Before I start on this blog let me say that I’m not a woman, or a father and I’m very unlikely to ever get pregnant. While I imagine I run the risk of having women screaming “YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH” at me and this post, it allows me to structure what I hope will be an informative and light-hearted post about my preparations for the Tahoe 200 – ladies and mothers of the world, I apologise for any offence caused!
It occurred to me this morning in the gym that it’s been going-on 9 months since my flirtation with the Tahoe 200 first began, I blame The Bear 100 for introducing us. Earlier attempts to conceive with Hardrock and Western States had failed, but Tahoe and I had tried hard, we’d done everything right and so when in early January the lottery results provided the same kind of result that peeing on a stick reveal I was ecstatic. Tahoe and I were 4-weeks in with 8 months until the due date on September 5th.
The First Trimester – Good news and a false start
It was official, I was entered into the first 200-mile, continuous, single-loop mountain race in the USA. Wow… But it was still a long way off and completely unreal, apart from my bank account taking a massive initial hit for the race entry and flights to San Francisco it was difficult to comprehend where I needed to be in 8 months time.
January started well, after finishing off the year with an orgy of drinking and eating it was time to start thinking about getting back into shape and kicking some of the bad habits. The first few weeks went well enough, back on the wagon and in the gym, the fitness started coming back and I had a couple of decent, (albeit slow) runs out at Country to Capital 45 and Thames Trot 50.
After Thames Trot I had a bit of foot pain in my left metatarsal and immediately eased off the running, sticking to the gym and cross training for most of February. Without the big long runs at the weekend to keep me honest though, I began to slip back into the occasional drink at the weekends and my generally low-carb diet probably suffered a bit too.
By the beginning of March my foot was better and I’d found some new shoes, (Altra Lone Peaks) which I think helped sort the problem out. The next period signified a considerable increase in training volume, with races almost every weekend for a few months, these ranged from marathons to a 100 miler at Zion 100 in the USA.
The Second Trimester – Good intentions but bad parenting
Things were starting to get a little more real now, I could feel the ‘bump’ as it were. But maybe there was still a bit of denial in these early stages?
This period contained lots and lots of races, there were back-to-back 30-milers, marathons, 50-milers, a Skyrunning event and a 100-mile race at Zion 100 in the USA. I don’t think it would be unfair to say I didn’t really take any of them seriously, often turning up with a hangover and tired. I DNF’ed voluntarily at Zion and was timed-out at the Skyrunner event, I just didn’t have the motivation or heart to complete the events.
It was also the period that I started to think about kit for the new arrival. Slowly but surely the assembly of what I will need for the big day when it finally arrives had started, clothes, backpack, poles, hat, socks etc… It seemed like every day the postman was delivering a new package, some stuff worked well, and some stuff didn’t. I’ve kept what I like and discarded the failed experiments. Probably the biggest discoveries so far are:
- Poles – I love them for uphills and I’m sure they will be incredibly useful at Tahoe
- Gaiters – great for keeping debris out of shoes
- Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin Hydro 12 – the most comfortable backpack I’ve ever owned
- Shorts with side pockets – somewhere to put easily-accessible stuff
All my gear is now tried and tested and I’m comfortable with it – that’s not to say there won’t be a few impulse purchase in the next couple of weeks… Nothing new on race day? Awww – but it’s just so cute, I had to have it!
Being timed-out at the Vegan Welsh 3000’s Skyrunner event was a wake-up call, when it took 10 hours to do under 20 miles something had to change. My attitude was all wrong, the bad habits had been slowly escalating over the months and although maintaining a reasonable level of training, the quality was definitely lacking – things had to change.
The Third Trimester – Reality bites
I took a long hard look at myself and decided that things needed to change. I was damaging myself and my chances with Tahoe continuing in the way I was going. The process was easy – cut out the booze, clean up the diet and get some quality training in.
I went low carb for a few weeks to quickly lose a bit of weight and discovered Bulletproof Coffee and Intermittent Fasting. This worked really well and although my diet now includes more carbohydrates I’ve kept-up with the Bulletproof Coffee and fasting protocol, on many long runs I’ve done 2-3 hours just on the BPC before needing any more fuel.
Over 4 weeks I built-up my long runs from 26 miles to an epic 100-mile attempt at the South Downs Way which was to be my final “check-up” run before Tahoe. Now, back on track with my diet I really enjoyed all these runs – none of them seemed like I was grinding out the miles. The 100 mile run was especially important as it’s given me the confidence that I desperately needed, it was definitely a risk with only 3 weeks until Tahoe – but in my eyes, if I can’t complete that, how am I going to complete twice the distance?
And that brings me up-to-date… There’s 2 weeks until the contractions start at 10:00 on Friday 5th September, (18:00 GMT) and then labour will go on for a while… How long? Well the cut-off is 100 hours and I’m thinking that I’d like to be finished before the 4th night, so 72-84 hours would be a great result but, in the end I just want to finish – healthy and injury-free.
I predict there’ll be lots of pain, sweating and swearing. It wouldn’t surprise me if I ended-up on my back with my legs in the air at several stages, there’s potential options of jumping into a lake for a natural water delivery too. I’ll probably scream “NEVER AGAIN” several times and there’ll be tears and laughter in equal amounts. Whatever happens it will be an epic experience and one that I’m sure I will remember for the rest of my life.
I hope you enjoyed this blog – I’m off to paint the spare room pink, no blue, no pink…?