. Some of them were walking up the hill towards the finish and sponging themselves with cold water. The next thing I know my time keeper Dave, a really cool English guy, is ringing the bell for my last lap. I cant believe it, I am 1.6km from the end. Talk about a red rag to a bull, I must have completed that last lap in my fastest time because before I knew it I was hammering up the final stretch under banner.
Dave came over to me and checked if I needed any water and told me it was indeed my fastest lap of the day. I was pretty chuffed with the race as my legs felt alright and I spent the next ten minutes just stretching and walking around, very tempted to jump in the stream. I had a chat to some of the guys who had been with me earlier and four of them had abandoned, two of them regretting pushing it too hard too early. I was glad I had stuck to my own plan in the end.
The presentations were made to the 1ookm winners and the first seven across the line were called up to receive their certificates and say a few words. Then for the 50km the organiser was glad to announce that the winner, Juilen, had broken the race record in a time of 3h 43' 39'. When the presenter announced "In seventh place Malcolm Mc, Mc, Mc (not able to pronounce my surname)....." I was very surprised. I had finished much higher than I had expected. My time was 4:42:47 and after a quick photo and hand shake it was all over for the day. I hung around for a while to cheer on some of the other heroes still on the course. I must say thanks to the Sri Chinmoy team who put on a tremendous day, lots of encouragement, food and drinks and an ambiance like no other race I have been to. It may not have been a race full of elite marathoners but everyone left feeling like a champion and that's the point in my opinion, that everyone should be equally appreciated and commended for giving it their best shot.
I am now taking two weeks out from running and have a few smaller races in the upcoming months, I am however plotting my next major event for Oct/Nov and it will be my biggest undertaking so far, you have my word. I have only posted one photo above as I forgot my camera on the day but will publish some on facebook once they are available from the organisers website. You can see the results here by scrolling down the page halfway.
That's it friends, see you round the bend.
(Very special thanks to my Mum Florrie and sis Alison who were the subject of last weeks blog, they raised 600 euros for Autism throught their 10k run. Alison now has her sights set on the Marathon)