I appear to be taking part in Centurion’s Piece of String race this Friday. The premise is pretty simple. You turn up and they tell you to start running. You don’t know where to, or for how long, but you keep running until they tell you to stop. They could make me run 500m down a road and chuck me in a van for 3 hours then throw me out again. They might not. It could be 10km. It could be 1 mile. It could be 100km. It could be 150 miles. It could be any fucking distance. I am mainly worried about James Elsons mental state post Barkely and I am really hoping he hasn’t picked up any tips. Also, because people like pictures, I have included pictures of really shitty things I have done to break up the text and remind me that “it could be worse”. Lowlights of a “running career” if you will.
Billed as “a fun run”, POS (Piece of Shit as my boyfriend has casually been referring to it) has been running on and off since 2014. This is the fourth edition. There is very little written about it on the internetz. Maybe that’s because people just want to forget the whole sorry story, or their therapists have recommended not reliving it for fear the PTSD will become too much. To date, I believe there have only been 5 finishers. At this moment in time, I don’t believe that I will be joining them. I feel totally out of my depth.
Onto the entry list. Here it is.
I do not understand what “class” means. Won’t somebody PLEASE HELP ME? Also please note, once again, I am the only woman on this list. I have done some digging on these people. I am very in-experienced and rubbish compared to a lot of them.
Let’s have a look at the rules shall we? Even POS has to have rules.
1. We will ensure you have access to water at regular intervals. These water stops count as timing points too. You must leave each timing point within 4 hours of the time at which the leader departed. If you miss that window you will be cut off and withdrawn and dispatched into the civilised world. (Very likely)
2. You need to carry the kit and maps we tell you to carry, at all times. (I can’t read maps very well*)
3. No cheating.(How can you cheat when you don’t understand the bloody race?)
The last POS was in 2014. There is no race report from that year. Maybe due to legal implications. Maybe because they didn’t want to let people know where to find the bodies. I don’t fucking know. It’s not very helpful. Let’s take a look at the race report from the year before shall we? Actually, let’s not, it makes me feel sick. Basically 2013 ended up being a 130 mile run with 2 finishers out of 15. This does not bode well for Bailey.
In the last few months, I have combed the internet and each race report and blog is more confusing than the last. There are some legends that have started and not finished this race. Legends Like Mimi Anderson – one of my major girl crushes. If she can’t finish, then how can I?
It has dawned on me in the last few days that I am actually very, very scared of what lies ahead. And this really isn’t like me. When I entered this, I think I asked James if it was a good idea, and he, in his own way, said yes. I mean I thought he said yes. Most of the things he has said to me about this have been muttered under his breath, and I think have included words like “die” “cut-off” and “stupid”.
In all seriousness, the point of this blog is to address the fear and confusion that I feel going into PoS. It’s making me increasingly anxious, so I have decided to put it down on paper. Electronic paper. I imagine come people reading this have had the same issues going into races and events, so maybe it will help someone, somewhere, one day.
Here are some of the things keeping me up at night.
Technically, physically I am match fit – I’ve done a lot this year and think I am at the fittest I can be. Or maybe that makes me TOO TIRED for it? Maybe I have done all my miles for this year and used up all my running legs? I am definitely slow. Everything I have done in the second half of this year has been slow multi days. I can’t remember the last time I really smashed and ultra. Well I can, but it was in August. LOL.
I can’t read maps. I am terrible at it. People have tried to teach me, but I get bored and start thinking about what sort of singing voice my dog might have if she could sing. This is where I will fall down.
Yet again, I am the only woman. All the men will be haring off at the start and I will be pootling along at 10 min miles (if that) wondering if anyone has any Soreen I can steal. They will all leave me behind and this will make me feel like shit. Maybe this is good? Maybe I should let them do that. It’s worked in most of the 100 milers I have done, when I come past at 80 miles singing Taylor Swift songs and they’re all being sick into their dry bags. I certainly don’t want to win or think I can win. This is completing not competing.
I’m not going to have any pacers or chatty friends on the route. No crew to look forward to or hugs from pals like Lorna, Dimi and Lou. Nicis a hugger. But I don’t know if they are allowed to give out hugs? ARGH! No boyfriend to shout at. Who will I rage at when I can’t find my spare socks?
I don’t know how far this fucking race is or where the checkpoints are. I’ve done a lot of test piloting and receeing and stuff, so have got more used to this idea of unknown distance, but I’m still not in love with it. But it is what it is right? It’s like life. I don’t know when it will end, I just know that I will get there and need to try and enjoy the journey. If somethings not working, then I will change it. It’s worked for the past 38 years. It’s got to work for this.
I am scared of the cut offs. I have never in my life missed a cut off, but I just worry that some of this lot will be so fucking fast that I won’t be able to keep up. I am worried about the weather. What if it rains the whole time and I am cold and miserable? I am worried it will only be 10km long and all this worry is for nothing. I am worried I will get lost. I am worried I will let myself down by being pulled out at the first checkpoint.
I am worried that everyone (including me) will find out that I am not very good at this type of thing – that I will be shown up as a charlatan – someone that bangs on about adventure and running and the outdoors and Ultra this, that and the other, and then I can’t even do the first third of this.
And I am worried about my first DNF because I have never had one before.
Ultimately, I am worried about not doing the best I can do. And I can change that. Now I have written it down, I can start deal with it. I have a plan.
I will pack my bestest snacks and warmest most waterproof kit and put my bestest smile on my face and get on with it. It’s called a fun run. I think it will annoy James more than anything if I actually DO have fun. If I don’t finish, nobody dies. It’s new to me and new to everyone else taking part, I guess. I haven’t looked to see if any of them have done it before. What’s the point in knowing that? It won’t be the same as last year.
I will definitely learn from it. (First lesson will probably be LEARN TO READ A FUCKING MAP.) Worrying about what other people think of me will not help me. I am what I am, and I hope that comes across in the devisive world of the internetz.
I am going to do my best, and I can’t ask more than that from myself. Comparing myself to the other starters will not help me. Comparision is the thief of joy, and I am not the same as them. Not the same at all.
So that’s that. Best get the kit packed. Will try and do some updates on the way round. Will write a blog afterwards if I still have both hands. But most of all, I will try and enjoy the ride. Let’s roll.
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