Sunday, February 18, 2018

In the dark

Not as in being kept in the dark but actually running in the dark!

This was an event to get a feel for running in total darkness for several hours, wearing a headtorch and carrying a small hand-held torch. I was also using it to test my night-time pacing.

The event, which used the same route we will be running for my latest Challenge, started at 3pm and had an 8 hour time limit. This meant we only had 2 laps in daylight before we needed to carry torches etc. I was slightly nervous, no very nervous, about the dark section as the route has many potential trip hazards in the form of slippery slopes, tree roots, loose stones and uneven surfaces so I knew I needed to be extra careful.

It was a beautiful but chilly day and I'd taken extra layers to add for when the sun went down. I'm very glad I did as when I finished the car was frosted over.

I didn't take my camera with me so the following photos come courtesy of fellow runner Sharon (thanks for sharing).

The route was on farmland and basecamp was in a giant barn

Each lap was 6.25 miles so that meant 4 laps plus a short loop for marathon distance or 5+ laps for an ultra. When we set out I hadn't decided which to go for so kept my options open.

The route was a mixture of muddy trail with concrete tracks

Kirsty demonstrating her water-jumping skills!

I wasn't sure whether to go out faster for the daylight laps and then adopt my slower night-time pace or to start slower right from the start. I chose the second option and settled into my chosen pace quite easily with added walk breaks for the really muddy/slippery sections.

It was lovely watching the sun go down and it was fascinating feeling the sudden drop in temperature. 

After lap 2 I exchanged my usual baseball cap for a warmer option without a peak but with earflaps, added a neck buff, another outer layer, thicker gloves, headtorch and handheld torch. This was the scary bit for me as my eyesight is challenging in dim conditions. However, what I found was that I coped better with a lower light setting on both torches than with them on a really bright setting. No idea why but it seemed to work.

I also wanted to see how I felt running on my own in the dark even though in my final event I will be buddying up with someone for the night section. Amazingly I felt OK and actually enjoyed letting my mind wander and spotting night creatures peeping out from the undergrowth. I spotted the sweetest little mouse in a verge and a beautiful Barn Owl out hunting along the ditches (I thought it was a bit cold but he must have been hungry).

At the end of lap 4 my time was 5:45 and Rachel asked me if I was going out for an extra lap or stopping at marathon distance. After a few moments thought I decided to stick with a marathon as I'd achieved what I wanted and so I trotted out for a short 1.75 loop to make up the distance, coming in at 6:01. This also meant that I could head for home before the pubs closed and there would be more  traffic so the roads were quite quiet and I made good time getting home.

Marathon 142 done and dusted.

Next weekend I have another marathon as a training run and then I'll be counting down to the main event. The Press Release from ARUK should go out at the end of next week and then I'll be announcing it officially on here.

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