Lakeland 50; 4 weeks to go

After the 50K in August last year I later decided that this year it will be time to increase the distance. Shorty after the Paris marathon I found Lakeland 50 -- a 50miles race in northern England, that I thought would be perfect. I was deeply surprised to learn that... it's full and I was put on the waiting list! I knew about marathons, but that there were so many people crazy enough to do ultras was a surprise to me.

Few weeks ago I lost hopes of getting a spot there and was hectically looking for a replacement race. At the beginning of this week I finally found one that was looking very promising: Trail des Fantômes, a 50 kilometers trail race in Belgium. At first I dismissed it as it was "only" 50K and I already did that. But then I looked at the 2400m of ascent and the winning time last year, 05:00:26.8 -- much slower than my lousy 50K -- and realized that this is a different game altogether.

I was about to subscribe for the race when... I got en email telling me that there's a spot for me in the Lakeland 50, after all! Without thinking much I subscribed for the race, bought flights, accommodations and everything.

And only then I started thinking. My first, super naive estimation was 50EM = 80km = approx. 8h. Yeah. Right. Sure. Trail course. 3100m of ascent. Think again. In fact the winner last year finished in... 08:18:18. Duh. If I finished in the top 10%, which seems to be a reasonable assumptions, if marathons are anything to judge by, then I should expect a time of around 12-13h. 12 hours?!!! This realization was the first time when I realized that the risk of not finishing is actually very, very real. The fact that I have zero trail experience and zero hills experience are certainly not on my side either. Another thing I realized was that with the race starting at noon and 12 hours of running I'll be finishing late at night. So what I can add to the list is lack of experience with running in the dark (as running on well known roads does not count). Oh boy. Should be interesting...

So what's the goal? To finish. And I do mean it. Setting any time goals would be nonsensical given my complete lack of experience in this kind of events. The main advice I hear everywhere is: go slow. Sounds simple, but with all the excitement I'm actually pretty sure that it will be a hard to follow advice. Because of the hills and the fact that I never did anything quite like it, I also cannot go by pace nor heart rate.

At least I managed to book decent accommodation at the race location. Because I was late I was facing staying in a 4-room hostel or a town 8km away. Both could be disastrous.

In any case, I'm looking forward to this new experience! Now two weeks of biking holidays, then less than two weeks and the race! Not the ideal setup for preparations... would I have been better off going for the Belgian race after all, which is not only easier but also 1 month later? Well, we will see soon enough. Wish me good luck.

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