British Elite Long - stunning forest, fantastically planned course, shocking run. Left the brain in bed, and such was the planning each and every drop in concentration meant time lost. The nature of the relief meant that although visibility in the forest was amazing, you couldn't necessarily pick out and interpret the shape of the more technical dunes a way off, as you could on the relay.
So they say you should pick up on the positives. In short, I got round and was around 10 minutes over the target time of 2 hours. And there was something vaguely enjoyable about the course, even through the physical and mental "suffering."
The negatives? Probably can all be put down to one thing - what happened prior to the run. Didn't sleep particularly well the night beforehand, had an awkward 1.30pm start - a little too far from breakfast but not quite late enough to have a full lunch - so probably not enough fuel in the tank to start with. Took some Jelly Babies out and ate most just before the hour mark, and the rest just over 90 mins in - goodness knows what it would have been like without. Didn't feel as physically good as I had been in previous weeks - I know that I'm probably as fit as I've ever been at the moment so this was slightly strange. Still, not sure whether I quite have the endurance for a race of this length yet. Need a few more longer runs plugged into the schedule...
The mental side of things was clearly a bit off from the start - couldn't really make sense of what was going on to #1 and the concentration was lacking. What followed ranged from the over-hesitant to the "why did I do that" type mistake. Didn't seem to be using the contours enough on the longer legs and (as I identified might be a problem) when I got out of the vaguer parts I often didn't know where I was entering the detail. Biggest were to 5 (3'30"), 7 (2'30"), 9 (3'), 27 (2'30"), lost 30" to 1' on 5 other controls and small hesitations to many others meant quite a few 15" losses. Most of the mistakes were on the longer legs, poor compass work then diving into the detail without reading enough of it. Total mistake time ~15 mins, + goodness knows how much hesitance...
Realised after the run that the warning signs were there:
- over-reliance on the compass but not using that enough either meaning I was drifting everywhere on the bearings
- not paying anywhere enough attention to the contours, for the majority of the first part of the course in fact. When I did, things clicked for a while. Then would switch off again.
- hitting detail wasn't expecting to hit and very stop-start to check things - far too much ground-to-map.
- no reading ahead whatsoever bar seeing "that leg looks long"
- from near the beginning, seeing hills that looked a bit bigger/steeper than normally seen in a sand dune area and thinking "do I really need to go over that?" when they were only 4-6 contours high (10-15m) and not really that steep.
So as I've discovered quite a bit over the recent year or so, if I'm not quite there physically then the mental side of things goes so much more easily - unfortunately it happened today in an area that really doesn't allow you to get away with it as some would. A real shame in a way, I'm sure had I been "awake" the whole experience would have been even better than it actually was and my first elite classic would have been thoroughly enjoyable. I'm already looking forward to running here again, and hopefully mastering it next time!
Typical Culbin view