Northumberland Ultra: Pre-race prep

Our first race of the year (and my first race in 2 years) is this Saturday. Postponed from February I finally get to run the 36 mile Northumberland Ultra with Iain 😍 And I am a little nervous…I am as prepared as I can be and know I can run the distance – the big question is how fast? I haven’t ever really run on sand and there is a fair amount of beach/dune path running – how much will it slow me down? My fastest ever marathon distance is 4hr 37min – but I can’t consistently run that far at that pace – will I be able to in a race and keep something in the tank for the last 10miles? I ran 35miles in December in 7hrs – is it unrealistic to hope to improve on that time (even with the sand???). I am being confident and hoping I can run the first 26miles in under 4hr 30 min for a new marathon PB and then keep a decent pace for the last ten – 6hr 30min finish time is the target. Positive mental attitude goes a long way (and lots of food 😁)!

It’s interesting how differently Iain and I like to fuel on longer runs. When I first started running further I copied what Iain used – a lot of SIS gels, jelly sweets, cashew nuts and dried fruit mix! But I have found that if I have too many gels and sugar I get terrible stomach cramps at about 18-20 miles in which isn’t much fun, so I have started trying different foods. I have found that I love Nature Valley cereal bars – they are easy to eat while running and satisfy my need for ‘real’ food. I also like Kallø corn cakes (like rice cakes but made with corn) with peanut butter – slightly harder to eat while running but great if you know there is a hill you are going to be walking up (so maybe not this run)! I do share Iain’s love of cashews and dried fruit as a quick snack every couple of miles and tend to keep some in a waist pocket of my bag for easy access. I also find I get a surprising mental boost from a banana later in the race!

A recent exciting discovery of mine is that the Kendal Mint Cake company are now making energy gels and a Kendal Mint Cake bar with added electrolytes and vitamins under the brand KMC NRG – both vegan and gluten free. I had to order some! I have tried them both in the middle of shorter runs to check they don’t disagree with me and can’t wait to try them on the ultra (a review will then follow!).

We have decided we are going to carry 2L of fluid each so we can reduce the number of aid stations we need to use. This is mainly because with COVID precautions in place and a 1 person at a time policy we were unsure if there would be queues! We are both used to carrying plenty of fluids as we have been running a few longer runs fully self-sufficient. We will have to wait and see if it is a good plan or not!

Otherwise the kit list isn’t too long, and the weather forecast looks good 3 days out. Race numbers have arrived, so we are good to go! I am counting down the days 😀

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