I had a plan for this year, that I set up in March, and that was to run my first ultra in August. It seemed like a good amount of time to train for it properly. But it didn’t take long before that plan was revised, not that the ultra-thing was taken away but when I was in London for marathon weekend the lovely Maxine invited me to come with her to the Peak District Challenge in mid-July. That meant 5 weeks less training and a 5k longer race. It was a stupid idea and of course I went for it. I’m not known to make smart decisions when it comes to running, at least they often don’t seem smart for other people. For me this decision meant travel was way easier (that is strange but yes, it was easier to go to the UK from Sweden than to travel 300 miles by train in Sweden). I would also have company for the entire weekend and hopefully for parts of the run. I got the opportunity to have a nice vacation in the UK since my hubby had to work most of the summer and couldn’t go away with me. So the shortened time for training was worth it all things considered.
Jump ahead a little and after weeks of research about poles, panic over shoes and gear and panic over lack of training, I was finally packed and ready to go. I worked up to the very last minute before I headed to the airport, not the most relaxed start of a holiday but I was only happy I got the extra day off so I could go at all.
I had no rush at the airport, all went smoothly, and I had lots of time for that extra bit of carb loading. It helps that I live on the land of fika. =D My flight was uneventful and I landed on Gatwick pretty much on time. And then I had the smoothest way through the airport, within 30 minutes from touchdown I was on the train to London. Brilliant! For the easiest logistics in the morning I was spending the night in Stratford. It was a warm summer evening and I found my hotel easily and then timed the walk back to the train station when I went to get some dinner. I expected it would all go just as smooth in the morning. (clue, it didn’t!)
Burger and milkshake in bed (my thing when I’m in London by myself) and then sleep. I was totally exhausted, that thing about sleeping well the week before a big race had not gone to plan this time.
In the morning I thought as always that I had lots of time but that last minute packing (how much can you unpack for just one night???) took it’s time and I was in quite a hurry to the train station. I catched a bus outside the hotel which saved me a few minutes and when I got to the station I looked at the board and found the train. Or at least that’s what I thought. On the platform I got the feeling that something was not quite right and double checked on my phone. I was on the wrong platform and the train I was supposed to catch was leaving in 2 minutes. Panic! Running up and down stairs with a fully packed bag is not nice I can tell you that. I came to the right platform just as the train left. Sh*t sh*t sh*t! Not the best start! The next train left half an hour later so at least it gave me time to sort some breakfast to eat on the train (more carrying the bag up and down the stairs) and then I waited on the right platform until the train came.
So nice to see Max again, and the first thing we did was go to McDonalds to eat some more breakfast. =D Great minds think alike, we were in the mood for a lot of food this weekend. Then back on the road an we headed north and actually didn’t stop for anymore food on the way. Mind you, we had two large bags with snacks, just to be sure we didn’t get too hungry. =D
We arrived in Chesterfield just after lunch, earlier than expected because the traffic wasn’t too bad. The hotel sorted us a room even though we were before check in time, very thankful for that. I spend the weekend on a sofa bed that wasn’t really a sofa bed. Never really understood that, I slept like a log anyway. We stayed in Chesterfield because the race provided shuttles there during the Saturday which meant I could go back for a proper shower and a rest while Max was out on the second half. Very convenient for me, but the drive there and back was not that great so lesson learned, always try to find accomodation close to finish!
Before heading to Bakewell for registration we went through our kits and sorted out what to carry, what to put in drop bags (we didn’t have to actually drop the bags since start, halfway and finish were in the same place so we had everything in the car, but you get the point) and what to leave at the hotel. I had tried not to pack too much unnecessary things, but still left quite a bit of kit at the hotel.
Then we took our first journey to Bakewell that weekend. Arrived at registration, I didn’t expect an easy registration since they seemed to have lost me from the start list so I suddenly wasn’t on the list and tracker. I had phoned them the day before and they assured me I was in the system, but still a bit of worry that you just don’t want before your first ultra. But to my great surprise my number was there so everything went fine. I still wasn’t on the tracker though but the staff said it would probably be solved in the morning. (it was not)
After getting our kits, our nice pink shirts and all that Max surprised me with the Realbuzz baton. I had never carried it before and you never know when you will get the honour so I was surprised and overwhelmed when she handed it to me. It also came with a lovely note from Kathy, that also had a twist which I will get back to later, and it was a bit emotional to read it. It felt like the baton was the rocketfuel I needed, you pretty much can’t fail when you have the baton, it is full of magic and superpower from the people who have carried it earlier (And maybe some of Gerrys puke =D).
In all the kit sorting and registration bonanza we had sort of forgot about proper lunch. So instead we went for an early dinner at a pub in Bakewell. Lasagna and garlic bread with a pint of cider felt like a good choice. We sat outside, the weather was nice at first but then went a little overcast so it actually got a bit cold later on. Before leaving Bakewell we went to Co-op to fix what we needed for breakfast the next day, mostly bananas and porridge for me, that of course tastes awful in the early morning but it wasn’t a lot to choose from when you needed to eat at 5am.
Back to the hotel again, the journey took about 25 mins which felt ok the first times but not the last haha. Last minute kit sorting and then we tried to go to bed, much too late but as always before a big race it’s difficult to relax and go to sleep. I think I did get like 5 hours of sleep so it wasn’t too bad but I would of course prefered 7 or 8 hours. We had a long day ahead of us.
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