THE MERRELL BLOG: WHAT'S NOW. WHAT'S NEXT. LET'S GET OUTSIDE.
Lowri prepares for one of the most extreme ultra marathons in the UK: the Ring O' Fire
Merrell Ambassador, TV Presenter, and ultra marathon athlete Lowri Morgan discusses her physical and mental preparation for one of the toughest ultra marathon's in the UK: the Ring O'Fire.
In just a few days time, I'll be racing the Ring O’ Fire.
It's a 135 mile footrace following the Wales Coast path around the Isle of Anglesey. Staged over three consecutive days this epic foot race follows the rugged and spectacular Anglesey Coastal Path around the Island. It has a 60% drop out rate. The distance and variable terrain makes Ring O’ Fire one of the most extreme ultra marathons in the United Kingdom. You can find out more about the route and challenge here: http://www.ringofire.co.uk/
So I am nervous. I am very nervous. Have I done enough training? Have I put enough hours in? Is my body ready for 135 miles? After all, ultra running training is not just about speed. It's about getting the body used to running 10 plus hours. I feel as if I'm like a student going into an exam without having done the preparation.
For the last few months, the Ring O’ Fire has completely taken over my life. It's the first 100 kms + race I've ran for 18 months. The training, the necessary equipment, kit and its weight has been a lingering thought in the back of my mind.
Unfortunately, I've not had the most ideal training preparation for this event. There have been good running days and bad – more bad days if I’m completely honest. Trying to fit in training with a busy working life is quite difficult and is a challenge in itself - as I'm sure many would agree. Despite completing a 52 mile race in 8 hours in May, the long 5+ hour runs following have been sparse. Not due to lack of wanting but because of lack of time. The way I've tried to compensate for this is by running up to three times a day - before work, during my lunch hours and then after work. Yes, ultra running and the training that comes with it is a way of life.
Am I ready for this challenge? I honestly do not know. I had hoped to push my body one last time before starting my tapering. But during that period we were told sadly that our loving golden Labrador - Bronwen Morgan - had only a few days left to live. Instead of spending hours on the trails, we spent hours trying to make Bron as comfortable as possible. Training was put to the side. And I have no regrets for doing that.
We had an extra 3 weeks with Bron before she passed away last week at only 2 years old. She became an integral member of our family. A beautiful dog - on the inside and out, she helped each one of us in different ways. For me, she was my faithful running companion. As I’d sit in the kitchen dreading a run in the rain and thinking of excuses why not to drag myself out, I'd take one look at her and she knew! She knew I'd be thinking of running and her tail would start wagging. How would I then be able to resist her! She'd start wagging her tail even more when she saw me putting my Mix Masters on.
Bron loved exploring. And so do I. That is why I love ultra running. It's not for the winning or glory. It's purely for the adventure, the sense of freedom that comes with being in the outdoors. I'm continuously inspired as I run along the Wales Coast Path especially at home on the Gower Peninsular. The innocence and excitement Bron showed when she found a new trail, the peace and tranquillity she oozed as she happily trotted along the paths was contagious and she taught me many important lessons whilst we spent our time bounding over rocks, paths, fields, mountains and beaches for hours on end.
I am often asked who my inspirations are. Well, this month, it's been Bronwen. I had a few days off from work and after losing her, decided to do what she loved ….. running and running and running. I ran 100 miles that week with some sessions carrying a weighted sack so as to emulate the weight I'd be carrying during the race. And ironically it has been a good last week of running. However, I fear it might be too little too late. But I'll soon find out if I'm ready for this race.
I always get nervous before races …before anything that challenges me to be honest. I'll be walking into the unknown. But we shouldn’t be afraid of the unknown – things like this only make us stronger. When I'll be on the start line and when that gun goes off, there'll be a switch inside me that will light up. I'll be so excited and focused. I'm not looking to break any records or compete against others, I just want to push my physical and emotional limits and see how far I can go.
Ultra running is much more than a run. It is about tradition, overcoming obstacles, commitment, goal setting and accomplishments. Extreme racing is to put yourself on the line, to look deep inside yourself, to push your limits and to find new ones. It commands respect. It can hurt you too – physically, mentally and emotionally. I go to places in my head where I believe that we, as humans, do not go often enough. And I'm looking forward to going to that place in my head again during the Ring O’ Fire!