It’s no lie that i’ve been having a crisis of confidence somewhat as of late, my mental health hasn’t been at it’s best and my running has really been suffering because of it. I’d signed up to Spitfire Scramble, a 24 hour relay race in Hornchurch, months ago as part of a team of 8 from the Too Fat to Run? clubhouse, along with another team and Julie going solo. On the run up to the race I nearly dropped out several times. I wasn’t able to leave the house alone, how the hell was I going to get down to London and camp for a weekend with a whole group of women I hardly knew or only knew online? Oh yeah and run several laps of a relay race. I’d also only tested my tent in the garden for the first time in 9 years…
However, I didn’t drop out, that’s the thing about the clubhouse ladies, they give you the confidence when you can’t give it to yourself. The fact that I knew I could run either 1 lap or 7 and still be celebrated as part of the team. So I plugged in my headphones and pulled on my massive backpack and away I went!
I met Kate outside Hornchurch station mid afternoon on the Friday and we made our way to the campsite where we duly met Julie who had acquired a lovely man to help put up her tent and then the two of ours as well. Tammy and her lovely hubby were next to arrive (with the most amazing camping skills, they had a STEAK dinner, did you hear that STEAK dinner while camping!) and after a few more of the club arriving, setting up camp and a few beers it was off to bed. So one thing i’ve learnt for next year is bring many, many layers for camping. The floor is freezing so you really do need something between your mattress and sleeping bag. In the morning we were up and fuelling ready for the start at 12 at which I was doing my first lap.
The siren went and we were off. I’d done the Great Bristol 10K in May with Steph, another member of the Clubhouse and knew I could get a 1:40 10k walking my pacing myself. My plan was if I did this my feet would be strong for at least another two laps. The course was actually nicer than i’d anticipated with bridges and a few different terrains. I’d ummed and ahhhed about bringing my trail shoes but in the end had stuck with my road shoes and was glad I did as the majority of the ground was firm underfoot especially as it was a mostly dry day. Next year I will however be bringing two pairs of shoes. I came across the line to change over with Tammy in 1:39 and returned to our base for some food, my parents also turned up to bring a double duvet and pillow (love them!) so I fuelled up and relaxed a bit in between cheering team members over the line. As the sun set over the camp it was actually quite stunning.
I was set to do my evening lap, lots of lights had been attached and i’d partnered up with someone from the TFTR? team so both of our laps would count. From the 2nd km mark I knew something was wrong, my feet were absolutely burning but we plodded on. The course seemed to go on forever and I started to really wish that i’d test run my headtorch before the event. Finally we returned to camp after a 2 hour lap. I limped back to camp and pulled off my trainers and socks to reveal throbbing feet. I drank two lucozades, downed a couple of ibuprofen and went to sleep.
I woke up in the morning thinking my feet would be okay, but no, two massive matching blisters on each foot. Since the race i’ve realised my socks were probably one of my old pairs and so had been worn thin on my pressure points. At first I was dissapointed in myself that I couldn’t do another lap but later on I looked at it and i’d managed to do a lap solo in the daytime and a buddied lap in the dark. I was proud and it’s given me the confidence to take control of my training again. Although i’ve dropped out of my August and September half marathons (i just wasn’t ready) i’m going to be ready for my October half and several 10ks.
I would thoroughly recomend Spitfire Scramble to anyone who wants to try a 24 hour race. It’s a thoroughly friendly race while still being competitive, even if most of that competitiveness is against yourself apart from the top 3 of each category winners. Next year i’m entered as a duo and will learn my lessons from this year. On the plus side, no chaffing to report!