Approximately 6 years ago I was at a children’s birthday party and after running about with a couple of the kids for just a minute or two when my chest got tight, I was breathless and broke into a heavy sweat. I was obese, on prescription medications and feared my days were numbered. It took me about a year before I finally decided to change my life.
Now, approximately 5 years later I’ve just completed a 100 mile ultra-marathon and had a hospital consultant tell me I have the resting heart rate and blood pressure of an athlete.
Rather than simply write about my ultra-marathon, I wanted to start this post by making it clear that just a few years ago I was perhaps the least likely person to even consider such an event. I’d never been a runner or particularly sporting and at my heaviest I would often get out of breath doing simple things like climbing stairs.
You can read more more of back story and see some before and after pictures by reading: Who Is Natural Juice Junkie?
Run Forrest Run
My journey to regain my health started in September 2009 and I quickly shed around 4 stone in weight (56 pounds). It wasn’t until June 2012 that I decided to start running.
I’d always wanted to try and run a half-marathon or similar, but never considered myself capable. This changed when I met Andrea Wentworth, who was training for Ironman. When Andrea explained to me what Ironman involved (2.4 miles of open water swim, 112 miles of cycling and a full 26.2 mile marathon – all of which MUST be completed within 17 hours) I though perhaps I could do a run after all and I promptly signed up for the 10 mile Great South Run.
My first few training runs made me wonder what the hell I’d done! Running was a lot harder than I’d expected. I might have been fitter than I once was, but I still had a long way to go. I was committed to the run, I persisted and I completed the run.
Then I had the bug.
In 2013 I completed multiple 5 km races, 10 km races, half-marathons and my first full marathon. In fact, I completed a total 2013 self-powered miles in 2013. It was in 2013 that I discovered the 100 Mile Run and decided to take up the challenge.
(You can learn more about the event at 100milerun.com)
Maggie’s Cancer Centres
I decided to use the 100 Mile Run to raise money in aid of Maggie’s Cancer Centres. Maggie’s does amazing work support those affected by cancer, not just cancer patients but also their families and loved ones. Please donate whatever you can afford and help me to support Maggie’s via my Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/cotswold100
100 Mile Run Day One
The first day of the 100 Mile Run started in Chipping Campden and covered approximately 16 miles of trails with an ascent of 2255 feet. It was a really hot day which made it tough going. Day one took me around 3 hours to complete and I was very pleased to get in the ice bath when I arrived at the runner’s village.
After refuelling it was time for some rest in preparation for day two.
100 Mile Run Day Two
I knew day two would be tough. I’d run some of the hills during my training and the run for day two had been published as being around 27 miles. It actually turned out to be closer to 30 miles with nearly 6,000 ft of hills to climb. Like day one it was a really hot day and landing in a ditch filled with stinging nettles after I tripped on a tree root added another unplanned challenge. An ice bath at the end helped with both the heat and the stings! Taking my shoes off I discovered black toes nails and blood blisters that would need to be looked after carefully in order to finish the 4 days.
100 Mile Run Day Three
I woke on the morning of day three with heavy rain hitting my tent. I didn’t need to open the door to see how wet it was, but was concerned when during the runner’s briefing we were warned that due to the off-road course and the severity of the weather there was a risk that the run could be abandoned and we may be made to finish at one of the early checkpoints. This made for a very emotional start.
As mentioned above, I already had blood blisters on my feet and it was hurting to run. Knowing that I was may be racing the weather added an extra dimension to the mental challenge of another 25 miles of hilly trails (over 6,000 ft of hills to climb).
I was trying to keep my feet dry to limit the blisters, but the rain was so heavy there was no chance. Less than a mile from the start the rain had already beaten my waterproofs and my trainers contained their own little puddles.
Running in the heavy rain didn’t help with navigation either and I missed a couple of turnings that ultimately added some additional mileage (and hills) to the day. I was so pleased to reach the runner’s village and let the medical team put ice packs on my swollen ankles.
100 Mile Run Day Four
The final day was always going to be a massive challenge. Not only was it the fourth day of running significant distances, it was always going to be the longest day – 33 miles according to the official route plan.
33 miles was actually optimistic. The course ended up being 36 miles with over 5,000 ft of hills to climb. This made the total course length somewhere between 105 and 110 miles with a total climb of nearly 20,000 ft!!!
Day four once again came with some heavy rain, but also with some baking sunshine. I think every time I took my waterproof off because it had dried out and I was getting hot, the rain returned. By this point my feet were wrecked. For the last 15 miles or so every single step hurt, especially the downhills.
Those living with cancer don’t get the option to quit and I wasn’t giving up either. I may have been moving more slowly than I hoped, but I was still moving and eventually I arrived in Bath.
Ironically I then got a little lost trying to find the finish line, but when I did it was great to be cheered home and to have my wife, daughter and my friend Mark and his family waiting for me.
The Morning After The 100 Mile Run
Finishing the race is NOT the end of the story. Back in the intro of this post I mentioned that a hospital consultant has told me I have the resting heart rate and blood pressure of an athlete. This wasn’t planned.
I woke up the morning after completing my 100+ mile ultra-marathon to sound of the alarm on my phone. It was still set for 5:35 AM, the time I’d woken to get ready for the fourth day of running. I got out of bed and finding it hard to walk I hobbled to my phone to switch off the alarm.
Before getting back into bed I decided to go to the bathroom. At this point I was overcome by the pain in my feet (perhaps mixed with some exhaustion) and promptly collapsed on the bathroom floor. When my wife got me conscious again I had no idea how I got there and she called 999.
I managed to make it back to bed and then the paramedic arrived. Checking my pulse, blood pressure and connecting me to an ECG he was concerned by how low my blood pressure was, especially when he asked me to stand. I was promptly put in an ambulance and on my way to hospital.
Whilst several of the medical staff were concerned by my low readings the consultant who came to check me over advised his team that my low resting heart rate and blood pressure were actually normal for an athlete. AN ATHLETE, OMG!!! I AM AN ATHLETE!!!!
The hospital put me on a drip and gave me a litre of saline just to make sure I was fully hydrated, took some bloods that all came back ok, checked my urine and then let me come home, having confirmed that having been in heart attack territory a few years ago I am now a fit athlete. That’s the power of juicing!!
(Oh, and the consultant has already been checking out my website with view to improving his own health and weight too).
If you can afford to help my fundraising effort, please add your sponsorship via my Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/cotswold100
Peace, love and juice,
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