In these last three days before the Town and Tube¬†100K Fat Ass I’m taking some time off my feet and getting myself prepared for the first ultra run of the year. It makes a change not to be out and running at 5am after fifty consecutive days of running¬†since returning from our Christmas in Picardie but one thing that hasn’t changed is my morning routine of waking up and getting things done early.

This morning I had two goals to achieve before rousing Jamie from his bed at 7am to get ready for school.

The first was to do my morning exercise which, as I am not running, amounted to my daily core exercises. Today was the first day of the third week of these exercises and this meant I upped the number of crunches (from 133 to 166) and the length of the planks (40 second to 50 seconds) as I continue my progression towards the end of the month. I got them out of the way fast, took a shower, and got myself dressed and ready to hit my second goal of the morning: preparation.

Preparing for the Town and Tube is a little different to preparing for other ultras races and runs I have completed, principally:

  • unlike in the Ploeren 12 Hour I don’t have to travel as the start/finish line is mere meters from my front door
  • unlike the Saint Fons 6 Hour I don’t have an aid station to rely on
  • unlike the CIEC 6 Hour I don’t have a crew on hand for the entire day
  • unlike the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra I won’t be finished in just six hours
  • unlike the Thames Path I don’t have to carry everything to sustain me from the start
  • unlike the 100km de la Somme I don’t have to race for a finishing time
  • unlike the Saintelyon I don’t have to worry about carrying survival gear ‘just in case’

The fact that I’ll be running laps of an urban course with time on each loop to stop, rest, eat, drink, and even change clothes if I feel like it means that, in some senses, this is a far easier run to manage logistically. In terms of nutrition there are a couple of challenges that might arise from attempting to run on the No Sugar, No Grain (NSNG) diet, but these are manageable. I’ll never be more than a few minutes from water, food, or more than about 20 minutes from home in case it all goes pear-shaped.

Instead, the biggest question is going to be strategy – and here’s why.

town-and-tube

I’ve run this loop a couple of times in training and have done so in 33:00 minutes and 34:00 minutes¬†respectively. Knowing that I am going to start my loops on the hour, running at this pace means I am going to have 27 or 26 minutes of not running each lap, and that might not be a good thing. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of value in getting warmed up…and then getting cooled down again every hour. What’s more – and especially in the early morning – getting cooled down amounts to being in the real cold, and that’s not a smart idea.

On the other hand, slowing right down and running at a pace that gets me through a loop in 50 or 55 minutes might have it’s own problems. Not only would it be very unusual for me to be running this slow, it might do more harm than good to artificially slow down to near walking pace. What’s more, I would have only five minutes at the end of the lap to refuel and make any changes I need to make. That said, I would not be getting cold between loops as I would be close to the hour mark each time.

My guess – and that’s all it can be as it is the first time I have run in this way – would be somewhere between those two speeds. If I can slow down to 6:00 pace then I’ll get through the loops in about 39 or 40 minutes. Considering that the final section along the Rue du President Edouard Herriot is likely to be choked with pedestrians by the late morning and clogged with the same by the afternoon, aiming for a 40 minute time might mean finishing in 42 or 43 minutes after the crowd is negotiated. A nice 15 to 18 minute break between loops should be plenty to get prepared for the next loop and leave on time. I also assumed that, with time, I’ll slow down a little, too. As much as I can make a plan for this sort of run, I think this is the one I am going to go for.

Hence, as I started the final planning this morning, I came up with the following schedule for the 16 loops:

  1. 5:00am to 5:40am – 6.5K
  2. 6:00am to 6:40am – 13K
  3. 7:00am to 7:40am – 19.5K
  4. 8:00am to 8:40am – 26K
  5. 9:00am to 9:40am – 32.5K
  6. 10:00am to 10:40am – 39K
  7. 11:00am to 11:45am – 45.5K (42.2K by about 11:20am)
  8. 12:00pm to 12:45pm – 52K
  9. 1:00pm to 1:45pm – 58.5K
  10. 2:00pm to 2:45pm – 65K
  11. 3:00pm to 3:45pm – 71.5K
  12. 4:00pm to 4:45pm – 78K
  13. 5:00pm to 5:45pm – 84.5K (50 Mile by about 5:15pm)
  14. 6:00pm to 6:50pm – 91K
  15. 7:00pm to 7:50pm – 97.5K
  16. 8:00pm to 8:55pm – 104K (100K by about 8:20pm)

It’s going to be a long day and I am sure those ‘exactly 40 minute’ or ‘exactly 45 minute’ loops are going to be off one way or the other, but it seems like a reasonable plan to get started with and, if I can execute, will be the basis for a nice first ultra finish of the year.

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