Normally I live for the weekends. This weekend, however, CAN come too quickly for me. Not that there’s time to do anything about it. You see, the 2013 Scottish Ultra Marathon Series kicks off with the 33 mile D33 race this coming Saturday. This time last year I had run in excess of 400 miles, including plenty of long runs, and was actually looking forward to the event. On the day, I took a chunk out of my PB, smashing my 2011 time of 5:58:00 by some 22 minutes.
This time around, things are not looking quite so positive.
I haven’t been logging my run details quite so compulsively of late. I do still have the details of each run on various bits of paper scattered throughout the house but they have yet to make their way into SportTracks, my favoured software for keeping on top of mileage and all the associated details.
What I do know is that my total mileage for 2013 comes to no more than 130 miles so far, with no run in excess of 11 miles. Hardly the best preparation for the D33 or, indeed, for any of my other 2013 ultramarathons!
So why the lack of preparation? Why, with the D33 only days away have I not run further than only 1/3 of the total race distance?
Well, back in June 2012, days from participating in the West Highland Way Race, we found out that we were expecting our first child. Let me just save you the bother of doing the math – that gave us a due date of 20th February.
The chaos all started with some ‘nesting’, preparing the nursery for our new addition. Seeing the resulting dust and mess, we accelerated our plans for the house, sprucing up practically every room, and replacing the antiquated 30 year old kitchen. There was just no way we wanted to be doing this kind of thing once Bubbs arrived. The kitchen was finalised 2 weeks before the due date and our attentions then turned to unboxing and putting the house back together, made more stressful by the need for speed and our impending arrival.
With the house complete, I had hoped to get back in to long slow runs in preparation for the D33. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to venture too far from home, just in case! I didn’t want to find myself miles down the track with no way of getting home in a hurry!
As if we didn’t have enough on our plate, I had a cancer scare right before the birth. Not the kind of thing you want at any time, least of all with the birth of your first born looming. Thankfully, tests brought us the news we wanted and I could again turn my full attention to our new arrival.
Back to my master plan. Bubbs would arrive as expected on or around the 20th and I would start a month of paternity leave, giving me ample time not only to be the best dad possible but also to train and ‘catch up’ in time for the D33.
If you have any experience with newborns, please do feel free to rejoin us once you have stopped laughing at the naivety of the above ‘plan’. The reality has been something quite different.
Harris Robert Mackintosh finally joined us on the 28th February after a protracted birth that started some 5 days earlier. I can’t complain about the self inflicted pain resulting from running ultramarathons after witnessing what can only be described as a painful ‘ultra labour’, far exceeding anything that I have ever had to endure!
I will never forget the feeling of finally seeing my son, so tiny and covered in blood, being passed to his mum for the very first time. Words can’t adequately describe it, the emotion and intensity of it all, coupled with a feeling that the air had been sucked out of me as I tried to catch my breath. It certainly puts everything in perspective.
There was a time when I would have felt aggrieved at not getting out for my daily run. Now, I am happy just to make it through the day, to watch my son develop, and for my head to hit the pillow, even if it is only until the next nappy change or feed. While running will still play a part in my life, it certainly won’t have the same prominence as before. Priorities have changed. I knew that this would likely be the case, I just didn’t appreciate how comfortable I would feel with that change.
So, almost 12 days in now, the deluge of visitors (all very welcome I hasten to add) has subsided and we find ourselves redefining ‘normal’ when it comes to our new life. This normal certainly doesn’t include a decent 8 hours sleep, something that I relied upon to get me through the day and keep me training pre Bubbs!
Despite the lack of training, I will likely toe the start line for the D33 this weekend (as mad as that might seem!). I have resigned myself to the fact that this will most likely not be a PB performance and, in fact, if anything, it may well be a personal worst! I actually don’t mind. Given the circumstances, I will be glad just to grind out a finish. What’s more, the race is actually the best training opportunity that I have for the forthcoming 53 mile Highland Fling race, scheduled for April 27th.
A number of people have suggested that a DNF is definitely preferable to a DNS and, as much as I hate DNFs, it makes sense to at least give it a go. Hopefully muscle memory will save the day and see me through to the finish line! Only time will tell.
One thing that will be driving me forward on the day is the thought of getting home to my wife and son.
All the very best to everyone participating in the D33 this weekend.