As long as I get a good nights sleep and enough calories inside me, I know I can get up and run well everyday, and as per pretty much every night, I had a solid 8-9 hours sleep and then forced an 800 calorie breakfast inside me, before receiving the yellow leaser’s bib from Mary.
At 23.3 miles and just 1,400 feet of ascent, on paper it looked like this should be a runnable stage. However, from the moment I set off, I felt like I was running on empty. My legs felt fine and not like they’d covered 45 miles in the previous 2 days, I was just lacking in energy and however hard I pushed, just felt like I couldn’t get out of second gear. The first 6 miles continued along the railway track where we’d finished yesterday, and whilst this should have been good runnable terrain for me, I could only tuck into 3rd place behind Magda and Claire.
Normally with an 800 calorie breakfast inside me, I know I don’t need to start thinking about eating until I’m 60+ minutes into the race. However, because I was lacking in energy today, I started eating early which would give me a short spike of energy, but then I’d drop back into second gear.
I caught Claire up on one of my energy spikes and we ran together for a few miles. By this stage Magda was way ahead in the distance, but the miles with Claire helped as we chatted away like long-lost friends, taking my mind off my lacklustre performance, before I eventually pulled away, but the whole stage was pretty much a slog, and I finished in 4:13, 10 minutes behind Magda as 2nd lady and 33rd overall. This meant I was now just 18 minutes ahead of Magda overall.
I knew my problem had been a lack of calories the previous day. I’d brought about 2,600 calories a day for days 1-4, which I know is the amount I need to run on; you’re always going to be in a calorie deficit in these races, but it’s making sure you’re not crossing that line and becoming too calorie deficient that it effects your performance. Due to the shorter distance the previous day, I’d not eaten my full calorie allowance and thought I’d ‘squirrel’ some of it away for the long day, ignoring the fact I’d still run 20 pretty hard and hilly miles with about 6.5kg on my back, and should have eaten all my daily calories. So I ate the previous day’s remaining waffle and mintcake, and tucked into one of the two Pasta Mug Shot meals I’d brought for the rest day – this would mean I’d be wanting to eat my arm on the rest day, but I figured calories were more important to me at this stage of the race.
Neill had had a similar experience on the course, also lacking in energy today and coming 2nd behind Ralph from the States by about 90 seconds. It helped massively having Neill in the same tent as we both found the mental side of ‘racing’ every day the hardest part of the race. There were so many good runners hot on our heels, and we couldn’t afford the tiniest slip-up.