Sinister 7: July 7th. At the finish line of Sinister 7, 28 hours after the start.
"James, I am thinking of running Sinister 7 this July." The reply is a groan and sigh.
"Boys, I want to run Sinister 7 again this July" Insert sighing from both boys. C then asks "Are you sure? You know what happened last time?"
Yes I know what happened last time. A DNF because I didn't want it. I thought I could just turn up and run a 100 miles with no mental preparation and just do it. So not surprisingly, I set myself up for failure. This was a great learning though, as I now know that I can't just wing this distance, I actually need some preparation and a little work on improving my mental strength.
So this was my fourth time at S7. I have finished two; one at 146k and one at 160k. The last time I tried I stopped after Leg 3, because I did not want to continue. I just had no drive to be there and finish the course. So 3 out of 4 ain't bad. If you put yourself out there you should not be scared of failing, but it is not failing because you learn so much from a DNF. I had to want this and I did really want it.
This time was different. After my disappointment from not running in the UK because of a stomach bug, I was determined to move forward positively. I had my goal, my points for 2020 UTMB. I had the drive and I also had worked so hard on my physical and mental strength for the last year.
So I checked with Brian and I signed up.
The rest is history really because two weeks on from the race it all seems a complete blur. I do feel that my preparation for the Sinister 7 Ultra was really good. I did not get my usual stomach anxiety. I tried stopping these nerves before they started, so I was preventing the cycle from beginning and this seemed to really work. So every time I felt nervous or scared, I just told myself, this was the process. I was running and that is what I love to do and all I need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other.
The night before the race, I could even eat and I slept really well. Breakfast went down ok with my coffee and I felt good. I wrote on my arm: Be in the moment; you have got this (which is the last thing my eldest said to my before I left) and U.T.M.B.
Sinister 7: Fun times on the trails!
I ran initially with my two great running buddies. Katherine was running in a team but had really bad back pain and Kerri had just signed up the week before, because both Katherine and I were running it.
They were brilliant to run with and we had such a laugh. It was great fun. I also remember my last attempt and I was so miserable. All the photos of me are with a grim face. So this was another conscious effort I made to smile when things were tough, and it worked.
After my family's initial hesitation, they were really supportive. James even offered to help crew me, which was awesome. I have never had a crew before, so it was so lovely to head into the end of Leg 2 and 3 and see him. He provided so much support.
The course was extremely muddy and my goals for the race changed over the week before the race, as the rain lashed down everywhere in Alberta. From wanting to get into the Top 5 ladies it just became a matter of crossing that finish line in under 30 hours.
Sinister 7: Katherine and me on Leg??? No idea as it all blurs into one!
I started to use my poles from the very beginning. The conditions were really tough. The mud was the type that would pulled your shoe off if it could and so nearly did so many times.
The trails were just mud in places and there were loads of really large puddles everywhere. I am known for how often I fall over and yet again I made these ladies laugh. I actually fell into a puddle up to my thighs and they fell over laughing. It was hilarious!
Sinister 7: Silly shenanigans on the trails. Hamstrings are not that tight yet!
The weather forecast predicted strong thunderstorms, but I can't really remember if it rained hard. Kerri and I put out water proofs on Leg 4 because of a storm although we did not get that wet.
Unfortunately near the end of Leg 4, Kerri foot was getting sore, and she decided that she was going to finish then because she wanted to keep running for the summer and had Fat Dog in August.
Coming into the end of Leg 4, I knew this was the start of the next tough legs. Katherine was there having finished at Leg 3. She managed to get a guy to be part of her team and run the rest of her legs for her, as you do! Katherine was just brilliant and helped so much. She said as I was eating my soup that I was 17th lady and 5th in the Masters. She was so excited for me!
Sinister 7: Heading out to start Leg 5.
Heading out on Leg 5, I had to dig deep.
Leg 5 and particularly Leg 6 were really tough. Leg 6 had been hard in the past but on this new course with the mud and narrow single track made the leg even more challenging. I think I swore a few times and fell several times as well, ending up with a cut on my knee that I never realized I had until the end!
But Leg 6 was stunning. I came up to the top at sunrise and it was amazing. The pink on the mountains was beautiful. This course was certainly more picturesque than the previous course.
It was incredibly peaceful running on my own in the dark from Leg 5 to the end. It was very satisfying. It was so lovely to have the support of my family and have Katherine and Kerri stay to help crew. They were there at each Transition, helping to get me sorted. Katherine even took my shoes off for me when I was doing a change over (which James said he won't do!! He loves me but not that much!!) They were there at the end and I could not have finished this race so well without their support and help.
Sinister 7: Finish line with Katherine and Kerri
I would also like to say thank you so much to all the volunteers. They were brilliant and thank you to Brian and his organization team. It was such a well organized event.
I did far better than I ever expected; finishing 4th overall lady and 2nd in the Masters age group. I'm not sure of my end time but it was just over 28 hours of pure "fun".