Monday, August 27, 2012

Into The Unknown

The week of Dingle has arrived, much too soon for my liking. But I always knew that 8 weeks would not be enough between Bangor and Dingle, and I signed up for the Ultra anyway. I have absolutely no idea how this will go. I have read plenty of race reports where people ran immense races in similar circumstances and at least as many reports where the race was a complete disaster with a 20+ mile death march at the end. There's only one way to find out, and that's exactly what I'm going to do on Saturday.

Actually, I got a bit of a shock when reading the race web site and realising that this year there would only be one drop-off instead of two like last time. How we are supposed to race an ultra with only one drop off, after 24 miles, is a bit of a mystery to me. Sure, there will be the usual marathon aid stations, but they do not stock gels or sports drink. The sweets and bananas they offered 2 years ago only gave me stomach cramps.

I can carry a certain amount of gels with me and I will do a test run tomorrow to see how much I can put into my shorts without them falling down. An alternative is to use a bum bag, but I'd definitely prefer not to. Let's just say that I'm not too pleased. I'm even considering driving the route on Friday evening dropping off some stuff, but even if I do that there is no guarantee my supplies will still be there when I try to pick them up. That's not a problem I had to deal with in Bangor.

Saturday's group run was of the short and speedy variety. Normally I run the 5 miles to the meeting point but since I am tapering I used the car instead and since we only did just over 4 miles, it was a rather short outing. Anne is training for Valentia and pushed the pace; I think she has a good chance of winning her age group, but obviously that depends on who will be turning up.

I was back on the Kerry Way on Sunday for one last outing. The trail is still as muddy as ever, all the rain during the summer has clearly left its mark. The legs are taking the climb up to Windy Gap very well by now. I firmly believe that that road was fundamental for my great result in Bangor and am obviously hoping for a  similar result this time round.

The weather forecast for the weekend is encouraging, though 5 days out that's still with a great amount of uncertainty. The Dingle marathon has always been blessed with great weather; great for the spectators that is, not necessarily for the runners, but if you're running in such a magnificent environment a sunny day is definitely a plus.

Late Update: there will be a second drop-off at mile 36 after all. That makes things a lot easier.
25 Aug
4.6 miles, 34:27, 7:28 pace
26 Aug
12.25 miles, 1:46:31, 8:41 pace, HR 150
   Kerry Way, Windy Gap x 2
27 Aug
5 miles, 39:17, 7:51 pace, HR 138


  1. I always drop stuff off on races that I can get to the previous day. It can give you a good mental goal if you're suffering later on. My only tip is to make sure you stash the stuff in a place that is not likely to get mistaken for anything else (i.e. beside a telephone pole might seem like a good idea the night before but on race day you might realise that they all look the same!).

    Best of luck

  2. I'm currently investigating my options for my upcoming ultra as well. I sometimes carry up to 4.5kg on my back the first 15km or so but want to drastically reduce that. The race had drop off facilities always but it seems this year we don't have the option. That will mean a heavy load up the mountain for me. All the best with your final preparations.

  3. Get the missus to drive up towards the area and get her to wait for you in the car. you can treat her to a weekend away in a swany hotel with spa treatments and the like next month. failing that get a buddy or workmate to do it for you ;-)

  4. You should view the drop off policy as an opportunity to practice running with extra stuff, be it in a bum bag or a running rucksack. A number of ultras require you to carry clothing and emergency hit as well as your own nutrition so doing at Dingle would just be a gently for these more full on ultra's. Now you are beginning to get your trail legs you just know it must be time to try out a decent trail ultra ;-)

  5. Have a good one Thomas. Looking forward to your report (the first abreviated one ;)

  6. Dude, seriously, while I know you're not going to listen to me.... walk the hill! Walk the hill! Walk the hill!

    Well, OK, not the entire hill, but as I said two years ago, I think I ran 30-40% of it and power hiked the rest, while you ran the entire thing, and I recall you made something like 2 min 40 sec on me. Not. Worth. It. Too early to work those legs.

    Good luck!

    -Ken the American

    1. Thanks, Ken. I was thinking of you the other day. I won't make any promises, but I will keep your advice in mind. I may well walk at least the final, steepest part of Conor Pass.

  7. PS- I respectfully disagree with some of the other comments that you should carry a bunch of stuff. Running, and especially ultra running, is the Venn Diagram intersection of Physiology and Physics. Both of those are affected negatively by weight. The tradeoff happens when you need water/food (+ for physiology)which adds weight (- for both). You need ~ 300 cal/hour. That's not THAT much weight in gels, especially if you can pick up at the summit and 36-ish miles.

    Yes, I carry a pack-style for 100s, but for a 50 with two drop bags, as long as the weather is (relatively) good, you shouldn't need one. If you do take one, keep it as light as possible. Train for carrying larger loads for other ultras during your training, not your races.