I found this on an old blog and thought I would repost!
As a celebration of turning 30, I wanted to run 100 miles. So I did the event across the North Downs Way, organised by Centurion Running. I had previously entered their South Downs Way event in June but had to postpone due to shin splints. 3 months off running (due to too much on the roads in the winter) meant only 6 weeks of solid running to prepare. Not really enough, but my thinking was you could never fully prepare for a 100 mile run anyway! As it turned out, the NDW, though less elevation change, had finishing times around 2-3 hours slower than the SDW, for people that did both. I blame the steps! Endless steps both up and down made for slow going in the final 20 miles, just as you thought the end was in sight.
The event was pretty uneventful with no real dramas, which is what you want. Lots of nice scenery, a well-marked route and friendly, frequent aid stations ensured that I could tick by quite happily. Passing through 50 miles 50 minutes ahead of the course record for women’s 50 mile event was quite good, though my knee had started to twinge a lot. I noticed that if I didn’t stop then it didn’t hurt. Note to self, don’t stop! But it was a worry knowing I had 50 miles still to run on a grumbly knee. Ibuprofen and stubbornness were my saviour.
At mile 60, fellow B2P member and Centurion runner Alex Miller joined me for pace-making duties. This proved to be a massive help; navigating through the dark by myself after a whole day of running would have driven me slightly loopy on my own! I had been warned about hallucinations at night but didn’t get it too bad: only got one monster face flash before me and make me jump! Alex proved to be a sounding board for my frustrations at making such slow progress and he did have to contend with one too many tantrums, but he was very patient (having had experience of the 100 himself he knew he was in store for): I definitely owe him!
In terms of going into the unknown, it was 38 miles more than I had done before and many, many more hours. One of the key differences was the fact that the thought of any artificial food was repulsive! I must have had about 10 bananas, watermelon, apples and oranges (and coca cola to be fair did go down well) but anything else was a real struggle to contemplate. In that respect it was quite a nice feeling... running is very natural and all my body wanted was natural. I forced down some flapjack, gels and pretzel sticks, but whilst my stomach never got bad, it was a real struggle to eat enough, and that proved one of the biggest challenges. Ironman/ultrarunning: both have been described as simply an eating competition, and there is a lot of sense to this.
Finishing at 2 a.m having started at 6 a.m was surreal but when I was running we were still ticking over ok. I finished 5 hours before the next woman in 4th overall, apparently beating one or two male ultra running legends.
However, it wasn’t quite over yet. We had booked a B&B but decided to forgo this as it was so late, and stay on site on camp beds in a gazebo. Come 4 a.m though, it was freezing and I was shaking like a leaf, and decided enough was enough, so started to get up and make steps to get a taxi back to Alex’s car which was 40 miles away. Not having eaten enough and having got so cold, I stood up and immediately almost passed out! A couple of hours in the ambulance drinking sweet tea and being smothered in blankets with mild hypothermia, I was given the all clear to make my way home.
Would I do it again? Yes. The ultra running community is small and very supportive: you are stripped bare of any airs and graces and human spirit is there for all to see. It’s very simple and a real challenge. There is no hiding. I don’t know if I will go any further as that was tough! But I would like to get a fast time done on a flat course at some point. There are also so many places to do ultras and so many sights to see. I am sure that as long as injuries prevail, this is just the beginning.