It has been ten years since my last RacingThePlanet race. That was the RacingThePlanet Ultramarathon in Namibia in 2009. In that race I was the 1st lady and 4th overall - I was privileged to finish behind Ryan Sandes and Marco Olmo, both ultra running icons. I also completed the Gobi March in 2007 where I finished joint 2nd overall with my husband Steve. These races were my first desert ultras, so the results were as much of a shock to me as anyone!
Much time and little running has passed since those days! Our son, George arrived in 2011 and since that time I've only run short distances. When RacingThePlanet asked if I was interested in running in Namibia in 2019 I initially dismissed the idea. No time to train, no way to scrape together the kit I'll need, no miles or speed left .........but then, as someone (un)helpfully pointed out to me, I reach a rather scary age milestone next year and I'd always said that in order to avoid an awful surprise party or similar, I'd far rather do a big challenge of some kind. It will also be 10 years since my last long race so the numbers seemed to stack up and I thought - ok lets do it!
So, here I find myself, trembling in my shoes but very excited, and signed up to return to Namibia for another RacingThePlanet Race .
As I mentioned above, over the past ten years I have have had George, who is now 6.5 years old, focused on my family, continued my career....and of course, gained a decade in age.I have also hardly run more than 10km at a time - so this really will be a huge and daunting challenge. My husband travels a lot so juggling domestics and work makes finding time to train really tricky.
For this reason, my goal this time is simply to get myself to the finish line in one piece - to finish and enjoy myself. For me, at this point in time, that will be as much of, if not more than, the achievement of winning was in the past. Whilst not being able to train to be competitive will feel sad and hard, I'm also really looking forward to being able to have a more relaxed approach to the run, to running as part of the pack, meeting more people along the way and having the time to soak up the beautiful country (I will be taking a small camera, where worrying about pack weight in the past, I'd never have allowed myself that luxury!).
I will have to re-learn all the details of preparing for a 250km Stage Race in the Desert. How to train, how to find the time to train, what to eat, what equipment to choose, how to ensure that everything is taken of at home while I am away, etc. I'm really intrigued, if not a little anxious, to see whether zero to desert, with less than desirable training, is possible for me.
In this blog I'll take those who wish to come on that journey with me.
For the next couple of months I plan to spend time getting back in to running more regularly; with the long school summer holidays looming and no outside child care, runs will remain short and will be accompanied by a 6 year old on his bike and a dog! Hopefully at weekends I can build up some distance but I'm not planning to go more than 16'ish miles until after the holidays. I'm prone to stress fractures in my metatarsals, so whilst the temptation is there to ramp up miles and see whether I can still run far, I need to be disciplined and build up slowly.
In my next blog I'll talk a bit about my experiences on the previous two RacingThePlanet races. For now, I had better put my money where my mouth it, put on my running shoes and get out there!